I LOVE Ask A Ninja, But…

this isn’t cool. I realize the post is two months old, but this is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to read it.

The Digg entry for it has over 2,000 diggs. That makes sense because it’s the typical, unfair “hate the corporation” stuff that so many people in the public latch onto in mob like mentality.

This has NOTHING to do with Net Neutrality and everything to do with privately owned websites managing their property as they see fit. No one – no one will tell me what video sites I have to allow to be embedded on my sites or what links I have to allow to be posted or anything of that nature. I block sites from being mentioned on the iFroggy Network from time to time. I do so at my discretion (with good reason, in my judgement) and that is my right.

The moment that someone tries to limit my rights as a website owner by invoking “Net Neutrality”… well… that’s the moment the world blows up… or something. To say that this is “gross” and somehow violates the “spirit” and “values” that the internet was “created under” is offensive to all website owners who value their rights.

Why has MySpace blocked Revver? To be honest, I don’t really care. That’s something that Revver needs to work out with MySpace, realizing that MySpace is perfectly operating within their rights. MySpace “pioneered” this? What?! Those credit taking thieves! :) They stole it from me and they dare take credit?! LOL. I’m pretty sure I was doing it before there was a MySpace. No credit for me, apparently.

Anyone who owns a website that fits into these three categories doesn’t really need any explanation to understand why blocking sites can be helpful:

– Allows instant posting of content.
– Is actively moderated with guidelines, rules or terms being enforced.
– Receives a decent amount of traffic.

But, for anyone who doesn’t understand why you might block a site, there can be any number of reasons. Why do you want a spam filter? Why do you use caller ID? Why do you call the police? Misuse of resources, violations to guidelines and terms, harassment, inappropriate activities on their part, etc. etc. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If someone does something to you, you do not want your website to be used as a means of promoting their website. It doesn’t always fall under that category, but for me, it falls under it a lot.

Ask A Ninja was created because we were in control of where we posted the videos. That’s a big deal because if we’re forced to put them on MySpace video then FOX could take the episodes and make money off of them without paying Douglas or me anything. Which isn’t fair and takes away the incentive to create cool shows for you to watch.

This is bad. This is what some people will take from this: “MySpace is gonna make Ask A Ninja stop making videos!” That’s totally unfair. No one is forcing them to do anything. They have their choices to make and they have to weigh the pros and cons of any such decision. That’s life – personally and professionally. They value the right to upload their content to the site’s that they want… and they should. I value that right myself as a person who is constantly creating content. But, they cannot then turn around and try to infringe upon MySpace’s rights in such a way.

MySpace has a right to protect their interests as does Ask A Ninja “the company”. Freedom of speech is not, cannot and should not be permitted on any privately owned website.

Now, I have to say that I would not have any problem at all if they had simply come out and said “MySpace is blocking Revver videos from being embedded. This is why you cannot embed the Ask A Ninja videos on your MySpace. This is out of our control. If you are unhappy with this, please write MySpace at e-mail@address.com.” It is still MySpace’s right, but MySpace is open to feedback, just as I am. But, the fact that they choose to talk about values, spirit, etc. in a way that is offensive to website owners, that they choose to act as if MySpace is doing something wrong and that they used verbage that will imply to some that MySpace is harming their ability to make videos… that is what I have a problem with. That is where they step into how I run my website and how I run my business and that is not a place where they have a right to be.

Like I said, I love Ask A Ninja. When I like something, I not only support it with my time, but with my money. And I have. So far, I’ve purchased two t-shirts and a DVD. And when people were giving them flak for having ads, I said that they should have ads and that anyone who supports the show should support them having ads. I say this to illustrate that I am not some kind of Ask A Ninja hater. I’m an AAN supporter and this is the first time I have anything moderately unkind to say. So, there you go.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

2 Comments

chrispian

about 13 years ago

Patrick,

I agree with you. As a web site owner, obviously I believe we should have rights. Freedom of speech says you can say anything you want, and I fully support that. But freedom of speech is NOT the same thing as freedom of venue. You are NOT allowed to walk into an airport and yell "BOMB". You can not send pornographic essays to Readers Digest. Nothing says you can say what you want WHERE you want, that's not what the 1st amendment is about at all. So many people cry "freedom of speech" don't know the first thing about it and it's usually someone who's mad that they can't get around someone's rules.

However, I do think that AN guys have a valid point here. We are getting into an area of business that falls under anti-trust laws. While web site owners should be able to censor what they want, they should be fair about it. If you block revver, they should block all video or else they are using their market advantage against a competitor and that's not cool according to US law. I'm sure this is a minor infraction and may not even cross that line, but MS did it enough to land it court. The problem here is MySpace pretends to be an open system, but it's not. I don't agree with sites pretending to be "open and uncensored" who secretly do these kinds of things. It's not like they were weeding out spam or porn, of which they do a lousy job. I'm not saying they should give revver advertising space if they won't want to, but making it impossible to embed a competitors videos borders on the kind of tactics MS used when trying to get IE ahead of Netscape.

My problem isn't that they are blocking it, it's the dirty and underhanded tactics that seem to be behind the reason for blocking it. Two different issues in my mind.

Reply

Patrick

about 13 years ago

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the comment. :)

I understand what you are saying, but I worry as to how that rationale could be applied to a site like phpBBHacks.com where one could say we have a "market advantage" in our topic area. For example, we have phpBB support sites that have PM spammed our members, that have abused us in one way or another or are run by people that have harmed the community... I've blocked those from being mentioned. Should I have to block all phpBB support sites because of those few idiots?

Should MySpace... or should I... have to explain our rationales to you? (Well, I'm happy to talk to you, myself, lol... but, to anyone, let's say).

I don't know if the point you made matches up with the point they made and how they made it (Net Neutrality, verbiage that would lead to fans sending angry e-mails, etc. etc.).

Reply

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