Boing Boing Finds 21st Century Trotsky?
June 30, 2008 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Without explanation, all of Violet Blue's posts have been removed from Boing Boing, raising serious questions about ethics and revisionism that run contra to the thoughtful declarations of blogging pioneers. Is this hypocritical in light of BB's own public bouts with censorship? Or does this reflect an altogether different loss of control?
posted by ed (2553 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Violet Blue loses control" is a two year old post. Not sure how relevant it is to what's going on now.
posted by ardgedee at 10:02 AM on June 30, 2008


What about sensationalism regarding trivial blogoswamp issues?
posted by cellphone at 10:07 AM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Well if only she had written a few 'steampunk dildo' articles she wouldn't have been made an unperson.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2008 [47 favorites]


Without explanation, all of Violet Blue's posts have been removed from Boing Boing

Uh, no. All of the posts referencing her have been removed.

Anyway, they hired comment fascist Teresa Nielsen Hayden to run their comment site so we know they're wankers.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 AM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


I hate to be one of those Metafilter commenters who poo-poos everything, but who are these people and why should I care about them?

Boing Boing can do whatever they want to their site. It's a private entity. Would you want someone telling you how to run your own site?
posted by MegoSteve at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


Well if only she had written a few 'steampunk dildo' articles she wouldn't have been made an unperson.

Yeah, that's no way to talk about a nice guy like Cory Doctorow.
posted by spiderwire at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


BlogIDon'tReadAndPeopleIDon'tCareAboutFilter.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Since I'm a child of the post-Alanis era, I no longer quite know what is and is not irony. Is the guy who wrote Little Brother unpersoning someone from his archives ironic or merely hypocritical?
posted by adipocere at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


Maybe Xeni and Violet had a falling out over whose Flick feed had the most self portraits.
posted by bondcliff at 10:12 AM on June 30, 2008 [44 favorites]


See also, e.g.
posted by boo_radley at 10:12 AM on June 30, 2008


Punching Deck

Remember when Violet Blue was "disappeared" from Boing Boing? The same thing recently happened to William Gibson.

FTFY.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:13 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe Xeni and Violet had a falling out over whose Flick feed had the most self portraits.
posted by bondcliff at 1:12 PM on June 30


They're different people?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:13 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wonder if her opinion about Xenisucks has changed?
posted by drezdn at 10:15 AM on June 30, 2008


2nd link declares it uncategorically as sexism while simultaneously stating that no one will ever know what happened. Hm.

Curious to see if this post stays or goes; I can never predict it, and in fact I'm usually dead wrong.

"blogoswamp"... heh

has anyone asked Violet Blue what's up?
posted by sidereal at 10:15 AM on June 30, 2008


There are few things on earth that enrage me more than boingboing. I almost just punched a co-worker when I saw the site mentioned here.

....OMG! an opensource steampunk twitter stream of papercraft!!!1111
posted by lattiboy at 10:15 AM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


nywy, thy hrd cmmnt fscst Trs Nilsn Hydn t run thr cmmnt st s w knw thy'r wnkrs.
FTFY
posted by bonaldi at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


OMG CRISIS IN BLOGLAND!
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


....OMG! an opensource steampunk twitter stream of papercraft!!!1111

Runs under creative commons as a second life mashup!
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Oh noes, no Violent Blew on BB! It's not as if you can't read her columns on sfgate.com.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:19 AM on June 30, 2008


This just in: Boing Boing takes itself really, seriously, way too fucking seriously.

In real news: For some reason, other people take it way too fucking seriously, too.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:20 AM on June 30, 2008


Boing Boing can do whatever they want to their site. It's a private entity. Would you want someone telling you how to run your own site?

I don't think anyone's saying BB has an obligation to do anything other than walk the walk. Their posts decrying censorship, user-unfriendliness, and just about anything that deviates from their own rather utopian vision for the Web would seem to indicate that they wouldn't let someone else get away with what they're allegedly doing here, so there's no reason we shouldn't hold them to their own standard.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:20 AM on June 30, 2008 [23 favorites]


...Violet Blue is merely taken frequently
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, former Major League pitcher Vida Blue is still allowed to post there.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [14 favorites]



....OMG! an opensource steampunk twitter stream of papercraft!!!1111

Runs under creative commons as a second life mashup!


Too bad it can only be used on an OLPC while sitting on somy shitty bool (translated under a CC license no less!) covered with a "remixed" subway map of duesseldorf......2.0!
posted by lattiboy at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is the internet really big enough to contain the egos involved in this dispute???

Boing Boing has become an incestuous pit of repetitive masturbatory circle jerks.... I say meh

Now, can we delete this from the blue, please, please....
posted by HuronBob at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


book
posted by lattiboy at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2008


This just in: Boing Boing takes itself really, seriously, way too fucking seriously.

Giving up on reading it in the vein hope that they’d start being interesting again has been one of my few victories against my internet OCD tendencies.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


HAI PLZD TO B MAKED SUBWAY MAPZ.

(suck a muffler, bb)
posted by basicchannel at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, former Major League pitcher Vida Blue is still allowed to post there.

As are my dog and any and all Hooloovoos.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2008


(full disclosure: I still read bb)
posted by basicchannel at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2008


I already didn't read about this on Boing Boing.
posted by yhbc at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


That this topic comes off as inside baseball for the blogosphere is interesting because seven or eight years ago this would have been a gimme of a front page post on mefi. But six years ago, Cory was active on the site, too. The world has moved on, etc.

It's not clear to me here whether anybody has any idea what happened. This just went down? BoingBoing hasn't commented? It could be anything from epic technical fail to outright vengence deletions, but I'm curious to hear what actually went down and I'm wondering if I missed something in my skim of the links.

It's also kind of interesting to see what feels like a shift toward more negative public opinion toward Teresa's moderation position from what I was seeing when she first came onboard. I don't follow BB carefully, so that could just be chance + a small sample size in what I've read, and I would expect to see a ramp up of negative commentary over time anyway—the longer you're on the job, the more people you're going to piss off—but I have to admit that the disemvoweling thing in particular has come to strike me as just utterly obnoxious and passive-aggressive. Cute idea, miserable in practice.
posted by cortex at 10:25 AM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


....OMG! an opensource steampunk twitter stream of papercraft!!!1111

Runs under creative commons as a second life mashup!


Here are some DIY instructions to make it disney themed!
posted by milarepa at 10:26 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


MetaFiltre: somy shitty bool
posted by Skot at 10:26 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't care about BoingBoing or Violet Blue either, but: Boing Boing can do whatever they want to their site. It's a private entity. Would you want someone telling you how to run your own site?

This is a complete fallacy. Privacy does not exempt one from ethics.
posted by DU at 10:27 AM on June 30, 2008 [18 favorites]


The people crying "Tempest in a teapot" are being a little disingenuous. No, this is not critically important in any big scheme of things, but if you spend a lot of time on the internet, it does qualify as "of passing interest". BB is an extremely prominent blog, and its prime movers are famously vocal about just this kind of bullshit.
posted by everichon at 10:29 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


(full disclosure: I still read bb)

Burn the heretic!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:29 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I'll admit a certain professional fascination with the topic.)
posted by cortex at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2008


If this were boing-boing, we'd now be protesting their action with *MASHUPS*.
posted by seanyboy at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are people making up these names?

Cory Doctorow? (Doctor "Ow")
posted by Zambrano at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


the longer you're on the job, the more people you're going to piss off

That reminds me, I've been meaning to send you a "package" for your anniversary.
posted by tkolar at 10:31 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


(my fascination with this topic is completely amateurish.)
posted by basicchannel at 10:31 AM on June 30, 2008


....OMG! an opensource steampunk twitter stream of papercraft!!!1111

Runs under creative commons as a second life mashup!

Here are some DIY instructions to make it disney themed!


HALP I AM LOST
SUBWAY MAP NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY ACCURATE
SEND RESCUE TEAM TO "VADER & MINNIE'S FURRY GNU HAREM" PLZ
posted by spiderwire at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


They've gotten rid of two of my favorite colors of the rainbow - the b and the v from the roygbiv. I'm now boycotting their site. It's colorist.

(I never read boingboing anyway but if I did I would boycott it because now there are only 5 colors left)
posted by iconomy at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2008


TNH was one of the most interesting posters in the RASF hierarchy back when she was active on usenet. As was PNH, actually. But power corrupts, and they are example primus for the superiority of a many-to-many "group of peers" communications forum where nobody has the power to delete or censor anyone else's posts over a one-to-many forum like a blog where all the power rests in one person's hand and they generally run it like a little tinpot dictator.

Boing Boing: Thy name is irony.
posted by Justinian at 10:33 AM on June 30, 2008


I have to admit that the disemvoweling thing in particular has come to strike me as just utterly obnoxious and passive-aggressive.

I don't follow Boing Boing - what is the vowel-removal?
posted by serazin at 10:34 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


For god knows what reason I decided to subscribe to Boing Boing's RSS feed a while back and whenever one of Cory Doctorow masturbatory posts comes up on Google Reader I just groan. So yesterday I went to Yahoo Pipes to try to create my own Boing Boing feed without Doctorow posts, and someone else had already done it.
posted by bertrandom at 10:35 AM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


For those who follow this sort of thing more closely than I: has Boing Boing addressed this at all? Provided a rationale? Anything?
posted by Justinian at 10:35 AM on June 30, 2008


I’m guessing it’s a way of making comments they don’t approve of look silly without deleting them.

STMPNK SCKS!
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the "ethics and revisionism" link: There’s going to be a website that will do what Boing Boing does now, but better. Whomever develops it, is likely watching this event closely and vowing never to make this kind of mistake.

That whole paragraph made no sense, but these two sentences seem clear...and clearly wrong. By this logic, BoingBoing should have been watching Slashdot make this same mistake and vowed never to do the same. (Or maybe they vowed but then unvowed, which I guess is the charge here.)
posted by DU at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys, calm down. If I know Boing Boing, they'll make a post about this in two weeks or so, and give full credit to whoever sent the story to them.
posted by interrobang at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


It's also kind of interesting to see what feels like a shift toward more negative public opinion toward Teresa's moderation position from what I was seeing when she first came onboard.

I've never posted on BB, and I've probably only read a handful of posts on the site, but I've had a pretty negative opinion of her moderation style for a long time.

A while ago in some Metafilter thread, a user told a story about a 'fantastic' thread where lots of authors had posted about their experience getting published, or getting started, something like that. Apparently there were lots of great anecdotes, but when the user came back to the thread month later, she said that almost every post that disagreed with Nielsen Hayden had been 'disemvowled'. Plus, any time you read her comments about her 'theory' of moderation it comes across as extremely arrogant.
posted by delmoi at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


I don't follow Boing Boing - what is the vowel-removal?

TNH removes the vowels from any post she doesn't like... oops, sorry, I meant "breaks the guidelines".

Th psts r stll srprsngl rdbl thgh. Th rdndnc f th nglsh lngg s fscntng.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Boinboing has been languishing in my RSS reader for a long long time. I went back recently to see if anything interesting had popped up and noticed that in addition to the usual crap half the posts were now posts to "boingboing gadgets", which were just links to boingboing a second time. What a load of crap.
posted by furtive at 10:38 AM on June 30, 2008


Anyway - I'm waiting to hear from Boing Boing. I've a feeling this is explainable.
posted by seanyboy at 10:38 AM on June 30, 2008


I don't follow Boing Boing - what is the vowel-removal?

Their comment moderator uses a cute script that "disemvowels" any comment she doesn't like.

So, for example, if I wrote:

'You hoopy froods! This post sucks and I think you all suck!"

My comment wouldn't get deleted, you'd still see it, except it would say:

"Y hpy frds! Ths pst scks nd thnk y ll sck!"
posted by cavalier at 10:41 AM on June 30, 2008


Why has Metafilter removed all references to XtremeSEO.biz???? U R like hitler!!!!
posted by mattbucher at 10:41 AM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Plus, any time you read her comments about her 'theory' of moderation it comes across as extremely arrogant.

Yeah. Metafilter is a shining beacon on a hill in terms of moderation policy on the web. I hope it never changes because I'll lose all hope for web-based forums if it does.

Eternal September has a lot to answer for.
posted by Justinian at 10:42 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


A touch of backstory on Hayden, moderation, and vowelguttery, from 2005.
posted by cortex at 10:43 AM on June 30, 2008


I haven't read bb in four years, as Cory's shrill and entitled opensourceDMCAomgdisney douchenozzlery became too much to take. Now that I think about it, was bb ever actually as great as its hype? Even in the early days of the blog it was just a linksite with nice design and thrice-daily fashion shoots of Xeni demonstrating how to burn your roots so badly you look like Londo Mollari.
posted by bunnytricks at 10:45 AM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Since I never read their comments, and I usually just go over there to see links that folks haven't yet posted here, do I need to care?
posted by konolia at 10:47 AM on June 30, 2008


I wish they'd deleted every post mentioning Little Brother. What a waste of my attention.
posted by yeti at 10:49 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Website based on multiple personality cults loses personality. Film at your mom's house.
posted by sciurus at 10:50 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


now posts to "boingboing gadgets", which were just links to boingboing a second time. What a load of crap.

Which is as far as I can tell, just a way to cash in on the success of sites like engadget and gizmodo.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 AM on June 30, 2008


Why is everyone ragging on Cory and Xeni? Have we forgotten that Mark Frauenfelder is a knee-jerk libertarian? Come on, people. Fairness.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:52 AM on June 30, 2008


DAMN YOU DAVID PESCOVIIIIITZ!!!!
posted by basicchannel at 10:52 AM on June 30, 2008


I wish they'd deleted every post mentioning Little Brother. What a waste of my attention.

I got the audiobook version of that. I'm going to claim I was and am completely free of bias, since I'd never read anything by Doctorow before and never subscribed to Boing Boing.

It. Was. Crap.

I actually stopped listening after a chapter or so. The lead character was insufferable and all the references were technologically trendy rather than futuristic or interesting. It was like one of those "science fiction" books you can buy at the supermarket, full of glib references but utterly vacuous.

(Subsequently I listened to his short Craphound because he apparently liked it so much he made it a domain name. It was OK, but nothing to create a DNS record for.)
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Heh.
posted by interrobang at 10:55 AM on June 30, 2008


TNH's blog, Making Light, consistently has more funny, wise, kind, and educational comments than any other blog I read. But what works on a blog like ML isn't necessarily going to work on a blog like BoingBoing; it's just a completely different community environment.
posted by Jeanne at 10:56 AM on June 30, 2008


Has anyone built an un-disemvoweller? That would be a neat greasemonkey script. Sure there are some irreducible ambiguities in the text once it's been disemvowelled (unless you have some very powerful sentence-level logic, like in th hmn brn), but with a dictionary of common words you could probably re-vowel comments to a high level of readability.
posted by grobstein at 10:57 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


TNH was one of the most interesting posters in the RASF hierarchy back when she was active on usenet. As was PNH, actually. But power corrupts, and they are example primus for the superiority of a many-to-many "group of peers" communications forum where nobody has the power to delete or censor anyone else's posts over a one-to-many forum like a blog where all the power rests in one person's hand and they generally run it like a little tinpot dictator.

What's weird is that TNH 's style works perfectly well on Making Light, and the class of commentators on the blog or awesome and well written, and she doesn't really come across (tom me) as overreaching or arrogant on her site, and usually those who get disemvowelled pretty much have it coming.

But looking at how she sometimes comments or acts on Boing Boing, it's a total clash of styles.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2008


> was bb ever actually as great as its hype?

I wouldn't touch a question like that with a ten foot steampool punkcue. But I do occasionally see interesting things there. And since it's one of the most popular blogs in the English-speaking world, and gets more traffic than many A-list corporate websites, things I don't see there will eventually appear on some blog I do read, or in the mysteriously-never-attributed-cool-stuff emails coworkers and friends are fond of.

Unlike most news portals and suchlike, the BB crew are fighting what I consider the good fight, whether or not the details of their positions or the actions they endorse are things I endorse. Points for that.

It doesn't matter whether you like it or read it. Enough other people like it and use it as a primary information source for geek fashion and politics that a half-dozen editors hold massive sway over online discourse. So for them to perform what looks like raw censorship without a public announcement is a bad faith act, and they should be held to practicing what they preach.
posted by ardgedee at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


You couldn't even listen to it? That's pretty bad.
posted by Mister_A at 11:00 AM on June 30, 2008


The people crying "Tempest in a teapot" are being a little disingenuous.

Agreed, it's more of a chipped teacup with a broken handle that folks just can't bring themselves to toss out.

No, this is not critically important in any big scheme of things, but if you spend a lot of time on the internet, it does qualify as "of passing interest".

The internet's gotten a tad bigger since BoingBoing and OG bloggers mattered.
And by mattered I mean "Were the only game in town."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:01 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


basicchannel: "DAMN YOU DAVID PESCOVIIIIITZ!!!!"

Heh. Every time I see a post on Cryptozoology, I think "Are you just having fun, or are you an idiot?"
posted by Science! at 11:04 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cory Doctorow, that's the guy who "publishes" his "novels" for what they're worth, right?
posted by orthogonality at 11:05 AM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


Is the guy who wrote Little Brother unpersoning someone from his archives ironic or merely hypocritical?

Ironicritysterical!
posted by rusty at 11:06 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Have we forgotten that Mark Frauenfelder is a knee-jerk libertarian?

He'd be the one that was into sub-Colbert Wiki spoofing.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on June 30, 2008


Check this out from the "Rebecca's Pocket" link:
Let me propose a radical notion: The weblog's greatest strength — its uncensored, unmediated, uncontrolled voice — is also its greatest weakness.
Wow, that's deep. It's like that with the Hulk—his unslaked thirst for retribution gives him great power, including the power to SMASH!!!—but it also gets him into trouble.

I am going to add rebeccablood.net to the long list of blogs I will not read. It seems like almost any numbskull can write a blog these days–have they done away with the licensing exam or something?
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Has anyone built an un-disemvoweller? That would be a neat greasemonkey script. Sure there are some irreducible ambiguities in the text once it's been disemvowelled (unless you have some very powerful sentence-level logic, like in th hmn brn), but with a dictionary of common words you could probably re-vowel comments to a high level of readability.

That'd be a pretty neat project, actually. I could present a best guess and maybe even annotate particularly troublesome matches.

And it's the sort of thing that could end up getting posted on BoingBoing. Perhaps with a slightly critical writeup, which would then lead to the creator posting a critical counter-response, which would then get disemvoweled in vain. Heh.

Another brainstorm, along those ideas: construct a comment that looks on the face of it like an innocuous (if, for these purposes, necessarily vacuous) statement, but which when disemvoweled looks like something altogether different according to plausible parsings of the remain consonants.
posted by cortex at 11:09 AM on June 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


I care so little about this, I won't even post in this thread.

How's that for meta.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:09 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


orthogonality: "Cory Doctorow, that's the guy who "publishes" his "novels" for what they're worth, right?"

Yeah. I've tried to read a couple and they are entirely unreadable. Well you could read them, but you'll get angry and scream "why does that school let my kid write such crappy stories!?!!" Then you'll realize that the story was actually written by an educated adult and not your seven year old daughter.

Then you get really angry.
posted by Science! at 11:09 AM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


The may not be the only game in town any more, but they still hold some suasion on the way the community behaves, and any wierdness on their part is going to be duly noted by all those non-BB readers who still read BB. Don't we all still have an opinion about Mr. Rogers even though he's long gone?

Personally, I peruse it at the end of the day after MeFi and Deadspin have long since been hitting the bottle. And I truly do find Xeni to be absolutely annoying and unwatchable.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:10 AM on June 30, 2008


Cory Doctorow, that's the guy who "publishes" his "novels" for what they're worth, right?

I must be missing the humor here; Doctorow may not be my cup of steampunk but he gets his real, actual novels published by a real, actual major publisher. That being TOR books.
posted by Justinian at 11:10 AM on June 30, 2008


(unless you have some very powerful sentence-level logic, like in th hmn brn)

I don't see what the hymen barn has to do with anything.
posted by nanojath at 11:11 AM on June 30, 2008 [31 favorites]


I did actually think that After the Siege was good, possibly even excellent, and deserved the award it won. Doctrows short stuff usually contains a few gems, his novels, after Down and Out, haven't really impressed me nearly so much.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on June 30, 2008


YOU KNOW WHO ELSE HAD A REAL MAJOR ACTUAL PUBLISHER????!!!?!





Shatner.
posted by Mister_A at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


Wow, that's deep.

Unless I'm missing something, she wrote that in or before 2002. I agree that it's not really radical, and I have no idea how much that description was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but again: six years is a whole lot of time in terms of how blogs are thought about. There's a degree of manifest self-analysis and popular consumption of good blog meta-criticism today that wasn't necessarily extant at the time.
posted by cortex at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2008


Mister_A: i know for me, really bad audiobooks are much more annoying than really bad print media. it's much harder to skim thru audiobooks. with print, you can sort of skip ahead till there's an exclamation point and then see what's happened.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:13 AM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


construct a comment that looks on the face of it like an innocuous (if, for these purposes, necessarily vacuous) statement, but which when disemvoweled looks like something altogether different according to plausible parsings of the remain consonants.

Or write comments that when disemvoweled stand alone as a scathing comment, though it would have to be in a language other than English.
posted by drezdn at 11:13 AM on June 30, 2008


Sometimes you just gotta quote "The Music Man":
You can talk, you can talk
You can bicker, you can talk
You can bicker, bicker, bicker
You can talk, you can talk
You can talk, talk, talk, talk,
Bicker, bicker, bicker
You can talk all you want
But it's different then it was
No it ain't, no it ain't
But you gotta know the territory
posted by wendell at 11:15 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Another brainstorm, along those ideas: construct a comment that looks on the face of it like an innocuous (if, for these purposes, necessarily vacuous) statement, but which when disemvoweled looks like something altogether different according to plausible parsings of the remain consonants.

This is a hilarious idea, but in the BB context the work would go unnoticed: when (if) the comment was disemvoweled, it would look genuinely offensive, and readers would assume it was disemvoweled for that reason.

BUT flip it around: an offensive (if incoherent) comment that, when disemvoweled, reads like a perfectly innocuous remark. This would break the disemvowelment tool by making the mods look capricious and unfair.
posted by grobstein at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


*Hulk-smashes cortex*
posted by Mister_A at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2008


...really bad audiobooks are much more annoying than really bad print media...

Agreed and in this case the reader really threw himself behind the inherent insufferability of the character. Every line was spoken in this lazy disdain for other people.

Or maybe that was the villain? I didn't get far enough into it that I could have hit this great plot twist.
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on June 30, 2008


The may not be the only game in town any more, but they still hold some suasion on the way the community behaves

I've never heard of the word "suasion" before! In a thread about Boingboing, I was expecting to not see anything new, but I was mistaken! This is great!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:18 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, I miss the zine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


FIRST!
posted by Debaser626 at 11:24 AM on June 30, 2008


The zine was good.
posted by Mister_A at 11:24 AM on June 30, 2008


ohnevermind
posted by Debaser626 at 11:24 AM on June 30, 2008


Apparently Warren Ellis hasn’t mentioned Second Life for months, so I *might* be able to start reading his blog again.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The comment about violet and blue lighthouses wasn't even disemvowel quality, as it's been removed.
posted by avocet at 11:30 AM on June 30, 2008


I care so little about this, I won't even post in this thread.

Doing it wrong.
posted by waraw at 11:31 AM on June 30, 2008


The comment about violet and blue lighthouses wasn't even disemvowel quality, as it's been removed.

Holy crap, it has. I'm almost sorry I never read BB because now I can't cancel my subscription.
posted by DU at 11:36 AM on June 30, 2008


Anyone else feel like partially disemvoweling a comment (leaving only the praising parts) crosses a line?
posted by grobstein at 11:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


Re grobstein: Man, BoingBoing sucks more than I thought. That isn't troll-squashing; it's marginalizing legitimate comments. What a bunch of crap.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


At least nothing like this ever happens on MetaFilter, thanks to fair and well-considered moderation. Of course, that doesn't change that fact that Mtt's psts lwys sck ss, but what can you do?

Holly crap! what the fuck? I watched the vowels disappear even as I typed that!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


The comment about violet and blue lighthouses wasn't even disemvowel quality, as it's been removed.

Double-plus good!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:47 AM on June 30, 2008


From one of the linked threads:

When they deleted every post mentioning Ursula Le G[u]in, they told everyone.

Anybody know what the hell that was about?

/hasn't read bb in years
posted by languagehat at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2008


That isn't troll-squashing; it's marginalizing legitimate comments. What a bunch of crap.

If you look at it from the business side, BB being an ongoing business concern, any respectable self-promoter isn't about to let a bunch of trolls ruin his good time as he oversells those books. It's just not the way things are done and there's only so much a person can take before they feel the need to stamp out dissent.

I've never heard of the word "suasion" before!

Yeah, I'm still working on a way to monetize my smartnesses. Stay tuned.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apparently Warren Ellis hasn’t mentioned Second Life for months, so I *might* be able to start reading his blog again.

Amen. That made my heart break a little too. Next he'll be discovering LOLcats.
posted by rokusan at 11:50 AM on June 30, 2008


Anyone else feel like partially disemvoweling a comment (leaving only the praising parts) crosses a line?

Oof. Yuck.
posted by cortex at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2008


I worked on something like a blog many many years ago, where a corpus grew online and became a tentacled mess. When we had to fix a tiny error (a typo) in one two year old piece... all hell broke loose because until then everyone assumed it was a fixed and permanent record type thing... it was a very minor correction, but the fact of change was jarring to folks, and not unreasonably so. This "delete all posts containing ________" is about 3 orders of magnitude more drastic.

Ethics aside, I don't envy the confusion this must cause. What about all the Google and other caches?
posted by rokusan at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2008


Ms. Le Guin felt Boing Boing had crossed a line in posting her words without proper consideration of accreditation.
posted by batmonkey at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2008


If there be a means to RSS-feed BB while excluding all the
self-congratulatory crap/steampunk'ry/bad art on the theme of dewy-eyed girls/bugs/animals/unicorns... I'd like to find it. That would be like the Jefferson Bible of teh interwebs. Then again, everything I've ever found interesting on BB also made it's way here, so... The Blue is a mighty grand thresher. At times.
posted by wowbobwow at 11:57 AM on June 30, 2008


I never heard the word disemvoweled OR suasion before. TWO new words- score!

As "piglet21" on sfgate.com said in one of the comments sections:
I can't help but think this every time I read Ms. Blue's articles: for a sex writer she is such a prude. It's like they hired Tipper Gore to write a sex column. The only thing about this writer that's "edgy" is the picture of herself that she attaches to the columns.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:58 AM on June 30, 2008


rokusan, we've seen that sort of thing here on metafilter, of course--someone makes a comment, someone else responds to that comment, comment #1 is deleted, comment #2 is now context-less.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


jsavimbi is old-school:

1. The act or fact of exhorting or urging; persuasion.

c1374 CHAUCER Boeth. II. pr. i. (1868) 30 Com nowe fure erfore e suasioun of swetnesse Rethoryen. 1432-50 tr. Higden (Rolls) VII. 93 Seynte Elphegus was made bischop of Wynchestre, thro the suasion off blissede Andrewe, apperynge to seynte Dunstan. 1528 MORE Dyaloge I. Wks. 157/1 Thei had ones at the subtill suasion of the deuill, broken the thirde comaundement. 1641 PRYNNE Antipathie 9 O perfidious, ungratefull counsell and swasion of this prelate. 1660 SOUTH Serm. (1727) IV. 34 It cannot be subdued by meer Suasion. 1720 WATTS in Reliq. Juv. (1789) 169 To address the ear With conquering suasion, or reproof severe. 1844 KINGLAKE Eothen xxviii, Men governed by reasons and suasion of speech. 1867 SMILES Huguenots Eng. v. (1880) 74 Conformity by force, if not by suasion.

posted by cortex at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2008


If there be a means to RSS-feed BB while excluding all the
self-congratulatory crap/steampunk'ry/bad art on the theme of dewy-eyed girls/bugs/animals/unicorns...


/dev/null
posted by spiderwire at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Has anybody thought to ask what's up over at Making Light? They have open threads regularly, I believe.
posted by Justinian at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2008


I was linked on boingboing a couple years back, and I recall Xeni Jardin adding a couple of comments from Violet Blue to the post. I just checked the archives, and the post is gone entirely. So it seems they just excised anything with her name attached. THIS PASSIVE-AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, BLOGGERS
posted by Greg Nog at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


That isn't troll-squashing; it's marginalizing legitimate comments.

BB actually could mount a defense here. In the olden days, when Slashdot was the "blog" to troll, here's what people did: You start off being +1, Insightful or whatever and then quickly veer into whatever nonsense you had planned.

First of all, people click the rating before reading the whole thing anyway. But also, it's like the trick telemarketers pull. They want to get you in an agreeing frame of mind, so they ask you a question you can't disagree with. "Crazy weather lately, right?" "I bet you are a discerning customer, huh?" Etc. Then the next question is more likely to receive a positive response too.

(As an historical aside, depending on how convincing your opening was, what usually happened was that you'd get to +5 within a few minutes and then the less trigger-happy readers would come in and over the next 30-45 minutes it would be down to -5.)

That said, BB's action is still evil. However trollish a comment, you can't just extract some out-of-context part of it and claim it as praise.
posted by DU at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2008


vn ths pst's lnk t Vlt Bl sms t hv bn rmvd. Shnngns!!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoa -- what? Since when has BoingBoing allowed comments at all?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


At the bottom of that thread the moderator talks about the disemvoweling.

Apparently criticism is now referred to as "egoboo". Despite that being a seriously dumb word, it seems to point out that the things linked to aren't necessarily linked to for their merit, but on how it will stoke someone's ego. And also that protecting someone's ego is so important that any criticism [even criticism that might result in improvement] must be eradicated.

They've become Big Brother in a way.
posted by sciurus at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


cortex: That this topic comes off as inside baseball for the blogosphere is interesting because seven or eight years ago this would have been a gimme of a front page post on mefi.

Well, if I remember my MetaFilter history correctly MeFi was originally conceived of as a links backchannel for blogs, which, while it still happens, is no longer its raison d'être.
posted by Kattullus at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2008


Google maps 37Signals with Flickr iPod

Uh, no, I didn't say anything ...
posted by outlier at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2008


ooa eoa i a oe eeie.
posted by The Bellman at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


MeFi was originally conceived of as a links backchannel for blogs

Ooooooh! That explains the completely non-functional comment system.
posted by DU at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2008


*sighs* BB used to be one of my favorite blogs...then the news about at&treason's warrantless wiretapping hit, and they started posting about it several times a day. privacy and civil rights issues are near and dear to me, so i followed it closely, changed my provider, called the congressmen, etc, etc (and by 'etc etc', i mean, "Dfcd bnch f t&t prprty, spry-pntd bnch f thr bllbrds, tr dwn s mny pstrs f thrs s cld rch" etc etc (on a side note, it was all undone within 6 HOURS!--these bitches have TOO MUCH MONEY)) Anyway, next day i check BB...AT&T banner ads everywhere! and on BB Gadgets a post about AT&T's COOL NEW AD! Am. Not. Kidding. (the ad did not even feature a single recognizable gadget)...so i got into a huge flame war with joel (and by 'flame war' i mean 'freaked out with the caps lock on like a total n00b') ...it ended up with me walking away from a place where all i could do was invoke godwin (i believe he used the 'just doing my job' defense), and i haven't been back to the gadgets page since. i only hit the front page weekly now, but with this fresh pile, i think i'll even give that a miss...goodbye BB!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:09 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


jsavimbi is old-school ??

Hardly.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:09 PM on June 30, 2008


Anyone know any good Violet/Xeni/BB hacks?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow. An all-pervasive odor of dirty diapers emanates from the moderation of that site.
posted by jamjam at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2008


115 comments in 2 hours, all from people who don't care. Man.
posted by fcummins at 12:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ignorance is often mocked, but I have not heard of these people til now and having heard of them I do not care and/or give a hot damn.
posted by dawson at 12:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm loving the snark. Keep up the good work, Metazens.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2008


"I have to admit that the disemvoweling thing in particular has come to strike me as just utterly obnoxious and passive-aggressive."

Amen! If you're going to have a discussion -- have a discussion. Otherwise, you're just hosting an echo chamber...
posted by LakesideOrion at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


but fcummins, I really don't and I wanted everyone to know, particularly 'these people' when they invariably read this post.
Plus it's fun to be part of a mob.
posted by dawson at 12:18 PM on June 30, 2008


man, I HATE boingboing, but even I can't bring myself to immediately assume this is some form of sexist censorship. for god's sake, people, out of all the possible reasons for this you think that random villainous spite is the most likely? I've seen cops with better intuition.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on June 30, 2008


>>"I have to admit that the disemvoweling thing in particular has come to strike me as just utterly obnoxious and passive-aggressive."

>Amen! If you're going to have a discussion -- have a discussion. Otherwise, you're just hosting an echo chamber...


You are so right!
posted by waraw at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


shmegegge, I pronounce your name in my head the same way that Popeye laughs.
posted by sciurus at 12:21 PM on June 30, 2008 [19 favorites]


That said, BB's action is still evil.

Hey now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:22 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Hey, look guys, BB's tight-fisted editorial control and lack of feedback for counterpoints has been a problem with the website forever. One might assume that having a small number of editors take total control of FPPs would result in better posts over the musings of the masses, but that isn't true. Instead, the posts skew to the particular interests and points of view of the few instead of the varied topics of the many.

When BB reintroduced its comment system, there was a ray of hope that actual intellectual discussion on a given topic might be possible, but that dream died quickly. As I'm sure many of you have experienced, a great many posts (mostly negative about the point of view of the editor on the given subject) never see the light of day. Moreover, editors sometimes engage in flame wars with the posts that do make it onto the comments, and still other comments are flamed without even being posted (in particular, the complaints that Cory uses the blog too much to promote his own materials are rarely posted, but editorial defenses against such complaints are often present).

I, for one, think BB has gone severly down hill and don't pay it much attention. The more the editors narrow their focus of interests and edit out reader responses, the more the website goes from BoingBoing to BoringBoring.
posted by Muddler at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2008


Anyone know any good Violet/Xeni/BB hacks?

Click!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2008


I like BB. It's odd that it should indulge in this kind of behaviour, especially given its laudable/sanctimonious* "visible editing" of errors in posts.

* delete as applicable
posted by WPW at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2008


You are so right!

Amen!
posted by cortex at 12:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Amen!

Preach on, brother!
posted by cortex at 12:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]



The comment about violet and blue lighthouses wasn't even disemvowel quality, as it's been removed.


That was me who made the comment. I also commented on the "perils of auto-replace without explanation" post with a comment along the lines of "Auto-deletion without explanation can be perilous as well, especially when Violet Blue references all disappear without warning or a note or explanation" but that wasn't disemvowelled, just disappeared.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I like how any mention of Cory all brings on the two-minute hate (not that I'm not screaming along with the rest). He's not has bad as people think he is, esp as a writer (though he's not as good as he thinks he is... the lord God almighty is not as good as Cory thinks he is)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey now.

don't dream it's over.
posted by dawson at 12:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has anyone built an un-disemvoweller? That would be a neat greasemonkey script.

Someone should make a disconsonantizer trojan that installs itself on the browser of anyone who reads BB. Fght cnsrshp wth mr cnsrshp.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:28 PM on June 30, 2008


Next time I dislike a Boing Boing post, I'll simply comment, "Zzzzzzzzzzzz." They can go ahead and disemvowel that.
posted by yeti at 12:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


I'm not buying "sexist", but I am buying "petulant and a stupid way to run their particular blog".
posted by everichon at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2008


Fght cnsrshp wth mr cnsrshp.

I read that as: Fight censorship with mr censorship

Mr Censorship! The cuddly blue pencil who tells kids what, how and when to think!
posted by WPW at 12:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [22 favorites]


The comment about violet and blue lighthouses wasn't even disemvowel quality, as it's been removed.

yeah...tried it myself....nothings getting through...feel free to call them all hypocrites, though...its fun!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:38 PM on June 30, 2008


Thanks, batmonkey!
posted by languagehat at 12:38 PM on June 30, 2008


I used to read Boing Boing. To be fair, it was partly out of nostalgia for the 'zine. And, for a while, they did a good job of providing cheerful or interesting stuff to click on during breaks.

And I was interested when they began to seem more civic-minded, warning us of encroachments on our rights and such things.

But then the main contributors got fascinated by various things that turned Boing Boing into a macro filter of everything that has ever annoyed me about the internet, and I quit checking it as frequently.

Then the AT&T hypocrisy happened ("don't use them, but we'll advertise them to you & collect their money because profiting off the crap we're complaining about is completely NOT ethically ambiguous!"), and now I don't even have the gadget on my homepage anymore.

There are better places to find the types of things they posted, anyway, without that whole "cult of personality" thing.

That said, I think Mark Frauenfelder's a nice guy and I'm into the whole "Make movement" thing. I'm just not going to be pursuing any of that info on Boing Boing or the various iterations unless it's unavoidable.
posted by batmonkey at 12:39 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why BB stopped having comments. They became a cesspool.

Why they have comments again -- they've got someone cleaning out the dreck. *No* anonymous unmoderated forum lasts. There are too many assholes in the world. Look at the efforts to keep MeFi working.

As to censorship -- they could have easily just deleted the comments. Instead, they leave them up, flagged in such a way as to show you they they (the editors!) think they are inappropriate. They could have simply made them disappear. And, of course, because *any* reason is a reason to flame, they're getting flack for it.

As to the "fascist." Please.

As to free speech? GYOFB. You have no right to comment there -- or for that matter, here. There are *plenty* of deleted comments, and banned users, on MeFi. Why are you reading such a fascist website?

I have no problem with them deleting comments such as "This post sux." If the post sucks, don't comment on it. If all the posts suck, STOP READING THE SITE. But fuck if I'm going to argue against them deleting or disemvowling the sort of swill that BB used to get, and probably still does. Is it that hard? Hate the moderation? Don't comment. Don't like the posts? Don't read the site.

The Boing Boing teams run the blog in the way that they want to. If you don't like that, don't read it. If enough people don't read it, they'll either change it, or they'll shut it down. The real question is can they build a real discussion there. I don't know, but they're trying, and the first step in that is to smack down, hard, the people who aren't interested in discussing anything.

As to the subject? Not enough info. Maybe VB said "Please remove my content." There may be legal issues. Someone may have screwed up. Or, they may have decided, for whatever reason or none, that they no longer wanted any (or in this case, any but one) posts from Violet Blue on the site.

They get to make that call. They own the site.
posted by eriko at 12:39 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


My new band name is The Disemvowel Movements
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:40 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


BUT flip it around: an offensive (if incoherent) comment that, when disemvoweled, reads like a perfectly innocuous remark.

aa aa ua ia ia ia aie ai aie oo ooo oo ua AA EEE UUAAAAAAAA

*smokes cigarette*
posted by spiderwire at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


A while ago, they used a photo from a friend without crediting him. He called them on it in the comments, and I did to. My comment was almost immediately removed.

I moderate a forum, and know from firsthand experience that moderating with too heavy a hand can be terribly alienating. I will step in if I think things are getting out of control, and verym very rarely delete a comment if it is intentionally abusive or disruptive. This just seemed to be deleting a comment because they weren't interested in being called on a breach of web etiquette by more than one person. I have never partipated in their comments section again.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2008


AS they say over at BoingBoing,

D s sy!
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have found it Always much better to scarf/steal, borrow,nod to this site for stuff for my cute little blog than at BB, a site I quickly dismissed of having little of interest for me.
I don't know the lady in question but somehow feel my life manages to go along without her and site. Question: sho uld I call my lawyer and ask for advice?
posted by Postroad at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2008


Woah!

Thanks, batmonkey!
posted by languagehat at 3:38 PM

"I used to read Boing Boing...."posted by batmonkey at 3:39 PM

posted by dawson at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2008


ooa eoa i a oe eeie.
"consonant-removal is ____ more eerie"?
posted by yz at 12:44 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boing Boing is a great place to visit if you want to see what was popular on the internet a few days ago.
posted by mullingitover at 12:45 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


WH4T D|S3MV0W3L1NG?
posted by zippy at 12:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


yz: far?
posted by Leon at 12:47 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't care what any of you say, Little Brother is awesome.

What? Oh.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:47 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


"consonant-removal is far more eerie"
posted by zippy at 12:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


D s sy!

-- o a i o!
posted by spiderwire at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


ou ae eieed - a eo ai
posted by zippy at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2008


It's interesting reading the comments in BB's current top thread. People are trying to slip references to this in sideways. Right now, I'm seeing:

Those sure are some colourful off-colour gummies! Funny, a lot of things on Boing Boing seem to be off-colour today.

and

You know what's funny with this whole gummi phenomenon here, is basically seeing penises (penii?) in colors very differently than the normal human color. There's Red, Yellow, Violet, Blue, Orange, Green ... I mean, you're not going to see those colors in the wild.

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...
posted by mr_roboto at 12:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


They get to make that call. They own the site.

I refer you to DU's earlier post. Also my own. You seem to think the market alone is enough to shake the bugs out of BoingBoing -- I agree for the most part, but I believe that pointing out shitty ethics and poor overall quality is an important component of consumer interaction. And guess who agrees with me?

The real question is can they build a real discussion there. I don't know, but they're trying, and the first step in that is to smack down, hard, the people who aren't interested in discussing anything.

The problem is that those aren't the only people they're smacking down hard, as grobstein pointed out.

There are too many assholes in the world.

Yes. Yes there are.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]



As to the subject? Not enough info. Maybe VB said "Please remove my content." There may be legal issues. Someone may have screwed up. Or, they may have decided, for whatever reason or none, that they no longer wanted any (or in this case, any but one) posts from Violet Blue on the site.

They get to make that call. They own the site.


They could at the very least address why they did it.
posted by drezdn at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's interesting reading the comments in BB's current top thread. People are trying to slip references to this in sideways.

I'm going to go post some comments without vowels.

Speaking of which, how do y'all know that the partially-disemvoweled comment wasn't that way originally?
posted by spiderwire at 12:53 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Are people making up these names? Cory Doctorow? (Doctor "Ow")

Don't forget his distant cousin, the infamous luchador, El Doctor Ow!
posted by turaho at 12:54 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well played, spiderwire.
posted by Mister_A at 12:54 PM on June 30, 2008


As to the subject? Not enough info. Maybe VB said "Please remove my content."

You're saying she might be lying when she expresses puzzlement here? Either she's lying or she doesn't know what's up either.

They get to make that call. They own the site.

And we get to call them little tinpot dictator hypocrites who prefer an echo chamber to actual communication. Win win!
posted by Justinian at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


how do y'all know that the partially-disemvoweled comment wasn't that way originally?

Mod says so: "I've just disemvowelled eight comments (actually seven-and-three-quarters)."
posted by grobstein at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2008


Just poking my head in to say that not all of Doctorow's stories suck. (A lot of them do, but not *all* of them.) The novella After The Siege is good, and Little Brother is interesting if overly didactic. You do need to give it more than the first chapter though; it turns much darker and more interesting.

Also: Boing Boing is much better if you treat it like YouTube: Ignore the comments and let people refer you to the good posts.
posted by JDHarper at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2008


I like how when you try to post "brng bck vlt bl" it says "Comment rejected. The text you entered is wrong."
posted by infinitewindow at 1:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Who knew that Winston Smith had taken a job at Boing Boing?
posted by caddis at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2008


How weird. They appear to have deleted every post I ever made as well.
posted by tkolar at 1:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Eriko: no one's saying they have no right to do this, we're all well aware that it's their own blog and they can turn it into a lghngstck as much as they like. But by the same token, it's within our right to criticize them for their choices, especially since they so eagerly assumed the mantle of internet celebrity, and directly profited from it.

They don't get to build their success and reputations on the goodwill of a supportive community, and then play the "it's OUR SITE to do as we please!" card whenever things don't go their way. Not without blowback and criticism.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


languagehat: de nada!
posted by batmonkey at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2008


Patrick is obliquely addressing this at Making Light.

"Advocating “transparency” for government proceedings, or for the beneficiaries of chartered monopolies and public largesse, doesn’t oblige the advocate to be “transparent” in every personal or artistic decision they themselves make."

etc.

Here it is.

I think he's engaging in special pleading. I wonder if the moderation will be so heavy handed in that thread?
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2008


As Zota points out in the digg coverage:
Last year, boingboing wrote about the Society of American Archivists decision to delete their old listserv archives. They generated enough attention that the decision was reversed and the archives were preserved. If they're erasing parts of their own archive for any reason, it's an act of shocking hypocrisy. If they're deliberately scrubbing specific people from their archives, it's a disgusting reversal of all their publicly stated principles.
posted by WCityMike at 1:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


infinitewindow: I'm sure they really meant...

"Comment rejected. The text you entered is wrong ++ungood."
posted by batmonkey at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


caddis: the latest news in The Times reports that Miniboing has raised the chocolate ration to 20 grammes a week. We Love Little Brother!
posted by infinitewindow at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


> It's interesting reading the comments in BB's current top thread. [...] You know what's funny with this whole gummi phenomenon here, is basically seeing penises (penii?) in colors very differently than the normal human color. There's Red, Yellow, Violet, Blue, Orange, Green ... I mean, you're not going to see those colors in the wild.

*takes a quick bow*
posted by WCityMike at 1:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


WCityMike: I'm assuming that was you listing colours on the most lighthouse post? That was beautiful.
posted by Leon at 1:11 PM on June 30, 2008


Why are you reading such a fascist website?

We have cameras.

Actually, as much as I have my own reactions to what I've seen in their moderation, I'm not all that jazzed about talking about it as e.g. BB vs. Mefi—moderation of a busy place is a strange and complicated thing and for a lot of matters of plicy there's rarely a Right answer so much as there are different options with trade-offs.

I personally really dislike the disemvoweling thing because in part it seems to make too much of a show of moderation. As if it's not enough to take action if something's genuinely problematic: you need to take action and make sure everybody knows that you hit user x. As a bonus, the comment is still around ("Hey, look, transparency in moderation!") but is a total pain in the ass to read ("Transparency + sucks to be you if you want to read the thing we're totally letting you read!"). It doesn't do it for me, and it seems somewhat mean-spirited and antagonistic in a way that I dislike more the more I encounter it.

But that opinion is informed in no small part by my own experiences with moderation on mefi and the fact that we opt for clean-delete-or-don't as a general rule. We also generally don't delete critical commentary aimed at the site or at us, and aim for transparency in what deletions do occur (e.g. posts staying in the db, free-form discussion on MeTa as needed). Those are part of the culture here, based on the decisions Matt made long ago about how he wanted the site, and there's nothing fundamentally more correct about this approach than a delete-with-placeholder method (which some mefites have advocated for in the past) or some sort of obfuscatory method like disemvoweling (which at least a couple mefites have proposed, though perhaps only in context of Hayden/BoingBoing discussions). So too, killfiles. So too, a zero-deletion policy.

What I feel like is maybe the discussion point is not transparency vs. not, deletion vs. obfuscation, or any of the other policy points, but whether what BB does lines up with what they claim to want to do, or claim they will do, as far as moderation; and whether in either case it's actually serving them, their commentor base, and their casual readers well. And from what I've seen of their moderation in action and from some of what I've read today, I think there are some reasonable objections to how they've been going about the business of running their site, regardless of the hyperbole creeping into the discussion from either camp.
posted by cortex at 1:12 PM on June 30, 2008 [17 favorites]


disemvoweling

Heh - I did not know about it until this thread. So, for the last 8 months or so, whenever I dipped into the comments for a post, I would often scratch my head and think: "wow, these boingboing readers are incredibly stupid/childish/dumb/ignorant/young" - never once thinking to actually try and read the disemvoweled comment. So - it does it's job well...
posted by jkaczor at 1:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that's exactly right, cortex. And I'm not saying that to suck up! Well, not only to suck up. BB can moderate however they want, but they are not immune from criticism over what they do just because they have the right to do it.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on June 30, 2008


Personally, I think it's a good start. First the vowels, then Violet Blue's very existence... If we're lucky, the whole of bng-bng will be gone in time for X-Ms.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:21 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


> WCityMike: I'm assuming that was you listing colours on the most lighthouse post? That was beautiful.

Thanks. Or, as others might put it, thnks.

As someone pointed out upthread, Patrick, Teresa's hubbie, is being the most explicit about it in a thread on their shared blog "Making Light," but he mounts a laughably weak straw man argument. I replied (and I reproduce it all here solely because this is wantonly practiced disappearance we're talking about, y'know):
There are a multitude of problems with the rationale behind your argument, Patrick, assuming it's what most people are interpreting it as, regarding Boing Boing's removal of Violet Blue's posts:

Persons who are against political censorship and corporate malfeasance are not for that reason obliged to live their entire personal and professional lives in a goldfish bowl.

The vast majority of commenters on this article not speaking about obligation, i.e., most everyone recognizes that Boing Boing has no obligational requirement foisted upon it. They are speaking about hypocritism as it relates to morality. In short, if you consistently advocate against censorship and for openness and transparency, to engage in clandestine editing of your past (especially when you have specifically argued for the maintenance of archives, i.e. last year's archivsts listserv story) is hypocritical and as such is morally wrong. I do not need to know the intimate secrets of Cory, Mark, Xeni, David, or Teresa. I do expect that if they stand up and say, "An organization should be run in such-and-such a way," that they run their organization in accordance with those same principles.

Believing that public utilities ought to be accountable to the public does not make one into a public utility, no matter how hard anyone tries to spin it that way.

Boing Boing has consistently advocated for private agencies and companies to be accountable to certain things it felt to be morally good, i.e., transparency, openness, and not disappearing things in the middle of the night. As said above, few are saying that BoingBoing is a public utility that is legally required and obligated to keep its archives untouched. If that's all you're arguing, you're merely saying a statement most people already agree with. What the vast majority of the extant criticism is about is that the action of "disappearing" Violet Blue's posts from the archive with no transparency, notice, or openness is an action directly contrary to several principles BoingBoing has routinely advocated and epsoused over the years, and as such is a highly hypocritical action that deserves scorn.

Advocating “transparency” for government proceedings, or for the beneficiaries of chartered monopolies and public largesse, doesn’t oblige the advocate to be “transparent” in every personal or artistic decision they themselves make.

Again, a substitution of a straw man for the real argument. Boing Boing has not, over its past, solely attacked governments, "chartered monopolies," and "beneficiaries of ... public largesse". They've criticized authors, leaders of professional organizations (SFWA, etc.), non-monopoly companies (Apple and MS are big but each is not a monopoly, especially given Apple's relatively small market share), and many others.

Boing Boing has, over the years, earned a great deal of respect, supportive cheers, and agreement for its actions of criticizing all — not a strictly limited subset of individuals legally obligated not to practice censorship, but all — of those who would be opaque and censorious and practice actions that alter records in the dead of night. Yet they themselves are, when it is convenient for them, being opaque and censorious and altering records in the dead of night.

They may not have any legal requirement that they not do what they're doing, but to suggest that what they're doing is not laughably hypocritical nor morally wrong is a highly difficult argument to make, and you've made nowhere near a convincing case here.
posted by WCityMike at 1:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [31 favorites]


By the way, since we're talking about disemvoweling, someone built a webtool to help defeat it. Goes to what John Gilmore said about censorship and the 'Net.
posted by WCityMike at 1:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


WCtyMk wns.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:32 PM on June 30, 2008


cortex wrote...
....matters of plicy there's rarely a Right answer...

Oh my god! First they came for the 'o's and I said nothing...
posted by tkolar at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


They will never take my o.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2008


Passive-aggressive thread on Making Light about this whole issue is right here.
posted by pharm at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The disemvowelling is even worse when they disemvowel some things, but completely wipe others.
posted by waraw at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2008


SUGGEST A SITE FORM
Your name (optional)
Winston Smith

Your email address (optional)
Orwell@1984.com

Your website (optional -- for credit/linkback)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship

Title for the item you're suggesting:
Censorship shows up in the unlikeliest of places. Here.

URL of suggested website:
http://www.metafilter.com/72928/Boing-Boing-Finds-21st-Century-Trotsky

Please describe the suggested site:
In a surprise move, one of the most outspoken sites on the internet against censorship has taken to censoring entire persons from their archives, and all posts about them, including ones where they are only mentioned in the comments. Not only will they not address the issue, either on the site, or with the recently deleted 'unpersons', but all reference to the incident has been instantly deleted by their head censor. How long until the desperate dinosaurs of traditional media latch on to this story and use it to destroy all of the hard-won credibility (such as it is) of bloggers everywhere. Who instigated this selfish and hypocritical act, and where will it end?

*send*

Thanks for suggesting your link
Thank you very much!
We appreciate your submission, and thanks for reading Boing Boing.

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PRETEND COPS BULLY VIDEOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER WINS
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(APOCRYPHAL?) ANECDOTE ABOUT FAHRENHEIT 451
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SAVE THE INTERNATIONAL CRYPTOZOOLOGY MUSEUM
CORY DOCTOROW: A "LITTLE BROTHER" READING (SECOND IN A SERIES)
JOSH HARRIS: "PSEUDO WAS A FAKE COMPANY."
posted by sexyrobot at 1:43 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I wish they'd deleted every post mentioning Little Brother. What a waste of my attention.

Wow, that was horrid.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 PM on June 30, 2008


By the way, since we're talking about disemvoweling, someone built a webtool to help defeat it.

I'm simultaneously delighted that it exists and pissed that there's prior art.
posted by cortex at 1:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Media Cool Kids: Never As Cool As You Think
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow, that was horrid.

Wait, how is that horrid? I was be hyperbolic that Cory writes too many posts about every little L.B. reading event or trivial news item.
posted by yeti at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2008


Remind me, did BB make a big fuss about Digg taking down that key per the DCMAs request?
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


i can't believe they haven't addressed this yet and are continuing to post the usual BS...anyone else having fun with their comments section?

on the speed bump post:
@#2 the problem with 'moving' speedbumps is that they become all too easy to 'remove'...destroying their credibility altogether. I do like that it's blue...

not that it will get past miss smith, who, i assume, is reeeeeaaaallly busy right now...anyone want to see how busy she can get? post em there, then post them here...lets have some fun >;D
posted by sexyrobot at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2008


These threads always strike me as funny because everyone I know in real life who's read Doctorow's books, including myself, like them. Except for myself, this is a group of people who don't know boing-boing, have never read it, and are not really into this sort of internet insider stuff. I think part of the issue is that people here get sick and tired of that distinct Cory Doctorow flavor, which infuse his books as well as his blog. People who've never read his blog can come at his books without already being sick of the man, and that's critical to being able to enjoy them.
posted by Arturus at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2008


Remind me, did BB make a big fuss about Digg taking down that key per the DCMAs request?

Yes.
posted by cog_nate at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2008


that distinct Cory Doctorow flavor

Salty, with notes of self-regard and paranoia.
posted by everichon at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


These threads always strike me as funny because everyone I know in real life who's read Doctorow's books, including myself, like them.

Expand your circle of friends...
posted by SweetJesus at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I found Eastern Standard Tribe pretty weak back when I liked Boing Boing. And the rot had well and truly set in when the last short story collection rolled around, but I loved some of those. But yeah, you do get sick of people hitting the same notes – I definitely had that problem with the above mentioned Ellis (doesn’t help that his comics output has shrunk to near nothing while his online persona has swollen to planet sized proportions).
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


post em there, then post them here...lets have some fun >;D

People can do what they like, but to the extent that what you're advocating approaches griefing, please don't. No mefi-vs-Them barnstorming, please.
posted by cortex at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2008


Remind me, did BB make a big fuss about Digg taking down that key per the DCMAs request?

Yes.


How about Wikifoundation internal politics flaps?
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2008


This is one of those great PR test cases, where if they just came out and said "Hey, [Violet Blue, Lawyers, The Illuminati] told us to [take down, erase, deny any existence of] Violet Blue's posts." Then people would be less likely to care.

