In case you hadn’t heard yet, AVEN has been re-posting the full contents of copyrighted articles, including posts from asexual people’s personal blogs, without permission, and also without notice.
This is not only illegal, but it’s incredibly disrespectful and triggering. It shows a blatant disregard for consent, and it could actually be really dangerous for some people to have their personal stories posted in full at AVEN without permission.
Abusers can use things that they find online against their victims, and even if it is not necessarily a great risk for that person now, years down the line it might be. We all weigh risks very carefully when we post things online, at each place we share. People we know might hang out at AVEN, and we might not be okay with them knowing the stories we posted on our personal blogs, or want to be out to them at all—some of us are using pseudonyms for a reason. And you won’t be able to tell who is vulnerable to such things, because we don’t generally go around telling everyone.
I hate that there has been no distinction whatsoever between news articles posted by giant media companies and people’s personal blogs. The difference isn’t just about money, although it can be—but most of us aren’t making any money from blogging. It is unethical and potentially dangerous to do this to people. While it’s fine to link to articles at places like Wired or whatever as long as you don’t violate copyright laws, I think it’s much better to ask individual bloggers’ permission before even linking to their personal blogs. And it’s so much worse to copy and paste the entire contents of the post, because then if one day we need to remove some sensitive detail, we can’t do that ourselves—especially not if we don’t even know that it’s been posted somewhere else. I don’t care if it would “take forever” to try to contact an author before posting—you need to show some basic respect for them, and concern for their well-being. These are real people, and on top of that your own community members.
Some of us actually have posted guidelines right there on the blog, so you don’t even have to do that much work.
The Asexual Agenda’s contributors and several other people, most notably redbeardace, have been trying to get the mods to change their policy and all of the affected threads. They have actually started going through the threads and changing them to excerpts plus a link instead. So there have been a few steps forward… but also some steps back.
Yesterday, this thread was titled “Prismatic Entanglements: I was curious, so I chose to have sex! Then, my curiosity was satiated. I decided never to have sex again.” It included the full text of a guest post originally posted here by luvtheheaven, misleadingly conflated it with my writing, and on top of everything else it was lazily copied and pasted with no regard for formatting and including none of the links in the original.
Now, it is titled “Prismatic Entanglements blog” and the thread was combined with another thread featuring an anonymous submission to the Carnival of Aces, which I didn’t write either. And nothing else.
I think it’s even more misleading now. The thread is presented as if it is my writing, but then features none of it. The two guest posters are barely credited. Neither of them should have even been dragged into this, and since one of them was anonymous, I have no way of contacting them to find out if they would have been okay with this. I just have to hope that they see this.
The worst thing about all this is just how clueless the people at AVEN have been, especially the mods. That this has been the official policy? And that when concerns were raised, this was the response?
Not cool, guys. Get it together.
20 thoughts on “Not cool, AVEN”
To be fair to the admods on one point, I think they did not know that the misleading thread title was an issue of concern, and anyway that part’s easily fixable.
I’m not sure how easily fixed it is when the threads have been combined like that, lol. Because I mean… uh, what do you call it in that case?
What was even the point of combining them? I don’t get it.
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By the way, to clarify: the:
thing was that they actually changed my blog post a bit by not preserving the embedded links, the bold, or the italics I’d used. So not only can I not edit it or delete it if I ever choose to, but they changed what I wrote slightly by losing some of the nuance of which words I emphasized and stuff. :P
I’m sure this has happened with countless other “Fully reposted” blog posts and articles they’ve copied and pasted, too, for the sake of archiving.
I really appreciate what Laura (ace-muslim) and redbeardace have said in response to this stuff regarding copyright laws and how they work and why they’re important — for more reasons than simply money.
Thanks for the link to: http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/115301-what-is-site-policy-on-excerpting-articles/ — wow the ignorance in what people are saying is kind of horrifying.
What?? That’s awful. As someone who DOESN’T frequent AVEN, am I now expected to patrol its forums for my own writing? Ugh. Not cool, not cool at all.
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One of the other things that weirds me out is the fact that mods have actually been going into older posts where users just included a short excerpt or summary and a link to the main post – which was great – and then editing in the full text to the users posts (not great). And as far as I can tell they don’t seem to be asking users for permission to edit their posts.
Luckily, I don’t use the world watch forums much so it hasn’t happened in any of my old posts (I basically only use vis-ed at this point), but even setting copyright issues aside for the moment, mod editing powers should be used with care and restraint, and this kind of use (to insert copy-right violating material into other users posts) is not one that I feel comfortable with.
