Image via reading.sexy.
This week I’ve been feeling like that episode on Buffy where things turn invisible, except it’s just on one corner of the blogiverse, and it didn’t really hit home for me why it means more to me than it did — especially as a blogger — than when I read the post about my deletion form Boing Boing, Violet Vanishes. Snip:
(…) And here’s where I make another disclaimer — when my responsibilities at the Chronicle involved SFGate, hell, even before that, when I was editing SFist, when people would send me enraged emails/post ranty blog posts about the policies of either publication, there was always a part of me that thought “Then don’t read us! There’s a lot of sites on the internet, and if you don’t like how we run things, well…” Just because a site is popular doesn’t make it a public utility, I get that, and folks can run things the way they want.
There are only a few people I would go back on that thinking for, and Violet’s one of them. So, I gotta ask: where the hell did her Boing Boing posts go?
Jackson suggests that she “rubbed someone at Boing Boing the wrong way,” which takes me back to hoping that their MT4 build is unstable, or maybe their site migration got fucked up (sorry, my 6A friends! Gotta consider all the possibilities!). Because, man, Boing Boing has been such a leader in web transparency, ethics, and decency (not the sex is bad! kind of decency, the be a good internet citizen! kind of decency) that if Jackson is right? That would totally fucking suck.
Of course, these questions are all just that — questions — because no one from Boing Boing is writing back to anyone who’s asked them what’s up. And maybe that’s because it’s none of our damn business, maybe it was a deliberate act based on an emotional personal decision. But if it was, I call bullshit.
My approbation or lack thereof isn’t going to impact Boing Boing a whit, and, like I said, that’s their house, and they can run it the way they want. But Violet’s my friend, and until I hear that Boing Boing’s archives are all fucked up, I’m not going to give them another damn pageview. And not just because, as Jackson says:
Because BoingBoing wields the awesome power of traffic and Google Pagerank, and to bestow such benefits on a blogger and then take them away can be a severe punishment in terms of advertising and affiliate business lost.
But because I know that — because Boing Boing taught me — that we’re supposed to call out sites that do shit like that. So that’s what I’m doing. (…read more.)
Update: See also, Boing Boing’d.
Update 2: More to read, especially this astounding post William Gibson Completely Deleted from BoingBoing Archives (also seen at worship the glitch). The comments on this post are also very thought-provoking and indicate more strange behavior.
Update 3, 06.30.08: In the comments of this post, people are noting that their (admittedly off-topic) comment queries on Boing Boing are being deleted, and over on Eve Batey’s blog a comment asking about it posted in the “comment moderation” post at Boing Boing have been deleted. Weird, weird, weird. Check out these posts: MetaFilter: Boing Boing Finds 21st Century Trotsky?, Violet Blue is Now A 404, Violet Blue Vanished From Boing Boing? (NSFW, Eros Blog), Drama Llama, Tech Macro: Boing Boing Deletes Blogger, Not the First Time?.
Update 07.02.08: Apologies for the delay in updating this post, I’ve been on deadline for my column while this has all been going on — though you’ll see I’ve been active in the comments here. I have only posted about this issue twice (including this post); a week after I posted my original item calling attention to the disappearance, BoingBoing responded to the LA Times blog post (indirectly, anyway), and admitted that it had happened (calling the removal “unpublishing”), without explaining why. My character was attacked by BoingBoing bloggers and BB’s comment moderator. There is much allusion to me being a bad person and that I had done something so egregious that I was a “strain[s] of evil”, among many other confusing things. I still have no idea what they’re talking about — except that it seems to be personal? — and really don’t understand why I’m being attacked, nor why they’re stating they kept it a secret (and are behaving this way) out of “kindness” toward me. I may have never been in a more bizarre situation. They revealed that this had actually happened a year ago. I didn’t notice the missing posts until a reader pointed it out to me last weekend. No one has explained anything to me, and no one is saying what the reasons actually are or are not, and the speculation is astonishing — and leading to more character attacks all around. Their post has over 900 comments and it is currently BoingBoing’s most commented post to date.
There is so much media about this, it’s difficult to capture it all in one update. In no particular order… Boing Boing and the Unpersoning of Violet Blue, The Boing Boing post that launched (not quite) a thousand comments, BoingBoing explains Violet Blue posts (sort of) (LA Observed), Boing Boing Responds to Violet Blue Brouhaha (SFist), Violet Blue Purged from Boing Boing, Boing Boing Talks Back (AdRants), Boing Boing Speaks out on Blue (SF Weekly), LA Times: Violet Blue still in the dark about her ‘behavior’, Regarding BoingBoing’s factual dispute on Monday’s Violet Blue post, BoingBoing and Violet Blue: Game Frakkin’ Over; Valleywag: Did the Internet’s free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair? and How Xeni and Violet’s Boing Boing affair went sour (note: except for what’s in my email, there is a lot of stuff there that I have *no* idea what they’re talking about), Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from noise (ZDnet, UK), The Media Cool Kids: Never As Cool As You Think (Gawker), It’s Like Watching Your Parents Calling Your Teachers A Bunch of Doody-Heads, BoingBoing vs. Violet Blue. I think there is more, and I’m sorry if I missed anyone.
Blogging has given us the power to self-publish, and gives us concrete, findable voices in a world that used to have its information sharing controlled only by the powerful few. We were tired of locked down communication channels run by people who never had to give reasons or sources because they didn’t have to. Blogging has torn those walls down. In this light, the notion of “unpublishing” is antithetical to the exact empowerment that blogging brings. No wonder so many people are upset.