That Violet Blue thing

Update, 07-21-2008: A related wrap-up post was published on Boing Boing on July 18: Lessons Learned.

Speaking for all the Boingers--

Boing Boing has been caught in the middle of a real internet shitstorm and pile-on over the last few days. A blogger named Violet Blue noticed that we unpublished some posts related to her. Some people wanted to know why.

Bottom line is that those posts (not "more than 100 posts," as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It's our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship.

We hope you'll respect our choice to keep the reasons behind this private. We do understand the confusion this caused for some, especially since we fight hard for openness and transparency. We were trying to do the right thing quietly and respectfully, without embarrassing the parties involved.

Clearly, that didn't work out. In attempting to defuse drama, we inadvertently ignited more. Mind you, we weren't the ones splashing gasoline around; but we did make the fire possible. We're sorry about that. In the meantime, Boing Boing's past content is indexed on the Wayback Machine, a basic Internet resource; so the material should still be available for those who would like to read it.

Thank you all for caring what happens on Boing Boing. And if you think there's more to say, by all means, let's talk. We're listening.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[Xeni] Update, 07-02-08: A number of the BB team were on the phone together today (for the first time since this started) discussing the situation. Several news organizations had pinged us to discuss this, including the Los Angeles Times, so we invited them to join the call and ask a few questions. It turned out to be a good conversation, and we hope the partial transcripts posted on the LA Times contribute to the thoughtful and evolving conversation. Comments welcome; ad hominem/feminem attacks not so much.

(1) BoingBoing bloggers talk about Violet Blue controversy's implications
(2) BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin on unpublishing the Violet Blue posts
[ Los Angeles Times ]


  1. I’m now killing myself with curiosity over what Violet did that made you take the posts down. Drama is such fun.

  2. @Gainclone (#1) and @ATOMICELROY (#2), Regarding the drama, the truth is, I agree. That’s one of the main reasons we debated on whether to even respond.

  3. We, too, prefer that drama be reserved only for one’s momma.

    But when the apparent campaign to turn this into some kind of a petty blog fight went on for days and escalated, we felt like the responsible thing to do for you, our readers, was to address it.

    Blog fights are stupid, airing personal grievances in public is stupid, picking troll wars is stupid. We just want to blog (and make internet TV).

    The “unpublishing” versus “deleting” issue is this: the posts were removed from public view while an evaluation of what to do took place. We didn’t want to pay to host them on our blog anymore. This is also why we remove hateful, ad hominem attack comments from public view, too: this is our home, we are proud of the home we built and the guests who visit here with us, and we like spending time here ourselves.

    This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think something is wonderful, we have every right to remove it from this directory.

    This is not Wikipedia or the New York Times. Boing Boing began as a personal blog, and still is in some ways, even though Boing Boing is a bigger thing now. When new information becomes clear, or someone’s behavior changes, sometimes a creator of work reconsiders what aspects of their personal creative work they’re proud of, and removes them from public view.

    The posts still exist in our archives, and they’re also available on the Wayback Machine.

    We realize that we’re now bigger and more complex, and we’d probably handle something like this differently now that we’ve grown (and now that we are more aware of how things can play out when someone’s determined to pick a public fight over it). This hasn’t happened before.

    But this was not intended to cause harm to anyone, least of all the subject of the posts. We mean no one any harm.

    Nobody was “disappeared.” When we start doing extrajudicial blog executions, or showing up to livejournals in the dead of night in unmarked cars and putting bags over people’s heads, or slicing the power cords off of other people’s own blogs, come talk to me about “disappearances” and “unpersoning.”


  4. I can see not publishing future stories about her, but “unpublishing” seems like a euphemism for self-censorship (or at least denial). This step seems antithetical to the nature of the Web that BoingBoing champions, where everything’s a matter of public record, and directing people instead to a Web archive seems a bit disingenuous. If anything, this is bringing more attention to Violet than leaving the posts up would, as most censorship tends to do.

    I can’t imagine New York Times quietly unpublishing any record of Jayson Blair. I think BoingBoing hasn’t lived up to its own ideals with this one.

  5. It seems clear the big mistake was the hushing — both not mentioning the “unpublication”(?) when it occurred, and vigorously policing comments about it as though that could somehow keep it quiet.

    In the face of that damage, y’all’s continuing decision not to tell us what’s up is disheartening, but maybe we’ll get over it.

  6. Violet has her own blog which is easy to find, so I have a hard time getting worked up about this.

  7. Kudos for making a good call.

    Those who don’t understand that the archival nature of blogs, coupled with the perceptive fact of hosting — even archival hosting — as a tacit form of active support, makes “choosing to NO LONGER HOST at your own expense” a perfectly valid part of blog “ownership”, regardless of the reason, don’t really understand the internet.

    “Unpublish,” indeed. Choosing to no longer host isn’t hushing — because there is no “after the fact” in the internet. It’s choosing to no longer support via hosting, period.

  8. @Grobstein (#7), I think you’re right. It wasn’t a big pact of secrecy though. We are geographically distributed and it was the weekend, so it took time to get everyone on the same page, up to date, and figure out the right thing to do.

  9. The policing the comments thing was delicate, for sure. We probably should have said something like “We hear you, but we’re not ready to address it yet.” But sometimes when you have people trying to force your hand before you’re ready to respond it’s frustrating.

  10. Well, I’m glad someone said something. That metafilter thread was too hard for me to ignore, and frankly, I have work to do.

    Regardless of what anyone says, it’s a nice thing to try and keep personal problems from being blown out of proportion publicly – but hot damn, what a cluster.

    I don’t know what happened or exactly when the un-publishing occurred, and I know that hindsight is 20/20 and all that – but once valleywag and mefi hopped onto this a clear communication (even along the lines of “a statement is being prepared, stay tuned”) would have been a good idea. Leaving the Internets speculating in lieu of throwing something out there begats loud raspberry.

    Also, just curious – was this a group decision, or the action of a single or minority group of editors?

  11. dangerous territory. telling us to be weary of those who threaten free speech, then threatening free speech yourselves. i agree with number 6. it is as if one day you can proclaim the world to be flat, and then when irrefutable evidence that the world is round is made, you can go back, un-publish the post and say “we never said the world was flat”

    very disappointed.

  12. Boing Boing is a collaborative personal blog, not an institution with obligations of impartiality or public service. Which means that the authors don’t have to be fair, impartial or even remotely reasonable, but merely interesting to its audience.

    It would seem that some people are under the impression that as soon as a blog on the internet becomes sufficiently popular, it turns into the BBC or something, and becomes subject to various nebulous obligations to The Public, which if it fails to live up to amount to betrayal of that trust.

  13. AisleFive, Grobstein, we were trying to avoid embarrassing people. In the end, it was unavoidable. I expect she’ll survive it.

  14. This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think something is wonderful, we have every right to remove it from your directory.

    Ah, that’s doubleplusgood!

  15. @geekpdx: Your curiosity is natural, but airing (and hence overblowing) the details is exactly what we were trying to avoid in the first place.

  16. We were trying to do the right thing quietly and respectfully

    I’m sure you were. Externally, however, how is that any different from (to pick an extreme, fictional example) what Winston Smith and his coworkers did?

    Now, I have to quickly say I’m well aware of the differences between private and government censorship, and it’s your site, so your rules.

    But you are also aware that other people have links to your stories, and now those links are, inexplicably, gone. With absolutely no explanation on your part, and (near as I can figure) no redirection.

    To put it bluntly: it stinks to high heaven of a cover up. And if you act like a secret cabalistic conspiracy, don’t be surprised if some people see a secret cabalistic conspiracy :).

  17. TylerSweeney, you haven’t been a very careful reader. Go back and try again.

  18. Links are the driving force of the internet. Every “link” is support for the resulting page. If you no longer support someone or something, you should remove the link; Even if it results in removing past blog posts.

  19. It’s your blog, you can do with it what you like. I will continue to read it because it is fantastic.

    I wasn’t up on this Violet Blue issue, but it sounds like a mess, and I think the best one can do with a mess is clean it up! You’re not revising history, you’re IMPROVING it!

    I probably would have done the same thing, anyway. If the shit hits the fan, then it’s time to stop throwing shit.

    And probably get rid of the fan. Then buy central air conditioning.

  20. I don’t pretend that my blog is even 1/100th as important as yours, and I’m not in the habit of telling other bloggers how to run their blogs — but I wouldn’t have done what you did. At the very least, I wouldn’t have done it without one holy heck of a reason.

    I’m guessing that I know what this is about. It’s entirely your right to decided not to let her publish more stuff to the blog. But was it a sane, reasonable reaction to go back and mass delete everything she ever contributed? It doesn’t seem like one to me, and it absolutely seems like an over-reaction to the personal politics she was going through at the time.

  21. s fr s “crng wht hppns n Bng Bng”, Dn’t nymr.

    ws jst chckng n t s f y hd gttn vr bng Mcrsft whrs, nd ths s th frst thng s. Y’ll r jst gng t sld n dwn tht slppry slp s, s dn’t thnk tht wll vn bthr chckng bck n nymr.

    Gd lck n ll y d. Y sd t hv grt blg.

  22. Well, there goes my traffic boosting blog-fight picking plan.

    Damn, I guess I’ll have to stick to trying to write interesting things. Curses, foiled again.

  23. I have to join in expressing my burning curiosity about how Violet Blue “behaved” to prompt your unpublication of her. Could you at least post a link to something about the incident so that your readers can judge for themselves? The shitstorm is a-blowing and can’t be unblown. It cannot make things worse at this point to reveal what happened.

  24. @Tylersweeney: Given that Boing Boing is not a public forum, they’re not “threatening free speech”. They have no obligation to maintain archives, nor to be impartial, nor to continue publishing articles by someone they do not wish to.

    If you disagree, you can lodge a formal complaint with the Blog Ombudsman.

  25. “But sometimes when you have people trying to force your hand before you’re ready to respond it’s frustrating.”

    “Bottom line is that those posts (not “more than 100 posts,” as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago.”

    Sounds like you guys had plenty of time to figure out a response.

  26. (I really should add: I don’t think there was malicious intent; I don’t think it’s all that important; and it’s the internet, so people love making mountains out of grains of sand. But it’s very hard to hide some things, and when you try to do so, it looks suspicious. And people love a story that has a good suspicious act in it.)

  27. I lost all basic interest in Violet Blue when she sued an adult film star for appropriating the same Crayola name as her.

    As if before this blogstress came along no one had strung the words “violet blue” together.

    I support Boing Boing’s (or is Boing’s Boing more grammatically correct?) right to make any of their articles available/unavailable at their own discretion. Curiosity is nagging me a little, though.

    Anyway, I got go, I’m meeting with a guy about trademarking Beergood.

  28. Also if I had to make a guess over what BoingBoing got their panties in a twist about, I would say it had something to do with Violet Blue trademarking her name.

  29. @ Joel
    I guess I wasn’t trying to get at the sauce of this matter so much as answer a more general curiosity of whether a group consensus must be reached before something that materially changes content in such a manner is done. I expect that editors have a lot of leeway with what they can post and edit without calling in TEH COMMITTEE, and was wondering if this sort of thing crossed that threshold.

    Of course, I can see that copping to whether this was or wasn’t a group decision could strain things further.

    @ Teresa
    Not sure if you were responding to me, and if you were, I’m not sure if you meant that the un-publishing or the statement was a group decision.

  30. Taking down all the posts about somebody you’re mad at…and not telling her…and then just leaving it to be discovered…seems kinda shitty to me.

    The author Peter Carey, after his divorce, wanted to retroactively remove the dedications to his former wife from all his earlier books. This looks like the same bonehead kind of move.

    You can’t un-ring a bell. I know nothing about this situation except, it appears she was a friend, and now she isn’t. But why remove all evidence of a positive relationship in the past?

    Of course now everyone will want to know what she did to piss you guys off so bad. I’m sure as hell curious now.

  31. @Teresa (#22), I think that Geekpdx (#15) was asking whether it was a group decision to unpublish the posts. @Geekpdx, the BB bloggers act autonomously with regard to editorial decisions.

  32. @34: would it really have been better if they paid service to transparency posted an article saying “We’ve removed all references to Violet Blue for personal reasons”? That sounds a little too much like the passive-aggressive “I’m unfriending some people who are not true friends, they know who they are” LiveJournal drama posts.

    In social situations, transparency is not always the best solution.

  33. “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

    Can someone explain what this means? What exactly did Violet do that was so wrong?

    I think it would help a lot of people in their understanding of why this action was taken if we knew what she did.

  34. You are probably realizing that posting this was a mistake. The problem is that this article itself references a non-person and as long as it exists it will generate curiosity about the non-person.

    Your only remedy is to delete this post and never mention the name of the non-person again in any context.

    Yours sincerely,
    Winston Smith
    Ministry of Truth

  35. The day I pay BB’s wages is the day I get to tell them what can and cannot be posted on or removed from this blog. It’s only censorship if VB forces BB to remove posts about her.

    it is as if one day you can proclaim the world to be flat, and then when irrefutable evidence that the world is round is made, you can go back, un-publish the post and say “we never said the world was flat” – #17 tylersweeney

    Is this a suggestion that BB should not be allowed to make changes to their own opinions and their own work that remains under their control on a server that they pay for?

    What was that about threats to free speech?

    When BB goes out and tells other bloggers to remove quotes from the posts they removed, then we’ll talk.

  36. If this is the same as 1984, then anyone who’s ever gone back and friends-locked their old livejournal entries is Big Brother.

    Get a sense of perspective. You can argue about whether this might’ve been the best way to handle whatever dispute it was, sure. But you can’t seriously argue that this is “censorship” or “against free speech.”

    In fact, I’ve come to believe that it’s a law of nature: whenever anyone on a comments thread starts complaining that the blog owners suppress free speech, they’ve lost the argument. So long as you can get your own blog, your free speech is assured. No one else is obliged to give you their microphone.

    And Alephnul, don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

  37. Another victim of the Streisand Effect.

    For a blog that prides itself on fighting censorship and championing internet freedoms, you could have done a heck of a lot better, especially the clandestine “editing”.

    I respect your right to manage your “hosting” any way you see fit, but you should have been more upfront about it, from the beginning.

  38. AARRGGHGHGH. This whole thing has been raising my blood pressure all weekend. The world is full of crap and all you trolls can worry about is whether Boing fricking Boing is on the side of censorship evil? Hypocritical?

    Jesus Mary God save us from you morons. I know calling a spade a spade is throwing gasoline on this fire, and Teresa, feel free to disemvowel or delete if I’m being too harsh here, but this has gone just too far. Arrogant know-nothings hate BoingBoing for being more successful than they are, then they spill over onto Making Light, and they probably even vote. Or worse! They probably don’t vote! And are holier-than-thou about being above that system!

    I really don’t suffer fools gladly — so please! Shut the fuck up! All of you!

    Jeez Louise, I just hate these people, and it’s not easy to provoke me to that kind of antipathy. I even try to understand Donald Rumsfeld. (I do draw the line at Cheney.)

    Why don’t you all take all that righteous outrage energy and do something with it that won’t make the world worse? Go, I dunno, dance energetically with Matt Harding or something. And get the fuck off BoingBoing’s back! They owe you nothing — they give you endless entertainment for free and you repay them with enough hatred — not just on this issue, but on every little fricking thing that comes down the pike — that it has to make them wonder why in hell they do it. Seriously. Grow the fuck up.

  39. Calling yourself a “blog” as a defense for exercising lower standards of journalism than a news organization does not persuade me about this event being handled as a complete PR mess for BoingBoing.

    No news organization, including Boing Boing due to its well established popular status, can avoid the label of hypocrisy by hiding the facts about what is now a newsworthy issue of interest to the public. Whatever private nature the initial issue was has now become a public interest. Therefore, everyone involved with Boing Boing better look hard and long into its soul as a journalist and make a choice about whether to serve the public’s desire to understand the facts and make their own judgments about this news or simply shutter its doors. Because the moment you hold back the news like this and hide behind platitudes, you can no longer credibly zealously demand the truth for the sources you go out and report on.

    News is pain. If you can’t take it, don’t bother dishing it out.

  40. I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but there are quite a few crybabies here. I’m not sure which meaning of “post” BB is using here, but we have two options:

    #1 “Post” refers to the updates to the BB blog itself. They’ve written several endorsing snippets about Violet Blue as kind of a sexuality activist. If she crossed a line, and they no longer felt like they could endorse her, then it’s entirely reasonable that they would withdrawal that support.

    #2 “Post” refers to user comments. If Violet Blue left comments that were inappropriate for the blog, then if they were deleted it would be no different than removing the posts of anybody else who spams, flames, or trolls. This is standard maintenance for any blog. I doubt they would “censor” her just for disagreeing, or being controversial (which is what they seemed to have loved her for in the first place).

    And either way, they didn’t chisel her name off every corner of the blog; all references to her are still available in the archive, and if you don’t trust that then there’s an independent archive as well.

    If you’re terribly curious about what caused the withdrawal of support, then go read VB’s blog; that’s my next stop.

  41. I am now going to be inevitably disappointed when the truth comes out that it’s all due to Violet mocking papercraft dildo cozies.

    In all seriousness – I understand that you want to play rumor control and nip the whispering hysteria in the bud (“principle skinner says we have no backbone, purple monkey dishwasher!”), but without being transparent as to the underlying disagreement, rampant speculation is going to flourish in that void, at the very least. More than likely, negative opinion is going to take root as well, and I’d honestly hate to see that, as I really like boingboing, and have since i picked up those weird little zines at the local bookstore, back in the day.

  42. While at first, my obvious standard internet reaction was “OMG FIRST AMENDMENT CENSORSHIP! WHERE’S MY GUY FAWKES MASK?!?obligatory1insteadofexclamationpoint,” but then I thought, BoingBoing isn’t about posting everything that’s out there, it’s about posting what the editors want on their site. People are free to post anywhere on the net, or say what they want, just not in the front yards of people who disagree with them.

    I can respect if it’s personal, and I’m sure if it’s something either side wants to reveal, they will. I think saying you guys are “unpublishing her” brings about Fahrenheit 451-like images in posters minds and encourages generic rabble-rousing. Either way, I have to appreciate the maturity of the posters here at BoingBoing. If this were any of the other newspost blogs out there (coughrhymeswithBiggcough) people would be more rampant with the internet-napalm than Bill Kilgore.

  43. Is there anyone on the internet that Violet Blue hasn’t started a blog war with by complaining how mean people are to her?

  44. I can’t believe the Blog community is up in arms and talking about how this goes against the “standards” for the blogosphere.

    Standards? Anyone with a computer and a place to post can put up a blog, let’s stop pretending otherwise. Yes, Boing Boing is a giant among blogs, but that doesn’t change things. They removed articles that they no longer wished to host. End of story. They have the right to do so, and they did.

    What part of, “They have the right to do so” are people not getting?

  45. Editorial decisions are usually about changing the future, or at least the present. Trying to change history is something different. History shouldn’t be subject to editorializing, should it? Saying you’ll not “lend her any credibility or associate with her” going forward? That’s defensible. Trying to make it seem like you never did in the past? That’s not very Boing Boing-y. Or, maybe it is and I was just projecting my hopes and dreams on to you. :-)

    If you’re in favor of transparency, you can add notes/updates to posts in the past clarifying your lack of endorsement.

    “Unpublishing” is now a creepy euphemism.

    Just my two cents.

  46. Why would the team go back and delete her posts? This seems very juvenile. No matter what went wrong, she spent HER time helping YOU. Bringing attention to her work- only by deleting and then telling bb about it shows us that you are just asking for more controversy on the subject. Pointless…

  47. The “unpublishing” does seem rather to be a rather Orwellian term, Xeni’s explanation notwithstanding.

    Perhaps you should list them all as strike through as it seems you now wish to retroactively remove all the good things you’ve said about the person. That would have been more transparent than “unpublishing.”

    As to the wayback machine, it would never have occurred to me that BoingBoing would disappear a story, let alone everything ever written about a certain individual so I would never have thought to need to go to the waback machine to look up BoingBoing material.

  48. I support your ability to do whatever you like on your blog, but I feel like noting that however justified, the manner in which you did this was passive-aggressive and opaque, and “unpublishing” is a stupid and useless weasel word.

    You deleted a bunch of posts. That’s fine. It’s your server, you’re allowed to delete whatever you like. You decided you weren’t friends anymore, and everything she did was poison, and not newsworthy or at least worth being in a “directory of wonderful things”. Just, try to avoid the ‘ban everyone who embarasses me’ approach in comment moderation and response. It’s kind of embarrassing.

  49. At the bare minimum, it seems a redirect from past stories to their respective archives is in order.

    But I think the decision to “unpublish” is fine. The whole value of blogs is that they are a filter, an active, human filter that sorts in real-time, not some archival history-keeping automaton.

  50. Good move, now I won’t even have to see her godawful English.

    “And this. And that. And I was naked. And I did this. And it was amazing. And wow. And hoo. And haa.”

    Gives me a headache. Would someone tell her what a conjunction is please.

  51. “If this is the same as 1984, then anyone who’s ever gone back and friends-locked their old livejournal entries is Big Brother.”

    If you think BoingBoing is the same thing as an old livejournal, then yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t.

  52. I’d never say that Boing Boing didn’t have the right to delete whatever they want. They also have to right to post glowing reviews of Exxon Mobil gas stations and tell us that Mike Huckabee is a visionary worthy of our support.

    Clearly Boing Boing has the right do do wrong things. Just as we have the right to voice disagreement if they do.

    “What part of, ‘They have the right to do so’ are people not getting?

    I totally get that they have the right to do it. I just disagree with it and am saying why. Is that OK?

  53. BoingBoing, I am highly disappointed that you promote tyranny but choosing to publish only those things that you want on your own website.

  54. Let’s not forget, they did this a YEAR ago and people are just now bitching about it? Sounds like someone just has an axe to grind with Boing Boing and is using this as easy fodder.

  55. So now BoingBoing is a tool that its masters can use to settle petty, personal disputes with other internet bloggers? Not good, and I don’t care what the explanation is, or how many people agree with it. If this were a print magazine no such luxury would be possible.

    Moderating comments is one thing–people may post scurrilous, base, profane defamatory comments that do not add to the commonweal, so to speak–but deleting posts is quite another, especially when no rationale is given other than it having to do with “personal” reasons.

    I see it as the exact sort of thing that BoingBoing would nail another site for, and I believe has. Whether it is redaction, bowdlerization, expurgation, or censorship I see no place for it here.

    Who the fuck is Violet Blue anyway? Probably just another one in the legion of harpy reprobates who has a knack for turning depravity into cash. Who gives a damn? But now you are hoist by your own petard. The smart thing to do would be to swallow your pride, apologize to your readership, (and maybe even Violet Blue) and republish the goddamed posts. That’s really your only option at this point or you lose all credibility, at least with me anyway.

  56. Revisionist history?

    Tempest in a Teapot?

    From my vantage point it’s like people yelling over a fence at each other about last years ruined party that I wasn’t at anyway.

    Does seem kind weird for Boing Boing to do stuff like this in light of their opinions about similar matters though.

    Meh, do what you want, just shut up before 10 PM or I’m calling the cops.

    Keep the wonderful things coming. ;)

  57. Gainclone , July 1, 2008 9:56 AM:

    You’re not revising history, you’re IMPROVING it!

    *wince* I can imagine George Orwell writing this, only he’d be using sarcasm.

    My sympathies are with BB, here. Hopefully you’ve realized that you handled this badly and you’ll do better next time. You certainly have a right to host what you want on your site, and you can be as arbitrary about it as you like.

    I wish I knew what VB did to anger you. I’ve skimmed her blog and I couldn’t find any reference to BB in amongst the ‘sex toy of the day’ reviews. I hope you BB moderators understand why everyone wants to know what happened — because they’re scared that *they* might be ‘unpublished’, suddenly and without warning. You have legions of contributors (*not* ‘readers’, in this context) that are willing to adapt their behavior to whatever rules you deem proper. You have to give them the rules. Not the published rules of the comment threads, but rules of behavior outside of BB.

    Because from all appearances, you’ve decided to police that sphere of behavior. Your choice. Good luck with it.

    I know, everyone wants to save the drama for the mama of the llamas from Andromeda. But shoving those llamas under the carpet just makes the drama fester, and the llamas start to itch and buck, and you end up with a bigger mess than before.

  58. Umm… Respect means that one gives as well as recieves honesty and civil behavior. If one does not adhere to that code than they can not play in the pool with the big kids.

    You do not debate with a-holes, rocks, coma victims, rain or two year olds. You will only look stupid.

    ‘Nuff said.

    If BB wasn’t getting respect, neither should it be given.

  59. #58 “What part of, “They have the right to do so” are people not getting? ”

    Having the right isn’t the same thing as being right.

  60. Apologies for the length; complex issues should not be discussed in soundbytes.

    Perhaps actions to unpublish entries relating to Blue should have been accompanied by some sort of warning — to Blue herself. Or perhaps not. Certainly, anything that is bad enough to warrant this removal but cannot be discussed openly in an editorial manner is likely to be of a more personal nature than a professional one, hence the desire for secrecy.

    On the other hand, after my divorce, I didn’t go backwards and remove all posts by my ex-wife from my own website. I respected her privacy by not airing our business in public, but I allowed the previous record to stand.

    I think there are two issues here. First, BoingBoing is considered by many to be a journalistic source, which is probably not the correct mode of thinking (except for, perhaps, BBGadgets). While many journalistic tricks have been employed due to the size of the site and ethics of those involved, BoingBoing remains a site of opinion and editorial. When things like the Wayback Machine exist, BB isn’t necessarily responsible for continuing to host content that it actively dislikes. As pointed out, other items have been removed in the past without much controversy.

    At the heart of this issue is the mystery of the “why.” Again, it seems to me it is likely of a more personal nature, else the removal would have been accompanied by a detailed justification (and perhaps an apology, such as in the Le Guin case). The reasons for removal may be valid and defensible, but without any clues, the issue will likely provoke thought for some time.

    Bottom line, the internet doesn’t have some weird privilege that means it should get to know why these posts were unpublished. And BoingBoing shouldn’t have to defend itself. But BoingBoing often hold themselves to higher standards than merely what they “have” to do. The removal was valid, but reads as petty.

    In any case, it’s all in the past, too late to do anything differently now. Worth thinking about for the next time around.

    And whether or not you, the Happy Mutants, feel it’s justified, a quick apology for the manner in which you acted (not for the actions themselves) might go a long way to stopping all the noise.

  61. ‘Unpublishing’? Puh-lease.

    Anyone else see the eerie parallels with BB’s after-the-fact editing and the listing about the pro-family group replacing ‘gay’ with ‘homosexual’? If the whole point of that listing was about the dangers of misinformation, what’s the point of this one besides ‘don’t get caught’?

    Maybe each BB listing needs to come with a EULA now.

  62. You people are so volatile! We’re talking about Boing Boing here! The people that bring us Unicorn Chasers and Web Zen and tell us about candy shaped like lighthouses shaped like penis! The people that document the life of mixed-nationality action hero startups and tell us how to Macgyver a microscope out of a webcam!

    The endless fun and joy that BoingBoing has brought me is FAR GREATER than that of any news organization that has ever existed.

    @52. Yes. News is pain. But BoingBoing is not news. It is LIFE. BOINGBOING FOREVER.

    It is clear to me that none of you are worthy of my blood or my life, but I will stand for you. And together, we will restore honor to the ship, and bring glory to the Empire.

  63. To say “we have a reason, but we wont talk about it” is not something I was expecting from BB; even if it is better than saying nothing at all.

    Not being able to speak about some fact, possible for legal reasons, creates the feeling of a corporate entity, and not a personal blog (and that post and discussion here reminds me about flickrs infamous “we can’t say anything about it” safefilter disaster) . As do the rules you introduced some weeks ago. Being viewed as a corporate entity and not as bunch of cool people changes what seems resonable behavior — we all agree that corporate entities should not delete arbitrary posts, start censorship and so on, if they want to be remembered as “do no evil” corporate entities.

    So I guess the secret deletion of posts you don’t like any more is a bit more than an editorial decision, or at least, a bad one. Even replacing these posts with [insert explanation] would have been better than doing it in the dark of the night.

    “They have the right to do so”, but they have to life with the consequences, especially a damaged reputation for their freedom of speech agenda.

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      Trs Nlsn Hydn

  64. So what was the point of unpublishing the posts? No really, I’m completely missing it here. Maybe it is that as stated they no longer consider Violet Blue or her work wonderful, but in absence of additional explanation, I find that answer alone hard to accept. In my mind (and perhaps only) it would seem to indicate some sort of disapproval of her actions, thus my comment: I suspect the fallout from this unpublishing (whether or not directly resultant from unWonderfulling) will only serve to further her fame.

    Come to think of it, I’ve written a few books myself.. any way you guys could see your way clear to blacklisting me? I’d kill for that sort of PR.

  65. Still waiting to hear what Violet did that warranted the deletion of all her submissions.

    For a blog that values and promotes transparency in media I find it odd that you’re being so quiet about this.

  66. Boing Boingers, this is your front porch, and I am but a happy guest.

    I don’t know what happened, nor do I care (though it may be fun to watch). My advice:

    Don’t give an anklebiter the ladder they need to reach your knees.

  67. Xeni wrote:
    “This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think something is wonderful”

    Maybe the problem is simply with your tagline! This statement implies that everything posted here is a “wonderful thing”, however his doesn’t seem to always be the case.. at least by the standard definition of “wonderful”.

    Are airplane pilots falling asleep during flight a “wonderful thing”? Is watching a monkey yanked around on a chain while ridding a small cycle a wonderful thing? I could go on, but you get the point.

    Your argument centers is that:
    1) all things boingboing are wonderful
    2) Violet Blue is not wonderful
    3) therefore, Violet Blue should not be on boingbong.
    But upon review of the archives, one will find many not so wonderful, and some downright rotten things.

    So maybe the simple solution is to change the tagline to “A directory of wonderful and sometimes rotten things” and republish Violet Blue’s post.

    Problem solved!

  68. I have no idea what happened.

    I think one of the things that drew me (and probably others) to your blog was that I felt like I was part of a club. A place where I could find “Wonderful things” and revel in them alongside you. You have always worked to NOT have this huge wall of Us (the writers) vs. Them (the readers). I felt like I had kindred spirits watching the internet for me while I was at work. Buddies by proxy.

    I don’t care that you chose as a group to make something not “wonderful” anymore. I just want to know why. The secrecy detracts from that closeness that I cherished.

    I’m NOT claiming doom and gloom and I’ll never surf here again. We both know better. For me this illustrates that you have grown and you are a business now. you need to pay attention to the eyes on the pages and how your image is maintained. As a grownup I can respect that. The teenage geek in me is not so easily soothed.

  69. I really don’t care about the feud but …

    This is a directory of wonderful things.

    I’m sorry, it stopped being that quite a long time ago. I’m looking to the left of this text box and I see…

    Devo sues McDonald’s
    Pretend cops bully videographer
    Pseudo was a fake company
    AT&T making jokes about the wiretapping

    But maybe you define “wonderful” differently down there in the US.

    And, I’m sorry but I have to say “unpublish” is a just a delete. It’s obvious this whole business makes you all uncomfortable and raw but coining a new word is just denial.

    Now, it’s my nation’s birthday. If you’re near the border, come on over and have some cake – the red and white icing is at once disturbing and delicious.

  70. Newspapers are also privately owned entities run by an editorial board or even one editor depending on the size of the publication. They can do whatever they want too. They can pull stories, priortize them, fire writers, and print retractions – just like this blog can. But here’s the thing – when an event catches the public attention and becomes a bonafide piece of news, which I believe this issue has evolved into, then there’s something called journalistic ethics that kicks in.

    When you create a blog, what is it for? For BoingBoing, a immensely popular blog, the duties to act in a manner that is consistent with the expectations of the audience and the public interest should be one that BoingBoing acknowledges. Instead of shirking these duties because “we’re just a blog”, you should own it and act as though you are a responsible organization that gives reasons for the actions you take and act transparently.

    If you don’t acknowledge at least a duty to act transparently, then you are no better than the right wingers you accuse of engaging in coverups and conspiracies.

    The defensive rhetoric I’m seeing here is disappointing. It’s like the pro athletes caught doping saying “hey I’m not a role model so don’t treat me like one.” Well, sorry Boingboing, you are a successful source of news for many and you are full of it if you act surprised about it. Come clean or go home because you will never ever be able to speak credibly when criticizing someone else’s lack of ‘transparency’.

