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Switcheroo: Reasons Not to Direct Link Images

Feedback / Static

From: Max G.
Date: Sat, 04 Dec 2010

Hi There...

I just stumbled across your website and the Switcheroo pages.
I simply love it! I have compiled my own story on it, as well as implemented some anti-hotlinking measures on my site:

that mccain switcheroo is tops!

I understand the problem, and am convinced that most users do not understand the problem; as for the scrapers, and so-called businesses who snatch other's work for their own gain, they are outright scum and know exactly what they are doing.

I admire your sense of humour on how you have tackled the problem and how nicely you "matched" some of the original photos with your "replacement". Nicely done!

Keep up the good work!


Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010
From: Angela
Subject: switcharoo - love it!!

I LOVE it!!!

How did you do it without messing up your own images? I want to do this for my site.

you have to change the names of the image files and then update your web pages to reflect the new names.

Blah, I have a huge database. That would be a real pain.

Great idea, though! Pretty funny. :D

From: Kate L.
Subject: Noobie question!
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010

What's up, docs! (Yeah, that just keeps getting funnier and funnier, doesn't it?)

I have just been reading through your "Why you should never hotlink" section...quite liking...and I find I have a clueless question for you.

If I right click and copy an image on someone's site and then paste it into an email to my sister, HAVE I JUST HOTLINKED IT???

If so I will cease and desist the practice immediately and promise to lead a blameless life evermore.
Please don't expose me to ridicule from your more rabid readers...I swear I knew not what I was doing!

Thank you for any words of wisdom you may impart.


hey, there!
i looked at your website and experienced a shock of recognition: when i was a kid, i had a bunch of dodger portraits by your father. good stuff! (leroy neiman can eat it.)
the answer to your question is: no. the effect on a server of what you describe is almost nil. the trouble crops up when someone pastes the url of the graphic on a forum or other web page, because that means that every time that page is loaded, the server absorbs that traffic. if the page is one that gets hit a lot, well, then...
in such cases, the thing to do is to save a copy of the graphic to server space that you have access to.
i don't get hit so much with traffic fees any more, which is why i haven't updated in quite a while.
yours in absence of ridicule,

Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010
Subject: coding rules to prevent hotlinking
From: Ted S.

I also follow two other coding rules that prevent hotlinking, at least the way you describe it:
1. Always use RELATIVE addressing in img tags. NEVER include your domain name in an img tag. This allows the web server to stream images faster AND even pre-package some images for those on dialup with predictive caches, but it also automatically breaks anybody simply copying the tag.
2. I use an ISP that allows me to pay for bandwidth by the pipe/month instead of by the GB limit.

Also, I love the idea of a captcha to reveal the e-mail address.

Date: Tue, 26 May 2009
From: Ryan M.
Subject: Love Switcheroo

Surely I could save an image of yours, if I wanted to, from the cache of my browser, upload it to image shack or wherever, and hotlink to that? Sure, I'm not stealing your bandwidth anymore but I am borrowing your intellectual property :p

that's not of huge concern. i just don't want to get charged for someone else's image usage.

Anyway, I liked the "pwns" on the site.

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009
From: Scott W


Hey doc,

As amusing as your switcheroos are (and they're very amusing!), the problem isn't generally with the people doing the linking. It's more often a systemic problem with certain message board software where hotlinking to photos is the method of choice... for the software.

If you're just having fun jacking with people, then hey, all the power to you. But if you're hoping to reduce hotlinking in general, what you're doing isn't really going to have any impact. It's just going to force people doing the hotlinking to choose another photo somewhere else, because that's all the software allows. (Most people on such message boards aren't going to climb over the hurdle--of both the technical and the get-off-your-ass variety--of hosting their own images and linking to those... which is why I say it's a systemic problem with the message boards.)


From: Mut
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008

I came across your Switcheroo section while reading up on changing my .htaccess file to block MySpace users from hotlinking to my images. I've had a lot of problems with these idiots stealing my bandwidth and although I thoroughly enjoyed changing the images they linked to, it's now become too much to keep up with so I'm going the .htaccess route.

