Monday, January 16, 2006

BINAC to Boycott I and the Bird #15

When this web site began, I was a little leery of submitting items to blog carnivals, specifically to the I and the Bird blog carnival. Why? Because I didn't want my blog to be associated with posts (or sites) that I didn't like, or didn't agree with. After reading a few editions of I and the Bird, I began to realize that I was missing the point: Blog carnivals are supposed to expose people (readers as well as submitters) to different viewpoints, as long as those different viewpoints share a common theme, which in this case is wild birds.

So I have happily submitted a post to I and the Bird whenever I have the time, and I have found some great stories there, and some really interesting sites that I now enjoy.

Prior to submitting a post for I and the Bird, I usually check out the site hosting the carnival. When I checked the site that is hosting edition 15, I was quite astonished to find the following statement:

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"A reminder to potential contributors: As explained before, I will NOT link to posts, blogs or other web sites that support, promote or are affiliated with creationism/"intelligent" design, even if your post is solely about birds. I don't apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you."

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Let me be perfectly clear here: if you search BINAC, you will not find the words "creationism" or "intelligent design" anywhere. I have no interest in that debate, and have no intention of raising the issue on this blog, ever, and I hope this post is the last time those words ever appear on BINAC.
However, I have a huge problem with there being a litmus test, of any kind, for a submission into a blog carnival. Obviously, any post that is submitted to I and the Bird must follow the carnival guidelines, and I could see why a post specifically about creationism might theoretically be rejected. But to say that anyone who has even a mention of a particular topic or viewpoint (*any* topic) on their site should be excluded from I and the Bird reeks of BlogCarthyism.
I have no desire to cede editorial control over my blog to someone else just to participate in "I and the Bird," and I will not participate in any future editions that include a "litmus test" of any kind.
I am going to, with trepidation, leave comments "on" for this post, or else I risk becoming what I'm complaining about.

4 comments:

Nuthatch said...

In this case, it is the host of I & The Bird for this round that is making the stipulation. Generally, the host can decide what does or does not get included. This usually means some sort of vetting so that the material relates to the carnival theme. However, since the links are going on someone's site, I think it's okay if hosts don't want to link to or appear to "endorse" certain material.

Anonymous said...

Birding is not a crime

That's just ridiculous. The whole point of an editor/anthologizer is to choose what does and does not go into a collection. Editors choose what to include based on various criteria including writing style, accuracy, topicality, and personal preference. There's nothing wrong with that. Would you boycott a site because it limited submissions to birds? or birding in Japan? or the English language? or submissions with correct grammar?

The only question is whether the specific requirements of one particular editor/site meet your needs or not. Someone who wanted to advocate creationism would obviously not submit there, but they could easily post elesewhere. A collection is not the entire Web. If a collection suits my needs and interests as an author or reader, I'll explore it. If it doesn't, I'll ignore it. Simple as that.

Elliotte Rusty Harold

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

The problem though, Elliotte, is that the host is not doing what you describe--he's *not* making an editorial decision based on the quality of the post.

What Snail Brain (or whatever the host's name is) is doing is excluding posts about birds that would otherwise be acceptable for reasons that have nothing to do with the content of the submitted post. *That* is ridiculous, and more than just a bit paranoid as well.

I mean, I would have no argument if you said that a submission to a birding blog carnival that dealt with creationism should be excluded; that decision could be justified in a number of rational and value-neutral ways. What I *do* have a problem with is excluding someone because of what they believe, when those beliefs are not present in the post submitted to the carnival.

If someone belonged to a flat-earth society and submitted a great post about birding in Peru, why should that post be excluded? Their views on the shape of the earth might be stupid, unsupportable, and just plain wrong, but as long as they don't include flat-earth propoganda in their post, why should they be excluded?

Mike said...

I just found out about your boycott of IATB #15. As far as I'm concerned, your position is perfectly reasonable. You chose not to endorse directly through submission or indirectly through support an edition of our beloved carnival hosted by a blogger whose views on a subject you disagree with. You are the publisher of your own work. It is your right to share or withhold it based on whatever criteria you deem appropriate.

Aydin's position was reasonable too. As a publisher, he has the right to declare proactively that he will not endorse directly by promotion or indirectly by linking any site that touts creationism. Without putting words in his mouth, I know he feels strongly about this issue. When I approved Aydin as a host, I accepted this stipulation.

In the real world, we vote with our wallets, but in the blogosphere, we vote with our links. A link to a site is taken, accurately or not, to indicate a tacit endorsement of its general themes.

As editor, I've worked closely with each host of I and the Bird. What I've observed is that each host has been able to put personal prejudices aside and accept posts that fit the carnival's theme. The diversity of views as well as contributors in each edition assures me that we are doing a good job in attracting and presenting the best bird blogging from around the world.