Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Resolution of Purpose

As I had hoped, the recent post regarding a "WatchList" has created a healthy debate amongst several concerned bloggers. This was the entire reason I posted such a controversial post in the first place. Please feel free to read through the comments yourself. Starting this blog up again has been a process and will continue to be a process. There are several "action items" that I want to bring to your attention in the coming months, this was simply the first.

This debate has allowed for the airing of opinions, which in my own humble opinion, is good and healthy. As a result of this process I would like to suggest the following specific amendment to the posted Mission Statement in the sidebar.

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 occasion 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.

I want to be clear that it was never my intention to actually create a list of any type on this site, or in a shared form. This however, does not preclude the mentioning of such an idea to test its merits. The result of which is much as I would have expected, and the idea is summarily abandoned, as such ideas should be.

There is considerable precedent, successful I might add, already on this site that should drive our ability to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis. We must be aware of the inclination towards abuse and be sensitive to the wide-range of opinion, thought and subject matter present here in the bloggersphere and in the greater world. Having said that however, there is a significant difference between thought and action. For example, talking or writing about rape fantasies within a blog, while reprehensible to myself, is different than commenting on female bloggers sites and intimidating them through threats of personal violence. I mention that example because this actually happened here in our community not that long ago.

I made the decision to help with this site because I believe in its mission. I believe that SIC can be a useful and valuable resource to the blogging community. However, to be such it needs to stand firm and strong on those beliefs and not placate, or minimize them in any way. Otherwise we are little more than opinionated mouth-pieces that should find better things to do with our time.

Feel free to debate anything I've said in the comments below.

12 Comments:

Blogger Alex Had this to say...

SIC in itself can be no more than a way of helping Bloggers defend themselves. Not in the legal sense but in helping to foster a real sense of community and ensuring that each and every one of us knows how to defend our blogs, our intellectual property and our person.

We have no means of fighting in the courts against copyright theft, unless we just happen to have a couple of million stashed in the bank. I suppose I can dream .... In this respect we have nothing to offer each other but support and the knowledge that we are all looking out for such theft and have ways to report it, and in certain jurisdictions have the content removed.

Making sure you don’t get hijacked is relatively easy so long as you suspect everyone. McArthy-esque I know but true. Anti-virus software, anti-spy/adware and turning your phishing filters on are the best defence. Never give out your user ID and password.

The fewer “keyholders” this site has the better – basic common sense. I suggest three admins at most and then only to ensure that in the event of incapacity/password lockout/loss the blog isn’t orphaned. Otherwise it only takes one of our number to be compromised and the whole blog’s gone for good. You can remove my admin status, as if my help in this capacity is needed it’s easily turned back on..

As for our personal safety I read a quote yesterday “We all have a very valuable asset, our identity”, it was about identity theft for the purposes of fraud. It applies here too. Don’t let anyone have your personal details or clues to them. It’s tempting to trust when you feel someone is being open with you, but none of you know me and I don’t know you. I value many of you as friends, but for all you know I could be Charles Manson reincarnated.

Come to think of it this is all simple stuff and perhaps could be better served as a wikki? Because aside from occasional updates, after the initial flurry of advice and information the knowledgebase is relatively static.

One final thought. It might be nice if we had a “direct hot-line”. You know, to deal with hijacked blogs, flagging content theft and sites featuring or inciting criminal activity. Anyone got the email of someone with real clout at Google/Blogger?

11:08 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Alex - You make good and sound sense, as always. Each of the contributors to this point have been made Admin, but that wasn't done with much forethought honestly. From the beginning it was intended that myself, O and Demon Queen remain as Admin to the site. This can be fixed easily enough.

I agree with most of the rest of what you say, I hope to continue adding to the resources of the site as the next few months pass. Eventually it will simply be a way to maintain access and links. My next goal is to go back through the archive and collect the useful bits into another linking box in the sidebar, so they can be easily found. This may take some time to organize.

I don't see SIC as a very active day-to-day site honestly, although I suspect there will be flair-ups from time to time. I don't necessarily agree that we would be better served in a different format, because things do change and sometimes rapidly. But in the end the site either flourishes or it doesn't. If not then it can remain a central resource and that's it.

In the end, starting it back up again is an expirement to see if it is indeed needed.

I am working on establishing a "hot-line" and if anyone else has any contacts please feel free to pursue this yourself or share them with me. I used to have a friend that worked at Google, but he has moved on to another company. I do have a contact on the administration side in a secondary business silo and am hoping he can help.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Alex Had this to say...

