Ammann and Wahl Little Whopper Rejected

GRL has rejected the Ammann and Wahl Little Whopper (shortly after Climatic Change accepted the Big Whopper). We previously posted up our Reply to the Little Whopper here. You can see previous discussion of this by the category "Wahl and Ammann". Since the Comment is not being published, neither is the Reply. I wonder whether they will make changes to the Big Whopper to reflect this rejection or simply drive on (as Mann and Jones did in 2004 following the rejection of the MBH submission to CC.)

What a total waste of time. Famiglietti mouthed off to Envronmental Science and Technology last August and replaced Saiers as editor in charge of our file. He then took the comments by Ritson and by A&W (already rejected by Saiers) out of the garbage can, told us that the Ritson comment was accepted, then he rejected the Ritson comment after he saw our reply. Likewise with Ammann and Wahl. Needless to say, Famiglietti did not say that the Little Whopper was rejected because it withheld adverse results or misrepresented our work, but merely because "the key points of the debate are already out there" – which was the same (perhaps polite) reason that Saiers gave in the first place last May.

If it was rejected because the "key points were already out there", why did Famiglietti need us to write a Reply? He should have been able to tell from reading the article. Or if he couldn’t tell from that, he should have been able to tell from reading our letter to Saiers, which listed all the problems in the Little Whopper, including its repetition of points already raised in Huybers. We re-sent the letter to Famiglietti, so he had no excuse.

Buncha jerks.


59 Comments

  1. Hans Erren
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    wonder how long this will stat up…

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/ammann/millennium/refs/AmmannWahl_GRL2005.html

    Comment on “Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance” by S. McIntyre and R. McKitrick
    CASPAR M. AMMANN1and EUGENE R. WAHL2
    1 National Center for Atmospheric Research , Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.
    2 Environmental Studies and Geology Division, Alfred University, Alfred, New York, U.S.A.

    Geophysical Research Letters
    September 25, 2005 — Resubmitted
    December 9, 2005 — In Final review, Response solicited
    Summary
    Climate reconstructions based on proxy records require steps of standardization of the different series prior to their calibration to instrumental data. In a recent publication in GRL, McIntyre and McKitrick [2005a] suggested that the procedure applied to North American tree ring records led to a systematic bias in the famous hockey stick series of Northern Hemisphere temperature [Mann et al. 1998]. We show that this claim is unfounded, and that a proper standardization, independent of the reference period applied, leads to essentially the same result.

    Use R-Code of MBH Reconstruction
    ——————————————————————————–

    Caspar Ammann
    Last modified: Fri Mar 3 13:00:00 MDT 2006

  2. Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Unbelievably discraceful behaviour by an editor. I think asking someone to prepare a reply to a reviewed comment honor binds them to publish. They might as well have just commented on realclimate.org.

  3. jae
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Steve: I think you just have them all confused; they don’t know what to do or how to act. They got caught red-handed in a politicalization (bastardization may be a better word) of their “scientific principles.” Anyone following this has to agree. It’s really too bad you had to waste so much time.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

    THey don’t seem to be used to someone who pushes back. They hate having a spotlight shone on their little games.

  5. john lichtenstein
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

    Maybe it took seeing your reply for Famiglietti to understand why Saiers was right.

  6. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

    Before we wrote the Reply, I sent him our letter to Saiers on A&W, itemizing the mess. I’ll bet that Famiglietti never even read it. Probably he’d promised Ammann to give him a second kick at the cat and didn’t really care about us. I hope that we at least get a copy of the referee report.

  7. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 6:56 PM | Permalink

    Steve, the first paragraph of your Reply to the “Little Whopper” is a cracking good read, and summarizes much of the overall situation very nicely. I am guiltily pleased you had to write it. :)

  8. Paul Penrose
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    I’m sure you’re incensed about having to go though all this trouble in order to defend your work, but I think you should consider removing that last sentence. It serves no purpose except to verify to the detractors that all we do is hurl insults on this site. Don’t give them the amunition.

