back to article Browse mode: We're not goofing off on the Sidebar of Shame and online shopping sites, says UK's Ministry of Defence

Civil servants at the UK's Ministry of Defence are spending a large part of their surfing time gazing at online shopping and news websites, the red-faced government department has admitted. In a recent Freedom of Information response, the MoD 'fessed up that the top two most-visited web domains across its networks are those …

  1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    world's biggest English-language news website

    Really...!?! Daily Mail is the world's biggest English-language news website? Well if that's not a damning indictment of the world we live in, I don't know what is.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      Yes, but once you remove the words "immigrants" "scroungers" "lefties" "BBC" and "Eurocrats" it becomes one of the smallest.

      1. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        "Once you remove..."

        You forgot "all grown up"... or was that one of the other shitrags?

      2. General Purpose

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        The sidebar caption generator would fall over without "flaunts", "displays", shows off", "shares" and "her curves".

      3. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        You forgot their eternal quest to divide the world into things which cause or cure cancer.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        How much is your house worth?

    2. Steve Foster

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      The interesting question is why don't they simply block it (at least for most of the working day)? It's not as if the site actually contains anything of value, after all.

      1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        Reading the Daily Mail might actually motivate defence people - convince them that the country needs “defending” from nasty foreigners etc. etc.

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      There is absolutely nothing of value on that hate filled trash site. Occasionally I click a link and accidently wind up on it and I'm never not appalled by what I see. It's all about rabble rousing, blaming others (doesn't matter who, as long as it's "others" - standard right wing hate propaganda) while pandering to bitter old people about how things were "better in the past" and the awful awful, sexualisation of women and girls while the rest of the content in it is the sexualusation of women and girls...

      It's to the point that whenever I see somebody reading the print version I immediately think "racist" in my mind. That's not a constructive or nice generalisation to wind up making about people that I don't know but, given the content which is so insiduous and repetitive (brain washing, in effect) and the comments from those that read it, unfortunately inevitable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        ...and that's how you got brexit, right?

    4. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      world's biggest English-language news website

      If ever there was a need for a sad face photograph, this is it.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: world's biggest English-language news website

        Will this do?

    5. Colonel Mad

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      I expect the traffic was casued by pop-ups.

    6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      Let me correct that for you

      "World's biggest Click-Bait website"

    7. MJI Silver badge

      Re: world's biggest English-language news website

      Well luckily it isn't

      In the UK the biggest is BBC

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I worked there, one accountant assigned to us was permanently on the Mail website. They put her by the door, I think in an attempt to get her to stop, but every time we'd walk through she'd be on it. She'd look round, see it wasn't anyone important, and carry on reading.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All my previous banter time at the office is now spent on youtube and ebay (obviously poorer than a civil servant) now im WFH.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Why is this? Have they never heard of the Register?

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      I've tried sucking up before too. Alas, still no gold badge.

      1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

        You didn't suck hard enough, they like it rough.

  5. Speltier


    Well, you have to visit Amazon to buy the tech tat you need to do your job. I'm a bit more inclined to The Economist than lesser rags; and being word dense, it looks like work. OK, for most people it is too much like work to read The Economist, so they read the Daily Mail. To really look busy, read late breaking news in arxiv-- impress your boss with all those charts and graphs, not only are they fascinating but they look like you are working!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon

      But why would MOD staff be visiting rather then

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Amazon

        Better prices?

      2. taxman

        Re: Amazon

        Why are they looking at rather than Probably because there are regular visits to the US by MoD staff who could buy for themselves or pickup for colleagues without having to pay import tax. And not just visits to the US but they have a number of staff across the globe who would not use

        But as a CS person of some years I am really surprised that the Daily Fail is so high up the list. That rag is not really read by the majority of CS staff.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amazon

        But why would MOD staff be visiting rather then

        Books. That's still pretty much a .com function.

  6. Thagomizer

    Never confuse Incompatibility with Incompetence

    As an ex-MoD mivvi, I feel the reason is simple: legacy enterprise-wide software meant retaining old versions of browsers and the DM website was the mainstream media site that worked best with legacy browsers

    The Register will also be on the list somewhere - I spent many a lunchtime trying hard to get it up the MoD website of shame listings.

