The Liberal Democrat party was the victim of a programmer's mistake on its Web site last week, resulting in several joke postings mingling with the official data.
Visitors to the site would have been puzzled by the addition of a new policy to the party's manifesto: the Armadillo Carrot.
Armadillo Carrot was a heading under the list of policy briefings which is one of the key sections of the site. Also listed in the same document was a posting entitled "This is a test", which when opened showed the message "This is a test by Superman and Spiderman". Another told visitors "Everyone should buy BT A&M", and added the comment: "They've got the best solutions for all you globetrotting MPs I believe you."
The postings were not the result of a hacking incident, as the party at first feared, but a mistake left in by the creators of the site. The site was built and is managed by Thought Interactive, a UK company specialising in Web site design.
"It was a booboo," admitted Charles Cohen, managing director of Thought Interactive. He explained the messages were test documents used when developing the database, which the programmers had then forgotten to remove.
The Liberal Democrat party was not aware of the mistakes until alerted to them by PC Week. A spokeswoman for the party said it was "just one of those things", and was sure the mistake had not done the party any electoral damage.
The mistakes appeared on the site when it went live last Tuesday and were removed two days later.
This is a funny story with a serious message. Companies as well as political parties are in danger of making fools of themselves if they don't check their material on the Web with the same rigour they would apply as a matter of course to printed documents or brochures going out to customers.
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