Lessons Learned.

A few weeks ago, several blogs reported that I had removed a number of my own posts from public view. I took those posts down more than a year ago for personal reasons that weren’t (and still aren't) appropriate to discuss in public.

I didn't announce that I had taken the posts down when it happened because I didn't think I needed to. When the news came out, though, it became clear that a lot of people disagreed with my decision.

Some of our community here at Boing Boing, and elsewhere around the web, viewed the post takedown as a violation of an unwritten rule of blog etiquette. Many more were frustrated with us for taking so long to respond, and being vague when we finally did. You, our readers, were angry because we weren't communicating with you.

We're sorry we didn't communicate more quickly and clearly. We delayed posting in part because I (and we) were trying to avoid something I feared would become a petty, personal online fight that would violate the privacy of parties involved.

When it became clear this strategy wasn't fair to our community, we were in a poor position to respond: a few of the Boingers were on vacation in remote places with their families, making coordinated communication and action difficult.

Finally, when we did post a response that drew heated comments, we didn't have a way to coordinate with our moderators and join the conversation in a consistent way. We screwed up. And we're sorry.

I'm certainly not going to say I'm glad this whole thing happened, but we did learn a lot. The whole kerfuffle made us realize that the way we work together needs to evolve as we grow. Boing Boing is still the shared personal blog of multiple editors who work together asynchronously with almost no formal editorial process. That's the way Boing Boing began and I hope it doesn't change too much. Each of us has our own opinions and we may not agree with each other. We don't coordinate what we post, and until now, we didn't have a process or protocol for taking posts down.

In fact, it's not unusual for us to take down posts. For example, I might accidentally post something that Pesco hit on a week (or a year), before. So I nuke my post. Or Mark might make a quick post on some big topic, not knowing that Cory is working on a longer, more-informed piece. Very rarely, we also take posts down for personal reasons. It's an incredibly infrequent occurrence, but sometimes one of us feels strongly that it's the right thing to do.

We've learned, though, how much those decisions can impact each other and our readers. So in the extraordinary event that one of us feels compelled in the future to take down any of our past work for non-usual reasons, we've agreed that we'll talk to each other before acting. That way, we can weigh the decision very carefully as a group and consider all of the possible consequences. In the end though, the decision will be up to the person who made the posts. After all, it's his or her work.

But we also do believe that transparency is a desirable goal. So we're exploring a few ideas for providing information to our community when we take down posts for reasons above and beyond the norm (dupes, etc.). If you have thoughts on that, we'd love to hear them.

Thanks for your continued support. Now, let the happy mutation continue....

577

  1. I still don’t understand why you have to explain yourself. It’s your site. It’s your call.

    To whom are you beholden? The Internet cranks?

  2. I came here to say just what #2 said so eloquently. Hopefully though, this long drawn-out apology will appease those of you that find the greatest pleasure in coming to Boing Boing to bitch and moan about nonsense. Pick your battles people. Pick your battles…

  3. It’s your site, your blog, do what you want. I don’t see why other people think you have to live by their arbitrary rules.

  4. I’m another one who agrees with #2, MHains. *shrug* Except if you put up and then take down an excellent recipe.

  5. As far as I was concerned, the issue was tango uniform from the get go – it’s your blog, do as you wish. Nicely said, tho. No more needs to be.

  6. While I have a prurient interest in any gossip about what the fall-out with the Other Party was all about, you are in no way beholden to the public to keep your posts up in perpetuity. There’s no social contract promising all blogs to be immutable and inviolate. Disgruntled readers and commenters who believe such a promise has been made and violated can go read something else, or get used to disappointment.

    The fire BB had come under can only be seen as a measure of its success; a non-issue blown completely out of proportion because you’re popular. Most bloggers can delete their old posts all day long and nobody — NOBODY — cares. That makes them cranky and jealous, I suppose.

  7. Wow, I just can’t believe that people need to create a tempest in a tea-pot over something as innocuous as unpublishing (i.e. not deleting) some archived posts you felt were not longer appropriate for personal reasons on your own website.

    I set older posts on my own livejournal to ‘friends only’ or even ‘private’ because they are valid for myself, but not necessarily something I want shared any longer. Of course, there is a huge leap between my tiny corner of LJ and bb.net, but the hardercore-than-though internet crowd ought to cut the BB editors some slack.

    I would hate to see BB become a website known for arbitrary censorship and post facto retractions on a regular basis, but I’m going to trust Xeni’s judgment and continue to not notice such unproblematic actions. Further, I recommend the rest of the internet learn to take it easy and pick your battles much more wisely – it would save the BB front page from having two long, overly dramatic, navel gazing posts appear on the frontpage in rapid succession (ie. violetblue) about something 99% of us have no knowledge of.

  8. Removed posts?

    Took down posts?

    If nothing else, at least you’ve dropped the Orwellian ‘unpublished’.

  9. I still don’t understand why you have to explain yourself. It’s your site. It’s your call.

    To whom are you beholden? The Internet cranks?

    I know people (ok, a person) who feels poorly about your “unpublishing” of late, but I don’t understand his point of view.

    Keep up the work; I judge it good. :)

  10. Apparently there’s a fairly large contingent of readers who feel its their given right to be informed of every thing that goes on behind the scenes, as evidenced by the train wreck of the original thread. I don’t get it either.

    And lets not start up again with the “zomgz, “unpublished is ORWELLIAN!” stuff again, because its very very silly and inaccurate.

  11. TimW @11, the word is still “unpublished” if you use Movable Type.

    As I was just observing the other day, any word can be made to sound Orwellian. Orwell generated horror using plain standard English.

  12. This once again proves that the best way to draw attention to something is to try to hide it.

  13. On the one hand, I roll my eyes at the notion that this had any noticeable harmful effect on either the Internet or the world.

    On the other, people do link in to BB, and the phenomenon of link rot is an irritating one. I can see why someone who’d linked in would be taken aback.

    To a certain extent, I’d like to point out that link rot exists even at sites other than BoingBoing, and that if someone thinks a particular page should have more than momentary relevance they should take care of their own backups instead of expecting you to be an immutable resource for ever and ever amen.

    But — if you choose to do so — then deletions at a later date might better be implemented as redirect pages to a post noting and explaining the deletion. Then nobody has those nasty 404s that threaten our civilization so direly, and you’ve been all open about your editorial decisions (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean in your context) and everybody will hopefully be less unhappy about the situation.

    But I’m still rolling my eyes at the amount of furor this caused. It cost me a perfectly good three days, too. I’m an idiot.

  14. Thanks for the support, all. We’re not thinking we have to live by anyone else’s rules, but we want to make sure we do what we feel is the right thing. And what our community says really does matter to us, even if it’s critical. Although, of course, positive reinforcement is always appreciated! Thanks again. : )

  15. @timw, I think its’ fair to say that we should have explained what we meant by “unpublish” in the initial post when we first posted it, but that term has been explained many, many times since. It’s not an “Orwellian” neologism, it’s the name of a button in movable type that allows you to remove a post from public view, or take it down, *without* deleting it. So if you want to republish, if you evaluate things and change your mind, you can later on. In this case, the original decision stands.

  16. @Michael, maybe clever 404 pages (or informative ones!) would be helpful. Someone in the other thread posted some hilarious collections of good 404 page designs.

  17. I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
    A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
    When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
    No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same

    CHORUS
    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

    People came from miles around, everyone was there
    Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
    ‘n’ over in the corner, much to my surprise
    Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise

    CHORUS

    lott-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

    Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came
    No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same
    I said hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me
    When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave

    CHORUS

    lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
    lot-in-dah-dah-dah

    Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
    Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should
    If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
    But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

    CHORUS

    lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)
    lot-in-dah-dah-dah

    ‘n’ it’s all right now, learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself

  18. Another vote with #2.

    It’s your writing and your private life. What you share is cool, and if at any point you stop wanting to share, frankly, I think it’s your right.

    Social conventions around this stuff are still evolving, but frankly I hope they move in a direction that has more respect for people’s privacy than we saw through this whole episode.

  19. @Michael (#18), Your idea is one we’ve talked about. Thanks for posting that. I agree that 404s suck. When I dig deep into the BB archives, I notice that a lot of our older “Links” go to 404s and that’s a drag, especially when I want to add “Previously on BB” refs to new posts.

  20. you know, i still don’t agree with how this is handled – but i think there’s a bigger lesson here to be learned: it’s really easy to perceive that this was some sort of orchestrated smear, or cabal-esque decision, because there was a perfect vacuum for those theories to expand and thrive.

    i can’t say i believe any one party in all of this, or hold any in any higher or lower regard – but i think the personal experience that you’ve all had to go through in how this sort of negative opinion could flourish is an object lesson that should be remembered the next time you (being all of boingboing) decided to take any entity to task for withholding or omitting information… because really, the reasons could spring forth from a similar place.

    however, as much i feel that you should take your lumps (which you guys have), the stickers i’ve been seeing slapped onto various newspaper boxes in SF with “Unpublished” in the boing boing font are just damned funny, in that “come on, this is getting silly” kind of way. i’d post a link to a snapshot, but it’s my understanding hyperlinks are frowned upon in comments.

  21. Takuan, we can always count on you for meaningful musical interludes. Thanks, bub. :)

  22. Robotech @12, fine; that’s a decent link.

    In general, we’re hoping readers will be parsimonious with links in this thread.

  23. (Excuse me while I don my patented Evil Villain top hat with built-in monocle. There.)

    In my own much smaller adventures in blogging, I discovered something valuable. I made a few unintentionally inflammatory posts and drove some people away. It turns out that their absence wasn’t really a loss. The internet cranks do add something to the conversation, but they take away something, too.

    This whole affair has driven away some people who you can easily afford to lose. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. In the process, you’ve learned something and brought the rest of the community just a little bit closer together. All in all, it’s probably a win.

  24. @#25 sushispook, the experience has given me a greater fascination for larger incidents of conspiracy theory. I am now even more confident that well-trained attack gerbils did not bring down the twin towers with republican laser beams.

    I would also like to point out that contrary to reports on some MySpace pages, there were ZERO Mossad agents in the building when these Boing Boig posts were unpublished.

  25. @#28 Ken Snider is the best sysadmin in the world, and quite possibly one of the best humans in the world, too.

  26. @Sushipook, you should post hyperlinks to those pictures. I am anxiously awaiting the day that I can joke about “unpublishing” without it being too flippant. But in the meantime, I’m glad someone else is doing it!

  27. SUSHISPOOK (@#25), Thanks for not posting links in the thread. However, I would like to see the stickers you mentioned! Very funny idea. Can you please email me the snapshot directly?

  28. Who cares if you guys take stuff down? It’s your blog, your material, your business what happens to it.

    Besides, who goes digging through archives in the blog business anyway? All blog readers want is new material. Sad but true.

  29. While Boing Boing’s credibility may have been shaken, I can’t really see this is a big deal. Maybe to some the ideals you’ve shared over the years now seem less sturdy, I’m not sure that’s the only reason people come here anyway. Despite all this deleted post nonsense, Boing Boing is still a site I visit everyday. And everyday I find something entertaining, interesting, outrageous, hilarious, etc. No, you’re deleting of posts is not going to stop me from reading.

  30. Just keep up the good work, folks.

    As for suggestions: Instead of unpublishing unfortunate posts, maybe just disemvowel them?

    (Apologies if this was already suggested in the gargantuan TVBT post.)

  31. Maybe you could redirect to a very unique 404 page featuring kittens and duckies?

    Rock on Xeni.

  32. I agree with the “your blog” and “eyerolling” comments. This whole thing was overinflated in the first place.

    I’m glad it’s over.

  33. Well said #2. I just shook my head reading the “irate” complaints about it. It felt like they were trying to create drama where none existed.

  34. I think this comes down to the difference between Art and Journalism. If this is Art, and it has been stated that it is, then the Artist has full control both creatively and otherwise. If it’s Journalism then it must be evaluated with those standards, and unpublishing may or may not be the right thing to do. I think part of the problem here is that people are in conflict over the definitions of what this is. So I support the right of an Artist to do whatever they please with their own Art.

  35. Just keep in mind when you guys eventually control our entire government, someone might be able to credibly accuse you of censorship.

    You might wanna amend the Constitution beforehand. Unless someone is already taking care of that!

  36. Oh, and I meant to say: I deeply admire the way you all have dealt with it. Especially you, Xeni. Some of those people were so nasty about it that I would have just dropped a note to TNH asking her to ban their IP address from ever commenting again, but you answered them forthrightly, even when they were just piling on, rather than making legitimate criticisms.

    I don’t think I could have done that.

  37. There appears to be a state of surprise when a website goes from obscurity to widespread readership and its owners are now held to a standard of practice that the original bloggers never really imagined themselves to have signed up for. To the bloggers, it’s still “their” site – and while techincally true in the property rights aspect of who owns the website, there is an overlooked effect that comes with reaching a level of success in both readership number and duration.

    It’s called the brand identity – and here, BB has developed its own brand identity and a level of public goodwill associated with it. This goodwill is expressed in the level of expectations that the public builds upon that brand. This level of expectation can act as stifling shackles to some. For example, if a personality such as Barack Obama were to start acting in porn movies, the public outcry would be huge. Yet, that would be well within his constitutional rights and within his personal prerogative to do so. So the conflict is not a legal one but one of responsibility toward a public good which the public has grown to expect.

    So yeah, BB still owns its own sandbox and may do as it wishes. It hasn’t broken any rules. It isn’t the issue to question the legal rights of unpublishing an article. Rather, the reaction is a measure of the public disappointment upon discovering a set of events that falls short of the set of quality standards expected from BB.

    The second part of what made this event more damaging is the way the aftermath was handled. Questions naturally arose but the response to this was to go on the attack. Moderators and BB contributors were liberal in the ad hominems toward those who wanted to understand the issue more fully. The issue could have been put to bed with much less noise had there been a better and swifter clarification of what happened.

    While we will likely never find out why any of this even happened, I think the exercise is a good lesson in appreciating that a brand can have an identity independent of the personalities that created it and that it remains as fragile as ever no matter how much hard work goes into building it up and it doesn’t take much to cause or permit damage to come to it.

  38. Wait. What?

    Some intertube grognards complained because you took down a post?

    Who gives a flying–

    It’s your site, do what you want with it.

  39. You do what you want. The sane ones among us won’t mind a bit. If anything, you should unpublish a few more entries, just to see how high you can raise the incontinence level of the audience.

  40. Ken who?
    I love the term NUKE.
    Ken means mountain in Chinese. To be firm and consistent is important, and I find BB to encapsulate both. I’m not Chinese, I’m a guy at a computer not knowing what’s for lunch. Maybe I’ll feast my eyes on Xeni for dessert.
    I know this website is run by androids.
    Peace.

  41. Maybe a “removed due to X” post replacing the original? If the post is removed due to more thorough coverage elsewhere, a link to that coverage would work.

    If it’s a retraction, just say that, maybe with a brief reason why.

    If it’s a “OMG, I was drunk when I wrote that!” reason, that would work too :)

  42. #2 got it right imo!

    Being relaxed about it all is important, and all writers/bloggers/artists need a healthy amount of relaxed space to help with the creative process. Don’t let us stress you guys out! You do good work, and on the off-chance you screw something up, I figure you’ve earned plenty of breathing room in the first place. Much <3

    =)

  43. I’m sure there are circumstances that would…necessitate the pulling of a post. (I won’t waste anyone’s time with my guesses.) But wouldn’t most circumstances get by with just an update, maybe just a cursory one, to the post? I mostly agree with the ownership argument that most commenters have offered here (“Hey, it’s your site! Do what you feel!”), but I couldn’t help feeling a little shortchanged when I heard about this. BB has made its (much deserved) rep with an almost slavish commitment to openness and community, so it shouldn’t expect to be judged by the same, ever-weakening standard to which other sites (and other media outlets) pay slippery lip service.

  44. I don’t even know what flap you’re talking about. I vaguely remember some post about a deleted a few weeks (or months?) ago, shrugged, ignored it, and read on to more interesting topics.

    Some people don’t seem to have enough to worry about. Carry on, Xeni, et al.

  45. Thanks Xeni. Well Said.

    To those who say “I still don’t understand why you have to explain yourself. It’s your site.”

    If they just thumbed their noses at us rather than try to explain their actions I doubt this blog would have many readers. It is exactly this kind of openness that keeps people coming back.

    I guess this is where I get attacked form both sides…

    “But they weren’t very open when they deleted the posts in the first place!”

    And

    “This is their blog and they can do as they please. If you don’t like it go somewhere else.”

    Yawn.

  46. I agree with TheUnusualSuspect (#44).

    Imagine what it would be like to stumble upon the disemvoweled posts having no knowledge of the practice.

  47. Just keep in mind when you guys eventually control our entire government, someone might be able to credibly accuse you of censorship.

    This isn’t ‘Nam Smokey! There are RULES!

    Seriously though, this isn’t government, it’s an ONLINE JOURNAL. The contributors are not beholden to the readers at all. Their ball, their game. Don’t like it? Go find another one.

  48. 2,4,6-

    Why?

    Because civility in the face of incivility is, in fact, one of the defining characteristics of civility. Because “the internet cranks” and those who “find the greatest pleasure in coming to Boing Boing to bitch and moan about nonsense” were just the extreme edge of a deeper and more thoughtful concern about the nature of private media outlets, public blogs, and their evolution in the public square.

    Finally: because it’s obvious that Xeni et al are concerned about BoingBoing and are at the forefront of the aforementioned evolution and merging of private and public spaces. It’s all well and good to ask “Why should they care what these idiots think?” but it’s obvious that they do care and that they want to manage BB in a way that is consistent with their values.

    Make no mistake, ultimately I agree with you. BB is a private enterprise, and they can do what they wish with it.

    BB isn’t beholden to anyone except its ownership, but I think it’s the transparency of the process and concern enough to discuss that process which differentiates this particular private enterprise from many others, even if I disagree with the decisions made.

  49. Still not a peep from the usual suspects on these subjects… so I’m sure I’m not alone in waiting to hear what Mark and Cory have to say.

  50. Unusual Suspect @44, it’s a lot harder to restore a disemvowelled comment than an unpublished one. On the other hand, there’s a certain amusement value in figuring out what it says.

  51. I get annoyed if my own thoughts get edited here, but nowhere is the phrase “It’s their blog, they can do what they want.” more appropriate than here.

    If Xeni has personal issues for removing entries that fell of the front page eons ago, then it shouldn’t matter to us.

  52. Holybuzz @60:

    wouldn’t most circumstances get by with just an update, maybe just a cursory one, to the post?

    Absolutely. That’s why it’s what usually happens.

    Also, as long as Boing Boing is indexed by the Wayback Machine, there’s a limit on how secret any change can be. The same goes for every other website they index. I keep thinking that someday someone’s going to figure out how to generate diffs on the data at Wayback, and all the web’s second thoughts will be laid bare.

  53. Someone back there wrote:

    “And lets not start up again with the “zomgz, “unpublished is ORWELLIAN!” stuff again, because its very very silly and inaccurate.”

    It is completely accurate. It was and is Orwellian. Just look at one of the posts Xeni unpublished – a 2005 post with images taken after the London subway bombing. In that post, Violet Blue is mentioned once because she pointed to another blog that carried images of the London bombing.

    Removing an item like that because it tangentially mentions someone that Xeni has a personal dispute with is entirely Orwellian.

    Fine, it’s their blog, they can remove posts about the London subway bombing or a post about cutting edge anti-HIV ads that ran in France or whatever because they have personal disputes with people tangentially mentioned in the post. Just don’t expect to have any credibility left when you pull that kind of nonsense.

    You know right about now, I bet everyone in the Bush administration hates Scott McLellan with a passion. And yet they haven’t gone through and scrubbed transcripts of press briefings he held because they no longer want to associate with him, and if they did we’d be outraged at that attempt to rewrite the WH history over that sort of dispute.

    And apparently BB still doesn’t get that basic understanding of what happened here.

  54. I suppose it’s too much to ask that you edit this post slightly and date it back a couple of weeks, and then pretend that it was your first comment on the matter? No? Okay, it’s your blog.

  55. Teresa @ 73:

    This has already happened to the Obama campaign, more or less. Part of a 21st century “flip-flop” attack. The McCain campaign contracted with a service, but the principle is much the same.

  56. @67: Xeni speaks for me — and I’m off for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. AFAIC, if one of my co-eds wants to delete some posts they made, it’s jake with me.

  57. #52 and #65 have it right.

    It’s not about BoingBoing not having every right to do what they want to with their blog. They do. It’s their sandbox, and the people crying “censorship! censorship!” were dead wrong.

    But as Sam Neill’s character points out in Jurassic Park, what you can do and what you should do are not always going to be the same thing. People trust BoingBoing to be open, forthright, and transparent—if only because of all the times it criticizes other sites that are not open, forthright, and transparent. For BoingBoing to suddenly seem to be saying “Don’t do as I do, do as I say” can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, and those people react harshly because you’ve just damaged a bit of their self-image.

    For all of that, it would have been a tempest in a tea cup if subsequent mistakes hadn’t compounded the matter.

  58. I can’t believe that people have and still are getting angry or in any way emotional over this (including the latest sad diatribe from #74). It’s your blog, do whatever you want. The next time you post a picture of a carrot shaped like a potato, I won’t question its reliability due to deleted posts in the past.

  59. Well, if this is orwellian, I guess I’ve participated in Orwellian actions as well, as a person who has deleted things I’ve posted on the internet. And every other single person who has ever deleted anything they put on the internet, ever, has also participated in Orwellian actions.

    Oh noes!

  60. BDewhirst @67, I last spotted Cory putting up an entry about a contest where the prize is an Asus Eeee decorated by Donato Giancola. I expect he’ll turn up in good time.

  61. Folks seem to be confusing journalism with hosting space. And from that arises a second confusion of content ownership. BB “owns” their content. They can etch it into platinum plates thence to be eternity vault stored. Or they can treat their words like sand art to be intentionally dispersed at ritual’s end. THEIR words THEIR fiat! OUR=guests comments exist here at the hosts discretion for the same rulesets. to my take-correct me if wrong- for example- THIS post is my copyright on reproducing IT elswhere but this “instance” of it is merely “hosted” by BB.Am I correct in that ? DO please comment!

  62. I agree wholeheartedly with Lucifer (#52). It seems to me that most of the confusion and / or outrage stems from the fact that this blog doesn’t resemble the blogs that most people are used to – that is, the line between traditional news media and blogs is becoming very blurred indeed. BoingBoing looks and feels like a whole lot more than just your friends’ LiveJournals, and so, rightly or wrongly, the expectation of how you/it behave in an editorial sense is much different.

    Also, for the casual reader, there is no practical difference between “unpublished” and deleted or otherwise disappeared.

    Forgive me if I’m rehashing old arguments, but you *did* ask. ;)

  63. I’m satisfied with the conclusion of this and eager for the whole spectacle to fade into the past.

    Toward that end:

    @74 Brian Carnell – You can lid that. It’s over.

  64. “I would also like to point out that contrary to reports on some MySpace pages, there were ZERO Mossad agents in the building when these Boing Boing posts were unpublished.”

    Are you sure? I hear those guys can be pretty sneaky…

  65. @84 no one is saying it is censorship in the legal sense of that term. It is, however, completely contradictory to their state values and also extraordinarily petty given the posts that were taken down simply because the string “Violet Blue” appeared therein.

  66. Boy Howdy I agreed with everyone until I got to #74. I agreed with him even more. Instead of deleting the whole post, which was very good, why not just snippet out a name?

  67. Brian Carnell @74, I have no idea how you arrived at that reading; but if you want to go on in that fashion, the pertinent thread is still open, and it’s still linked from the “Don’t Miss” list.

    Besides, the stalwarts there are still hoping it’ll break 2000. It’s up to 1775 comments as of this moment.

  68. I love BB. You guys do a great job.

    I applaud you, Xeni, for finally confronting this issue heads-on.

    The reason that I think this turned from a non-issue, to a kerfluffle, to an imbroglio, is not the act of removing posts (or unpublishing), but the stated reasons for doing so.

    If you’re going to go as far as to say something has become un-wonderful (or to say even more unflattering things in the heat of the moment), then you need to accept responsibility for stating why that is so.

    If you do not want to state why publicly, then you shouldn’t publicly say something is un-wonderful.

    What to do when asked why? I’m not sure (welcome to the new world of 21st century communication), perhaps even “private reasons” is enough. But to go as far as to say something has un-wonderfuled, and to further say you won’t say more because of embarrassment for the other party (who herself has been quite open, from what I have seen)… that opens up a can of worms and makes the world think it is for reasons perhaps even worse than the truth.

    In the end, it’s probably a good problem to have, being popular enough that the blogosphere actually cares so much.

    Also, for we bystanders/voyeurs, it’s been an interesting drama to watch, at the very least.

  69. this thread is for braiding down to a tapered point. Whoever wants to roll in Velvet Blue should go there. Hopefully both will be pinched off soon since I’m in severe danger of getting bored.

  70. You took down a number of posts for personal reasons that aren’t appropriate to discuss in public.

    I fail to understand why your post didn’t end right there.

  71. #85 Brian,you’ll have to forgive me, but I’m not sure what your point is. There’s a difference between Barack Obama removing some statements and BoingBoing deleting a blog post, for obvious reasons (Although I still support his right to change his stance on issues.)

    Unless you’re just saying his actions in that regard were Orwellian as well.

  72. Teresa wrote:

    “Brian Carnell @74, I have no idea how you arrived at that reading; but if you want to go on in that fashion, the pertinent thread is still open, and it’s still linked from the “Don’t Miss” list.

    Besides, the stalwarts there are still hoping it’ll break 2000. It’s up to 1775 comments as of this moment.”

    Um, I think you misspoke. What you meant to say was it is available *now*. Whether it continues to be available is apparently entirely up to how Xeni is feeling about her personal relationship with Violet Blue on any given day.

    Which of course is the problem with this whole episode that you and the other “boingers” continue to be oblivious to.

  73. SUSHISPOOK kindly sent me his photo of the “Unpublished” sticker spotted on a newspaper box in San Francisco. It’s really well done. I’m going to break the rule and post a link to the image. Congrats to the person who made it, friend or foe. : )

  74. #93: Because clearly that isn’t enough for the Blog Post Internet Freedom Crusade, of course :p

  75. I don’t want to cramp anyone’s style, but there is still a rule here about not mentioning presidential candidates in the comment threads of entries that don’t mention them.

    This thread has enough to talk about without dragging in presidential candidates — or for that matter the Fourth Amendment, the serial comma, Macs vs. PCs, homoousios vs. homoiousios, or any other perpetual motion machine.

    Thank you.

  76. Teresa,

    I misunderstood you. I thought you meant the post with the London subway bombing photos was available. It is not.

    So this is BB today. A post with photos of the london subway bombing is disappeared because of a tangential reference to Violet Blue, while the huge-ass post about Violet Blue herself is on the “Don’t Miss This!” list.

    Yeah, *that* is a sensible editorial policy.

    Brian

  77. Marley9 @100: Not forbidden. In normal threads, the test is whether they’re relevant. In this thread, we’re asking readers to be parsimonious, but leaving it up to their judgement.

  78. Er, sorry, I was just confused as to the link and reference to quote of mine and was trying to understand what he was saying. Didn’t intend a threadjack, just clarification.

    And Brian, I think you can afford to give Xeni a little more credit than that.

  79. #49 – [re: journalism v. art] I think part of the problem here is that people are in conflict over the definitions of what this [BB] is.

    I think most of the problem has been people who imagine themselves in public combat over what the definition of “is” is.

  80. Heh, if the violet blue post suddenly dissapeared from the “dont miss this!” list, don’t you think people would be howling about that? :p

  81. IWOOD (@#65), Great comment. I make no claims that I’ve answered the “big questions” this whole episode has raised. But I’m glad the questions are being asked and I like (most of) the conversations that have been happening around them.

  82. Talia wrote:

    “And Brian, I think you can afford to give Xeni a little more credit than that. ”

    Talia, have you looked at the disappeared posts over in the Wayback archive? Seriously, just go look at this 2005 post on the London bombings that Xeni removed, check out where Violet Blue appears in that post and then come back and tell me I still need to give Xeni more credit.

  83. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

    All that which cannot be disproved is true.

    Therefore, solipsism is true.

    Therefore, who cares if BB deletes some posts? It’s all in your head anyway.

    QED.

  84. Sorry to be an HTTP pedant, be a 404 page is the wrong result – it should be an HTTP 410 Gone page – google ‘http 410’ for Mark Pilgrim’s excellent tutorial, which mentions ‘deleted blogposts’ as a use case. That would make it easier to serve a special unicorns and kittens page to distinguish from the 404 one.
    It would also make it clear that this wasn’t an HTTP 447 error (again google ‘http 447’, as links are discouraged in this thread).

  85. Brian,

    There have been other controversial topics on BB before. Have you known them to dissapear? This is not about squelching discussion. It was about a personal difference leading to the desire to no longer want to support an individual.

    Its obvious to any thinking person continuing the policity of deleting every VB reference ever would just lead to further chaos and bad feelings. No matter what you’ve decided about her ethics, this is somewhat a matter of common sense.

  86. I want to second the idea above that you should just start deleting stuff willy-nilly. If nothing else, we’d get to watch this Brian Carnell fellow have an epileptic fit. :)

  87. I think that the only reason that this became a big deal is the propensity of people to over react on the internet.

    This should have been a non-issue, and in my mind, it still is.

  88. Talia wrote:

    “Well, if this is orwellian, I guess I’ve participated in Orwellian actions as well, as a person who has deleted things I’ve posted on the internet. And every other single person who has ever deleted anything they put on the internet, ever, has also participated in Orwellian actions.”

    BTW, I have to say I find that odd. I don’t generally delete things on the Internet (I can only think of a single occasion where I deleted a single post I made at my blog because I realized it was seriously erroneous and would cause more harm by misinforming than by adding a correction). Believe me, I’ve said a lot of things on the Internet I wish I hadn’t, but coming from a journalism background, I’ve always thought it was important to stand behind your words and own your errors.

    I’ve certainly endorsed the views of people, for example, who I later disassociated with. But I can’t ever remember thinking “gee, I should go back and delete all that stuff like it never happened.” And I really don’t remember ever thinking “I should take down this really long post because somewhere in there it mentions this person who I know longer like.”

    And I find it bizarre that people do think that way, but that’s probably just my particular hangup.

    OTOH, this whole episode was useful in that it showed us a side of BB I think many of us didn’t realize was there. If you had asked me before this if BB would go back and removed posts like that London bombing picture thread, I’d have said no way. Retconning is something only comic book writers and sleazy businesses do.

    Now I know better.

  89. Tomorrow’s ad hocratic forum-hosted policy debates today! Cheers from the future, Meme Coin-atrix.

  90. Oren Beck @84:

    Folks seem to be confusing journalism with hosting space. And from that arises a second confusion of content ownership. BB “owns” their content. They can etch it into platinum plates thence to be eternity vault stored. Or they can treat their words like sand art to be intentionally dispersed at ritual’s end. THEIR words THEIR fiat! OUR=guests comments exist here at the hosts discretion for the same rulesets. to my take-correct me if wrong- for example- THIS post is my copyright on reproducing IT elswhere but this “instance” of it is merely “hosted” by BB.Am I correct in that ? DO please comment!

    Correct in most essentials, though “hosted” is not the right word. Boing Boing instantiates the conversation. We do moderate the conversation because we want there to be lots of good conversation on the site, and we believe that moderation is a necessary part of creating a place where that can happen.

    We can and do disemvowel or remove comments that are into being nasty, combative, or ennuyée for its own sake (see the moderation guidelines); but there’s not much use to that if we don’t also leave our readers feeling like they’re respected and appreciated.

    This is a very busy moment for me, but I’d love to talk about this at more length some other time.

  91. One of the commentors above asked me what I think. I agree with what Xeni said here. I don’t anything to add to it. She covered all the points I would have raised.

  92. Aaron @116, have you met Takuan? You guys should get to know each other.

  93. Brian Carnell, the VB thread is counting on readers like you to help them reach 2000 comments. Won’t you please lend a hand?

  94. It does seem fairly obvious that everyone has the right to do what they want with their own site. Free speech absolutely rocks. Likewise, everyone has the right to have an opinion about what you do on your own site. Free thought, likewise, rocks.

    “Who cares what they say?” Anyone who doesn’t want to live in an echo chamber. Are all opinions worthwhile? Nope. Part of the eternal struggle of human existence is figuring out how wide to open your mind, without wasting brain cells dealing with idiots.

    Life is hard. Reducing it to easy slogans like “ignore ’em, it’s your site” is, well, too easy.

    And for what my opinion is worth, I think this post was exceedingly well written and engages the problem in a useful and productive way.

  95. I’ve removed plenty of things. Things I’ve regretted. Yes its too late to remove those from public memory, but at least new viewers dont look and make assumptions.

    As for showing another side of BB.. you mean, perhaps, the human side? :p I donno, you seem to be implying there was some sort of evil machinations going on, some sort of coverup, while I see it as just one person making a decision based on what they felt they needed personally.

  96. @xeni you’re right, back to drawing! i am almost free of the hegemonic oppression of the mainstream media. i failed at working a goatse into my last sunday newspaper strip though.

  97. 52

    Lucifer (*wink*wink*wink*wink*), I don’t agree with what you’re saying now, and I didn’t agree with it when Satan (*wink*wink*wink*wink*) said it earlier.

    What you are proposing is that the Boingers should stop using their blog in a way that made them popular, because they are popular. I’d rather have them continue to be themselves and sometimes piss some people off (bonus if Brian Carnell is one of them) than become Brand Managers. Barf

  98. Good Grief, of all the things for people to get worked up about, THIS is what they pick? How sad and ridiculous!

    Xeni “et al”, this is your blog, do what you will. We are just along for the ride, and I for one appreciate the work you and the BB Team do. Readers do not own you; you do not owe us anything.

    Thank you for the years of useful, entertaining and enlightening information. I hope there will be years to come!

  99. Happy Birthday Cory!
    Pats on the back all round, BB.
    Tho’ I will remain unmollified until actual UNICORNS appear; kittens, puppies, and duckies are all very well, but…

  100. Now, before you all blow up, I assure you that this comment is made in all seriousness.

    How much of an issue would this have been, had it not been for “alleged” “purported” or “suggested” lesbian relationship. Not being male, but fully aware of the demographics of BB, I seriously wonder, if this was just some old schlep that Xeni Jardin knew, not a beautiful sexy blogger, would the hellfire that erupted here (and especially in the *mainstream* press, have been on the radar? We all know that other posts have been sent to the worm hole. But they are not getting ANY attention.

    I wonder, I just wonder…

  101. Brian @103: In all honesty, I think you must have a better imagination than I do, because you can imagine any of the Boingers doing something like this again, and I can’t.

  102. Talia? Why are you going away? I mean, you’re not obliged to stay; but where did you get the idea that you’re derailing the conversation?

  103. I’m with #2 and others who’ve said it’s yours, do with it as you please.

    Citizens of Blogosphere – brush the crumbs off the keyboard, raise your favorite hand and repeat:
    an emotional contract is not a contract; an agreement in your head is not an agreement; a salary paid in links is not a salary.

    Now go watch some prOn! And if your favorite links are gone, do you complain to the LA Times? No! You find some more.

    Go in peace.

  104. Brian @ 118 (and elsewhere), I find it curious that you feel entitled to try dictate what BB can and cannot do in the name of what BB is or should be.

