chinagate

This guy started a thread in the ‘Miscellaneous’ section of the forums questioning WP’s involvement with Yahoo!, on the grounds that the latter have been co-operating with the Chinese government in censoring information and helping convict dissidents.

(OMG he expects the people who sell page rank to spammers to care about ethics. That is so cute. I may have to go into a corner and squee for five minutes.)

By the way, that link to news.bbc.co.uk? I only got that because he had the presence of mind to save the thread as HTML and republish it on his own site, because naturally the thread got deleted. Well, duh. People weren’t allowed to criticise selling pagerank to spammers on the forum, so they sure as hell aren’t going to be allowed to criticise the decision to go into partnerships with big evil corporations.

I actually don’t have a problem with locking the thread. Time was when you could fill Miscellaneous with discussions of what your favourite browser was, but there are far too many users now to clog up the forum with non-support topics. (By the same token, ‘look at my new blog!’ should be nixed on sight). So I do agree that the poster’s blog is the best place to continue the discussion.

But how would I have known that these issues were being raised if he hadn’t posted a thread in the forum? He’s not syndicated on Planet WordPress (Happy Birthday Kim!), and I don’t know of another place where you can be sure of reaching a number of fellow wordpress users in order to discuss wordpress issues. Well, there’s here, but the only people who’ll find you here are fellow .com users, random googlers and people you’ve linked. And anyway, not everyone wants to talk about wordpress all the time (I know, shocking) or get a wordpress.com account for that purpose (still think Mike Little should, though).

And I, personally, am glad the issues were raised, and that I was able to read about them. I do think that it’s largely impractical to refuse to have dealings with companies who have a cosy relationship with the Chinese authorities. I’d have to stop using my computer entirely, not to mention quit watching Sky News. (Probably I should quit watching Sky News anyway, but I’m a great believer in knowing your enemy.) But I also think it’s something that needs to be confronted and considered, even if your ultimate decision is not to take any action.

Locking a thread is a politically neutral act carried out for the benefit of the forums, so that the discussion can move elsewhere. Deleting the thread is not. Deleting the thread is removing the right of users to read it for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Most of all, it makes you look really, really bad; same way as ‘we don’t want to talk about how pagerank got sold to spammers and you are, like, so evil for even mentioning it’ made a shady-looking situation look even shadier.

7 Comments »

  1. Matt said

    Ahem,

    http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2005-December/001123.html

  2. wank said

    read that already. In fact, if I didn’t lurk on wp-forums I would have been unaware of both the thread and the deletion.

    The place for that (relatively weak, but hey) justification was in a public post stating why the thread was being locked, not on a mailing list defending its obliteration after the fact.

  3. ray said

    There should be no reason to delete a thread unless it is horribly disgusting – a bunch of goatses in various forums, pornographic (in a non-porno site) or similar.

    The web is supposed to be this fantastic space age democracy. Deleting threads like that smacks of a dictatorship. Unless they have limited server space, of course.

  4. mastermind said

    First, thanks for finding me cute.😉

    Well, I know that my point is kind of fight against windmills; and believe me, I’m not seriously expecting Yahoo to withdraw from China. In fact, I just raised that point to make (at least some) people in the WordPress comunity aware of the fact that there is massive censorship and that it is supported by Yahoo, an official partner of WordPress. I also don’t expect WP to withdraw from Yahoo, yet I would wish that suchlike points are kept in mind in the future.

    Concerning the posting in my blog: It may sound pretty provoking to accuse WP of censorship in the heading. This is not because I suspect systematic suppression by the forum admins. I was simply disappointed that the thread (ironically a thread on censorship) was deleted without further discussion. I would possibly have accepted a closing of the thread with a hint to a better place to discuss this topic.

    I would really love to have a place where WP users can talk about general WP issues. Or does that type of place exist and I just missed it? Possibly one could also extend the forums at wordpress.org for that purpose and make sort of “About WordPress” section — or just not delete that kind of topics in the Miscellaneous section.

  5. wank said

    I’m kind of hoping that inksmith will be that wordpress community site (well, they claim it’ll be for the blogging community as a whole, but as everyone involved is a wordpresser I can’t see it attracting any interest from users of other tools).

    Or it could just be a place where Big Important WordPressers plug the stuff they’re working on to the masses. We’ll see.

  6. blaze said

    Looks like akismet isnt working ^^^

  7. […] don’t want this place to go to Yahoo. I really don’t want this place to go to Yahoo. But what if it’s the only way to get Matt out of […]

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