Why issuing an alert letter is precisely the wrong thing to do?
By Khalid Baig
Posted: 21 Ramadan 1422, 7 December 2001
The alert letters keep coming. Beware here is the latest anti-Islamic site. Then a URL so you can verify that it is indeed as described. Then a passionate request to tell all the Muslims in the world about it.
Sincere. Misguided. Counter-productive.
Little do the senders realize that they are actually helping the very sites they are trying to fight.
The failure is in realizing that the Internet is a very different medium and the rules that applied to the previous media do not always apply here. If there is a bad magazine or book out there, you can tell others about it. We can be sure that nobody will rush to the closest bookseller to buy it. The warning may be useful, if there was a chance that some people could have bought the book out of ignorance.
In the click-click world of the Internet, the first thing most people will do is to click on the URL, thereby increasing the hit counts and boasting the morale of the site owners. Second, it will help it with search engine placement, as some of them will use the increased curiosity traffic as a sign of popularity. You just helped create the monster you wanted to fight!
It is common sense. If you don’t want people to visit a site, just don’t tell them about it.
It is very easy to setup a page on the Internet. It is very difficult to draw traffic to it. The most anti-Islamic site will die if it faces a frozen counter. That would happen if you just leave it alone. But if you are out there telling everyone about it and asking them to do the same, you are in effect volunteering as their publicity department. That is exactly what they need.
If there is a well-established site (like CNN) it makes sense to launch a protest campaign. But for most of the sites the prudent course is just the opposite. Leave it alone. Let it die of neglect. A natural death. The greater the lack of attention, the faster will be the death of this would be monster.
So the next time you receive an alert letter about an anti-Islamic site, just delete it. If you respond to the sender, do not include the original text of his alert email, because even that may help some search engine ranking.
There were dozens of anti-Islamic sites that sprang up recently but died soon after because, luckily, our enthusiasts had not noticed them and had not publicized them through their alert letters. The ones that receive the alert letter mention will, unfortunately, survive and may thrive.
On the Internet, the best use of your energies is to promote the good Islamic sites. Let the good drive out the evil.
Now, may we request that you send this article to all your friends?