Thanks for giving me a good laugh!

Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007
From: Lady Fionnghuala Na Lamh-Bann
Subject: MmMmmm...Switcheroo. :)

Well done indeed. This section of the DOC site just never gets old.

Many sympathies, my site gets targeted by bandwidth leeches as well. Only in my case they aren't after images, but sound files.

I'm a musician; to promote my work, several years ago I began offering a subdirectory of short song-samples. The occasional greedy n00b comes by thinking "oh coolies, this'll be great background music for my MySpace page!" or whatever, and yoinks the code. Without asking, without telling, without even giving a damn that it's original material. Unless they include a link back to my main website (yaright) this robs me of hits, credit, and critical feedback. On MY bandwidth meter, to boot.

My file-hosting server unfortunately doesn't feature a referral log, so it's hard to track the little bastards down individually; but the signs are usually obvious when someone is screwing me in this manner. So the "switcheroo" technique has been a big help.

One of my favorite switches is the classic clip of Buzz Sutherland imitating a duck getting a blowjob. :) After that gets played enough times, they usually take the hint and ditch the link.

Burning off those pesky ticks one at a time,

From: Troy
Subject: Great site
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2007

I just wanted to take the time to write you and let you know that this site is more entertaining than most entertainment sites. And you can blame all of the "User friendly applications" that require no knowledge of how anything actually works for most of your ills. I have worked customer relationship management for all types of computing products and the level of some peoples understanding of data transfer or even generic understanding of the equipment is just incredible in its lacking. I have sat with my massive education of High School and had to explain to a MCSE with a Master in CIS how things work. Always made me feel good to know these people were pulling in $120k to $180k a year so they could get their equipment setup by an $8hr High School Grad!!

Keep up the good fight!

From: Vivian D.
Subject: Not a little gray haired old lady
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007

As a newbie to myspace and the net, I was looking for a sweet unicorn or a jpg called charging_1.jpg to put on myspace as a background image. I'm reading how to do this (you see?) and stumbled upon your post. I got to #23 of the "Why not to link..." but had to go on. Could you put into plain words how to get a background image of something without having you breathe on me? All my sweet little brave souled grandkids want to know too. What is the difference of saving an image and linking? Do we know how to link? Why do people hack into our comments section and how do we get rid of them without deleting them as friends? (Some of them are funny as heck). Any (subtle) suggestions from you (as a profoundly scarey monster) would be appreciated. ha, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid . . . . .

what you want to do to use images on myspace is save the images to your own web space, rather than linking to images on someone else's web space. to save an image, move your cursor over it, right-click, and select your browser's menu option for saving (in Firefox it's "Save Image As"). then upload your copy of the image to myspace or wherever you like.
(fortunately or otherwise, comment hackers are outside my purview.)

From: James F.
Subject: hotlinking from and other sites
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007

I have had the same troubles with people on myspace and various active chat forums using images from my web page. For now I am using htaccess with mods. For a while I did have fun playing with the MySpacers though. One young 19 year old turkey, just out of highschool was going into the Marines. He linked to a pic I have on my site. I substituted a Stop Hotlinking warning notice and left it for a week... no change. I then switched to a pic of an old time TV test pattern modified with a message that hotlinking is bandwidth theft and that I could change what he is displaying at will but he is responsible for the images in his page... still no change! Soooo... He got some hard core porn and the link dissapeared in 24 hours.

I have also had people use images for avatars in chat forums so I had dozens (and in one case hundreds) of uses of my images. The forum was private so I couldn't examine the usage, so he automatically got the porn treatment. I usually give a warning switcheroo first, then hit them with progressively worse images.

I almost fell off the computer chair when I saw that change to Britney Spears in one of your switcheroos!

Great web page!

Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007
From: Alan
Subject: The Switcheroo, and my solution

Thanks for the Switcheroo pages, they're a blast and they inspired my own work. It's not anywhere near as funny, but I like them.

My work takes advantage of a suggestion a friend gave me. A small website we run had a problem with people pinching our images, just like you. I wanted to block their access, but my friend had a point: let them. Then when we add new content we want to advertise, switch all the inlined images to ads for our new content, turning all these leeches into free advertising.

So for my personal site, I decided to advertise. And what I advertise is an essay about inlining images. It seems most people doing this are posting the images on web forums and the like. These kind people have provided me with an opportunity to put words into their mouths.

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006
From: Daniel W.
Subject: Your Site

is bloody cool :)

anyways just a few thoughts. have you got any server sided programing on your server, if not you can get some good deals on php servers.
using php (with the help of google for finding the code) you can limit who see's your pictures. IE if the user as opened a session on your server (getting rid of the need for refereer) is the user google (for the thing) and if they don't match the rules you lay out you can set up a random "You stole my bandwidth" Picture.

anyways just a thought, keep up the good work and keep those evil bandwidth stealers at bay

P.S. Forgive any spelling mistakes, fi you think they are annoying try debugging programs with spelling mistakes in them. DAM dyslexia. (Why do they have to use a word that is so dam hard to spell, to describe someone who finds it hard to spell)

Date: Tue, 16 May 2006
From: Mr. Dood
Subject: Switcheroo: 25 Literal minded

OMG that cracked me up. My eyes were watering. Thanks a BIG bunch for the laugh. Good luck to ya.

From: Alex C.
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006

Hi Deuce,

I find that a good way of solving the hotlinking problem, is to save two images as one file. Usually people just want the one image when they're hotlinking it. You can also do some cool stuff with opacity, background images and stuff to filter out the bit of the image you don't want the honest viewers of your website to see.

All hail the Almighty Bob,

The amazingly eccentric and benevolent webmaster that is... *deep breath*


i'm probably too lazy to do anything like that, especially at this point, because it'd mean going back through thousand of images. currently i'm using the .htaccess method, despite its drawbacks.

Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2005
From: Shinsei K

Hello D.O.C.,

(I don't know who wrote the article "Switcheroo," so please excuse me for calling your website's abbreveation instead.)

I was searching through Google to find a way to prevent people from hotlinking my images, and I found this page : , which I read and followed to your Switcheroo article.

First off I want to thank you for writing such thing and giving very satisfying examples of how to get back at image/bandwidth stealers. I must say your article really made me laugh.

Then, my question about the .htaccess method that you mentioned in the 1st page. You said it doesn't always work. You said some users (viewers) don't set their browser to show "referrer" I wonder if we can work around that? Possible?

Since I am just a regular user who knows very little about setting/configuration on my computer, can you please tell me how to set the browser to always show referrer? So that I can tell other people how to set it too?

The reason why I want to know that is because if next time my bandwidth gets stolen, and if I can leave a comment in the place where this theft occurs, I then can post a message telling ALL people who can't see my replacement image to set their browser to show referrer and therefore see it.

browsers are all different. i'm not sure that all of them allow the hiding of the browser type. maybe somewhere on the web there's a page showing the method for each browser.

This does not solve the problem better than .htaccess, but I just want to find a way to do it because I don't want those people to miss the fun of what I put in my replacement image. :D

i know just what you mean.
(by the way, i ended up using .htaccess anyway, despite the drawback.)

Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2005
From: Jon R.
Subject: Switcheroo (Neat idea and thanks!)


I had a good laugh looking at your Switcheroo pages today whilst deciding what to do about the problem myself.

So... I'm not going to steal your images but I have already shamed my first bandwidth thief and I might even add a new section to my website.


From: admin
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005

Your Switcheroo site is hilarious!!!! Just recently I found a site hotlinking to an image and a MP3. The original photo was of Terri irwin while the mp3 was of the song Crocodile Rock. I pulled a switcheroo.

