On-page link, opens in this window 08/07/21 Doctor Who: Planet of evil
On-page link, opens in this window 08/07/12 Shunning on the internet
On-page link, opens in this window 08/07/11 Violet who?


The planet is alive...

Doctor Who: Planet of evil

This is a four-part serial, first broadcast between 27th September - 18th October 1975. A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: the Doctor and Sarah Jane find themselves caught between the members of a scientific expedition who believe they have found an infinite source of energy and the military mission that has arrived to rescue them, on a planet where they aren't welcome...

Let's start with some bad news:

The sort of 'blah' stuff:

But, then again, when this serial is good it is very good indeed:

And one other thing:

My verdict:

Quite good, actually.

Tough call. The last three serials that I've reviewed, 'The time warrior', 'Robot' and this one, are all borderline cases between 'quite good, actually' and 'nice!'. 'Robot' is little more than a vehicle for the high-jinx between the fourth Doctor and the regulars, while 'The time warrior' is Robert Holmes' revenge for having to write a story set in the Middle Ages which was something he didn't care for. In a way 'Planet of evil' is a more deserving story, since it obviously tries hard to be solid, well-made science-fiction. The script is the deal-breaker, really. Although 'Robot' and 'The time warrior' aren't great stories they're both very entertaining in their own way, while 'Planet of evil' is padded and overlong.

More Doctor Who reviews:
On-site link, opens in this window Doctor Who reviews

The latest version of this review:
On-site link, opens in this window Planet of evil (1975)


Thinking about the Violet Blue thing.

Shunning on the internet

After thinking some more about the Violet Blue thing, I began to wonder whether removing all references to an individual from your website, as BoingBoing did, might be seen as a form of shunning. One advantage of looking at it this way might be that it takes it out of the realm of 'editorial decisions', where it doesn't belong since editorial decisions are about content, into the realm of social interactions between shunner, shunned and onlookers. A Google search on internet and shunning yielded a number of interesting perspectives.

Shunning between peers

Not exactly what happened in the case of BoingBoing and Violet Blue, but somewhat similar.

In general, there is a higher standard of behavior expected from the media and a higher level of formality when dealing with the media, not just because they report things, but because people believe what they say and act on that belief, sometimes with serious consequences.
So if weblog authors want to be taken seriously as journalists, they have to be prepared to live up to a higher standard of behavioróand admit when they screw up. The only problem is, the tools we have for weblog "reputation"óPageRank and Technoratiódonít take those screwups into account. Or do they? If you stop getting pointed to by people, pretty soon that will be apparent through Technorati. Google seems to have a longer decay time, on the other hand. My old weblog site (same content as the new one, different home) has fallen one point of PageRank from its high water mark of 6, although the blog hasnít been updated since November 21, 2002. But maybe not getting pointed to by other bloggers is bad enough - like a "shunning", only online.
Off-site link, opens in new window Jarett House North: Are bloggers reporters?

Shunning by providers

When it's done by a weblogger banning someone from commenting on their site, it's still pretty much peer-to-peer. When it's done by your internet service provider, or by eBay, it becomes something else.

Almost anyone who has been on the Internet (in particular interactive or Web 2.0 websites) for a few years has encountered the phenomenon of electronic shunning. It happens when the website you frequently use and have become a member of, suddenly kicks you (or part of your content) off. The reason may be legitimate, or completely random and difficult to accept.
I've been shunned from eBay's forums before, and had legitimate auctions removed which didn't violate the rules of the site. Bloggers who allow comments have to make frequent decisions on how to handle abusive or unpleasant comments. It's Wild West Web, except that each of the virtual communities we inhabit have potentially dozens of sheriffs with a multitude of backgrounds and biases, and none of them have to look the accused in the eye. It's not hard to silence someone to the point where they just have to mosey on down the information highway to even be heard.
Off-site link, opens in new window Abandoned stuff: Electronic shunning growing in significance

Prodded by the music industry and goverment, some Internet service providers are reluctantly exploring the adoption of an old-fashioned shunning ritual as the ultimate 21st century punishment: banishing errant online users.
But even as service providers discreetly test "three-strikes" warning systems that can result in the disconnection of Internet users who illegally download copyrighted music or movies, resistance is building.
Off-site link, opens in new window IHT: Internet providers wary of being cybercops

Internet Death Penalty - [Usenet] (often abbreviated IDP) The ultimate sanction against spam-emitting sites ó complete shunning at the router level of all mail and packets, as well as Usenet messages, from the offending domain(s). Compare Usenet Death Penalty, with which it is sometimes confused.
Off-site link, opens in new window Catb.org: Internet Death Penalty

Internet vigilantes

'Shunning' isn't the word I would use here, since the 'shunned' is being made the focus of attention rather than being excluded and the consequences cross over into the off-line world. Both articles raise some interesting points, though.