  71. The bottom line is that not every word one writes is worthy of permanent preservation. I know it, and the fine editors of BoingBoing know it. That standard is, and always should be, maintained by the owners of the work.

  72. I think I would have kept the existing posts, assuming they weren’t part of whatever the mystery issue is. Then, if disassociation were necessary, I’d have not accepted any more submissions.

    Removing the posts seems a bit like whitewashing the history. She wrote for you, I gather; she no longer does.

  73. It’s your backyard, do what you want with it. Personally, I’d “unpublish” everything that has the word “steampunk” in it, along with a variety of other things around here, but hey; it ain’t my backyard.

    This is not big brother, it’s not censorship, it’s private property.

    Still, doing this is counterproductive. I have a vague recollection of someone called Violet Blue, but that’s it. I don’t know who or what she is, and have no idea what kind of controversy or drama you’re talking about. But rest assured, I have Google at the ready, and I shall now set out to discover every sordid detail I can.

  74. “This is not Wikipedia or the New York Times.”

    If the NYT decided to “unpublish” material from a person who had fallen out of favor with its editors, I doubt BoingBoing would cut them much slack. Does BoingBoing aspire to be taken seriously? If so, then it needs to apply similar standards to itself as it does to other publications. But if BoingBoing believes that blogs are not real journalism, then it should make that position clear so we as readers can set our expectations appropriately.

  75. Oh, for a “buzz down” button…

    Your blog. Your editorial decisions. If folks don’t agree with those decisions, they’re free to browse elsewhere, or to start their own blog.

    As far as whether doing the edit silently was a good idea or not… Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As a past editor of an online discussion board myself, our standard practice was to return questionable posts to the author with an explanation of why they were removed. That does generate nosyparker inquiries about what happened, but we felt that handling those offline was wiser.

    Online metadiscussion tends to escalate rapidly as people feel compelled to defend themselves and/or each other rather than being able to let it go with “We agree that we disagree”.

  76. Just because someone has the right to do something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

    Just because someone was within their rights to do something, doesn’t mean that nothing can be done retroactively to help correct the mistake.

    To quietly unpublish the articles was a mistake that BB had every right to commit. They can never uncommit the mistake, but they can take steps to salvage their somewhat unclean reputation, if they should so choose. I hope that when their feelings become unhurt they will be able to unentangle this mess somehow, and maybe things will become a bit more unobscure.

  77. #77 – “tell us about candy shaped like lighthouses shaped like penis! ”

    DOH! You beat me to it…

  78. While I honestly think the best way to handle this would have been to simply state where BoingBoing parted ideological ways with Ms. Blue, I understand the desire to have done so without embarrassing anyone.

    I have to say though, you really should have seen these problems coming. Unpublishing is a perfectly valid way to handle online content, but I think we would all have preferred some kind of notice explaining why. (the comments conflating it with censorship or attempting to alter history are fundamentally incorrect as you are voluntarily removing your own content, not attempting to make it seem as though it was never there)

    I’m certainly not about to stop reading over this, and wouldn’t expect you to care if I did, but I would respect the authors and editors a great deal more if we got a more explicit explanation of what went wrong.

  79. “We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.”
    I’m interested here in boingboing’s understanding of censorship. For this reason, I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary. The definitions for censor lead the reader down an interesting path. First, we see the legacy of the word: “The title of two magistrates in ancient Rome, who drew up the register or census of the citizens, etc., and had the supervision of public morals.” A censor is responsible for the maintenance of morals. Interesting, as the grounds for the “unpublishing” of Violet’s posts were that she “behaved in a way” which “made [boingboing] reconsider” itself as a promoter of her content. If academics decided that Herder or Nietzsche or any of so many other philosophers conduct rendered their work impotent, or worse, simply off limits, our ways of being in the world would be significantly less explored, less understood, and the conversation in the very least would be much smaller. As the fellow who mentions the New York Times writer points out (in addition to the other implications of the example for the value of history, journalistic integrity, archives, etc, which I will refrain from making or taking up as arguments): work produced and producer (author, writer) should be considered detached at birth, for better or worse. This is a directory of wonderful things, or was, not a directory of wonderful people and people’s actions.
    The second definition for censor reads “One who exercises official or officious supervision over morals and conduct.” Seems to me this is precisely what boingboing has in mind in the removal of her posts. Her “behavior” made them reconsider whether they would “lend her any credibility or associate with her.” Something she did violated their unwritten code of morals and conduct, and in the unfortunate opaqueness of a lack of an explanation or delineation of this code, our collective imagination will now run wild. Her morals or conduct violated their code, values, and now she’s “unpublished.”
    The third definition for censor reads “One who censures or blames; an adverse critic; one given to fault-finding.” I’m uncertain how this could be argued not to be in line with the actions: the staff admittedly found fault, and is finally explicitly (yet nebulously on its grounds) critical of this fault (a known unknown?), which resulted in the removal of her content. She is the one blamed for the removal of her content, a result of her actions.
    The fourth definition is the most unfortunate, in the context of what my understanding of boingboing was (past tense, after this one) about: “A mental power or force which represses certain elements in the unconscious and prevents them from emerging into the conscious mind.” This seems to be the hardest hitting of all, given the ardent denial by the boingboing staff that they didn’t “silence” Violet, rather, they merely “unpublished” her and the concluding argument which suggests a difference between “unpublishing” and silencing, which seems somewhat synonymous with, or at least as egregious as, censhorship. I’d argue that as with many popular blogs, especially those allowing comments, that boingboing is representative of a social unconscious, one from which (ala Lacan) individuals integrate various elements in the continual and dynamic formation of a self, its identity. There’s also an argument for deliberative democratic values being snuffed out in what seems (in the context of this blog) a very righteous (she did something bad, now her work isn’t worth reading, or at least we imply this by removing it from our provided content) decision. Boingboing went out of their way to prevent what they believed (and maybe still do believe, though their actions speak differently) once to be perfectly good content from reaching the conscious minds of their readers. In the information age, a blog like boingboing is undoubtedly a mental power or force. This force intentionally repressed (through the technique of removal) content for whatever (unknown) reasons which admittedly have to do not with the content, but with conduct. This somehow seems even worse than content-centered censorship for that reason. I don’t like the behavior of the body behind that voice, so I will forget what they said in the past, and take action to prevent those recorded statements from remaining easily accessible. Then I will covertly attempt to delete the past. Historically, this rarely is a successful or popular action, especially in what I imagine to be the hearts and minds, the values and beliefs, of the readers of this blog.
    What’s more, is that the administrator attempts to argue that unpublishing isn’t an attempt at silencing. Removing a voice from a forum, even if the voice exists in other forums, is silencing. It’s taking one of the amplifiers, one of the relay switches for content, and turning it off, blocking it. Those who listen to the content amplified now hear silence. Those who received the content, now receive a blank. What boingboing did was successfully silence within their arena, their amplifier, their forum, their switch, the content of Violet Blue. And in the wake of this poor decision, a thousand bloggers’ voices cried out in unison, and based on boingboing’s lacking response (nothing more than an acknowledgement of their actions – no explanation, no discussion) as of my reading, were lost on the editorial staff (of course, I’m initially looking past any comments posted – and deleted – regarding this matter on the boingboing blog). Boingboing is right in that they didn’t silence Violet Blue – she is louder than ever, brought to the forefront. What they did is far worse. They censored her content, silencing what was deemed once of value. Then they played semantics and failed to explain.
    To conclude, I am aware that boingboing is a public forum, run by those whose private interest controls the enviroment, and that they have no responsibility (in their EULA, or their fine print, whatever) to archive or act as an internet library. Though, I’d ask them to reconsider their “directory of wonderful things” in light of this behavior. Keep the wonderful things coming, just make sure the readers read them fast, that is, before the makers of wonderful things (authors, writers, hackers, whatever) do something that flags the censor.
    And who knows, maybe they’ll censor this too. I would have doubted this in the past, but in an attempt to censor, change the past, especially based in their unstated reasons for doing so (perhaps Violet has weapons of mass destruction?) boingboing has changed my perception of their blog for the immediate future.
    The only positive to come out of this decision (to acknowledge the deletion of the posts) was the comments: now readers who share a common experience can engage in a conversation about the legitimacy of the action of those who run the forum in which they share this experience. Thanks for that.

  80. What part of, “They have the right to do so” are people not getting?
    Exactly. People should remember this the next time they get cavity-searched at airport security, the next time they get pulled over for driving while black or the next time they get detained at Best Buy for not showing a receipt upon exit. When that happens to you, just tell yourself, “They have the right to do so.” That makes it all good.

  81. Before anyone else makes the same error: Violet Blue never posted anything on Boing Boing. She was never a blogger here. The entries in question mentioned her, but they were written by the Boingers.

    No comments of hers were ever removed because she never made any. Boing Boing didn’t have comments at the time.

  82. Mh.

    BB hs bn gng dwnhll fr whl. BB Gdgts s th svng grc, nd t Xn’s crdt BBTV s msng frm tm t tm. thrws t’s jst th sm ld Cry-Xn lktmbymysht shw.

    Prhps shld jst sv my tm spnt w/ BB nd th vr grwng Cry-Xn crpfld nd… *plnk*

  83. @Satan: there is a difference between a newspaper and a blog. A newspaper operates on the premise of objectivity and offering a service to the public, and is an institution with obligations to the public. A newspaper also sells copies on the basis of its reputation. Boing Boing is no such institution; it’s merely a forum for its contributors to post links to things they consider interesting. There is no process by which blogs become institutions subject to an obligation of public service once their readership hits a certain level.

  84. I have decided that Boing Boing is, in fact, a government run food safety program. With that in mind, I am horrified at the way this place is being run. When was the last time you folks inspected a chicken slaughterhouse? How are we supposed to know that the tomatoes we buy in the store are safe? OH MY GOD!!1 The tomato contaminations — all Boing Boing’s fault! These people should be sued! What a disgracefully run food safety program. Surely just another indication of the Bush administration’s incompetence.

    For shame, Boing Boing. You are not living up to the high standards that I set for the type of organization that I imagine you are.

  85. As someone who hosts a few blogs, I totally dig Xeni’s analogy of a house. BoingBoing is clearly not a journalism site (how could it be with so few mentions of Paris Hilton), BoingBoing is the personal perspective of four (or so) folks and what they find neato. I dig that, and that’s why I read it and recommend it to others. If they don’t find a certain post neato anymore, I think it’s completely reasonable and logical that they would remove it. I mean, if they published a link to a neato dance thing on YouTube, and then, weeks later, discovered that the video was posted by a known (insert bad person behavior here), they would remove it, just as any of us would. Comparing BoingBoing’s relationship with Violet Blue to The New York Times’ relationship with Jayson Blair is like comparing Sonny & Cher with George & Dick.

  86. But Boingboing is my only source of news. This is the window through which I experience the world!

    Seriously, the real reason everyone is in a tizzy has nothing to do with censorship, and *everything* to do with sex. When something having to do with sex occurred, it is the closest blogger’s *responsibility* to the rest of the blogosphere to share it. I mean, that’s what the Internet was built for in the first place, right?

    If you *really* want to know what happened, log onto Second Life, and find a hidden island called VelvetSchnapps. Ask for Pete.

  87. Okay, I really don’t care about the Violet Blue thing. I think complaining about the injustice of it all is kind of like complaining that a new edition of a book has come out, and it’s NOT EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE LAST EDITION.

    But I don’t really mind the upset.

    I do, however, mind the protracted beating of Boxer’s corpse–can we stop with the Orwell references? Please? Because Orwell is exciting, and endlessly comparing anything one considers unfortunate to 1984 is not exciting. It’s very, very, very tired.

    We get it. Unperson. Doubleplus. War is peace. OH GOD STOP PLEASE.

  88. I think many posters are forgetting that this is a BLOG, not a public news site. It’s not CNN, or Fox News, or MSBNC. It a blog for crying out loud. If you guys thought something was offensive and decided to remove it, fine by me.
    Perhaps those that disagree with your decision should create their own blog. Then they can feel free to post anything they want.
    (Although it probably wouldn’t be as popular as this site, which is probably why they’re pissed off in the first place.)

  89. Klenow said: I have a vague recollection of someone called Violet Blue, but that’s it. I don’t know who or what she is, and have no idea what kind of controversy or drama you’re talking about.

    Same here… the whole subject must have fallen into the category of “Things on Boing Boing I’m Glad They Write About, But Which I Completely Ignore,” like Klenow & steampunk.

    But I like the steampunk :)

  90. If the NYT decided to “unpublish” …I doubt BoingBoing would cut them much slack.

    If you approach a fun website and the NYT with the same expectations, the problem is already yours. Do you truly hold the editors here to the same standards as at the NYT? Really really?

    But if BoingBoing believes that blogs are not real journalism, then it should make that position clear so we as readers can set our expectations appropriately.

    I think the lady with the jackhammer in the middle of the title should help you set your expectations. She isn’t old. She isn’t gray. I’m betting she isn’t even that much of a lady.

    Try not to throw dirt at people who fail to meet your own irrational expectations. You just lose ground.

  91. constant reader, rare commenter.
    Let me join the chorus of “it wasn’t censorship.” Censorship is when the government says you can’t produce something or when huge corporations (e.g., msnbc), who shape the national discourse, blacklist people and points of view. Boingboing is a blog and can choose to publish what it does or doesn’t feel like and it can take stuff offline too. Anybody who mistakes this for censorship needs to go offline and speak to people in the meatspace.

    p.s. I really enjoyed the interview in the onion recently. I told people about it in my office and thought that a bunch of really good points were made (especially about the people complaining about what flavor of free ice cream is being given out that day). I was really surprised after finishing it to discover that other people were writing nasty crap.

  92. “The bottom line is that not every word one writes is worthy of permanent preservation.”

    Although this is true, the posts were not removed because they didn’t stnad the test of time. They didn’t just atrophy out of existence. Something (and we can speculate many nasty things because, at least according to this post, they aren’t saying what) transpired that was unrelated to the content of the posts, and they decided to remove her.

    The thing is, it is absolutely their right to do so, and I can even see the reasoning. But how dimwitted do you have to be to think that it would not be a potential black eye, ESPECIALLY for a site like BoingBoing? Pointing out the hypocrisies and secret machinations of the world is part of their meat and potatoes, and part of why I have been a gleeful daily reader for years and years.

    I don’t think is evil for this, I don’t persoanlly care that the posts are gone, and I’ll continue to visit every day. I am, however, bewildered by what seems like a clumsy, clumsy sequence of moves by people who I tend to think of as much smarter than this.

  93. #105

    “If you *really* want to know what happened, log onto Second Life, and find a hidden island called VelvetSchnapps. Ask for Pete.”


  94. Wow. You here at Boingboing really have handled this badly. Sure it’s your blog, etc. etc. but that’s still not a good reason for the actions that were taken. It has the quality of being in someone’s home and noticing a college year book on the coffee table and when perusing through it seeing regular holes where a face had been removed from some pictures and a name removed from some text. Of course in the digital world we have to be told of the erasures but now that we have it has all the qualities of the Swiss cheese yearbook. Expecting that people looking at the holes wouldn’t have second thoughts about the people that did the cutting is living in a dream world. That’s your doing. Not someone else’s.

    I get the impression that the cause of this editing was something personal (“piles of shit lying around”) and that’s fine. I have no desire to get into what someone feels is private. My guess is that nothing at the site was the cause, just the result. The problem is that the sense of “free spirit” that I think is the big attraction about Boingboing has taken a hit.

    You’re still in my RSS feed and you’re still one of my favorite Internet stop overs. We’ve all had our freak out moments but it’s important to keep them to rare moments.

  95. @#103Grobstein, I’ll answer that.

    There were multiple factual errors in the blog post by Sarno at the LA Times blog.

    This person never “posted” items to BB, they were not an author or a guest blogger.

  96. #91:“If the NYT decided to “unpublish” material from a person who had fallen out of favor with its editors, I doubt BoingBoing would cut them much slack.”

    Yep, I can just imagine. -_-‘

    Sure, in the end the editors can do whatever they want. Their blog, their site, whatever.

    But this was still handled in just about the worst way possible. First posting nothing and then posting vaguely and without actually explaining anything is NOT the right to way stop people from making baseless assumptions and treading the rumormill.

    The easiest and fastest way this could have been avoided would have been stating the reasons clearly and as fast as possible. this way, people might still have disagreed, but things would have been more managable.

    If people don’t know something, they get curious and start asking questions. I would have expected the BBers to anticipate that…

  97. @81 mindpowered:
    Thanks for the link and that info. Sounds pretty harsh, but it would have made more sense to let her continue to make a fool out of herself.

    I think both sides of the spectrum have done two completely different actions.
    BB’s- being kind, responsible and not overly offensive towards anyone. Yet they decided to cover it up.

    Xeni-you have been in contact with Tibetan protesters, talking to them through their struggles with China, fighting for the censorship to be overthrown. It confuses me that you would agree to take that down. Little bit hypocritical.
    I know they are not one and the same. They are two very different circumstances but any/all online hinderance will not help this site with its message.

    VioletBlue- Acted cowardly, no excuse for that- but her work does not deserve to be swept under a rug..

  98. The difference between the institutions “big blog (with fanzine background), operated by a small company, earning (part of) the living” and “mass media” is not sharply drawn, I guess.

  99. If Ms. Blue did something wrong, that may warrant her present and future removal as a contributor, but why remove her past work? What piece of news came out that invalidates the merit of her past published work?

    In 1938, Time Magazine named Adolf Hitler “Man of the year”. Well we all know what happened next but Time Magazine did not go back and recant or unpublish that issue. Even if it could have it wouldn’t. Instead, the news evolved and we came to understand and judge the world more fully each day with the accruing facts.

    For BB to go back and remove Ms. Blue’s past work is to me an act that goes beyond what I would expect any organization to engage in. You fire an employee or no longer welcome someone’s contribution and that is fine – their future work will no longer be hosted. But their past work? There is something nefarious about that. What is it about the past work that carried the seeds of evil that warrants you to remove them from my view? I would like to exercise my judgment on my own in the fullest exposure of the facts… and I cannot do that now that you’re removed those articles.

    Also the fact you acknowledge that the articles can be found in internet archiving sites shows me that there’s something petty or personal in the way you’re doing this. Right now, Ms. Blue sounds like she is a much more interesting personality for having pissed off some bloggers to the point of making them act in such a bitchy manner to her.

  100. Channeling my inner Unicorn Chaser, it behooves me to note that ‘Papercraft Dildo Cozies’ (#54) would be a deucedly smashing name for a steampunk themed Emo band.

  101. Teresa,

    Longtime reader, first-time poster as the old saw goes. Thanks for the explanation. The reasons and backstory for “unpublishing” (an unfortunate and Orwellian term) these posts don’t matter much to me — it’s your site. If you want to toss a regular out of the bar for being obnoxious, it’s your call.

    However, as someone who’s worked both in traditional as well as Internet media in managerial and technical and editorial roles, I would add a few suggestions regarding your evolving SOP (or lack thereof):

    1. Deliberately serving up 404s is simply bad Webmastering practise. I’d strongly suggest putting up a simple notice on each replaced page that the post has been “unpublished” per your Policies. A bit more work, but it would have saved you guys a lot of trouble.

    2. As comment #6 above notes, it’s bad journalistic practise to unpublish articles from the record (and like it or not, your site serves a prominent reportorial role that adds to the general record). Strike-outs, addendums stating something is no longer wonderful, corrections, retractions, apologies, removal of hyperlinks to external sites, even “disem-vowel-ing” etc. are all good practise. But when you unpublish editorial content to which you’ve also provided permalinks, you’re destroying your own credibility and inconveniencing those audience members who think well enough of BB to link to its articles, and drive traffic your way.

    3. There seemed to be some thin-skinned censorship (outright removal, not just “disem-vowel-ing”) of admittedly off-topic but certainly not hateful comments regarding this incident in other threads. You would have saved yourselves the trouble of playing that game of “whack-a-mole” by making a statement such as this before or upon unpublishing the posts.

    This is more than a random group blog; it’s a professional site, with all the trapping thereof (an LLC, a revenue stream, a massive and loyal audience, etc.). You’ve made an effort to put in enlightened policies, but clearly they need refining.

    Your site’s (really your brand’s) core values, at least from several years of reading, include zealous advocacy for Free Speech, organisational transparency, good Web design practise, journalistic integrity, the importance of archives, and respect for your audience. Core values should always be incorporated as much as possible into your site policies, especially when you traffic in the business of ideas.

    I hope this incident will serve as a lesson learned so you folks’ll be able to handle the inevitable future incidents without causing the sort of drama, speculation, and needless damage to your brand that we’ve seen here.

    As for me, I’ll take it as growing pains and keep reading. Thanks for the wonderful stuff.

  102. I must admit, I’m not entirely comfortable with the “unpublishing” of previously public content.

    It doesn’t seem to jibe with BB’s normal ethics. Were any other blog to do a similar thing, I’d treat it with suspicion from then on, I think.

  103. I don’t want to get into this argument, I’m not sure where I stand. But I do have one question.

    I remember seeing a video in post where Violet Blue was at some big techno-fest. She was trying to interview Steve Jobs or some other Apple bigwig. And she was rebuffed rather humorously.

    Now, I feel really sure I saw this on BB (maybe it was BBTV), much less than a year ago. Am I wrong?

  104. Where to start?

    Since when is it the public’s right to know every thought that went into Boing Boing’s decision to remove VB’s posts? BB isn’t a publicly traded company. We don’t own a word of it. We don’t pay a cent to read BB. It’s theirs to edit as they please. Additionally, they fully understand that to keep and attract readers, they need to be responsive to their needs; that the content flows in all directions here.

    If you owned a blog and someone showed up and started a flame war, what would you do? Would you find a way to end it and move on, or would you log on and get baited day after day?

    I’ve managed online communities for several large corporations, and let me tell you — blogs are proprietary. They’re not communes. It’s business. And when someone comes into your place of business and breaks the rules or distracts other users from enjoying your content (or distracts you from providing the best content you can), you don’t let them set up camp. Why would you?


  105. What’s troubling isn’t the “unpublishing” per se, it’s that the action seems quite inconsistent with the overall reputation of the site – a reputation built over several years and thousands of posts.

    You’ve every right to edit and revise the content of BoingBoing, but you don’t have the right to tell your readers how to interpret those actions (couching the activity in terms like “keeping house” and “cleaning up” doesn’t make it better).

    In the eyes of many, you’ve acted hypocritically, damaged your reputation and are splitting hairs in an effort to recover. It’s unbecoming.

  106. You know, every time from here on out that Boing Boing criticizes other blogs or private agencies for not being transparent, for removing things in the dead of night, you’ll most likely see a comment from me saying, “Gv m fckng brk. Y’v gt t b fckng kddng m, y fckng hypcrts.”

  107. I’ve been trying to leave this whole topic alone but jeeze louise!

    Personal qualms are PERSONAL. and (as said before #18) this AIN’T BBC. Leave it alone.


    WHY were the posts deemed removable and hence unpublished?

    Why O Why? I do not ask for clarification/justification/any-fication, all I ask is WHY?

  109. During the American Civil war there were a group of politicians in the south known as the “Impossibilists”.

    Their specialty was ignoring the reality of the situation and adhering to a rigid set of principles which were ultimately only posturing.

    Boing Boing is one of the most prominent blogs on the internet and as such has to make real world choices as to their content. Most of us are not exposed to that pressure and never will be. Now, like everyone else I’m a little mystified as to why but I’m not about to jump on the train of righteous indignation and toast the editors on the coals of hypocrite hell for unpublishing a few posts of a sex blog.

    What makes boing boing different is the fact of editorial control of content (otherwise I’d go to google and type in keywords and see what came up)
    and as such shifts in what is deemed appropriate are expected over time.

    The tone of most of there posts makes me believe the authors exist in a world where they have zero real world accountability.

  110. For all the deadheads, I present:

    the Violet (lee) Blue(s)

    The mods decreed it, Violet wrote it.
    Violet wrote it down indeed-e
    Mods decreed it, then they took it down
    They unpublished, didn’t just pull it down

    Some say six posts, some say one hundred
    Some one hundred, yes indeed-e
    Some say six posts some say one hundred.
    But me and my buddies think unpublishing’s fair

    I wrote a response I posted 0n the blog, posted it on the blog indeed-e
    I wrote a response I posteded on the blog.
    You may know by that you’ve got a friend somewhere

  111. Oh, for crying out loud. If my blog had lots of posts about how wonderful someone was, and then I discovered that they weren’t so wonderful, I’d probably do the same thing. I would either remove or update my old posts, and for boingboing to go back and add “Never mind. She sucks” to all the old posts would have been snarky and passive-aggressive in the extreme. The only real remaining solution is to delete the old posts.

    Whatever Violet Blue did, I’m sure it warranted some response if the generally chill boingboing crew as a whole took issue with her behavior.

    In summary: Whatever.

  112. I certainly wouldn’t argue against the statement that BoingBoing has every right to remove the articles they don’t want posted. They do have that right. They are perfectly free to remove any article they want to.

    It just doesn’t seem like a terribly smart move, to me, to remove every article about a person on a vague rationale that they refuse to elaborate. You’re public figures, she’s a public figure, there’s no reason to try to hush it up. All you would need to do is say something like, “We felt that Violet Blue’s decision to sue a porn star using the same nom de plume for trademark violation in the use of that name was an insupportable affront to the principles of intellectual property that we espouse, and we no longer wish to have any association whatsoever with her.” It’s cogent, forthright, and addresses the issue.

    Of course, people would still be upset, because that’s just how people are, but I don’t think it would be quite this bad.

  113. For the folks who are taking issue with the tagline (and concept) of “A Directory Of Wonderful Things” – One, they get to call it what they want – Two, I, for one, happen to think that awful things that have already happened, and therefore can’t be undone, are wonderful. I’m as much a fan of stories about penis-shaped gummy lighthouses as I am a fan of stories about 20th century fascists who slaughtered their own people. I read comic books *and* I read the transcripts of Richard Nixon’s Oval Office tapes. To borrow a phrase from Hunter Thompson, BoingBoing is all about having “…the right kind of eyes…”

    BoingBoingers, I love you to pieces. As was said previously, “Don’t take any guff from these swine.”

  114. @Jake0748, I can assure you, your memory is quite incorrect. BB or BBtv never published that material.

  115. I have to agree with Satan and emayoh’s eloquent views. No one would argue that BoingBoing does not have the right to go back and delete posts; they even have the right to go back and write new posts, alter posts, etc. Formally, even the most prestigious news organization has the right to do so. However they will lose the trust and respect of their readers by their actions.

    An analogy, suppose a political blogger spent years opposing issue A, but then wishes to endorse a candidate who favors issue A. If the blogger goes back and deletes all of their previous references to opposing issue A, then endorses the candidate, there might be a bit of legitimate distrust of the blog. This is not to say a blogger does not have the right to do so, of course, it is just a questionable thing to do (blog or no blog).

    If Violet Blue did something so reprehensible that you think she should be publicly condemned, do so. If not, ignore it.

  116. This incident makes Boing Boing look pretty bad. Scrubbing the archives because you are pissed at someone is pretty immature.

    Just because an action isn’t legally censorship doesn’t mean it isn’t a bad idea. It wouldn’t legally be censorship for the New York Times to scrub their archives; it would still be a problem though.

    Boing Boing is pretty popular and a certain level of responsibility comes from that popularity.

  117. This is a test, right? To see if your followers follow you or your ideals? I stand with the ideals. “Unpublishing” is my new dirty word. Sorry kids, Old Yeller jus’ had to be unpublished. He was in pain.

    In all seriousness, unless this is some giant July Fools Day joke or a test or whatever, this is extremely disappointing. No to mention, you probably increased VB’s traffic just by making news of this.

  118. #133 – did you even READ the explanation? The posts were not removed for their content. They were removed because Boing Boing did not wish to lend credibility to Violet Blue.

  119. Let’s suppose Joe R. Blogger writes a wonderful post. It gets linked to. Later on, it’s discovered that that Joe is a major-league douche in matters completely unrelated to the subject matter of the wonderful post.

    On the one hand, one can argue that one does not want to support Joe because he’s a douche. Linking is a form of support and therefore, the link should be removed.

    On the other hand, the post is still wonderful… this blog is about wonderful things, so, regardless of Joe’s douchiness, the readers of the blog want to read this stuff. For all that Dante was an asshole, we still care about the wonderful things he wrote…

  120. I think much of the s*** storm is over people who have no clue what they are talking about

    freedom of speech doesn’t go everywhere the way people think it does. If you have a private venue where people are allowed to speak as an open invitation but can be yanked the moment you start spouting unworderfulness stuff that’s perfectly ok.

    It is partially open with the understanding that you won’t be an asshat. It makes sense, and it is pretty standard for free speech interpretations.
    it’s why hate groups can’t start using our tax dollars to throw their beliefs in our face 24/7, they haven’t been give the forum to spout these ideas. They can still spend their own resources on it, but they don’t have to force us to back them to support their freedom of speech.

    and more importantly. what else was the boing boing team supposed to do about this? they feel their association with a former poster might cause problems for them, or it doesn’t fit in with what they are trying to build here so they are pulling them down for review. Do people really expect them to post every bit removed. Or would it have been better if they announced to everyone that they were doing this and further damage someones credibility. It wasn’t going to be happy either way, but they decided to do it without any fanfare in case they did decided to put them back up, if they wanted them down without damaging the original poster.

    so please can the big brother stuff, there is no comparison.

  121. The comments on this one range from abusive and thoughtless to, supportive and equally thoughtless. In the end, what’s done is done and in the nature of the internet all this is still out there.
    Yes, it could have been handled better initially, but it was handled and now, instead of doing any sort of cover-up and being defensive about it we’re getting a dialogue.
    That is a fantastic tack for such a large node of the internet media, and I, for one, appreciate the mods and bbgods forthrightness.

  122. A word on “unpublishing.” This isn’t a new term, at least for those of us who have been blogging for several years. It simply means to remove the posts from the public archive. To the outside web, that’s the same as deleting, but internally it means the content still lives in the database.

    I’ll grant that using the term in this context does have unfortunate overtones of doublespeak, but there is a real, if subtle distinction between the two terms.

  123. As someone who’s recently had his first disemvowelling, I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing lately.

    BB is a privately held media property operating in the public square. So is the New York Times. So is, in fact, every media outlet, with the exception of public radio & television. Those who own the outlets can, in point of fact, do whatever they wish with their property. I’m fine with that, and have no real beef with the bias that led to the suppression of my comment because it didn’t fit in with the accepted standards of discourse here. Not my house, not my rules.

    However, it does seem to me that there is an odor of conflict between the continued and proper assertion of private ownership of the materials published here as a defense against charges of censorship, and certain other positions that are taken here regarding intellectual property.

    It seems to me that information does indeed want to be free, except when such freedom conflicts with the interests of the owners, at which point absolute rights of ownership are justly claimed.

    I say “odor of conflict” because it’s a nebulous area. BB is operated by a collective, not an individual, and the members of that collective obviously have different ideas and passions. Yes, the missing materials are now available in archives elsewhere. But there is no denying that deleting all posts that mention a particular individual is reminiscent of the memory hole, suppression of information, and a host of other practices that are antithetical to the general philosophical slant that is clearly and regularly apparent on BB. When I had my first blog, my only real rule was that no matter how stupid, embarrassing, or wrong something I had posted turned out to be, nothing was ever removed. But: my house, my rules.

    What really interests me in all of this is the spectacle of watching BB grow from “personal blog” into “something bigger.” That’s the essence of the issue. To the owners, this is clearly their property. To the readership, BB has morphed into something of an institution, with accompanying expectations of a certain responsibility or even impartiality.

    What I think this exposes is the illusion of impartiality and “matters of record” at all media institutions. Folks jump on Fox for its much vaunted and explicit “Fair and balanced” slogan, but that slogan has been implicitly declared by most, if not all, media outlets for decades now. It’s not true of any outlet. Never has been. Whatever impartiality or responsibility such outlets display is offered solely at the discretion of their owners.

    So what’s the lesson here, if any? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with recognizing the foundational importance of the private ownership of creative output, and thus gaining a better understanding of what “free ice cream” really means.

  124. #144- “Boing Boing did not wish to lend credibility to Violet Blue.”