    What about personal freedom, privacy, and the general right to do what we want? Those are certainly important components of what BB is and yet that doesn’t seem to matter to you. Xeni and Co aren’t doing what you think they should so now they share traits with comic book writers (which is actually ok) and sleazy businesses? That’s most assuredly not cool.

    It’s curious, but for all your concern with Orwellian plots and machinations, you’re the one who’s making the greatest effort to make people change their behaviors in the way that you personally feel is best. You’ve almost never deleted a blog post? Good for you, I’ve deleted a few and made some private. Does that mean that you have a right to tell others how to blog? Do I? Of course not, but you keep hammering away at it, trying to wear people down and bring them over to your point of view (which IMO is much more Orwellian than anything Xeni did).

    I know you’re doing it out of a desire to keep BB as the kind of entity that you imagined it to be, but I have to say, given the explanations offered by Xeni and the rest of the BB-ers, it seems like you’ve crossed a line beyond just sharing your opinions into really trying to badger people into falling into line.

  105. Nice post. Thanks.

    Clearly BB fans also take to heart the media transparency that BB seems to advocate. As both contributor and self-editor it is obviously tough to see the outside perspective when deep personal issues are involved.

    I can certainly see the hope that quietly deleting history would make the issue disappear without notice or trauma, but to the BB audience BB isn’t a “personal blog” but a news site of sorts, with a personal flair. Deleting history without notice seems like revisionist history–which I imagine it was, attempting to revise an editorial decision based on new information about the subject involved. From a personal perspective I totally understand it, from a “news” perspective it doesn’t work–so I suppose it comes down to the difference between the way the blog owners saw the blog vs. audience expectations.

  106. If you really want some honest feedback, I would have to say boingboing would be a better place without xeni’s contributions and *ahem* editing because of some personal issues.
    There seems to be quite an imbalance in the quality and timeliness of her posts compared to the rest of the team.
    Just my opinion and I’ll leave it at that.

  107. What this event means to me on a personal level: I now have to take a jaded and jaundiced view of everything I read on BB. That makes it almost like work.

  108. SandJ @142: It’s your choice either way. “Prove to me that I can trust you” is a mug’s game.

    I take it you’ve never in your life omitted to tell someone about something, thought nothing of it, and had it come back later to bite you on the ass? Most of us have. It helps keep us humble.

  109. What this event means to me on a personal level: I haven’t cried like this since my dog died. Everything tastes like ash, I haven’t been able to have sex, and I have to avoid toy stores and grocery stores like the plague because if I see a bouncy ball I just start ripping everything from the shelves.

  110. *peeks around the corner*

    psst…..psssssssssssst.

    had you forgotten all about the hubbabaloo? Yeah, well here we go again.

  111. Teresa Nielsen Hayden@143: I think we’ve all done that at some point, more than once in my case.

    My point was that I have to take a more critical view of BB – reducing some of the fun of reading. Granted, we should all be doing that anyway, but I don’t like being reminded of it.

  112. Aldasin @141, in a normal thread I wouldn’t let that stand. Odds are you know that already, and it’s why you posted that comment now. Permit me to express doubt that you’d ever have the nerve to speak to someone that way in person.

  113. Sorry, I still think BB screwed up royally on this one. This wasn’t just removing one or two problematic posts. This was the complete erasure of a high profile blogger’s entire past relationship to BB, 70-100 posts. These included, as #74 pointed out, some undisclosed number of posts in which the blogger in question was only tangentially mentioned.

    The fact that they still exist in your unviewable archives, or on the Wayback Machine, doesn’t change that they have been essentially removed from public view.

    Why is this a problem? Because BoingBoing is, like it or not, a blog of record. It is one of the most widely read blogs on the Internet, and one of the most-linked to blogs as well. BoingBoing is seen as a leader in issues of Internet transparency and protection.

    Because of the above, the way BoingBoing behaves sets a precedent for other, less high-profile blogs. I, for one, remain upset that the precedent you set is one of not protecting the integrity of your own archives. It doesn’t mean I don’t still love you all and read you daily. But I’m disappointed by your decisions in this whole VB incident, and uncomfortable with their ramifications elsewhere in the blogosphere.

  114. If you have thoughts on that, we’d love to hear them..

    Don’t just 404 the links. Be transparent. Provide a page that can state the previous post here has eaten the bit bucket, but there used to be a post here. Doesn’t need to carry the links even. Just something more transparent then a 404.

  115. Damn. Takuan always gets off better lines than I do.

    PeaceLove @150, the VB thread really needs a commenter of your high caliber to keep the conversation going.

  116. Skep (@#138), I agree that a lot of this was about expectations. We learned a lot about what our community expects from us. Some people may see this blog as something very different than the way we do. It’s interesting to think about the various perspectives, especially since we do think of BB as a community.

  117. @#144 Another Aaron, please think of the Kittens.

    @141 aldasin, I suspect your comment is more of the poo-flinging variety, and we’ll let a little more of that stick to the walls of this particular thread than we normally would, so perturbed folks can get that out of their system.

    But I’ll take this opportunity to mention something I feel is of value.

    One of the benefits of Boing Boing’s creative commons license is that anyone who wishes can access (or not access) our content in particular ways, and remix to their heart’s content for noncommercial uses.

    There are some rather clever apps and webservices out there which make it possible to read an entirely Xeni-free version of Boing Boing, or [name your unfavorite author here], or automated ways to avoid posts that mention certain subjects and whatnot.

    I think this is part of what being a “good citizen” publisher on the internet is, and it’s why we’ve adopted this licensing method for all that we’ve done, including Boing Boing tv.

    There’s also this thing called the “space bar,” which I find helpful when visiting websites that contain some things I may not want to pay attention to.

  118. If I may riff on a theme…

    What this event means to me on a personal level:

    “I was just thinking about all the words that that chalk represented, and how like those words are just dead you know? They’re just dust, and what if that was like a poem or something? Poems are just dead. This is an urn I made from a…well, it was a fondue pot, but…it’s an urn, with chalk dust from every classroom at Thomas Edison High School, except the science room. They lock the doors because it’s got like formaldehyde and squid corpses. Why? I even wonder, like, the word “love”. How many times has it been erased or deleted or burned…and there are some words that we should get rid of…like “gothtard.”

    — Hope is Emo

  119. Xeni, this cannot be a real surprise. I don’t know what prompted the original deletion, nor is that what prompts my response. However, in the middle of this love fest’ I found myself impelled to interject an attempt at an answer to the question of why.

    Boing Boing does not create content. Its editors often do create content; however, those works are mostly posted on other sites. Boing Boing generally does not add any meaningful analysis. Before there are outcries, I will admit that some post do, but those are atypical. Generally, Boing Boing leeches content, grabbing links from other linking sites. (With citation, but who goes to this middleman once we have the origin link?)

    Boing Boing’s central business model is creating a community and feeding that community the content that it might find interesting. The editors act as the head of that community, attempting to persuade the readers for various causes that have caught their passion, articles that tickle their fancy, ideas that spur their imaginations. They have asked us to join them on their journey.

    However, when you purposefully remove the availability of posts you effectively booted your readers out of that part of the club; taking your ball and going home. Normally, it’s OUR club, OUR community, with our preferences and inside jokes (steampunk! steampunk!). But to expect people not to howl when you show that we are all equal in this community though some are more equal than others is naive. It is true and you have every right to take you ball and go home. But let’s not pretend that this monster is not of your creation, eh doctor.

    I do enjoy Boing Boing and read it frequently. However the lack of understanding the causes of a responsibility for this event leave me concerned. Especially with the success of Boing Boing’s attempt at persuasion.

    Good luck.

  120. Teresa@148 via – per your assessment of Aldasin @141 –

    Let me get this straight for my and all of our future reference.

    If a BoingBoing devotee has something to say, and you do not like it, you just “wouldn’t let that stand.” What do you mean by that?

    The Policies should clearly state that any comment which expresses ‘opinion’ can be deleted by you.

    Is this the way BB wants to treat its members? If so, please let us know.

    I think we all would appreciate knowing exactly what your idea of free speech really is.

    And further more…speech is not free. It costs a buck o’ five.

    If a reader does not like and editors comments, should they not be fully free to express this?

  121. Blingchees@164, I seem to recall that there is a code of conduct that applies to the comment section and has been in force for quite some time.

    You might want to take a look at it for future reference. iirc, the gist of it is “stay on topic and discuss topics in a civil manner” you don’t have to agree with everything that is said, but you have to keep things in the form of a discussion, not a personal attack or expletive filled rant.

  122. It’s nice to see that you’ve restored at least some of the posts that had nothing to do with her (like the William Gibson podcast, and some other podcasts). I don’t know how much has been restored, if anything else has been at all. I do know that many of the deletions had nothing to do with VB, but still got deleted because of something stupid, like the “Older” and “Newer” links at the bottom of a post mentioning VB.

    If you want devalue BB down to just a blog, it is inconsistent for you to call each other editors. It makes you just bloggers. But by doing all of that devaluing, it does make it clear how serious you guys take BB.

  123. “devaluing”? Another with a broad brush of “public opinion”. Save it. I believe you are a noisy minority. Have your say, but don’t even begin to suggest it speaks for all or even many.

  124. Folks, just a friendly reminder that this thread isn’t about moderation styles. Please take that to the moderation thread.

    And NEGENTROPIC (@#163), I’m sorry that you see Mark, Xeni, Cory, and I as “content leeches.” I think you’re wrong. And I’d bet the vast majority of our readers do too.

  125. Takuan 162: Hmm, I must disagree. I think ‘jackhole’ is the correct term here. Or maybe, given the level of conversation displayed by that individual, we should respond in kind and call hir a “doo-doo head.”

  126. I stand corrected Professor Xopher, yes “jackhole” is indeed more correct. With hints of sphinctertude.

  127. Takuan, I am trying to engage and inform. I want to know what is going on here. I fail to see where in my post I did not display manners. Please explain your point. I just want to know exactly what TNH’s, (or BB’s in general) criteria are for deleting posts that express honest non offensive, non-vulgar, non-blatantly-attacking an editor or their posts. I am not saying I agree at all with what Aldasin said; in fact the contrary. I do however support their ability to express themselves.

    So I ask you again, what point are you trying to make?

    And Xeni Jardin say: poo-flinging variety? I love her posts, but do not understand her stance of BB here. You all put yourself out in the public eye, and I in no way mean with BB. But when someone expresses their non vulgar or offensive opinion, they are on thin ice?

    BB invites all to comment. But dare they say anything less than flowery, then comment gone?

    I call BS on this, and welcome all your thoughts. Too many trigger happy moderators do not make for a welcoming blog.

  128. Well done, Xeni.

    But the other thing that’s desperately needed at this point is to kick Teresa Hayden’s butt right out to the curb.

    Teresa did nothing but repeatedly exacerbate the massive conflagaration going on in the comments by being combatative, snippy, rude, and in essence doing the precise opposite of what the verb “to moderate” means.

    She didn’t alleviate the effect, she didn’t try to calm things down, she got into the thick of things and fought. And, moreover, fought nastily.

    I’m sure she’s a fine human being and an excellent ‘Net citizen and blogger and writer and editor.

    But as a moderator, she is bad. Really bad. And she needs to be shown the door.

    Or else the next time a controversy erupts (and it being BoingBoing, merely by virtue of its celebrity it almost certainly will), you’re going to get another bad-P.R. flamewar situation that isn’t going to be calmed down by the person you hired to calm things down.

    Also, for God’s sake, quit the disemvoweling. It’s a childish prank.

    Now let’s see how long this honest, nonprofane, but no-doubt-offensive-to-Teresa comment retains its vowels.

  129. And I’m not surprised your boorishness is invisible to yourself. That is usually the root of it. Whether you genuinely cannot see or are pretending not see your snide, insulting tone does not matter. It will not be countenanced. You are not the first nor will you be the last to mistake kindness for weakness. Shut up and go away as far as I am concerned. You are not here with genuine good faith.

  130. Wow, just wow.

    I think the drama surrounding the removal of the posts is more exciting than why the posts were removed. Personal decisions in a public venue are open to criticism. And in 10 years will having removed or not removed the posts really have made that much of a difference? Not really.

    Xeni, as you are well aware you have a status in the internet celebrity world. That makes you a public figure. Your actions and statements are subject to open comment. Even things you may wish were a bit more private. These are items I assume you are well aware of.

    People become critical of censorship(perceived or real). And yet people also want privacy. That with a need to be vicarious makes for some interesting moments when another person does something we may not agree with or comprehend. The price of celebrity.

    Does this mean you can’t remove the pages of course not. You can do what you wish. Wisdom is what we acquire when intelligence and experience aren’t at the same place. You acquired some wisdom. Maybe just some wisdom on dealing with your readership.

    So in a couple of years let us know how this event affected you and maybe you will repost the pages, maybe not. But I would be curious as to the long term effect.

  131. and you,Mike Harris, what have you done to contribute in any way whatsoever? Just another loudmouth taking advantage of the free bar.

  132. Right, Takuan! Because only people who love BoingBoing and think it blameless are right! And all others are demonspawn, your enemy, who need to be vilified and marched towards Hades! Keep that mind firmly closed and locked into all those opinions you hold — in today’s climate, it will keep you safe, warm, and happy!

  133. When I mostly pulled back from the big thread was when a troll asked if I thought I really had anything to add to the conversation. While I was busy reminding myself that I knew better than to feed trolls, I realized he had actually asked a very good question, so I slowed way down in my posting.

    I did not need to shoot down every instance of everything I had already shot down until they stopped. If I had already made a point, and if my point had any validity, then the lame arguments that kept resurfacing would be recognized as such by those who are paying attention.

    I urge people to follow my brilliant lead. If you’ve made your point in the big thread, consider it read and understood by the people who are paying attention.

    And if you want to argue about moderation, go to the moderation thread.

  134. MIKE HARRIS (@#175), In any other post, I’d kick your ass to the curb. Your behavior is very rude. And as I said in #171, this thread isn’t about moderation. If you want to talk about moderation, go to the moderation policy thread.

  135. Does anyone else get the impression that Understudy pictures himself as Old Kenobi or something…”You, my son, have acquired wisdom.”

    Wow, so, uh, who appointed you Daddy?

    As for Boing Boing shuddering in its boots over another flame war in the future….umm, are you kidding? You know how many hits these things generate? You probably just paid Xeni’s water bill.

  136. actually Joel, there is. So long as the vandals and character assassins think generosity is a license to practice their evil little ways, it is the right of any fair-minded person to call them on it in the same terms. If they can’t stand devowelling or deletion, then let them stand up to what they dish out. If they can.

  137. @175 Mike Harris…
    ‘But the other thing that’s desperately needed at this point is to kick Teresa Hayden’s butt right out to the curb.’

    ‘…But as a moderator, she is bad. Really bad.’

    Praise Hayzeus. Its just a matter of time before the BB’ers see this too. Maybe they already do….

    Why is Takkkyuan allowed to call people a dipshit, but critical posts about anyone in the BB world should be disemvoweled or deleted?

  138. Mike Ris 175: Your comment here is made of fail. I doubt it will be disemvowelled, though if I had the keys to the disemvoweller I’d certainly crank it right up.

    If you’re trying to disguise the fact that you’re on a personal vendetta against Miss Teresa, ur doin it rong.

  139. Guess you guys really haven’t learned anything, David, if untempered criticism is automatically translated as “rude behavior.”

    Teresa did a crappy moderation job. That might be “rude” (oh dearie me, where’s my fan, I’ve got the vapors?!), but it’s factual.

    If you want to continue to fund her paycheck, be my guest … it’ll be your website that explodes next time a controversy rains down. And it’ll be your website that continues to generate resentment and lose credibility when comments are disemvoweled or “disappeared” because of the emotional moment-to-moment whims of an exacerbator, not a moderator.

  140. It’s a little disconcerting to see that so much remains unresolved as to whether things would have been handled any differently despite the present benefit of hindsight. The nuance between being sorry for the act or sorry for being caught remains unclear. While the post is lengthy and merely reiterates what is already known and what will remain unknown, I don’t see a comprehensive policy or analysis of where the mistakes were made, and how things would be handled in the future, if any differently, as a result of what has happened. I was a little disappointed to hear old world excuses (everyone was geographically remote from each other so we couldn’t get a meeting of the minds about things) in regards to the use of a medium where geographical location of contributors is nearly irrelevant. It all still seems a bit fluffy to me – kind of like saying “Hey, this was a bummer and I sure hope it doesn’t happen again. Let’s move forward and forget about it huh?”

    I don’t think BB technically did anything *wrong* by unpublishing references because there isn’t enough and will not be enough information to make a public judgment on that. However, even leaving out the core personal reasons that ignited the unpublishing, there needs to be an explanation that can clarify whether this was a one-time aberrant ad-hoc decision or whether this fits into the general scheme of standard procedure or if this issue is now closed or will give rise to some kind of process to prevent more of the same. Without those answers, there’s a gap in what we can expect from BB going forward. There’s a difference between having the flexibility to be quirky and lacking a consistency of conduct to render a source unreliable. I think that line was crossed once already and it’s not clear if assurances are forthcoming that it won’t be crossed again – and whether that’s something everyone here is comfortable living with because everything is hunky dory as far as everyone’s concerned.

  141. I haven’t following this “controversy” closely, and am, in fact, breaking the rules in that I have not read all of the above comments. However, I feel like I have to weigh in. I have a gut reaction to the idea that you guys are going to discuss unpublishing (deletions or whatever!) before doing them. This seems somehow more sinister to me. It seems that as long as you are removing your own work and not each others that perhaps a quick heads-up to the others should be all that is required. I know that you guys all respect one another, but any discussion of what should be removed seems to open the door to pressure to delete or not delete that could lead to censorship. Like I said, as long as no one is allowed to remove another person’s posts, I think you have the right to edit/unpublish/delete/amend…. That being said, I do appreciate the bb policy of showing your edits.

  142. There’s one thing I just don’t get about what’s going on here. What is it about the removal of content from a blog that gets people all up on their hind legs?
    This is minor. Find something significant to get puffed up about.

    TAGETODM

    Drink.

  143. #165 posted by Takuan , July 18, 2008 12:59 PM

    whaddya mean BB “does not create content”? You wouldn’t know art if it sodomized you!

    Uhm, I hate to break it to you Takun, but that may not have been “art” you were experiencing.

    However, I think there was an element of truth to #165, BB doesn’t do a lot of original reporting. There certainly is some, especially with BB TV, but all in all BB is mostly editorial comments on links to other web sites. The editorial choices and comments are “creating content,” but of a different nature from content which is created from scratch–which the editors also do at BB.

  144. Because folks who talk about moderation issues in places other than the moderation thread ARE dipshits. :)

  145. Re: #171 David Pescovitz

    Perhaps using the term “leeches” is bombastic. However, it is true that Boing Boing is not the central repository of content, the editor/authors or otherwise. Posts mostly consist of links. If that is your only complaint of my post though, then perhaps this ancillary support of my argument doesn’t detract from my central thesis.

    By the way, nice usage of argumentum ad populum. Might I suggest rebutting my argument with some facts the show my premise to be false, or perhaps where my logic is flawed?

    For Xeni: my goal, though it might be as flawed as Mr. Pescovitz hopes it to be, is to provide some insight into the why. (I consider myself a member of this community too.) I am just trying to help out. Though I admit that my brand of support doesn’t resemble Nicolas Chauvin’s.

  146. well Mike and cheesy-boy seem to have shot their bolt. How much ya wanna bet neither one will actually shut up but will instead keep repeating it ad nauseum until someone finally flushes their sorry, publicity seeking asses? Delete both these turds. No sin there.

  147. @DragonVPM

    I have read the policy three times. I see nowhere in it that says if your post is completely civil, but expressing an opionion, it will be ‘moderated’

    Can you point me to this part of the policy?

  148. Stringcheese, in this thread posts that would ordinarily be deleted or disemvowelled are being allowed. The dipshit took advantage, so Takuan returned in kind.

  149. art is what I say it is. Only a fool will argue with this. Running around telling others what they are doing is art or not….

  150. @#185-Blingcheese
    I completely agree about both parts. I’ve seen many posts critical to the powers-that-be get disenvoweled and accounts suspended. It’s their prerogative to abuse the authority they do have certainly and quell any accusation to the matter.

  151. I think you meant “leaches.” That is, they filter it from the soil of the internet. “Leeches” would be sucking it out like a leech, which is a bloodsucking parasite.

    If you didn’t mean to call our hosts bloodsucking parasites, saying so now would probably be good…and probably get your comment a more sympathetic hearing.

  152. 188 Lucifer

    You didn’t get the detailed audit and after-action report? I have my copy right here.

    Oh, right. You’re not on the Board.

  153. I love disemvoweling; it’s a challenge. As a natural smart ass, it forces me to cunningly hone the art of the bodkin. Any blustering oaf can swing a saber.

  154. Takaun-

    You can go around calling names and making yourself feel better.

    Some of us are trying to engage in a discussion.

    I am not sure what it is you are doing, but I challenge one editor to tell us how your comments are helpful.

    Nay, why don’t you tell us how…

    ‘How much ya wanna bet neither one will actually shut up but will instead keep repeating it ad nauseum until someone finally flushes their sorry, publicity seeking asses? Delete both these turds.’

    …is helping the discussion in any way. Please explain.

  155. I must be mistaken…I was under the impression this entire discussion was about the moderation of BB….did I miss something here Mark?

  156. #156 XENI
    “There are some rather clever apps and webservices out there which make it possible to read an entirely Xeni-free version of Boing Boing, or [name your unfavorite author here], or automated ways to avoid posts that mention certain subjects and whatnot…”

    If you so favor such clever apps Xeni, why couldn’t you yourself use them to filter out the VB content on BB?

  157. I’m not Mark, BlingCheese (#206), but I’ll take a crack at a response: We were hoping to discuss ways to make deletions or changes more transparent; comments moderation is a separate topic.

  158. It’s nice that you’ve discovered the consequences of your actions. Maybe next year you’ll act like a grown-up, do the right thing, and put the posts back.

    So, thanks, xeni, for making your sex life glaringly public. It’s been…stimulatihng.

  159. Anybody else take a look at BLINGCHEESE’s posting history?

    ie, this is the only topic he/she has ever posted in?

    Yup, sock puppet.

    And Takaun is contributing to the conversation…he’s pointing out that most of this is the work of trolls with an axe to grind.

  160. @sumer88!

    Up high!

    _.-._
    | | | |_
    | | | | |
    | | | | |
    _ | ‘-._ |
    \`\`-.’-._;
    \ ‘ |
    \ .` /
    | |

  161. @AA

    Because I just now, after reading this ‘blog’ for four years, decided to comment, am a sock puppet?

    I got your sock right here…

  162. Well, Summer88 sure doesn’t understand the distinction between being the owner of a blog and being one of the readers.

    Anyone want to explain it? You probably have to use one-syllable words.

  163. @#206 posted by blingcheese: “….did I miss something here Mark?”

    Yes. I’ll repeat myself: Please discuss moderation in the moderation thread.

  164. @Hagbard 129

    quoting you: “you are proposing is that the Boingers should stop using their blog in a way that made them popular, because they are popular. I’d rather have them continue to be themselves and sometimes piss some people off”

    I disagree. This controversy is in fact a departure from the behavior or formula that made BB popular. In fact, this behavior has hurt BB’s popularity *because* it is not in line with what we have seen BB do in the past. Further, I think the deluge of criticism isn’t so much as a call to punish/attack BB but to voice a heightened concern over the potential harmful direction it is heading in if arbitrary unpublishing gains traction as a valid tool. If anything, BB founders should feel good to see that people care enough about the integrity of this little communal entity that they have strong feelings about how it is being led and managed.

    The act of unpublishing content based on unclear reasons is cause for worry – at least can we agree on that – especially if there are no assurances that it won’t stop beyond this incident? That makes the internet cry.

    oh and.. yeah winkwinkwinkwink… though that other dude Satan winkwinkwink never really made any clear and obvious violations (vulgar language, non-relevant discussion, spam), the plug was pulled.

  165. Goodness…we should have done this hours ago.

    Sumer88, Lucifer, and Negentropic are all puppets as well. Take a look at they’re posting histories….

  166. Yes. I’ll repeat myself: Please discuss moderation in the moderation thread.

    Translation: “In this thread that is supposedly regarding our self-evaluation on how we handled the Violet Blue incident, please take any actual discussion on how one of our staff handled the Violet Blue incident to a thread that’s nowhere near the main page and has the barest of page views or public attention. This thread should be dedicated to the issues to which we’ve addressed Xeni’s faux-apologetic response.”

  167. BlingCheese @164: If that were the policy, the policy would say that. It isn’t, it doesn’t.

    Why wouldn’t I normally let a comment like that stand? For really obvious reasons that aren’t personal to me.

    I’m not going to have a fight with you. Sorry. If you’ve looked at the moderation guidelines, you already know the answers to your questions. If you want to know more, try Google. There’s only one Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and I’ve done a fair amount of writing on this and related subjects.

    Asserting in a thread like this that the deciding factor is whether a comment expresses an opinion is self-refuting. On the off chance that this thread doesn’t provide enough examples for you, try the VB thread. It’s large, and full of opinions.

  168. Wow. Sure looks like Mike Ris is trying to figure out exactly where the line is…by pushing it until he gets banned.

    I sure hope he crosses it soon.

    And Lucifer, you just more or less confessed to being a sockpuppet for “Satan.” Bans are on people, not posting names.

  169. Burnchao @168, if you think the Boingers don’t take things seriously, earnest bunch that they are, it does make it clear how well you read Boing Boing.

  170. Blingcheese (again) @174, please don’t harass the other commenters. If you “want to know exactly” what our policies are, go do your homework. You’ll find it’s much more productive than asking the same questions over and over again.

  171. 219 Lucifer

    Thanks for responding. That other dude never gave me the time of day.

    Right from the announcement that started TVB thread, I understood what happened to be a particular and unusual circumstance. It never occurred to me that BB would do such a thing lightly or casually, and after all the furor, I trust all the more that they would not; if for no other reason than it leaves them vulnerable to what I called a “denial of whuffie attack.”

    I really really don’t think their honor and integrity deserved to be called into question, nor do I think them lame enough to need to be lectured about how to run their site.

    PS I was watching when that other dude got bounced, and I cheered.

  172. @ 163 negentropic: “Generally, Boing Boing leeches content…”

    But we are pretty good at selecting interesting hosts, and the way our bodies undulate as we suck blood makes for a good show.

  173. Mike Harris @175: You know, the Boingers have read that thread.

  174. I am aware the issue of blog ownership has been given as one justification as to why xeni can unpublish the postings. Just what BB has grown to become over the years is a whole seperate topic in itself..

    This still does little to clarify issues revolving around transparency. In the spirit of what a lot the site (to me, anyway) stands for it all seems quite hypocritical.

    If the ‘community’ didn’t care, you simply wouldn’t be dealing with such a heated debate over these actions.

    I noted #156 XENI as I felt it was hollow suggesting others filter out content they don’t want to see. Yet by unpublishing these posts she has taken away the whole community’s access, simply because she herself no longer wants to see them.

    I hope that wasn’t too many sylables for you xopher. And another aron – just because i don’t feel the need to comment every 5 seconds on every single bb post doesn’t make me a puppet.

  175. @ 187 Mike Harris:

    “Teresa did a crappy moderation job. That might be “rude” (oh dearie me, where’s my fan, I’ve got the vapors?!), but it’s factual.”

    No. It’s your opinion. It’s not factual. My opinion is that she did a terrific job. If you would read the moderation post instead of trying to be cute, you’d learn why I think that.

  176. No, the fact that this is the only topic you’ve ever commented on is what makes you a puppet. I wouldn’t be surprised if all this hollering is being generated by one or two people using ten accounts.

  177. Ok…

    This thread has been highjacked by trolls who despite repeatedly being told that this is not the place to discuss this will not be persuaded to take it someplace else. Polite behavior and self respect would clearly dictate that they do so promptly.

    I for one, find their behavior fascinating. Where else are you going to find such attention seeking behavior? I am not a zoologist, but I’m sure there is a case study in all of this primate behavior. Perhaps we could create a glass cage and have them permanently on display?

    BB editors – you still post wonderful things. I for one, will continue to read and be amazed.

    As for accusations of censorship, I urge everyone to note the existence of this thread, the thread on Violet Blue, and the moderation thread.

    If anyone thinks that BB is afraid to air it’s dirty laundry then they should think again.

    If BB wanted to censor any of this, they could have just removed the entire disclosure. Instead people they have clearly disagreed with have been able to voice their opinions (as related to the topic at hand).

    As to the deletions, I understand that no harm was intended, and furthermore, that no harm was done. But in the future, I am glad that their will be more transparency in regards to potentially controversial deletions.

    Moderators – All the love in the world to you. You have a heck of a job and I for one will be infusing myself with libations in your name this very evening over at the local watering hole.

    Thank you all at BB.

  178. I do have to ask …

    (1) Xopher, is there a reason why I’m “Mike Ris”? I may be walking into something, but you’ve whetted my curiousity as to what joke lies underneath omitting the letters “HAR” …

    (2) Teresa, by “that thread”, what are you referring to?

    (3) Mark, “wrong” is a very thorough rebuttal. Thanks for that.

    Also, just have to comment about how it’s incredibly amusing to have dissent and disagreement characterized as ban-worthy offenses by a few heavy contributors to this thread. I’m aware it’s not official BB mods doing it (well, aside from David’s threat to kick me to the curb — so perhaps it is), but it’s nonetheless just so bare and unadulterated or unhidden, this antipathy and moreover this repeated use by them of the ad hominem, which appears to be the only arrow in their quiver, the one they just keep firing time after time. It’s really quite funny after a while.

    Let me guess. Your response is going to be, “Yo mama.”

  179. Boing Boing needs rules? gawd, isn’t this the same type ppl that went off a long while ago because they found some “inaccuracies” in various posts? Those who shuddered at the thought of a site that requires critical thought and individual analysis to aid in proper digestion?

    Boing Boing is rock n’ roll mercury… the more you try to constrict it, the more it breaks up all around you into silvery beads, slips around and makes fluid escape (while lookin’ wicked cool and reflective at the same time).

    I, for one, welcome our new media overlords.

    [cow now lobs aqua teen LED bomb into thread and runs]

  180. Hagbard @181, you’ve been an ornament to this thread. Pulling back is not a bad idea. We’re bound to get trolls romping. We certainly did last time. I have faith that it will create the same cumulative effect.

    If you’re feeling especially pious, consider offering up a prayer for the souls of all those who can’t think of anything better to do on a midsummer Friday afternoon than coming here to troll this thread.

  181. @232 Sumer88: “In the spirit of what a lot the site (to me, anyway) stands for it all seems quite hypocritical.”

    You’re shooting blanks. One of the things I stand for is personal freedom. That includes the freedom to delete my own posts. I also stand for personal responsibility and that includes not screwing over my readers. I don’t think we screwed over our readers here, and I haven’t read any comments that convince me otherwise.

  182. Actually, although the ad hominem is being used all over the place, the arrow that is really getting repeatedly shot by those people is just this dire threat/prediction, phrased in about 14 different ways thus far, that the dissent people are voicing to the party line is going to get them banned. “You’re going to get banned.” “Man, I can’t wait for the BB folk to ban them.” “These are trolls, they’re gonna get banned.” “Ignore those trolls, they’re going to be banned.” “Sockpuppets!”

    It’s the politics of namecalling and avoiding the actual argument — and for a blog that’s been dedicated among other things to noting the immense excesses of the Bush regime, it’s hilariously ironic to see its supporters employ the same tactics as Bush supporters have used these past eight years.

  183. @237 Mike Harris “I’m aware it’s not official BB mods doing it (well, aside from David’s threat to kick me to the curb — so perhaps it is)”

    Just have to comment about how it’s incredibly amusing to see that you were the first to suggest that Teresa be kicked to the curb, but when David says it to you, suddenly it’s a threat.

  184. Also, thanks for confirming my opinion of you and your moderative tendencies by employing the same terminology and ad hominem attacks, Teresa.

    For someone who claims to be such a ‘Net citizen, I’d think you’d not make the far too common mistake of calling anyone you disagree with a troll.

    “… with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

    Intent’s a factor. Just because Joe or Jane Schmoe doesn’t agree with your opinions or deeply-held beliefs doesn’t mean he or she is a troll. They’ve got to be purposefully doing it to get a rise out of you.

    And if you think that all those who disagree with you are doing so only to evoke your ire, then things are far more delusional than I first thought.

  185. #242 posted by Mike Harris:

    it’s hilariously ironic to see its supporters employ the same tactics as Bush supporters have used these past eight years.

    Are you saying that you feel virtually waterboarded?!! I’m new to this thread; what did these bastards do to you?!!! I’m here to halp.

  186. @243 Mark: Try again. “to have dissent and disagreement characterized as ban-worthy offenses by a few heavy contributors to this thread (I’m aware it’s not … ”

    In other words, David is indeed characterizing dissent and disagreement as ban-worthy offenses.

  187. Darn it! Why did this pie fight have to happen on the afternoon when I’m cleaning and cooking for 2 – 3 dozen house guests* tomorrow?
    I’ll have to catch up on all of this Saturday night.

    Just for that you get none of this awesome potato salad I just made. Nope. And not one frosty beer either.

    (stalks off…)

    Users of a forum I used to Mod.

  188. @ 246 Mike Harris

    I’m talking about how hilariously ironic and incredibly amusing it is that you can dish it out but can’t take it.

  189. Blingcheese again @185: because it’s not true that “critical posts about anyone in the BB world should be disemvoweled or deleted.” Also because Takuan’s accumulated a great deal of credibility by frequently being funny, incisive, well-informed, and a good person to have around; and because he puts in a lot of quiet work plus a certain amount of noisy work helping moderate the site.

  190. Personally, I don’t care about the gossip behind the action of deleting posts. That was never an issue. The issue was the deletion itself. Xeni’s response that she and the other BB cohorts will talk about it more in the future is a weak stance that doesn’t answer the core of the problem.

    Frankly, I don’t see why the posts had to be deleted anyway. It seems that the personal got entangled in the professional. The posts could have been left there gaining digital dust and nothing would have come of it.

    Sure this is “your blog” but it moved beyond a just a personal blog a long time ago. It has a life of it’s own now propelled forward more by it’s readers than by it’s authors. BB gadgets and BBTV are prime examples of this. They are ideas born by you but ultimately exist due to the interest or disinterest of your audience.

    The deletions was also an idea born by you, but in contrast to BBgadgets ultimately it failed in the eye of the majority of your audience. You knew this would be an issue which is why it was done quietly.

    A better reaction to all of this would have been “I’m sorry I’ll reinstate the old posts and let’s move on from all this.” But instead what we get is “sorry not changing anything, but next time the BB cohorts will meet in secret before we delete posts.”

  191. By the way … Teresa. David. Mark. Xopher. Aaron. Etc.

    Got a question for you.

    Put aside the argument, sorry, I mean, put aside the namecalling that I’m a “troll.”

    Put aside the ad hominem taunt that I have “nothing better to do” on a Friday.

    Put aside the threats that I’m going to get banned soon.

    Put aside the comments that I’m just one head of a hydra sockpuppet, so that you are many and I am one.

    How ’bout the original premise, the one that so enraged you all? The one that’s remained unaddressed?

