UDreamOfJanie

Dream a Little Dream of Me.

When They Came For JanieBelle, I Said Nothing

A peek above our garters to Adam (AKA SunburntKamel) at archGFX.

You may recall the de-listing incident last year. The short version is that WP marked this blog and Kate’s (as well as others’ who cried out in protest) as “mature” (even if they weren’t). What that does is deny access to these blogs in the WordPress global category pages to all readers, even ones specifically looking for our content.

Clicking on any of the category links below this very post will take you to a WP.com page listing all the blogs that have recently blogged about something regarding that category. It’s actually a very cool service to find posts about the things for which you are looking, or in which you are interested. It’s very cool that is, unless you’ve been arbitrarily removed from that service. What that amounts to is de-facto censorship.

While WP is a privately owned site and I do not dispute the owners’ right to do as they please, it’s rather disingenuous of them to tout their support of freedom of expression on the one hand but deny access to certain blogs on the other.

Anyway, when all this went down, one WordPress blogger, a blogger who we found helpful and informative, a blogger whose blog we really liked, did not come to our defense. In fact, she came to WordPress’ defense.

In a Bad Karmic twist of fate, TimeThief (UPDATE: whose blog is now missing entirely) has now not only been de-listed, she’s been blocked from the forums where she had spent untold hours assisting new bloggers and answering questions as a volunteer. Dr. Mike, of similar stature and experience, has also been shut out. No explanations, no warning, no nothing. Just locked out.

Apparently, there were others as well, although I’m not familiar with them.

I think I’ll probably have to find a new home soon, so if the blog just disappears you know what happened. In the event that UDoJ is summarily deleted, I’ll leave word on where to find our new home at our old Blogger Blog. I’ve just backed up the blogs in their entirety, so fear not for the history. All the classic stuff will be preserved.

Somehow, a quote from more dire times comes to mind:

When the Nazis arrested the Communists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist.
When they locked up the Social Democrats,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat.
When they arrested the trade unionists,
I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist.
When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.

Martin Niemöller

Fortunately, the WordPress staff is not in charge of a country.

Forgive me if this post is a bit haphazard and lacking in the derision and disgust it deserves, but given The Boy‘s family situation I felt it was more important to put a post up than to give it the attention it really needs. Pop on over to Adam’s post and speak up.

Filed under: About, Blogs In Our MonkeySphere, Censorship, Rants, WordPress,

30 Responses

  1. Mister DNA says:

    JanieBelle,

    If you’re giving any thought to getting your own domain, e-mail me or shoot me a PM through AtBC. It’s a lot cheaper and easier than you might think. (and no, this isn’t a sales pitch…)

  2. WhoreChurch says:

    I’ve been delisted as well as of yesterday–at least in the tag surfer. Not sure why, though there tends to be knee jerk reactions to my blog name.

    I wonder if the new news surfer has created some ire from users when they see a post about a “mature sounding” topic showing up in a religion or health news topic. Beats me.

    I had several posts last week show up at the top of the various news channels and possibly it offended some weak minded users.

    But everyone important to me knows where to find me as does Google.

  3. JanieBelle says:

    Mister DNA

    I am, actually. Last I heard it was like $72/year plus hosting, though.

    Your Whoreness,

    It’s the principle of the thing that bugs me. It’s so icky hypocritical. I’m sorry you got de-listed, though. There’s an awful lot of people who surf those tag pages looking for just your kind of content.

    It’s a shame, really. The software is so great, the moderation not so much.

  4. WhoreChurch says:

    The people who run these Web 2.0 “open source” sites (not just WordPress, but sites like Wikipedia, Facecbook, Digg, etc.) have the same problem I always saw in the church. They see themselves as having such high ideals they can’t possibly be corrupted by power, fame or money.

    Of course that makes them even more likely to be corrupted. Never trust someone who truly thinks they are above needing accountability.

  5. WhoreChurch says:

    I just wrote an incomplete 621 words about the above which I will probably publish Thursday.

  6. JanieBelle says:

    I’ll be there with bells on.

    Nuthin’ else, just bells.

    😉

  7. well put, WC, i look forward to your post.

    Plenty of people have trouble distinguishing filtering from censorship. it’s a shame TT and Drmike didn’t realize the jeopardy their own accounts were in, but it’s understandable, nonetheless.

