A lot of people are aware that we got hacked.on Saturday and there are a lot of ideas flip flopping about on who is responsible for this and why.
My blog is one of the smaller blogs here, so being hit by an outage actually affects me in different ways. I don’t actually get paid for my work, the blog is my only source of income. It’s however used for
1. Plane Tickets home
3. Stuff like clothes
Now to most people this boils down to “Luxuries” but to me it’s important to have these things. I don’t have luxuries in my life. You are already home, you live in places comfortable to you and have social lives.
I have not. I have not seen my girlfriend in nearly a year and I am looking forward to valentine’s day like “crazy”. I am going to HAVE a Valentine’s day. Valentine’s day never used to be depressing for me because to me there was no point crying over not being able to go home. I don’t get Birthdays or Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Hell, the biggest party my country threw in the Royal Wedding, The Jubilee Celebration and the Olympics? I didn’t see ANY OF IT. I have given up a lot.
So the 3 to 4 weeks of banality you consider normal life is bliss to me. Plane tickets to go somewhere new may seem like a luxury to you but the are tickets “HOME” for me.
Let’s look at luxuries. This year’s luxury for me is a new camera. Why do I need a new Camera? Well I took my Camera to the Indian Rape Riots last year and it “died when rain water got into it”. It took me a year to save up enough money from writing to replace it. I also got a new laptop last year since my ancient one died. I also like “playing games” and they do give me something to do in my downtime. It’s mainly F2P stuff (see me on League of Legends if you like!) but I do own a copy of Starcraft and a few old games on Steam and Dominions 4 that help me keep busy when I have nothing else to do.
You say “boo hoo”, but I point out you HAVE these luxuries as the norm for you. You can go out to a nice restaurant, you can go out to a bar, you can go clubbing, you can go spend time with your friends. I haven’t had a drink since May and I am looking foward to my stop over in Abu Dhabi where I get to eat a Big Mac and get a glass of scotch. I actually have an envelope with money set aside in May JUST for this.
I do need clothes, nude medicine sadly is not very hygenic. But I do need clothes, in light of my travel to Nepal it means a small expansion of my wardrobe to include some cold weather gear and new hiking boots and a day sack. In addition I am donating £300 to my OWN ASTI fundraiser.
The majority of this has been paid for by my writing with the exception being the laptop.
So it amazes me people would begrudge me these things simply because of where I write. In many of the cases the implication is that anti-FTB would stop targetting my blog since it’s “one of the few nice blogs here” and that if I have something to say that they wish to read that I should not charge them (or accept money for it). Which is news to me since I once never charged anything for what I write and no one read my blog then. The only difference is now I am known through association and it’s easy to simply to deride what I write on association. To me it says “I was never going to read your blog, but if you weren’t here i would have no reason to stop others reading too”.
Yes, I have seen it on Reddit where I know people downvote blogs hosted at FTB on r/Atheism solely because they are on r/Atheism. People gloat over lower viewing figures and it suprises me since my views have generally been stable at around the 1500 to 2000 mark.
This DDOS was not directed at me, I probably was not the target of it. Even if I was the person who did so would garner no sympathy. Being the equivalent of the man who fights injustice by kicking toddlers. And while the outage doesn’t hurt me monetarily in the same way that it hurts PZ Myers or Ed Brayton or the other large traffic blogs, it does hurt me more. £2 is a small amount but I don’t have any supplementary earnings.
And people suggested to me repeatedly that we got hacked because we were asking for it by limiting free speech, criticising others and generally saying things that make others unhappy.
The aftermath of the attack in my case is the blog with the most liberal comment policy on FTB was silenced. Let’s ignore the rest of the myriad blogs here and discuss MY blog. The others are ugly and mean enough to defend their own blogs and don’t need my help.
There are restrictions on free speech on my blog. If your post effectively boils down to a gigantic bigotted rant you will be banned. If you cannot respect posts with SPECIFIC warnings to tell people to stay on target and that these posts are indeed safe spaces then you are going to get your posts deleted and eventually banned if you cannot respect that simple rule. If you broke into an AA meeting with a bottle of Jack while drunk in order to taunt the people attending you would be kicked out too. Free speech has it’s limitations especially on private blogs. I run a policy according to my own beliefs rather than those of others.
The people I have criticised? Well no one had any qualms when my criticism was aimed at quacks even when discussing the Natural/Home Birth Movement. People liked it when I was arguing with animal lib and criticising their attacks on University of Florida biologists. No, I fear that people’s biggest complains was my stances against the MRA who weighed into the Delhi Bus Rape or the Steubenville Rape victim’s slut shaming or the hamfisted approach of the MRA to Afghanistan. Hell? I know people were rubbing their hands with glee when I wrote about why I didn’t agree with A+ over third world photography and I don’t think they hacked us.
I have spoken out about atheists too. Pat Condell and his pro UKIP stance repeatedly have gotten an airing especially in light of the UKIP’s open homophobia, racism and sexism. Thunderfoot got an outing too on here after his frankly hamfisted approach to Anita Sarkeesian (who also got DDOSed) and her Tropes vs. Women video. I don’t agree with some of her examples and I know a lot of the ideas are less due to focussed hatred of women but the unconscious bigotry that permeates any single gender system. I in fact disagreed with many of her fans and their stance on the new reboot of Tomb Raider. I can agree with Anita’s project and it’s goals without agreeing on the nuance. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean I hate her and want to see her attacked by piranha.