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005
From: Vincent J.
Subject: referrer blocking

The common solution I saw many a site do when they wanted to block people from using their images was to just block on foriegn referrer, and allow it when the browser wouldn't send a referrer. It's not perfect, but it stops 99% of the browsers on the market.

Though that switcheroo thing is hilarious.

thanks. i did end up doing something like that. i just didn't want to block browsers set not to identify themselves. ah, well.

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005
From: Jish L.


I was reading through "Switcheroo: Reasons Not to Direct Link Images" and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've seen it around a few times before, Phono Phunk, the most notable.

I was just wondering what stat program you used. The program I use just tracks web page hits, (like .php .htm etc...) I would like to track images that are directly linked on my website. Any help would be appreciated, and I loved the switcheroo article. I hope you had as much fun making it as I had reading it.

it's webalizer, which means it could be a whole lot better.

Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005
From: Joshua F.

Hello there. I was reading through your Switcheroo article, and I thought I'd chime in. I run an art-submission website with a forum, so I've got twice the problems with hotlinking. I'm too lazy to handle hot-linkers the way you do, so I made my own solution. Every day, the server generates a random string of characters. Whenever it wants to show you a user-submitted picture (submissions, BBS signatures, BBS pictures, etc.), it passes that string to a special script. If the string is correct, then that script passes you on to the picture. If it's not correct, it gives you a little 2.8KB graphic that simply states "Quit stealing our fucking bandwidth, you thief!". So basically, if someone hotlinks an image from my site, after 24 hours it changes over. Just thought I'd share my solution!

Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2005
From: Eric W.

Your switcheroo page is funny, but it looks like it still costs you just as much bandwidth. Maybe you could also use mod_throttle to cut the throughput to a trickle when the referrer is anything offsite. Then you get the double-whammy that hotlinked images are snarky *and* take forever to load!

From: Brittney H.
Subject: switcheroo -- THANK YOU!
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005

Just got finished perusing your excellent series on hotlinking. My husband and I laughed our asses off; our favorites are the switches pulled on the freepers. Fucking freepers. Up until today, I’d always just renamed things whenever I came across images on my site being hotlinked; your way is much more satisfying.

By the way, I recently discovered that my webhost offers Hotlinking Protection through the Control Panel software for my site. (I use Liquid Web hosting.) I’d never actually taken the time to try it out because I only get 5 or 6 hotlinks a month and they only cause a few extra dozen hits or so. But then today, when I found my B&W Kerouac image linked on some teenage loser’s blog, in which she talks about smoking dope, listening to Avril Levigne (!), and apparently doesn’t understand the concept of capitalization, that was it. I mean really, Jack Kerouac and Avril Levigne on the same page? Truly the Apocalypse is nigh. I activated the function today and it seems to work great. Anyway, thought you may want to see if your webhost offers the same type of control.

Thanks for striking a blow against online dumbassery.

From: FlossinGolf
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005
Subject: how do you know?

how do you know if someone is stealing bandwidth?

if your site stats are as lame as mine, all it will show you is hits from domains. you have to go and take a look & see whether your images are being directly linked.

Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005
From: Rob S.

Stumbled across your switcheroo pages today.. excellent stuff. I did the same thing a couple of years ago, but made it interactive. That is, any user on the web can change the image that the hotlinkers used. Enjoy...

that is good stuff, indeed. thanks for pointing me to it.

From: Tom Van V.
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005

There is an image on the internet called "sylvana.jpg" that will crash MSIE. Firefox shows it just fine. I am not suggesting that you switcheroo any files to show this picture instead of the one the user links to. That would be mean. Turkeys visiting a direct linker would see their browser crash. Every time.

There is a feature of Apache called RewriteEngine that checks the referring page. Links to graphics from a site's pages can be allowed. Certain image indexers are allowed. Everybody else gets rewritten. Doesn't seem to work for Safari though.

