Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

CPC Website Ministry FAQ – by means of a plank in my eye

Ever print out or save something for your own personal and private use, only to find out later that everyone can see it as well? That happened to me recently, in fact last night. So the first order or business is a public apology to Jeff Wilkinson and the good folks at Central Presbyterian Church in beautiful Baltimore Maryland. Second order or business is to examine what happened so you can learn from my mistake.

How It Started

I was pursuing contacts for my next article in Christian Computing; specifically I was looking for church webmasters who have demonstrated some knowledge of systems design and/or the software lifecycle. I knew there was this church in/near the city of my birth that had an extensive page church website administration. I hadn’t visited it in a while; in fact I had trouble remembering its name. It wasn’t until I found an old, old bookmark in my MSIE browser (which I don’t use much anymore) that I found the URL for “the CPC Website Ministry FAQ” (CPC/WMF).

When I clicked on the URL I got a server error – and not a nice little offline or database error, but the type of error you see when a site goes out of existence. I was bummed; this page was truly “Resource Filled.” So much so in fact that I have refrained from mentioning it because it is a no-brainer – that is, there are times when I’m so busy I cant’ blog so I throw such URLs out under the category of “Resource Filled” as one would throw a bone to a hungry pack of wolves. You guys get fed, discover a new site, and I can get on with whatever real-life issue is keeping me from doing what I’d rather do: writing original and compelling content.

The Error

Getting back to what happened, I was disappointed that the Internet had lost such a valuable resource. So I went to Google to see if I could cache the content before it disappeared into the ether forever. I was in luck, and proceeded to use my FireFox browser to snip the source of the cached CPC/WMF. I proceeded then to paste the FAQ into a test area of this blog. Actually, it is an entire other blog I keep to test things on this site before inflicting them on you.

Another reason I cut and paste the content was to see it contained contact information for the webmasters. It did, as a link to a staff page; so again to Google to grab the cache. Only this time, when the cached page came up, so did the graphics – which indicated to me that the CPC site was back online.

So I went to the CPC site, and emailed Jeff Wilkinson about my upcoming article and how I’d love to use his site as a “for instance.

What I didn’t realize was that unlike the blog #1, that is HYCW, my test blog defaulted to “post” instead of “draft” when I save articles. That is, my snip of the CPC/WMF was published under my test subdirectory. Worse, unbeknownst to me, it was visible to the search engine that comes with later versions of MovableType.

The Incident

This morning I woke to find two emails from Jeff; the first a very nice email as to the best way to contact him and some discussion of design. The next was a grace-filled but stern questioning as to why, when he searched for his site on my blog, found the CPC/WMF cut and pasted onto my blog. You see, from his perspective he didn’t realize that my test blog wasn’t for public consumption – only that CPC’s copyrighted content was copied wrong!

I was mortified!

Two reasons, first because my copy of the CPC/WMF was for my private use, and only done so because I thought their site had gone the way of so many other useful resources. Second, because I have of late been using my test area as a personal notepad – including a travel itinerary containing some sensitive information.

My Penance

First order of business was to re-password protect the path of my test area. I had some time ago removed the password protection to test some web services experiments I was trying to access from a second site –and then lazily didn’t put the protection back in place.

Next was to remove the snippet/post. There is no need to keep it seeing as the CPC website is now back online.

Third, modify the search page form so it ONLY searches the HYCW blog, and not any secondary blogs I’ve created for testing and such.

Finally, apologize profusely to Jeff Wilkinson and the good folks at Central Presbyterian Church. It was never my intention to violate your copyright, steal your intellectual property and/or plagiarize your compelling content. I’m heartsick about this and pray you understand that is was sloppiness, not a malicious intent that caused this to happen – a sloppiness that I deeply regret and hope others will avoid in kind.


  1. Dean, Thanks for fixing this so quickly. Just to be clear, you are certainly allowed always to print or save off a copy of the our content for your own use, I just didn’t want a copy elsewhere that was public, partly because it was incomplete and wouldn’t get any of my updates and would just be confusing.

    Please don’t beat yourself up over this. It was an honest mistake, I understand you weren’t trying to plagarize our content and you’ve fixed it. End of story. Please don’t let it trouble you any further.

    Besides, it was good that you did this since it alerted me that our site was down last evening and it alerted you that your test area was accidently public. Good results to a minor mistake.

    Jeff Wilkinson
    webmaster for http://www.centralpc.org

  2. “two emails from Jeff … The next was a grace-filled but stern questioning as to why”

    Stern? I didn’t mean to be. Once again email fails to convey feeling properly.

    I’d definitely would have tried for ‘stern’ if I’d thought you *were* trying to ‘borrow’ the content without asking, but I tried to just ask gently since I assumed it was a mistake – particularly since I had noticed the “test” in the URL. ;-)

  3. A quick, unrelated comment to Jeff — love the CPC site. It was probably the first church site I bookmarked when looking into getting our church online years ago (my bookmark date is 1998). Clean, bandwidth light, and deep, current content. You guys have been doing a great job for years.

  4. Thanks Mark. Always nice to hear from visitors, particularly other webmasters.