The Web Archives

Buh-bye, Facebook. 2015

Last June I quit using Facebook both personally and professionally. I'd been feeling pretty queasy about their creepy terms of service switcheroos already, but pile on real name policy problems and ever-increasing revenue-generation interference with having your posts actually seen by your followers and I was pretty dubious already. But it seemed necessary. "You've got a brand! How can you not be on Facebook?!" So I held my nose and stuck with it, at least for my Discardia and Art of the Shim social media presence.

The turning point came when news broke that the Facebook app was going to start quietly recording background sound while you worked on a post. WTF?! Ostensibly to identify music or TV and include it in the post, but really? Facebook, do you think we don't know you're not going to sell that marketing info and let the NSA listen in? How dumb do you think we are? 

That was it. I posted an announcement with a link to a video explaining why everyone should be leaving Facebook and I deleted the apps from my devices. No more social media posts via Facebook.

You know what? It did absolutely no damage to my brand. It didn't affect my sales. It didn't reduce my reader interaction as an author/publisher. 

Turns out, Facebook needs us waaaaay more than we need Facebook. And we don't need it at all.


Over the past year I've been duplicating all the content from my Facebook accounts onto my own sites and today I finally made time to copy over the last of it. Time to permanently delete my account. Ahhhhh, how nice!

For posterity, and an illustration of just how much a professional account contains attempts from Facebook to get you to spend money to reach your own followers, here are screenshots of the page as it now appears. Amusingly, because the last thing I posted was the 'Delete Facebook' video, all the automatically mocked-up ads they want me to buy use that graphic.

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Facebook's constant clawing for additional personal information is very visible in my old personal account:

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Posted on October 3, 2015 at 04:38 PM in politics & philosophy, The Web, tools, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Honor your inspirations 2012

Working on a new Wikipedia article on Leslie Harpold, with requisite citations so it stays up this time. Draft here:

Posted on May 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM in The Web, tweets | Permalink | Comments (2)

xenophobia + perception of anonymity 2012

RT @anildash: Looks like elapsed time from a TMZ link to the first death threat being received via email is about two hours. Unsurprising, but still sad.

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM in politics & philosophy, The Web, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

It all makes so much more sense now 2012

RT @hchamp: Teh internets demystified #1 -- @maggie1000 tells me this is how databases work on the inside: image from

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 10:01 AM in linky goodness, The Web, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

"And I have asbestos underpants"

    -- Heather Champ (at SXSW session on community management a year or two ago)

Posted on February 14, 2011 at 01:18 PM in quotes, The Web | Permalink | Comments (2)

Argh. Facebook! 2010

Facebook should stop sharing my personal 
info with outside companies
without my specific permission.

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Posted on May 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM in The Web, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

I am opting out of sharing so much through Facebook 2010

There is just not enough control over interrelated data re: my social network, what we find interesting, and what we look at on the web. My relationship with Joe Gratz or with any of my friends or with products I recommend has not changed. It's just you, Facebook, that I now find too much work to maintain a close relationship with.

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Posted on April 24, 2010 at 08:41 PM in The Web, tools, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Just had my Facebook friends' recent activity show up when I went to CNN 2010

Still trying to figure out how to opt out of that and seriously questioning my use of Facebook at all. Opt Out is a crappy approach to the social web.

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Posted on April 24, 2010 at 08:28 PM in The Web, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

getting my Facebook legs 2010

Still getting my Facebook legs, but I've stopped hurling over the side of the boat now.

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Posted on March 19, 2010 at 09:20 PM in friends & family, The Web, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Intellectual property, the online life, and physical death 2010

The recent loss of my dear friend Brad Graham and the memories it brought up of another wonderful person we lost too soon, Leslie Harpold, has me thinking about what might happen to my online presence when I die.

In remembering Brad, many of us began to worry that his wonderful voice online as expressed in his website might be lost to us as Leslie's was.

I'm fortunate to have a family that understands and celebrates the important role the Web plays in my life. My mother – who could, as my principal emergency contact on all documents calling for such a thing and beneficiary on any life insurance policies I've ever had, argue persuasively that she is my primary heir – has a thriving online life herself, primarily through Flickr. She's also, like me, a writer and would, I think, understand my desire that my works be preserved.

However, the legal position is unclear. My websites have always had copyright statements - either explicitly or implicitly "All Rights Reserved". Some of my Flickr content is Creative Commons licensed, but I have not taken the time to review and update all of my public creative output and its stated license terms.

