dawn_felagund: (swg logo)
[personal profile] dawn_felagund posting in [community profile] silwritersguild
The SWG has maintained a community on LiveJournal since 2005. As most of you have probably heard by now, LiveJournal--which was purchased by the Russian company SUP several years ago and moved its servers to Russia earlier this year--has changed its Terms of Service in some pretty major and disturbing ways. Many of these changes are directly contrary to the values of the SWG.

First and foremost, the new ToS obligates us to mark content that is "adult" according to Russian standards (where the recent Beauty and the Beast film was given the equivalent of an NC-17 rating for a few seconds of two men dancing together):

9.1.3. Mark Content estimated by Russian legislation as inappropriate for children (0 −18) as "adult material" by using Service functions.

Now those of you who have been around for a while might remember that SixApart (the U.S.-based company that owned LJ before selling it to SUP) tried something similar with respect to adult content. Journals/communities or posts marked as "Adult" cannot be accessed by minors (and anonymous users must verify their age to access them). The difference is that 6A did not require users label content as adult. They reserved the right for the Abuse team to apply such a label if content was flagged. (Which I also didn't agree with but was several shades less bothersome than this rule, since the 6A rule came with no penalty.)

This one does:

10.3. The Administration shall not verify the compliance of Content and/or Users’ actions with the terms and conditions hereof and with the applicable laws; however, it reserves the right at its own discretion or upon the request received from the competent authority and/or the substantiated request by another entity without User’s prior notice, marked Content as an "adult material", take measures specified in clause 2.5 hereof and restrict the access to Blog/Community for certain Users.

2.5 Users breach hereunder may cause termination of his/her access to his/her Account or deletion of such an Account as well as full or partial deletion of the Content or suspension thereto without prior notice.

10.3 wields badly translated and garbled English grammar like a champ and is therefore hard to understand, but it seems to state that reports of "adult content" on a journal or community now allows LJ to delete that post or the entire journal/community.

This violates our values in two major ways. First of all, we have always trusted our members to decide for themselves what content they are comfortable reading. Likewise, we trust parents to decide what their minor children are mature enough to read. As such, while we provide authors the opportunity to rate or attach warnings to their work (or to label the work clearly if they prefer not to rate and/or warn), we have never restricted access to content based on our or anyone else's judgment of what is "appropriate" for a particular user to read.

Secondly and more importantly, we have never rated slash or femslash higher than gen or het works. And given Russia's dismal record on LGBTQ+ issues, to comply with their law, I can only presume that anything containing homosexual relationships would have to be marked as adult content, even if it contained no sexual content. As a mod team, this is deeply offensive to us and runs contrary to our values as a group that recognized the value and contributions of all of its writers and recognizes the dignity of all human beings, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Since we would not hold writers or stories with LGBTQ+ characters to different standards than we hold writers of heterosexual characters, this essentially forces us to label the entire LJ community as Adult.

My inclination as the founder and owner of this group is to refuse to follow the new ToS. It flies in the face of our group's values and, indeed, part of the reason the SWG even exists (considering the homophobic atmosphere in Tolkien fandom when the SWG was formed and my commitment to welcoming all Silmarillion stories, regardless of pairing, equally). However, this means that the posts or the entire community could be deleted, which is not a decision lightly undertaken.

This opens an additional question of what to do with the content on our LJ community. Our LiveJournal community (along with our Yahoo! Group) is the oldest SWG space. It is older than the website. It contains invaluable history from the early years of the SWG, as well as fanworks that may not be found anywhere else.

The SWG has maintained a Dreamwidth community for some time now. We decided, however, when we set up this community not to import LiveJournal posts into it. It seemed a violation of our members' rights to post their work on another site without their consent. Of course, at the time, our community did not face the threat of deletion. The circumstances have changed quite a bit.

Given the changes to the LJ ToS, we as a group have important decisions to make concerning this community. The mod team decided this was something that needed to be discussed and decided on by all SWG members and friends who wish to offer an opinion. After all, this is your community as much as it is ours.