  9. Ross McKitrick
    Posted Mar 16, 2006 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    In this case I endorse the last line–it is fully deserved. I’ve dealt with lots of journals, editors and referees over the years, and have my share of complaints about their decisions. I’m willing to give academic processes many benefits of many doubts, and have on occasion found myself defending its eccentric ways to my businessman coauthor. But not this time. This whole episode was indefensible–the UCAR national press release by A&W, the ES&T comments by Famiglietti, the re-processing of already-rejected submissions, etc. (including more crap we’ve never disclosed). If they act like a buncha jerks they can’t complain about being called a buncha jerks.

  10. Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

    The whole whopper saga is worth a write up all in itself. I’ve been watching it unfold over the past year, but the story is a bit broken up for any newcomers that might be trying to follow the story. Some of the threads here can be a bit hard to absorb for someone who hasn’t been following along. In fact, I’m having a little trouble with all of the details myself. Here are some related links and a partial micro-summary. Please feel free to expand and/or correct any errors.

    McIntyre and McKitrick’s papers were published in Energy and Environment (2003 and 2005) and in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) (2005).

    A+W submit papers to both Climate Change (Big Whopper) & GRL (Little Whopper).

    May 11, 2005: McIntyre and McKitrick discuss their work at the National Press Club. On this same day, UCAR submits a press release (Media Advisory) at the National Press Club stating that A+W have submitted two papers which

    UCAR’s Media Advisory: http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2005/ammann.shtml
    Related Post: Ammann Chronology http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=503

    June 6: GRL Rejects the A+W comment

    editor-in-chief of GRL, James Famiglietti, replaces the previous editor in charge of the Comment file pertaining to the M&M article. In breach of policy, Famiglietti revives the rejected comment from A+W. Famiglietti also revives a previously reject comment from Ritson that is also critical of the M&M paper. The Ritson comment was sent out for review without the accompanying reply from M&M (in breach of policy) and accepted. However,
    the Ritsom comment is then rejected after Famiglietti gets the reply from M&M.

    A+W’s GRL paper (comment is rejected again)

  11. sc
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 2:33 AM | Permalink

    Re 9. Whilst I can understand the frustration, I can’t help agreeing with comment 8. You have to recognise when you are winning. In fact in some ways you are becoming too effective. It would have been good to see the AW comment in print, together with your reply. Unfortunately your reply is so devastating that no editor could afford to publish it, and since you emphasized the similarity with previous comments, you gave the editor an easy way out. It would have been particularly good if your calculations of r2 using AW code had appeared before AW’s own calculations.

  12. Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    You know, this is not just about Steve and Ross. This and other abuses have happened to others before and will happen in the future. Its just that the burden has fallen on Steve to spearhead exposing it. Steve: I sincerely hope you publish your written submission to the NAS panel. It is a great read, and with a little modification to be an objective documentation of a replication of a prominent scientific study, should easily be considered for something like American Economic Review.

  13. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    There’s a rather delicious problem arising out of the rejection of the Little Whopper. I’ve gone through the Big Whopper to check citations of the Little Whopper (aren’t search functions wonderful?). There are no fewer than 11 citations. It turns out that the significance test for the RE statistic used in the Big Whopper is supposedly established in the Little Whopper. This poses all kinds of interesting questions. I’m working up a post, but I’m off to Guelph today. Bruce McCullough is giving a lecture. I think that the last university lecture that I heard was in 1971 – time slips away.

  14. John A
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    There’s a rather delicious problem arising out of the rejection of the Little Whopper. I’ve gone through the Big Whopper to check citations of the Little Whopper (aren’t search functions wonderful?). There are no fewer than 11 citations.

    They could send it to Science. They’ll publish anything

  15. Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Re: # 14

    John A. Did you mean anything that fits their political aganda?

