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May. 29th, 2007

One thing that struck me about the current crisis/kerfuffle -- not only do WFI sound like self-important, hypocritical idiots who lack key reasoning and arguing skills, but, you know, I would be willing to lay a bet that there are actual LAW ENFORCEMENT people out there who would like to stomple all over WFI right now. Why? Because in cases where illegal/violent-sounding interests were listed by people who were NOT listing them for innocent, community-contextual reasons (such as fandom, RPG, fiction, etc.), but might in fact have been listing them for the foolish reason that they *actually enjoy engaging in those illegal activities*... I bet there were attempts being conducted by law enforcement people to try to determine whether actual solicitation or enticement or whatever was going on. Not unlike the way law enforcement can use chatrooms to entrap active pedophiles.

Because law enforcement could and would actually look at the content and traffic of those various LJs, and be able to use a few braincells to tell the difference between "playing a villain in an RPG" or "writing fiction" and actually *being a criminal*. Yes. Because that is the job of law enforcement, WFI. To determine the difference between those things. NOT YOUR JOB. Their job.

And guess what, WFI? Yes! You are helping to *warn* and *cover the tracks* of those people! In this giant, indiscriminate net you've cast, which is mostly having the effect of screwing over entirely innocent people, you're helpfully driving back underground the kind of people whom you presumably would actually like real law enforcement to catch and prosecute.

Way to go, WFI. Way to go.

Anyway, having said that...

The dumbest thing about my reaction to this whole situation is this: I have never *really* understood the purpose of the LJ "interests" section of the profile. I just never felt the urge to put anything in there. And I never look at anyone else's (except on occasion with bemusement), or click on any of the links.

So tell me. What good did having those buzzwords (among much else) under your Interests *do*? I suppose it's a little late *now* to be wondering what interests are and what they do. But honestly, I'm sitting here trying to imagine why I would put "rape" (for example) under my LJ Interests, and if I did so, what positive result that would get me that was a sufficient exchange for the raised eyebrow it would get from other people who don't share whatever particular context it was that made me put it down. I'm really missing some key thing about this. Can anyone explain?

(Or maybe it's just that I'm incredibly insular in the way I use LJ. Like so much else -- my cellphone, my computer -- I am sure that I don't use it to the fullest extent of its bells and whistles.)


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
I had all the tv shows I like listed in my interests. I've used the interests to search for communities that were related to a show when I didn't have any friends who were into them (when Heroes was just starting, for example).

lostcityfound has all the actor names and the variations of SGA's title in the user interests so people searching in that way can locate it.

None of our interests have to do with illegal activity, of course.
May. 30th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can kind of understand that about target-specific interests, like "Stargate Atlantis" or "David Hewlett". (The fact that I don't use them is probably because of the aforementioned insularity, and my tendency to network on LJ solely via word-of-mouth.)

What I'm trying to wrap my head around is how listing an "illegal activity" interest could help you reach or be reached by the audience you actually want to target, you know? To take two of the current buzzwords for example -- "rape" or "incest". Those are *broad categories*. Maybe your focused interest in fictional incest related to certain television shows (Heroes, SPN, Numb3rs) is contained within the greater set of "incest", but... um... I'm thinking, so would a whole lot of stuff be that isn't part of your area of interest.

So what good do those extremely broad-ranging categories do?

As an example for myself, I'm thinking -- okay, maybe I would like to list and to search in an interest category like "pirates". But it only takes me a few seconds of thought to realize... how much signal to noise am I going to get out of such a broad category? My interest lies in the Golden Age of Piracy, perhaps; or fictional pirates; or POTC fic; and not in issues of modern piracy in South Asia, for example. Why would I list or search on such a broad topic, then? Why wouldn't I try to narrow?

(That said -- I am hearing, although I've yet to hear it confirmed, that more specific interests are being targeted -- "wincest", for example, which is far more focused and which I could see being an attempt to separate signal from noise.)
May. 30th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
yeah, that I can't explain.

Also, Word on the rest of your post. These WFI nuts are clearly not a legitimate organization of people working with LE.
May. 30th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
I could just instantly picture actual law enforcement people slapping their foreheads and cursing really vehemently. God, AMATEURS.