  7. Snowy
    Flame not the same as

    Has The Register forgot that .com is not the same as

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: not the same as


    2. General Purpose

      Re: not the same as

      The MoD said Maybe they're a bit confused about which side they're on.

      1. Toni the terrible

        Re: not the same as

        The MOD confused about what side they are on? Don't be silly it is the side that their masters (you know, Boris) tell them to be on. Not yours mind you.

  8. viscount

    Anyone else check out just to be sure?

    I was disappointed.

    1. SHunted

      Yes. Drugs. Go figure.

    2. Mike 16 Silver badge

      And here I was assuming it was an aggregator for Main Stream Media, clearly owned by George Soros and his ilk, and staffed by the usual suspects.

  9. SHunted

    Plainly drugs, go figure.

  10. 2+2=5 Silver badge


    Sorry to disappoint but, from the fine article:

    For the years 2016 to 2019 inclusive, Mail Online and were the most common websites accessed from the ministry's IT networks, excluding search engines and departmental intranet pages.

    Excluding work-related sites is always going to make it look like not much work is going on.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Non-story

      The implication that's Mod civil servants in Whitehall may not be true either. Maybe it's squaddies and their ilk on desk duty across the many and varied military bases too. Likewise, any military personal around the globe using VPNs into the MoD network. Or do the armed forces have their own, separate network(s) from the MoD itself?

  11. James Anderson Silver badge

    Could explain why government service are so excremental

    The Daily Mail rots your brain.

    Unlike the 5g nonsense this is a proven fact. Daily mail readers are afraid of there shadows, too frightened to venture out because of black/asian/asylum seeking muggers. They think any government spending is wasteful (probably true given the article). They will hate anyone they are told to hate.

  12. Muscleguy Silver badge


    <quote> because central government fears the effects of public opinion.</quote>

    Not something needed here in Scotland. If they listened to public opinion Trident would be gone from Faslane and Coulport, RAF Leuchars would still be in operation, Scottish troops would not have taken part in the illegal war in Iraq etc. etc.

    This is why Devo Max would not work because there are too many points of contention between Scotland and Westminster over Defence and Foreign Affairs. Disgruntlement over these is a prime recruitment sergeant for Yes in the Independence debate. Scottish CND is very Yes because that is the easiest route to gettting Trident out of Faslane and Coulport.

    You probably don't hear about it down South but protests at Faslane are ongoing and regularly manage to block access to the site stopping workers getting in. A permanent Peace Camp is occupied 24/7 there. The SNP know that any deal they make over Trident will be strongly protested if it lets the MoD have any wriggle room. The anger could close the base prematurely if we are pushed hard enough.

    I think they should be put on notice the day after a Yes vote to build more bunkers at Aldermaston to put all the warheads in. Then the disarmed boats can be parked somewhere outside Scotland, along with the rusting hulks parked at Rosyth (you can see them Google Earth. The UK has not scrapped a single nuclear sub. Some of them still have fuel in their reactors. The US and Russia have shown how to do it, you have to lift them out and cut them into sections to allow sufficient access. But that all has to be contained. So it probably cannot happen at Rosyth, too built up. But UKgov have failed to bite the necessary bullet. Leaving them at Rosyth is out of sight and out of mind for Westminster mandarins and politicians. Holyrood must make it a high priority, either they are removed properly or we tow them south of the Tweed and beach them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Indeed

      I do worry about Scotland and will be saddened when you finally go off on your own, which seems inevitable. Yes we do follow Scottish news down south, and do know what goes on, although we do laugh a lot at your deluded First Minister. Many of us would prefer that any new border was round the M25 leaving the rest of the U.K. to get on without Westminster meddling. Don’t worry though, we’re happy to take all of the work that you don’t want south of the border. Don’t forget to bolt the door behind us.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Indeed

      "This is why Devo Max would not work because there are too many points of contention between Scotland and Westminster over Defence and Foreign Affairs. Disgruntlement over these is a prime recruitment sergeant for Yes in the Independence debate. Scottish CND is very Yes because that is the easiest route to gettting Trident out of Faslane and Coulport."