And why is the legal position unclear? Because I do not have a will. Because of course I'm not going to die anytime soon. Of course. Never mind that Brad was younger than I.

So, yes. I should make a will. But I'd also like to find a way to make it easier for people to declare their intentions without that step.

We in the United States have CC0, which is basically a "No Rights Reserved" license. We have traditional copyright which protects our work for 70 years after our death. But we don't have an easy way to say "While I'm alive, this belongs to me, but after I die, I want to give it to the public domain."

Evan Roth has suggested an "Intellectual Property Donor" sticker for the back of your driver's license, just like an organ donor sticker, but it's unclear that this would be binding since it does not appear on the works to which it applies. It seems to me that a succinct statement which could appear on the work itself, much as a copyright statement does, would be easy to use and legally stronger.

I've got some homework ahead of me, learning more about this topic. I'll be looking at sites like The Digital Beyond and, in particular, their list of service providers in this space. I will also be attending the session "Become Immortal: Understanding the Digital After Life" at SXSW Interactive in March.

Please share your thoughts in the comments and let me know if there are other resources I should be checking out.

The clever Lillian Chow remembered the details of what I only had a vague echo of in my head: Neil Gaiman wrote a great post about this concern and provided, with assistance from lawyer Les Klinger, a tool – a simple will – to help address it. This takes the approach of naming trustees rather than turning things over to the public domain, but it does provide a model we could start from.

Any estate, copyright or other lawyers want to weigh in in the comments on that idea and/or on a phrase which could be used on the bottom of a website to reference it. Something like "Copyright © John Doe during my lifetime, transferred to public domain upon my death, per my will."

Posted on January 26, 2010 at 03:26 PM in creativity, The Web, tools, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (7)

From Flickr and Beyond: Lessons in Community Management - SXSW 2009 2009

Sunday, March 15th at 03:30 PM


    * Heather Champ - Flickr
    * Mario Anima - Current TV
    * Matthew Stinchcomb - Etsy Inc
    * Jessamyn West - MetaFilter
    * Micah Schaffer - YouTube


Companies across industries are developing and fostering online communities, recognizing the benefits of connecting with customers on the Web. Unfortunately, not all communities thrive to become a successful vehicle for businesses. Leaders of top online communities from Flickr to Facebook will discuss top best practices for managing online communities.

We will swear during this session.
Anima: please use the hash tag #fuckcount

Flickr - 5 years old, 42 people in bay area, over 30 million members, 3500-5000 pieces of new content/minute

West - MeFi - 10 years old, 4 person team, all text all the time, Ask MeFi her part of site, 40000 active members, 5 million comments overall, barely international, “midnite mod” in London

Schaffer - policy analyst at YouTube, launched 12/2005, story of YouTube is all about scale, 100s of 1000s uploaded, 100s of millions being watched, 13 hours of new content uploaded per minute.

Stinchcomb - Etsy, 2 million members +, 200,000 active artists selling 3.5mill products, 50 person team, 5-6000 members/day mostly to shop

Anima - CurrentTV, tv station + website, site influences what goes on tv, growing more diverse members, core group of politically active people.

what changes have you seen in your community mgmt strategies as you transition from small early-adopters to larger communities?

West - used to be just Matt & friends of Matt; once you couldn’t read whole site she came on as superfan initially, [then needed more formal tools] then needed to institute flagging - couldn’t just self-moderate as a community by chat - to flag breaking guidelines and new hotter flag for offensive.

Schaffer - became harder to perceive trends; change to product leading to changed behavior, but harder to detect; had to get smarter about detecting those things, more metrics, more looking at traffic in different ways, more ways to engage community, talk with them, sample sub-groups, folks using site in vastly different ways. Different challenges different ways of managing things. How do you create policies & features that work best for most number of people?

Stinchcomb - all of us very engaged, so how to grow big but stay small at same time & interact, new tools to have dialog with larger groups of people; people get less forgiving as you get bigger, keeping company culture consistent, internal communication, have to remember community is king before you do anything.

Anima - started to notice that along with uploading content & comments re: edits etc, actual comments re: including links & discussion of other stories, changes to make people able to submit stories, current news, hourly pick, how to keep the love for your core community as other uses/communities come on, as you support large numbers at fringes coming into central activities.

What do we do when people accuse of us censorship?

