Sunday, January 26, 2014

Online basics of the community

Some times you need to repeat things apparently.

For example, our e-mail is

Ruth had an insane e-mail last week.

A man wrote her from an account with one name, signed another and was griping about a post she wrote that noted his bad writing.

He's a bad writer.

A smart writer would have said what post of Ruth's it was.  A really smart writer would have provided a link to their own writing to get an extra link.

Because Ruth has no problem printing e-mails at her site.  Even ones that insult her don't bother her.

She won't repost racist e-mails, for example.

The man accused her of a number of things but the point to clarify is about comments.

We are one site of a community of sites.  The others are:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

The Common Ills was the first site and it allowed comments at the start.  Community member Keesha objected to comments.  As an African-American woman in 2004, she knew what really went down at 'left' (Democratic) sites.

You were welcome to comment.

As long as you didn't object to, for example, the Gore campaign shutting up Rev. Jesse Jackson who wanted to speak in Florida about the recount issues.  Or object to racial comments by Democrats.

In other words, as long as you comment as an African-American who never brings up race, you were welcome at sites like The Daily Kos.

But if you didn't follow that rule, you learned, as Keesha did, that you were the subject of a dog pile.

You learned that as Betty did, as Cedric did . . .

Keesha didn't want to be harassed.

C.I. was new to blogs and was hearing about this for the first time.  She e-mailed Keesha back that, should that happen at The Common Ills, comments would immediately be closed.

Two DLC-ers (right-wing Democrats) began haunting the comments and quickly attacked Keesha.  That day, comments were forever closed.  (In those days, FYI, if you allowed comments at a Blogger/Blogspot site, you could delete them after they went up but there was no procedure that kept them in limbo until you approved them, they just went right up.)

The Common Ills spawned all the other community sites.  Cedric actually started his site on Blogdrive.  It was the first community site to allow comments.

That was not by intent.  Cedric thought he had turned off comments and then, when he learned he hadn't, he felt he'd argue back with the ones who were idiots and/or racists.

That accident set a standard.

Marcia, Stan and Ann would follow suit.  When Cedric switched to Blogger/Blogspot, he also allowed comments.

They are African-American and they wanted to take on the nonsense.

They have done so.

Betty and Ty are also Black.  This site is Ty's site (and Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and C.I.'s).  Ty and Betty agreed with Keesha's opinion.  But Marcia, Stan and Ann started their sites after Barack Obama became the wet dream of many Democrats.  Now they're suddenly (supposedly) interested in racial issues.  Supposedly, because they didn't just attack African-Americans who didn't follow the script back in the day, they also refused to link to Black bloggers.  They'd have a token and consider that enough -- and the token, a man, usually knew the unspoken rules and not to raise the issue of race unless you were attacking Republicans.

Betty's also an expert on the threatening e-mails, the "I hate what you wrote, I will kill you, I will rape you," etc.  Those don't happen as much as they used to the women in this community.  We don't think that's due to any awareness increasing. Women are still attacked and threatened for what they write.  But the women in this community are strong women, they're known for being strong women, they were among the first to write about what women face online.

For example, this is a site that values community writing, group writing.

And we cover TV (because Jim insisted upon it).

The first weekly editions of this site featured group writing on TV.  But the e-mails would single out a point or a turn of phrase or a joke and it was always what Ava and C.I. had written.  Not what one of them wrote, what they wrote together.

The first edition was Jim in a rush to get things done and thrilled with his own ideas, familiar with Jess and Ty's ideas (because they were roommates), impressed with Dona's ideas because he had a crush on Dona (they're now married), willing to listen to anything from C.I. because Jim had gone to her speech to cover it for the campus paper and begged her to help him and his friends start a website.  And Ava?  Jim was steam rolling over Dona's roommate Ava because he really didn't know her very well.  Her suggestions were different and not part of the group think and were taking things in a different direction when Jim was trying to barrel forward.

The first edition, Ava and C.I. bonded immediately because C.I., who was sitting next to Ava, thought Ava was offering incredible suggestions and noticed that no one was listening to her.  (Jess was listening to her.)  C.I. not only argued for Ava's suggestions, she also would add to them.  The two had a natural flow.

They had similar reference point and agreed on everything -- including that TV wasn't a topic that the site needed to cover.  They agreed on that, but they were wrong because TV coverage is always the most read article any week.

So we were reading the e-mails those first few weeks.  And we agreed completely.  So much so that by the second edition, we were letting Ava and C.I. run with the TV piece and we tried to keep up.  Then we realized that we were actually holding them back.  So we asked them to write the TV pieces.  They agreed but refused a "written by Ava and C.I. credit."  The site was group writing, they argued, and they didn't want credit.

But the minute it was just Ava and C.I. writing, the TV pieces reached a new level of popularity.  And our family was complimenting us on them -- not just readers.  And we would explain, "Thank you, but Ava and C.I. wrote that piece."  And with e-mails coming in praising us for those TV pieces, we felt like frauds.  At which point, we openly credited Ava and C.I.

The immediate response?