    I’d be really interested to hear one of you construct a solid, rational, non-ad hominem, well-written argument that Teresa’s behavior in the threads at question fulfilled the actual definition of the verb “to moderate”, that her overuse of disemvowellment and outright removal didn’t worsen the controversy and keep anger and tempers up, and that her emotionally charged responses, taunts, and remarks didn’t also worsen the controversy and keep anger and tempers up.

    As it stands, you guys have been the trolls, not I. You’ve been the ones dipping into the worse debate techniques the ‘Net has to offer. Of course, since when do trolls admit, even to themselves, that they are trolls?

  192. #247 posted by ROSSINDETROIT:

    Just for that you get none of this awesome potato salad I just made. Nope. And not one frosty beer either.

    [cow slowly sticks out hind hoof to the blinking aqua teen LED bomb and quietly clicks it off. gazes lovingly at the potato salad]

  193. @ hagbard:
    First you say:
    “It never occurred to me that BB would do such a thing lightly or casually, and after all the furor, I trust all the more that they would not; if for no other reason than it leaves them vulnerable to what I called a “denial of whuffie attack.”
    —-
    ok, I can buy that. But then you say:
    —-
    “I really really don’t think their honor and integrity deserved to be called into question, nor do I think them lame enough to need to be lectured about how to run their site”
    —-
    So in your second thesis, you say that people should not voice their concern over the harm done to BB’s integrity over unpublishing incidents but in your first thesis, you say the public voicing of these concerns are the check and balances that would prevent further use of ad hoc unpublishing.

    You’re contradicting yourself. Either you say “please, people, remain vigilant as the first line of defense against any decline in the integrity and quality of BB by voicing your concerns loud and clear” or “BB is beyond reproach and their judgment infallible. People should remain quiet and simply enjoy the gifts that they bestow upon the world on a daily basis without question.”

    That Satan guy was a jerk. I hate him.

  194. @252 Mike Harris:

    I’ve told you twice that I gave you my reasons why I think Teresa did and does a bang-up job over on the moderation thread. Please look there. I sure hope you do, because I’m not going to tell you a fourth time.

  195. Heya, Xopher (186). Can you believe this? As Archilochus said, the Fox knows many prayers. The Arouet knows only one prayer, but it’s a goodie.

  196. I’m talking about how hilariously ironic and incredibly amusing it is that you can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Me: “Teresa is assigned to the paid role of acting as someone who moderates the Boing Boing comments. She did so extremely badly and instead performs the opposite of her function. She needs to be fired.”

    Me (subject): Non-performance of a job function that caused detrimental effects to an online community.

    David: “I do not like what you are saying and the manner in how you are saying it. Because I do not like the subject matter of what you are saying, were circumstances different, I would ban you.”

    David (subject): Threat of programmatically excluding possibility of opinion that differs from his own.

    Using the same metaphor doesn’t mean the same meaning is at play.

  197. Sumer88:

    I noted #156 XENI as I felt it was hollow suggesting others filter out content they don’t want to see. Yet by unpublishing these posts she has taken away the whole community’s access, simply because she herself no longer wants to see them.

    Wow. It’s astonishing, but you really DON’T get it.

    Someone suggested that Xeni be eliminated as a main poster. That was rude and stupid.

    Xeni, with more politeness than I could have mustered, suggested that if they want to see Boing Boing without her posts, there are filters available.

    By contrast, Xeni did not want her VB posts to be seen, because she did not want to promote VB or be associated with her. Note the words ‘her VB posts’ above. They were HERS.

    If you still don’t see the difference between 1. some idiot trying to dictate Xeni’s removal from posting, diplomatically reinterpreted by Xeni as merely not wanting to see her posts, and 2. Xeni no longer wanting ANYONE to see her posts, then you’re too obtuse for words. Unless, of course, you think any random jerk off the street should have the right to say that all Xeni’s posts should be removed from BB, in which case there is no polite word for what I think of you.

    Mike Harris 237: Ah, I was wondering if you’d noticed. I was beginning to think you really thought it was OK to omit the first half of someone’s name, as you did to ‘Nielsen Hayden’ in your 175. I suppose it’s possible you thought that ‘Nielsen’ was her middle name (it is not: her husband’s name is Patrick Nielsen Hayden) and weren’t being deliberately disrespectful. But given the tone of the rest of that comment, deliberate disrespect seemed the most plausible hypothesis.

  198. #255: Your comments there aren’t anything near an actual argument, Mark. They’re just “Teresa being nasty to any commenters who disagree with us helps the place not degenerate into YouTube forums (*)”. [(*) – Which are actually a lot better now that digg-style rating has come into play.]

    As I said: logical, rationally based, well-written, solid argument. Not just a fancier version of “I think Teresa’s cool.”

    If that’s all you got, though, that’s all you got.

  199. Woohoo! It’s a Friday afternoon troll party up in here! Did somebody say something about potato salad and beer? Takuan, put something on the turntables!!!

  200. @ #254 posted by “Lucifer”

    Poster, I served with Lucifer, I knew Lucifer, Lucifer was a friend of mine. Poster, you are no Lucifer.

  201. @257 Mike Harris: No, the *exact* same meaning is at play. You said Teresa needed to have her butt right out to the curb for being rude, and David said you should have you ass kicked out the curb for being rude (not for having a opinion he disagreed with).

    You have wasted my time long enough. Everything you’ve said here has been wrong.

  202. #258: That’s absolutely freaking hilarious. You’re providing me with enough humor to make me chuckle for the whole weekend. No, I hadn’t processed that Nielsen wasn’t her middle name but merely the first part of her surname. And to immediately leap to the premise that it was done to offend … tell me, if I had miscapitalized her name as “Teresa nielsen Hayden”, would you have been been referring to me as Mike harRis? Because of course, when dealing with someone who disagrees with you, every error is at heart a purposeful attack, right?

  203. Mark, as I said: same analogy, entirely different meanings and settings. You can obviously disagree if you like; in fact, I’d have been surprised if anything I said convinced you.

    As for “wasting your time”, if you contact me via e-mail and provide me with an invoice for your time, I’ll be happy to let you turn it over to a collection agency.

    And, again, the mere flat response of “you’re wrong” comes into play. Those rational arguments just seem not to be coming …

  204. There are a multitude of problems that have contributed to this situation.

    First is the self-serving, doublespeaking, elitist culture that has obviously permeated BB. By this I mean the, “it’s only censorship when *other* people do it” sort of mindset. Sure, they have their justifications ready but at the end of the day their unpublishing/deletion of posts or comments amount to stifling someone’s opinion.

    If you read up on many of the BBers you can see that they really feel they’re ‘above’ the rest of us and so very intellectually superior. THEY know what’s right, and that gives them the mandate to do ridiculous stuff like talk out of both sides of their mouths. Elitist bullshit abounds.

    To be honest, it reminds me of the logic that caused countries to slide into Communism (yeah yeah I know, I’m filling an Internet flamewar stereotype here but hear me out the history lesson is relevant). Specifically, the powers-that-be would take an action, then come out with the, “But don’t you agree…this is truly in your best interest, not that we’re going to really explain how!” sort of rhetoric. Right before you take it up the ass.

    Here the BBers are saying, “Yes we took away someone’s voice but, you know it’s not really censorship because I promise, we had our reasons! …not that we are going to tell you what they were.” What’s being left unsaid here is that the reasons amount to some petty dirty-laundry and that they took the chicken-shit way out by deleting posts instead of dealing with it in a way that gave the other side a chance to make their case.

    I firmly believe that the hiring of their know-it-all moderator, Theresa, is a poor choice but more of a symptom than a cause. Any blog with a truly anti-censorship stance would be loath to hire someone with her history.

    I almost quit BB when they hired Theresa. Because of this, I’m blocking it at our router. Yes, it’s censorship – but at least I fucking admit it.

  205. Mike Harris 257:

    Using the same metaphor doesn’t mean the same meaning is at play.

    No, of course it doesn’t. If your ass is kicked to the curb it will not affect your livelihood (unless you’re being paid to come here and diss Teresa, a possibility I really hadn’t considered). So the “threat” against you is much milder than what you’re proposing be done to Teresa.

    And you know, or should know, that opinion differing from David’s, or anyone’s, is not what gets a person banned here. If you do know that, you’re just trolling by claiming otherwise over and over. If you honestly don’t believe it…well, you need to reexamine the evidence.

    Granted, there’s really no polite way to express the sentiment that the Moderator should be fired, when the site owners have just told you they’re quite pleased with her work. It’s kind of like if I told you you should paint your living room a different color, and you tell me you like it how it is. If I then tell you I think you should paint it a different color even once more, I’m being rude no matter how politely I phrase it.

  206. Lucifer

    Can’t you see I’m at work now?

    PS You have still misunderstood me. I’m sorry I haven’t made myself clearer.

  207. MIKE HARRIS @#237, I didn’t say I was going to exclude your opinion because you disagree with me. If you actually read the comments on other posts, you’d see that lots of people disagree with us. I’d like you to leave because you’re a jerk. I frequently have people over to my house who disagree with me. But people who disagree with me and insult my family aren’t welcome.

  208. @137 wrote:

    “Brian @ 118 (and elsewhere), I find it curious that you feel entitled to try dictate what BB can and cannot do in the name of what BB is or should be.”

    How could I possibly dictate anything to Mark, Cory, David, and Xeni? It’s their blog and they can do anything they want. Heck, to some extent their right about revising the past.

    John McCain purges his campaign website of any indication he ever opposed the Bush tax cuts. It’s his site, he can do whatever he wants, and I pretty much expect that given he’s a politician.

    Barack Obama purges his campaign website of any indication he ever opposed the troop surge. It’s his site, he can do whatever he wants, and I pretty much expect that given he’s a politician.

    Boing! Boing wants to purge its excellent post about the London subway bombing or this Doctorow post about a blogger imprisoned for not turning over a video to authorities, all because they incidentally mention VB, fine by me. It’s their site and they can do whatever they want. But I was surprised. In fact the first time I heard about this I told a friend this would almost certainly be just an error, esp. since most of the posts deleted just incidentally mentioned VB rather than being about or by her.

    Again, it was nice to see all the BBers endorse the removal of those fine posts for this very bizarre reason. It gives me and others important information on just how seriously BB posters take the site and how seriously the rest of us should take it.

  209. Mike Harris 263: I thought it was a humorous way of making the point, yes. And I did think you did it on purpose.

    Frankieshipley, you have exactly two posts in your posting history, or rather the same post on two threads. Multiposting is frowned upon here. You already posted that same text in the TVBT thread.

  210. @258 wrote:

    “By contrast, Xeni did not want her VB posts to be seen, because she did not want to promote VB or be associated with her. Note the words ‘her VB posts’ above. They were HERS.”

    That is simply not true. There were also posts by Pescovitz and Doctorow that she removed. I believe most of P’s have been restored, but some of D’s are still MIA.

  211. #266 posted by frankieshipley:

    I almost quit BB when they hired Theresa. Because of this, I’m blocking it at our router.

    You must have L33t hackorz skillz; how did you get through your blocked router to post here?

    [cow still lovingly staring at potato salad with quick, darting glances at the beer]

  212. It may have been a heated discussion Xeni, but you should be happy we didn’t stick forks into you and plug you into a wall socket.

  213. @270 Brian Carnell: “It gives me and others important information on just how seriously BB posters take the site and how seriously the rest of us should take it.”

    I hope you never took it seriously in the first place, Brian. I don’t.

  214. hagbard

    I don’t care that you’re at work.
    You’re misunderstood because you’re an unclear communicator.
    I rule.

  215. @XOPHER 271:

    Yes I posted in the other thread by accident. The tab I thought I was posting in was this one. If a moderator wants to wack the other, they have my permission (not that they need it, but I’ll give them the gift of knowing I won’t pitch a fit).

    If the above post gets wacked, well that would be disappointing.

    FWIW, this is my first time posting to a BB thread by any name. I’m more of an internet-lurker-type personality until I hit my breaking point.

  216. David and Mark,

    and those of us that Teresa has banned for no good reason, what do we get to say here? Nothing. There is no review process for the banning she does nor did she or her moderators bother to warn before doing so.

    I see behavior here far worse than the actually mild behavior I engaged in (calling for her and another moderator to be fired because of the lousy job they were doing) but I was banned and there is no review of these decisions.

    So, you can say what a bang up job your staff is doing all you want but I know it isn’t an honest assessment.

    And, yes, I did exchange e-mail with a variety of parties on this (you were even cc’d) but, in the end, Teresa refused to discuss it and none of you “editors” ever said anything or added anything, except for Cory’s original “WTF?” e-mail.

    So I’m calling BS on the high moral tone here.

  217. *pause*

    You know what? I let you guys get under my skin.

    Mostly because I wasn’t prepared for it. I mean, you guys are Mark, Xeni, and David, for God’s sake. As I’ve been reading BB for probably six, seven years now, I’ve always thought really well of you guys.

    And to get into the wrassling match we’ve just had and have you guys put these tactics into play …

    Well, honestly, I just thought you were better than that.

    *nods, smiling* Yeah, I know, that’s one of the greatest cliche lines in existence. It’s what I mean, though. When you think of people as Internet gods, you think of them as having the best qualities you admire, and a really good debator, is something I admire.

    I’m going to leave now. And, yes, *smiling*, I know that semi-melodramatic announcements of departure are even more cliche than the “better than that” line. And one of the worser tactics for leaving an argument.

    But my workday ended 45 minutes ago. And you’re right, Mark: this is a waste of your time, my time, Xeni’s time, what have you.

    Because there’s no purpose to this wordplay. You’re just trying to outriff me, I’m just trying to outriff you, and neither of us are actually going to convince the other of any truths here and, really, that’s the only good use of an Internet argument. I’m firmly convinced you guys are entirely in the wrong. You’re firmly convinced that not only am I wrong but that I’m mounting the argument out of a malicious intent to hurt, offend and insult. Neither of us feel the tactics the other side is using are appropriate.

    So, consider this me tipping over my king. The game’s not worth it; I’m leaving your house, David; y’all win. (Geekref: “The only winning move is not to play.”)

    I can’t say I respect any of you anymore. And I know the sentiment’s completely mutual (except, well, that you most likely didn’t even know me, so there wasn’t any respect to be lost).

    But nonetheless, as it pertains to just the general gestalt of it all, I don’t wish any of you harm. In the grand scope of things, we’re lucky if this is important to us — it means a lot more basic needs are taken care of.

    No hard feelings. Have good lives.

  218. #240 Mark Frauenfelder-
    Thanks Mark, but I never said or meant to imply anyone was ‘screwed over’. I’ve been following all of this since it all exploded and been trying to understand what the hell was going on. Your comments just now have completely cleared everything for me. There has been so many conflicting opinions and coverage, due maybe because it took time to get an official response from you all there, leaving people to make all sorts of speculations and judgments. The reasons why the posts were removed is bb’s personal business. I guess it just took a lot of people by surprise the way that it happened.

    I appreciate your view of personal freedom, but when there are also so many references on bb to the free software movement and also freedom of speech etc, you must be able to see why many in the bb community would assume that once something is posted up here, it will be available (as long as bb is around I guess?..) I really appreciate your comments, though only a few sentences it was so succinct – I wish that had been more clearly conveyed in other coverage on this issue.

    In light of all this drama, my suggestion is maybe bb can put together something like a ‘charter’ or something (perhaps this is something seperate to the moderation policy?). Could be a neat way of actually spelling out for example what the site stands for… and could cover things like archiving etc.. Rather than let people assume, let people know where you stand on things.

    I understand much of how bb got to where it has has been a learning by doing experience, so there will be things that pop up that hasn’t necessarily had to be spelled out in the past. In terms of what all this means in relation to the greater blogsphere, it would be great to see bb set some kind of standard as a positive outcome from all this.
    +
    #236 Lightfoote-
    Well said and amen

  219. Mike Harris @242: The overwhelming impression I’m getting is that you really hate Teresa. Your first post on this thread is an impassioned plea for Teresa to be sacked. You later characterise this attack as a fact, which it clearly is not.

    Now, if you can’t see that attacking any of the staff of BB in a thread on BB is rude behaviour, or see why a certain level of politeness is a prerequisite for civilised conversation, then you really need to read some more Miss Manners.

    Personally, I feel that you know perfectly well what effect what you wrote was going to have, and you just want to drag the entire thread down, perhaps to the point where the mods disemvowel or ban you. You know that that is a melodrama that has played out many many times on the internet. I just don’t understand why you think nobody else has seen the plotline before.

    I have bad news for you: the lurkers do not support you. All we see is you being obnoxious, and then being more obnoxious. Anyone got any popcorn?

  220. @COWICIDE 273: Lame post. I meant ‘will be blocking it’.

    But yeah, my hax0r skillz *are* pretty l33t and I could manage a VPN tunnel with the best of them.

  221. @COWICIDE 273: Lame post. I meant ‘will be blocking it’.

    But yeah, my hax0r skillz *are* pretty l33t and I could manage a VPN tunnel with the best of them.

  222. Mark Frauenfelder wrote:

    @270 Brian Carnell: “It gives me and others important information on just how seriously BB posters take the site and how seriously the rest of us should take it.”

    I hope you never took it seriously in the first place, Brian. I don’t.

    Surely you’re not serious. So that post by Cory about the blogger who was jailed for failing to turn over a videotape was what, some sort of lark. Ah, First Amendment, freedom of the press…whatever…just something else to do on a Friday night.

    I have to tell you, I took it seriously. Network neutrality, happy mutants, all of it. Reading the zine was a refreshing change and a pointer to possibilities I’d never thought of before. The blog really captured what I loved about the zine.

    But retconning all that content because some link credits VB for suggesting it? Such a hidebound traditional way to do things. “Q: ZOMG we hate Violet Blue now what are going to do?” “A: Off with the posts.”

    Brian “A Not So Happy Mutant Anymore” Carnell

  223. @ #275 Brian:

    Well, Someone went through the web-archive and created a site (here) with 407 “unpublished” posts. Using that, I found many that had nothing to do with violet blue (like the podcasts I brought up) that were deleted just for mentioning a different post that had VB in it (the second podcast had VB, so any podcast page that mentioned previous podcasts ended up deleted). You can find a ton of stuff that was senseless deleted in the attempt at hiding the past association with her.

  224. Xeni made a perfectly good and reasonable apology, and I thank her for it. No matter what her exact reason for taking down the posts was, she’s now gotten dragged through the virtual gutter over it. It’s well past time to show a little compassion.

    DItto for Teresa*. Whether she did a perfect job of moderation is beside the point. No human would have done a perfect job. What she did was an exceptionally good job of handling an exceptionally shitty situation.

    There’s still a useful discussion to be had about lessons learned.

    May I ask those who haven’t learned anything, and especially those with no intention of learning anything, to shut the fuck up?

    *who I know slightly

  225. #266 posted by frankieshipley , July 18, 2008 3:41 PM

    First is the self-serving, doublespeaking, elitist culture that has obviously permeated BB.

    #284 posted by frankieshipley , July 18, 2008 3:56 PM

    my hax0r skillz *are* pretty l33t and I could manage a VPN tunnel with the best of them.

    Yes, yes…more importantly, do you have any potato salad? And, if you do, will you share it? I’ve already stolen a couple of beers and will work out a trade with you for potato salad.

    __________________________________________

    To all you assholes… (not anyone in particular, just those of you who in their own gut know they are assholes)

    It’s FRIDAY!!! Time for some fun in RL! Go to your local bar, party, etc. and complain about Boing Boing to real people!! I’m sure they’ll give you their rapt attention! Have fun!

    [hunger pangs hit every stomach – cow marches out for some damn potato salad and beer, yo!]

    “beers, steers and queers — yeee!!! haaaa!!!!” -Revolting Cocks

  226. John, some of us don’t get a choice and don’t get to move on. We’ve been excised from the community here after reading this blog since it started (Hell, I own *print* copies of the Boing Boing zine). How exactly we move on except deleting the bookmark for the site and not returning?

    I except that this account will be deleted soon for self-admitted account duplication as a banned user.

  227. First Ursula K. Le Guin gets the ax, and now Violet Blue ?

    Please stop sneaking around. You know you’ll get caught. Once you release something into the wilds of the internet, it’s not yours anymore, it ours, and I think you should give us some respect.

    Most of the time you do good, but not this time.

    It’s not cool to go back in time and alter or delete posts because you change your view.

    It’s not too much to want honesty, transparency, genuineness in our digital history.

    I don’t care what Violet Blue did or didn’t do. I’m just giving it the way I see it.

    I’ll still read BoingBoing, but you lost some respect.

    -mikesum32

  228. Ross @190, that’s an interesting question, given how common it is for websites to remove content without mentioning it to their users. I’ve been wondering whether it’s related to the disproportionate sense of outrage and personal invalidation we sometimes see in people who’ve had one or two comments disemvowelled or removed by a moderator. You know how that goes: some take it in stride, most kvetch, and a few react as though we’d threatened the entire basis of their online existence.

    I had a long conversation recently with someone who got extensively trashed online a year or two back, for no reason that anyone sane could see.

    Per had traced the event back to its ignition point, and found that what set it off was per’s blog post about a piece someone else had written. All it took was agreeing that there might be times when it was legitimate to take down comments, and blammo, the Wild Hunt was on its way.

    It seems too easy to say they assume that if anyone can be shut out, they’ll be shut out, and that if any information is withheld from general circulation, they’ll be the ones who are out of the loop; but they do appear to believe that.

    I don’t have any satisfactory theories yet. I need a lot more data.

  229. Look all the fainting couches BB keeps in these comment threads!

    How many ‘long time readers’ are just so disappointed but still totally unwilling to give you the benefit of the doubt and just move on.

    Boingers, you don’t answer to us, and please don’t start now. As you were, rocking on.

  230. @287 Brian Carnell:

    I feel a great deal of empathy for Xeni, and don’t fault her for what she did.

    Boiling it down to “Q: ZOMG we hate Violet Blue now what are going to do?” “A: Off with the posts.” is an insensitive, unfair, and inaccurate characterization. I wish you wouldn’t do that because I know you are smarter and kinder than that.

    I’d do the same as Xeni I were in her shoes and I might do the same at some time in the future, but not without consulting with the rest of the gang for their opinion first, and working in good faith to reach consensus. That’s what we learned. I hope that’s good enough for you.

  231. Mdhatter, I’ll move on when my account is restored. Until then, I’ll just have to post on temp accounts if so inclined. If I’m lucky, the IP of this coffeehouse will get banned by the skilled technicians.

  232. @ #276 Mark:

    “I hope you never took it seriously in the first place, Brian. I don’t.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much the source of the problem. Despite the presentation of BB as a respectable media (i.e., calling yourselves editors, etc…), you guys don’t take your jobs seriously, and apparently never have.

    But fine, you guys are just bloggers, nothing more. BoingBoing is just your MySpace or LiveJournal. We get it. We’ll stop treating you as reliable media. You’re just a blogger, we shouldn’t expect you to behave in a professional or ethical manner. You’ve convinced us.

  233. Blingcheese (again) @206: No. It’s about how the Boingers handle unpublishing. Moderation is something else again.

  234. frankieshipley, there’s a universal law that whenever one complains about someone else’s grammar, one will make a mistake of one’s own. I think there must be something similar that applies whenever one boasts about one’s l33t hax0r skillz. You really should be laughing at yourself by now.

  235. #297 – You need a more fulfilling hobby, and a smaller sense of entitlement. I know who you are from your style, and you got banned for being a real jerk when I was trying (initially) to have an honest conversation with you. You drew me out, and are now singling me out… so you’re clearly not here for that. So why are you still here? There are plenty of other sites to troll. Please go away, you little stinker.

  236. @Burnchao – Despite the presentation of BB as a respectable media (i.e., calling yourselves editors, etc…), you guys don’t take your jobs seriously, and apparently never have.

    What are you, their boss? Stop it please, your inflated sense of entitlement is blocking out the sun and sucking the air from the room.

  237. So, while being compared to leeches and Robert Mugabe and whatnot is all very exciting for a girls’ ego, and all this discussion of potato salad and beer is making me hongry — here’s part of what I was hoping might happen in this thread:

    How much detail, how much of an inktrail, do people actually want from blogs? Leave aside BoingBoing, even, or not, I am more thinking aloud about blogs in general.

    For instance: Kottke, I believe (??), used to or still does have a style convention that involves striking out every single error or change, no matter what (think: even punctuation errors).

    We here tend to strike out only the edits that substantively change the body of the post (think: errors or omissions).

    Any changes we make are readily visible in the RSS feed. Any deletions or unpublishings — in short, any takedowns of entire posts — are discoverable through the Wayback Machine and other methods; we certainly don’t try to hide that, or make anything “vanish.”

    How much detail do people really want? And what are some thoughtful ways to provide that, technically?

  238. Lucifer @219, please don’t embarrass yourself any further. We’ve known that you’re a sockpuppet, and which banned user you are. We also know who you really are, not that we’d tell anyone.

    It’s been interesting watching you prose on about truth, transparency, responsible behavior, and honest opinions.

  239. #298 posted by Burnchao:

    …you guys are just bloggers, nothing more.

    Yeah man! I agree, bloggers ain’t shit! The only thing less significant than a blogger is a troll on a blog… and that’s really, really… insignificant.

  240. Mike Harris @222: we’re sorry the appropriate thread doesn’t have a big enough audience to suit your ambitions, but it is where you should be posting.

  241. Ace xeni – we’re back on topic
    The strike outs are pretty much a standard now.
    Why not put a short note and link to the wayback machine instead of having a 404 error?

  242. I’ve been staying out this here, but at the end of it I feel like I need to say something.

    I’ve been on the Internet since Bush Sr was in the White House. I was a pretty heavy participant in the Usenet back in the days. I know what trolling is. I know what it looks like. I know that using “troll” as a noun is actually incorrect to describe someone who trolls.

    Heck, I’ve done it myself.

    So I look at the thousands of comments that have been written about all of this, and I’m kinda stumped at the “trolls” various writers are alluding to. Because I see there are a few, but I also see a lot of people with some very real concerns here being dismissed as “trolls.” Or “non-readers.” Or “cranks.”

    And it seems this easy dismissal, combined with the caustic moderation, has only fed this kerfluffle. It makes me think you’re not willing to admit that maybe there is some truth to what’s been said.

    I mean, in a sense, you’re responding to these comments with non sequiturs and name-calling. Isn’t that what trolls do?

    And it saddens me to see how poorly you’ve handled all of this. I mean, who’s the “winner” in this mess? Yeah, exactly. She could just sit there and grin while you all stumbled through this mess. Meanwhile, you’ve been pilloried in the papers and on blogs around the world for all the mistakes listed in this post.

    It’s sad. I really liked reading you guys, but lately I feel like I’m listening to some band’s rehashed new album wondering what the hell happened. All this kerfluffle was just the concert tour you phoned in on top of the bad album. Get back to being creative. Stop being so stretched between your thousand projects. Get interesting again.

    And stop being so dismissive of anyone who opposes you as “trolls” or “cranks.” Many of us read the blog from the beginning, some (not me) read the zine. I think we have the right to say that you’ve lost the plot and not get called a bunch of cranks or lumped in with a bunch of trolls.

  243. @sumer88, that’s one option, yes. Some also spoke of a sort of changelog that folks could subscribe to, sort of like a ringside seat into a trash can? Where all you see is the omitted or destroyed scraps. Even if only as a technical feat, and a kind of internet art project, that piqued my imagination.

    Part of what we’re discussing here is BB’s internal editorial process (or lack thereof), and part of what we’re discussing here is what info we share, and how we provide it, to our community/audience/readership/6 gajillion best friends.

  244. What’s this “kerfluffle” I keep hearing about? I thought it was “kerfuffle.” Grammar police where are you! Teresaaaaaaaaaa!

    If it’s a kerfluffle, any person who keeps beating it to death and won’t let it die is a kerfluffer.

  245. How much detail, how much of an inktrail, do people actually want from blogs?

    those UPDATES (in red) you usually use work fine, though it can be confusing when there’s no “something was edited here” marking. I prefer strikethrough for short passages, and excision with a footnote for longer bits.

    Case in point: The London boombing post (wayback link is above) that went away. It may have been a better call to excise that one line that was needing removal (for whatever the reason) and leave a footnote – “**paragraph removed by XJ, mm/dd/yy, reason:XOXO”, or as much additional explanation as you care to give us.

    I also really like the idea of the http 410 error page someone discussed above. It may require a very pretty unicorn to work as intended.

  246. Xeni @ 304: It really depends on what the blog is for. If it’s a news blog, then the exact original post needs to be discernible. For posts on Boing Boing that have the nature of a news item, that’s a good standard.

    Not every post comes to that standard.

    I don’t think you can write a good explicit detailed ruleset capable of being cranked through mechanically.

    What I think can be done is at least two-fold.

    First, in the event that you later change your mind, or have some other reason to show it, the original post must be preserved. I think that’s a rule. Maybe changing a comma to a period or fixing a typo doesn’t rise to that need, but it’s an easy rule.

    Second, whenever you want to change a post, articulate to yourself why you want to make the change. Ask what impact the change might have on a reader. Decide how much of the reason you’ve articulated you’re willing to share. Then do so.

    One quibble with your comment:

    Not every change is going to be caught by the Wayback Machine. it’s a pull, not a push, and it runs on its own schedule.

    (Years ago, I thought there might be a business in providing an auditing service for publishers and others who wanted to provide an independent trail of what had gone onto a website, what was changed, and when.)

  247. “Benefit of the doubt”. That’s a phrase that’s been conspicuous by its absence in these poo-flinging threads.

    About these threads that have been colaterally unpublished in the VB affair, the benefit of my doubt has it that Xeni used some automated tool to unpub all the threads mentioning VB without checking too closely, presumably because the incident inspiring the act was still a bit raw. Shrug, easy mistake to make. (It’s probably redundant to mention that this is another good reason to discuss editorial actions with the rest of the editorial team, or at least one other BBer, but I’ll throw it in here in case it isn’t.)

    Further, because I’m generally a forgiving person, my doubt’s benefit points towards the idea that no-one has yet restored these posts because everybody on the editorial team thinks that someone else is going to do it. And because I trust that the BBers are intelligent, I’m not even going to make a suggestion about that. But I bet my pretty blue bonnet something will happen about that.

    See, benefit of the doubt, million and one uses, do take internally.

  248. Brian Carnell @ 97 (and elsewhere, and elsewhere, and elsewhere):

    You wrote, “Whether it continues to be available is apparently entirely up to how Xeni is feeling about her personal relationship with Violet Blue on any given day.”

    Yeah. And, um, what’s wrong with that?

    You do not have the right to go back and re-read every post ever written on BB, and no one at BB has the obligation to maintain every post ever written for your personal perusal.

    Do you know exactly and precisely what happened between them? No? Then butt out and allow Xeni the dignity of maintaining her integrity according to her own lights.

    No one at BB is required to live up to any particular reader’s standards of blogging, whether it’s viewed as a personal journal or as news.

    I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but it seems to me that telling someone it was “wrong” to delete a blog entry is equivalent to telling someone it was “wrong” to vote Democrat, or have an abortion, or go six months without flossing. You’re only allowed to tell someone their choices were “bad” when you’re their best friend and you know all the details.

    Until that time, I think the folks at BB do a bang-up job, and I’m happy to let them delete anything they think they ought to. I trust that any such deletions will not derail the entire free world (such as it is).

    p.s. oh, yeah, ditto #2.

  249. I seriously can’t believe people cared so much about deleting a handful of posts from a few years ago. What the fuck? And then Valleywag mis-reported it, in their usual fashion. I swear, every single time I click on a link to a post on a Gawker blog, it’s a slapdash, sensationalized misunderstanding of the real story.

    This whole affair is right out of a circle of twelve-year-old girls’ livejournals. “OMG BOINGBOING FRIENDS-LOCKED SOME OLD POSTS ABOUT ME!” becomes “OMG BOINGBOING DELETED OLD POSTS BY SOMEONE THEY BOOTED OUT! DRAMA!”. Cue shrieking hordes of angry commenters, looking for DRAMA! ON! THE! INTERNET! because nothing livens up your shitty day job like watching someone else melt down, and mocking them to see if you can get them to melt down some more.

  250. Actually, OED says “curfuffle.” So we’re all wrong.

    But I like “kerfluffle” because of the “fluff” part.

  251. @#312 mdhatter, I rather like the notion of unicorns on 410 error pages. I might take down more posts if we did that, though, just to see more of the pretty unicorns.

    @#314 John A Arkansawyer, those are really interesting points. you are right, I didn’t mean to imply that the Wayback Machine was an outsourced archive service, but my point was simply that there were ways for us to have foolishy attempted to “vanish” information from Wayback or Google, and we haven’t.

    @#315 Nelson.C, regarding the first graf of your comment: that is exactly what happened, at one point during the post review process. The oversight was corrected, and I regret that error.

    Regarding the second graf of your comment, here you are mistaken. I am sure you are commenting in good faith, and I respect why you perceive the situation as you do, but feel differently.

  252. Bad Pxy @ 317: You hurt my feelings terribly when you said, “You’re only allowed to tell someone their choices were ‘bad’ when you’re their best friend and you know all the details.” You don’t know me well enough to say that. How dare you!

  253. @Nelson – The benefit of your doubt sure does require a lot of idle speculation, so I ask you, where is the benefit in it, exactly? Who, aside from you, gets it?

  254. xeni – the trash can idea is interesting, could also be kind of cool in terms of comments that have been moderated/rejected.
    i guess if someone puts the energy into posting something that is deemed as inappropriate, you might as well let it go somewhere else where others can play, remix, amuse themselves with it..

  255. Mdhatter, I really doubt that you know who I am (though I expect Teresa does). You and I have never interacted ever, here or elsewhere, which means I suspect you are mistaking me for some other person that you have a problem with, posting style comments or not…

    I’m in agreement with DW@309. I’ve been on the net since 1989 and was a heavy Usenet poster back in the day. Very little of the “trolling” here qualifies as such unless you want to dismiss everyone here that is mildly pissed off and willing to say so or be critical of the “moderation” that goes on here as a troll. Being pissed off doesn’t make you a troll nor does being willing to state it clearly if bluntly.

  256. @sumer88,

    the trash can idea is interesting, could also be kind of cool in terms of comments that have been moderated/rejected.

    Wow, I had never thought of this. Boy, we sure could make some fun episodes of BBtv’s SPAM THEATER out of this, only they’d be, like, TROLL THEATER. People say the darndest things in comment threads sometimes. We could build BBtv scripts out of this stuff and never have to come up with original material again!

  257. Sorry, gotta say one more thing:

    John @ 314: you wrote, “the original post must be preserved. I think that’s a rule.”

    John, I bear you no ill will and I totally respect your opinion. But Xeni and other BB folk: I think that idea is totally crap.

    I realize that this all snowballed into a huge kerfuffle (correct spelling) and that y’all feel bad about that.

    But Xeni, I think your post is far more apologetic than it needs to be. You wrote stuff. You showed it to people online. Now you’re choosing to not show it to people online.

    Transparency is good and I’m glad we all care about it. Trust is also good. I think you’ve earned the right to have us trust you if you decide you need to take something down for personal reasons. I can safely say that I have zero fear that BB will become a hotbed of censorship.

    Sheesh.

  258. @305 posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator
    “please don’t embarrass yourself any further. We’ve known that you’re a sockpuppet, and which banned user you are. We also know who you really are, not that we’d tell anyone.”

    Well bravo. That is incredible detective work inspector Lestrade. You’ll have to tell me how you saw through the most transparent subterfuge imaginable whereby replacing “Satan” with “Lucifer” and using a near identical email address as my login identifier and the same password lead you to pierce through my dark veil of secrecy.