(I think that in response to someone who wrote to them, liz-marcs?, WFI did actually state outright that they were not law-enforcement and weren't working with LE. *headdesk*)

The thing is, though -- I would not have a hard time believing that from WFI's perspective, it's all good. What I mean is, that they are just as disturbed by the idea of innocent people sharing fiction about pedophilia, as they are about the real thing. You know? That part of their attitude is that it's *all* sick and wrong. So it's not that they wanted to just target actual criminals, and the non-criminal LJs with suspect pr0n were a by-catch. It's that they're equally happy at stamping out the by-catch, because from their POV, ewww, immoral, shouldn't be there either.

May. 30th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
I wonder if that's why Journalfen is down...
May. 30th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
Actually, I've been getting notices about them being down or "working on something" intermittantly for a few weeks now. Last I had heard it had something to do with their wholesale move of... servers or ISPs or some damn thing.

Every time I've gotten the error message, when I have hit "refresh" immediately, it's come back up just fine. *shrug* Or within a few miutes, anyway.

(Just trying it -- it isn't all of JF, it's just FW at the moment. Clairvoyant, Wankity, and OTF are all fine ATM. Annnnd -- yes, refresh, and there's FW again. It's just being hinky. BUT I'M SURE THE SERVERS ARE ROBUST!
May. 30th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Ahh, there it is. I guess I just wasn't banging on those ROBUST SERVERS enough. XD

May. 30th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
I use them to find communities at times for fannish things. But mostly, and especially in the case of specific ones where I don't really want to find anyone with them (such as "my niece" or "avocados," I use them to say, "this is me, this is what I like." It just presents a fuller picture of me if someone comes to my LJ to check out who I am and why I have friended them and what sort of things I might talk about in my LJ.
May. 30th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
What she said. I've never used interests really to find people, just to identify what my Things are.
May. 30th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
*nods* Yeah, I'm sort of getting that. And I can also see how a grouping of interests modifies each other, if you look at them as a whole. I'm sorry -- I feel that "incest" is a weird thing to put down under an *interest*, by itself; but if the entire list of interests includes a show like SPN or Heroes, yeah, okay, I would go, "ahhhh".

Part of my puzzlement may be that I'm a control-freak. If I want to tell people what my interests are, I want to be as precise as possible. It would make me nuts to leave room for misinterpretation. Which is why I kind of don't get putting down something like "rape" as an "interest". Just seems too broad, and seems like it would invite misunderstanding.
May. 30th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
Okay, yeah, I can see that. Although, I guess for that purpose, I would have used a bio description instead. (Which I also don't use.) If someone friends me and I can't figure out why, the first thing I actually look at is their flist, to see who we have mutually friended. But I'm a very tiny fannish personage. Nobody ever friends me randomly.

I think what I'm still trying to wrap my head around, though, is why you would put under your interests a word, like "rape" or "incest", that's so broad-ranged and unspecific that, for me anyway, it just leads to further questions, some of them not exactly good (in terms of first impressions). They're huge catch-all categories that overlap with, (I would think), elements that you *didn't* want to include, people you would not want to find you, etc.
May. 30th, 2007 04:01 am (UTC)
I make a lot of my lj friends through fandom, and most of them have fo journals, so I really do find their interests helpful (even the broad ones) to decide if I want to friend them or not (for example, if all they have listed is fan fic and fan art and slash and etc etc. I am less likely to friend them than someone who lists, say, puppies and wine and comics and kayaking) I went years without having my profile properly filled in, but when I realized how much I was relying on the interests of others I figured they would probably be doing the same.

Anyway, yes. The WFI thing is such bullshit.
May. 30th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC)
What is WFI? I've missed something.
May. 30th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I hadn't wanted to type out their full name (it's in SK's link below), in case they decide to start Google-searching on it or something. But basically, they're a right-wing anti child-porn group that, according to some of their statements, were sickened by the fact that LJ's TOS was allowing actual child-porn communities to exist.

The way I've heard it (through following various links around), push didn't come to shove for LJ Abuse until WFI presented a legal argument that LJ's "interests" feature allows someone to list a criminal activity as an interest, and to use that feature to "network" with others interested in the activity, and so could be argued as facilitating congregation for the purpose of encouraging the illegal activity. And when LJ/6A asked their lawyers about that one, the lawyers seem to have said, damn, that could actually be a successful legal argument. I've heard others comment that prior to the presentation of this interpretation, nobody at LJ had thought that the Interests feature could be interpreted that way.

