Link Removal Request

From: Sue Reed <sue.reed
To: Sean Gabb
Monday the 23rd March 2015


I am emailing on behalf of

We have recently been reviewing all of the links to our site and have decided to try to remove any that could possibly be marked by Google as unnatural. Whilst this isn’t suggesting that your link to us isn’t natural we just want to be as cautious as possible.

Would you be able to help us by either removing or adding a nofollow to any links you have to us? This is what we found linking to us: –

Please let me know if you are able to help us with this and what we need to do to get the link removed.

Thanks in advance

Sue Reed

Sean Gabb replies:

I have no idea how, if at all, you were linked to from my site. However, I do not see that it is your business to decide who links to your site. I will also point out that, where “unnaturalness” may be concerned, I run an educational charity recognised for tax purposes by HMRC, and your main business appears to be helping students to evade the proper consequences of their idleness or illiteracy or both.

In short, I find your request impertinent, and propose to give it no further attention.

Sean Gabb


  1. I have nothing against “Search Engine Optimization” per se, but some people take it to annoying lengths. Asking other sites to modify their links to make you look better to Google is one of the MOST annoying.

    Besides which, that page doesn’t even seem to link to them.

  2. My god! Am I naive? I’ve joked with friends about the possible demand for a business like this without FOR A MOMENT actually thinking it could actually work or exist!

  3. I think we need to clarify what is meant by ‘natural’. Since we humans manipulate the ‘natural’ world in which we live, we are, by definition, ‘unnatural’ animals??? Quite a debate to be had?

  4. My contrarian self rouses from its slumbers ….

    Why have I the right to disallow some people from telephoning me (I’m thinking of our “do-not-call” lists here, the intent of which is to prevent endless telemarketing calls, and also the call-blocking feature that I believe is available, though I could be wrong there.) —

    But not to prohibit some people from linking to my website?

    I do, after all, have also the right to request Mr. X and Mrs. Y to keep their feet off my property, no if’s and’s or but’s. And not to send their vile nephews and nieces over, either.

    In theory, that is.

    . . .

    Contrarian returns to somnolence. Why does the lady’s request turn on the word “unnatural”? Is this some sort of code for “attracting unwanted attention from Google”? Is a puzzlement. “Unnatural” makes me think of sodomy, the killing of one’s own children, and H.P. Lovecraft.

    . . .

    As to Sean’s criticism of the site’s business, I would happily join arms and shout all sorts of inappropriate epithets at such concerns.

    People should be ashamed of themselves.

    The analogue of what this woman and her outfit are selling is forged art — forgery for hire. Want to collect the big bucks for finding and selling a genuine Renoir? We’ll be happy to paint you one.


  5. Whatever is an “unattural” link?

    Truly bizarre. You were certainly right to reply as you did.

    And isn’t there something rather unattural about an organisation that makes a business of writing essays for people in any case?

  6. I must have missed this blog – and only just saw it on Sean’s list of recent articles he emailed just now. What a rude email from Sue Reed! Sean, you have dispatched her under her pebble, as was only right!

  7. Absolutely hilarious. It is a good job I had finished my last sip of coffee, otherwise my computer screen would be drenched.

    I do love the English dry wit and the precise use of language, which Sean so often displays, particularly when it so masterfully lashes at the foolishness and ‘impertinence’ of others.

    As for their site – well, I had to have a look – I can’t believe that something like that exists! Is it really what it seems?

    They even seem to run their work through some sort of plagiarism software to make sure the students don’t get found out! (Although I suspect they may hold a whole host of pre-written material and then use the software to know just how much to tinker with it to generate an ‘original’ work).

  8. I believe Essay Writer is one of several such companies owned by Barclay Littlewood, who has become a multi-millionaire through these enterprises.

    His usual defence is that the essays are model essays intended to be used as guides on how to write a proper essay, rather than used by students to cheat. He says that his custom essays are not essentially different from ‘external material’ such as past papers, commonly used in universities, Google searches, journals, study notes, and so on. As someone who was never taught how to write a proper essay in school (and no, I have never used one of these essay-writing websites either), I am inclined to agree with him. Prohibiting proper use of a custom essay is essentially interfering with how students learn. Indeed, private tutors will often teach their students the correct way to structure an essay, and write model essays for the student to identify that structure and see it in practice.

    No doubt, plenty of lazy or desperate students will buy these papers and pass them off as their own, but that is misuse. There is little the essay providers can do about this when they make it explicitly clear on their sites that the material is not to be passed off as the students’ own for the purpose of plagiarism. It is this unscrupulous student who is risking, at the end of the day, his own academic path and future career.

    Universities are right to be worried about cheating, and Barclay Littlewood (I refer to him as he is the best-known and most-maligned figure in the essay-writing business) has offered on many occasions to co-operate with educational establishments in clamping down on plagiarism. But I suspect that universities simply do not like the idea of their students being taught how to write quality essays ‘externally’. The idea that knowledge should be acquired for its own sake, that students should be motivated to self-teach, is but a raindrop in the harsh winds in today’s academic climate, where deviation from the curriculum is discouraged and universities treated as skills-teaching centres for future job applicants.

    To repeat, it goes without saying that dishonest students should be rooted out and punished, but how is using these essays for the purpose of learning how they ought to be written any different from, say, buying a book on it, or teaching oneself the same skill via other online sources?

    (P.S. I broadly agree with Sean’s response to the impertinent lady in the e-mail exchange. I thought I would raise this particular topic since it is related to the original post.)

      • Exactly. And I am sure you were not encouraging plagiarism in doing so.

        A new business idea, perhaps?

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