    Speaking of veiled – I see you’re back on this whole business of dispensing threats like you’re got a surplus running. What’s up with that? Seems to me like you the moderator is the one running some kind of vendetta. What’s worse – a cute sockpuppett made of natural fibers or netstalking and moderating with hostility?

    “It’s been interesting watching you prose on about truth, transparency, responsible behavior, and honest opinions.”

    Are you truly that obtuse? a-hah got me there choking on my own hypocrisy because I signed in using basically the same identity as before. At least you owe me partial credit for consistency, which I count as responsible behavior and honesty. As far as transparency goes, I am not the one saying “I have a private dirty secret that lead me to unpublish a bunch of stuff but I won’t tell you” so yes, I am more transparent. Satan – Lucifer… come on – that’s a pretty transparent naming scheme wouldn’t you say?

  259. I usually don’t even read this kind of stuff on boingboing because its boring to me and I don’t like reading boring stuff.. but the rate of expansion on this thread caught my eye so I looked up the “violet blue” controversy and boy was I asleep fast. Honestly, you should just lock this thread and not reference or acknowledge anything to do with THAT ever again, I know I won’t miss it.

    I don’t read everything you guys publish because frankly a lot of it doesn’t interest me, but there are some days when its like this blog was designed to personally delight me, and thats why I always come back. The other days I can get over them because I’m a grown up and realize that “wonderful things” can mean many different things to different people. It’s your own site and you’re doing a pretty damn good job as far as I can tell, keep it up, don’t change much.. maybe less Little Brother posts.

  260. @ 309 DW:

    “[I]t seems this easy dismissal, combined with the caustic moderation, has only fed this kerfluffle. It makes me think you’re not willing to admit that maybe there is some truth to what’s been said.”

    We created these threads precisley *because* we admitted and apologized for fucking up.

    “I mean, in a sense, you’re responding to these comments with non sequiturs and name-calling. Isn’t that what trolls do?”

    Yes, trolls call people names. Non-trolls do, too. Trolls eat breakfast. Non trolls do, too. So what?

    “And it saddens me to see how poorly you’ve handled all of this. I mean, who’s the “winner” in this mess? Yeah, exactly. She could just sit there and grin while you all stumbled through this mess. Meanwhile, you’ve been pilloried in the papers and on blogs around the world for all the mistakes listed in this post.”

    Boing Boing has not been “pilloried” by any paper. Some blogs have had harsh words for Boing Boing, and I’m hopping mad about it. I tried to unpublish the posts on those blogs, but our Movable Type install just wouldn’t let me do it! You’ve been on the internet since the Bush, Sr. era. Do you think you can help me out?

    “It’s sad. I really liked reading you guys, but lately I feel like I’m listening to some band’s rehashed new album wondering what the hell happened.”

    It’s all Yoko’s fault, man.

    All this kerfluffle was just the concert tour you phoned in on top of the bad album. Get back to being creative. Stop being so stretched between your thousand projects. Get interesting again.

    Wait till you hear my solo album! I’ve converted to Mithraism and you’re really gonna dig my message for all humankind.

    “And stop being so dismissive of anyone who opposes you as ‘trolls’ or ‘cranks.’ Many of us read the blog from the beginning, some (not me) read the zine. I think we have the right to say that you’ve lost the plot and not get called a bunch of cranks or lumped in with a bunch of trolls.”

    You are not a troll, DW. You are not a crank. Now will you please tell me where that darned plot went?

  261. @ #327 bad pxy: yes, +1 to all of that, thanks for the kind words.

    We deliberately did not say “here is our new absolutist policy,” because every situation is different, and because we (I anyway) sort of abhor policies where they are not needed.

    As I said in the post, taking down content for non-usual reasons is **extremely** rare in our archive of 48ishK posts (have to check on current total, including BBg and BBtv). None of us have ever done so for trivial or petty reasons.

    We have agreed on good practices we will follow if such an extraordinary situation occurs again. I frankly hope it does not.

  262. @xeni
    bb junkyard presents *rant theater*
    then nobody will feel left out and neglected for not getting their posts up on a thread..

  263. The good that comes from giving people the benefit of the doubt is that it’s a kind thing to do. Much comes from that. People are more willing to communicate with you honestly when you cut them some slack and don’t always assume the worst of them.

    It’s that simple; hard sometimes, but simple. It’s not always appropriate; sometimes a long-running and consistent behavior on someone’s part demands suspicion. Most of the time, though, giving people the benefit of the doubt is the right thing to do.

    God knows I’ve ripped a few new ones in people over the years. It’s a behavior best avoided when possible.

  264. OK. I give in. I just can’t stop myself. The beer and potato salad have long gone, and all the other displacement activities I use to stop myself actually doing any real work have been exhausted.

    So, I’ve read the posts about “The Events Transpiring”, the umpteen comments here and in the other threads, considered various synonyms for “kerfuffle” (hubbub, to-do, flap, stir and ballyhoo spring to mind), scratched my head a bit, petted the cat, and come to the conclusion that I’m left with a vague sense of unease. That’s it, really. Am I going to miss those unpublished posts? Not especially. Am I a bit surprised that they quietly vanished? A bit. Is it going to interfere with my enjoyment of BB in the future? Hardly. Have lessons been learned? I hope so.

    Back to work.

    *sigh*

  265. Lucifer/Satan – you ARE, however, the one insinuating the secret is ‘dirty’.

    And that is insulting, and yes, it is transparent too.

  266. Short version of 329: “I knew that you knew, all along! I even knew that you knew that I knew that you knew!”

  267. John @ 322 —

    How is it that you were replying to my post at 317 before I had even said anything about you (which I did at 327)?

    You made me laugh :-) (serious, not sarcasm!) I didn’t intend any of my comments to be directed to you personally. I apologize for stating any personal opinion about what is “allowed” in this thread. Did I fall into the sin of saying, “you can’t tell anyone else to not do something! and this is me, telling you not to do that!” ;-)

  268. Xeni @321: Eh, I thought I was doing well to suggest a normal, human explanation in my second graf, rather than the flinging around of accusations of pure evil that some commenters favour. If I offended you or anyone with my guess, please be assured it was completely inadvertent.

    On the other thing: when editing posts I would favour a note along the lines of “Edited by $name at $time for $reason” where $reason can be as simple or complicated as you like, e.g. “grammar” or “because I was being a ditz” or “esprit d’escalier” or whatever. It might be overkill for removing a comma or similarly trivial edits, but it seems like a good habit to have.

  269. Bad Pxy @ 327: I didn’t mean to say “preserved out there for everyone to see”. I meant to say “preserved by the author for the author.” If you still disagree, that’s fine, but it occurs to me I might not’ve explained myself clearly.

    When you say, “Trust is also good. I think you’ve earned the right to have us trust you if you decide you need to take something down for personal reasons,” I’m completely with you. It’s a drag to view the world through the lens of continual mistrust.

    (Why, yes, I did do that in a past life. Yes, I do still occasionally feel irrational and unnecessary suspicion. Yes, it does suck.)

  270. Wait….ornament….that’s good, right? I was rather hoping for Falchion of Truth and Buckler of Justice for Threads Everywhere.

    At least tell me I’m a pretty ornament that goes well with the whole outfit.

  271. Npblshd @234, I’m not going to have a fight with you any more than I’m going to have one with Cheesebling or Mike Harris or Lucifer. However, as a purely administrative act, I’m afraid I’m going to have to say, in reference to this:

    Just as last time, the comments here are heavily censored.

    You lie, you lie, I say three times you lie.

    Comments got very little behind-the-scenes moderation last time, and this time they’re getting next to none.

    You’re not acting in good faith.

  272. #339 Nelson.C, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to have sounded defensive, it’s fine — I’m just saying the thrust of that final graf was mistaken. The bigger point is that I appreciated your kind and reasonable approach. I think your idea about including a short expression of data along with the removal is not a bad idea, we’ve been batting that idea around, too. Funny to see some of the ideas we generated internally also express themselves “in the wild.”

    Also, Mark Frauenfelder wins at this thread.

  273. Teresa @347 is correct. People who are saying that the comments in this thread are “heavily censored” are either mistaken or lying and just trying to stir up trouble. Of course, you have to trust me (and us) when I say that.

  274. John @ 341 —

    I did misunderstand you. I will happily agree with “preserved by the author for the author.”

    But while I think that’s a good rule — I was wishing just a few weeks ago that I could find my stupid journal from my freshman year of high school! — I won’t say that any BB reader has the right to insist Xeni follow that rule.

    Enjoying the smart, interesting posts that these smart, interesting people publish for us is a privilege, not a right, no?

    Out of purely personal curiosity, are you so jaded that you do not trust the (sort of) nameless, faceless BB editors? I thought I was jaded and cynical!

  275. David,

    Having seen my own comments censored under my old account and had Teresa deny it in e-mail (as if I hadn’t seen it), I have a hard time giving anyone here my trust on this issue anymore. It’s been lost (as has much of my good will as one of your earliest readers/fans/promoters to others). As with my other comments, I expect no reply from you or the other editors here.

  276. We could bring in Ken Snider. He can see the backstage areas as well as we can.

  277. @#333 sumer88, I imagine BBTV RANT THEATER, based on unpublished troll comments, looking like Fat Albert and sounding like the Chipmunks.

  278. David Pescovitz @ 351: Trust you people? Like I said, I’ve met Teresa. When I did, I discovered that she’s not fourteen, she wasn’t home alone drinking, and she has a beard. And handcuffs.

    Trust you? I think not.

  279. Bad Pxy @ 352: If I didn’t have some level of trust for these folks, I wouldn’t bother talking with them.

    The previous life in which I was continually suspicious was far ago and long away. I think.

  280. Xeni @311:

    What’s this “kerfluffle” I keep hearing about? I thought it was “kerfuffle.” Grammar police where are you! Teresaaaaaaaaaa!

    If it’s a kerfluffle, any person who keeps beating it to death and won’t let it die is a kerfluffer.

    Sorry, Xeni — I had to go put out a brushfire.

    Kerfluffle, variant spelling of kerfuffle. The latter is roughly eleven times as common. The former is the version I learned as a sprat. I’ve never successfully switched over to the commoner form.

    Clear back at comment 146, Ryane said,

    whatevers cool with me, as long as you call it a kerfluffle.

    Which is a grantable wish if I ever saw one. At the moment I realized that, I posted the word “Kerfluffle” because, I don’t know, it seemed like a really good thing to do at the time.

    It may not be an adequate explanation, but it’s as much explanation as there is.

  281. John @ 360 —

    Teresa’s going to delete this, as well she should, but if your name which links to your website does not have a “contact” link, how can I continue to harass/flirt with you?

    Also, has no one ever told you that white Courier on a black background is horrible to read?

  282. John @359: That wasn’t Teresa. More than that I will not say. But… could you post the handcuffs back to me?

  283. @ #321 Xeni

    that is exactly what happened, at one point during the post review process. The oversight was corrected, and I regret that error.

    Then say that in the first place!!! You have Teresa, in this thread, still denying that happened, after we’ve been bringing it up for weeks! When I pointed it out weeks ago, you denied it happened, then restored the ones I pointed out some time later. If you’d start being transparent, your fellow bloggers wouldn’t stick their feet in their mouths defending you.

    The act restoring those mistakes seem like the only action taken so far, and they were left out of this post that supposedly was about updating us on the actions taken so far. Your own mods don’t even know about it. Come on!

  284. Xeni, Cory, David, Mark, Joel:

    Your work on BB makes my days brighter. Thanks!

    As for the issue at hand, I like the idea of a .Trash that never gets emptied, where discarded posts and redacted text is tossed to moulder and be picked over by the web vulturz. Sort of a Boing Boing unWonderful Landfill. I also like the idea of placing moderated comments in there as well. Perhaps someone will fashion an ASCII reproduction of “The Scream” from the contents for use on a commemorative t-shirt…

  285. Burnchao, Please try re-reading Xeni’s comments to you at 321, and take them both at face value. Both of them, not just the one you agree with while allowing the other to blow over your head. Thank you, carry on.

    BBrs – I love the idea of a BB Rant Theatre or whatever.

  286. Burnchao @364: like you’ve never dealt with a situation of imperfect but developing knowledge? If there’s a better technique for dealing with it than “tell the truth and timestamp everything,” feel free to tell me about it.

  287. Lightfoote @236, thank you, and I hope you have an excellent time tonight. I’ll hoist one for you, next time I escape and go outside.

  288. Mark Frauenfelder @262:

    You have wasted my time long enough. Everything you’ve said here has been wrong.

    For the first time ever, I regret giving up embroidering mottos as cross-stitched samplers.

  289. Frankie Shipley @266: That part about the Boingers looking down on you from the heights of intellectual superiority, elitism, et cetera? That’s all your imagination. It’s like kneeling on the floor while you accuse everyone around you of wearing lifts in their shoes.

    I don’t think the Boingers have anything to do with the reasons countries slide down into Communism.

  290. Sweet cuppin’ cakes. This is one of those times where I’ve continued reading a thread where I should have just stopped. Dios mio. You all get cookies. Now be nice to each other. Because like Kurt said — god damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

    It’s like an episode of behind the music. Except it’s more train wrecky. With less cocaine. And hair products. But still like that.

  291. Brian @272, if Cory were worried about it, it would take him about ninety seconds to republish the material.

  292. Frank in Virginia @274: Everyone should be grateful to not be stuck full of forks and plugged into a wall socket, yourself included. It can’t be a pleasant experience.

  293. Lucifer @278:

    hagbard

    I don’t care that you’re at work.
    You’re misunderstood because you’re an unclear communicator.
    I rule.

    Woot! To quote Ethan at Making Light, my Bingo card just burst into flames.

    I haven’t heard one that good since the time Bill Patterson tried to cap a yes-it-is/no-it-isn’t argument by claiming he had superior perceptions of objective reality.

  294. Hongaku @280, waiting a while, writing me a non-surly letter saying you want back in, and behaving yourself thereafter, is likely to be sufficient.

    I get no joy out of banning people. I just want them to be civil and pleasant to those around them so that everyone can enjoy the conversation. Some days I think my real job is convincing rhinos that there are other species in the world.

  295. I love this site and the seeming polymaths who write for it. But I think someone needs to clarify a few things. Did Ms. Jardin remove posts (Yes, wayback is there, but…) because they mentioned or were attributed to (or whatever it was) this Violet Blue…entity? (You’ll have to excuse my out-of-the-loopedness, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.) If the reason for the removal of the posts was, shall we say, personal in nature, then someone should say so. I for one won’t care all that much (no apologies necessary), although the BB luster will probably require a nice spritz of Pledge. Once that has been clarified, maybe then the discussion can move to a definition of ownership, a new protocol for such eventualities, and the fine art of thread moderation.

    Again, I love it here. And, for what it’s worth, there isn’t another site that I’ve liked that has gone even half this long before letting me down, bigtime. And this isn’t a letdown. Not yet.

    To get the ball rolling, allow me to offer an opening to your explanation/clarification. It should start with (or at least include) the following construct:

    “I could no more disown my [ ] than I could my [ ].”

    Works like a charm. For a while.

  296. Nelson C. @283: It’s so embarrassing. He must be someone I’ve disemvowelled or banned, but I honestly don’t remember doing it.

  297. @294 TNH

    Ross @190, that’s an interesting question, given how common it is for websites to remove content without mentioning it to their users. I’ve been wondering whether it’s related to the disproportionate sense of outrage and personal invalidation we sometimes see in people who’ve had one or two comments disemvowelled or removed by a moderator. You know how that goes: some take it in stride, most kvetch, and a few react as though we’d threatened the entire basis of their online existence.

    Sorry for the long quote, but it was good.
    I wonder if there’s a disorder where people lose the ability to differentiate between self and words. I ran into this as a (poor) Mod, where people would fight to the last breath to retain an accidental racial slur, factual error or drunken outburst like it was a vital organ.
    Maybe we can get a grant to study it.

  298. Hongaku (again) @292: No, I’m not going to delete your account. If I’d known you were grieving over it that much, I’d have reinstated you ages ago.

    Welcome back.

  299. MkSm32 @293:<>Frst rsl K. L Gn gts th x …N. Cnvnc m tht’s n hnst mstk, nd ‘ll b lt lss dsppntd wth y.

    Cry pstd wht h thght ws chrmng xcrpt frm lngr wrk by L Gn. Trnd t t ws th ntrty f shrt pc, s fr s ddn’t pply. Cry tk t dwn s sn s h rlzd wht h’d dn.

    nfrtntly, hngr-n n th pr SF cmmnty wh’d rcntly lst fght wth Cry trd t blw th ncdnt p nt bg dmb <>prtrnt mnts SFW thrsh. Ths ws shrt-crctd by Cry tkng dwn th xcrpt s sn s h rlzd wht h’d dn.

    n th wk f tht st f ntrctns, Cry rlzd tht n prssn ws gng t prvnt sm f Bng Bng’s cmmntrs frm trshng L Gn, wrtr whm h hlds n cnsdrbl rspct. ls, h fgrd L Gn hd bn n th rght nd h’d bn n th wrng, s t wsn’t ccptbl fr hr t gt trshd lk tht.

    Cry thrfr sht dwn cmmnts n tht thrd. Sm rdrs trd t rstrt th rgmnt n thr thrds. Ths cmmnts gt npblshd.

    f y’r nt gng t g th “t ws n hnst mstk, hnst” rt, fl lk xplnng hw tht cn lgtmtly b dscrbd s “rsl K. L Gn gts th x”?

  300. Burnchao @298, I know you’re just trying to be nasty, but I honestly feel that you could be doing a much better job of it if only you’d try harder. As it is, your nastiness feels like you’re phoning it in.

  301. DW @309, the meaning of “troll” has shifted since those days. It’s a normal linguistic process.

  302. Teresa @ 377:

    “Dr. Rance: Did you enjoy it?”

    “Mrs Prentiss: At first. But the pleasures of the senses quickly pall.”

  303. BIG DITTO #2! cory: happy freekin birfday! BONK -BOINK: u guyz rock, i read yas almost every day and gots no complaints. DON’T FIRE TERESA :even tho she disemvowelled me, i prolly deserved it. xeni, cory, david, mark, et al… i have one surefire way to make this the very best fuckin blog on the whole of god’s grey earth and it is this : FREE CAKE AND ICE-CREAM! ON DEMAND! so simple, yet so mindbogglingly awesome, it can’t possibly go wrong!

  304. Boingers,

    Thanks for addressing the matter so candidly, especially Xeni.

    One suggestion: next time you could robots.txt and sitemap the hell out of the offending posts. That way random people using Google and other search engine would not find them, but existing weblog links would still be working.

    Could this be an acceptable middle ground?

  305. Well I won’t consider this issue resolved until everyone remotely connected to the site has weighed in.

    Wil Wheaton, where are you? Adam Koford?

    Until EVERYONE has had their say this issue might as well go on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

    *gets distracted by shiny thing and wanders away*

  306. At this point, everyone should know that the cake is a lie. Free ice cream though, I could get behind that!

  307. I’m so very glad to see this post. Thanks Xeni. Taking responsibility and being forthright sooner rather than later is the Right Thing To Do. Sadly the first, belated public explanation (I’m not sure it was even written by a regular Boinger) was in that defensive PR-double-talk style that is so aggravating. It just made the problem worse. If that was the result of BBers not able to coordinate, then so be it, but you must realize you DO have a collective persona and reputation and you need to be careful about how you sound to your readers. It’s happened a couple times before too (about ads). Perhaps the wrong person is writing your collective statements about issues like these.

    Also, while I won’t get too upset about it as others here are doing, I do wish the moderation at BB came without snark and personal attacks. It’s a problem I’ve seen occur many times and I’ve borne the brunt of it once. I hope the head mod learns “moderation” does not equal “counterattack”. Disagreement and criticism aren’t good reasons for a moderator to vent against commenters. That’s the antithesis of good moderation. And again, the confrontational moderation made the Violet Blue issue worse for Boing Boing.

  308. Teresa Nielsen Hayden: putting the fluff back in the kerfluffle since the big BoingBoing kerfluffle of 2008.

    /me runs and hides

  309. Xeni, I’m glad you editors learned something from this kerfuffle. The short answer is that yes, you should have a policy on deleting older material, and you should help each other make sure that your policy is followed. This doesn’t just benefit the readers, it also protects you from uncertainty and random journalistic brickbats.

    What the policy should be in detail is of course up to you guys, but I can make some general suggestions. First, your posts are your own, and you should have final say as to their fate, but you should probably not, as a matter of policy, delete the posts of other editors without consulting them first. (I’m not suggesting you did, just mentioning one reasonable plank of policy.) Second, as has been mentioned already, you should have a polite “Deleted at the request of the author” notice, not a 404 message – if only so people don’t unnecessarily worry that the DOWT is crashing.

    My third and more interesting suggestion for your deletion policy is this: Any situation where an editor suddenly wants to delete *lots* of old postings – not one or two, but let us say a dozen or more – should trigger a discussion with fellow editors. Mass deletions are a seismic event, and as you’ve seen they can unintended consequences. Giving your fellow editors a heads-up protects them from feeling blindsided, and – who knows – might even yield some collective wisdom and an alternative solution. Perhaps some things can be edited rather than purged. Perhaps the “good part” can be archived another way. At the very least, everyone will know what’s going on.

    Good luck with your journey on this.

  310. #367 posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator Author Profile Page, July 18, 2008 7:05 PM

    Burnchao @364: like you’ve never dealt with a situation of imperfect but developing knowledge? If there’s a better technique for dealing with it than “tell the truth and timestamp everything,” feel free to tell me about it.

    @ #367 TNH

    like you’ve never dealt with a situation of imperfect but developing knowledge?

    Come on Teresa. You guys have spent how many weeks on this? She wasn’t even transparent with you. She left you in the dark, while you’re defending her. I’m not faulting you for getting in wrong, I’m faulting for putting you in that situation.

    There hasn’t been any “Lessons Learned” by her, despite the thread title. It should’ve been said right away. It should’ve been said in the top of the thread. She still has no idea on how to be forth-coming and transparent, and it’s responsible for leading you and others into speaking untruths.

  311. #389 posted by HarshLanguage,

    Sadly the first, belated public explanation (I’m not sure it was even written by a regular Boinger) was in that defensive PR-double-talk style that is so aggravating. It just made the problem worse.

    (…)

    Perhaps the wrong person is writing your collective statements about issues like these.

    Hehe! So, your point is a serious and sincere one, but it’s funny to read, because the post was written collaboratively and approved collaboratively by all of us. Not a PR consultant or a brand manager or a Crisis Management Life Coach (TM or anything like that.

    And that’s what I/we were getting at in this post. We didn’t have such a great system in place for handling fast, coordinated response to things like this, so we fumbled a bit. We’re not a big corporation.

    The frankenvoice you’re describing is like what would happen if you took scans of all our faces and mushed them together in one of those face-morphing software apps. You’d end up with something that was technically all of us, but looked unfamiliar.

    We did our best to accommodate the nuances each person felt best represented their point of view, and we were (with the first post) trying to avoid a petty personal battle. It’s hard for 5, 6, 7 people who all have very particular voices to agree on exactly how to articulate something like this, under intense fire, under what felt like intense time pressure.

    We weren’t trying to speak like publicists, we were trying to figure out how to address something sensitive and volatile, and do so ethically, responsibly, and in a way we would not regret later.

    We fumbled in communication, as I said above. But we did not behave, individually or collectively, in a way that violated what I feel is a personal moral code. We did no harm to any person. I can live with that.

  312. @#392 Tom Neff, +1, enthusiastically.

    I think all of that makes very good sense, and those exact things are some of what I — and we — have learned from this. I really appreciate both the content and tone of your comment, thank you very much.

  313. Clarification on my comment #394:

    We did our best to accommodate the nuances each person felt best represented their point of view, and we were (with the first post) trying to avoid a petty personal battle.

    that was badly written, I did not mean a “personal battle” among BB editors with one another, but a “personal battle” in public with other parties, as in, a blog-drama/internet combat telenovela.

  314. The truth would have been simpler for you and more satisfying to your readers.

    You could simply say, I had a relationship with a person. This relationship enabled their participation in Boing Boing as an editor. When the relationship ended, their contributions ceased and I deleted their posts. I deleted the posts because I was angry with the person and wanted to hurt them. Every reader has done the same thing to an ex at least once in their life. Surprise, I’m a human.

    Instead in this post, you’ve hidden behind the “we” pronoun and offered justifications that have nothing to do with why you did what you did. I see this because just like I’ve retaliated against an ex in the past too, I’ve also hidden in a group to diffuse blame and offered justifications instead of truth. :)

    For those who have walked in your shoes, a confession from the perspective of a flawed, feeling human being would invoke true empathy. Indeed, provided martyrdom is skirted it could be an amazing blog entry. Certainly better than one above filled with “we” and justifications.

  315. It’s YOUR BLOG!

    Anyone who criticizes what you do with your own words needs to get a life.

    And anyone who is spelunking in posts long past REALLY needs to get a life.

  316. @#395 Xeni, you’re welcome, and hey, thanks for your reporting, I always turn the sound up in the kitchen when I hear your name. :)

  317. Tom Neff @#392, Whoa. Were you eavesdropping on our conference call the other day? +1 to your suggestions. Thanks!

  318. Xeni, please.
    You don’t have to apologize or justify to anyone for what has transpired here. I thank you -others probably do also- for allowing us to play in your backyard with the rest of your friends. What you guys do here extends our world and our consciousness -even if just a little bit- everyday. Keep up the good work.

  319. @#398 Ulrika Zugzwang:

    This relationship enabled their participation in Boing Boing as an editor. When the relationship ended, their contributions ceased and I deleted their posts.

    Hoo boy. So there are a number of misunderstandings evident in your comment, but they all seem to stem from the most fundamental one:

    This person was never an editor/author/member of Boing Boing.

  320. I feel like this belated apology is a step in the right direction, are you guys planning to follow it up with an official posting on what you decide?

    I’m just not sure where you guys are going with this at this point.

    I’ve got a number of questions, but my most important one is simply this:

    Is this ever going to happen again?

  321. @380
    No. Convince me that’s an honest mistake, and I’ll be a lot less disappointed with you.

    Okay, I don’t want to continue this huge flame fest, but since you asked.

    I’ll quote Cory.

    I assumed on reading this that Ms Le Guin’s primary concern was the length of the quote, so I trimmed the quote and added a note about it. Subsequently, I heard from SFWA President Michael Capobianco, who informed me that Ms Le Guin had contacted him asking to have the whole work removed — I did so immediately, also removing all other quotes and references to Ms Le Guin from Boing Boing’s archives.

    If I’ve got the wrong impression, it wasn’t my fault.

  322. Palindromic @313: o hai, we bin talkin all day.

    John Arkansawyer @314:

    Years ago, I thought there might be a business in providing an auditing service for publishers and others who wanted to provide an independent trail of what had gone onto a website, what was changed, and when.

    Might still. How many man-hours went into reconstructing Making Light’s missing months? It’s not the only case I know of where a site had to be gathered up off the floor of hell with a paint scraper. That’d be worth something. Trouble is, it would only pay off in a small fraction of cases.

    Nelson C. @315, I’m familiar with the automated tools in question, and it would be easy to make exactly the errors Xeni made — especially if you were upset at the time.

    Hagbard @346, it’s good. It’s all good.

    John Arkansawyer @359: Oh, you’ve been talking to my evil twin! She loves jokes like that.

    Holybuzz @376: Mentioned. Personal.

    Ross @378:

    I wonder if there’s a disorder where people lose the ability to differentiate between self and words. I ran into this as a (poor) Mod, where people would fight to the last breath to retain an accidental racial slur, factual error or drunken outburst like it was a vital organ.

    I’ve known authors to act like that, but they were fighting with language and narrative. It didn’t have that reek of social anxiety.

    It’s a mystery.

  323. I, like others here, debated with themselves on whether to address things said on the post. However, my Kantian induced ethics says that if my sense of rightness requires it, I must.

    Even if I am a troll, puppet, sock puppet does it affect the accuracy of my argument at all? If instead I am a member of Boing Boing’s audience, who felt ethically obliged to try to help and read posts, register, post comments – what would that say of accusers? What would be the long-term affect of this behavior on this blog’s business model?

    I think the concept we are circling around is credibility. There were several references to Violet Blue that were found to be repugnant for whatever reason and were redacted. Said in another way, an individual offended the editorial staff of a large media outlet and had every instance of her presence censored. Sure, the editorial staff runs the blog. How is that different than Google owning their servers in China, AT&T owning the switching station? The fact that our presidential candidates are hiding changes of positions does speak of their character. There is likely a major difference in this case (I am in no position to say), though it is more nuanced than I am comfortable with – to end a sentence with a preposition which I have not.

    There may have been good reasons. I find the idea that it was simply malicious absurd. But what would we have said if the Times attempted this when they found out Jayson Blair at the New York Times plagiarized / invented stories? When the choice is made when / where you can redact a person’s presence from this rather major media outlet, please consider what the effect to your. Censor this and all your readers must consider what else is being censored and if such action is justified. (I know that other places may have captured
    the information, but that is not your action.) It is unlikely that I would have bought Mark or Cory’s books if I wasn’t convinced their choice on content was only based on its merit and not its source.

    Lastly a little housekeeping.

    Xeni I used the word as a verb. The noun, leeches, Hirudinea, may indeed leech. Though not all leeches are Hirudinea. I have already stated that in retrospect it has unintentionally bombastic bombastic, and unintentional, connotations. Yet, if Boing Boing presents enough information that I need not go to the site. This is certainly a less the symbiotic relationship, no?

    Mark, agreed. That is why you get my eyeballs and subsequent click-throughs daily. And I am appreciative of your hard work, Though your imagery was more than a little disturbing. (Also, I read your blog, so I am mot without fault.)

    Now that I thought about it, I really feel like I need to go to those sites that I have skipped for having read Boing Boing.

  324. Hi, @#406 azimos,

    I feel like this belated apology is a step in the right direction, are you guys planning to follow it up with an official posting on what you decide?

    I am not apologizing for taking down the posts, they’re my own work, and the reasons were compelling. But as I explained in the post, I, and we, see that we needed to have a better system to consider, together, as a team when and if an extraordinary set of circumstances compels one of us to consider something like this in the future.

    As I said above, I/we realize we didn’t handle the external-facing part of the blog-storm as best as we could have. I’m sorry about that, and I think we’ve learned a lot from this experience.

    Is this ever going to happen again?

    I sure hope not, and we’re certainly not planning on it. But we’ve discussed (very unlikely) scenarios in which one of us might be compelled to consider something like this, for many different reasons. We’d handle the internal communication process differently, we’d handle the external communication process differently, and trust me, this would not be a decision taken lightly. But we don’t want to absolutely, completely, no exceptions ever — rule out the option for authors to edit or remove **their own work** from public view.

    Honestly, I think all of this has been pretty well covered in the post, and in the comments from me, Cory, Pesco, Mark, Joel, and Teresa here.

    I’m just not sure where you guys are going with this at this point.

    um…to bed.

  325. @#409 negentropic, don’t let the door hitcha where the good FSM split ya. And good luck with those Kantian induced ethics.

  326. #411 Xeni, I take it all back. There is no possible way that you would ever abuse the trust the public and your peers have placed in you to maliciously attack someone who did you no intentional harm. Whatever were we all worried about?

  327. I’m a religious lurker ’round here, and rarely comment. Xeni, you rock. What little I’ve read of VB’s response to this episode comes across as smug and self-important, and the rest of the haters have an overblown sense of entitlement.

    Keep on keepin’ on, peace out, etc, etc.

    (but please, enough with the cute furries)

  328. @Xeni #410

    Thanks for the answers, let me clarify,

    I’ve been thinking about what you said about this being a personal blog and what Mark said about not taking BB seriously.

    Clearly, there was a incongruity between the way some of your viewers took BB and the way ya’ll thought of it. For some things, issues like net neutrality and ethics in electronic media, I took BB pretty seriously. Maybe that was premature.

    I came to the conclusion that the difference between how seriously one should take BB(and blogs in general) and how they should treat more main stream media has a lot to do with the guarantees they provide. Those MSM sources provide that legalize(which from what you said earlier, I gather you don’t like) and they strictly adhere to a journalistic code of ethics. The advantage of that text, is that it gives the reader a commitment from the source they’re reading.

    So I’m very interested in whether BB will decide to provide these sorts of commitments. Whether you’ll decide to put yourselves out there and really guarantee a news source we can trust. I realize you may not be able to guarantee that you’ll never take a post down, but you can identify under what circumstances it will be okay,under what circumstances it won’t, what you’ll do when you do take posts down, and put this in writing.

    Of course, its your decision and this is just a suggestion, but I think that sort of contract is what I need to see if I’m going to be comfortable letting this whole thing go.

  329. @#412 negentropic, the mods are all resting, and I’m headed that way too.

    This thread was not intended to be flypaper for trolls, and under other circumstances your rudeness and spiteful, demonstrably false attacks would be responded to more directly.

    But it is late, the thread is long, and as you were saying, you were on the way out.

    Bon voyage and bonne nuit, bub.

  330. Hi @#414 azimos,

    I took BB pretty seriously. Maybe that was premature.

    I don’t speak for Mark, but I think his remark earlier may have been intended with some humor. This is still, fundamentally, a shared personal blog where people who care passionately about Big Important Things, and are delighted by Silly Cool Things, and observe and find themselves fascinated by lots of other things — this is where we catalog all in the world that summons our attention and curiosity. So, sure, for me sometimes that means things of gravitas. Aaaand sometimes that means Bigfoot tea cozies.

    BB is not a news organization. I have worked for news organizations, and BB is not the same kind of beast, nor do we produce the same output. Nor are we obligated to adhere to the same sort of structure or practices. BB is just a different kind of entity.

    The balance on the immediate issue, and many others, is how to clearly communicate what our practices and process is to those in our community who care about those matters — without becoming an overly bureaucratic, stiff organization where everything is bound by policies and legalese and strictly defined limits in every direction.

    I think that sort of contract is what I need to see if I’m going to be comfortable letting this whole thing go.

    We don’t feel that way. I think there are other approaches that will work for us, and our audience/community. I’m sorry that makes you feel uncomfortable (no sarcasm intended, truly), but I think you’ll find that we tend to sort these things out in a way that ends up being fair, honest, and forthright, even if it doesn’t begin as a perfectly choreographed series of dance steps.

  331. So Mark Harris thinks Teresa was a bad moderator. Same regarding all the people who would never trust BB again.

    1) Who cares.

    2) Those who agree or not have read the same old boring opinion several times now. We get it.

    Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    #413 Simra: Agreed. Speaking of a blog with censored comments. Unpublished has nothing on VB’s Dissenting Remarks Never Approved In the First Place ‘policy’. May he who has no 404 cast the first stone.

    And all the people saying they’ve stopped reading BB and are reading VB’s blog instead is the LOLest. As if they’re even comparable. That is however, a good resolution to this whole thing. Those who disagree can merely stop reading the blog they disagree with and leave it at that. If your little opinion really must be committed to ASCII, then do everyone a favor and state it just ONCE.

  332. Azimos “… but I think that sort of contract is what I need to see if I’m going to be comfortable letting this whole thing go.

    Look, down to the right, “POLICIES”. Read them. Enjoy them.

