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More censorship 🀐 on DEV - Looking for a new home for my angry accessibility rants, any suggestions?

The irony: This article has been suppressed in the feeds it seems, check out the healthydebate tag, this article doesn't exist in the feed but does in the week. Anyway, I thought that was interesting, given the subject matter.

Surely the answer would have been to comment that the article was not conducive to good discussion in it's current form (before I had edited it, I would hope it is acceptable now)...not good form when someone is complaining about censorship to then apply any form of further silencing to them.

However I can say that was fair as this was originally written with anger...the irony is it did push the boundaries of the CoC and I can actually agree with the decision.

Hi there, I am hoping you can help me!

Recent events have made me realise that my angry rants on accessibility or other important articles I write are likely to get removed on and given the effort required to write them it isn't something I can afford to happen, nor is it something I can reconcile with.

For context, I had an article DELETED (an article, not a comment) by the dev team as someone took offence...I would share it so you can form your own opinions but then they may just delete this post also!

If someone manages to find me my new home for writing then I will post it there and link to it here πŸ€žπŸ™

I wouldn't care but it was actually an article on a study not an angry rant and I had taken great care to ensure it was balanced and courteous, if anything it was more acceptable than my angry rants and that is why I am now deeply concerned!

It was also essential to my own project I have been working on for over a year and I need to be able to ask questions on sensitive subjects to further that project.

Instead of sharing that post I would hope that my comment history and post history is enough for people to see that I am careful with my posts and their subject matter and I take a lot of time to try and help people on here, even on my angry rants!

Help me find my new home for the important stuff

So does anyone have any good suggestions on platforms that are more suitable for open discussion on difficult topics?

Somewhere that allows for more difficult conversations to be had as the space I work and operate in is contentious and causes knee-jerk reactions from people who don't bother to read things.

I would like to be able to express myself freely and even have conversations with those people who disagree to further my understanding of their point of view, especially if their viewpoint differs to my own.

Also if you know whether the site you suggest allows for canonical URLs then please do let me know as that is a big factor for future plans.

Don't worry, the sh*t posting will continue

For those of you who follow me on here, don't worry the meme posts on breaking the internet will continue, I just won't be as active within the community on any topic that could cause offence.

I will also still be writing more mellow, informative but boring pieces on accessibility, you know another "checklist to accessibility" as that sort of thing hasn't been done 200 times before.

I am hoping they are still interesting enough for you to continue following me, I just apologise that some of the fun will have to be removed to protect myself.

As a content creator - what can you learn from my mistakes?

I mean, I didn't follow my own advice and that is why I am in this position.

The first golden rule is don't rely on one platform, I made that mistake! If you are writing, publish to multiple platforms, hopefully some of the comments on this article will help you with places to post as well as me.

The second golden rule is make sure your control your subscriber / follower list. I didn't get my site up and running early enough but you should make sure that as a content creator you push people to your own website and they have the opportunity to subscribe there. That way idiots cannot silence you as individuals have control over whether they want to consume your content or not.

Learn from my mistakes and make sure if posting here you also post to your own site and other sites and use the canonical URL to point to your own website article (so you get the benefit of the traffic you generate here, not DEV).

Does anyone want to finish a project I was working on for DEV?

I have a WYSIWYG editor project for that it would be a waste to not see finished.

You can find the article on that here

It would be great if someone wanted to take over that project and turn it into a finished plugin for the site, I have almost completed it and I feel it would benefit the community, I just can't justify the time on it anymore.

Let me know if you want to take it over!

No sign off, I just need your help

Not doing my normal sign off, but if you have any good suggestions for sites that match my writing style and subject matter (accessibility and inclusion) then please let me know.

Finally, if you have any good jokes you have recently heard to cheer me up, please share them in the comments or message me with them, I could do with a little bit of silliness as this has really annoyed me and upset me!

Additional Edit

written before I had found out they suppressed the article for clarity

After a couple of helpful comments below (from both sides of the argument) I have made some minor amends as I realised that too much of my frustration was in this article and it was attacking the DEV team unnecessarily. I even feel I should apologise for letting my frustration out.

They do have a difficult job and they are all courteous and polite, it is unfair to direct anger at the team.

I think that highlights the issue I have, deletion does not allow these conversations to happen. Deletion because of potential offence is not something that can be accurately policed and results in inconsistent behaviour. Nor is it actually protecting people as these conversations need to happen as tech steers so many things in society.

I still need a new home for the important questions and my accessibility rants (at time of writing this as yet again if there was any clarity on where the line is that would allow me to write the rants with less fear of another post disappearing) but I felt it important to clarify my frustration is with deletion for "soft" reasons ("soft" meaning "not easy to define the boundaries"), not with the people on the team.