So one could have something like this, if one had control of his .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://images\.google [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www\.google [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://google\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://images\.search\.yahoo [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www\.alltheweb\.com/search [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www\.stumbleupon\.com/refer\.html [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !Safari [NC]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !sylvana\.jpg [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteRule .*\.jpe?g$ images/sylvana\.jpg [NC]

i've tried a few different .htaccess solutions, but nothing works for all browsers, and sometimes anyone with their browser anonymized will see no images at all. so, still waiting.

hadn't heard of "sylvana.jpg," though. odd.

Subject: Switcheroo = AMAZING!!!
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005
From: Johnny K

Oh man that switcheroo stuff...AMAZING!!! What a great idea! Oh, how I love it!
~Johnny K

no relation to mr. k (mr. kamikazee), who used to appear as graffiti on the bathroom walls of arizona state university, are you?
just checking.

Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005
From: the drew
Subject: Thanks for the laugh

Just read through you guys switcheroo pages. Had me laughing my ass off. Thanks for the good read and good luck with the whole bandwidth theft.

From: Eric O'B.
Subject: Bandwidth stealing, some innocent?
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005


I loved your 20 (plus) reasons not to steal bandwidth. You could get into a terrible hobby there, messing with the links to "borrowed" images! Quite a bit of fun to read through, though.

Seriously however: how much of the linking to images on your severs do you think is malicious, and how much is due to totally clueless people?

so far, i know of only one malicious case. so, yeah. cluelessness abounds.

I notice that a lot of your examples are from Blogs. I don't blog myself, so I've never used any of the software, but I can just imagine some clueless blogger, writing in their blog tool, seeing a picture that they like and just ...dragging it... into a message they're writing.


Do they know what their blogging tool actually DOES in response to such a gesture? Even if they were informed, would they UNDERSTAND the implications? Probably not, I'd guess. That doesn't make them innocent, only clueless. But it makes it somewhat of a different problem, it seems to me.

well, there are two root problems:
1) clueless types get on the web and fuck around without trying to understand the implications of what they do
2) i have found, as yet, no way to ban the clueless types from direct-linking without also simultaneously preventing people who browse anonymously from viewing images.

Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005
From: Shanna R.
Subject: Direct Linking

Was browing around on your Switcheroo page (great stuff, btw). I recently purchased my own domain & have finally finished moving all of my stuff over to it and was wondering how you check for direct linking. The site stats programs that I use aren't very informative; even if I see that a particular image is garnering a helluva lot of hits, I have no way of seeing how or why. I tried doing the in Google & in Alta Vista, but was wondering if there was a better way. You seem able to nab the direct linkers accurately & efficiently and I was hoping you'd share the secret.

as i'm sure you know, all stats packages are not equal. the one my host uses is webalyzer, which i don't much care for, because it shows me only sources of hits, instead of pairing the hit source with the file or image that is linked. which is not rocket scientology, but somehow manages to be at least one technological step ahead of webalyzer. sadly, then, there is no secret...

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 05
From: omnedon
Subject: Direct linking and (bonus) clueless ISP

I run a (small) publishing company and maintain a set of pages for one of our producers. A scan through the logs showed 2 instances of our images direct linked into a couple of journal pages that were generating a lot of hits.

One was an under contruction icon that I had lifted from somewhere (hosting the copy linked by my own pages) and thus after a cease and desist was ignored I changed the filename. End of that problem.

The other involved a rather large file that was an original, and under the copyright of the producer that I mentioned earlier. I went to check and there was only the naked image, no indication of origin, and no indication of copyright.

So in my official capacity as webhost I sent a request with 2 options.

Cease and Desist *or* provide proper copyright annotation along with a link back to the page that the image was displayed on. No answer.

So I sent a request to her webhost explaining exactly what I wanted. The only reply I got back was a set of instructions on how to disallow direct linking. A) I knew that already. B) I have been on hosts where I did not have access to the requisite config file to disallow direct linking. C) With this current host I can block all direct linking, but I cannot allow some and block others.