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This. SO MUCH this.
It’s really disconcerting to see that they’ve edited other people’s posts to add full text versions. Do those people even get a notification that their post was edited? Or are they unknowingly made accomplices in this copyright mess?
You don’t get notifications when posts are edited. It does show on the post (though this might be optional? I can’t remember). The only way to know is if you go back and look, or if they leave you a courtesy PM about it.
I just had to edit one of my own posts (aaah typos): it’s optional. Which means that someone can edit your post, if they forget to show that it was edited, it looks like YOU copy-pasted the full-text. Wow. not nice. Perhaps particularly so if they’ve edited the post of the author – which means it seems to outsiders like they’ve posted the full text themselves.
FWIW there’s a temporary response posted by AVEN now, that doesn’t seem to be locked yet if people want to comment over there as well: http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/123340-announcement-to-content-creators/
Hahahaha, no it’s not. This entire post proves that! Either they’re straight-up lying or they’re confused about what “utmost care” actually means.
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Thank you for this. I find in my own blogging that sharing personal stories and showing your vulnerability takes trust and a feeling of safety within the community you’re sharing it with. I’m so upset that people from our community think their behavior is completely okay. It feels like a betrayal of the trust plenty of bloggers put in this community that it will give them the respect and the feeling of safety needed to share those posts in the first place. I think about what I post, and where. If I post something personal, it is because I trust the community, and because I have a back-up plan if I even need it. I’ve written some posts that I only posted because I felt safe knowing I have the destruction button if I ever need it. Interestingly, these were the posts for which I had people pm me privately to connect, to say “me too”, to thank me for writing it. I now doubt the wisdom of posting these, in the light of this betrayal. Who can I trust if not my own community?
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Well, if there’d been any major reprinting of commercial articles on the German AVEN forum, I’d like to think they’d have been sued straight out of money by now.
That said, as part of the German blogosphere, I’m not personally affected by this, but I can feel with those whose safe spaces were made unsafe, so I added my two cents to the “announcement to content creators”.
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Trigger Warning: abusive, gaslighting comment follows.
The following comment was posted by PiF. It is against my comment policy (rule #2), so I am not letting it through—nor will I let any other comments through by the same person, who has also violated the comment policy on The Asexual Agenda in the past, and as I recall, also likes to harass people on AVEN. However, in the interest of letting others know what is going on, here is what he said:
If your comment has been down-rated, it is likely this asshole doing it. I sincerely hope that this view does not reflect those of the AVEN mods.
I created this blog in 2008, when hardly anybody was reading (only a handful of other ace people), just after leaving an abusive relationship. It was meant to be a short-term space for me to figure things out, which I could delete AT ANY TIME, if necessary to avoid a confrontation with any of my abusers.
I have been included in an article published at The Frisky without my consent. I did NOT want that kind of publicity, but the journalist who wrote the article didn’t care.
My blog is now far more well-known than I ever intended it to be. I had to go on hiatus from mid-2012 to mid-2014, and change the name of my blog because of that. My abuser very well might have found it in 2012; he sent me a message again back then on Facebook.
Now, I run a website dedicated to providing a safe space for survivors of sexual violence. AVEN did quote from it without notice or permission—they re-posted our Reading List, but have since complied with requests to only excerpt the description of it. Fortunately, they did not decide to post anything else from RFAS (as far as I’m aware), other than a bare-bones link to our main website.
You do not get to tell any of us what we are feeling, or what our intentions were or are when posting anything online. Right now, I am INFURIATED that you think you know me—any of us—better than we know ourselves. That is exactly what each and every one of us has to fight against every time we try to do ANY visibility work as asexuals—a bunch of assholes who think they know us better than we know ourselves, and think they can tell us what our “real” sexual orientation is. You are no better than them.
Seriously, fuck you.
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Thank you for this reply. I’ve definitely heard this sentiment before and it is really difficult for me, most of the time, to articulate any of your awesome reply, or even realize it’s what I want to say. So I really appreciate what you said.
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This happened to a few of my personal blog posts and has been one of the reasons that I haven’t been writing about things lately. It kind of amazes me that people would think this kind of thing is okay, particularly without asking permission first.
I’m so sorry that it happened to you, too. :( If you want us to ask them to remove the posts on your behalf, we’ll talk to them for you. A few of the mods have just agreed to take things down, now.
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I’ve looked and it seems they’ve taken them down already (either that or it’s so far back that I can’t find it)
I’m not too worried about the content they posted, but it has me thinking about how many people have been finding my articles, what I want to say, and whether I’m saying it correctly.
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