Our other names [and here they flipped around their name signs]
Tiny Fascist, Stasi, Interesting Critter, Cuntola, Fascist

YouTube - want to accommodate free speech & as much diverse content as possible, 3 factors about what you can/can’t host: 1 - legal (content legal somewhere maybe not others), 2 - user experience (negative user experience of finding a bunch of that e.g. bikini shots when you’re looking for something else, how do you keep sex from drowning out everything else, how do you keep ecosystem of diversity - e.g. cats & hedgehog cuteness - from being drowned out by least common denominator), 3 - brand/monetization/advertising (preserving your ability to function as a site).

Current - democratizing media gets backlash whenever anything has to be taken down, not out with an agenda to remove things, how to communicate “I have nothing against your point of view, what you did was attack someone else. Here’s how you could edit your post for it to make your point without that...”

Champ - transparency, as much as you can do around legal constraints.
human readable terms of service = community guidelines.

West - problem with not having terms of services is problem.

how do you personally stay sane? What is it you do to maintain “soft pleasing tone of voice”?

Stinchcomb - know people in Etsy are really passionate, teams program - meet up with local teams, talk to sane normal human beings who appreciate what you’re doing and your efforts to communicate, don’t let the haters get you down

Anima - not everything will always be hate but it’s not going to be sunshine & roses, open chat room to discussion tensions, really helps, still end up with people not necessarily agreeing but a sane person will respect you for communicating, insane people won’t show up to those chats, gives skills to the people who are there on the site to participate constructively “why didn’t you go to the town hall chat to talk about this with Mario”

West - MeFi doesn’t want to replace the rest of the world in your life, I go for a walk & go hug a tree & remember MeFi is just part of a wider life, trying to make other people’s day & share what I love about this community, while my job isn’t easy it’s what I want to do and I’d do if I got paid in rocks.

Schaffer - we’re human & we do make mistakes, don’t want to dismiss everyone as crackpots but it’s hard when they are loud & persistent, watch for patterns, transparency helps, let them know why something was removed for example - “This video was removed due to...[takedown notice from company X]”, get excited by really cool things that are happening on the site (site making a difference in the world, it’s an honor to be part of that, I’m so glad that it exists, but yeah it’s hard when people are mean

Champ - hard to learn when not to respond
When someone is digging a hole to crazytown they paint their reputation.
Sometimes you can say something & turn them back from the bridge too far, but sometimes there’s nothing you’re going to do to change it. Let them dig.

1 piece of advice for someone starting
Anima - it helps if you’re an insomniac. A lot more than cleaning up comments. Responding for real. How to sustain that as they grow? Tough thing they’d like to keep doing because it really helps. Make many channels for people to reach you. But by doing that you’re making a commitment to responding, to hearing the negative & the positive. You have to be able to set limits & boundaries, but at the same time you need to be limitless. Challenge of finding who can help/replace you. Identify your hats & switch smoothly.

Stinchcomb - focus on communication internally, make sure everyone knows what’s going on, communicate in as many ways as possible, be ready to hear feedback, listen, be prepared to answer honestly, even if it’s not what they’ll want to hear.

Schaffer - have an idea of what you’re looking to build & what it’ll be about, but realize you’re growing something and it’ll have it’s own ideas, be ready to grow with it & adapt with it. Maybe different in what you had in mind. Maybe different from what founders had in mind, but successful communities are able to change with what community sees as having value, giving it a chance to flourish; you’re going to have to adapt your product/policies. What’s beneficial at one stage of development may not be so at another.

Stinchcomb - people will use it differently than you expected, need to revisit policies every few months

Schaffer - you can’t predict all that they’ll want to do

West - goals but some things not happening now, e.g. recipe site maybe revisit later, but sometimes just say no when you really don’t think it will ever be part of it. “Don’t be a jerk”. Be able to explain your rules & why that rule is a good idea. Have a place where feedback can happen in public. Answer everything even crazy AND have public space. Be open to getting called on your choices, let’s people trust you if you really own what you do. Support each other. Share a vision that you project outward.

Q: How do you get someone from first-time user (Flickr) to being a member?
A: With a lot of communities you get what you give. Go find groups & participate. You need to do some work.

Current - reach out to new registrants, especially those not hitting ground running, not necessarily scalable.