Discussion (22)

egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

I think I know the article you're talking about (topic was relationship between LGBT+ and disabilities), because I did read it and meant to comment (it got removed before I could get my thoughts together).

My comment was going to be about how I don't think is the place for that article. You also didn't come off as bad/rude/ignorant, but drawing parallels between queerness and disability rarely comes off as a positive thing (not long ago, queerness was considered a disability). I did also dig into the study you linked. I would call it a little outdated, and I couldn't see how it has anything to do with development or accessibility. In some spots of your article, it felt like you were trying to understand why there seemed to be a link. Trying to understand the why of one's queerness often makes us queer folks feel scrutinized and different in a bad way.

To circle back to this article's big question - should that article have been posted, and if so, where? Like I said, it wasn't a bad or ignorant article necessarily (I wouldn't flag it, but I wouldn't give it a 'like'), but it wasn't posted on the right platform. Perhaps Medium or a private blog would have been better; maybe a forum if you're looking for more discussion on the topic.

Accessibility talk and rants are still more than welcome on, but I can understand why admins took that post down.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

You see the problem is the reasoning behind the post being removed. Had you had chance to express this comment I could easily have addressed those issues you had with the article.

It is a very important relationship to understand for people who work in the AI field.

We have instances of AI making decisions on job applications, we have AI predicting patterns in society and making decisions on the future of distributing benefits etc. Understanding these relationships is an essential part of removing bias for the training data due to societal inequalities.

I originally had a section on this but as the discussion was on why the relationship exists, something essential to the work I am doing, I felt it took the conversation towards another topic.

Given your comment I would have been inclined to reintroduce that section.

I can agree on the language of the study being outdated, which I did my best to address, but the strong (P > 0.001) relationship is important.

Now, yet again, if you had been able to post your comment I could have had chance to reflect and adjust the article or have a dialog with you and clarify.

If the reasoning behind the removal of the article has been expressed like that, I would also had chance to defend the position of the article.

Ultimately you might have persuaded me that the article was not appropriate and I would have removed it of my own free will. All of these things would have been productive.

But the issue is that it just got deleted, the reasoning behind it was a very tenuous link to the CoC "protecting people" and there have been articles that I felt were equally contentious posted to the site that did (directly) contravene the CoC that were allowed to continue.

Anyway, the outcome is the same, I still need a different medium to post to on the things that actually matter, the tough questions that nobody wants to address in tech.

Finally you saying the accessibility rants are welcome is comforting, but I raised that point and it was not addressed.

I also do not have a clear "line" of what is considered acceptable, in 3 articles time my rant is "Your hiring practices are draconian" and some of the stuff that needs to be said in that article is bound to be offensive to the few soft touches and that is the point, offence and protection are two different things, deleting articles that may cause offence but are evidentially not trying to insight hatred or aggressions does not protect people, instead it just stops us moving forward and educating / learning from each other.

The whole approach was wrong, yours is far better.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author

I just want to say an additional thank you for your comment, it allowed me to reflect on the tone of this article and correct for my anger directed at the team that was unnecessary.

egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

I'm glad I could add to the conversation in a constructive way. Hopefully the admins have an eye on this thread and are thinking of possibly adding clarification/nuance to CoC, or perhaps an improved appeals process.

sorincostea profile image
Sorin Costea

Tell me if I'm wrong, but by reading only this and a short discussion in the comments, I get the feeling the central point was "why aren't we allowed to be assh* on". Well, if a nightclub can kick you out if you get angry at other patrons, why shouldn't a online community be able to do the same? It's not limiting your freedom of expression, just showing you the door. Calling them "hugbox" implies that abuse should be acceptable, and it's NOT. Let me use a very big exaggeration just to make a point: whatever excellent arguments about social statuses he might have, you don't really get philosophical with the drunk hobo on the street spitting insults in your face, do you. The arguments get lost in the heat of the moment, that's how humans work, and anger however justified is not an argument.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

I think the point of the article can actually be summed up by your own comment.

Your comment implies that either myself or the commenter that you reference (as I said nothing about "hugbox" so not sure if you meant to reply to them instead) wants to be an asshole and to allow us to behave like assholes.

That is far more offensive than the content of either of my articles.

Now if you were silenced for having that opinion, you and I can not have a conversation to actually understand each other better. In fact you would double down on your opinion that I am indeed, an asshole as I didn't want you voicing your concerns (something an asshole would do!).

Now imagine if you then wrote about my misunderstanding you (as I am sure you were not intending to call us assholes, just express your opinion) and somebody decided that they would then supress that.

That is where the problem lies.

Now in reality I can look at your comment, realise that while it is possible to take offence at what you have said, it was not actually meant to be offensive but to illustrate a point.

So how do you mediate a set of rules where you try and protect people from being offended? Anyone can take offence at anything.

Hopefully that clarifies more what the point is about.