    And how does that answer the question I posed?

  125. boing boing rocks. do whatever you want. to me, this is a non-issue. it’s yr blog, and i’m happy to read whatever is on it. always entertaining and sometimes even enlightening.

    @satan: i’d say just the opposite. the fact that the archives are still available indicates that while the current real-time identity of boingboing is something they care to upgrade, the past is the past and who cares. what’s all the fuss about ? i assume past work was removed for liability issues. what’s the mystery ? anyone concerned about their own hosting liability would do the same.

    folks should just get over this. come to boingboing for boingboing and go directly to v blue for v blue.

  126. Here is a way of looking at this, which I haven’t seen above.

    There seems to be a mostly-consensus that regardless of any other validity, the unpublishing should not have been done silently.

    Let’s follow this and posit a world wherein this is corrected. Thus, a post would appear one day reading, essentially, “Violet Blue is being unpublished today, all posts concerning her removed. Here is why: …”

    Now, I cannot imagine a positive reaction to this WHATEVER the merits of the unpublishing. This is in fact quite significant, as it cuts away extraneous details and goes to boingboing’s behavior and policies. Further, I claim that it is the counterfactual which is most strongly supported by the group consensus, and it is still unpalatable. In fact, for all of the controversy rising now, I can’t imagine boingboing would have been in a better position had it done the “right” thing as suggested by consensus.

    boingboing may very well be in the “best of all possible worlds” assuming that they were 1) unpublishing VB in the first place; and 2) someone in the public was going to, eventually, find out about it.

  127. “If you owned a blog and someone showed up and started a flame war, what would you do? Would you find a way to end it and move on, or would you log on and get baited day after day?”

    There is no evidence to suggest that Violet Blue engaged in a flame war or flame baiting on this blog. She, herself was not even aware of the deletion of the posts about her/her blog until months after it happened.

    Since the Boing-Boing posters & moderators refuse to explain their reasons all we can assume is that this is the result of a petty personal disagreement unrelated to the posts, and that they were deleted as a form of juvenile retribution.

  128. Hello. I’m the person who has actually been holding the line in the comment threads for the last day or so. I unpublished a number of waggish comments cleverly suggesting that one third of the visible spectrum had suddenly gone missing. I have neither knowledge of, nor interest in, whatever infractions Ms. Blue may or may not have committed.

    Aware that a statement was forthcoming, I did exactly what I do every other day of the year. I unpublished a dozen or so off-topic comments, some hostile, some laced with obscenities, some merely childish. When BoingBoing is mentioned on other websites, we commonly receive comment barrages from furious politicos or foul-mouthed teenagers. As comment storms go, this was a light wind. It was treated the same as any other.

  129. I love this community. Lets give them hell even if it is a personal matter and they are exercising their own rights over their own property and own writing. I am not even being sarcastic. WHY? WHY DID YOU DO IT YOU WORSE THAN NAUGHTY CENSOR-FIENDS!?!?

  130. It is weird when BoingBoing removes information. I had the same reaction about the Cory and Ursula Le Guin kerfuffle (in that case, Cory chose also to not allow comments on his apology to Le Guin).

    But that said, this is their blog. This is not a public forum in the classic sense. This is a personal blog written by five people with help from others. (Disclosure: That includes me–I wrote up something Xeni posted about in-flight broadband a few days ago–but also everyone who has ever submitted a long or short item or explanation to BB.)

    There’s this incredible confusion on the Net about personal space and personal control. BoingBoing is not the government. BB didn’t delete Violet Blue’s Web site. They didn’t incite people to hate her. They didn’t even comment on the matter. They had some kind of personal or professional disagreement or made a decision about her for personal or professional reasons and chose not to share it.

    They did not: remove her words; deny her income; fire her; attempt to get others to fire her; attempt to get her hosting company to drop her site; attempt to disparage her.

    The point missed in nearly all the comments to date is that BB has a very very long tail, no sexual innuendo intended. When they point to something, it’s a firehose. Even years later, it can be a garden hose. In this ostensibly rare case, they decided that their bully pulpit of endorsing by referral and aiding traffic by referral no longer met their personal or editorial test.

    Why would anyone reasonably argue with that? Is anyone maintaining, for instance, that every single business or personal issue that the editors and moderator and other staff experience should be hashed out in public? Please. I love these guys, but I think they expose just enough of themselves to be interesting, without becoming a reality TV show, Paris Hilton, or, god forbid, Gawker or Valleywag.

    A few years ago, a prominent blogger who I will not name due to internal (in my head) policy called me up and screamed at me for an hour. I respected this blogger, and thus let him or her scream at me. My partner of several years at that point, listening in another room, said, “I have never heard you speak to another human being this way.” And it’s true: no one else could provoke like he or she could.

    Part of the screaming was about something I had written on my not-very-visited personal blog. I made the decision to “unpublish” this blogger. I went through and removed the blogger’s name from every single post that had mentioned him or her, which wasn’t substantial, but it was enough. I deleted a post or two, too. I know that the Wayback Machine may have them, but I chose to no longer be engaged with this person. Since then, I have not interacted with them or written about them, and life is, in fact, better. (They tried to follow me on Twitter for unknown reasons recently, and I blocked them. Not from spite, but from a policy consideration of non-engagement.)

    It seems to me that my position with a few hundred daily visitors to my own blog is the same as BB’s with ostensibly millions of visitors a day. There’s this expectation that BB is a site for record for interesting stuff (it is not), that it is inviolate (it is not), and that the folks who run it must bend to the will of the audience (they do not). Bully for them.

    My final disclosure: I am somewhere between friend and acquaintance to most of the BBers, and have benefited many times from the traffic flow that BB brings to things they find of interest. But that doesn’t mean I’m a toady. If the circumstances had been different — if they’d engaged in a campaign against VB, if they had an agenda that this was part of — I’d certainly be concerned and probably publicly critical.

    Oddly, the BoingBoing stuff is something as close to what we need from political leaders: their agendas are not close to the vest; they’re on their sleeve, and on their blog.

  131. By now I’ve read through all the comments up to this writing. Those who don’t mind the deletion have a couple of ways of framing the issue so that they are OK with it:


    I like BoingBoing so much that I don’t care, just keep posting links to more material objects that I might find interesting; or,


    They have a right to do it because they own the site; or


    It’s all on some internet archive somewhere so it can still be found and therefore doesn’t matter.

    Oh yeah, there was one mandarinish moonling who went to great lengths to explain that it was ok because precedent had already been set and there had been no outcry. Unfortunately, he did not site such precedent, and I, for one, was certainly not aware of any prior, wholesale deletions, and had I been, there certainly would have been an outcry from at least one person.

    I see none of these as valid because they do not address the fundamental issue at stake here which has to do with integrity, honour and principle. These are the only things that really matter, and are the only things which, heretofore have made this a great site. It is the foundation upon which everything else rests.

    To what standards, if any, does BoingBoing hold itself accountable? Why should we trust you, BoingBoing? When you call others out for doing such things, please explain how this is not hypocrisy of the lowest sort? For the love of god please explain this!

    I plead with you one last time to restore your honour and republish the deleted posts. I really want to keep liking you. What is that Google expression? “Don’t be corporate” or something to that affect? Please, please, please.

  132. #51. If you’re going to read one comment in this entire thread, make it that one.

    Is there anything less interesting than a blog war? Perhaps after this we can all start worrying about that birthday card that Cory didn’t send that one time, four years ago. Or the plant that was neglected by Xeni. It’s dead now, I hear! And I remember the time Teresa didn’t do the dishes, I mean, that was bad. She totally promised to! And don’t get me started on those other guys.

    But first let’s all watch paint dry.

  133. @149
    “Yes, it could have been handled better initially, but it was handled and now, instead of doing any sort of cover-up and being defensive about it we’re getting a dialogue. ”

    No, we aren’t.
    BB has, thus far, not explained what they mean when they say “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

  134. This whole uproar, by the way, reminds me of something in a Websnark post a couple of years ago. (Text-find on “Don’t try to rewrite history” to get to the relevant bit.)

  135. “Let’s suppose Joe R. Blogger writes a wonderful post.”

    Why? Xeni said: “This person never “posted” items to BB, they were not an author or a guest blogger.

    SO, aside from those who misunderstand the actions at hand, what’s the big deal here? Someone here wanted to stop giving free publicity to someone else, for some reason.

    Is that not their prerogative?

  136. As one of the “unpublished” on this forum at the hands of TNH, for a post where I declared that, for the most part, the boing boing party was over, I can’t say I’m surprised at all of this. Well, there’s one aspect of the story that does surprise me: how ham-fisted the handling of the whole debacle has been, given the storied media-savviness the BB gang. Really, it’s like brand suicide.

    Forget Nuked the Fridge, Violet Blue is the new Jumped the Shark.

  137. I am curious as to what boing boing may do in the future when a similar case might present itself. If say, Loren Coleman begins talking about aliens as a previously undiscovered species, and then joins the Raelians, will you guys follow the same modus operandi? Clearly trying to do it “quietly” didn’t work in the end (although it appears to have worked for about a year), so will you contact the person in mind and tell them what you are about to do and why? Or is that just going to make the soon-to-be-unpublished party angrier?

    “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

    –Randall Patrick MacMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

  138. You know, all the arguments about whose blog it is and editorial privilege really don’t have a thing to do with the credibility problem.

    Yeah, sometimes people don’t behave the way you like, and yeah, sometimes you disagree with them so much that you have to distance yourself from them, but to do so in a secretive way, and to do so retroactively – especially when one of the key attributes of your blog is supposedly its openness – well that is going to raise a lot of eyebrows. Why are you acting so surprised by this?

    Over on my Livejournal account I’ve had quite a few friendships dissolve, but not once would I have considered going back through all the old posts and removing anything that mentioned these people. The history of the blog is just that, a history, and changing that history, regardless of what term you choose for it, is going to call your credibility into question.

  139. I just had a thought – This reminds me of Robert Rauschenberg’s erasing of a drawing by Willem de Kooning. Art is Art, whether you like it or not. And BoingBoing is Art.

  140. Yes this is a private site and there are owners who have full control about what goes into it, what gets taken out of it, and who gets to write for it. But there is a flipside to this. This private site is sending and transmitting its content to the public. As a member of this viewing public, I have the right to use the means made available by BB to question a decision and ask whether an explanation can be forthcoming about that decision. I am not making a constitutional play for free speech here. I am asking person to bloggers for a clarification that would remove the suspicious of malfeasance on BB’s part for what looks to me like a bad move.

    What was it about all the past work that lost merit?
    How can you tease the public about “something happened” and then simply presume to not explain it? Do you believe that a complete absence of suspicion is the way we should live with each other? I believe a system works because there is a built in amount of distrust and that is why transparency is so helpful in keeping everyone on the same page.

    The longer you hide, the worse this is going to get.

  141. Why do people with “Moderator” after their name often come across so negatively? It is the moderator’s role to be “the cop” but, especially on a site like Boing Boing, can’t this cop be one of the cool ones? The sort that can maintain order but still hold your respect? They are a rare breed but they do exist.

    I say this because of the tone of things like “…you haven’t been a very careful reader. Go back and try again.” and “It was a group decision. Why do you think it took so long?” and “I expect she’ll survive it.” I realize some of you will disagree with me on this but I read that and my mental hackles start to go up (even though I have nothing to do with the commenters they are directed at). It comes across as… ack, what’s the best way to put this… chippy, maybe? There’s just a touch of “in your face” to it and I don’t like it. Boing Boing is “us” to me and I don’t want the folks I hang with to be jerks.

    Now for the constructive element of my comment. Perhaps saying “It was a group decision, thus the delay” or to express your annoyance “It was a group decision. Have some patience.” would have sounded better? Rather than “…you haven’t been a very careful reader. Go back and try again.” try “You missed our point. Read the previous comments again.” I have no clue as to why you all are unhappy with the individual whose articles are at the heart of this issue but rather than the snide “she’ll survive it” maybe just leave that out? Since I don’t know what the issue is YOU are the one that comes across negatively when you make statements like that.

    I’m just sayin’.

  142. @ill lich, yeah I think we probably won’t do this again, even if the reasons were as strong and unusual as they were in this case. This was too much of a pain in the ass. We are living and learning.

  143. I was unaware of this until TNH’s post this afternoon. I was curious enough to spend 10 minutes Googling the issue. All I found out in the Blogosphere was a lot of people speculating about what transpired between some other people to make them stop relating to one another in a certain way. That was 10 minutes wasted.
    I do have a contribution to this comments thread, though:


  144. The crux of this problem is people seem to be confusing editorial work with fact-based journalism.

    BoingBoing removed editorial content. The same facts available in those posts are still available at various places online.

    Comparing BoingBoing to the government’s concealment of data available nowhere else is not only stupid but silly: nowhere have facts been destroyed or claimed to have never existed.

    Editorial positions change. Internet publishing allows those changes to be made in real time rather than having to post “Letter from our President”-esque aplogies that many of you think should have been made here.

    Many say that as a personal blog, no such apology is necessary. To wit: if you disagree with editorial content, you may go elswhere to find “wonderful things.” But when an editorial decision is made without notice of any kind? Well, then it becomes obvious why people are frustrated, as their ability to make an informed choice about the media they consume has been taken from them.

    I do not think a changelog for the website is the answer to this problem. I do not even know if it can be classified as a “problem” per se. What I do know is that this discussion, when properly framed and stripped of attacks and defenses based on the “personal” nature of the issue, is more important than most seem to realize.

  145. #163 Really, it’s like brand suicide.

    As someone with no dog in the fight, I’ll listen to your words very closely and then refer to my comment #83 above: “Don’t give an anklebiter the ladder they need to reach your knees.”

  146. Welcome to BoingBoing Gossip Central. You never should have explained that there is a secret reason why you “unpublished” her. You should either come clean with it, or “unpublish” this article and never mention it again.

    BTW – I’ve been reading this blog for a while and have NO IDEA who this Violet Blue character is. If you had never brought it up, I still would never have know. I suspect by tomorrow, I will have forgotten.

  147. This private site is sending and transmitting its content to the public

    No, this is a website you REQUEST using http.

  148. While I ultimately agree with BB’s arguments from ownership, this whole thing stinks:

    * The refusal to even write VB’s name, referring to her as “this person”…
    * Failure to acknowledge the changes without being “forced” to by the shitstorm…
    * the use of “unpublishing” to keep from saying anything was deleted or censored…

    I know BB doesn’t need to meet journalistic standards, but this whole affair really points to the fact that BB is really just a promotion machine… cross us, and you can’t participate in the publicity.

  149. Who is Violet Blue and why should I care?

    This is not a government site and whoever pays the hosting bills and/or owns the site can remove whatever material they see fit — without owing anybody an explanation.

  150. One time, before the War/Occupation/Shock and Awe broke out, I saw a commercial for the “Dr. Phil Show” in which the “psychologist” was saying that we should support the war. I went on the Dr. Phil message board and wrote a long rant about how bad Dr. Phil’s reasoning was. I actually signed my real name.

    That was many years ago but now anyone who Googles me probably gets the impression that I am some kind of Dr. Phil fan as my name comes up in relation to the message board. I am sure this will hurt my career opportunities as well as my street cred.

    Oh well. Sometimes we just have to live with the lame things we do online in the public eye.

    At least I have proof that I have always been against this stupid War in Iraq.

  151. I am dumbfounded at the outrage and shouts of censorship. Seriously? It’s a blog, people. If Violet Blue wants to say something, she has her own blog. And a newspaper column.

    On the other hand, I’d expect the BBers of all people to know that removing stuff is an act that gets noticed. I share your distaste for needless drama, but I hope you folks have learned that making content disappear doesn’t get you there. And also that being open and forthright is harder than it looks from a distance.

  152. #160 – Sums it up rather nicely !!

    BB has, thus far, not explained what they mean when they say “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

    Oh BB fer chrissakes!! I never noticed this VB issue until you posted it!! Now, if you have brought it to the fore at least have the friggin b*lls to deal with it!! Show some SPINE.

  153. @pyros: speak for yourself, do not speak for me. from my perspective there has been no breach of integrity. you can disagree but that does not invalidate my perspective. the “three reasons” you cite from “us” are perfectly valid. i understand that you disagree, but i don’t read boingboing for violet blue, i read it for boingboing, and you have not been denied access to violet blue, as the waybackmachine and her own blog are uncompromised. what is the big deal ? it’s what they want it to be, not what you want it to be. start yr own blog, mate. i’ll read it eagerly if it’s as entertaining as boingboing. save the drama for obama!

    none of the protesters have yet addresses the issue (and probability) that there may have been liability issues.

  154. Reminds me of when ESPN disappeared Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday morning Quarterback column in 2003 for making anti-semitic remarks (involving corporate parent company CEO Michael Eisner) in a blog on another site. Nearly instantly, they not only dropped the column, but completely erased it from the archives. For a short time, some dangling links were left on the site, but they were soon excised. As far as I know, there was no public acknowledgment on of what had happened – there was no way to discern from their site that TMQ had ever existed. Easterbrook went and wrote his column on for a couple of years, and then came back to ESPN, and now his archives are back again, even including those before he had disappeared. What was weird about the whole thing was that you find find the news on lots of other sites, and blogs were discussing the controversy (though they weren’t as widespread five whole years ago), but ESPN wouldn’t touch it.

    It’s the lack of transparency, and the attempt at changing history, that’s disturbing. ESPN had the “right” to do this on their site as well; that doesn’t make it right.

  155. As several other people have pointed out, “unpublishing” something (because you don’t want to pay to host it any more) breaks all the inbound links to that content. Doing so, and defending the behavior, reveals a philosophy of the internet that is sharply at odds with Boing Boing’s public values.

    Is the internet just a series of documents, owned by the people who host them? Or is it something more? Is there “value added” to be found in the construct as a whole, consisting of the documents and the links that link them together?

    To delete (or “unpublish”) stuff on a popular site is to break inbound links. It does damage to the broader internet, damage to the part that you don’t own. Everybody who loves the web because of its links and connections is going to question that sort of behavior.

    I love the web. I imagine and believe that the Boingers love the web. And I’m really really surprised and disappointed to be hearing this “we don’t want to pay to host it” justification for breaking bits of it.

    Hosting a document on a server (a document one owns and has the power to remove) supports the creation of a larger and more fragile construct of links in connection with that document. One does not own that larger construct, but one has the power to destroy it at any time. It’s reasonable, I think, for people who love the internet to refrain from such acts of destruction whenever they can. If they cannot refrain, it’s reasonable for other people to wonder why not, and to ask, and to criticize if answers are not forthcoming. Which is what I see happening here.

    I really really really did not expect to find Boing Boing breaking inbound links and then pretending that such acts of destruction are of no consequence.

  156. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work.

    In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. [emph. added] Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

    – G. Orwell, Politics and the English Language

    Now, granted, we’re not dealing with a Stalinist purge here. But on some level, all actions are political: the imposition of the will of the group upon an individual. Your choice of language used to describe the removal of Violet’s work and of any comments referring to her seems oddly hypocritical for a site with an editorial bent that rails so strongly against censorship. The way this was handled definitely seems to have left your site with a self-inflicted, and perhaps even deserved black eye.

  157. I think this thread simply proves that what BoingBoing did was irrelavant, and that pyromaniacs with gas cans and tinfoil hats will find a conspiracy anywhere and throw fuel on it.

    The only difference is that probably few other places other than BoingBoing would actually put up with this level of complete bullshit from it’s own commenters.

    So, every post by one of you nutjobs in a tinfoil hat, every post by some pyro trying to find anything at all that will burn, all your comments are doing is proving how insane you really are.

    If half of what you said about BoingBoing was true, this thread wouldn’t exist at all.

  158. I’m hoping it has something to do with Little Brother, cause seriously, i can’t get enough Little Brother.

  159. Reminds me of when ESPN disappeared Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday morning Quarterback column in 2003 for making anti-semitic remarks (involving corporate parent company CEO Michael Eisner) in a blog on another site.

    Except of course it’s entirely unlike that. GE was a poster there, or had posted, or was supposed to.

    That does not appear to be accurate in the VB instance.


  160. Boingboing, thanks for taking the high road and not spewing the private reason out in defense. Stay classy.

  161. Where I lose the plot is that these posts (and comments referencing them?) disappeared a year ago and only now does anyone notice. And in that time, no one thought of a way to communicate that to the teeming millions? Or that it needed to be presented in a favorable way? Does that seem believable?

    And who will be embarrassed by the facts of the matter coming out? Violet Blue? One of the BB crew? It looks to me like the only ones to feel embarrassed are the boingers, for doing something that seems counter to their public personae and for failing to defend their decision convincingly. Like it or not, you have an audience and they have some expectations. As noted elsewhere, it will be hard to take you all seriously on issues of transparency after this, trivial as it may seem now. I realize BB is not the anyone’s government of public utility and has no legal obligations to be open, but I suspect a lot of BB’s readers have expectations beyond the merely legal.

  162. Add me to the list of the perplexed, and also the list of those who feel it’s somehow… unseemly.

    Yes, BB is a private blog. No it’s not the NYT. No they haven’t formally subscribed to a code of conduct. Yes, the hyperbole of “first amendment” “1984” and “unpersons” is way over the top.

    But still it just seems … skeevy, distasteful and incongruous for BB to do something like this.

  163. Pedant @#186 – Your choice of language used to describe the removal of Violet’s work and of any comments referring to her seems oddly hypocritical for a site with an editorial bent that rails so strongly against censorship.

    They removed their own work.

    No work of VB was removed as far as I can tell, just some free publicity for VB, the privilege of which they no longer wanted to extend.

  164. @186: we’re not dealing with a Stalinist purge here. But

    But? Are you fricken kidding me? We’re not dealing with a Stalinist purge here but??????

    You talk about “choice of language” after a little gem like that?

  165. The “paying to host it” doesn’t hold, you are making money on advertisements on all of these articles.

    I can understand that you may have ‘personal’ and ‘private’ reasons for doing these things, but have you told Violet why you’ve done this? She still claims to be in the dark.

  166. To the commenters who belabor comparisons of this matter with Nineteen Eighty-Four, or insist that they need need need to know what VB did, may I suggest that you strive to get over yourselves. The former displays a stunning lack of reading comprehension, and the latter is mere gossip-trolling.

  167. Come on, admit it, you are finally victims of your own success !!

    Tomorrow is another day. See ya!

  168. I have had my mentiond on BB deleted as well. Not over a disagreement or web-(bum)-fight or anything. I think our project just got stale after a while (and we had our own drama).

    Am I upset? No. I miss the linkage, though. I still visit BB and jump into the fray wit ch’all.

    What to do? I’ve experienced similar situations, where providing links to someone is a good idea at first, and then some drama occurs where doing someone a favor (like linkage, article, etc) is no longer a good idea. What to do?

  169. Just my tiny opinion:
    I’m glad to finally hear something from BoingBoing’s side but now I’m just more confused than ever. And sad. I love BoingBoing. I really like Violet Blue. I respect both. To see these two entities taking a stance that’s any less than cooperative really boggles my mind. Why must two sites I really like be against each other? What could Violet have done to get deleted by BoingBoing? I didn’t know that anyone could do anything (besides incessant spamming and trolling) to get totally deleted like that. I totally respect BB’s right to do what they choose on their own blog and I can understand the urge to keep certain things quiet, but now there are even more questions and the silence seems suspicious. Was the issue that original caused her posts to be taken down really worth all this bad publicity and animosity now? I’ve previously agreed with all of BoingBoing’s policies, but now I’m not so sure. In the past few days I’ve seen several different blogs comment on this situation and they all make BoingBoing out to be the bad guy. I really don’t want to believe that, but without more information what am I to believe? Maybe there are issues you don’t want to reveal, but if you have a valid reason and don’t reveal it, it appears as if you have no reason at all.
    I still love BoingBoing and I’m not trying to be over critical. I’m just really confused and hurt. It’s like two good friends are fighting and I can’t hang out with both of them because they refuse to be in the same room together. I know that’s not literally true, but that’s what it feels like. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know who to side with, and I really just don’t want to have to choose in the first place.

  170. I can’t wade through all the comments, but I figured I’ve been a BB fan since it was in print, so I might as well join the hoards trying to boil the ocean. IBTL!

    1. Censorship it’s not.
    2. Yes, BBfolk can do whatever they want with the site.
    3. Just because something is not censorship and because BBfolk can do whatever they want with the site doesn’t mean an action should be shielded from criticism.

    IMO, unpublishing blog posts, unless the posts presented unwarranted legal exposure, is antithetical to the Spirit of Blog. (If there is such a thing.)

    Someone way up there in this thread said that having a link constituted endorsement and removing the link was a way to retract endorsement.

    That’s akin to the fundies who think that if the government legalizes something, they’re endorsing it.

    But here’s what this reveals, and why the Spirit of Blog is B.S.:

    1. Everyone’s petty.
    2. Everyone’s out to create and maintain their reputations, if not make a buck.
    3. No one is immune to this.
    4. Everyone’s shocked when these truths are revealed.

    No, BB is not a wonderful happy place of idealism and extended virtual family.

    It’s run by people promoting themselves and their ideas, and if they believe those ends are best suited by deleting old posts, they’ll delete them.

    Nothing hating in what I said — I do think that the reaction here does indicate that maybe the BBfolk should ask — are we a business that generates traffic and ad revenue? Are we a community forum? How are we different from other nifty-cool sites? How do we want to interact with our readers? Are our readers our customers or our product?


  171. Anytime anybody says anything and takes it back, or recalls a memory with a bit of fluff, or withholds facts about what they did with their girlfriend last night, I’m gonna call them a First Amendment Hater, a lover of Censorship, and make those all so creative references to BigBrother.

    @ Boingboing: Handled poorly, but right.

  172. Has anyone here ever read a book that wasn’t written by George Orwell? You know there are other books, right?

    Like “Everybody Poops”

  173. @196: I can understand that you may have ‘personal’ and ‘private’ reasons for doing these things, but have you told Violet why you’ve done this? She still claims to be in the dark.

    Do you honestly care? Or are you looking for something flammable to keep this bonfire going?

  174. To say BB “removed their own work” when they “unpublished” Violet Blue’s words is the kind of spin job of the highest caliber. I salute BB’s resolve in keeping the peasants at bay. After all, a private entity run by very astute individuals owes no explanation to the masses. I admire the jackhammering logo of BB as a true symbol of strength as we continue to make this world wonderful by destroying and erasing away those who refuse to conform with our wonderful goals.

  175. You talk about “choice of language” after a little gem like that?

    If you can try to extrapolate from the larger point Orwell was making, then it’s clear that using the terms “unpublishing” and “own work” as euphemisms for the censorship that appears to have taken place is troubling for a site that claims to be against censorship. Indeed, that such terms were used would seem to indicate a level of discomfort with the act of deleting material of VB and others who referred to her — why use doublespeak, if there is nothing wrong with deleting the material in question?

  176. Whatever it is she did to piss off the Boing Boing crew, Boing Boing is well within reason to remove references to her on their site. It’s not even remotely censorship.

    A link from Boing Boing is a big deal. It’s a major site and it probably does wonders for your Google PageRank, which means your page is relevant, which in turn drives traffic and money to you.

    If she did something so egregious as to piss off BB this badly, there’s no reason she should continue to reap the (very real) benefits of links from this site.

    That said, I’m really, really curious to know what went down.

  177. I’ve followed this drama on MF, Fimoculous, Violet Blue’s site, etc. In fact, it seems like the kind of story one might find on Boing Boing if the players were different.

    I’ve always loved BB, been a faithful reader since 2000. I find it pretty disappointing that the site’s overseerers have chosen the path that you have. I’ve just come to expect more.

    No doubt there are other blogging colleagues that were once part of your world (and archives) but who are now, for some transgression or another, persona non grata. Which is fine, normal, human, etc. But we the readers didn’t need to know about it, and life moves on for all concerned.

    The way the Violet Blue association ended seems like needless character assassination, while long time readers are left with only an insinuation.

    Weak sauce. It all seems very sneaky yet heavy handed, aloof yet exceedingly self righteous, and willfully obtuse in regards to your readers’ rightful confusion when looking back at Boing Boing’s long tradition of anti-censorship and free information.

    I’ve quietly applauded as your collective work became more popular, more lucrative, more prominent. It feels now that your success has made you out of touch.

  178. @185: AFAIK, the difference between unpublishing and deleting is that, when something is unpublished, inbound links are not broken. Unpublishing leaves the content intact, but merely removes it from public indices; external pages linking to it can still reach it.

  179. Certainly it is within the moral rights of the happy mutants that publish this fine blog to retract things they no longer support.

    Certainly it is in good taste to avoid embarrassing someone in parting ways with them.

    Alas, these two have just now proven themselves somewhat mutually incompatible. Perhaps it might have been preferable to replace the “unpublished” posts with something like:

    “We’ve unfortunately had some major disagreements lately with sex blogger Violet Blue and decided that it’s best if we remove our old posts about her. Out of respect to her, we won’t go into details about it.”

  180. bb staff have obviously made the decision to not share what happened because they don’t want to feed the fire anymore. As they said: they didn’t start the fire, but they did make it possible. Were they to go public with their reasons, they would be throwing gasoline on the flames and assume more of the liability for the fire.

    Theoretically, this whole blogfight could give someone who has lost a large source of their income (by insulting on some level the person/people who are responsible for diverting traffic to that person’s front door) a boost in traffic. Anything that fuels the fire would drive more traffic, so throwing another log on would be counter to the original move of removing all of VB’s posts.

  181. The sense of entitlement by some of those commenting is ghastly. It’s been my experience that people like this are not creators or risk-takers, just self-involved windbags.

  182. Hi folks,
    Just curious whether this is the first time you’ve tried this trick. Are there are any other former community members you’ve tried “the silent treatment” on?

    Is this generally a reliable way of removing someone from your community? It’s very “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” — one can almost imagine the BoingBoing editorial staff mentally ticking down Ms. Blue’s Whuffie.

    It looks like this is the first time that this approach has failed, by earning the target _more_ public exposure from prominent places like the LA Times blogs and Romenesko, in what another commenter mentioned is commonly called the “Streisand effect.” But is it the first time that you’ve done this? Or just the first time you’ve been called out?

    Just curious.

  183. Trying to figure out what VB did a year ago that would cause BB to dump their association with her.

    In October she sued a porn star using the same name. But that’s not a year ago. (That same month she opened a DRM-free sex bookstore, seemingly a BB-pro thing.)

    My GReader search finds that VB was last name-dropped on BB on 7-29-07, about N De Samim, a lingerie website. (‘course, it ain’t in the BB archive now.)

    The snowball has started rolling, guys, all the disemvowellment and “unpublishing” in the world won’t stop it.

  184. Geeze, all this fuss over some censorship.

    1. It is censorship, it’s just not [i]Government[/i] censorship.

    2. Of course it’s BB’s right to pull this stuff.

    3. Yes, it does make them look hypocritical, and it harms their believability on future articles about censorship as well.

    4. Of course we want to know why this happened, by making it all secret and stuff that just piques our curiousity. But we don’t have the right to know, and it’s probably impolite of BB to say, since it’s pretty clearly a personal issue rather than a philosophical difference of opinion.

    Sooooo . . .. I will hereby reveal the TRUTH behind why BB did this.

    You see, a while back VB and Xeni had a thing going, but VB turned around and slept with Cory behind Xeni’s back, which irked several people. Add to that the videotape that Mark and David made, and threatened to send to Teresa, and things started to get really hectic. VB decided she really didn’t want to get involved a Quintangle, which doesn’t sound much like her, but hey, and asked to have the video deleted. Unfortunately it had already been sent to Teresa, who discovered that the only way to not have the video get posted to teh intarwebz was to delete all references to VB’s blog.

    There, now does it all make sense?

    -abs, thinks that sigs aren’t nearly as offensive after hearing about this. So how ’bout letting me sign off with “-abs” instead of making me turn a four-character sig into a full-fledged production running sentences, if not paragraphs, in length and distracting everyone from my wonderful explanation of what really happened here?

  185. I’m not surprised that there’s a controversy over someone being de-listed and unlinkified from BB. I’m astonished that this appears to be the first significant case of it. Considering the large volume of material presented here 7 days a week for years, it would be remarkable if some material and links didn’t subsequently become inappropriate for some reason.

  186. Sean Eric Fagan @23:

    …it’s your site, so your rules.