      I don't doubt that support for independence is growing in Scotland, but be careful how you conflate peoples reasons for voting. After all, the SNP have a massive majority both in seats and overall votes, but that didn't translate into a massive yes vote last time around. When people vote in a referendum, they don't always vote the way "their" party wants then to vote because few voters agree with all of the policies of the last party they voted for in a general or local election.

      And not forgetting two interesting points regarding "Scottish" oil, one of main bones of contention over Scottish revenue and future Scottish treasury income. The price is currently rock bottom and when or if Scotland votes for independence, there will be a lot of hard negotiations over how the border extends out to sea. When Salmond originally talked about "Scottish" oil, he was assuming the border would go directly east from Just north of Berwick That is not a given. And it could get "very interesting deciding where the border goes on the west coast.

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Indeed

      Some of them still have fuel in their reactors

      That would be normal and the sensible way to handle them - whether naval or civilian power.

      When first shut down, a reactor has fuel in it that's "quite active" with a lot of short-halflife highly active elements in it - intermediate fission products. Handling fuel in this state is hazardous.

      But, leave it a while, and the most highly active stuff will have decayed - fundamentally something cannot be both long lived and highly active. The longer you leave it, the less active whatever is left will be.

      Similarly, once you've removed the fuel, what's left behind will be radioactive as well - and that will decay in the same way, anything highly active will decay quickly. So you leave it a while.

      For this reason, at one point the plan for things like the old Magnox reactors was to simply build a house sized block of concrete around the core (having removed everything else) and leave it for perhaps a century. You could post some guards in case someone wants to graffiti it, but really it's inert and poses no danger. After perhaps 100 years, there's nothing particularly active, and you could just cut a hole in the side, walk in, and carry out the old graphite moderator blocks by hand. Simple, safe, planned, no long term waste problem. But instead, ill-informed protestors don't want that simple and safe approach - they insist that things must be done while the graphite is still "hot", thus (at least in part) creating the nuclear waste problem they complain about.

      But if you think about it, the longer you leave the reactor in the submarine, safe in it's steel and lead box, the less hazardous it will be to deal with when you do finally do it.

      I've never had the opportunity to try it, but I bet you could wind up some "greens" by pointing out that some windmill towers are made with recycled and slightly radioactive steel from nuclear plants.

      Analogy. If you've been cooking, the pots are a lot easier to handle if you let them cool down before trying to clean them.

  13. Shady
    Paris Hilton

    .... excluding search engines ...

    PornHub is a search engine?!

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: .... excluding search engines ...

      Yes it is. For a very specific kind of search, that is, but still.

      So I've been told, that is.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah...Amazon...why didn't I think of that?.......

    .......let me make a list:

    1. Replace the Type 45 destroyer...the one where cooling failure leaves the ships "dead in the water"

    2. Replace the F-35 aircraft...the one that needs a reboot to get it working...and even then the software is "not ready for combat"

    3. Get some extra equipment so that the RN can make proper carrier groups for our spiffy new aircraft carriers (otherwise they can't be secure in "operational conditions"


    Brill......Jeff Bezos can deliver by Prime "next day delivery"....

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Ah...Amazon...why didn't I think of that?.......

      Not so. If you look really closely you'll see that the very small print, just under the big purchase button, says "not eligible for Prime delivery".

      The gift wrap option is still there though. Yay!

  15. Cyberian


    I remember a management decision around Christmas to block (and for the same reason - to stop employees wasting time shopping.

    And b0rk1ng sysadmins access to Amazon EC2.

  16. crishog

    I'm surprised that such keen observers of online news were unaware of the Daily Mail's preeminent position in news sites. I notice that the very words "Daily Mail" produce the usual knee jerk response from the mentally conditioned.

    Then again you can hardly expect the MoD staff to read a site which does nothing but slag them off.

    And for most of the day I am informed that they are not permitted to use the "ordinary" internet, so this will be registering lunchtime traffic only.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Default Config?

    My experience of working on MOD sites is that at some of them the default, when opening a new browser tab, is Bing/MSN. I'm assuming that at those places no effort has been made to change installation defaults.

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