And to then illustrate my point of view, imagine if you then wanted to try write an article on not behaving like an asshole - would you feel comfortable expressing your opinion after first being silenced and then being supressed? The essentially puts you in my shoes so I hope that clears it up.

Now couple that with the fact that my original article was actually removed "as someone disagreed with the premise"...of a scientific study and you suddenly see how I got very nervous about writing anything of meaning on this site.

I have faith in the community (people like yourself) calling out things that are wrong or they disagree with, not a team who have repeatedly silenced things that "don't fit their narrative" as that creates echo chambers (i.e. twitter 2.0) and that is dangerous!

sorincostea profile image
Sorin Costea

As you also mention above that you will write more mellow posts, are you of the opinion that anger conveys better a message? Because I don't, so if you do, I'd like to understand why we differ.

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

So the "angry rants" series I have been doing gets a lot more engagement and to date it has all been positive. I use the anger as humour and perhaps I should have clarified that point within my post above.

So for example I wrote a post on using a <button> instead of <a href="#" and throughout that I was calling the reader an idiot, incompetent and lazy.

Within each article I do make it clear that the anger is for fun before people start reading.

I think the anger makes people think about how simple changes in their mindset can make a big difference.

If you have a couple of minutes just read the first couple of sections of this post, I think it illustrates what I mean about anger for humour better than I can explain in a comment.

I would then be interested to see if you feel the anger does convey the message better than a mellow post as it would be an interesting perspective to discuss (I myself have a very sarcastic sense of humour so things like that amuse me...but I am aware sarcasm can get lost in the written word).

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sorincostea profile image
Sorin Costea

The post you quoted here (which I already knew) is ironic and sarcastic at places, but nowhere "really" angry. That's why it worked fine and actually didn't even need the disclaimer. Because sarcasm is not insults, and sarcasm is also not bullying. Schoolyard bullies are engaging as well (half the school is kinda laughing when they throw the nerd in the garbage) but they're still bullies and that laughter is still not fun, as much as the bullies would claim otherwise. To sum it up, while one hand I wouldn't worry about your "normal" articles, on the other I have no idea what the deleted one contained so it might be it overstepped that thin line you agree is existing and is drawn differently for each person.

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

The article that was deleted was not angry in the slightest. It was an analysis of a study and questions about the source of the relationship.

I wish I could link to it instead of dancing around it, but essentially it was an article on the relationship between people with disabilities and being LGB (it was from 2012 so we didn't have TQIA+ then as part of common vernacular).

It showed that the prevalence of disability is significantly higher among the LGB community. That is a scary thing that affects a lot of what we as developers need to think about if we are in any way involved in hiring. algorithm creation, AI etc.

The article was deleted as it is a contentious. The reason given (and I am not joking) was:

"members find the title and premise offensive. "

How you can find a study offensive? How can you take offense at a premise and it be a strong enough reason to close a balanced article.

Anyway, I have bent your ear enough and I enjoyed the conversation on this point.

However, as you are the third person to say that my angry rants do not really risk offending I am feeling a little more safe to post.

I still need a place to discuss really contentious issues so any suggestions would be appreciated (by which I mean the sort of issues where people immediately react rather than engaging and thinking) but at least the community seems to back me up on the angry rants stuff, even if I still can't shake the feeling of "don't challenge the narrative" which just makes me uneasy.

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sorincostea profile image
Sorin Costea

Looks to me like not the "anger" was the deletion trigger, then... so there's a totally different discussion needed.

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

I tell you what, I will link to it, but let me know when you have read it so I can delete the link. I will let you see if it was offensive or not as I am happy to be corrected by the community.


Thread Thread
sorincostea profile image
Sorin Costea • Edited on

It's not offensive in language. Now if it's offensive in ideas I cannot tell because I'm not in either group. But as a general rule, if somebody tells me they are offended, I pay attention exactly because I'm not them and cannot feel what they feel. Offenses happen a lot also unintentionally.
PS: it's always risky to give opinions on hot topics (especially as outsider) and this is definitely a hot topic nowadays.
PS 2: I visit as a technical community so normally I wouldn't even have clicked the title.

jayjeckel profile image
Jay Jeckel

Read the Code of Conduct and it's pretty clear this is the type of place where certain topics are only allowed the full hugbox treatment and nothing less. Unless you're going to do that, it's best to not even bring up such topics, because anything other than exuberant positive platitudes will offend someone. Having read the article, it was only a matter of time until it got removed as comparing those two topics together in any way is going to be considered insensitive in someone's view.

As to where you can share an article without fear of censorship? Really, no where is safe these days. The closest you can get is your own site and just hope you don't go viral and get the mob's ire directed at your hosting provider. Other than that, the few censorship free places that exist would probably get my comment deleted if I named them, and they don't have a dev focus anyway, so you wouldn't likely get useful feedback.