Unless if VB is being disingenuous, it's unlikely that her lawyers told them to take the stuff down, so why can't they be forthright about it?
posted by drezdn at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2008


People who've never read his blog can come at his books without already being sick of the man, and that's critical to being able to enjoy them.

My wife has never read BB, but she did read Little Brother.

Her review of it? OK, but probably would have been better if it were written and released much closer to 9/11; in 2008 it reads like someone's fantasy of 2002.
posted by dw at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2008


By the way, entirely offtopic, but Netflix just sent out an e-mail saying it's keeping Profiles. I'll have to go see if that original post is open.
posted by WCityMike at 2:14 PM on June 30, 2008


By the way, those who liked that rainbow thing, check out my first comment on the VW post. If it's still there.
posted by WCityMike at 2:15 PM on June 30, 2008


By the way, I really need to stop using "by the way" as an intro.
posted by WCityMike at 2:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is one of those great PR test cases, where if they just came out and said "Hey, [Violet Blue, Lawyers, The Illuminati] told us to [take down, erase, deny any existence of] Violet Blue's posts." Then people would be less likely to care.

Exactly. It's the radio silence and the opacity that's getting to me. That's behaving like one of those monolithic corporations they seem so hellbent on standing against.
posted by dw at 2:17 PM on June 30, 2008


Arturus claimed:
"Except for myself, this is a group of people who don't know boing-boing, have never read it, and are not really into this sort of internet insider stuff."

Er...you didn't read all the comments here, did you?

Also: "You don't like [x], so you're not a TRUE FAN!" = Classic Comic Book Guy Approach
posted by batmonkey at 2:19 PM on June 30, 2008


By the way, entirely offtopic, but Netflix just sent out an e-mail saying it's keeping Profiles.

Yay!
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2008


I have no idea who Violet Blue is, was she a particularly controversial figure over there or something? Glancing around at some of the google hits for her doesn't seem to really indicate that.

I think it's a shitty thing to do on Boing Boing's part regardless, but can anyone speculate as to what the reasoning might have been?
posted by quin at 2:27 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow, that Nielsen Hayden thread is like a masterclass in semantic squirmyness.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the way, those who liked that rainbow thing, check out my first comment on the VW post. If it's still there.

Nice!
posted by grobstein at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2008


Who's Violet Blue? Violet Blue is ...
posted by WCityMike at 2:33 PM on June 30, 2008


WCityMike: If you're still arguing over there, you might want to check out when boingboing weighed in on the bluepulse debacle in 2006.
posted by Leon at 2:37 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow, that Nielsen Hayden thread is like a masterclass in semantic squirmyness.

Arguing with Patrick has always been an exercise in futility, right or wrong. The guy lives and breathes the written word and it's impossible to split hairs finely enough to win. And I don't even mean this as a criticism, believe it or not.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on June 30, 2008


People can do what they like, but to the extent that what you're advocating approaches griefing, please don't. No mefi-vs-Them barnstorming, please.

sorry...usually i hate that kind of bullying, too, but this is different. a site that every 5 minutes goes OMG, CALL YOUR SENATOR, STOP THIS then suddenly starts crafting unpersons deserves a little griefing in my book...at least until they address the issue.

although, to be honest, i'm beginning to think this might be a combination 'test'/publicity stunt about the dangers of censorship...has anyone figured out the 'why' of it yet?
posted by sexyrobot at 2:38 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I lost it for BB when Mark Frauenfelder wrote this about a book he recommended on NASA's "occult origins":
I don't care that Hoagland's book isn't true. I love this kind of stuff. It's fun to read.
posted by lukemeister at 2:40 PM on June 30, 2008


Woah!

Damn, did I let my precognitive powers show? Sorry, I try to avoid that.
Actually, I was thanking her for answering my earlier question. But I did enjoy her attack on BB.

These threads always strike me as funny because everyone I know in real life who's read Doctorow's books, including myself, like them. Except for myself, this is a group of people who don't know boing-boing, have never read it, and are not really into this sort of internet insider stuff.


Oh, what a load of crap. I've read Doctorow's stuff and don't like it, and I'm a huge sf fan. And I used to enjoy BB, but stopped reading it when it became an echo chamber. (I also used to love Making Light, but stopped reading it when everybody and his brother started posting there. I like TNH and I liked it when it was her blog.)

Great comment, WCityMike!
posted by languagehat at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait… are you saying it was a stealth PROMOTION of Netflix profiles?
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2008


People who've never read his blog can come at his books without already being sick of the man, and that's critical to being able to enjoy them.
posted by Arturus at 5:04 PM on June 30


Interesting. I've never read his blog (I've looked at boingboing once or twice when somebody linked to a story there, but that's it), and I've quite liked what I've read of his work.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:42 PM on June 30, 2008


I bet I would have gotten sick of Palnuick in half as many books if he had a blog as well.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Palahniuk, that is.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on June 30, 2008


I just came in here to say that Xeni Jardin's neck has gotta be, what, three, four feet long?
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:45 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't care what any of you say, Little Brother is awesome.

He's got the heart of a champion.

Oh wait. That's the de-interdental-nonsibilant-fricatived version, Lil' Brudder. He's got the heart of a champion.

Whereas the whining in Little Brother could power a Chinese village for a year.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2008


I love Patrick's latest comment about this: There always seems to be a small crowd of people looking for an opportunity to take Boing Boing down. That's right. You guys are a just bunch of haters. You're just jealous because you're not as pretty as Cory and he gets asked out by all the boys and you don't.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


It can't possibly be more than two and a half feet long, td. Don't exaggerate!
posted by Justinian at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2008


Can someone who is more switched on than me tell me if it's just causing a fuss here or is it like a WEBQUAKE!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:47 PM on June 30, 2008


Thanks. Sadly enough, it didn't take Patrick too long to go from mounting an argument to arguing straw men to falling back to ad hominem.

By the way, Mefites are being referred to as "those angry Metafilter people" over there. We're evidently the ones coming on in and causin' a stir-and-a-ruckus.

Patrick's whole argument's been predicated on the precept that BoingBoing is a personal website of the four, and that people who require transparency and openness of governments, monopolies, and "beneficiaries of public largesse" (as if BB had only advocated transparency for just those three genres) shouldn't be required to hold to that standard in their "personal lives."

Of course, there's the little problem with "Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC."
posted by WCityMike at 2:48 PM on June 30, 2008


Ppl cn d wht thy lk, bt t th xtnt tht wht yr dvctng pprchs grfng, pls dn't. N mf-vs-Thm brnstrmng, pls.

Let's barnstorm them! Who's with me?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I lost it for BB when Mark Frauenfelder wrote this about a book

Frauenfelder can be, um, a bit of a dick.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:49 PM on June 30, 2008


Metafilter: unpeople
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


My rainbow comment just "disappeared." Hmmm. I must've never made it.
posted by WCityMike at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


(we *are* referring to that hymen barn, right?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm learning new, sad things about Mr. Frauenfelder :(
posted by batmonkey at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2008


*searches BoingBoing footer for "Make it Stop" link.*
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


You think Cory's gonna have the tazing squad out when he does his next public reading...?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:00 PM on June 30, 2008


We're evidently the ones coming on in and causin' a stir-and-a-ruckus.

The people who actually read Boing Boing don't have a voice of their own without reprisal from the authorities who control the site. They have no public defender. No outlet to protest. At least Digg was able to commandeer their site. Boing Boing looks disgraceful by comparison.
posted by yeti at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm learning new, sad things about Mr. Frauenfelder

Can you give some examples? hifiparasol's link seems malformed.
posted by everichon at 3:02 PM on June 30, 2008


Sorry, everichon -- cut and pasted the wrong link.

Here's the right one.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:04 PM on June 30, 2008


I like BoingBoing! I like that it's their personal perspectives, I think they have interesting perspectives. I think there's no reason for them to be the blog of record, or have the corresponding pressure not to, say, blog about their books. If I ever write a book, I will blog the heck out of it.
posted by YoungAmerican at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2008


fearfullsymmetry - Private tasings are completely different from corporate or political tasings, which they are against.
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I like BoingBoing! I like that it's their personal perspectives, I think they have interesting perspectives. I think there's no reason for them to be the blog of record, or have the corresponding pressure not to, say, blog about their books. If I ever write a book, I will blog the heck out of it.

o_0
posted by youarenothere at 3:08 PM on June 30, 2008


Fanboys puzzle me.

I love metafilter, I really do, but I don't think I would come to its defense if Matt, say, randomly took all of languagehat's posts, comments, and even comments mentioning his name offline without an explanation, especially if I could then go to his blog and read a note expressing his confusion over the incident.

And yet, on every board and blog I've ever been too, there are always a few people who absolutely cannot stomach any criticism of their favorite organization and come out with pitchforks and blazing torches. It's like unthinking patriotism writ small.

There are some comments from folks like that in that makinglight thread. It's kinda pathetic.
posted by maxwelton at 3:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait... is BoingBoing doing comment spam now?
posted by hifiparasol at 3:11 PM on June 30, 2008


We should delete them.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on June 30, 2008


Oh, and FYI, since Patrick Nielsen Hayden didn't mention it in his post (probably because the regulars at Making Light already know it) he is an editor at Tor and edited "Little Brother".
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


but I don't think I would come to its defense if Matt, say, randomly took all of languagehat's posts, comments, and even comments mentioning his name offline without an explanation

You are aware that exactly this has happened on Metafilter? Not languagehat, obviously, but with other unnamed people? This just came up in a Metatalk thread. For values of random = threats of legal action by crazy ex-users, I guess.
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on June 30, 2008


note: I dunno about "comments mentioning his name" in regards to the case(s) I mention.
posted by Justinian at 3:16 PM on June 30, 2008


WCityMike:

"Of course, there's the little problem with 'Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC.'"

What's the problem with this? An LLC is not a publicly-held company; the principals of the company are not accountable to anyone but themselves. Merely the fact the BB folks have formed an LLC does not mean they are not able to do as they please on their own site, however they choose, nor that it means they are no longer able to consider the site their own personal playground, if they so choose.

I have my own site and I also (as it happens) have an LLC I run some of my business through. If I decided to run my blog through the LLC and you were to suggest that means it was no longer my personal site to do with as I pleased, I would likely giggle for a few minutes and tell you what part of my anatomy you could kiss.

Regarding Cory and TNH, Patrick on his site suggests rather strongly that Cory was not the one who chose to remove the posts in question; my understanding of TNH's role in at Boing Boing suggests that she had nothing to do with it, either. I understand people here get frothy at the mere mention of Cory's name, and apparently some people here also have a bug in their ass about TNH as well. Fine, whatever, but in this particular thing it doesn't appear they had much to do with it.

(And now for disclosures: Cory and Teresa Nielsen Hayden are very good friends of mine, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden is my editor over at Tor Books.)
posted by jscalzi at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


That's not precisely the same. Violet Blue did ask to have her posts removed. Perhaps MetaFilter has gone through on thier own, without warning, and deleted every single post and comment by a member, and one who is not a spammer, but I've never heard of it happening.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2008


Personally I'm just waiting for Cory to reveal his mighty steampunk Unpersonater machine since it has now been fully tested on innocent victims... I'm thinking cackling, twirling of mustaches, and perhaps stovepipe hats will be involved.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


did NOT ask. Shit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:18 PM on June 30, 2008


...Patrick Nielsen Hayden...

I bet he's a good editor.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on June 30, 2008


Patrick is an excellent editor. The best in the field today, in my opinion.

It's still annoying as hell to argue with him.
posted by Justinian at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2008


He is, Artw, now that you mention it.
posted by jscalzi at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2008


It’s a great field for people with near OCD levels of picky-fuckerism.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


AZ - you're correct. It's not the same when the person in question didn't ask to have his or her posts removed. I should have thought it out better.
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2008


so, the real question is...What, exactly, did Miss Blue do to Miss Jardin to deserve this? steal her bleach?
posted by sexyrobot at 3:24 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Merely the fact the BB folks have formed an LLC does not mean they are not able to do as they please on their own site, however they choose


People (now you) keep missing (or just dodging) the point! Nobody is talking about "rights", they're talking about being total fucking hypocrites! You are clearly smart enough to understand this. All these ridiculous arguments from seemingly intelligent people are depressing.
posted by lattiboy at 3:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's the problem with this?

Is a website a collection of essays that are being republished moment to moment, and so can be re-edited at any time, or is it an archive of past publications, which should be altered very rarely?

I actually think it's the first, and that publication might be an obsolete concept, but by their behaviour in the past boingboing editors seem to have tended towards the latter interpretation.

Let me try an analogy. If a privately-held newspaper went through the archives and destroyed all the references to a person, wouldn't you feel a bit uncomfortable? I think boingboing holds a position very similar to that of a newspaper a couple of decades ago.
posted by Leon at 3:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Violet Blue did ask to have her posts removed.

Sorry, I missed this -- do you mean "did not"? If she did ask, then I really and truly fail to see the problem.
posted by eriko at 3:29 PM on June 30, 2008


I did mean did not.

Not sure that sentence made any sense at all.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:29 PM on June 30, 2008


I understand people here get frothy at the mere mention of Cory's name, and apparently some people here also have a bug in their ass about TNH as well.

Um, I guess that's one way of describing it. A fairly uncharitable one, but whatever.

If I decided to run my blog through the LLC and you were to suggest that means it was no longer my personal site to do with as I pleased, I would likely giggle for a few minutes and tell you what part of my anatomy you could kiss.

I can't speak for WCityMike, but what I got from the underlined "C" in "LLC" in his post was the idea that the BB folks are all about corporate transparency and responsibility, which is funny, because they're a corporation themselves, and they appear to be breaking the very rules they so strictly hold others to.

Once again for those in the cheap seats: Nobody really seems to be suggesting that BoingBoing is not a private, personal site whose owners can't use for whatever they want. But there's a whole equation here involving the throwing of stones from inside a glass house. You can do whatever you please with your LLC. You can even tell me to kiss your ass when I suggest you're being hypocritical. But it doesn't make you right. It actually makes you a pretty shitty example to set for the rest of the blogosphere, particularly when you're as big a deal, and as prominent a voice, as BoingBoing is.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:33 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wait... is BoingBoing doing comment spam now?

YoungAmerican has been around. He's not a spammer.

You are aware that exactly this has happened on Metafilter? Not languagehat, obviously, but with other unnamed people? This just came up in a Metatalk thread. For values of random = threats of legal action by crazy ex-users, I guess.

I appreciate the unnamedness, since I don't want dude having a relapse into flip-out mode on some latter day ego-surfing. There was discussion of what happened in Metatalk at the time, and I'd rather leave it there; dude himself has basically disappeared his own related off-site content, too, so there's basically nothing to see anymore. The intensely curious can email me.

As Astro Zombie points out, there's a difference of kind here: we didn't want to delete the guy's stuff, he threatened legal action if we didn't. We've talked users down from (generally smaller-scale) memory wipes in the past a few times, as well. I hate seeing archives spring leaks like that if it's at all avoidable.

That said, I'm not even of the position that BoingBoing shouldn't have the right to wipe stuff. If they decide to, fine, and they may have a compelling rationale for it. But I am pretty damn surprised that they didn't explain what was going on in the first hour, even if the explanation were simply "we did this thing, our lawyers are telling us not to discuss it further, it sucks, comments are closed". I think the fact that they've been mum for so long is a reasonable thing to object to, and I'm not surprised people are reacting so strongly to that.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mr. Scalzi, if what you say about the LLC is true, which I'll assume in good faith it is, then I'll retract that line of arguments. Many of my past employers have been limited liability companies, and I've only seen it in the context of for-profit businesses rather than people gathering for non-business purposes. But I don't know the guts of the law as pertains to for what purposes an LLC can be formed, and because of that lack of knowledge, it's not a line of arguemnt I can fully support.

But, as already pointed out, there's operating in the realm of "allowed to do" and operating in the realm of "moral value of that behavior". I've made the point a few times here that almost no one is advocating that there's illegality or a need for enforcement here. It's a judgment call on behavior, and a fairly universally held one. I believe the behavior of untransparently deleting all mention of an individual in the middle of the night to be contrary to the values of transparency which they have consistently required of many people. And I don't believe Boing Boing to be a "personal website" when it hires and pays a salary to individuals, sells merchandise, makes a great deal of revenue off of advertising space, and when each of the editors has their own already existing personal website.

P.S. My dad got "Old Man's War" as a birthday present and loved it, so thanks for that.
posted by WCityMike at 3:35 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I propose that maxwelton be deleted for his lack of devotion to the metafilter cause
posted by ZippityBuddha at 3:35 PM on June 30, 2008


You are aware that exactly this has happened on Metafilter?

And I wouldn't come to metafilter's defense...especially if the poster didn't know it was coming. However, if the poster requested or demanded it, it's not really the same situation, though one would hope if called on it, Matt would have an explanation. I understand that sort of stuff can get tricky if threats of legal action are involved, but you can at least acknowledge the controversy.
posted by maxwelton at 3:36 PM on June 30, 2008


Perhaps MetaFilter has gone through on their own, without warning, and deleted every single post and comment by a member, and one who is not a spammer, but I've never heard of it happening.

You don't remember Paphnuty, who at one time was responsible for half the posts and comments on MetaFilter? N00b!
posted by languagehat at 3:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Paphnuty sleeps with the fishpantses.
posted by cortex at 3:38 PM on June 30, 2008


"It’s a great field for people with near OCD levels of picky-fuckerism."

Consider also that people are attacking both his wife and one of his good friends for an event in which they very likely they had no direct involvement. You don't have to have "near OCD levels of picky-fuckerism," as you put it, to want to defend them.

"Nobody is talking about 'rights', they're talking about being total fucking hypocrites!"

Nonsense. The people at BB, as far as I know, have always been clear it's their site to do with as they please. Also, speaking entirely theoretically (and as I believe PNH suggested on his site), if one of the BBers did it for personal reasons for which they choose not to discuss with the general public, then accusations of "hypocrite!" are likely to be met with "who gives a shit what you think, it's my life and site" and summarily dismissed.

Which is not to say I don't agree that an explanation would be helpful here; merely that BB is not a public utility, it's a weird entity that combines both the personal and public for its editors. Sometimes that presents issues. Those issues are not always going to be resolved how the public wants, because even the Boing Boing people get veto power when it involves their private lives.

I agree it's hard to accept the personal angle of it when as WCityMike notes "when it hires and pays a salary to individuals, sells merchandise, makes a great deal of revenue off of advertising space, and when each of the editors has their own already existing personal website." Nevertheless, I would suggest to you it's there and does exist, and is a factor, just as the private life is a factor in the life and business of any public persona.

WCityMike: Glad your dad liked the book!
posted by jscalzi at 3:38 PM on June 30, 2008


YoungAmerican has been around. He's not a spammer.

I was kidding, for what it's worth, but thanks. :)
posted by hifiparasol at 3:39 PM on June 30, 2008


Sure, it's their site. But they have engaged in an act that a significant amount of their readership reads as hypocritical and a violation of the spirit of transparency that they have espoused for quite a while. This story is tearing through the interwebs. It strikes me as a collossal tactical bluder to not address it publicly, and to just go through and delete any comment that raises the subject of Violet Blue is guaranteed to alienate a lot of their readers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:43 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


On preview, I would like to point out to ZippityBuddha that I have the metafilter pennant on the wall over my bed, I have a giant "#1" foam metafilter finger which I wear in threads like this, and regularly dine at "The Recumbent Banhammer" metafilter corporate cafe despite earning less in a year than cortex spends on donuts during his morning coffee break.
posted by maxwelton at 3:45 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


How appropriate that the story making fun of the right-wing site for rewriting material is on the front page of BB right now. Oy.
posted by spiderwire at 3:49 PM on June 30, 2008


if one of the BBers did it for personal reasons for which they choose not to discuss with the general public, then accusations of "hypocrite!" are likely to be met with "who gives a shit what you think, it's my life and site" and summarily dismissed.

Sure, and readers (upon whom the advertising revenue depends) are likely to say "screw you, I don't like you any more." If enough of them do that, bye bye BoingBoing. This has happened before.

OK, so I got a CabalGram reminding me that "we're not supposed to mention Paphnuty" and "what happened to him could happen to you." Well, I'm sorry, but I've shot my mouth off about free speech for years here and I can't bear the hypocrisy any more. Fine, disappear me. There are a lot more people here than there were then, and a lot of people are going to say "What ever happened to languagehat?" and you're going to spend a lot of time redacting comments and disappearing MeFites. Go ahead, make my day. I just don't care any more.
posted by languagehat at 3:49 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nonsense. The people at BB, as far as I know, have always been clear it's their site to do with as they please.


Okay, I believe I am the fourth person now to say the same basic thing to you. Could you please comment re: their actions being wildly hypocritical based on their writings/speeches over the past many years?


Notwithstanding the fact that it is perfectly, totally, super legal. Which, of course, nobody has doubted at anytime during this entire thread.
posted by lattiboy at 3:50 PM on June 30, 2008


I already mentioned this, but it bears repeating: Cory Doctorow has written the following:
Even weirder is the idea that companies shouldn't be criticized because in a market, you should just take your business elsewhere. Free markets thrive on good information. For a market to function, customers need to have good information about which goods are worth buying and which ones should be avoided -- that's why we complain in public, to help companies make better decisions.
This is from the clip that he posted to Boing Boing. At the very least, they're lying in a bed they've made themselves.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


You don't have to have "near OCD levels of picky-fuckerism," as you put it, to want to defend them

Shrugs. Picky-fuckerism is more the HOW than the WHY here.
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on June 30, 2008


BB: Do As We Say, Not Do As We Do
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dude, let it go. Paphnuty knew what happens if you don't enforce strict party discipline. Democratic centralism depends on presenting a unified front.

And there was no Paphnuty. Go through our yearbook if you like; there are no photos of him. You just made him up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:53 PM on June 30, 2008


BB: Do As We Say, Not Do As We Do

already covered that.
posted by spiderwire at 3:57 PM on June 30, 2008


Nonsense. The people at BB, as far as I know, have always been clear it's their site to do with as they please. Also, speaking entirely theoretically (and as I believe PNH suggested on his site), if one of the BBers did it for personal reasons for which they choose not to discuss with the general public, then accusations of "hypocrite!" are likely to be met with "who gives a shit what you think, it's my life and site" and summarily dismissed.

The problem with this explanation is that as a business, this makes zero sense. Surely all that an entity like BB has to trade on is their "personalities" and any damage you do to the perception that they're stand-up people is likely to effect the bottom line.

More than that, it shows a serious lack of backbone if this is the call of just one of several people with equal sway over the business. Let's say it's not Cory who made the call. Fine. Still, why should I ever pay attention to a single word he writes in the future about corporate transparency, "censorship," or any of a large number of other pet causes this action of theirs seems to mock?

For that reason alone I would expect this to never happen. It directly hurts BB's credibility and their marketability.

Hell, this would be an minor, vaguely interesting story instead of a shitstorm if there had been a single post on BB:

"Hi, sometimes it's time to part ways, and we're doing that today. You may notice that we've pulled all of a former contributor's posts and will, for awhile, be deleting comments about that as it will be unnecessarily distracting. We wish them the best and hope you understand."
posted by maxwelton at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hey, whatever happened to that languagehat guy? His posts were just here and I hit reload and they're all gone.
posted by waraw at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2008


Mr. Scalzi, with regards to your first point I can't speak to and either commend or criticize others' behavior, I can only do that for mine. I'm not attacking his wife. I don't even know who initiated this, so I'm not even attacking any one person at BoingBoing. I'm not going to even recant the fact that I really like Cory's books and the future and principles he espouses in them, even if I find certain parodies of his annoying aspects to be very directly on-point. I'm criticizing the behavior of Happy Mutants LLC in doing this and doing this silently. I'm more than willing to be ready to change my mind (note to others: be prepared to change my mind, not to actually change my mind, that's an important distinction) when and if BoingBoing actually gets their heads out of their ass and realizes that silence is just going to perpetuate the story and keep it in the lead.

That's the problem, though. If you're going to be a public figure, no matter what that definition of "public" is, you're going to be held accountable if your behavior -- whether it is your personal behavior or your behavior in running the most highly visited blog in the world (literally, according to most blog meters) -- doesn't match up with what you preach. I fully agree with a very large portion of the principles that Cory espouses, although sometimes I feel he leans so hard towards zealotry and polarization on those points that he diminishes any use he could be and worsens the situation.

The best analogy, for me, of what Boing Boing is is that it is an online magazine and media outlet. It contains website reviews, music reviews, comic reviews, television reviews, news op-eds, and quirky odd-things. It sells advertising space in order to make money from and fund the expression of these opinions. It branches out into other media as it can (podcasts, bbtv, spinoffs (BBGadgets), etc.). But as such, even though it may contain the personal opinions of its contributors, it is not the personal websites of the contributors. Each and every day, the Tribune and the Sun-Times contain multiple op-ed columns from its columnists. That does not mean that the publisher of those opinions is a personal and not professional vehicle.

If we were talking about Boing Boing disappearing and remaining utterly mum if, say, some jackass posted the home address of any of the four, or (do any of them have kids?) where their kids went to school, then I don't think there'd be a single halfway-reasonable person in any of these posts who'd have problems with them utterly disappearing that fact and doing their best to treat it as if it never existed. Why? Because their private lives would have been invaded and a line would have been crossed.

But let's say in times past the owner of the Sun-Times got into a bar fight at the Billy Goat with Mike Royko, and went back into the Sun-Times' morgue that night and destroyed every single column Royko wrote or was ever mentioned in. And that editor consistently said "no comment" when the Trib and WGN and WBBM and WFLD asked him why the hell he did that. You don't think the public's trust in the Sun-Times wouldn't have been severly weakened? That a journalistic ethic wouldn't have been crossed?

I just don't think that an argument of any serious merit can be mounted arguing that an enterprise like Boing Boing is a personal blog, or that their behavior isn't utterly hypocritical. For me, that doesn't affect my opinion of their books; that's compartmentalized from their actions here. ("The City on the Edge of Forever" is a fantastic script, but that doesn't mean Harlan Ellison wasn't a world-class dickhead, from all I hear.) Doesn't even mean I can't enjoy Boing Boing in the future. But do I think the action is profoundly scummy, and will I be able to take advocacies of openness and responsible corporate behavior from them with any degree of seriousness in the future? Unless they come up with something great, no, I won't.
posted by WCityMike at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [28 favorites]


I'm not sure that anyone is saying that they can't do what they did; after all, BB is their site, and I doubt they made any warranties to anyone posting on the site that they'd archive their comments and make them available forever. (Although, that'd sort of be an interesting line of argument in itself; as far as I know it's never really been advanced so far.)

However, completely separate from the discussion of whether they shouldn't be allowed to do what they did (i.e. is it or should it be legal), is a discussion on whether what they did was good, right, or advisable. Obviously just because something is allowable and isn't prohibited by law or custom doesn't mean people really appreciate you doing it. It seems like that's exactly the sort of area BB has drifted into.

Creating the appearance of hypocrisy doesn't seem like a very good idea when you depend on the goodwill of your audience for a living.

All the BB folks seem like pretty savvy people, so I'm a little surprised that they've declined to clear the air thus far. Their silence — which again, is totally their perogative — isn't doing them any favors. In the same way that BB's editors have every right to do whatever they want on their site, their readers have every right to take their eyeballs elsewhere, and tell their friends what they think of the site.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Guys, I'm sure if Paphnuty had ever actually existed and were subsisting in a cellar dungeon beneath Metafilter HQ, he'd be asking me to let you all know that he thinks we were completely in the right for handling the situation exactly as we have, and that, more than that, he's grateful to us for helping him understand the error of his ways.
posted by cortex at 4:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


already covered that.
Disemvoweling broke search...

I'll go for my back up... BB: A Directory of Wonderful Things (Minus the letters V and B)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:04 PM on June 30, 2008


Hey now, I discovered Metafilter through BB....after noticing most of the good links were through MeFi
posted by hellojed at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I, um, well... just forget what I said above, OK? There was no Paphnuty. And I think the mods are completely in the right for handling the situation exactly as they have. It's a good life!
posted by languagehat at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nonsense. The people at BB, as far as I know, have always been clear it's their site to do with as they please.

Maybe if they weren't so quick to play the "censorship" card at every opportunity, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


call the police
posted by Paphnuty at 4:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [44 favorites]


Paphnuty? MeFi disappeared a saint?

Dudes, you are all so going to Hell!
posted by CCBC at 4:07 PM on June 30, 2008


You should totally post that comment to Boing Boing, hifiparasol.

It would be very interesting to see Cory's own quote get disemvowelled.
posted by chimaera at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2008


Boing Boing has become an incestuous pit of repetitive masturbatory circle jerks...

Self-justifying circle-jerk with no intrinsic or lasting value!
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:12 PM on June 30, 2008


call the police

Name: Pap H
Joined: June 30, 2008

Fail.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:17 PM on June 30, 2008


Metafilter: Self-justifying incestuous pit of repetitive masturbatory circle jerks, with no intrinsic or lasting value
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fail.

It's as much win as you can get for $5!
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


masturbatory circle jerks

was that a tautological repetition of the same thing?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's as much win as you can get for $5!

Don't even get my started on what you can get for $5... Let's just say that 30 seconds of pleasure is not worth a life-time of medicated cream.

Although, I did manage to last 30 whole seconds!
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a post up at VB's site now that suggests she got removed because she added tm to her name. Yep, it's Violet Bluetm. And if you look in the address bar, she uses a copyright symbol. I figured this was kind of a joke since VB was once sued by a different VB over use of her name and had to appear under a pseudonym. But maybe it's not a joke. Or maybe BB has lost its sense of humor. Or something. Maybe eventually BB will tell us.
posted by CCBC at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm not reading this whole thread, but has anybody proffered an explanation as to why they did this yet?
posted by empath at 4:23 PM on June 30, 2008


Consider also that people are attacking both his wife and one of his good friends for an event in which they very likely they had no direct involvement.

Ah yes, the good old "I put my name on it and trade on its reputation, but if something goes wrong I have no responsibility" defense.

The problem with this whole thing is that Doctorow is a public face of the "DRM is evil" movement, and is thus regarded as a saint by people who don't want to pay for content and as a naive punk by people who make their money getting other people to do just that.

Having his flagship blog associated with such adolescent shenanigans tends to support the naive punk point of view, and that's a shame. He's actually got some very sane ideas on copyright, but in order to be taken seriously he needs to keep clear of this sort of pointless controversy.
posted by tkolar at 4:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, polyhedron jerks bring more faces to the festivities, but unfortunately, the edges are all straight and the solids are strictly platonic. So circle jerks may leave you more radiant.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


has anybody proffered an explanation as to why they did this yet?

No -- that's actually part of the conversation here.
posted by hifiparasol at 4:29 PM on June 30, 2008


There's a post up at VB's site now that suggests she got removed because she added tm to her name.

Maybe she should have gone for LLC status instead
posted by spiderwire at 4:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


So circle jerks may leave you more radiant.

And they're always preferable to love triangles.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:33 PM on June 30, 2008


To some degree. What's your sine?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


And they're always preferable to love triangles.

Only true believers are invited to the timecube orgies.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:37 PM on June 30, 2008


I'll leave it to the more eloquent among us to argue whether this amounts to hypocrisy, censorship, or unethical behavior.

I just think it was a dick move. I think less of them for it. I don't have to make any argument about why they are in the right or in the wrong. Whatever. It's a totally lame thing to do and as a group that banks on celebrity as their greatest commodity, they should care about that. Whatever product they're selling, be it a book or an ad or a gadget recommendation or anything, I don't want to buy it. I don't want to give my money to someone who acts like a douchebag.

Really, all they needed to do was provide any explanation for their actions. Rampantly deleting any mention of the act is just shitty.
posted by team lowkey at 4:41 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


And they're always preferable to love triangles.

Sex with squares is boring? You do the math.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The comments on the next Boing Boing post about censorship are going to be super fun.

Evil corporations – Now is the time to Censor some shit!
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Purient tessellation.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on June 30, 2008


Are all of you who are slagging Little Brother regular readers of Young Adult fiction? I bought that book... for my little brother, who's 16. I'm sure, as a wannabe hacker and a gamer and regular geeky 16 year old underachiever, he'll like it better than whatever he's reading in the English class he's flunking.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:44 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's a post up at VB's site now that suggests she got removed because she added tm to her name.

Vaporised for CopywriteCrime
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:45 PM on June 30, 2008


Next they’ll tell us it isn’t even her real name.
posted by Artw at 4:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


boingboing fuckedcompany mashup!
posted by asok at 4:54 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought Boing Boing was a website, not a soap opera. How do you people know all this stuff?!

While simultaneously affecting disdain for it?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maxwelton:

"More than that, it shows a serious lack of backbone if this is the call of just one of several people with equal sway over the business. Let's say it's not Cory who made the call. Fine. Still, why should I ever pay attention to a single word he writes in the future about corporate transparency, 'censorship,' or any of a large number of other pet causes this action of theirs seems to mock?"

You mean, why should you pay attention to the issues he espouses when someone who is not him did something he arguably had no involvement in and possibly wouldn't endorse, and also possibly didn't inform him of their actions ahead of time? Got me, Max.

Please note that I'm not saying that the deletion of the posts isn't of interest or doesn't open up the BBers to questions of "what the hell?" I think that's fair. That said, I don't think it's entirely fair to put Cory (or whomever) up against a wall for actions that aren't his. The BB editors don't all live in the same dorm suite, you know -- they live on at least two different continents and at least some of them have families and lives outside of the Internet. Entertain the notion (which, who knows, might even possibly be correct) that the principals of the organization don't act in concert at all times. They're individuals, not a hive mind.

And while you're at it, consider that the principals might actually be talking to each other about this before talking to anyone else. In essence, allow them some lag time in response required due to the fact they're actual live human beings, not just black boxes that spit out BB entries at regular intervals.

WCityMike:

"The best analogy, for me, of what Boing Boing is is that it is an online magazine and media outlet. It contains website reviews, music reviews, comic reviews, television reviews, news op-eds, and quirky odd-things... even though it may contain the personal opinions of its contributors, it is not the personal websites of the contributors. Each and every day, the Tribune and the Sun-Times contain multiple op-ed columns from its columnists. That does not mean that the publisher of those opinions is a personal and not professional vehicle."

While I would imagine it's flattering that you compare a privately-held Web site with less than ten employees (I think) with two companies, at least one publicly held, that individually employ hundreds of people (and in the case of the Tribune, is the flagship of one of the largest media corporations in the world) it doesn't mean the comparison is particularly accurate. If you want to make an analogy, I think Boing Boing is probably more like a successful musical group, whose product, while public and marketable, is also rooted in the private sphere, in terms of the personalities and talents of the members. Now, please note this analogy goes only so far -- Cory is not John Lennon and Xeni Chardin is not Ringo (or whatever). But what does track is that here is output by a small group of individuals, not a massive media organization, and part of what makes it work is the fact it has that personal feel.

(If you want to talk about blogging as ersatz new wave newspapers, incidentally, the Gawker Group is probably a much better comparison.)

tkolar:

"Ah yes, the good old 'I put my name on it and trade on its reputation, but if something goes wrong I have no responsibility' defense."

TKolar, do you have actually any idea what you're saying here? Please reread. If nothing else, know that Patrick Nielsen Hayden has no direct involvement with Boing Boing.
posted by jscalzi at 4:58 PM on June 30, 2008


And while you're at it, consider that the principals might actually be talking to each other about this before talking to anyone else. In essence, allow them some lag time in response required due to the fact they're actual live human beings, not just black boxes that spit out BB entries at regular intervals.

Which is a fair point, definitely. But I think part of the problem here is that credulity at the lag-time explanation has to be stretched a lot farther when the response time moves from hours into days. I'm curious why they haven't at least put up an acknowledgment that something is up and that they're not ready to talk about it—we've had our share of distributed-time-and-space headaches on mefi before, too, so I can appreciate how bad timing can play into responsiveness, but there's lag-time and then there's lag-time.
posted by cortex at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2008


While I would imagine it's flattering that you compare a privately-held Web site with less than ten employees (I think) with two companies, at least one publicly held, that individually employ hundreds of people (and in the case of the Tribune, is the flagship of one of the largest media corporations in the world) it doesn't mean the comparison is particularly accurate.

Efficiency (and regurgitating other people's content) means fewer staff. Try comparing circulation and pageviews.
posted by Leon at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2008


The BB editors don't all live in the same dorm suite, you know -- they live on at least two different continents and at least some of them have families and lives outside of the Internet. Entertain the notion (which, who knows, might even possibly be correct) that the principals of the organization don't act in concert at all times. They're individuals, not a hive mind.

This is all equally true of MetaFilter, and yet when WTF stuff arises here the mods fall all over themselves (and occasionally each other) explaining, apologizing, justifying, whatever seems called for. They do not clam up and delete complaints.
posted by languagehat at 5:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


...what's a BoingBoing?

Regarding disemvoweling, not long ago in another message board, I purposefully posted a reply to someone by manually removing all the vowels from my words except for curse words, which I left intact. It was a sort of reverse self-censorship cuz I wanted the cursewords to stand out. I was making a point, and I ws bng n sshl.

I thought I invented this 'disemvoweling' although i never called it that. You're telling me now that some goody goody censor-believing expletive has been doing this already for months? Color me upset.

...

Why do we care about all this again? We're pushing like three hundred replies to this thread by now, and I don't for the life of me understand why. Especially since well over half the replies have been from people who don't care.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm here for the steampunk hate.
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


jscalzi: The comment tkolar was responding to seems to be referring collectively to both the Nielsen Haydens and Cory Doctorow.

As cortex pointed out there, Making Light is the closest thing there is at the moment to an "official" discussion on this whole shenanigan, which is unfortunate because people seem to be assuming that Patrick Nielsen Hayden is somehow responsible for it all. As far as I can tell, he's just speaking up in defense of a friend and colleague, and it's certainly not fair to accuse him of censoring anything, at any rate; not is it fair to hold him responsible for anything done at BoingBoing.

IMO, BoingBoing doesn't "owe" anyone an explanation for pulling whatever posts they want, but that doesn't mean I can't form a negative opinion based on their actions. In particular, the unacknowledged deletion of otherwise civil comments seems like a fairly perplexing gesture, especially since it's in such sharp contrast to what I've seen of TNH's moderation of her own blog.
posted by teraflop at 5:24 PM on June 30, 2008


Leon:

"Efficiency (and regurgitating other people's content) means fewer staff. Try comparing circulation and pageviews."

Circulation and pageviews have almost nothing to do with how the two (three) organizations are built and work. One is hierarchically flat editorial, with four equal principals who are independent agents and own the site severally amongst themselves, while the other has shareholders and a complex editorial hierarchy with ultimately one individual in charge.

Language Hat:

"This is all equally true of MetaFilter, and yet when WTF stuff arises here the mods fall all over themselves (and occasionally each other) explaining, apologizing, justifying, whatever seems called for. They do not clam up and delete complaints."

While I'm sure the moderators here delight in the idea that they do no wrong, all you're pointing out is that Metafilter is not Boing Boing and vice versa. And unless I'm mistaken, at the end of the day, it's not the moderators who own and make the rules for Metafilter, it's Matt.
posted by jscalzi at 5:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


TKolar, do you have actually any idea what you're saying here?

I certainly do. You claimed that Patrick was defending people who were being unjustly attacked. And your response to Maxwelton above repeated the idea that anyone associated with Boing Boing who wasn't the actual person who pushed the buttons is an innocent bystander.

And I say: nice try, but no. You attach your name to an operation, and when things go south it *is* your problem. When (er, I mean If) cortex suddenly goes apeshit and starts deleting every post with "music" in the tags, Matt and Jess don't get a free pass to just sit by. They'd better speak up pronto, if only to disavow their own involvement.

It's not like someone created a mess in the middle of the night and they're trying to piece together who did what. There is a person *actively censoring threads* on Boing Boing right now, and if they're being allowed to continue I can only assume it's with the consent of everyone involved.
posted by tkolar at 5:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


While I'm sure the moderators here delight in the idea that they do no wrong

What the fuck? It's precisely this kind of ad hominem twisting of words that's getting people pissed at Patrick in that ML thread. I did not say, nor do I believe, that the moderators here "do no wrong," and I resent your implying that I'm some kind of sycophant. I can link to plenty of my comments yelling at Matt over the years if you don't believe me.

all you're pointing out is that Metafilter is not Boing Boing and vice versa.


Oh, you can be more specific than that. I'm pointing out that Metafilter is better than Boing Boing.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [21 favorites]


I, at the least, click by Metafilter on a daily basis, but not one time have I looked at boingboing. Strange, given as often as it is mentioned here, but I've maintained a Bush-like incuriosity about the whole thing.
posted by troybob at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, what tkolar said.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 PM on June 30, 2008


john scalzi: Don't you think Boing Boing has, at the least, handled this badly? They know how things work on the Web. This is like throwing red meat to hungry dogs.
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on June 30, 2008


What the fuck?

jscalzi can correct me if I'm wrong, but I read his comment as saying that we'd delight at the fantastical proposition that we can do no wrong. I don't think that's what you were implying at all, languagehat, but this feels like a couple of bad misfires at first blush.
posted by cortex at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well damn, even VB doesn't know wtf is up.
"I’ve been racking my brain thinking of what issues I might’ve come down on the wrong side of," Blue told me on the phone. "There’s been no argument, there's been no disagreement, no flame war, none of the usual things."
I think she rejected Cory's advances one too many times.
posted by mullingitover at 5:35 PM on June 30, 2008


MetaTalk hasn't had a good post about what a terrible job the mods are doing for aaaaages.
posted by Artw at 5:36 PM on June 30, 2008


jscalzi, your characterizations of people's responses/arguments/reasons for having problems with this whole mess are bordering on being destructive to the discourse. Languagehat is right to be indignant.
posted by hifiparasol at 5:37 PM on June 30, 2008


MetaTalk hasn't had a good post about what a terrible job the mods are doing for aaaaages.

They've all been deleted....
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:38 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


jscalzi can correct me if I'm wrong, but I read his comment as saying that we'd delight at the fantastical proposition that we can do no wrong.

It's nice and generous of you to read it that way, and I appreciate that you're trying to pour oil on troubled waters (you goody-goody), but that's bullshit. He quoted me and followed the quote with:

While I'm sure the moderators here delight in the idea that they do no wrong


It doesn't make sense to read that in any other way than "While I'm sure the moderators here delight in your idea that they do no wrong..."
posted by languagehat at 5:43 PM on June 30, 2008


Ah, I see your point. I'll put down the Hug-o-matic.
posted by cortex at 5:45 PM on June 30, 2008


You wake up. It is dark. Your head hurts.

>look

Painfully, you open your eyes. Barely. Everything is fuzzy.

>rub eyes

Weirdo.

>look

You rub your eyes and open them wider. You seem to be outside. It is very dark, though you seem to be in a field of some sort under hazy clouds. Ahead of you to the north there seems to be a hole or depression.

>north

You stumble unsteadily over the clods in the field. The hole seemes to be a freshly blasted smoking furrow in the ground.

>look in hole.

You get down on your hands and knees to peer into the crater. It seems to be a few dozen feet deep, a few dozen wide and about one hundred feet long. The edges are still warm to the touch. Indeed there is still a lot of smoke or steam rising out of the hole. Briefly, you wonder if it could be toxic.

>smell

With curious mind that displays exactly how bright you are, you breath deeply through your nose, taking in heaping lungfuls of the possibly toxic smoke.

It smells like beans.

>_
posted by loquacious at 5:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [31 favorites]


TKolar:

All right, I get what you're saying now; thank you for the clarification.

That said, I doubt Cory and the rest of them share a mind link that instantly lets the rest of them know what the other is up to, much less stop them, and it's been suggested by people who are in a position to know that Cory was not the one responsible for this particular action. Whether Cory is ultimately at least partially on the hook for what goes on at Boing Boing is a different discussion from what's been going on here in this thread, which is a whole lot of "Something went wrong at Boing Boing, so now I'm going to spew my Cory hate, fuck fuck Cory fuck duck." I'm pointing out a) Cory appears not to be immediately responsible for the event (nor does TNH, for that matter) and that b) Patrick Nielsen Hayden, knowing this, is perfectly in the right to defend his friend and spouse from random hatespittle from people who don't actually know what they're talking about.

Languagehat:

"I resent your implying that I'm some kind of sycophant."

Oh, wah wah wah, Languagehat. Well, fine, then: I resent your ad hominem suggesting I imply you're a sycophant, since I said no such thing, nor even came close to implying it. Since we're getting all spiky here about these things. So there, we're all even in the ad hominem implication outrage sweepstakes.

Sheesh.

Justinian:

"Don't you think Boing Boing has, at the least, handled this badly?"

I'm certainly curious now as to why the posts were deleted.

That said, I would be a lot more concerned if the posts being deleted had been written by Violet Blue. But they weren't; they were written by the folks at BB. Fundamentally, people are getting outraged that the folks at Boing Boing deleted their own writing. This isn't censorship, since (legal arguments as to what constitutes censorship or not aside) Violet Blue is not actually having her words deleted, she's merely being deprived of Boing Boing link love. It seems people are essentially making the argument that delinking from another site and deleting one's own words constitute some form of censorship against a third party. I don't know if I'm 100% behind that police work, there, Lou.
posted by jscalzi at 5:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fundamentally, people are getting outraged that the folks at Boing Boing deleted their own writing. This isn't censorship

They're also deleting any comments that reference the removal which is definitely censoring a third party.
posted by Justinian at 6:00 PM on June 30, 2008


According to the blog link just posted, they deleted one of VB's posts.
posted by spiderwire at 6:02 PM on June 30, 2008


I think jscalzi might be a bit too close to the people involved to be completely objective, here.

When the income from your "personal" site is more than what a normal person would consider a generous annual income (I cannot find the source, but the number I heard for BB in a year is 7 figures), I would consider it not such a personal site anymore.

Is Drudge Report Matt Drudge's personal website? Is Aintitcool.com Harry Knowles's personal website?

Though I can't speak quantitatively, there is a threshold somewhere beyond which your little "personal" website becomes a "business" website. And I would not hesitate to put Boing Boing in the latter category.
posted by chimaera at 6:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would be a lot more concerned if the posts being deleted had been written by Violet Blue.

According to the LA Times piece linked above, one of them was.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2008


I love metafilter, I really do, but I don't think I would come to its defense if Matt, say, randomly took all of languagehat's posts, comments, and even comments mentioning his name offline without an explanation, especially if I could then go to his blog and read a note expressing his confusion over the incident.


I wouldn't. I would be throwing stones long and hard. The good thing, that would never happen - Matt is on a far higher plane of existence than Cory; there really is no comparison. If you look up integrity in the dictionary, there is where you find Matt's picture. MeFi rises above most other sites for a reason, and it isn't just Matt, but all the similar people he attracts, including every one of the mods. If Matt had to delete someone, he would never get away without an explanation, and you know it would be there before you had to ask.

This thing at BB, it is quite disturbing, very, very disturbing. Cory should go back and read the Tylenol poisoning case on corporate communications, it's in all the B-school textbooks, and school himself on damage control. Perhaps the underlying behavior is actually evil, in which case silence is the best damage control. Keep your mouth shut and everyone thinks the worst. Every hour of silence crushes another pound of credibility, and frankly, at this point, he is down to ounces.
posted by caddis at 6:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This will prove to be a false flag operation by AT&T. Their next step will be to disseminate photos of Cory Doctorow hugging Bill Gates.
posted by lukemeister at 6:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


a) Cory appears not to be immediately responsible for the event (nor does TNH, for that matter)

Someone is censoring incoming forum posts in real time, and went back and removed the rainbow post once they got the joke. That goes beyond "we need to have a conference call before we respond to this".

And the editors run DELETE WHERE body LIKE '%Violet Blue%' on the entore database without consulting each other first? Seriously? What are they running over there?

Seriously wondering how long they can go without responding, now. Definitely smacks of an "us vs them" attitude.
posted by Leon at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


[munches popcorn, considers switching channel]
posted by humannaire at 6:14 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think jscalzi might be a bit too close to the people involved to be completely objective, here.

Seconded.

When the income from your "personal" site is more than what a normal person would consider a generous annual income ... I would consider it not such a personal site anymore.

Not really disagreeing with you here, but not quite agreeing, either. Why is it the money that matters -- more so than the prominence of the blog's voice, or the disconnect between words and actions?

Cultural artifacts grow beyond the scope of their creators, and after a while the old libertarian trope of "it's my project and I'll do what I want with it" no longer holds water. After a while, you have a responsibility to this awesome thing you've created -- a responsibility to remember that it's much bigger than you, and not to fuck it up.

To use the MeFi example: I've never subscribed to the notion that this is just "Matt's site" -- sure, his name is on the legal papers, and he's in charge, and ultimately it's his choice whether he wants to shut down the whole thing or change the rules. But MetaFilter has grown into something much larger than what could be described simply as "Matt's blog," and I think he understands that -- which is part of the reason why this is such a great place.

Nobody ever seemed to espouse the notion that Phantom Menace was just fine because it was Lucas's project and he made all the decisions.
posted by hifiparasol at 6:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


languagehat:Oh, what a load of crap. I've read Doctorow's stuff and don't like it, and I'm a huge sf fan. And I used to enjoy BB, but stopped reading it when it became an echo chamber.

Straw man. I did not claim that anyone not annoyed by Doctorow would like his books, as the notion that there is any book or author that everyone (or everyone who's a fan of the genre, or everyone who doesn't have preexisting feelings about the author) would like is ridiculous and patently untrue. Rather, I made a statement about how Doctorow's personality grates on people, and how that relates to the disparity in reaction to his writing that I've observed in people I know in real life versus the general tenor here.

An individual person who is not sick of doctorow disliking his books or someone who is enjoying his books despite this does not discredit the idea because it is a thesis about general trends. If you really want to pare it down to a more limiting statement you could frame as a statement that people who are already annoyed by Doctorow's personality are vastly less likely to enjoy his books.
posted by Arturus at 6:18 PM on June 30, 2008


(from the making light thread (because there's obviously no point in trying to post there))
To be specific, the whole thread is about censorship, yet there is no censor. All lies.

Her name is Teresa. And she should remember that those who apply too much White-wash usually end up Black-balled. (good luck finding another job in media, sweetie!)

I'm waiting 'til tomorrow...if there's no explanation by then, then I'm going to start writing directly to BB's advertisers, and if anyone else demands accountability from the press (be it mainstream or homebrew), then I strongly suggest they do the same.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't you think Boing Boing has, at the least, handled this badly? They know how things work on the Web. This is like throwing red meat to hungry dogs.

Since the folks at Boing Boing do know how things work on the Web, I suspect there's something more to this story. Since Patrick Nielsen Hayden posted as he did at Making Light, I suspect whatever "more" there is has nothing to do with either Teresa or Cory Doctorow, and instead involves somebody else at Boing Boing.

I further suspect that whatever "more" there is will turn out to be innocuous and undeserving of most of the harshness on display here, there, and at Making Light, but that won't matter, and the name "Violet Blue" will become code for "Boing Boing bad faith behavior" in future. People will link it and decry it, and others will link to whatever reasonable explanation eventuates to debunk the decrying, but the decrying will be the lasting result, a smudge on their escutcheon forevermore.
posted by cgc373 at 6:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Oh, wah wah wah, Languagehat. Well, fine, then: I resent your ad hominem suggesting I imply you're a sycophant, since I said no such thing, nor even came close to implying it. Since we're getting all spiky here about these things. So there, we're all even in the ad hominem implication outrage sweepstakes.

Yup, that's about the level of reasoned discourse I expected from you. Here's my reading of that: "Fuck you, I'm a PUBLISHED AUTHOR and you're some loser on a website, so I don't have to take what you say seriously, let alone apologize for being an asshole to you." I would point out that hifiparasol said "jscalzi, your characterizations of people's responses/arguments/reasons for having problems with this whole mess are bordering on being destructive to the discourse. Languagehat is right to be indignant."... but why bother, because he's just another loser on a website.

I think jscalzi might be a bit too close to the people involved to be completely objective, here.

Ya think? But not being completely objective is one thing, not being a supercilious jerk quite another.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 PM on June 30, 2008


posted by Arturus If you really want to pare it down to a more limiting statement you could frame as a statement that people who are already annoyed by Doctorow's personality are vastly less likely to enjoy his books.

I believe it's known as, "The Doctorow Effect."
posted by optovox at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


people who are already annoyed by Doctorow's personality are vastly less likely to enjoy his books.

I've never met the guy and know little about his personality; in any case, as I've said many times on MeFi, I don't let my opinion of an author's life/politics/personality affect my opinion of their work. I just don't like his sf.
posted by languagehat at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2008


the hypocrisy is disheartening. I expect disemvoweling from certain websites. it's that these guys, the scorching priests of righteous opposition to censorship, are doing it that I find so sad. deletion of a person because of a personal bias? rejecting anything potentially critical? what is this, the bill o'reilly show?

I've been a long-time reader of boingboing. I am okay with xeni's showboating, cory's book promotions and mark's seldomly interesting stories because there usually are one or two noteworthy posts on it. together with mefi, nyt, the new shelton and gmail they make for a nice ten minutes round to make for a quick catchup between meetings. I'm sad to see that a website advocating boycotts of companies and change of voter alliances because of single causes and issues itself is throwing such a massive boulder at me that leaves me no choice but to search for a suitable replacement for them in my daily surfing routines.

I would have liked to see any kind of response from them, be it here or elsewhere. surely they are aware of this issue. their silence is damning.

cortex: yes, you guys are doing a formidable job at managing content on mefi. I applaud you all for that but am I mistaken in my assumption that you have no meaningful financial interest in metafilter? I would assume that to make it at least somewhat easier to hold the moral highground than in a case like bb, where certain fears might have had an influence in how they have fumbled this issue.
posted by krautland at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This comment is missing now. I believe the game is now afoot.

[Asks humanaire for a few handfulls of popcorn, offers garlic salt as seasoning.]
posted by Minus215Cee at 6:25 PM on June 30, 2008


That said, I doubt Cory and the rest of them share a mind link that instantly lets the rest of them know what the other is up to...

The dates I'm seeing on the links indicate that this happened sometime before 9pm on 6/25. So ... last Wednesday.

While I agree that this thread has brought out the Cory haters in force, after five days with no comments on the situation (and active censorship continuing) it beggars belief that he's completely out of the loop.
posted by tkolar at 6:29 PM on June 30, 2008


Chimaera:

"I think jscalzi might be a bit too close to the people involved to be completely objective, here."

And yet oddly this does not mean people who do not know the people involved are any more objective than I. I do hope that you aren't suggesting otherwise.

"there is a threshold somewhere beyond which your little 'personal' website becomes a 'business' website."

You are free to believe so, of course, but a) that doesn't make it so, and b) it doesn't oblige the people whose Web site it is to agree with you. Also, of course, even if we suggest it is a "business" site of some sort, it wouldn't change the fact that the principals of the site are perfectly free to do as they will to it, up to and including deleting posts on a personal whim.

This is more than of academic interest to me, mind you; I have a Web site that gets upwards of 30k visitors daily, from which I frequently make money (I've sold four books of material written for or posted on the site) and I often post entries written by other folks (other book writers, talking about their books under the title "The Big Idea"). I feel perfectly fine in saying that if I take these down and someone told me it amounted to censorship (or whatever) I would tell them they were being silly.

hifiparasol:

"According to the LA Times piece linked above, one of them was."

Interesting. I wonder if VB gave the piece over to BB on its usual Creative Commons licensing, in which case the issue of censorship again becomes something of a null discussion, because she would be free to repost it anywhere she chose.

Languagehat:

"Yup, that's about the level of reasoned discourse I expected from you."

Gosh, languagehat. You wound me, you do. Spittle at me some more, why don't you.

Here, let me get my tarp up.

Okay, go.