  16. John A
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    re: #15

    No. Their tagline should be “All the science that fits”

  17. John A
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Re: #13

    Actually Steve, why not write to Science pointing out that the paper written by Ammann and Wahl contains 11 citations to a paper rejected twice by two different editors of GRL? Ask them what their policy is on papers with duff citations…could be interesting.

  18. Mike Carney
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    Re: #17
    Given that many have declared peer-review as the appropriate (but unfortunately low) bar for scientific trust, it would seem appropriate for them to be demanding a retraction of the Ammann and Wahl paper from Science since it clearly is in some manner based on research rejected by peer-review. I await the rush to correct the record.

  19. JerryB
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Not “Science”; “Climate Change”.

  20. Mike Carney
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Re: #19
    Correct correction. My apologies.

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

    We received the official reply from GRL today. As you all know, my impression of due diligence in climate science is some guy reading a paper while he’s watching television and his kids are fighting and then jotting down a few sentences.

    Famiglietti’s cover letter noted that the review was “brief”. After all this elaborate process taking A&W out of the garbage can and re-reviewing it, the review was 5 lines long. Famiglietti stated:
    “As is my policy, the contents of this letter and review comments are to remain confidential.”

    I’m puzzled as to the basis of the assertion of confidentiality and am mulling over whether this is a bona fide confidentiality. My guess is that the reason for confidentiality is not that there’s anything “confidential” in the review, but that, after all this time, the 5 lines of the review shows no evidence that the reviewer was not watching a basketball game with his kids fighting.

  22. jae
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

    LOL. Familigetti has ate too much spagetti (graphs) and he’s getting sick. W0W. What a moron. His tenure is shorted, I’m pretty sure.

  23. jae
    Posted Mar 17, 2006 at 11:38 PM | Permalink

    You know, this is the classic case of denial, and it ALWAYS comes to front. These guys are Nixon, Clinton, and Gore to the tee. They have to face the FACTS at some point, and they know it. Congratulations, Steve, you have the false scientists running for a rock to hide under. LOL.

  24. John A
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

    …the 5 lines of the review shows no evidence that the reviewer was not watching a basketball game with his kids fighting.

    Steve

    was there meant to be two negatives in that sentence?

  25. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 2:27 AM | Permalink

    John A,

    This is one of those cases where the double negative is manditory. Try it with no negative. “There is evidence that the reviewer was watching a basketball game with his kids fighting.” Surely that isn’t what he wants to say. And neither of the single negatives work. They say the opposite of what Steve wants to say.

    And actually the entire M&M thesis is a similar sort of double negative. “There is no proof that the ‘Hockeystick’ is not the result of random noise and/or bad statistical analysis.”

  26. John A
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 4:39 AM | Permalink

    re #25

    I am not sure that your reply makes no sense.

  27. fFreddy
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 5:12 AM | Permalink

    Re #24

    Not no.

  28. per
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 6:36 AM | Permalink

    RE: #8,9
    I am with 8.

    While you might not like to have to go through this process, it was a reasonable thing to do for GRL to reconsider the paper; papers occasionally do get unfairly rejected, you know. And when they did the due process required, the outcome was appropriate.

    UCAR’s press release; GRL trying to push it through without correct process; I can have problems with these. But abuse when they have come to a decision you agree with ?
    a confused per :)

  29. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

    #28. per, obviously we agree with the final decision. You’re point that rejections need to be re-considered from time to time is reasonable enough, although I doubt that we’d have been awarded reciprocal privilege by Famiglietti. The stated reason for not proceeding with the exchange was one that could have been (and in my opinion, should have been) arrived at editorially considering only the Comment and did not require a formal Reply. In particular, we had also provided a detailed letter to Saiers originally and Famiglietti later outlining all the editorial problems with the Little Whopper, many of which were re-stated in our Reply. This information should have been reviewed prior to requiring a Reply. I’ve posted up our letter to Saiers here.

    Famiglietti said that he had carried out some level of due diligence prior to requiring the Reply. As far as I’m concerned, there was no information provided in the Reply that was not already provided in the Letter to Saiers and, if they had done the due diligence that they said they did prior to requiring the Reply, then, given the eventual decision, they should have been able to arrive at the decision in the first instance.