From what I've seen, LJ has been fairly apologetic to those people/groups whose LJs they've deleted. The most common rumor I'm hearing is that LJ itself has not "gone after" anyone; they have waited for LJs/groups to be reported to LJ Abuse, and that's when they are obligated to delete the journal/group without allowing the owner a chance to edit it. (Because to do so would be against the TOS -- it would be LJ acting as a content editor by asking for or indicating desired changes to an LJ's content.) And the Interests feature made it relatively easy for WFI (or whoever) to find LJs/communities listing interests like "pedophilia" and "incest", and reporting them to LJ Abuse.

That was the last iteration I heard, anyway.

I have also heard rough estimates that of the LJs deleted so far, perhaps up to 1/3rd of them really *were* child-porn or pedophilia related, in very not-good ways; as opposed to the fic communities, RPGs, support groups, and discussion comms for "Lolita" also caught up in the net. I will be interested to find out if that's a rumor, or true.
May. 30th, 2007 05:47 am (UTC)
Hmm, I sometimes do a search for an interest to see if there are any good communities concerning it.

In my other journals I list "somalis" as an interest, referring to the breed of cat. Someone misunderstood and posted a comment about the Somali people, once.

As for illegal activites- if it's a fictional journal, like from a character's point of view, and that character likes to engage in such activities, I could see putting down that interest. But otherwise... @_@
May. 30th, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC)
To be honest, though -- I'm completely failing to understand the "fictional journal for a character, such as in an RPG" thing. What's the point of listing "interests" for a fictional character? Real people with those interests (WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?) seem unlikely to be happy to have found an LJ for someone who shares that interest, only to find upon digging deeper that the LJ content is *fictional* and frequently contains statements condemning the interest except as it relates to a fictional villain.

Were I to make an LJ for a fictional villain, such as for an RPG, and I wanted to list things that characterized the villain... wouldn't a bio do the trick?

I dunno. There is some connection here I am failing to get.
May. 30th, 2007 10:26 am (UTC)
I use my interests more to fill out my user page. I was very much unknown in fandom, and I don't write, so I thought that if I put some of my interests down it would be more reassuring to people who I'd friended. It's always been a pretty small list, and mostly tv shows.
May. 30th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that kind of thing I can understand. But as I was remarking to folks above -- I don't get listing something as broad as "rape" or "incest" under your Interests, because it's so imprecise, you know? (Not to mention eyebrow-raising.)

My analogy was -- if I listed "piracy" under my Intersts, that wouldn't tell people if I was interested in the Golden Age of Piracy... or MP3-sharing. Or what.

But then, I'm really pretty paranoid about being misinterpreted. I would *hate* the idea of someone getting the wrong idea about me. And I guess that if I *did* have a fannish interest in, say, incest -- I would want to be really sure to make clear to even a casual observer that it was very context-specific. Which I'm not sure I'd do by just putting down the broad-category word "incest" under Interests.
(Deleted comment)
May. 30th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's an application of it I can see as being useful. Although -- does one pick from a pre-existing list of Interests, or can you put down whatever you want, like tags? In which case, I guess there'd be overlap sometimes but not all the time.

But I'm still scratching my head over the value of a broad-category interest word like "rape" or "pedophilia" or "incest". I mean, I guess if I went and saw your interests and you had *both* "incest" and "Supernatural" listed, I'd relax. But if not, it would kind of weird me out.

Maybe that's part of the point? You'd know to run far away from the LJ of the person who only listed "incest" and nothing else in common with you. Except, it would leave me feeling exposed, to them. They can, equally, find *me* -- and they may not realize that my interest in incest is nothing at all like theirs. That just gives me the creeps.
Jun. 8th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
I think p_p probably had incest listed as a kind of warning -- just in case anyone stumbled across it thinking, hp fic! Isn't that sweet! -- inasmuch as anyone thought about it at all.

RPG player interests would be just another way of fleshing out the character, getting the details of the costume right.

I don't think, before this all blew up, that the first thing most people thought of when they picked interests was, 'what kind of people will find me by searching for this?' Rather it was 'what will this tell someone looking at my journal?'

For me it's usually just a quick way to tell what fandoms/pairings I should look for in their LJ. That said, I haven't updated my own in ages.

Friending you btw; I keep seeing you say interesting and intelligent things in other people's journals.
Jun. 13th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) Although, this journal itself isn't very interesting, from a fannish perspective. (I still comment in others' way more than I post in mine.)

I'm definitely getting the feeling that the bottom line is that people were regarding interests, and using them, in ways that 6A/LJ didn't know about or really understand.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )