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Ask HN: Anyone know where Mark Pilgrim went?
305 points by rileywatkins on Oct 5, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 84 comments
I went back to diveintohtml5.org to find something today, and it's gone. Then I checked diveintomark.org, diveintopython3.org, twitter.com/diveintomark...

Is Mark Pilgrim pulling a disappearing act?

So check this out: Google "http error code 410" and the second hit is from diveintomark.org circa 2003.

""" Let’s all talk about HTTP error code 410. ... Error 410 means Resource gone, as in, a resource used to exist at this location, but now it’s gone. Not only is it gone, but I don’t know (or I don’t want to tell you) where it went. ... Now, there is not a lot of information about error 410... I suppose because it addresses a condition that doesn’t come up very often. Also, we’ve all been brainwashed into believing that all resources should be permanent, which simply isn’t true. """ Google cache: http://bit.ly/qxdBi5

His servers are returning 410 errors but also the same very deliberate HTML:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN"> <html><head> <title>410 Gone</title> </head><body> <h1>Gone</h1> <p>The requested resource<br />/<br /> is no longer available on this server and there is no forwarding address. Please remove all references to this resource.</p> </body></html>

Clearly Mark's invocation of the 410 error is deliberate.

410 Gone (but alive/annoyed) is the new 200 OK.

Yep, that's him. 410 is intentional.

surprising how many people did not notice its 410 not another http code..

He's OK. I don't know how to link a tweet but see textfiles account(https://twitter.com/#!/textfiles)

Mark Pilgrim is alive/annoyed we called the police. Please stand down and give the man privacy and space, and thanks everyone for caring. ... The communication was specifically verified, it was him, and that's that. That was the single hardest decision I've had to make this year.

Mark is annoyed? How about Mark is goddamn lucky and should be both embarrassed and grateful that he's enough of a character that a chunk of the internet cares about him.

Mark is annoyed?

It is Mark Pilgrim's right to disappear, but to disappear in a puff of greasy black smoke and 4̶0̶4̶s̶ 410s is just attention whoring and begging people to look for him and call the police.

There is no reason for Mark to be annoyed that some caring people looked for him. There is every reason for him to count his blessings.

I sincerely wish him the best and hope he recovers from whatever ails him, but please don't tell me how annoyed he is.

He probably/hopefully/certainly also has friends and family that he interacts with on a day-to-day basis that, were he to actually-really-really disappear, would care about him and call the police. It is frankly kind of creepy/scary that a bunch of people he barely knows think it is their place to /call the police/ if he gets sick of the weird kind of attention you get from that kind of audience (and frankly reinforces the behavior of wanting to "go 410").

Jason Scott, the guy whose twitter account that is and the guy who called the police, evidently knows Mark Pilgrim well enough to verify that he was talking to Mark because they were discussing a matter "only the two of them knew about".

That doesn't sound like "creepy Internet people Mark barely knows" to me.

Firstly, let me point out that I am responding to jerrya, not Jason Scott (whom I have also interacted with on a few occasions, and is a friend-of-a-friend enough that when I heard about this mess I turned to someone else in the room and asked them about what was up).

"Mark is goddamn lucky and should be both embarrassed and grateful that he's enough of a character that a chunk of the internet cares about him"

I believe that statement belies a general mentality that I run into constantly: I myself have "disappeared" a few times, for less than 72 hours, because I decided to "take a weekend off" (attending a concert, for example), and I /did not appreciate/ that a ton of people on Twitter seemed to think that meant that I had "died", and insinuated calling the police to find me.

Regardless, to respond now to your comment regarding Jason: they apparently aren't close enough for Jason to a) call Mark directly, b) call someone in Mark's family, c) call any of Mark's friends, or d) have any clue what happened to Mark other than to "[call] his local PD for a welfare check", which to me indicates they aren't really close at all.

Seriously: having something "only the two of them knew about" isn't actually that rare: I've only talked with the man (Jason) a couple times, and yet I bet I could pass that test as well.

How about you not decide you know everything, internet detective.

Well if you disappeared for a serious reason, maybe you would appreciate people caring. Other than that, just tweet "taking a weekend off".

oh right, because we're all married to the internet, and therefore should check in with them whenever we step out for a minute.

Seriously, take a step back and re-read what you just said.

It seems the person in question is married enough to the internet for others to notice if he goes silent for two days.

I think a key issue here is: it isn't any of their business. I did not promise I would be around 24 hours a day, and they have no introspection into my life to know when something is normal behavior or not.

There are tons of people who do, though: my girlfriend, the people I hang out with at my office every day, and even a few "long term allies" (as it were) I've come to know only online (and talk with on IRC). Some (in fact, many) of these people even have access to my exact location at all times via Latitude.

But the people I meet at conferences, the people who follow me on Twitter, or even the people who lurk in IRC channels I'm in? It is simply not any of their business where I am or what I am doing, and it is absolutely silly for them to expect me to tell them how long I'm going to be gone.

I do not know Mark nor have I ever read his books, but this has been an interesting phenom he pulled and it is attention getting - I came to this story through slashdot. I think it is small-minded to imagine that things are different when people all over the world have been consuming Mark's works and have relied on that material as a resource day in and day out. Pretty bizarre. Wake up to the new world that Mark blogged about... HTML is the medium for publishing in our age and maybe one of the unintended consequences of that model is celebrity. There is nothing anyone can do to remove their internet likeness from the internet which seems silly that Mark of all people would attempt it without the world reacting - isn't that referred to as naive. It would have been easier to let all the resources rot to obscurity and no attention would have been drawn to his disappearance.

Did it occur to you that disappearing in such a manner might be similar to death and cause a similar reaction in people? Maybe their is a grievance cycle going on with people with such a sudden departure from their lives. One day the site is up, the next is a 410 with no explanation. For those where Mark's works were a reality, the sudden disappearance may be experienced like death as there is no explanation as to what was important to you is no longer and never will be. Are you a psychologist or sociologist that understands what is happening? Aren't you curious as to how it became that so many people depended on Mark's reality that do not know Mark personally? Who are you to react to those that are impacted psychologically to his disappearance? Do you claim to understand these things and how profound the internet affects us? I think you presume much about things you do not know about.

Good day to you.

This doesn't make sense to me. Is there any example of a way Mark could have not been okay in a way that is helped by people on the internet tracking him down? Clearly his material was intentionally taken down.. short of "silenced by the gubbermint", I'm not sure how tracking him down could help. It seems more like voyeurism..

Yes, this behavior is a typical pattern of people suffering from long-term depression who are entering a final stage before suicide.

Of the typical signs: a sudden change in behavior, loss of interest in favored activities, setting affairs in order, withdrawing from others, self destructive behavior.

You wouldn't believe the number of suicides who, as their last and final act, cleaned up (shaved, got a hair cut, put on a suit or nice dress, put on makeup, etc.) and prior to that suddenly gave away all of their stuff particularly prized possessions (and for creative types, their lifetime collection of work).

It is Mark Pilgrim's right to disappear, but to disappear in a puff of greasy black smoke and 4̶0̶4̶s̶ 410s is just attention whoring and begging people to look for him and call the police.

Come on. If I could, I would downvote you to hell. Seriously? You think nobody has a right to delete stuff they put there? They do not have the choice to lose interest in one thing and considering that maintaining it is a liability "take care of it" the old fashioned way? How can you be annoyed that a guy is annoyed that people sent a police car in front of his house. That is just the most ridiculous thing I heard since this morning.

Mark has every right to disappear, I said so. And Mark has every right to delete all of his stuff. Sure.

And Mark has every right to delete all of his stuff, stuff that has been widely linked to, stuff heralded as brilliant, and he has the right to delete all of his accounts, but what he has no right to do when he does that and leaves no explanation, is to be annoyed that people wonder what happened to him?

This is an age passed the kids' faces on milk boxes.

We have google that puts up a infobox for suicide prevention if you search for suicide.

We have amber alerts. We have diggs/reddits/farks starting searches for missing people.

We have had several famous net suicides including one in January 2011, where a woman posted her suicide intention, people read it, no one took her seriously, and she went through with it. Needless to say all of her Facebook friends were heavily criticized in the following days.

We have a zillion different ways to connect in an age that stresses how wonderful the socially connected internet is, and Mark goes off and deletes all of his stuff and his accounts with no explanation whatsoever,

And he's annoyed that people notice and take action?

If he wants to delete his stuff, fine. Leave a nice page up saying he is fine but for reason X he is taking down his material for awhile. Wish everyone well, and thank them for their concern. And he's clearly smart enough to understand that.

Why would he explain it to anybody, I didn't know him or his work, but by god if he wants to disappear he disappears. Also he posted no suicidal tendencies as far as I gather, he posted nothing stating he is suicidal or even sad. Maybe just bored, but definitely not sad. Why would he explain his actions to everyone. Who are you to demand an explanation? Did you contribute to his work in any way? Do you hold stake or shares in his work? Did you invest in him or his work? You didn't. One can say that he was a public figure and public made him. Big deal! Did he practically rallied to become famous? No. Did he have ad campaigns? No. Did he actively marketed his work? No. He just posted his good work and was happy that people used it in whatever way. But then he gets bored and says "I am out". Giving up a hobby should not result in a immediate police welfare call.

What did people notice? That his public side is gone? So they immediately assumed that he is dead? That looks like a leap of faith. There were other ways to reach him than police. They could have found out who knew him and told those people to make contact. Police calls are drastic actions and an embarrassment.

Some of the people who contacted the police, like Jason Scott, did know Mark Pilgrim. And were probably concerned that a drastic and dramatic action with no explanation was a prelude to something like a suicide attempt. Even if it was just a small chance, I can see why they wouldn't want to risk inaction.

This is seriously pissing me off now. People downvote and never explain why. Did any of my statements ring as aggressive? Am I wrong in my assumptions? Or is it that people cannot stand someone who uses numbers as an account name.

FWIW I upvoted all your downvoted comments. The sense of entitlement and voyeurism in some other comments is repulsive.

> Did any of my statements ring as aggressive?

Yes. You come off as someone trying to be insulting.

> 410s



(clicking on "x minutes ago" does it)

This isn't totally unprecedented.

In October 2004, Mark stopped blogging after a post titled "Every Exit" which read: "It’s time for me to find a new hobby. Preferably one that doesn’t involve angle brackets. Or computers. Or electricity." [1] That post sat at the top of his previously very active weblog for 18 months until he returned in April 2006. Of course, that time he only stopped posting new material; he didn't delete all his existing resources. But he did disappear from online life for a while.

[1]: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Mqb93dp...

Looks like one of his last tweets:

Hey everybody! Adobe has acquired another batch of awesome products that they will slowly ruin through incompetence and mismanagement!

From http://topsy.com/twitter.com/diveintomark/status/12091889959...

The Adobe cartel has kidnapped him!

Oh no! Dude I'm scared... He taught me Python #sadface

Apparently it has been verified he is alive.


@textfiles (Jason Scott) Mark Pilgrim is alive/annoyed we called the police. Please stand down and give the man privacy and space, and thanks everyone for caring.

@textfiles (Jason Scott) The communication was specifically verified, it was him, and that's that. That was the single hardest decision I've had to make this year.

I'd definitely like to know what happened to Mark Pilgrim and hope he is well. It's still reassuring to know that his websites are still archived by the Internet Archive. (e.g., http://web.archive.org/web/20110726001953/http://diveintohtm...)

His github account is gone as well (http://github.com/diveintomark).

This is troubling. I'm glad I downloaded Dive Into Python 3, at least.

His python RSS parser, http://www.feedparser.org/ website is down, too.

It seems his Github acount has been squatted and is being used as a mirror for his stuff.

"Stand down Mark Pilgrim alert. Google, his employer, is on it. Thank you all. Hoping for “he’s just pissed off at Internet” as outcome."

Source: http://twitter.com/#!/GlennF/status/121434638282530816

That's a really sad news.

He hasn't deleted his Hacker News Account yet. He last commented 27 days ago.


[I loved his blog and I wish someone has archive for it. I did not archive it locally because Mark used to write articles about long term archival of his data and I didn't think he would ever delete all his public writings.]

He hasn't deleted his Hacker News Account yet.

I don't believe you can delete an HN account.

I think you can email pg to delete your account.

PG does not typically delete accounts; he just disables the login. All of the comments and submissions are still there under the original name.

The poor man's HN account delete: change email, change pass to random gibberish, logout.

You're free.

Until the next account.

That's not necessarily the point. The most important use of a delete account functionality is to protect one's own privacy should you not want to be personally connected to statements you made anonymously.

That's the great thing about the internet and pseudonyms :)

A July snapshot: http://web.archive.org/web/20110718034434/http://diveintomar.... The newer ones may be able to be retrieved through Google cache.

Jason Scott of textfiles.org has called his local police department for a welfare check...


https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/121436177298493440 : "Mark Pilgrim is alive/annoyed we called the police. Please stand down and give the man privacy and space, and thanks everyone for caring."

per Jsaon Scott via his twitter:

Mark Pilgrim is alive/annoyed we called the police. Please stand down and give the man privacy and space, and thanks everyone for caring.

So everyone stand down and respect Mark's wishes

As pointed out by user mikelietz on Eric Meyer's site, http://firehose.diveintomark.org/ is still up.

I really hope Mark is okay, and I'm really going to miss Dive Into HTML5. That resource had a truly unique writing style, featured a great design, and was an a absolute treasure trove of valuable information. I was literally on the site just yesterday, reading up on local storage.

His contributions to the community were released under liberal licenses and will undoubtedly be widely available tomorrow. Heck, you can `apt-get install diveintopython` on an Ubuntu system. However, a lot of links just got broken across the internet - and his books are popular entry points for novices. Hopefully when whatever is going on in his life cools down, he can transfer the domain names to a responsible custodian.

Yeah, one of the few books of that nature which I really enjoyed AND found useful. Thanks, Mark, where-ever you are.

"Mark Pilgrim is alive/annoyed we called the police. Please stand down and give the man privacy and space, and thanks everyone for caring."

Source: http://twitter.com/#!/textfiles/status/121436177298493440

_why 2.0.

Similar (though not as extreme) behavior has occurred in the past:


There's a precedent for this. He disappeared from his blog for a while in 2004. Check the Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:diveint...

http://diveintohtml5.com/ seems to still be working

The domain for that site is owned by a Chinese university, and the IP address of the server it's hosted on looks like a shared server (there's over 200 sites hosted on that IP). I doubt Mark has anything to do with hosting that site.

Out of sheer curiosity - how do you tell how many sites (and which ones) are hosted on a shared server?



They are not always 100% complete, but they are free and have good coverage.

For example, did you know that ycombinator.com also hosts workatastartup.org? http://spyonweb.com/ycombinator.com

You look up the DNS server: http://network-tools.com/default.asp?prog=dnsrec&host=di...

Then a whois record on the DNS: http://whois.domaintools.com/domaincontrol.com

Then a quick Google search shows results like "Note that anything ending in domaincontrol.com or secureserver.net is hosted by godaddy.com and/or wildwestdomains.com! If you have webmail, you can ..."

Another good method is to get the sites IP address (`nslookup` or `dig` are good tools for this. Hell, `ping` will do it for you too). Then head over to bing.com and search for ip:addr.

For example: http://www.bing.com/search?q=ip:

I'm not sure the .com is canonical. I don't speak Chineese so I don't really know what is going on with that site. the .org variant and his other pages are all returning 410 Gone.

Mark Pilgrim's website is diveintohtml5.org. If you compare WHOIS information, it is clear that diveintohtml5.com is owned by Xiaokang Liu, not Mark Pilgrim.

I noticed this earlier, but it seems he doesn't actually run the http://diveintohtml5.com, according to a whois search. As macrael pointed out, the rest of the .org variants are gone.

Holy shit, I was just using "Dive Into HTML5" at a hackathon this weekend. It helped a ton, I loved the way that site was designed. This is eery.

> Is Mark Pilgrim pulling a disappearing act?

Shouldn't we respect his wishes? If he wants to pull the plug on his online identity, he should be allowed to do so without HN sending out an internet search squad.

He expressed no wishes. I think that at this point, people just want to know what happened. That requires doing things like this.

People are worried he might be suicidal and are concerned for him. It is a fairly unusual act for someone with such a strong Internet presence to delete it; I would think it is a warning sign, like giving away all your things.

10/4 - never forget. the gayest day on the interwebs. everyone acting like old ladies towards a grown man. [eagle_cries]

Maybe he and _why are in Galt's Gulch? (Any Atlas Shrugged fans?)

I can't imagine _why being an objectivist...

Lol, seconded.

Respect his wishes, even his google accounts/profiles gone..

As far as I know he is still working at Google

The problem is that there are no wishes to respect. I think everyone mainly just wants to know he is okay. If he is and he wants space, I'm sure he'll get it.

I think Zed lucky-stiff'd him.

Which is the proper punitive measure for anybody that actually teaches the usage of JDBC.

He's making recompense for making JDBC part of the first exercise in a Python book.

He'll return from the self-flagellation in two years after some time spent at a monastery.

I fully expect his enlightenment will bring much into the world of programming.

You are being needlessly insulting to someone who could be in serious trouble.

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