    However, I suppose that one of my frustrations really lies with Ammann and Wahl, who systematically misrepresent and twist everything that we’ve said – despite being personally informed of the misrepresentations, and I’m cross at spending so much time trying to wade through the swamp.

    Also, it’s not so much that I object to the final decision, but one of my recurrent themes is how little due diligence is actually involved in journal peer review and how little reliance should be placed on something that has merely been journal peer reviewed. I don’t have many samples from my own direct experience, but this particular 5-line review is so trivial that it provides a nice further illustration of the problem. I’m sure that civilians don’t realize how trivial these journal peer reviews are – I certainly didn’t.

    There are some comments in the review that irritated me. In effect, the reviewer blamed us for initiating the exchange and consuming community time with our replies. Here’s one of the things said in the 5-line review:

    The current authors [meaning M&M] have had their say in numerous other replies to criticisms of their work. It is time to get on with it!

    Maybe I’m being a little prickly here, but what justifies this dig at us in this context?

  30. Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

    per: This is unacceptable behaviour for the main reason of the abuse of editorial privilege. Having sent out the comment to Steve, he is bound to the course of going through the work of replying, because the alternative would be for the Comment to go unaddressed. So in that position of power one should honor the decision to send out Comments with publishing it, because the understanding is they have at that stage been reviewed and accepted for publication. To then pull them (and to do it twice) is I think a major breach of faith, and grounds for being justifiably upset. Steve has some alternatives for redress, and I would think both the publisher and the association that runs the journal would be the first place for complaints about editorial misconduct. In addition to the above, baseing decisions on one 5 line review is just plain lazy. I don’t blame the reviewer.

  31. kim
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Just exactly what is it that that 5 line reviewer has decided it’s time to get on with?
    ===========================

  32. per
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Re: #29
    I am a bit confused. I don’t think you state it directly in the header, but I am guessing the the “little whopper” also got peer-reviewed, independently of your reply. I am obviously unaware of what these say; and under any circumstances, I would expect what is fed back from that peer-review process to the authors may well be edited.

    It is a well-known problem that peer-review can be extremely bad on occasion. It could certainly create a problem for the journal if the peer-review comments come back full of praise for the whopper, and the editor has to decide independently on the merit of A&W. However, since I neither know the referee’s comments, or those passed on to A&W, I cannot say anything constructive.

    Let me also say that the reason for killing the article – “the key points are out there”- is fairly damning.

    Re: #30
    I am not sure that I understand your point. Allegely, UCAR has leaned on GRL to get them to reconsider the article; and GRL has agreed, under another editor. The independent editor has gone through process, and been obliged to reject the article again. GRL has shown it is open-minded and unbiased, and has come to the correct decision. This obviously places a considerable burden of time on reviewers and MM, but the important issue is that the peer-review process for A&W comes to the correct decision. It wouldn’t be right for A&W to be buried unjustifiably.

    yours
    per

  33. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    #32. OK, David was being a little more patriotic on my behalf than I was or was making a different point. I wasn’t beefing about the exchange getting buried, only at being put to the extra work for an article that was the worst of all the Comments. But, as you say, a reasonable decision was the outcome, even if the rationale was pretty goofy. I’m a little thin-skinned about the reviewer seemingly blaming us for the recurring of the exchange, but the point is a trifle and I’ve got other fish to fry.

  34. Paul Penrose
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 7:47 PM | Permalink

    RE #22:
    JAE, I don’t think that calling people names will futher the discussion any. Let’s try to keep things civil here.

  35. jae
    Posted Mar 18, 2006 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    34. OK, Paul, the comment was too sweeping and non-specific. I should have said disingenuous and disgusting.

  36. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Mar 19, 2006 at 4:32 AM | Permalink

    Re: #34, 35
    I’ve got to agree with Paul here. This blog has seen too much pettiness of late.