  333. @Xeni #417

    That’s certainly your prerogative. I wasn’t meaning to imply you should have the same policy that a newspaper does, but I don’t feel like its too much to ask for you to clearly articulate what your standards are and allow your readers to hold you to them. At the very least, It’d be nice to hear something like: “We won’t delete posts for personal reasons or take punitive* actions against other sites”.

    Otherwise, it seems like you’re delivering the same message as before but just in a nicer tone. Nothing will have changed. In other words, its easy to pay lip service to peoples’ concerns when it suites but relatively meaningless in the long term. What matters is putting yourselves on the line and making some unambiguous promises to your readers.

    *By punitive I mean actions designed to decrease Page-Rank or decrease publicity for a site. This is the only reason I can imagine one would delete posts that only mention someone peripherally.

  334. @Mdhatter #420:
    I’ve read the BB policies. They do cover some things, but they don’t cover this.

    As I understand it, the sentence, “We reserve the right to unpublish or refuse to unpublish anything for any or no reason. ” was added after all this began. Moreover, that line doesn’t really add anything that wasn’t already an option.

    But you along these lines, some sort of prior notification of changes in policy would be a good thing to include, access to old versions, dates of modification on policies, and perhaps a brief waiting period between notification and actual modification would be a good thing.

    I’m also a fan of the idea mentioned above of using updates and posting times/dates.

    I think I already said that I think they should rule out making changes for personal reasons as well as making changes that can be viewed as malicious* in the technological sense.

    I’d be even happier if the acceptable reasons for retraction were listed(rather than just unacceptable reasons). Just off the top of my head, I would say those reasons would be, “error, copyright, duplication, harm to a person or organization, privacy, advertiser?”, but I’m probably missing something.

    Really, there are probably a lot of neat innovations that could be brought to bear on this problem, both technological and legal. It’d be nice to see BB use this bruising as an excuse to take the lead on setting higher standards in the blogging world and all forms of media; much in the same way that open source software has set and raised standards in both free and non-free software.

    *I really don’t like that word here, but I can’t quite find a good way of phrasing it.

  335. Azimos, I feel there are a variety of possible non-punitive reasons for taking a post down. Many have been suggested in this and other threads. None are confirmed.

    If a page-rank is affected, well, that’s just awful isn’t it? To have one’s inalienable rights to free publicity trod upon by these capricious self-appointed ghods of the intarwebs.

    I joke, because you need to be less serious about this. I rather liked your suggestions overall, once you got to them – it seems you think they should post their policies. I think that’s a great idea.

  336. I’ve experienced a similar problem before on a smaller scale with a website I ran. I had a huuuuge personal problem with a gent that provided content sporadically… he was a pretty violent alcoholic, and I’ll leave it at that. We (co-founders of the site) decided to give him and his work the ax. That action was met with disdain, as it was here.

    I personally cannot blame you Xeni, because whatever the problem you had with the person in question, it was a personal problem outside the realm of the internets (or at least I presume that.) Stuff like this sucks, because people feel like they own bb personally; they feel like once they develop an understanding and even emotional attachment to a blog or set of posts, it is theirs. At the same time, you don’t want to say it’s not, because there goes your readers and your livelyhood. Tricky balance. If I were you, Xeni, I wouldn’t be sorry at all – yet I still would’ve written a ‘sorry this happened’. Perhaps that’s really what this is all about. Wow it’s 5am I need sleep.

    Also, can we not label each other? None of us really know each other. We read little posts and comments next to honda ads or whatever, on articles about cute lemurs, steampunk skateboards, and obligatory Corybook propaganda. (Btw I’m finally sold on reading little brother thanks to that damn FISA – fight the power!)

  337. Azimon, not picking on you, I swear, but

    “It’d be nice to see BB use this bruising as an excuse to take the lead on setting higher standards in the blogging world and all forms of media;”

    I mean, you ARE aware of what the topic of discussion here is, right? My point: THIS is that very suggestion thread where you can help them take that lead. THIS is your outlet. I think you’re making some good suggestions, FWIW.

    My experience here is that they don’t usually change up a post without owning their mistake, usually including some sort of incitement to point and laugh at them for their foolery. This was another sort of case, one where it was decided to excise something as painlessly as possible, and with the least collateral damage.

    Now, can you imagine a way to take something down within the stated goal of not damaging someone else? (PageRank aside, as that is a retraction of a free benefit, not a directed attack on the linked)

    I feel that even giving the ‘category’ of the reason is giving a reason. Even saying ‘personal’ might be too much. Saying anything might be malicious, and in the less wonderful parts of the world, malicious = monetary damages, which is the best reason yet for them to simply edit without note if they feel it is appropriate.

    But really, I do like your ideas. Let me shape them with you.

  338. Azimos

    ‘I wasn’t meaning to imply you should have the same policy that a newspaper does, but I don’t feel like its too much to ask for you to clearly articulate what your standards are and allow your readers to hold you to them. At the very least, It’d be nice to hear something like: “We won’t delete posts for personal reasons or take punitive* actions against other sites”.’

    I don’t understand the premise of this sort-of contract between writers and readers. Why do BB writers need to articulate how they will write and edit their work? Do you expect such things of other writers and editors of free content that you aren’t paying for? And as a reader, how do you propose to hold them to these standards? If we the readers get to enjoy certain performance promises from Boing Boing, what does Boing Boing get in return? Guaranteed readership? No trolls in the comments?

    I truly appreciate that you are one of the few people trying to propose constructive ideas here, but I literally don’t understand what purpose these elaborated policy statements would serve.

    Policy statements about things where matters of law and/or copyright apply — those make sense to me. Reserving rights — yes.

    I have another problem with it. Which set up readers’ should be catered to with these policy statements? Because I would unhappy with them if they promised not to take down their own work for personal reasons. They put it all up for personal reasons, didn’t they?

  339. @MDHatter #423

    You’re probably right. I’m taking this quite seriously, perhaps too much, but I tend to see this in a broader context. BoingBoing is one of the largest blogs on the internet and I feel like we’re reaching a crucial juncture with this form of media. Whether the Boingers like it or not, people will look to them as an example.

    Decisions that are made by them and by others will determine if it will be possible to have purely electronic analogs of the New York Times or whether Bloggers’ aspirations will end up capped at the relevance of The National Enquirer.

    On Page Rank, I think the importance of information availability is often overlooked. Making information hard to find on the internet is almost as good as disappearing it entirely. I’d hate to see people using this sort of power for ill.

    In analogy to the brick and mortar world, decreasing page-rank is like making an agreement with all the book stores in a city(or nation, or planet) to take a book off the shelves and put it in back. If people want the book, they can ask for it and they’ll get it, but it will be sufficiently hard to find and purchase to ensure that the content will be suppressed.

    On motivations, I’ve read through these threads and I can’t remember seeing any other hypotheses explaining why every single mention of someone would be removed. I guess it is peculiar for its thoroughness. Could you direct me at the posts you are thinking about or reiterate the claims?

  340. @Mdhatter #425: Oh course, The reason I’m bringing this stuff up in this thread is because I want to do what I can to help BB make the right decisions. That I want them to interpret them in a broader context.

    But at this point things could go either way. Its what they do next that will make a difference or not.

    As to the rest of your material & all of hagbard’s, I’m gonna wait till tomorrow.

  341. All of this revolves around the fundamental dichotomy of BoingBoing. It’s a heavily commercial personal blog. Given how much of a business BB has become, with so much paid and self promotion, the notion that it’s just a casual blog is sounding hollower to my, and I think many other readers’, ears. I agree when Xeni says it’s not a news organization, but it’s SOME sort of media organization because of the structure built atop the posts. I’m not sure the editors themselves are comfortable with this.

    That dichotomy is, I think, the reason that there’s rancor over things like the Violet Blue unpublishing and the MS Map in-post ads. In those examples, one was a personal decision that offended readers expecting a more formal handling; the other a corporate decision that offended readers who value the blog’s informal roots. How are readers supposed to react when the nature of BB oscillates?

    Add to this the recurring BB posts about corporate responsibility in the Internet age and you’ve got a recipe for confusion.

  342. From a technical perspective, given a choice I’d probably go for a more conservative approach: instead of deleting the posts altogether, remove any endorsement/link-benefit/search-engine-indexing from them, close the comments (if they aren’t already), perhaps add an explanatory note to the top, striking-through the post’s text if you feel it’s necessary.

    To remove the content from search engines and remove link endorsement:
    Put each bad post’s permalink into the robots.txt file (or use the “robots” metatag with “noindex,nofollow” parameter for each post’s header).
    Perhaps use the “noarchive” metatag in each bad post’s header to remove any cached pages.
    Add the “rel=nofollow” parameter to all the links you no longer endorse.
    For additional cleanup, use the Google content removal tool through Google’s Webmaster Tools.
    See more on removing content here:
    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35301

    The advantage of this method is that you don’t break any incoming links and still allow people to read the content and comments, while no longer giving any PageRank or endorsement to the outgoing links or content. This, to me, is a little more graceful than deleting posts and returning a 410 Gone HTTP response, though they’re both valid approaches.

  343. Teresa @ 408: The Making Light disaster would have been most easily solved with better backup and recovery practices. What I was talking about here was an auditing and compliance business, for people who need to be able to prove what went on to a website, when it went off the site, how it was edited, and so on. You could run a recovery from that as a side effect, but there are easier ways of doing that, if that’s all you need. Backup and recovery assumes you trust your own processes; auditing assumes you don’t.

    What I really want to work on, and have been picking away at for a while now, is a distributed approach to providing an auditing type of function for people who are using an untrusted system, a forum not under their control, or any given news site. Anything distributed is hard, though, especially when it has to run on arbitrary operating systems and arbitrary clients, or at least enough of them to provide coverage. Both backup/recovery and auditing can run against a database. That’s a solved problem.

    Of course, there’s no money in what I’m working on, which is okay. It’s also hard, which is okay. It may be too hard for me, though, and while that’s okay in one sense, it’s most certainly not okay in another.

  344. Agree with #2. I don’t think this is an issue it’s your guys’ blog, you run it the way you want. Just because some people impose their own sense of morality on you without you agreeing to it is no reason to feel bad.

  345. @373 Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    Everyone should be grateful to not be stuck full of forks and plugged into a wall socket, yourself included. It can’t be a pleasant experience.

    Just wanted to make sure you saw the levity in my post as it referenced this boingboing post: Man electrocutes pickle to demonstrate power of Christianity

    I realize this topic has gotten heated at times and perhaps even pickles (or Christianity) can be used as Unicorn Chasers.

  346. @Azimos – Could you direct me at the posts you are thinking about or reiterate the claims?

    There were several other possible reasons, but apply Occam’s razor and it comes down to these two: Personal or Legal.

    Problem is, evidence has been presented on both sides, but only the “personal” line of reasoning seems to cast aspersions on Xeni, (and WOW, there are a lot of aspersions being cast)

    Wheras the “Legal” line of reasoning smacks of the ‘turnabout is fair play’ element that makes the internet cool. It’s also consistent with the evidence. There is a huge copyright issue at stake, and someone who disappeared from the BB archives appears quite guilty of using copyright law as a club against quite innocent people, for money. No copyright claim can be effective if the material is removed from public view prior to a suit being filed.

    Saying you did it for either reason is just more ammunition for busy aggro attorneys.

  347. Mintphresh @384: well, yeah, kinda you did; but you’re one of ours.

    Javier @385: we briefly discussed strategies of that sort, to no conclusions. The main result is that everyone now knows about rel=nofollow tags, and that the site automatically puts them into links posted in comments as an anti-spam measure.

    I did observe at the time that if Xeni were really as Machiavellian as she’s recently been painted (so not), she’d have left the entries standing, but altered them pretty much as Steph suggested in comment #431.

    Mintphresh @390: A good one or a bad one?

    Tom Neff @392: Good call. Conferring with fellow editors is definitely on the list, if this should ever come up again.

    Burnchao @393: I was there and you weren’t.

    Mintphresh @397: Seriously. Something like a brandy-drizzled four-layer alternating stack of medium-dense almond cake and dark chocolate pound cake, with a thin stratum of homemade marmalade between the cake layers, a clear fruit glaze on the outside, and bittersweet dark-chocolate ganache on top. (I made that at Christmas. It went over well.)

    Hagbard @404: Hail Sterculius; anent which, Greg London posted two of my favorite comments in the moderation guidelines thrash, here and here.

  348. TNH 436 reyrct MinTPhresh 397: *drool* Can I come to your house for Christmas pleeeeeeez? I promise to bring homemade chocolates, pralines, and Brownies of Death!

  349. This thread has been fascinating. I couldn’t figure out why, at first it seemed like every other flame war revolving around the knee-jerk effigy burning pow-wow that all popular Internet sites go through as they grow/change/do-something-weird/do-something-stupid/do-something-different/do-something-amazing. Heaven knows I’ve tried to train myself to avoid any interest in reading the resulting debates of such events.

    So I couldn’t figure out why I kept on reading the comments to the point of skipping breakfast (most important meal, by the way!).

    Couldn’t figure it out until this post:

    @#417 Xeni

    That’s when it clicked in for me. That’s when I understood why this whole ker[fuffle|fluffle] was important enough for me to skip my Wheaties, coffee and toast.

    BB is not a news organization…BB is not the same kind of beast, nor do we produce the same output. Nor are we obligated to adhere to the same sort of structure or practices. BB is just a different kind of entity.

    I think this whole VB ruckus underscores, highlights and validates that statement.

    There’s no conspiracy here, no smashing of free speech, no puppeteering of BB by some third party…. It’s BB going through the teething stages of being something that really is different.

    BB isn’t a news organization. But it is important as to what it reports, comments on, and points out, fanciful or otherwise. It’s important because many people, including myself, rely on it more than many of our RSS feeds for CNN, the BBC and our local papers. Because it’s pointing out things, and doing them in a way that no news organization or major blog does.

    The handling of this, well… I don’t care if people see it as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’, or ‘wrong.’ What I do care about is that I think we are getting a very sincere reaction and call for questions for something that started as a very human reaction to something-I-have-no-earthly-business-knowing.

    It’s all a wonderful mess at this point – BB’s attempt at addressing it shows just how much they aren’t like news organizations, how different they are from every other major blog out there (Gawker I’m looking at you).

    I know this will bring about some internal policies that are needed, but God, I hope it doesn’t do much more than that. I think it delicious that this VB stuff has really validated the fact that the driving motivation from the Boingers is posting about what they deem interesting or important, not what BB needs to do as an entity to thrive, grow, or in this case, protect itself from major scrutiny. If BB were an organized entrepreneurial machine I doubt we’d be seeing any of this mess, nor would I be able to separate this site or its contributors from all the other crap that is out there.

  350. Xeni, at this point I must applaud you for hanging in there. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty in attempting to reassure your readership, in spite of the fact that you can never please everyone.

    Initially, I think I was inclined to believe that BoingBoing lost some credibility. Now I’m not so sure if that even matters. It seems to me that Violet Blue has an interest in dragging this out, and trashing BoingBoing in the process. While she may not realize it, doing so is far more sinister than unpublishing articles. At best, it is childish for a published author to behave in such a way, but I suspect, very reasonably, that other motives have stirred her to action.

    She claims to not have any idea why any of this happened, but given the thoroughly self-satisfied nature of her more recent BB-related posts that seems highly unlikely. She points to an exhaustive list of unpublished BoingBoing posts as a means of wooing the undecided voters. Hey, look, everybody! BoingBoing have the nerve to edit themselves! The one thing she fails to do, however, is maintain the level of journalistic integrity she expects from this blog.

    As I see it, one of the biggest difficulties in all of this has to be the persistence of some among us who, for reasons unknown, continue to regard this whole affair as “Orwellian.” Brian Carnell seems to have a very shaky understanding of the differences between reporting and blogging, as evidenced by his own blog post dealing with this subject. To paraphrase, he says, “I’ve only ever unpublished one thing in my whole life, and it was only because I needed to clarify something.” Well, Brian, I’m not sure you’re the authority on what posts other bloggers should or should not unpublish. Simple as that, really.

    It’s actually kind of sickening to see a presumably grown man get so wound up over something so demonstrably harmless. BoingBoing started out as a zine. It turned into a blog. It became popular. To suggest that it should be held to the same editorial standards as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times is patently absurd. But his assertion seems to be that his own reason for unpublishing a post is superior to Xeni’s, just because he says so, and I find that to be a wholly unacceptable and frankly disingenuous argument.

    He further claims that if a story is news-related, but mentions Violet Blue tangentially, it should not be deleted. That decision is simply not his to make. As a blogger, I think he should be able to recognize that his position here is attemptedly authoritarian. Should BoingBoing re-publish the unpublished posts, just because he says they should? What about every other blogger in the known Universe? Should they ally themselves to his methods, just because he thinks he has a better understanding of blogging? He perpends to know what is best for BoingBoing, based solely on his own limited blogging experience. I dare say that his indignant position is much like that of a toddler who thinks his parents shouldn’t put his toys away before dinner.

    I am a blogger, and, even though I rarely update my website, I get several thousand hits a month. I have unpublished many things when I felt they were no longer pertinent, or when I’d decided from the beginning that I would only leave the post up for a limited time. But even if that decision was retroactive, it’s something that I am entitled to do. Moreover, it is neither Brian’s right nor his privilege to demand anything from me in the slightest. If he expects me to behave in a way that is consistent with his strainedly totalitarian blogging guidelines, and I fail to meet his bullshit expectations, he should get used to disappointment. I’m not going to lose any sleep.

    I’m sure that every author has, at some point or another, wished that they could track down every last copy of something they’d published, solely to destroy every bit of evidence that the blasted thing had existed in the first place. If they managed to do so, it would be no more Orwellian than buying your nephew a baseball glove for his birthday. Not only is it the author’s right, if he/she feels so strongly about it, perhaps it is also his/her obligation to self.

    People like Brian just don’t get it, I fear. In his perfect world, restrictions on bloggers’ actions would be rigid and commonplace. He would be guilty of precisely what he endeavors so vainly to eradicate. Telling someone what they must publish, or, if you prefer, telling them what they can’t unpublish, is infinitely more Orwellian than anything you’ve done here, and the sooner people like Brian realize that, the better.

    Anyway, I commend you for making the effort to move forward without amplifying the hostility. Violet Blue could take a lesson from you, but she probably won’t. She’d rather play the victim, and it’s easy to see why. She struggles to maintain the illusion of objectivity in her coverage of the differences in opinion, yet she disparages BoingBoing’s thread on the subject and proudly links to the MetaFilter discussion as if its participants are fundamentally more intelligent and considerate.

    Hear that, guys? Even if you disagree with BoingBoing’s editorial policy, trademark Nazi extraordinaire Violet Blue wants you to know that you’re just wasting your breath over here. What a joke. I’m just glad the Internet isn’t a person, or I might end up in jail for murder. But whatever… this non-issue has already consumed enough of my time. I’m gonna make some soup and read a book.

    Sorry for the length of this post, but some of you people really need to get some lives of your own before it’s too late.

  351. A notion: if people are going to go on being twitchy about “unpublish,” we could just use “decanonize” instead. There are no non-Orwellian words, but that one’s a bit more Chestertonian.

  352. Another novel idea:

    Mobuzz.com* (in their “2.0” configuration, not the current site design) had a cool “newsroom” area, where watchers could post their own story links, limited to a one line extract with a link. Then, other commenters could vote on the items (interesting and relevant, or not) but could not comment on them directly.

    Generally speaking the voted items made it onto the v-log, with the unique take of the presenter/ writers (rather than the suggester).

    I think you had to have a certain level of comment history to put stuff there, but that might not work here. I think you guys could pull that off in some form, and I’d love to have a raw look at what other people are suggesting you write about. This is a group of like minded people, and a potential kitten and duckie gold mine.

    *(if you want to talk dirty laundry, questionable moderation, and respect for audience issues, well, mobuzz was your place a couple years back. Where were all these purists at then?)

  353. I’ve been reading BB for a couple years now but I’m kinda on the fringe. A large percentage of the stuff on BB regards people and things that I would never encounter otherwise (though I cheered when you brought Joel on because I’m a nerd and like the technical stuff and his writing from previous gigs). I point this out only because my sole source of info about this controversy has been the couple posts here and their comments. I take it other sites have been critical of BB and there is a whole controversy informing the content here but I’m not privvy to it and not much interested in Googling for the gory details because internet drama is pretty low on my must read list.

    With that perspective, the brouhaha seems rather odd. The intensity of some of the folks posting here seems really beyond reason. I understand BB has become a big deal and people get passionate about things they like but it really seems like some have a penchant for drama. I don’t run a blog and don’t have opinions about how one should be run but I do get the meta talk on such topics is interesting to some. Still, my uninformed guess is that a small percentage of your readers are also commenters and that an even smaller percentage include those rabidly attacking you. It would be pretty easy to put numbers to my inclination with data I’m sure y’all know about (unique IPs in the logs, # of commenters, etc).

    My point is simply that all the drama should be put in perspective. I don’t mean to denigrate your concern and indeed appreciate your candor. If anyone needs a hug, I live in Utah.

  354. I’ve been playing a game where I scan the Recent Comments on the main page and try to guess from the bit of text shown there which comments are links to this post (at first, to avoid them). It’s fun, play along!

  355. and I’m thinking all comments on these wasteland threads (time thieves for loading) should be flagged at the front of the comment so the sensible can avoid the thread

  356. #439 Takeshi: Well said. There’s been more drama than is warranted over this, but knowing that VB is a Gawker contributor via Fleshbot may shed some light as to why.

  357. MikeSum32 @407, I’ll grant there’s no counter to the defense from disengagement.

    Negentropic @409:

    I, like others here, debated with themselves on whether to address things said on the post. However, my Kantian induced ethics says that if my sense of rightness requires it, I must.

    I am enchanted. That’s almost magical. The part after it, about being an ethically obligated sockpuppet — that’s good too.

    Xeni I used the word as a verb. The noun, leeches, Hirudinea, may indeed leech. Though not all leeches are Hirudinea. I have already stated that in retrospect it has unintentionally bombastic bombastic, and unintentional, connotations. Yet, if Boing Boing presents enough information that I need not go to the site. This is certainly a less the symbiotic relationship, no?

    The conclusion seems valid enough on its own. The rest of the argument can shift for itself.

    Azimos @421, 429:

    I don’t feel like its too much to ask for you to clearly articulate what your standards are and allow your readers to hold you to them.

    Would you be willing to do the same in return? Shall this be a general principle for everyone?

    You’ve linked to the New York Times code of ethics. What do you imagine the practical effects would be of adopting something like that? Is it the point of this proposal to make you, personally, feel more secure? It shouldn’t. What you actually rely on isn’t a written statement; it’s the personal integrity of the writers and editors, and in the case of the NYT the entire news organization. You trust that the New York Times takes its ethics seriously. The written statement just lays out the terms and methods.

    If the distinction still isn’t clear to you, think about Enron. They undoubtedly had an in-house statement of ethics. In fact, they probably had several of them. There were also laws and regulations that supposedly governed their practices. None of that mattered, except insofar as it configured the appearance Enron presented to the world.

    Boing Boing is not a complicated organization, and it doesn’t have a lot of stated rules. You’ve been watching the formulation of a new one. It’s being formulated because it became evident that one is needed. But what will give that rule its force is the Boingers’ desire to do the right thing.

    Rule sets are difficult, finicky, and proverbially prone to generate unforeseen consequences. It’s best to keep them simple. I don’t know what you imagine a set of standards applicable to Boing Boing would look like. I have some notion of it. The important point at the moment is that it wouldn’t tell you anything you don’t already know.

    The Boingers keep the Boingers honest. A piece of paper is not going to change that. What it would do is give some exceptionally boring people a perpetual occasion to creeb, whine, and nitpick the Boingers about whether they’re adhering to the letter of the rule set. One of the most depressing truths revealed by the internet is how many people there are who, when faced with the unending riches of the online world, can think of nothing better to do than play rules-lawyer.

    Short summary: will not do what you want. Will do things you don’t want. Not as simple as you think.

  358. @FidoOne @438, Yes!!! You articulated a lot of things I’ve thought but you did it much more clearly than I’ve been able to do. Thanks for that.

  359. This entire episode was difficult for me because everyone involved was (and remains) very high on my list of Internet Good People.

    “People” being an important word there; humans, fallible. Undeserving of judgment; worthy of forgiveness.

    Viewed in that light, some things that happened that angered me in the heat of the moment now seem, not less important, but having less power to damage my good opinions of the people involved.

    Xeni’s stated desire to keep the private and personal part of this, well, private and personal, seemed at conflict with the crud that was leaking out around the edges — the “piles of shit” comment, the chilly “this person” references, that sort of thing. It felt at the time like the old “if you only knew what I knew, you’d feel the hate too” ploy. But a more charitable interpretation, one I much prefer, is simply that it can be very difficult to take the high road in a highly-charged emotional situation, and despite the best of intentions, partial failures happen.

    My one disappointment in all of this is that one of the people I respect made some rather vicious accusations against another one of the people I respect. I refer specifically to Teresa’s accusation against Violet Blue that she had “demonstrably” lied. That accusation was never substantiated and should never, in my opinion, have been made. (This is not a comment about moderation, despite it involving a moderator.) I frankly hoped and expected that, before the dust settled, it would be apologized for. Is there any chance of that happening at this late date?

    Yeah or nay, I emphatically reject most of the harsh words that have been said about Teresa’s moderation. (This paragraph is a comment about moderation, but I think it’s inextricable from the rest of the comment, and so I’m saying it here instead of in the designated thread.) On the day in question, was the moderation up to her usual high standard? As somebody who got caught by a misfiring troll detector (those darn things tend to have a hair trigger when you’re swords out, back-to-back, knee deep in twitching corpses, onrushing hordes stretching to the horizon) I could probably bitch about taking fire aimed at trolls. (I think I did complain at the time.) But fundamentally, I’d be bitching about the taste of the free beer, when the more important thing is my gratitude for having something to drink.

  360. Stef @431, that would suck the googlejuice out of anything. If I ever need to drop sex and drugs and rock and roll to page three of the Google results, I’m phoning you.

    John Arkansawyer @432, we really did take backups. We just took them wrong for a couple of months.

    That’s an interesting project you’ve described. I’ve been in situations where that capability would have been extremely useful. Revelatory, even. I’ll bet there are forensic accounting professionals working on the same problem from the other end.

    Frank in Virginia @434: Thank you. I hate missing jokes almost as much as I hate misinterpreting amusing acts of kindness. See what I get for spending all of Friday on this thread? I have now watched “Man electrocutes pickle to demonstrate power of Christianity,” and feel much the better for it.

    Xopher @437: Of course you can. Bring the Theremin.

    Fido One @438: That was wonderful. I don’t know what to say, except that I’ve just mailed a bunch of people a link to it.

    MDHatter @442, I like it, but what if it started the Thirty Years’ Flamewar?

    ErosBacchus 451, sorry, but I’m not playing, and you’re in the wrong thread.

  361. #445 posted by Takuan
    “and I’m thinking all comments on these wasteland threads (time thieves for loading) should be flagged at the front of the comment so the sensible can avoid the thread”

    Hear, hear!

  362. teresa, 1, your cake sounds DEE-VINE!!(num,num-drool,drool) 2, is it possible to have a BAD kerfluffer? and 3, if xopher brings the theremin and i bring my bongos, can we haves ice cream too? i don’t know if i told you this or not, but I LIKE ICE CREAM! sorry, i guess i’ve gone off topic again. looking forward to x-mas this year!

  363. If all of this results in a party with theremin, bongos, a game of mad libs with disemvowelled comments, and Kerfuffle Kupcakes, the Great Unpublishing Debacle of 2008 will not have been for naught. Thanks for getting things back on track, guys — back on track to SILLYTOWN.

    #443 icky2000 and others, thank you very much for your kind and reasoned comments. Their impact is greater than the blathering of a hundred fly-by trolls.

    #439 takeshi and FidoOne #438, wow. Thank you for making me think about something in a new light. I’m printing both of these out and tacking them to the wall near my desk.

  364. Lack of coordination? Heh, it seemed pretty coordinated to me when, out of 4 editors, not a single one answers your e-mails. Twice no reply for 2 days, not even a “no comment”. So someone was on vacation. (Don’t you set up an auto-reply, anyway?) I knew that at least 3 of you had posted to the blog and had been online since.

    I can take a hint. When comments are deleted from public view, most forums want us to ask per private e-mail about it. Almost every moderation policy out there contains this little gem of boilerplate knowledge that “it never hurts to write and ask”. Yes it does, when you don’t get an answer. But when the default mode is to refuse to answer what may turn out to be an uncomfortable question, how are we supposed to know when we’re getting ignored deliberately?

    There already are enough corporations and governments that use this kind of ambiguous silence for their own evil ends. If you’ve never been at the receiving end, you may not know this: People don’t like to get abandoned in the dark, with no way left to receive more information, and powerless to make any further point about their concerns. Prompt off-site communication becomes essential when on-site communication gets denied. I hope you see the need to streamline this process in the future.

    Their blog, their business?

    Like all public media, you have the power to control information and to manipulate people, for better or for worse. Unlike most media, you had earned a lot of my trust. Anyone who says “it’s their blog” should decide wisely about what this means, and how this attitude could be used against their own interests, here and elsewhere.

    Could editors continue to revise their own comments in a debate without leaving any trace of the fact that they did so? I find this mindset much more worrying than the initial blog deletions. — I don’t even care why Violet Blue was deleted. It’s the ugly methods that were used afterwards that trouble me, trying to keep the whole issue under control behind the scenes.

    Could you keep clinging again to the delusion that you have the power to make people go away if you ignore them long enough? Could you choose again to avoid having to deal with questions, hoping that it all will die down quietly after all? Could your moderators try to delete again all related user comments when people begin to ask about it? Hopelessly flailing around like a corporate lawyer who tries to have a viral video deleted… When it’s bleeding obvious that the whole Internet already knows about the issue and any attempt to control the topic only makes you an even greater laughing-stock. Or worse.

    Could something like this happen again at Happy Mutants LLC? Instead for petty personal reasons, next time because of more far reaching matters? For money perhaps? If a corporation, um, “convinced” you to reconsider your position, and asked you to “unpublish” a post that presented their earlier relations with you in a disagreeable light, would you? Exactly.

    Politicians who stonewall against questions about their new laws that would be too awkward to explain… Websites who delete all comments from their community that make reference to a particular security leak… What does Boing Boing suggest when people get treated like this? Right, make it public and give them publicity hell. — Or is this a blog where topics such as these get posted purely for their entertainment value? I just don’t know what to expect anymore.

    I’m more confused than ever about what Boing Boing really is. Or should be. Seems I’m not the only one; no one knows what’s the deal, even its editors haven’t fully decided yet. Is it just another collaborative blog? One of many sites to choose from on the net, and just as trustworthy? Interesting to read, but not worth getting involved too deeply? Any old site where archives can get modified, comments can quietly get edited, people can get manipulated — and where it’s silently accepted that they have this power over you to create a changed information reality? Where the community tells the cranks to go and find a different site if they don’t like how the business gets done? I’d rather have a community that righteously gets their knickers in a knot when they encounter even minor forms of these anti-information control methods, anywhere, and doubly so at their “own” site.

  365. Azimos.

    Zosima.

    Another banned sockpuppet, prosing on about transparency, ethics, and how the Boingers should work on being more trustworthy.

    Have anything to say for yourself?

  366. Thanks to #438 and a few others for clarifying why this whole VB incident feels so non-trivial to me. I think the notion that BoingBoing isn’t a news organization, and is therefore not bound to the same standards as the New York Times, is a slippery one. Here’s why:

    As the whole Josh Wolf, er, kerfuffle, showed so clearly a few years ago, the boundary between blogger and journalist has become extremely permeable. Even if most of what BoingBoing posts doesn’t look at all like journalism, when and if you post something that does you deserve the same protections afforded to “real” news organizations. Someday, Xeni might find herself at a Tibetan freedom protest gone bad and decide to post video clips or other info to BoingBoing. When the cops (or Feds) come knocking on her door to demand the rest of her footage, will she have to give it up or go to jail because BoingBoing is “not a news organization?”

    I actually trust the BoingBoing brand far more than the New York Times, and I always assumed you maintain at least as high a standard of integrity where your archives are concerned. I’d like to see all blogs try to live up to the highest possible high standard. Then, whenever one of the 100 million bloggers posts a piece of actual journalism, the structure will be in place for them to say, “I’m a citizen journalist and I run my blog according to accepted norms of transparency and integrity.”

    Not sure if I’ve communicated clearly, but that’s my concern and I’m stickin’ to it.

  367. I would like to thank the authors for their autonomy and serious contemplations of these privacy issues. I would also thank them individually for the ability to futher comment. It has been said many times this site has the right to legislate and moderate their postings. It is beyond reasonableness to infer that this site cannot delete, unpublish, censor or any other draconian term used whenever it wishes. The simple fact is anyone is free to create their own blog and CONTROL the response. I hope no one finds themself in a personal and malicious row and then is forced to defend themself in private and public arenas.

  368. I am a voracious comment reader and I have read through this entire thread, and the other big threads, and it’s very illuminating.

    Not to be overdramatic, but when someone cuts through the noise and makes a constructive, reasoned, heartfelt on-topic comment, it makes my heart sing. There have been several excellent examples of this in the current thread, and I thank the posters.

    I would urge the whole BB community to cut the Boingers some slack here. They wanted to make a cool loft on Telegraph Hill, and suddenly they found themselves in charge of Coit Tower. People assume that because of their cool-cred, they must be way ahead of everyone in terms of understanding how online communities work in all dimensions. But actually they’re still learning like most of the rest of us, even as the ground shifts under our (and their) feet.

    These people live and blog our world for just one reason: to share what’s cool. To the extent that BB achieves that, it’s a win. It would be great if it were also the world’s most perfect online colloquium and debating space. But that’s another job, arguably another staff/crew, and not necessarily going to be BB’s strength. I personally judge BB by how it fulfills the primary mission, not by how perfectly it acts as a Forum host. That’s its value to me. Others may of course disagree.

    As someone who works with a lot of online institutions, I am naturally concerned with what BB can do to strengthen itself, follow a good path, and remain flexible in a changing blogosphere. I am not required to trust the Boingers to handle this – but on balance I do trust them. I think they will make sensible decisions.

    But we as the BB community have a role also. We are the Petri dish in which the BB culture spawns, OK, I hate that metaphor and will start over. :) We are the civilian community members, or target market, or whatever you want to call it, who validate or impugn BB by our response to what it publishes. We are the focus group. We are safe when taken as directed. We will rock you. :)

    I would like to see us treat the Boingers as trusted colleagues or adversaries (depending on the issue) so that even a contentious thread can focus on the meat of the issue rather than on peripheral sideshows.

    I hope that Boingers and members alike will join me in endorsing these overall goals. That and LET’S GO METS! :)

  369. TOM @464, Thanks. And I totally agree about the value of “constructive, reasoned, heartfelt on-topic comment (s),” even if the commenter doesn’t agree with us. I think that was Xeni’s goal when she made this post: to have a reasonable conversation about the bigger questions this situation has raised, without getting mired in the gossip, drama, and speculation. And you’re right. We’re trying to figure this stuff out together. We’ve been doing Boing Boing in one form or another for 20 (!) years and it’s still evolving. Fortunately, we’re into mutation. ; )

  370. @ Xeni, David:

    Don’t mention it. With the amount of garbage you guys have to sift through on a daily basis, I’m surprised that you even bother sometimes. What really irks me about this whole thing is how so many people feel it’s their duty to lecture you at length.

