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….