Threatening e-mails.

They'd joked and hit hard and more.

And no one threatened when they thought men and women were writing.

The minute it was known that two women were writing the TV pieces, threatening e-mails arrived over and over.  It went on probably for a little less than two years.

Ava and C.I. were not going to be intimidated (and that's when they began avoiding reading the e-mails and instead just getting a report on them from Ty) and that became obvious and, over time, the threats stopped.

Rebecca had to deal with a cyber-stalker, to offer another example.  A creepy man who became obsessed with her, began insisting that he was perfect for her and began e-mailing C.I. threatening e-mails when Rebecca wouldn't respond to him.  (C.I., Rebecca and Elaine are all friends from college.)  It was a scary time for Rebecca as he was attempting to get information on her and track her down.

The comment policy is pretty much set now.

For this site, to be honest, we don't have to patrol comments.  It's enough to do our writing and to read the e-mails.  Interesting e-mails will be noted here.  We use them for roundtables, for example, and for response pieces or commentary.

There's another site that has comments.  The Wordpress backup site for The Common Ills (which Rebecca and Cedric now also use as their backup site).

But the comments don't go up automatically.  There is a filter in place.  They have to be approved before they can go up.  Wordpress is supposed to have an auto notification process.  But most of the time, there's no e-mail going out.  So every three months, C.I., Rebecca or Cedric will go through to see if there are any comments awaiting moderation?

They have allowed critical comments to go up, positive comments to go up, off topic comments to go up.

They're not okaying racist or sexist comments.  They're especially not approving men who want to explain feminism to C.I. or Rebecca.

This is part of a comment a blogger left -- one of a series of comments -- that never got out of moderation:

i am a pacifist , a socialist. i simply reported THE FACTS after 25 years of intense study of historical modern feminism , and a year volunteering and living in a woman’s shelter.
name me by name one woman from 1792 to the end of the 1950′s that supported abortion who was a major player in shaping feminism . just one . if you cant name any that what does that say about how you have been educated ? 

The blogger, who is still around, has a site like Common Dreams, but on Wordpress, by which we mean he reposts entire articles.

He wrote an attack on feminism article which also attacked pro-choice.  He's anti-abortion.

And when he was called out for his idiotic remarks, he took to making more idiotic remarks.

It's really not the responsibility of anyone who writes something to 'prove' anything other than what they wrote.  He didn't like what C.I. wrote so he decided -- Mr. Big Stuff -- that he'd give her a test -- one he 'knew' she'd fail.  And this would humiliate her.

That was Rebecca's objection.  She told C.I. about it and C.I. laughed and said the man was an idiot.

His belief is that, from the 18th century, feminists did not support abortion because they weren't fighting for it, there was no literature on it!!!!

Well feminists of the late 19th century were really concerned with respectability due to the various causes they were fighting for and a discussion of sex issues probably wouldn't have been deemed 'respectable.'  So birth control, for example would be avoided.

As for abortion, why would it need advocates in the 18th century?

Does he not the history?  In the early months of the pregnancy, it was legal -- both in England and in the US.
In the 1820s, anti-abortion laws begin to appear and, in the 1860s, it's pretty much outlawed in the US.

1792 to 1860 is a rather long period for the male blogger to be unaware of.

Roughly a hundred years later, it would become legal in 20 states and then, in 1973, it became legal via Roe v. Wade (last week at Ms. magazine's blog, Anita Little noted the 41st anniversary of that decision).

Anais Nin supported abortion -- and had one.

But he doesn't like Anais Nin.

He also doesn't understand feminism which is a movement and not a key individual.

He'd reject Nin because he doesn't like her and he never read or heard of her talking about abortion.  The notion that Anais Nin -- like many women of that period -- might share with other women but not make something public (something that was then illegal) does not compute for him.

Written statement?

How about feminist Vicki Baum's Nanking Road?  In the tradition of Uncle Tom's Cabin, this novel -- also known as Hotel Shanghai and Shanghai --  addresses abortion.  Baum was one of the first best selling writers of the modern era who penned multiple best sellers.  She was Austrian, so Pig Blogger might dismiss her.  However, her 1929 Menschen im Hotel was made into the film Grand Hotel (starring Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore and Wallace Beery) and she came to the US to write the screenplay for the 1932 film and stayed.  She became an American citizen in 1938.  She was in America when she began writing Nanking Road..

We could note several other feminists who worked abortion into their novels (Kay Boyle's My Next Bride, for example).  In the 1930s in England, women's groups began calling for legalization of abortion.

On every level feminism has used for communication -- every level available prior to 1950, you can find feminists supporting abortion rights.

We know history.

Pig Blogger does not.

To demonstrate that, look at how much we had to write.

Approving that dishonest comment either means it's allowed to stand -- and will therefore be seen by some as 'truth' -- or that you've got to make time to compose a response.

It's just not worth it.  Plates are full on this end.

So the false comment didn't go up because it was false.

This is mainly ancient history to long time readers but we started in January 2005 and, from time to time, we may need to review things as new readers are added.

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