That one was harder to fix as we had to change the filename and then contact those who had permission to direct link regarding the changes.

From: Alan H.
Subject: Hotlinking solution
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004

You said you were looking for a more elegant solution the image hotlinking problems you've faced.

I found a helpful article on A List Apart, the well-known 'site for people who make websites'. It suggests redirecting requests with a bad HTTP_REFERER to - get this - an actual web page with the correct image and info making clear you own the image. It returns a MIME type of text/html so the requested image will NOT display on *bad* websites!

You may have heard of this article, but here is a link:

i have been to that site before & tried that method. but, like many of the people who wrote in with comments on that page, it didn't work for me. one of these days someone will come up with something effective. they ... have to ... don't "they?"

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004
From: 4LAN H0g4N
Subject: Stopping Image Theft

On your Switcheroo page you ask if anyone knows of a .htaccess method that does NOT stop users whose browers send NO referrers, or when people simply paste in the URL of the image (also without a referrer). There certainly is one. I believe you should find the answer here:
Basically it allows blank referrers, as well as those from your site.

i have seen that page before. the method outlined there does have the problem when there's no referrer. here's some text from the page:

"There are some isolated cases when this won't work. Some tools that allow people to surf "anonymously" will not send proper referrer headers, meaning that images will become broken on your own site for these visitors. Some proxies and firewalls will have the same effect. However, this won't affect the vast majority of your visitors, and those who use referrer-hiding services are likely well aware of the side-effects."

it seems that some browsers these days are set to "no referrer" by default. i did try his method, and right away i started getting emails from people telling me that their browsers were showing all images as broken on my site.

so, it appears another solution will have to be found. thanks anyhow, though.

Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004
From: Gayla
Subject: Switcheroo

Fantastic job!

Last year, I had a guy direct linking to one of my original artwork images. I replaced it with "I'm stealing bandwidth from"

I changed my legal info on my site, too.....I charge $5 per MB of bandwidth used by direct linking now, and $100 or more for each instance of image theft, direct linking or not. If you state it, it makes it legally pursueable. =)

A trick that seems to also the image as the background in a table that's just it's size, then put an invisible GIF over it. This is for those who like to click and save as on images they shouldn't be touching. All they get is the blank GIF. Course, they could view source and go through the code to find the image's filename, but most won't waste the time. Won't stop them from taking screen shots, either, but nothing's perfect.

Anyway, great work, keep it up!

that's a pretty good strategy. i have so many images on the site, though, that it would take me a long, long time to implement it. gracias, gayla. i hope that soon someone comes up with some better way of preventing direct linking.

From: Ross D-C.
Subject: Hot linking
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004


I greatly enjoyed your article about hotlinking, and your way of dealing with it.

danke. wish the .htaccess method would work, but it cuts off way too many people who have their browsers set not to send referrer info.

I've just got a simple question really – I use IIS and am looking for a log analyser that can drill down and give details on hotlinked images and such – is there one you recommend?

sorry, no. i don't know a thing about IIS. i only find out about hotlinked images via my referrer logs, which aren't even very good.

From: scifisuzi
Subject: Switcheroo
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004

Hi Deuce,

I enjoyed my visit to your website. Just tonight I was ranting to my friends about band-width theft, after looking at my referrer logs (it was a long time since I looked). I did a couple of switches myself (before finding your site). For instance, someone hotlinked to my picture of Chiana (from Farscape) to post on a Beautiful Blue Babes board. Now they see this: < skull-faced Chiana >

Anyway - your site is an inspiration - I had a good time there.

gracias. glad you enjoyed it.

As you noticed, the worst offenders are people that post to message boards *sigh*

yeah. livejournal users seem to be the worst. it would be nice if anyone happened to at least be doing something interesting or creative with their stealing. but i haven't found a case of that yet.

if your site happens to be running on an apache server, there is a combined .htaccess/.php solution you might try.

