Friday, February 13, 2009

Why is there no "this is just fine" button?

Many libraries have a policy that if a book is challenged, they remove it from the shelf. Just one challenge is all it takes in many cases. A lot of really great books are removed from libraries everyday. The big leading authors these days are Judy Blume and J.K. Rowling. Perennial favorite Mark Twain breaks the top 100 every year. Why? Because their books contain questionable content.

Now, look at the top of this blog. Just above and to the left of The Doctor's head. See that little button that says FLAG BLOG? Well, if you press it, a magical thing happens. You notify Google, via Blogger, that this, or any blog is questionable and offends your delicate constitution. Enough people do so, and your blog is, as the kids used to say, "kicked to the curb."

Now, I am not so worried about this particular blog. I try my best to be the mainstream, yet highly nerdy, safe-for-the-workplace Darius. There is little discussion of sex in my posts. I try to keep religion and politics out as much as possible. There are other forums for those things. Here, however, is my problem with both the "flag" and the "challenge" — they have no opposite number.

If I go to the library, and find Superfudge has been pulled from the shelf, I can say, "it is a worthy book, please return it to the shelves," to no avail. If a blog has material that some might consider offensive, I have no way to say, "this blog is fine with me."

I know that this is not truly a free speech issue. This is Blogger, which is owned by Google, which is a company and not a clubhouse. They want/need to make money. They own the servers. Hell, they even own your posted content (remember agreeing to that?). The problem is that there is a pandering to the lowest common denominator going on. I am, truth be told, offended by religion. Christianity in particular. However, I do not flag religious blogs as offensive, nor Republican blogs, or blogs by people who collect sugar packets (oh, they are out there). That would be me being a dick, and I save that for the people I work with.

Here is what I want to do. I want to go to your blog, and click a "this blog is just dandy" button. I wouldn't mind the flags if for every dandy a flag went away, and vice versa. If you get a ton of flags and only one dandy, then maybe Google has a reason for yanking you? Obviously you are attracting the wrong readership and should consider a hobby outside the internet arts.

BTW: I am not ranting here because my blog was flagged, but one blog I read has been "put on notice" and another deleted entirely. Hope I didn't scare anyone :-)


Video Zeta One said...

Great rant! I give it TWO dandy flags!

Video Zeta One said...

er, um... sorry, I was so swept away by your rant I misspoke.

Two dandies (no flags...those are bad).

Darius Whiteplume said...

I got your meaning :-)

Nothing fuels my writing like outrage, especially when there is no real outlet. The piggy I'm mad at made his house of bricks ;-)

wiec? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wiec? said...

sorry my comment above was just way too ranty.

D i think you brought up a good point in this post.

people who have delicate senseabilities and read something they don't like should push the button next to the Flag Blog button. the one that says Next Blog and get on with their lives.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Rant is fine. I think it is in my email, so I'll take a read :-)

Part of the problem, I fear, is not people happening upon blogs they think are inappropriate, it is a small group searching out things that they think are inappropriate. On my Sublime Depravity blog I had a guy who commented who said he was looking for a blog like mine, then proceeded to try and convert the heathen. That is why I think there needs to be a "dandy" button. I imagine Google has a program that counts flags, and when you reach the magic number you are gone without anyone with a pulse making that decision. A counterbalance is necessary, but no one cares about the people offended by the removal of material.

Hmm... I feel I am getting ranty again. This kind of thing really gets me started though. Too bad there is no way to direct that, save to get a T1 and my own server and do business myself :-)

Darius Whiteplume said...

Regarding the content warning: the blog that was deleted and got me started had one. You would think that would absolve you, or at least make someone look at it first. This site had pinups (it was The Undead Film Critic's blog, btw), not bestiality or anything illegal.

Maybe the fact that he put a zombie head on guys in the pinups gave someone a necrophilia fear?

Keith said...

No problem about the rant. I totally understand where you are coming from. I've seen it happen to some blogs that I love. I am really ticked off of what happened to the Undead Film Critic. His blog is actually one of those that convinced me that I wanted to start blogging.

I've tried to be really careful myself with what I post. That's especially the case with my Sugar & Spice blog. I've tried to stay away from nudity, etc. because I didn't want to get my blog taken down. I know that there are people who might still be offended by it.

Hell, there could be people offended by something I post on my Dean Martin blog. It seems that most people today have the panties twisted up and are always looking for something to be offended about.

I try not to get on politics and religion on my blogs. I really don't want people to know one way or the other want I think about those subjects. I have my own opinions. I believe everybody is entitled to theirs whether I agree with them or not.

We live in a PC world today. The problem comes from both sides. We've got people on the right and left who believe in censorship. Many are specifically looking for something that offends them and they want to get rid of. It comes from people on all political sides. It's not just one side or the other. It comes from people with religion or no religion. So many people today don't believe in freedom of speech, etc. If they don't like something, they want it done away with.

Sites like Google, etc. make it so easy to do that. They cave in to pressure from people. I do think that if we are going to have a flag button, there should also be a button where we can praise a blog. Google can then weigh the two and make a decision.

Sorry for writing so much. I hadn't meant to. This is something important to me. While I won't get into my political views, etc., I am a big supporter of free speech, etc. I believe that people are entitled to what they want whether I like it or not. I'm offended by some things myself, but I don't want to get rid of it. That's what is supposed to be one of the things that's great about our country.

I'm a live and let live sort of guy.

Rick Bman said...

Just realized I actually posted this comment on the wrong blog post... so I shall now post it where it is supposed to go.

Yeah, I am totally not a fan of the "Flag Blog" button either. I just removed that whole bar from my blog all together. It just cluttered things up anyway. Of course there may be some other way for them to flag the blog but perhaps if the button isn't readily availably they will quickly lose interest in even trying. Not that I really plan on posting any questionable content.

Darius Whiteplume said...

No prob. I noticed that. I was thinking of moving it, but didn't want you getting a "your comment has been removed" type email (not sure if it does that).

I have considered removing the bar. I was not sure how, but thought I could figure it out. I like having the "Search Blog" but that can always be replicated another way.

I don't know if there is another way for them to flag things... I also don't know how to tell if you have been flagged. I am considering putting up a "I Love Ponies & Rainbows" blog under another account and flagging it to see what happens, then maybe have others flag it to see what the magic number is.

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