Mostly a mistake, partly a psychological experiment

Scott Carpenter of Moving To Freedom is (I think) the first person to comment on the fact that for the last 11 months, every time someone posts a comment on this blog, he or she has been redirected to (my homepage) rather than returned to the actual post in question:

“Hey, Dan: your blog is trying to control me! Whenever I post a comment, it doesn’t allow me to stay on the same page, but instead takes me on a magic carpet ride to”

To be honest, this wasn’t a deliberate ‘architectures of control’ experiment – not initially, at least. It was a consequence of a wrongly/badly configured setting in WordPress* – but once I realised (quite a few months ago) that there was a problem, and my initial attempts to solve it failed, I decided to see how long it would be before a commenter complained, or at least drew my attention to the issue (which is now fixed).

I’m assuming that of the 250-odd non-spam, non-me comments on the blog, a certain percentage of commenters believed that the redirect was a deliberate (and irritating?) trick to drive traffic to my homepage, some will have recognised the real problem and blamed me (talks about technology but can’t even configure his blog properly) and a certain percentage believed that it was some mistake they had made. People often immediately assume that technological errors are their own fault – from “My computer won’t copy DVDs properly, they come out all scrambled and unwatchable” to “I bought loads of music off the internet but I think Windows deleted it when I upgraded; I’m so stupid with technology.” Some believe technology has it in for them (resistentialism), others that they’re just “not good with science and technical stuff”. For example, how many are written off as mere ‘user error’ by the people affected, blaming themselves for the problems?

*My mistake

When I set up the blog, I’d put the WordPress files in, and had used that path for the WordPress address field in this dialogue. Then I realised that I could use subdomains with my web host, i.e. was equivalent to (www.), and so I put that in the blog address field, and forgot about it, as the rest of the blog worked fine. I did half-heartedly try to work out why the redirecting after commenting wasn’t working as hoped, but because I presumed that the two URIs listed were exactly equivalent, I only got round to changing them this evening. A bodge (as we say in England) might have been to spend ages messing around with .htaccess; I’m glad the fix was so simple.