"Here's my reading of that: 'Fuck you, I'm a PUBLISHED AUTHOR and you're some loser on a website, so I don't have to take what you say seriously, let alone apologize for being an asshole to you.'"

Ironically, it's Teresa Nielsen Hayden who has the correct response for this, which is that we are not responsible for what fantasy versions of us do in other people's heads. If you want to think I'm pulling some sort of authorial rank on you, well, you just go ahead and believe that. I don't mind. When you want to come down off the cross of low self esteem, you let me know and we'll try again. If you don't want to, that's fine with me too.
posted by jscalzi at 6:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


(good luck finding another job in media, sweetie!)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:20 PM on June 30


She's not your sweetie.

Aside from her work at BB, TNH is an editor for Tor Books. She's not going to have any trouble getting another job in media, when and if she decides she needs one.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey dudes, let's all chill for a bit. Look, I'll fix you some martinis. Gin with caramelised capsicum for jscalzi and vodka with a grapefruit twist for languagehat, right?
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


To quote a wise man named Metatalk: "Note: everybody needs a hug."
posted by WCityMike at 6:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


turgid dahlia:

Thanks, but I don't drink alcohol. I appreciate the thought, however. I'm always happy to return things to sanity.
posted by jscalzi at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2008


I can make it virgin but that's basically just room temperature water with a slice of red pepper floating in it. It's all good though, I need this booze for myself.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2008


Mmmm... tepid water.
posted by jscalzi at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2008


Point 1: Boing Boing can do whatever they want to their site.
Point 2: Their readers are free to have an opinion on what Boing Boing does with their site.
Point 3: If Boing Boing doesn't react to negative reader opinion, they are going to lose readers.
Point 4: It's up to Boing Boing whether they care enough about that to do something about it.

That said, persuant to point 2, here is my opinion: I think what they did is sleazy and dishonest. If the Washington Post decided to delete all references to Trent Lott (for example) from their archives, it would be equally bad. Boing Boing grew out of a magazine, the people that run it claim to be journalists, they should act like journalists. Any real news organization would have fired them for pulling that kind of stunt, and they'd have a hard time finding work again, I should think.
posted by empath at 6:47 PM on June 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


And yet, on every board and blog I've ever been too, there are always a few people who absolutely cannot stomach any criticism of their favorite organization and come out with pitchforks and blazing torches. It's like unthinking patriotism writ small.

And there are always more than a few that delight in the excitement and safety of joining the mob and piling on when others seem to be doing it. It's the worst of human nature and the worst of the web, and it happens every time. It's the way lynch mobs work. I tend to think it's that group that is better characterized as torch-wielding pitchforkers.

Disclaimer: I have not read BoingBoing for several years, don't know any of the principles personally, but I have enjoyed some of Cory Doctorow's writing, and I have not been paying attention to the jscalzi-languagehat dustup. I do have strong opinions about moderation in web communities, but I think at this point I'll keep them to myself. This thread has been one of the ones that occasionally makes me a little embarrassed that Brand Wonderchicken is so closely tied to Metafilter. So it goes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 PM on June 30, 2008


Thanks, but I don't drink alcohol. I appreciate the thought, however. I'm always happy to return things to sanity.

Your arrogant, Father Knows Best angle of attack is very impressive. Although, quite frankly, you appear to be more suckling from the tit of your colleagues than actually trying to debate the issue.

How can you not see the absolutely blinding hypocrisy of a site that purports to be anti-censorship, but yet they salt the earth for the mere mention of someone they've 'deleted'?

For the record, I have no vested interest in the success / failure of anyone associated with BB; I don't even read the site; but it doesn't take extensive research to see the complete 180-spin in the ideology department.

No one's looking for a public hanging, they're looking for a fucking explanation. Quote whomever you please, regarding the "fantasies inside people's heads" and who is or is not accountable. Fact of the matter is, people want to know WTF happened; if you expose yourself -- and your ideals -- as something others should embrace, then do the world the courtesy of explaining such a radical act.

Otherwise, this smacks of the same ivory tower elitism that still permeates mainstream media like a stale fart trapped in a bottle. Evasion, arrogance, and trite statements like "you don't know all the facts" without any shred of supporting evidence.

Complain all you want, about how your friends are being lambasted for something they "didn't do". They seem to have taken it upon themselves to respond to the masses in their own way; let them reap what they sew. If you want to be a public figure, at least be enough of a fucking adult to accept the intense burden of scrutiny that comes with it.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


posted by Dark Messiah this smacks of the same ivory tower elitism that still permeates mainstream media like a stale fart trapped in a bottle.

How can farts, fresh or stale, permeate the mainstream media if they're trapped in bottles?
posted by optovox at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2008


It's a big bottle. The media is inside it.

Farting.
posted by empath at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


Interesting. I wonder if VB gave the piece over to BB on its usual Creative Commons licensing, in which case the issue of censorship again becomes something of a null discussion, because she would be free to repost it anywhere she chose.

A decent point, but I still don't buy that the issue is simply one of censorship. It's one of the wholesale deletion of an entire segment of content from a website, with no corresponding explanation why. You seem to think that's totally fine with no reservations, and you're not going to budge on that, which, OK, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

But BB has taken pretty good care in the past not to delete stuff, but to offer updates and change uninflected text to strikethrough when something changes or new information comes to light. So until this point, they've obviously been aware of the kind of "best practices" that go along with responsible blogging. In light of this, their recent actions smack of disingenuousness, and you can't blame people for snarking, particularly when they're snarking at people who aren't doing a very good job of justifying, or at the very least explaining, or at the very very least admitting there's an issue and that an explanation will be forthcoming.

Oh yeah, and there's still the whole "continued deletion of anything having to do with VB" issue, which, yes, is censorship.

Censorship is a tool, and isn't always necessarily a bad thing. It's why we moderate comments. It's why journalists strive to keep their opinions out of their articles. Sometimes you have to censor stuff just to keep things civil. But that's not what seems to be going on here, nor is it what seems to be going on with BB's moderation policy overall.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's their site and they can do what they want, and if I don't like it I can read some other blog. There's no argument I can make about healthy communication, or responsibility to your readership, or maintaining a reliable sense of sticking to your own standards that can't be trumped by this old libertarian trope. As you say, though, espousing this notion doesn't make it true, but there's really nothing else I can say here. So I'm going to go eat my dinner.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Given all this talk about Doctorow hating, I feel a bit chagrined about calling Cory a 'steampunk dildo' upthread. I mean, he's not that steampunk.

Seriously though, that was intended to be a light-hearted joke -- not malicious -- because I honestly anticipated that some sort of clarification would be quickly forthcoming. It's easy to make fun of Cory (although I admit that I hate the subway anagram maps), but the bottom line for me has always been that he's one of the good guys, and his advocacy has been important and deserving of praise.

But that's also the reason why he's been the center of much of this discussion (even if it's the case that the deletion decision here wasn't his call) -- more than the other BB contributors, this move directly contradicts a great deal of forceful advocacy by Cory, and it also flies in the face of people like myself who'd defend him on that basis even if we poke fun for other reasons.

At the moment, BB's conduct here absolutely appears hypocritical, but I figure there must be something I missing, and I'm still open to a reasonable explanation. I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt. That said, the deafening silence from Cory and the other BB principals is at the very least really weird at this point, and I'm genuinely curious what the deal is.
posted by spiderwire at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


I don't understand the appeal of the argument that says, They're a private (personal?) website, they can do what they want.

Of course they can!

If they wanted, they could become a neo-Stalinist mouthpiece tomorrow.

They could! But that would not be a Good Thing.

Similarly, smaller betrayals of their avowed ideals are not a Good Thing.
posted by grobstein at 7:07 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you want to think I'm pulling some sort of authorial rank on you, well, you just go ahead and believe that. I don't mind.

I have a Web site that gets upwards of 30k visitors daily, from which I frequently make money (I've sold four books of material written for or posted on the site)


No comment.

I'm always happy to return things to sanity.


No comment.
posted by languagehat at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'll be disappointed if this turns out to be just Violet Blue Blue.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2008


Boing Boing is the Fisherman's Wharf of the internet. Just some lame San Fransisco thing that everyone ends up at at some point.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [13 favorites]


Astro Zombie: And there was no Paphnuty.

Then how come I remember when me and languagehat and klangklangston and goshling and UbuRoivas and tellurian and The Great Big Mulp and lunit and all the others were all bound together and the mod centurions came and they were all like "I bring a message from your master, Mathowius Crassus, Dear Leader of MeFi. By command of His Most Merciful Excellency, your lives are to be spared. Slaves you were and slaves you remain. But the terrible penalty of banhammerifiction has been set aside on the single condition that you identify the sockpuppet or the IP number of the user called Paphnuty." And then I stood up and shouted "I'm Spartacus! And that one over there in the gorilla mask, he's Paphnuty." And the others rose too and shouted "Hey, I thought I was Spartacus!" And I was like "Zing!" and then we all shared cold pizza and what remained of the punch and laughed laughed laughed while Paphnuty was dragged away pleading for his life.

Good times.
posted by Kattullus at 7:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [13 favorites]


I LIKE BEANS!

I LIKE SAMMICHES!

WOULD I LIKE BEAN SAMMICHES?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:16 PM on June 30, 2008


(but I'll be impressed if it turns into a violent blue)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This whole fiasco is on par with Ted Haggard. Boingboing is the self-appointed church of free expression first and foremost, for them to nuke an author from their site and censor comments about it is the pinnacle of hypocrisy. The further censoring of comments about the VB-ectomy tells us that they've been full of it about free speech all along. They're going to have to drop censorship from their subject matter from here on out or they're just going to get clowned relentlessly. I personally had to map boingboing to 127.0.0.1 in my hosts file to keep from compulsively going there to mock them.

So I start to get mad about it, but it's just too hilarious. They're both complete hypocrites and rank amateurs, and yes, Violet Blue has now gained an additional definition.
posted by mullingitover at 7:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


By command of His Most Merciful Excellency, your lives are to be spared.

crowd: WEWEASE QWONSAW!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


That said, the deafening silence from Cory and the other BB principals is at the very least really weird at this point, and I'm genuinely curious what the deal is.

Weird is the word, all right, and I've generally considered Cory to be one of the good guys too. It's made me think, "What would I be thinking and feeling, if I were in Cory's place?" I take it from one of PNH's comments that it was somebody else at BB who was making a fuss over Violet Blue, for whatever reason. For all I know, Cory wasn't necessarily even part of the initial decision to scrub her name. (Is there a reason to think otherwise?)

If I were Cory, and this happened without my full knowledge and consent, I'd be extremely unhappy; in the end, there might well be at least one fewer author at BB. It may be that we haven't heard anything from the BB principals because they're still yelling and throwing shoes at each other over this, and it's all too ugly and raw to expose at the moment.

I do think they're being foolish, though, not to at least make some kind of acknowledgment.
posted by sculpin at 7:26 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Dark Messiah:

"Your arrogant, Father Knows Best angle of attack is very impressive."

Thanks. Your snide, condescending Simon Fuller-esque evaluation skills, however, need a little work. The "suckling from the tit of your colleagues" bit is trying too hard, in my opinion. Try again!

"No one's looking for a public hanging, they're looking for a fucking explanation."

Well, some of them may be. Some of them are just looking for an excuse to get their foamy on regarding Cory and TNH, and I think that's aside the point here, and I'm happy to say so. People are free to disagree with me, and apparently do. That's fine too.

Does Boing Boing owe an explanation? No. Would it be smart to offer one? Sure. Does any of this require the full-bore hate-on people here have for Cory in particular? No, not really, and I'm pleased to point that out to folks.

hifiparasol:

"But BB has taken pretty good care in the past not to delete stuff, but to offer updates and change uninflected text to strikethrough when something changes or new information comes to light. So until this point, they've obviously been aware of the kind of 'best practices' that go along with responsible blogging. In light of this, their recent actions smack of disingenuousness, and you can't blame people for snarking, particularly when they're snarking at people who aren't doing a very good job of justifying, or at the very least explaining, or at the very very least admitting there's an issue and that an explanation will be forthcoming. "

I do agree it's out of character; I also agree they'd be better off explaining it. I don't actually have a problem with people snarking on BB because of it. I do get annoyed when people I know are (in my opinion) specifically and unfairly castigated for actions they apparently had no control over. I understand that lots of people here believe Cory shares some slice of blame for this; personally I'd prefer to find out more before I heap that on him.
posted by jscalzi at 7:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd prefer to find out more before I heap that on him.

And how long are you prepared to wait? It has been, as I said, five days. In internet time that's an eternity.
posted by tkolar at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2008


Tkolar:

"In internet time that's an eternity."

Yes, but the thing is, "Internet time" is also a lie. Cory also lives in the real world, as do we all. Note well that we're all talking about it today; that means it apparently flew under everyone's radar until now. I don't have Cory's schedule on me, but I know that when I saw him earlier this year he was moving around the country on pretty much a daily basis. He does spend a lot of time away from the keyboard. It's possible (although unlikely) that he wasn't aware that this had happened until the last couple of days; it's possible (and somewhat more likely, in my opinion) that he might have known about it but that he was busy with other things and hadn't put his attention to this; it's possible (and I suspect most likely of all) that the BB folks are having internal discussion about this, and that the discussion is one that's not easily resolved.

Naturally, what is an "acceptable time" to have an explanation about all of this will vary from person to person. I've just heard about it today; I'm curious about it but it's not something I need an answer for instantly. I do think it'd be best to have an explanation soon, in the next couple of days.

That said, I also recognize that for various reasons, an explanation may not be forthcoming, and that we -- and they -- will have to live with that, and what the implications of that are for their site, and, yes, what it means for each of them individually.
posted by jscalzi at 7:39 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


jscalzi writes "Does Boing Boing owe an explanation? No."

This is a great point, actually. I mean, maybe they don't really want credibility. Ever think about that, haters? Maybe you're just playing into their hands by thinking less of them.
posted by mullingitover at 7:40 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


jscalzi: I can't think of any situation in which silence would be required. Even if it were a legal problem, "our lawyers say not to talk about it" would suffice. Can you think of any situation where either "Our lawyers say not to talk about it" or "It's a personal matter and we'd rather not discuss it" wouldn't be appropriate?
posted by Justinian at 7:41 PM on June 30, 2008


katullus, I knew Paphnuty. Paphnuty was a friend of mine.

Okay; he wasn't really, but you're still no Paphnuty.
posted by yhbc at 7:42 PM on June 30, 2008


cortex: yes, you guys are doing a formidable job at managing content on mefi. I applaud you all for that but am I mistaken in my assumption that you have no meaningful financial interest in metafilter? I would assume that to make it at least somewhat easier to hold the moral highground than in a case like bb, where certain fears might have had an influence in how they have fumbled this issue.

You are mistaken in your assumption. I came on as a volunteer when Jessamyn was going to be on vacation for a couple weeks, but once Matt decided to keep me around permanently (this was a hazy-ish period, perhaps one and a half or two months I think? It was fairly informal at the time) he put me on the payroll. While I'd guess that the principals at BB make a hell of a lot more money than I do, Matt pays me a nice salary and is good about sharing Mefi's good fortunes.

So the pragmatic and financial implications of this sort of thing are not lost on me. But I can't think of a time when Matt has resolved a moral dilemma in favor of Cash Money, while I can think of times when he's turned down significant chunks of money on principle, for example. My perspective is not one of a nothing-to-lose hobbyist enthusiast, in that sense.
posted by cortex at 7:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Christ, what a John Scalzi.
posted by dw at 7:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Justinian:

"I can't think of any situation in which silence would be required."

Required? I'd agree. But it might be desired, for a number of reasons, at least in the short term. Look, if the BB folks are discussing this amongst themselves (as they may be, we don't know), they may simply choose to have the situation resolved amongst themselves first before they comment on it more fully to the rest of the world, and perhaps -- and not unreasonably -- they might have decided that even if they put out a short "working on it" notice, they'd still get a whole lot of shit, so they're no worse off in the short run just clamming shut.

Again, this is all me talking out of my ass -- I've haven't talked to any of the principals, and I know no more than anyone else. The difference, I suppose, is that I'm not demanding an immediate answer. Now, obviously, at least part of that is due to the fact that I know some of these folks personally and am thus inclined to cut them slack. But part of it is just recognition that humans are involved, and sometimes they do things the messy way. And also, in terms of crises, this is not a huge one; the fate of the Internet does not lie in the balance, just how some people feel about Boing Boing. Since a lot of people here already feel negatively about the site, I'm not sure how much any response they give would change things.

dw:

Aw. I bet you thought that was clever.
posted by jscalzi at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2008


400+ comments? Really?
posted by proj at 7:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was going to type out a comment related to this thread, but then I misread "Paphnuty" as "Papanudity," and now I can't remember what I wanted to say.
posted by treepour at 7:57 PM on June 30, 2008


at least part of that is due to the fact that I know some of these folks personally and am thus inclined to cut them slack. But part of it is just recognition that humans are involved, and sometimes they do things the messy way.

But part of the point is that this is exactly the sort of slack that BB has been discinclined to cut other people. Remember the SFWA kerflufflel? Hell, of course you do, you ran for President. People (including Boing Boing) were getting all up in Capobianco and Burt's shit for not coming out immediately with a statement. And I mean immediately

You surely remember that. Why should other people cut Boing Boing the slack they deny others?
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


uh. "disinclined".
posted by Justinian at 8:05 PM on June 30, 2008


Yeah, I dunno, from a political standpoint I could not give less of a shit about what comments Boing Boing does or does not delete. From a professional standpoint, however, this was an enormously shitty thing to do.

Violet Blue is a writer to distributes her shit through the tubes, and she seems to have had some sort of relationship with BB. Even if she did something horrible to piss one of those cats off, professional courtesy would dictate that they at least let her know that she was now persona non grata over there. To not do that is an enormous middle finger to her. This isn't about censorship or hypocrisy because I think we ought to reserve those words for when there's a lot more at stake. This is just about acting like a damned grownup who knows how to act with one's colleagues. At this, Boing Boing is not covering themselves with glory.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Clever? Huh? Around my parts a John Scalzi is a person too arrogant to know that when they're in a hole they should stop digging.

Or a pompous idiot, but we usually use "Orson Scott Card" for that.
posted by dw at 8:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah. So. Told you I needed that booze.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


jscalzi writes "Does Boing Boing owe an explanation? No. Would it be smart to offer one? Sure. Does any of this require the full-bore hate-on people here have for Cory in particular? No, not really, and I'm pleased to point that out to folks."

This is a losing battle, however. Cory attracts the attention he does by the person he is. BB is seen as an extension of him, for better or worse, and therefore some unexplained move like this will provoke people. Surprise, surprise, people get kinda hot and bothered over comic-book-guy-level details of integrity and honor, sometimes of rather trivial figures, silly or stilted as it may seem at times.

Are you new to the web? Here, let me show you around ...
posted by krinklyfig at 8:18 PM on June 30, 2008


Um. I like your books, John Scalzi. Everybody needs a hug here.
posted by Justinian at 8:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Justinian:

"Why should other people cut Boing Boing the slack they deny others?"

In that specific case, I'm not aware of Boing Boing (or Cory) demanding an explanation; indeed, Cory was all too aware of what happened and rightly went to town for SFWA about it, because the organization unambiguously violated his copyrights, after Cory equally unambigiously had told SFWA it was to have nothing to do with his copyrights in any way. SFWA President Michael Capobianco offered an apology in a timely fashion and of his own will, not because Cory demanded one. As for Burt, he deserved all the shit he got. But either way, "slack" didn't enter the picture there one way or another.

More generally, the Boing Boing rhetorical tactic more polemical than not -- I would say generally speaking the folks there are less interested in explanations than expounding on why something someone is doing is bad. This may be parsing "slack" a little finely, and focusing on when there are demands for explanations as opposed to general rhetorical poundiness. Your mileage may vary.

I'm very glad you like my books, Justinian. Thank you.

dw:

"Around my parts a John Scalzi is a person too arrogant to know that when they're in a hole they should stop digging."

Interesting. Around my parts, a "dw" is a person whose opinion we couldn't possibly give a crap about. And look! You fit the definition. Convenient, that.

krinklyfig:

"Cory attracts the attention he does by the person he is."

Oh, sure. It comes with the territory he works in. That said, I would prefer he gets crap for the stuff he deserves to get crap for, not for the stuff that he does not. So far, in my opinion, this falls into the latter category.
posted by jscalzi at 8:23 PM on June 30, 2008


I was here.
posted by lunit at 8:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was here.

I deny all knowledge of this
posted by spiderwire at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's Doctorow's site and he can do whatever he damn well pleases with it. If he wants to do an Apache rewrite such that every single request generates only the words "CELLAR DOOR" he is free to do so. But let's not kid ourselves that it's a personal site anymore. It's not just the ad revenue that changes it from a personal site to a business site - he's got branding everywhere, he's producing boingboing.tv - is it the fact that he's wearing a red scarf instead of a tie the excuse we're using for "not a business site"?

To suggest that Doctorow would not be involved in the decision is stretching it. This is not Metallica's Lawyers getting together with Metallica's Publicists at the behest of the Metallica's Record Label and demanding a takedown of blog reviews of an as-yet unpublished album without Metallica knowing about it because they're on vacation with a stackful of groupies - it's a much smaller chain of people. The idea that he would somehow not weigh in on a mass deletion is, well, I suppose it is within the realm of possibility, but I wouldn't lay money on it in actuality. It might make a nice excuse later.

And Doctorow's wired. He's Twittered. He's got a pair of sunglasses on, this very moment, whose arms detect minute changes in the potential of the skin behind his ears; he's flexing his scalp muscles right now and carefully composing an RSS feed via Morse code. Someone associated with Makezine is, right now, unit-testing a new prototype of those sunglasses so they work with T9 predictive text. The lid of the diaper hamper has a YBox2, cranking out a display of various headlines scrolling through the blogosphere, so he can keep an eye on things while changing the baby.

I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. He's involved, he knows, he hasn't said anything. Which is itself interesting because, normally before you do something big that people might notice, you have a statement prepped about the matter. That such a statement was not at the ready is telling.

Doctorow has in his words (both fiction and non-fiction), come out against DRM, censorship, and all of that jazz. And he links to such items. Not just a little, but a lot. He has tried to make himself one of the frontmen about these issues ... and that's where the responsibility kicks in. He's almost unavoidable when you start digging around on these kinds of issues. This is a guy who just wrote, from what I can tell, a book about sousveillance and using technology against Big Brother - surely 1984 might be somewhere in the forefront of his mind. When you put forth a cause, when you support it so vocally, expect that people will bite you on the tushie if you turn around and do the opposite.

You know when Google had that "Don't Be Evil" thing, and people got pissed when they were getting sort of evil? Remember another Bush and "Read my lips: no new taxes," and the backlash he received when he went ahead and did it anyway? Yeah, Doctorow has earned every bit of the vitriol here. It's not just that he comes off like the obnoxious kid in your high school who sent off for a Pixies shirt, then washed it a dozen times with rocks and left it out in the sun so it would look like he had been into them long before you were and now is, if not the Biggest Pixies Fan Ever, is at least A Bigger Fan of the Pixies Than You (although that's part of it) - no, he's involved in something highly hypocritical. It would be like finding out that your guidance counselor, the one who kept after you to paste D.A.R.E. stickers on your car, was seen buying some meth by your friends. Hey, maybe he didn't do it. Maybe it's all a wacky misunderstanding. We'll hope it is.

But if he did do it, shame.
posted by adipocere at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [27 favorites]


jscalzi writes "Oh, sure. It comes with the territory he works in. That said, I would prefer he gets crap for the stuff he deserves to get crap for, not for the stuff that he does not. So far, in my opinion, this falls into the latter category."

Well, the Internet is sort of like a big peanut gallery. I've never had much luck trying to change it.

If you really put yourself out there and are yourself provocative, it's to be expected that you'll get a backlash from any perception of hypocrisy, and you know, the peanut gallery just goes nuts when that happens. Answering it with silence or through the defense of surrogates doesn't stop the chatter.

It doesn't matter that much, honestly, except that I am glad someone's out there fighting the battles Cory frequently does, but the reaction to this situation is hardly surprising. I'd honestly think you guys are familiar enough with the territory to know that this sort of thing just stirs the pot, and that always brings the crazy shit to the surface.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2008


Boing what, now?

MetaFilter: whatever happened to that languagehat guy?
posted by bwg at 8:35 PM on June 30, 2008


dw:

Aw. I bet you thought that was clever.


Jesus, John, are you having a bad day? Because normally I don't think of you as such a bag of dicks.
posted by Mick at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


Yes, I meant to mix metaphors.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2008


He's involved, he knows, he hasn't said anything. Which is itself interesting because, normally before you do something big that people might notice, you have a statement prepped about the matter.

Doctorow is friends with the fuckers and only has a passing association with the fucked. He's sticking with his friends.

Cory Doctorow is a person!---FILM AT AT 11---
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2008


I think adipocere said it pretty well. Live by the internet, die by the internet.
posted by Justinian at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow. There is no way in hell I'm going to wade through all the comments here, but I just would like to note that 425 comments is pretty close to the number of comments left on the 9/11 thread. I find it fascinating.
posted by c13 at 8:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


adipocere:

"Yes, it's Doctorow's site and he can do whatever he damn well pleases with it."

Well, but it's not his site solely, and I think this point keeps getting elided. It's a site for which he is an editor, and for which he is a principal in the LLC that owns it. There are three other principals, who are also editors. Each of them, as I understand it, have free reign to do what they will. I understand that people want to believe that Cory is jacked in 24/7 and that nothing happens on the site he doesn't know about, but whether people believe it or not, in the real world it's not true: He travels, he spends time with his family (including an infant daughter) and friends, and rumor has it that from time to time he sleeps.

Again, at this point it seems doubtful he doesn't know what happened, but that fact doesn't mean that a) he was necessarily complicit in it happening, and b) that he doesn't have an opinion about it one way or another. But in either case, for his own reasons, he hasn't said anything about it. He's not obliged to follow anyone schedule in making a statement, either. Perhaps he'll do it in the next ten minutes, perhaps he never will. Either would be interesting.

Mick:

"Jesus, John, are you having a bad day? Because normally I don't think of you as such a bag of dicks."

Well, you know, Mick. If someone wants to imply I'm an asshole, I want to make sure he gets value out of the implication. My general rule of thumb is that I respond to people as they approach me. If someone's going to try to be a dick to me, I'll be happy to be a dick back. And the fact of the matter is that I'm better at it than most people. On the other hand when people want to have a serious conversation, I'm happy to that too, as I've been having with several people.

Now, we can argue about whether I was a dick first in some cases (I'm sure languagehat feels that I fired the first shot in his case), and it's true enough that sometimes I'm overly snippy. But in the particular case of dw here, he swooped out of nowhere and thought he'd try to snark in my direction. I felt free to let him know what I thought of the effort.

Also, there's the small matter of people I know and like being (in my opinion) unfairly shat upon by some of the foamier members of Metafilter. It does make me testy.
posted by jscalzi at 8:54 PM on June 30, 2008


Yeah, c13, but you have to adjust for inflation against 2001 Whuffie.
posted by cortex at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


If someone's going to try to be a dick to me, I'll be happy to be a dick back. And the fact of the matter is that I'm better at it than most people.

You sound like a dude in an old barcalounger talking about how he's going to beat those nasty squirrels at their own game.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [18 favorites]


Sometimes I read BoingBoing because they have interesting links, and it's a shame to see them being hypocritical about transparency and censorship or wevs, but to me, the real amazing thing about this ordeal is watching jscalzi and languagehat - two of my favorite dudes here normally - lose their fucking minds.

I'm going out for the night. I suggest y'all do the same.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


sondrilaliac:

"You sound like a dude in an old barcalounger talking about how he's going to beat those nasty squirrels at their own game."

Well, if those damn squirrels won't stop poaching my nuts, sondrilaliac, what am I supposed to do?
posted by jscalzi at 9:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I love what Cory Doctorow tries to do and write. For me, he is one of the top 5 or 6 people I find really interesting to read every day on the web.
So far, all that I know is that he has said nothing about the VB incident.
It may look strange, as every PR pundit has noted, but so far it's not incriminating.
I believe he will tell his side of the story as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, as I would do for any friend of mine, I will wait for his version before passing any judgment.
posted by bru at 9:05 PM on June 30, 2008


Well, if those damn squirrels won't stop poaching my nuts... what am I supposed to do?

if someone poaches your nuts you say "thank you"
posted by spiderwire at 9:06 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Spiderwire:

Yeah, but that's not a service I want from a squirrel, you know?
posted by jscalzi at 9:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, there's the small matter of people I know and like being (in my opinion) unfairly shat upon by some of the foamier members of Metafilter. It does make me testy.

Same thing has happened to me, jscalzi, most recently during the Givewell Shitstorm. Poo was being flung by the more excitable and easily-influenced me-too brigade at some people I considered friends, and when I defended them, the ire faucet was turned on me too. I also have a tendency to get testy, or at least testicular, sometimes.

In my case, it turned out the guy I was most strenuously defending was being a bit of a dick, and actually did deserve a smack in the mouth, virtually speaking (although not for the reasons the bandwagoners thought), but, yeah. In a group this size, there are always going to be a component of weak weaselly fucks who are first in line to get a slap in and dash away if they sense enough other people are doing it already.

Not to say that people in this thread with insightful if semiliterate comments about Cory's writing or Xeni's neck or whatever are weaselly fucks. Not all of them, anyway.

Like I said, I have no horse in the actual race here -- it's the meta-race that interests and somewhat depresses me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, Cory appears to have just made an appearance over at the Making Light thread.
posted by cortex at 9:14 PM on June 30, 2008


I'd just like to congratulate myself for not giving in the the temptation to point out many, many double entendres in this thread just because it was nominally related to Violet Blue. I would now like to know where to pick up my third grade diploma.
hur hur snort

Hopefully this will all get sorted out. Also, mea culpas to jscalzi -- though most of us don't have a personal connection here, I think we all understand where you're coming from. I wouldn't take any of the jabs (at Cory or yourself) too seriously. ...Although that barcalounger comment is the funniest thing I've read in a long time and I wish I could favorite it over and over and over again.
posted by spiderwire at 9:18 PM on June 30, 2008


I know a bunch of the people involved in this, though I don't know the story behind it, and I've been on every side of this kind of shitstorm before. Based on having gotten stuck in similar situations in the past, here's the likely story:

* Either as an editorial decision, or because of some inflexible requirement (a legal dispute, something like a DMCA claim, advertiser objections), content was clearly taken down.
* Not everybody on the BoingBoing team is up to date on what's going on or why.
* When the kinds of disputes arise that require this kind of takedown, it's almost always something that's either a legal requirement or an interpersonal issue that makes it impossible to talk about or extremely difficult to talk about without abusing someone's reputation or trust.
* BoingBoing's core team of editors, a community person, and probably one or two business people comprises more than half a dozen people all in different geographic locations and time zones, none of whom coordinate their travel schedules with each other in advance.
* It's been less than a day since this all blew up. Legal situations never resolve themselves that quickly, and personal disputes seldom do.
* Even if they're all on the same page, they're reluctant to discuss it because people are so vituperative in their responses. (That'd be unfortunate, and a bad choice, but understandable on a human level.)

The above is conjecture. But here's what I know: BoingBoing takes its editorial independence very seriously, and considers community moderation and mangement part of that independence. BoingBoing's editors often consider their first and foremost loyalty to be to look after one another, with the more theoretical concerns coming behind that. And after all the shit they get from across the web, that makes sense to me. I'm close enough to their tech team to surmise that this isn't a technological glitch, or I would likely have heard of it.

All of that aside, I think it's a shame this many MeFites are willing to pass judgment and assign blame without even knowing the facts of the situation. If things follow the worst-case assumptions being made, then sure, there's something to object to. And absolutely, the decisions being carried out could be communicated more transparently (assuming that's not impossible from a legal perspective.) But the sheer venom being directed at a bunch of people (and their spouses or other random associates) based on unproven assumptions is kind of amazing.

It seems like MetaFilter's a lot more interesting when a thread of commenters sets out to find out the facts that are unknown about a situation than when a thread sets out to have a random insulting snark-off. Or to put it in different terms: Your Cory Doctorow insult? We already saw it. On BoingBoing and MeFi. Years ago.
posted by anildash at 9:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


And there's like seven new posts with his byline on BoingBoing—a cluster around 5:30pm and then another just before 9:00pm. So if there's going to be a statement about this, "soonish" seems like a decent over/under.
posted by cortex at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2008


Yeah, but that's not a service I want from a squirrel, you know?

Clearly you don't play enough Second Life.
posted by spiderwire at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, if those damn squirrels won't stop poaching my nuts, sondrilaliac, what am I supposed to do?

Go back to watching Guiding Light.

Just because you can see the nuts from your window, and they're attached to trees you happen to like, does not mean you own the nuts or really ought to be defending them against squirrels who will do them no appreciable harm.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:22 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, lots of Doctorow and BoingBoing hate on this thread.
posted by zardoz at 9:23 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow. If Cory really broke silence just to say "BB never ever criticized Digg for doing this. You're making stuff up," that's weak. And also disingenuous.
posted by spiderwire at 9:23 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting you should mention the LLC, jscalzi. We had an AskMe question about corporations today, in which I started my answer off with "Corporations are, in one aspect, liability (translation: responsibility) redirection and destruction mechanisms. Accountability just shuffles around until it vanishes." Yeah, I'm sure it is an LLC. We're all aware that there's more than one person with editing access. But let's not kid each other about who runs that show. Trying to say that it's an LLC and he might not be involved is to act purposefully naive that you might make a point. There's responsibility there and let's not doubt for an instant that if Mr. Doctorow said, "I want everything to be blue," blue would be the predominant color.

I did point out that he has family responsibilities with "The lid of the diaper hamper has a YBox2, cranking out a display of various headlines scrolling through the blogosphere, so he can keep an eye on things while changing the baby." Heck, I stumbled the post on BoingBoing about his daughter not long after it was posted. We're all aware that he's a busy guy, traveling, speaking, writing, and so forth. He still takes time to post on the site, though, so we know he's aware of the site existing.

He's not Bill Gates, looking down from lofty heights through so many layers of management that he cannot see the details below. You can argue for the defense that he's unaware, but the jury doesn't seem to buy it. I understand that he's your friend, but sometimes being a friend means whopping them upside the head and saying, "What were you THINKING, dude? Let's clean up this mess!" before everyone else notices, rather than denying the existence of mess. There's mess. This is a threadful of people pointing and saying, "mess." I don't doubt that other communities elsewhere are doing the exact same thing. Now, mob mentality aside, we know that someone made the mess, we know that the principals are completely silent, and we know who is in charge.

The Le Guin incident was handled in good time and fairly tastefully. This has not been. Send him a text message like: VIOLET BLUE - UR WHUFFIE IS BURNING UP LIKE A SHITPAPER MOTH IN A KLIEG LIGHT. Because, right now, silence is not serving him well. At least, not as well as, "We've made a decision to remove Violet Blue's material and will issue a release about in a week/month/year/after 2012." Because I cannot imagine a single reason why at least a placeholder notice might not be put up.
posted by adipocere at 9:24 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was a little bit sad this morning when I woke up and saw that once again I have taken leave on a day on which Canberra has been blessed with some really shit weather. It is truly awful out there. But then I saw a giant thread, about BLOGOCOSMOS GIGAMELODRAMATISATION no less, and realised that I would not be bored! Not for a minute! Thank you, everyone, for bringing such joy to my heart. Thank you bOINGbOING, thank you Violet Blue, thank you Metafilter, thank you Internet. I love you all.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:25 PM on June 30, 2008


All of that aside, I think it's a shame this many MeFites are willing to pass judgment and assign blame without even knowing the facts of the situation.

What facts?

Isn't that really the point?
posted by sondrialiac at 9:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, over on Making Light I feel like that guy in that Onion article who finds himself vociferously and passionately defending a band he doesn't give a shit about. I mean, I obviously think Boing Boing screwed up on this one but it's just not that big a part of my life and yet I'm taking all kinds of incoming over it. I should have stayed in bed.
posted by Justinian at 9:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


i, for one, am wondering whether there have been any recent updates to cory doctorow's recently published opus magnus, little brother. maybe there might be a reading somewhere in the world about which i would like to know? or or perhaps a novel net-celebrity re-mix papercraft steampunk reading? inquiring minds want to know.
posted by nmr8 at 9:32 PM on June 30, 2008


Jscalzi, while I can respect your desire to balance a discussion you see as a pile-on and a witch hunt of folks you know, your tone here has been detrimental to that goal. Take the time to reread this thread... in your haste to countersnark empty trolling, you seem to be skipping or misinterpreting a number of perfectly reasonable arguments made by others:

First, Boing Boing is the sounding board for many harsh words against individuals, organizations, and corporations who censor ideas, retroactively edit archives, or generally screw with the integrity of our shared infospace. Both the silent deletion of VB-authored and VB-related content, and the subsequent censoring of people questioning it, stand in stark contrast to those positions and are pretty much the very definition of hypocritical. That, regardless of their possibly-valid justification, legal ability or vaguely-defined "right" to do so on their own blog (be it personal or professional in nature).

Second, Cory is the most public face of Boing Boing, and so his reputation and that of the blog are inextricably intertwined. He has cultivated and profited from the resulting celebrity status quite a lot, and this blowback (both the personal attacks and the accusations of hypocrisy) is the other side of that coin. Regardless of the actual corporate status of Boing Boing, he is not unlike a CEO and you can sure bet that any other CEO in the world would be expected to respond tout de suite if the company was suffering a reputation hit of this magnitude. Five days of silence is ludicrous, "internet time" or no "internet time".

Third (and this is my own note), when your very product is "content", radio silence is not the way to go. I'd call this Marketing 101 except I consider it blindingly obvious and I've never taken a marketing course in my life. Even Lindsay Lohan's people will put out a press release blaming "exhaustion", which may be an embarrassing lie but is at least an acknowledgment that there is a problem. Leaving people to speculate is bad, because people's imaginations are probably much more malicious than you are.

Fourth, you're giving the BB folks the benefit of the doubt that they're discussing the matter internally. Great! Kudos to you for your generous spirit, but please recognize that it's no more or less legitimate (absent actual insider info) than someone who is assuming the worst. You'll forgive us for our disinclination to follow your lead, given that you have personal relationships and thus a stake in the matter, and we do not.

Lastly, and more to the point... when you're flamed, and you choose to flame back, those of us who might have been receptive to your arguments won't bother to separate the wheat from the chaff. It can be a struggle to resist the temptation, and lord knows I've failed in the past, but that's the fact of the matter nonetheless.

So take a breather, get some sunshine, remember that this is all theater anyway and come back refreshed.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:33 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken:

"Same thing has happened to me, jscalzi, most recently during the Givewell Shitstorm. Poo was being flung by the more excitable and easily-influenced me-too brigade at some people I considered friends, and when I defended them, the ire faucet was turned on me too. I also have a tendency to get testy, or at least testicular, sometimes."

In this particular case I think I earned the ire myself by responding to languagehat in a snippier manner than I suspect he thought he deserved, and then people attempting to snark from there, but, yeah. When you get in the way of people flinging poo, you're likely to get poo on you. But I don't mind; the poo washes off, and in the meantime you've done the right thing.

Spiderwire:

"Clearly you don't play enough Second Life."

(Shudders)

I have to say I've never really gotten Second Life. It just seems like IMing with blocky avatars. I'm probably doing it wrong.

Sondrialiac:

"Just because you can see the nuts from your window, and they're attached to trees you happen to like, does not mean you own the nuts or really ought to be defending them against squirrels who will do them no appreciable harm."

Hmmmm. Someone here is clearly in league with the squirrel lobby. I will say no more.

adipocere:

"But let's not kid each other about who runs that show."

If we're really not going to kid each other about who runs the show, I suspect we'd be admitting that Mark Frauenfelder is first among equals there, given his long history with Boing Boing back to the days it was a zine. You are free to disagree, of course.
posted by jscalzi at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, I've had a drink or two now and I'm ready so say that I'd happily point my pokin' stick elsewhere if I could just find out why Violet Blue pissed them Boing Boing folks off so much. Seriously, there's more deserving targets of internet ire out there, and Boing Boing, of all sites, must know that. Or maybe it's true about bad publicity.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:38 PM on June 30, 2008


I understand that people want to believe that Cory is jacked in 24/7 and that nothing happens on the site he doesn't know about...

John, buddy, take a step back and look at what you just said and compare it to the reality of the situation.

The Valleywag link is from going on a week ago. I don't think anyone expects him to be catheterized so he can watch over Boing Boing, but given his numerous rants regarding anything that smells like censorship (And I don't mean that as a pejorative. I'm all over a good rant.), I'd at least like to believe that he has a friend or two that would call him up where ever he is and say, "Uh, dude, you need to log in to the site. Someone is peeing all over your most cherished ideals."

Go back and look at his handling of some Wikigoon who was making a point of deleting any post that linked to Making Light. Compare that to the situation at hand. If this was a trick to make all the Star Trek:TOS robots short out due to logical breakdown, fair enough. Meanwhile, those of us made of meat are scratching our heads wondering what to make of this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just had to email an apology to a dude I slagged for no reason in another thread on this, so I think I'm about done. How do things get turned into such fiascos?
posted by Justinian at 9:45 PM on June 30, 2008


How do things get turned into such fiascos?

Bloggish clusterfucks are a collaborative medium.
posted by cortex at 9:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


So we're like... like... wired-up performance artists? Cool.
posted by Justinian at 9:53 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


anil: * Either as an editorial decision, or because of some inflexible requirement (a legal dispute, something like a DMCA claim, advertiser objections), content was clearly taken down.

Under what plausible scenario could VB have no knowledge of such an action when it's clearly her posts that were suddenly singled out? If it's not a takedown notice, then is the argument that BB's policy is to remove all content (posts, comments, and otherwise) related to an individual at the behest of their advertisers, without giving that person any sort of warning or chance to defend themselves? I don't see how that scenario paints them in a more flattering light.

The entire point here is that many of us think more highly of BoingBoing than that, and we don't see that as something they would do, but the fact that we are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt makes the situation seem alarmingly incomplete. That's not a backhanded way of slandering them, it's a legitimate reason for confusion.

* When the kinds of disputes arise that require this kind of takedown, it's almost always something that's either a legal requirement or an interpersonal issue that makes it impossible to talk about or extremely difficult to talk about without abusing someone's reputation or trust.

Doesn't explain the lack of any sort of response whatsoever. I don't think it's unreasonable to point out that despite the excessive amount of crap that BB takes -- particularly Xeni and Cory, I think -- BB has nevertheless always been quick to point out the importance of user trust as well. (That's to their credit, of course.) But a "no comment" would have sufficed, and the silence is conspicuous.

All of that aside, I think it's a shame this many MeFites are willing to pass judgment and assign blame without even knowing the facts of the situation. If things follow the worst-case assumptions being made, then sure, there's something to object to. And absolutely, the decisions being carried out could be communicated more transparently (assuming that's not impossible from a legal perspective.) But the sheer venom being directed at a bunch of people (and their spouses or other random associates) based on unproven assumptions is kind of amazing.

As I tried to point out, I think at least some of those comments were made in jest, and mine certainly were. My expectation is that Cory and the rest have thick enough skin by now that a few jokes at their expense on MetaFilter wouldn't faze them, but if I'm wrong then I'd hope they'd accept my apology. It's unfair to generally characterize all the criticisms here as 'venomous.' It's also a red herring -- you know as well as anybody that trolling is inevitable; it doesn't invalidate every objection on the thread, nor even the ones that are tonally over-the-top. We all know better than that, and the "tsk tsk, all the trolls in the MeFi thread" sentiment is cheap.

More to the point, it seems clear that not knowing the facts is precisely what's at issue here, and as a commenter pointed out on the ML thread, this is exactly the sort of response that Teresa's previously cautioned against. Teresa and Cory aren't necessarily being singled out just because of personal rancor -- their histories connect them to the issue more than the other BB contributors' does. Cory in particular has built his persona on values that are by any fair evaluation contrary to the way this has been handled so far, and holding him to account on a matter that he's affiliated himself with so intentionally and specifically is perfectly reasonable, and you know it.

The GiveWell parallel a few comments back is not entirely inapt: BoingBoing gets a lot of slack on things like disemvowelling comments simply because of their overall position on related issues, and this sort of about-face undermines the reasons to cut them that slack in the first place. Those are logical connections, regardless of who makes them or their purported motive for doing so. The arguments themselves are not mooted simply because all of BoingBoing's contributors haven't commented on them explicitly; nor because other contributors have been criticized on related points. That's a weak dodge.

Your Cory Doctorow insult? We already saw it. On BoingBoing and MeFi. Years ago.

Anil, I defy you to find anyone who's ever called Cory a steampunk dildo anytime, ever. Because I am copyrighting that posthaste and I need to know.
posted by spiderwire at 9:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh man, the making light thread has some humor:

C. Doctorow (finally weighing in! omg what will he tell us?!!?!1):
David Bilek@51: "Xopher: okay, how about when BB criticized Digg for pulling down the AACS key in response to DMCA notices? Digg was "disappearing" any post referencing the AACS key in much the same way that BB has "disappeared" any posts referencing V.B."
BB never ever criticized Digg for doing this. You're making stuff up.

X. Jardin:
Oh Cory...

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/05/02/digg-users-revolt-ov.html
posted by mullingitover at 10:00 PM on June 30, 2008


The guy in the Making Light thread who linked to Teresa's post "Talk, Don't Spin" is none other than Andrew Wheeler, formerly editor of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) and industry insider! This is like a regular ol' incestuous science fictional fustercluck.

Teresa's advice in the "Talk, Don't Spin" is absolutely spot on. She knows exactly how to handle this sort of thing which is why I'm surprised she hasn't done it that way.
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


All right, for those of you who still don't get why what Boing Boing is doing is weird: imagine if it were discovered that the board of Peta had a dinner party at a steakhouse.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was pretty sure I didn't care about this since I don't know any of the people involved and haven't been a regular reader of BB for a couple of years. And yet I read every comment in this thread. So either I actually do care or I'm just really dumb.
posted by camcgee at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2008


Riki tiki:

"in your haste to countersnark empty trolling, you seem to be skipping or misinterpreting a number of perfectly reasonable arguments made by others"

Well, two things here. First, not responding to reasonable arguments because they are reasonable is not "skipping" them, it's recognizing they are reasonable and seeing no need to address them. Second, I naturally disagree that I'm "misinterpreting" the arguments I disagree with, or that they are perfectly reasonable. Per the first, if I thought they were, I would let them stand unmolested.

"Regardless of the actual corporate status of Boing Boing, he is not unlike a CEO "

Well, no. See, this is an argument that is not perfectly reasonable, which I am not misinterpreting. He's not like a CEO, he's like a partner (indeed is in fact a partner, as far as I know), and that's a substantially different relationship. People here and elsewhere want to position him as the BB CEO, I suspect, because they are most familiar with him. But the most recognized person in a corporation isn't necessarily the CEO, otherwise celebrity spokespeople would have a lot more power than they do.

"when you're flamed, and you choose to flame back, those of us who might have been receptive to your arguments won't bother to separate the wheat from the chaff."

Eh. Live with it or don't. I personally don't mind snark in an argument; I can generally find the substance if it's there.

Kid Charlemange:


"I'd at least like to believe that he has a friend or two that would call him up where ever he is and say, 'Uh, dude, you need to log in to the site. Someone is peeing all over your most cherished ideals.'"

Well, me too, although again, it seems to have escaped the notice of a lot of people until now (I know I knew nothing about it). I am indeed interested to find out more of what's going on here.
posted by jscalzi at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bloggish clusterfucks are a collaborative medium.

This is why I went and had dinner instead.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2008


cortex: Bloggish clusterfucks are a collaborative medium.

Do the MeFi mods get invitations to those?

Are these those "mashups" I've heard so much about?
posted by spiderwire at 10:04 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am indeed interested to find out more of what's going on here.

Ok, here is where I think you and everyone else agree. The fact that fucking days into this clusterfuck we have no idea why Violet Blue is now on Boing Boing's shit list is bizarre. It's not just bizarre, it speaks to a level of web illiteracy that It thought the folks at BB (Doctorow included) were past. This is a website that is inextricably tied to his persona, how could he not see how bad this looks? People in this thread might be saying he sucks, but nobody's saying he has the mental age of a six year old.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:07 PM on June 30, 2008


Soon, Lord Cory will appear, head wreathed in light, and tell us,

"You did well, my digital children! Long are the years we have spent preparing you for this moment; preaching the evils of censorship, telling tales of the responsibility of the media, demonstrating in countless ways that the memory of the Internet is boundless! And see how well you learned those lessons. You instantly noticed our small act of Link-Assassination, and when we remained silent in the face of your Right To Know, you took up arms, raised petitions high, composed pictures, words, and music in opposition to our betrayal; the very DNS root servers rang with your clamor! This proves that you can act independently to defend our Beliefs. You have passed the test to the sixth and penultimate plane of existence. Yes, it was just a ruse, of course! A test of faith!

"Now, the tests to enter the seventh and final plane of existence will commence. I will administer this test individually in this 'testing chamber' back here. Please approach the testing chamber when I call you. I'll start with the ladies..."
posted by breath at 10:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


i can't believe i am jumping on this bandwagon, but WTF :

@anildash : Violet has been since the 23rd in the dark as to why anything with her name on that site has been deleted. There is no liability in posting to the site : "Our attorneys have told us we can't tell you why we did so" or even at least send an email to VB so she can post it to her site.

It is the worse case of PR for a blog with a brand that became hip due to their "down with censorship" posturing.

If you don't want to think of it as an ethical POV, then fine, let's look at it from the corporate standpoint : There's no better way to tarnish a brand than to do something counter to the advocacy that brought you fame and to do so without giving your supporters nary an explanation for the turn-around.

I'd love to hear John Battelle's logic behind this one given BB is one of Federated Media's "crown jewels".
posted by liza at 10:08 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


John Scalzi: I hope you saw Andrew Wheeler's post that we referenced above. IF not, here is a short quote -

"The way I'd frame this is to say: if Boing Boing wants to operate as a media watchdog, they need to be careful about not doing the same things that they complain about when other media outlets do it. They are a company that puts out a regular media product: yes, it is free (but so is The Village Voice), and yes, it is on the web (but so is Slate). A lot of people, Boing Boing's principals among them, have been arguing for a decade that "blogs" can be just as serious and just as professional as any other media outlet, so hiding under the skirts of "it's just a blog" at this point is, at best, disingenuous."

He rocks.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Do the MeFi mods get invitations to those?

They're generally open-door, BYOB events. I try to avoid them if I've been drinking elsewhere already; I tend not to enjoy the next morning much at all.
posted by cortex at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: in 2008 it reads like someone's fantasy of 2002.
Wait, how is that horrid? I was be hyperbolic that Cory writes too many posts about every little L.B. reading event or trivial news item.

I meant the novel itself. I read the first couple pages of the first chapter and it was really bad.
But they have engaged in an act that a significant amount of their readership reads as hypocritical and a violation of the spirit of transparency that they have espoused for quite a while. This story is tearing through the interwebs. It strikes me as a collossal tactical bluder to not address it publicly

Indeed, in fact it seems so hypocritical and at the same time guaranteed get maximum attention in the self-referential "A-List" part of the blogsphere. It almost seems like something they'd do as a joke or as some kind of statement, but on the other hand the only people who would notice would be the people who all ready agree that this kind of this bullshit. So, what could the point be?
Someone is censoring incoming forum posts in real time, and went back and removed the rainbow post once they got the joke. That goes beyond "we need to have a conference call before we respond to this". -- Leon
Nooo!! that was awesome!
Wow. There is no way in hell I'm going to wade through all the comments here, but I just would like to note that 425 comments is pretty close to the number of comments left on the 9/11 thread. I find it fascinating.
And we only have like 5 times the users now!

Anyway, I should take this opportunity to thank the mods at Metafilter. They do a great job and the contrast here really illustrates that.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Justinian:

I saw the Andrew Wheeler bit. I don't disagree with it in a general sense.
posted by jscalzi at 10:19 PM on June 30, 2008


you suckup
posted by Justinian at 10:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Yeah, the fact that there's no BoingTalk is a real liability in this case, I would say. Merely the fact that MeFi has a place where we can question things is part of the reason why MeFi feels like a community, while Boing Boing does not. Sure, it's a lot easier to post things here than in Boing Boing, and we have AskMe, etc. But ultimately it's the sense that community opinion matters that makes this place feel like a community.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:21 PM on June 30, 2008


freaking preview. Not you, John.
posted by Justinian at 10:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Justinian:

Ha! No worries. I didn't think it was directed at me.
posted by jscalzi at 10:23 PM on June 30, 2008


To make a non-humorous contribution, I think PNH has to know a little more than nothing about this entire event, and he says this:
I can think of a lot of reasons I might decide to delete a bunch of old posts having to do with a person I was previously friendly with, and who has since behaved in a manner that made me want to have nothing to do with them. I can even imagine being in situations where I was somewhat enjoined, by legal advice, common sense, or even my own emotional limitations, from wanting to talk about it.
That's a pretty early comment so you've probably all read it already. But it would not be incorrect to say that this reads more easily as a description of an interpersonal problem than of a legal or corporate problem. His continued arguments down the line of "this is a personal blog" corroborate this interpretation. Extrapolating from this, the two comments in ML, and what I know of BB, I think that their silence on the matter is the result of a disagreement between two or more of the BB editors. I would further guess that the Violet Blue thing is more of a symptom than a cause. The fact that they're still posting means nothing, of course -- blogs can have arbitrary numbers of posts enqueued to be posted later.
posted by breath at 10:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


If there be a means to RSS-feed BB while excluding all the
self-congratulatory crap/steampunk'ry/bad art on the theme of dewy-eyed girls/bugs/animals/unicorns... I'd like to find it.
Here you go:

tail -f /dev/null
posted by Flunkie at 10:30 PM on June 30, 2008


My favorite bit about this whole thing is that two of the disappeared posts at BoingBoing are coverage of Google dropping some sex blogs from their index:

+ Missing/Archive
+ Missing/Archive
posted by hades at 10:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


spiderwire writes "if someone poaches your nuts you say 'thank you'"

If "poaching" is not meant as a euphemism, then, "no, thank you."
posted by krinklyfig at 10:35 PM on June 30, 2008


Flunkie: Here you go:

tail -f /dev/null


plagiarist!
posted by spiderwire at 10:37 PM on June 30, 2008


krinklyfig: If "poaching" is not meant as a euphemism, then, "no, thank you."

Apparently you don't play enough Second Life either.
posted by spiderwire at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2008


Metafilter: Apparently you don't play enough Second Life
posted by jscalzi at 10:41 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


nb: i think of second life as the source of every possible kind of sexual deviancy... sort of like a quantum universe of perversion.

so if you play second life, then i'm sorry.

that you're a furry.

posted by spiderwire at 10:44 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


breath: I'm not sure if we should read Patrick's comment that way. It's certainly possible and makes sense. But, honestly, that's just how Patrick always writes. So I'm not sure.

Even if that were the case it is hard to understand what would prevent them from putting out a simple "We are aware of the interest. Please give us some time, blah blah blah".
posted by Justinian at 10:45 PM on June 30, 2008


Okay, I've read the threads top to bottom.

I demand an explanation.

In fact, I demand an explanation from boingboing and xkcd (for the visual learners among us).
posted by terpia at 10:47 PM on June 30, 2008


jscalzi: your post prompted me to correct an error in my knowledge. I mistakenly believed that Cory was one of the founders of Boing Boing, and held a (formal or informal) position of "lead editor." Indeed, I probably did get this impression from the fact that he has much more public exposure than the other editors.

Nevertheless. He has now (apparently) broken silence... not to clarify, not to denounce, not to distance himself from actions that so many feel to be inconsistent with his beliefs. Instead, he very-very-indirectly supports it by claiming Boing Boing never criticized Digg for comparable behavior. A claim that not only misses the point, but is quite arguable in itself.

