Should I shut down the aggregator?
Here’s a discussion question for readers of Virginia Political Blogs.
I set up that aggregator some months ago to provide one-stop shopping for reading Virginia political blogs, with the understanding that all should have a voice. The high quality of blogs at the time made it a no-brainer. It pretty much runs itself, so it’s just done its thing for many months now. Periodically somebody demands that I remove this site or that site because it’s offensive or full of lies or rumors or whatever, but I always give the same answer: if I start removing sites, then I’m an editor, and I have to establish rules, and people will be angry with me, etc. Republicans and Democrats alike give me a lot of grief for this. So the bar for removal is really, really high. So high that I’ve never done it.
Last night I removed a blog for the first time. This site, run by an anonymous blogger, sought to support Rep. Virgil Goode in his attack on Rep. Ellison. To do so, the blogger posted an extremely graphic photo of an American beheaded by his terrorist captors in Iraq. I worked hard to avoid seeing these images at the time of the beheadings, because I found the act so disgusting that I simply did not want to witness them. (Many will recall the anger displayed by many conservatives that these images were even available to Americans, saying that “the terrorists have already won if we see them,” that the press was un-American for displaying them, etc.) I found it upsetting and angering to see that image appear smack-dab in the middle of the aggregator. Terrorists circulated the photo of this man for political gain; now this blogger had done the same. It wasn’t clear to me what I should do, but when the deluge of complaints began I knew that there was only one response: remove the site.
Now, of course, I am an editor. And at least a few bloggers [1, 2, 3] think that removing this website is about the worst thing that I could have done. Some wrongly believe that I’ve “silenced” the site. Of course, I’ve done no such thing. The site continues to run, accessible to all. I’ve simply stopped linking to it. This blogger has no more right to demand that I link to his site than I have a right to demand that he links to my site. Still, I can sympathize wit where they’re coming from: Virginia Political Blogs is a significant source of traffic for little-known sites, and removal from the site could amount to a death sentence. (Jim Hoeft made an excellent point about this last month that has given me much to think about in the past few weeks.)
I’ll say up front that I’m not going to list the site again, any more than I’d list any site that would display any graphic imagery on the aggregator — I don’t care if it’s pornography, dismembered Iraqis or tortured Americans, I’m not going to give that a platform.
So I have three choices.
- Turn the site over to somebody else and make it their problem. The catch being that this somebody else has to be familiar with Python, have Linux-based hosting space with shell access and a fair spectrum of command-line tools available to them.
- Continue to run the site with a single rule — no graphic imagery — and carry on.
- Shut down the because, seriously, I just don’t care enough to take grief over it.
Now I ask you for feedback. What should I do?