Art

I always try to approach my relationships with others in a level-headed manner, especially when personal differences might get in the way of the ultimate goal, whatever the endeavour.

Sadly despite what has often been termed by those who know me as my blind optimism about life in general sometimes reality bites me really hard.

Debate, no matter how heated is debate, healthy and ultimately productive. Be that directly by creating consensus, or indirectly by encouraging new ideas and therefore solutions.

SIC could have been a wonderful thing. However after your post “The Treadmill” on TSB, which I only found today, your true colours are vividly displayed.

Please remove me from SIC immediately, have I no wish to be associated however that might be.

Now I’m sure you’ll respond with one of your self-righteous and ultimately vacuous justifications of your actions. So fire up your word processor and get busy, I will not be responding to anything you hurl my way. Playground name calling is not my style, so feel free to misquote me, change the order of events and edit your post to make yourself look whiter than white. Or was the post in jest? An attempt at humour? Your normal avenue of retreat when you’ve overstepped the mark.

I have stood back and refused to participate in your pantomime, but as far as I’m concerned you’ve really gone too far this time.

Fortunate the “Watch List” has been consigned to the waste bin as far as SIC is concerned. Because your behaviour seems to make you a ideal candidate for inclusion.

3:01 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Alex, I am saddened by your decision, however you are free to feel anyway you wish about anything you wish. Personally I fail to see how encouraging and even asking for open debate here in this forum can be seen as a negative, but again, freedom.

It is one thing to quit and another to engage in the very thing you seem so righteous about, since I have never "hurled" anything your way. So I do take offense to your sixth paragraph. I think that speaks its own language as to your character. But again, that is simply my personal opinion. Others can read it as they wish.

You are removed Sir.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Kochanie Had this to say...

Art:

Some information which I would like to share with you and your readers.

The UN sponsored met in Athens, Greece this past week. Amnesty International issued a press release in advance of the conference to draw attention to the fact that China may require bloggers to use their real names to register blogs.

A real name system for China's blogs would be another link in the chain of Internet repression, said Erica Razook, Legal Fellow in the Business and Human Rights Program of Amnesty International USA. The Chinese government, with the collusion of U.S. companies, is already stifling dissent online. This development would make the situation far worse.

The above link to the Amnesty International website will provide the full text of the press release. The same page will also provide a link to a pdf version of a report entitled: Undermining Freedom of Expression in China: The role of Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google.

Amnesty International is collecting signatures for its petition Irrepressible Information. This campaign also allows bloggers to publish fragments of censored information on their own sites.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Kochanie Had this to say...

The first line of my comment should read:

The UN sponsored Internet Governance Forum met in Athens, Greece this past week.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl Had this to say...

Art, I've been out of town a lot, so forgive me for being slow on the uptake.

I know this may sound nitpicky, but it feels important to me in terms of clarity and understanding revolving around a sensitive issue.

So before I weigh in on the main topic, if possible I'd like to request a slight edit to this post, and one on 10/29 (as well as future posts), which I think is fairly important, in order to keep unintentional misunderstanding from happening. Because people may not read all your past posts, they may not get the context, and such a misunderstanding could be hurtful to some.

I'd like to request if you might change the word "rape" to "rape fantasies" in these places:

10/29: "In protecting the rights of a blogger to post about rape, do we empower that blogger, or do we shame ourselves?"

11/1: "For example, talking or writing about rape within a blog, while reprehensible to myself..."

Read out of context, it might imply to some rape survivors that this site thinks writing about one's rape experiences are rephrehensible, shameful, or ought to be censored.

I know of course that's NOT anywhere near what it means, and if the person chose to read further back in the posts, they'd get it, but I think it's important not to have even a modicum of misunderstanding in this area, you know?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl Had this to say...

Now, as to the topic at hand:

I think your suggested updates sound good. While I think that the idea of a public list directly naming other bloggers would be problematic in any number of ways, most of which were already covered by others), I think it's good to have the IMPLICATION of one existing behind the scenes. For instance, this is a site where people can email in/log in their harassment experiences, and if the administrators notice a pattern in common between multiple bloggers, they can get them in touch with each other. Knowing that kind of central information base, where things can be compared and shared, exists, may scare certain people off from doing some of the behaviors you've mentioned.

I also love the idea of a forum where people can anonymously posting their problem (this way no one calls them a liar and no one is falsely named as a harasser) , and solutions and tools can be offered by the community. Or, if that is to repetetive, maybe this just becomes a forum for solutions and tools based on certain problems.

