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Poor show

I have been rather unimpressed with LiveJournal's attempts to defend their icons policy. Two specific examples:
  1. The comment by a supporter of Livejournal, presumably idonotlikepeas, here that:
    the entire thing smacks to me of bending to entirely the wrong kind of pressure. I can't speak for LJ's policy arm, but if they gives in to a spam campaign, that only encourages the next group that wants a change in policy to engage in the same kind of campaign.
    This strikes me as incredibly politically inept. I appreciate that idonotlikepeas specifically states that he or she does not speak for livejournal, but telling users that the greater the number of them disagreeing with a particular LJ policy, the more likely they are to be ignored, is not a good way to build a community.

  2. The response by "Anil" to a post on John Scalzi's blog, basically telling everyone to cool it, because there are rapes going on in Congo, without disclosing the crucial element of context that "Anil" is Anil Dash, has been working for SixApart since it was founded.
You know what, Anil? I think my colleagues probably know more about what's going on in the Congo than your colleagues do. And the way you and your colleagues are handling this issue still sucks.

Edited to add: Anil Dash has emailed me apologising for being "intemperate and rude", which is more than he needed to, given that it wasn't my blog he posted on. So good marks to him for that. Let us hope that LJ's considered response shows the same sane and sensible approach.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2006 10:08 am (UTC)
Point 2 is also the most common argument used against first world feminists. We're not supposed to campaign about wage equality because we're allowed our own bank accounts.

Jun. 7th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
Indeed, it's a pretty ridiculous argument. When I was a kid, my parents would try to make me eat when I wasn't hungry by saying "there are starving children in Africa". That's true, but not really the issue.

Arguing is like a fencing match. Your opponent does not need to survive your attack if he can dodge it or parry it. In this case, replying with something which is true, but irrelevant, is a form of parrying; it deflects the argument that the opponent could not necessarily avoid, and places him into position to make an ill-expected riposte.
Jun. 7th, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
LJ as a company have tied themselves in all sorts of stupid knots over this issue; the history of this whole sorry episode reads as "PR: How not to do it" - they've been arbitrary, inconsistent and evasive; and that message of Anil's (now edited) is a classic diversionary move.

What they simply don't seem to get is that, as Lehrer said, filth is in the eye of the beholder; if the theoretical Offended People (on whose behalf LJ are acting) are getting so bent out of shape over something that is a) thoroughly legal and b) an essential part of everyday life, then they should start examining their own attitudes - rather than attempting to clamp down on the expression of someone who presumably doesn't mind the world seeing their nipple.
Jun. 7th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
"now edited"? What did it originally say?
Jun. 9th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
My mistake; I read the post below as being his.

*autoslap* - illness no excuse for sloppy reading.
Jun. 7th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)
Actually he has emailed me to apologise for it, which is more than he needed to, given that it wasn't my blog he posted on.
Jun. 7th, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
The reason I did it was that the trend is rather disturbing to me. Banning art and iconography as being "nudity" starts leading to repression of discussion - for example, a Catholic community discussing the Virgin Mary could not use quite a lot of the imagery available as a default icon for said community, or a Hindu community would be similarly limited in its choice of iconography.

And my response to Anil would be that there are women out there getting harassed for breastfeeding and LJ is perpetuating the idea that breasts are sexual objects only.

Has anyone been banned for having a naked male torso in their icon? And what about Frank the Goat? He's naked too!
Jun. 7th, 2006 11:09 am (UTC)
my 2 cents worth
1 - some time ago I heard someone on the radio complaining about the disgusting sight of a woman breastfeeding on a bus. Turns out she was sitting several seats behind him, so he had to use a lot of effort to look. My point - if you find an icon 'unsettling' - don't look

2 - my icon is a cat, should I remove it? You see, I'm not sure if its a male or female cat, and if it's female - are there nipples?