  8. JanieBelle says:

    Heh. A screamer from the forums:

    The dreaded “But I quote the Bible!!!!” defense.

    So I guess the moral of the story is “Even Christian sex is bad, mkay?”

    I’m looking for a new home. It’s only a matter of time before the “Delete Blog” button starts getting a workout by the staff at WordPress.

  9. JanieBelle says:

    Oh, and since when you get de-listed your name in the forums even stops being a link to your blog for fear that someone might get the other side of the story, ChristianNymphos (the blog in question) can be found here.

  10. do make sure to make regular backups of your blog, just in case something happens before you find someplace to move to.

    christian nymphos never had a link to her blog, options’ name is still an active link (changed after the fact to link to a specific post on the evilness of matt+co)

  11. WhoreChurch says:

    I don’t disagree with a blog containing sexual content, adult discussions of violence (pictures from Iraq anyone?) or profanity being limited in the general population. There are things on my blog children should probably not read, though I tend to link to them rather than post them directly.

    The solution proposed is to create a filter for 0ver 18 and still allow your content to be found in the tag surfer.

    One problem I see with that from WordPress’ perspective is the government limitation on hosting and presenting pornographic images. I suspect the Gov’t holds the domain responsible, though I don’t know.

    I do know there is a law requiring the domain to maintain records demonstrating that all sexual images are of people who are at least 18 years of age at the time the image was created. It’s possible WP would be held to this standard.

    Maybe someone smarter than me can tell.

  12. JanieBelle says:

    Thanks Adam, and yeah. I’m back to backing up my blog religiously. It’s such a shame that the WP staff engenders such paranoia, but there you go.

    Kevin,

    Back when all this went down with UDoJ, I offered up what I thought was a pretty good solution. I’m about to head out though, so I don’t have a link handy. It may have been here or it may have been at Sexinthepublicsquare.wordpress.com when DrMike et al showed up. I don’t recall off hand.

    Kisses to you both.

  13. @WC –
    section 2257 Regulations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Protection_and_Obscenity_Enforcement_Act

    recent attempts to extend the statute to any website were trumped by the entire thing being declared unconstitutional.

  14. JanieBelle says:

    Adam,

    The entirety of the comments on your blog seem to have evaporated as of this morning. The posts say there are comments, but clicking on either the post or the comments link next to the post produces only the post itself.

    I’ve looked in FF and IE7, just to be sure it wasn’t a browser glitch.

  15. thanks for the tip, i’m not sure what happened there. it think perhaps my wpg2 widget took a shit. it should be fixed now.

  16. Ah well to the barricades again. What can we do to help or is it not worth the fight and easier to move?

    I am so tired of this arbitrary nonsense. I moderate a list serve (GenderQueer Revolution at Yahoo groups) that got slapped with a adults only tag apparently because we discuss gender issues. We never got an explanation of why or even a notice when Yahoo did it. Some people are easily offended by any any mature conversation so companies like Yahoo and WordPress bend over backward to accommodate them and make life more difficult for the rest of us.

    I wish the best with this idiocy.

    p.s. You had mentioned you would link to my blog when I was ready, I’m ready.

  17. JanieBelle says:

    Adam,

    Happy to help, glad you got it straightened out. I hate when weird crap happens to my blog. It drives me nuts.

    Natasha,

    It’s sad that in public places discussion of sex or gender issues is somehow in need of censoring, yet violence is not.

    Personally, I find the likes of Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps offensive, and I certainly do not have any desire to accidentally happen upon some right wing fundamentalist religion blog. Despite the fact that I find them personally offensive and wholly repulsive, I can’t say I’ve ever even heard of any service remotely considering filtering them.

    Funny how that works, isn’t it? It says much about the messed up mentality and priorities of our society as a whole.

  18. JanieBelle says:

    P.S.

    Added.

    🙂

    Kisses

  19. drmike says:

    Gotta love the Bible defense. Even I chuckled over that one.

    Actually I always thought that I was more of a third party person who tried to see things the views of everybody. I actually pride myself on that. I may not agree with your opinion but I’ll at least try to understand why you have such an opinion.

    Staff member very specifically states that the tag system is at their call and discretion.

    I actually moved my sites myself quite some time ago. I never was blocked out of the tag system and the links disappeared only when I delete the blogs here at wp.com. I moved when Mark went back on his approval of a link in my sidebar and I decided that I didn’t want to argue with him over the point. (That and the idea of searching for the approval email hidden within a couple thousand emails wasn’t my idea of a good time.)

