#AceDay and credibility

I’ve very loosely followed this Ace Day drama from a distance. I don’t get it. So many things about the event—how it was planned, how it was criticized, how it was promoted, why it is even on the 8th instead of the first of some month, and why it apparently had to happen RIGHT NOW instead of say, in three weeks, if there had been so little preparation for it that had been promoted to neither AVEN (as in, on the forums) nor The Asexual Agenda.

(That’s a lie, actually. I can figure it out. I think it had to happen sooner because it had to do with promoting the Asexual Outreach Indie Go-Go campaign. They need the money for the conference in June, so waiting wouldn’t have been ideal. Please donate to it if you can, though, honestly. It’s a good cause.)

Why did the ace cards have to represent romantic orientation? Nobody ever sat down and thought about how having to categorize like that would leave a lot of aces out? I wouldn’t have known which suite to pick.

When the day rolled around, I made a joke out of all my confusion:

It’s even funnier if you know me personally.

Moreover, why are we only considering ace cards from the traditional deck of cards? Ace cards in other kinds of decks are beautiful and well worth photographing, too. We don’t need to hold so strictly to tradition, and the incessant focus on categorizing is not helpful.

The most significant effect that I noted (from my limited corner of the community, and no, I was not following closely) as a result of Ace Day was that search engine traffic was very high, and many googled “alloromantic” on May 8th. They mostly seemed to flock to Queenie’s article criticizing the divide between alloromantic and aromantic. Knowing that may at least assuage some of the frustration those who felt pressured to categorize their romantic orientation felt, I hope.

Jokes aside though… there are some serious credibility issues with this campaign. And theasexualityblog has seemed… totally oblivious about them, and somewhat belligerent and unconcerned when those issues have been pointed out. (I’m not saying that’s actually the case, btw—I’m saying that’s how people have been reading theasexualityblog’s responses, and with good reason.)

To begin with, I think that while a lot of incorrect and very hurtful things were said about Blackout and TDoV… I think people are correctly perceiving an opportunistic attitude on the part of theasexualityblog. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with opportunism—or being inspired by other successful activist campaigns—by itself. And Ace Day did accomplish something. A day of pride and love for asexual people is not a bad thing. This type of campaign is not something that appeals to me, but if other people like it? Hey, why not?

But the way that it was handled was not ideal. I think a lot more care has to go into planning for next year—and the idea has to be expanded to be inclusive of all aces, not just those who are easy to categorize (and, perhaps, more palatable to the mainstream?).

But the very worst credibility-killer is that they seem to think that they actually have enough credibility to get wikipedia to acknowledge them… and have fundamentally misunderstood the way that wikipedia works. (Discussion of wiki spamming here.)

What on earth is getting a page on wikipedia going to accomplish anyway? The event is over. Do it again next year, and the year after that, and build your credibility before demanding to be acknowledged. If you’re expecting wikipedia to somehow give you credibility, then… LOL. Wikipedia is actually being considered less and less credible anyway.

The thing is… if you start spamming people with things without first building credibility? They stop listening. The filter learns your name, and you get automatically deleted. Spamming doesn’t work for emails, and it doesn’t work for wikipedia either.

And I’m sorry to say it, but doing this sort of thing really makes you come across as unprofessional, and will have an impact on others’ willingness to submit to or invest in your future projects. Building credibility is slow. It takes hard work and a lot of time. If people see you as unwilling to invest that time, if they see you trying to brute force acknowledgement and take credibility… how can we be confident that you won’t try to take those shortcuts in anything else you do?

Learn from these mistakes—and acknowledge it so that people know you’re listening. Learn the rules first, and don’t try to make others change their well-established guidelines for you. Next Step Cake has made a guide to getting on wikipedia for you. Ace activists, please take it to heart.

I know I will.


Addendum: There was a gap of time between me writing this post and seeing new things that had been posted about this (my posts are frequently scheduled to go up when I won’t be at the computer). I think this one is relevant, and shows a considerably better response. A clarification: The wikipedia article was not planned by theasexualityblog, and was written by someone else. I should have made that more clear in the original post, so I apologize for that.

More further reading: I posted some more thoughts on #AceDay with some specific things to consider for next year. Theasexualityblog responded to criticisms that were raised here. I think it’s a good response and addresses how people had been feeling pretty well… although I will note for clarification that Sara seems to have interpreted “opportunistic” as I used it here to mean something far more negative than I meant. “Opportunism” in my view does not necessarily imply exploitation or being motivated by personal gain; it means seeing an opportunity as it arises and going for it. Other critics may have assumed that Ace Day was exploitative of trans people in some way, but I don’t agree. I will also note that tumblr’s absurdly bad format in itself is probably responsible for a lot of the confusion, misinformation, and critics not being well-informed—things will always have to be addressed multiple times if your responses get lost on tumblr, which I think is some degree of inevitable. It’s my hope that linking Sara’s response here will help keep it from being lost to the ages—since WordPress is far more conducive to creating posts with longevity than tumblr.

14 thoughts on “#AceDay and credibility

  1. I didn’t even notice that this was happening or a thing – perhaps as a result of the dubious promotion and because I don’t frequent tumblr. Reading your account just leaves me puzzled about the whole thing, especially the timing and not seeming to think the romantic label thing through (and also, since when is asexuality all about romantic labels, anyway?). Surely if you wanted this to be an actual widespread event, you’d put a bit more effort in?


    • Yeah… apparently it was not planned to get much outside of tumblr, originally. But then (and here I should’ve been more clear—I added an addendum with another link) someone else decided to put it on wikipedia (after it happened), and then the original reason given for deletion was “Obviously invented” which is not really the clearest way of stating a reason for deletion.

      All learning experiences, I hope. Campaigns like this are sort of a trial-by-fire, I think, especially when it’s under pressure to happen sooner. I do sympathize with that and hope that next year will be a lot more well-considered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LOL at Eights Day.

    I hadn’t realized that The Asexuality Blog was affiliated with Asexual Outreach. So far I’ve been impressed by Asexual Outreach. Organizing a conference like that is both challenging and commendable. It makes Ace Day all the more puzzling though.

    There were two other things I didn’t mention that I found confusing. One is, Tumblr already has plenty of ace visibility. I mean, maybe my standards are just too low, but it sure seems like there’s a very high density of social activists, to the point that the main critical response is not “wtf is alloromantic?” but rather “you’re encroaching on the territory of other activists.” I don’t see why Tumblr should be a priority target.

    The second thing is, communicating with Tumblr can be tricky. People are really nitpicky and you need to speak a special language. But this is an event coming from Tumblr, for Tumblr, and with a peculiarly Tumblresque style. So why the heck can’t the organizer respond competently to Tumblr criticism?


    • Yeah, pretty much. Although, Tumblr aside (I didn’t follow any of what was going on there other than being linked to things), there was a very significant amount of activity on Twitter, too. I mean, maybe the Twitter part was an afterthought, but theasexualityblog is also on there and did do at least some promotion there on May 8th (but I don’t know about prior). It wasn’t enough to trend when I looked, but I didn’t really check in often, so…

      I kind of wonder where the main force of all those googlers was coming from. It doesn’t make sense to me that they would mostly be from Tumblr, considering the activist culture there.

      Also, I’m not sure whether theasexualityblog and Asexual Outreach are officially affiliated? I’m sort of inferring at least a connection based on theasexualityblog’s promotion of their campaign and one of Asexual Outreach’s stretch goals (though that connection might be just “I support this”). But Asexual Outreach doesn’t actually list any team members on their website (which makes me go ???), so who knows. At any rate, I don’t think the person who runs theasexualityblog is the main show-runner at Asexual Outreach, if they are part of the team.

      I think Asexual Outreach themselves have been doing a bang-up job. I have a few minor qualms about transparency and too much marketing-speak on their website, but other than that? Yeah, pretty impressed. Wish I could make it to Toronto.


      • There’s a Sara in the Indiegogo video, who might be the same Sara who runs The Asexuality Blog?? It’s all speculation at this point.


        • I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s her, although Sara is a very common name, so… Although making a video doesn’t necessarily mean you’re volunteering for them, either. Swankivy did and I’m pretty sure she’s not organizing anything, other than her own presentation. *shrug* Maybe Sara will clarify.

          Is it just Sara who runs theasexualityblog btw? I can never keep track of which tumblr has more than one mod, lol.


  3. Honestly, I didn’t see an issue with the event in and of itself (the organizers maybe, yes). I didn’t pay too much attention to the drama surrounding it, but from what I did see the day of, it was asexual erasure at its finest – basically telling people to shut up and wait for their one week a year to talk about who they are. If you followed the tags on Tumblr (and not just the posts with the most notes) you’d have seen that a) a lot of people didn’t even use cards and b) those who were confused still for the most part seemed happy to participate and bend the “rules” of the event, as it were. Almost all I saw on Tumblr that day were aces who were trying to gain a little pride in who they are – and people shooting them down left and right. Whether someone agreed with the event or not, it wasn’t necessary to take it out on people who had no idea about the drama behind it and just wanted to show solidarity. Sure, criticize the event organizers – but leave others alone.


    • Oh no, I didn’t mean to criticize the participants at all! I hope it didn’t come across that way? I mean, other than those who did the wikipedia thing—and in their case, I just think “why???”—I don’t have any issues with those participating. It’s a fine idea, as I said, that just ended up happening with too much (official) focus on an overly prescriptive, problematic gimmick. I didn’t follow the tags on tumblr at all and only checked in on Twitter a couple times (I was pretty busy that day*), but I’m really not surprised a lot of people just did their own thing without considering the rules.

      I mentioned part of my confusion was with people criticizing the whole event—like why is it such a big deal for aces to have a day outside of AAW? That’s mostly what I was referring to… that and just the all the confusion/distortion/incoherence that happens on tumblr in general.

      * I suspect a lot of other people would have been quite busy that day too, since for a lot of people it would have been the end of their college semester. Around here that would be a day that a lot of people at the university have to pack up and go home, leaving them possibly without internet… so I really think it’d be better off on a different day next time for that reason if nothing else.

      [Edit: also, forgot to mention this, but I had wanted to say that not wanting to harsh the participants’ joy is the reason why I just made jokes on the 8th and held back my more serious criticisms for now. Definitely didn’t want to contribute to whatever pile-ons were happening from anti-ace people.]

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oooh, okay. I misread your post, then; I thought you were agreeing with those who criticized the movement for being outside of AAW and reminiscent of other selfie-focused stuff on Tumblr. That’s my bad, sorry! :)

        (And yeah, I posted a selfie from work – but I guess Tumblr’s average age is something like 14, and those darn teens have way more free time than us!)


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