    But you are also aware that other people have links to your stories, and now those links are, inexplicably, gone. With absolutely no explanation on your part, and (near as I can figure) no redirection.

    Gad! Just like every other website that removes material! What a strange and inexplicable act on our part!

    In fact, almost all active websites remove material. I’m sorry to have to say this about anything having to do with Boing Boing, but it’s dead normal.

    And how much hardship did the disappearance of those hypothetical links create for readers? By my reckoning there can’t have been much of it, given that the entries have been gone for more than a year, and no one remarked it until VB kicked up this fuss.

    Maybe that’s why she did it: she was tired of waiting to see whether anyone else would notice.

    To put it bluntly: it stinks to high heaven of a cover stinks to high heaven of a cover up. And if you act like a secret cabalistic conspiracy, don’t be surprised if some people see a secret cabalistic conspiracy :).

    Oh, come off it. Dramatize yourself on your own time.

    It would be very easy to configure this site so it’s not archived by the Wayback Machine. It would be even easier to not provide a link to the Boing Boing archives there — which, you’ll note, we just did. If this is a cover-up and/or conspiracy, it’s so devilishly sly that you don’t stand a chance against it, no matter how much you try to warn the rest of the world.

    Kiss your ass goodbye, Sean Eric Fagan. You may struggle, but our eldritch powers shall prevail, subtly reworking the very fabric of space/time itself in order to make you look like nothing more than a person who sometimes posts foolish comments in weblogs.

  187. the jackhammering logo of BB as a true symbol of strength as we continue to make this world wonderful by destroying and erasing away those who refuse to conform with our wonderful goals

    he said on BB’s very own blog, the words of which haven’t been erased.

    Yeah, you’re a real rebel, you are. Fighting a blog that lets you point out how it “destroys and erases” anything that doesn’t conform on it’s very own blog that for some strange reason doesn’t destroy or erase your comments

    Take the tinfoil hat off, put the gasoline away, and go take a nap. Come back tomorrow. You’re post will still be here.

    Which reminds me, I heard once that the reason that people generally throw red paint on people who wear fur, is because they know if they throw red paint on people who wear leather that the odds of getting the crap beat out of them goes up astronomically.

    You just threw red paint on someone wearing fake fur, the absolute dumbest and the aboslutely easiest fight anyone could take on.

  188. @205: “Has anyone here ever read a book that wasn’t written by George Orwell? You know there are other books, right?”

    There are no other books. We have always been reading George Orwell.

  189. This is disgusting. Yes, you have the right to put up whatever you want, and delete it later. But I’m really unhappy to see Boing Boing fall back on “it’s ours, we can do whatever we want” excuse. It’s an EXTREMELY un-BoingBoing way to resolve a conflict.

    Also, remember you’re having a CONVERSATION here. We as users provide your content too. When it comes to “rights” we should have some interest in what goes on here as well, even if we are just lowly commenters.

    To me it looks like you invited the Violet Blue person onto your website, and then, after some mysterious falling-out, decided to scrub her presence. That’s sick and wrong. You’re rewriting history.

    That’s the thing; you’re not just “unpublishing” your property, as you so disingenuously claim. You are only rewriting one small portion of that property, in order to remove contributions that you were once happy to accept.

    That’s not all right with me.

    The irony is you are drawing attention to the very thing you’re trying to hide. How Nixonian.

  190. To #160 #167 and #180 and others who want to know what “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.” means I think you’re going to have to remain unsatisfied, because I can’t see that BB going into detail about what that behavior was, and why it caused them to reconsider their collective relationship with Ms. Blue, would do anyone any good. To many who are already convinced that the unpublishing was a mistake, whatever the reason is not going to be enough for them. And to the rest of the world, it’s simply going to be gossip. I think BB is (and, perhaps slightly clumsily, has been all along) trying to exercise a degree of decorum here. Hell, I’m as curious as anyone else — that’s why I’m here in the gapers block, but I have the self-awareness that my curiosity doesn’t trump other people’s private affairs.

  191. Araaaaagh! This action doesn’t change my view of boingboing in the least (I still like BB). I just wish I knew what the dang controversy was! I googled “Violet Blue Controversy” and the best I got was her asking steve jobs for a photo.
    And I just read through all 166 comments (okay skimmed most) hoping to find some answers. This is doubly driving me nuts, because I don’t actually care that much about her, but now there is a mystery surrounding her. If anything, thier choice to remove and adress their decision to do so has resulted in more publicity for her.


    The internet is serious business.

    Go back to your LOLcats everyone. That’s why the internet was invented.

  193. #207 – No, I just figure she’d tell the reason where BB won’t. And damn I’m curious!

  194. @208

    I read “removed their own work” to mean that they removed articles that they wrote about VB – not that they removed articles or posts written by VB.

    How would this be a “spin job”? If I wrote an article about the nation of Spain, and then removed that article from my website, how could this be construed as anything but removing my own work?

  195. Unpublishing a web page THEN telling a potentially interested party where else you can find it is exactly what Orwell was warning us about.

    This sort of food-fight is so much worse than publishing the name of a CIA operative or printing showing photographs of soldier’s caskets.

  196. @ACB: No, as Joel Johnson said somewhere above, “unpublishing” refers to making the material private, not longer link-able from the public web (but not deleting it from the CMS database).

  197. “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

    Hmmm I don’t think this was a good marketing move because at this point I think Violet could be replaced with Boing Boing.

    This doesn’t feel transparent. This doesn’t feel open. This doesn’t feel good in anyway.

    As much as you think you did the right thing it doesn’t feel right.

    As much as you think it’s not a big deal – we are talking about it away from Boing Boing and the key word being “away”.

    Sometimes we create our own drama hope this isn’t the vibration/vision/intention Boing Boing is moving towards. As we can all see it wouldn’t be a healthy choice since well it already backfired.

  198. What was this awful thing that ms. Blue did to deserve banishment from the tribe?
    If anything, the silence makes me suspect that it must have been a gigantic transgression. Blue must be the most evil person on earth to shake the BB leadership to not just shun her but erase her entire existence as part of BB. When will we start burning her in effigy and declare a jihad on her and add her to the list below “Salman Rushdie”?

    If you love your country, or BB, then don’t question “why”, simply accept the wisdom of the leadership and trust that they are doing everything in your interest and not at all to cover their asses.

  199. “There are no other books. We have always been reading George Orwell.”

    If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.

  200. Wow, just in sheer procrastination from doing what I should actually be doing, I just looked up Teresa Nielsen Hayden on the Wikipedia.

    I grew up in Mesa, Arizona too! Not only that but from 4th grade to 12th grade I was Mormon! And now I could not be more not-Mormon!

    Mesa was so small in those days that I really must have, at some point in my life, actually *seen* to corporeal Teresa Nielsen Hayden – at Tri-City Mall or Smitty’s or TG&Y or the U’Totem, or Starship Fantasy, or Revco, or A.J. Bayless, or, later Fiesta Mall — not that I only hung out in stores and video game places (although they *were* air-conditioned), just that those are things with public names; and not like “Leslie’s House” or “DeWitt Stables”.


  201. @134

    Right back atcha, TillWe.

    The Happy Mutants handled this business very poorly, but growing organisations (especially those that travel the road from amateur to professional) always make mistakes along the way. The ones that survive are the ones that learn from their cock-ups and build credibility.

    As I understand it, Ms. Nielsen Hayden was brought in as an expert to help develop some solid community policies in concert with BB’s existing core values, and she (and the site’s owners) are open to listening and making improvements. As long as they follow through, that kind of responsiveness and humility puts the BBers far ahead of the media pack.

    Then again…

    @222: “In fact, almost all active websites remove material. I’m sorry to have to say this about anything having to do with Boing Boing, but it’s dead normal.”

    Professional Web sites provide, at the very least, manual or automated re-directs from the “unpublished” URIs to a generic page explaining that the material is no longer available due to such-and-such a policy. At least, they do so if they want to maintain credibility as professionals. Pointing out the fact that other Webmasters are lazy about something isn’t exactly an excuse, especially when the volume of unpublished links was relatively small, and the resulting broken links were deliberate rather than the artifact of an over-priced CMS.

    @172: “The crux of this problem is people seem to be confusing editorial work with fact-based journalism.”

    This is really beside the point. You won’t find the NYT or any other credible newspaper purging op-eds and reviews that it regrets publishing (and I’m sure David Brooks alone has been the cause for many regrets at 42nd St) from its archives, either.

    Editorial positions and the opinion of the audience do change over time, but only dishonest and insecure content publishers and authors use that as an excuse to quietly erase the past. There are better ways for a site, especially one like Boing Boing, to handle these things.

  202. @210: If you can try to extrapolate from the larger point Orwell was making

    Stuff it with this Orwell crap.

    Anyone making claims or comparisons so BoingBoing taking down some of its own content to the world that existed in Orwell’s 1984 is clearly someone who is insane, or hasn’t read the book.

    @186: we’re not dealing with a Stalinist purge here. But

    There is no “but”. We are not dealing with Stalinistic purges here. At all. In any way, shape, or form.

    Anyone who brings up stalinistic purges has never been through a stalinistic purge and isn’t dealing with reality.

    The linguistic BULLSHIT in this thread is amazing, on the level with “terrorist fist jab” comments, on the level of “Obama’s middle name is Hussein”, on the level of “He went to a madras”.

    ANYONE who makes an Orwellian “1984” comment regarding BB taking down it’s own content is doing nothing different than openly pondering what that fist bump was.

    And it’s all because what actually happened isn’t very flammable by itself. BB took down some of its content. That doesn’t burn very well. So certain nutjubs and pyros aren’t talking about what actually happened, they’re talking about stalinistic purges and Orwell’s 1984.

    Because that can actually keep the bonfire going.

    What actually happened was a fist bump, fairly common among younger people. What some morons want to turn it into is a “terrorist fist jab”, which gets a certain segment of the easily excitable population into a tizzy.

  203. 1.- make a “Don´t unpublish me BBro!” T-shirt
    2.- make Violet and blue versions
    3.- PROFIT!

    unpublish -> the new Truthiness

  204. “Save the drama for Obama!”

    Save pajama for malambo!

    (Dali Lama Yokohama!)

    (Razor comma mocha grande)

  205. Agent blogateur:

    A blogger who manufactures a controversy in order to boost her sagging Google page rank.

  206. Ugh. After reading through most of the comments, all I want to do is bang my head on the desk repeatedly.

    Y’all crying “CENSORSHIP OH NOES” need to, for one, read up on the term so you understand what it means, and two, take a nice long break from the internet.

    There is this thing called “outside” that can be a very pleasant experience. I recommend checking it out.

  207. Having stepped into poop on a number of occasions with my own blog, I understand completely the necessity of removing posts, and of providing explanations as to why they were removed.

    Violet Blue has many other venues to express herself in. This drama has only served to increase her online presence. She’s going to be better than ok after this blows over. Nobody needs to worry about her.

    For those who find this “EXTREMELY un-BoingBoing,” think about your idea of BoingBoing-ness, and now consider the fact that you are not writing for BoingBoing. That should tell you everything you need to know about the validity of your idea.

  208. Apparently VB never posted anything here, so it’s somehow more valid to “unpublish” references to her. Fine. Whatever. Fewer pages for you to post ads on.

    But if one or more of the BBers themselves part company with BB (and the remaining authors) for similar (undisclosed) reasons, would the remaining BBers “unpublish” the work of the departing BBer, in order not to “lend credibility”?

  209. 145 posts and not ONE person talks about the serious google juice to be had from lots of BB links?

    There wasn’t a way to handle this that wouldn’t offend someone.

  210. For all the drama and chaos and harsh words on both sides, for a lot of us, I think this boils down to “Why are mommy and daddy fighting?” (Adapt to your queer/gay/poly friendly version as you prefer).

    Not knowing why things are they way they are only makes it tougher to understand.

  211. Many posters here have argued that blogs (even professional, high-quality blogs, like Boing Boing) are inherently incomparable to “real” media outlets like the NYTimes, and therefore can’t be held to similar standards. These writers are doing blogging a disservice, and in happier times this kind of argument would really be struck down around here as antiquated. Professional blogs are emerging as a new kind of real media outlet serving the public interest, much to the detriment of old media sources like the New York Times. Admittedly, as a very different kind of media source than print journalism, the standards of integrity and appropriate behavior are still being defined, and will necessarily be very different from those designed by print media. But the readers who say that leading blogs shouldn’t hold themselves accountable to the blogosophere or their readers for anything other than their own whims are consigning blogs permanently to the realm of web rants and puppy pictures, when blogs like BoingBoing have already demonstrated their power as a media source and their capacity for social influence and public information.

    Certainly, BB is under no obligation to its audience to explain any actions, maintain its archive, or even to post anything on a daily basis. But neither is the New York Times, frankly. NYTimes holds itself to higher standards in order to maintain its reputation as a media outlet in the face of its readers. By allowing a personal battle to rise to a point where it required selective retroactive elimination of all mention of a feuding person, BB really risked damage to its own credibility. The combined reaction this has provoked across the blogosphere is indicative of some transgression of the emerging community standards of the web. If new media sources on the web are supposed to be taken seriously by society as a source of information — and they should — the best blogs on the web will need to maintain similar concern and standards for their integrity, rather than taking the “love it or leave it” attitude that many readers feel is most appropriate for the web.

    It’s to the credit of the awesome BB team that they’re addressing the issue head on, and really, since the precedent here is limited it’s not surprising that it happened. But given the site’s prominence on the web, and the impact that it can potentially have as a source of information, it might be wise for them to avoid editing the archives over any personal casus belli in the future, or for the editors to come to an agreement over how to handle such incidents in the future consistently with their principles and the ones they’re championing in public. Like it or not, along with its prominence BoingBoing has become a real media source in the eyes of much of the web, and along with that perception comes the expectation of standards.

    I personally read BoingBoing far more than the NYTimes, and frankly, trust it more, precisely because I know the four authors, trust their judgment and where they’re coming from.

  212. I feel pretty sure that if any of the BB staff were likely to have THAT huge a rift with the others, they wouldn’t have wound up BB staff in the first place. So I think that’s a nonissue.

  213. “Unpublishing” previous blog posts is, among other things, a attempt to rewrite history. It stinks.

  214. I don’t think this was about drama or Violet boosting sagging ratings (which I don’t buy anyway) or about who “owns” BoingBoing… this was about holding BB to the same standards that they hold everyone else to. I have seen numerous posts here over the years about Comcast or Microsoft “unpublishing” the work of a dissenter, for example, and the sh-tstorm that BB staff and readers subject them to for it. When BB did the same thing, many of us had to question it.

    I love you both, BB and Violet, and don’t want to have to choose one side or the other in a messy divorce.

  215. Satan@238: What was this awful thing that ms. Blue did to deserve banishment from the tribe?

    It’s not your decision to make. And you’re now scrambling to find some black hole into which you can insert your grand unified conspiracy theory.

    If anything, the silence makes me suspect that it must have been a gigantic transgression.

    Something tells me that you always suspect a gigantic transgression is going on somewhere.

    Go read about “argument from ignorance” and “God of the Gaps”, take a nap, and come back when you’re feeling less paranoid.

  216. Re #187 “If half of what you said about BoingBoing was true, this thread wouldn’t exist at all.”

    Hey, just because this thread exists *now* doesn’t mean it won’t get “unpublished” next week. It’s the right of Boing Boing — a right to remove information (and to remove entire community discussions) now exercised by precedent.

    Shall we infer that Boing Boing now felt that all comments and discussions on the removed stories were not credible as well? I ask rhetorically.

    And, just because we think Boing Boing wouldn’t do anything *that* evil to the cool people reminds me of the points around the FISA debate — that we shouldn’t place our trust in people, we should trust standards and ideals and put a framework in place that doesn’t rely on the goodwill of those in power.

    Is it hyperbole to attribute this must discussion over some insignificant old posts? Maybe — but I guess we’re all insignificant in the big picture and if Boing Boing — or some other blog — were ever “unpublished” in toto by those they pay for hosting. It would just be the loss of an relatively insignificant point-of-view in the massive world, and thus nobody should care.

    That’s why I speak out.

  217. Anyone making claims or comparisons so BoingBoing taking down some of its own content to the world that existed in Orwell’s 1984 is clearly someone who is insane, or hasn’t read the book.

    You apparently need to do some homework. The quotation I sited was from his essay Politics and the English Language, which was reprinted in the collection Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays. While 1984 is a great work, it is not the only thing he wrote.

    Nonetheless, whether or not you’ve read any of George Orwell’s work, the point stands that the language used seems troubling. If you have some disagreement with that, perhaps you could explain how “unpublishing” — as a novel invention in the English language — is not euphemistic, at least. Or perhaps explain how “unpublishing” others’ comments (apparently without explanation, in some cases) is not troublesome for a site that espouses values of free speech.

  218. “And how much hardship did the disappearance of those hypothetical links create for readers? By my reckoning there can’t have been much of it, given that the entries have been gone for more than a year, and no one remarked it until VB kicked up this fuss.

    Maybe that’s why she did it: she was tired of waiting to see whether anyone else would notice.”

    Seems perfectly natural for VB to ‘kick up a fuss’. Nobody likes to be unpublished. Rex spoke up about the same thing….is he on your shit list too? Is he just trying to get attention?

    It’s disappointing that you choose to attempt to minimize the issue, and deflect the blame for this snafu on to VB.

    Whatever VB did to incur your wrath, doesn’t excuse your own actions.

    Last, if you thought nobody would notice the unpublishing (that term cracks me up, especially considering the tradition of this place), why take the dramatic action in the first place? What was the overriding need to scour all reference to VB from the public?

    Frankly, the very concept of unpublishing in this instance, and your insinuating explanations, seem downright petty of the group at large. In the end, it reads to me, “we were trying to be tactful, but that bitch had to bring it up so fuck you all if you can’t take a joke”.

  219. You know, OK. Yeah, it could have been handled better. It wasn’t. Maybe that sucks, maybe BoingBoing isn’t the quite the collection of pure-hearted Internet freedom fighters you hoped they would be.

    But you know, there’s a lot of more important shit going on. Maybe we should all devote this energy (apparently an incredible amount of energy) to something a bit more useful.

    Just a thought. I’m getting back to my work at a vacuous entertainment company now.

  220. Surely there is no definition of “Freedom of Speech” that does not allow one to take down links that they no longer wish to host. That’s not censorship, that’s freedom of association.

    Those who would curtail freedom of speech are those who would object to this.

  221. It’s important to point out that blah dada tao. What’s drama yours is dramamine. These are turbo threads we’re wearing, ya hurd? My fallopian myopian extropian: whack a mole, whack a mole, we all fall down.

  222. #234 –

    You won’t find the NYT or any other credible newspaper purging op-eds and reviews that it regrets publishing from its archives, either.

    What’s your point?

    That this isn’t the NYT?

    Here’s a cookie for noticing.

    Editorial positions and the opinion of the audience do change over time, but only dishonest and insecure content publishers and authors use that as an excuse to quietly erase the past.

    What is erased? There is a link in the post on how to go look the stuff up yourself, elsewhere. Where is the insecurity? the dishonesty?

    There are better ways for a site, especially one like Boing Boing, to handle these things.

    There are also bigger windmills to be chased.

  223. As much as the whole situation is frustrating and upsetting, I am glad that we did comment and open it up to discussion on our own site.

  224. Let’s see if I can ask this in a way that gets through the moderation queue, since apparently my first try didn’t pass muster:

    The posts still exist in our archives, and they’re also available on the Wayback Machine. –Xeni Jardin, @5

    What do you mean by “exist in our archives”? I can think of at least two posts whose original dates of publication I know and which do not appear in these archives.

  225. Unpublish is the weasel way of saying censorship. You should have kept the posts up and added a rider to them…..

    Shame on you BoingBoing, you are just the same as the people you criticize.

    I suppose it was inevitable you follow the corporate path of censorship yourself. Where are your beliefs now?

  226. #257, Christopher, said:
    “and the sh-tstorm that”

    Ho! You accidentally misspelled shitstorm! I don’t want to come off as a pedantic motherfucker or anything. Or piss you off. (etc)

  227. BB’s blog, BB’s rules.

    Everyone posting analogeous, hypothetical situations and trying to reason out what the correct thing to do are missing the point.. That’s not what happened. The reasons for the action are unknown to us (incomplete data-set). Your summation is not going to be selected as the new and improved “how we handled it”, so there is no need to further push this situation into the realms of speculation and imagination..

    BB have made a statement of their actions and reasons, that’s all there is, that’s all there needs to be. This is a non-issue that blew up for whatever reason, and that is all. Get over it.

  228. Unpublishing is not even REMOTELY about unwriting history. Its about not providing support to someone who has done something you find distasteful. Whether the posts were in the past or not, their existance were still a form of tacit support.

    Is that concept really that hard to grasp? REALLY?

    removing their own blog posts is in no way, shape or form a violation of the causes BB espouses. Consider it a severing of association. Nothing wrong with that.

  229. Did I miss the part of this post where Boing Boing operatives raided bookstores and burned all of Violet Blue’s books? Where Cory and Xeni took axes to Violet’s servers while David frantically grabbed every article she ever wrote and shredded them? No, well then why don’t we all relax and realize that Boing Boing is a place where a group of interesting people post about things they deem worthwhile and not the NYT or the Post.

    Violet Blue has a blog where she can express herself and no one has taken that away from her…why don’t we extend the same courtesy to Boing Boing and let them express themselves the way they want on their blog.

  230. “We hope you’ll respect our choice to keep the reasons behind this private.”

    And you’ll be respecting the choices of the United States Government to do the same with their decisions?

  231. Many posters here have argued that blogs (even professional, high-quality blogs, like Boing Boing) are inherently incomparable to “real” media outlets like the NYTimes, and therefore can’t be held to similar standards

    No, not “blogs”.

    Boing Boing, specifically.

    Apples and oranges.

  232. @Talia #249:

    Option 1: “Excellent idea! I’ll bring my blackberry so I can continue to comment on internet blogs while outside.”

    Option 2: “But when I go outside I get in trouble for arguing with complete strangers…”

    Please accept whichever option you feel is funnier. If you think that neither are funny, than I have failed you, and apologize.

  233. thnk tht thy hd t rmv Vlt Bl s tht thy cn hv rm t try t sll mr cps f “Lttl Brthr” — By th 3 DVD Bx St tht nclds th swt f Cry — t wll hl th lm.

    Bt srsly, Bng Bng gs hv bn brngng dwn th qlty fr bt yr — sd t b cl plc t s fn stff, nt t s t lst 50% pshng prdcts tht th wnrs r sllng.

  234. Has anyone actually bothered to find the deleted posts on the Wayback Machine? Irony: one of them is about accusations of Google censoring search results, including excising Violet Blue: Google “disappears” sex blogs?. It turns out that it probably wasn’t intentional on Google’s part, and that she hadn’t been “disappeared” but bumped down to 50th place or so.

    Also, perhaps “permalink” should be renamed.

  235. 259: Hey, just because this thread exists *now* doesn’t mean it won’t get “unpublished” next week.

    Argument from ignorance. You’re conspiracy theories are getting really old.

    reminds me of the points around the FISA debate — we shouldn’t place our trust in people, we should trust standards and ideals and put a framework in place that doesn’t rely on the goodwill of those in power.

    I hate to break this to you, because it means shattering a fantasy world you have in your mind, but, there is no framework that you can put in place around BoingBoing, because it isn’t your blog. The thing about the FISA debate, is that its the American government, which has slightly different constraints than an individual blog.

    Governments are better designed having “frameworks” such as separation of powers, transparancy, some form or representative elective process, certain rights for individuals that the state cannot overrule, and so on.

    That isn’t how blogs work. There is no “framework” like that for a blog, because, well, a blog isn’t your government.

    I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

  236. Just wanted to point out, despite what Teresa and Xeni allege above, that at least one Boing Boing post was written by Violet (although it was technically posted, and probably edited, by Xeni). I’m linking to the WayBack version of the article.


  237. What the hell does removing links off a website have to do with free speech? Did they block Violet from posting on her own damn blog? No. Did they make any attempt to censor any of the other bloggers out there who are wasting time writing about this (Looking at you….)? No.

    They didn’t even delete the posts, as they said. They unpublished, which means the posts are still saved somewhere, just not for public view. OH MY FREAKING GOD, THE HORROR! Whatever shall we do!? Now I’ll never be able to look up those old Violet Blue posts on–oh wait, right, now I remember: I absolutely don’t give a damn.

    Seriously, reading Boing Boing comments is getting to be about as painful as trying to read comments on YouTube. Accusing Boing Boing of Orwellian censorship over this shite is like accusing stores with no shoes/no shirt/no service policies of being Nazis.

  238. #274:

    hahahah, did you really just compare BoingBoing to the government? *giggles* I had no idea they wielded such power.

  239. You, of course, have the right to do whatever you want on your blog. But as far as I can tell you’re being very unfair to someone, and it tarnishes your reputation. I respect your right to make this decision. I don’t respect the decision you’ve made.

  240. From Xeni’s comment:

    Blog fights are stupid, airing personal grievances in public is stupid

    Then why delete all the posts without an explanation? Surely never making any further posts would have been less of a public attack.

  241. @272
    “Unpublishing is not even REMOTELY about unwriting history. Its about not providing support to someone who has done something you find distasteful. ”

    But what is that “something” that was so distasteful?
    In order for me and many other readers to decide if we think this censorship was warranted we need to know what caused it.

    I understand that the BB staff wanted to handle this quietly, but clearly that isn’t going to happen.

    Tell us why you did this so we can try to understand, and decide for ourselves if we agree with your decision.

  242. No one holds a gun to you head to make you read the site, you know.

    Well, as far as I know, anyway. Maybe someone does.

  243. This is a really interesting situation. It reminds me of the Judith Miller portion of the Plame Affair. At the time, I remember being really happy that Miller was being sent to prison, because her writing had often supported the Bush administration who were busy ruining the country at the time. Reflecting back on it recently, I think I had it wrong. The de facto ability journalists in America had to keep their sources confidential was eroded, perhaps beyond repair. In this case I’m wondering what Violet Blue did to provoke this action. I would like boingboing to explain their actions in great detail, however they have no obligation to do so. Therefore, because this information is unavailable the only way I can evaluate the situation is by examining the ethics of redacting one’s own work. Just as I don’t expect Apple to make OSX version 10.4 available for commercial sale once they’ve completed version 10.5, I don’t expect a blog to make it easy to find content from the past that they don’t consider to be their best work.

  244. I think the most interesting thing about this thread is the defensiveness exuded by the mods in both the original post, but especially the comments. That and the seeming surprise that this (this whole thread) would happen – as if they don’t know from seeing this in many, many other sites that battling folks here will do nothing but feed the fire.

    I’m used to seeing this from small-time bloggers, businesspeople, or other “regular” folks that suddenly have a sharp spotlight pointed at them, in some kind of conflict that’s hit the Diggs of the ‘net. They tend to overreact. They initially post because they want to do what they can to diffuse the issue or get their “side” of the story out, but eventually succumb to frustration at the various inaccuracies, personal attacks, stupid comments, etc. that seem to be inevitable on a web forum…and lash out in snarky and defensive (or completely unconstructive) ways.

    I guess we see the “big” folks give in occasionally, like when Aaron Sorkin decided to have all-night posting battles with trolls on fansites.

    Seems like the best thing for the mods would be to either not to read the comments, wait until it blows over once interest has died down…Or, if a response is needed, wait 5 minutes after reading a post to respond. Don’t respond to any post that was inflammatory – someone else has posted a similar point, but in a more thoughtful way. Respond with a lengthy, well-thought out post, and re-read it 3 times.

    Not that I’ve ever gone through this =)

  245. Hello Boing Boing Editors,

    The post said you’re listening, so here’s what I’d like to say.

    I completely agree with your statements that this is your blog and you have every right to do as you wish on it. That’s your right and I’d defend it to the last.

    But the notion of removing posts about (not by) a person as a whole just does not sit well with me. The term “unpublishing” is more than a little off-putting. It feels very closed, not the openness I associate with your site. Again emphasis on your.

    I like Violet Blue’s work. She’s an excellent, sex-positive/GLBTQ-centered advocate. I don’t know her personally, or much of her personal interactions with the editors of this site. Again, that’s none of my business. I can like the work of Xeni and Joel and Cory and Violet even if they aren’t all on the same path. I don’t have to choose sides, that’s nonsense.

    Those of your resurrecting poor Eric Blair to do your arguing for you seem to be very anxious to tar and feather boingboing for crimes against the internet. If you disagree with their decision there are much more elegant ways of voicing that opinion than simply chanting “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” or calling everything “newsspeak”. You start to sound like the sheep from “Animal Farm” always at the ready to drown out discussion with handy bleeting.

    I interviewed Cory recently for Public Libraries magazine, coming out in fall-ish. He was pleasant, courteous and thorough in answering all my questions.

    Thank you for a great site. I’ll still be reading and recommending it to patrons and readers of my column. Cheers.

  246. “Many posters here have argued that blogs are inherently incomparable to “real” media outlets — These writers are doing blogging a disservice”

    I’m with you 100% here, Kalbos, and was just going to add my last two cents along these very lines.

    Theresa and the rest: you can’t argue that blogging is evolving into the new media in one post, then turn around and say “it’s just a blog, not the news!” in another. If blogs like BB are in fact becoming the world’s new form of media — one that we can generally trust a whole lot more than sources like the NYT and Washington Post at times when they skew a story to the right or left, or outright censor someone who respectfully and politiely disagrees with them on their forums — if that is the case, then you do in fact have to hold yourself to at least the same if not higher standard that you hold the old media. If you criticize someone else for doing something you yourself have just done, then you have become a hypocrite…

    BoingBoing has deservedly occupied my #1 spot on my Google RSS feeds page for many years. Violet’s blog has been #3 only because BB Gadgets has been in second place since it was started. But if these are the new standards you are holding yourselves to, I have to question whether or not I can trust BoingBoing now any more than I can trust the old out-of-step “mainstream” media like CNN, the NYT, or Fox News. I expected more of you, esp. Xeni with the vast flood of news from Tibet that she brought us just a few months ago, and Cory who knows how to spot such a slippery slope. We shall see… but VB gets bumped to #1 today for sure, regardless.

  247. Haven’t read many of the above comments – not especially interested really. As far as I’m concerned old blog posts are fair game for deletion regardless of the reason. No explanations were necessary but given that the above has been offered, it’s okay by me.

    I’ve read bb for years – my world is richer for your editing of it. Some of my favourite books, music, sites, whatever, have come from your links. You’ve influenced my politics and defined a lot of my ‘culture’. BoingBoing rocks my socks and losing it would be tragic. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

  248. Unfortunately, from the outside this is pretty must the most un-Boing Boing thing you guys could have done. Removing posts from your archives is a big blogging no-no, and not fully and openly disclosing why you did it is another.

    Instead all this post has managed to do is piss off the people you should care about the more: your readers.

  249. Violet who?

    Maybe I don’t spend that much time on the internet to understand this. And maybe that’s a good thing.

    As far as I’m concerned, this is still one of my favorite blogs.

  250. Y’all crying “CENSORSHIP OH NOES” need to, for one, read up on the term so you understand what it means, and two, take a nice long break from the internet.

    OK, I’ll bite: Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful or sensitive, as determined by a censor. The rationale for censorship is different for various types of data censored. Censorship is the act or practice of removing material from things we encounter every day on the grounds that it is obscene, vulgar, and/or highly objectionable.

    You lose, Talia. And it appears that YOU are the one that needs a to take a nice long break from the internet.

    And Boing Boing, unfortunately, YOU lose, too. Very sad.

  251. Disappointing thread. As bad as, if not worse than the fanboyishness one might find at a circa 1998 Mac site.

    “Stop yelling at poor little boingboing! You’re all just jealous, haterade swilling meanies!”

    There’s a middle ground here folks, calling out BB for totally blowing it PR-wise on this one, or pining for the days when it actually WAS a tiny static HMTL blog by Mark and David is not tantamount to torches and pitchforks. And, no, don’t worry, I’ll take care not to let the door hit me on the ass as I exit.


  252. You know what? I don’t even care if they tell us.

    But tell VB.

    So far, her story is that they haven’t told her word one of why she was censored. That’s a crappy situation no matter how you cut it.

  253. I just wasted 15 minutes on google for the most boring drama ever.

    Thanks, internets. Thanks a whole lot.

  254. Agent blogateur:

    A blogger who manufactures a controversy in order to boost her sagging Google page rank.

