Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Watch List (Thoughts Needed)

I am asking for your opinion on a topic that needs discussed. This blog can function as a forum, as a group discussion, or a place to warn others about something, and as a cry for help. Those are all valuable, and I feel, much needed in this community. But, and this is the big butt, this blog can also take a more active role in making life difficult for those who would attack us. This is the part that I am having trouble defining and I am asking your help with it. I'll get to the point.

When I re-started SIC, one of the things I wanted to create was a WATCH LIST in the sidebar. It isn't there now, because I wanted to wait and see what you thought of the idea. This Watch List would publicly list those blogs and/or bloggers that bear watching. See what I mean? Controversial, no? Right now I personally have such a list, the bloggers on my list advocate rape and forced violence against women, they talk and attack other bloggers specifically, they have a history of outting other bloggers, or they have stolen other bloggers content and posted it as their own. And other things. What do I do with my list? Not much actually, I visit their blogs occasionally, to check up on them and see if they are behaving themselves. But that's about all you can do, unless they actually break the law.

Is this censorship? In protecting the rights of a blogger to post about rape fantasies, do we empower that blogger, or do we shame ourselves? I do not pretend to have the answers to these questions, and that is why I am asking you for your opinions. I am not even sure that I could advocate the keeping of such a list on a public site. The potential for abuse seems high to me. And what address would a listed blogger have? Or should they have?

I suspect, like many things, that discussing such an issue is one of the purposes of this blog. And that is why I have brought it up. See? I am an instigator.


Anonymous Anonymous Had this to say...

But, and this is the big butt, this blog can also take a more active role in making life difficult for those who would attack us.

1) you're presuming that people sit there all day thinking about attacking blogs. "Who could" is a key word here.

To focus a blog on making the life of who you'd presume to be an attacker, difficult, is oppressive. And if you don't have the answers to the questions or issues that you throw off, then don't raise the issues and create more mountains.

2)"Is this censorship? In protecting the rights of a blogger to post about rape, do we empower that blogger, or do we shame ourselves?"

There's such a thing as the 'next blog' button for blogs like that. To make a fuss, by 'outing' blogs like that and posting about them also generates publicity for the blog/s in question.

IMO I can actually see this blog transforming into a policing site, and the sherrif badge is only the beginning isn't it?

So what is your role? To police other blogs like a Sherriff, or to support other bloggers to prevent things such as hacking and the like by providing sound advice?

Being a virtual policeman isn't helpful, it's still oppressive.

To make the lives of others difficult?

That's a negative way to begin any site, in my opinion.

12:34 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Anon - All good points and obviously issues that are worthy of discussion.

1) Far be it for me to "Assume" that people sit and think about it all day, however, the truth is impossible to ignore that some do indeed spend a fair portion of their time doing so. Else we wouldn't have the trouble we have now would we?

As far as raising issues go, I will continue to raise issues I feel are worthy of debate. And I would also hope that others will also raise issues that they feel are worthy of debate. Open debate is the same as open and free speech.

2) Good point, mentioning and making lists is also adding publicity to such blogs. That would be counter to the purpose and a negative.

This blog WILL NOT become a policing site primarily, but part of its purpose is obviously to make others aware of problems being encountered. That seems primary at the very least.

My role is not as a policeman, not in the way that you make it sound. Again, this site is an informational one mainly, a place to share resources and outlets that can actually do something about these issues.

Doing nothing is certainly the best way to empower tyranny in my humble opinion. And suppressing open debate is the first step.

3:19 AM  
Blogger Shon Richards Had this to say...

A watchlist is an interesting idea. Not to get all 1996 on you, but in Usenet erotica newsgroups we had perpetual trolls who would harrass other writers that they felt were competition. These people spent every waking moment on the attack and if someone called them out on their BS, then that person joined their attack list. It might be distracting for SIC to defend itself against those it lists.

On the other hand, I do like the idea of posting about those who qualify for the list. Rather than link to someone and say we're watching them, I'd rather do a post laying out what they did, why it is bad and why any person reading this blog shouldn't think to emulate the bad blog. A lot of bad bloggers do so out of either ignorance or a feeling that no one will notice. A constant eye on bad bloggers might discourage those before they begin.