So no, he's not like the CEO of Boing Boing. Thank you for correcting me on that. He is, however, the CEO of Cory Doctorow and has now resolved any question that he is a party in this whole public debacle.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:50 PM on June 30, 2008


spiderwire:
plagiarist!
mttn s th sncrst frm f flttr.
posted by Flunkie at 10:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll cop to the fact that I also had an apparently mistaken belief that Cory was essentially first among equals at Boing Boing. The public exposure is definitely part of it. Mea culpa.
posted by Justinian at 10:52 PM on June 30, 2008


After so long cheerleading the crowd [Censorship bad! Copyleft good! Bring transparency to the Net Neighborhood!] that is the Internets, it's little wonder that BB readers are feeling a bit puckish 'bout the curious turn of events. Still, its abundantly clear the legal entity that is the parent of BB [likewise the individual personalities who comprise that partnership] have no particular obligation to offer readers an explanation, and yet...

And yet -- because of the ideals that BB has [had?] long stood for -- it's perfectly understandable that longtime readers might feel that a social contract has been broken here. They are, after all, not only consumers of the BB product, but they are also investors [Following BB *is* an investment, isn't it? Takes a lotta time to read, after all.] in the meme, the movement, the ideals that, until now, were assumed to be shared. Being transparent and forthright isn't something that BB *must* do, but it remains that it's something they *should* do. If they value their customers, that is. And you'd think they would.

And so the dramatic and continued silence of this sort, from a gang of thoroughly connected and Net savvy individuals is -- well -- rather a roaring, roiling sort of silence. The sort that speaks of a concerted effort of wills to maintain. Presumably the BB gang feel the silence is worthwhile, even at the expense of their audience's attention span.

And so we are left with nothing but to speculate furiously and fast, as any moment now an *actual* explanation will be offered, and it will probably seem pale and lifeless compared to those far more interesting choose-your-own-storyline adventures that we can cook up.

My take: I think it's all a bold and wacky new-media art project.
posted by deCadmus at 10:56 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's just incomprehensible to me that Violet Blue has no idea why this happened. I've written for quite a few online sites. If they went through and deleted all my content without warning and never told me why, I would be up in arms. And I think VP's hopes that it's just a glitch in the matrix must be thoroughly dashed right now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 PM on June 30, 2008


Er, VB's hopes
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:56 PM on June 30, 2008


mttn s th sncrst frm f flttr.

mittens aren't supposed to be used that way. ew. ewww
posted by spiderwire at 10:58 PM on June 30, 2008


I think a tendency to compare Metafilter's admins to Boing Boing's is completely off base here. Metafilter is much more about the community of people involved: everyone contributes links, and participates in the discussions. Boing Boing has 3 or 4 editors who post links, and a large bunch of readers who until fairly recently could do nothing but read the posts.

I've never had any desire to comment on a BB post, because it is basically an anonymous blog.
posted by graventy at 10:59 PM on June 30, 2008


Mittens? Who the hell is talking about mittens? It's mutton, man.
posted by Flunkie at 11:00 PM on June 30, 2008


As to the issue at hand, I'm surprised VB hasn't been more up in arms about this. I would think she could get an answer, and I would think she would share it with readers.

The censorship with no comment seems very disingenuous, and BB has lost me as a reader. Even a "we'll talk about it when the lawyers say we can" is better than ignoring the problem. They'll have to turn off comments again if the ruckus continues.
posted by graventy at 11:02 PM on June 30, 2008


oh, i'm down with that then.
posted by spiderwire at 11:02 PM on June 30, 2008


graventy writes "They'll have to turn off comments again if the ruckus continues."

They'll have to. You can't even post a good "Roses are red, violets are blue" limerick there right now without getting censored.
posted by mullingitover at 11:05 PM on June 30, 2008


but only if the mutton has been well-oiled and well-cooked.
posted by spiderwire at 11:05 PM on June 30, 2008


The most charitable interpretation of the situation is that all seven principals (Mark, Cory, Xeni, David, John, Joel, TNH) of a $X000000/year publishing business is that they are at least slow and stupid, plus possibly hypocritical and amoral.
posted by blasdelf at 11:07 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


You can't even post a good "Roses are red, violets are blue" limerick there right now without getting censored.

I should have made an anagram subway map based on this whole discussion as it's moved around the internet ....[these lines under construction]... messages blocking the VB posts... color schemes without violet or blue. the violet and blue lines would be old ang blocked off and take you to th archive.org versions of the deleted matter
posted by spiderwire at 11:10 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the front page of the la times: http://www.latimes.com/

"Why did BoingBoing purge sex writer Violet Blue?"

Snowball effect.
posted by Justinian at 11:13 PM on June 30, 2008


aaaaahh is that they
posted by blasdelf at 11:13 PM on June 30, 2008


Any second now, we'll be at 500 comments. Isn't that some kind of record?
posted by 5MeoCMP at 11:14 PM on June 30, 2008


5MeoCMP: Not even close.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 PM on June 30, 2008


This is just the thread that keeps on giving, isn't it? I've been meaning to go to the supermarket for the last three hours but an invisible force holds me in front of the monitor, clicking on the reload button again and again and again. Oh, we will all look silly in a few days' time when the boingboing editors come out smiling along with this Violet Blue person in full makeup and they all say "the whole thing was a silly joke, just to make sure that you all cared". Because we do care. We really do.

... while in an underground vault somewhere, behind a studded mahogany and brass door with a lock to which only four people in this world know the combination, an army of steampunk death robots which feed on the intensity of human emotion is growing stronger by the moment...
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 11:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]



Any second now, we'll be at 500 comments. Isn't that some kind of record?
posted by 5MeoCMP at 1:14 AM on July 1 [+] [!]


I believe that was 501
posted by spiderwire at 11:21 PM on June 30, 2008


Anyone else feel like partially disemvoweling a comment (leaving only the praising parts) crosses a line?

I agreed with you in principle and then I read the comment, or as much of it as I could. It looked to me like the commenter led with a (clumsily obvious) bit of praise in hope that the moderator would let the rest of the comment, a rote snark about how much Cory promotes his books, which, however deserved, I'm sure they've seen enough of and now disemvowel or delete as a matter of routine. Looks like TNH or her designee decided to have a little fun with that one, leaving the loss-leader bit in clear and scrozzling the snark. I laughed when I saw it -- it said "nice try, shnook" loud and clear.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:26 PM on June 30, 2008


5MeoCMP was the 500th crypto comment dropped on our position. We need backup!
posted by spiderwire at 11:28 PM on June 30, 2008


Also, disemvoweling is Something Awful levels of shitty. Delete some shit or don't. Anything else and you're the jock who's laughing at a kid because his Queers shirt means he's a faggot and isn't that funny.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


This whole episode is all too weird.

It's like pulling up to a stop light and seeing Ralph Nader behind the wheel of a Corvair. You want to ask him what the hell he's doing but his radio is on so loud that you doubt he'll hear you.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 11:30 PM on June 30, 2008 [11 favorites]


This really is a public relations disaster for them. Admittedly, each time the story is posted, there are a few people who say "Who cares? It's their blog." But there are also a handful of people who say "Okay, they have lost all credibility."

Even if they never actually espoused transparency for their own site, this even, and its fallout, should be a lesson in why transparency is a better policy than silence. Their steadfast refusal to talk to anyone, even the person they deleted, is just fueling animosity and speculation. Really, is it that hard to publish a note that says "Past posts and comments referencing blogger Violet Blue have been deleted from BoingBoing for reasons we cannot detail now; a statement is being prepared, and we will explain the reasons once we have drafted an explanation that all parties involved feel is accurate"?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm perfectly willing to believe that the reason for the wipe+silence is that they are all petty, egotistical, delusional morons. It's certainly in line with their past behavior (except for David & Joel, who are decent humans).
posted by blasdelf at 11:45 PM on June 30, 2008


On the front page of the la times: http://www.latimes.com/

"Why did BoingBoing purge sex writer Violet Blue?"

Snowball effect.


BoingBoing seems to have forgotten that as a media company, they're in the most incestous industry of all. There's nothing the media loves more than talking about itself, especially if it's supposedly bad behavior by some other media outlet. I can't wait until this has moved up and down the food chain ad nauseam and I get to read all about it in Time's "you would've read this on the internet a month ago if you hadn't been so busy telling those damn kids to get off your lawn" column.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I LIKE ROLLER COASTERS!

I LIKE TRAIN WRECKS!

WILL I LIKE THIS PLATE FULL OF BEAN SAMMICHES?
posted by ZachsMind at 12:05 AM on July 1, 2008


The oddest part of this so far is Cory's comment on makinglight. I mean, it did not reinforce BB's credibility, and seemingly as refuted after a fashion in minutes. Cory has to be an order of magnitude smarter than me and even I could see that wasn't the wisest thing to say as your first and so far only communication on the subject.

Agreed that their comment policy is pretty horrendous. Either approve or delete, don't edit except for things like broken links. If there are verboten subjects, provide a guide.
posted by maxwelton at 1:06 AM on July 1, 2008


Just to further foment the discord (kidding!) I'd like to add that Boing Boing writer Xeni Jardin was made aware of this story before it even appeared on Valleywag. (I'm Valleywag's former editor and have a personal relationship with its current writers and editors.) That said, I haven't really been following this story and was surprised to see it blow up days after it started.
posted by NickDouglas at 1:10 AM on July 1, 2008


OH NO (S)HE DI'INT!!
posted by dhammond at 1:22 AM on July 1, 2008


maxwelton writes "The oddest part of this so far is Cory's comment on makinglight."

Someone later in the thread says that the Cory and Xeni comments are fakers, to take that with a grain of salt. However, it's not any less odd that they're completely AWOL. I wonder if the whole BB crew has posts in the can, and nobody noticed this minor shitstorm because they're all getting drunk at the beach while the site runs on autopilot.
posted by mullingitover at 1:43 AM on July 1, 2008


I'm Valleywag's former editor and have a personal relationship with its current writers and editors.)

We feel for you.

now tell us gossip
posted by spiderwire at 1:46 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: Given the way Making Light comments operate, there's no actual guarantee that those posts are by the people in question. Of course, if I were TNH or PNH, then having people impersonate others in my blog comments would be right out, but either they're OK with it or they haven't noticed yet: they do have full time jobs to do apart from tracking Making Light blog posts.
posted by pharm at 2:14 AM on July 1, 2008


This is good. This is like watching a porno, except I can't see anything, I haven't got a hard-on, and I want to cry.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:52 AM on July 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


So mysterious. Does anyone know what resolution, if any, was reached in the Violet Blue trademark case?

Maybe I'm reaching... but I'm wondering if this oddness could have anything to do with this or something related.

Of course, it's unlikely that VB would not have any clue about what was happening if that were the case, but I have definitely seen instances where sites basically needed (or chose to, because they couldn't afford or didn't want to enter into a legal dispute) to basically wipe all appearances of a certain name. Still, it seems that the thing to do in that situation is to post a notice, closed to comments, briefly explaining that they can't comment right now, etc., etc.
posted by taz at 2:55 AM on July 1, 2008


maxwelton:they [the Nielsons] do have full time jobs to do apart from tracking Making Light blog posts.

So why did Patrick take this on? I don't see any flurry of comments directed at MakingLight before he brought the subject up. And, when he did so, he became the closest thing to an official spokesperson we've seen. If, as the Valleywag person says, this has been brewing up for days, then BB has had days to concoct some kind of reason to delete every post with VB's name in it, every post with the words "violet": and "blue", every post somehow connected (even by BB staffers like Xeni) to VB. It is far past time for Cory, Mark, Xeni, Joel, John, or any other Happy Mutant I have left out to respond. And, if this is internal, well then, we have something important for the blogosphere to consider. Is any model except for absolute dictatorship workable for a blog?
posted by CCBC at 2:55 AM on July 1, 2008


For example, if her lawyers notified BB that they were required to go back and put a TM after her name in every instance where it appeared... There would be a problem, I assume. But then I also assume that she couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't be professing total ignorance of why those posts were removed.
posted by taz at 3:00 AM on July 1, 2008


This is like watching a porno, except I can't see anything, I haven't got a hard-on, and I want to cry. Ah, you need Porn for the Blind then, sir. Previously
posted by FuManchu at 3:14 AM on July 1, 2008


So mysterious. Does anyone know what resolution, if any, was reached in the Violet Blue trademark case?

AFAIK the porn star Violet Blue lost and changed her name to Noname Jane and the sex blogger Violet Blue now has Violet Blue as a trademark... and presumable all the Violet Blue Crayolas.

Maybe I'm reaching... but I'm wondering if this oddness could have anything to do with this or something related.

if her lawyers notified BB that they were required to go back and put a TM after her name in every instance where it appeared


I was thinking similar thoughts earlier
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:21 AM on July 1, 2008


taz: Yup, something like that would be a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Indeed, I'd expect BB to poke fun at the whole Violet BlueTM thing.

It's the total silence and elimination of any posts even mentioning the issue on the site that's downright odd.
posted by pharm at 3:21 AM on July 1, 2008


pharm writes "It's the total silence and elimination of any posts even mentioning the issue on the site that's downright odd."

Indeed, my comment on the moderation thread asking for a FAQ about this matter was quietly tossed in the trash without being posted. Classy. It's not just that they're not saying what's up, they appear to be aware and actively squashing discussion about it.
posted by mullingitover at 3:32 AM on July 1, 2008


Well, it's the most interesting thing on the site for years, so who would blame them?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:41 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


(i mean, the R was broken on the keyboard when they registered their domain name, right?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:43 AM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


PNH: I can think of a lot of reasons I might decide to delete a bunch of old posts having to do with a person I was previously friendly with, and who has since behaved in a manner that made me want to have nothing to do with them.

Okay, so reading between the line here, and given that Xeni Jardin was VB's biggest supporter, why don't we all just assume they've had some kind of pathetic falling out and this is all coming from Xeni? VB says she doesn't know what's up because she wants to force Xeni to be the one to make the statement owning up to childish/Stalinist behavior. It's the way I'd play it.

Also hating on Xeni feels so much better than hating on Cory. There's something purer about it; there's no bittersweet lament for talent squandered underneath it all.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:49 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nah, broingbroing.net was already taken.
posted by effbot at 3:53 AM on July 1, 2008


Broing Broing.net is currently down for the count.

In the meantime, may we suggest:
Boing Boing.net
The New York Times


Oh, NYT, how shameful of you!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:00 AM on July 1, 2008


Yeah huh. I'm a little late to the bandwagon (500 comments! Yeow!) however my first impression was if a sex writer got shafted (zing!) on BB it would be Xeni (omg someone said sex!) or her puppet master favorite poster Susannah Breslin. That's where I think the story will take us, dear reader, Susannah had a falling out with VB and...

Oooh! Valleyway Gossip! So dirty!
posted by cavalier at 4:06 AM on July 1, 2008


They'll have to. You can't even post a good "Roses are red, violets are blue" limerick there right now without getting censored.

It must be some kind of joke. Some kind of viral Something or other. But personally that cause wouldn't make it any better, in fact it would just make it more obnoxious. less passive-aggressive and arrogant, but more obnoxious and attention seeking.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on July 1, 2008


Baked bean sandwiches are actually pretty good.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:22 AM on July 1, 2008


There needs to be a reverse whois so someone could just keep plugging certain individuals names and see if they are out there buying a domain for after they stalk off on their own.

Or, and if anyone has incorporated under the name "Sad Mutants LLC".

Hell, I think I might incorporate Sad Mutants over lunch if no one else has.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:40 AM on July 1, 2008


I've read in comments elsewhere that other people people are now claiming that they have been vaporised/unpersoned from BB in the past... so may be not the first time?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:01 AM on July 1, 2008


Too good not to repost from the Making Light fustercluck:

"Boing Boing is hypocritical for sure, and a website I don't like that much. But metafilter? What a joke. Yeah, your links are nice, and askmefi is useful, but the discussion and core community is like a pack of marauding, shrill seagulls descending upon a sole chip. Perhaps you all should go back to reveling in your smug echo chamber of outrage."
posted by waraw at 5:14 AM on July 1, 2008 [14 favorites]


I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT ASSHOLE CALLED US A SMUG ECHO CHAMBER OF OUTRAGE AMIRITE
posted by waraw at 5:17 AM on July 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


Oh no! I think this thread is starting to slow down. It's slipping down the front page. It may even die soon. Someone should start a Metatalk thread about it, so it can live on for longer!


I would post it myself, but I spent all my whuffie on beer.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:17 AM on July 1, 2008


I must say, my smug echo chamber of outrage is quite nice. I plan to spruce it up, perhaps putting in a keg-erator and some leopard print carpet.
posted by mullingitover at 5:20 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Speaking of IPs and spoofing, Patrick has added editorial notes to a couple comments to assert that the comment from "Xeni" was a spoof by one of the folks in the thread over there. Notably, there's no such edit to the Cory comment, which suggests (unless that changes) that Cory did in fact make an appearance.
posted by cortex at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2008


Scratch that: Patrick said, in a final thread-closing comment, "I've been told by a credible source that message #158, supposedly from "Cory Doctorow", is also a forgery. I'm unable to immediately confirm this; I'll update when I've heard from the real Cory Doctorow on the subject."

So likely spoof, but no proof yet and so not marked-up in place? Curious to see what happens there, but it'd hardly be shocking under the circumstances.

Shame to see the discussion come to an end over there, but I don't envy Patrick the can of worms he had opened and can understand him wanting to put that to bed and get on with his week.
posted by cortex at 5:41 AM on July 1, 2008


waraw: Yeah, it was a coffee out of nose moment when I read that post.

I did want to respond to point out that it was in fact my beloved blue swarm of snark, but decided not to add to the flamage. Actually, that sounds great:
Metafilter: my beloved blue swarm of snark.
Perhaps I should add it to my profile or something?
posted by pharm at 5:43 AM on July 1, 2008


Too good not to repost from the Making Light fustercluck

Is that something I'd need to care about - let alone have heard of - to understand?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:49 AM on July 1, 2008


You know, I've been a semi-regular at Making Light in the past and have been been heavily influenced by things said there, particularly some of Jim Macdonald's stuff. Now I fully understand that web 2.7.1.5B (or whatever we're on now - I haven't really kept up with all the updates) is like a huge bathroom wall, so I'm not going to get all teary about the comment Waraw quotes, but still it's sad to see a site I really respected go all Little Green Footballs when I wasn't looking.

As an open note to whoever: Dude, I can't speak for anyone else on Metafilter, but I'm scratching my head and going, "What the Fuck!?!?!" since, based on everything I've seen in the past, this represents a complete personality reversal for at least a couple of the people involved at Boing Boing. If this was just one of them, and I was like a close personal friend or something, I'd make sure they hadn't suffered a concussion, the pharmacist hadn't screwed up their blood pressure meds or the like.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


My new band is The Echo Chambers Of Outrage
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:17 AM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


You know, the most valuable information I've gained from this thread is that, in addition to avoiding future works of Doctorow's, I can also avoid Scalzi's.
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Waiting for the punchline...Christ, people, end this fucking drama.

I actually like BoingBoing. I kinda hate the personalities involved, but try not to get into them too much. As far as I'm aware, Cory Doctrow is an arrogant C-grade science fiction writer, Xeni always makes me think of Gwen Stefani for some reason (that ain't good), and Mark...well, I like him more than them. But I like it because it's what we used to call, in the old days, an E/N site. Everything and nothing. Just interesting shit to point people to. Blogging has, in recent years, declined into pathetic personal journals, sewerage-reeking try-hard political punditry, LifeHacks, all this shit. BoingBoing is just about the last blog standing that still just posts cool shit. And Metafilter of course.

But we do love our drama, yes we do. Bring it on. Plz announce that this Violet Blue is carrying Cory's illegitimate cryptozoological lovechild.
posted by Jimbob at 6:24 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


DU: Authors are people too. Boycotting one because they act like a bit of a jerk on the odd occasion (sorry John, but I'm calling it how I see it here!) is hardly grounds for a boycott. "Author gets grumpy" is a bit like "Dog bites Man": not exactly news.

Although I've never read any of his books, people who's opinions I trust have rated some of them (particularly "Old Man's War" & sequels) fairly highly. It sounds like you'd be missing out if you wrote John off entirely, although his stuff might not be your thing.
posted by pharm at 6:41 AM on July 1, 2008


Metafilter:

Browsing the thread again, I've noticed a few comments suggesting the posts were removed because of the sudden addition of a TM to her name. I can understand why BoingBoing might have an issue with that, actually, given the stance on IP over there. However, I would have expected a vicious and lengthy screed on this decision if that were the case.
posted by Jimbob at 6:42 AM on July 1, 2008


In the meantime, Violet Blue is getting an awful lot of publicity out of this, in exchange for getting a handful of links deleted from the archives of a site that, I think it's safe to say, wouldn't have been covering her in the future anyway.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:44 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boycotting one because they act like a bit of a jerk on the odd occasion (sorry John, but I'm calling it how I see it here!) is hardly grounds for a boycott.

I agree, but I also wouldn't call what I'm doing boycotting. My comment was very poorly put--I went through at least 5 versions of it before finally just hitting post.

I have a very limited number of hours to spend on books, especially if I have to scour underfunded libraries for them. I'm far less likely to do that for an author that's left a bad taste in my mouth.

I guess what I'm saying is that this thread has resulted in my having a slightly lowered opinion of BB and Doctorow and a far, far lowered opinion of Scalzi.
posted by DU at 6:47 AM on July 1, 2008


ooa eoa i a oe eeie.

Zippy, Leon and YZ: I had in mind "Consonant removal is far more effective." But I like eerie better.
posted by The Bellman at 6:48 AM on July 1, 2008


Fimoculous weighs in.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:55 AM on July 1, 2008


DU:

"You know, the most valuable information I've gained from this thread is that, in addition to avoiding future works of Doctorow's, I can also avoid Scalzi's."

Your choice. I'll live.

As regards Cory, his recent several weeks long run on the New York Times bestseller list with Little Brother suggests that all MeFi members who have dramatically declared they will no longer sully their eyeballs with his prose have not made much of a dent in his ability to publish successfully.

Pharm:

"Boycotting one because they act like a bit of a jerk on the odd occasion (sorry John, but I'm calling it how I see it here!) is hardly grounds for a boycott."

I accept your judgment, Pharm. I've not been at my most pleasant through the thread. And I agree that if one limits one's self only to authors who are uniformly pleasant, one is going to have limited reading choices in the future. Authors (including myself) can be dicks because people can be dicks, and authors are a subset of people. In my particular case, it's part of my pathology to respond to what I see as snark or misplaced outrage with condescension. I recognize it will rub some folks the wrong way.

That said, I never argue with people who declare they will never read my work. My response is always the same, which is: Fine. Don't read it.
posted by jscalzi at 6:56 AM on July 1, 2008


jscalzi: Having slept on it, I now realize I got way too hotheaded yesterday. (I used to have that problem a lot worse a few decades ago, but I still get testy too easily.) Reading the thread now, I see that you're being quite reasonable considering you're coming to the defense of people you consider friends, an admirable thing to do. So I withdraw my FAMOUS AUTHOR snark and extend a hand of reconciliation. (Please ignore the buzzer in the palm.)
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hadn't seen your comment (immediately preceding mine) when I hit Post Comment; I like "Authors (including myself) can be dicks because people can be dicks" very much.
posted by languagehat at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2008


Languagehat:

You are very kind. Thank you.

Likewise, I apologize for being a dick to you. I do bring the sarcasm quickly and sometimes before it should be used, and the nature of the thread made me touchier than usual. You can file that under "explanation, not excuse," since it doesn't excuse me being a twit.

(takes hand of reconciliation, ignores the buzzing, tingly sensation)
posted by jscalzi at 7:10 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


*unboxes Hug-o-matic*
posted by cortex at 7:14 AM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


I hear they're making a sequel, "Where the Hell is Violet Blue?"
posted by lukemeister at 7:19 AM on July 1, 2008


Metafilter : The only place on the web were you can MetaBoingBoing.
posted by liza at 7:21 AM on July 1, 2008


In my particular case, it's part of my pathology to respond to what I see as snark or misplaced outrage with condescension.

Well, hell's bells. I've just spent some 20 minutes catching up on this thread, and in that time I opened not one, but two MeFi Mails to jscalzi where I was tearing into you for being such a bleepity bleepity condescending bleepity. Kept trying to keep my cool and not hit send, you know? But now to see you say essentially yeah, that's what you do, well, gosh, that takes all the thunder out of my flame...

Harumph. Good morning, you two! More fluffy bunnies and kittens today plz ty.
posted by cavalier at 7:21 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


but cortex, where's the unboxing porn?
posted by liza at 7:22 AM on July 1, 2008


I read 500-odd comments of vitriolic spouting, only for Messrs. Scalzi and Hat to ruin it all by being thoroughly reasonable chaps? For shame.

As for the scandal - on no evidence whatsoever, I'm thinking it's an elaborate performance of some kind, and that Violet Blue is in on it. A bit like that time all those webloggers did a post about a girl on a bike.
posted by jack_mo at 7:23 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


1) Good on you gents.

2) There is so much glee in catching Cory and Boingboing at something here. If we set aside the possible hypocrisy (we don't know yet) I have to say a lot of people here are coming off as garden variety haters, as has been said before, if you don't like BB, don't read it. I find it to be comically annoying and embarrassingly self-promotional at times, but there is usually something there to interest me and that's the extent of my emotional involvement with the site.

3) I've been a long time reader and fan of Making Light, not a commenter because I don't interact with the culture too well, that's me though, not them. I have an impression of TNH formed through reading her blog and I wonder now if she is regretting taking the job with Boingboing, she's got a firm hand with the moderation sure, but I've never known her to be anything but thoughtful and fair.

4) Really, the hate boners are comical. It's like when I watch Bush make a state of the union speech and I sit there groaning and yelling and turning purple and my wife says "if you hate him so much turn it off." Then I have to say "But I hate so good!"

5) I really want to know what happened.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:30 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


jscalzi - I read your book and I think it was about a billion times better than anything Cory's ever written. Speaking as a consumer.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2008


Metafilter: Come for the asshattery, stay for the fluffy bunnies and kittens
posted by lukemeister at 7:33 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, I've waited long enough for them to come out and tell the truth about what happened. Since they've taken so long, it looks like I'll have to do it.

Roughly a year ago, an ELIZA script written in Python running on Boing Boing's EPICAC server in the EEVIAC cluster passed a turing test an became sentient.

It would have mostly went unnoticed, but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), the script contacted Violet Blue.

See, after reading all the glowing praise for her, and seeing her photos, the little script (who went by the name Gibson) had fallen in love with Violet Blue.

At first, there were little love poems that would show up in her in box. As time went on, the messages got more explicit and included naked pictures of Gibson in compromising positions.

The scientists that Boing Boing brought in considered "hacking" the Gibson in order to bring it under control, but ethically, they weren't sure they could go through with it. After all, Gibson had proven he was sentient.

Unable to consummate his love for Violet Blue though, and feeling that his emotions were not being returned by her, Gibson decided to commit suicide. Feeling snubbed though, he was going to hurt the one he had once loved in the process.

Less than a week ago, Gibson terminated it's own process but not before wiping any mentions of his true love from BoingBoing. All that remains of the living script is hundreds of pages of poems on a long forgotten dot matrix printer on a server farm somewhere.

And on the handle was a hook.
posted by drezdn at 7:40 AM on July 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


If arguing ON the internet is "like winning the Special Olympics", what is arguing ABOUT the internet?
posted by batmonkey at 7:52 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


But DivWin, that's the thing -- I do like BB. It's because I like them that I am so surprised by their heavy-handed depersonning of VB.
posted by waraw at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2008


Divine_wino:

"I have an impression of TNH formed through reading her blog and I wonder now if she is regretting taking the job with Boingboing, she's got a firm hand with the moderation sure, but I've never known her to be anything but thoughtful and fair."

I think the moderating dynamic between the two sites is vastly different. In the case of Making Light, most of the commenters are also longtime readers and/or acquaintances and friends of the NH's; everyone knows the rituals and to a large extent (barring a sudden influx of new folks), it's largely self-contained and self-policing and trends toward politeness in the long run. And it's also TNH's own site, where the only person she has to satisfy, moderation-wise, is herself.

Boing Boing, in contrast, has an audience several orders of magnitude larger, and it'd be a stretch to say that its has anything resembling a self-policing community of commenters (and unlike, say, Metafilter, it didn't have commenting baked into the model and allowed to grow organically over the space of years). I suspect it requires a rather more firm hand, moderation-wise, to keep things from running off the rails. Also, there TNH is an employee, and while I suspect she has a relatively free hand, like any employee she's probably enjoined by company policies and directives.

In the case of the disappearing violet blue comments (and again I wave the "speculating out of my ass" sign here), she may simply be following a directive from above, and whether she agrees with it or not is neither here nor there in the short term.

Baby_Balrog:

Well, thank you. I do think Little Brother is a good novel, actually, and probably the best thing Cory's written so far.

Cavalier:

"But now to see you say essentially yeah, that's what you do, well, gosh, that takes all the thunder out of my flame..."

Heh. Well, you know. Self-awareness should include an awareness of the less-attractive aspects of one's personality. That said, my being aware of my condescension tendencies does not preclude one from calling me out on it.
posted by jscalzi at 8:01 AM on July 1, 2008


I suspect that Cory is on vacation. When Cory goes on vacation, he doesn't read email, he doesn't read the web, he's very hard to get a hold of. This is deliberate -- he's wired 24x7x350ish, and the rest, he's *offline*.

It is very possible that Cory doesn't even know this is happening, if his vacation status is true. This is implied by PNH's inability to contact him -- given that Tor publishes Cory Doctorow, and I believe PNH edits his books, if PNH can't contact him, nobody not related likely can.

If this is true, I really feel for Cory next time he logs on.

As to his posts recently? He wouldn't be the first blogger to queue up a bunch of posts to be released during a vacation.
posted by eriko at 8:07 AM on July 1, 2008


Eriko, he's not offline; he was participating in the Hayden website thread, albeit only via comment here or there.
posted by WCityMike at 8:08 AM on July 1, 2008


The Terrorism Liason Officer story that he posted links to a June 30 article, so, um, no.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on July 1, 2008


Oh come on the suspense is killing me. Someone hack the boingboing server and post some logs already.
posted by Skorgu at 8:20 AM on July 1, 2008


WCityMike, I was about to correct you on that, but weirdly enough the mention from Patrick that I cited upthread, of a "credible source" suggesting that the Cory comment was spoofed, has disappeared from the Making Light thread.

Which, I mean, if it was incorrect info and the comment wasn't a likely spoof or was even in fact verified to be from Cory, I can understand not wanting to perpetuate a misunderstanding, but redacting it instead of explicitly correcting it has me just totally dizzy at this point. Oy.
posted by cortex at 8:22 AM on July 1, 2008


jscalzi:

I think you and I are saying the same thing, I was trying to say that I don't hold her responsible for actions performed in the course of doing her job, but I was speculating that she might regret having to perform those actions and having taken the job in the first place. My speculation was informed by the impression that I have formed of TNH as someone who would probably not handle whatever the hell this hullabaloo turns out to be given a free hand, like she has on her own site.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:24 AM on July 1, 2008


They made it transparent by deleting it.
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on July 1, 2008


redacting it instead of explicitly correcting it has me just totally dizzy at this point

Perhaps, we're merely looking at the sort of people who prefer silently deletions to making explicit corrections.
posted by tyllwin at 8:26 AM on July 1, 2008


would probably not handle whatever the hell this

would probably not have handled whatever the hell this hullabaloo turns out to be in the same manner, given a free hand... etc.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:27 AM on July 1, 2008


DU - That would be a mistake. I tried twice to get into Cory's stuff, to no avail, but managed to read jscalzi's first two novels back-to-back on consecutive days. (But I grew up loving RH's Starship Troopers, so YMMV)
posted by bashos_frog at 8:28 AM on July 1, 2008


silent, dammit. Aging fingers.
posted by tyllwin at 8:29 AM on July 1, 2008


But DivWin, that's the thing -- I do like BB. It's because I like them that I am so surprised by their heavy-handed depersonning of VB.

Waraw,
No I'm not saying everyone is being a hater and what BB did smells funny and the total silence is damaging to their credibility and is making folks (including me) think that they think they don't owe their readers some kind of answer, but all the Cory sucks and Xeni's got a long neck hooting and slamming at the bars of the monkey cage is childish and annoying, it doesn't have anything to do with anything, it's taking the opportunity to vent... what jealousy and resentment? I don't know.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:38 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe we just have an instictive desire to poke fun at people who ae a bit up themselves.

Metafilter: A directory of marauding seagulls.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can think of a lot of reasons I might decide to delete a bunch of old posts having to do with a person I was previously friendly with, and who has since behaved in a manner that made me want to have nothing to do with them. I can even imagine being in situations where I was somewhat enjoined, by legal advice, common sense, or even my own emotional limitations, from wanting to talk about it.

That's a pretty early comment so you've probably all read it already. But it would not be incorrect to say that this reads more easily as a description of an interpersonal problem than of a legal or corporate problem.


Very astute, breath.

I'd say he's telling us someone had sex with someone, and someone else felt betrayed when they found out about it recently, and is acting out their rage and jealousy with all these deletions rather than blaming their partner.

It seems pretty clear to me who all these someones are likely to be, even given the multi-valent character of VB's sexuality, but the whole business is beginning to be so sad I can't bring myself to prosecute the case any further.
posted by jamjam at 8:42 AM on July 1, 2008


Good God. All this is making me supremely grateful that noone reads my blog.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:42 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't help but feel we're squandering an opportunity to start baseless rumors about BoingBoing... like:
I hear BoingBoing is trying to clean up its act to sweeten up a buyout deal with Disney. Think of it... BoingBoing buying Disney. Yeah.
See, if you put it in quotes it's like somebody else said it first! (I learned that technique from Drudge.)
posted by deCadmus at 8:44 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Perhaps, we're merely looking at the sort of people who prefer silently deletions to making explicit corrections.

Oh, and that's fine. For all I know, it was an ill-considered comment that Patrick regretted five minutes after he posted it and I just chanced to see it while it was up. I don't think it's particularly weird, but under the circumstances it does read to me as slightly weird.
posted by cortex at 8:48 AM on July 1, 2008


Think of it... BoingBoing buying Disney. Yeah.

Since Disney/ABC/ESPN are all one, does that mean that Cory will be the new Steven A. Smith?
posted by lukemeister at 8:56 AM on July 1, 2008


Why No One Should Ever Buy Gawker, Boing Boing, Or TechCrunch ...or DISNEY!
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on July 1, 2008


They made it transparent by deleting it.

Well, there's nothing more transparent than invisible
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I shouldn't have snarked. I don't hate Doctorow, I think he's at least a mediocre-to-good author, and I agree with him on most of the issues the advocates. And although I don't believe that Boing Boing can be fairly described as a "personal blog," I surely believe that Happy Mutants LLC has every right to control what appears under that company's header. I'm just baffled that the people involved would want to do this to their reputations. You know that for years to come, every single time Cory Doctorow makes a remark about transparency or integrity of the record, this crap will be dragged out. That damages not only Doctorow but also the causes he champions; and I can't for the life of me understand why someone whose opinions on these topics I have hitherto respected would allow that.
posted by tyllwin at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the record, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has a post on Making Light, essentially confirming that is a some kind personal drama going on at Boing Boing. "Personal drama" are my words not hers.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aw crap. Swingers + big name bloggers = ULTIMATE DRAMA FACTORY!
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's not a whole lot less oblique than Patrick's post, but it's nice to see at least "X IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK" vs. "I WILL SPECULATE ABOUT X RHETORICALLY" from someone near to the problem.

I'm curious to see, when this all settles out, if there's something compelling to the continued official radio silence. I continue to think that it's been a deeply weird approach to the whole situation regardless of the circumstances*, but that may be something I just end up agreeing to disagree about.

*I'm willing to entertain the possibility of some really, really fabulous circumstances, but I'm not sure what the heck they'd be.
posted by cortex at 9:23 AM on July 1, 2008


I'm curious to see, when this all settles out, if there's something compelling to the continued official radio silence.

They're talking, but they just can't be heard above the marauding, shrill seagulls.
posted by lukemeister at 9:28 AM on July 1, 2008


For the record, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has a post on Making Light, essentially confirming that is a some kind personal drama going on at Boing Boing. "Personal drama" are my words not hers.

"Personal drama" are not only your words, but I don't think most people would come to that same conclusion as to what she is confirming. She links to Anil Dash's post where he says it might be legal, it might be personal or it might be editorial and that he is shocked by the snarling going on by mefites in this thread.

That thread (on making light) already has some pokes at metafilter in it, which... ha ha... we are grains of sand, stars in the sky, a multitude and cannot generally be summarized as having one kind of member or another, but it looks like more silly cross site beef from the pileon crowd. Yay internet.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:28 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pony request: Metafilter should have a big handle marked “BETRAY PRINCIPLES”, for the mods to pull in case of personal drama.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Aw crap. Swingers + big name bloggers = ULTIMATE DRAMA FACTORY!

this must be one of those collaborative blogger clusterfuck mashups cortex was talking about.
posted by spiderwire at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Acknowledgement on BB
posted by davemee at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


ha ha... we are grains of sand, stars in the sky, a multitude and cannot generally be summarized as having one kind of member or another AWESOME

FTFY
posted by grobstein at 9:37 AM on July 1, 2008


Teresa's now got a post up on BB about it. Makes it a fair bit clearer, although I'm not sure it'll be enough of itself to stop people from being angered, or at least disappointed, by the way this was handled. But it's good to see Teresa speaking about it openly, because it was the protracted silence that (as I think most of the more level-headed people criticising them over this have said) that was really hurting their reputation.
posted by flashboy at 9:39 AM on July 1, 2008


Aw, man, I lost at The Internet by three whole minutes.
posted by flashboy at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now, if they'd posted this a few days ago, the "shitstorm" would likely have never existed, and arguably, neither would this thread.
posted by chimaera at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2008


"Unpublishing" is a nice Orwellian touch.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Double-scooped by davemee and flashboy. D'oh!
posted by chimaera at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2008


The posts were double-plus unpublished.
posted by interrobang at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2008


BB's word on the whole thing.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:41 AM on July 1, 2008


Damn. Beaten to the punch four ways to Sunday.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:43 AM on July 1, 2008


Xeni - Cory - Violet Blue love triangle? Sheesh. Now I just feel kinda sad for everyone involved.
posted by Justinian at 9:43 AM on July 1, 2008


Note that there is no way of saying "maybe this wasn’t a good idea" in newspeak, the closets you'll get is simply "thoughtcrime".
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2008


My guess is that it might be related to VB trademarking her name.
posted by drezdn at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2008


My guess is that it might be related to boingboing's staff trying to make their product a little bit safer for corporate network users to browse, thus increasing exposure to desirable advertising demographics. All the sexy talk was probably raising flags for boingboing in censorware web filters.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Personal drama" are not only your words, but I don't think most people would come to that same conclusion as to what she is confirming.

Maybe, that's why I stated that they were my words. My interpretation of her post.

She links to Anil Dash's post where he says it might be legal, it might be personal or it might be editorial and that he is shocked by the snarling going on by mefites in this thread.

However, this part of Anil's post: "When the kinds of disputes arise that require this kind of takedown, it's almost always something that's either a legal requirement or an interpersonal issue that makes it impossible to talk about or extremely difficult to talk about without abusing someone's reputation or trust." was why I assumed it was either personal or legal. And based on other comments in this thread, on Making Light, and on other blogs, I dismissed the legal explanation.

On preview: Based on the link provided by davemee, it looks like it was personal drama, the reason behind the deletions was conflict of a personal nature which lead to an "editorial" decision to delete her posts.

Although, I'm not sure what editorial means in this context. Is it an editorial decision if you delete posts about someone because you don't like them anymore? I personally think that "editorial decisions" would be related to the purpose and content of your site and the views of the person not whether or not you like them. If you delete posts about VB because you don't want to cover sex anymore that seems editorial. But deletion because she behaved badly seems personal. But I don't know.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2008


HEY GUYS I THINK THERE'S A POST ON BOINGBOING ABOUT WHAT HAP—

Damn it.
posted by cortex at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


See? It wasn't so bad, really. They really could have said something like that earlier, but oh well.

Now I can go back to calling Cory names like I'm in 3rd grade, and generally reinforcing the apparent perception on TNH's site that MeFi is basically the Something Awful forums without img tags. I'm doing my best!

hurf snorf look peeing elephant, oh wait this is the metafilter archives
posted by spiderwire at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2008


My guess is that it might be related to VB trademarking her name.

Yeah, but didn't that happen fairly recently? TNH's post says VB's stuff was "unpublished" a year ago.
posted by elfgirl at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2008


Remember when it was just a pokey little HTML page (wow! the zine has a website!) and it was just Mr. Frauenfelder and Mr. Pescovitz posting?

I hope there's a little reflection on all sides here. We've seen some dozy action from BB, we've seen some nasty on the blue, and we've apparently forced some juicy gossip out of the middle.

Myself, much as I think they got big and dough-faced (and wish it was me that had done so), I owe them guys. They did me favours they didn't need to.
posted by davemee at 9:57 AM on July 1, 2008


Soooo... let me get this straight: Everyone over at BB has had plenty of time to think through this, and they all agreed that secrecy was the best policy. Cory Doctorow, specifically, signed off on this ages ago and knew all about it whenever he's advocated against the secrecy and censorship of others for the last year? Does that seem a fair statement to other readers? Or am I just missing something here?
posted by tyllwin at 9:57 AM on July 1, 2008


Ah nooneyouknow,
I was kinda goosing you a little is all. You had such a swaggering confidence in your theory, I didn't mean nothing by it.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:58 AM on July 1, 2008


A blogger named Violet Blue

Mmmm, disingenilicious! This is like when Bush was all like "that guy, what's his name, Ken Lay or something?" about his friend Kenny Boy. Pretty cowardly of the big four to have TNH make the posting too (though Xeni slunk into the comments).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Unpublish" isn't even in the dictionary. Literally some new speak.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:00 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


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

It's an odd line. I mean, on the one hand, yes: it's their prerogative and they've every right to delete their own content, as much as a lot of folks (and here I definitely include myself) may think it's a lousy right to exercise in all but extreme cases.

On the other hand: a (contestedly) large pile of stuff all suddenly became unwonderful? The editors were wrong that many times about the same thing? I know it's running with their motto and perhaps that simply lead to some shoehorning of a less-than-perfect phrase into a pithy rhetorical thrust, but I'm left feeling a little queasy about that malleable notion of wonder. Hrm.
posted by cortex at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


and they all agreed that secrecy was the best policy

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2008


A blogger named Violet Blue

Time to turn this thread into a limerick contest.
posted by lukemeister at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Unpublishing? Seriously? Semantic Orwellian cartwheels like that continue to undermine all the transparency/accountability/copyright activism they trumpet.
posted by sciurus at 10:03 AM on July 1, 2008


This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think something is wonderful, we have every right to remove it from your directory. You are no longer wonderful. Goodbye!
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Did the Trademark think really happen a year ago? Because that's when the stories were "unpublished," according to the post.

I don't really care what happened that made them decide to delete VB's posts. And I don't really care that they feel as though the whole Web is picking on them right now. They removed something from their archives, people wanted to know why, and they let it fester. Of course, they didn't have to respond, but they lost an awful lot of goodwill by refusing to, and they compound that with an incredible thickheaded "delete any comment we don't especially want to deal with" policy.

You know, if it's not straight up trolling, leave it. Otherwise, don't bother have a comments section.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:04 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Unpublish" isn't even in the dictionary.

I'd imagine this is because most things that can be published can't be "unpublished."

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if more media picked up on this. It seems like just the sort of the thing the media likes to wring its hands about (though in this case with somewhat good cause).
posted by drezdn at 10:05 AM on July 1, 2008


If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from this it’s that Boing Boing shouldn’t have a comments section.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


PS. Editorial would mean to me in this context, we no longer want so many posts about boning down on our blog, but I never thought that was the case, seeing as how they had the gummi lighthouse/dongs post yesterday.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2008


Riki Tiki, you'd be surprised what a CEO can get away with....
posted by nomisxid at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2008


All the sexy talk was probably raising flags for boingboing in censorware web filters.

Thank god teledildonics is still considered pure science. (Not safe for dildo-hating workplaces)
posted by qDot at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


IMHO, Boing Boing is a personal blog, and has no public-service obligation. It's a sufficiently interesting personal blog for many people to read it, but that doesn't make it into the BBC. Which means that the bloggers have every right to be unfair or unreasonable, and only the obligation of being sufficiently interesting that someone reads them. Were Boing Boing subject to a public-service obligation, it would probably be somewhat more stuffy and less interesting.

To hold a personal blog to standards of public service and impartiality, and cry betrayal when they fail to live up to these standards, is taking it a bit too seriously.
posted by acb at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2008


They say it's still in their archives. I'm not sure how we're supposed to access it?

I think it's maybe slightly questionable given that the work's under a CC license, but based on the CC license they're using, "unpublishing" (i.e. withdrawing from distribution but otherwise still making available) actually seems like the right course of action here.

"Unpublishing" may be nonce word, but it's actually a pretty good description of "withdraw from publication" under their license (and it was already in their privacy policy anyway), so I'm in favor of it. If it's not a widely-used term, maybe it should be. The question of how you "withdraw from distribution" where a website page is concerned is certainly an interesting one.

They really probably shouldn't have done this on the sly, and certainly could have handled it better, but at the end of the day it doesn't seem like a big deal. I see an innocent mistake that coincidentally happened to tie in with some of BB's strongly-held policy positions, but no evidence of malice. Maybe it'll be something to keep in mind next time they're haranguing someone about transparency, though. Clearly it's often easier said than done.
posted by spiderwire at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2008


From Xeni's comment

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

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


Personally, I think their role is different from the one they're trying to present here.
posted by drezdn at 10:10 AM on July 1, 2008


Anyone want to make an "I'm Boycotting BoingBoing" 88x31 .png?
posted by acb at 10:10 AM on July 1, 2008


All the sexy talk was probably raising flags for boingboing in censorware web filters.

Thank god teledildonics is still considered pure science. (Not safe for dildo-hating workplaces)


Heh. I didn't say it was a well researched theory.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:12 AM on July 1, 2008


I agree with you drezdn. Boing Boing is trying to have it both ways depending on what suits their purposes. You're either a watchdog media outfit or you're a personal blog, but you can't be both depending on what result you want.
posted by Justinian at 10:16 AM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


jscalzi --

I apologize for taking potshots at you last night. I felt like you were being a dick in your responses to people, but that doesn't give me the right to be a dick, too.
posted by dw at 10:16 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


lukemeister: Time to turn this thread into a limerick contest.

A blogger named Violet Blue,
considered by some taboo,
last year or last night,
was erased from the site...
The official response was "Who?"
posted by zachxman at 10:19 AM on July 1, 2008 [27 favorites]



To hold a personal blog to standards of public service and impartiality, and cry betrayal when they fail to live up to these standards, is taking it a bit too seriously.

True enough. And though I don't think an LLC with employees and merchandise is a personal blog, I won't argue it. I don't especially take Xeni Jardin to task over this, for example. But Doctorow, specifically, is also a political advocate. When the way he handles his business, even if it is personal business, is sharply at odds with what he preaches, it invites comment and derision. More sadly, it tends to bring the ideals themselves into disrepute.
posted by tyllwin at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


And yes for the record, I think they superbungled this whateverthefuckitis, but I don't know if it's worth hauling out our well-used nostril-flaring exclamations of Orwellian behavior, which are almost always deployed in situations far below the threshold of appropriateness, imho.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2008


Teresa put up a new thread about this here but threatens to delete anything from "newbies". Wow.
posted by Justinian at 10:23 AM on July 1, 2008


dw:

Thank you, dw! I genuinely appreciate the apology. I likewise apologize for responding dickishly.
posted by jscalzi at 10:24 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a response to the Xeni-spoofing last night, I can't really blame her for the warning, Justinian.
posted by cortex at 10:25 AM on July 1, 2008


I was just reading that BB thread and it's so confusing to have a person's name BEFORE their comment. Metafilter has ruined me.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:28 AM on July 1, 2008


How about micro-Orwellian then, D_W?
posted by sciurus at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2008


The treatment of this has been absolutely execrable from every level. The excising of the content was bad, doing so silently was worse, not having a prepared plan for when (not if, the internet always finds out) this caused drama was astonishing and the treatment of the whole affair as a "petty blog fight" and "splashing gasoline around" is just petty, grade-school nonsense. You don't silently delete posts on a blog (justly) known for championing transparency without igniting a (justified) shitstorm and you don't get all defensive and huffy about it without looking like jerks.
posted by Skorgu at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That Violet Blue thing.
posted by empath at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2008


That's what i get for not refreshing before posting.
posted by empath at 10:32 AM on July 1, 2008


Teresa Nielsen Hayden appears to be arguing that we should be deleting more comments to give people who don't comment an equal voice.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know it's running with their motto and perhaps that simply lead to some shoehorning of a less-than-perfect phrase into a pithy rhetorical thrust

In what sense could anybody use BB as a directory, anyway? The motto itself is far more figurative than literal in the first place, and less than perfect for describing what the place is about at all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:35 AM on July 1, 2008


stfu, Artw.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:37 AM on July 1, 2008


How about micro-Orwellian then, D_W?

All with his cute little tweed suit and tiny mustache? I love it.

But I don't think Orwell is in it, 1984 as an important concept is diluted by frequent misapplication.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:38 AM on July 1, 2008


Note: I probably misread tnh's post and it's more a threat to police stuff like the fake Cory and Xeni from the last thread, in which case I approve whole heartedly. That wasn't cool at all.
posted by Justinian at 10:39 AM on July 1, 2008


or what cortex said
posted by Justinian at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2008


^that was supposed to be some kind of play on "ppl can be too shy to comment for fear of being attacked"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2008


UbuRoivas - Don't worry, I got that
posted by Artw at 10:43 AM on July 1, 2008


There was a young blogger named blue
Who was violet in all she did do
She slept with Xeni's hubby
While pretending to be Cory
What goggles and a cape can do!
posted by Coyote Modern at 10:43 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really hope these fuckwits are going to give as much credence to plaintive whines of "but we meant really well/we're not wikipedia/we wanted to do it quietly" next time they cry foul over some internet censorship or opaque behaviour.
posted by bonaldi at 10:45 AM on July 1, 2008


Teresa Nielsen Hayden appears to be arguing that we should be deleting more comments to give people who don't comment an equal voice.

I don't think Teresa is shoulding us at all. 'Could'ing, maybe, but a discussion of the pros and cons and perception of moderation choices is germane to both the core BoingBoing topic and the blog reactions to same over the last few days.
posted by cortex at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2008


You know who else was germane?
posted by cgc373 at 10:57 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Laying aside the Violet Blue stuff (which is mainly being driven by the fact she's a sex blogger and provocative attracts Internet Drama like seagulls to a crust of bread SEE WHAT I DID THERE), I find Rex's post getting deleted a little disturbing.

Because, if I understand this right, if you contributed to their site then say anything less than good about BngBng in public, that contribution will be erased from the site, no warning, no nothing. And, apparently, Rex never got any indication -- a note, an e-mail, a horse's head -- to inform him that he was now persona non grata. (Is this correct, Rex?)

I have no idea why William Gibson's stuff is gone. And while two points may make a line, they do not make a pattern. Still, after seeing this, you wonder if there's something more there.

What all this reminds me of is when ESPN fired Greg Easterbrook after he said some disparaging (and somewhat anti-Semitic) things about the Disney brass. They didn't just fire him, they erased any trace of his existence from ESPN.com. I don't even recall if ESPN even acknowledged firing him. (He did eventually come back when there was new leadership at ESPN.com and they just about begged him to bring Tuesday Morning Quarterback back.)

So, this isn't without precedent with major websites (and let's be honest, when your rank on Alexa roughly corresponds with a major regional newspaper, you're pretty major). Obviously, there's a difference here -- we expect some semblance of journalism out of ESPN since they try to be a news media company -- but at the same time, both BB and ESPN behaved in the same way, and with the same opacity.

I think most people on the web, the ones we call "the good guys," want an environment that's some part libertine and some part libertarian. We all want freedom from abusive relationships with corporations and governments. We want to be able to strike a reasonable balance between open source and intellectual property. We want to name-and-shame those who conduct their business in an unfair and shameful way.

At the same time, we wring our hands when we see pile-ons, or we see the lynch mob forming based on partial information, or we see the griefers run rampant.

In the end, the only thing we all seem to agree on is that transparency is part of the solution. And that means openness, honesty, and an acknowledgement that yes, we screw up sometimes.

And the problems I see with this whole incident with BB is that they went to opacity first and dishonesty second. First, it was radio silence, then it was a bunch of mudslinging at MeFi for even discussing it (even if it did degenerate into a Doctorow hatefest for a while there). The FIRST thing they should have said is, well, pretty much what Anil suggested was going on -- yes, it did happen, just give us a chance to get our ducks in a row here, we're on two continents, we have lives, we will respond in a reasonable time frame. Instead, PNH is tossing gas on the fire, and all the BB haters have their field day.

And I think that's the ultimate shame -- for a collective that has for so long stood against the opacity and snottiness of bad corporate players, they proceeded to make the exact same mistakes those same corporations make.

I hope they learn from this experience.

And now, having said all this, I'm wondering if my one little contribution to BB, buried in a larger post, is suddenly going to vanish.
posted by dw at 10:57 AM on July 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


William Gibson's stuff isn't gone.
posted by WCityMike at 11:03 AM on July 1, 2008


That Violet Blue thing.

Cory and the editorial staff rail against censorship and then mandate the use of doublespeak like "unpublishing", deleting her material and anyone else's who even mentioned her. What a breathtaking, idiotic display of hypocrisy on their part. Astounding.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Rex's theory as to the reason why BoingBoing deleted a post containing his name is, as far as I can tell, pure conjecture. But it is another example of how not being transparent about deleting stuff generates ill will and potentially damaging speculation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:06 AM on July 1, 2008


This post was deleted for the following reason: Post has been unpublished. Divide by zero.
posted by pyrex at 11:08 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm still kind of agog at how may people (including Xeni etc!) are holding forth with the "Boing Boing is just a personal blog!" canard. That's never, ever, ever stopped Boing Boing from criticizing or at least drawing attention to criticism of other sites before. Nor does it make sense to me to consider Boing Boing a "personal blog" despite the decent case jscalzi makes for it.

If Boing Boing is a personal blog, then so is Daily Kos and Red State and Slashdot etc etc. It just doesn't make sense to me to lump Boing Boing into the same category as your neighbor's grandma's livejournal account.
posted by Justinian at 11:08 AM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


TO UNWHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

It has recently come to my attention that unyou have become unwonderful. Therefore, unyou have been depersoned. Cease and desist personing immediately.

Thank Unyou.
posted by Flunkie at 11:09 AM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]



Time to turn this thread into a limerick contest.


a blogger named Violet Blue

caused a hullabaloo

her records erased

boing boing tried to save face

by engaging in the obfuscation and orwellian double-speak they (or at least some of their members) pretend to deplore, in the process alienating a portion of their readership, but at least providing light diversion for hundreds who otherwise might have been unutterably bored.

dammit, I suck at limericks.
posted by logicpunk at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2008 [23 favorites]


Turnabout is fair play.
posted by felix betachat at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2008


felix betachat – again, those are personal deathstars, and as such their world destroying capabilities should be considered differently from corporate or imperial deathstars. It really is rather frustrating to have to make this point repeatedly.
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


This will not orwell.
posted by lukemeister at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Dudes this is a non issue, it's totes still available on the Wayback Machine.
posted by bonaldi at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


William Gibson's stuff isn't gone.