It sucks this happened, it was an interesting article, but I hope you change your mind about cancelling the rants. This place has precious little quality content and it would be a shame to miss out on future articles.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

Thanks Jay, if I get some clarity on where the line is then I would love to continue the rants here as I have enjoyed writing them and the responses and interactions on them.

I am also glad you have enjoyed them, but as you can imagine they take a lot longer to write than a normal post as I have to balance angry man and being offensive (the irony being that I deliberately make those articles offensive!) and the risk of a few people being offended meaning it gets removed is not one I can reconcile with (when did "being offended" become something we actually took seriously?).

I will always defend the spirit of the CoC, but you are right it is very flawed and the way it is enforced is just too much on the pandering side rather than protecting people who actually need protecting.

My private chat is open to all if you could share those places that are more open to discussion, even if they aren't tech focused, it would be really useful.

If they are not full of trolls I am more than happy to have a few heated debates with people, even engage with a few trolls as long as it isn't full of them!

I just want a platform that allows those debates to happen in the first place!

ekafyi profile image
Eka • Edited on

I skimmed through the article in question (the one on LGBTQ+ and disability?). I don't consider it offensive in the sense it most likely cannot be brought to court as an attack toward protected classes (ie. you clearly were not spouting homophobic/transphobic/ableist propaganda). I'm not part of said groups so not my place to say if it's offensive in a personal sense.

Your addendum mentioned "Deletion because of potential offence", which led me to conjecture your post was deleted not because of the post is hateful but because it may lead to hateful or heated comments, which would be a liability to the DEV mods (comments to remove, users challenging their comment removal, existing comments which some users consider equally offensive as the removed comments). So they decided it's more simple to remove your post. Not justificating their removal of your post ofc; I fully agree with your argument in the second-to-last paragraph. Just pointing that it's a tricky situation.

You asked for "sites that match (your) writing style and subject matter" β€” any reason you prefer an external platform? IMO the most reasonable solution is to publish on your own website. You and interested readers can have proper conversations, and you are in control to remove inappropriate comments that dont contribute to your objectives re: accessibility and inclusion.

nefofortressia profile image
Nefo Fortressia

Honestly, if a post if controversial. The DEV team should just lock the thread instead. Like in Reddit.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author

Well you and I had a good discussion as the premise of the post seemed absurd to you, in the end we found common ground I thought so maybe locking a thread if it causes disruption is an option.

However the dev team were bothered by the post itself, so I suppose it wouldn’t work in that instance. πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

Useful suggestion either way!

thalitadev profile image
Thalita G.

It's been a while since I've logged into (I was busy landing a new job, and I did so hopefully I get back on track soon). I'm quite surprised to find this article.

The article is a few weeks old by now and I hope you've found what you've been looking for. Personally, I would've suggested keeping such posts self-hosted and share these posts on social media more actively so you can start getting more engagement on your own site. It's a worthy investment.

That aside, I'd still be careful with these topics if I were you, regardless of the platform. I think the article was most likely taken down not because of your expressed anger but because of the content itself (as some commenters have mentioned). prevented what would happen on another platform like Twitter, ie. very, very angry comments and DMs with death threats. :p If you need feedback from either sides for a project, you could approach them directly instead. LGBT+ people have a hard time talking about LGBT+ as well, simply because even within the community there are conflicts, controversies or not. At that point, outsiders can sort of forget about joining the discussion at all. That's my general experience as someone who's part of the community as well.

I'm not sure if my comment contributes to anything, I suppose I mainly just wanted to express my concerns about this.

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author

It wasn't an angry rant, it was a very carefully written piece given the subject but I have made my peace with the fact that this isn't the site for that sort of content now. I don't want to put the angry rants up as they actually are offensive, unlike this article which "didn't fit the narrative" but was polite (for a change!)...if that makes sense?

I have put time aside to build my own blog as you said, something I should have prioritised but I got complacent, hopefully I can throw something basic together over weekend.

I am not familiar with the infighting in the LGBTQIA+ community (as much as I am within the disabled community) but I am well aware how often that occurs. People are too focused on their own experiences and differences (the "I have it worse" victim syndrome that so many have) to find common ground sometimes !

Either way, thanks for popping by and giving your input, it contributed more than you thought 😁

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev Author • Edited on

That is the point I was making at the end, control your content, a stupid mistake on my part.

The other issue is that to build traffic to your own platform nowadays you do need to be able to post to places that will "feed the beast" until it becomes popular, so content aggregators etc. are essential.

The whole thing has obviously jumped my plans for the blog from 10th on the list to priority number 1!

Do you cross post anywhere other than here and your own site (your profile link to your site doesn't work by the way! I had to get to it through your twitter profile)? Love your site design, nice and clean!