    Regards,
    -drmike

  20. raincoaster says:

    I was dropped from the tag pages, appealed it (at high volume) and was reinstated after they took another look at my blog. The possibility of being labeled Mature is always around at WP.com, although USUALLY it is applied only to sexual material and erotic nudity. That possibility doesn’t exist at other sites, but the flip side of that is: neither do the global tag pages. So, moving means you won’t be a “second class citizen” but it doesn’t actually give you any benefits.

    And you can always use Technorati tags on your posts. Timethief has been doing that for awhile, I think.

  21. JanieBelle says:

    Hi Dr. Mike and Raincoaster!

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Several quick things before coffee:

    I remember you coming by Dr. Woods’ place when all this went down here Dr. Mike, and I really appreciated that you were the only one who might be viewed as being in authority that actually gave a crap about what we had to say. Thanks for listening.

    My biggest bitch is the arbitrariness of the system. Sex is somehow an adult topic, but war and death and crime is not. That’s insane.

    Further, even if we were to agree that somehow sexual topics are deserving of being singled out for hiding from the general public (and let me be clear, I most certainly do not agree), where is the line? If I use the word, is that cause enough? If I mention in passing that I got laid last night? If I make a post about STDs? Two? Twelve?

    Shouldn’t this have been addressed very clearly when I signed up? Shouldn’t it have been explicitly delineated in the T.O.S.? “If you say sex three times in one month, you will be de-listed.”

    Before you answer, let me remind you of this: I was de-listed for one story I wrote. One sexually oriented work of fiction over the course of several hundred posts at that time.

    Should I not have been warned? “Hey, you’re over the invisible line. Delete those posts or be de-listed.” I would have even appreciated a notification ex post facto. There was nothing. I wouldn’t have even known, had I not noticed the precipitous drop in spam comments.

    Whether I can be found by Google or Technorati isn’t really the issue here. The issue is that a place for me to speak to a particular community was offered and accepted. My voice in that community was silenced on the whim of one person, a detail of the contract that was not mentioned beforehand. WordPress touts itself as a place that strongly supports freedom of expression.

    Several blogs were then de-listed not for sexual content, but for bitching about us being de-listed. Blogs with no sexual content whatsoever. To me, that speaks volumes in and of itself.

    As for benefits, you overlook one very large one, raincoaster. If Mark and Matt can and will summarily de-list blogs based on nothing but a gut feeling or distaste for the content, how long will it be before they start hitting the “Delete Blog” button based on the same (lack of) reason?

    If I bitch too much, will I find my blog gone? Are you sure?

  22. drmike says:

    Friendly reminder that I have no weight with Automattic and am not in any position of authority with them.

    Thanks for listening.

    Not a problem. It’s all those years of high school and college debate as well as years of retail management coming back to me.

    being in authority

    I’m not an authority. I was married. 🙂 (Well, formally engaged.)

    how long will it be before they start hitting the “Delete Blog” button based on the same (lack of) reason?

    They already have.

    “war, death, and crime” are topics commonly discussed in school now a days. We all learn how many Jews died in the holocost. We all learn about biology. We all learn about manners and justice and the like. (Well at least I hope they steal teach that stuff now a day. I wonder sometimes….)

    Sex, sexual and lesbian culture, etc are topics commonly now found in the classroom. At least until you hit high school. They do have quite a few kids around here. For an example, take a look at all the club penguin folks we have around here. We’ve wondered how Automattic gets around the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. (An email address is considered personal information)

    I do agree with your though that the process needs to be more open. I even think I remember Matt writing that he agreed with that when all this came down originally way back when. (He does that a lot. Post that they’re working on it and that’s the last we ever hear of it.) I had suggested a couple of times showing the status as a flag or somewort with that list of your blogs when you view the main page while logged in. Never heard back on that one.

    There actually is a plugin that allows the blog admin to see the mature status and to set it themselves. All of my installs have it and it works out very well. We’ve had a couple of bumps but everyting is out in the open. I suggest and the site admins agree that the blog admin is the one in the best position to make their own judgement call. Granted we do have to watch out for porn spammers still.

    If it was just a single post that got you delisted, that is troublesome. I’d have to dig for it but I remember a staff member stating very clearing that they look at the entire blog before applying the mature tag. Considering that they’ve been caught marking valid blogs as spammers recently, they may have been taking shortcuts.