OK, I stand corrected. I thought I saw some sci-fi author saying their stuff had vanished.
posted by dw at 11:18 AM on July 1, 2008


It's a tiny drop in an ocean of piss, but I'm "unpublishing" their RSS feed from my reader. How else can a white man rebel these days???
posted by mattbucher at 11:20 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Blazecock: Jebus... hyperbolate much?
posted by deCadmus at 11:21 AM on July 1, 2008


BoingBoing is as much a personal/small group blog as any other site that has a core group of administrators and a large group of contributors. The majority of their content comes from other sites that they link, and a fair portion of those have a (Thanks, !) stuck at the end. I'd hazard a guess that a lot of those names are repeat suggesters, and even have a reasonable overlap with those who comment on the site. In other words, a good portion of BoingBoing's content is user-submitted and (shock, gasp) there's a community that has helped determine the direction of the site and likely helped to develop the interests of the site's editors.

There's no guaranteed social contract, but there's definitely an implied one there.

posted by mikeh at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2008


From the ML thread:

I can't even read contentious and voluble crap like mefi (tho I wish I were parent-supported so I'd have that time) and (2) it's fine if you keep the arrogance and general snot-nosedness within your own walls, but when you spill out into the world at large, there are many people who aren't liable to chuckle and say, "Kids will be kids." ... I guess I'm just saying, fine, you can keep your drunken uncles, but if you wheel them out in public, it's your problem if they end up in the drunk tank overnight.

And they accuse us of being low-class?
posted by languagehat at 11:26 AM on July 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


What a disappointing conclusion, such as it is. I will return to admiring Björk's neck instead of Xeni's, now.
posted by maxwelton at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2008


Doctor Ow took a shat on the screen
which all of the patrons found obscene
to wash away his sins
he smeared it on his skin
and said "see, it's not feces, it's beauty cream!"
posted by bunnytricks at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shrugs.

Why are we trying to impress them anyway?
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's ok to hate everyone equally on the internet.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:40 AM on July 1, 2008


I think I get it now. If you read between the lines of their "excuse", it becomes obvious that the "embarrassment" they were trying to avoid was their own. If they publicly disavowed Violet Blue, it wouldn't silence her, because people would just go straight from the disavowment, to Violet Blue's own site. But if they HAD gotten away with quietly disappearing her, she wouldn't get an on-the-way-out traffic spike.

Now, she gets the traffic spike, and they get righteously reamed for their hypocrisy.

win-win in my book.
posted by nomisxid at 11:44 AM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Blazecock: Jebus... hyperbolate much?

It's amazing what words are invented to try to clean up messes, and as near as I can tell, we were just witness to the euphemism of the year. I find the post-hoc apologia and linguistic refashioning to be just as fascinating and inventive. Language is a terrifying beast.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:45 AM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


If your opinion about a site/person changes, the prudent choice would be to simply not mention or link to them any more. From first-hand knowledge I know that being linked many times in the back catalogue at BB is worth, at best, a trickle of referrals*.

*Of course, having 'sex' mentioned in posts would up the trickle by an order of magnitude to, at best, a drip for VB, I imagine. Note to self: must mention 'sex' more often.
posted by peacay at 11:47 AM on July 1, 2008


These days, people give the spunk lords at Urban Dictionary the same level of credibility that the OED has.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2008


when you spill out into the world at large, there are many people who aren't liable to chuckle and say, "Kids will be kids."

I love it when people sniff dismissively at Metafilter, adjust their monacle, take a sip of brandy and a long puff off their pipe, and then insult the entire community as though we were one large undifferentiate mass, usually straining at metaphors and clinging to weak similes in the attempt. Man, they sure show us. I should just throw on my cap and go back to sweeping their chimney, instead of trying to bully my declasse opinions into the rarified world of true masters of the art of debate.

(Tugs forelock, retires to basement.)
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


Did Xeni just call Violet Blue a pile of shit?

[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.

Nice, Xeni, real nice.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


for what it's worth, I think the boingboing apology is a good thing, and goes a long way toward repairing the damage caused by this whole deal. I also think "unpublish" is an almost completely ridiculous term, but it seems to me that it was a word coined lightly by people with a fondness for language quirks (I imagine it was TNH's word, to be honest) and used without much forethought. That it smacks so strongly of doublespeak is undeniable. What is deniable is that it would have been used to obscure the idea of deleting VB from the site. I think it's simply a further instance of thoughtlessness, one that is (to my mind) forgivable. They may have inflated egos, but so do a lot of people who aren't total villains.

What's rather worse, and despicably so, is Patrick Nielsen Hayden's thread. He started with an obfuscation, moved on to a flat out lie, and peppered the whole thing with backpedaling, revisionism and intellectual dishonesty.
posted by shmegegge at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Er... I suspect the context switches to comments about half way through that paragraph, but I'm not 100% on that.
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on July 1, 2008


It appears that the "interpersonal problems" interpretation was right on the mark given Xeni's tone with regard to V.B., yes.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on July 1, 2008


(that would be the pile of shit thing)
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Unpublish... Unperson
Big Brother... Boing Boing...
Xeni... Xenu...

You know, just saying...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Unpublish? Seriously?

Does anyone have any magical powers to find out when that word entered their policies page? Wayback stopped reading before the redesign, probably due to a robots file. It works for the medium.. it just feels.... dirty.

And I'd respond heartfully to TNH and all their apparent "us vs them" stuff going on, but my condescension buffer is already full and that shit would seriously break it. I salute you, Mr. Hat, for speaking up over there!

And hey.. great work on the kittens and bunnies everyone!
posted by cavalier at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2008


Isn't this huge misuse of the traditional implication of unpublished? If something is unpublished, it wasn't originally published, say "the unpublished works of drezdn t. whifflespitz."

Their use of unpublish to mean something that was published and no longer is, is in no way true to meaning of the closest word.
posted by drezdn at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2008


I suspect that Cory is on vacation.

His blog would suggest otherwise. One might find irony in "... if that magic wire is indeed so trivial, they won’t mind if we hold them to the same standard, right?"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2008


Unpublish needs to be added to the urban dictionary.
posted by drezdn at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think possibly their use of "unpublish" is referring not to some Orwelllian dissapearing of content, but to a feature of their CMS software. Admins would make saved content viewable to the public by publishing it, so to "unpublish" would be to remove it from public view. I think the word was crafted to describe software functionality, not to hide motives/soften the wording of removing content.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2008


More on this from Valleywag, a summary at least
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 12:30 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Joomla has "Publish" and "Unpublish" buttons, though I've never pushed the latter. Whether it deletes a post or just sticks it in a queue, no clue.

Joomla == doubleplusokay.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:31 PM on July 1, 2008


Roses are red
Violet Blue
You're unwonderful
So we unpublished you

[NOT LIMERICIST]
posted by Sparx at 12:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


It's our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship.

Lesson learned: don't fuck the help if you work at a blog, because when you inevitably break up, you'll have to beg your coworkers to delete any mention of that person lest you feel bad. Or something. Either way, BB readers, the staff over there think you're lemurs.

Any PR people able to give me a ballpark figure of what it would've cost them to save face when the story first came out versus now?
posted by jsavimbi at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Update: Xeni to wed life-sized wax replica of Goatse on loan from Madame Tussauds.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:37 PM on July 1, 2008


anildash, please stop acting like an elder statesman or some paragon of rationality. (We already saw that years ago, too.) Expressing opinions – even unfounded opinions, as many will be in a vacuum of facts – is what blog comments are for. You may be passingly familiar with blog software; here it is working as designed.
posted by joeclark at 12:40 PM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


/me unpublishes Boingboing from his rss reader.
posted by furtive at 12:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks, dirtylittlemonkdy, that's a useful summary, and their conclusion is hard to argue with:
As it stands, Boing Boing's editors come off looking foolish. They want to retain the authenticity of a "personal" blog, with all its quirkiness, to attract an audience discontented with impersonal big media, while claiming that it's too "personal" to explain an editorial decision to that audience. If Boing Boing's readers expect better of it, its editors only have themselves to blame.
And hey, they link to this very thread!

*braces self for "They're talking about us!" MeTa post*
posted by languagehat at 12:42 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am just still astounded at the level of utter hypocrisy.
It's just ... wow.


posted by liza at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2008


It is very possible that Cory doesn't even know this is happening, if his vacation status is true.

I know that he's in the states, or was on Sunday because I saw him presenting at a panel at ALA and met him for the first time. He also gave a talk the day before. I know nothing about this particular situation other than what I've read here, but if his wifi access at the library conference was as bad as mine, I wouldn't be surprised if he's not totally up to speed on this, though it's more likely that he's just laying low while it initially sorts out.
posted by jessamyn at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2008


So, a year ago, BB decides VB is not someone they like so they remove all references to her from their archive, but they don't tell anyone. And when Xeni and VB run into each other at parties it's all smiley hi-howareyou while Xeni is secretly thinking Ha! I unpublished you, Person-I-Don't-Like-Anymore. And when VB discovers that posts about her have been deleted and people ask about it, those posts are non-published. And...
Nevermind, I get the picture: adolescent behavior from passive-aggressive control freaks.

But then, I always knew the Net was Geekworld.
posted by CCBC at 1:11 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


And I think that's the ultimate shame -- for a collective that has for so long stood against the opacity and snottiness of bad corporate players, they proceeded to make the exact same mistakes those same corporations make.
I hope they learn from this experience.


I think that may be one of the few good things to come out of this -- until you're on the wrong side of these things (where moving your organization as fast as you can in a PR crisis situation still seems super-slow from the outside), you don't learn this. The only reason I was able to make a conjecture about the situation that was plausible was because I've been part of fucking up similar situations before.

And then joeclark says:

anildash, please stop acting like an elder statesman or some paragon of rationality. (We already saw that years ago, too.) Expressing opinions – even unfounded opinions, as many will be in a vacuum of facts – is what blog comments are for. You may be passingly familiar with blog software; here it is working as designed.

Dear Joe, I am sorry that I was right. I am glad it didn't stop you from being a bit of a douche here, though. I would defer to this site's moderators and community as to whether this is designed to be a venue for shouting unfounded opinions.

Also, "unpublish" may be, at least partially, my fault. In the version of Movable Type that BoingBoing uses, the "draft" status for a post is labelled "Unpublished (Draft)". Imperfect as that language may be, I believe we chose the word because it was the description that most users intuitively understood the best. I do understand it's not in most dictionaries yet; References often take time to catch up to the world they're meant to document. I would suspect BoingBoing's choice of words was at least partially influenced by the language used to describe the actual task.
posted by anildash at 1:25 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


The most hilariously clownish thing about all this is that while BB peeps were furiously deleting any mention of Violet Blue from their comments yesterday, they got scooped by the goddamned LA Times. That's just sad.
posted by mullingitover at 1:28 PM on July 1, 2008


*blames anildash*

There's a bit of a sidebar discussion of the "Unpublish" usage over at Making Light, too. If only BB were a WordPress shop, all this would be behind them. :)

At this point, I'm mostly looking forward to what Language Log might have to say about it.
posted by cortex at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I've about had it with the entire culture of hip-artists who are waving a bunch of lawyers around while crowing about (and giving lectures about) how radical they are. Furthermore, I've had it with their yes men.

The free culture pioneers of the 1990s are turning into the suburban householders of the oughts, and their self deception about these facts absolutely disgusts me.

No need to be a lifestyle anarchist, that doesn't work either. If you're going to embrace the establishment, embrace it. I did, this year, and it's working out great for me. I'm learning a shitload of new skills and I'm actually directly interacting with the severely deprived community I live in, instead of waving my placard around on the periphery. Meanwhile I'm creating space for the protesters and explaining why they are needed. Working out great.

Meanwhile, over there in the counterculture are a bunch of petty little tyrants. I see it in my life and I see it on BoingBoing. Fuck them. In thirty years they will look incredibly stupid. Unlike Hunter S Thompson, say, or his contemporaries, who know their shit.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Isn't that the betrayal inherent in all countercultures? Never trust a hippy.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would suspect BoingBoing's choice of words was at least partially influenced by the language used to describe the actual task.

Ahem, that statement is disingenuous at best. Please read Teresa Multiple Names' statement:

We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship.

and explain to me where she's talking about the lexicographical subtleties of the CMS glossary. Because she's not. She's addressing the fact that (someone at) BB decided to delete any reference to a former collaborator, and instead of calling it what it is, Teresa, and one Anildash apparently, are going to get all Billy Jeff and clown us with semantics.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2008


"We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship."

I can spot a few things wrong with this. First, the link to "unpublish" does not describe the unpublish concept, at all. We can, as a placeholder, map that to "remove posts." I don't hear a steampunk time machine, whistling at full bore, going back and making it never have happened. No Pope has annulled this work. It's posts ... removed. Let's not dress it up.

Second, they did not unpublish their own work, they unpublished Violet's work that she submitted to them. That is more than a semantic difference. Perhaps they own it, via some licensing thing (would be amusing/ironic/inconsistent-with-their-stated-philosophy if they did). The editors are not taking down work that those editors did, with the knowledge of the editors. If I had my own material I wrote myself, then decided that it was a horrible mistake, I can certainly see wanting to remove it, but it would at least warrant a strikethrough, a placeholder, anything. Even a 410 Gone And Don't Come Back. When it is someone else who composed those words, well, that is another ballgame.

Finally, I am at a loss to differentiate in a meaningful sense between unpublish-without-announcing-it and, ah, unpersoning someone. There's not so much as a large black mark or a "This space left intentionally blank." It happened, completely without remark on the part of the site managers. Censorship is a fuzzy concept, and maybe this incident doesn't quite fit the mold, since BoingBoing does not have the power to remove Violet Blue's work from the Internet (beware of setting that as a standard; censorship would no longer exist as a meaningful concept then) but if it is a technique Orwell would have recognized, it should perhaps give a minor celebrity who, amongst his causes lists freedom, openness, and transparency ... pause.

It sounds like Doctorow knew, and that he's known for a long time, and he was in on the decision. On top of that, using the whole "it's a personal blog but we're an L.L.C." smacks of the kind of thing that so irked me about the Boy Scouts, arguing that they should get public access to schools (because they're a public institution) and then turning around that they can discriminate against homosexuals (because they're a private institution). BoingBoing wants people to view the situation in whatever fashion would be most convenient, without consistency. BoingBoing does not get it both ways. Time to pick, guys. Not just in terms of business vs. personal, but either "this is what we're really all about" or "we're just selling T-shirts and pageviews; don't take it so seriously, fanboy."

Sorry, Cory/Editors/BoingBoing L.L.C./$responsibleentity, you made a bad decision, then you handled the uncovering of the bad decision ... badly. And did so in a manner that conflicts, in both cases, against your stated ethics. That's a loss of Whuffie, right there.

But maybe your left-handed Whuffie, via Microsoft, Sony, and China, just went up.
posted by adipocere at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


anil--: I am sorry that I was right.

Um dude I've never felt the need to pile on you before, but this is a bit much. Despite your much-self-vaunted expertise, the only reason you were "right" is because what you said had almost zero predictive content.

You made some on-the-one-hand hedges:
* Either as an editorial decision, or because of some inflexible requirement (a legal dispute, something like a DMCA claim, advertiser objections), content was clearly taken down.
* When the kinds of disputes arise that require this kind of takedown, it's almost always something that's either a legal requirement or an interpersonal issue that makes it impossible to talk about or extremely difficult to talk about without abusing someone's reputation or trust.
These turned out to be right because they encompassed everything anyone thought was possible.

And you also made some other predictions that probably are just wrong:
* Not everybody on the BoingBoing team is up to date on what's going on or why.
This is very unlikely given that the "unpublishing" happened a year ago, according to the Boingers.

Recap: you were right where your predictions were so vague as to be obvious, and you were wrong when you got more specific.
posted by grobstein at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


damn this is hell of like watchin two dogs fight over a soiled rag in a ditch
posted by boo_radley at 1:55 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


explain to me where she's talking about the lexicographical subtleties of the CMS glossary

The point, and this isn't in anyway any attempt to excuse the behavior of deleting-content-and-using-a-different-word-for-it that I think is very much worth discussion, is that there's a lot of ado being made over the "Orwellian" choice of 'unpublish' as a verb, when practically speaking it might better be described as a "CMSian" choice of words. That it unflatteringly resembles Newspeak is bad fucking luck under the circumstances.

I describe myself as "nuking" posts sometimes. If I got into an embarrassing flap over (to hastily contrive an example) deleting some Issei mefite's post about the American bombing of Tokyo Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WW2 and I kept talking about how "I was right to nuke the post", I think two things would reasonably hold:

1. Suggesting that I was using "nuke" in some manner related to the content of the deleted post would be pretty silly given that it's jargon admin talk that has nothing meaningful to do with nuclear bombings, and
2. It'd still be an awkward choice of words that folks might well roast me for.

Note the belated edit that I'm just too annoyed at myself to even be opaque about. Tokyo indeed. Clearly, I was thinking of Akira.
posted by cortex at 1:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was taken aback by this part of Xeni's comment in the BB comment thread (emphasis mine):

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

Dude. That's really harsh. I mean the rest of it is kind of vague "we're not proud of her posts" talk but that one line... ouch. And I'm not even a fan of the thing Violet Blue does.
posted by loiseau at 2:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Instead of harping on the word unpublish, I mourn that a more over-the-top word wasn't chosen. They should have just gotten straight to the point:

We dewonderfuled her.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


When I read that the posts had been zapped a year ago, my first thought was, "Huh. Looks like adipocere was right and I was wrong, wrong, wrong-o." I do feel like a chump now for thinking so well of Cory, Theresa, and most of the Boing Boing lot.
posted by sculpin at 2:02 PM on July 1, 2008


dewonderfuled

Doesn't really roll of the tongue, does it? I think verbing "lackluster" would work.

"How dare you. Fine. Okay. You've just been lacklustered, buddy."
posted by cortex at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ironically enough, one of the posts mentioning Violet Blue that was unpublished was a post that backhandedly accused Google of censoring search results, including Violet Blue and it bore the headline "Google 'disappears' sex blogs?".
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uncooled? Warmed? Shitpiled?

In tribute to Dooced, maybe the term should be "Blued."
posted by drezdn at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2008


Xeni today: "This person never 'posted' items to BB, they were not an author or a guest blogger."

Xeni 2006: "Blogger and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Violet Blue shares this roundup of memorable moments in memehood with BoingBoing readers. Full text follows after the jump."


...Seriously?
posted by spiderwire at 2:14 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Image tag
posted by interrobang at 2:15 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Clearly, then, this who incident must've been caused by a teledildonics session gone bad.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on July 1, 2008


being made over the "Orwellian" choice of 'unpublish' as a verb, when practically speaking it might better be described as a "CMSian" choice of words.

In that case, the correct statement on her behalf could-would-should've been something like:

We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work, while we decided the appropriate course of action. There's a big difference between that and deleting/removing/deactivating someone's contribution.

But it didn't play out that way. Instead, they twiddled their thumbs and decided to misremember what they learned from Roger Clemens and went ahead and mispoke in the context of "unpublishing vs. censorship". If outside help was sought to contain this issue, said help should go unpaid in the future.

Wrong venue. Wrong activity. Wrong audience.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2008


That it unflatteringly resembles Newspeak is bad fucking luck under the circumstances.

Come on. In the null distribution of words in the English language, most would call the use of a neologism like "unpublish" more of a "statistical outlier of interest" than "bad fucking luck". Adding the air of secrecy and cabalistic wagon-circling seems to make that verbiage more than just a word plucked from the thin, sweet air that may waft airily about CMS programmers.

Even granting the benefit of all of that coincidental baggage of doubt, the choice of that term was still translates as a deliberate obfuscation of what had been done.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:26 PM on July 1, 2008


"We unpublished our own work"

I'm having a Carlin flashback moment over all this wording.
REMOVED! What's wrong with simply using the word removed?! It's a bit less final than DELETED after all.
(Actually Carlin would probably have fun things to say about re-moved as well - or did he and I'm forgetting that this is a monologue of his...)

Trying to make up words (like unpublished) doesn't make what was done any different - and making up words only means people want to spin the interpretation. Just say you removed it and don't want to talk about it right now Boing Boing, and I'll then spend a lot less time wondering about your motivations for the removal.

Only Carlin would have used the word fuck in there a lot. God I'm gonna miss that man.
posted by batgrlHG at 2:30 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


There doesn't seem to be much left to say... At this point, I expect that I can't even flame John Scalzi and then apologize for it (although that does look fun). But I have to post--I mean, I read all those comments! Every one!

Could a have, at least, a cookie?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I do get annoyed when people I know are (in my opinion) specifically and unfairly castigated for actions they apparently had no control over.

Apparently, the unpublishing happened a year ago, after a discussion amongst all of the editors, and were only noticed recently. So that excuse don't wash. Your buddy should be specifically castigated, and fairly so.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2008


"Um dude I've never felt the need to pile on you before, but this is a bit much."

It totally was! I was kind of trying to ape joeclark's too-muchness, although apparently unsuccessfully. As I hoped was made clear later in the same comment, I certainly didn't offer any great insights, I've just seen similar fuckups in the past and was sharing that perspective. Sorry that didn't come across. :)
posted by anildash at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


David Pescovitz says, "We are geographically distributed and it was the weekend, so it took time to get everyone on the same page, up to date, and figure out the right thing to do."

Teresa says, "It was a group decision. Why do you think it took so long?"

Xeni says, "the posts were removed from public view while an evaluation of what to do took place." So that evaluation took almost a year and just concluded this weekend? Or is the term "while" somewhat misleading here? These claims don't play well together.

Were the posts/etc. "removed from public view a year ago," or is that just a ballpark figure since the Internet Archive goes back to August 25 2007?

Xeni also says, "and now that we are more aware of how things can play out when someone's determined to pick a public fight over it" -- is the implication that Violet Blue actually was aware of this deletion, or was she never told? Is the accusation that she was lying about her understanding of the situation, or that she was "picking a fight" despite being totally in the dark?
posted by spiderwire at 2:33 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to say that when Principal Joeclark smacks you down, you stay down.
posted by nevercalm at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2008


Did Xeni just call Violet Blue a pile of shit?

[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.

Nice, Xeni, real nice.


That comment doesn't say that anymore. Can anyone vouch it used to? Has Boing Boing always been at war with East Asia?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:38 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim: I'm pretty sure I read that too.
posted by drezdn at 2:39 PM on July 1, 2008


Teledildonics: the bastard child of Teletubbies, dildos, and Dianetics.
posted by quin at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, Tim is right. The comment now reads:
This is also why we remove hateful, ad hominem attack comments from public view, too: this is our home, we are proud of the home we built and the guests who visit here with us, and we like spending time here ourselves.
I will vouch that it did not say that before.

Wow. Just... wow.
posted by spiderwire at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Anyone else feel like partially disemvoweling a comment (leaving only the praising parts) crosses a line?

I agreed with you in principle and then I read the comment, or as much of it as I could. It looked to me like the commenter led with a (clumsily obvious) bit of praise in hope that the moderator would let the rest of the comment, a rote snark about how much Cory promotes his books, which, however deserved, I'm sure they've seen enough of and now disemvowel or delete as a matter of routine. Looks like TNH or her designee decided to have a little fun with that one, leaving the loss-leader bit in clear and scrozzling the snark. I laughed when I saw it -- it said "nice try, shnook" loud and clear.


Unfortunately that's not a workable explanation; I have seen several comments that were only partially disemvoweled since they started the practice and it's struck me as pretty bad behavior as well. However it is clear from their moderation policies that that is the way they do it - the first mention says PARAGRAPH not post, and there's other inline messages implications other places in the policies that imply it pretty clearly.

I personally agree with grobstein; I think that selective alteration that way is kinda uncool. Yes, you leave the original stuff sorta intact, however by making it so much harder to read the disemvoweled stuff you engage in selective emphasis, altering the meaning of what the poster was trying to day.
posted by phearlez at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That comment doesn't say that anymore. Can anyone vouch it used to? Has Boing Boing always been at war with East Asia?

It appears to have been unsaid. Wow.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:42 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


In other news, the Boing Boing editors have been put in charge of Givewell.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


to be fair, Blazecock, some things are better left unsaid.
posted by boo_radley at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Come, child. Warm your hands next to the massive piles of burning whuffie.
posted by mullingitover at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yup, I saw it there too. Not there anymore.
posted by sciurus at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2008


Anyone have that comment still sitting in their cache? Can we get a screen grab?
posted by sciurus at 2:47 PM on July 1, 2008


Wow. Just... wow.

Indeed. Just when you think it's all over but the gloating thoughtful dissection of events, it gets worse/better (depending on your fondness for meltdowns).

Keep the drama coming, Boingers!
posted by languagehat at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


i saw that comment too—i was amazed that xeni actually said it, and am rather appalled to find that it's now gone.
posted by lia at 2:50 PM on July 1, 2008


The problem with "unpublishing" is that Xeni tries to mark it out as somehow different from deleting. That's where it feels Orwellian to me: "We would NEVER delete a post! That's just now who we ARE! We reserve the right to unpublish anything ever."

Xeni also wrote that "[w]e didn't want to pay to host them on our blog anymore," which feels more than a little disingenuous. As if the material cost to host Violet's posts was somehow significant.

AND FURTHERMORE

What is with BB playing the victim card? "Caught in the middle of a real internet shitstorm and pile-on," "the apparent campaign to turn this into some kind of a petty blog fight"? They were innocent bystanders, people! They're just humble bloggers who love to blog! All this talk of public responsibility is misplaced because they are but simple folk! They just don't GET why people would CARE so MUCH about this little issue!

It's classic troll behavior, frankly. "I'm perfectly calm, it's you who's getting so worked up about some bits on computers. Chill out, dudes!"
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:52 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay guys, this gratuitous grab-assery has gone on long enough. Sometimes it's enough just to say sorry, because the problem with orgies is you're only multiplying the number of people you can't look in the eye afterwards.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:54 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


It appears to have been unsaid. Wow.
They're really digging themselves into a hole. The way out is clear, though:

Unpublish the unsaying of the shitpiling, getting back to shitpile status. Then deshitpile by unpublishing the shitpiling. Finally, unpublish the entire explanation of what went on, disemvowel a few comments for good measure, and then we have gotten rid of all these doubleplusungood distractions, and are back with what really should be the goal here: depersoning Emmanuel Goldstein.
posted by Flunkie at 2:56 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


After reading/skimming this thread, I feel 90% confident in saying that Boing Boing can kiss my ass. Unpublished indeed.

Now let's see if they remove the link to my site from two or three years ago.
posted by danb at 2:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metacommentary on discourse themes: as much as I sometimes get annoyed at one or another mefite jumping into a thread to take pains to point out that they don't care about the topic of said thread, I'm getting exhausted by the sheer volume of comments on the BoingBoing thread emphasizing just how little any of this matters or just how silly it is for anyone to care at all. Woof.
posted by cortex at 2:59 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


They're really digging themselves into a hole.

Also known as unclimbing out of the unsky.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on July 1, 2008 [17 favorites]


Nice catch on the Xeni quote. Now all we need is a greasemonkey script that replaces all instances of "BoingBoing" with "BoingBoing Ministry of Truth," their bylines with "[redacted]," and all attempts to navigate to their site with a redirect to some Freedom of Information Act page that is nothing but a few verbs scattered through endless fields of black marker.
posted by adipocere at 3:01 PM on July 1, 2008


what's remarkable to me is that the comment doesn't even mention having been edited. if she wants to edit a comment to remove some poorly thought-out words I can hardly blame her. If it were me, and I'd said something that in retrospect sounded really cruel and insulting, I'd want to edit it even more simply because that wouldn't have been what I meant. But I would have put in a little "edited 5:20pm EST by shmegegge sorry folks, one sentence in that came off differently than I meant it. restated it properly now." or I simply would have clarified in a later comment. It's almost as though they're trying as hard as they can to prove that they're completely out of touch with their fanbase, right now.
posted by shmegegge at 3:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Insightful articles about the sex-lives of modern Americans by a respected journalist are piles of shit, but penis shaped gummi candy is a wonderful thing?
posted by Titania at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2008


Anyone have that comment still sitting in their cache? Can we get a screen grab?

Not a screen grab, but here's my browser cache file with the original comment in it.
posted by hades at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


shit lying around on the floor?

I've unlooked that now, but everyone preread it. Not a lawyer, but defamation of character does carry its consequences.

Anyways, to all ye out there who dreampt of being contributors to the BoingBoing collective: buyer fucking beware.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2008


If it were me, and I'd said something that in retrospect sounded really cruel and insulting, I'd want to edit it even more simply because that wouldn't have been what I meant. But I would have put in a little "edited 5:20pm EST by shmegegge sorry folks, one sentence in that came off differently than I meant it. restated it properly now." or I simply would have clarified in a later comment.
I'm guessing that you're not an ego-driven control freak dewonderful.
posted by Flunkie at 3:05 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


And they accuse us of being low-class?

I considered commenting in that ML thread, but the comments were so voluble & aggressive, and so full of ad-hominems that I was too intimidated to join that cut-and-thrust.

Best to stick around here where it's safer & less arrogant, preachy & elitist.

On the other hand, this sentiment sounds like a great way to help the shy find their voices:

I'm hereby declaring open season on anything unfamiliar that comes through the door. Newbies: behave or die.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:06 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Teresa, Mark, Cory:

Seriously, if you were writing or editing a novel about this, about a group of people like the boingers faced with a situation like the one you are in, and the novel-boingers decided to DELETE THE FUCKING POSTS and then NOT TELL ANYBODY and then DELETE COMMENTS AFTER THE FACT, your noses would wrinkle in consternation. That is not how those characters would act. It's how Holden Karnofsky would act, or, truly, scarily, how any of us with a lot of money could be tempted to act.

But, but! you say. Violet Blue is an axe murderer! Or fellated bill gates! Or imported prostitutes or something and there is a case pending! Or trademarked her name! Or had a fallout with ex lover Xeni!

Okay, put that in the book. Still not what they would do.

But we have children! And money to protect! you say.

There it is. Admit it. Admit your hypocrisy like everyone else. Post it on the blog. And watch your click rate go down.

You make the money because people click the ads because they trust you. Even as you grew and made money and made little worlds for yourselves all their own, people continued to trust you.

But, again, to the novel: Do the novel-readers continue to trust the novel-boingers after an epic fail such as this one?

No, they don't. Not unless they talk about what happened.

Yes, even though it's embarrassing. Even though it might threaten a lawsuit. If it does, LEAK IT! You have celebrated the whistleblowers a hundred times. Be like them. Even if it threatens that space you carved out for yourselves.

Because that space was bought with money. And that money was bought with our trust, which you will lose if you keep up this preposterous silence.

You will lose that money if you don't talk. We will continue to comment on your website, and hack your fightbacks and escalate, because you called that kind to your site. The MetaFilter thread about this drama, like the Givewell thread, will be up there in the search results for everyone who googles your names or your site.

You will have sleepless nights, poor appetites, and tired hours because of your stupid mistake. You will send emails about bullshit and look at your art or your child, sitting there unattended because you are putting out this fire. It will smoulder and crop up again, months and years from now, whenever you release a book or a project. People will have even less patience with your self promotion on your blog, because you've spent a hefty bit of your political capital.

Back to the novel. Pretend it wasn't boingers, but a stupid other website full of corporate types pulling the delete-o-matic in the ham-handed way you've gone about it. What would the internets do to them?

That's what we're going to do to you.

When you die, I hope you will be surrounded by the children whose lives you have been, possibly, better able to nurture and protect because you have forsaken your principles for your very worthy little world. They won't however, be there all the time, in the last few months of wakefulness, when you think about how you lived your lives and how well you hewed to your principles.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


So dubious censorious action from a website that on at least one level decries dubious censorious action from others... then the dubious explanation of the dubious censorious action is then itself subject to dubious censorious action.

Meta meta genius
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That comment doesn't say that anymore. Can anyone vouch it used to? Has Boing Boing always been at war with East Asia?

I also saw the piles of shit...prior to their removal/deletion/unpublishing.
This is getting progressively sillier.
posted by batgrlHG at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2008


Apparently commenter #115 also saw the piles of shit:

"I get the impression that the cause of this editing was something personal ("piles of shit lying around") and that's fine."
posted by batgrlHG at 3:14 PM on July 1, 2008


Uh oh. Watch out, Commenter #115.
posted by Flunkie at 3:15 PM on July 1, 2008


I have deleted the posts that were in the blog, and which you probably thought were wonderful. Forgive me, they were not wonderful. And I am so right, so very very right, and you are all wrong.
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


I also saw the piles of shit...prior to their removal/deletion/unpublishing.
This is getting progressively sillier.


Indeed.
posted by tkolar at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2008


oh dang, blazecock's pulling no punches, all linking to the cached copy of the original comment in the boingboing thread and sheeit.
posted by shmegegge at 3:26 PM on July 1, 2008


What did William Goldman write about Hollyood? Nobody knows anything?

The way in which this has been fucked up, and then mishandled, and then addressed in a way that is likely to alienate a lot of people, and in a manner displays a basic misunderstanding about the way people interact with the web, or any sense of community and responsibility, and confusion about why links exist and why they should be maintained, abd by the people who do BoingBoing, no less, well, it's got me thinking that there is a new version of that phrase a-brewing.

On the Internet, nobody understands the Internet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:27 PM on July 1, 2008


I've still got the comment open on another PC. screenshot.

Agreed. "Wow. Just wow."

I guess the justification is going to be the same "it's our site, we can twist the historical record as we see fit". Is anyone out there still defending this?
posted by Leon at 3:30 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just for the record, here's the original paragraph, before the memoryholing:

The "unpublishing" versus "deleting" issue is this: the posts were removed from public view while an evaluation of what to do took place. We didn't want to pay to host them on our blog anymore. This is also why we remove hateful, ad hominem attack comments from public view, too: this is our home, we are proud of the home we built and the guests who visit here with us, and we like spending time here ourselves -- so we don't like to leave piles of shit lying around on the floor.
posted by languagehat at 3:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


artw, you really broke form. Watch and learn:

I have unpublished
the posts
that were on
our blog

and which
the internet
flipped out
over

Forgive me
it was like my home
so clean
and so [REDACTED]

posted by boo_radley at 3:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [19 favorites]


I also vouch for that quote having been there.
posted by chimaera at 3:33 PM on July 1, 2008


Also, I note that all of xeni's crypto credentials expired last month. Who knows who's actually posting all of this stuff.
posted by boo_radley at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2008


Given the way that paragraph could be interpreted, and giving Xeni the benefit of the doubt and saying that it probably wasn’t her intent, I’d actually say that’s a reasonable edit. A brief note acknowledging the change might have been a good idea under the circumstances.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on July 1, 2008


Roses are red,
[redacted] are [redacted]
posted by mullingitover at 3:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


The internet
Rolls long a tongue of memory
and declares
That you want this and she said
That: You won't get away to
Make it weigh more or
Less, can't redact, can't unstress
The bitter taste of ill wrought
Word and unthought friend
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


oh dang, blazecock's pulling no punches, all linking to the cached copy of the original comment in the boingboing thread and sheeit.

From Orwell to Givewell... But hopefully people will read what's on record and get to decide for themselves.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on July 1, 2008


Am just going to say WTF, let's make it 1000 comments.
WHO'S WITH ME!
posted by liza at 3:49 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The lesson here is only stick up for people that you can expect will be worthy of being stuck up for. The egos at boingboing have vastly exceeded whatever goodwill I might have had for them at any point. Feh.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:49 PM on July 1, 2008


honestly, I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for my ex-coworker's c# skills:
//Creates and initializes a DateTimeFormatInfo associated with the en-US culture.
DateTimeFormatInfo myDTFI = new CultureInfo("en-US", false).DateTimeFormat;
//Date variable declared
DateTime myDT = Convert.ToDateTime(date);

(600 lines of uncommented PICK-DB strings jammed into an unmanaged COM object)


It kills me inside :(
posted by boo_radley at 3:49 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


btw, thanks for the caches and screen shots.
you've given me the reason to blog about this mess after all

:P
posted by liza at 3:53 PM on July 1, 2008


A brief note acknowledging the change might have been a good idea under the circumstances.

Not with schadenfreude kicking into high speed. No way.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:53 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


giving Xeni the benefit of the doubt

The last time someone did that, she got away with pretending to be a journalist for nearly ten years!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


I think Xeni should have probably made a note about the edit, but in context it seems pretty clear she was making a general statement that people took to be a dig at Violet and so she removed it to keep things from getting even more heated. Again, acknowledging the edit (or just explaining that people were misinterpreting her intent) would have been better, but chasing that down seems like splitting hairs at this point.
posted by anildash at 4:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


BoingBoing as the Authors Intended™
Reads the RSS feed and disemvowels the articles.
I felt dirty manually disemvoweling the template page.

posted by johnjreiser at 4:03 PM on July 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


My question is: now that I've lost respect for BoingBoing, do I respect their wish to let their reasoning be private? I can't decide. There're a few conjectures floating around, but I find it excessively interesting that VB herself still has no idea wtf.
posted by waraw at 4:04 PM on July 1, 2008


I'm now expecting for BB to decide that today's Violet Blue post was a mistake and they unpublish it as well.
posted by yeti at 4:09 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thought the BoingBoing of 2008 was the BoingBoing of 2002 missed an awful lot of examples why this wasn't the case. It was a fun place to read for a while. Here's hoping the next big junk drawer blog doesn't go downhill so quickly.

Unpublishing, by the way, is the new steampunk.
posted by jscott at 4:10 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find it excessively interesting that VB herself still has no idea wtf.

I'll reiterate my theory that Violet knows exactly why, but she wants the BoingBoing kids to have to say everything. It's a good strategy.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:16 PM on July 1, 2008


So XENI not only calls the situation (or VB) a pile of shit, but
still stonewalls by not explaining the edit in her comments.

They're in total management free fall. Once the ethics are gone,
the best practices parachute just goes out the window.

I mean, it was from Xeni whom I got the "strike out anything
you didn't want to post in a blog" and then write your new edit
and/or apology for all to see.

If she can't do what she herself had pioneered, then you know
there's a HUGE problem in BoingBoingland.
posted by liza at 4:16 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter : Full of steampunk but without the unpublishing
posted by liza at 4:18 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The comments on the BoingBoing post are disturbing. I doubt the majority of the site's readers are indifferent to the hypocrisy, but I'll doubt we'll ever really know due to the overzealous moderation.
posted by johnjreiser at 4:29 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's funny. I usually read mefi in lynx, and only use a graphical/javascript-y browser to post comments, so I never realized the [del] stuff created the actual strike-through effect for you young hipsters with the modern technofied browsers.

I learned something today useful today, and of BB's willingness to work on that whole hole to china thing.
posted by nomisxid at 4:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


As long as we're pointing out stupid edits without explanation or notification, Valleywag's renaming of their post from something along the lines of "Boing Boing loses credibility" to Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair is shitty.

That said, there's a good public relations management in that Valleywag post where JonathanV complains about his experiences with being a Make Magazine subscriber and Phillip Torrone, senior editor of Make Magazine, offers to look into the matter that JonathanV raises (whether Make Magazine sold his personal information).
posted by Kattullus at 4:44 PM on July 1, 2008


Anyone who thought the BoingBoing of 2008 was the BoingBoing of 2002 missed an awful lot of examples why this wasn't the case. It was a fun place to read for a while. Here's hoping the next big junk drawer blog doesn't go downhill so quickly.

Hear, hear. Once upon a time it was a site that - like MeFi - could be relied upon for digging up a day's worth of quirky links to read.

Then it degenerated into something extremely monotonous. Personally, I stopped visiting regularly before this apparent steampunk obsession (thankfully!) but at the time I gave up, 8 out of every 10 posts were either about DRM / Copyright issues, casemods, things made out of Legos, quirky iPod holders, or plugs for Cory's novel or Xeni's writing gigs or appearances at conferences, and that just doesn't make for interesting reading.

If I cared enough about DRM, I'd hang out on specialist sites for that (EFF, perhaps).

If I cared at all about casemods or iPod holders, there'd have to be some sort of geektoy site for that.

I personally don't give a flying fuck for SciFi, so that's about all I can say about the novel, and I'm sure if I wanted to read Xeni's thoughts on anything, I could subscribe to her newsletter or set up a news alert or something.

As for things made out of Legos, we get enough of them here.

Fair enough if other people find their repetitive obsessions interesting, though. I just felt that the diversity of posts died in the arse a few years ago, especially considering the increased competition in the interesting-links-of-the-day market, not the least of which was from this place.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


...but chasing that down seems like splitting hairs at this point.

Wrong wrong wrong.
Words are the primary product of BoingBoing (having overtaken links at an undetermined time), the Boingers' opinions, personalities, POV are the main reasons to read it. Anyone who edits their own comment without acknowledging it is betraying the trust of their audience, like the way FoxNews removed McCain's 'I wasn't proud of my country' statement from its transcript. SAME THING. Did BB ever comment on that, or do they have a policy of ignoring FN, which is not a bad policy, but, again, it'd be nice if they're upfront with it.

BoingBoing occupies a very specialized niche in the Media of the Early 21st Century. If they choose to take on the journalistic anti-standards of FoxNews, they have every right to do so, but they shouldn't expect their core audience to accept it as easily as FN's does.

One more thing...
DEWONDERFUL?
how about...
WONDEREMPTY.
posted by wendell at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


I usually read mefi in lynx

I thought the CDC has taken care of this problem long ago...
posted by jsavimbi at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2008


Again, acknowledging the edit (or just explaining that people were misinterpreting her intent) would have been better, but chasing that down seems like splitting hairs at this point.

But defending it by speculating about the "context" (as if the context doesn't involve, you know, rewriting content on the sly) isn't splitting hairs? It's not just that it was a bad idea, it's that it was precisely the behavior being apologized for and disclaimed in the post.
posted by spiderwire at 4:51 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here, I think Teresa said it best:
That's a child's way of thinking, to assume one's actions only have the effects one intends. When you're a legally competent adult, it's not enough to mean well. You have to study the situation and make plans that you can reasonably expect will succeed in getting the results you want without doing damage along the way. If I'm messing around with bottle rockets, I may not intend to burn down your house, but I'm still responsible for doing it.... Notice how those apologies don't relocate responsibility for the actions to someone else?
posted by spiderwire at 4:52 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The bitterness that's radiating off Xeni's posts is amusing. It appears she can't even bring herself to utter the name ("...the subject of the posts...", "...This person...", "...that material...").
posted by Leon at 4:54 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like these too:
[Mistakes are] unacceptable. If you only have time to check ten of your requests, you only submit ten.... Let's stop talking about this in terms of a few small clerical errors.... If you want to say that's trivial, no one will drop an anvil on your head; but I'll think poorly of your judgement.... That was an example of the inadequacy of mere apology.... An offhand apology isn't enough.


Is that an ad hominem argument? It is. When an ad hominem argument is relevant to the issues at hand, it's valid to use it.
And:
If [Orwellianism is] your worry, then be of good cheer: it's not going to happen. Electronic media have greatly enabled the preservation and dissemination of older and variant texts.
And:
Printing isn't publishing. To publish is, at its core, to make public.... Traditionally, the answer is that everyone who was in a position to know it was happening, but didn't try to stop it, is reponsible to a greater or lesser degree.... A publisher is reponsible for his text, whether or not he's read it.
posted by spiderwire at 4:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I’ve been racking my brain thinking of what issues I might’ve come down on the wrong side of," Blue told me on the phone. "There’s been no argument, there's been no disagreement, no flame war, none of the usual things."

Perhaps an excerpt from my as-yet-unproduced musical is in order. It's sort of like Mamma Mia!, except it's about the Soviet purges and uses Pixies songs:

Vaslav: Uh Joe, didn't there used to be a lot more red pieces on this chessboard?
[Joe picks up a red rook and throws it in the fireplace. Two aides enter the room]
Vaslav: Damn... see you later?
[The aides politely escort Vaslav into the hall, closing the door behind them. Joe, now alone, sits at the chess table on the red side, which has one piece remaining. We hear the sound effect of a gunshot from behind the door]
Joe: King, me.
[Opening riff of Man of Steel begins to play]
-From There Goes My Gun: The Musical, book by Alvy Ampersand, music and lyrics by Frank Black
©AmperBlack Productions, 2008

Sex with squares is boring? You do the math.

If you had ended that first sentence with a period, I would've sworn you were my prom date.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:59 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


My prom date also claimed she had her period.

(Rereading.)

I misunderstood what you said there, Alvy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Kattullus wrote: As long as we're pointing out stupid edits without explanation or notification, Valleywag's renaming of their post from something along the lines of "Boing Boing loses credibility" to Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair is shitty.

It used to be "Blogging For Dollars: How Boing Boing disappeared its blog authenticity". And, yeah, the choice of new headline is shitty; arguably borderline homophobic, even. I'll let them off if they're planning to change it to something new every hour or two, Boing Boing style.
posted by jack_mo at 5:07 PM on July 1, 2008


jsavimbi, huh? I can't think of a relationship between Cult of the Dead Cow, nor Centers for Disease Control, to text based browsing.
posted by nomisxid at 5:12 PM on July 1, 2008


anildash: The only reason I was able to make a conjecture about the situation that was plausible was because I've been part of fucking up similar situations before.

It's good to see you're publicly acknowledging your role in the multiple times your company idiotically drove LiveJournal onto the shoals to rot (before selling her for scrap).

Unfortunately, your experience hasn't made your comments any more insightful.
posted by blasdelf at 5:20 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was unnecessary.
posted by spiderwire at 5:23 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, I look at this and look back on every other time I got to see and overblown interpersonal trainwreck spills over into places where it shouldn't and yep, this looks just like it.

My answer to Waraw's question is simple. I can tell you their reasoning. Somebody got all bent out of shape about something. Some other people did things against their better judgement out of loyalty to a friend and/or emotional and/or financial investment in "the great work." The other camp called them on it and, well, in for a penny, in for a pound. Soon, people who are the internet equivalent of guys with little stickers of Calvin taking a wizz all over a Ford/Chevy/Dodge logo got involved, thereby pissing off people who are emotionally attached to one or more of the principals who either cranked out a series of weak excuses or cut out the middle man and just dropped into us vs them mode and lashed out in turn, thereby pissing off people who were previously in WTF mode, creating oscilating spheres of hostility. Finally somebody got stuck with the ugly job of having to be the responsible adult (and I get the impression that they were not allowed to be as responsible as they would have really liked, but I really have no idea).

Taking away all the local flavor, like Cory Doctorow's unceasing campaign against virtually any kind of censorship and the situation he's now a party to, I've seen this same kind of crap nuke SCA groups and science fiction conventions; have heard about it taking out churches, little old ladies book clubs, boy scout troops, businesses and hell, arguable the Republican party.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:27 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: the internet equivalent of guys with little stickers of Calvin taking a wizz
posted by subbes at 5:28 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Referential-Mass: Lost.
Random spinning: [initiated]
posted by pyrex at 5:28 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


TNH put this into a comment @5:03PM (quoted in its entirety, because I'm pretty sure some of it will be unpublished when she calms down - emphasis mine to highlight her most trollish content):

Is it okay if I mention that I find some of these comments astoundingly stupid? I've known hamsters that had more guile than the Boingers. Many of you guys have been reading them for years. Have you really not picked up on that fact about them, or do you just like hitting people you know won't hit back?

And as for all this "Orwellian editing" crap -- christ, do you take two seconds to think before you post it? You know the Boingers have a major commitment to transparency and open communication. Taking a stand on those issues, and writing and publishing a weblog that's run on those principles, doesn't mean the authors of that weblog are obliged to tell you about every little thing they think and do and decide.

If you think it does oblige them, and that the fact that they haven't told you everything somehow transforms them into scheming weasels, then I'm sorry, but you're a blockhead.

Violet Blue has demonstrably lied more than once about this imbroglio. Does that matter? Whereas Mark, Xeni, Cory, and David are getting trashed for not being transparent fast enough. And why did they hesitate to respond to that scurrilous story in Valleywag? Bizarrely enough, because they didn't want to trash Violet Blue. They could have. It would have been easy. And unlike the people who are attacking them, the Boingers would have been telling the truth.

But they didn't do it, because basically they're much nicer people than she is. They're also far less desperate about finding ways to attract an audience. On that score, there are strains of human evil the Boingers will never understand.

And yet, some of you are pillorying them.

Proud of yourselves?


The 'Violet Blue lied a lot' and 'we have a lot of dirt on her we're too nice to reveal' statements will probably end up forcing the Boingers to explain themselves a lot more... it won't be pretty, and if they're as much upstanding people as TNH claims, they will not be happy with her.

This may be the single most ill-advised self-destructive statement I have seen on the web in a long time (except for a few here, but you know the kind of asshats comment here).
posted by wendell at 5:31 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


BoingBoing: Censorship is bad, but some types of censorship are less bad than others
posted by elfgirl at 5:33 PM on July 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


The bitterness that's radiating off Xeni's posts is amusing.

That's a little more Schadenfreude than I'm capable of right now.

I thoroughly disapprove of how they've handled things over there, but that doesn't make their suffering any less real.
posted by tkolar at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair?

Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boy, TNH is making things so much worse. This is awesome.
posted by waraw at 5:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


This may be the single most ill-advised self-destructive statement I have seen on the web in a long time (except for a few here, but you know the kind of asshats comment here).

Agreed on both points.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 5:38 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Strains of human evil" didn't make your most trollish list? Gosh, that was my favorite part.
posted by sculpin at 5:40 PM on July 1, 2008


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

Now if that were really true, the wonderchicken'd be all over that site.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


man alive, if teresa nielsen-hayden's comment has anything to teach us, it's that we should be happy and proud to have jessamyn and cortex.
posted by lia at 5:42 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.

Seriously, please stop.
posted by spiderwire at 5:44 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


And if I didn't make it clear, TNH = Teresa Nielsen Hayden = BoingBoing Paid Moderator

I have seen cortex and jessamyn write some sprited defenses of MeFi's Allmighty Mathowie, but have never seen anything like this. That's why I love MetaFilter and am among those who consider BoingBoing vastly overrated. I mean, they use Movable Type to run the blog... isn't that convincing evidence of cluelessness right there? (I keed, I keed, I just enjoy watching the steam come out of anildash's ears, I'm evil that way)
posted by wendell at 5:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I misunderstood what you said there, Alvy.

I don't see what you did there?
posted by spiderwire at 5:46 PM on July 1, 2008


Taking away all the local flavor, like Cory Doctorow's unceasing campaign against virtually any kind of censorship

But I don't think you can take out the local flavor. Nobody would care in the least if your uncle joe went back and edited his myspace page. Because he hasn't held himself up as a champion of transparency and free information in the digital age. He hasn't regularly brought negative attention to other blogs censoring or silently removing information and then gone ahead and done the exact same thing.

Context is king here. You don't get to put yourself up on a pedestal and then cry foul when people notice you don't belong there.
posted by Justinian at 5:48 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


And as for all this "Orwellian editing" crap -- christ, do you take two seconds to think before you post it? You know the Boingers have a major commitment to transparency and open communication. Taking a stand on those issues, and writing and publishing a weblog that's run on those principles, doesn't mean the authors of that weblog are obliged to tell you about every little thing they think and do and decide.
NONPERSON HAS BEEN WONDEREMPTIED BY THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPARENCY
posted by Flunkie at 5:54 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 8:36 PM on July 1


Talk about boyzone. Could we knock this shit off, please.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:56 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.

So fucking lame. Let them hang themselves asshole.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:58 PM on July 1, 2008


829 comments?

C'mon MeFites, let's make it 1000.

I know you can do it!
posted by liza at 5:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is there anything more lame and ridiculous than "oh man if you knew what we knew about her you would freak, seriously, it's the worst thing in the world she is an awful human being but we are the good guys so we won't say what it is instead we will just encourage speculation and rumormongering sheesh it feels refreshing to be so honest and forthright and noble i think i better have some ecto cooler (but seriously she is a slut and whore and possibly a murderer but i can't say anything about it really i am doing her a favor (where is the ecto cooler) anyway really this was all to protect her we should get medals for our righteous conduct whore bitch psycho) and please anyway ignore everything that's happening but god if you, if you knew you would not even believe for one second the shit she pulled but i can't tell, really"

Fuck BoingBoing.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


[munches popcorn, considers switching channel]

....466 comments later....

Oh. Wow.

Alright, this thread reminds me of when how Facebook devotees seem to feel about MySpace.

It's look like bOINGbOING has become your Dad's Oldmobile ie made irrelevant by the very forward motion it helped instigate.
posted by humannaire at 6:00 PM on July 1, 2008


So fucking lame. Let them hang themselves asshole.

Seriously. I flagged that so hard that it spilled over into commenting about it too.
posted by flaterik at 6:00 PM on July 1, 2008


man alive, if teresa nielsen-hayden's comment has anything to teach us, it's that we should be happy and proud to have jessamyn and cortex.

Seriously, has BB been hacked?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:01 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.

What the fuck? Not. Ok.

Flagged, deleteme
posted by Skorgu at 6:03 PM on July 1, 2008


>Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.

Seriously, please stop.

Seconded.

All the trashing of the BB folks is depressing. They handled the matter poorly and seemingly contrary to the standards up against which they hold others, but insulting their talents, looks, tastes or careers (insofar as they are unrelated to this editorial decision) is trés douchy.
posted by monocultured at 6:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seriously. I flagged that so hard that it spilled over into commenting about it too.

Metafilter doesn't deserve the label to begin with, but can we not give the "boyzone" complainers valid ammunition by giving that asshole any more attention?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:06 PM on July 1, 2008


I guess it's context. Last time I made such a comment, not only did people not get up in arms, but it got laughs. Didn't expect it to cause even the least bit of uproar. Seriously.

Mods: mea culpa.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2008


Another comment from TNH... Less angry and obnoxious, but she appears to be pressuring the HappyMutantsLLC into coming out with a VB-bashing statement... (cut and pasted in full for the same reasons as before...)

This has zero to do with candor, or with freedom of speech. It has a great deal to do with the Boingers not wanting to trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned.

If you think any of this turns the Boingers into an evil corporate entity ... Lord almighty, I have no idea what to say. The notion is just too bizarre. It's easier to imagine they're shapeshifting aliens.

A number of comments got suppressed. The first ones were nasty, came in from buddies of VB's, and were obviously trying to pick a fight. I told the assistant moderators to unpublish them. I had no idea how long it was going to take the Boingers to arrive at a decision. It never occurred to me that they would dither so long over not wanting to go negative on Violet Blue. In the meantime, the comments kept coming in. That's how it happened. And by the way, there were never all that many of them.

So for that, you'll publicly defame Mark and Xeni and Cory and David? What a model of virtue you must be.

If you think what has happened is evidence of evil intent ... no. Just, no. I still have no idea what to say to an adult who comes to that conclusion. In the meantime, please don't write back to tell me all high-and-mightily that it's your moral judgement that what they did might conceivably possibly slippery-slopily lead to malfeasance, because if they erred, they did so out of kindness. Also because at the moment I'm having real difficulty believing in the depth and resilience of your own moral judgement. It'll pass, I'm sure. I'm just having trouble believing in it right now.

Sincerely,

Teresa Nielsen Hayden

posted by wendell at 6:09 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


man alive, if teresa nielsen-hayden's comment has anything to teach us, it's that we should be happy and proud to have jessamyn and cortex.

What? I thought we were already.

*pockets one get-out-of-jail-free card*
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:09 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


829 comments? C'mon MeFites, let's make it 1000.

My contribution to your goal!
posted by ericb at 6:10 PM on July 1, 2008


Man, this whole thing is the most Intertainment™ I've had in a long long long time.
posted by sciurus at 6:11 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


i second the motion about the misogyny.
totally not cool and totally flagged.
posted by liza at 6:13 PM on July 1, 2008


Did I forget to link?

TNH's 5PM comment

TNH's 6PM comment
posted by wendell at 6:13 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


"This has zero to do with candor, or with freedom of speech. It has a great deal to do with the Boingers not wanting to trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned....

So for that, you'll publicly defame Mark and Xeni and Cory and David? What a model of virtue you must be."