    Antinous FTW.

  255. I know comment rating is not going to happen here, but don’t we all wish there was a ‘hyperventilation’ button we could press to alert our fellow readers.

    Maybe you could call it the Godwin Alert System.

  256. Alright, listen up, all you assholes …..

    1. YAY! I’m number 255 !!! Woo Hoo!

    2. By my direction, the Happy Mutants have ‘dispossessed’ themselves of any connection with Violet Blue. This was MY decision, and MINE only. The BBer’s were following my orders.

    3. Anyone notice that I’ve become an invisible person here on der BoingBoing? Can ANYONE show me a post about me?

    4. I say: ‘Bravo, good people, bravo indeed! Do what you must, when you must, and let the devil take the hindmost.’

  257. #288

    Because leaving the links up would still lend/imply support, which is something they no longer wished to do.


    Its not censorship. You can still read plenty of violet blue stuff on her own website.

    And yeah, cat seems to be out of the bag now, I guess. Although I understand the principle behind what they did, and agree with it, they probably should just have left the old links and not posted anymore. That would have saved a world of hassle.

  258. “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

    And yet the way BoingBoing has collectively behaved has only damaged its credibility. If anything, she seems all the more credible and a better person to associate with.

    BB could at least tell HER what she did that was so wrong.

  259. Perhaps everybody needs to calm down a little bit.

    Yes, it’s just a blog. But it’s also not the quaint little four-person per-zine some here have tried to construe it as. Let’s be honest and recognize that BoingBoing is a pretty big deal, not the ravings of a few lunatics in the basement.

    And you know what? I just looked at that last sentence, the total reversal of the idiotic blog stereotype and then looked at the hundreds of comments battling over free speech and censorship and I keep thinking of the concept of the faithful betrayal. Even if some (many) of those who are upset are going overboard (One Orwell reference should have been enough), what a beautiful overboard. Overboard for free speech, for watching like hawks or feeling like they’re watching like hawks or getting active when they see something they think is too controlling or breaks with the traditional freedoms of the internet or even the standards to which BoingBoing is being held. Appreciate the lofty standards, don’t get indignant. What a beautiful compliment that you have helped create a community who reacts when they see something wrong, and imagines you as paragons of internet liberty to such an extreme that removal of a dozen odd posts about things get them riled up.

    To the moderators and defenders of BoingBoing, I think you also should calm down a little bit. Many if not all of these people are coming in good faith, legitimately perturbed by something, and to get angry at them or accuse them of harboring secret agendas is preposterous. Is there nothing even uncomfortable about this decision for you? It seems like it was pretty uncomfortable and fraught for the Boingers, I don’t see why it should be so easy for you to swallow.

    Last, I want to say that the uncomfort for me isn’t in the removal or in censorship at all. Those who claim that BoingBoing has the right to do so are correct, though a little short-sighted. They also have the right not to delete them, doesn’t mean it’s what they should do. For me, it’s the internalization of what, by the comment count and the blog links to this “tempest in a teapot”, has become a pretty public affair. Whatever it was in the beginning, keeping mum about it was just a bad idea and now it’s bearing fruit. When you keep things like this too private, it sparks fear in your readers, images of burning books and photoshopped disgraced Soviets, not because what you did was so heinous, but because they are without any perspective to offset their worst nightmares.

    I love what you do, and that you’re open enough to have this dialogue. Nobody should shit on your front porch, but a healthy shouting match can go a long way.

  260. Well, if anyone deleted my posts from their blog I’d beat them senseless with a stapler in a sock, but that’s just me.

  261. Having followed this story for a while now, and having been an avid reader of BoingBoing for much much longer than that, all I can say is… I’m terribly disappointed in you, BoingBoing. I’m astonished by your hypocrisy. I deeply respect the values you seem to hold yourselves to… This crass behaviour makes me lose so much respect for you.

    I guess it was for the best. For all too long I had not ventured too far into the blogosphere beyond you. Time to broaden my horizons.

  262. This thread is an excellent example of the “arguing on the internet is like the special olympics” saying :p

  263. re #266: I am also REALLY glad you guys did, David; I’ve been watching and wondering if the whole thing would just be ignored on this side of the fence (the appearance of which I think is what really pissed Violet off.)

    and re #270: LMAO – Remmelt, I just didn’t want to get unpublished for saying “shitstorm” on the blog. ;)

  264. But if these are the new standards you are holding yourselves to, I have to question whether or not I can trust BoingBoing now any more than I can trust the old out-of-step “mainstream” media like CNN, the NYT, or Fox News.

    You may be a fool for trusting those sources more than you trusted BB in the first place. I mean, who ever heard of Fox News having an agenda?

    But really, that’s an apples to oranges comparison, Doubly so because BB is free. Triply so because I can’t imagine BB is more than 10 people total.

    Your expectations are your own.

  265. @Talia: I don’t buy into the google juice story — at least I don’t remember that BngBng only links to the wonderful side, and punishes the not so wonderful side of the world by articles with no links whatever.

  266. @#264

    “What’s your point?

    That this isn’t the NYT?

    Here’s a cookie for noticing.”

    Can’t take that cookie, since that wasn’t my point. Quite the opposite, in fact, if one isn’t a literalist. I was addressing the previous commenter’s erroneous distinction in this context between factual reporting and op-ed pieces.

    My opposition to wholesale “unpublishing” is a matter of media professionalism and ethics based on my years in that industry. I’m sure there are many professional journalists and editors and publishers who’d disagree, though I have yet to meet one.

    “What is erased? There is a link in the post on how to go look the stuff up yourself, elsewhere. Where is the insecurity? the dishonesty?”

    Unless each “unpublished” post is replaced with some sort of explanatory information (not even necessarily alternate sources — that’s the least of their obligations) or a re-direct to such info, it’s bad Web publishing practise for a site like this one. A good Webmaster doesn’t deliberately strew 404 errors around his site.

    (and anyone who can code a nifty “disem-vowel-er” would find the tasks I described above trivial to implements, especially since un-publishing is probably a rare thing around here).

    The dishonesty (non-malicious, in this case) comes from not publically acknowledging that a given post has been “unpublished” (when someone says “we’ll try to handle this one quietly,” there’s a modicum of dishonesty involved). The insecurity comes from not publically acknowledging that one made an error in choosing to report positively on a given individual or other entity in the past.

    “There are also bigger windmills to be chased.”

    Perhaps for you. But you’re not running a brand with explicit core values like the Happy Mutants (or the NYT, for that matter) are. I’ll leave my suggestions for their assessment, and hope that they’re taken by them as constructive and friendly.

  267. Actually I had no knowledge of the VB issue ’till this post. Now I’m plowing through Google.

    My take:

    1. The coverup is always worse than the crime.

    2. Regardless of their reason they just lost all credibility on censorship, DRM, and related issues

    3. They might as well just rename the blog “unpublishing” since they just got joined at the hip w/ that perfect bit of newspeak.

  268. I’m an avid BoingBoing reader for years, proudly advertising the blog to friends and visiting at least once a day, always finding interesting, smart or entertaining posts.

    But now, this is seriously weird. I don’t know, but “unspeakable” reasons are a lame explanation for “unpublishing” (if a big news site used that made-up word, BoingBoing would have made fun of it) any post.

    What’s so super-secret? What’s so embarrassing?

    This isn’t about anyone’s “right” to “unpublish” work, it’s about how lame the story sounds, especially when held to BoingBoings standards and commitment to openess and transparency, or at least traceability.

    It’s just weird, and I’m sure whatever my subconsciousness is making up as I think about this, is far more tragic than whatever it is that really caused the deletion (no, I won’t use the word “unpublish” ever again) of her posts.

    If this stays the way it is (which I don’t hope) BoingBoing will drop quite a bit in my valuation, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.


  269. #294 “Theresa and the rest: you can’t argue that blogging is evolving into the new media in one post, then turn around and say “it’s just a blog, not the news!” in another.”

    Yes, they can. What’s more, they just did.

    Sorry for saying this, but your remark makes you sound like a dinosaur. Boing Boing is never going to replace the exact same spot that is now held by the traditional media, because it is not the same thing. You sound like record companies unable to adapt to this new-fangled internet thing. Boing Boing can and do what they damn well please.

    And fuck you very much for making me respond seriously in this thread.

    Also, who really actually cares about this? I mean, seriously? Deep in your heart? Is this more important than, say, the length of your toenails?

  270. Good discussion folks.

    However, it is fairly safe to say that this is not a free-for-all.

    A blog tends to be “controlled” content in some form or another, otherwise it is merely a bulletin board and even those often have moderation.

    Even with that said, there is a specific theme or approach to most blogs or we wouldn’t all have this one on our RSS/Favorites.

    So, point is moot. Boing Boing, do what you will and we will either follow or fall off.

  271. #314 – Pathetic. You just lost another long time reader.

    And when you click that posters name – turns that’s the only thing they have ever said here. Ever.

    A registered reader. Yes.
    A community member? Not really.
    A self-important jerk? You decide.

  272. Wow, I had signed off on this, but after reading a lot of the thread, I wonder about people’s understanding (or lack of understanding) of the difference between private citizens, publishing a blog, and the government of the United States.

    Last time I checked, private citiizens were not considered nation-state level entities with Constitutions and a Bill of Rights. The fact that Boing Boing and it’s creators have a right to privacy does not conflate with their criticism of the U.S. government’s increasing disregard for the rights of private citizens.

    Redirect that vitriol at the real destroyers of rights – the Republicans and their ilk. Geez.

  273. (@christopher, I just noticed that my last reply was directed at you as well… nothing personal! And ehm… I didn’t mean to say fuck! F-ck! :)

  274. It appears that the tendency of the denizens of the web to go absolutely apeshit over what is, essentially, a non-issue from A YEAR AGO remains unchanged.

    The posts were taken down a YEAR ago. Nobody cared then, people only seem to care now because they can hop on over to Boing Boing, post some negative things and somehow feel better about themselves and their righteous fury.

    It is pretty sad.

  275. Their censorship is bad, but ours is acceptable? This kind of double standard speaks badly of BB as a whole.

    If there is a grievance between you and Violet then fine, but from your readers point of view all we saw was a whole chunk of blogging history tweaked out of existence in the blink of an eye. You would have saved yourself a great deal of headache by simply stating that fact that you took down those posts when you did it.

    More troubling to me to be is my loss of respect for BB. This is not so easy to simply replace.

    [the rest of this comment has been redacted]

  276. @308
    “Its not censorship. You can still read plenty of violet blue stuff on her own website.”

    Yes, it is censorship.
    BB has decided to censor themselves, for an unknown reason that they refuse to divulge.

    Did Violet Blue refuse the lusty advances of one Cory Doctorow? Did one of BB’s big sponsors balk at their connection to Miss Blue’s blog? Did Miss Blue call Xeni a dithering ninny?

    I can’t find links to anyone else who’s this mad at Violet Blue, so it looks like it’s most likely related to their advertisers.

  277. As an aside, its amusing to me this post has gotten so much more attention and commenting and righteous rage, than, say, any post relating to what the government is up to, or the RIAA, or any other sneaky bastards who actually, you know, affect how we live.

    “The government can do what it wants, but DON’T YOU MESS with MAH BOINGBOING POSTS!!111!!”


  278. @Subterrene: following your argumentation, I do not see why, for example, net neutrality (bandwidth is just some service some telcos are selling, why shouldn’t they sell premium access for more money) is something one should debate. And so on. I agree with lots of posters that this feels very unBoingBoingish. And that a blog, or even (#326) something like a “web community”, is a bit more than just a private entity, like it or not.

  279. DAMN you know what just happened? We had these really nice chocolate cookies and we left them out in the sun and now they’re all melted! I don’t know what to do… Perhaps I can put them in the fridge for a while. That would do!

    Now what where we talking about?

  280. #326 – This isn’t a community, it’s just a personal blog. Community would mean the standards were set by more then a handful of people.

  281. @320 – point taken, excepting that I see nothing dishonest or insecure about the BBrs actions so far.

    Badly handled? maybe, but not really. I mean, look at the fun we’re having. And look at all the jack-offs who insist they will never read or comment again (despite having never commented before!!!). Does the internet get any more entertaining?

  282. i don’t think this is really about violet blue anymore, and i think it’s a shame that she will profit from being the spark that ignited this debate, but i think the debate is worthwhile none the less.

    i think the word censorship needs to be refitted for the new millenium. the old meaning only applies when there are limited channels on which information can be distributed. if someone restricted what information could flow on one of these channels, we called it censorship. but as long as the internet stays neutral then the old meaning of censorship is dead.

    i don’t think we should think of deleting content off of a blog as censorship however. it is becoming conventional wisdom that when opperating in the attention economy of the internet, it is far better to ignore than to rebuke. i think people should have the right to retroactively ignore others.

    boing boing linking to violet blue’s blog, and having a post about her accesible to google search, would drive people to her site. they are not trying to rewrite the dead past, they are altering the living past that still influences internet traffic today.

    there is now one channel on which all content producers compete for space in the public’s consciousness. boing boing has done well in this competition by consistantly posting quality content. they share this space in our consciousness with other websites they deam worthy.

    its important to note that the past is no longer dormant, but rather plays an active role in determening internet traffic paterns in the present. if boing boing kept their links and references to violet blue, she would be benefitting from their hard work and stature. why shouldn’t boing boing have the right to choose who they lend credibility to?

  283. Talia, just because reference to someone can be found elsewhere does not mean they have not been censored HERE.

    You challenged readers here to look up the definition of censorship and it turned out that it DOES apply after all.

    You were wrong. And so is Boing Boing.

  284. #334 “I can’t find links to anyone else who’s this mad at Violet Blue, so it looks like it’s most likely related to their advertisers.”

    That’s pretty flimsy reasoning. “I don’t have any facts to work with, so I am going to resort to angry snark.” :p

  285. It’s your blog,

    But at the same time I have to agree to the frustration of not knowing what the heck is going on. Perhaps this could have been handled a little better. *shrug*.

  286. one more re #290: Talia, you’re right, no one makes us read BB.

    I’d be very very interested in seeing the numbers as far as net traffic to the site before and after this debacle, though.

    (And since you seem to be one for wanting definitions–not that there’s anything wrong with that– debacle (noun): 2. An event or enterprise that ends suddenly and disastrously, often with humiliating consequences. 3. A confused rush or rout; a stampede)

  287. BB could at least tell HER what she did that was so wrong.

    If you weren’t holding a can of gasoline, I might think you had a genuine concern about this. But given the pyros running amuck, it lands slightly flat.

  288. To quote from Xeni’s post way up at the top:
    “the posts were removed from public view while an evaluation of what to do took place”

    Depending on what the incident in question was, this makes perfect sense to me. If VB seemed to be doing something they considered morally reprehensible, then I can understand why they would want to take them out of the public eye while they debated whether or not they wanted to continue supporting her. I can’t see them doing it for some trivial issue.

    “We didn’t want to pay to host them on our blog anymore. This is also why we remove hateful, ad hominem attack comments from public view, too…”

    This quote imediately follows the first, and while it may not have been intentional, it does sort of imply that VB did something they really, really, really didn’t like.

    The fact that they still aren’t talking about the reasons implies that either they are still evaluating whatever the original issue was (which, even after a year is still possible) or that the issue is a private matter, that the public is entirely unaware of…. and probably that they feel that more harm would come from revealing the information than by keeping it silent.

    I really can’t see them doing this over the her name lawsuit.

  289. #172: Xeni, I’m not sure whether you’re saying the cleanup was a mistake or opening that decision for discussion was a mistake. I’m actually more in agreement with the latter than the former…

  290. This is important enough to me to make this my first post ever.

    How is it possible to stand for openness, freedom, transparency and equality when you try to erase the past?

    I’ve considered you all to be some of the best journalists of a new era. Will you be leaders and live with your mistakes, or will you run a clubhouse?

    Your values are expressed in every post you’ve written. Consider those values and explain to us how this is acceptable.

    The right response is to reinstate the posts and issue an apology to your readers. We believe in you and we want greatness.

  291. Justin Watt:

    Removing posts from your archives is a big blogging no-no, and not fully and openly disclosing why you did it is another.

    Citations, please. I am yet to read the Official Bloggers Rulebook, or indeed meet one of it’s enforcers.

    Chemical Orphan:

    Censorship, in the negative sense which a lot of people seem to be jumping to, means making the material unavailable to society at large (or a specific set of people). This would require BB to be the original publisher of the material, or at least it’s main source.

    VioletBlue’s work is available elsewhere, this is not it’s prime source, so it’s not censorship per se. Do you demand NYT runs pr0n in it’s pages, that they are censoring it otherwise? Is there no such thing as editing (or indeed good ol’ human “change of heart”), or is it all black & white censorship?

  292. #338 – Community would mean the standards were set by more then a handful of people.

    This is the forum. You and I are the community.

    We are just a handful of people. If this weren’t up to my standards, I would not comment here, nor would you.

    What you said is like saying no community exists at a coffee shop because the owner decides to close at 8 each night, regardless of his customers wishes to stay until 11.

    Reasonable limitations do not prevent a community.

  293. The argument a privately held editing it’s own content constitutes censorship is, of course, poppycock.

    HOWEVER, the frequently-made converse argument – that since it’s not censorship there’s nothing whatever wrong with it – is equally rubbish.

    You can be an ass, legally and within your rights, and still be an ass.

    It’s one thing to go back and put disclaimers on old posts. But outright deleting them? Not cool. Totally within your rights, and still not cool.

    I enjoy both this blog and Violet Blue’s, and until I saw this post I had not an inkling that there was any bad blood between the two. After today I will still read this blog and Violet Blue’s blog; the only difference is that I will trust this blog a little less.

  294. @Christopher (#344): I don’t think the net traffic to BoingBoing is affected either way; what will change is the image of BoingBoing and the feeling while reading it.

  295. I have a great deal of respect for Boing Boing and Violet Blue, and I am indeed saddened to see a rift forming. I wish the both of you luck in resolving the situation, and hope you are able to.

    I do not believe this counts as censorship. The posts remain on the wayback machine, just not in the Boing Boing archives.

  296. Dear BoingBoing,

    Regarding your recent exercise in taking down your own comments, I find that my undergarments are in a serious twist and they are currently holding me hostage. They’ve informed me they will not unbunch until you provide sufficient explanation as to why you did what you did, that they eventually approve of said reasons, such that they can feel like they have editorial control over your actions.

    My undergarments indicate that you have one hour to comply, at which point, they will strangulate an important appendage. If, after two hours, you still have not complied, they threaten to move up and cut off my nose to spite my face.

    Please help.

    In A Bind

  297. How long til Gawker or someone gets the savory deets? I’m not gonna pretend to be too mature to not wanna hear what happened.

  298. Here’s a little something to please and anger both the blindly adoring fanboys/grrls AND the rabble-rousing haters.

    1. Boing Boing certainly has the right to “unpublish” any of its post(s.)

    2. Readers certainly have the right make or update their opinions on Bong Boing’s credibility based on those unpublishings.

    For me, it’s tough to square my image of the blog as a champion of transparency/free speech with this move. I won’t stop reading, but some posts on those topics may ring a bit hollow for awhile.

    Boing Boing owns their blog, but not their reputation — that’s got to be earned. One misstep doesn’t erase everything that I like about the blog. But it’s not a high point, either.

  299. This kind of reminds me of the days of child hood. “Fine you’re not my friend anymore, I’m taking your toys out of my sandbox and throwing them over the fence into your yard!”

    Yea sure it’s not a kids game and it’s grownups (?) making a real living (?) and such, but it’s still pretty petty looking on the surface.

  300. RE #326 MDHATTER;

    That’s really unfair to hold it against long time BoingBoing readers that today is their first post. Not a community member? Is BoingBoing just about commenting on posts, or is it the larger relationship with the internet, spreading the ideas and websites BoingBoing allows us to find, and turning other people onto this side of the internet? If my comments haven’t gone on this board but have gone to my Congressman, my senator, the boards of various companies, should I be disregarded?

    I just want to say that I feel your comments on this thread have been disrespectful and uncalled for, treating people who feel differently than you on the subject of unpublished posts like traitors. Now, I speak to no other threads because I am not, as you say, a “community member”. I rarely read beyond the articles and have never, until today, felt the need to comment. But what does it say that not just one or two but several regular BoingBoing readers felt to need to register to express an opinion today? Not that they’re not valid community members, but that this is an important but delicate topic that needs to be handled with respect. Please give them (and me) that much.

  301. Tempest meet teapot.

    As someone who is ‘all over’ the internet on a daily basis for both work and pleasure, the first notice I had of the ‘shitstorm’ was the above mod post.

    I think sometimes when you’re in the middle of a pile on it seems bigger than it is, and I guarantee the mod has generated MORE of a piling on by posting about it on Boing Boing.

    Having said that, Boing Boing has every right to choose not to reprint – to put it in old media terms – any article they have created at anytime for any reason.

    And you have every right to voice your displeasure by letting them know why you such a move causes you displeasure with it turning into a maulfest.

    You can also stop reading and start finding neat stuff on the internet yourself.

    Course I am really just curious as to why the did it, but that as a good New England boy I know to ignore the gossip demon when it whispers in my ear and mind my own business.

  302. What really gets me about this is the overwhelming torrent of overwrought teeth-gnashing and wailing over what is, in essence, a relatively minor issue of how best to withdraw support from someone who you no longer wish to support.

    The fact that this was not handled well is not in dispute; the stated goal was to not to offer the appearance of support to someone with whom they’d discovered that they disagreed, without causing a shitstorm. The above shitstorm shows that this goal was not accomplished.

    That said, is this really worth all the emotion and hyperbole that’s being poured into the issue? BB has always seemed like the sort of place where smart people who could discuss something reasonably would congregate, but I’ve frequently been disappointed in that regard. Every time something comes up that’s not popular, the threads are flooded with posters implying loudly that BB’s editors are puppy-kicking, baby-eating, kitten-sodomizing paragons of pure malevolence, bent on the destruction of everything that they claim to uphold. It’s silly, and it’s sort of exhausting after a while.

    Could we maybe actually discuss this, like adults or something? I know this is the internet, and that’s a foreign concept here, but could we do it just this one time?

  303. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator on VB:

    Maybe that’s why she did it: she was tired of waiting to see whether anyone else would notice.

    Yikes. What happened to the quiet respectful moderator who didn’t want to embarrass the parties involved?

  304. I can’t find links to anyone else who’s this mad at Violet Blue, so it looks like it’s most likely related to their advertisers. #334 Doctor Pickles

    Spurious! How do you even know that the reasoning involves anyone being “mad” at VB? It could be some dreadfully embarrassing or extremely personal thing. How does the rest of the internet’s opinion of a person relate to another group’s like/dislike/indifference to her?

    And as has been mentioned numerous times on this site, the content is not influenced one iota by the sponsors.

  305. I read this thread, and all I hear is wank.

    Christ, I am sick of the drama. I repeat. Grow a sense of perspective. Maybe it wasn’t the best way to handle this situation. But all the dramatic announcements that BoingBoing has LOST YOUR RESPECT and you’re DEMOTING IT FROM #1 IN YOUR FEEDREADER are just ridiculous. Come on. I’ve quit reading lots of people because they lost my respect, and it’s your right to make that call about what you read and don’t read, but the dramatic flounce is just because you crave attention. Cut it out.

    Teresa, I love you, but I’m thinking they should never have re-opened comments here. It’s worse than freaking Consumerist.

  306. @greglondon #346:

    “If you weren’t holding a can of gasoline, I might think you had a genuine concern about this. But given the pyros running amuck, it lands slightly flat.”

    Can of gasoline? What?

    I simply stated what I believed would be the more class thing to do, and that thing didn’t even involve the public, even.

    In fact, if BB had even had the decency to talk to VB privately and say “hey, we got a problem with this thing you did, and we don’t think we can support you anymore” and worked from there, we probably wouldn’t even be having this thread.

    Besides, just because BB could and had a right to “unpublish” without notice/discussion/acknowledgment doesn’t mean it should have.

  307. I went looking for an amusing unicorn picture to link to as a change of pace.

    Let me just say It had never occurred to me that GISing for “funny unicorn” would lead to a picture of a swastika-toting unicorn on someone’s buttcheek.


  308. Two comments.

    One – This is an excellent example of the law of unintended consequences. An action that was clearly legal, and presumably well founded, has turned around and completely backfired. If your goal was to remove yourselves from participation in any discussion of or promotion of Violet Blue, it seems that you have ultimately suffered an epic fail event.

    It seems strange that this set of bloggers (BB contributors) would make that particular mistake. You all seem to be more aware than average of how events can get spun back on people on the web and net, and the dangers of appearances.

    Two – While your unpublishing permit is in order, Mr Fagan will be remaining with us for the time being. Your license to unmake is hereby revoked. Unseemly public display of eldrich powers by public figures is a Class 3 Infraction, punishable by indefinite suspension of unmaking privileges and a fine of $13 and 400 blogs of community service. Unmaking privileges may be restored upon completion of a tactile public good such as production of an article demonstrating a creation event in “Make Magazine” or the like, or contribution of similar tactile object or construct to Burning Man or Maker Faire.

  309. I’ve spent some time thinking about this today, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I couldn’t care less. I would be more shocked to learn that the editors don’t occasionally go back through the archives and purge material that they no longer agree with.

  310. @331, 350: this is really mean spirited, turning the thing into yet more gossip.

    I still love bb. They not always make the best decisions ever, but so what.

  311. #348 – I think if you read the post carefully you will see nothing was ‘erased’.

    Imagine (for 10 seconds) BB as a print magazine – BB will not provide THAT PARTICULAR back issue to you. You may find it elsewhere and BB tells you where that is and wishes you luck in your quest.

    Is that not their prerogative? Isn’t that less offensive than the other active options of disemvoweling and delinking or maybe entirely replacing the posts with angry rants against Ms.B?

    The arguments about old links driving new traffic are very relevant, and I’d imagine someone did something to deserve this treatment.

    I don’t need to know what. If this happened all the time I would be as deeply annoyed as some here are, but it doesn’t.

    If Xeni and Joel et al. felt something brought the quality of their site down, and mocking it wasn’t worth the effort, then they should remove it.

  312. Interesting that you mention not giving relevance to Ms Blue, and you don’t mention why you took down other comments. Were they also somehow gaining undue relevance in their criticism of you taking down content, so you took down additional content?

    Seems like you might want to rethink this particular explanation and excuse. It doesn’t seem all that logical or likely.

  313. @362
    “And as has been mentioned numerous times on this site, the content is not influenced one iota by the sponsors.”

    What proof do we have of that claim other than the word of the BB staff?

    What reason do we have to trust the BB staff on this issue when they hypocritically violate the rules they expect others to behave by?

    Forgive me for my impetuousness, but I have no reason to believe that BB is any less beholden to its advertisers than any other media outlet.

  314. Talia: So apparently what you meant when you challenged readers to look up the definition of censorship was actually a challenge to deduce YOUR PERSONAL definition of censorship, expressly tailored to fit your syncophantic support of the practice of so-called “unpublishing.”

    Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

    Regardless, it really is censorship.

    And the more I think about it, it’s not just Boing Boing who lost credibility, or you who lost your challenge AND credibility, but all of us readers who lose information and a site worthy of our time and attention.

    I guess I will be following George Carlin’s advice and at least keep the late Boing Boing’s bookmark around for another six weeks.

  315. “We hope you’ll respect our choice to keep the reasons behind this private.”

    If it was a public action by Violet Blue that triggered the unpublishing, then no, I can’t respect BoingBoing’s choice not to name the public act which provoked the public act of unpublishing. The only thing being done by “privacy” in such a case is protecting the judgment of BoingBoing from evaluation, which is craven.

    If it was a private offense, but BoingBoing is refusing to tell Violet Blue what she did that was privately offensive, then again, I can’t respect that. While it is perfectly proper to keep a private offense out of the public eye, it is not proper to refuse to explain to the offending party the reason for the public disassociation.

    So, no, I’d have to say my respect for BoingBoing is reduced by this.

  316. Also, a social observation –

    This event demonstrates the fuzzy boundary between web publisher and web reader, particularly when blog comments and blog links are factored in.

    In a sense, the deletion seems like a more old-school media answer than a new media aware response. The new media environment is that the readers and commenters feel part of a community related to the blog and posts. The participation of readers creates a feeling of ownership. Old-school media responses make some or many of those participating readers feel like a social contract was broken.

    Actions done in public may be argued over, but actions done in secret are more likely to be seen as betrayal.

    Again, sort of incongruous for this set of bloggers to have missed / neglected / not predicted that.

    Without knowing the underlying issue, I can’t comment on whether some reaction was necessary or appropriate. But BBers being surprised by the response when it finally became public seems odd.
    It seems entirely predictable to me…

  317. #358 – I totally respect your comment, because it is thoughtful, it respects our hosts, it makes no utterly false associations, it is calm, and it is simultaneously productive and not defeatist.

  318. @Chemical Orphan, #340

    I question that the definition of censorship you’ve posted is really relevant here – it requires that a “censor” be the one doing the removing, and in this case, it appears that the content was removed by those who wrote it, because they no longer wished to appear to support the person to whose site it linked.

    If old items were removed due to lack of storage space, would that be censorship?

    If future planned items were not written for the same reason the posts were removed, would that be censorship? What if the link was determined to contain a virus? Or if the BB folks collectively decided they were tired of running a blog and took the whole thing down?

    Where does “not supporting things you don’t like” stop and “censorship” begin?

  319. I visit BoingBoing more times a day than any other site. I’ve been a fan and a loyal reader for quite some time, and have never understood the hate-on that some people have for this place.

    I’ve never been a fan of Violet Blue, and whenever BB would make a post about her, I could never understand the interest. The little I know of her I don’t like.

    But this whole thing was wrong. Changing your opinion of someone and deciding to no longer support them is one thing, BB changed their opinion of someone and decided to pretend that BB never supported her.

    One my main reasons for liking BB is because of the politics it supports, and is against. But now I feel like I’ve been lied to the entire time, and that BB has just been pretending to have the beliefs claimed. I’m disappointed and disillusioned.

  320. This has nothing to do with censorship. It was their own posts they removed, not anything she wrote. Admit it! Y’all just want the gossip.

    What, you all would rather BB criticize someone in public over a private matter?

    You want drama, just go to tinynibbles:

    “A is stalking me”

    “How dare that damned porn star B take my name! Now I have to ruin my sex-positive sex-worker DRM-free rep and sue that bitch and have her re-edit all that porn she did before I even knew what a blog was.”

    “Rape! C is stalking me! Do you know what it’s like to be a woman?! Rape!”

    “Great. Now I’m deleted. Transparency!”

    “D assaulted me. Stalker! Child molester! How dare he! What about the children? What about our rights?”

    Wrong blog. That’s tinynibbles fodder not boingboing’s. Crying censorship won’t change the type of content they post.

  321. Seems like comments with the links that I was talking about at #370 are gonne. Better this way, but made me look like a idiot (which is quite normal, I dont care… :P)

  322. Coupla things, kind of OT, but at this point in the thread, what isn’t?

    People who cry out “conspiracy theory” might stop and think. A conspiracy is people working together (in secret) to do something. Deleting — sorry, “unpublishing” — VB’s posts was done by a group (the BBers) behind the scenes. My theory: that’s a conspiracy.

    People on the web use “conspiracy theory” the same way they use Godwin’s Law — to squash whatever someone’s saying, ignoring the non-Nazi-referencing parts of what they have to say. In this case Hitler’s been replaced by Orwell, with people shrieking that this is NOT “1984.” No, it isn’t… but “unpublishing” is still doublespeak.

    It amuses/annoys me when “conspiracy theory” is the buzzword aimed at people on the web who talk (not that I necessarily agree with them) about, shall we say, alternative narratives behind 9/11 or the motivations for the Iraq war. Of COURSE there were conspiracies in those cases. The question is, who conspired?

    The use of “conspiracy theory” as an argument-ending putdown started, I think, with the JFK assassination — although, 45 years later, we still don’t know if there WAS a conspiracy there.

    Not to elevate the BB/VB dustup to that kind of historical level or anything. But let’s use words to mean what they mean. This was (self-)censorship. Whether or not it’s justified is another question. And it was a “conspiracy” too. No reason to shut down debate.

    Personally, I agree with all the commenters who’ve said that BB was within its rights, but handled this stupidly.