There are thirty five blogs here at Freethought blogs. It is a huge number and we do have different things we are interested in. In many cases my interests in videogames does not run in the same vein as what many of my readers like and I know when I write about games I am guaranteed to see very small numbers. I do so because “I like doing that”.
The only real commonality here is we are all atheists and secularists. That is really it. The perception that FTBullies are all feminists is because some of the big bloggers here call themselves that (I am no feminist, I just play one on the Internet) and it doesn’t matter what the others think to our critics.
What it boils down to is the three targets do have a feminist vibe to them. FTB deals with female issues, Skepchick is a female skeptic site and Feminist Frequency has feminism in the name. To those who perpetrated the attack, this would seem like “revenge”.
It’s not. I have allowed people to speak here. Yes, I saw the hilarious posts by people suggesting this is a conspiracy theory or it’s just coincidence that 3 different sites on different servers went down simultaneously or that people are banned from FTB outright.
I know for a fact that Sara Mayhew (who I vehemently disagree with and find to be a terribly irritating person after her anti-Avicenna Fundraiser Rants. Particularly since some of my fundraisers have been for… Christina at WWJTD’s Prosthetic Leg and Ed Brayton’s Nephew getting medical equipment to help with rehabilitation after major burns and for Indian floods and the Cyclone in the Philippines. Apparently it’s e-begging when the art is medicine but not if it’s manga?) was rather amused at our irritation that our blogs were DDOSed.
I know for a fact that if her livelihood and major business was targetted she would be complaining about it too. And no one would say “Relax, it’s just japanese comic books, it’s not like it’s a real job. Like medicine”.
The DDOS did affect me negatively in that I lost a rather large post written up about warfare in Central Africa and the religious sectarianism there and how we are heading towards a similar situation that caused the Rwandan genocide. I don’t have the time to rewrite it so it is a statement that will never get talked about.
The money lost is miniscule, the time lost is a lot and in effect I was yet again collateral damage in an argument that didn’t involve me. That free speech was “defended” by damaging it as much as possible is just shockingly bad.
If you dislike what we say then go find your own blog. If you don’t like what I do then beat me at my own game. You come and pick up my job and show me how much better you are at it. Because all I see is “Oh look, another instance where I am collateral damage for stupid drama. Lucky I had exams and wasn’t running the blog at it’s normal activity so my losses aren’t as big as they would normally be”.
You may accuse me of Drama Blogging, but I didn’t start this. I was writing about Africa. The people who hacked me started this fight and I don’t wish to walk away without calling these people out for being unbelievable wankers. Despite the detractors my readers have seen that I have encouraged them to give to OTHER causes more than mine. Even though I am running a fundraiser for my own charity, I have asked readers to donate to other more immediate causes since I have a year to hit my targets.
What’s more is that I know that people are reading what I write because of the fundraisers and the videos others have made for my fundraiser and I know that many of these people would not have been active in atheism or are not atheists and are looking at ourr DDOS and thinking “What The Fuck”.
If you tear down my blog just because you don’t like what I write then complain about free speech then you are not a champion of free speech. If you denigrate my miniscule earnings then realise this is stuff I write OUTSIDE of my day job and is indeed a SECOND job. And if you suggest that I deserved to be silenced because of my association with feminism then you clearly live in a fantasy world if you think women don’t need help with the sort of things I support. And if you call me slacktivist then I must ask the question.
“What good have you done that lets you denigrate my pointless achievements?”
The DDOS was a message to me, that I am acceptable collateral damage and that I should indeed leave FTB because as long as I stay here no one will listen to me.
To which I say this.
If you don’t read what I write because it’s here then you never really wanted to read what I write in the first place. You were never going to agree with me. None of the ideals I have are shared by you. At no point are you going to say “I completely agree with your stances on Female Genital Mutilation but will not support you because you use Windows 8 and Microsoft are anti-competition, buy a Mac”. At no point are you going to say that somehow you were ever going to read what I write and agree with it if it was on my old blog (Since no one read that there!) or if I had my own website. In fact people were reading it in the levels that Skepchick, the big hitters of FTB and FemFrequency, then there is a good chance my website would have been DDOSed too.
So all the “I am sure the hackers never meant to hit you” and “maybe you should leave FTB if you want to be taken seriously” and “If you left FTB you would be safer” statements really aren’t helping since my actual readership and the bulk of it is down to moving to FTB and I think the bigger issue is the fact that people are trying to curtail others from reading by simply spreading falshoods about what FTB is really like. I know for a fact that I probably will never have a large readership because I mainly deal with topics outside the monkeysphere of western politics particularly American Politics and I don’t have a real life presence at the various atheist conventions. And I don’t mind, however it is rather silly to be told that if I left here the people who disagree with my stances would somehow come around.
It’s clear the hackers stand for everything opposite to what I stand for. Free Speech, Women’s Rights, The rights of the poor, Anti-Racism, Anti-Sexism, Anti-homophobia, Skepticism, Atheism? None of these were defended by the DDOS.
So no, I think I will be staying on here for a fair while. I quite like the company and I have met new friends courtesy of all of this whose opinions I value and who indeed have taught me a lot/kept me company when I have been losing my mind.
And what I asked for is an opportunity to be heard. Freethought Blogs was willing to give me that opportunity, no one else was.