Q: don’t want to join groups on Flickr, not engaging. Why don’t I get comments?
[panel nonplussed by this questioner]

Q: why are comments so vicious? what do you to do to draw the line? & delete?
A: yes we delete on YouTube
Champ: allow members to control, e.g. block each other

West: you need to be a member to have tools to deal with other users
Define community as community defines itself

Anima: keep an eye on conversations about you outside your space & maybe engage out there (e.g. Twitter)

Shirky Q: what is funniest way you’ve seen a community norm form?

West: banned user “free ...”
“Free the Etsy 5”

Anima: user who would only come back to complain about each new release
I want a divorce
dear john letter
laughs & love letter back
[great diffusion of tension]
& new pattern of love letters to complain about

Q: invasion of non-community people
Have to watch hot spots of party crashers. Low chance of them (e.g. men’s rights guys on outing the train masturbator comments, Cindy Sheehan haters) becoming real members).

Focused vocal people already on site are harder. Just have to stand by your policies & be really clear about it.

Posted on March 25, 2009 at 10:53 AM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

I can't remember who just recommended it to me, but thanks, because I really enjoyed Kevin Kelly's talk about the next 5000 days of the web.

Posted on August 7, 2008 at 08:49 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diesel Sweeties tells it like it is 2008


Original here.

Posted on April 19, 2008 at 05:26 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Putzmeister! 2007


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Posted on August 29, 2007 at 12:00 PM in random synaptic firing, the big room with the blue ceiling, The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yes. 2007

The Web is Us.

Yes yes yes!

Posted on February 9, 2007 at 06:34 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Packing for a conference 2006


People seem to freak out about how little I need to carry with me when I travel. This is a 2 day conference just up in Portland, so I'm just going to wear my suit up & on both days. Not going to have any time for sight-seeing, so no reason to bring any casual alternative.

All of this fits in the backpack/laptop bag I carry to work every day, so apart from the besuitedness, I won't even notice the difference. Sure makes travel easier when you go light.

(not pictured: laptop, clothes I'll be wearing, the backpack itself)

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Posted on October 16, 2006 at 12:00 PM in The Web, travel, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Plotting and planning 2006

This is that coy "I'm up to something" post to act as a placeholder for the big announcement and link to all the details.

For now, I'll just say if you're a weblogger, journal writer, photoblogger, podcaster, citizen journalist, video blogger, mashup artist, linker, coder and/or random web geek and you can get to the San Francisco bay area on Monday July 3rd, just mark that day off now in your calendar.

We're going to have a great time...

Posted on May 8, 2006 at 01:10 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meeting up 2006

Photo by bees (Cal). Sketch of me by striatic (and it subsequently lived on my fridge for a long time).

And then Cal started this thing (tagged blindingflash on Flickr) where he would take a picture with the flash right by your face.
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Photo by Joe:

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Posted on March 2, 2006 at 12:01 PM in friends & family, San Francisco, The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Comforting Web 2005

When you suddenly wake saying "Oh my god. Pableaux." wondering if a friend from New Orleans is safe, and it's late at night, you can flip on the bedside light, grab the laptop and visit his blog to find out what's happening.

And when the news is good (he's okay) but also sad and bad (his city is gone), your uncle will send you a link to a page full of pictures of cats sleeping in ridiculous positions and you'll find something that will make you laugh (Junior returns with the Sideways Sofa Snorkle Relax-0-Matic) and you'll be able to get back to sleep.

Thank you, Internet.

Posted on September 3, 2005 at 01:57 AM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Authority, Authorship and Why You Need A Librarian: Accuracy in Wikis 2004

[Incomplete post rediscovered during site maintenance in September 2010]

This morning in my email I found a letter from the webmaster of a site called Wikiverse. The site is a wiki, a collaboratively-edited, constantly evolving set of interlinked pages. (more about wikis) (more about Wikiverse) This letter read a little bit like some junk mail I receive:"We have a link to your site...I would appreciate it if you returned the favor and linked back to"

Often these letters are annoying and presume that I will, in fact, have any interest or reason to link to that site. They will, as this one did, imply that my site would be enhanced by linking to them, without giving much argument as to how. "Linking back to us will also help maintain your link with us in the future. For your convenience I have attached Wikiverse graphic link which you may apply to your website as an alternative to a bland text link."