From: johnny390
Subject: Easiest way to deny hotlinking
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004

After reading your "switcharoo" [sic] I am suprised that a dunce like you does not know something called ".HTACCESS" files. google it. put something like the following lines to it and voila, turds never can touch your bandwidth no matter how much they try.

your invective makes no sense. you could say:

(1) "I am not surprised that a dunce like you..."

or you could say:

(2) "I am surprised that a super-intelligent machine-human hybrid like you..."

but you should not be surprised that a dunce doesn't know something.

furthermore, given that i am not a dunce but rather a super-intelligent machine-human hybrid, you should not be surprised that i already *do* have an .htaccess file.

unfortunately, it does not seem to be foolproof (though it does seem to be super-intelligent machine-human hybrid-proof). i still get lots of direct-image links showing up in my logs, and if i visit those pages using IE, .htaccess does its job: nothing is displayed but the broken link icon. however, Opera seems to ignore the .htaccess file. something. because in Opera, the images do display, in spite of .htaccess.

maybe you are more super-intelligent machine-human hybrid than i, and can therefore suggest why this is the case.

any ideas?

From: John G.
Subject: love the Switcheroo!
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004

Just had to write and let you know I just love the Switcheroo section!!
I laughed my ass off. We've had several sites stealing our bandwidth and images and in the beginning we'd simply let them know that it was unacceptable and inform their hosts, it's usually a violation of hosting terms and so sometimes they'd lose their hosting… then we started swapping out the images with the raunchiest of porn we could scrounge up. Sometimes this would last for days on their sites… you have some definite awesome and hilarious 'switcheroo' concepts!!

Thanks for the laugh!

de nada. there is currently one site that i've now asked twice to remove a couple of direct-linked images. they shall soon receive a nasty surprise.

From: Baruch
Subject: Hot Linking
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004

In setting up my Website I encountered the concept of "hot linking", which I'd never heard of. The information referred me to your Website, which was a riot! Thanks.

de nada

I have one question, though - do you find yourself getting hot-linked a lot?



because it has thousands of images.

To be honest, until I read about this (hot-linking) I never even thought it would have been bad to do. I would have assumed that, since the link was out there available to the public, it would be OK to link to it. Since many Webmasters like to get plenty of hits for their advertisers, I would have assumed that the hits would be appreciated.

i think you're right, that this is what a lot of people think. but advertisers don't pay by image hits, they pay by page hits (or click-throughs), so all direct linking does is drive up the traffic charges from the site host.

I now know better; my point, though, is that there might be a lot of people out there who hot-link out of ignorance, and not because they're crooks... guys like me, for example.

i don't think of them as crooks, exactly. i do think that people ought to learn a little about what they are doing before they do it.

Anyway, thanks for your amusing take on hot-linking, and why it might not be such a good idea to do it... I loved it.


From: Ryan S.
Subject: Switcheroo
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004

Nice site, quite funny stuff.

As funny as those stories are, it might be nice to put a link to show people how to prevent hotlinking, like say:

I know not everyone has the ability to use htaccess on their web host, but it'd be nice for a lot of people.

Just a thought.

i was going to put an .htaccess how-to up, except that i'm using that method and somehow it still seems not to be 100%, for reasons i do not understand. sometimes it prohibits direct linking; sometimes it does not. probably something simple to straighten out, except that i'm not much of a web geek (as is no doubt evident from my site).

the worst offender is livejournal -- they could help a lot by simply preventing hotlinked images (as i wish message boards would do).

BTW, ran across your site via, via - funny how random surfing can turn up a gem like switcheroo!

glad you came on by.

From: Barry C.
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004
Subject: Thank you! (Switcheroo pages)

Thanks... I damn near peed my pants reading your pages, especially the "Slim Whitman" AFTER photo. I have been having problems with people - mostly blogs - linking to images on my site, and I was just doing a little research on how to stop this. I came across your site and really enjoyed it! I may have to do this soon...


the big problem is being able to track the message board linkers. most of the time the referral log does not show the page that is snagging the image (instead, you just get, e.g., an .asp that leads you to the main board page, which tells you pretty much nothing).

let me know if you pull any switches -- i like to see what others come up with.