My other last concern is time spent. In politics there are a lot of blogs who spend their day dogging a pundit and listing their crimes. It can be informative but it can also be time consuming. I worry that it might take time away from the issues of censorship .

7:06 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Shon - Interesting and thoughtful reply. I want to make it clear that I was not advocating a WatchList, only bringing the idea up for discussion. Two different things. The reason to bring something like this up is to come to a consensus regarding the issue. I think you make excellent points in your comment. Perhaps posting about these as they occur is the solution. We actually have precedent for doing so in the archives of this very site.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

What is the classification of a bad blogger Shon? Someone who doesn't cut the mustard, someone who doesn't 'fit in' with a group, someone who has a difference of opinion etc etc?

I'd rather do a post laying out what they did, why it is bad and why any person reading this blog shouldn't think to emulate the bad blog. A lot of bad bloggers do so out of either ignorance or a feeling that no one will notice. A constant eye on bad bloggers might discourage those before they begin.

To sit there and think, that I may write something, it can be a fiction, and to possibly have it 'labeled' as offensive (for whatever reason, be it theme, events described etc) by a 'group' of people is bordering on hysteria. And who is to say that the person or people making that list won't allow their personal opinions colour that list?

A watchlist made by sex bloggers who most of the time write about graphic sex, of varying extremes, is laughable and the reason I say that is because there are many mainstream bloggers who think that the 'bad blogs' are in fact the sexually themed or graphic blogs.

And further, this 'watch list' of 'don't visit these blogs because the following reasons', is also a form of censorship because by constructing a watch list, one curtails a writer's or a bloggers work.

Personally, I see it as a witch hunt, and many bloggers who've started blogging and still blog, do so because of freedom of speech, the last thing people need is a blogger watchdog committee, there are many fascist governments out there trying to either stamp out blog freedoms or limit these freedoms.

I think many adult bloggers (sex and non sex bloggers) are grown up enough to make decisions as to what's offensive or not. Are they children to need a list?

3:29 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

How about the "I Rape For Fun!" Blogger Ana?

How about the blogger that stole your content and posted it as their own?

How about the blogger that outed my Brother on the internet and published his photo and real name?

How about the Blogger that outed one of my friends and called her employer in RL?

I could go on. I have a LONG list of these because people have come to me for help, and I've always tried to help. These bloggers and hijackers and criminals are not to be watched because they "Don't fit in" to some imaginary group, they are to be watched because they pose a sometimes serious threat. In several cases the bloggers I have contacted myself have changed and become honest bloggers, but mostly they simply close shop and disappear. They are on my list because they have ALREADY done something to someone, not because someone doesn't like what they say.

There will BE NO PUBLIC list on this blog or any other, I think that was made clear, obviously the potential for abuse is great. But this topic is an important one, censorship, or protection? And worthy of debate.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Shon Richards Had this to say...

Ana, my definition of bad blogger falls along the lines of those that steal content from other bloggers, and those who seek out and destroy other bloggers by exposing their personal data or attacking their blog by more direct matters. Their own content doesn't matter to me. If someone wants to write their rape fantasies all day long, I have no problem with that as I see that readers can decide for themselves what they want to read.

Incidentally, I could care less if say, two bloggers got into a feud and wrote long nasty posts about each other. Honestly I am surprised more bloggers don't create feuds to generate drama. The last thing I would want to do is create some sort of group that picks sides during these Pepsi/Coke wars. I do think when it crosses over into say, posting personal information about the enemy blogger that it warrants a post detailing what happens.

And quite frankly, where is the harm in doing that? Making a post that says, Blogger A told the world that Blogger B is a sex blogger who works at a daycare and lists Blogger B by name, address and phone number, to me is a minor reaction to what Blogger A did. It merely points out an example of harassment as a warning of how other bloggers can protect themselves from someone like Blogger A. If anything, I think the chances of it discouraging others from harrassment is small, but maybe it'll help people like Blogger B protect themselves.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

Ok, I get the first definitions then what is attacking a blog by direct purposes? Could a direct purpose be when someone out of nowhere initiates something via a post or by a comment?