In this case, because the page on Wikiverse where they link to my site does relate to the topic of a particular post, it is conceivable that a link from that post to their site would be appropriate. The best way to suggest that would have been to write a comment on that post containing the appropriate link and, this is the crucial part, clearly conveying to me and to future readers of that post & its comments what the link leads to and why it is pertinent. That it was supplemental information, provided by someone other than me, would have been clear in that context. No special action on my part would be required. These are some of the biggest benefits of comments: easy transition from monologue to conversation and clear sense of authorship (though it should be noted that the latter can be faked in many current comment features).

However, since not all sites offer visitors the ability to add comments, I can understand how the webmaster at Wikiverse may have a different process for alerting sites that they have been linked to. Let me be clear about this: the practice of informing someone that you have linked to them is a good one and there are a growing number of automated methods to do so. (more about TrackBack) (more about Technorati)

Good Practice: Do alert sites that you've linked to.

When I followed the link in the letter to see the page referring to my site I got a surprise. Not only was I linked to, I was quoted. It would have been good for the letter to make this clear, but I am glad to have received something drawing my attention to the page.

Good Practice: Do alert people who you've quoted.

Particularly glad because the quote was taken out of context and the page gave

Bad Practice: Don't use a quote out of context to imply something it is clear was not intended.

Good Practice: Do, when possible, link to context.

Posted on August 9, 2004 at 09:09 AM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

All my favorite people are in this box. 2004


Sam Brown picture that came through with black background after uploading. Wacky!


(Shared on Flickr on this date.)

Posted on March 20, 2004 at 09:01 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fun beta toys 2004

I don't remember if I've mentioned that I've been playing with the new thingy from my friends at Ludicorp. Flickr is, well, it's, um, it's kind of a social network, but really it's more of a chat tool, except it's all about sharing pictures, but you don't have to do that at all if you're more interested in conversation, and you don't have to go into any of the public rooms if you just want to use it, say, to chat with some friends or family. It's a bit hard to describe and it's quite fun, like most thinks from Ludicorp. Give it a try!

Posted on March 5, 2004 at 10:32 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (3)

Congratulations, Justin! 2004

He's celebrating 10 Years of which I linked to back in the very first piece of MetaGrrrl content. (I don't call it the first post because it appeared on its own page as an essay. The first "reverse-chronologically-laid-out-writing-with-expectations-of-subsequent-similarly-formatted-entries" was a week later).

10 years since he started, 5 years 4 months since I first wrote about the connection I feel with him just from reading his site, and he still inspires me.

This weblog wouldn't have started when it did without the bold risks he takes and blazing love he gives out to the universe. Keep shining, Justin!

Posted on January 29, 2004 at 08:04 PM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lower than low 2003

Now you've probably all received spam like this before, but I found this one exceptionally clear in their obvious cluelessness about the Web (and therefore either representing an excitingly stupid company or just another tedious address harvesting effort by copraphagic spammers):

From: Kim Summers
Date: Wed Sep 10, 2003 7:52:16 AM US/Pacific
To: webmaster@[domain name]
Subject: [domain name]

I am contacting you about cross linking. I am interested in [domain name] because it looks like it's relevant to a site that I am the link manager for. The site is about services for attaining high search engine rankings through website promotion and optimization.

I keep the web address confidential and will send it to you only if you give me permission to do so. Just let me know if it's OK, and I'll send you the web address for your review. If you approve of the site, then we'll exchange links.

Looking forward to your reply.

Kim Summers
Experts in Quality Link Building

P.S. If for any reason you don't want me to contact you again, just email me and let me know that.

Okay, so let me get this straight; you're trying to use linking to build traffic to sites, so you're going to randomly mail millions of people (my ass I'm the only one who got this!) and then "keep the web address confidential". Uh-huh.

Such a shame that Kim's email address will get scraped from the page by spambots, huh?

Posted on September 10, 2003 at 08:03 AM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (3)

Bad Use of Astounding Coincidence 2003

How bad has spam gotten? Well, you know how they sometimes fake the from address with a random address from the thousands they send to? I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later, and given my webbishness extra likely to happen to me, but I got a piece of spam which claimed to be from someone I know, but which I know she'd never send.

So I wrote to her:

Hi Evany,

I guess sooner or later two people who know each other - albeit vaguely -
would be chosen as recipient and faked sender of a piece of spam. Either
that or you're really sending me applications from Wired.

Hope all is well otherwise.


To which she replied:
Wow! But so sad that the laws of outstanding probability are being wasted on something like this. I want my fucking lottery cash!


Posted on July 20, 2003 at 12:10 AM in The Web | Permalink | Comments (4)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.