    It’s more than apparent that you’ve not taken this lightly. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be posting about it a second time. The fact that you did so knowing that it would open you up to further criticism only underscores that point. I’m sure there are things that you would do differently, given the opportunity, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered if you had. To some people, one-upmanship is everything.

    One small consolation: few with that goal in mind are successful.

    @ PeaceLove:

    Talk about slippery. What you are saying boils down to this: if bloggers enjoy the same level of protection as journalists, they should be held to the same standards. I call B.S.

    I shouldn’t even have to tell you this, but blogs aren’t traditional media. Sure, a few journalists are bloggers, and if they’re blogging on a news site, the situation is somewhat different. I’m not one of those crazy people who believes that accountability is unimportant, but deleting posts, changing policies, or even altering posts are not, in and of themselves, egregious breaches of contract.

    No one has the right to demand that bloggers behave like journalists. Suggesting that they should is a much slippier slope, and tantamount to wrongfully making a citizen’s arrest based on some warped interpretation of the law. Fact is: it ain’t up to you. These “norms” you seek to establish would inevitably lead to blogs looking a Hell of a lot like traditional media, a thought that turns my stomach. I’m not saying that blogs shouldn’t attempt to keep their readers happy. BoingBoing obviously has their readers’ interests in mind, even if not all of their editorial decisions have lived up to their public’s unrealistic expectations.

    No laws were broken… only links. Who’s the authority on who can unpublish their own work? At what point does a blog begin to owe its public full transparency? As I see it, Xeni didn’t even owe hers an explanation. While you may think it’s unprofessional for a blogger to retract their posts, you have no right to demand any kind of accountability. You seem to be mistaking yourself for some kind of arbiter of good taste in online publishing. Sure, you can ask that bloggers adhere to established guidelines, but it’s presumptuous. Still, be my guest. China wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    BoingBoing has a massive following, true, but I ask you: should rock stars be held to the same ethical standards as politicians? Because that’s essentially what we’re talking about here. Some of what gets posted at BoingBoing couldn’t even be reprinted in most traditional media, including some alternative newsweeklies, but even if every story posted here was news-related, expecting BoingBoing to assure us of the validity and relevance of every sentence is as pointless as expecting Matt Drudge to write without bias.

    Let’s say I start a zine with a monthly circulation of ten copies. Am I held to the same standards as professional journalists? It doesn’t matter if I’m charging for the zine or dropping it out of airplanes for free… unless I’m engaging in libelous activity, or some other criminal offense, I am able to say and do whatever I want, and no one can tell me that I can’t. Even if I was selling ten million copies, I can write or unwrite anything I like. I can even lie to you, attempt to manipulate you, or insult you by name. Free country, really.

    You can stop reading the zine, or even beg my advertisers to consider terminating their relationship with the publication, but the one thing you can never do is make demands. Well, you can make them, I suppose, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I don’t write for the NYT. I write for myself, as well as anyone who desires to read my work, but I am in no way obligated to you or anyone else. Again, stop buying my zine. You can write me angry letters, but I don’t even have to read them.

    That said, I can appreciate that you’ve made your point without using words like “Orwellian,” “Kafkaesque,” “Brobdingnagian,” or “Eric Bogosian.”

    @ Argon:

    Your comparison of BoingBoing to “corporations and governments” is all anyone needs to utterly disregard the rest of your self-righteous diatribe.

    You certainly have the right to feel the way you do, but there are people who’ve disagreed with BB’s position with a bit more succinctness and honesty. Asking a billion unanswerable questions doesn’t prove much of anything, just so you are aware.

    More to the point: you seem to be taking this personally. I advise you to sleep on it. BoingBoing isn’t on trial for war crimes, and you’re not the Hague. So sorry. I’m sure some other blog would be only too happy to marry you. A very lucky blog, indeed.

  371. I’ve read most of this thread and I still don’t understand what the big deal is. So an issue was handled in a less than perfect manner. What, no one else here has ever been guilty of that??? The only difference that I can see is that this occurred on a much more public stage. ALL of the Boingers have admitted that this situation could have been handled better and will endeavor to improve in the future. Isn’t this the same thing you told yourself and/or your best friend and/or your parents and/or whatever limited audience you had, after having made a similar blunder? Really, since when did it become necessary for humans to HAVE TO ADMIT they are human?

    Let us not forget that BB is a growing and evolving entity, just like the blogosphere and the internet as a whole. Mutate on!

    And about that function which has the moniker of “unpublish” ~ yes, while the word itself does bring to mind Orwellian connotations, it DOES NOT make the use of said function Orwellian. Think about that the next time you use the Ctrl or Esc key.

    PS: Seems to me this upheaval actually has to do with the fact that some people are damned nosey. I think Xeni has made it pretty clear that it’s none of your business. Get over it.

  372. Mikesum32’s comment @293 has been disemvowelled, not because it’s a tendentious piece of axe-grinding, but because he posted it simultaneously in two different threads.

  373. I don’t know if somebody has covered my thoughts, at a certain point in reading these comments I gave up. But I just want to say, I still love and continue to read BoingBoing.

    I understand that BB is NOT a journalism site. However you are more than just a blog. You have a brand and an image that people perceive, and it should have come as no surprise to you when people were upset with how this matter was handled. My biggest problem with all of this is that BoingBoing, or at least two or more of its core Happy Mutants, stands for openness and transparency. BoingBoing repeatedly takes to task corporations, websites and other organizations when they do not act in an open and transparent manner.

    So how do you think us as readers should react when BoingBoing hypocritically acts in a manner that is NOT transparent or open? Hold yourself to the same standard you hold others to. That’s what I want to see from BoingBoing.

    More constructively, I hope in the future BB will make the decision to not delete posts without warning. Yes, you can do whatever you like. But if you want to please a majority of us “internet cranks” I think a simple update to the page would suffice. I like Stef’s suggestion, although apparently Teresa has shot that down.

    Good luck.

  374. #457 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Ditto, what’s yours? If you aren’t more specific, I can’t be either. I’m not an experienced writer. If I wasn’t able to express my point clearly enough, sorry, I can’t change that.

    #468 takeshi: If you disregard my diatribe, at least don’t misrepresent the parts that you bothered to acknowledge. I’m not comparing Boing Boing to corporations or governments. I’m making comparisons about the common method for relating with someone’s clientele. Corporations, governments, websites, this doesn’t make a difference when your questions “get disappeared”. Sure, when a website does it that’s just annoying. When a government does it… Acting from a position of power over you to keep things under wraps, until you give up and the issue resolves itself, usually to their own advantage instead of yours. I don’t like this.

    I’m not just a bandwagon jumper who read about this on another blog. I’ve had mails answered by silence, I’ve seen accounts suspended for persistently asking the wrong questions, I’ve seen pretty innocent comments removed. Yes I’m taking this personally because I personally interacted with those involved in the matter. Do you have a problem with that?

    I think the rock star/politician analogy is a good one, although not for the reasons you may have intended. Indeed, I expect higher ethical standards from rock stars than from politicians. (What poor fool expects ethical standards from politicians?) It’s their job we gave them, trying to cajole one set of people into accepting what another set of people (hopefully your own people) wants them to swallow. I expect politicians trying to screw me. That’s my point. When I visit someone, I’d like to know how much “screwage” am I expected to be prepared for. Do I need to keep my hand on my wallet? Do I need an escape plan?

    I happily admit that my expectations about Boing Boing were too high. Entirely my fault. Their content fooled me about what they are. (Just picking two names from recent posts here) – are they more Bob Geldof (rock star and activist) or rather Jim Prentice (politician and weasel)? Both have all the right in the world doing their thing their own way. I’m not trying to tell them how to do it. But if I meet someone, I still prefer to be sure where I’m at with them.

    So what. Another site just like any other. Where folks blindly trust that influential people always do the right thing behind closed doors. Not worth commenting on blog entries about net neutrality, these must get posted here purely for their entertainment value, because the desired target group here accepts that if it’s their business, it’s their rules, your problem if you don’t like it.

    A site where if someone tries to get to the bottom of dubious events and asks nosy questions in public, because that’s the only way left to get a response, they may get the moderator knife in the back and get buried in the backyard. While everybody else plays along and pretends not to have seen anything. Where you need to be diligent about keeping local copies of comments in your browser cache because you never know if in a few minutes they’ll still be saying the same thing. Why should anybody care. Is that what you want? I’m fine with that, if you are. Just asking.

  375. @Argon Just asking.

    That is much much more than just asking.

    I’ve not seen comments deleted, but I have seen the moderators having some fun with the blowhards. If your e-mail had similar attitude as your comment, it would be dignified by a response. The day is short, and your outrage is apparently endless. Please chill out.

  376. Argon

    You might want to read Clay Shirkey’s Here Comes Everybody, about changes in communication and culture as the transaction cost of communication drops.

    One of the points he makes is that as one becomes more famous, more people want to communicate with you. One may value being accessible to one’s public, and still be physically unable to do so, due to time constraints. This degradation in responsiveness may be perceived as letting fame go to one’s head, but the perception is most likely inaccurate.

    I often have a habit of thought which I must disrupt consciously, which is to read my worst fears into other peoples’ silences. Could it be that you are doing the same thing?

  377. @ Argon:

    Yes, I do have a problem with that. You did compare BoingBoing to governments and corporations, whatever your rationale. Backpeddle all you like. Moreover, you haven’t the first clue how to defend the comparison. Saying things like “I’m making comparisons about the common method for relating with someone’s clientele” is the same as saying you are making a direct comparison, which you contradistinctively attest that you are not doing. More’s the pity.

    Your original statement, “there already are enough corporations and governments that use this kind of ambiguous silence for their own evil ends,” is the same as whimpering, “please, for the love of God, PLEASE, BoingBoing, don’t join the ranks of these nasty corporations and governments of whose tactics and ‘evil ends’ I wholeheartedly (and rather tritely, I might add) disapprove.” Caterwauling like an orphaned monkey is only part of your problem, though.

    You espouse some knowledge of my reasons for the rock star/politician comparison? Don’t make me laugh. Your faux concern is as transparent as your inability to frame an argument effectively, but what you lack in earnestness you more than make up for in vain and lofty affectation. Quite the prima donna, you are. I suppose next you’ll be telling us all how upset you are that CSPAN doesn’t have a shoutbox.

    If BoingBoing had any desire to secretly conspire against their readership “behind closed doors,” they could simply go back to not allowing comments. And if I had my way, comments like yours would be scrubbed from the Internet entirely. I may be a fascist, but there is little doubt that the web would be a better place without your incessant and boorish treatises.

    Now, in fairness, it might be a better place without mine, as well. One chief difference being: I’m not rupturing blood vessels over something as trivial as bloggers deciding to take down their own posts. Since you openly admit that your expectations of BoingBoing were too high, I beg of you: find a better blog to whine about. I do not care whither you go. Would that it were away, for the fire behind your words more closely resembles the painted-on cherry of a candy cigarette than the explosive force of a thousand atom bombs, which is all-too-clearly your sad and weary self-estimation.

    By your reasoning, if a blogger does something you characterize as dishonest, that blogger should never be allowed to voice their opinions. Or maybe you’re merely suggesting that their opinions should be disregarded. Good thing you don’t “think” for all of us, or the Internet would be a very unattractive and lackluster place. In fact, just having people like you around flattens the color a tad. Were it not for the fact that it’s so much fun to dismiss your opinions, we wouldn’t even need to acknowledge your existence.

    To put a finer point on it, you are perhaps the single most inelegant “thinker” I’ve ever encountered online, and that’s saying a Hell of a lot. It must be dizzying, all this pensive “thinking” you do. And yet, as a matter of course, we must give you the benefit of the doubt. As we all know, if you were a regular contributor to BoingBoing, you would have handled this so much better. You, who howls like an ignited werewolf at the mere suggestion that this isn’t the end of the world. I pity you, truly. Not because you are laughably incapable of producing a single compelling argument as to why BoingBoing’s editors shouldn’t be trusted, but instead because you are so convinced of your supposed exactitude.

    Read: I don’t care if you take it personally. I hope that you take it personally. Nothing could please me more, honestly. I would pay money to watch you writhe in righteous indignation for all of eternity. Mystified and misty-eyed, march, good warrior, into the eternal fray. You may not need BoingBoing, but rest assured: given your penchant for issuing self-important declarations of circumspection and verity, it has never needed you. Like every human being, you are imperfect. I know that for such a remarkably cogent and watchful force, that must be a bitter pill to swallow. Fortunately for you, you are also deserving of love, but FYI… you catch more flies with honey.

    And who knows? Maybe one of these days you’ll get around to launching your imitable and ceaselessly errancy-resistant SuperBlog; one devoid of corporate or governmental influence. Then perhaps you can take some time away from your busy schedule to come back here with a few more luminous observations. Until then, please, do us all a favor and piss right off.

  378. At least with traditional print media, what is news today will shortly be bird cage liner…I am not sure what happens here since archive.org is in existence.

  379. Thanks for the update, Xeni. Definitely a better response than previously. I still think you should republish at least the “minor reference only to VB” posts, and redirect the other ones to some kind of “this post has been unpublished” page. But overall I’m satisfied with how things have turned out.

    Ultimately, this is a symptom of a kind of fundamental flaw in Boing Boing, which is probably the same flaw that any organization that is a group of peers with no hierarchy is in danger of – a lack of cohesion and consistency.

    It’s clear now that BB cannot be considered a strong entity of it’s own. Rather, it’s just a place where 5 or so unique entities happen to coexist. This is fine in publications where the contributors happen to be on the same wavelength, or that don’t get into the advocacy or meta game, but it starts to cause problems when the voices are disparate, and especially when some of the voices start to write advocacy pieces about their own industry without ensuring that their own forum is going to adhere to the same ideals.

    Previously, although I was aware that there were different contributors they all seemed to meld into one big Boing Boing mish mash. They might have had their own pet topics that interested them, but I thought they were all pretty much united in their ideals on the transparency, etc, issues. But now I’m not sure. I didn’t pay that close attention to what was the unique essence of each poster. Maybe Xeni has never said anything about transparency or censorship or corporate accountability. Hell, maybe Cory was the only one writing these things.

    If that’s the case, then Xeni’s been getting too much flak and taking too much responsibility here. Cory would be the one who really needs to stand up and show some accountability. If he really wants to live in a universe with accountability, then he can’t really peacefully coexist in a blog that doesn’t have an overriding editorial policy that shares his ideals.

    @mhains #2 “I still don’t understand why you have to explain yourself. It’s your site. It’s your call.” / @huntsu #6 “It’s your site, your blog, do what you want. I don’t see why other people think you have to live by their arbitrary rules.”

    Because there are many many Boing Boing posts indicating that it expects other companies and blogs to live up to *it’s* “arbitrary rules”.

    @ timw # 11 “If nothing else, at least you’ve dropped the Orwellian ‘unpublished’.” @teresamod #16 “TimW @11, the word is still “unpublished” if you use Movable Type.”

    We get now that the particular term ‘unpublished’ was merely a reference to the blog publishing software’s terminology for something innocuous. But it wasn’t just the term itself (although that certainly didn’t help lol), but also the way it was used that wreaked of Orwellian doublespeak. There was simply no point to correcting people by saying that the posts weren’t deleted because they were “unpublished”. For anyone reading the blog, the posts are still gone, the difference between actual deleting, and mere unpublishing, is academic. There was some attempt at comparing it to when comments are unpublished, that they were sort of “put on hold” while giving more careful consideration to them. But it’s pretty clear that there was never any serious intention of considering whether to “republish” those posts, and that makes the distinction from deletion fairly moot.

    @The whole moderating mess:

    I appreciate the history of commenting on Boing Boing. In the beginning there wasn’t a powerful enough modding system to keep away the spam and trollers. Comments was disabled until a better method could be found to keep it in check. But I think your mod system, while good at serving it’s original purpose, is kind of broken again for two reasons.

    1) Mods shouldn’t just keep the bad stuff at bay, mods should set the example for good behavior. But the deletion (“unpublishing” sorry) of comments by some accounts has gone a little overboard by some accounts, many people feel that the mods end up stooping almost to the attitudinal level of trolls in some of their commentary, and this “disemvoweling” business smells really bad of still being in third grade. The post on moderating guidelines seems particularly obnoxious, which is ironic since it’s stated goal seems to be the elimination of obnoxiousness.

    2) The overbearing way certain things are modded here comes across as kind of counter to the democratic and transparent spirit of some of your advocacy posts. Granted, this is hard for me to elucidate well, it’s more like a strong nagging feeling. I suspect I could make a strong case if I pondered it long enough. But I’ll concede that I haven’t figured out how to present my case yet.

    Also, with regards to the disemvoweling thing, it’s getting hard to tell when it’s really being used. I mean, did you really think “bloody hell” was offensive enough to merit disemvoweling, or did the poster do it to the phrase themselves as a kind of ironic statement? I’m kind of hoping the latter. But the fact that some of the modding is seeming immature enough that it’s not immediately obvious is a bad sign to me.

    I’d really like to see the comments section become self-moderating. A system similar to what they do on Digg seems to work really well. You can still access all the comments if you want to, so the record is complete and uncensored, but trollers and off topic posts and other offenders are minimized so you don’t have to see their annoying posts unless you really want to. Plus, the really good posts are easy to find.

    @”This is their blog and they can do as they please. If you don’t like it go somewhere else.”

    BB has posted articles stating *not* to do that very thing when it comes to other companies. It’s said that it’s important, whether you ultimately decide to stay or leave, to communicate the reasons you are unhappy with them. Surely they should expect us to do the same when it comes to them.

    And, that’s kind of a silly remark isn’t it? It’s not your comments forum either. If you don’t like what someone says you can go somewhere else. But you yourself chose to make a response instead of leaving.

    @ Cory #78 “@67: Xeni speaks for me — and I’m off for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. AFAIC, if one of my co-eds wants to delete some posts they made, it’s jake with me.”

    Well now that’s really surprising to me and kind of disturbing. While I could imagine that Xeni and the others were just kind of doing their own thing, and their blogging values didn’t happen to coincide with Cory’s, I never would have imagined Cory being so blase about the issue. It’s going to make it hard to take your advocacy stuff seriously in the future, Cory, unless you address the seeming dissonance in some future essay and clarify why you don’t think there is an inherent ideological contradiction there. As I implied earlier, while Xeni (and Teresa to an extent) technically were the “offending parties” here, it’s mostly because of *your* stated ideals that Boing Boing is getting so much flak about it. I really think it’s incumbent upon you to address that aspect of the issue in a future post.

    That said, happy birthday!

    @blingcheese #132 “How much of an issue would this have been, had it not been for “alleged” “purported” or “suggested” lesbian relationship.”

    Internally I don’t think was an issue at all. It may or may not have been an issue in outside reporting, but I haven’t read enough to notice any that emphasized this angle. Internally the real issue is that BB is doing things in it’s own blog that look very similar to things they have criticized other blogs and companies for, and that seem to run counter to the values and ideals it’s expressed previously.

    Personally speaking, I don’t care about Xeni’s private interpersonal issues. Not that it’s an inherently uninteresting or unjournalistic topic. There are many blogs out there with personal stories. But as far as I aware, none of the BBers have really posted much about their personal lives, so there’s been no reason to get invested in those particular stories.

    And personally speaking, I didn’t really want to get dragged into Xeni’s personal dramas. The original posts with mentions of VB didn’t really have anything to do with Xeni, By mass unpublishing them, she drew much more attention to her personal drama than the posts ever could.

    @”We all know that other posts have been sent to the worm hole. But they are not getting ANY attention.”

    I guess we know now, but we didn’t know when this started. And those examples are hardly in the same category, either in intention, or in scope.

    @my final thoughts…

    I have a greater appreciation now for how Boing Boing works and how what happened is more a consequence of it being more a place where disparate authors happen to congregate than having any real cohesive identity or structure of it’s own. I still love the individual contributors, and I still love pretty much all of the posts on their own merits.

    But I’m still not entirely satisfied with the way that BB is run. While the status quo worked fine in the past, we’re past that now. I’d really like you guys to come together and think hard about the future of this blog, and what you want it to be. I see the only workable choices as being one of the following:

    1) Continue to be just a place where a group of loose knit friends post about “wonderful stuff”. But do so consciously. Have an about page stating your light hearted goal, and that your blog is for fun, and nothing is to be taken too seriously. Warn readers that it’s all for entertainment purposes only, and they shouldn’t expect you to adhere to any particular standards. And then make it an editorial policy not to write any posts that are too serious, or that advocate strongly for any particular issue. And for sure discontinue any future posting on issues that deal with journalism, net and blog ethics, transparency, censorship, democracy, etc. This will still be a great blog, and everyone can lighten up and not worry about issues of integrity.

    2) Take a stand and decide that you all really do care about the net issues that some of you blog about, and you’re willing to do the extra work it takes to set an example in this arena. Take the time to create an open and binding editorial policy that is clearly stated and that is agreed to and followed by all the contributors. State what your ideals are, and how your policies will reflect that. Have the balls to stick by your policies even when it’s inconvenient or even personally difficult to yourselves. Show the world by your actions and by your example that these issues actually are important, and that someone out there can practice what they preach. And illicit genuine dialogue from your audience about your policies. Make it not just your happy little party pad, but a community forum.

    Personally, I’m fine with either choice. I’d rather have #2 because there’s already plenty of #1 out there, and we really need *someone* to step up and create a #2 and Boing Boing has come the closest I’ve seen so far. I’m not sure I have it in me to do it myself :-) But, the “wonderful things” aspect of BB is still more interesting that 99% of everything else out there, even without the bonus of “shining paragon of net virtue”.

    But I don’t think you can continue to straddle the line. I’m not saying BB should turn into all advocacy posts and leave everything ‘wonderful’ or fluffy behind. The advocacy posts can and certainly should coexist with all the other wonderful stuff. But – the advocacy posts can no longer peacefully coexist with a weak editorial policy and balkanized ideology. Make a conscious decision to either embrace the advocacy completely or move on and leave it behind.

    Thanks y’all!

  380. Uh, Takeshi, maybe you ought to take some of your own advice and buy a shorthop ticket on the chill train.

    I don’t think any of Argon’s points are applicable in this case, so I won’t defend her/him/it. But there are obviously legitimate questions to be raised about the social bargains involved in blog authorship. Some of those extend to legal exposures, as I’m sure all the Boingers and their moderators are very much aware.

    The entire point of Xeni’s post is that the Boingers themselves are struggling with what those contracts are, and how best to set and meet them. I’m grateful she took extra time, once again, to explain that struggle, so some of us can learn from it too.

    In any case, the analogies between bloggers and journalists, politicians, rock bands, tinkers and tailors are not yet nearly as clear cut as anyone in this thread makes out. So can I recommend a little more light here? The heat certainly isn’t making anything clearer.

  381. JACKDAVINCI@478:
    Couldn’t agree with you more. #2 gets my vote too. I think the issues you deal with go to personal integrity, and how to maintain that integrity in a public forum that is group-authored. Which is quite a challenge.

    But dangerous territory. Hope your constructive suggestions (which would certainly renew my interest in BB, which I used to read every day and now do not) are not taken as personal attacks.

  382. WILLIBRO @480, I never take thoughtful, constructive criticism as a personal attack. Unless it is. : )

    JACKDAVINCI @478, I don’t necessarily agree with all of your criticisms and characterizations. But I do hear what you’re saying. Thing is, in my mind #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive. Also, I don’t hang out on DIGG, so I don’t know their commenting system but I’ll certainly check it out.

    Your comments are certainly good food for thought. Thanks for taking time to post.

  383. I don’t see any reason that every blogger on Boing Boing has to have the same position on openness and transparency. If people with somewhat differing standards can’t coexist in the same space, that’s a problem.

  384. @481 David “I don’t necessarily agree with all of your criticisms and characterizations.”

    Fair enough. Not sure which ones you disagree with, but I should probably cop to the fact that some of the characterizations are not entirely mine. While my own feelings on the matter of the mod stuff is based mostly on the policy post and a tiny bit on reading Teresa’s posts, some of my stated characterizations relating to mod behavior and deleting posts, etc were just a nod to what I’ve read other commenters complaining about.

    Hopefully I’ve made clear that in some cases I’m not entirely sure what the actual facts are – such as certain content like the advocacy stuff seemed like a BB thing but may in fact have just been a Cory thing if you go back and check the actual posting history.

    @481 David “Thing is, in my mind #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive.”

    Yeah they pretty much are exclusive. BB has kind of been trying to do both to a certain extent, if only in a de facto sort of way by virtue of it having more than one contributer and a lack of a strong editorial policy.

    I mean, #1 definitely excludes the advocacy stuff, that’s true, but it also eliminates having to be more formal about the editorial policy. #2 on the other hand lets you keep both the serious and the casual content, but you lose the freedom of only being accountable to yourselves and of not having to adhere to stricter standards and editorial policies.

    I guess there’s a third and fourth weaker options:

    3) Keep things somewhat casual while still letting the serious stuff get posted but make some sort of concession to your readers with an agreement to not do things that seem to go against the spirit of things you are advocating. As long as you don’t do any more obviously “bad things”, you could probably get away with not fully committing to an ideology or spokesperson role. But obviously the less strong you are in making clear related policies, the less future advocacy posts are going to be taken seriously. And the more it seems like hypocrisy, the more it’s going to carry over and kind of give a bad taste to all things BB even the wonderful and fluffy.

    4) Take the opposite tack and embrace what might seem to be apparent hypocrisy, declaring it to be actually proof of your ideals. By having several different contributors, you can say, each with their own vision, ideals, and policies, you are actually being more open and transparent and democratic. If you do this, it would probably make sense to make the balkanized nature of BB much more apparent. Give each contributor their own bio and policy statement. BB should also have its own strong policy statement, as to what we can expect from all the contributors, and what policies are left up to each contributor. It would probably make sense to give each contributor their own feed tab, in addition to a tab for a combined feed with some kind of disclaimer at the top noting the combined feed is for convenience only and shouldn’t be construed to seem like there is a united ideology or viewpoint.

    @john #482 “I don’t see any reason that every blogger on Boing Boing has to have the same position on openness and transparency. If people with somewhat differing standards can’t coexist in the same space, that’s a problem.”

    If it’s done in a clever and obvious way, then I agree. Of course this isn’t a problem for most websites because they either tend to be 1) a single author blog in which case we can expect a reasonably consistent viewpoint or 2) a web magazine in which it’s clear that there might be some overall theme or viewpoint, ultimately each article is by a different author and they are responsible for it’s content.

    Unfortunately, BB has both multiple authors and a blog style format. Lending more confusion is the fact that usually there isn’t any obvious disagreement between the authors. Maybe only one or two are actively posting stuff about transparency or whatever, but you never see anyone posting *anti*transparency stuff so the lack of opposing coverage falsely seems to imply agreement with the other coverage. Also, BB doesn’t actively promote itself as a forum for different viewpoints, like a website that calls itself “IDIC” or “He said She said” might. So people get the impression that there’s a conformity of views.

    That said, while it would be fine for Cory to be posting one viewpoint and Xeni another, it’s another issue for Cory to be advocating for one thing on BB while BB’s policies are not friendly to those views. It’s particularly odd since Cory himself has some say in the editorial policies.

    Anyway, I recognize that what BB thought it was doing/being and what it’s readers perception of what it was doing/being turned out to be slightly different things. While I find some of the particular choices specific BBers made to be somewhat odd or seemingly at odds with their own or other BBers ideology, I fully acknowledge that they were acting with good intentions, and within the parameters of what they themselves thought BB to be.

    Certainly take the time to have a discussion and think about things properly. But ultimately I think it benefits you to make some sort of strong decision about what you want BB to be and make the changes needed to make it clear what you are and to keep what you are consistent and cohesive.

    With regards to the advocacy stuff, whoever *is* writing it really should make some sort of statement with how they feel it relates to BB and in what instances they feel it doesn’t apply. Maybe there’s very good reasons why none of this stuff is applicable to the policies of BB. Maybe they feel it should apply to their own posts but not to the other contributors. But Cory or whoever should really take the time to explain that to us, otherwise it gives the false impression that they don’t know, or that they don’t care.

  385. ooops! My comment #481 should have read: “Thing is, in my mind #1 and #2 *aren’t* mutually exclusive!”

    (Sorry, JACKDAVINCI @484!)

  386. JACKDAVINCI @484, you wrote:

    “Of course this isn’t a problem for most websites because they either tend to be 1) a single author blog in which case we can expect a reasonably consistent viewpoint or 2) a web magazine in which it’s clear that there might be some overall theme or viewpoint, ultimately each article is by a different author and they are responsible for it’s content.”

    I’m not sure why BB being in a blog format means that it’s somehow different (generally speaking) from the specific characteristics of #2 that you describe above. Each of us has a byline on our posts.

    Also, I’m really not convinced that we’re hypocrites. I think you and I will just have to agree to disagree on that one.

  387. @David #486 “I’m not sure why BB being in a blog format means that it’s somehow different (generally speaking) from the specific characteristics of #2 that you describe above. Each of us has a byline on our posts.”

    My only point about it being in a blog format rather than a magazine format was that it was less obvious that there shouldn’t have to be a cohesive point of view. After all the discussion, it’s a little bit more clear how BB works to those following that discussion. But just having bylines alone doesn’t give the casual reader the impression that the viewpoints are as distinct from each other and from any overriding BB viewpoint as it turns out they actually are. Especially readers who are visually oriented. For them, a simple byline fails to make an impression, and it would take at least some kind of avatar, and possibly separate tabs or some kind of color scheme for the posting authors to really seem distinct.

    @”Also, I’m really not convinced that we’re hypocrites. I think you and I will just have to agree to disagree on that one.”

    I’m not convinced that’s the case either. Certainly not that all of you are. It would be constrained only to those of you that were both writing the various advocacy posts and also involved in the “transgressions” (or failing to remedy them). And even in that case I would give you the benefit of the doubt.

    But even if you feel like ultimately, the various things you got flack for don’t constitute a violation of any of your communicated ideology upon close examination, surely you can see that they *appear* to touch on some of the same issues and could at least be easily confused to seem to appear contrary.

    I see a couple of possible scenarios here:

    S1) Party A’s actions violated Party B’s ideology. Party B should probably give us some indication of what this means for Party B’s continuing association with a forum that allows Party A’s actions.

    S2) Party A’s actions seemed to us to violate Party B’s ideology but Party B doesn’t think that they actually do. Party B, seen as an expert in the field, should probably write a short essay explaining how the confusing situation is not actually a contradiction of the ideology.

    S3) Party A’s actions seemed to us to violate Party A’s own ideology, but Party A doesn’t think that they actually do. Same remedy as S2.

    I mean, the actions might still seem to be poor netiquette by some, but it’s only the apparent contradiction with the advocacy posts that made it seem like it rose past simple poor netiquette and into hypocrisy. Boing Boing can probably easily survive either, but future advocacy probably won’t be taken seriously until it’s explained to us how it’s not contradictory.

  388. #487 jackdavinci

    If the positions advocated have merit, don’t they have merit regardless?

  389. I’d like to point out that it isn’t at all obvious to this commenter that there is any great contradiction between this one editorial act and BB’s various stands on “transparency and whatever”. I keep seeing it stated that this single act undermines everything BB says about serious issues, but even if BB’s position on the VB posts stands unchanged, it has inconvenienced no-one (except, belatedly, BB) and harmed no-one. The serious issues that BB posts on are serious because the lack of transparency (or whatever) practiced by those BB points to leads to people losing money, their freedom, or in extremis their lives. That is the first principle, surely, to which transparency and other principles must give way: that no-one should be harmed.

    Since no-one was harmed by this act, I’m not seeing that BB’s advocacy has been damaged in any way. Even if BB was demonstrably crewed by the worst villains and blackguards who ever sailed the seven seas, that would not make anything they write automatically untrue. The TSA would still be incompetent jackasses, China would still be a totalitarian regime, Microsoft would still be… well, Microsoft. And the BBers would still be right to point all of that out.

    So, you find that your gods have feet of clay, and your trust has been infinitismally eroded by this kerfuffle. Well, that’s life. There are no gods walking among us, there is only us: frail, weak, muddleheaded human beings, striving to build something a little less imperfect than ourselves.

    There are very few people or institutions you should be placing your absolute trust in, and a random blog on the internet — even a very interesting and entertaining one — probably isn’t one of them. I’m sure that the BBers would prefer your conditional trust, anyway.

  390. Re: is BB a news/personal blog/magazine site?

    In many ways it is a little of all these things. I thought it was unfair earlier comments about BB not generating any of its own content, but I don’t so much see the Boingers as purely bloggers either.. A large amount of the content comes from user submitted links, and often posts include commentary from the submitter. In this light, I see the Boingers as kind of ‘link curators’. This creates a very personal environment where readers feel as though they are there blogging alongside the team. Which is I think one of the reasons so many have felt they are owed some kind of explanation/whatever in relation to the current debate.

    Just my 2 cents – please don’t flame me for it. Only trying to offer a different view of things

    Its entirely up to you what you want to do with the site. For me Mark’s comments completely put everything into perspective-
    “One of the things I stand for is personal freedom. That includes the freedom to delete my own posts. I also stand for personal responsibility and that includes not screwing over my readers…”

    Maybe you could add something to this effect under your ‘policies’? It seems as though you are reticent to implement formal rules etc (which is fine, again this is your decision), but at least some kind of statement that sets the tone would help give people some kind of frame of reference with regards to future actions/decisions/directions…

    Another suggestion, maybe you could open a thread periodically and invite readers to submit ideas, suggestions and general feedback about the site. Sure you’ll get ‘trolls’, but what site doesn’t? Its a way of opening up the communication lines, and who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised with the diamonds in the rough.

    Speaking of which, kudos to those who have made constructive suggestions on this thread.

    And respect to xeni for doing such a great job bringing people back on topic here.

  391. SUMER88 @490, yes, yes, and yes. I like your suggestions a lot too. The idea of an occasional thread to talk with the community about ideas, suggestions, and feedback is a great idea. Last month, when we posted our first ever “official” policies (a requirement of our insurance company), we opened the comments. There was a good conversation, and we’ll certainly keep those comments in mind as our policies evolve. There is some great stuff in this thread too.

    Your comment about us being curators is spot on, from my point-of-view. I was trained as a journalist and I’ve written for a zillion mainstream media outlets (and a zillion-and-one ‘zines). When I participate in panels, present to journalism classes, or just chat with other journalists, I’m frequently asked if I consider blogging to be journalism. The only answer I have is, “Yes, if they’re practicing journalism. I don’t practice journalism on Boing Boing.”

    In journalism terms, my role at BB may be somewhat comparable to an editor. But in my own head, I’m a collector. Boing Boing is my online cabinet of curiosities where I put things that I think are interesting. Sometimes, I try to be a sensemaker, looking for patterns in the chaos. Mostly though, I just get off on the wonders that the world has to offer.

    Interestingness is my only filter. And I’m always delighted (and a bit surprised) that so many people seem to share my interests. Decades ago, a reporter asked Timothy Leary (one of bOING bOING’s patron saints) what he thinks folks should do after they “turn on.” Tim said they should “find the others.” Not to sound too sappy, but I feel fortunate that Boing Boing has become a place where we can all find each other.

    For me, that’s what Boing Boing is all about. I hope it stays that way.

  392. Thanks David – you are gold.

    What you have written is simply beautiful, and I think at the heart of this whole discussion and what your audience wants to hear. If each contributor/editor could articulate what BB means to them and how they feel about it, you would have this situation nailed.

