For a couple of years, now, I have been posting on H2G2, an online community which was the brain-child of Douglas Adams.
While it is still quite an interesting place, and, while I haven't necessarily participated as fully as I could have up until now, there are a few irritations which have really disenchanted me, of late.
The one that is actually worth mentioning* is the "language" thing.... as in potty-language. In the past, while certain specific words were verboten and for good reason, really, it was possible to get a point across with placing alternate characters in place of several letters (fu@k and sh!t, for example). That way, people knew what you wanted to say but not be out and out offensive. My feeling is that, if you are so easily offended by a word that isn't ACTUALLY the word Fuck, then you haven't much in the way of intelligence. When it comes down to it, how come I can't say Fuck but I can say fornicate?
Anyway, TPTB just put into effect a new program which sussed out naughty language, alerts TPTB, who then yank the posting and send a reprimand.
Not only are words like "shit" and "fuck" censored but also "bollocks" and such. I mean, REALLY! Are bulls' testicles offensive? I mean we all know they have them. Why is the slang for them censored?
Anyhow, I was just visiting someone's blog, and they were reveling in the ability to freely use whatever language they wanted without the Thought Police of the BBC coming down on them. In one of the comments to that post, someone posted a phrase in French.... something which is forbidden on the BBC, as is posting anything else not in English, unless a translation is provided, and even then, there are people who complain. I guess that is in case someone decides to slip something offensive in Chinese past the censors and some oversensitive Chinese-speaker becomes offended. Which brings me back to the concept that I can't use the word "fuck", could get in trouble if I chose to post in French in case I slip the word past the censor but am free to use the word "fornicate" which means the same thing as "fuck".
That's when it occurred to me that not only am I free here to use whatever fucking language I want, I can post in in French, Chinese, or Croatian, if I so choose, without the Thought Police threatening me....
Ah, Joie et Bonheur! Je peux dire la "baise", si je veux!
* The other is that you aren't supposed to post links to "commercial sites" (any site which sells things). When it comes down to it, every internet site is "commercial", even this blog, because it is hosted on a site which has a commercial component.
I fell afoul of this "rule" on H2G2 when I posted a link to the site of an artist whose work I admire. Whether it was because someone took it upon themselves to complain because they didn't like the political bent of this artist (anti-Bush and anti-war/profiteering); whether it was because the artist sells his work (even though there was no mention of prices on the page I linked to; or whether it was because I mentioned in my posting that I had recently purchased one of the artist's pieces, I can't say for sure.
My posting was pulled.
I subsequently complained, suggesting that this marked a disturbing foray into censorship at worst and at best a lack of understanding that, as I said above, all sites are commercial in some aspect. I could well understand perhaps posting an advertisement for a particular item for one's own profit. However, to prevent postings which mention an item which might be for sale was intruding on the individual's right to govern their own conduct, and schmecked of Big Brother-ism.
I am glad to say that my complaint got a positive result and my posting was reinstated. Whether this was because saner minds prevailed and the site was reviewed and found to fall within the rules or whether my posting pointed out the hypocrisy of deeming certain sites to be "commercial" which others clearly selling things are allowed (or indeed for outright censoring political stances), I can't say.
What I found particularly outrageous was that I found this particular artist after another member of H2G2 posted a link to the same page a few weeks before. It remained, while mine was removed.
The senselessness of the application of the rule was pointed out to me some time before after another member complained after I posted this hideous photo of the lamp in my bedroom from my Fotki page and said that I "wasn't supposed to be selling anything on H2G2". I had to point out that 1) just because you COULD sell your photos on Fotki, didn't mean that a) I was and b) that this broke the rules of H2G2, and 2) if I WAS going to sell something, I would be sure to sell something worthwhile, rather than a really crappy photo of the lamp in my bedroom -- which, by the way, 3) was being used to illustrate some (now forgotten) point in the thread of postings.
I then offered it for sale for $3000.
Oddly, this person did not make a complaint about my ACTUALLY trying to sell something on H2G2. Perhaps they finally grasped the ironic tone in my post. Perhaps they simply disappeared from H2G2 after getting sucked into their own vacuousness....