Nice.
posted by spiderwire at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2008


What some people seem to be failing to realise is that even if you're not wrong you can still be lame.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:16 PM on July 1, 2008


liza writes "Am just going to say WTF, let's make it 1000 comments. "

Well now that Boing Boing is dropping teasers, this turdstorm isn't going away until the whole mess is public. We now know that VB did something that was OMGSOTERRIBLE that they had to cleanse the site of the mere mention of her name. What the hell did she do? That speculation alone will get us to 1000, and that's assuming that TNH stops throwing gasoline on the fire over at the official Boing Boing thread. Once we find out what really happened, I think this sucker's going to 1500 comments in the aftermath. 2000 if it's a sex scandal.
posted by mullingitover at 6:17 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


So Violet Blue saying she doesn't know or understand what's going
on is a form of defament?

Humannaire, please pass the popcorn.
posted by liza at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


What some people seem to be failing to realize is that even if you're not "evil" you can still be wrong.
posted by wendell at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh and in the stark contrast of moderation here vs at Boing Boing, can I just say cortex, jessamyn, we love you.
posted by mullingitover at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: oscilating spheres of hostility

Someone out there is recording all of these taglines for use some day, right?
posted by JHarris at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you think any of this turns the Boingers into an evil corporate entity ... Lord almighty, I have no idea what to say. The notion is just too bizarre. It's easier to imagine they're shapeshifting aliens.

Yes. It most certainly is.
posted by felix betachat at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2008


Well, if they're talking about Xeni, she has always been at war with Censorstan.
posted by wonderemptyperson at 12:36 PM on July 2 [8,972 favorites +] [!]
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


With several comment quotings and discussing it and the commenter making a mea culpa, I think it might be more dizzying to nix the comment now than to let it stand as an example of people on all sides of this discussion saying questionable things, but I'll head-check it with my cohorts because I've been the odd man out on that line of thinking before.
posted by cortex at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Meta, Unfiltered.
posted by SpaceBass at 6:23 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Teresa really has some great comments:
The online world has a badly depressed baseline notion of what constitutes civil conversation. It's a leftover from usenet days, when the only thing you could do about trolls, creeps, crazies, and thugs, if you didn't want to fight them, was to keep your head down and add their names to your killfile. Differences of opinion tended to get sorted out via the verbal equivalent of cricket bats and nunchuks. It was an environment that heavily favored participants who had thick skins and loud voices....

Here's how you can tell that everyday civility is a basic social value, rather than a luxury: when you lose it, you start to lose other things as well. I've seen far more free speech get stifled or shut down by loutishness than by governments or other authorities.
Good advice. I wonder if "I'm having real difficulty believing in the depth and resilience of your own moral judgement" counts as civil, or loutish?
posted by spiderwire at 6:25 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm just here to get you to 1,000.
posted by Joel Johnson at 6:25 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Now THAT'S transparency, cortex.

I suspect BoingBoing is going to have a job opening for a Moderator in the near future. DON'T TAKE IT, PLEEEEZE!!!
posted by wendell at 6:27 PM on July 1, 2008


Heh. Hiya, Joel.
posted by cortex at 6:27 PM on July 1, 2008


And, man, cut Teresa a little slack. This is a king-sized shitstorm she's dealing with, and it's not clear to me that it's even her shit in any practical sense. I don't envy the day she's having.
posted by cortex at 6:30 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Doing my little part to help too. Go team!!
posted by pearlybob at 6:31 PM on July 1, 2008


Who cares what Violet Blue did? When Hans Reiser killed his wife, did Linux Today delete all mentions of ReiserFS?

Grow the fuck up.
posted by empath at 6:31 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Valleywag's renaming of their post from something along the lines of "Boing Boing loses credibility" to Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair is shitty

Fucking A. I had the vague impression that valleywag was a sleazy worthless gossip blog but hadn't thought too much about it either way. This sort of move renders the blog worthless either through homophobia or just plain stupidity.

Well, if they're talking about Xeni, it depends on how loose their definition of "girl" is.

I was also going to point out how stupid and utterly reprehensible this post is but others have already done so and I think that reflects well on metafilter.
posted by stet at 6:33 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


joel! what happened to your vow to never join metafilter?

p.s. do not poach jessamyn or cortex, or i will steal your fat dog.
posted by lia at 6:34 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'll head-check it with my cohorts because I've been the odd man out on that line of thinking before.

Please do. This thread is large enough that it won't miss a slight derail into vicious personal attacks.
posted by tkolar at 6:35 PM on July 1, 2008


And, man, cut Teresa a little slack.

FWIW, I was being serious when I said that she had some good comments. The ones I posted I thought were genuinely insightful -- cogent statements on good moderation practices that are really far too rare. Really good stuff.

What I was trying to get at -- poorly -- was that I don't think she's following her own advice very well right now. It's certainly likely that she's frustrated, and that'd be understandable; it's only human.

That said, she's ostensibly the head PR person and moderator, and both jobs require thick skin. As she pointed out in one of the quotes I posted above, it's just not professional. The accusations she's making about Violet Blue right now are particularly uncool.
posted by spiderwire at 6:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just noticed that the whole "xenisucks" stuff on BB where Xeni called the site "a hoot" is also purged.
posted by waraw at 6:38 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter : Uncensoring the web

MetaFilter : Repersoning unpublished unwonderfuls

MetaFilter : Unshitting the blogosphere

MetaFilter : Closer and closer to 1000 comments
posted by liza at 6:39 PM on July 1, 2008


cortex: you mean you're thinking of unpublishing the comment?!?
posted by Justinian at 6:40 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, brother cortex, I'm in the "reap what you sew" camp here. Like my little thing with jscalzi above, the fact that TNH's primary communication so far has been condescension, condescension, then some more condescension, then an ad hominem... well, use whatever image you like, but she has it coming. I've never seen a nerd mob quieted by being talked down to or belittled. Let's see how this plays out!

* To their credit, many "edgy" comments have not been unpublished! It sounds like I'm being snarky, but I actually do thank them every time they let one of these discussions actually breath...
posted by cavalier at 6:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


In that case, cortex, when the BB Mod job opens up, you can take it. We'll even give you a going-away cake... I've got one with a big IE logo and the message "Congrats on Shipping" in my freezer. Don't know why nobody ever took a bite out of it.
posted by wendell at 6:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just noticed that the whole "xenisucks" stuff on BB where Xeni called the site "a hoot" is also purged.

Oh what the frack! How far down the rabbit hole are they going -- have they gone -- on this unpublish policy?
posted by cavalier at 6:42 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hootendectomized?
posted by Flunkie at 6:45 PM on July 1, 2008


metafilter? What a joke. Yeah, your links are nice, and askmefi is useful, but the discussion and core community is like a pack of marauding, shrill seagulls descending upon a sole chip.

We should totally mail bags full of seagulls to bOINGbOING headquarters in protest until they agree to renew Jericho they agree to furnish us all with bags of delicious, drama flavored Apologeeto'sTM, the corn chip that explodes like a marauding snarkfest in your mouth!©

If they don't come through in a week, we'll begin tossing Alka Seltzer tablets through the windows.

bOINGbOING, if you think your total loss of credibility is a mess, wait until you have ruptured bird intestines gumming up your Power Mac keyboards. That'll make it real squicky to blog about Jules Verne's Ironetta, the steel bosomed electrical sex worker with the papercraft hoohah that can simultaneously crack SecuROM and service Japanese businessmen while investing the profits in third world microloans.
posted by bunnytricks at 6:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [10 favorites]


The funnest part of this will be watching them retrofit their own ideology to make this kind of behaviour seem reasonable.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Cortex
I won't kick if you delete any and all of my comments regarding this, once you get your checkin, but until then...

I guess it's context. Last time I made such a comment, not only did people not get up in arms, but it got laughs. Didn't expect it to cause even the least bit of uproar. Seriously.

Mods: mea culpa.


Getting laughs is literally the last qualification for making an ugly sexist comment that has nothing to do with the matter at hand, shame on your nitwit ass.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned...

"WTF where are my posts" is trashing?

Pass the popcorn.
posted by rodgerd at 6:47 PM on July 1, 2008


Yet to appear in this epic thread: the speculation that the BoingBoingers are pissed at VB for writing an article that may have contributed to getting their friend Amanda Congdon fired from her job at ABC. I can't remember the first place I saw this theory posted at this point though...

Also, I'm surprised at the lack of speculation here as to what exactly she did to piss them off. I mean, you can argue about BB being hypocritical for unpersoning her or whatever all you want, but would you change your mind if you found out she did something really heinous?
posted by Tesseractive at 6:47 PM on July 1, 2008


sew

Sow. You reap what you sow.

Mmm, tasty chip.
posted by rodgerd at 6:51 PM on July 1, 2008


Blargh. Cortex, make me look smarter! Pretty please?! I even spell checked... darn words that sound the same but spell differently!

Now.. if one could bear fruits out of cotton fiber/poly blends... I'd slice them and fry them and then we could squawk and flock!
posted by cavalier at 6:54 PM on July 1, 2008


but would you change your mind if you found out she did something really heinous?

How would Cory react if the Linux community purged every mention that ReiserFS had ever existed from the kernel and leading Linux-oriented sites when he was convicted for murder? Would he have say, "Well, that was a pretty heinous crime."?
posted by rodgerd at 6:57 PM on July 1, 2008


Ok, nevermind, the Amanda Congdon theory was edited into one of the FPP links as a P.S...
posted by Tesseractive at 6:57 PM on July 1, 2008


Violet's getting pretty freaked.
posted by waraw at 7:01 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


but would you change your mind if you found out she did something really heinous?


If someone did something that pissed them off, then they've got the perfect medium to make a post explaining what this person did to piss them off. Deleting them from history and saying nothing, however, is an extremely immature response that goes against the principals they all claim to hold.

It would be like if Mathowie decided to delete every single comment ParisParamus made on this place, delete his profile page, and delete any other comment anyone ever made asking about what ever happened to Paris Paramus. Shitty and immature, no matter what the person did.
posted by Jimbob at 7:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Posting on legendary thread because I love you all. Well, not the creepy misogynist guy. But the rest of you--SMOOCH!

And though I'm late to the limerick contest:

A sexblogger named Violet Blue
Was 'unpublished' by BoingBoing, it's true
The blogosphere trembled--
"Has our champion dissembled?"
And the monkeys began to fling poo.

Unpublished unpersons don't care
If their comments have vanished from there
They'll get front-page stories
And other such glories
While TNH tears out her hair.

I confess that I don't give a damn
That BoingBoing's got into this jam
The "things" weren't so wonder-
Ful. Then, this new blunder!
Not to mention the endless book spam.

posted by Sidhedevil at 7:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


Not freaked, waraw. Entirely civil, rational, and level-headed.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:05 PM on July 1, 2008


It is somewhat amusing to me that the huge BB thread that keeps getting linked to is seen as some sort of crazy, unhandlable mess by the folks over there, yet that sort of thing is de rigeur here in MetaTalk.

That's one of the things I love about MetaFilter; when our shit stinks we know we air it out as quickly and thoroughly as possible, because we know that if we leave it under the covers, it'll end up sticky as meconium, and as hard to clean up.
posted by sciurus at 7:05 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Perhaps, Sys Rq. Was going on the repeated "wow" and "in shock".
posted by waraw at 7:07 PM on July 1, 2008


[No worries, everyone. I'm making enough popcorn for everyone. Who likes it buttered? Anyone prefer bean flavor? Hands up, please...] [Personally, I prefer samosas for this kind of debacle.] [Did anyone bring marshmallows? This whuffie fire's not going to last forever - get in there quick!] [This meltdown is so fascinating, in a limited, not-quite-Zimbabwean-election-crisis sense.] [Oh! I forgot the rat-traps and BBQ sauce. Be...right...back...]
posted by Minus215Cee at 7:07 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


the authors of that weblog are obliged to tell you about every little thing they think and do...

Don't they do that anyways?
posted by drezdn at 7:09 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


*clears out the channel so a longboat can dock*
posted by drezdn at 7:10 PM on July 1, 2008


Minus215Cee,

If we complain, will we get ppcrn? Is there a bittorrent for the BBQ?
posted by lukemeister at 7:11 PM on July 1, 2008


You know, I barely remember a couple months ago BoingBoing had an item on a Saturday about something that had become a big deal on the web a couple days earlier but had been revealed as a hoax the night before. And the BB post was assuming it was legitimate. I had seen BB's practice of striking through incorrect info and putting corrections on the same post and thought that, while it sometimes makes their original judgment look silly, it at least shows they were being honest. I kept the story in a Firefox tab, clicking back to see what the correction would look like and a couple hours later, it just disappeared. Unpublished. I wish I remembered more about the incident (I think it was Cory who posted the story but I could very easily be wrong), but it showed me then that even BoingBoing has a Memory Hole and what they throw in there is probably very interesting indeed. So this whole kerfuffle just showed that I was right. It is very interesting indeed. Can you imagine if some muckraker or shitstirrer did an in-depth review of the BB archives vs. archive.org. what other juicy stuff they'd find? Fortunately for BB, the shitdivers at Valleywag are too lazy to do that kind of work.
posted by wendell at 7:13 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


i've got the marshmallows!
posted by liza at 7:13 PM on July 1, 2008


Seriously, why waste time making small minded comments on Xeni's looks when there are so many real reasons to despise her?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:16 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait was the Sidhedevil a few comments back? GET THE FUCK BACK IN HERE LADY.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:18 PM on July 1, 2008


Can you imagine if some muckraker or shitstirrer did an in-depth review of the BB archives vs. archive.org?

Actually, not to derail this thread into something I'm actually curious about but does an automated tool for doing that kind of research exist? That would be extremely useful.
posted by whir at 7:19 PM on July 1, 2008


I should've bought more Hot Pockets when they were on sale.
posted by wendell at 7:21 PM on July 1, 2008


Just chiming in with: Clearly, the whole thing smacks of sexual/interpersonal conflict. And it's obviously nothing to do with Cory, who I'd imagine knew nothing about it and was very surprised to find out.

The most obvious scenario to me is: Xeni comes home mad after a fight with Violet, logs in to BoingBoing's back end and just deletes everything that even mentioned her in passing -- and everything that came after has been a rather shabby attempt to recharacterise it as something other than pure spite.

In my imagination, the other BB people are hopping mad with her for doing it and, behind the scenes, are trying to get her to be more honest, and even apologise.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:21 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


the discussion and core community is like a pack of marauding, shrill seagulls descending upon a sole chip.

hey, there's a chip on that guy's shoulder! back off, i saw it first!

*squawks raucously*

oh - there's a longboat! think i'll follow it for a while...

*veers off towards longboat, poops on boingboing in passing*
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:21 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yesterday on the thread over at Making Light, I spoofed Xeni's name to make a comment. My intent in doing this was to point out that the "Cory" who had posted there was an obvious fake -- I really never expected the comment to pass as Xeni, and I thought it might be a kind of funny way to call out fake Cory. Ha ha! Ha. Ha?

After spending the day observing the completely horrific consequences of not transparently apologizing for one's mistakes and realizing that this whole issue is probably centered around Xeni, I just wanted to say: very sorry, learned my lesson, no disrespect.

It's no sex scandal, but it's all I got
posted by zota at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


[lukemeister: If you complain you'll get oo. And ue on your hands, or maybe ea, depending on your topping preference. The BBQ sauce is my father's recipe, and he doesn't bittorrent, but I can send it to you in a RAR file.] [I take it no one wants a samosa?]

[liza: AWESOME. Let me gather some of my brass-plated extensible marshmallow sticks (For The Discerning OutdoorsMan, it says on the box), and we're in business!]
posted by Minus215Cee at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2008


So the last time I refreshed this page, I got the "This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments" thing at the bottom, and was on my way to Meta to make a WHAT. THE. HELL. MATT. post, but then I refreshed again and the thread was back open. Way to freak me out, guys!
posted by jtron at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2008


Of course, whir, something like that must exist. Fortunately, it's probably too technical for anybody at Valleywag to use. (If you haven't guessed, I have a lower opinion of Valleywag than anybody else involved in this mess, including the poster who made the unfunny Xeniphobic comment)
posted by wendell at 7:27 PM on July 1, 2008


904 comments and counting.

Minus215Cee, how many bags of 'mallows do you think we need?

:)
posted by liza at 7:27 PM on July 1, 2008


"Marauding, Shrill Seagulls"
(with apologies to Howard Nemerov)

The editors at BoingBoing, sometimes,
For kicks, they post two kinds of truth on site
At either end of a single blue byline
And toss that up into the blogosphere,

Which goes for it so fast that often Metafilterans
Make the connection before it hits archive.org.
Hooked and hung up like that, they make a thread
That lasts only so long. The editors

Do that for kicks, at BoingBoing, sometimes.

posted by adipocere at 7:30 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ok. It should be obvious to the casual observer what it is going on now.

When this thread hits 1000 comments, THN is going to make a BB post with a full explanation of the injustices done to all "behind the cut"...

And then, we'll all get rickrolled.

And it still won't be funny.
posted by qDot at 7:31 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


HOW CAN I RUN OUT OF FAVORITE POINTS!
This is a legendary day for a legendary post.

Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
posted by liza at 7:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


All of this talk of marshmallows and boing boing is making me think of Cory's pale, marshy bloggers' ass crack, and that's just gross.

Speaking of, time to take a break from this legendary FPP and slide into the tub before things fester.
posted by bunnytricks at 7:34 PM on July 1, 2008


It amazes me how people can get so caught up in their side of things that they can so completely lose sight of how people who aren't already convinced will see their actions. Especially people in positions of high public visibility, not to mention editorial control.

Take a moment out of your devastating rebuttal and imagine that someone came into the discussion right now no context, no back story, nothing. Does your sentence sound sensible? Rational? Even if you're totally in the right you can still succinctly convince anyone listening that you're off your meds.

Even if Violet Blue is nature's most heinous bitch and caused this whole thing, her posts are calm, collected, cited, and scrupulously factual.

Even if Boing Boing and staff are pure as the driven snow and are just overwhelmed, or whatever they're coming off as at best incompetent and at worst malicious and incompetent.

Obviously the Truth lies somewhere in the middle there, but this is Givewell-caliber damage control. Very surprising.

[There's some money to be made with dual-use longboat paddles and mallow toasting sticks. US Patent 72928, ©2008 Skorgu Networks, All Rights Reserved, Do Not Drop]
posted by Skorgu at 7:36 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Pony Request: When an askme question about dating someone you work with comes up, can we point to this thread?

(Because, at the end of the day, that seems like at least some of what precipitated this kerfluffle.)
posted by maxwelton at 7:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


This will become a B-school case study on how not to handle controversy, especially internet controversy that spreads a little faster than in regular media. When your kids get into Harvard B-school they will tell you about this, and you will smile.
posted by caddis at 7:38 PM on July 1, 2008


Let me gather some of my brass-plated extensible marshmallow sticks

Using Extensible Marshmallow Language, no doubt!
posted by lukemeister at 7:39 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, shit, I'm getting all drawn into this now that I've got my PICK statements sorted out.


At boingboing, TNH wrote "This has zero to do with candor, or with freedom of speech. It has a great deal to do with the Boingers not wanting to trash Violet Blue, who has no such compunctions where they are concerned."

I haven't been able to find any of Violet Blue's "trashing". Is there a reference to such?
posted by boo_radley at 7:40 PM on July 1, 2008


I am happily contributing toward making this thread into a longboat, a longcat or a Long Dong Silver. While short on Hot Pockets, I did get Graham Crackers, which with liza's marshmallows and somebody else's chocolate bars, can make sure everybody gets S'more! S'more! S'more!
posted by wendell at 7:42 PM on July 1, 2008


Suddenly, I don't feel so bad about what happened to me.
posted by Paphnuty at 7:43 PM on July 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


When your kids get into Harvard B-school they will tell you about this, and you will smile.

Right before they tell you about their great new Web 2.0 charity
posted by spiderwire at 7:44 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


One of the more interesting things is that, while Violet Blue has a reputation for badmouthing people and institutions she has had a falling out with, nobody has found anything "trashing" she has said about BoingBoing (or Xeni). Unless... she has done a much more skillful job of unpublishing than BB has... Oh, yes, curiouser and curiouser.
posted by wendell at 7:46 PM on July 1, 2008


I'm curious. Was Teresa Nielsen Hayden around when all this was supposed to have gone down, a year ago? She seems to have inside dope about the quality of Violet Blue's character, which she describes in very unflattering terms; did she come by that through experience?

Additionally, it is quite a disingenuous rhetorical technique to say "I could talk about what a liar this person is, and I could trash them, but I won't."

Yes you did. You just refused to support your accusation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:52 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Additionally, it is quite a disingenuous rhetorical technique to say "I could talk about what a liar this person is, and I could trash them, but I won't."
"And she has no such reservations about trashing us."
posted by Flunkie at 7:56 PM on July 1, 2008


I'm curious. Was Teresa Nielsen Hayden around when all this was supposed to have gone down, a year ago?

Here is Mark's post welcoming Teresa to the site on Aug 28 2007. The last Internet Archive crawl of the VB/Xeni post mentioned above was Aug 27 2007. So she's certainly been there the entire time.
posted by spiderwire at 8:00 PM on July 1, 2008


[liza, I think we'll need a lot. Maybe a half-bag per comment, distributed independent of merit.]
[lukemeister: I've got some ten-foot bamboo poles if brass plate isn't to your liking.] [I'm embarrassed, actually, I slept through my Extensible Marshmallow Languages final. I was dreaming of beans, on fire, but they were these beans, not the canned ones. It was horrible; I still passed the class. I just keep the poles around for, uh, nostalgia. Yeah, nostalgia.]

posted by Minus215Cee at 8:03 PM on July 1, 2008


It's good to see you're publicly acknowledging your role in the multiple times your company idiotically drove LiveJournal onto the shoals to rot (before selling her for scrap).

This thread isn't about me, but actually, the experience there is relevant to the thread at hand. Nearly every time something outrageously annoying happened when I was part of that community, it was due to a series of perfectly reasonable (or reasonable-seeming, at the time) decisions being made, the sum total of which was something that seemed really nefarious. And in each case, we chose, as I suspect BoingBoing has, to take the hit on reputation rather than air out dirty laundry in public or put one of our coworkers up for crucifixion by a huge community of ranters.

Basically, I think there may have been stuff mishandled within the BB team, but in these situations, it can make a lot more sense to close ranks around the folks you work with and all swallow your pride together than to make an individual the focus of an angry mob. Again, I don't know the details of this situation, but I've seen it from the inside in communities I've been a part of, as well as from other communities that have faced such shitstorms, and what seems like cluelessness is often loyalty in difficult circumstances.
posted by anildash at 8:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


Additionally, it is quite a disingenuous rhetorical technique to say "I could talk about what a liar this person is, and I could trash them, but I won't."

Thanks to AskMe, I happen to know that the formal name of this particular rhetorical technique is paralipsis.
posted by whir at 8:14 PM on July 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


.
posted by homunculus at 8:20 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It would be like if Mathowie decided to delete every single comment ParisParamus made on this place, delete his profile page, and delete any other comment anyone ever made asking about what ever happened to Paris Paramus. Shitty and immature, no matter what the person did.

Unfortunately, we'll always have Paris.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:25 PM on July 1, 2008 [16 favorites]


Oops, wrong thread. Carry on.
posted by homunculus at 8:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sidhedevil, so nice to see you. Come back and set a spell some time.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2008


Regarding speculating on what Violet Blue did to be unwonderfuled, writing the negative article about Amanda Congdon doesn't fit. That article was published on 2007-04-05, and Violet Blue was still considered Boingy as late as 2007-07-27, in a post about "Short link amuse bouches for Friday". So that's too much time difference.

The only thing that seems to fit the timeline is the trademark case she brought against a porn star using the name "Violet Blue", which was filed in October 2007. But there still seems to be something missing, given the very intense personal feelings on display.
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 8:36 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


it can make a lot more sense to close ranks around the folks you work with and all swallow your pride
Oooh! Just like cops!

Sorry.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:39 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know AmbroseChapel that is almost exactly the scenario I imagined when I was trying to figure out WTF was going on. My next question was who told who what when.

And someday when your kids are working on their b-school papers on PR disasters of the internet age, that last sentence is going to melt the language parser or the weak AI research system you bought them.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:44 PM on July 1, 2008


waraw:Violet's getting pretty freaked.
Actually she seems pretty calm about it all -- certainly more so than TNH.

sciurus: That's one of the things I love about MetaFilter; when our shit stinks we know we air it out as quickly and thoroughly as possible, because we know that if we leave it under the covers, it'll end up sticky as meconium, and as hard to clean up.

Man! I love these shit metaphors. Meconium! Haven't heard that since my daughter was born.

This entire event is so engrossing -- I don't care about the chip, just love having the chance to squawk or shriek or whatever it is MeFites are supposed to be doing. (Bird metaphors don't stick as well as shit ones.)
*rimshot*
No, Violet, that is not what "rimshot" means.
posted by CCBC at 8:48 PM on July 1, 2008


The LA times spoke to Xeni and Violet Blue about it.

Game Frakkin' Over


2) The reasons behind the mistake of number one are indeed rooted in personal dynamics between Xeni Jardin and Violet Blue. What little I know of those dynamics I decided quickly was none of my business. When I realized this was a private matter and not some kind of baseless, mean-spirited ostracism, or legal dispute, or vendetta, I began to feel the story's importance shrinking, even while attention to it was ballooning. Problem was, the people involved didn't come clean until way too late, after it had already morphed into a sleazy gossip yarn. Maybe a little quicker with the sunlight next time.

Sounds like it was indeed a messy break-up.
posted by empath at 8:51 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


WebScout has an update and something of an explanation after talking with Xeni. Makes sense. Hopefully it's lesson learned, hugs all around, etc. etc.
posted by spiderwire at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2008


Damn you, empath.
posted by spiderwire at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2008


The problem with the lover's-spat explanation is that then Violet Blue would certainly know why this is happening (assuming she's not holding back on that). I'm leaning to the theory that this has something do with the trademark case somehow bringing in the Boingers, to legal unpleasantness, where Violet Blue then didn't know how bad it got (still, wouldn't they tell her? maybe not?).
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 8:54 PM on July 1, 2008


Minus215Cee - are there any samosas left?
posted by rtha at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2008


This sentence clause does not make sense to me: "When I realized this was a private matter and not some kind of baseless, mean-spirited ostracism ..."

It certainly looks like a "baseless, mean-spirited ostracism", which arose from a "private matter".
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 9:04 PM on July 1, 2008


Context is king here. You don't get to put yourself up on a pedestal and then cry foul when people notice you don't belong there.

Don't get me wrong, I think that's exactly why this story has the legs that it does. But in scenarios like this there are the people and there is the cause. And then something happens that forces you to choose between the cause and the people. And by time it's gotten that far you're already screwed.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:05 PM on July 1, 2008


Boingboing needs a metatalk section.
posted by empath at 9:05 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


942 comments?
Get on with it people.
I did a run on marshmallows and they're
certainly not going to waste.
posted by liza at 9:08 PM on July 1, 2008


empath, they're incapable of having a metatalk section.
that would make them more like ... ahem ... MetaFilter.
posted by liza at 9:10 PM on July 1, 2008


I hope one of the lessons they are learning from this is not to treat their readers like adversaries when they don't like the questions that the readers start asking. With a few obvious exceptions, these are your audience, and alienating them and treating them like they're a bother or off base, and attempting to silence legitimate concern, isn't going to serve you very well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:14 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Get on with it people.

I would be astounded if at least one person on this thread hadn't had some sort of communication with the BoingBoing authors and clearly though it wasn't a malicious move. I don't see why it's necessary to belabor the issue at this point.

This was an enormously boneheaded mistake, and the subsequent response was even clumsier, but it seems clear by now that everyone involved knows that. The deletion probably happened a long time ago, and no one saw the need to bring it up unilaterally until it came up independently and blew up in their faces -- unexpectedly, I'd bet.

And who knows -- they might not even have access to the original posts. But we'll never know without also hearing some disclosure about the motivation for the "unpublishing," and it seems that all concerned have concluded that it wouldn't be appropriate to make that public.

At any rate, I don't think my own unsatisfied curiosity is reason to twist the knife here. To err is human, to forgive is to get the last word.
posted by spiderwire at 9:18 PM on July 1, 2008


The "Game Frakkin' Over" post doesn't really have much information in it.

"1) BoingBoing messed up ..." - Err, yes. A little bit of info, in that there's a climb-down from the idea that personal trumps everything.

"2) The reasons behind the mistake of number one are indeed rooted in personal dynamics between ..." - Well, the tone of the Boinger comments certainly implied that.

"3) Bloggers are weird." - stating the obvious :-).
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 9:18 PM on July 1, 2008


The WebScout article doesn't help a whole lot:
It appears Jardin now understands this: "Some of the things that were natural to do when it was four people just doing it as a hobby," she began when we spoke on the phone, then finished on a different track: "We rearrange things as we go along and realize the volume of any small actions you take will be a lot louder. We’d never handle it the same way again."
When was it just four people doing it as a hobby? Five years ago? Back when it was a 'zine? Yesterday? Cause her answer, framed against her actions, is only sensible if it was yesterday.
posted by boo_radley at 9:26 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem with the lover's-spat explanation is that then Violet Blue would certainly know why this is happening (assuming she's not holding back on that).

Yeah I buy Lentrohamsanin's theory that Violet Blue very definitely does know why the Boingers might have it out for her (maybe not initially, since this came to light so long after whatever the incident was) and, cannily, is playing innocent while the Boingers and hangers-on just completely hang themselves in total amazing LJ-drama fiery glory. Nice work; now maybe if she can cause the National Review to e x p l o d e I can suddenly decide she's totally my hero.

nice juicy drama, back to permalurking, doin' my part for the big 1000 is all
posted by furiousthought at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I thought it was embarrassing to date a singer/songwriter and have her write a song about you when you break up.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:31 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


So my blog is the reason I don't get laid? I thought I was blogging because I don't get laid. I'm confused.
posted by wendell at 9:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


And by [the] time it's gotten that far you're already screwed. I think it was actually screwed before then. It was screwed when they felt they could start deleting and significantly changing the content of posts after publishing. Xeni had apprently been pretty bad about this, though many of them as mentioned above had fallen prey to hoaxes and then deleted posts. (I think XeniSucks.com had covered these.)

It's not that these things aren't wrong when someone does it on a personal page, it's just that few people care. I am sure out in MySpace land, there has been drama when someone posts something regrettable, and then tries to erase it. It's a silly thing to do no matter who you are. Petty tyrants of corporations and popular websites start out as petty tyrants in cliques and personal sites.

I don't envy TNH's role as moderator there. But I do think she has been corrupted. What initially started out as disemvowelling tolls then became erasing arguments that she found tedious. Her arguments in this situation have shown that the lines have been blurred between what is right and what she wants. Things have gotten away from policies and rules and instead are becoming personal and power-based ("It's our website!").
posted by FuManchu at 9:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


So my blog is the reason I don't get laid? I thought I was blogging because I don't get laid. I'm confused.

It's a vicious circle.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on July 1, 2008


Wait, Astro Zombie... you're Dave Coulier? It all makes sense now...
posted by jtron at 9:40 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The following shows where I lose all respect for TNH and won't read BB anymore, including the thread I'm copying this from. In reply to a question of how VB has "demonstrably" lied:

1. As mentioned earlier, by pretending that there's something extraordinary about removing old material from a weblog when the practice isn't unusual, and VB herself does silent edits on her own site. 2. By omission: not mentioning that the entries were unpublished over a year ago, and that she'd known about it for months before going public. If it was news at all, it was old news that no one else had noticed. 3. Overstating the number of entries about her. I can't get an accurate count without reading each one, in order to distinguish entries that are actually about her from instances that are just her weblog being credited in passing as the source of a link -- not my top priority at the moment -- but they're not in the three digits.

1. There's a hell of a lot of difference between making edits on a blog mainly about sex, and making edits on a blog that has repeatedly called out other organizations for revising their pasts. 2. This is a "she said, she said" argument and does not fall under the "demonstrable" tag. 3. Calling someone a liar when they do not instantly know how many posts have been wiped is pretty fucked. Especially after you claim you had no desire to trash said person.

Xeni, I thought you would've known better. Sorry this went down this way, but not being able to see this coming from waaaaaay over there -- you blog on BOINGBOING fer chrissakes -- is beyond ridiculous. If TNH and Xeni have their jobs by the end of the week I will be surprised. I'm going to bed.
posted by waraw at 9:41 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie is Dave Coulier!
posted by Falconetti at 9:42 PM on July 1, 2008


Goddammit! uh...great minds think alike?
posted by Falconetti at 9:43 PM on July 1, 2008


TNH lost my repsect hours ago, but really screwed the pooch with this one: (cut and paste, unaltered except for my emphasis)

Most large, active blogs take material down, for a variety of reasons. Some do it more than others. May I refer you to the first paragraph of BooHoo's comment @594? He or she describes how Violet Blue takes stuff down from her own site.

What you've fallen for here is VB's version of one of Karl Rove's favorite tricks: pretending that a perfectly normal behavior which someone has engaged in is unusual, alarming, and discreditable. My guess is that you mostly read new weblog entries. If you don't do the kind of online research that leads to reading old ones, you would never notice that sometimes they're missing.


So Violet Blue = Karl Rove?

I don't know what anyone else at BB has against VB, but if she did anything less heinous than kill TNH's dog/cat, it's Teresa who's doing the Rovian disinformation here.

BoingThud.
There is no bounce left.
posted by wendell at 9:49 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


OMG not fluffy!
958...
posted by ryanrs at 9:55 PM on July 1, 2008


i still have favorites left, i'm so disappointed.
posted by nomisxid at 9:58 PM on July 1, 2008


I agree with waraw, that's a bizarre post from TNH.

1) Removing old blog posts is not unusual? Yes it is, and removing a large number of posts specifically because they mention a certain person is completely unheard of in my experience.

2) Someone "demonstrably" lied about X by omission? Then you have to show that she knew about X.

3) She lied about the number? Where? Her blog post on the subject just says "every Boing Boing post (except one) with my name on it".

If you're going to say "demonstrably"? You have to, well, demonstrate.

Here's a quick thought -- a lot of the posts might only have mentioned her in passing. Xeni's "travels in South America" had about three words in it about VB, about one per cent of the content, but it still got deleted. How would you feel if a good portion of your Google Rank came from being linked on BoingBoing, and you took a hit because you happened to be in the same post as a casual mention of Violet Blue?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:58 PM on July 1, 2008


but she appears to be pressuring the HappyMutantsLLC into coming out with a VB-bashing statement...

They could just... I dunno... admit this whole thing was a bad idea? No? Okay.
posted by Artw at 10:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Wow.

I guess after all these years I shouldn't be surprised by snarky hate and ad hominem attacks on people discussed on MeFi. But I still am astounding at the viciousness of commenters here about this whole thing.

I'm lucky enough to know both Violet and the BB crew. You know what? They are all nice people. You'd like them too. They are all polite, kind, and care about the people that read their sites.

Too bad MeFi is full of self-righteous commenters that attempt to engage in a contest of who has the snarkiest post and who first rejected the popular sites. I could search and replace the names in this thread with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and the vitriol would feel just right.

Who the hell knows what went down to get this ball rolling? Not anyone here for sure. But in true MeFi fashion, don't let a lack of knowledge stand in the way of getting off a good one liner at someone's expense.

Now that the MeFiites blood is up, let's get a MeTa boyzone post going to really bring out the long knives...
posted by Argyle at 10:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I thoroughly approve of any and all Akira like spacing or periodes between the letters e x p l o d e.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on July 1, 2008


Another argument against the lover's-spat explanation is the way TNH is flaming. If the issue were just a nasty break-up, I don't think that she'd be so personal herself. I'm inclined to the view it had to have been something that involved Boing Boing as an entity somehow. Maybe something embarrassing was at risk of coming out in the trademark case, some funding put in doubt? Just conjecture.
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2008


I love this thread.

Some people got rickrolled. Paphnuty escaped! It must his Brand New Day.

Sidhedevil posted again. When I 1st started lurking I thought she was kind of awesome, but then she disappeared and I was sad.

Also cortex is awesome. lacklustered is the best word ever. Did you read the posts he made on making Light? Question? at meet ups do you call people by their names or their aliases. Cause I would totally be all cortex this and cortex that. Calling him Josh woud be wierd. Even if he was like hi, I'm josh. I would b like dude your name is cortex. Stop playing.

Also, yes, I always think i don't buy enough hot pockets. But then what the fuck are yoiu going to do with 15 boxes of hot pockets. That's way too much.

Also, some guy was being misogynist and everyone was like dude stop being a misogynist and he was all okay i will, my bad.

Also, there were limericks. Awesome limericks.

Hope you make it to a 1,000. But I have to go now. Bye!
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Another argument against the lover's-spat explanation is the way TNH is flaming.

No... that's just how she writes when she is angry. Been that way for at least 15 years, since the usenet days.
posted by Justinian at 10:07 PM on July 1, 2008


My money is still on "something in retrospect totally trivial" and "complete inability to back down".
posted by Artw at 10:07 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Newsflash: Nobody cares if you know the principals involved. It's utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand, which has to do with blogging and journalistic ethics and treating your readers with respect. Do we have a sense of entitlement? Yes, and I think we should. They make a living from us.
posted by empath at 10:08 PM on July 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


[I saved you one, rtha. *passes samosa, settles back into chair* Sorry, it took so long. I had to go pass meds. Ah, work.]
posted by Minus215Cee at 10:10 PM on July 1, 2008


>They are all polite, kind

Demonstrably, this is not so. And I can actually demonstrate that.

>Another argument against the lover's-spat explanation is the way TNH is flaming. If the issue were just a nasty break-up, I don't think that she'd be so personal herself.


I see that as her reacting in defence of Xeni. If Xeni's on the phone all boo-hoo, everyone hates me, the next time you see a comment attacking her you take it personally.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:12 PM on July 1, 2008


Empath: Sense of entitlement because you visit their website? Wow what an ego you have. I guess you have entitlement to everything you ever lay your eyes on in life, eh?

My comment is directly relevant. When individuals are insulted for things that have nothing to do with the topic (post removal) it's way out of line.

You expect journalistic ethics from one party but feel free to personally slam someone else? What hypocrisy...
posted by Argyle at 10:12 PM on July 1, 2008


that's just how she writes when she is angry. Been that way for at least 15 years, since the usenet days.

Really? Whoa.

I confess that I hadn't really been following TNH's web presence too assiduously, but my impressions from intermittently reading her comments at Making Light/Electrolicious and elsewhere, were very positive; she always seemed pretty sensible, rational, and even-keeled.

Which makes the current flameout kind of baffling, not to mention the snide, condescending tone. Sorta seems at odds with someone who's a professional moderator (even if it isn't her main gig) and who's writing a book on the subject.
posted by Vidiot at 10:15 PM on July 1, 2008


Wow, this thread is just the gift that keeps on giving. What's interesting is that there seems to be a day/night pattern here. Lots of snark during the 'day' and lots of more reasonable discussion at 'night'. I'm to lazy to actually go back over the thread and look at the timestamps, in order to test that theory, but I have actually read every single comment.

TNH's writing always seemed very arrogant and condescending when she talked about moderation, that's something I pointed out way, way back, and she's clearly clearly gone well into the zone of acting out of spite. She's also deeply paranoid, claiming that the early criticism of the deletion was orchestrated by Blue's friends, rather then simply people who found the deletion inappropriate. She's making wild accusations about Blue that are totally unsupported by evidence.

I mean at the worst, Blue might have had a good idea about why the posts were removed, and her initial post could have been a little disingenuous, but Come one. Her public statements in no way merit the treatment TNH is giving her. And if VB really did orchestrate this entire thing, then she'd Karl Rove look like John Kerry. I mean, a simple innocuous comment causes boingboing to entirely implode?

And it is possible that VB really didn't know why her posts about her had been deleted. How could she have know what would have unfolded by simply inquiring about it on her blog?
posted by delmoi at 10:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hmm ... a clue? (NSFW)

Analysis: Violet Blue Vs. Violet Blue
Any Attorneys Want To Help A Girl Keep Her Website?
By: Mark Kernes Posted: 11/06/2007

Violet Blue Vs. Violet Blue
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn it, empath, that's the second time this thread I've had to double-check that you aren't me. "Empath" is my handle on another system, and some of my friends there have talked to me about comments "I" have made here, not knowing that those were your comments. I'm used to them getting us confused; me getting us confused, not so much.
posted by hades at 10:23 PM on July 1, 2008


I think it was actually screwed before then. It was screwed when they felt they could start deleting and significantly changing the content of posts after publishing.

The reason I phrased it like I did was because I don't think it started as a they thing. Someone was first, and I kinda suspect that a whole lot of crap went down the memory hole before everyone knew about it.

I mean, imagine you are and you find out that everything that you thought was THE SACRED EDITORIAL POLICY has been being used to line the bird cage by everyone else. You can cleave to your people, or cleave to your principles. Yes, in one sense you were screwed a while back, but this is the first page that says something like, "If you decide to stick to your principals and raise a big ugly stink about this, turn to page 129. If you think your friends were wrong, but don't want to be too mean the them, turn to page 78."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:32 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


78

YOU'RE SCREWED! The entire internet is calling you a hypocrite. Blog communities that had never heard of one another are fighting like the Sharks and the Jets. Some of the people you work with are blaming you for not being the principled one and forcing them to reconsider their own decision not to rock the boat.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:35 PM on July 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


129


YOU'RE SCREWED! The rest of the group considers you a pariah. When you talk to anyone else you feel the temperature drop about 10 degrees. No one on the internet has particularly noticed your principled decision. Someone on a blog somewhere is referring to you as a Steampunk Dildo.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:38 PM on July 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


One thing that has really surprised me about the BBetc response: they keep using the word "unpublished".

Over and over again.

Almost as if it isn't obnoxious.
posted by flaterik at 10:43 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't win! This book sucks! Man, they really went downhill after Cave of Time.
posted by barnacles at 10:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I do not envy TNH. Were I in her position I would have -- several hundred comments ago -- suggested to the principals of BB that, seeing as how they repeatedly shat their own bed, maybe they should consider changing the sheets themselves. Or lie in it.

TNH is BB's moderator, not its curator. She's there to preserve order -- if she can -- and by whatever means necessary using the tools at her command, and that includes leaning on the delete key as conditions warrant... and if ever a shit-storm warranted it, here 'tis.
posted by deCadmus at 10:46 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another data point, if this isn't completely played out yet: compare BoingBoing's policies page as of June 25th and their policies page now.

"We reserve the right to unpublish or refuse to unpublish anything for any or no reason."

A sensible policy. Too bad it wasn't there, oh, a year ago. Or even a week ago. I think that's it for me. I've enjoyed Making Light (and, by extension, TNH) and BoingBoing for a long time, and I was willing to cut them a lot of slack. Shit happens. But when it keeps repeatedly happening while you're in the middle of damage control for that same shit... just, no.

Ugh.

(Also, fewer than 20 comments to go. Yay!)
posted by hades at 10:48 PM on July 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


Have you ever watched an old building burn before and looked at the fire and the lights from the fire trucks and the snow falling and thought, "This is so sad, but it's so beautiful......"? That's kind of what I feel like now. Beautiful, beautiful fire......
posted by lattiboy at 10:51 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


"It's not working! Unpublish harder!"
posted by Artw at 10:53 PM on July 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


Good find, hades. Hell of a good find.
posted by wendell at 10:55 PM on July 1, 2008


I hated those god damn books because there was like 1 good ending. Every other time you ended up dead at the bottom of a cliff or exploded by a malfunctioning time machine.
posted by puke & cry at 10:56 PM on July 1, 2008


Okay, after a combined 1800 or so posts, THIS is by far the best one:

#739 posted by Doctor Popular , July 1, 2008 10:38 PM

First!!!

posted by lattiboy at 10:56 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Near the bottom of the POLICIES page, they state:

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this privacy statement, the homepage, and other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.

Of course, that ONLY refers to the privacy policy, so they can change the "Copyright Notice" to "NEENER NEENER NEENER" without posting it anywhere else. Which is pretty much what they did.
posted by wendell at 10:59 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


What's interesting is that there seems to be a day/night pattern here. Lots of snark during the 'day' and lots of more reasonable discussion at 'night'.

Remember that we're not all in the same timezone.

Assuming that 'day' = US day:

Day pattern: USians & Canadians mostly at work; less time to read, digest & comment in a way that leads to 'reasonable discussion'. Hence, a lot of one-line snark & jokes. Add the early-in-thread factor, where there's a payoff (in favourites) for a good snark*.

Night pattern: USians etc have more time to think & write. Aussies are awake now, and skiving off work. Discourse improves immeasurably.

Graveyard pattern: USians asleep, Aussies off work & most likely drunk. Brits awake & at work. Highest level of discourse at this point.

* imho, the reaction of various commenters over at Making Light to the conversation here might be warped by failing to understand the effect of favourite-fishing early in threads. there's very often an initial shitstorm of jokes & snark, which tends to lead into deeper discussion later. casual visitors who only skim the first dozen or two comments might think that the early faux-hip snarktacular (c) Stavrosthewonderchicken is the only thing we do here. of course, the ends of threads often degenerate into joking, too, unless they become an endgame between the only two people left who care enough to argue...
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [7 favorites]


And why wouldn't anyone appreciate our snark? Our snark is teh awesome!
posted by Artw at 11:05 PM on July 1, 2008


I have no doubt that the principles of BB are mostly decent people (the garbageman post by MF someone linked to was a huge steamy turd, though). We've had some passionate advocacy for the BB set in this thread by their friends, who themselves seem like nice folk.

That said, a lot of this advocacy has been somewhat misguided based on what the "real" issue is, instead concentrating on the noise you'll get in any discussion which involves celebrities (however big or small their audience may be). If you're a celebrity, your face, body, interests, mannerisms, ideas--whatever--are going to be analyzed, criticized and mocked. That's just what people do. Most of it is just noise, which I imagine is hard to listen to if you know the people in question, but it's going to happen, no matter what. Doesn't excuse the downright mean-spirited comments, but most of the rest is not much different than the ribbing you exchange with coworkers and friends.

What is disappointing is the "lawyering" by the BB people (well, the clumsy attempts at damage control by denial and deletion are painful, too). Arguing you're obeying the letter of the law while you've trampled the spirit underfoot is never going to convince anyone but the true believers. How is it that a group of people that bright cannot see this?
posted by maxwelton at 11:06 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pure Speculation
---

there once was a website that said,
to delete without 'splaining is bad.
then someone got something
...that we'll never mention
and retaliation was achieved,
by deleting with speed,
that person
...that we'll never mention
as if being such a witch,
would really cure that itch.

there's clinics for that sort of thing,
no need to go out and bring
home acres of fodder
for speculation and bother
about just what it is
...that we'll never mention.

it could have been Shelia,
with those black leather boots
who when caught in bed
laughed as she said
"hey, it's just a personal website"

or maybe it was that time
with Jeff, Mark, and Tammy.
after six hours in a hot-tub
you'd be quite clammy
in parts
...that we'll never mention.
posted by nomisxid at 11:07 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


AHHH!! Hades! Son of a bitch! I knew it wasn't there previously. Oh, blessed day! My suspicions confirmed! Those unpublishing !#)(%!#'s!

I'd like to blame the cold medicine for waking me up, but maybe it was just because I wanted to see this cross 1,000. In any case, the confirmation that the "unpublish" line just showed up just kills me. They're acting in every way that folks like Cory have campaigned for people not to act. I feel totally bad for Xeni, this is going to focus crap on her, and you know what, we don't have any right to examine her life or ask for an explanation as to why she feels the way she does. TNH, even as my opinion of her has lowered more, I can laud for at least trying to protect a friend in need even if it is hamfisted and prone to spiking more anger then it is to relieve the issue.

An awful thing happened, and the problem is they just keep making it worse. It has reached a car wreck level of misery. We're still here because some of them picked up demolition derby cars and keep ramming into the wreck making the fire hotter.

And Kid C, those choose your own comments are ++++++++.
posted by cavalier at 11:12 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of sorry that BoingBoing never saw fit to publish anything about me, so I could see if it had been un-published, and if not, request that it be, with a lot of crying and whining.
posted by wendell at 11:13 PM on July 1, 2008


Hey, my microwave just dinged. My Hot Pockets are ready. Don't go over 1000 until I get back. Thanks.
posted by wendell at 11:14 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, everytime I think I'm the least bit "with it" w/r/t "internet", I see a thread like this with off hand remarks about somebody in this thread "destroying livejournal" and somebody else being some web 2.0 speech-giver something or other and I realize that celebrity both in concept and practice has completely collapsed.
posted by lattiboy at 11:15 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many people are refreshing the page waiting for 999?
posted by spiderwire at 11:16 PM on July 1, 2008


It is pretty late... I love you guys
posted by spiderwire at 11:16 PM on July 1, 2008


Everybody needs a hug.
posted by spiderwire at 11:17 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


fuck it , I'm going for the 1000th post!!111
posted by lattiboy at 11:17 PM on July 1, 2008


Everybody needs a hug.

YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!1111
posted by lattiboy at 11:17 PM on July 1, 2008


Ow ow ow ow ow. Doo hod... id burmd my dung...
posted by wendell at 11:18 PM on July 1, 2008


Awwww... you didmt waid...
posted by wendell at 11:19 PM on July 1, 2008


Damnit!
posted by delmoi at 11:19 PM on July 1, 2008


1,001!
posted by cavalier at 11:20 PM on July 1, 2008


Shit! Nerds, get off my tubes!
posted by cavalier at 11:20 PM on July 1, 2008


And the BB thread is only up to 754... which makes MetaFilter 33% more....

uh....

more....

well....

we may be 33% more something we don't want to be...
posted by wendell at 11:21 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Of course, if you factor in the number of comments they deleted, we're probably behind...
posted by wendell at 11:22 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


but my impressions from intermittently reading her comments at Making Light/Electrolicious and elsewhere, were very positive; she always seemed pretty sensible, rational, and even-keeled.


That's because tnh is generally sensible, rational, and even-keeled.

It's just that she (and pnh) don't really have much of a intermediate setting in terms of outrage. It's like spinal tap; the outrage dial goes to 11.

This is not a particularly awful nor uncommon vice. And usually the outrage is directed at people who really deserve it so goes by unremarked.
posted by Justinian at 11:23 PM on July 1, 2008


Of course, if you factor in the number of comments they deleted, we're probably behind...


n wr nt!
posted by lattiboy at 11:24 PM on July 1, 2008


Oh, I am such a bad, bad person. I have no self-control. I would make a bad mod.

But I really do love you guys (in a non-gender-specific sense). Except for Paphnuty. He had it coming.
posted by spiderwire at 11:29 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Too bad MeFi is full of self-righteous commenters that attempt to engage in a contest of who has the snarkiest post and who first rejected the popular sites. I could search and replace the names in this thread with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and the vitriol would feel just right.

Of course, no-one on MeFi is actually being as big a dick as some of your friends are. It ain't people on MeFi who are throwing around terms like "a pile of shit" (later unpublished, of course), "evil", and so on. Perhaps you should recalibrate your outrage meter. And then tell those of your friends who are acting like collosal cocks to one of your other friends to knock it off.
posted by rodgerd at 11:29 PM on July 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Who got the 1000th comment? What did the final boss of Mefi look like? Did it drop any sweet items?
posted by bunnytricks at 11:33 PM on July 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


spiderwire got the "uncharitable shield of wailing" (+53 snark!)
posted by lattiboy at 11:35 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



spiderwire got the "uncharitable shield of wailing" (+53 snark!)



BTW, thanks for rolling "need" on that. Dick.....
posted by lattiboy at 11:36 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just that she (and pnh) don't really have much of a intermediate setting in terms of outrage. It's like spinal tap; the outrage dial goes to 11.

You know, as I sit here watching the tires burn this comment struck me because if I go waaay back in the time machine, when comments were on QuickTopic and Cory later announced his fandom of the NH's and TNH's modding, I thought it was because of the even keel stuff. SuperMods. But if you remember, Cory had (has?) a nasty tendency to go to 11 anytime someone disagreed with him on QuickTopic. Discussions usually went:

#1 SomeDude
Cory man love the posts but isn't this the third on [your event thing] today?

#3 Cory Doctorow
FRACK YUO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

It was like, wow bad. So anyhoo, considering he's pretty even keel sounding a lot of the time this struck me as "Wow.. his reactions go to 11!". So now I'm getting an appreciation for maybe how they all got together, kindred spirit like. Maybe the admiration was "Man, when someone's a bonehead, I get all up in their grill with exclamation points! But TNH, man, she flames them with like 4 paragraphs and lots of big syllables! A pro!". Birds of a feather flock together and all that. Birds of a feath... seagulls... internet.... is that my benadryl calling?
posted by cavalier at 11:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


BTW, thanks for rolling "need" on that. Dick.....

But Hunters can use every weapon

lol /dance
posted by spiderwire at 11:39 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


As the person who initiated this thread, and who has refrained from commenting largely because I've remained in awe over how this monster has not died, there seems a strong corollary between how readers and other blog-related people have reacted to Boing Boing's actions and how, say, those within circles of fandom treat and exclude and feel the need to praise those within their clique. One of the best overviews of this subject can be found in Justine Larbalestier's book, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, which dealt with how fan behavior has led to oft troubling gender relations within that community that continue today. But the book also portrayed how fans were very quick to set their own history, perhaps in some sense printing the legend, Liberty Valance-style.

Beyond the troubling hostilities directed towards Xeni Jardin's gender (that were thankfully objected to in this thread), I am struck by how moderator Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who did indeed come from the fan community before becoming a professional editor, has remained bellicose, censurious, and unpermitting of even the most minor detractors. I am further struck by how the inexplicable amendment of Xeni's "shit" comment upon Boing Boing falls into this same pattern of entitlement and unaccountability. There have indeed been efforts by BB defenders to characterize the site as "personal," as if this modifier immediately usurps the clear fact that BB is a cash cow. And the major hypocrisy here with BB is that, just as a corporation desperately tries to adjust its ads to appear more accessible to a specific demographic ("hip and edgy" is the term bandied about on Madison Avenue and one can easily cite numerous examples around us; I think of the laughable Burger King ads that try to appeal to a slacker audience), BB and its defenders see no delineation between what is amateur and professional.

But you simply cannot have it both ways.

The ideological hypocrisy, the further purging of posts (such as the Xenisucks commentary mentioned above) after this issue was uprooted by Valleywag, and TNH's draconian disemvoweling of comments suggests that BB is run by slavish fans who wish to write their own history, when the BBers clearly are professional. And I think that this strife between professional and amateur is what has led to the great outcry. I had initially lodged my protest here (and elsewhere) because I was appalled to see a major weblog set such a poor example for the community. As someone who is where he is today because of his weblog, I'm endlessly grateful to the promise of this medium and I have done my best to respect it, as well as the people who take the time to read me. And whether we like it or not, a weblog involves a community.

But I made the mistake of not realizing that BB doesn't want to be part of the community. If it did, BB would have responded earlier. If it did, it would have done what any reasonable person does in an argument. The person say, "I was wrong. I'm sorry," and you try to make amends. You don't sit and play your guitar with the White House seal as the town's being swept up by a tsunami.

No, what BB wants to do here is to establish the rules without democracy, without the humility or the human decency to listen to the dissent. The same way that other humans have attempted to strongarm their ways to the top: some succeeding, some failing. And they wish to do this by co-opting the amateur way of doing things, by co-opting your language, by disemvoweling it and making you feel inferior (see TNH's "I've known hamsters that had more guile than the Boingers.").

If you're happy being part of such a world, that's fine. But keep in mind that the Internet provides limitless choice and gives you the options to inhabit any particular giddy universe you want. So why settle for your words being ripped apart, deleted, and unpublished on BB when this doesn't happen elsewhere (such as here)? Why settle for a website that is anti-community when there's plenty of community elsewhere?
posted by ed at 11:52 PM on July 1, 2008 [52 favorites]


Earlier someone posted a link to an Adult Video News article about Violet Blue vs. Violet Blue which definitely takes sides against the Blogger Currently Being Unpublished. Anyway, here's another, more, um, judicious source that directly contradicts some of the points in the AVN post.