    On purpose I used the term ‘curator’ as I feel the moment you refer to ‘editor’ it immediately invokes journalistic imagery and with that comes editorial policies etc..

    In light of your definition of BB being a cabinet of curiosities – the label curator seems to be more befitting, and in the spirit of being free to be creative and experimental.

    I see BB as being a form of hybrid media, and there will be times when you have to make rules/judgments as you go. Participatory media is still in its infancy, and you cannot predict what kinds of scenarios that lay ahead. I don’t think its appropriate to limit and constrain yourselves by labeling your roles in terms of traditional forms of media.

    And yes I agree with you – I too hope it stays the way it is.

  393. Man, so much great stuff in here. Thanks for all of it. I’m too busy this morning to respond to all of it but I felt compelled to say something!

  394. #475 hagbard: True enough, though I think it really can only explain half of it. (It seems that at least Mark Frauenfelder was already aware of the problematics of having “so many mails and so little time” when he posted “David Pogue’s email tips for public figures” Incidentally, the link of this entry says “You should probably post your guidelines on your Web site, letting people know what kinds of e-mail you’re likely to ignore, so people can manage their expectations.” — But somehow, even when it’s true, I don’t think that “I have to wash my hair that night. Honestly, NOT trying to put off your nosy questions as long as possible. While our moderators deny all on-site discussion of the issue.” would become an officially included item on such a list any time soon…)

    More than once I reported a broken link and received a nice “thank you, fixed it” just a short while after; I don’t really expect those mails (appreciated nevertheless). I don’t believe that time constraints were much of a factor here.

    It’s less the degradation in responsiveness, rather than the potential gains from the ambiguity thereof, isn’t it? Once you have the power and you can claim this type of selective silence, you’re on the slippery slope, and it becomes all too tempting to tell a white lie. (Or outright abuse it, as evidenced by the customer relations procedures of countless evil corporations and governments. Booya.)

    Frankly, when it happens to me, it’s not my problem having to determine which is which. Meanwhile being left in a position of disadvantage — that’s the reason why it’s so popular. Generally, the world would be a better place (not for the corporations that exploit this method, obviously. the good guys could adapt easily enough) if people simply would not quietly put up with stuff like this, anywhere, don’t you think?

    #476 takeshi: Alright, I’m the raving lunatic who compares everything to evil corporations and governments, if it makes you happy. Anything else?

    #474 mdhatter: For what it’s worth, my first e-mail (to Mark, David, Cory, Xeni) was

    Subject: please see this comment post at boingboing

    May I call your attention to [link to a post that was deleted while I was writing this in which someone was asking about the Violet Blue thing] which I think needs some sort of official comment

    Ah crap, strike that. The comment “has been disappeared”?! (It was asking about [bloglink that was referenced in that post] – What’s going on here?

    Okay, admittedly this was rather tentative and not too clear about the fact that even though comments were deleted on-site, there’s still people who would like an off-site explanation. So my second more specific e-mail was

    Subject: Did you receive the other e-mail?

    I wrote to [you, you, you, and you] (2008-06-28 15:20 UTC) regarding a user comment in which someone had inquired about inaccessible pages at boingboing. Since the post was off-topic it was eventually deleted, I can perfectly understand that.

    Unfortunately, this left more than three boingers – myself included – completely in the dark with no information whatsoever, still wanting to know what’s going on.

    I’m sure these pages became inaccessible for perfectly innocuous reasons, but, you know, questions…are beggining…to spread…through the…blogosphere… [I put links between the words to several blogs that were already speculating about what might be going on behind the scenes]

    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, Orwell-style, pretending that previously-published content has never existed when we’ve just seen it disappear into a memory hole.

    Would you care to enlighten your faithful readers about what has happened?

    Now, takeshi will psychoanalyze something into it again that isn’t there, but believe me when I say that the Orwell reference was meant in a light-hearted half-joking manner at that point, just to keep with the general theme here as well as in the bloglinks that were mentioned. This was before it became edivent that any further comments would get deleted, and that we were expected to presume that only an un-person would be asking these un-questions again.

  395. Argon @494:

    While our moderators deny all on-site discussion of the issue.

    Considering that you are here commenting on the site about this issue, in what sense is this true? Is this remark not calculated to get everybody’s back up before you’ve given yourself a chance to say anything intelligent? Do you want people to dismiss your remarks?

  396. ARGON @494, Your comment about Violet Blue in the discussions following some random post was almost certainly deleted because it had *nothing to do* with the post.

    And yes, I received your email that you quoted above. Quite frankly, we were too busy trying to sort out what was going on, and attempting to reach Boingers who were on vacation (and without even cell service), to spend time responding to you. We responded publicly when we were ready to respond. Sorry if the lack of a personal response angers you for some reason.

  397. Jackdavinci @478:

    It’s clear now that BB cannot be considered a strong entity of it’s own. Rather, it’s just a place where 5 or so unique entities happen to coexist.

    I don’t think that’s clear at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to disagree with it.

    Nelson.C @489:

    I’d like to point out that it isn’t at all obvious to this commenter that there is any great contradiction between this one editorial act and BB’s various stands on “transparency and whatever”. I keep seeing it stated that this single act undermines everything BB says about serious issues, but even if BB’s position on the VB posts stands unchanged, it has inconvenienced no-one (except, belatedly, BB) and harmed no-one. The serious issues that BB posts on are serious because the lack of transparency (or whatever) practiced by those BB points to leads to people losing money, their freedom, or in extremis their lives. That is the first principle, surely, to which transparency and other principles must give way: that no-one should be harmed.

    Since no-one was harmed by this act, I’m not seeing that BB’s advocacy has been damaged in any way. Even if BB was demonstrably crewed by the worst villains and blackguards who ever sailed the seven seas, that would not make anything they write automatically untrue.

    One hadn’t wanted to be argumentive about it, but one has been thinking similar thoughts for some time now.

  398. Argon @494, you didn’t get the answer you wanted in e-mail. Others didn’t get the answer they wanted in Boing Boing. In all cases, the reason was the same: that answer didn’t exist yet.

    I think this would all be a lot clearer if you stopped thinking that an answer you want, but haven’t yet been given, is necessarily being withheld.

    In fact, I think this would all be a lot clearer if a great many people would stop assuming that “not yet forthcoming” = “we’re holding out on you.” Sometimes all it means is “We haven’t figured it out yet.”

    Note: this can also be true of people and places other than Boing Boing.

  399. #483 takeshi: Um, willibro, I think it’s plenty obvious that I was just dishing it back. But thanks.

    Well, in that case, thank you. My apologies if my response seemed either patronizing or obtuse. But, no, sorry, it wasn’t obvious to me at all. I’m not normally very dumb about stuff like that, I think. And I’m not sure I see how “dishing it back” actually helps anything, in this thread or any other. I guess it just didn’t sound much like the very reasonable Takeshi I’m used to reading here.

    Which kind of encapsulates my feelings about this whole thing. People whose (online personas) I liked and respected suddenly appeared to be behaving in ways I didn’t much like or respect. Which was surprising and confusing. And not much helped by what seemed to be an unnecessary level of mystery (I’m still not sure whose privacy has been maintained here, given that one participant apparently did everything she could to help a passel of gossip-mongers make BB look as nefarious, spiteful and juvenile as possible).

    Thanks to the folks I liked and respected, I think I have information now sufficient to cut those folks some slack and to restore my liking and respect for them. I know that failure to restore that liking and respect would not be an issue for them, thanks. Just sharing the results of their courage.

    One thing is still true for me, though: It is problematic at best to make assumptions about what’s obvious or not about interactions conducted over a low-bandwidth medium like typed text. No doubt I will get schooled on this again.

  400. WILLIBRO @499, you wrote:
    “I know that failure to restore that liking and respect would not be an issue for them, thanks.”

    Well, it may not be an “issue” but I always prefer being liked and respected to, er, being hated and looked down upon. : )

  401. @sushispook (#25) and @Joel Johnson and of course, Xeni.

    Thanks for this post and comments. #25, I agree completely that a vacuum allows such “groundswells” or “herd mentalities” to grow as disappointment, preaching and harping on the moral high-ground is so easy from one’s armchair.

    I am still amazed about how tight a bond your “fans”/”readers”/”critics” have with BB. Clearly, BB is bigger than what it was when it began; it seems fitting that many of you live or have lived in LA now and brand management certainly requires more open communication like this post.

    I also want to apologize for taking this whole tissy-fit so seriously, for one of my early comments and while I still feel your actions touched on important “social media” (what isn’t social media, ugggh) issues, the vitriol and animus were uncalled for, pathetic and show some seriously un-hinged hombres….especially towards one of the coolest tech folk I know from afar…..

    I have to wonder what role gender played here, but let’s not go down that road quite yet…..

  402. Oh, I meant to add to @joelJohnson’s early post, please, please be flippant…..

    But also given David’s wise comments, esp. #441, would you not agree that some of Xenis’ post, and especially Cory’s, fall more along the line of journalism/citizen media (another god-awful term)?

    I certainly believe a close reading of the different co-editors’ posts and personas reveal a diversity with Cory and then less Xeni falling on the journalism side and David, Mark and John falling more on the curator side.

    It clear to me that the emotions/passions Cory triggers and to a lesser extent Xeni had everything to do with this herd-trolly-ike groundswell.

  403. #495 Nelson.C: I’m talking about the few days before the first statement, when it was impossible to post anything color-related here. When it was considered subversive to post a witty on-topic comment beginning with “roses are red, violets are blue”. (I haven’t seen one of those myself but people mentioned it. #496 David Pescovitz: My own comment was in a post about gummy sweets and went something like “Did you know that different colors have different flavors. Some taste better than others. When I eat gummies, the purple-ish ones always disappear first.” Aw, and I was soo careful not to even mention “violet” or “blue”.)

    When elsewhere people were already musing (careful, long page) that “It’s like the stories you hear about Soviet poets and novelists trying to sneak criticisms of the regime into their work under the censors’ noses…” When there already was some sort of “underground movement” forming by bewildered people trying to find out how far the control would go.

    And no one knew why. No one saw any way left to find out why.

    #498 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: “The answer” to try and keep people quiet on the site if they ask about things for which “there is no answer yet” must have existed, at least in its rudimentary form, ever since those blog entries were “unpublished”. There’s a difference between providing “no explanation” and providing “no answer”. The question itself was very actively avoided on the site. Apparently for well-meant reasons that I still don’t agree with — nevertheless, kudos to Xeni for admitting that trying to keep it under control didn’t work. It never could have.

    What would have happened if Boing Boing somehow had managed to keep this below the “shitstorm” threshold? If the Violet Blue related questions simply died down, if people simply went away and never bothered to find out why their comments got deleted. Another website would have learned the easy lesson that it can quietly use its power to manipulate people into compliance without any bad consequences happening to them. Did I mention that I don’t like this? It’s especially disappointing when you see it happen at a site where you least would have expected it.

  404. Willibro @499:

    Thanks to the folks I liked and respected, I think I have information now sufficient to cut those folks some slack and to restore my liking and respect for them. I know that failure to restore that liking and respect would not be an issue for them, thanks.

    Willibro, I’m not one of the Boingers, but I’ll personally undertake to care how you feel about Boing Boing. That’s an honest offer.

    Argon @503:

    #495 Nelson.C: I’m talking about the few days before the first statement, when it was impossible to post anything color-related here.

    Untrue. You just couldn’t post about Violet Blue in unrelated topics.

    Let me put that another way: You weren’t allowed to force someone else’s quarrel on the Boingers, in their own weblog, when they were still figuring out what they thought and what to say about it.

    When it was considered subversive to post a witty on-topic comment beginning with “roses are red, violets are blue”.

    It wasn’t considered “subversive” — drama, much? Whether it was witty was a matter of personal taste. What it was, in terms of moderation, was Not On.

    #496 David Pescovitz: My own comment was in a post about gummy sweets and went something like “Did you know that different colors have different flavors. Some taste better than others. When I eat gummies, the purple-ish ones always disappear first.” Aw, and I was soo careful not to even mention “violet” or “blue”.)

    That is, your comment was intended as an oblique reference, and was recognized as such. What’s your point?

    When elsewhere people were already musing (careful, long page) that “It’s like the stories you hear about Soviet poets and novelists trying to sneak criticisms of the regime into their work under the censors’ noses…”

    Right. Trying to force the Boingers to prematurely go public on an unpleasant and upsetting quarrel, in their own weblog, before they’d sorted out how they felt and what they wanted to do about it, simply because you wanted them to satisfy your own impatient curiosity, was the equivalent of dissidents in the old Soviet Union risking death, exile, imprisonment in labor camps, loss of their profession, and so on.

    Do I have that right? Is that really what you mean to suggest?

    When there already was some sort of “underground movement” forming by bewildered people trying to find out how far the control would go.

    Underground movement? I’d rate it as plain curiosity. And it can’t have taken long to figure out what content would get a comment suppressed.

    And no one knew why. No one saw any way left to find out why.

    Excuse me, but how old are you? “Because I want it now, that’s why” stops being an excuse for acting up before one’s age reaches double digits.

    #498 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: “The answer” to try and keep people quiet on the site if they ask about things for which “there is no answer yet” must have existed, at least in its rudimentary form, ever since those blog entries were “unpublished”.

    Dead wrong. No such policy could exist until people started trying to force a quarrel on the Boingers prematurely. The actual period you’re talking about lasted about a day and a half, maybe two whole days at most.

    There’s a difference between providing “no explanation” and providing “no answer”.

    Go on. Explain?

    The question itself was very actively avoided on the site. Apparently for well-meant reasons that I still don’t agree with —

    In all this ruckus, has it never once crossed your mind that for one of the main people involved, this was a highly personal and upsetting transaction? I should think it would have been obvious. Yet you still believe you had the right to come crashing in, demanding that everyone stop trying to work out their responses to a difficult and touchy situation, just so you could get your curious itch scratched fourteen hours earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

    nevertheless, kudos to Xeni for admitting that trying to keep it under control didn’t work. It never could have.

    What are you on about? Of course it couldn’t have been kept under wraps. No one ever thought it could.

    What would have happened if Boing Boing somehow had managed to keep this below the “shitstorm” threshold?

    You mean, what if a miracle had happened?

    If the Violet Blue related questions simply died down, if people simply went away and never bothered to find out why their comments got deleted.

    Again: that’s something that was not going to happen.

    I’m at a loss for an explanation here. How long have you been on the internet? It doesn’t work like that.

    Another website would have learned the easy lesson that it can quietly use its power to manipulate people into compliance without any bad consequences happening to them.

    And in what interesting alternate universe is that true?

    To reiterate my earlier position: Argon, internet. Internet, Argon. You should get acquainted. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fascinating things to talk about.

    Did I mention that I don’t like this?

    Then I have great news for you: it’s not going to happen! In fact, it’s impossible! Isn’t that a relief?

    It’s especially disappointing when you see it happen at a site where you least would have expected it.

    Boing Boing is not responsible for the things they do in your fantasies.

  405. Argon @503: It’s difficult to read your first couple of paragraphs without picturing you as a child in a schoolyard uttering your ditties while the object of your attention is vainly trying to pretend she isn’t hurt by them.

    So, your considered reaction to what is obviously a sensitive subject, is to go, “Is it this sensitive? How about this, are you sensitive to that? How about this, does it make you cry?”

    If you want to know something, what’s the problem with asking a question and waiting for the answer? What’s with this reaction that you feel you have to rules-lawyer basic human interaction by inventing strange new ways of getting at someone? And why do you feel put out that you were moderated because of this? Did you think that you were being soo clever no-one but your victim should have noticed?

  406. Teresa 504, ct Willibro: I’m not one of the Boingers…

    Purely as a point of information, Xeni says otherwise:

    …please don’t trash Teresa or the other mods. As far as I’m concerned, they’re 100% real Boingers too. They have a job I would not want, and would suck at after a few days anyway, I’d lose my patience. Please try to understand.

    (emphasis added)

    I’m not sure if you missed this, but it would be bad if you did, so here it is.

  407. #495 Nelson.C: I’m talking about the few days before the first statement, when it was impossible to post anything color-related here.

    Untrue. You just couldn’t post about Violet Blue in unrelated topics.

    One of the things I’ve taken from this is that there’s a gulf between how a lot of readers/lurkers/commenters on BB want responsiveness from the site to work and how the BB folks themselves want that responsiveness to work.

    What I’m understanding is that there’s no avenue for BB readers to start a discussion about the site of their own volition. Which, to be clear, I don’t see as inherently good or bad, but it does seem to be clashing, in this case, with a lot of your readers’ expectations. And it sounds like to some extent there’s been a reality check here for the BB principals on some things (the transparency-in-deletion issue being the main one), but I don’t know how much response there’s really been to the issue of users wanting to talk about what’s going on on the site.

    If the fundamental principle is that readers don’t get to talk about something unless the BB principals decide they can talk about it, so be it, but it might be good to find some way to make that a lot clearer up front, since there are a heck of a lot of eyes on this place and a much broader and less-tightly-knit collection of commenters and potential commenters than on the vast majority of personal blogs.

    Let me put that another way: You weren’t allowed to force someone else’s quarrel on the Boingers, in their own weblog, when they were still figuring out what they thought and what to say about it.

    But to put it more neutrally, folks weren’t allowed to talk about something about the site itself, that they were very interested in talking about, on the site, period. If it’s off-topic in any thread but Thread X, and there is no Thread X, it’s just not allowed. Which, again: if that’s policy, that’s policy, but it seems to be a policy that fit this situation pretty poorly as far as reader expectations.

    But I think that that clash, both in its inevitability and in the way it snowballed as the BB silence on the subject drew on, is a big part of why people were surprised by the ongoing initial silence. A lot of folks have wondered why there wasn’t at least an immediate “hey, there’s this thing, we’re figuring it out, give us a couple days” post, largely because it seemed so much like the obvious thing to do to respond to your community here. Even if your heads weren’t all together yet. Even if you were operating on a dearth of information. Xeni acknowledges the problems caused by the delay up in the post itself, here.

    The whole thing has been a huge headache, I have no doubt, and part of the impression I’ve gotten here is that a lot of the headache comes from this being kind of a first-time-you’ve-dealt-with-it situation for BB in a lot of respects, so I have a lot of sympathy for the principals and for the position you’re in trying to ride this tiger. It seems like a lot of the tiger in this kind of context could be tamed up front by finding a way to either accomodate the userbase’s desire to initiate a discussion, or finding a way to make it crystal clear to readers who come here from far and wide that that sort of thing just isn’t going to happen.

  408. Wow. Disappointing.

    Transparency hasn’t really been addressed, and the hostile moderation is considered off-topic.

    I expected more from the boingers.

  409. Josh Millard, people talk about their own agendas on Boing Boing all the time. Just read the threads for a while. If you watch closely, you may even find people playing arcane word games in the far southern reaches of old threads.

    Usually, if readers want to initiate a discussion, there’s no problem. In the case of the VB thing, there was. And because there was a problem, the readers were temporarily stopped from bringing up one particular subject in a dozen threads at once. If we hadn’t, we could have had something like the first VB thread running in all those locations.

    Was the readers’ desire for a discussion accommodated? It was. They just had to wait a bit for the discussion to start. Nobody died as a result, or lost a leg, or had to redo an index from scratch. They just had to wait a ittle while. Admittedly, the Boingers are usually the masters of the fast response. Add it to the list of ways in which this has been a rare event.

    Imagine that early one morning, someone shakes you awake and says, “You know that highly personal subject you hoped you’d never have to think about again? The whole damned internet is standing in your front yard right now, waiting to hear your take on it! Can you be ready to make a statement about it in ten minutes?”

    It might take you more than ten minutes to get out there and make a statement. While you were pulling yourself together and figuring out what to say, you might find yourself temporarily ignoring the nonstop ringing of the telephone and doorbell.

    That’s what this part of the argument boils down to: at a time when Mark and Cory were incommunicado, the other Boingers took two days to figure out what was happening and what to do about it. That’s all.

    Does your worldview admit of that happening once, maybe even twice, over the lifetime of a weblog?

    Here’s what I don’t understand: why some people want to draw permanent new conclusions about what Boing Boing is and does, and its relationship with its readers, based on the extraordinary recent happenings. Maybe there’s some clever reason why one would want to add new rules to a system, during and encompassing a rare and anomalous event; but I don’t see it.

  410. Come to stick pins again, Church? The moderator is not hostile. Transparency has been addressed, frequently and at length. And you’ve dropped by to sing another verse about how disappointed you are with Boing Boing, even though doing so requires that you ignore what’s actually gone down in this thread.

    You’ll get no fight out of me. I’m too tired, and you have too little substance. Run along now, and find something better to do.

  411. #332 None of us have ever done so for trivial or petty reasons.

    Question: Would I be right in assuming that the original unpublishing was done in bulk (e.g. pseudocode “UPDATE posts SET unpublished = true WHERE text LIKE ‘%Violet Blue%'” or some sort of search result page that has checkboxes down the side and a “check all” button) rather than going through and clicking the unpublish button on each one individually? Because, if you actually chose to click on the unpublish button on the London bombing post, then there exists no conceivable reason for that choice based on any action on VB’s part that could not be described as “petty”.

    If on the other hand you did NOT intentionally unpublish each and every one of those posts, do you have any plans for fixing the collateral damage? You could start with that one, since it’s the one everyone keeps talking about and as of this writing it’s still not back.

    #470 And about that function which has the moniker of “unpublish” ~ yes, while the word itself does bring to mind Orwellian connotations, it DOES NOT make the use of said function Orwellian.

    What people are saying (I don’t necessarily agree with them, the link is tenuous at best, but still) is Orwellian about the action has nothing to do with what’s called – the comparisons of the removal of something from (what was seen as) the historical record with no acknowledgement (at the time) that it had ever been otherwise, to what the protagonist in Nineteen Eighty-Four did for a living started, IIRC, before the term “unpublished” was even said.

  412. Ah, Random. Do you know, you’re just one day short of three solid weeks on the same set of points? We should have a cake.

  413. “Come to stick pins again, Church? The moderator is not hostile. ”

    Well, that certainly was a warm reception.

    I’m not ‘sticking pins.’ I AM disappointed in the boingers, and I expressed that in a civilized way. All I expect is the same in return.

    Since you brought it up: I think your self-disemvowelling is a tacit acknowledgement of the problems with moderation here.

    As a moderator myself, I find it very helpful to “assume no malice” when dealing with commentators. Most of the time you’ll find that none was intended, and when it *was* it makes the other person look ridiculous. Being combative only alienates your supporters and feeds the trolls.

  414. Church: Don’t be silly. Of course you’re sticking pins. It’s what you came here to do. And where you got the impression that I was born yesterday is beyond my ability to fathom.

    I’m afraid you’re completely wrong about my reasons for disemvowelling some of my comments, but still, it’s very kind of you to speculate like that.

    Have I ever mentioned that I have trouble imagining you as a moderator? There’s something about the way you talk about it that just doesn’t sound right.

  415. Usually, if readers want to initiate a discussion, there’s no problem. In the case of the VB thing, there was. And because there was a problem, the readers were temporarily stopped from bringing up one particular subject in a dozen threads at once. If we hadn’t, we could have had something like the first VB thread running in all those locations.

    If I’m understanding right, though, it’s not a question of quashing the questions and comments about the VB thing in other threads because it was about VB, but rather because it was off-topic questions/comments in unrelated threads.

    That is, it’s a general policy issue, that I’ve heard voiced several times in the last few weeks: some dollop of flexibility aside, comments that are wandering from the stated topic of the thread (toward some other substantial topic — injoke silliness and whatnot being maybe less of an issue) don’t fly, and need to go into the appropriate thread.

    It’s from that that I’m getting the impression that users initiating a conversation — starting a thread, as it were — isn’t really a part of the BB design. Which, again, is fine if that’s the plan, but it’s in the face of that that an awful lot of folks would expect the site to react by accommodating this desire-for-discussion/explanation with a quick response, even a purfunctory “developing, give us some time” response rather than just culling any peep about it on the site.

    I’m not even dogging on the culling — I understand perfectly well the desire to keep random threads from getting derailed by the VB discussion — but the result of culling + no official room for discussion was a couple of days of people being really, really confused. That’s part of what ended up being discussed over on Making Light, when first Patrick and later you started threads related to the whole thing prior to the posting of the That Violet Blue Thing thread. I know a couple days isn’t that long on the calendar, but at the time the silence was deafening.

    Was the readers’ desire for a discussion accommodated? It was. They just had to wait a bit for the discussion to start. Nobody died as a result, or lost a leg, or had to redo an index from scratch. They just had to wait a ittle while. Admittedly, the Boingers are usually the masters of the fast response. Add it to the list of ways in which this has been a rare event.

    But pointing out that no one was killed or maimed isn’t really on target: nobody claimed anyone’s life was on the line. People were vocally surprised or upset or confused by the combination of the wait and the lack of explanation. I know you’ve heard a lot of drama on this along with the more reasonable criticism, but moderation and communication issues can’t be judged by so low a bar as No One Was Killed if you don’t want to set the stage for a whole lot of disappointed users and readers.

    And yes, thankfully a rare event, but it’s the handling when the rare events happen that people were surprised by. And yeah, I totally expect you’ll all come away better equipped to deal with it if something like this happens again (in terms of community dynamic and reaction, not specifically Deleting A Bunch Of Posts). But how your readership, how the people these comment threads are presumably for react to weird rare events seems like a pretty important thing to consider and account for if building a community is the idea here.

    Imagine that early one morning, someone shakes you awake and says, “You know that highly personal subject you hoped you’d never have to think about again? The whole damned internet is standing in your front yard right now, waiting to hear your take on it! Can you be ready to make a statement about it in ten minutes?”

    If the whole damned internet is standing in my front yard waiting for a statement, I’d probably make an effort to get dressed and pull my hair back and at least offer a quick Hello, This Is Indeed A Thing, I Need A Couple Days But I Totally Hear You, yes. While I get that it’s an artifact of the unusual situation, this went down more like running from one’s bed and hiding in the closet with a shotgun as far as all the confused people wondering what was up were concerned.

    I’m not unsympathetic, but just because I can sympathize with the shock of having people suddenly rushing my lawn doesn’t mean I don’t think it was bad handling, and it doesn’t sound like the BB principals think it was good either.

    That’s what this part of the argument boils down to: at a time when Mark and Cory were incommunicado, the other Boingers took two days to figure out what was happening and what to do about it. That’s all.

    And the way y’all brokered that two days is the main thing that people have been bothered by, in terms of responsiveness. It’s not that it took a couple days to get a collective, Here’s The Deal response to the situation — it’s that it took two days to even get an acknowledgement at all. If “two days is a really long time” is an axiom that we’re just bound to disagree on, fine, I can run with that, but when a whole bunch of people who read your site are surprised by that disagreement, it’s worth chewing on.

    Following the initial handling on this and the followthrough, I’ve felt like some of you guys feel, or at least felt, that it was not in fact something worth chewing on; that it was instead something to be dismissed as drama or trolling or people who were just plain wrong. And it seems like a lot of other people have read it that way too, which explains in part why so many people have thought this was notable and kind of crappy.

    Does your worldview admit of that happening once, maybe even twice, over the lifetime of a weblog?

    Of course! Just because some folks have declared this The End of BoingBoing (while other folks have declared that This Totally Doesn’t Even Matter), that doesn’t mean that every one us who has been critical of the situation is doomsaying or watching for falling sky. It happened; it was a burp (if a highly visible one); you guys will be fine in the long run. No one, as you say, lost life or limb.

    But I don’t think there’s some sort of “freesies” here where if something bad only happens once, nobody should care or comment, so I’m not sure what that has to do with the more substantial critical reaction you folks have gotten.

    Here’s what I don’t understand: why some people want to draw permanent new conclusions about what Boing Boing is and does, and its relationship with its readers, based on the extraordinary recent happenings. Maybe there’s some clever reason why one would want to add new rules to a system, during and encompassing a rare and anomalous event; but I don’t see it.

    People — you readers, your community members — are drawing new conclusions because they thought the site or it’s editors worked one way under the hood and they find they’re mistaken. It may be that a whole lot of people just plain misunderstood this place — that they thought Cory’s public stances on transparency drove site policy, that what they thought were Cory’s stances even were Cory’s stances, that the editors already worked in tandem and as a group on major editorial decisions, that content wouldn’t be removed after the fact without disclosure — and that’s fine, it happens, and the result of this exceptional circumstance is that a lot of people will have a better understanding about those things on which they were misinformed.

    People have been talking about new rules and new systems in part because the editors have responded to all this by asking for ideas. They’re also talking about these things because they’re trying to sound out the gap between what they thought was going on under the hood and what was going on. If it turns out that the BB crew prefers not to make any changes or implement any new site functionality or revise and policy or procedure, that’s your folks’ prerogative and more power to you, but I don’t see what’s strange at all about folks in what has been called a number of times a community would take a vocal interest in how this place that they like and care about works.

  416. JOSHMILLARD @515, We already apologized for not handling the situation well when the news broke. That said, none of us were interested in responding to a Valleywag “article” or random bloggers screaming at us. I believe that the proper response time was somewhere between when our friends and community members (not drive-by commenters trying to stir shit up) became alarmed and when we actually made the post. Clearly we erred toward the latter and for that, mea culpa. Again.

  417. I think I should start by mentioning that I’ve tried to read all the post in both this thread and the VB ‘marathon’ ditto, but since both threads are quite long, please forgive me, if I ask questions that has been answered long ago.

    And I should perhaps mention that I like the word ‘unpublish’. Without knowing the CMS used, or remembering having heard the word before, I knew exactly what it meant. As I thought everyone familiar with the meaning of the word “publish” and the prefix “un-“, would. I also understand the word “delete”, but that has another meaning.

    And I respect Boing Boing’s right to unpublish whatever they choose, on their blog, since is is just this: Their blog. I’m certain they only unpublish when there is a good reason for it, and I don’t expect to be informed every time.

    I also think Boing Boing have the right to edit their posts as they see fit, whenever they like. Again, I only expect Boing Boing to edit their posts when there is a good reason for it.

    But this brings me to the questions:

    Why did you choose to unpublish post, that was really not about the VB-person, instead of just deleting the lines where VB was mentioned? I can understand why, if the post was about VB, but from the examples I’ve been seeing, some of the unpublished posts really had nothing to do with VB, apart from a few lines, that could be easily edited out.

    Are this being considered, or is this a ‘case closed’?

    (And again: I apologize if these questions has been answered before – in that case I must have overlooked the answer).

    And:

    +1 to Xeni, for being so patient in answering all our questions. Your Moderator really could learn a lot from you. Trying to put fires out with gasoline, very seldom works. But you’ve handled this in an amazing way.

    +1 to the suggestion that all Moderators and other ‘official BB-supportes’ is named or otherwise ‘marked’ in such a way that others can see it. That might help explain why the moderation sometimes seems a little … ‘uneven’ at times.

    Thanks.

  418. That said, none of us were interested in responding to a Valleywag “article” or random bloggers screaming at us.

    our friends and community members (not drive-by commenters trying to stir shit up)

    How clearly delineated is the border between those two camps, though? Nobody in your community is a random blogger? None of your community members left confused or frustrated or coy comments during the silence? Nobody commenting for the first time or reacting quickly is someone the site wants around? Part of what I’m trying to understand is the relationship between BB and the people that read it and what constitutes the principals’ idea of community, and if that’s at odds with what the folks who consider themselves part of that community were thinking.

    I’m not trying to needle you, and, believe me, I am not trying to wrest mea culpas from anybody. As one of the many people who has been knocked a little off-kilter in my understanding of how the site works, I’m trying to understand where you guys were and are on this stuff. If it feels like I’ve been hammering too hard on the delay issue, I apologize for that. I have no desire to give you guys a hard time for its own sake; again, I have tremendous sympathy for what this must have been like for the last few week.

    But there remains a lot of difference between the sometimes-unclear official BB collective “us” and the individual principals and moderators as far as what all of this means, and if e.g. you’re saying “yes, we waited too long” and Teresa is saying “nobody died, you would have taken your time too”, it leaves some of these questions about what people are and aren’t supposed to expect from the BB experience a little less settled than folks are hoping for. These are some of the things I’m trying to understand myself, which is a big part of why I’ve continued to follow this whole thing.

  419. (Sorry for the lack of itals on the second quote, there. The way the comment box auto-closes tags on a paragraph break keeps disorienting me. That was David, again.)

  420. Mintphresh, it was indeed your idea. I am wholeheartedly agreeing with you. Cake good.

    Rob Denmark, this is the first time in my life that I’ve genuinely experienced the “straw that broke the camel’s back” effect. Congratulations.

    David, I’m taking myself off this thread for a while. I can cope with [adjective] [plural noun] like Church, and Josh is [comparative] than [adjective]; but I have temporarily run out of patience with [gerund] [plural noun] who [verb] [pronoun] [prepositional phrase], and [verb] [compound adjective] [preposition] moderation.

  421. I’m with Theresa, this pie cake is awesome.

    (except JoshMillards, his pie cake tastes like sour grapes)

  422. Oh noes! Teresa — There is a silent majority of us out here that think you are an absolute goddess among moderators! Your warmth, intelligence and clarity is superhuman at times, like the words aren’t big enough to hold them. You’re the best moderator I’ve ever seen, and you’re a beautiful human being. You’re one of the good guys. Sometimes I wish you were my mommy!

    Maybe you don’t need to be told all this, but sometimes it helps. For every naysayer, there are 100 of us out here cheering you on.

  423. Teresa @ 504:

    In all this ruckus, has it never once crossed your mind that for one of the main people involved, this was a highly personal and upsetting transaction?

    I think that probably has crossed some people’s minds and that explains why there’s been such tenacious cattiness on the parts of some of the commenters. It was pretty obvious to me from early on that a professional issue would have demanded an explicit disclosure. A personal disagreement had to cut deep to get such a reaction. I’m as gossipy as the next guy, but I didn’t need details to get to that conclusion. (Which kept me, I might add, from making some of the funnier cracks I thought of.)

    I’ll leave your choice in nouns for a later day, or maybe coffee, should we ever meet again.

    Lewis Haidt @ 501/502: I, too, wonder (but don’t really wonder) about the role gender played in this silly little shitstorm, but I’ve been through one of those discussions already this week and am so not anxious for another one.

    I would differ with you on one point, though: Xeni is the Boinger who most often commits straight-up news journalism. I’d call Cory’s posts on current events activism or opinion. He’s a provocateur, in the good sense of the word.

  424. Waraw, what exactly is your motive in commenting here? In you very first comment, on July 9th, you said that you like BoingBoing and its “ideals” in general, except for the comment moderation. However, at the time you wrote that sentence, you had never previously participated in commenting, and therefore never been moderated.

    And since then, you’ve participated in nothing but threads about VB and moderation. The only aspect of BoingBoing that you participate in is the very one that you claim has a “poisonous atmosphere”.

  425. Teresa is a wonderful moderator, and a true Boinger. Everyone hating on her here can suck it AFAIC. If I am disemvowelled for being so crass, sobeit.

  426. Amen! Preach it!
    You’ve been much more tolerant of the haters than I would have been, Xeni.
    And if I’m disemvowelled for sucking up to Theresa, so be it. :)

  427. Is this still going on?

    While all of you are still up in arms over unpublishing and moderation, Miss Blue has graduated on to issuing restraining orders on people who edit her wikipedia page in ways she doesn’t approve of.

    http://valleywag.com/5027803/violet-blue-restrains-critic-with-court-

    Like mentioned in that ‘vb thing’ policies on transparency are all well and good but sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that justify overriding them. It certainly sounds like that was the case here.