    Granted though that just up to recently, support has pretty been just Mark with Lloyd pitching in with ToS issues. There are new support staff members who have just signed on recently but they seem to be having issues with the software. (One just told an enduser to delete their blog to solve an issue. Can’t wait to see how that one unfolds.)

  23. JanieBelle says:

    Thanks for hanging around, Dr. Mike.

    I know you don’t have any pull with WP, but I didn’t then. It was comforting that someone who I had seen around the forums (and thought was staff) with some knowledge had taken the time to talk.

    As for my de-listing, it was one story (but actually five posts). All my good smut, the vast majority of my cussing, all that kind of thing, came AFTER I was de-listed. I mean, if I’m de-listed anyway there’s no reason for me not to.

    It’s been almost a year since I suggested to Matt:

    Fair enough Matt.

    But let me say that a little bit of communication would have gone a long way here, and we would not be at a point where I, as one of the biggest fans of WordPress, would not now be considering leaving.

    Answering the blogs who were protesting rather than de-listing them as well would have been more of a move toward resolution rather than exacerbation of the disagreement.

    How about adding a section to the dashboard with filters out posts marked with particular tags as entered by each user? Is that doable?

    Like the friend surfer, it would require a user to plug in the specific tags.

    So if I didn’t want to see any posts that were tagged erotica, I would plug in “erotica” and no matter what category page I went to, I wouldn’t see any posts that had that tag.

    In this way (assuming that’s technically feasible), no one sees content they don’t want, but no one is denied seeing content they do want.

    It also has the advantage of not excluding bloggers from the WordPress community, and not excluding entire blogs whose content runs a large gamut of topics because of one or two particular posts.

    Could this be accomplished?

    I’m still waiting on a reply.

    I also saw the idiot that told the user to delete the blog. Nice.

    I’m so packing my blog and going elsewhere.

  24. Stiletto says:

    On their recent most post, WordPress asked for our votes. I wrote:

    “My blog has been marked as Mature, for whatever reason, and I am strongly opposed to censorship. So no, you guys will not be getting my vote. The Report as Mature button attracts people who are bound to abuse the system. It sweeps all blogs into one category; thus generalizing us.

    Like tv, if people are uncomfortable with what they see, if they don’t like it, flip the darn channel.”

    And then I come over here and find this…I wonder if WP will publish my comment or ban me. Will they at least have some dignity and allow me to export my posts?

    Let us know where you move to if you have to move, JB.

  25. JanieBelle says:

    I read that post and laughed to myself. They do NOT want to hear what I have to say.

    Stil, I highly recommend backing up your blog on a regular basis.

    Of course I’ll drop by and let everyone know where to find me should I get the midnight axe.

    Kisses

  26. Root says:

    Matt Mullenweg first demonstrated his believe that he is waaaaaaaaaaay above the need for any kind of accountability on the grounds that he is – uniquely – serving a higher calling – to which we – the unwashed masses – are not privy – during The Great WordPress Spam Scandal. He never demonstrated that he had the first clue what he had really done. All this censorship and control crap is making me sick. WTF does he think he is ? The whole point of blogging is to open the door to minority interests and controversial material, politically, socially or otherwise. A bit of sex never hurt anybody. Speaking as a man I am all in favour of it. Pretty girls. Sexy stories.
    Why not. Lesbians? Great. The idea that some prat from Texas thinks he is a suitable arbiter of the bounds of good taste is laughable. He is a f***ing Nazi.

  27. JanieBelle says:

    Hi Root, thanks for stopping by.

    I’m still livid over this whole thing. WordPress seems to be on a self-destructive mission to suck all the fun out of blogging these days.

  28. Stiletto says:

    I’d hate to see that guy out on a date.

  29. JanieBelle says:

    Too funny that you mention that, Stil…

    I was channel surfing on the boob tube just a few days ago, and there was an episode of Law and Order SVU on.

    The cops were trying to catch this guy who was raping and killing women he picked up while speed dating. Olivia posed as a speed dater and got him to ask her out for a regular date.

    They go out on the date, and when the waiter asks what they want to drink, she orders a beer but the killer guy tells the waiter to bring her a vodka martini instead. She keeps telling him she just wants a beer and doesn’t do vodka, but he keeps insisting, “You’ll love it.”

    I thought of WordPress Matt.

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