The Boing Boing post that launched (not quite) a thousand comments

Earlier today, Boing Boing moderator, Teresa Nielson Hayden posted this less than full disclosure response to their decision to pull some posts that mentioned the sex blog writer, Violet Blue (read her blog, tiny nibbles, here):

Speaking for all the Boingers–

Boing Boing has been caught in the middle of a real internet shitstorm and pile-on over the last few days. A blogger named Violet Blue noticed that we unpublished some posts related to her. Some people wanted to know why.

Bottom line is that those posts (not “more than 100 posts,” as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.

We hope you’ll respect our choice to keep the reasons behind this private. We do understand the confusion this caused for some, especially since we fight hard for openness and transparency. We were trying to do the right thing quietly and respectfully, without embarrassing the parties involved.

Clearly, that didn’t work out. In attempting to defuse drama, we inadvertently ignited more. Mind you, we weren’t the ones splashing gasoline around; but we did make the fire possible. We’re sorry about that. In the meantime, Boing Boing’s past content is indexed on the Wayback Machine, a basic Internet resource; so the material should still be available for those who would like to read it.

Thank you all for caring what happens on Boing Boing. And if you think there’s more to say, by all means, let’s talk. We’re listening.

Boing Boing’s “That Violet Blue thing” post today evolved into one of those unfortunate and bizarre Internet phenomena.  Apparently, Boing Boing’s staff decided to pull some posts that mentioned Violet Blue, but they did this on the sly–a year ago.  I don’t recall seeing any Boing Boing manifesto that states that they must adhere to some kind of openness or transparency regarding their editorial decisions.  However, the debate over these post deletions have generated, as of the time of writing this, 518 responses in the comments.  I can’t say that I’ve seen a post reach such a high number of comments in such a short period of time on Boing Boing since they opened commenting.  There is a lot of crosstalk and many raised voices, and I’m concerned at how badly some folks are engaging and thinking about Boing Boing’s editorial staff making an editorial decision.


Here’s the Valleywag article that toss some more gasoline on the fire.  Internet netizens’ ability to uncover gossip and more-info-than-someone-not-involved-needs-to-know ceases to amaze me.  Can the idealistic noobs in the audience please realize that the Internet involves money, real people with real feelings, and real people who make choices that turn out good or bad depending on the temperature of a cup of tea in an unassuming house (do houses assume things?) in Islington!


As of July 3, 2008, Boing Boing’s “That Violet Blue Thing” has rolled off the main page and has 1210 comments–it really was the post that launched a thousand comments!

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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7 comments on “The Boing Boing post that launched (not quite) a thousand comments
  1. […] As you probably know, I’ve been following the Violet Blue fiasco on Boing Boing (see here and here)–a fiasco encompassing a number of popular stops in the blogosphere and […]

  2. Jim Treacher says:

    “I don’t recall seeing any Boing Boing manifesto that states that they must adhere to some kind of openness or transparency regarding their editorial decisions.”

    No, they just demand it from everybody else.

  3. Jason Ellis says:

    Hey Jim, thanks for the comment. I wonder where this cynical desire comes from to show that Boing Boing is hypocritical. They do a fair share of posts on government and corporate openness–usually involving copyright and net neutrality, and from the desk of Cory Doctorow–but I don’t see how this translates into their representing all that’s holy about some folks’ beliefs about the supposed free flow and open access to anything and everything on the Internet. There is nothing but ideology, and this case illustrates a conflict of, or friction between, differing ideologies regarding the management and purpose of Boing Boing–is just a directory of wonderful things or does it represent something more than that? This is a complex situation, perhaps even a complex puzzle without a solution, but I find the puzzle working more gratifying than the puzzle’s answer.

  4. Jim Treacher says:

    “I wonder where this cynical desire comes from to show that Boing Boing is hypocritical.”

    I dunno… facts?

  5. Jason Ellis says:

    Hi Jim, I’m afraid I don’t get your point. There are many supposed facts surrounding the supposed “event” at the nexus of the various blog reports from around the Internet. Or, perhaps, you’re referring to tangible facts that detail what I called a Boing Boing manifesto. If you are aware of such a thing, please link to it in your next comment. Thanks!

  6. […] Learned.”  I’ve commented on the Boing Boing explosion from a couple of weeks ago here, here, and here.  It’s part apology, and part “here’s what we learned […]

  7. Crazy36 says:

    I think that was floating in and out of my reading as well. ,

Comments are closed.

Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

Reach him by email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu.


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