    Finally… after reading 300+ comments, here’s a simple key to who’s wrong here. The many commenters who put apostrophes in the wrong place are wrong. Disregard them. Also the ones who leave out apostrophes that should be there.

    Unless, of course, the apostrophes were merely “unpublished” by Boing Boing.

  323. Re: the chocolate cookies.

    I’ve left them in the fridge for a while and now they are stuck together and I can’t get them apart for the life of me.

    (to all the people who want to know the nature of the issue between bb and vb: you are gossips. It’s OK, just admit to it (see #355) and move on. You can now scroll up and (re-?)read comment #199)

  324. hhhh

    bngbng s jst tkng t’s cnsrshp plcy t t’s lgcl cnclsn. f y crtcs th st n cmmnt, t wll b dltd. s nw, f y crtcs th st nywhr, yr wrk wll b npblshd.

    thr prncpls r mkng mny nd lttng trs nlsn hydn b lyng cnt. dn’t b stpd.

    lk ths:
    “vryn pstng nlgs, hypthtcl sttns nd tryng t rsn t wht th crrct thng t d r mssng th pnt.. Tht’s nt wht hppnd. Th rsns fr th ctn r nknwn t s”

  325. if they left the posts up, you could potentially still find those links doing a search. Those posts, old as they may be, are new/current to the viewer. Finding articles related to the person in question still implies the media outlet is supporting said person. And as previously mentioned, any derivative web traffic the person recieves is, in fact, unintentional support.

    So what do they do. Be all half-assed about their non-support?

  326. Based on the stated reasons for unpublishing the posts, it seems there’s a good and simple middle ground balancing the desire to not promote VB and the readers’ desire to not see retroactive editing (if the latter is a fair summation of dozens of individual posts).

    Simply go back, repost dimemvoweled versions of the original BB posts and remove any hyperlinks that point into VB’s site.

  327. People who cry out “conspiracy theory” might stop and think.

    Thinking sort of went out the window a long time ago.

    By the way, your tin hat is a bit slanted.

  328. xeni, i’ve had ex’s before who have tried to insert themselves back into my life for whatever reason, and i wished i could ‘unpublish’ them or at the very least, ‘disemvowell ’em! wash your hands of the beeotch, grrrrl, and get back to the wonderful. chicks, eh? what are ya gonna do?

  329. Now, that’s not true, #387. If you criticize BB nonconstructively and are an ass about it, yeah, your post will be deleted. I’ve seen plenty of meritous, well thought out criticisms be left alone.

    Some people dont understand the concept of posting civilly and/or intelligently, however. (Yes, I realize there’s some hypocracy there).

  330. It’s your blog, delete what you want.

    On the other hand, if your aim was to deny the oxygen of publicity to Violet Blue, that would appear to have been an almighty fail.

    You might consider, next time you disappear someone, just deactivating all the hotlinks in the relevant posts and sticking the pages in robots.txt or equivalent.

  331. I was hashing out a really long well-thought out response to the whole situation and then I read what Gracchus said in #125. I’d just like to say …uh what he said.

  332. Why didn’t you just copyright the stories, that would have taught us all a lesson.

  333. @#392 the stories are copyrighted, and released under a Creative Commons licence.

  334. I just spent 20 minutes skimming the above comments. I’d like the contact info for whomever I need to sue to get compensated for wasting my valuable 20 minutes.

    Meh – what a bother over a whole lot of nothing. You all, in a word, need to chillax and get over yourselves. Those that can’t need to beam up to the mothership pronto.

    Now if we could just unpublish all the damn steampunk nonsense.

  335. @376 (See): Well, it wasn’t supposed to be a public disassociation, specifically because it would have provoked these same inquiries about a private matter. I get that people are curious. I get that “You’ll just have to trust us” is a fairly weak offering. But we’re still trying to strike a balance between (belated) forthrightness and decorum.

    As we said in the original post, there was clearly some fucking up here on our part, although I can report that even in our internal discussions we weren’t entirely sure what a better course of action might have been. And it’s difficult to say “We’ll never do that again” when we’re not sure what a better option would have been.

    We’re all hearing the “You should have told us what was going on” remarks. I can only speak for myself, not everyone, but I think that’s a fair point and were a similar situation to arise in the future — ugh! — we’ll take a different tack.

  336. I’m disappointed with boingboing. This isn’t the same as getting the “BB + VB 4evah!” tattoo changed. This is going through the photos and taking out Trotsky. You did like the posts when you first put them up, right?

  337. Imagine (for 10 seconds) BB as a print magazine – BB will not provide THAT PARTICULAR back issue to you. You may find it elsewhere and BB tells you where that is and wishes you luck in your quest.

    BB is providing back issues, but redacting certain pages. And the manner of redaction is very dishonest. When some entity, like the government, hands me some documents containing redactions, I can at least tell they’ve done it because the black lines are still there, letting me know something was covered up. BB completely altered the back issues and covered up the altering of them.

  338. Bad password,

    Using the pretext of an animated argument to spew vile misogyny? I don’t think so.

  339. BB just made Miss Blue an extremely famous personality. Way to go guys. Talk about achieving the exact opposite effect from the stated goal! Bravo!

    I had no idea who Violet Blue was until today. Now I’m all curious. I want to know everything there is about her.

    Another thing I learned today: BB handles problems like an immature girl in Jr. High.

  340. Saying it’s you’re blog and you can do what you want is a bit of a straw-man fallacy. I haven’t seen anyone suggest legal penalties for your behavior. It’s you’re blog, you can do what you want.

    People are saying they don’t like it.

    People have made the claim that you are stifling free speak, which appears to support your straw-man. But free speak is both a legal concept and also vernacular english. You have clearly stifled free speak in the vernacular sense and clearly have not in the legal sense.

  341. First off, I like the advice from Gracchus. Good policy.

    It really disappoints me when blogs remove articles. I do a little blogging. I can be wrong, stupid, taken-in or misinformed at times. When that happens I can always remove the links to someone or something that has turned out to be something I don’t want to support. Removing the links will make sure I’m not contributing to their pagerank.

    I can add a note along the lines of “Doh! What was I thinking? Feel free to read this article to glimpse a major screw-up on my part, but don’t bother otherwise.”

    But delete it? No. I put it out there for better or worse and will live with that.

    Does a blogger have the right to delete their articles if they want? Sure.

    Do they lose credibility by doing so? Absolutely. The more trusted the blog, the more they lose.

    I’d love to see you put the articles back up, remove the links, and add a note saying that the article does not represent any current support for the person in question.

    I really hate that Boing Boing pulled those articles. It’s your right. I’m just very disappointed to find your standards aren’t what I thought. Boing Boing has a reputation for fighting fearlessly for Good Side. This kind of behavior tarnishes that reputation.

    Please, guys, make it right and acknowledge this as a mistake and a lesson learned!

  342. Well, BB’ers, I don’t know this Violet Blue character from a hole in the ground, and I figure you might have a good reason for the big nuke, but here’s the thing: you have every right to be secretive about your withdrawal of support…

    …but you wouldn’t quietly accept such behaviour from others if the situation was reversed. I don’t truck with hypocrisy. So you’ve just lost two eyeballs.

  343. This is going through the photos and taking out Trotsky.

    This is not a stalinistic purge. If you think it is, you obviously weren’t there, and you’re tinfoil hat is causing your vision of reality to blur.

  344. wow, this is a crazy thread. I only got to about #50 before I got fed up with the misplaced sense of entitlement people have.

    It seems to me that people are getting all worked up about something that they don’t have the right to exert any claim to. To me, Boing Boing writers/editors have given me a glimpse into their perspective on the world by sharing with me things they find fun, interesting and at times very weird. In return, they get…absolutely nothing from me. Huh. What a concept.

    If they decide to no longer share something they don’t want to share with me, I’m fine with that. They’ve invited me into their home and I am their guest. If someone invited you into their house for dinner, would you fault them for not displaying photos of their ex-wife? They were there before. Now they’re not. Is that ok?

    It’s really just a simple matter of manners you ungrateful bastards.

    It seems to me the people who are giving BB grief are the same kind of people who would sit and listen to a street musician play his entire set and at the end not only leave without making a donation but also yell at him for ommitting a verse from your favourite song.

    I wish we could unpublish the idiocy from people themselves. Good grief.

  345. As at least two other commentators have pointed out, I’d also be interested in reading an explanation of the @Teresa’s claim in #99 that “Violet Blue never posted anything on Boing Boing. and the article posted on Friday, Dec. 29, 2006.

    I suppose we could split hairs and say that the article was actually posted by Xeni Jardin, but as it reads “by Violet Blue” and seems to be original content for Boing Boing that seems a little disingenuous.

    As others have said – including the editors themselves – your blog, do want you want, imo. Interesting to watch the netorati participate in a train wreck that looks like it could have been orchestrated by the Nixon administration.

  346. It is your space, and you have a right to add or remove any material, barring copyright laws. But you wrote, “Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

    To write that statement, without any background on what was supposedly so heinous to lead to such an action, is unethical. You should have just said, the stuff is gone, the reasons are private. Now, you’ve just added to the speculation. Not particularly noble behavior.

  347. #324: “…Also, who really actually cares about this? I mean, seriously? Deep in your heart? …”

    Apparently, you do, since you posted seriously :)

  348. Satan@404: BB just made Miss Blue an extremely famous personality. Way to go guys. Talk about achieving the exact opposite effect from the stated goal! Bravo!

    Yes, this is mature. And so relevant.

  349. @399 —

    The very nature of unpublishing—removing something from the public view—is a public act. I understand that it might not have been intended that way, and it did fly under the radar for a while, but it still was always a public act.

  350. Dear BoingBoing,

    Regarding your recent deletion of content about VB, I know you deleted this content over a year ago, but since I just found out about it now, I am simply incensed of the damage you’ve been causing this whole year, quietly, without any fuss, and without my knowing of the damage.

    Some might wonder HOW could the damage from these deletions be so terrible, if the deletions took place over a year ago, and I just realized it now, and only because someone told me.

    But I am not some people. I do not wonder. I am a pyro looking for something to burn, and by gosh, you look mighty toasty to me.

    Thank you for providing some year old spark for me to pour my gasoline on.

    Tin Pyro Man

  351. Maybe if this kind of situation arises again, you could put a disclaimer or an editorial / click through note around the old article, to the effect that you think the original post was wrong, rather than just deleting it? eg.

    “We now think this article is inappropriate, because of this fact [explanation] [link to old article for historic interest], BB editors 2008″

    I’m pretty sure (say) science journals do that, even when they discover that a given article was seriously flawed because of made-up data, plagarism, etc. they preserve the record but highlight the fact it isn’t to be trusted.

  352. The content was deleted a year ago.

    It was so irrelevant, that all you whiners didn’t even know about the deletions until now, and only because someone told you.

    So, whatever “damage” you think these deletions caused, the actual damage was zero. The only “damage” is in the hyped up sense of injustice you keep heaping on the fire.

  353. I, for one, refuse to get involved in this, because any additional posts just perpetuate. . . oh, damn.

  354. Gosh what fun! Do you think we’ll get up to 1984 comments?

    Which bit of “freedom of expression” do people not understand? If BB want to withdraw their older posts then that is their prerogative, if that makes you feel violated then go elsewhere.

    Or perhaps I missed the post where BB declared itself a journal of record. Was it unpublished perhaps?

  355. FredB #410, I’ve been wondering about that post too. In Teresa’s defense, it was before her time here, but I remember the post from when it went up, and it was definitely Violet’s work and advertised as such.

    In light of this, Xeni’s #117 is posing a real challenge for me, I’m having trouble understanding how it could have been said in good faith.

  356. I call bullshit on the justifications. This is nothing more than, “we’re taking our bat and ball and going home”. Trying to spin it doesn’t cover for it being a petty tantrum.

  357. If I didn’t had better things to do now, I’ll want to start a flame war with some of the fanboys. And girls.

  358. down the memory hole….

    does boingboing reserve the right to silently “unpublish” posts they have made in the past? yeah.

    does this make them hypocrites? i feel that it does.

    am i happy with boingboing at this point? no.

    they did something they reserve the right to do but also lost a lot of credibility in my eyes.

    (this might be a little unfair, but anybody else notice the initials of boingboing are BB?)

  359. When I think of boingboing’s target group, I certainly don’t think of them as people who you’d want to keep silent and happily play along, pretending that previously-published content has never existed when we’ve just seen it disappear into a memory hole.

    It’s your blog. So far, no problems. I don’t even care why you did what you did. But I do not tolerate people who covertly exert their powers of authority and then clam up on all questions about it. Nemo’s post was deleted. My e-mails were ignored. Nothing. Not even an “We have our reasons but we won’t divulge them to you, now bugger off, shrimp.” Anything would have been better than nothing.

    Boingboing’s editors, of all people, getting themselves worked up into the delusion that – if you only delete enough posts, if you only ignore enough questions – you can make people eventually go away and quietly accept the reality that you created.

    You lost me as a regular member when you “quietly and respectfully” totally ignored your readers.

  360. “Blogger and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Violet Blue shares this roundup of memorable moments in memehood with BoingBoing readers. Full text follows after the jump.”

    Going through the wayback link, it looks like that specific entry was made for BoingBoing. Is this a wrong assumption.

    Also, I’ve seen dozens of well written posts here, and it feels like the moderator has mostly decided to be snarky and at times rude in her replies. I realize that blog drama isn’t exactly the best way you could be spending your time, but it turns out you kind of signed up for it.

  361. If I had to deal with the pile of crapola people are merrily generating in this thread, I’d probably lose my temper too. :P

  362. If boingboing’s intent was to exercise control over their own content in order to disassociate themselves with a public person who has done something they ethically disagree with, we can only observe that they’ve failed to do so.

    At this date, Ms. Blue is more closely associated with bb than she ever was in the past, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that her site has gotten more traffic from this kerfluffle than it ever did from positive posts about her.

    What’s worse – boingboing’s credibility as a site on the vanguard of openness and accountability on the web is significantly tarnished. Boingboing doesn’t “owe” it’s readership anything, but if they wish to maintain their reputation as a leader in net responsibility, they’ll have to do something other than quietly disappear something without further explanation. I’ve liked and admired bb’s stance on copyright, net neutrality, and general internet good-egg-ism. I hope they’ll hold themselves to the same high standards that they so regularly post about when others fail to do so.

    My respect for boingboing is lessened, and I doubt I’m the only one. Ironically, had they explained what the real source of the consternation was about (and assuming that some rumors are true) I’d probably have agreed with them, and not batted an eyelash about unpublishing those posts. It’s the secrecy that makes it stink. More transparency, please, boingboing?

  363. Hahaha, I’m the real winner here, I’m powering my laptop using a dynamo that’s being driven by the immense speed of incoming comments. Wonderful!

    1. I’m powering my laptop using a dynamo that’s being driven by the immense speed of incoming comments.

      Hot Air – clean, renewable energy. And the supply is limitless.

  364. It seems that there are a number of things that are being bandied about in the comments that are either completely untrue or only vaguely understood, and that some posters have not actually applied operational brain cells – no, scratch that, their hearts – to trying to understand.

    VB was not a BB poster. She did not write articles for BB. BB linked to stuff by her. No work of hers has been altered, deleted, changed, or even (re)commented on, to make a particular point. So this isn’t censorship, unless you think “not linking to” is an act of censorship; in which case you can skip to the next comment looking for support for your point of view.

    I think that The Reason is probably a very personal one, that the person(s) involved really don’t want all over the Internet. I respect the BB team enough to not want them to feel pressured to expose something they don’t want to, especially on possibly the most-read blog in the world.

    It sometimes becomes difficult for readers to realize that blogs involve actual people who have parts of their personal lives that they don’t want to share on the blog. There is a point, different for everyone, where say “that’s as personal as I want to get”.

    I can see it now: pressured into finally speaking out, Cory admits that he’s become allergic to wavelengths in the 435 nanometer range and therefore can’t have references to anything that color anywhere on the blog server. (My sympathies if you actually have a chromatic aberration, Cory.)

    Fine. Would knowing that (or whatever The Reason is) help anybody? Improve anything? Fix the problem? No. It’s been stated that this is a personal issue; I personally believe you have no right to demand to know details of someone’s personal life unless you’re sleeping with them, and there are limits there too.

    Perhaps the BB team should replace themselves with idoru so the readers can obsess about their (completely fictional) personal lives without actual people being involved.

    Yes, it does feel a little weird to have a blog that is very dedicated to everyone’s free expression make this decision; I can only guess that it was, for the person involved, so hard an issue that this was the only way they could see to address it.

    Sometimes people make decisions that we wouldn’t ourselves when they’re personal ones. Sometimes they’re (objectively) bad ones. Subjectively they may be the only thing that makes it possible to keep going.

    I hope whatever the issue is can be moved on from at this point. Best wishes.

  365. Greg @419, the point isn’t how long it takes to notice that the past has been revised. The point is that it’s been revised.

  366. Also if the speed of discussion on boingboing keeps up can we get a box to enter noko and sage in?

    also, SAGE.

  367. Anyone who is questioning the point of this, has to remember that BB has been at the forefront of blogging journalism. It’s not unexpected that they be held up to the light for examination/criticism.

    What we have found is that a site that prides itself on supporting civil liberties and freedom of speech is quite prepared to ignore the need for transparency when it comes to personal grievances.

    I will not contest that it is BB’s right to take down any/all posts they feel it appropriate to. Again they also owe us no explanation because this is their site/server/space. This is not a public service.

    We are definitely not BBs editors, nor do we dictate it’s direction. We are it’s audience though and can vote with our fingers.

    The only parties behavior which has been brought into question is Boing Boing’s, through their actions. Further to that, I have to agree with another commentator above that it was not very thoughtful to suggest innapropriate behavior on Violet’s part without justifying that comment.

    Hmmm, so anyhow, where’s that chaser???

  368. @#335 TILLWE: If you were an editor/poster here, you could decide what gets posted, archived, etc. You aren’t. So it feels “UnBoingBoingish”… so what? They are private individuals, they are not a corporation, they are not a government.

    I also would add that, insignificant as they are, I’ve gone back and edited my blog posts on Myspace for content. So am I now guilty of censorship? Oh lord! I’m going into self-imposed exile right this second.


  369. Takuan, oh High Costello, we here in the GreatVoid(tm) are in dire need of your Sage Wisdumb(c.’08). pleez grant us the ability to move on in our NeddyLittleLives(R), and GethruthisBullShit(t.m. applied for). many thanx, Oh High One. i remain your humbolt Screwfly.

  370. @399 Joel Johnson – well put. I think that’s a fair response to the points that have been made. I don’t expect to see any NEW points made after your post, either. The rest of the comments will just rehash the same points over and over.

  371. Hot Air – clean, renewable energy. And the supply is limitless.

    Ahhh, I’ve always wondered how Cory powered the hot air balloon he uses to fly round the blogosphere, he must have needed to gain some height when he decided to respond to this topic…

  372. Disappointed. Truly disappointed. This thread is now up to 443 comments and posting speed is already declining? We will never make it to 1984 comments!

    Get with the program people! Post your favorite recipes for tomato sauce! Discuss the grandchildren! Bitch about the neighbour’s dog! We need you! Boing Boing needs you! Do it for the memory of Violet B!

  373. Seriously, I thought this thread would reach some sort of critical mass, implode under the weight of its own self-importance, and turn into a black hole that sucked in the entire blogosphere.


    1. Seriously, I thought this thread would reach some sort of critical mass, implode under the weight of its own self-importance, and turn into a black hole that sucked in the entire blogosphere. disappointed.

      Let me introduce you to a little something that we like to call Untitled 1

  374. Let me tell you this is hard. At my parents house I have copies of BoingBoing the zine that were mailed to me because I was a big zinester.

    It seemed like an amazing blog, not a personal blog at all, but one of a group of people who had really great ideas and compiled authoritative documents of what was interesting going on that day.

    Not personal.

    Then they added in all kinds of serious analysis of what free speech means on the internet and one thing they definitely railed about was that individual companies do not own the discussion about themselves- they cannot censor other people talking about their company and what’s written should remain written.

    This afternoon a journalist friend of mine sent me an email that I had to read how low the site had fallen.

    And this Violet Blue story absolutely flies in the face of EVERYTHING that I understood from the words written in BoingBoing. BoingBoing marketed itself as the opposite of this behavior. There is nothing in COVER-UP of the actions taken to eliminate coverage of this one person’s works that remotely sounds like the BoingBoing that has been sold to me by the writers.

    I want to say this even if my post gets disemvowelled. I had an account here under a different name and I posted many great and well-received comments that tried to promote my non-libertarian, pro-liberal-business agenda. And I got a lot of great responses, but soon the vowels started disappearing. No one would explain why. One time I pointed out exactly why what Cory Doctorow wrote was factually incorrect and my comment got disemvoweled. That was awful. Then a third comment of mine that was midlevel critical of the POV of a piece got screwed with. I realized that the editors simply had a problem with my POV and I left the site. A few weeks later I wanted to comment about a great company they talked about and I could login, but I had no posting privileges. My account was gone. I never cussed, never spammed, never called people names, never trolled, and never wrote anything that I didn’t want my name attached to.

    But my account was gone.

    I think the Boing Boing editors are mightily confused about how they sell their product- they are the defenders of a free internet, that is everything that Cory writes day in and day out. But the cover up of this Violet Blue thing proves that they are no better than the corporate organizations they railed against.

    I for one am done with this site. They hold others to absolutes they refuse to live up to themselves. I have no idea what caused the loss of my original account last year and will never know. At least the BoingBoing crew know from me why I won’t be visiting the site again.

  375. Oh. My.
    Such a fuss.
    A little perspective; in a hundred years no one will care.
    Speaking as one who has had one’s vowels removed by BB mods; BB moderators, do as you must to maintain the editorial quality. Most of us will appreciate your efforts.
    The rest of you who take umbrage at what has transpired, you need to realize that somewhere, right now, someone on the Internet is wrong. Go pile on them.

  376. Higher Pagerank is equal to greater monetary value–and BB has the power to contribute to someone’s Pagerank by linking to it.

    As long as BB isn’t being a bully, stealing AdSense lunch money, I am happy.

  377. #440, Subterrene: what I wanted to communicate is: In a way a blog is only useful if there are readers. If the same people read a blog regularly, they develop a feeling of community, and a sense of things they expect from the blog or not. They have — of course — no right to expect these things, but they do so, anyways (as they do if the regularly use, for example, Starbucks or McDonalds). As intelligent readers in a blog with a comment facility, they voice their ideas, feelings and notions, only strengthening the (false) sense of community.

    In the end, the social web is born, and if there are differences between consumables like McDonalds meals and “web 2.0″, user interaction and even user generated content is one. Or shortly: BoingBoing as a web 2.0 product, a high-level blog, functions only via readers attention; even on the level of advertsing revenue. This gives me, the reader, a bit more responsibility — and more urge for voicing my option if I feel something went terrible wrong or unBoingBoingish.

    I’m not sure but some people here don’t get the difference between critique (I, the reader, am disappointed and say so) and managerial or editorial dictums (I, the shareholder, am disappointed and say so). In the first case, my influence is only in the option in voice (and to a lower degree, in the shallow threat of taking away my attention), in the second case, there is real influence. To say “If you were an editor/poster here, you could decide what gets posted, archived, etc. You aren’t. So it feels “UnBoingBoingish”… so what?” makes clear that you don’t get that difference.

    I’m neither editor, poster nor manager, but I’m still a reader, this is an attention based commerce, this is social web, and if BoingBoing wishes to ignore the feelings of it’s community, it still can be a wonderful mass media outlet, but it cannot be a trusted blog anymore.

  378. For all those who say that this is a trivial matter, you are wrong.

    I can see they doyens of corporate America and governments around the world breathing a sigh of relief. Boingboing did it, why can’t we? Yes, BB, like it or not, you are this influential. This could easily become the new mantra of redactors of every stripe. A very bad precedent has been set.

    For those who say this isn’t an autocratic-like maneuver I ask, “how is it not?” When purges take place almost all of it is trivial bullshit. There is never enough time to find the smoking gun so it always best to use the scattershot method. This is not to say that BB should in any way be compared to, say, Stalin in other respects, but a purge is a purge.

    Furthermore, I don’t expect any reasonable person to necessarily agree with my point of view. Reasonable people placate and abide. They smooth things over. Their goal is to arrange their world in such a way as to avoid any turbulence. Anyone who causes it, no matter their claim, has to be marginalized.

    But I’m not trying to deny or even deprecate their important role within complex sphere of the social ecosystem, merely pointing out their limitations. They have their place in the world to be sure. As Shaw once wryly noted though, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man. Progress is a synonym for change, and change is a synonym for struggle. I can understand why some may not be inclined, but there is no other way of making the world a better place.

    In this particular situation, the only dialogue of any importance will come from the unreasonables. It is their voice that we must generally listen to on matters of broad, rather than narrow social scope. The passifying reasonables (who are more expert within a more narrow social realm) should not be expected to contribute anything of relevance. They will only block progress and should therefore be ignored.

    Given BBs actions, no reasonable person could advance a compelling argument that would have any truck with an unreasonable.

  379. lmao – We can always count on straight talk from Joel. ;)

    This whole thing is starting to remind me of Cory’s story about Google taking over national defense. When I read that, I couldn’t imagine such a “Don’t Be Evil” group doing something heinous like that. I’m not saying this whole thing is anywhere on that scale, but it shows that even good people do dumb stuff from time to time. Like Barack approving the FISA changes.

  380. I agree with post #30 –

    But my main question is this: Why were the posts deleted instead of disemvoweled?

    I’ve disemvoled this next part in advance to save you some time Moderator:

    Th BngBng cntnt Nzs nd t chll th fck t – y gys r trmnds hypcrts!

    If something was cool enough to warrent a post however many years ago, it should stay up for that very reason – regardless of new developments.

  381. Come on people, we’ve got to beat ‘Untitled 1′, I for one don’t think we’ve heard enough times about whether bOINGbOING has a right to remove posts, then once we’re done with that we can have soem more definitions of censorship, and then a random mixture of people saying “Go boingboing!” and “I hate boingboing!”…and if we’ve still not beaten ‘Untitled 1′ then I’ll throw in a few posts comparing boingboing’s policies to everything from Stalin to 1984

  382. There is no Violet.
    This was designed as a
    psych-experiment/beta-test of the comment function when running in lightspeed ludicrous.

  383. Oh my god.

    Someone on my blog may have hit it on the head.

    Is this because Violet recently sued the Porn Starlet over rights to the name?

    It is, isn’t it?


  384. Greg @408, I didn’t mean to imply that unpublishing Violet Blue was Stalinistic–it’s that it’s revising the past. Sorry I couldn’t come up with a better example than Trotsky. I chose him because the revision was famous and historical, not fictional. For v. 2.0, insert something about how it’s like erasing an ex-friend’s comments from your yearbook.

  385. This thread would have twice as many posts if the Powers That Be weren’t deleting comments willy-nilly.

    1. This thread would have twice as many posts if the Powers That Be weren’t deleting comments willy-nilly.

      Ah, Doctor Pickles. In the interest of transparency, I will give you some numbers. Out of ~480 comments, a grand total of seven have been unpublished (yes, that’s what the button says: Unpublish). Five of them had inappropriate links and the other two were yours. There are also a couple dozen bile-drenched anonymous comments. I have approved more anonymous comments for this thread than the ones that I have ignored. In other words, your comment represents this thread in microcosm. A whole lot of people rubber-necking as they drive by a fender bender.

  386. @Faustus: but I want to say “I luv boingboing, but you shouldn’t do this” — may I?

  387. @459

    I heard that they were keeping Einstein’s brain alive in a jar, but Cory ate it, and then he punched a fluffy kitten.

  388. The more I read, the more that this looks like a publicity stunt.

    Look at the facts:

    * The editors keep enticing us, but refuse to give the details.

    *Even Violet Blue “claims” to not know why this happened.

    * There are now over 23,300 google results for “violet blue boing boing”

  389. GabrielM, I had the very same thought a few moments ago. Are we in fact all falling for a massive viral marketing campaign being perpetrated by both BoingBoing and Violet? ;)

    (tightening up my tinfoil hat)

  390. AisleFive @6:

    I can see not publishing future stories about her, but “unpublishing” seems like a euphemism for self-censorship (or at least denial).

    Sorry, Aisle, but “unpublishing” is actually the term the Movable Type interface uses for leaving a text in the database (as opposed to deleting it) but making it no longer visible on the site. It’s the opposite of “publishing,” where you draft a text out of sight of the readers, and only make it visible once it’s finished.

    I’m almost impressed by the pretentious meanings people have been reading into “unpublish.” They all must use some other content-management software.

  391. I noticed the posts were missing a while back when I was looking for Boing Boing’s reference to something VB wrote about the size of the adult industry being overstated (or so I remembered). I shrugged and moved on – the info was easy enough to find elsewhere.

    Frankly if BB is uncomfortable endorsing VB via posts that link to her writings, it’s their right to withdraw that tacit endorsement, and they attempted to be classy about it by keeping their little squabbles quiet (boy did that backfire – but who was complaining and why? Is this a publicity stunt?)

    They wanted to promote her once and no longer want to do so. So what. This is tedious.

    That’s not censorship – not allowing them to express their current opinions as they see fit is closer to censorship and their opinion is that VB isn’t worth supporting in any fashion. (Did I mention, boy did that backfire?)

    Can we go back to arguing about the environmental damage caused by kids’ “painting” with a bucket of water?

  392. I’m not sure why I feel the need to be the 472nd post (or later by the time I hit submit), but I do, so here goes. Somebody mentioned above that Violet Blue had sued another Violet Blue over trademark issues on the name. Do a Google or Wiki search it’s pretty easy to find. Whether or not that is the issue at hand I support your right to “unpublish” your own work. The only suggestion I would offer, since this is about hosting decisions is have a better linking system to the deleted posts rather than just a 404 error page. Not all BoingBoing readers are savvy enough to find the posts through Google cache or the Wayback Macine. In this way you won’t be “supporting” Violet Blue, but you will support the ideas that you represent. Either way, it’s much ado about nothing. Or is it, “the lady doth protest to much methinks”.

  393. #300
    There’s a middle ground here folks, calling out BB for totally blowing it PR-wise on this one,

    I disagree, because there are in fact situations where there is no way to make things right with PR.

    If they had aired their issues with VB, as many are now screaming at them to do, then they would be screamed at for publicly dissing VB.

    If they did not respond to the screaming happening elsewhere, they would be screamed at for a cover up.

    If they don’t respond to any of the attacks in the thread, they’re guilty of being aloof and unresponsive. If they do respond, they’re guilty of being defensive. If they apologize, then they are guilty of not being abject enough.

    If they had left their links to VB on their site, they would have been compromising their own values, and paying an ISP to do it.

    Guilty, guilty, guilty. I don’t know if I can continue to read the work of such guilty people.

    If nothing else, they’re guilty of being the kind of people who get attacked by their readers in situations like this.

  394. Why are people hating on gossip? Gossip is a wonderful thing. It’s on Brown’s list of human universals and might be seen as a basic human need. It’s fun. It builds relationships.

    Same with drama – it’s not on the list of human universals in name, but it’s certainly there in spirit:

    conflict, consultation to deal with
    conflict, means of dealing with
    conflict, mediation of

    It’s not wrong to love gossip and drama. Nor is it immature. It’s just human.

  395. I think it’s cool that people who say mean things about BB or its authors get disemvoweled, but people who call VB a cnt etc. don’t.

    What was it Xeni was saying about ad hominem attacks?

    1. Rotorglow,

      If you will flag the offending comments, I will be happy to look into it. Just click the eyeball and fill out the form.

  396. James, that was discussed many, many comments up-thread..

    eg. #40, #139, #219, #400, #417..

    Also (and I’m happy to say I don’t know at all), if it was related to the trademark action, why would BB have deleted the posts “a year ago”, when the trademark thing only happened in October 2007?

  397. to derive some good out of this, I’d be all for boingboing offering a tutorial on how to use the wayback machine. I stare at that interface, know it is something I should love and understand and revere, and I just can’t possible grasp how to make it work without some agonizing process. Not that they’d have to use the tutorial to teach us how to find Violet Blue, but it would be nice if they could turn this into an opportunity to make the web more accessible to some of us un-savvy peons

  398. So if I’m to take what the mods have posted and read between the lines this is a case of:

    Hell hath no fury like a woman ignored.