  37. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    As of today, Ammann has not updated his webpage to report the GRL rejection (March 16). It took him 3 days from the acceptance by CC on Feb 28 to update his webpage to reflect the acceptance (March 3). What do you figure the over/under is on the number of days that it will take to change the webpage to show the rejection? What are the odds on them reporting the rejection as opposed to the existence of the GRL submission just disappearing from view at their website?

  38. John A
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    Not to worry, the Wayback Machine should pick it up…

  39. Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    #33. Perhaps I am venting a bit but unfair treatment of this kind does upset me. An editor has a responsibility to be even-handed in treatment of contentious issues. Otherwise we just give up all pretension of objective science and become a society of special interest groups. Bending over backwards to get a critical comment passed review is unfair to the author. It may be OK for the likes of Steve but for mere mortals like myself it is difficult enough without such built in biases. As you didn’t want it published anyway there’s no reason to pursue it, but remember the reason for rejection of the exchange was not that the comment was unworthy of publication, it was based on a five line opinion that they had heard enough from M&M i.e. a desire to stifle the debate and distance themselves. There was no acknowledgement of flaws or even evaluation of the content of the comment which probably express widely held views. This is only one instance, but its the principle. I personally would have liked to have seen the two together, but I can appreciate the downside of publication also.

  40. John A
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

    Re: #39

    As a non-academic perhaps it comes across as rather more trivial than perhaps someone who is in academia. Certainly the intervention by Famiglietti was a tremendous waste of time and resources, and to what effect? Saiers has been vindicated in his original decisions about the comments.

    I would rather Ammann and Wahl’s comment was published together with MM’s reply, but now A&W are now hoist by their own petard. How do they justify keeping the “Big Whopper” out there with Climatic Change and the IPCC when it depends so much on the “Little Whopper”? Do A&W go for “third time lucky”?

    It does confirm something that I have had nagging at me for some time: For some time, climate scientists have played with statistics like postmodernists have played with language. When a real mathematician comes along and investigates what they’ve been doing, they’ve been slow to realise that playtime is over.

    Just imagine for a second that you had submitted your new construction of past climate, but pretended that you had used treerings (including some, most or all that you had cored yourself and would “get around to archiving”). You could have got published, perhaps even cited in the IPCC 4AR as confirmation of the “smoking gun”. You could have shown the statistical skill as “proof” of the reality of global warming.

    And then showed how the hoax was perpetrated.

    This is what happened to postmodernism and the hoax of Alan Sokal. He imitated their art so perfectly that they were completely taken in. When Sokal revealed that it was tosh but intentionally tosh, they had the legs taken from under them. Sokal demonstrated that if they can’t see the difference between intentional tosh and stuff that’s meant to not be tosh, then there isn’t really anything real there at all.

  41. Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    #40. I tend to agree with your viewpoint. The Sokal hoax demonstrated that the literary criticism community had fallen into the bad habit of excessive use of jargon. It is like the whole of environmental sciences has fallen into bad habit of presumption of conclusions, be it AGW or mass extinctions or whatever. You come along and say “Wait a minute, lets look at these unexamined assumptions in your work”, and the problems stick out like the proverbial …, and you get the response “Don’t worry about that, we know the answer anyway.”

  42. JerryB
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Re #37,

    The idea of starting a pool of guesses about what they will do, and when they will do it, comes to mind. However, it might become an unsightly clutter of the blog. Oh, well.

  43. ET SidViscous
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    #40 John

    Makes me think of those stories of College kids writing programs that pick random words and make a fake paper, submit it, and it get’s accepted.

    Wonder what would happen if Steve took the “Dot-com-bubble” hockeystick data, submited to Nature under another name purporting to be tree rings and it got published, only to have Steve reveal the ruse?

  44. jae
    Posted Mar 20, 2006 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    43: Mann et. al. have already done this, in fact. Because of all the unexplained variations in tree rings, dating problems, data manipulations, etc. their data are essentialy random noise. They just refuse to admit that it is a ruse.

