Hipocrisy, The Name Is Boing! Boing!

The Boing! Boing! vs. Violet Blue death match at least gives BB fans something to do between Cory Doctorow’s posts plugging his book. For those of you who don’t care about Boing! Boing!, the short version is they had some sort dispute with sex blogger Violet Blue, and about a year ago went through and deleted several dozen Boing! Boing! posts that were either authored by her or mentioned her. It was only a few days ago, however, that anyone became aware of this retcon.

A lot of longtime Boing! Boing! fans are outraged, and a lot of people who could care less don’t understand the outrage. Its their site, right? They can do whatever they want, so why should anyone care? As someone who read Boing! Boing! back when it was still a paper zine, the answer is that we expected so much more from Boing! Boing! because those behind the site pushed for more from others.

For example, one of the disappeared posts is a rant by Xeni Jardin directed at Google for, of all things, supposedly “disappearing” sex blogs from its index. There are a lot of good comments from a variety of people in that post, including a couple by Violet Blue, but VB’s contribution is hardly the bulk of the post by any means. But because it mentioned her name, it was “unpublished” as part of the enmasse removals.

Boing! Boing! used to be the place you’d go to watch Cory or Xeni rip into sites who would do something as stupid as silently remove content that was about the horrors of silently removing content. Now, however, they’ve become that site.


8 thoughts on “Hipocrisy, The Name Is Boing! Boing!”

  1. I don’t know about you, but I’m really glad Teresa Nielsen Hayden stopped posting in that thread (at the moment) and I would mind seeing Antinous take a time out, either.

    I can’t see where either of them is doing anything in their public postings but being total tools.

    It’s also reinforced, for me, that I have acted like a complete jackass on my own blog by posting snotty things about my private life and then mass deleting them when the subject pissed me off. I have been following this whole mess and I think I’m going to draft a set of guidelines for myself both at my personal blog and at VoU.

  2. Re: Teresa — I’m really surprised people buy into her greatest-moderator-evar line. She’s always been very capricious in moderating, both on BB and on her own blog. I’ve posted a couple things on BB, for example, that were just me being an asshole because I had a bad day, and they’ve stay up. I’ve posted a couple comments I took some time specifically to make sure they weren’t flaming anyone and seen them disemvoweled.

    Also, I really hate disemvoweling — there are much better technological solutions to flames, such as making the text the same color as the background or collapsing the comment and requiring people to expand specific comments. At least then there’s transparency and you get an idea of what the moderator thinks is excessive, where today I can’t tell what it was about the comment that got any given comment disemvoweled.

    And yeah, if you want to be seen as objective, calling commenters blockheads and stupid is probably not a good idea as a moderator.

    I’ve taken down two posts in the last 8 years or so. I removed one about 2 minutes after I posted it because I realized I had mixed up stats from Sweden and Switzerland which rendered the whole post moot. The other one I realized — after posting it — relied on moderately proprietary information I had as part of my job and just didn’t want to cross any line there.

    Clearly, the problem seems to be that Xeni and a lot of people seem to think that VB is/was a real bitch. That may be true, and certainly would be cause to not link to her stuff anymore. But going back and removing everything with her name in it — including very long entries where the VB component wouldn’t even be noticed — is absurd and, of course, given VB exactly the public platform she’s been looking for.

    Xeni whines to the LAT about all the mean people who were saying bad things about her on the Internets. Wow, unpublishing VB really solved that!!

  3. Brian, I was going to ask if you’d seen the latest from the LA Times blog but I note you’ve already posted there. I hope the BoingBoing crew at some point trains their pet mods to not pee in the house, is all I’m saying.

    Personally, I think if you’re going to get rid of someone’s post just get rid of it. (Or take down so you can put it back if you’ve discovered that you’re overmodding.) All three options that you mention–disemvowelling, whiteout, and dropdown–leave the comment like a stain on your site.

    I REALLY have to think about what I’m going to do about deleting writings (not comments) at Unreason. Breaking Links is Bad but those can be pretty embarassing since they’re someone’s creative outlet. (Dawn, for example, is mortified at the random stuff she posted as her “thoughts”.) Even leaving them around in the discussion group but not on the front page/archives can be a bit much for some people.

  4. Mark Brutsch: thanks for pointing that out. That’s just amazing. Is there anybody who isn’t just routinely deleting their blog posts? There is a lot of stuff in my archives that, given hindsight, I would not have posted and/or gives prominent play to people I don’t have much respect for anymore. But I wouldn’t dream of going back and getting rid of those posts. I have worked as a journalist, and at some point you just have to take responsibility for your words.

    Mark Morgan: yeah, I can see that, especially as what you’re talking about is more personal musings. I did make one other change once. I put the full text of a news story that involved my wife and appeared in the campus paper of the university we attended. Years later I got an e-mail from the person who wrote it who asked me that I edit out his name because the headline was a very provocative title about rape…and so if you Googled him, the first link was this story with Rape prominently in the headline. There I had no problem removing his name since it didn’t really affect the story itself.

    Personally, I don’t mind offensive comments. I’m surprised that most people do, and that they let things get to them. It’s the well thought out comment that points out I was talking out of my ass that really annoys me. Those are uncomfortable! The person who just posts “you’re an asshole” are easy to scan.

  5. You know what would work better than disemvowelling or whiting out? Putting the removed content into an HTML comment! Make them work for it.

    That could be fun. Or just take the comments down like grownups with a note that you’ve done so.

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