We have two questions to settle:

1. Are we willing to comply with the new ToS, which would require labeling our entire community as "Adult" and would restrict access to our community by minors?

2. What, if anything, do we want to do as far as importing posts on this community to a backup on Dreamwidth? (Please note that users who do not want their posts on Dreamwidth could opt out of this, or contact us to delete their posts on DW at any time.)

Let me also be very clear about what we are not doing. We are not proposing to shut down our LiveJournal community. We are not encouraging use of the DW community over the LJ community by users who prefer LJ. Many people prefer LJ, and we hope to continue to offer a space here for those users.

Please take a moment to fill out a brief survey on these issues related to the new LiveJournal ToS. Both SWG members and non-members are welcome to participate, and you do not need to use the LJ community to participate. There is a space on the survey form for additional comments related to this issue.

If you have questions or would prefer to offer your feedback over email, you can reach our moderator team at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org. Comments are open here as well.

We will collect survey data on May 15, 2017, so please participate before then. We'll post a reminder here and on our website and other satellites as that date approaches.

Date: 2017-04-30 03:27 pm (UTC)
zdenka: Orange carp on a black background. "Oh, tree! Eat the fish!" (one of those days)
From: [personal profile] zdenka
(Please note that users who do not want their posts on Dreamwidth could opt out of this, or contact us to delete their posts on DW at any time.)

Could you elaborate on that a little? Please note that I do not wish to opt out, and I have no problems with any posts of mine being imported to DW. But this is something I've been thinking about in the context of B2MeM. As far as I know, there is no way to import some users' entries but not others (except for glitches caused by certain admin-locked entries, ahem), and going back through years of entries to find all those by certain users seemed prohibitively time-consuming. Are there methods I don't know about?

Date: 2017-04-30 03:43 pm (UTC)
zdenka: Orange carp on a black background. "Oh, tree! Eat the fish!" (one of those days)
From: [personal profile] zdenka
Hmm, all right. Thanks for the answer. I'll be following the conversations here, to see what opinions and concerns people have, as a sort of a preview for when B2MeM has a similar discussion . . .

Date: 2017-04-30 04:08 pm (UTC)
ladybrooke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladybrooke
To be frank, I've grown up in an area of the US that shares most of the Russian government's feelings on lgbt people - they need to hide, children shouldn't be exposed to it, etc, etc.

I do not abide by that in my real life. If somebody doesn't want their kids to know about lgbt people, then they can figure out some way to keep their kid away from me, but I'm not going to quit talking about my lgbt friends in front of children. I am equally unwilling to restrict my lgbt fanons, fics, or anything else to an adult only rating.

(Also, on another note, I feel like accepting this rule by Russia is only the first step. Russia's particularly bad about lgbt rights, but considering that they've decriminalized 'first time' domestic abuse, banned women from over 400 occupations, murdered political opponents - well, how long until pro-women or pro-protest fic is also banned? It's not like most of the SWG's challenges would be particularly accepted in Russian culture either, they're just not currently explicitly banned under these rules.)

Date: 2017-04-30 04:53 pm (UTC)
ladybrooke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladybrooke
Personally, I think fanfic where two guys kiss provides a lot of good in the world (certainly, without fanfic, I probably wouldn't have ended up as far left in politics, because it exposed me to a lot of groups of people that aren't there where I grew up. And I like who I am and I like who my friends are).

I'd be surprised too, but then again, Russian users (and users Russia would really like to have under their control) make up part of the Tolkien fandom - I've had conversations with some of them on lj. Would they delete a community that saw as being supportive, even in such an abstract way, of what they view as dissidents? I don't know.

Personally, I feel the same way I do about B2MeM - the only way I would contribute my works or comments on lj is if it's necessary to keep the group from being deleted due to lack of posts. I don't participate in sites that don't allow slash or require it to be rated higher because of the other side's morals, so if the SWG's lj was marked adult only because of it, I wouldn't participate there. But if the majority of the community wants to not have a backup on DW, I can accept that, I just would dial back my participation.