  45. Hans Erren
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    re 38:

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/ammann/millennium/refs/AmmannWahl_GRL2005.html

    has finally disappeared, and it does not show up in the waybackmachine

  46. fFreddy
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    Re #45
    Although it is still referred to here as having been submitted.

  47. JerryB
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Re #45 Hans,

    At that URL one gets a 403 error, indicating that the file is still there, but marked so as to restrict access.

    I think it has been that way for several weeks, but I don’t recall when first I noticed it.

  48. fFreddy
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Re #47, JerryB
    Actually, if you look at the directory listing, you see that it isn’t a standard server error message, but a specific html file made up to look like one.
    I have no idea what that means.

  49. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    The page http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/ammann/millennium/CODES_MBH.html was updated on March 25 and still mentions the GRL submission as under review.

  50. JerryB
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Re #48 fFreddy,

    Thank you, I had missed that, and Hans is correct that the file has disappeared.

  51. Jo Calder
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    Re: #45 thru #50. Interesting — a cynic might call this a ground-clearing move prior to the current discussion on RealClimate about press releases. I submitted the following comment there earlier today:

    I don’t think you’ve exhausted the number of ways not to write a press release. An analysis of this
    press release and its history would offer a number of further lessons.

    but it doesn’t seem to have made it passed their “spam filters”. (I used the link for the Climate Change paper because I couldn’t find the GRL link on the wayback machine — I wonder how it got disappeared from there.)

    Cheers, — Jo

  52. Jo Calder
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    Oops — looked like the link (Dano, that means “linky”) didn’t make it. I meant of course
    this one.

    Cheers, — Jo

  53. fFreddy
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Re #45, #48, #51
    Does anyone know how the waybackmachine works ?
    In particular,
    – if a file on the internet is deleted, does the waybackmachine keep its last copy ?
    – if the file on the internet is modified, does the waybackmachine update its cache with the modified file ?

    Rampant speculation, of course. I just don’t understand why anyone should create a bogus error message file like this.

  54. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    I think it’s pretty standard to produce custom error pages on web-sites. I suppose the idea is that you’ll create a page saying something like “The page you wanted isn’t found on Climate Audit.” But I suppose a lot of people just make do with some standard page and let it go at that. The point is that a browser sends a request for a page and takes whatever comes back. If the request handler on the web site queried can’t find what’s requested there’s no need for it to send an error message when it can send a customized error page instead. I’m sure you could take the page you used to send the request and modify it to ask for another non-existant page and you’d probably get the same page back under the new non-existant page name.

  55. fFreddy
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    Dave, linking to the original file now looks like this.
    As you say, linking to a non-existent file in the same directory looks like this.
    The two are obviously the same lay-out and everything.
    But the second of these is automatically generated by the web server software, while the first, as can be seen in the directory listing, is an actual file in the relevant directory.
    So someone has gone to the trouble of creating a file that looks exactly the same as deleting the orginal and letting the server default software handle it. I’m just curious as to why they should bother.
    John A, you know about these things – any thoughts ?

  56. John A
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    Re: #55

    My thoughts are – if you’re going to move on – then just delete files rather than put a fake error message in them, unless of course you want people to bring attention to it and snicker.

    So Caspar – if you’re watching – do the right thing.

  57. John A
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    The Wayback Machine does not store the pdfs, so I hope Steve has saved a copy for posterity.

  58. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    Actually you haven’t proven what you think you have, fF. Files can be given various protections within a directory and trying to access one which you don’t have permission to see will trigger a different error message than the one for a missing file. Thus I’d assume that the file you’re looking for is still there but that the permissions have been changed.

  59. fFreddy
    Posted Apr 22, 2006 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

    Dave, I freely admit to knowing practically nothing about web servers. I just noticed something that seemed odd and was vaguely hypothesising about it.
    But as John was too polite to point out, its a pretty trivial matter, so I’ll shut up.

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