It almost seems like a support forum format could work better (people could thread by comment). But that takes a lot of moderation. Another soluton would be to do something like The Dick List. It's not reallly as serious as what we're talking about, but you see what I mean; it's an anonymous posting forum in which individuals can share notes and information about similar experiences.

I like the idea of #3 in this post, but would warn you to be absolutely SURE beyond a doubt that clear harassment has taken place (and that there is definite, un-doctorable documentation to back it up), because otherwise YOU could be sued for harassment yourself for falsely naming someone due to some trumped-up info you got, and we don't want that. Sometimes these situations are more bloggerA said vs. bloggerB said, and despite who we think we KNOW we can trust, if there isn't much proof beyond who you choose to believe, public outing of someone as a threat, if it happened to be wrong, could get you into trouble, and could potentially point the finger at the wrong person, giving them a lot of unfair grief.

Finally: I feel pointing out "objectionable" content on other blogs is a matter of personal taste, and not appropriate--EXCEPT in one case: if it's clear harassment--the person is threatening another blogger publicly (not *complaining* about, but THREATENING or publicly outing private information about or conversations with that blogger). So, as with you, though I find the topics of some sites reprehensible, I acknowledge their right to free expression, and just hope no one reads them. And the less we mention them, the better, so no attention unless it's truly, truly warranted.

Hope that helps...or is at least readable...

11:26 AM  
Blogger ArtfulDodger Had this to say...

Miss Syl - I have made the changes you suggested. As a rape survivor myself I can certainly understand your concern. And I thank you for bringing that to my attention.

I think SIC in general, the mere fact that it exists in the first place, serves the implicit purpose of being a "list" without actually having a list, if that makes sense to anyone. Just that we're out here and we care about these issues and we are trying to help and willing to stand up to the bullies if need be.

As for pointing out offenders, we've been very careful about that here in the past. We certianly don't want to give such sites the publicity of mentioning them here, but we also might have the need of warning others about them or the lessons we learned in dealing with something. It is a fine line, no doubt about it.

In my case, I never say anything to anyone unless I have first tried to resolve the situation privately, usually with a nice, but strong email to the party involved. Sometimes that has been enough. Sometimes it hasn't, but in those cases it is clear that the party has then chosen not to heed, or remove, or apologize, or stop, depending on the situation at hand. At that point, revealing information in this forum is clearly not an issue.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Anastasia Had this to say...

Art, you're just a desperate little man who needs traffic so desperately. You can't control your outbursts, and you have to cross post everything to your blog, and at the same time make crass references to violence against women. I'm not sure of the relation, or how your mind works, but one thing is certain: you're a major league hypocrite to sit there discussing the topic you posted and then at the same time emailing a 'female' and telling that female (who didn't swear at you in the entire duration of this post) to 'go and fuck herself' simply because you need to push forth your own agenda. You and your little bum chum Shon may advocate a watch list, because you're both babies who are so 'concerned' with people copying your work, because your 'works' have never been published in a real publication.

Get over yourselves.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Madame X Had this to say...

I first came to SIC because I heard about some safe blogging guides. Because I wasn't so smart with my first attempt at blogging I had some issues but the safe blogging guide helped me set up a much safer place for myself.
I came back to learn how to protect myself from cyberstalking and censorship.

I never came to see a list of "bad bloggers" I am smart enought to know who's "bad" and I can make my own decisions based upon the comments they leave and the posts they write.

I do like to be notified if and when a blog goes dark because of harassment. I don't need to know WHO was the harasser but just that there is someone out there attacking. I just like to be prepared.

I've always thought of this place as a cyber Neighborhood Watch program. Just a bunch of neighbors watching out for each other. No pointing fingers, no whispered gossip just a "Hey! I saw someone sneaking around your back yard last night so I turned my light on and scared them off!"

5:33 AM  
Blogger Shon Richards Had this to say...

"You and your little bum chum Shon may advocate a watch list, because you're both babies who are so 'concerned' with people copying your work, because your 'works' have never been published in a real publication."

Bum Chum is my new favorite word. That makes me giggle. Is that a regional word or something you made up?

The biggest problem I have had with copyright is websites copying my stories and putting them on a pay website. It bothered me that something I put out for free was being used to generate money for someone else. When I choose to make a small amount of money when I sell my stories , it is stories that I don't mind being locked away. For the most part though, I rather no one make money from something I share.

10:05 PM  

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