From: Fred R.
Subject: direct image linking
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003

Can't you just think of the direct linking as an excellent opportunity to guide people into your site ? I think it would be funny to use them as unwitting marketeers for you !

it would, but people don't typically investigate image sources. if an image is linked back to my site, that's different, of course.

From: Ellen P.
Subject: Switcheroos
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all of your switcheroos! The Brittney Spears one had me crying and falling out of my chair!

there is a disclaimer somewhere on the site for that sort of thing. suffice it to say, we are eminently unsueable.

Heard of your site through the Sweet Potato Queens Message Board of Love (new home of Lady Chatterly's Phast Phyllis - formerly a Quahog). You'll be happy to know that ALL of my images are hosted on my own webspace! :0)

well done, thou good & faithful image non-linker.

From: Ms. Ultima
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002

My current favorite feature at DoC is Switcheroo. Oh the comeuppance! I too love Britney (hey! I didn't say that! What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO?!),

oops, i did it again.

Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2002
From: jess


Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002
From: Scott T.
Subject: Thanks For the Switcheroo site..

Having been someone whos been linked via fark, etc, think they should be raped by a large horse.

there could be a huge graphic of a fark-raping horse, which gets uploaded to fark, and then linked from other sites, and then ... and then ... and then ...

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2002
From: jess
Subject: slim wagner, cuntry sanger

good to hit the site again, see many new updates, and none of them have to do with you being victimized by brainless miscreants

you don't count anna nicole?

-- the fact that you exacted some gorgeous revenge on internet miscreants was heartwarming, too. but i have to wonder about that reality show thing. it was hilarious, yes, but... don't you have to have WATCHED them to do such a dead-on parody? (thanks for sparing me the trouble of doing so, anyway... i feel i know all i need to know now.)

in this way i fulfill my mission

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002
From: kafkaesque
Subject: bandwidth theft

Hey there Doc

I'm one of the admins at, the site where that Ute Lemper snap was snagged. We are trying to enforce the "no bandwidth theft" policy, but the guy who took that one doesn't seem to get it.

he will "get it" very soon -- adampsyche's site may find itself bearing a little extree traffic very soon...

Thanks for bringing the matter to the forefront, though, as I'm sure that will be enough to dissuade him in the future.

oddly enough, he's taking part in a metafilter discussion today on the ethics of bandwidth theft.

I know it's not much of a discussion's just people goofing around.

Anyway, I'm a fan of your site, and tried to get a few dollars for your donation thing a ways back. Just thought I'd drop that in there as a plea for mercy for our little bunch of ingrates.


thanks, no problem -- has nothing to worry about from

Date: Thu, 01 Aug 2002
From: kafkaesque
Subject: Re: bandwidth theft

I just thought I'd do a little follow-up here.....we've changed the site so that every page has a reminder about bandwidth theft, and points to this info page.

I think it's a good way of informing the masses.

see ya

From: Lynda W.
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002

that's the funniest damn thing i've ever seen. i kinda hope some other fools out there don't immediately get the message, as i'd really like to see more.

quite likely

would love to be a fly on the wall when they see their 'new improved' image for the first time! hahahahaha i'm thinking that most dumb slobs don't know that it's not a nice thing

i am "helping them learn"

you're doing a good thing for society. in a really sick way.

it's the only way i know

From: kid_at
Subject: I heart Britney
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002

A swastika would've been so much more fitting! If it wasn't for the fact that my site is worthless and I update it once a year, I would love for someone to direct link so I could get them.

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002
From: j
Subject: switcheroo

so funny. so very funny. thanks-

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002
From: Rob Cockerham


Man, what a great batch. I don't really think of your site as having a lot of images, but you sure had your share of hitchhikers. I'm going to go check my logs right now!

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