  428. Teresa is a wonderful moderator, and a true Boinger. Everyone hating on her here can suck it AFAIC. If I am disemvowelled for being so crass, sobeit.

    So one of the lessons learned here is, that saying the moderator could have done a better job, is the same as hating that person?

    Come on, could we reserve the word ‘hating’ for something bigger and worse?

  429. You know, getting told by your moderator that nowhere on the entire Internet, ever, could sites possibly be tempted to gain an advantage from the fact that it takes them a lot less energy to use their moderation powers than it would take the other side to actively pursue their own concerns any further, that’s just too much.

  430. The vast majority of the critics strike me as those who have been disemvoweled and are bitter about and and looking to lash out.

  431. Rob, Denmark @533: Interesting way of reframing the comment. It is possible, surely, that there are comments about the moderators’ performances and comments that are all about the hate? Why do you feel the need to conflate the two categories?

    It can be seen on any popular site with moderation, no matter how laid back it is, that there is a minority who hate the fact of moderation and vent their spleen at the moderators. I hope you’re not going to suggest that there are no such comments on this site, because then I would be compelled to mock you.

  432. It can be seen on any popular site with moderation, no matter how laid back it is, that there is a minority who hate the fact of moderation and vent their spleen at the moderators. I hope you’re not going to suggest that there are no such comments on this site, because then I would be compelled to mock you.

    I’d guess he’s suggesting that, as vexing as those hardliner comments are, they aren’t the same as the more reasonable comments; and that, when the responses from the editors and the mods seem to be targeted only at the hater/hardliner comments, it’s a little dizzying for the folks offering criticism in good faith. Are we supposed to presume that we’re being mistaken for haters, or that we’re being tacitly dismissed as not meriting a response?

    I don’t mean to say that Xeni meant to declare that Rob or I or anyone else whose been trying to actually engage in real conversation here should go suck it for having, as part of that, critical comments about moderation (though don’t let me put words in your mouth here, Xeni), but from the outside here it feels a bit like this:

    Commenter A: U SUX.
    Commenter B: [substantive questions about site]

    Editor X: Oh yeah? Suck it, haterz!
    Commenter Y: Yeah!

    It’s a caricature, the conversation has been a bit more nuanced than that certainly, but it’s definitely there and it’s a frustrating element of how this discussion has gone.

  433. After reading all of these posts, I’m convinced this may be the beginning of the end. A timeline:

    2008 – Kerfuffle.

    2012 – Warner Bros. releases the film version of Little Brother. Contrary to advance reviews, it beats all previous box office releases, grossing 2.5 billion. In a fit of bitterness worthy of Alan Moore, all BB references to Cory’s published works disappear. He is rumored to have purchased a cabin in New Hampshire from the estate of the late J.D. Salinger.

    2023 – David Pescovitz’s neural implants go online. In order to preserve his integrated consciousness, his posts, while available, are protected with encryption rendering them unreadable by anyone except himself.

    2037 – The downloaded consciousness of Mark Frauenfelder merges with the majority of online art content. It is believed a satellite launched in the direction of Alpha Centauri contained every image placed on the internet since its inception. In the ensuing chaos, human culture is transformed as new art becomes the main commodity of exchange.

    2041 – Xeni, attending a cocktail party, runs into someone she had a spat with on the internet over 30 years ago. Neither can remember what the fuss was about, or what the internet was really like back then, either.

  434. “drive by” commenters are likely part of the silent majority of your readers. That doesn’t give anyone a pass for “stirring up shit,” but you shouldn’t automatically be dismissive of someone that posts rarely or for the first time when a controversy comes up. They are likely readers of your site and do represent part of the demographic that reads your site.

  435. Josh @537: Yet we’ve also had editors repeatedly thank people in general for the helpful comments and suggestions. Why do some commenters seem to assume that a generic negative comment from the editors or moderators is meant to apply to them personally, and yet are blind to a generic positive comment?

    Could it be for a similar reason that the editors find themselves drawn to respond to the “haters'” comments?

    Oh, but of course, there can be no equivalence between editors & moderators on the one hand, and commenters on the other. Editors and moderators must be held to a standard higher than, say, a supreme court judge, while commenters feel that they themselves should be held to no standard at all. Some commenters, I mean to say.

  436. #504 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Willibro, I’m not one of the Boingers, but I’ll personally undertake to care how you feel about Boing Boing. That’s an honest offer.

    Thank you. Part of your job as moderator, right? Clearly, a lot of BB sees it this way, as both you and David chose to respond directly only to the part of my post acknowledging that it might be OK with you guys if my respect had not been restored.

    May I suggest that you’re too famous now to care that deeply about retaining readers? And that this is not necessarily a bad thing? Clay Shirky has helped everyone get very clear about the attention budget involved in getting famous: That it is not just hard, but impossible for famous people to respond directly, appropriately, and in timely fashion to every, or even a lot of the, individuals in their audience.

    A lot of this discussion simply does not acknowledge that. For example: In several posts, you express puzzlement at things like how personally everyone took this, or how ready they were to infer the worst simply because the response wasn’t as timely as individuals in the audience felt it should be, or how revelatory some find an otherwise anomalous event. Or how some couldn’t care less about the whole thing. Easy to explain if you add fame to the equation: Many of us out here seem to think we have a personal relationship with the BB “stars”, and are reacting the way, say, Paris Hilton fans do to her latest gaffe or failure to answer a fan letter. Other people have their heads screwed on straighter.

    Heck, the design of BB itself pretends its not famous. We’re being invited to “contribute”, when really all we’re doing is commenting. The design of the comment interface is what you’d expect to find at some personal WordPress-hosted blog read by, say, 25 people, instead of a blog with more traffic than DKos. You use active human moderators to separate the comment wheat from troll chaff, instead of Slashdot-style group comment moderation. Frankly, I don’t think you can go on this way. You will eventually have more incidents like this, and waste similar amounts of time dealing with the blowback.

    The point is: You don’t really have a personal relationship with your audience, or anything like one. Not mediated via BB, anyway, or not anymore. You can’t, because the blog’s too famous.

    That said: I like and respect the blog, and your moderation work, but failure to acknowledge this fame issue may end up dangerous to your health. I once had a job answering letters for Newsweek. It was a week’s temp assignment and quota was something like 100 letters a day. I quit after 2.5 days. Had I lasted the full 5, I’m sure I would have turned into a Nathaniel West character.

  437. Yet we’ve also had editors repeatedly thank people in general for the helpful comments and suggestions.

    Which is nice of them and is, I imagine, appreciated by most of the folks following this critically. The calls for feedback and ideas is a welcome sign, and I’m glad they’ve gone there, and I’ve enjoyed some of the back-and-forth I’ve had with a couple people already. I thought it was great that Joel jumped in over at Mefi fairly early on as well.

    Why do some commenters seem to assume that a generic negative comment from the editors or moderators is meant to apply to them personally, and yet are blind to a generic positive comment?

    I wouldn’t know; I’m not in that camp. I could give you some theories, but that’s probably further afield here than anything else we’ve been talking about.

    If you read my comment, it’s clear that I pointedly did not assume that Xeni was telling me, or Rob, or whoever, to suck it; that I was making an effort to not conflate the responses directed at the haters with a response to the reasonable folks. What I also tried to convey, though, was that in the absence of any specific response to some of the non-hater stuff, all that’s left to me is to try and maintain the benefit of the doubt while wondering why people who are so (understandably) against trollery and cranks and such are spending their time making generic complaints about such instead of just highroading it and spending their energy on real discussion.

  438. Must have missed looking into bOINGbOING at July 18th, maybe to much of real-world or something like that. Anyways, the next thing I want to see coming out from this 2000-comments-thread is The Annotated, Illustrated & Evolved Personal-Blog-Turned-Big-Thing Guide of Writing, Posting & Unpublishing Etiquette For Dummies. CC, of course. And with medieval illustrations.

  439. JEBLIS @539, I think you’re right. I didn’t really mean “drive-by commenters” as you describe them. Sorry about that. I was really referring to people who don’t even read BB at all but do like to complain about it, and just came to the site for the sole purpose of giving us grief. Of course I can’t provide any data on that, but it is a gut feeling that I think is correct.

  440. Josh @543: I imagine that while doing whatever it is the Boingers do when they’re not posting here, same as they do most of the time, they are also engaging in talking and thinking about all this stuff, like they said they were doing. As part of that stuff and part of the usual stuff they come and read the comments here. And being human beings, not an actual post-human integrated super-intelligence to whom these internet signals bear as much emotional content as a chimpanzee’s non-verbal signals do to us, they react.

    I don’t see that there’s much to rock your benefit of the doubt there. I don’t think it’s a great waste of their time to comment briefly here occasionally. Neither would it necessarily be a very useful use of their time to prepare detailed daily reports on their discussions.

    Give them time. They are creatures of meatspace, as are you and I; they’ll post something when they have something.

  441. Nelson.C @546, thanks!

    John @543, I’m not clear on the question you want us to respond to? As we said in the post, we’re exploring issues around how to be more transparent about edits, etc. But are you asking us to say “Yes, I’m Internet famous!” I’m not being sarcastic here. I just don’t understand.

  442. Sorry, the second comment above was for Willibro @542, *not* John @ 543 who, er, isn’t even @ 543.

  443. @TNH #458

    I’ve got plenty to say, since you brought this up, I’m addressing this here, although I would be surprised if you don’t edit it out.

    #1 I feel like I’ve made good suggestions and have been polite.

    #2 I emailed you twice about the Ban and never received a response. I felt I had some ideas to contribute and since you were being derelict in your responsibilities I took action.

    #3 My ban was for an entirely different issue, although still metered out with a paucity of fairness that appears epidemic.

    #4 You might be more productive by making some contributions of your own or seriously thinking about your policies here, rather than slinging mud.

    #5 Perhaps your critics wouldn’t have to evade your bans if you would stop banning your critics.

  444. I wasn’t actually seeking a response, David. I was responding to Teresa, who was telling me that she would undertake to care about how I feel about Boing Boing. I thanked her for her sincere offer, while also implicitly questioning it as being not cognizant of the fame issue I’m trying to raise with you.

    The fame issue is not about you (or Mark or Xeni or Cory or John) announcing that you are “Internet famous”. I’m not asking you to say anything like that. I’m not trying to feed egos, butter anyone up, or set anyone up for a public fall, or anything else negative. I was only trying to make the following points (which could be completely stupid — up to you to decide):

    1. You (Boingers) already are “Internet famous”. Doesn’t matter whether you think you are, or announce it, or not. It’s just a fact. Look at your page views, compare them to huge sites. Daily Kos has an army of contributors posting content 24/7. And here you are, four lads (and a lass) from Liverpool, with a few roadies and your funny haircuts, trying to keep up. :-)

    2. If the fame is a fact, the fact brings with it inescapable impacts (which is why I brought up Clay Shirky). One is all the weirdness from (some/many members of) your audience around this VB incident and how you handled it. VB clearly enjoys being a pince-sans-rire shit-disturber, which is obviously part of what turned this into a big megillah. But the reaction on BB comment threads also had some strong elements of fanboy/fangirl weirdness. I don’t think any of you failed to notice that. I’m not sure you noticed it enough. And because you are not noticing it enough, you are not taking active measures to address it, which I predict will give you more of it. Especially if (as I think is your right, and as I hope) you continue to want to be as free as possible in how you post content.

    3. You might therefore want to actively address it by considering some changes in the structure of the blog that might help you deal with issues arising from fame-constrained communication better.

    4. One suggestion: Get a comment structure that allows commenters to respond to each other instead of directly to the Boingers, which is implicitly the social contract around commenting on BB right now. Yeah it obviously is possible to respond to other commenters. I’m doing it right now, duh. But the tool does not build that in; it’s clumsy, and not the way the tool sets things up.

    5. Another suggestion: Permit group moderation in Slashdot style instead of relying on by-hand moderation by folks like the Noble Teresa and the Good Takuan.

    6. How does suggestion 4 help? A commenter-centric response structure would bleed off some of the energy going into kvetching (of the “how come they’re haven’t responded to my oh-so-important question already, hell, it’s been five whole minutes?!” variety) into discussion with other commenters, who can offer plausible explanations or counsel patience. It becomes an argument among the audience, not between the audience and the Boingers. I think that could have been very helpful in the instant case, and there was some of it; but the interface is clumsy and doesn’t promote it, so it is discouraged and ineffective when it does happen.

    7. How does suggestion 5 help? Well, nothing whatsoever against your moderators (far from it). The two I’ve mentioned have amused and enlightened me many times. It’s just that good moderation, at this level of fame, may be something no individual can do properly. With a group moderation system, commenters get modded by other commenters. Commenters who get modded down have no individual to attack for that result, and commenters who fend off trolls and comment postively are regularly modded up and given more power to moderate others (cf. DKos’ “trusted user” mechanism). Your audience have some power over the course of threads, which tends to also bleed off kvetching and build audience trust and a sense of community. Teresa and other current moderators can still ban or disemvowel abusers, and seed discussions. They serve pretty much the same function, as interfaces between the Boingers and the audience. But on the audience’s side, they are more like fellow commenters instead of authority figures. They can be relied upon for intelligent and reasonable comment when discussions are starting to jump the rails, a form of moral suasion that Teresa (at least) already provides and clearly enjoys providing. I think it would be more fun for them, more informative for you. And you would not kill them with an impossible job.

    All of these are just suggestions, offered in a constructive spirit. I hope that was all clear (or clearer, anyway). If I can be clearer, please let me know. If you think these suggestions are fully or partially idiotic, that’s OK too. :-)

  445. Willbro, if I may address your points, #6 and #7

    We’re already encouraged as users to be moderators, so long as we try to get it right. I agree it’s a clunky system, but it’s not like we get actual papercuts by leafing through these lengthy comments, and the effort required is a good hurdle to have to jump through on most topics that attract 100+ comments.

    I am aware of four threads of ~real~ length at Boing Boing. This one, the VB thread, the Moderation Thread, and the Untitled 1 thread. The other 99% of the content, the actually wonderful stuff they are famous for, I feel would not be well served by such a commenting system.

    But I love your thoughtfulness, my idiocy-meter is entirely silent.

  446. Oooh, except the part about us not having to type @Name (and a number subject to change) when we are trying to respond to someone… although that is also a good hurdle to have to jump over in threads like these.

  447. Argon @534, you’ve misread my comments pretty thoroughly. If you’ve got the time and energy to get upset about it, surely you have the time and energy to figure out what it said.

    Josh Millard @537: I will not say you’re wrong. Long-wavelength, thoughtful commenters get less attention than they deserve in threads like this, because the people who are setting fire to the sofa take up too much of it. It’s one of my biggest objections to free-for-all forums: too much time and energy winds up getting spent on interactions that in the long run aren’t very rewarding.

    You’re neither being mistaken for a hater, nor dismissed. You’re being thoughtful and constructive, and I appreciate it; but another thing you’re being is a much faster writer than I am. I’ll have to try harder to keep up.

    Jeblis @539, I don’t think of drive-bys as lurkers who habitually read the site and have been been briefly moved to comment. They’re likelier to be people who’ve wandered in on a link and paused just long enough to make one of their characteristic comments.

    That said, I agree that first-time posters shouldn’t automatically be taken for drive-bys or sockpuppets. We all start out as first-time posters.

    Willibro @542:

    #504 Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Willibro, I’m not one of the Boingers, but I’ll personally undertake to care how you feel about Boing Boing. That’s an honest offer.

    Thank you. Part of your job as moderator, right?

    No, not part of my job. It was a personal offer. You seemed a little wistful.

    Clearly, a lot of BB sees it this way, as both you and David chose to respond directly only to the part of my post acknowledging that it might be OK with you guys if my respect had not been restored.

    “Chose to respond directly only to…”? Oy.

    Okay, so I misread you, tough guy. You want to give me a hard time about it, I can’t stop you. I won’t say it’s not disappointing, but life is long and these things happen.

    May I suggest that you’re too famous now to care that deeply about retaining readers?

    No, you may not. You’re free to believe it, if that’s what floats your boat. Obviously, you’re free to assert it. But damned if I’m going to agree with you, or even let it pass in neutral silence, because it flat-out isn’t true.

    And that this is not necessarily a bad thing?

    I can’t see it as a good thing. The Boingers don’t blog impersonally, and I don’t moderate impersonally.

    Clay Shirky has helped everyone get very clear about the attention budget involved in getting famous: That it is not just hard, but impossible for famous people to respond directly, appropriately, and in timely fashion to every, or even a lot of the, individuals in their audience.

    Why do you assume it can’t be you? My job is to make it possible for really good conversation to happen. What makes you think I won’t talk to you?

    Fame is relative and situational, and it looks a lot bigger from the outside. The tendency Clay Shirky talks about is a tendency, not a rule. It’s like dealing with authors: someone’s going to talk to them, and I don’t know of any law that says it can’t be me, or you, or Josh or Mintphresh or C. Nelson.

    (Note: deciding that people aren’t going to want to talk to you, and delivering the anticipated rebuff first before it can be delivered to you, doesn’t work so well.)

    A lot of this discussion simply does not acknowledge that.

    Yes. Can you think of alternate explanations for that?

    For example: In several posts, you express puzzlement at things like how personally everyone took this, or how ready they were to infer the worst simply because the response wasn’t as timely as individuals in the audience felt it should be, or how revelatory some find an otherwise anomalous event.

    If you ever become famous in some context, you’re going to discover a dispiriting thing: some people can’t distinguish between “I perceive you as famous” and “you’re a supernatural being who can’t be hurt.” It’s not a denial of connection, of relationship, to remind readers that you’re still a human being, and that you’re still subject to all the usual real-world considerations.

    Or how Easy to explain if you add fame to the equation: Many of us out here seem to think we have a personal relationship with the BB “stars”,

    Many of you do. More of you could. Predestination: not an issue here.

    and are reacting the way, say, Paris Hilton fans do to her latest gaffe or failure to answer a fan letter.

    Nothing like. They don’t worry about having their personal expectations disappointed.

    Other people have their heads screwed on straighter.

    If by that you mean they’re so sure we’re never going to talk to them or recognize them as individuals that they don’t even try, I think it sucks.

    Heck, the design of BB itself pretends it’s not famous. We’re being invited to “contribute”, when really all we’re doing is commenting.

    No. You’re being invited to join a conversation. Your fellow readers are right there. You could talk to them.

    We recently had a really good conversation get going in one of the BBTV threads. The Boingers were delighted, exchanged correspondence about it, and followed the discussion.

    The design of the comment interface is what you’d expect to find at some personal WordPress-hosted blog read by, say, 25 people, instead of a blog with more traffic than DKos.

    Yes.

    You use active human moderators to separate the comment wheat from troll chaff, instead of Slashdot-style group comment moderation.

    That’s not intended to be deceptive. It’s intended to be human and conversational. Why do you assume it’s impossible for us to mean it?

    Frankly, I don’t think you can go on this way. You will eventually have more incidents like this, and waste similar amounts of time dealing with the blowback.

    I don’t think so. This series of linked incidents (three weeks and counting!) is individual, singular, and specific. It’s not an emergent property of running a weblog with lots of conversations in the comment threads.

    The point is: You don’t really have a personal relationship with your audience, or anything like one.

    I have a personal relationship with some of them, and hope to have more. Where the relationship isn’t personal, I hope we can at least treat each other well, and amuse or inform or jointly examine questions with each other. I didn’t sign up to do an impersonal job.

    Not mediated via BB, anyway, or not anymore. You can’t, because the blog’s too famous.

    Wrong. It may be that I can’t do that with you, because you think the blog’s too famous for you to talk to me; but if so, that’ll be your choice, not some immutable external reality.

    That said: I like and respect the blog, and your moderation work, but failure to acknowledge this fame issue may end up dangerous to your health.

    You think fame is magic. It isn’t. I’ve watched my friends Bill Gibson and Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow become famous. There wasn’t some point where causality started working differently for them. The biggest thing they noticed was that some people started reacting to them strangely.

    I once had a job answering letters for Newsweek. It was a week’s temp assignment and quota was something like 100 letters a day. I quit after 2.5 days. Had I lasted the full 5, I’m sure I would have turned into a Nathaniel West character.

    Not necessarily. Tossing you into that job for one week wasn’t fair to you. I’ve done work like that, and it’s hardest at first. After a while, you start to recognize repeating themes and forms, and learn how to respond to them. That lets you pay more attention to what’s genuinely unique about them.

    (More to come.)

  448. You’re neither being mistaken for a hater, nor dismissed. You’re being thoughtful and constructive, and I appreciate it; but another thing you’re being is a much faster writer than I am. I’ll have to try harder to keep up.

    Ha! Fair enough.

    One thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot here, and you sort of touch on it briefly in your reply to Willibro above, is the question of what the shape of conversation on BB is supposed to be like, what the relationship between the different commenters and the principals is intended to be. I know that “it should be good” is a key component, but that doesn’t really map the territory out very clearly.

    For the sake of argument, let me break out two (rough) classifications:

    1: fan-to-BB relationship (commenter is responding largely to original post or to implied presence of BB principals); and

    2: BBuser-to-BBuser relationship (commenter is responding largely to fellow commenters, largely independent of BB post except for the post thesis or poster as a starting point).

    I feel, reading through daily comments on various BB threads the last few days (as well as all the comments on the VB, Lessons Learned, and Moderation Policy threads over the last few weeks), that there’s a lot of (1), which fits well with the notion of BB as an author-driven personal blog. There’s obviously aspects of (2) in play, as well — regulars here know each other and carry conversational momentum over form other threads (or in some cases from other blogs). But there’s a definite feeling that while I hear you guys using the word ‘community’ and advocating the idea of that here, the tone much of the time in what I’ve read feels closer to “you comment at our pleasure, on the topics of our choosing” than what I normally think of as community-driven discussion.

    I’m keenly aware that recognizing community from the outside is hard, and that community itself is a damned fuzzy and contentious topic esp. in the context of the internet, so forgive me if the above doesn’t feel on target to you. It’s my first-blush take, certainly, but it’s an honest one.

    But the reason I’m hashing this particular bit out is that I don’t know what kind of mix of (1) and (2) is actually being hoped for by the editors and the mods, and I’m curious where you folks are coming from on that.

    I’ve been touching on that a little over in the mod policy thread, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much over here, but insofar as you just noted, Teresa, that the Boingers were really happy about what sounded like an outbreak of (2) in that bbtv thread, I think that the question of how the BB design and BB commenting/moderation policies currently affect that balance — and what you folks are considering or would consider in the way of changes as such to match those ambitions, whatever they may be, to practice.

    This was going to be a short little comment, and here I’ve gone again. Ah well.

  449. Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 553

    I thought I accepted your offer on the same sincere terms. I’m sorry if that was unclear. And I don’t think it’s making a Bush-style signing statement to point out that:

    1. Epistolary relationships are different in kind from others not so mediated. Doesn’t mean they’re worse or better, just different (some are, in fact, better). Depends on the correspondents. Is that surprising or somehow unacceptable to you? Does this then mean I haven’t actually accepted your offer?

    2. My clumsy point about caring because it was “part of your job” is simply that you additionally speak (however authoritatively) for an organization (however loosely defined). I speak only for me. We each have a different relative status with respect to that organization. That has to change the way the relationship is conducted and what it is possible to communicate within it. Is that really so odd or metaphysical or snarky? How am I sandbagging or rejecting you by pointing that out? Look, I’m already apologizing profusely to you for being unclear. Do you honestly think that level of apology is absolutely unaffected by our relative status and, say, the amount of time you have to devote to replying thoughtfully to any one post?

    I’m also sorry if you think I’ve sandbagged you with my comment about you and David being quick to jump on my comment about restoring reader respect. It was my (again) clumsy way of pointing out that it is very clear the Boingers are concerned not only to retain readers (something that could be dismissed as narrow commercial self-interest), but also retaining reader respect, which is a personal ethical stance and not dismissable at all. If I’m doing anything with that comment, I’m simply inviting you to examine the overlap between the personal and the artistic/professional domains that seems (to me) to be at least half of what you’re all struggling with. I think the other half of that is the fame issue you will not countenance. I thought it was perfectly obvious that it’s hard to solve personal/professional overlaps, and much harder to solve them naked in public. But you don’t want to hear that.

    May I suggest that you’re too famous now to care that deeply about retaining readers?

    No, you may not. You’re free to believe it, if that’s what floats your boat. Obviously, you’re free to assert it. But damned if I’m going to agree with you, or even let it pass in neutral silence, because it flat-out isn’t true.

    Well, I’m sorry you seem so upset about that assertion.But why are you so sure I’m wrong? As you say elsewhere, fame is relative and situational. How can you be so categorical then about it not applying to the Boingers? Not snarking; just asking. If it’s your gut telling you that, OK. I’ll accept it as input from an old hand. But I sure don’t see it from my side.

    If you ever become famous in some context, you’re going to discover a dispiriting thing: some people can’t distinguish between “I perceive you as famous” and “you’re a supernatural being who can’t be hurt.” It’s not a denial of connection, of relationship, to remind readers that you’re still a human being, and that you’re still subject to all the usual real-world considerations.

    I think all of us with any humanity left have witnessed that from the outside. I also think you’re making my point for me. Or stated alternatively: Given all that Xeni has probably had to endure personally as a result of this, how is your statement about what happens to people’s perceptions under the influence of fame a demonstration that fame is not now an operative force in (at least some) Boingers’ lives and work? If that fame=invulnerability misperception weren’t a factor here, why would a pack of gossipmongers care about some deletions of old BB posts? Your romantic involvements and mine are not “juicy” “news” for idiots to “report” about.
    How come? Why would they think they could get away with such a wretched invasion of privacy, if the persons “reported” about weren’t to some extent “public”?

    You think fame is magic. It isn’t. I’ve watched my friends Bill Gibson and Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow become famous. There wasn’t some point where causality started working differently for them.

    I think fame is about as magical as electricity, riptides, and ostracism. Yeah, they’re scalar forces, tendencies, potentials, relative and situational, all that. But they have causes of their own, and laws must govern their effects at various strengths. Those effects don’t just suddenly appear, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus; something produces them. And given sufficient concentration, the effects are very nasty.

    Teresa, I wish I had your grace and concision. I also wish some of your responses here were not so disappointing. You’re imputing several motives, emotions, intentions and beliefs to me that I honestly don’t have and don’t think I gave you much reason to infer. You’re a very experienced moderator, obviously, so I suppose you automatically defend against possible avenues of attack. And perhaps you are so experienced that, just by the way I express things, you understand my hidden motives better than my shrink does.

    In any case, I get the strong feeling sometimes that my comments seem to you like a clumsy, inexperienced dentist probing your very sore tooth. I’m not stupid, nor inexperienced, but if that’s how it seems to you, just say so and I’ll stop. I’ve never been the kind of guy who forces his attentions on ladies who are not interested.

  450. I’ll just add that the unidentified mods (or assistaint mods, or whatever) provides another dimension to Josh/Cortex’s categories. If you’re a casual commentator, you’re never quite clear whom you’re dealing with in category two.

    I believe Antinous said this was under consideration, so let me post my vote (too strong? suggestion? humble request?) that this be remedied. I’ll confess in turn that one of the communities I moderate has a similar setup, and I’m only realizing now how problematic that potentially is.

  451. MDHATTER @551-552: Thanks for the compliment. I honestly don’t see how having clunkage and hurdles built into the tool is of benefit, but that’s probably my stupid acting up again. If you feel like explaining further, I’ll read it.

    Josh @554: I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts throughout this thread, and this one’s the capper. I’m gonna take a break; it’s frustrating to put effort and thought into several posts and succeed only in pissing off the mods. Here’s hoping someone will pay attention to your questions about the BBer/commenter relationship. That’s what I’d like to know too. To me, those are Shirky’s questions: What’s the promise? What’s the bargain? That ought to be useful to the Boingers, surely.

  452. JOSHMILLARD @554, IMO, that’s a very interesting way to frame the questions. Personally, I’d really like to see more of your #2 classification emerge. Honestly though, I’m not that experienced myself in online community building. I was a semi-active participant in the WELL for many years, but never a topic leader or facilitator. I am interested in learning more about how one can foster growth in the direction of #2. I think we do get there from time to time on BB, and our moderators help direct us there by keeping the threads on topic so actual conversation can develop. But maybe there are features or structures we can work on to encourage more of it. Thanks!

  453. Willibro, I didn’t think Teresa was pissed off at you. If you want we can show you what she does when she’s pissed off. I thought she was objecting forcefully to the idea that she and the other Boingers don’t care what their community thinks.

    “Too famous to care” really sounds like “you don’t care.” Teresa is saying she DOES care, and specifically that she cares what YOU think.

    If you really pissed her off, trust me that she would (among other things) cease to care what you think, or assert that she does.

    I think we have a clash of communication styles here, more than anything.

  454. Dear Willibro:

    Unlike some of the more moderation-impassioned commenters on this thread, you have long made contributions to other discussions. Miss ya over there. This discussion is important but it’s still the tail as I’m concerned. The dog is over there where people are talking about wonderful stuff. I myself get wound up when it’s wag-the-dog time.

    all the best
    Takuan

  455. I thought she was objecting forcefully to the idea that she and the other Boingers don’t care what their community thinks.

    The problem is when she decides it’s convenient to unilaterally declare someone who she doesn’t agree with to be not part of the community and therefore someone who she doesn’t have to care what they think. We saw a lot of this in the first VB thread, with the blatant post-count elitism.

  456. I didn’t think Teresa was pissed off at you.

    To my ear, she sounded insulted and peeved. But OK: I can accept that I was hearing stuff that wasn’t there.

    I thought she was objecting forcefully to the idea that she and the other Boingers don’t care what their community thinks….”Too famous to care” really sounds like “you don’t care.”

    I guess TNH can hear stuff that’s not there too. FWIW, I never said that Boingers don’t care what their community thinks (and a whispered prayer that the double negative does not confuse things even more). That would be particularly stupid, given all the evidence to the contrary. All I actually *said* in my comment was that:

    – Fame interferes with the ability to be as personal as you would like with people.

    – That’s especially problematic when being personal means responding to them on a blog.

    – Those facts seem to have affected some of the discussion on this blog, especially around the topic of VB.

    I thought all that was obvious.

    Xeni was originally asking here for some input on how to handle removal of posts. To be responsive to her original request: I think “don’t” would be a good rule of thumb. Specifically: Don’t de-link wonderful things you previously linked to, especially not if your opinion of the linked-to thing has changed. Instead, give us your new opinion of that formerly-wonderful thing and explain why you no longer think it is so wonderful. If you can’t explain that for some reason, then let it go. Link rot will get it sooner or later.

  457. @566 – to accompany those don’ts, how about a do: do restore all of the posts that were removed – or at least the ones that weren’t really about VB – as soon as is practical.

  458. OK, Takuan. So from this, can we conclude that putting a bullet through someone’s forehead is just a way of accelerating the natural process of senescence?

    Not agreeing with random832, BTW.

  459. nope, cuz murder is wrong and not worrying about the eternal storage of trivialities is just how life goes if you have stuff to do.

  460. Dang. And I have so many of these Mint In Box, cherry-red-with-blue-flames reductios lying around my LA LogicChoppers franchise. How am I going to rid myself of all this junk if I can’t unload it on the gadget freaks at BB?

  461. Because the people who those postings actually _were_ about didn’t do anything wrong. Because a policy of not doing it again means that what was done is considered a mistake and in principle mistakes should be fixed to whatever extent is possible.

  462. Add to the flame pile, I guess.

    “We’re sorry we didn’t communicate more quickly and clearly. We delayed posting in part because I (and we) were trying to avoid something I feared would become a petty, personal online fight that would violate the privacy of parties involved.”

    YOU made this a petty, personal fight. No one is demanding that you explain your personal reasons, but regardless of what they are, you acted like a complete child and I hope that whoever is moderating this passes it on to you. Are you 15 years old? Seriously? Whether it was a breakup or something unrelated, Blue is an institution on this interweb of ours, and so is Boing Boing. To behave in such a way is an embarrassment to the site, and especially to your coworkers who have been roped into this without being asked first. Your personal opinions on Violet Blue don’t make her unworthy of everyone else’s attention, and the fact that you’ve gone to such extreme lengths to smear her name only makes you look even more stupid and childish.

    I hope you’re blacklisted from any and all events, you don’t deserve the right to participate in this industry anymore.

  463. I can’t believe this discussion is still going on, and that it has degenerated at points into personal attacks and calls for scenester sanctioning, which is about as childish as any discussion gets on the Internet these days before it further degenerates into prank calls and slashed tires.

    What we should take from all of this is that there is no holy way of handling information, and there’s no guarantee that a link that exists today won’t exist tomorrow. Much can be gleaned from the Buddhist concepts of non-attachment and impermanence. And perhaps from the Christian concept of forgiveness?

    Look, one of the things that I learned in library school was that information is important and should be indexed in a decipherable manner… and it is sad (but ultimately inevitable) when information goes missing, changes format, or otherwise falls off the map due to lack of interest, or fading of relevancy.

    Finally: Acting all butthurt and scene-turdy about this only makes you look like a GIANT DOUCHE. Thank you and goodnight.

  464. Random832 @573:

    Because the people who those postings actually _were_ about didn’t do anything wrong.

    That has not been established in the course of this conversation.

    Because a policy of not doing it again means that what was done is considered a mistake

    Xeni and the other Boingers have repeatedly affirmed that it was a mistake to unpublish those entries without saying anything.

    and in principle mistakes should be fixed to whatever extent is possible.

    From the very beginning of this thread, the Boingers have made it clear that their mistake lay in not communicating clearly about what was going on, and that they felt that had been lapse in their responsibility to their readers. They’ve been working hard ever since to address that.

    ATaylor @574:

    Add to the flame pile, I guess.

    Only if it amuses you to do so. This thread is weeks old.

    Surely the internet offers better amusements.

    “We’re sorry we didn’t communicate more quickly and clearly. We delayed posting in part because I (and we) were trying to avoid something I feared would become a petty, personal online fight that would violate the privacy of parties involved.”

    YOU made this a petty, personal fight. … (etc.)

    That’s about as wrong as it can possibly be. Could there be a better illustration of the rule that you should read carefully before flaming?

    Blue is an institution on this interweb of ours …

    If you wanted to argue about what Violet Blue is, and how significant she is to the web in general, you would have been better advised to have joined the discussion weeks ago, when there were more people here. The caravan has moved on.

    Your personal opinions on Violet Blue —

    …Are irrelevant in this context. Xeni’s personal opinion of Ms. Blue has not been aired in this thread. Neither have the opinions of the other Boingers.

    Perhaps you were reading someone else’s opinion of VB in some other weblog and are misremembering?

    don’t make her unworthy of everyone else’s attention,

    The Boingers haven’t said that, either.

    The interest the rest of the online world takes in Ms. Blue is for the rest of the online world to decide.

    — and the fact that you’ve gone to such extreme lengths to smear her name —

    Fact? It’s no fact at all. You lie like a rug. I can only assume you’re saying that for the benefit of readers who skip to the end of the thread to see how the story comes out. What the Boingers were trying to do all along was to keep this imbroglio from descending into slurs and smears.

    As for the state of Ms. Blue’s name, that’s surely her own creation.

  465. “[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.”

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

    “Violet Blue has demonstrably lied more than once about this imbroglio.”

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