I agree that it's not fun for bloggers to steal content, but at the same time you're all grown to know that copyright isn't a secure medium on the Internet, and frankly, I'm surprised when a certain few bloggers go on about this type of security when they sometimes use content such as images (for their avatars etc) without caring about copyright.

But to give a group authority to form a watchlist, just to say these groups are 'bad' because they copy something is a bit immature. Every story tha people write, and I mean everyone, they're inspired from something they interpret or reinterpret. Everyone apes something at some point.

Something like No Yoink, which isn't a list that poeple get sent out to them, provides notification of a site, and this is more logical than a watch-list. Yes there are some sites that err from time to time, and they withdraw the content when asked, but that doesn't mean that their 'bad'.

My understanding of this post is that the question is being posed to other members or readers, in order for them to say 'oh yes let's have a list', because that way the onus is placed on them.

So who makes the decisions on a list? The members of this site? or bloggers in general? or just the sex bloggers? (because there are many mainstream bloggers who'd think that those who write about sex should be in a 'watch list').

Basically it's about a small group of people making a list, because in the scope of it all, there are millions of bloggers out there, and there are thousands of blogs being added to the blogosphere each day. So who'll be spending their time constructing a list? Or is the list meant for sex bloggers only who are 'bad'?

Your definition of a bad blogger many differ from someone elses. A person may also fabricate something in order to make another person look bad, just to add them to a list. Either way, it's still a form of censorship to have a black list, and I'm quite surprised that those of you who do live in the United States don't take a look at your history and see what was gained by creating blacklists and all the corruption that occured as a result of 'well meaning' people forming lists like Senator McCarthy.

How open minded can a person be if they're seeking to form a list only because someone 'copied their content'. We're not in kindergarten.

How many people copied Dan Brown, by writing similar themed novels, he's not having a fit about it. It happens all the time. How many erotic vampire stories are there out there on the web? Do you see Anne Rice having a hissy fit about it, saying she wants to create a list because bloggers 'copy her' (because of the theme? and the erotic elements?).

2:02 PM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

First of all, if we can't have frank and open discussions regarding sensitive issues, then what is the point of this site? The entire point of bringing this issue up was two-fold:
1) It has been suggested to me by several bloggers over the last year, and
2) It is a controversial and sensitive issue that I felt would benefit from open debate.

Let me be clear, I would NEVER advocate an open and public "list" of bad bloggers to be posted, and/or shared amongst a group of people. I feel that through this debate we have seen the logic of the already existing precedent on this very site, where problems and issues are posted and dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Simply look back through the archives for numerous examples of successful resolutions to specific issues.

"copyright isn't a secure medium on the Internet" is simply a falsehood. Copyright isn't secure simply because we allow it to be so, allowing is not the same as it being right. It would be foolhardy to assume that material of any nature is 100% secure when published on the net, or frankly in any source. But again, that does not make its theft ok. When I have confronted people, in a nice, professional yet strong way, the response has been 100% compliance to date. In several cases the plea has been ignorance, which I am often inclined to believe.

Anne Rice or any other author would be the very first to sue over copyright if their material was blatanly stolen and used by someone else, these cases happen all the time and keep many law firms in fancy houses. Themes, styles, can be copied, but the words belong to the author. Period. Any idea that this is not true is simply beyond my understanding and flies in the face of reality. If you doubt that, just try to publish a novel about a vampire named Lestat and see what happens.

I'm certain that in some "mainstream" areas as you call them, we adult bloggers are indeed on several lists. It would surprise me if we are not. I fail to see the relevance of this argument, since it is clear that we won't be forming an actual list in any form.

I do indeed personally have a list that I keep and do not share with anyone, I have since January when my blog was attacked and a family members identity was stolen and illegally posted on the internet without permission. That was my decision and remains my decision. And I am solely responsible for the items on that list and the action taken, if any. And I will continue to do so.

This site however, is a different story. I suggest you take the time to read the paragraph of text in the sidebar. That sums up the position that this site does and will hold itself to.

