If you fancy running a controversial website...

... you might like to think twice before signing up with Netcetera for hosting purposes.

... you might like to think twice before signing up with Netcetera for hosting purposes.

There was an amusingly caustic site called Quackometer, which specialised in spotting and publicising, well, quackery. Of which there is no shortage, even in these enlightened times.

But Quackometer is no more. Its web hosting company, Netcetera, has thrown it off. Has Andy Lewis, aka Le Canard Noir, proprietor of the Quackometer, committed some terrible sin, some libel, slander or other inappropriate act?

Not as far as I can see. The Duck's crime was to collate newspaper reports concerning one Joseph Chikelue Obi, 'world's top expert in nutritional immunomudulation', and head of the "Royal College of Alternative Medicine in Dublin". There's lots out there about Professor Doctor Obi, although it can be a bit challenging finding out much concerning his establishment, and although he is reported as responding to linky publicity with legal letters I have little compunction about furthering your education.

Unfortunately, Netcetera is rather more cagey and has responded to Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)'s complaints by de-ducking with alacrity, telling the hapless quackbuster that:

"We do not wish to be in a position where we could be taken to court, and incur the loss of time and expense that would involve. Consequently Netcetera have decided to suspend the Quackometer website, with reference to our Acceptable Usage Policy, the first part of which is quoted below. The full policy can be found on our website www.netcetera.im/SiteInfo/AUP/

"Acceptable Usage Policy

This policy is subject to change, without alternate notice, so please check regularly for updates. This policy is in addition, and considered part of Netcetera's Terms and Conditions. Netcetera will be the sole arbiter as to what constitutes a violation of this provision.

1) Web Hosting

1.1) Netcetera reserves the right to suspend or cancel a customer's access to any or all services provided by Netcetera, where Netcetera decides that the account has been inappropriately used. Netcetera reserves the right to refuse service and /or access to its servers to anyone."

We will prevent public access to the site as of noon today 18th February 2008. You will be able to access the content to be able to transfer it to another host if you so wish.

We will hold the content available to you for 30 days, and then we will remove it from our servers."

Charming. I do wonder what legal advice Netcetera took before arriving at this conclusion, because as far as I can tell no amount of nutritional immunomodulation will effect the sort of complete lower body transplant necessary to give Professor Doctor Obi any legs to stand on.

Meanwhile, if you fancy doing some waterfowling of your own, do check whether your hosting contract says, as Netcetera's does, that you can be terminated without recourse and without reason. You might like to take your punt gun elsewhere.

[Update: As the Duck has done. He's back, courtesy of Positive Internet. I don't know much about Positive, but I like what I see. His Serene Majesty, The Bountiful, The Right Reverend Professor Herr Doctor Pope Highness Obi-Wan has yet to pronounce on this development.]