  399. hey guys, it’s been noticed over at metafilter that xeni’s initial comment has been edited to remove a phrase that read to some people like an unflattering way to describe VB. that’s it’s been (apparently secretly) edited is bothering a few people. anyone want to clarify what the deal is there? considering the nature of the current kerfluffle, this is the kind of thing that would probably throw gas on the fire.

  400. @481

    Since when are links to stories about this issue on other sites “inappropriate”?

    Or are you saying that anything that criticizes the moderation on BoingBoing is “inappropriate” and shouldn’t be seen?

    1. Or are you saying that anything that criticizes the moderation on BoingBoing is “inappropriate” and shouldn’t be seen?

      Doctor Pickles,

      Do you only have an out port? Have you not read this thread in which you keep posting?

  401. Wow, there’s a lot of self-important people who read Boing Boing, aren’t there? To quite a few of you I’d just like to say: Get your own blog. And get a life, stop borrowing the Boingers’.

  402. Jesus Christ! Really??? Nearly 500 comments here, with hundreds more on Metafilter and other places around the ‘net?

    Why is this an issue? Boing Boing made a decision to remove content from public view on their own website. What business of yours is the “why?”

    Don’t like it? Ask for your money back. Feel you can no longer trust the Boingers to provide interesting stuff? Just stop coming here.

  403. I can understand changing your mind about the subject of a blog posting, but I wouldn’t go so far as to delete the posting. Instead, you might have added something like this to the entry:

    “UPDATE (mm/dd/yyyy): It turns out that we were wrong with our original posting. Instead of being wonderful, we now think that XXX is a skanky worthless POS and we wanted to change our posting to reflect this opinion. So, you can ignore what we wrote before. That is all.”

    Would have been simple. Would have been pretty clear that you no longer think positively about the subject (deleting the posting makes things less clear).

  404. Just wanted to say that I sincerely appreciate the words of support *and* the respectful criticism of the people who are posting here. Also, +1 to Joel’s post #399.

  405. This is not censorship. It’s the quiet revocation of an endorsement. All Boing Boing had done in the past was provide links to some of Violet Blue’s content. The content is still there. You never needed Boing Boing to access it. Boing Boing no longer wants to endorse it, so this is the best of both worlds: you can still access the content and Boing Boing isn’t endorsing her. I’m utterly baffled as to why so many people have a problem with this.

  406. I think I’m lost, I was looking for the forum on running things into the ground.

    Never mind.

  407. The comment that shmegegge is referring to is this one, in which Xeni originally said:

    “[T]his is our home, we are proud of the home we built and the guests who visit here with us, and we like spending time here ourselves — so we don’t like to leave piles of shit lying around on the floor.”

    Some believe that the implication is that Violet Blue is one of the “piles of shit” in Xeni’s comment.

    The comment appears to have then been subsequently revised to read:

    “[T]his is our home, we are proud of the home we built and the guests who visit here with us, and we like spending time here ourselves.”

    A web cache copy of this page which may include the original, unedited copy may be located here.

  408. Wow, what a mess. Sounds like you guys lost about twelve “long time readers” with this personal choice you made on your personal blog last year. Shit. Do you guys need like, some money to pay the rent or get some food? Should we start a paypal donation in your names?

    I mean, seriously, and I totally agree with these twelve guys. I mean, I’m sure they never, ever deleted a tweet or blog post, or a photo from their Myspace or flickr account, or tore out a page of their diary and burned it, or forged their tax records (oh yes, I know) or ever did anything like that, ever. They’re clearly superior to these so-called Boing Boing bloggers and editors and we should all care what they think.

    Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic.

  409. People who say this thread is simply a matter of bb-haters versus bb-fans are oversimplifying the situation enormously. I enjoy boingboing and despise Violet Blue’s abuse of trademark law as much as anyone.

    But I’m troubled by unpublishing. Boingboing is an influential commercial site that criticizes the practices of others. When BB’s board makes a mistake, it should do what it expects the people in charge of other good businesses to do: apologize, and set things right for their users.

  410. Websites change. Deleting old content that you don’t want to keep is perfectly reasonable. BUT: blogs, with their diary-like, timeline based nature, seem to offer a fixed record of events: changing ‘the past’ breaks that illusion, and feels wrong.

    The word ‘unpublishing’ feels very Stalinist / Big Brother-ish.

  411. Wow, I could only make it through about 60 of the comments before my eyeballs melted.

    Xeni, I think I have commented on BB/BBG exactly once, and that was to warn you about riling up the internet trolls. I had no idea they were just so willing to barge into your house and play paddywhack on your head no matter what.

    To the whole BB crew: it seems to me that you are handling this quite well, and with an even-tempered hand. You acted, you explained, and you explained your explanation. Well done.

    And is there a “Godwin’s Law” for when someone calls “censorship” over a private posting in a private space? Maybe we’ll have to call it “Violet’s Rule.”

  412. Woo Hoo – I made the 500th post!

    Please do not “unpublish” any comments that would rob me of this special honor.
    Thank you.

  413. now look here. i read the first 60 or so comments, and i assume the other 4oo+ is just more of the same. which is to say, ridiculous. i can’t remember the last time i saw so many references to 1984 all in one place.
    so let me just say these: 1. BoingBoing is not the only channel on TV. If you don’t like what you’re watching, just change the channel. 2. When BoingBoing starts charging for access to their site, that is the moment we can start complaining about their content or practices. As long as it’s free, SHH!
    That is all.

  414. To the BoingBoing crew — I would like to chime in as one more person disappointed by this choice. Your voice has been a powerful one for transparency and the free flow of information on the internet, and it will be just a little less powerful now.

    Consider, for example, this deleted post about a Google algorithm change that inexplicably dropped sex-positive blogs in the rankings. Posts like that are an important watchdog for the community, but if you posted the same thing tomorrow, you would have to start by distinguishing your own opaque deletions. Your distinctions might be right — but readers would have to wonder if the real distinction was just that it wasn’t you doing it.

    Again, I appreciate all the work you’ve done, and I understand why you might feel jumped on right now, but please don’t dismiss all the complaints — some of them are because we like you.

  415. @Faustus:

    “I luv boingboing, but you(1) shouldn’t do this”

    (1) by you I mean bOINGbOING, not Faustus.

  416. @#399, Joel:

    As we said in the original post, there was clearly some fucking up here on our part, although I can report that even in our internal discussions we weren’t entirely sure what a better course of action might have been. And it’s difficult to say “We’ll never do that again” when we’re not sure what a better option would have been.

    Are you channelling Donald Rumsfeld?

    A few observations:
    i) a lone moron will usually reach better decisions than a committee of smart people
    ii) unpublishing is to self-censorship as water-boarding is to torture
    iii)private issues are not best dealt with via your publication.

    Next time, try amending your Christmas card lists.

    Oh, and now would probably be a great time to dig 50 or so “wonderful things” out of your reject piles.

  417. I’ve been skimming through comments here & I cannot believe the presumption & hysteria & vituperation of some commenters. First of all, BB is only a blog, regardless of its popularity & influence. Secondly, it’s not your blog; if you don’t like BB’s peaches, quit shaking their tree. Thirdly, how important will this ‘thing’ be in 5 years? Five months, five weeks? Next week? I see an great deal of energy being expended on something that, in the grand scheme of things, is awfully unimportant.

  418. unpublishing is to self-censorship as water-boarding is to torture

    Thanks, Tubman. We didn’t have enough histrionics yet.

  419. Much ado about nothing. How would you all like it if your parents forced you to keep hanging out with the drama-mongering kid next door who makes a living writing essays about their crotch, suing indigent, single mom sex workers, and stalking their alleged stalkers by screen capturing every single thing they write and saving all their dynamic IP addresses? It’s like being forced to hang with the leper even if you’d rather play with your cool friends.

    At least boingboing doesn’t cry RAPE or STALKER whenever a male does something they disagree with. Quietly unlinking someone is tons more mature and honorable than the former which is VB modus operandi.

    This is a directory of wonderful things not one person’s PR vehicle.

    Doesn’t anyone consider that her wondering publicly about this was a calculated ploy into forcing BB to publicly address what should be a private matter? Most people ask for clarification privately and quietly wait for the answer. No answer IS an answer. Unless you’re a stalker.

    This is a publicity ploy and you’re all falling for it. Just look at her wikipedia entry discussion and history page. Her ‘close personal friend’ is frantically updating it regarding this matter as it unfolds. Isn’t wikipedia supposed to be encyclopedic? Her’s is maintained up to date like a vanity blog.

    Trying to garner sympathy from the hordes of people who don’t really know what’s going on is pretty pathetic. Majority does not always rule and wanting to handle something privately does not automatically make a person wrong.

    Already way too much bandwidth has been wasted on this non-issue.

  420. BB is basically saying: Shut up, this is our sandbox, we can do whatever we want to and we will. If you’re unhappy about it, then whine about it here in this designated contained area, and if you don’t agree with our decision, too bad. We won’t give you an explanation because we don’t feel you deserve one.

    But hey, we’re listening.

  421. @TillWe,

    yeah I got that, but it’s nice to know there are people so polite that even when I don’t take offence they’ll apologise :)

    Also, all these people criticising the word ‘unpublishing’, boingboing didn’t just make it up, it’s the actual real word for an actual real thing that has nothing to do with any kind of newspeak as has been stressed many times in this thread. So please, stop making hilarious gibes about it.

  422. @Alexreynolds (#496), I think Xeni removed that phrase because it sounded inflammatory and insulting in a way that she didn’t intend.

    Also, I ask that people please don’t continue with the nasty names or post stupid, sophomoric insults. The moderators will do their best to remove or disemvowel those comments, whether they’re about a Boing Boinger, Violet Blue, or anyone else.

    1. The moderators will do their best to remove or disemvowel those comments, whether they’re about a Boing Boinger, Violet Blue, or anyone else.

      Thank you to those who flagged comments with vile epithets. I have disemvowelled the offending language.

  423. It’s hard for me to imagine that even the most pro-BB commenters here won’t feel a twinge of embarrassment for the bloggers the next time it publishes a story about censorship.

    I accept (grudgingly) that the backstory is none of our beeswax. But the editors would be well advised to take a cold look at how seriously this episode has damaged their brand.

    Since I know everything, I advise them to de-unpublish this material, make a terse but sincere public apology to their readership and She Who Must Not Be Named, and get back to business.

  424. I don’t like Violet Blue.

    I lost respect for her a while back, when she participated in the argumentum ad hominem against the censorware guy who was found to have posted in the adult diaper newsgroups, but I don’t agree with BoingBoing’s decision to remove her from the site.

    This is the sort of thing that you would be outraged over if a similar group did it.

    It’s bad form.

    Please consider re-instating her content and instituting a policy to not behave similarly in the future. While BB is a private blog, it has a greater responsibility to the community than you may realize.

    Perhaps you could update the links that pointed to her site and point them towards her Wikipedia entry instead.

  425. “There’s a big difference between that and censorship”

    In my opinion “unpublished” is just another word for censorship, The next time someone posts something in my forum that breaks our T.O.S I am going to reply that they were “unpublished” and not deleted I don’t believe the individual in question will see the difference .
    After reading multiple stories from many sources I have come to the belief that ad revenue may have been a motivating factor in this decision. Of course this is your blog and you have the right to publish and or “unpublished” (as you call it) as you see fit however, This in my opinion does and will hurt you creditability.
    I personally come to Boing Boing to primarily read Mr. Doctorow’s posts in regards to Privacy and Copy write reform . Most of the other posts are typically available on the other sites I frequent Digg, Reddit ect (nothing personal, any blog posts of journalistic integrity will appear on many sites) As such I would be quite curious to hear Mr. Doctorow’s take on the situation.
    My own opinion is that this was done to placate an advertiser and secure future revenue streams. I make this assumption based on other stories that I have read and the fact that posts to Boing Boing have to first be reviewed by your editor Xeni Jardin. If this is the case I believe that Boing Boing just took a steep on to the slippery slope.
    Of course I could be wrong ………..

  426. @#513, Antinous: Sorry, I couldn’t work out a pithy enough way of referencing Stalin’s airbrush work on those Bolshevik Party Congress group photos.

    Care to fill us in on the rest of that irregular verb? If it’s ‘we unpublish’ and ‘they censor’, how does the second person go?

  427. David #521, in this climate nobody thought that silently going back and editing something out was maybe a bad idea?

    Really, it’s the silent edits that create the worst of the bad feeling, because it makes us all go “am I crazy, or did that used to say something different?” In my world, doing that to people is a hostile act.

  428. @Alexreynolds (#496), I think Xeni removed that phrase because it sounded inflammatory and insulting in a way that she didn’t intend.

    That’s fair. But it seems rather unfortunate that the comment was edited in a discussion about whether revisionism and secrecy are generally ethical practices in a public medium. Having an unedited version available on the record allows people to decide for themselves if that behavior is acceptable.

  429. @Teresa (Moderator), I’ve got to say that I find your tone to be consistently condescending. It’s bothered me for a long time now and kept me from ever really jumping in to the comments section. Your responses in this discussion have displayed the same dismissive attitude is particularly antithetical to the tone that draws most people to this website. People have legitimate concerns about how large, respected institutions that they are emotionally invested in behave.
    Also your comments about Violet Blue seem to the opposite of classy. You can’t say some of things you’ve said about Violet Blue in this thread and then pretend that Boing Boing is too demure to state the reasoning behind wanted to be disassociated from her.

    @Xeni You said, “This is also why we remove hateful, ad hominem attack comments from public view, too…” This seems to be disingenuous. You remove terrible comments that users post but I don’t think you ban them and retroactively delete everything they ever wrote. Also, these were things that you wrote and obviously felt okay with the content of for a period of time. None of the posts were hateful, contained ad hominem attacks or anything on that level. I think that people are upset because Boing Boing is essentially denying any relation to Violet Blue instead of coming out and saying that someone they used to associate no longer has their support.

    If Violet Blue is such a person that all of this is worthwhile then it seems like others who read this blog would like to know why. If it was solely a personal thing then it seems against the professionalism of Boing Boing to delete the posts and the should be restored. If it was bad enough to warrant the deletion then it seems worthy enough to mention why as we would probably like to know huge truths like that anyways. I don’t want to support someone who is killing kittens and would appreciate it if that’s the level of things going on here.

    I think as a semi-confession I’ll admit that maybe more than a few people, myself included, are looking for a reason to give up on Boing Boing or at least ween ourselves. Which is a terrible reason to get all riled up about this, I agree. Nevertheless, for some, this may be the steampunk straw that broke the papercraft camels back. For me it’s the tone deaf self promotion and condescending moderation, things that I could navigate around before, but now I’ll take my eyeballs elsewhere. I realize that I’ll probably get a few snarky replies saying “who the hell cares?” but if that’s the attitude around here then that’s just another reason to move on.

  430. I think the best move for Boingboing to do would be to unpublish their unpublishment.

    Wait, what?

  431. @#524, David Thomsen: To be fair, ‘unpublish’ isn’t some Orwellian euphemism dreamt up by BoingBoing, it’s just a standard Content Management System term for the button that puts content off-line. However, I do find Teresa’s insistence on the “clear” difference between unpublishing and censoring quite amusing. I suspect it’s the result of a reasoning process that starts with the conclusion “we don’t do censorship” and adjusts the premises to fit.

  432. From UCLA Information Studies assistant prof Jean-François Blanchette’s brief explanation of his project promoting forgetting and exclusion in information design:

    Commentators have typically portrayed the protection of forgetfulness as a matter of balancing individual privacy against such social goods as law enforcement, government efficiency, or national security. But in this form of analysis such social needs almost inevitably overpower the need of individuals. In an attempt to redress this imbalance, this project will proceed within a framework where collective needs for forgetting are explicitly balanced against collective needs for accountability.

  433. #529 – that is a good post. I agree with your assessment. BB is caught in a flurry of self contradictions and I don’t see it taking the path to solving those problems. It wants to keep growing and establish its credibility yet refuses to admit the responsibilities that come with the territory. It wants transparency to be a standard yet fails to follow its own preachings.

  434. @Tubman: it’s the same difference as the difference between “painting words black” and “censoring”. Or, for all consequences, between “removing content from public view” and “deleting content”.

  435. What Satan is really saying is that as readers we have a right to expect that bloggers will do what we expect and will give us what we want. He’s saying that we have a right to put words into other people’s mouths and if they don’t correct us we’re right and if they do they’re feeding the conflict by responding.

    He’s saying that as a matter of principle BoingBoing should be bound by a framework of norms and rules and laws that they violated even before Satan imagined them.

    That’s what he’s really saying.

  436. Christ, who cares? It’s only another blog-ball fight. I’m just happy to see a post that isn’t about steampunk or Corey’s latest book/reading. Enuff already.

    Dude, if you guys re-post the postings and change her name from “Violet Blue” to “Burnt Sienna” or better yet, simply “Flesh”, I’ll give you a dollar.

    A. Whole. DOLLAR. That’s FOUR games of Pac-Man.

  437. @#534, Tillwe: It’s not quite that clear cut. If BoingBoing had unpublished a page, say, because the HTML in a table was a mess, no-one (well, hardly anyone) would be crying censorship. Here it’s because they don’t like someone any more, and that certainly is censorship, regardless of who wrote it, and whether you, I or anyone else would it consider it a reasonable thing to do if we were privy to the justification for it.

  438. Holy crapdoodle. 520 comments in a post!

    So many thoughts…

    First — Wow, yeah, gonna have to go with the “eww” crowd on this one. BB is a pretty large blog, to be sure, and with this whole transparency — fight for what’s right — etc vibe that gets pushed around, it’s awfully weird to see you all pretty much use “their tactics” when it comes to your house.

    It seems petty and spiteful to just wipe the pages.

    You could have added a comment, or a link, or even kept the BB URL’s and just placed a note that the content was removed, etc. No, just a quiet “disappearance” that finally came around to bite you guys on the butt.

    Weird stuff.

    On the other hand you guys finally opened up a forum for it on your site, and David’s doing a nice run of encouraging discourse. I don’t “need” to know “WHAT” happeend, it’s certainly not my place if it’s a personal (POS) matter, but again.. the vibe, the transparency, the new media, yada yada.. you guys handled this like “Old Media”, so, it’s weird. Thanks for trying to patch it up.

    Also thanks to the mod(s?) for being easy on the DEL key in this thread. And the dsmvwlr key.

    Oh… and Unpublish? Yeah it’s a CMS term, but it really could have used a nicer alias in this regard. It didn’t cost anything to host it, bytes versus CPM wise, and while some of us nerds knew the term it has a really weird vibe to it when you combine it with the stuff above.

  439. You guys have a great blog. It deservedly has gotten huge over the last few years. All organizations go through growing pains, and all large groups have their insane fringe disruptors. Just keep on truckin’, you guys. People come here for a reason.

    That being said, I can’t agree with your choice of head moderator. Teresa may have expertise, but she seems to have to work too hard to control her emotions. I’m mostly a lurker, but just from the few comment threads I’ve taken to reading, she tends to be domineering, condescending, and paranoid that everyone’s out to disrupt her discussion threads. Unlike Joel, she hasn’t done much to adopt the general “Boinger” attitude since joining your group. Sorry to say it, but if I had to offer one point of criticism it would be the slow pot of dissension she has been brewing amongst your regulars since arriving.

    It’s worth considering that maybe some of this controversy sprouted there.

  440. Wow, being unpublished by boingboing is better than an Orbit in the NYT.

    500+ comments about a topic that (1) Isn’t Canadian, (2) Isn’t Steampunk, (3) Isn’t one of Cory’s books, or (4) Isn’t about the TSA baby killers is a site to behold.

  441. You just had to bring back comments didn’t you…if only you’d never had comments then this whole poostain of a thread could never have happened. Just goes to show, you can allow a horse to comment but you can’t make it gather any moss. Or something like that.

  442. One of the main arguments here goes something like “yes they have the right to do what they like on their blog, but they were wrong to do it, because it goes against the values they supposedly stand for, and that makes them hypocrites.”

    Perhaps I’ve been reading too much GrokLaw and Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow, but I thought that the point of the whole CopyLeft movement was to allow creators of content full control over how their content is used under copyright law. For example, a person who writes some cool code should not be prevented from sharing their code if they want to.

    Where in that do we see anything that means that BoingBoing has been hypocritical by editing its own content? Aren’t they in fact champions of creator’s rights to do as they see fit with their own work?

  443. @Hagbard: Seriously, for me BoingBoing is not only part of the “copyleft” movement, but they also stand for something like net transparency, for “the good side”.

    Someone posted this link somewhere above, and it is a good example what BoingBoing is saying about other companies …

    (I also get the feeling that you have a very narrow definition of CopyLeft, or miss out on the -SA part of CC licences etc.)

  444. @Hagbard (546) — the one about “What Satan is really saying is that as readers we have a right to expect that bloggers will do what we expect and will give us what we want. […]” (535). And maybe “Social networking and blogging 101″ is the wrong course, “Attention economy 101″ would be better.

  445. @#545, Hagbard: The hypocrisy lies in being opposed to censorship when others do it, and then censoring their own blog. Apparently, the “it’s not censorship when we do it” line isn’t working quite as well as anticipated.

  446. Sister Y,

    Thanks for the Brown’s list of human universals.

    I knew if I kept reading I’d find something of value to be learned.

  447. Has anyone stopped to think that the reasons that they removed their connections to the blogger in question, as well as their reasons for not disclosing those reasons, might be legal in nature? These days, when retards sue people at the drop of a hat, sometimes maybe it is better to just remove things and move on.

    Again, all this fuss…a YEAR LATER.

    Get over it people.

  448. Was this because Boingboing had been included as a ‘pornography site’ in blacklists because of links to VB’s site? you know in all those lame filters that libraries, schools, businesses & dictatorships use.

  449. s t ky f mntn tht fnd sm f ths cmmnts stndngly stpd? ‘v knwn hmstrs tht hd mr gl thn th Bngrs. Mny f y gys hv bn rdng thm fr yrs. Hv y rlly nt pckd p n tht fct bt thm, r d y jst lk httng ppl y knw wn’t ht bck?

    nd s fr ll ths “rwlln dtng” crp — chrst, d y tk tw scnds t thnk bfr y pst t? Y knw th Bngrs hv mjr cmmtmnt t trnsprncy nd pn cmmnctn. Tkng stnd n ths sss, nd wrtng nd pblshng wblg tht’s rn n ths prncpls, dsn’t mn th thrs f tht wblg r blgd t tll y bt vry lttl thng thy thnk nd d nd dcd.

    f y thnk t ds blg thm, nd tht th fct tht thy hvn’t tld y vrythng smhw trnsfrms thm nt schmng wsls, thn ‘m srry, bt y’r blckhd.

    Vlt Bl hs dmnstrbly ld mr thn nc bt ths mbrgl. Ds tht mttr? Whrs Mrk, Xn, Cry, nd Dvd r gttng trshd fr nt bng trnsprnt fst ngh. nd why dd thy hstt t rspnd t tht scrrls stry n Vllywg? Bzrrly ngh, bcs thy ddn’t wnt t trsh Vlt Bl. Thy cld hv. t wld hv bn sy. nd nlk th ppl wh r ttckng thm, th Bngrs wld hv bn tllng th trth.

    Bt thy ddn’t d t, bcs bsclly thy’r mch ncr ppl thn sh s. Thy’r ls fr lss dsprt bt fndng wys t ttrct n dnc. n tht scr, thr r strns f hmn vl th Bngrs wll nvr ndrstnd.

    nd yt, sm f y r pllryng thm.

    Prd f yrslvs?

  450. So of course, Boing Boing will no longer complain about missing ( un-published ) gov’t documents or newspaper stories that are here today and gone tomorrow, right?

    It is your blog and you are free to do what you will, I delete old junk that no one reads from my blogs.

    However, as a strong proponent of free information and speech I find it hypocritical.

    I get 30 folks a day looking for old PPC Assembly code on my personal blog. It’s a wee bit different when you are leader for freedom of information and have the readership that you do for you to erase stuff because of a personal disagreement that you refuse to discuss.

    Do what you will, but I’m disappointed. What harm would there have been in letting the old stuff gather dust as it rapidly does on the internet? Or updating the information to reflect your current views?

  451. It’s your website. You can do with it as you like, include or delete posts as you like. Even this one ;]

    It’s your website.


  452. Unpublishing is an inherently public act of repudiation, because what is published is by definition public. An explanation of the cause of the repudiation should be provided to Violet Blue as to what triggered the act.

    If her act was private, then a disclosure only to her is polite, by not revealing a private act to the general public. But to refuse to tell her why she triggered it is immature. (If she was informed, and is lying about not knowing the reason, it would be nice if BoingBoing would mention she’s publicly lying.)

    If her act was public, there’s little reason for not explaining the reason in public, because there’s no privacy to preserve. But it still would be immature to refuse to even privately tell Violet Blue what the triggering act was.

    So, it looks like what BoingBoing is trying to do is keep its reasons secret because it fears those reasons would be publicized by Violet Blue and seen as ridiculous by the public.

    BoingBoing has a perfect right to act as it is, of course. It’s not even hypocritical. It merely leaves us with the conclusion that, one way or another, BoingBoing is doing something it should be embarrassed about, and so is trying to keep it from being known.

  453. #553: “Violet Blue has demonstrably lied more than once about this imbroglio.”

    Demonstrably? Where?

    I hate it when three of my favorite blog peoples fight, I purely do. But you don’t get to say that and not back it up.

    Well, you do get to say it, but it’s tacky and it sucks and I expected better of you.

  454. Sanctimonious Condescension, in paragraph form! Bravo! Now if you could just edit that down to the facts in the second to last paragraph…

  455. (Looks at huge number of posts)
    I just got here…
    What’s all this then, eh?
    Fact is I’ve got nothing to add nothing to say about this.
    Moving on…

  456. #544 (timestocome) – do you really believe that’s even close to a valid analogy? Is there a social contract or a Freedom of Information act governing BB that I’m not aware of?

    As far as a charge of hypocrisy goes, is there a post in which the BB folks attacked a blog for unpublishing their own posts and then taking (*gasp*) nearly 24 hours to organize a response? Because otherwise, you’ve got an apples and oranges situation here.

  457. You know the Boingers have a major commitment to transparency and open communication. Taking a stand on those issues, and writing and publishing a weblog that’s run on those principles, doesn’t mean the authors of that weblog are obliged to tell you about every little thing they think and do and decide.

    Fair enough; I don’t speak for everyone else, but I certainly don’t think the Boingers are obliged to tell us about everything they think and do and decide. But I do think that, having committed to publishing a weblog run on certain principles, they are obliged to actually run the weblog on those principles, or be called out for it. And they’ve been called out for it, so everything works out, right?

    I’m curious about these demonstrable lies that Violet Blue has perpetrated. I must have missed something upthread–any chance you could demonstrate?

  458. Mountain out of a molehill! Seriously.
    Yes, BB did censor. They censored THEMSELVES. Which they have every right to do when they realize that some entity promoted on THEIR site no longer jives with THEIR mission. The only crazy thing that happened is that the BB editors changed their minds. No wait, that’s not crazy, that’s to be expected.

    What’s actually crazy is people’s expectations that BB OWED them something more than their brief explanation of why the posts were removed. They have a juicy burning desire to know the inside scoop. “OMG you have to tell me what she did that was so horrible!! For real, I need to hear it!!!” Not because being privy to this information would really help anyone make a more informed decision about how they currently fee about BB. But because they want to feel like they’re a part of the inner circle. They’ve obviously invested a lot of time reading and contributing comments to BB, and they feel as if they are owed access to the inner sanctum of BB collective decision-making. They want to feel like every time something is posted on BB, it’s posted JUST FOR YOU. News flash – No, sweetie. You are not owed anything. Deciding what content to promote and why is a privilege reserved for the editors of each individual blog. If you’re really missing out on that sense of belonging (seriously, you are, you are CRAVING the attention), start your own blog, or join a basketball team at the Y even. But don’t come down on people for not delivering what you were never entitled to in the first place.

  459. 547

    So BB dropping references to a site they no longer wish to refer traffic to is the same as Apple suppressing criticism of one of its products on a commercial website?

    I’m not sure what net transparency is, except as a general idea. It sound nice, but I think it’s like the court’s definition of obscenity. You know it when you see it. But what if others don’t see it the same way, and you don’t in fact sit on a court?

    Honestly I’ve never read through the CC license, so I don’t know what the SA part is. Tell me more.

  460. @Teresa
    Wow – for a moderator, you inject a great deal of volatility to the discussion. You can’t say that you’re actively trying to not trash Violet Blue and then explicitly call her a liar the very next paragraph. I mean you can, but that just makes you seem very disingenuous.

    I will not call Teresa incompetent. But obviously Teresa doesn’t know what she’s doing.

    See how comes off?

  461. Teresa, maybe you shouldn’t have signed up for a job where your basic job is to wade through blog comments huh? :(

    I agree lets get worked up over the worst parts of this thread and try to ignore any of the many many posts here that are reasonable and aren’t filled with craziness HRRUMPH HRRUMPH HRRUMPH

  462. In defense of the boingboing editors and staff, this is (as far as this longtime reader can recall) the first time that boingboing has had to deal with such an issue, insofar as the public audience is aware. It should by now be most obvious that boingboing has entered waters not yet charted by most, if any, blogs before, a unique occurrence whereby a personal blog of relatively humble origins has grown to a global phenomenon with popularity and page hits that rivals that of the larger, older, and more traditional news media sites. As such, there is no clear precedent for how the editors should handle their newly found spotlight as they straddle the boundaries of blogdom and unbiased journalism (as it appears some readers view boingboing’s current status). It is certainly unfortunate that the editors compromised the same beliefs they have espoused all of these years, but this seems more the unintentional result of a hastily made decision than anything else. The editors were presented with a situation not yet encountered, they made a mistake that they have made abundantly clear they regret, and have pledged to prevent such an action from happening again. Were boingboing to repeatedly go back on its own statements regarding free speech, such hostility would be far more justifiable, but as it stands this seems a case of cruel and unjustified attacks. So may we all just forgive the editors as they acknowledge their mistake, and allow them to move on from this?

    And, on another note, may I propose a possible fix (if it hasn’t already been done)? Couldn’t boingboing simply go back and insert text or a image marker of some kind that would state “boingboing no longer supports this person/work.” As such the editors’ personal opinions could remain ex post facto, while readers would still be able to read the posts and make up their own minds. Just my own thoughts, though.

  463. Har har. You asked for comments…!

    Add my voice to the disappointed. For me, the spirit of the Web is transparent and archival. BoingBoing is a blog of record, imo, and I think you should not be “unpublishing” (definitely an Orwellian term) previously published posts — especially without telling anyone.

    The notion that you “didn’t want to pay to host Violet Blue’s posts” is disengenous. You’re paying to host your own archives. And anyway, hasn’t the recent meme been that storage is now virtually free?

    History is too easily rewritten. I value BoingBoing for your fundamental integrity. I shouldn’t have to go to the Wayback Machine to see the “true” BoingBoing archives.

  464. @#537: Tubman. (Because he was the last one to talk about censorship)

    It’s not censorship because they were simply removing posts that could be considered approval for Violet Blue and her actions or beliefs. Posting about deleting the posts could have negatively affected her reputation as well as positively affecting her notoriety. If they didn’t want to do either their actions where the most logical course.

    Because of the support that is implied in a boing boing post and the real gains that people gain from posts, and the fact that boing boing is not simply reporting news as traditional media is “supposed to,” it’s not censorship. The best way to represent boing boing is not a newspaper or news show, but a bookstore/hobbyshop.

    If the bookstore owner doesn’t care for a particular books author, subject or view, it doesn’t have to sell the book. And while the bookstore owner might not care for the book/author/subject it doesn’t mean that he/she wants to criticize it openly by announcing the fact that they aren’t selling it. They don’t try to publicize the book positively or negatively. It doesn’t make sense to do either one.

    The bookstore metaphor doesn’t work entirely because you can’t expect a bookstore to approve of every book it sells because it is selling them and benefits by having a large variety of material. Boing Boing is “selling” the views and opinions of the editors. Which is a little different.

    On hypocrisy: The difference between this and boing boing calling out corporate or government censorship is that boing boing isn’t about reporting facts and news. It’s about opinions and views and stuff they think is wonderful. For their credibility they have to be accurate and factual, but they don’t have to report everything. If they claimed to to just report facts and that was their aim I think it would have been required for them to report that they no longer supported Violet Blue and the reasons why and then let their readers decide about it, but in this case it would still probably amount to little more than gossip.

