Friday, August 27, 2010

Blacklisted? But I'm not even in Hollywood!

I have a zillion posts in the works right now, including:
  • Three more No Ruts Reviews
  • Three other book reviews
  • some incredibly cool genealogy discoveries
  • some California adventures from our recent vacation
  • some more house hunting whining
... and did I mention I met my father for the first time in 41 years?

But all of that is on hold today, because yesterday I discovered that I have officially been blacklisted. No, no, not the silent refusing-to-make-eye-contact suburban snub kind of blacklist - but a genuine "your name is on a list, we are going to silence you, and we want you to know it" blacklist.

Here's the deal: I was catching up on my blog reading yesterday, and I ran across a great post on another blog, whose name I won't tell you because I don't want all my outraged loyal readers to storm the URL with pitchforks. The topic of the post was inaccurate information on WikiAnswers. The author (let's call him Mr. McCarthy) discussed how this sort of thing can support the rationale of other holocaust deniers and other dangerous ignorance.

Well, I've got a few things to say about this subject, because having done some holocaust research while working on my genealogy, I've actually run across some truly scary ignorance on the internet.

So I type up a short comment  - not the first time I've commented on a post on this particular blog - and hit "post."

And the blog replied, "Your comment has not been posted, as you are on this blog's blacklist."

Excuse me? I hit the "post" button again, and get the same answer.

Now, there are irritating blog commenters and spam commenters galore out there in the blogosphere, but I'm reasonably confident I've never included a link to a porn site, made inflammatory remarks, or otherwise abused this - or any - blog, so I scratch my head and wonder what I could possibly have said to have offended Mr. McCarthy to such an extent.

I start clicking through links to older posts on the blog, and the first one I run across that looks familiar is about one of those random websites where you enter your information and it tells you, which xyz you are most like - you know, which powerpuff girl or league of justice superhero*, etc. In this case, Mr. McCarthy entered a writing sample into an analyzer, which informed him that his writing most closely resembled that of Cory Doctorow.

So I entered one of my own blog posts into the analyzer, and lo! I'm Cory Doctorow too. But since that made me wondered if everyone was Cory Doctorow, I entered another blog post and apparently I'm Chuck Palahniuk too. I posted a comment with my own results and then promptly forgot all about it. I didn't even  rent Fight Club.

Evidently, this was a very bad thing to do, an extremely offensive comment - but now I'm scratching my even more and trying to figure out the underlying logic, because even crazy people employ a certain logic and I always like to know what that is, or at least pretend I know so that I can feel that the universe and the people in it are rational in some way.

Could Mr. McCarthy be offended that I am like Cory Doctorow? Possibly ... although since he is also like Cory Doctorow, this seems unlikely. Maybe he now considers me the competition because we are both like Cory Doctorow? Again, possibly, although it seems to me that the bigger competitor in that three-way race is Cory Doctorow himself - he's winning, not me.

Maybe the problem isn't Doctorow, but Palahniuk. I don't know much about Palahniuk, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. Author of Fight Club, often misanthropic or absurdist. Hey, cool - I'm like this guy! Is that bad? Well, according to Wikipedia, he's attracted some criticism too, including, memorably, trafficking "in the half-baked nihilism of a stoned high school student who has just discovered Nietzsche and Nine Inch Nails." Ouch, Laura Miller at

Well, Mr. McCarthy, if that's what it takes to offend you ... I'm glad I did it! Suddenly, I'm a misanthropic, absurdist, half-baked nihilist and better yet, it must be true because I've actually offended you with it! I'm somebody!

I so want to thank Mr. McCarthy for getting me to actually look up Chuck Palahniuk and understand my own hidden depths as an author. But how? It's not like I can post a comment on his blog, right?

Then I see it: A little widget on the side of the blog announcing that more than 2,000 spam comments have been foiled by a WordPress plugin. I run a quick Google search on the widget, and I'll be darned - there are several people who have posted to helpboards because of errors in blocking legitimate comments. One of those errors occasionally results from use of proxy servers by the commenter.

I don't really understand this, so I ask my husband, "Do we use a proxy server?"

"Well, we have a firewall. Some systems might interpret that as a proxy server, sure."

So, in a nutshell, our firewall, which we use to protect our computers from troublemaking miscreants on the internet, is used by a blog plugin to identify me as a troublemaking miscreant, and thus I cannot post a comment on a blog post about troublemaking miscreants on the internet.

Thank you, Mr. McCarthy.

* Bubbles and Batman.

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