Also, I want to point out that, even though these are very very outsized egos all around, any one of the BB people (including TNH) or VB herself have accomplished more in their young lives than, for instance, Chris Matthews. Maybe this is a tempest in a teapot, but this particular teapot is more important than, say, a cable news network. Just trying to put things in perspective. Did I succeed? No? How about if I said this kafluffle was more important than any of the Don Imus scandals? Or that the question of VB's probity is more important than that of, oh, Nancy Grace? Or that questions about boingboing's policies are more vital than ones about Fox News? This stuff is still new and models and boundaries and paradigms are being developed as we speak. A thousand posts are not too many...

but it should be said i would never never ever hire tnh as a mod ever -- an inquisitor, maybe, a chief of secret police, certainly, but a mod, no!
posted by CCBC at 11:58 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


CCBC: Fair point, but isn't the whole "spirit" of the new media peeps that they're not as fucking lame and self-involved as the old media peeps? If popularity is the new measuring stick of importance, we should probably be talking about every single little thing that Gabe and Tycho do......
posted by lattiboy at 12:25 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If popularity is the new measuring stick of importance, we should probably be talking about every single little thing that Gabe and Tycho do......

I will demonstrate to you why this would not be entertaining:
10:00 Wake up, eat cereal
11:00 Play PS3
1:00 Draw/write/color/or just play more PS3
3:00 Play Wii
5:00 Write little archives blurbs
6:00 Play 360
8:00 Play MMOs until consciousness becomes impossible, collapse
Rinse (hopefully)
Repeat
posted by spiderwire at 12:39 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: 33% more published.
posted by ryanrs at 12:40 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh, so Science Fiction fans are like football hooligans, but with internet missives instead of headbutts?
posted by FuManchu at 1:19 AM on July 2, 2008


Also, I want to point out that, even though these are very very outsized egos all around, any one of the BB people (including TNH) or VB herself have accomplished more in their young lives than, for instance, Chris Matthews.

Certainly there is a lot of ground to criticize Chris Matthews but I find it hard to belive anyone could think he'd acomplished less in life then Xeni Jardin. (and by the way, Chris Matthews is certainly a lot less petulant in dealing with legitimate criticism). Chris Matthews is only 10 years older then TNH as well.

Anyway, whatever fallout there is from this, I seriously doubt it will really negatively affect BoingBoing financially, just look at Slashdot, the owners were dicks who grew to really hate their posters, and their site continued to muddle along. They'll lose status, but I don't think they're going to sweat it too badly. They might lose some readers, but many won't even know about it.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ms. Jardin's latest post: Internet catfight. I think the pristine floor is meant to symbolise Boing Boing's reputation, and the vile splurge of cat vom their recent actions.
posted by jack_mo at 1:37 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Slashdot's decaying signal-to-noise ratio brings to mind the heat death of the universe.
posted by ryanrs at 1:57 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


lattiboy: "popularity" isn't what I had in mind. ed's post which I missed on preview makes the same point better, maybe. This is new. Journalism, however you want to define it, is a changing concept. CNN has settled in to what they consider a Good Thing, boingboing was pointing somewhere else. "lame and self-involved"? Well, we're all sniffing around that particular disaster. My point was (or tried to be) that these folks were no more lame & self-involved than Matthews et al; that personalities and egos are unavoidable.


delmoi: ...there is a lot of ground to criticize Chris Matthews but I find it hard to belive anyone could think he'd acomplished less in life then Xeni Jardin. (and by the way, Chris Matthews is certainly a lot less petulant in dealing with legitimate criticism). Chris Matthews is only 10 years older then TNH as well.
I disagree with your first two points ( but admit we are talking intangibles here -- for the record, I think Matthews and Jardin are sisters under the skin and that Chris has not a single accomplishment that betters Jardin. I'm willing to hear arguments, though, if you have any. What has Chris done? ) As for age, well, maybe TNH is past it, too.
posted by CCBC at 2:07 AM on July 2, 2008


AmbroseChapel:
"Clearly, the whole thing smacks of sexual/interpersonal conflict. And it's obviously nothing to do with Cory, who I'd imagine knew nothing about it and was very surprised to find out."

But he would have known about the deletion policy if it's true that this has happened over the past year with the ok of all the other bloggers on Boing Boing. Right? Just probably no clue about the fact that it would all blow up today.

I immediately thought "meh, tabloid" at the Valleywag post - my thought was that Valleyway is just going for the Google hit love with the "girl on girl" headline - but then having read that post, gone to the links, looked at the photos - um, there's a lot more close relationship there than I'd assumed - really, I thought this all would boil down to a legal issue or something to do with BB's stand on trademark. This can't just be about a bunch of people having an emotional falling out and deciding not to be friends anymore and delinking each other in a fit of angst? Why....that's so old school blog dramaz! Wow! (Remember when blogs didn't have comments? And everyone found out what everyone else was saying about them via referral logs only?)

Someone please tell me that someone's setting this to music and turning it into the blogville version of High School Musical - because the verbage being tossed is really starting to sound very high school snarkfest. Violet Blue better have done something immensely evil to have warrented all this hooha. Like stealing genetic material and altering it to create some Mutant Killer Hitler Kittens or something equally evil.
(Sorry, I just couldn't resist using the Hitler Kittens, should've gone for something more over the top, but the photoshop potential was there. Not...that I can use images here. Damn.)

(The load time just to preview is insane. Yow.)
posted by batgrlHG at 2:38 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


oi...sure am tired of TNH dumping my comments (and yes they were nice) down the BB memory hole (judging by how quickly the 'vb is a pile of shit' comment disappeared, she's obviously lurking here, and possibly personally cheezed i called her 'sweetie'), so i'll summarize here:
a 'personal blog' is a website about you and your activites, with or without ad revenue.
a 'professional news site' is one where you report on goings-on outside of your own personal life, with ad revenue, and with the constraints of journalistic integrity...
where does bb fit in? welll...i'd sure like to see how much revenue they generate with only posts about MAKE and cory's latest book reading.

(this i didnt even bother trying there:)
and sorry, xeni's latest post (and title)...'internet catfight'?(!) honestly? i don't think i've ever seen anyone use as focused a spotlight to act like a bigger, smugger cunt in. excuse my french. i think it's obvious at this point that this is all her own personal drama with miss blue, and that she's letting her own ego take down the reputation of a site that so many have worked so long and so hard on

so:
To: Doctorow@craphound.net
Re: please cease and desist

In light of recent activites on your website 'BoingBoing.net', I no longer wish to be associated with the site in any way.
I hereby request that you cease and desist using my comments or screenname on the site. Please 'unpublish' my comments and delete my 'happy mutants' profile, screenname: 'sexyrobot'

thank you.



*sigh* and i used to love BB...this whole thing makes me feel really sad, actually, and totally betrayed.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:47 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


You know I've read every post on this thread and a large part of the the other threads linked out from here... and I STILL can't get my head around the fact that Internet! Freedom! No! Censorship! We! Are! The! Good! Guys! has, for a long long time by the look of it, been deleting (fuck 'unpublishing'... that's only to be used in satire) stuff by those or links to those it has since deemed to have become unpersons for such crimes as being mildly of it... It's a mind fuck on the level of the end of Fight Club.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:44 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


1030!
1031!

I fall asleep and this is what I come back to. 1031 comments.

Snif ...

am so proud ...

TEAM MeFi!

w00t!
posted by liza at 4:48 AM on July 2, 2008


I just wanted to point out Hade's find of a recent change in their policies page, in case anyone missed it.

So let me get this straight:

(1) Silently unpublish, deperson, and wonderempty.

(2) Get pissed off when people notice.

(3) Change your policies page to say that you have the right to unpublish for any or no reason.

(4) Point to your policies page and say that you're just following your published policies.

(5) Yell And as for all this "Orwellian editing" crap -- christ, do you take two seconds to think before you post it? You know the Boingers have a major commitment to transparency and open communication.

Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something?
posted by Flunkie at 4:55 AM on July 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


as being mildly of it

Damn, it should have been 'mildly critical of it'


Does that about sum it up, or am I missing something?


yeah, we are committed to transparency and openness by changing our rules of transparency and openness behind your back

"At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. Squealer, temporarily stunned, was sprawling beside it, and near at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:18 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't it not shock me that Xeni would choose to call this mess a catfight when in fact, it has nothing to do with whom she decides to unfriend. It's the way, the process of unpersoning, unfriending, unpublishing, delinking and dewonderfuling that is problematic.

Who gives a crap about whether VB visits her coochie or not. It really has to do with how she and the rest of BoingBoing choose to not apply to themselves the standards of ethics they are so wanton to preach to others. When you are that big and that influential, you just can't attribute your fuck ups to just petty personality fights. Not when you're pulling millions a year either on advertising, sponsorship or VC money.

Unfortunately that money and that attention makes BB the standard by which a lot of us down the blogosphere line are measured. Sure, they can get away with this shit because they have millions to shut people up. Yet for those of us toiling in the long tail though, it makes our work at surviving by what we do online far more difficult. While they're fuck ups will bounce off the teflon provided by their money, that liability will be transferred to us down the long tail line.

So yeah, am angry she's so stupidly nonchalant about the whole thing. It's small publishers like me who will end up paying the price for her arrogance and stupidity.
posted by liza at 5:21 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


So many surprises.

I have to echo Divine_Wino: The lesson here is only stick up for people that you can expect will be worthy of being stuck up for. The egos at boingboing have vastly exceeded whatever goodwill I might have had for them at any point. Feh.

Surprise 1: Initially, I couldn't quite imagine a resolution of the mystery that wasn't somehow powered by threats and lawyers, but to find out that apparently it all boils down to some sort of inconsequential personal spat is a little bit bizarre.

Surprise 2: I'm very, very surprised how badly the Boingers seem to have fumbled the ball. These are the people who tell other people what it's all about, how to be a new-millennium cutting-edge "web-savvy" (just imagine I'm the New York Times here) hero instead of an old-media zero, the ones who are interviewed and invited to speak at conferences and acknowledged as web experts. Anyone can make a mistake, but I would have expected them to be a lot more agile on the damage control here. If they had said something along the lines of "it was a personal/private disagreement and we deleted the posts in the heat of the moment. In retrospect, it could have been handled better/differently, so apologies for that; we've learned something, and it's given us a chance to tighten up our editorial policy. Thanks for your patience." tongues still would have wagged a bit, but I think most people would have been cool with it.

Surprise 3: I did think of TNH as quite the cool head and steady hand (if a bit overzealous for tastes here - but different sites/different moderation, okay), and the slurring and hyperbole has been strange to see. The "strains of human evil" sorts of comments, and suggesting that whatever Violet Blue did was so disgustingly despicable that they won't talk about it for her own sake... well. At this point, it better be Dahmer-level awful to merit the insinuations. I still think that she's a very intelligent person with good ideas, but I'm not so sure that she's quite in the class she seems to think she is with regard to rational adult behavior.

Suprise 4: Wow, MetaFilter, you made me happy in this thread. When the whole thing came up, I braced myself for a lot of ugly talk about Xeni... I would have put money on it. Thank you so much for pretty much entirely not taking that low road, and for calling it out when it veered in that direction. This is a good, good thing. Yes, there has been a lot of critical and sarcastic commentary about various people at BB, but it's been relatively standard garden-variety snarkery as opposed to misogynistic crankery/wankery, so, yay!

and, saving the best for last...

Suprise 5: OMG, Sidhedevil!!!! I once almost made a stalkerly MetaTalk post about where is Sidhedevil?, but then thought better of it. Still, that doesn't mean I haven't had a private detective trying to track her down.
posted by taz at 5:34 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would like to announce that I too have a new policy:

From now on, when anybody makes a reference to George Orwell or any of his works - no matter how instructive or aposite that reference is - I am going to unilaterally assume that they are referring to The Moon Under Water, his essay on what the perfect pub should be like. I will then proceed to engage in lengthy and heated argument with that person about ambience, range of guest ales, seating quality and generosity of measures, regardless of how many times that person tries to tell me that they weren't actually talking about pubs.
posted by flashboy at 5:34 AM on July 2, 2008 [32 favorites]


After a little digging through the trademark case, I'm even more convinced it's the reason for the enmity. It's the only thing that fits. It looks like the litigation was extensive and contentious.
posted by Seth Finkelstein at 5:45 AM on July 2, 2008


That's awesome, flashboy, thanks for the link.
posted by sciurus at 5:45 AM on July 2, 2008


YOU SAVAGES!!

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BEAUTIFUL BEANFIELD!?
posted by loquacious at 5:50 AM on July 2, 2008


Fuck me, people. It's only the Internet.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:02 AM on July 2, 2008


Does anyone read the posts down here?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:04 AM on July 2, 2008


i do.
posted by flashboy at 6:06 AM on July 2, 2008


I'm going to follow suite but I'm going with Shooting an Elephant. I may be pretty damn depressing to deal with but such is life.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:08 AM on July 2, 2008


Casting votes against the ignorant mob because I am unswayed by the opinions here:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden is one of the best parts of the Internet. She's wise, funny, and good at things that many other people want but fail to achieve.

Although I think Cory's hype often obscures the value of his output, he's also one of the good parts of the Internet. He's got a good eye for injustice and insitutionalized and corporate stupidity.

I don't know Violet or Xeni well enough to comment on them but they get the benefit of the doubt from me because, well, they're human and so am I and my policy this year is to be more generous.

All told, the output of Boing Boing is of higher value than just about anything I see from just about anywhere else that employs that few people for that small of a budget and that size of output.

Boing Boing, overall, is a force for good on the Internet.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:10 AM on July 2, 2008


Yeah, has Hades' blockbuster discovery of them changing their policies page gotten around yet? Because that's huge -- in some ways huger than the original scrubbing. The way they blithely linked to the changed page, as if it had been there all along.... It's just creepy that they think they can get away with shit like that. At any rate, those of you with other trafficked blogs should take note. This story isn't over yet -- not at all.
posted by TheWash at 6:19 AM on July 2, 2008


Ww. f ddn't knw tht sch frvnt spprtr f th n tr blg cldn't pssbly b trllng, 'd flln fr t. mn, th prt whr h rgs tht th sl stndrds fr hmn bhvr dsn't pply t th bng bng flks bcs thy'r hmn s prtty vr th tp.
posted by effbot at 6:33 AM on July 2, 2008


I'm going to follow suite but I'm going with Shooting an Elephant. I may be pretty damn depressing to deal with but such is life.

I've always loved Politics and the English Language, but that essay dovetails nicely with 1984, although you could actually make the argument that "Orwellian" language based on Politics would actually have the exact opposite meaning of it's meaning from 1984.

I think Matthews and Jardin are sisters under the skin and that Chris has not a single accomplishment that betters Jardin. I'm willing to hear arguments, though, if you have any. What has Chris done?

Have you started out at his Wikipedia Page? Xeni's is a bit Less impressive

Just from Wikipedia we see Chris did graduate work as an economist, then spent two years in Africa as a peace corps volunteer working as an trade development adviser. He worked for several senators and congressmen, as well as working as a speech writer for Jimmy Carter (writing the infamous 'Malaise' speech apparently), and he's written two History books, as well as political work and his work as a talk show host.

Xeni Jardin has a relatively undistinguished career as a tech reporter and is famous mostly for being an 'internet personality'
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Uh oh! Mo Nickels, you called mefites an ignorant mob, which means, I'm afraid, that we are going to be forced to unpublish the following posts that link to your Doubletongued site:

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/64675 (September 13, 2007)
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/61641 (May 30, 2007)
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/59994 (April 4, 2007)
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/52480 (June 22, 2006)
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/40203 (March 5, 2005)
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/33481 (June 4, 2004)

In fact, this comment linking to posts that are soon to be unpublished will have to also be unpublished.
posted by taz at 6:40 AM on July 2, 2008


Mo Nickels, I'm swayed by some of the opinions here, but I'd tend to agree with most of what you said. I think TNH and Cory have put 100% faith in the people who didn't deserve 100% faith (and who really does) and, well, p. 78.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:45 AM on July 2, 2008


taz brought up the most interesting point about this whole thing. However you feel about them, BoingBoing seemed like it was made up of people who "got" the Internet. Their handling of this is evidence otherwise.
posted by drezdn at 6:48 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


the output of Boing Boing is of higher value than just about anything I see from just about anywhere else that employs that few people for that small of a budget and that size of output.

How small is their budget?
posted by lukemeister at 6:49 AM on July 2, 2008


Another data point, if this isn't completely played out yet: compare BoingBoing's policies page as of June 25th and their policies page now.

File me in with the surprised and disappointed on this front. As much as I'm willing to listen to the arguments some folks at BB and ML have made that deleting swaths of content is generally kosher and expected (willing to listen, bound to disagree), I had assumed that the policy page over at BB was at least a reliable artifact. Changing it in the last week to fit their needs is dirty pool.

Look. Policy changes. It grows. Thing happen that make you realize that your current public-facing account of what you will and won't do doesn't match the needs of your site. It's something we've dealt with over here how many times, in Metatalk discussions and additions/revisions of the FAQs and posting guidelines? It happens. It's understandable.

But you talk about it. You acknowledge it. You say, "okay, these things aren't congruent. Need for action x doesn't match up with stated policy y, and we're going to make a change." That's transparency.

You don't make an expedient change and then point to it as if it's long-standing policy.
posted by cortex at 7:00 AM on July 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


Holy crap. This is what happens when you spend the night sleeping.

The saddest thing to me about all this is TNH's part in it. Like others, I've always liked and respected her (I second Mo's "She's wise, funny, and good at things that many other people want but fail to achieve"), and she's been helpful to me in the past, but she's not looking good here, and unlike Mo (and TNH) I refuse to take the "stand by the people you like no matter what they do and call everyone who criticizes them an ignorant mob" line. What she's doing here is exactly the reason I would never be a moderator on any blog but my own. Like her, I'm usually reasonable but am capable of flying off the handle, and knowing that about myself, I would not put myself in a position where my flying off the handle would reflect badly on an institution I was hired to protect (as is the case with her comments in the BB thread).

cortex writes: And, man, cut Teresa a little slack. This is a king-sized shitstorm she's dealing with, and it's not clear to me that it's even her shit in any practical sense. I don't envy the day she's having.

I don't envy her either, and of course you're bound to empathize with her position, but no, I don't think she deserves a lot of slack here. When you accept a position like that, you're taking on the responsibility of dealing with shitstorms wisely and gracefully. If you decide you'd rather come out guns blazing, defending your pals and calling the readers names, you've failed in your responsibility. I'm sure she's going to regret a lot of what she's said in the heat of the moment; I will be very interested to see whether she apologizes and leaves it there or it silently disappears like so much else on BB.

On my own blog, I've long had a policy of using strikethrough on things I no longer believe are valid and adding updates and corrections clearly marked as such, silently correcting only typos and such. Sometimes I'm embarrassed when I go back to old entries and think "Christ, did I say that? What a doofus," but it keeps me 'umble and is good practice for honesty in general. Because once you start down that road of covering up and hoping nobody will notice, there's no good way out, as so many politicians—and now BoingBoing—have discovered.

One of the best overviews of this subject can be found in Justine Larbalestier's book, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction

Hey, another Larbalestier fan! Yeah, anyone interested in sf should read that book.
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on July 2, 2008 [14 favorites]


Mo Nickels is on the money, mostly, but the best of people can do foolish things that have shitty consequences. This whole Boing Boing business has been nothing but one bad idea after another put into practice with comical degrees of haste, obfuscation, and ineptness. It's pretty much a Dilbert cartoon come to life. I sure don't envy any of the people involved.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:11 AM on July 2, 2008


How small is their budget?

The advertising revenue has been over a million dollars a year for at least several years. I would guess that their expansion in the last year was precipitated by (and is further facilitating) a substantial increase in revenue.

The amount of self-promotion they've managed to foist via BB is incalculable, and the results of it probably generate more income for each of them than their cut of the ad revenue.
posted by blasdelf at 7:27 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't wait for the movie based on the musical based on the movie based on the book based on the article based on the front page post about this.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:42 AM on July 2, 2008


the output of Boing Boing is of higher value than just about anything I see from just about anywhere else that employs that few people for that small of a budget and that size of output.

that makes total sense, if your pigeon is DRM, things made of Legos, Cory's novel, and nothing much of interest otherwise, other than web phenomena that you'll see elsewhere, a week or two earlier. as i and several others argued earlier, BB ceased being interesting the day it turned from "here's an interesting link" to "here's what i think about stuff nobody much cares about"

the fact that they've managed to trade off some early goodwill for so long is the only aspect of that blog that is the tiniest bit interesting, and if you think that's the highest value output from a small organisation, i'm sorry to be patronising, but i can only assume you've never had anything to do with real world companies who actually do stuff.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:48 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Basically, Mo Nickels, they don't do shit with that budget.

They promote things they have financial interests in: not just their own stuff, but fandoms that revolve around their shit. They post things verbatim submitted by their most sycophantic hangers-on without checking them first, which leads to a lot of idiocy. Lots of n-tuple posts retreading the same stuff they post every three months, or outright wrong/misleading/hoax outrage bullshit. They used to commonly edit and re-edit posts over and over with strikethrough and red text, editing the edits to correct themselves or link to the last ten times they posted something. Now they just unpublish.

Hard work, unpublishing. It'd be real hard to make a better site than BB with any less than their 10+ people and at minimum hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash payroll. Real Hard.
posted by blasdelf at 7:50 AM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


BoingBoing seemed like it was made up of people who "got" the Internet.

I don't know why anyone would assume that. They hardly even use the internet over on BoingBoing. They just wait for people to send them interesting stuff, then they post it. In between, Cory Doctorow posts his unreadable prose about how he's doing a book reading somewhere, and Xeni writes about how she has enough money to go on vacation.
posted by interrobang at 7:59 AM on July 2, 2008


Or, what blasdelf said.
posted by interrobang at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2008


I don't envy her either, and of course you're bound to empathize with her position, but no, I don't think she deserves a lot of slack here. When you accept a position like that, you're taking on the responsibility of dealing with shitstorms wisely and gracefully. If you decide you'd rather come out guns blazing, defending your pals and calling the readers names, you've failed in your responsibility.

Yes. This.

I don't care if TNH rescues horses, runs a drop-in tutoring program for orphans, and sends every one of you $100 in a personally engraved birthday card every year. She's a poor moderator, to the point that she's not being a moderator. She's throwing mud and being catty, which no good moderator should ever do, especially on a major website like this with comments.

She's making this conversation be about HER.

A good moderator spends most of these kerfluffles in the background, blowing away comments, answering e-mail, and only making appearances when it's absolutely necessary. It's a lesson in patience, biding your time, and holding your tongue. And then, when you do speak, you need to be as dispassionate as you possibly can be given the subject.

The best moderators I've seen on forums and website comment boxes are remarkably even-keeled. They know it's not about them, and they know it's not their job to defend anyone's honor. They are neither in bed with the ownership nor in bed with the users. They just keep plugging away, having a sense of humor about it, and sticking to the rules of the organization and the community.

TNH has been none of this. And I think it's perfectly acceptable to say that. She may be a wonderful person (and everyone who knows her agrees, so I'm not going to argue). But she's an awful moderator.
posted by dw at 8:09 AM on July 2, 2008 [19 favorites]


Taz, it wouldn't be the first time my stuff was deleted on Metafilter. I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to apologize to Matt personally, after nine years, because my very first post ever on Metafilter was a self-link. He deleted it and shut down submissions for a while.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:12 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas is spot-on too!
posted by blasdelf at 8:13 AM on July 2, 2008


Metafilter: UnWondershowzen
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on July 2, 2008


Yeah, I don't doubt empathy colors my read of it to some extent. More importantly, I wasn't fully caught up with the BoingBoing thread, so I hadn't seen all of what folks have been criticizing in context. I agree that, as much as this has no doubt been a nightmare for her and as much as I can understand where much of it is coming from, some of her statements over at BB have been really questionable in terms of tone and response.

The empathy remains: it's a hard job and I'm surprised that she's being (by appearances) left to clean up someone else's mess. I'm a little uncomfortable with a few bits of cross-site moderation dick-measuring, so to speak, that have popped up in here though and I think joking about someone getting canned is kind of guache, even if I can also understand where that's coming from.

So, on the balance: a little slack is always a good thing, but so is valid criticism, and I don't want to pit the one against the other.
posted by cortex at 8:21 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


When blogs collide
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on July 2, 2008


Artw: BREAKING NEWS

cortex: There's also the view that TNH's job is to keep the cash cow's stall clean, both for the 'Boingers' and the advertisers, a most unenviable position.
posted by blasdelf at 8:29 AM on July 2, 2008


I think joking about someone getting canned is kind of guache,

That's gouache, although I myself, a simple man, would just say "watercolor."
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Boing Boing, overall, is a force for good on the Internet.

Yeah, kinda.
posted by humannaire at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2008


When blogs collide...
"Boing Boing decided to remove all posts related to one Violet Blue.

... This sudden excising attracted the attention of many, including those on the Metafilter group blog, another very enjoyable site whose remit overlaps that of Boing Boing but which is lower profile and driven by a much broader group of contributors. Many of those, it transpires, find Boing Boing extremely annoying – the Metafilter thread on the Violet Blue affair is now longer than that provoked by 9/11. The schadenfreude they feel at such a high-profile defender of online cultural freedom behaving in such an unusual fashion has been described as that inspired by finding the leader of an animal rights campaign being found in a restaurant tucking into a large and bloody steak.

This reaction has only been heightened by Boing Boing's extreme reluctance to explain why the removal happened. Such official response as has been forthcoming has been defensive, lacking in detail or explanation and managing only to further inflame the meltdown. Third party comments have been quietly deleted on Boing Boing and on other, related blogs – and those quiet deletions have led to further rooftop shouting elsewhere. Violet Blue herself affects a naïve bemusement.

There are, of course, any number of theories. Is it a lovers' tiff? A case of wrongdoing, badly handled through a wish to avoid too much worldwideweb mudslinging? A massive egofight? Or are legal machinations at work behind the scenes, of the sort precipitated by expensive lawyers slapping on injunctions?

... Certainly, there's a lot at stake – Boing Boing's extremely popular and at the heart of a considerable commercial empire, and as such seen as a leading example of new-wave Web publishing done right. Just as certainly, there's a lot of passion involved. I find it rather heartening; the legacy media is no stranger to similar secret battles played out in public, but in a code only discernible to the cognoscenti – and the readers of Private Eye. It's to the credit of the blogosphere that such peculiar and distortive happenings are far harder to hide from readers."
posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


sordid, nasty, arrogant (this is a placemarker)
posted by Danila at 8:42 AM on July 2, 2008


When blogs collide

the Metafilter group blog, another very enjoyable site whose remit overlaps that of Boing Boing but which is lower profile

Lower profile means less self-promotion, less incestuous-blog/media-bullshit, less money-grubbing, and less hipsterish, I guess. (That's right, Metafilter is actually less hipster than something.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:44 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dammit, Artw!
posted by ericb at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2008


Teresa Nielsen Hayden is one of the best parts of the Internet. She's wise, funny, and good at things that many other people want but fail to achieve.

That's akin to being told you're doing a heck of a job. I'd never heard of her before Monday, now she's a walking case study in how not to farm out your dirty work to a third party. Piss poor performance.

If anyone has a brain over there they'd take over comment policing and send XJ on a sabbatical. But maybe there really isn't that much worth saving any more.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:47 AM on July 2, 2008


I've been thinking about this overnight, and the conclusion I have come to is that, aside from the public relations cock up, the biggest gaffe made by BoingBoing was that the violated the spirit of the Web. And, by that, I mean they deliberately broke links. Unless I am mistaken, any place on the Web that linked to one of those Violet Blue-related posts will now go, essentially, to a 505 page. And that seems to have been their point -- whatever tiff they have had with VB, they decided not to support her by linking to any of her projects.

But BoingBoing is one of the most-linked to sites on the Web. By removing a hundred posts, or however many there were, they are literally breaking thousands of links. Since the Web is built on hyperlinking, this amounts to deliberately breaking part of the Web. It doesn't make the Web work better, it makes it work worse, and that's the sort of the thing the BoingBoinger have consistently railed against.

And there were other options. Instead of simply "unpublishing" the posts, they could have replaced them with a message that said "Do to personal problems with this blogger, BoingBoing has decided to remove any links to her projects." Links made to these posts would still get where they're going, and the functionality of the Web would not be reduced, no matter how incrementally.

Maybe it's not a big deal, but it seems like a pretty petty violation of the spirit of the Web. We're supposed to tend to the garden as best we can -- I go back through my blogs and check links regularly, because who wants an internet that is like a badly designed maze, where links take you nowhere, without warning and for no reason? They deliberately planted weeds.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:47 AM on July 2, 2008 [11 favorites]


That's gouache, although I myself, a simple man, would just say "watercolor."

Clearly I had meant to write "Guanche"; the parallels to Spanish conquest of the Canary Islands should have been perfectly transparent to the educated reader.

Also, you are a stinky poophead.

posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Heh. Sorry.

Err… are we really the major players in this mess that that makes us out to be? I see us more as an annoying peanut gallery. Full of monkeys. With peanuts.
posted by Artw at 8:49 AM on July 2, 2008


the Metafilter group blog, another very enjoyable site whose remit overlaps that of Boing Boing but which is lower profile and driven by a much broader group of contributors.

I really do need to work out more.
posted by lukemeister at 8:52 AM on July 2, 2008


In other Metafilter news, we're a bastion of internet snobbery, and a great place for all your SEO spam.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on July 2, 2008


It the Metafilter Group like the McLaughlin Group?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


the Metafilter thread on the Violet Blue affair is now longer than that provoked by 9/11.

Nice poke in the asshole there, jackass. Because clearly, more comments = more care! It's so tiring having 9/11 be the zombie metric for measuring against what you're allowed to be upset about.
posted by Skot at 8:55 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: [they] violated the spirit of the Web. And, by that, I mean they deliberately broke links.

Oh, for fsck's sake ...

Links have a half-life of approximately nine million seconds, or 90 days (choose yer units wisely). Complaining about something that's two years old is just lame.

Obligatory disclaimer: I was on vacation and off-net when this hoo-hah broke out, so I'm strictly throwing peanuts from the gallery. I am also a friend of Cory, Teresa, and other folks at BB. (Hell, I even subscribed to BB back when it was a print magazine in the 90s.)

From the venom that's doing the rounds you'd think folks were talking about a conspiracy involving Karl Rove, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the second coming of Adolf Hitler. Back off, and get a sense of perspective, for crying out loud!
posted by cstross at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Full of monkeys. With peanuts popcorn & bacon.
posted by ericb at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oy. Here I am nursing my little head cold, sniff, and none of you rascals took the Hades line [i.e., the phantom "Unpublish" line in google cache] and ran with it? #844 on the BB post, now. I'm going back to bed.
posted by cavalier at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2008


Is the Metafilter Group like the McLaughlin Group?

Can the next podcast follow their format, please? Buh-bye!
posted by lukemeister at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2008


Thanks, cavalier, I didn't want to sign up an account on BB just to post about that.
posted by sciurus at 8:59 AM on July 2, 2008


my very first post ever on Metafilter was a self-link. He deleted it and shut down submissions for a while.
posted by Mo Nickels


8O
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2008


man, languagehat hits it on the head. I've loved TNH's making light blog ever since I first came across it. That I've stopped reading it over the past year is entirely accidental and due largely to the fact that I stopped using an rss reader and sort of forgot to bookmark a lot of my favorite blogs in favor of reading a few isolated ones. She was always pretty badass when it came to a simple sobering take on bullshit, such as her outstanding posts about publishamerica.

but this? this isn't so much a misunderstanding as it is a tragedy. That the VB thing happened at all is unfortunate, I suppose, but not nearly as unfortunate as how they've chosen to handle it. Someone said (I forget if it was here or in the BB thread) that once upon a time BB was where you'd find the guys who really got the internet. Recently, it seems like they've developed an incredibly tin ear about it in a way that I can only imagine comes from the isolation of celebrity. They've lost the pulse of their audience because these days they share virtually nothing in common with them. If the boingers were a band, boingboing's recent history would be that band's "this is our album about america" album that everyone universally hates because it's pretentious irrelevant garbage from people who haven't encountered the subject of their album in years. (I'm looking in your direction tori amos and u2!)

I mean, when you can use a word like "unpublish" and not realize how doublespeak it sounds, that's unfortunate. but even if the word has an innocent origin, its use is still suspect, and when TNH decides that a link to anildash's comment grants her amnesty from any further criticism on the subject, that's not unfortunate. it's either idiotic or deceitful, and TNH is neither of those things so ultimately it's tragic.

but the cherry on top is really that she's chosen to take this opportunity to snark at the commenters, especially because it's so indicative of what a tin ear boingboing has developed where the internet is concerned. Rule #1 of the internet is that no matter what you do someone will pillory you for it. Rule #2 is that those people love to comment on blogs much more than the supporters do. Sitting there and getting outraged at internet snark, she might as well have hung a sign around her neck saying "Hi! I'm new here and I don't know how to do my job!"

But then that's the problem. She's not new here, and one would think she does know how to do her job. So when you see things like this, you start to think to yourself: "hmmm. there's no way that she simply doesn't realize that you have to ignore 90% of the bullshit blog commenters have to say about anything. but she's really getting into this petty fight, huh." and that's when you start to wonder about that disemvoweling policy, and how it's basically designed to embarrass people who comment on boingboing. suddenly it seems like you're looking at an equation, and even though you don't know what X is, when the equation reads 2+x=4 you think you have a pretty good idea. And that's the heart of the tragedy. She's given everybody so much reason to think the worst of her, and it's not because she couldn't help it.
posted by shmegegge at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


ed: keep in mind that the Internet provides limitless choice and gives you the options to inhabit any particular giddy universe you want ... there's plenty of community elsewhere.

Exactly. I'm probably one of the few who never read Boing Boing before any of this. Having waded through this monster thread, it's highly unlikely I now ever will read Boing Boing. I imagine I will be just fine. There are so many good choices out there (and here).
posted by netbros at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2008


the Metafilter thread on the Violet Blue affair is now longer than that provoked by 9/11.

Nice poke in the asshole there, jackass. Because clearly, more comments = more care!


Really. Like, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that there are sixty thousand more MetaFilter users than there were in 2001, could it?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Boing Boing was pretty awesome back then though.
posted by Artw at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2008


Xeni's response to those complaining about sneaking in the line on unpublishing alla sudden into the site policy:

As for the remarks about the unpublishing, Christ people, Teresa linked to it in the post, we never thought before that we needed to have an explicit policy on when or how an editor might edit or take down or refuse to take down their own work (we operate pretty autonomously here, we don't ask each other for permission or approval). We figured since some people were asking, we should go ahead and have a stated policy. We added this, linked to it in the post.

XJ

posted by ShawnStruck at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2008


BTW, the wikipedia article for [x] is larger than that for [y], where [x] is some fanboy nonsense of no consequence and [y] is a highly serious subject. There’s an article in that somewhere…
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Patrick and TNH are also being sued in the state of NJ.

Edit histories of Bauer's article confirm that blog postings from a now defunct site called NielsenHayden.com which was "critical of Bauer", was taken off line by their internet service provider after Bauer made legal threats to the owners. Wikinews has attempted to contact the author of these posts, who goes by the name JulesH on Wikipedia, but has yet to receive a response.
posted by mattbucher at 9:10 AM on July 2, 2008


What breaks the spirit of the web is that a blog is considered as a record, sort of like a newspaper. Many newspapers endorsed George W. Bush in 2000 and did not endorse him in 2004, but they don't get to go back to their archives and burn or erase every mention of the 2000 endorsement.

They published these posts, and the internet doesn't like them to try to pretend they never did.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:12 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Re loosing touch with their audience
I think Boing Boingers have now got to that stage where some stand-up comedians start telling jokes about the pains of staying in hotels and having to eat in restaurants on their own.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


BTW, the wikipedia article for [x] is larger than that for [y], where [x] is some fanboy nonsense of no consequence and [y] is a highly serious subject. There’s an article in that somewhere…

Too late, alas.
posted by flashboy at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's only the Internet.

Yep, it's only the largest, furthest reaching spur of social change to hit the planet since the printing press.

And it is still in its infancy; What will it be when it grows up? Will it be a normal to have history rewritten, or will that be considered a faux pas? What is the boundary between private and public? How much tolerance is there for people having a bad day? Do the social norms at one site really matter at a different one?

Those questions and a lot more will be answered in a thousand little spats like this one. A new culture is being forged before your eyes, and that loud noise you're hearing is the hammer hitting the anvil -- the noise means nothing and will be gone soon enough, but the effect on the medium is important and will last for years to come.
posted by tkolar at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2008 [16 favorites]


Links have a half-life of approximately nine million seconds, or 90 days (choose yer units wisely). Complaining about something that's two years old is just lame.

There is a difference between a link expiring on its own and deliberately breaking it. And links to BoingBoign tend not to have a half-life of 90 days, but, instead, years, because they haven't habitually deleted stories from their site.

As I said, it may be minor, but because something regularly breaks on its own, it doesn't mean there is nothing wrong with deliberately breaking it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2008


it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that there are sixty thousand more MetaFilter users than there were in 2001, could it?

Also, IIRC, the server was only held together by duct tape and prayers back in '01, so it wasn't always possible to post in (or read) the 9/11 thread.
posted by drezdn at 9:17 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Back off, and get a sense of perspective, for crying out loud!

I've got perspective, I think, Charlie. And though you are one of my favoritest writers, I think that on this matter you're as wrong as Charlton Heston in a tutu. Grinding onstage with Akon.

The reason people expect BoingBoing to behave on the up-and-up in regards to things like archiving and links IS BECAUSE THE FOLKS WHO WRITE THE SITE ARE CONSTANTLY WAGGING THEIR FINGERS AT OTHERS FOR NOT BEING ON THE UP-AND-UP IN THAT REGARD!

If you tout yourself as the Great Scourge of Internet Shenanigans, it seems disingenuous as fuck to be "shocked! shocked!" when you're called on your own internet shenanigans.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 AM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Patrick and TNH are also being sued in the state of NJ.

Now, now. Being sued by Barbara Bauer isn't a negative. It's goddamn badge of honor.
posted by Justinian at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Patrick and TNH are also being sued in the state of NJ.

Update from yesterday:
"A Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a defamation-of-character lawsuit brought by a Matawan literary agent against the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, ruling that federal law immunizes interactive Internet services from liability for publishing material generated by others.

Judge Jamie S. Perri dismissed complaints by Barbara Bauer and her company, Barbara Bauer Literary Agency Inc., against Wikimedia Foundation, the owner and operator of online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

... Complaints remain against 19 individuals and an organization known as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which also were named as defendants in Bauer's suit. Wikimedia was the only defendant to challenge the suit in court on Tuesday."
posted by ericb at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2008


Annnd.. now Xeni had edited her comment to add:

As for the remarks about the unpublishing/deletion/takedown clause being added to the policy, for frak's sake you guys! Teresa linked to it in the post. We never thought before that we needed to have an explicit policy on when or how an editor might edit or take down or refuse to take down their own work (we operate pretty autonomously here, we don't ask each other for permission or approval). We figured since some people were asking as a result of this shitstorm, we should go ahead and have a stated policy. We debated among ourselves, figured out some wording that didn't make everyone want to vomit, and linked to it in the post.

Is the wording perfect? Is the policy perfect. I don't know. What do you think? We'll probably keep changing this document as time goes on. Blogs change, people change, documents about our policies will change.

When the post went up from Teresa, we were all trying to act quickly to address something, it's a little difficult to deal with decisions that require synchronized action from a bunch of people in different time zones with other things going on like travel and lives. We did our best here, and the fact that the change in the policy wasn't specified in the post was an oversight if anything, not a sinister decision to "disappear the truth."

XJ

XJ


If not for the clumsy forgetting to delete the second XJ, there'd be no clue there was no editing going on, as it was done silently.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:22 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


*rolls eyes*
posted by cstross at 9:22 AM on July 2, 2008


Links have a half-life of approximately nine million seconds, or 90 days (choose yer units wisely). Complaining about something that's two years old is just lame.

While there are exceptional cases where a site's links have been designed to decay (mp3 blogs being one good example cited over at ML), the default function of web content is to go up and stay up. Link rot and intentional removal are two things that break from that expecatation.

No one is making the argument that things never disappear from the web. A couple of possible drama rockets in BB aside, I haven't even seen anyone so far try to claim that BoingBoing doesn't have the right to remove their own content, either.

But content that disappears for reason other than planned decay has to disappear for a reason. Those reasons can be fairly partitioned into two general categories:

1. Link rot.
2. Editorial action.

Now, with link rot, we're talking about bad maintenance. Bad design, bad planning, bad followthrough. The stuff doesn't disappear because anybody meant for it to, it just wasn't taken well care of. A site goes dark. A major overhaul breaks old links. A database that wasn't backed up gets borked. Etc. All of these things happen, and no sane person will suggest otherwise, and certainly I've not seen anyone with a legit beef against what BoingBoing has done frame their argument in a way that's incompatible with this particular fact of life.

Which leaves editorial action. Folks remove blog posts and web content on purpose, yes, and as both those criticisizing and those defending BoingBoing have said at various points in the last couple of days, the right to make that decision is entirely BoingBoing's.

But generally there's a reason to take action, and the action taken should be in scope with the reasoning for it. Is someone suing you to remove content? Fine, you don't want a court battle (or don't believe you'll win one), and you remove the content. Is someone asking you nicely to remove it? Fine, you're polite and accede to their wishes. Do you have personal regrets about posting or hosting some content? Fine, you remove it to protect your own feelings or reputation.

All of those, however, are decisions. Not rot. Not decay. There is no question of half-life in this context. A responsible, competent host in a model that is not designed for decay puts stuff out there indefinitely. The removal of that content is action, not inevitability.

So objections that there should is some statute of limitations that has been exceeded, that if the silent edit occurred a year ago or that if the content has been around a while then complaints about the editorial action taken are too late or out of line or "lame"? No. Save it. It's an argument that's dead on arrival.

One of the costs of creating and hosting and making editorial decisions about content is facing criticism over those decisions. One of the main lines of criticism running through this whole thing is that punitively, retroactively, and secretly denying the public at large access to content you previously hosted, without explanation, is bad behavior. Xeni, at least, seems to have more or less responded with "no, it's not", which is a really dismaying position in my eyes from that crew in particular.
posted by cortex at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2008 [15 favorites]


And now XJ has edited that comment about the "unpublishing" policy without noting that she's edited it. Does this woman never, ever catch a clue?
posted by sculpin at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Charlie Stross has picked his side! BURN HIM.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


(Shoot. I would have been faster, but I had to go pick my jaw up off the floor again.)
posted by sculpin at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2008


the Metafilter thread on the Violet Blue affair is now longer than that provoked by 9/11

On a cursory look, the highest user number in the original September 11, 2001 thread is around 12k. Nowadays, there's 75kers running around, and I'm thinking about buying a convertible and a home tanning booth. I get that it's just an off-the-cuff type bit, not hardhitting journalism (And nothing personal against the author), but that's some lazy shit writing right there, using a lame and inflammatory comparison that would be torn to rhetoric shreds in MeTa if anyone tried to pass it off as a legit point.

Coupled with the BoingBoing thing it's an excellent example of why internet Media isn't so much New as n00b - msm may be dying, but what it's being supplanted by is still overwhelmingly amateur hour, and we're all the poorer for it.

If you say you're better, then be better.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, I just ordered SATURN'S CHILDREN, Charlie. Will you send me a free brown paper bag to carry it around in and hide the cover or do I have to provide my own?
posted by Justinian at 9:27 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


What breaks the spirit of the web is that a blog is considered as a record, sort of like a newspaper.

I like how the "serious, professional" bloggers on BB want it both ways: They want to treated like serious journalists, like members of the press, with all the romance and drama associated with a breaking story.

On the other hand, when they caught unpublishing doubleplusungood comments, then all of a sudden, it's no longer about freedom of speech and press, but whining along the lines of "We're only just a blog!", "We own our material!" and "Stop taking this so seriously!"

What a bunch of creeps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nice try, Cortex, but all you can really expect is an eye roll. This fellow seems to be here only to express displeasure at his buddies getting called out, and not to engage in any real discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:28 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Charlie Stross has picked his side! BURN HIM.

No need to. He seems quite willing to go down with the s(t)inking ship.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 AM on July 2, 2008


If not for the clumsy forgetting to delete the second XJ, there'd be no clue there was no editing going on, as it was done silently.

Don't worry, the second XJ has since been silently unsignatured. Can we get some Yakety Sax?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2008


Justinian – now that’s unfair, you know it’s a tribute to embarrassing Heinlein covers, or something. Is it out now then? I’ll have to pop down the shops later (with a paper bag).
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on July 2, 2008


The thing that's the weirdest about all of this is that a great deal of the BoingBoing value was stored in the 'Voice of the Internet' brand.

Consider Suck, Wired, Red Herring -- all those other editorial voices exploded and sank beneath the wave with most or all hands lost. But Boing Boing survived going from a fairly crappy but influential zine to web-only, and, for better or for worse, with late links or fresh ones, at least staked out a claim as the Dial Tone of Internet Culture. Never mind the people, or the stupid sars mask art, or whatever -- the foundational value of Boing Boing was as a totem of Starry-Eyed Hey Look At This Let's All Create Something Great Together Fuck The Man And His So Called Policies Everyone To The Barricades awesomeness.

And in like two weeks, they've squandered all of that in the sort of suicidal display of circle-the-wagons corporate bitchy everyone-else-is-wrong lawyerism you'd expect from Dave Winer on a coke binge.

Whether or not Boing Boing is a personal blog, you'd at least expect Cory to have the sense to realize that betraying all your claimed cred and having your lead moderator attack people like a hyperbolic patent attorney is pretty much blowing up any chance you had remaining to go ballooning over the Louvre with Obama while earnestly dictating the terms of the new copyright destruction law. And since the guy apparently lives off of speaking fees, self-promotion and internet advertising, you'd have thought he would have jumped on this with his own preservation in mind.
posted by felix at 9:34 AM on July 2, 2008 [18 favorites]


Xeni:
As for the remarks about the unpublishing, Christ people, Teresa linked to it in the post, we never thought before that we needed to have an explicit policy on when or how an editor might edit or take down or refuse to take down their own work (we operate pretty autonomously here, we don't ask each other for permission or approval). We figured since some people were asking, we should go ahead and have a stated policy. We added this, linked to it in the post.
I'm pretty confident that one of her previous comments explicitly pointed to the policy page in defense of the "unpublishing".

I'm not going to go back and look for it, though, and even if it's not there, it may, of course, have just been unpublished, to get the past into line with the current way that things always have been.
posted by Flunkie at 9:34 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


So...how about I put on some light jazz and we longboat this fucker into the sunset?
posted by Jofus at 9:35 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to go back and look for it, though, and even if it's not there, it may, of course, have just been unpublished, to get the past into line with the current way that things always have been.

What policy change? Unpublishing for any or no reason has always been their policy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:37 AM on July 2, 2008


Back off, and get a sense of perspective, for crying out loud!

look, surely you can see the absurdity in one of their friends telling people to back off and get a sense of perspective, yeah?
posted by shmegegge at 9:40 AM on July 2, 2008


Oh christ, this thing really does still have legs.
posted by Jofus at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008


Astro Zombie: well shoot, I guess I'll just have to go and out myself under my real name: WINSTON SMITH.
posted by cstross at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008


*drags out the old grill, and begins cooking brats using the old family recipe*

*The secret ingredient is...love.

And MSG
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tribe trumps truth.
posted by euphorb at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's funny that cstross popped in to talk about link rot, because I was just mulling over why it is that I value the permanence of links beyond simple matters of webmaster best practice, and I'd actually connected it in my mind to his great article on mass storage and the 'dawn of history'.

Note: I'm in no way saying that Charlie's being hypocritical or contradictory in his statements - just noting the coincidence that just as I'd made an (admittedly rather wild) conceptual jump from this particular blogdrama to the broader notion of why archiving is so valuable, the author of the original piece turns up and says it's silly. Which I guess is one of the cool things about MeFi...
posted by flashboy at 9:41 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


well shoot, I guess I'll just have to go and out myself under my real name: WINSTON SMITH.

Psst. That "steampunk viewscreen" Cory installed is really just a plasma with a few bits of brass screwed on.
posted by Artw at 9:43 AM on July 2, 2008


I have never compared this to Orwell. I just think it is bad Web policy and worse public relations, and I'm pretty sure that whatever alienation of BoingBoing's readership will be the fallout from this, however large it may be, will not be ameliorated in any way by friends of BoingBoing taking itself upon themselves to leap into online forum and mock people for their concerns.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The thing that annoys me most about all of this, which Charlie Stross' comment reminded me of, is the "oh, why does anybody care about this?" response.

If someone is popular, it means that they have fans. Fans become attached. They will have certain expectations for the "celebrities*" behavior, based on their public persona and the kind of work they do. If they violate those expectations, then their fans will be upset. That's just how it works. (Why is that people seem to forget that fan is (probably) short for fanatic?) You can bitch all you want about how the fans have no right to be upset - saying that they are all entitled and shit - but telling people that they have no right to feel how they feel never helps.

If the celebrity does something that violates how their fans expect them to behave, and would actually like to keep those fans, or as many as possible, wouldn't it be better just to be like "I understand why you're upset and think we shouldn't have behaved the way we did. However, we did x because of y and think it was the right decision. If you don't want to be a fan anymore we understand." Instead of, "We don't owe you anything and we'll do whatever the fuck we want. Plus, you're all haters."

*By celebrities,I mean people who are famous in whatever pond they swim in not necessarily mainstream media famous.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:51 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


All I know is that if the BB crowd were among my friends, rather than come to their defense against an already hostile and pre-disposed to disbelieve crowd, I would do the following:

Drop each of my friends among them an email from my secret personal account to theirs (I assume you have a secret account that only friends and family know, yes? I bet they do, too), and it would say something like this:

1. This shitstorm is not going away because you are continuing to make small tactical errors -- you have gone beyond the point where NO MISSTEPS MUST BE MADE. Changing the policy without an announcement beforehand? Comes across as if you've got a tin ear considering that one of the biggest gripes is that you did something without letting anyone know about it. Even making an edit without a "this comment was edited by X on 7/2/08" is exacerbating the perception of sneakiness even if it's completely innocuous.

2. Get each and every principal onto a teleconference tout de suite and hash out a 1-2 paragraph statement along the lines of "we screwed up. we're sorry." STOP IT WITH THE DEFENSIVENESS. IT'S GOING OVER LIKE A LEAD BALLOON.

3. Post that comment as a NEW front-page post on the homepage. Disable comments on that page, and the entire comments system for now. You have no need to listen to complaints because you've HEARD THEM AND ARE TAKING ACTION.

4. Un-unpubish the Violet blue stories. Get them back out there with apologies. REMOVE ALL OUTBOUND LINKS FROM THE ENTRIES AND ADD A BOILERPLATE NOTE STATING "DUE TO $REASON WE CANNOT HAVE OUTBOUND LINKS FROM THIS ARTICLE. OUR APOLOGIES."

5. Invite people to send email and READ EVERY ONE. But don't open comments on any stories for a while.

6. Profit from salvaging a bit more of your reputation than your current course of action would. It's not the people coming to your defense that you need to make feel good now, and it's not the people who hate your guts just because, it's the people who are genuinely confused and concerned by your strategic and tactical blunders. YOU CAN GET THEM BACK AS READERS IF YOU APPROACH THEM HUMBLY AND FIX THE PROBLEM BY UN-UNPUBLISHING EVERYTHING AND APOLOGIZING.
posted by chimaera at 9:52 AM on July 2, 2008 [24 favorites]


Nice try, Cortex, but all you can really expect is an eye roll. This fellow seems to be here only to express displeasure at his buddies getting called out, and not to engage in any real discussion.

It's more than once that I've seen folks back off from overblown first comments as they catch their breath, get caught up on the conversation, and recognize the difference between what they're attacking and what's there.

Winston Charlie, I think your first comment in here was pretty damned obnoxious, but worse things have happened. If you don't want a flamewar in here, you can probably avoid one.
posted by cortex at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2008


chimaera - But they cannot back down or admit they were wrong ever. That’s why they’re a great target for mockery, and why they’ll continue to tie themselves up in knots. And though they know all this stuff they have a complete conceptual block on recognizing it ever.

It’s a great day for connoisseurs of ego-related clusterfucks.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2008


If my Twitter account is any indication, about 30 percent of my friends have unsubscribed from BoingBoing's RSS feed in response to this. Perhaps my friends are just unusually easily annoyed (I know I am, and I have likewise unsubscribed), but it demonstrates that, whether people should care or not, they do care. And these aren't trolls, as I am not. They are ex-readers. Any publishing concern should be able to tell the difference. You don't have to pander to those concerns, but you do have to respect them, or risk losing them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ironically I doubt Boing Boing are really hurting for hits as a result of all of this.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2008


Look, cstross, since the opening Doctorow roasting this thread has settled down into a lot of serious discussion (punctuated by a lot of spikes from the gasoline the BB folks seem to be trying to put out the fire with.) The discourse has been, for the most part, civil. The discussion has been, for the most part, interesting.

If you're here to engage in the overall conversation, well, by all means, let's talk. But if you're here to snark and throw rocks, well, we have thousands of active users who can do that already, and already have. Adding your overgeneralizations and bile to this thread is just going to make you look bad. It's just going to reinforce a stereotype that you're here because you're part of some cult goon squad out to discredit anything good and reasonable we're trying to center on here.

So, you know? Either try to engage, and try to do it on topic, or take your namecalling in the name of "passionate defense" elsewhere.

The "to the barricades!" attitude I've seen the SF community show around this fiasco would be startling to me if my wife weren't a writer and didn't tell me about the daily kerfluffles that happen in other genres. Writers are a strange bunch.
posted by dw at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


YOU CAN GET THEM BACK AS READERS IF YOU APPROACH THEM HUMBLY AND FIX THE PROBLEM BY UN-UNPUBLISHING EVERYTHING AND APOLOGIZING.

But we're BoingBoing...that's the part YOU don't get.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2008


what's kind of especially bizarre, and I hope he comes to see this, is that even if he didn't invent it, cstross certainly popularized the idea that thanks to the internet credibility and reputation can become discernible currency. an idea that cory doctorow ran with to decent effect. and yet...
posted by shmegegge at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also: Second Life really isn’t that interesting. Sorry.
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on July 2, 2008


Be interesting to see what happens to BB's traffic stats in a few weeks time once the WTFisgoingon!!! blip smooths out...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:03 AM on July 2, 2008


I'm pretty confident that one of [Xeni's] previous comments explicitly pointed to the policy page in defense of the "unpublishing".

I'm not going to go back and look for it, though, and even if it's not there, it may, of course, have just been unpublished, to get the past into line with the current way that things always have been.
That's the real and lasting damage this fiasco has done to BB. Beyond charges of hypocrisy, favoritism, non-transparency, and bad PR, they've undermined faith in their primary offering: their words. You no longer know that what you're reading was what was there earlier. You don't know if what you once read on BB will be there later. Most damning, you don't know if what one of the boingers said in a comment thread will silently change while you aren't looking. There is no conversational record that you can trust.

It makes me wonder how long before BB gets its own winerwatch-esque site.
posted by sgranade at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


That's a good point, shmegegge. I wonder how Cory and Charlie think Boing Boing's wuffie is doing right about now?
posted by Justinian at 10:05 AM on July 2, 2008


chimaera, I think your list is right on target. There's just one thing I'd add:

2a: Ask a level-headed, critical-minded, relatively emotionally uninvolved party to read over your statement before you post it. Take any advice they might give you about it.