To sum up:
1) This site exists to assist bloggers (adult or otherwise) in defending their rights to the best of our ability and resources.
2) We do this by providing resources, guides and advice in the resolution of those conflicts.
3) If it benefits the community, we may on occassion find it necessary to alert the community to the presence of violators of these rights.
4) This site assumes no legal authority in the resolution of conflicts, or the enforcement of those rights or the punishment of those that violate them.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

Suggested by whom? A type of 'clique?'

And I'm not referring to previous posts on this site, I'm specifically referring to what you are proposing:

A 'Watch-list' of blogs, with iffy criteria.

Yes, word by word copying is a breach of copyright, but many of us are aware of the little legal action that can be taken when someone lives in another country. I don't personally have a bunch of personal attorneys at my beck and call, and no I don't run an international publishing house and inhouse lawyers to monitor copyright breach. The price of an average blogger prosecuting someone in another continent, isn't worth the trouble and there's little point whining about it when a person can simply email the site of the breach to resolve it.

That being said, people can take exact themes, and change the names, and that may not be word by word copying, but it's still imitation and many bloggers do it.

The reason why legislation that breaches personal privacy (such as the Patriot Act) exists is because people hand their power to governments. If I sit there and say, 'oh yes create a list because I don't like it when people copy things, hack into sites (when the site owner ought to ensure their own site's safety), when certain comments come from unsavory/illegal sites,' then I'm handing over my private responsibility over to a group of people who create a 'Watchlist'.

Either way it's painted it's something that Joe McCarthy started doing for the 'betterment' of people, to flush out Commies, and then other people who were innocent got caught in the fray.

Why can't bloggers be responsible for what they come across?

The fact that you have a personal list, and acknowledge that, as well as stating that you monitor those sites to see if they 'behave' says more.

Perhaps a future idea is to create: 'Blacklisted by SIC' buttons, to send out to the watched blogs.

Why sit on the fence if you vehemently support the validity of making a list?

No, it 'shouldn't be a public list, but it should be a list just the same, perhaps a private list for those in the know? But it's a list just the same.

We're not living in the 1950's.

It's bad enough with governments trying to control every aspect on the Web because people can't be bothered being responsible for themselves or thier kids, but shit, to have non government people, namely bloggers creating watchlists to monitor blogs, is beyond..

1. You're not really assisting people by keeping secret lists.
2. A watchlist isn't a resource.
3. The only worthwhile idea (that many bloggers conveniently ignored at the time) that alerts to copypright breach is No Yoink, by enabling people to enter the link where a copyright breach is found for notification to be sent to the person affected.
4. A list is a nice little loophole, I have to say. Not being public, it absolves hypocrisy.

You fail to see the relevance of McCarthy like tactics? Why is that? A community that is open doesn't seek to exert control by forming secret lists.

1:12 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

In my opinion this particular issue is closed, please feel free to read the most previous post. Thank you for your opinion.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

Closed because you say it's closed.

No one else has an opinion, well then, not many people out there do have an opinion do they?

Thus if people don't have an opinion then there can't be any debate, and I'd hardly class three people in this topic as having a debate, when the majority or 2:1 ratio is 'for' the watchlist.

7:43 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Ana - Seriously, what can I do for you? I've tried to be nice and despite my hesitancy to allow you to comment, allowed you to comment. I've complimented you, regarded your opinion honestly, written nice things about what you've had to say and disagreed with some of it in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. I've admitted that the "List" was never actually going to happen and this was intended as an intellectual debate, a posit for consideration. I am honestly and sincerely out of ideas when it comes to dealing with your shit and would sincerely ask that you please let me know what the fuck you want.

I would very much like to hear it.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

You've never been 'nice', you're an entire contradiction to the entire ideals you post about them and just because you've deleted many of your 'rants' about me makes it no different.

I've never publicly ranted about you, this I know. But you're not in a position to speak about harassment when you threw the first stone.

oh by the way, I haven't sworn at you in my comments, so you could at least have some manners considering it's a community

2:01 PM  
Blogger Shay Had this to say...