3 - so what if the abuse team are right 99.9% of the time. We still have the right to point out when they get something wrong (in our opinion).
Jun. 7th, 2006 12:38 pm (UTC)
Re: my 2 cents worth
Male/female, nipples/no nipples - it doesn't matter. Your icon is a clear depiction of feline nudity. FAQ 111 does not make any distinction between species (or, for that matter, genders), so you are definitely contravening it.
Jun. 7th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
Re: my 2 cents worth
So are you going to report him to LJ Abuse? Or should I?
Jun. 7th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: my 2 cents worth
The goat. The goat is naked. I am offended.
Jun. 7th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: my 2 cents worth
It might be fun to encourage LJ Abuse into making yet another bad decision - but it would certainly not be responsible.
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC)
idonotlikepeas is male, father of a breastfed child, and does LJ Support as a volunteer (as does my husband, which is how I know him). Support are a bit ticked off with the whole thing because their run-of-the-mill geekery that keeps LJ moving got invaded by people mistaking them for Abuse, causing everything to grind to a halt for a while. Not that I'm defending him - as you probably know I'm firmly in disagreement with him here - but I think that has a lot to do with his attitude at present.

[On a personal note, he's one of the few LJ volunteers on my list who haven't defriended me over this, and I know he's been willing to at least listen to our side of things, unlike actual LJAbuse team members.]
Jun. 7th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
Good for him; and I have to say that his interventions on the Making Light thread were generally sane and sensible.

But it seems to me that although Doug Bryan's famous apology included an apology for giving "[t]he impression that we simply were not willing to listen, when in fact we are", the sense one gets from official and unofficial communications from SixApart and LiveJournal is much closer to the view expressed by idonotlikepeas. Particularly worrying is this report, to the effect that Doug Bryan is more concerned about pissing off LJ Abuse than pissing off the users!
Jun. 8th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC)
The reason why LJ Support has been getting messages about this is (a) there seems to be no other way to contact anyone at LJ who is not on LJ Abuse and thus part of the problem and (b) 6 Apart, when you try to contact them directly, tell you to send comments to LJ Support.

All of this indicates the fundamental problem here which is that customer support at LJ on matters like this is very poor indeed. Even ignoring the specific issue, this indicates something that needs to be fixed in the future.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Hey there. Came across this entry while googling my username (when you have a username like "idonotlikepeas", most of the hits tend to be about you). So responding a month late, but what can you do. Commenting at this level so you both see it.

What I meant in the Making Light thread was not that a business shouldn't pay attention to what large numbers of its customers want; it was the tactics that they employed which I was objecting to. A lot of the people involved in the initial stages of the protest were doing some pretty unsavory things, including spamming, forging e-mail headers, sending death threats, sending messages to parties completely unconnected to making policy, and like that. And that's behavior that shouldn't be encouraged or rewarded.

I think this is an issue about which reasonable people can disagree (which is why I didn't defriend bopeepsheep; if she's seen the best argument for both sides and still thinks LJ is wrong about this, she does, and that's fine), I just prefer it when they disagree reasonably (as later iterations of the protest seemed more inclined to do).
Jul. 23rd, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) I agree, there was a lot of "shut up, you're making our side look bad" behaviour going on in the initial stages (mostly due to high levels of irritation and low amounts of communication), but unfortunately all the reasonable people could do was continue conducting coherent arguments and hope that they got through despite the noise-signal ratio.
Jun. 7th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
That's all the response we get? That is stunningly unsatisfactory, especially the bit about the Congo. There's hardly a shortage of atrocities going on all over the world, but trying to use any of them as conversational legerdemain when they have nothing whatsoever to do with the subject at hand is just ridiculous.
Jun. 8th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC)
I did not enjoy much of what idonotlikepeas had to say on Making Light but I did enjoy the dislexia moment that had me thinking of him as 'idiotlikepeas' which struck me as a wonderfully obscure but intriguing LJ handle. Sadly, once I started to find his remarks irritating I looked more closely and discovered my reading error. I wonder if there would be many other contexts in which I would view the arguments of a self-professed idiot (even if only compared to peas) more kindly than someone else's.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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