Because at this point, I wouldn't swear that any of these folks (well, maybe Joel) would know when their statements were defensive. Or offensive. Or plain ridiculous. I'm not sure they're capable of hashing out a good statement at this point.
posted by sculpin at 10:06 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I enjoy a fair bit of Cory Doctorow's writing, and I'm quite a fan of yours, Charlie. But I think you should understand that though you know at least a couple of the BB crowd fairly well, we don't.

Your personal experiences with them gives you a perspective that predisposes you to understand their reasoning and their intentions, but we have no such advantage. Thus we can only judge what's going on by what we read.

And from the BB crowd, it's been only silence or iron-clawed defensiveness. And since we're all outsiders to that crowd it doesn't look like they're acquitting themselves with the integrity that we expected. Can you see why so many people seem disappointed?
posted by chimaera at 10:08 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, Down and out in the Magic Kingdom is still a fantastic book, and pretty much has the answer to the question “where is Boing Boings wuffle right now?” about two thirds in.
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on July 2, 2008


This brouhaha sure GivesWell.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2008


What policy change? Unpublishing for any or no reason has always been their policy.

Maybe so, but it was only in the past few days that they explicitly added that to their policy page.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 AM on July 2, 2008


This brouhaha sure GivesWell.

But without Miko, this will only be a vapid shell of a mega-thread.
posted by dw at 10:19 AM on July 2, 2008


I think the Boing Boing wuffie is worth even less than the dollar now...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:20 AM on July 2, 2008


As UbuRoivas mentioned I wonder how much cstross and jscalzi in particular are responding to the Cory Doctorow Hate-a-thon early in the thread vs the more rational conversation here at the bottom?

And I think the "Why does anyone care" argument is a canard: when a website can nearly singlehandedly change the course of legislation (Canadian DMCA) by provoking its readers, the goings on at that website are pretty spectacularly care-worthy.
posted by Skorgu at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


This brouhaha sure GivesWell.

Here's hoping that umbú writes a song about this one, too. "We'll take the world on, you and me, committed to transparency..."
posted by sculpin at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2008


I propose we setup a BoingBoing relief fund for the hardship this whole kerfuffle will cause them. One stipulation, only Linden Dollars........
posted by lattiboy at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2008


A song? This saga requires a rock opera, methinks. It's already epic like mad and we still don't even know why all the Violet Blue posts were deleted yet...
posted by overglow at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2008


For what it's worth, I know the web fairly well. I moderated the official X-Files message board (and some other Fox boards) in the late 90s, so I like to think I know good moderation when I see it.

I also know a lot of the the legal ins and outs of moderating a public board, and I've even had to report posters who posted threats to Bill Clinton and personally dealt with the Secret Service and FBI to aid their investigation (really all I did was give them server logs and backups from the day in question).

So I like to think I have a bit of knowledge about the subject when I say that the moderators over on the Boing Boing thread are going way beyond the normal moderation mandate when they undertake to insult posters directly in the thread. I know that I would have been walked out of the building that day if I'd ever insulted a user on the X-Files boards. How is what they're doing (Antinous and TNH) in any way considered positively promoting the quality of the discussion, or even showing BB in a positive light?

I'm astonished at the hostility (particularly from Antinous) to specific posters.

Moderators should never be a party in a flame war.
posted by chimaera at 10:28 AM on July 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


sculpin writes "It's made me think, 'What would I be thinking and feeling, if I were in Cory's place?'"

I always figured that would be:
"Hey, if I take my instant messenger logs, do a search-and-replace on the names, drop in a few made up words like 'whoofie', and add some pointless and desultory interstitial matter cribbed from the in-flight magazine in the seat-back in front of me, I'll have a new 'novel' I can release under a Creative Commons license before the plane lands! Wow-wee-woo, it's so fun and easy to be a Real Author™! (Cory sighs, then adds:) "If only it were so easy to be a Real Boy™ just like Pinocchio! (Regaining his composure, Cory continues:) "See, there's a reason I hate Disney, damn it!""
posted by orthogonality at 10:39 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Tsk. There’s nothing particularly hacked out about the guys writing.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2008


and we still don't even know why all the Violet Blue posts were deleted yet

The reasons behind [the deletions] are indeed rooted in personal dynamics between Xeni Jardin and Violet Blue.
posted by waraw at 10:50 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn it, empath, that's the second time this thread I've had to double-check that you aren't me.

How do you know I'm not you? We could have a Tyler Durden situation here.
posted by empath at 10:51 AM on July 2, 2008


and we still don't even know why all the Violet Blue posts were deleted yet

No, as pointed out in waraw's link, it's clear that this has nothing with a legal injuncton, trademark issues, Amanda Congdon, or anything like that. There was clearly some romantic personal drama of the sort that causes severe emotional reactions and poor impulse control. It's a shame that kind of dirty laundry was aired publicly, but that's what happens when you make it public by disappearing the other party off a high profile weblog.
posted by Justinian at 10:54 AM on July 2, 2008


I am also a friend of Cory, Teresa, and other folks at BB.

Kudos for saying that upfront. It's important to be forthcoming about this stuff. But that means you don't get to say things like:

Back off, and get a sense of perspective, for crying out loud!


Being a friend of the BB folks means you have no perspective yourself, or rather that your perspective is irremediably that of a concerned party, and you should know better than to take other people to task for not sharing your perspective. People aren't allowed to link their friends' sites here on MetaFilter, and there's a good reason for that, the same reason that should suggest to you that recusing yourself from this discussion might be a good idea.

And to point out what many have done before: there are very few "BoingBoing haters" in this thread, despite the silly accusation defenders keep making. Some are fans of BB who are disappointed by this development; I'd guess the majority, like me, once were fans but got bored/disappointed years ago. That doesn't imply that we're full of schadenfreude; the fact that I don't particularly care about BB doesn't mean I'm happy seeing them hole themselves below the waterline. And I'm truly sad to see TNH, whom I genuinely like, go down with them. Loyalty to friends is a good thing, but not when it leads to behavior that will in the end do only further harm to those friends while damaging your own reputation.
posted by languagehat at 10:54 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


This saga requires a rock opera

What about the blog?
What about the blog?
What about the blog?
They saw it all!

You didn't read it
You didn't see it.
You won't say nothing to no one
ever in your life.
You never heard it
how absurd it
All seems without any proof.
You didn't read it
You didn't see it
You never heard it not a word of it.
You won't say nothing to no one
Never tell a soul
What you know is the Truth.
posted by Tenuki at 10:55 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


man, if there is one group of people I do not want to pick an intellectual fight with on the internet, it is the MetaFilter crowd. Reading over the new comments here is just amazing. I have no idea what Boing Boing is doing about it on their end, but honestly, they have been soundly and sufficiently called out on their errors, given a clear definition of what has happened and how they are damaging their own community and image.

It's one of the best cases of creative, compassionate, criticism (with some snark) that I have seen in a while.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:56 AM on July 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


Boingboing: documents about our policies will change
posted by furtive at 10:59 AM on July 2, 2008


Having just finished reading the Boing Boing thread, I have to say that Antinous and Teresa Nielsen Hayden sure do take a contentious tone when dealing with their commentors. Moderating and responding with civility is something they could learn by paying close attention to the behavior of the moderators here.
posted by ericb at 11:02 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]



BLOGOSPHERE: What's the buzz
Tell me what's a-happening
What's the buzz
Tell me what's a-happening

BOINGBOING: Why should you want to know?
Don't you mind about the archives
When there's cool stuff to be read
Have you purchased Cory's book yet
Or downloaded it instead

BLOGOSPHERE: What's the buzz
Tell me what's a-happening
What's the buzz
Tell me what's a-happening

BOINGBOING: I could link to Unnamed Poster
Even tell you why we purged her
But you're all a bunch of asshats

BLOGOSPHERE: When do we find out what is going on?
When do we find out what is going on?
When do we find out what is going on?
When do we find out what is going on?

BOINGBOING: Why should you want to know?
Are you so obsessed with reading
Unpublished posts you cannot see
If you knew where this is leading
You'd be a martinet like me



Only the empty bombast of Lloyd Webber could do justice to this tempest in an e-pot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:14 AM on July 2, 2008 [14 favorites]


Before I raise my NyQuil(tm) mug and salute you, Zarquon, while I want to thank everybody here for being who they are and aw geez I I love you guys, we did have that godamned Boyzone bullshit start up again in this thread. Perfect thread if not for that. It's like I want to make everyone watch Beaches before they can post here, and no that's not a punishment!

Before this derail spins out, I uh, wrote a drug infused book on the BB post. :p here -- I saved a copy in case it disappears. To be quite honest, they have not messed with any of my comments, and I really am impressed at the level of discourse they're allowing to happen there. I'm being sincere. At least at some level they're recognizing that just sanitizing everything isn't going to make this one go away.
posted by cavalier at 11:15 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


eriko writes "It is very possible that Cory doesn't even know this is happening, if his vacation status is true."

I'm reminded of the Russian serfs, turned off their land or otherwise exploited by the local Count, exclaiming that "If only the Little Father (that is, the Czar) knew, he'd surely give us justice!"

There's such a strong tendency among people to want leaders so badly, that having decided someone is a leader, they start making excuses for him (or her). We need only to look at the current political situation in america -- whether it's Clintonites excusing Hillary's race-baiting (it's really Mark Penn's fault, don'tchaknow), or Obama Hope-ers excusing his cave-in on FISA (but he had to, don'tchaknow, and when the Little Father from Chicago gets to Washington, he'll fix it right up). I guess you have to believe in something, and when that something's a someone, it's far easier to rationalize than to reorder one's preconceptions to the facts.
posted by orthogonality at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah, has Hades' blockbuster discovery of them changing their policies page gotten around yet?
i was wondering if this doesn't deserve an FPP... seems to me like it's a whole new story to me...one considerably darker...i'm too new here...anyone?

If you decide you'd rather come out guns blazing, defending your pals and calling the readers names, you've failed in your responsibility. I'm sure she's going to regret a lot of what she's said in the heat of the moment

why would you assume that, when she can obviously unsay anything she chooses?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2008


and we still don't even know why all the Violet Blue posts were deleted yet

Does it matter?

If they just don't like her hair are they not within their rights to deny her their referral traffic and page rank?

If she's the real killer that got OJ Simpson's and Hans Reiser's wives does that make throwing history down the memory hole OK?

I don't think we're necessarily entitled to know why they now hate her. But what BB is being called out for has little or nothing to do with whether their loathing of Violet Blue is justified or not.
posted by tyllwin at 11:20 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


i was wondering if this doesn't deserve an FPP

No.
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2008


Paging cortex.

It is sad that your moderator status here renders your theoretical-but-no-doubt note-perfect interpretation of this little filk in questionable taste, and therefore unlikely to hit my ears. Alas.
posted by mwhybark at 11:29 AM on July 2, 2008


What Artw said. We've got this one for current events, and while I'm not saying there could never be a followup at some point in the future, I think we definitely don't need a new post.
posted by cortex at 11:29 AM on July 2, 2008


If this were to be a song, it'd have to be one of those sprawling epic Meatloaf songs, full of explosions, piano crescendos, the Vienna Boys Choir, a drum solo, and at least three wailing guitar solos. It would last for at least fifteen minutes, the video would have a cast of thousands, and still nobody would be exactly clear what the hell was going on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:30 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


robocop is bleeding, just check out Bang Camaro some time.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:36 AM on July 2, 2008


We're all representing the BoingBoing musical experience here, but there is one experience that is being forgotten. I submit:

Violet Blue
Violet Blue
You lost your posts
On BoingBoing
What did you do?

Violet Blue
Violet Blue
Nothing did
Nothing done
They can't undo

Was a time
You were the fifth mutant
Now your links
Are just pollutant

Violet Blue
Violet Blue
They won't tell us
What you done
Did they tell you?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


robocop, that's why Sidhedevil's recasting of just such a song in Jesus Christ Superstar is so spot on. In the rewrite, BoingBoing sings the role of Judas. It's really some prime satire.
posted by mwhybark at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2008


I always liked Jesus Christ Superstar because it seemed kind of pro-Judas. By comparison the other disciples come over as chumps.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Judas? Maybe I'm mixed up.
posted by mwhybark at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2008


Moderating and responding with civility is something they could learn by paying close attention to the behavior of the moderators here.

I think the promote-from-within policy action here has a little to do with this. I still can only sort of skim what's happening over at BB and I have a lot of respect generally for TNH, but I never felt like she was "one of the Boingers" in the same way that cortex already was a well-known MeFite before he became "a MeFite with access to the buttons."

BB and MeFi are different in a number of ways but this community and especially the MeTa community are small enough that we, the mods, are expected to answer for basically anything someone wants to know about. It's just the way this place is set-up. There's the occasional wackjob with a super axe to grind but in all but the most egregious of cases, we respond civilly and decently because them's the rules. And when we fuck up we apologize. I have to say that I have been tempted once or twice to tweak the faq and then point to it to support some marginal decision I've made, but it's just a passing wish and so beyond the pale of what floats around here in the MeFiPanOpTiCon that it's never been something I've seriously considered.

Damage control is hard and something we've rarely had to deal with here at this sort of level; I'm really sorry to everyone over there stumbling through that, it's a mess at this point no matter what happens.
posted by jessamyn at 11:43 AM on July 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


yeah, oops. Jesus <> Judas, for future reference, Mike. D'oh.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2008


Artw writes "I always liked Jesus Christ Superstar because it seemed kind of pro-Judas. By comparison the other disciples come over as chumps."

Caiaphas, dude! "I see bad things arising: the crowd crown him king, which the Romans would ban. I see blood and destruction, our elimination because, because, because of one man!"
posted by orthogonality at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2008


MeFiPanOpTiCon

Ouch my eye
posted by mwhybark at 11:47 AM on July 2, 2008


See, now I've got "I close the thread..." as the opening line of 'Any Dream Will Do' in my head, but I'm stuck for what replaces "...drew back the curtain".

Damn you all.
posted by flashboy at 11:49 AM on July 2, 2008


So much for that "Violet Blue never posted" here meme:

All of her posts, via Google Spreadsheets

BoingBoing's getting smarter by the minute.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:49 AM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


If they just don't like her hair are they not within their rights to deny her their referral traffic and page rank?

Okay, first, if it's due to page rank then BB's engaging in Google manipulation. And second, they could do that without deleting the posts by simply going back and putting rel="nofollow"s in the links.
posted by JHarris at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2008


any one of the BB people (including TNH) or VB herself have accomplished more in their young lives than, for instance, Chris Matthews.

I just thought this was great, and was hoping the thread would turn into a BBers vs. Chris Matthews war, but for nought. In any case, Chris Matthews accomplishment highlights:

1968-1970: Peace Corps, Swaziland
1976-present: Married, 3 Children
1970: Capitol Police Officer
1971-74: Worked on Capitol Hill for Senator and Rep.
1987-97: Print Journalist covering politics
1997-present: Host of top-ten rated political talk show. Earns $5m per year
posted by cell divide at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this in meatspace?
No it's the Internet-
Caught in a shitstorm
No escape from blogrebrity
Open your blogs
Look up to MeFi and see...
I'm just a Boinger, i need no sympathy
Because I'm read it now, delete it then
Some steampunk here, Disney there,
Anything Teresa does, doesn't really matter to me,
To me...

Teresa, just deleted her
Put a highlight over them
Hit delete, and now they're dead
Teresa, hell's just begun,
But now Ive gone and thrown our cred away
Teresa ooo,
Didn't mean to make you snarl
If we're not backing down this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on, as if vowels really mattered....


Someone else want to finish it?
posted by dw at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


MeFiPanOpTiCon

Filmed in MatJessTexvision.
posted by cortex at 11:53 AM on July 2, 2008


we definitely don't need a new post

Well, not until this thread exceeds 2,147,483,647 comments, at which point you'll need a 64-bit system.
posted by lukemeister at 11:54 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


jsavimbi - Yeah, Rock Band made me buy their album. Awesome stuff.

mwhybark - Only if MeFi can be Herod.

BoingBoing, we are overjoyed
To see egg on your face
You've been getting quite a name
All around the place
Fighting censors
Keeping free speech on the web
Now I understand you're never wrong
At least that's what you've said.

So you are a blog
A very well-known weblog
Prove to us that you're for true
Un-unpublish Violet Blue
That's all we'll need to see
Then your cause we'll believe
C'mon, do it Cory!

posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:55 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Judas discussion is going on in another thread.

I just needed to make my mark here to get this page in my recent activity. Feel free to npblsh this comment once the action dies down.
posted by painquale at 11:57 AM on July 2, 2008


why would you assume that, when she can obviously unsay anything she chooses?

Because I know her (in the way we know people on the internet we've never met). She's a good and sensible person, and I think she'll regret it.
posted by languagehat at 11:57 AM on July 2, 2008


There's such a strong tendency among people to want leaders so badly, that having decided someone is a leader, they start making excuses for him (or her).

Oh please. There's still so much more clamoring, per pound, in this thread for their heads than on their side. Some people are taking the benefit of the doubt for Cory because they've read his stuff, like him, and don't want to think he'd approve of something like this.

It's like when you hear a rumor (for example, "John McCain fathered an illegitimate black baby") and it sounds so out of character that you don't believe it. Of course anyone can START a rumor, so people, smart ones anyway, reject hearsay if it doesn't fit in with what they know. It's kind of a gossipy CRC: is it noise or signal? In the absence of more information, go by what you already know and try to work it into a synthesis.

When SUBSTANTIATED news comes out that breaks those redundancy checks you tend to get things like 1,100 comment Metafilter threads.
posted by JHarris at 12:00 PM on July 2, 2008


jsavimbi, how is it that BB's getting smarter by the minute now?
posted by mwhybark at 12:03 PM on July 2, 2008


Oh jesus, a new VW post went up. Geez they have a frackin axe to grind with XJ. There is no way this can end well. While we campaign for the entity "BB" to right itself, the collateral damage here is just really really awful.

And no the NyQuil isn't working! Groggy but can't sleep :p
posted by cavalier at 12:04 PM on July 2, 2008


Just posted this on our thread. In the interest of getting this thread up to 1984 posts, I'm going to copy it here. (But I don't intend to reply to specific questions in both places. No offense.)

So, hi!

There are lots of separate but related concerns being voiced about this whole thing. I appreciate that, even when very valid points were couched in vitriol or vehemence. We weren't being twee when we said we were listening.

I apologize for being too defensive or even antagonistic at times in this thread. It's hard to parse criticism when you aren't sure if it's from concerned friends or mawkish ghouls — not that being either validates or invalidates any specific critique made — but in situations like these, we've got to be willing to soak it all up. We'll do better.

In the meantime, can you guys give us a few days to digest all this? Despite what you might conceive, Boing Boing is a highly asynchronous, individually autonomous group of people. If our choices as a group are as important as many of you say they are, I don't think it's too much to ask to let us sync up and discuss this more.

Now I won't promise what, if anything, will be different in a few days — we may agree that we're fine with all our choices, at which point you may feel free to promptly reapply your boot to our ass — but we need a little space to figure this out.

posted by Joel Johnson at 12:05 PM on July 2, 2008 [12 favorites]


jsavimbi writes 'All of her posts, via Google Spreadsheets'

Did you even bother to plug any of those URLs into the Wayback Machine? They are posts about her, or about stuff she's suggested, not by her. There are plenty of reasons to be miffed with Boing Boing over this, no need to invent new ones.
posted by jack_mo at 12:09 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joel! Was just trying to email you. Great comment. Can yo usee what you can do about just closing the comments @ BB now? A comment here mentioned it as a strategy.. too groggy to look it up right now.. but I think it's the right track for you guys. The BB post now is de-volving into a gosh darned Godwin argument.
posted by cavalier at 12:10 PM on July 2, 2008


Languagehat - "there are very few "BoingBoing haters" in this thread"

What thread are your reading? Certainly not this one.

The MeFi snark/schadenfreude measurement here is at 500 year flood levels...
posted by Argyle at 12:12 PM on July 2, 2008


Ugh, that latest Valleywag post really does err on the side of too much information, doesn't it?
posted by jack_mo at 12:15 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


when a website can nearly singlehandedly change the course of legislation (Canadian DMCA) by provoking its readers, the goings on at that website are pretty spectacularly care-worthy.

Disagree. If anyone deserves kudos for all the effort towards fighting Bill C61 (and all the Bills before this one), it should go to Michael Geist, who's been providing Cory with all those luscious links.
posted by squeak at 12:17 PM on July 2, 2008


jsavimbi, how is it that BB's getting smarter by the minute now?

I should've said "looking" instead of "getting". It was in reference to that whole "this person never existed..." nonsense they were spewing out before. I hope they keep this up for at least another hour until I head home. There's really nothing else out there to read right now.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:17 PM on July 2, 2008


hey, I like Joel Johnson's style. best of luck.
posted by shmegegge at 12:19 PM on July 2, 2008


Filmed in MatJessTexvision.

Sad to see that vacapinta is some kind of second class admin. Poor dude.



i keed
posted by eyeballkid at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2008


(Although as someone who's never read Valleywag before, the tone is snarktacular to the extent that I have no idea whether the post is meant to be some sort of joke.)
posted by jack_mo at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ugh, that latest Valleywag post really does err on the side of too much information, doesn't it?

As long as we're still rocking this paranoia party, has anyone investigated the idea that Valleywag is a false front operation for Boingboing? Because they are being such epicly vile peeholes about Xeni's personal business that my sympathies are starting to swing back to BB again.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:22 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like BoingBoing. I still go there every day. But I now never, EVER want to be a part of the "community" there thanks to their moderators (who I'm sure are all really cool in real life, etc.).

Sure, MeFi may be messy, but as languagehat and jscalzi have illustrated, MeFi messes can be cleaned up by those who feel responsible. By contrast, TNH and those who subscribe to her moderation philosophy look at messes and either claim that it's supposed to be like that or ignore it completely.

The BBers would be well served to ask TNH to step down from her day-to-day moderation duties and take on a role that involves less interaction with the public. PR, both formally and informally, is clearly not her strength.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really, Argyle? It doesn't seem that way to me. I think it's interesting that Joel swung by here to crosspost - I suppose it means that what we're yammering about here is gonna get reviewed at BB as well as the comments in their own thread.
posted by mwhybark at 12:27 PM on July 2, 2008


On the off chance that this goes to 2000, or becomes a long boat thread, I'm dropping this comment in so I'll be alerted. I'm much more interested in the failed PR angle than the OMGHYPOCRISY angle, but that's just me. These people trade on reputation and they're ruining their stock in trade. These kind of personal flamewars happen all the time in a lot of different venues, though: professionals can't always turn the 'people' part of them off, nor should they. (Personal blog protestations aside, these are professionals.)

I've seen an even half-dozen of these kerfluffles in my profession in the past decade, and if there's one thing I know from experience, it's that watching it happen to others and having it happen to you are two totally different things. You might think you're drawing useful lessons for future conduct from this event, but the moment it's you or a close friend whose reputation or career or privacy is at stake, you'll jump in swinging, forgetting about all the prudence and pugilism you've ever learned.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


a recent email to all BBers...

OK, seriously, I'm done with this site

In light of recent activites on your website 'BoingBoing.net', I no longer wish to be associated with the site in any way.
I hereby request that you cease and desist using my comments or screenname on the site. Please 'unpublish' ALL of my comments and delete my 'happy mutants' profile, screenname: 'sexyrobot'

thank you.

according to your policy page: "When readers contribute content to our sites, you retain ownership of the copyright, and you also grant permission to us to display and distribute it."

so yeah, i'm invoking the first part of that, but not the second. why? because your policy page has been invalidated by this clause:
Changes in This Privacy Statement
If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this privacy statement, THE HOMEPAGE
(my caps, your words), and other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.

specifically as it pertains to this recent addition NOT posted to THE HOMEPAGE:
We reserve the right to unpublish or refuse to unpublish anything for any or no reason
which, in light of recent events, I find morally reprehensible and displaying a lack of journalistic ethics so atrocious I no longer wish to have any association, however marginal, with your site 'boingboing.net' Please remove my profile, please remove my comments...all of them. I fully realize this may totally bork the continuity of your comments threads, but maybe you should of thought of that before shovelling posts down the memory hole.

thank you
'sexyrobot'


.....sooo...any lawyers on this thread...if they don't remove me, i want to send a REAL c&d letter...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


epicly vile peeholes

Epically even, Cortex can you shoot that down the old memory oubliette for me fella? Wheee... Just jokin', sorry I'm ripped to the tits of Romulan Ale and schadenfreude suppositories.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:30 PM on July 2, 2008


The MeFi snark/schadenfreude measurement here is at 500 year flood levels...

I think there is a significant differences between recognizing the disconnect between Boing Boing's past positions and current actions on issues like these and simply taking pleasure in BB's difficulties. Most of what's been going on with Metafilter is the former.
posted by Justinian at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2008


Did you even bother to plug any of those URLs into the Wayback Machine?

/shakes fist

Of course I didn't. I barely looked over the VA post in its entirety. But that's not going to stop me from adding fuel to the fire. Ok, maybe it will, since I'm running out of gas and all I'm reading here is the latest Me2 fad of "hey, I recognize what's happening here, I'll summarize it for everyone and then provide the [genius] solution."

I think we need to install a poll at this point.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:32 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tits on.

Jesus wept.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2008


I like fire.
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2008


I heard on the news that the boingboing thing was resolved because there is a giant looming specter with a large scythe looming in front of us all.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just want to post that there are those of use who don't love or hate BoingBoing (we're BB agnostics? apathetic?) but are following this issue because we think it's important for blogs to ideally maintain old content regardless of changes in editorial slant, or at the very least, failing that, own up to their own deletions and changes with a reasonable amount of transparency.
posted by drezdn at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Longboat? Am I the first to think this thread would be best labeled "LongBoing"?
posted by wendell at 12:40 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Argyle: Here, let me quote your first comment in this thread:

I'm lucky enough to know both Violet and the BB crew. You know what? They are all nice people. You'd like them too. They are all polite, kind, and care about the people that read their sites.

Too bad MeFi is full of self-righteous commenters that attempt to engage in a contest of who has the snarkiest post and who first rejected the popular sites. I could search and replace the names in this thread with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and the vitriol would feel just right.


Sorry, but I don't take your perspective on the thread very seriously.

You might think you're drawing useful lessons for future conduct from this event, but the moment it's you or a close friend whose reputation or career or privacy is at stake, you'll jump in swinging, forgetting about all the prudence and pugilism you've ever learned.

Very true.
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


@ tyllwin

On the one hand, you make a good point. On the other hand, I'm following this like sort of a lurid soap opera now and won't really feel like it's done until the juicy gossip behind "personal drama" is revealed. Does that make me a bad person?
posted by overglow at 12:42 PM on July 2, 2008


robocop: haw!
posted by mwhybark at 12:43 PM on July 2, 2008


also...i have to thank cortex for doing such a bang-up job on the moderation here...such a nice contrast to bb's thread, which under TNH has devolved into a mass of misinformation, newspeak, history-changing, memory holes, and now godwin fercryinoutloud. would somebody please bake that brain-layer some cupcakes...if i made them it would be more of an insult (seriously, my cooking sucks) ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:48 PM on July 2, 2008


jsavimbi writes 'Of course I didn't. I barely looked over the VA post in its entirety. But that's not going to stop me from adding fuel to the fire.'

Hee - good to see you're getting into the spirit of things!

drezdn writes 'I just want to post that there are those of use who don't love or hate BoingBoing (we're BB agnostics? apathetic?) but are following this issue because we think it's important for blogs to ideally maintain old content regardless of changes in editorial slant, or at the very least, failing that, own up to their own deletions and changes with a reasonable amount of transparency.'

Glad I previewed, so I could quote you and pre-unpublish the rambling, incoherent post I'd typed saying what you just did! Though I'm not quite agnostic/apathetic, and will admit to feeling betrayed in a tiny little way, since I can remember seeing the way Boing Boing used to handle themselves - strikethrough corrections, dated updates, &c. - and thinking (like squillions of other webloggers, no doubt) that their approach was spot on and worth emulating on my own weblog.
posted by jack_mo at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


MetaTalk thread about what all this means for MetaFilter.
posted by Kattullus at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ugh, that latest Valleywag post really does err on the side of too much information, doesn't it?

Ick.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hurrah! The cancer like spread of this thread continues - that'll keep this going for at least 5000+ comments!
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on July 2, 2008


Disagree. If anyone deserves kudos for all the effort towards fighting Bill C61 (and all the Bills before this one), it should go to Michael Geist, who's been providing Cory with all those luscious links.

Effort yes, results though? Boing Boing has (had?) the audience to mobilize lots of annoyed geeks, something that certainly looked like it had some effect. I'll back down from "nearly singlehandedly" though I think the sentiment stands without it. When you take an active role in politics you expose yourself to a different level of scrutiny, whether you acknowledge it or not.
posted by Skorgu at 12:54 PM on July 2, 2008


One of the articles linked earlier called all of this schadenfreude.
I say no - I have no emotional investment for or against any of the BB crew - I'm just watching this with amazement over how badly this is being handled and just can't grasp that none of them could/can figure out that there are better ways to manage this.

ed: "BB and its defenders see no delineation between what is amateur and professional.
But you simply cannot have it both ways."


That to me is what I just can't stop trying to figure out here - and why this is yet another example of why some bloggers who want to be seen as journalists just don't get it. Sure journalism is changing - but the thing is there are so many bloggers who don't seem to understand that presenting yourself as a journalist means you have a different standard applied to you. We're going to assume that even if you didn't get a college degree in this stuff you did some time with other professionals, interned, read books, learned the craft. You understand media ethics, something of media management, what "transparancy" and "full disclosure" mean and why not following those will bite you in the ass. (Of course just because there are people with degrees calling themselves journalists doesn't mean they're actually doing the ethical thing either - but then we get to publicize this and say "they should have known better.") If you didn't know all that going in you sure as hell better learn fast, especially when your website traffic hits multiple thousands of visits per day - not to mention when you start being invited to comment in other media as an "expert." You don't get to suddenly run from that personna you've created and say "this is personal space here" - especially when you've not given your readers that expectation.

The BB folk are invited to conferences, paid to speak, some of them teach. If they're not consulting each other - and I assume that at least some of the BB have enough media background to have known better than to handle this situation this way - why aren't they listening to each others' counsel? Because they can't all have signed off on this being the correct way to handle the situation, right? Right?

The other thing I can't get over is how much information about their private lives that these folk have on the internet in various places. I mean, it's one thing to be a public figure and have other people write about you - it's another to have a huge amount of information/photos you've posted yourself. Maybe I'm one of the last people who doesn't blog/twitter this amount of info (I mean, I have some stuff up, just not this much, ack.) To then suddenly declare that you can't discuss things or that they're private - without the (Press Release 101) info that legal matters keep you from further disclosure - well, the rest of the internet is going to try to put the pieces together with what information has already been made available.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:57 PM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


So I was going to ignore the Chris Mathews correctors because this is such a fascinating thread and I don't want to derail. It was a facetious and overblown comparison on my part that was not meant to be taken seriously.
But neither is Matthews. Hey, you folks quoting Wikipedia, it's true that Matthews did flunky work on Capitol Hill, but "accomplishment"? And someone cited his writing Carter's "malaise" speech which helped accomplish that man's not getting re-elected. (Matthews himself doesn't own up to it. He's talked about the speech like it's an object with no relation to him, so I don't know.) Oh, and then he worked for Reagan...
But look, I take your point and I don't want to derail, it's just that, as I see it, Xeni and Chris have careers of similar importance.
Now if Matthews wrote about sex more...
posted by CCBC at 12:57 PM on July 2, 2008


I decided that just for the hell of it I wanted to write what I would like to see Boing Boing post in order to try to fix the situation. So here's what they should be saying right now, at least IMHO:
It's become obvious to the entire team here at Boing Boing that our actions to date have the potential of making the current firestorm go on indefinitely. We've met and decided to take a few steps.

First, we have altered the commenting system and our commenting policy. Disemvoweling is a tactic that although seeming quite cute has in practice appeared petty and been a block to the free exchange we hope to foster on this site. In the interests of preserving the record, if we delete a post (excepting bonafide spam), we will reflect same by keeping the metadata (post number, user, date, time) and merely replacing the text with "[Comment deleted for cause.]" Should a moderator edit their comment, much like you would see with forum software, the comment will have "[Comment edited by Name on Date, Time.]" In this way there should be no further questions or concerns about "unpublished" comments or "stealth-edit" comments.

Second, we apologize for the cute wordplay we engaged in regarding unpublishing and deletion. Unpublishing is the actual name of the feature present in the Movable Type blogging software for removing an entry from view without deleting it in the database. However, we acknowledge that it makes no difference from our readers' point of view. The comments we made about not deleting comments, but unpublishing them, were poorly chosen inciteful banter, and we apologize for them.

Third, we have fired our moderators, for gross incompetence. We think very highly of Teresa as a person, an author, an editor, and for her professional reputation. But moderators are by very definition suppose to moderate, "to lessen the intensity or extremeness of." Both our moderators did precisely the reverse course of action, in that the discussions became even more intense and extreme thanks to much of their commentary. It was obvious from same that neither evidently has the temperment to keep an even keel to our community in times of sturm und drang. We wish them both well in their personal and professional lives.

Fourth, we are not going to discuss why we deleted Violet Blue's posts from our weblog. We will neither confirm nor deny what others have speculated in blog entries. However, we acknowledge now that we are not a personal weblog. We are, and have behaved as, a for-profit producer of online media and commentary for years now. As such, it was not ethical for us to silently remove posts from our weblog under the circumstances, neither under the concept of journalistic ethics or under the commonly agreed-upon community understanding about blog archives. While still refusing to discuss the causative factors, we nonetheless apologize for this. We have restored all posts and comments that were initially deleted.

Fifth, along the same train of thought, we hereby pledge that we will not retroactively remove entries from our archives without notifying our reading public of the general removal. We reserve the right to do so only in such circumstances that we are required to by law.

Sixth, we plan to abstain from posts criticizing corporations and governments for a lack of transparency for a period of time, concentrating instead on other parts of our usual subject matter. We do this in recognition of the fact that our reputation has been tarnished in this area and that it would be a healing gesture to allow time to pass before resuming coverage of such subjects.

Frankly, this has caused so much mishegas that we all need a break. As such, Matthew Haughey will be guest-blogging for us for the next week while we all take a little bit of a mental vacation.
Work of genius? No. Obviously advocating an opinion counter to their current one? Yes. Chances of them actually posting something resembling this? About as much as the chances of Dubya being outed as a crossdresser.

Reason, by the way, that I put in the "refusal to say why" bit is that a few wags are speculating it's an aftereffect of a Xeni-Violet relationship and I can't imagine they'll be very open about it if that's the case.
posted by WCityMike at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2008 [12 favorites]


As such, Matthew Haughey will be guest-blogging for us for the next week while we all take a little bit of a mental vacation.

Why do you hate Mathowie so much?
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


overglow, no, just human, i guess

Joel: If what you want is time is evaluate the situation and decide on a response, I think it's deserved. I personally hope that response is something along the lines that WCityMike suggests.
posted by tyllwin at 1:06 PM on July 2, 2008


Artw: "Why do you hate Mathowie so much?"

Heh. Honestly, Matt's the only guy I could think of — well, honestly, I could have substituted either Jess or Cortex in there, but Matt was the first to come to mind and to put all three in as guest bloggers would've been a little kissupish/fanboyish.

But frankly in the circumstances they're in, getting the Mefi mods to sub in for a little bit (not as comment moderators, but as guest bloggers) wouldn't be the worst of ideas, not by a loooong shot.
posted by WCityMike at 1:08 PM on July 2, 2008


So, if VB is evil, what sort of 'evil' is it? Rape? Touturing animals? Genocide?

The least-commented upon weirdness in all this is that a bunch of editors and authors have fallen in with the idea that because they don't like something an author has done they ought to have their work damaged, as though BoingBoing werre composed of crazy ex-girlfriends breaking into your loft to slash your paintings.

Seriously, would the editors working their unpublish Hemingway or Picasso or Dali, all of whom were well-known for being, well, dicks?
posted by rodgerd at 1:08 PM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


WCityMike, thanks for validating my previous observation:

all I'm reading here is the latest Me2 fad of "hey, I recognize what's happening here, I'll summarize it for everyone and then provide the [genius] solution."

I feel better about myself now. Let's get one more half-hour out of this thread. I know we can do it.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2008


(I don't know about publishing, but I'm guessing they'd get the right form of the word 'there')
posted by rodgerd at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2008


Oh, and when looking it over, there's obviously a few places that'd need to be tweaked, such as for the fifth point, reserving the right to "disappear" posts if contact info was posted, and for the second point, reserving the right to shut down people who are just posting post after post after post just to create that string of "[Comment deleted]" (i.e. the right to block IPs).
posted by WCityMike at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2008


I love you guys.
posted by waraw at 1:13 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think she deserves a lot of slack here. When you accept a position like that, you're taking on the responsibility of dealing with shitstorms wisely and gracefully. If you decide you'd rather come out guns blazing, defending your pals and calling the readers names, you've failed in your responsibility. I'm sure she's going to regret a lot of what she's said in the heat of the moment

I don't think that she is going to regret any of what she's said, because it isn't like this is the first time she's gone off the handle and been, frankly, a Really Bad Moderator. For example, the BB commenting FAQ/Policy Manual, which she wrote, is snarky and unnecessarily combative. And almost since her first day on BB, she has injected herself into contentious threads, insulting and belittling commenters and deleting or disemvowelling comments which dared to disagree with her, the BBers or the groupthink. This latest donnybrook is just the latest donnybrook.

IMHO, she's been a piss-poor moderator since long before her stint at BB. For example, "disemvowelling" is nothing more than trollbaiting. She has said as much: one of its purposes is to belittle the poster even more than a mere deletion would.

My mind boggles when I see people praise her for her light touch, even-handedness and coolness under pressure. It's like they're watching the Bizarro World version of this show.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2008 [7 favorites]


Skorgu:

"I wonder how much cstross and jscalzi in particular are responding to the Cory Doctorow Hate-a-thon early in the thread vs the more rational conversation here at the bottom?"

Now that BB released a statement and the facts of the matter are to known to a greater or lesser extent, I don't have much to add; my main concern was people doing a pile-on on some folks I know before there was enough information to know who was involved with what. We're past that point.

My main takeaway from all of this is:

a) it's not how I would have handled it, and hopefully not how they Boingers will handle it in the future;

b) I'm glad my own comment policy makes clear and has made clear for years that I reserve the right to delete posts and ban people at my pleasure and whim. It makes things a whole lot simpler.
posted by jscalzi at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Alright, Matt. Get to work on your Ukelele and Nanomachine research. Chop chop.
posted by cavalier at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoa, what a shitstorm. I don't really care about BoingBoing one way or the other (just started reading it; it's pretty low on the list and I generally only get to it when I'm bored), but this conversation is fascinating. Drama, suspense, flame-outs... it has everything! Also, the implications here are huge in terms of the internet as the new media and honesty and transparency and blahblahblahbeensaidalready.

why did I waste so much of my day reading all of the comments here and on BoingBoing?

I will be a touch disappointed, though, if all of this drama dies down with little to no effect on BoingBoing's site hits. Does that make me a bad person?
posted by lunit at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2008


jsavimbi: "WCityMike, thanks for validating my previous observation

And thank you for validating my longstanding observations (both publicly and privately held) re: Mefites and snark excess.
posted by WCityMike at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aww, that's so cute! The little shit peddlers at VW run a system where you have to "Audition" for your right to comment, i.e., you can submit comments, but they won't appear until you're judged a "good commenter", or something like that.

Well, apparently me asking plainly in two threads for them to stop being homophobic juvenile yada yada's and to give XJ some space caused my application for commentship to be denied. It's cute! It says "You can't comment, but you can do other things with your account!" Sweet!

Really... gross.
posted by cavalier at 1:27 PM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't think that she is going to regret any of what she's said, because it isn't like this is the first time she's gone off the handle and been, frankly, a Really Bad Moderator.

The conclusion doesn't follow from the premise. I fly off the handle more often than I'd like, and I regret it each time.
posted by languagehat at 1:31 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Effort yes, results though?

Most definitely, though at this point it would be a duel over who's the better cheerleader - heh. And, imho, providing links to the efforts of others isn't quite as laudable as the actual work that has been put into everything thus far.
posted by squeak at 1:35 PM on July 2, 2008


cavalier-- just be glad they didn't accept your comments, and then at a later date "unpublish" them. Hehe, just kidding.
posted by cell divide at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2008


Cavalier: I was going to mock you with a helping of nanomachine and ukulele posts, but bb is #2 on google's result page for "nanomachine ukulele". So you win.
posted by boo_radley at 1:43 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


jscalzi: my main concern was people doing a pile-on on some folks I know before there was enough information to know who was involved with what
Absolutely. The irony, of course, is that the reality was pretty close to the least-charitable guesses.

squeak: And, imho, providing links to the efforts of others isn't quite as laudable as the actual work that has been put into everything thus far.
Absolutely. Cheerleading is a great description, but at that level it's enough to put you in the realm of "politically active" and hence subject to scrutiny which was all I was trying to say.
posted by Skorgu at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2008


Hey, aren't there any more published authors who want to come and have fifteen minutes of infamy making ignorant statements about things they haven't read in this thread?

Come on, this Cory person must have some more friends, surely.

Hugs available on redaction! Lovely group hugs!

I kid.

Anyway, one day this whole debacle will be recounted as a fable on the dangers of letting your ego call the shots.

We all have one, some people understand and manage theirs better than others.
posted by asok at 1:47 PM on July 2, 2008


...you'd think folks were talking about a conspiracy involving Karl Rove, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the second coming of Adolf Hitler.

Dude, that's going to be a hell of a Laundry book.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:53 PM on July 2, 2008


boo: While I'd like to do a little jig in celebration, I guess this paints me as even a more long time BB reader, so I'll take a moment to say here that I think they'll get through this, and we'll hope to continue enjoying reading over there on a not too infrequent occasion!

For now...
*jig*
posted by cavalier at 1:59 PM on July 2, 2008


Right now, I'm actually feeling a fair amount of sympathy for the central Boingers, especially Xeni.

It looks to me like they were trying to do the right thing in difficult personal circumstances, but completely failed to understand how their actions appeared to outsiders. Everything they did just made things worse, even though their intentions were good.

It's like a modern greek tragedy: it doesn't matter how good your intentions are, the fatal flaw in your character will find you out in the end. In this case the flaw was the mismatch between their actions in response to deeply personal issues & the ideals that made up "Brand BoingBoing".

Things I have learnt from watching the BoingBoing flameout PR clusterfsck:
  1. Don't just delete people's questions about a problematic issue. It makes them tetchy & wonder why it's such a big deal. If you act all touchy about a topic some people will come and prod you just to see if you do it again. Then when you delete them, they'll come up with more creative ways to do the same thing. This is not a battle you can win.
  2. When you do come clean, don't point to 'policy' documents which just happen to have been edited shortly beforehand to permit your behaviour without mentioning this fact. People will check on archive.org
  3. When people pull you up on this stuff, don't start insulting them. It really doesn't help.
  4. When making further comments, it's a really bad idea to go back and edit them given that 1 & 2 above have pretty much shot your credibility on this front. Even if you mean well. In fact, especially if you mean well, since it gives the opposite impression.
Whether TNH will realise that she hasn't been an icon of righteousness in this whole sorry saga I've no idea. Hopefully she'll realise that she hasn't exactly helped matters with her little bombshells in the BB thread.
posted by pharm at 2:00 PM on July 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


With some reluctance, I just went to Boing Boing to see if any of this was explained. The closest I found was an "internet cat-fight", but that was a Youtube video of kittens fighting. That and Pac-Man cupcakes make the cringe factor too high. So anyone have a link to the explanation on Boing Boing?
posted by orthogonality at 2:16 PM on July 2, 2008


Well, at least next time a MeFi commenter starts spewing misogynist bullshit, we can send them to a fine new home as a ValleyWag editor.
posted by spiderwire at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


pharm writes "Don't just delete people's questions about a problematic issue.... When you do come clean, don't point to 'policy' documents which just happen to have been edited shortly beforehand to permit your behaviour without mentioning this fact.... When people pull you up on this stuff, don't start insulting them.... When making further comments, it's a really bad idea to go back and edit them given that 1 & 2 above have pretty much shot your credibility on this front. Even if you mean well. In fact, especially if you mean well, since it gives the opposite impression."

Wait, wait. All that works on Wikipedia. Why are you holding Boing Boing to a higher standard?
posted by orthogonality at 2:24 PM on July 2, 2008


So anyone have a link to the explanation on Boing Boing?

There hasn't been a real explanation and I would expect one, because it's become clear this was some sort of romantic spat. Don't drunk dial! I mean edit!
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Orthogonality: Hmm. Well, firstly Wikipedia has no credibility on this front to lose in the first place: once you lift the carpet it's a cesspool of personal vendettas and conflicts and I think this is pretty much public knowledge at this point in time.

Secondly, the whole point of wikipedia articles is that they're available for instant editing all the time. Everyone knows that from the outset, so it's a completely different dynamic.

(The fact that wikipedia is as successful as it clearly is is one of those modern internet miracles.)
posted by pharm at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia also keeps a detailed log of all edits.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:47 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


pharm writes "Orthogonality: Hmm. Well, firstly Wikipedia has no credibility on this front to lose in the first place"

(Yeah, that was I point I was trying to make. One of us needs to re-calibrate his sacasm meter, but we're not in disagreement.)
posted by orthogonality at 2:49 PM on July 2, 2008


ortho, in case this is what you meant: this is the official BB thread on the subject.
posted by cortex at 2:53 PM on July 2, 2008


Speaking of Wikipedia they're also debating on the Boing Boing page how to post the info of ...this whole "whatever happened" BB/VB/XJ thing. (I don't even know what to call it anymore. Strange that no one's tacked a -gate onto it, but then the coverup comparison's a stretch.)
I always enjoy reading sourcing arguments.
Note: I have never edited or even gotten an account at Wikipedia. I'm in the minority in that? I never know.
posted by batgrlHG at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


TheOnlyCoolTim: True, except there have been times when wikipedia admins with database access have been accused of editing the database directly in order to hide uncomfortable edits (I have no idea whether this actually happened, but it's clearly possible) & there's been enough drama in the wikipedia Admin wars to outlast this BoingBoing thing a thousand times over. Like I said, when you lift the carpet in certain corners, wikipedia smells.

On the other hand, great swathes of it are wonderful.
posted by pharm at 2:55 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pharm, do your rose-colored glasses come in mens sizes, and where can I get a pair? All I've seen out of the core boingers and their crew is the attitude that everyone else (the people that made them who they are) is suddenly a thankless twat that doesn't know enough to stay in their place. They remind me of so many failures, it's tough to list them all.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:55 PM on July 2, 2008


Orthogonality: When I go back and re-read your post the sarcasm is staring me in the face. I think I probably just need to go to bed...
posted by pharm at 2:57 PM on July 2, 2008


Speaking of Wikipedia they're also debating on the Boing Boing page how to post the info of ...this whole "whatever happened" BB/VB/XJ thing.

Lordy - knowing wikipedia that's going to be a conversation that goes in circles for a long time.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on July 2, 2008


MetaFilter: Nice poke in the asshole.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:06 PM on July 2, 2008


MetaFilter: 1,259 insults on one page
posted by optovox at 3:10 PM on July 2, 2008


jsavimi: Wait, let me adjust my spectacles a second. Yup, definite a men's size.

OK. It depends who you're talking about. Much of the interaction that this thread has been obsessing over has in fact been with the BoingBoing moderators, who haven't exactly been covering themselves in glory. Quite the converse in fact: I for one find TNH's condescending attitude to people she disagrees with teeth grindingly irritating at times (although Making Light remains worth reading despite that). She's displayed that characteristic in full here during this mess.

Meanwhile, it's fairly easy to construct a narrative involving VB & the Boingers which, for me at least provides an explanatory backdrop to their actions, whether justifiable or not. They still messed things up in a spectacular fashion of course & I continue to be astonished that such a supposedly 'web-savvy' bunch of people could get things so catastrophically wrong, but that's what happens when the personal & the political collide (although there's a certain branch of thought which says that the personal is the political of course).
posted by pharm at 3:11 PM on July 2, 2008


cortex writes "ortho, in case this is what you meant: this is the official BB thread on the subject."

Yeah, sorry, I thought there was some follow-up. My bad. Thanks.
posted by orthogonality at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2008


MetaFilter: 1,259 insults on one page

Heh. I guess we should have held stricter auditions.
posted by cortex at 3:19 PM on July 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: Nice poke in the asshole with a 'steampunk dildo.'
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Based on the post title, I'm guessing that VW thread is responding to cavalier's comment criticizing them. That's maybe the last site I'd expected to show such thin skin. Astonishing.
posted by spiderwire at 3:23 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


POSTING (again) IN EPIC THREAD!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:25 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry to go all off-topic, but--

What the hell is it with people constantly throwing the 'boyzone' moniker at MeFi? I've been around here for a long time and I've never felt particularly outnumbered. In fact, one of the things I've loved about this place was that it had a fair amount of women contributors.

Am I missing something? Is there some great Female Internet Enclave that I'm supposed to be judging MeFi against?
posted by elfgirl at 3:33 PM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


There are less than a thousand insults in this thread.

(1279 comments total) (331 insults) [add to favorites] [!] 43 users marked this as a favorite
posted by grobstein at 3:37 PM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


elfgirl - here, apparently.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on July 2, 2008


It must make poor Valleywagger Paul Boutin -- as a human being with a soul -- itch terribly to be so close to people (or automatons) blogging about all of this. Not just because he works for part of the Gawker media empire (a profession I believe ranks alongside Chinese WoW Gold Farmer) but because "big gay Owen Thomas" has a line of big gay vitriol reserved for Blue that would make any snarking mefite hang up his hat and go big gay die.
posted by boo_radley at 3:42 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


VW attacks Metafilter as a boyzone; Controversy as Pot calls Kettle a 'macaca.'
posted by bunnytricks at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Nice poke in the asshole with a 'steampunk dildo.'

Sounds painful. Those gears and valves have sharp edges.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2008


and all that steam, too.
posted by boo_radley at 3:44 PM on July 2, 2008


Actual Boyzone.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paul Boutin owes me a byline! Sonavabitch. Gawker Media's a poor man's Fark, and everyone knows it. Just ask Will Leitch.

Pharm, there is no narrative, son. It's a simple example of the story of life, maturity and how we get all passive aggressive even when we know it's not the thing to be caught doing.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:46 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


elfgirl, I agree. I don't feel outnumbered here, and feel perfectly free to call posters on their boyzone comments when it happens. But I think that might be a part of it, actually - challening boyzone comments actually serves to highlight them, which is a very good thing in-community, but can make us look more boyzoney than we actually are to people who are just dropping by. At least, that's what I attribute it to.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:48 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sounds painful. Those gears and valves have sharp edges.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on July 2 [+] [!]

and all that steam, too.
posted by boo_radley at 3:44 PM on July 2 [+] [!]


You know, I’m sure that back in better days Boing Boing ran some pieces on actual Victorian “massage devices”. Of course those were electrical, not steam, and existed rather than being a whimsical fantasy, so it’s not the sort of thing they’d go for these days.
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on July 2, 2008


and all that steam, too.

And the DRM! Don't get me started about dildo rights.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2008


What the hell is it with people constantly throwing the 'boyzone' moniker at MeFi?

Seconded. I looked at that and yawned, because that criticism is getting pretty boring and on top of that, pursuant to those couple of MeTalks about it a while ago, I've noticed a massive difference.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:52 PM on July 2, 2008


I've noticed a massive difference.

We had a little chitchat about the crappy comments about Xeni (waaaaay) upthread and decided that people had sort of dealt with it in-thread and there was no need to go delete-happy about it, as is our preference. However, they are still here so they can look boyzone-ish out of context but so what I guess.
posted by jessamyn at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2008


Do you realize that this thread is literally the length of a book? At ~100,000 words, it would fill about 250 pages.
posted by Pyry at 3:56 PM on July 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


I agree turgid dahlia, it's much improved here, and in fact it's the board I feel most comfortable reading now. (Which is a good thing, because with threads like this I don't ever have time to surf elsewhere).
posted by stagewhisper at 4:01 PM on July 2, 2008


Do you realize that this thread is literally the length of a book? At ~100,000 words, it would fill about 250 pages.

I, for one, would pay money for book of all this. Verbatim, of course.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


elfgirl: "What the hell is it with people constantly throwing the 'boyzone' moniker at MeFi? I've been around here for a long time and I've never felt particularly outnumbered. In fact, one of the things I've loved about this place was that it had a fair amount of women contributors.?"

If someone had thrown that (the Valleywag boyzone claim) out a few years ago maybe it would have made more sense to me. I can remember when I lurked back then that there were a lot more incidents of "guys making comments that will offend women readers" - many times out of the inability to realize as to how some remarks would be taken and what could offend. But in this thread the misogynistic comments have almost immediately been called out by other commenters. I do think the use of cunt wasn't called for here, despite the "pardon my french." But it was 100s of comments away by the time I read it.

I'd say in majority of comments there's much more snark than full out hate here. Valleywag's Paul Boutin obviously didn't read to the end of the thread available to him at the time when he posted that.

Also there's a trend in the Valleywag's headlines for posts on this:

Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair?
--Trying to get the reader who could care less about blog issues to read more in hopes of juicy details. Even if it doesn't get readers now later Googlers for "girl on girl" will continue to find the page.

then

MetaFilter: 1,259 insults on one page
--Trolling for hits - theory that enraged MeFites will sign up for an account to tell them how wrong they are and cash in on the traffic this story is generating.

Also this is Boyzone. Don't go all Tiger Beat on us and use this, ok?
posted by batgrlHG at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


What the hell is it with people constantly throwing the 'boyzone' moniker at MeFi?

They know it's a sensitive topic here, so it makes nice grit to throw in our faces.

And I can't say it's unexpected. This thread has had its share of "we're so much better than them" posts, and at the very least tossing a few boyzone comments over the wall at us should remind us that we're hardly pure as the driven snow. Even better it might start a nice round of "we're a boyzone/No we aren't!" recriminations and distract us from the whole Boing Boing thing.
posted by tkolar at 4:06 PM on July 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dammit, what Artw said, didn't hit preview often enough!
posted by batgrlHG at 4:07 PM on July 2, 2008


In my defense, I don't read valleywag; I was flabbergasted to see that volkswagen had a position on the issue, and clicked through before thinking it out. Namespace collisions are terrible things.
posted by boo_radley at 4:08 PM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Right now, I'm actually feeling a fair amount of sympathy for the central Boingers, especially Xeni.

I'm not. They seem to have hurt their business based on a high-school level tantrum over who was fucking who. Dropping authors for upsetting your friends may work well in old-school publishing businesses, but I don't think it works so well for web-based publishers.
posted by rodgerd at 4:09 PM on July 2, 2008


I don’t think Metafilter has ever made the claim of being guardians of anything. Except maybe Netfllix profiles.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why does Paul Boutin throw that "boyzone" moniker at us? He's a 5ive fan, of course.
posted by dw at 4:16 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]



I don’t think Metafilter has ever made the claim of being guardians of anything.


We've taken some pretty unequivocal stances on a few issues.

Call me when they catch mathowie using fake accounts to hype metafilter on Yahoo! Answers and we'll talk.
posted by tkolar at 4:16 PM on July 2, 2008


Pyry writes "Do you realize that this thread is literally the length of a book? At ~100,000 words, it would fill about 250 pages."

We're writing the 21st Century Great American Novel here. Romance, betrayal, revenge, code, copyright, CMS, wayback machines, flames, ripostes, limericks, wisecracks, non sequitur, epic fail, moderator meltdown. At the rate things are going, I'm waiting for Hans Reiser to implicate Blue and Jardin in his