Date: 2017-04-30 06:53 pm (UTC)
ladybrooke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladybrooke
Hence why fanfic--indeed all artistic expression--is dangerous and conservative elements are always overly concerned with "protecting the childryn." They do want to protect the children--from ideas they don't like!
But not from things that are actually dangerous, like guns (or given what happened at Transylvania University in Kentucky last week, machetes). Or starvation, or any of the other deadly things that don't matter as long as conservatives can say they kept the dead children's soul safe from damnation according to their religious beliefs...gah. The longer this goes on (and the longer I have to see my former governor now be VP), the more I want to just scream.

It's a cruddy situation, but I don't think it's quite the same as saying, "We're marking the community as Adult because of slashy content," so much as deciding that all of us will share the same burden as writers of slash face. At least that's how I see it.
For me, the problem isn't with how the SWG handles it, so much as LJ making this the rule in the first place. Tbh, the SWG and B2MeM are the only writing/artistic/fandom communities I still even consider participating in on LJ. All the other ones I've participated in, I've switched to DW and don't look at LJ for them anymore. If they only exist on LJ, I've dropped them (and if it wasn't for my few friends that are only on there, I'd drop LJ all together, because I have icky feelings using it).

But I agree with how you see it as concerns the SWG in particular.

Date: 2017-04-30 11:58 pm (UTC)
ladybrooke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ladybrooke
Even when SUP moved the servers to Russia, I refused to be excessively bothered; the U.S., after all, is hardly a stainless, blameless place to do business either.

Exactly! I mean, there's a lot I disagree with that goes on here. But at least here when the government was trying to bar my friends from reentering the country if they left (lots of Muslim friends) or talking about how they need to take part in proper families (my former governor was Pence, I'm sure you can imagine how very many times lgbt rights have been an issue here), I could express how upset I was and protest against it. This ToS basically makes disagreeing with something an adult rated activity.

And I refuse to do that, because I don't expect anybody to hide things like being lgbt from any kids while I'm around (also, considering that one of my friends had an elementary school teacher tell her daughter that her dead grandmother was in hell, I'm not taking orders from any conservative on what I should say to a kid, because I'm sure "Gay people exist" is less damaging than "Your grandma's in hell because she wasn't a proper Christian, and those type of people deserve to suffer for eternity").

*resists forever, mainly by shoving existence in people's faces*

Date: 2017-04-30 04:44 pm (UTC)
independence1776: movie!Elrond rubbing his forehead with the words, "Oh, for the love of!" (For the love of)
From: [personal profile] independence1776
Crap. The Silm reread. That's affected, too.

I'll have to talk to Lyra about this, but so we know if it's even an option: I know you're linking to them right now in the Special Projects folder, but would it be possible to host the discussion posts themselves on SWG and link to the comments? Or would it be easier for us to post them in the archive as a complete "story" with links at the bottom of each "chapter" to the respective discussion and rec posts?

Date: 2017-04-30 08:28 pm (UTC)
independence1776: Drawing of Maglor with a harp on right, words "sing of honor lost" and "Noldolantë" on the left and bottom, respectively (Default)
From: [personal profile] independence1776
Awesome! Thank you!

I just emailed her with all of the above, so we'll shift this to email once we make a decision. :)

Date: 2017-04-30 08:25 pm (UTC)
keiliss: (dappled light by creative_meow)
From: [personal profile] keiliss
I would be very surprised if they bothered with the English side of LJ unless it was overtly political in ways that affront Russia, but doing a full backup on the site over here seems just plain common sense.

Date: 2017-05-01 05:26 pm (UTC)
jenni_blog: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenni_blog
This whole thing sucks. I have no idea what to do. I did fill out the survey but wasn't 100% sure what I really wanted to do on a couple of issues. :(

It's just really sad. :( :( :( :(


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