Art, I think posting the watch list, as Shon said, might not be a great idea because it gives these blogs publicity.
But I see no harm in talking about the blogs, to provide an example of blogging that it not acceptable (for example bloggers who, as you said, post about negative things like "rape for fun" or who steal other's material word for word).
I do like the idea that you have a watchlist though - it makes me feel safer knowing that someone is keeping an eye out.

2:32 PM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Shay - I agree and I hope that I am not the only one familiar with the "Devil's Advocate" approach, which is what this post was from the beginning. Anyone knows that the idea of a public list is not a good one, but talking about it leads to other solutions and airs opinions out in the open, always a valuable process. In my opinion.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Had this to say...

I was publicly outed on my blog. My full name and address was publish in the comments section of my blog and my URL was emailed to my place of business.

The person who did this knew enough to hide themselves, hide themselves better than I knew how, no way would a watch list have warned me about this person who when done with me just moved on to someone else.

As for those bloggers who write about things I find repulsive?
Placing them on a list, posting about them is exactly what they want. They want attention negative or otherwise.
I say ignore them.

5:13 PM  
Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl Had this to say...

The thing I think is important is having a place that we can safely talk about people who might be harassing us.

There have been a couple of times when the SAME PERSON has harassed numerous bloggers, each of whom thought she was the only one.

We need to be able to work together to ferret out folks like that, and I wish there was a way to do that.

Not an official list, just a safe place to discuss people who are harassing bloggers, adult or otherwise.

Thank you, Art, for bringing this up.

5:42 PM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Anon - I am truly sorry to hear that you were outed in such a way. There is no way to protect ourselves from every threat, but the more we know, the more information we have, the better prepared we can be. And believe me, the reality of a list would never actually happen. For the most part, ignoring them is sometimes an option. Sometimes however, the knowledge that people actually care is enough to stop them.

AAG - Putting the pieces together is a VERY IMPORTANT part of this site. Back in January the Corporal and I worked, unknowingly, on the same hijacker. When we discovered this fact, we were much more effective together. It does work.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Had this to say...

I think the only thing we should be focused on is bloggers doing harm to others.. like outing personal information or harrassment. I say ignore content that we would find repulsive and just hit the next button. Pointing out a repulsive site will just bring more traffic and attention to them.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Desire X Had this to say...

I think that the issue of 'content', as I have heard through emails, was an issue that arose when there was a site written by a man who was using a date rape drug and then posting his awful tales of what he was doing to these women-- and he added pictures! He then he went around commenting on female sex blogs. It was terrifying that this was not fantasy writing. This was a very real predator. And his blog was evidence of his crimes. there have also been several of these blogs written by pedophiles.

When the idea of a 'watch list' first arose it was in response to those comments being left, and a feeling, by the female bloggers, of being at risk. We thought it would be wise to keep an eye out in case he came back (he closed his blog) and to warn each other if he or others like him were around.

I think we all agree that adult content and censorship don't mix. However the idea of community, and a community 'watch', might be a good thing. We are all trying to watch out for one another after all, and, speaking for myself, I am very protective over the women and mothers in our community.

I don't want to link these sites for fear of giving a freak just the exposure that they are desiring, and perhaps causing them to escalate their crimes since they would then have an audience. But I also think we should be able to warn each other when predators or harrassers have entered our world. We are all very linked, like a family, living under one roof, and a threat to one of us is a threat to all.

I would feel better knowing I am receiving info when bad things happen. I'll leave it to you to decide the best way to share info.

Love to you all,


6:02 PM  
Blogger Nguyen Vu Binh | Truong Quoc Huy|Jim Intye Had this to say...

Barbie wrote "I think we all agree that adult content and censorship don't mix. "

Non-consensual violence against women (or men), rape, torture and pedophilia don't mix with adult content in the first place.
Whatever the reasons for writing or publishing adult content, it is read or consumed by others and in the same way that consumers have the right to be protected against dangerous products, so readers of published blogs have the right to be protected against dangerous ideas.
In the same way that the best producers of consumer goods put the interests of their customers first (and there are many that do), so should the blogger consider very carefully the effects that their words have on their readers.
So, as unlikely as it may seem, I do advocate censorship - self-censorship - with all the difficulties that arise from trying to do it right.

8:27 AM  

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