  465. #548 tillwe

    Oh that. I was rather hoping you would say, “Hey, good point about putting words in other peoples’ mouths.”

    You references to books in the Borges Memorial Library are not causing me to have that, “I know exactly what he means!” moment. I’ve read Down and Out, so maybe you’re referring to whuffie in some way, but of course we still live in a world that has the other kind of economy.

  466. The substantive merits of what happened with Violet Blue and BB may be completely trivial and personal in nature, but the process by which the issue was handled is being applied in a manner that sets a precedent. Further down the line, some issue may come up that gives BB pause to “unpublish” another contributor’s work and mentions of said contributor. What happens then? Will these targeted surgical removals be done on an ad hoc basis or will there be a public announcement giving notice that it will happen, or does it just happen in the hopes that nobody makes waves for at least a year?
    It’s not about censorship because censorship is about government exercising force to quiet speech. Clearly, BB’s actions are private. What’s at stake is the credibility, reputation, and integrity of this blog to be able to successfully defend itself from criticisms of hypocrisy, underhanded actions, and a general unwillingness to accept a level of responsibility that many would presume a public blog like this would have espoused by merit of its success and public visibility.

  467. #549 tubman

    Like many others, I disagree with your definition of censorship. If you can’t prove to me that they committed censorship, then I can’t agree that they were hypocritical.

  468. I’d admit, I’d like a link or three for the “demonstrable lies” that have been mentioned. The implication of evidence should be supported by said evidence, and all that, and that’s a pretty strong accusation to be levied.

    For better or worse, Boing Boing’s on defense now because of the way this broke. Obviously, Boing Boing wouldn’t handle something like this the same way again, and there’s only so much they want to fuel the fire, but when you have strong statements like that, you reach the point of needing to explain them.

    Put another way: if Blue is demonstrably lying in all of this, then she should be held accountable for it. If the Boingers wanted to save face for her and handle this quietly, that’s commendable, but if she’s abusing that in some way it becomes foolhardy on their part.

    And if she’s not, then accusing her of it is pretty dirty pool. But honestly, I have a hard time believing the accusation would be made without evidence to back it up.

    So, other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

  469. @#567, PeaceLove:

    I think the term “blog of record” is equal parts absurd, hilarious, and contradictory.

  470. “Is it okay if I mention that I find some of these comments astoundingly stupid?” – Boing Boing moderator, to audience.


    “Whereas Mark, Xeni, Cory, and David are getting trashed for not being transparent fast enough.”

    I can’t believe I have to point this out, but the big issue here isn’t that they weren’t transparent *enough*, they weren’t transparent *at all* *in any way* *whatsoever.*

    This situation is going to be studied in college courses in a few years as an example of how not to handle PR in a high-traffic site.

  471. Wow. So many comments.

    I keep up with about a dozen blogs and until this moment I knew nothing about any of this. And I’m pretty sure I don’t care.

    I see most blogs, including Boing Boing, as one big editorial feature at best. If the statement the editors want to make includes quietly clipping out some articles, not engaging net-controversies, or posting unicorn pictures every day for a week, that is fine with me.

    Although five days is officially my maximum tolerance for unicorns.

  472. This whole fiasco makes me sad:

    1. Every future Boing Boing post about online transparency, government and corporate censorship, and the like will have to be bracketed by a disclaimer about this issue.

    2. The reputation and credibility of all of the Boing Boing writers are being damaged by what looks like the actions of one of them.

    3. The ad hominem attacks and assertations (“if you really knew what happened, but we won’t tell you, all of this wouldn’t look so bad”) in #553 aren’t doing the BoingBoing-ers any favors.

    4. Still not sure why Teresa and Xeni are alleging that Violet never wrote any BoingBoing material, when the Wayback link at #280 points to an article clearly written by Violet, if posted by Xeni.

    5. Also surprised that Teresa and others are so tonedeaf to the nuance of “unpublish” as a transitive verb vs. good ol’ “delete”. Material is “unpublished” if it has never been published; retroactively unpublishing is something I’d expect from the Bush administration.

    Honestly, I think the best way to move forward from this is to republish the material and just not look back at it. Any other decision will damage the credibility and the reputation of the Boing Boing brand.

  473. So I come in from painting the fence, clean the brushes, take a shower, eat a light dinner, go on-line, read the news, and drop in on boingboing for some…


    This shit’s none of my business; I’m outta here.

  474. “This has zero to do with candor, or with freedom of speech. It has a great deal to do with the Boingers not wanting to trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned.”

    I don’t think you understand that by saying “If you only knew what Violet Blue did, omg. But we don’t want to trash her so we’re not going to tell you!” you are *implicitly* trashing her, and doing one worse by inciting speculation. If you don’t want to trash her, you reduce the level of detail. “We had a difference of opinion” or “We regrettably aren’t able to work together at this point.”

    You guys really badly need to get some PR consultants.

  475. So, hypothetically speaking, if BoingBoing’s ISP decided to “unpublish” the site, would that be censorship? Or not?

    I’m curious where Cory and Xeni think the supposed line between unpublishing and censorship lies.

  476. The internet – Serious business! ;)

    I’m sure in a year we’ll all be reading Boing Boing with a skeptical eye because of stupid internet drama bullshit over Violet fucking Blue. Next article!

  477. Theresa said: “It has a great deal to do with the Boingers not wanting to trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned.”

    Can you point to such an occurance? Because all I’ve seen from her comments is befuddlement.

  478. @Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    With rhetoric like that … well lets just say that you would make a great politician.

  479. I suppose what I found weird is that I went out seriously looking for something from the Violet Blue camp and found nothing but confusion as to why this was done. In all honesty I don’t care either way, arguments are arguments, but at this point it sure would be nice to see an air of grievances between the two parties so it could be over and we could go back to things that we are more interested in.

  480. Wow. Just wow.

    Personally, after reading all of this, I’m going to have some ice cream and contemplate what happened during those three years before they found Earth.

  481. @#579 Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator

    I honestly believe you when you say the Boingers’ silence was motivated by a desire to save face for Ms. Blue. I also honestly believe that the situation’s escalation wasn’t due to malice on their part — this has all the earmarks of trying to do the right thing and rolling a natural one.

    Unfortunately, at this point their initial motivations aren’t the issue. The dam’s broken and the water’s not going to rush back behind it anytime soon. The question now is: how does this get resolved, as quickly and easily as possible?

    I think the best move now is a post from one of the Boingers, going through the decision and reasons for it, being as up front and candid as possible, alongside regret that things went the way they did, both in Boing Boing’s relationship with Ms. Blue, and in handling the disassociation.

    It’s a crappy thing, especially since I doubt anyone did anything wrong, but sometimes the only answer is an apology and an explanation, even if you’re pretty sure you didn’t do anything wrong in the first place.

  482. @Teresa:

    You’ve stated that Violet Blue has lied and trashed BoingBoing. I haven’t seen either thing in any other place I’ve looked.

  483. If you follow VB’s blog you will see that it’s a never ending stream of people, corporations, ex-friends who done her wrong. The whole world is against her. They are all dragged through the mud publicly and she definately censors comments to her blog. Ever wonder why there is not one negative comment on her nekked pix anywhere to be found? C’mon this is the internet. No matter how beautiful or sexy one is (and she’s far from either) there will always be a few derogatory ones. So don’t complain about boingboing. The fact that these mostly negative comments are more than 500 strong and growing is case in point.

    So add boingboing to the list of people Violet has fallen out with over the last few years. It’s not like she is the most lovable blogger in the world. Steve Jobs with his great business instincts knew to turn his back on her.

    It is normal to want to disassociate with anyone or anything one finds repulsive. The fact that they tried to do it discreetly has nothing to do with censorship or transparency and everything to do with manners.

    Sure +1 for transparency, -1 censorship. But this particular instance is not the forum nor the best example to stake one’s arguments to those issues on. Apples and oranges, let’s not get confused.

  484. You know, I’m a big fan of Boing Boing and have been for years. I’ve met Cory a couple of times (and recorded him for podcasting a couple of times) and he always matched my expectations of being a decent sort. I used to read the Boing Boing zine back in the day too.

    That being said, after reading the comments from Teresa Nielsen Hayden here today and, in general, over the last few months, I think that the best thing that Boing Boing could do for PR and the quality of the community here, is to let her go. She’s clearly burned out and/or pissed off with people and is generally kind of… well… not nice, which is not good if your job is the official moderator for a public blog that people make their living doing.

    I’d also suggest just coming clean about whatever it is that Violet Blue did that pissed people off here. She’s said, in response to my asking her about it, that she has no idea of what the issue actually is. This is her public statement. So, if she’s lying, then you should say what you told her. If she’s not lying, she seems like she wants to know. It might also save face to just be clear about it, whether it is trashing someone or not. With more than 588 comments here, as I post this, this tempest in a teapot clearly isn’t serving to improve anyone’s reputation as it is.

  485. Teresa, you’re basically saying:
    “I won’t tell you but trust me, it’s for the best.”

    And accepting that message is completely unnatural for most healthy skeptical Americans. We aren’t about blind trust. We’re more about making judgments on our own. So of course there will be backlash in the absence of information.

    The real issue here is the quality of PR used in the handling of this issue as well as preserving the integrity of the BB brand idendity. Goodwill for a trademark like this is incredibly fragile and easy to damage.

    Regardless of the merits of the BB v Blue conflict, the public image that BB puts forth needs to satisfy a level of acceptability. It’s something that BB has failed to address and that is the real reason the goodwill of the brand is in transition right now. It won’t take much to push it either way.

  486. I’m going to second what’s been said a few times over (though I’m late getting to the debate) and say this is all very Memory Hole-ish for a blog that is anti-censorship. If it’s an issue with the sponsors, something should be said so that the readers can make an educated decision about whether they want to continue to read blogs sponsored by pro-censorship ads. If it’s a personal issue with Violet Blue, I’d suggest she, herself, should be informed as to why, as interviews with her seem to suggest that she has no clue why it happened either.

    Anthony Burgess said it best: “You can destroy what’s been written, but you cannot unwrite it.” Saying its on the wayback machine seems to only go toward undermining the integrity of boingboing, who would lambaste any other site for doing the same thing, especially without the transparency of giving a reason why.

  487. #579: “who has no such compunctions where they are concerned.”

    You keep saying stuff like that.

    Are you seriously playing the “if you only knew what we know, you’d be on our side” card?

    The sort of goodwill it takes to get away with that is exactly the goodwill BoingBoing has been busily burning during this controversy. Last week, they had that kind of goodwill with me. Right now, it’s too dented to make that “trust us, we’re the good guys if you only knew” approach workable.

    If you’re not asking us to take private interactions on faith, then what? Is our Google-fu so weak that we just haven’t found whatever-the-heck you’re on about?

    Because, lately, publicly, Violet Blue has not trashed Boing Boing anywhere anybody can find. Making this hatefest for her seem very strange and inexplicable to outsiders.

  488. Such utter bullshit.

    “A number of comments got suppressed. The first ones were nasty, came in from buddies of VB’s, and were obviously trying to pick a fight. I told the assistant moderators to unpublish them.”

    I saw several non-nasty queries, jokes, and comments about VB get “unpublished”.

    You’ve got a bright future as a White House press secretary.

  489. Before I comment on this post and on some of the comments here I just want to preface my comments by saying that I usually love Boing Boing and appreciate it immensely. 99% of the time you guys are on spot and doing a great job.

    I should also probably mention that I am not an advocate for Violet Blue. I could barely recall who she is or any of her writing, and have no idea what issues there are between her and BB. And I’m certainly aware that VB may have not-pure motives in bringing the issue up. But however this came to light, it’s an important issue on it’s own merits.

    That said, the squeaky wheel gets oiled, so it’s the 1% of the time that you screw up that people are gonna write in about. And boy did you screw up. Deleting (“unpublishing”, whatever…) a slew of blog entries to disassociate yourself from someone you are having personal issues with and doing it secretly is just… bizarre. Especially for a real blog and not something you find on livejournal. And beyond that it comes across as just amazingly petty and immature.

    Integrally speaking, you really missed the mark. The proper thing to do was keep the entries and simply not post any new entries about or by Violet Blue. If whatever your issues were really were personal, than those issues had absolutely no bearing on the prior entries. If the issues were truly important enough that you felt being associated with her was somehow damaging to the BB mojo, then you should have placed an update note on each entry stating that you no longer associate with her and probably even why.

    This is just plain old common sense decent behavior folks. For any person or any blog. But in the case of Boing Boing it is especially egregious because Boing Boing is an advocate for internet transparency, anti-censorship, and journalistic integrity. Not only does this behavior make BB seem hypocritical, it damages the very causes that you advocate.

    And pragmatically speaking, obviously whatever your intentions were, it backfired big time. You have just called more attention to the thing you were trying to hide, and to the person you were trying to disassociate from than there ever would have been if you had just not taken any action at all. And ironically, by your petty behavior towards someone supposedly unworthy of your association, you have seriously called into question your own worthiness, and imperiled the desire of some to associate with you.

    The right thing to do now, obviously, is to apologize to your readers and “republish” the posts and leave it at that. If you really don’t want to feel like you are promoting VB, post an update to each post stating that you no longer associate with or promote this person and leave it at that. And even more obviously, promise to, and fulfill that promise to, not do anything like that again.

    On to the comments…

    @Xeni#5 “We didn’t want to pay to host them on our blog anymore.”

    Sorry but I call BS here. You can’t seriously expect anyone to believe there is any monetary issue involved. If anything, the content will bring you more ad revenue. And obviously the posts themselves were ok with you or they wouldn’t have gotten here in the first place. Clearly it’s the person involved and this is some form of punitive action. Again this comes across as petty and immature. If it’s truly personal, take it up with them personally. If it goes so far beyond the personal that you start thinking about revisionist unpublishing parts of your history, then it really deserves to be addressed in some form publicly.

    @Xeni#5 “When new information becomes clear, or someone’s behavior changes, sometimes a creator of work reconsiders what aspects of their personal creative work they’re proud of, and removes them from public view.”

    Some creators might, but this goes against the core of both Boing Boing’s stated and continually advocated for positions on net transparency, and it’s standard practice. In the past, any posts that needed to be corrected or turned out to be false or otherwise undesirable have not been secretly disappeared. They have been *updated* with the incorrect information *appended but not erased*. This clearly demonstrates a very strong advocacy against the very thing which you ended up doing.

    @ACB#18 “Boing Boing is a collaborative personal blog, not an institution with obligations of impartiality or public service.”

    Isn’t “collaborative personal” something of an oxymoron? While certainly Boing Boing hasn’t violated any *legal* obligations, they have violated the common decency imperative to not be hypocritical. While it does have entertainment aspects, it has also championed itself as an advocate for certain causes, and then acted against those causes. Impartiality is not an issue here, I’m not sure why you brought that up. Boing Boing in it’s long standing practice of advocacy journalism and it’s strong association with Cory who is a spokesperson for many of those causes makes it especially obligated to behave in accordance with those principles it advocates.

    @TARMLE#48 “The day I pay BB’s wages is the day I get to tell them what can and cannot be posted on or removed from this blog.”

    No one is (or could) telling BB what it can do. But it’s a public blog, not a private diary. Which means there’s a relationship between BB and it’s audience. And that audience has the right to tell BB what it thinks. Of course BB has the right not to listen. But then what’s the point of having a comment function? And in a sense, you do pay BB’s wages as does everyone in the audience by increasing it’s adware revenue.

    @CAROLINE#49 “But you can’t seriously argue that this is “censorship” or “against free speech.””

    It’s not external censorship of Boing Boing, which is a separate issue. And it’s not against the constitutional/legal right to free speech, also a separate issue. But it is censoring in the sense of damaging the integrity of the public record, and in the sense of preventing users from discussing the issue (previously). And it’s anti free speech not in the legal sense, but in the supposedly advocated for position of being for the free market of ideas, and open communication, and transparency of dialogue.

    @MICHAEL#51 “Why don’t you all take all that righteous outrage energy and do something with it that won’t make the world worse? ”

    Is that woosh? So… it’s wrong for other people to care about this blog and comment on it… but it’s ok for you to express outrage at other people’s comments on a blog and post your own comment on it…?

    @CERONOMUS#58 “What part of, “They have the right to do so” are people not getting?”

    This isn’t an issue of “rights”. A waiter has the right to dump a pile of salt on your food before serving it to you, that doesn’t mean he should do it. Or that the owner of the place can reasonably expect to stay in business if he lets the waiter keep doing it. Or that the customer doesn’t have the right to speak out against what the waiter is doing. What part of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” are you not getting?


    Great post!

    In any case, I will still read and enjoy Boing Boing and respect the effort that goes into producing it. But if BB wants anyone to take them seriously when they write advocacy pieces about internet transparency and journalistic integrity, they better start practicing what they preach. Put the posts back, apologize to your readers, and promise not to do it again. Then behave better next time!

    Still luv ya tho :-)

  490. I can’t figure out what’s more annoying, the Violet Blue crap or Teresa’s attitude towards commenters, but it’s neck and neck right now.

  491. Valleywag weighs in.

    Kind of makes me wish the BBers had just cleared the air somewhat up front. Those of us who are disappointed are not trolls; we’re your most passionate fans!

    First Obama supports FISA, then BB “unpublishes” a prominent blogger…sheesh, what a depressing week!

  492. No comments I made, no matter how tame and good-natured, got through if they contained ‘violet’ and ‘blue’. I had a funny ‘roses are red, violets are blue’ comment that got trashed, and a comment in the policy post asking for a FAQ about the VB fiasco which also got trashed.

    It seems like BB didn’t learn a thing from the Digg HD-DVD Hex key scandal, aside from “They didn’t censor enough. MOAR censorship is the answer!” which is hilarious, but also sad.

  493. Here are my conclusions, which I think I share with a number of people:

    * what you did feels out-of-character and hypocritical; it’s literally “not what expect” from BoingBoing, not in the guilt-trip sense of “I’m disappointed in you” but in the literal sense that I’m very surprised;

    * the same goes for the lack of explanation/transparency;

    * the partial explanations, the hints and unsupported statements like “demonstrably lied”, are incredibly frustrating; I hate mysteries with no explanations!

    But I want to add one more:

    * Theresa has lost her cool, and has posted in a rude, intemperate, ill-considered way. Obviously if you can’t be more calm or impartial than that you’re in a great deal of trouble when it comes to simply doing your job with any credibility. I expect more from moderators than that. It’s a tough job, I know. And you’re failing at it, very publicly.

  494. Tubman, Tillwe, Satan, Mullingitover, et al,

    You keep saying the same things over and over. We get your point. Do you have anything new to say? Reading your comments is like ringing Ferris Bueller’s doorbell on the day he plays hooky.

  495. While you’re at it, can you unpublish a few steampunk posts? Cause those are gonna be pretty embarrassing in a few years too. Just sayin.

  496. Theresa;

    I totally empathize with your defense of the Boingers. A lot of these comments are really over the line, deliberately playing in the sandbox of a controversy because they know that if they get disemvoweled or otherwise admonished, they’ll get their own little suppressed speech and a chance to compare someone to a Nazi or a Stalinist or something. (Classy, those of you who compared removing posts to intentional suppression of political enemies in order to oppress and genocide millions.)

    My only problem with how you’ve handled this, and maybe it’s because of your comments that went undirected, is that it seems like you’re upset with even those comments that presume the best of the Boingers, but just points out that what might have seemed like a good idea was/is a very very bad one. You ask us to take them on good faith, that they are really working for the causes they claim, well, you know what? You’re going to have to take us on the same faith. All these comments, the articles around the internet, these aren’t just sour grapes from people who are just jealous; they’re just disappointed that once, in one situation, a bad decision was made and seemingly exacerbated by a refusal to acknowledge that it was bad in the first place. Not saying that’s the case. But it’s a legitimate opinion and those espousing it are people who fight for many of the same interests as this blog promotes. Everyone needs to calm down and give each other the benefit of the doubt in this situation, but I think the Boingers really do need to be out in the open in addressing this.

  497. @Antinous

    Using a Ferris Bueller reference to bolster your point is like me responding to you by quoting Carrot Top.

  498. No matter what issues were raised by initially making this post, how can it possibly help anything to start calling Violet a liar and accusing her of trashing BB?
    I see no evidence of her doing either those things and to imply she is only makes it seem like you are insulting her, which you claim to be trying to avoid doing in the first place.
    So, you don’t want to trash her by revealing the reason behind this whole fiasco, but you’re perfectly willing to call her a liar in the comments?
    Shamefully unnecessary. Either get some proof or stop calling her names.
    It’s doubly offensive that these insults are coming from a moderator; they’re supposed to be above all that pettiness. I really hate to see something I like as much as BoingBoing being represented by someone so willing to resort to name-calling.

  499. Is it libel if you only strongly imply that someone has done something so horrible that you cannot even speak about it? Let’s find out!

  500. Teresa @553, yes, people are stupid. Especially when they’ve been kept ignorant. Don’t blame them for that.

    Many of us have very high standards for Boingboing. When Boingboing appears to turn against principles of transparency and accountability, we’re confused.

    Some people here are young. I tend to think they deserve extra slack. Some of us are old and fugheaded. Disemvowelling us is about all you can do.

    So far, this situation only requires a statement from a boinger that you meant well, but you were overzealous in disassociating yourself with Violet Blue. I would expect that what was once wonderful is still wonderful. To unwonderful her seems excessive.

    If the law requires you to disassociate yourself from her, you could at least say that much, couldn’t you? I suspect most of BB’s readers would be happy with something like, “We’re not going to link to Violet Blue anymore; we just don’t think she’s boingboingy. Sorry about deleting the old links to her site. We got carried away.”

  501. Reminds me of several weeks back during the Cory’s Book Tour Comment Wars when Cory lost his cool and after a while a lot of comments (including his) sort of went away.

    What an odd, immature and yet very fascinating group of people.

  502. “Tubman, Tillwe, Satan, Mullingitover, et al,

    You keep saying the same things over and over. We get your point. Do you have anything new to say? Reading your comments is like ringing Ferris Bueller’s doorbell on the day he plays hooky.”

    Antinous, you seem to be some kind of official moderator. Think about that before you go picking fights with your readers.

  503. @#616 Antinous

    …you mean you can’t?

    What a strange and wonderful world you inhabit. Oh, to have such joy in one’s life… sadly, only cognitive degeneration or an appropriate drill bit to the skull and tissues within can restore me to bliss….

  504. @602 That was very well said. I must say I appreciate it when someone takes the time to think out a response, and takes the time to do so without invective pr personal attacks.

    Well done.

  505. Very depressing situation. I really don’t care for whatever beef is between Violet and Boing Boing, but I do subscribe that the idea of never deleting content, and if so, it better be for a damn good transparent reason.

    Based on all statements, it sounds like Boing Boing didn’t like what Violet said or did at some point, so they’re deleting every mention of her. If this is the case, the action is flat out deplorable.

    I’ve also read of a second instance of Boing Boing deleting mentions of another blogger… almost immediately after he spoke negatively about Boing Boing.

    Between these two instances, what I’m walking away with is that if you say something critically of Boing Boing, one of its members, or maybe even an advertiser, Boing Boing may remove previous mentions of you.

    Or that Boing Boing may remove opinionated posts because it may embarass them in the future.

    Its really a bad precendent, especially from a blog that has set so many good precedents. I really hope Boing Boing acknowledges this bad decision, and helps continue to set a higher standard of blogs instead of contributing to their stereotype as catty, unethical forums.

  506. will@435: Greg @419, the point isn’t how long it takes to notice that the past has been revised. The point is that it’s been revised.

    Bullshit. The damage done to BV by deleting these posts over a year ago was small enough that you jokers didn’t notice it for a fricken year.

    At which point, all this bullshit about censorship and Stalin and Orwell and 1984 gets bandied about by a bunch of tn ht wrng, mlq-tst hrrngng, mealy-mouthed bunch of whaaaambulance drivers.

    I don’t uphold ideas of opposing censorship or opposing fascism or opposing stupid wars simply because some fucking piece of paper says they’re a bad idea, FOR FCKS SAKE, I oppose them because censorship leads to fascism leads to stupid wars leads to PEOPLE FCKNG DYING. I oppose them because THEY INFLICT A REAL FCKNG COST.

    Any mthr fckr who is bitching about “censorship” on BoingBoing, when that “censorship” took place over one fckng year ago, has completely missed the fckng point that THERE WAS NO REAL DAMAGE INFLICTED BY THAT ACT AND IT WASN”T CENSORSHIP.

    The only damage is your collective underpants in a knot over some legalistic worship of some vague thing called “censorship” that apparently has no real meaning, no real cost, inflicts no real damage, and is simply some dumb fckng vocabulary term that means whatever the fck you want it to mean.

    The next SSHL WHO BRINGS UP 1984 PROVES MY FCKNG POINT. This isn’t some totalitarian Big Brother rewriting history and sending your sorry asses to room 101. Any SSHL WHO BRINGS UP JOSEPH-FCK-M-STALIN PROVES MY FCKNG POINT. Millions of people fckng DIED in the purges, in the pogroms, in the prison cells of the secret police.

    And you mf’s have the NERVE to compare that kind of shit, THE DEATH OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, to someone deleting SOME BLOG POSTS???

    And when called on this absolute and unmitigated BULLSHIT, you have the GALL to argue legalisms? To argue that it’s NOT the damage inflicted, or even POTENTIAL DAMAGE INFLICTED, but that its some unholy WORSHIP of some WORD OR CONCEPT to the point that it loses all REAL MEANING?

    To go and argue that this is FCKNG EQUIVALENT TO JOSEPH FCKNG STALIN??????

    You argue as if REAL PEOPLE being FCKNG KILLED is SO IRRELEVANT to the point that you can compare DELETING A BLOG POST to A POGROM THAT KILLED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, and do it with a straight face. And when called on the bullshit, YOU INVOKE SOME LEGALISTIC LANGUAGE MANEUVAR TO JUSTIFY IT???


  507. Theresa,

    I have found your comments in this thread (and some others, TBH) to be dismissive, demeaning, and hardly in the spirit suggested by saying, “We’re listening.” You may be, but it seems you’re having some difficulty *hearing*.

    Being called unintelligent, a blockhead, pretentious, etc etc is not something that inspires an audience to careful consideration of their words and opinions, and polite, reasoned discourse.

    Please take some time AFK. I’m sure this has been a rough ride. Please don’t make it tougher by letting your reactions fuel the flames.

    One man’s opinion.

  508. @Teresa (#553)

    “Is it okay if I mention that I find some of these comments astoundingly stupid?”

    “And as for all this “Orwellian editing” crap — christ, do you take two seconds to think before you post it?”

    “… then I’m sorry, but you’re a blockhead.”

    Not good form insulting many of the loyal fans who have tried to articulate their concerns and confusion. Do you really have to be so mean and condescending?

    The post ended with “And if you think there’s more to say, by all means, let’s talk. We’re listening.” not we are going to belittle you for expressing your opinion on this strange situation.

    I love BoingBoing, I don’t like this dismissive tone. If you didn’t want comments regarding this issue, shouldn’t have asked for them. If you mean “We’re listening” then listen and don’t insult.

    Also, you keep alluding to the bad ways VB has behaved and how BB is above that hence keeping mum. But that stance, backhanded VB trashing, and condescension towards readers is turning a fire into an inferno. Boo!

  509. “In attempting to defuse drama, we inadvertently ignited more.”

    Wow. Understatement of the year. I never heard of Violet Blue until this, but after reading all this I was compelled to Google her… If anything, it’s giving her more publicity. Maybe this is some reverse, or anti-advertising? I’m confused.

    Although I do agree with the decision (and right) to delete whatever you want to, I can’t say I wholeheartedly agree with how this is being/has been dealt with. I do feel like I’m left in the dark, and I’m rather disappointed. It’s like saying “Something bad happened, and we’re not going to tell you what it is, but it’s being resolved. The bad lady is gone.”

    I almost want to say that I feel this is a half-hearted attempt to quell the curiosity of those who already knew about the incident(s?), while igniting the interest of those who didn’t know (and probably wouldn’t have really cared) in the first place.

    I do love reading BB and BBG, and this “thing” isn’t going to make me stop reading… Again, I do agree with the right to remove/add/edit whatever you all want to. This is your house, and we have to obey the rules, but I think we’d all like to know what rule was broken – I’d like to stay in good favor of the my gracious internet overlords – and will other “violators” be dealt with similarly? Was a warning given? If someone does/has done something you don’t like, are they erased from the tomes of Boing Boing forever?

    I thought Boing Boing was a celebration of wonderful things. This resulting chaos is not a wonderful thing! “Secrets don’t make friends!”

  510. #615 mullingitover

    What an odd thing to say. A whole day spent heckling BB, and then you accuse them of picking fights.

    This whole thing is a minefield. Literally any response from anyone at BB is an opening for an attack. What they get attacked with depends on what they expose.

    It’s all pitchforks and torches, isn’t it? These people are guilty of having bootmarks on their faces! Let’s get ’em!

  511. Having just spent an hour poking around to get ‘the background’ on this story it’s pretty easy to develop a narrative as to why Violet got clipped when she did: Congdon; No Name Jane; The fifth Boinger theory – Take your pick, they’re all entertaining and equally irrelevant.

    But does anyone really think it took Violet a year to notice she’d been ‘unpublished?’ The real story here isn’t why BB did what they did but why the story is breaking now. The whole thing has the stench of orchestration and a quick look at Google Trends suggests BB’s ‘response’ made Violet a hot topic today. Mutual parasitism at its best. Perhaps Mr. Sarno can clarify the sudden interest?

    My tinfoil hat says that Violet needed some publicity and this was a great way to spike some quick hits. This sort of behavior might have something to do with why she was redacted in the first place. Who knows? Who cares?

    As to the discussion of censorship, BB has always been wholeheartedly nepotistic and what the editors give they can also take away. Coop and the Reverse Cowgirl are a couple of notable beneficiaries of BB editorial policy. Violet is apparently one of the casualties.

    The Fab Five (yes, Joel, we love you too) are opinionated, capricious, self-obsessed and fully entitled to do whatever they damn well please with anybody’s posts. The day they stop having opinions is the day I shuffle over to the Huffington Post before taking a header off a viaduct.

    Those who take issue with this can just keep on trucking over to a genuinely neutral POV website.

    Please tell us when you find it.

  512. You are e-waterboarding all your fans, Boing Boing. You should be put on trial for your heinous blog crimes.



      Do I have to purchase two other colors at the same or higher price to get that offer?

  513. @David Markland

    Who was this other blogger? because I’ve been looking around and can’t find a thing…and that would totally throw this into a whole new light/brave new world.


    Ferris Bueller is ALWAYS relevant. Also Ferris Bueller>Carrot Top. Remember kids what really matters is what you like, not what you are like.

  514. Aren’t egos amazing things? This has been handled very poorly. I would like, however, to quash this stupid meme: “It’s my blog and I get to do whatever I want on it.” Nope, life doesn’t work like that, never has. The reasons why should be pretty obvious.

    The blogosphere is incestuous and narcissistic to a fault. God I hope this is the beginning of the end of that crap.

  515. @ Teresa: Violet Blue has demonstrably lied more than once about this imbroglio.

    Really? Then demonstrate it. Please. It’s the Bushites that say stuff like “we can demonstrate it, but the evidence is secret and I can’t tell you”. If you have something solid to claim, then claim it.

    If we are getting things wrong because we don’t have all the facts, then give us the facts. If you want to keep them secret, then we’ll have to operate without them. You can’t hang on to your cake while you’re eating it.

    I had no idea how long it was going to take the Boingers to arrive at a decision. It never occurred to me that they would dither so long over not wanting to go negative on Violet Blue.

    What are you talking about? According to Xeni and Joel, the Boingers reached a decision over a year ago.

    I never understood why BB posted so much about her. I don’t know why BB no longer posts about her. But BB has (according to Xeni and others) spent the last year falsely pretending they never did post about her.

    If BB rewrites it’s history to pretend they never published something they did publish, I’m not going to be able to trust BB to not rewrite its other publications.

    Sure, it’ll probably be a while before it drives me to the point of not visiting anymore, and sure, no one at BB is going to give a damn if it does drive me away. So I guess BB should go ahead and rewrite all previous its publications to whatever beliefs that it happens to have at the moment.