Sarah Wells makes an unlikely cyber-vigilante. But the middle-aged mother in Virginia was outraged when she read a Saint Charles Journal article on Megan Meier, a 13-year-old Missouri girl driven to suicide by relentless online bullying. The fact that the bullying appeared to be instigated by the mother of one of Megan's friends through a fake MySpace account enraged Wells all the more.
When Wells learned that the woman had filed a police report against the dead girl's father -- who had destroyed the woman's foosball table in anger and grief -- she resolved to take matters into her own hands. The newspaper account didn't identify the perpetrator of the deadly hoax by name, but included enough detail to track her down through online property-tax records. With a few minutes of sleuthing, Wells identified the woman as Lori Drew, of O'Fallon, Missouri. After confirming it with someone in the O'Fallon area who she says was "in a position to know," she posted the name to her blog.
[...] Experts say the firestorm that followed illustrates what happens when the social imperative to punish those in a community who violate social norms plays out over the internet. The impulse is human nature, say experts, and few can imagine an offense more egregious than a trusted adult preying on the emotions of a vulnerable child. Shunning wrongdoers, especially in the absence of legal redress, helps maintain order and preserve a community's moral sense of right -- think church excommunications and the Amish tradition of Meidung.
But the drive for social shaming -- to right a wrong and restore social balance -- can run amok and create paradoxical consequences, especially on the internet where people instigate mobs in ways they wouldn't do offline.
"Internet shaming is done by people who want actually to enforce norms and to make people and society more orderly," says Daniel Solove, professor of law at George Washington University and author of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet. "The problem is that internet shaming actually destroys social control and makes things more anarchic, and it becomes very hard to regulate and stop it."
Wells published only Lori Drew's name, but her readers and other bloggers followed by finding and posting her husband's name, the family's address and phone number, a cellphone number, the name of the family's advertising company, and the names and phone numbers of clients with whom they worked.
Off-site link, opens in new window Wired: Cyberbullying stokes the internet fury machine

The facts here seem pretty egregious, but the key word is "seem". Mobs are not particularly known to be careful fact-finders nor dispassionate dispensers of justice. Are we entering an age of virtual witch trials and online cultural justice when the real world fails to mete out subjectively appropriate punishment? And with the anonymity of the internet, do mobs have even less of a sense of fair play?
Off-site link, opens in new window News lawyer: Cyber vigilantes, bullying and virtual shunning


A blogger, a sex writer and how things got out of hand.

Violet who?

In the long, long GiveWell thread on MetaTalk earlier this year someone wrote:

"[...] it never ceases to amaze me that so many online organizations don't retain professional counsel and don't talk to their employees and board members about how to conduct themselves online. Not only from a "what is legal" and "what is ethical" standpoint, but also how to react to bad news and what not to do in a crisis."
Off-site link, opens in new windowMeTa: GiveWell, or give 'm hell? (posted by maxwelton at 9:58 PM on January 1)

It turns out that even the co-owners of BoingBoing, one of the most popular weblogs, still have a thing or two to learn in the area of internet damage control. It all started about a year ago when one of the four co-owners decided to remove all posts that mentioned weblogger and sex writer Violet Blue from BoingBoing's archives. Apparently these weren't just posts that linked to Violet Blue's own work, but also posts about websites that were found via Violet Blue and linked to her website for that reason.

For a while, nobody noticed. Then somebody did, and things started going downhill. The four co-owners started out being non-responsive about the situation, and apparently even comments that merely mentioned the colours violet and blue were initially deleted from the BoingBoing discussion area.
Off-site link, opens in new window BoingBoing: That Violet Blue thing
Off-site link, opens in new window MeFi: BoingBoing finds 21st Century Trotsky?

A couple of thoughts.

A good way to remove a link from your weblog:

Bad ways to remove a link from your weblog:

Weblog posts are designed to be part of conversations. Someone reads your post and links to it on their weblog, adding their own thougths. They expect the post to remain where it is, and the content of the post to remain what it was when they first read it and linked to it.

Good reasons to remove a link from your weblog:

Bad reasons to remove a link from your weblog:

I know it's your weblog and you can do what you want with it, but you're still going to come across like a petulant twelve-year-old and "if you only knew what she's like you'd understand" never works. Besides, it stops being exclusively your weblog once you co-own it with other people, or build a sizeable readership, or seek paid advertising. Once that happens, your actions start to have repercussions on others.

Good ways to respond once the shit has hit the fan:

A bad way to respond once the shit has hit the fan:

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