Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dan Wheeler is Hasta la Bye Bye

Ah, the irony.  Here's Dan profiled on Music Talk even as we speak, just after his journal's execution. Thank you Danielle for the screen capture.


One of the most entertaining blogs in AOL J-land has been 86'd by the powers that be. With no warning. And no discussion. 

Dan Wheeler's entries consisted of simple stick figure cartoons about relationships, mostly the I love you and I hate you parts.  Yep, stick figures.  Triangles with circles on top for the females.  Squares with circles on top for the boys. 

Geometry class is more offensive.

Five days a week he posted a new and wonderfully cynical cartoon. Along with some amusing comments about his life. [Link to his new blog from my Other Journals list under Dan Freakin Wheeler -- and buy his book while you're there].

Then one day, AOL swooped in and removed almost every single one of the cartoons, effectively shutting him down. This move was so disturbingly indefensible that even Pattboy92 from Patrick's Place -- a bastion of good taste and moderation -- was moved to write an entry about it.

True to their ill-defined, nebulous Terms of Endearment, sorry, Service, there was no specific reason given for turning out the lights at Dan Wheeler's blog. Except that he violated the TOS.

How can you violate something that doesn't tell you what it is that you can't violate except in the most non-specific language?

Clarity would be helpful, don't you think?

"Mrs. Linklater, Line 4, word 7 violates our Terms of Service.Or at least, it really pisses off Al in the mailroom." 

Or "Paragraph 5 was offensive to two teenage boys who usually surf for porn, but happened upon your journal and couldn't believe what a smartass you are."

Why isn't there a warning system? We've got it for hurricanes. "Come on, Mrs.L, this is your last warning. If you decide to ignore this warning, we can be pretty arbitrary with our punishment."

And what about journals that violate MY terms of service. "Sorry, sir or madam, if you post one more elf I will scream."

Dan Wheeler had no recourse. The cartoons were gone. Period. He had no opportunity to defend himself.  No opportunity to challenge the charges.  No opportunity to be defended by those who find nothing about his blog offensive.

Those of us who journal on AOL are easy targets for judgment. We post our pictures and spill our guts to the world.  We invite people to leave comments and rate our work.  BUT, and herein lies an important difference, we can go head to head or email to email with those people.

But not with AOL. We are monitored by faceless, nameless content police who hide behind a wall of vague and ambiguous rules, making life and death decisions about our journals without impunity. Or fear of confrontation. 

Which makes me wonder -- Are the AOL Terms of Service part of the Patriot Act?



xzasporated1 said...

I am so angry about this, that I'm writing my entry by pacing up and down the hallway.  That's never a good thing.  ;o)

~~ jennifer

ann7inflorida said...

I'm with you Mrs. L.!  WTF?  I never found anything offensive in Dans journal & I think the way that AOL went about things was pretty F*ed up. On the flip side, This draws alot more publicity to his new book. Maybe there is a silver lining after all.

quroboros said...

This is insane when you consider the number of noxious, sexually explicit, truly offensive journals out there.  Why was Dan singled out?  Of course I don't know for sure, but my guess would be "What did HIS Hit Counter show?"  IE: they're only picking on people whose journals are actually *read*.  The height of hypocrasy and double-standards.  ¤Holly

danielled1 said...

I think it's a bit funny that a day after the whole hullaballoo over Dan's journal being TOSed, he's being featured over at Keyword: music talk.



lamove04 said...

Actually, I wonder if Holly's comment has any validity... it's my impression that aOL wouldn't want any journal to get too big and commercial, and if he was achieving more success and visibility with his comics, that might set them off... hmmm... Albert

hope5555 said...

I'm really irritated by this whole TOS thing.  AOL should NOT be censoring or editing journals - period.