I believe that some communities need managers (or facilitators or moderators — there are a few different flavors to this role).  I also believe there are ways to hold that space respectfully, in a way that takes care of everyone, while still being very strong.  As promised, I want to offer you some of the “moves” I’ve learned over the years in this role, with hopes that you can use them to help guide your own community spaces.

There’s just one problem.  Every time I try to write this blog post, it keeps growing to the size of a book.

So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to let it be a series. Last week I gave you the prologue.  Now here’s Part 1: “Aikido Moves for Online Community Management: The Basics,” complete with even more intro material for context.  There will be a Part 2. I promise.

My Training

I’ve been building websites since ’97 and have held the reigns on a number of community-rallying projects.  There are two in particular, though, that I can attribute most of my lessons to.  They are:

The Writ – An online writing workshop and publication that had 2,000+ members and an ever-changing staff of volunteers. It started in 2003 and was just officially closed a few months ago, because it was time.

Genderfork – A community expression blog about gender variance that has 10,000+ readers a month.  It’s run by a staff of 10 volunteers who all have clear responsibilities for maintaining the site. The broader community contributes through submissions and response comments. It’s been around since 2007.

I built both of these spaces from scratch, with the help of friends and community members who wanted to see it succeed. And it’s important to note that in both of these communities, our goals were to:

  • make as many people as possible feel welcome and comfortable, especially newbies.
  • stay focused on a specific topic.
  • collaboratively create something bigger than we could build as individuals.
  • nurture and encourage quality storytelling and art.
  • inspire and guide community members to support and help each other.
  • represent ourselves in a positive way to the rest of the world.

So pretty much all of my advice comes from advocating for this culture.  There are lots of other community cultures that are just as relevant, but I can’t speak about them from experience.

What’s an online community and when does it need a manager?

I’m happy to report that I answered this question in detail last week.  If you’re not 100% clear on what I’m about to talk about, please go read it.  What follows is the beginning of an advanced discussion.  Last week’s post is the 101-level introduction.

Why Aikido?

Aikido is a martial art that involves a lot of rolling around on the floor.  I’ve taken a few classes, I’m not an expert, and if you’re interested in going deeper than the light metaphor I’m offering here, I encourage you to — there’s a lot to learn from it.  But for our purposes, let’s just look at a few basics.  When practicing Aikido, you…

  • blend with the motion of your attacker and redirect their force, rather than opposing it head-on.
  • protect your attacker from injury as you defend yourself.
  • stay in control with minimal effort.
  • remain balanced and focused.
  • roll with the punches.

I find this an incredibly useful metaphor for online community management.

And a few more disclaimers…

1. The thoughts below are limited in scope and context.  They are not comprehensive, and you should not assume they will all apply to your situation. They might not. Sorry.

2. I wish I could tell you I’m coming at this from a place of stability. I’m not. Even as I write this, a discussion is underway in the Genderfork community that might push to have my curation guidelines and original mission statement completely restructured.  This is actually okay.

3. I’m also aware that a lot of people will have plenty of reasons to disagree with me on some of my points.  Go for it — I’m always up for hearing how things can be done better.  (Just, you know, be nice about it please. Thanks.)

“The Basics”

Okay, ready? Here are what I consider to be important foundational moves.

1) Don’t punish people for stuff they haven’t done.

Be careful about comment and moderation policies, and make sure they’re addressing real needs rather than pre-emptively striking against imagined ones.

I anticipated that Genderfork would get a lot of hate mail, and I strongly considered turning on the “you have to be pre-approved to leave comments” setting to guard against it.  If you’ve ever left a comment only to see a “now waiting for moderation” message, you know what a slap in the face that setting feels like.  Fortunately, I decided to wait and see if I really needed it.  70,000+ total visitors later, we still don’t get a single shred of anti-queer hate in our comments.  ZERO. NADA. GOOSE EGG.  (Okay, well there was that one day, but it was super-isolated, and there was a miscommunication, so I say it doesn’t count.)  I now have it set up so that people can even comment anonymously — no name or email address required — because I know they appreciate the option, and they respect the privilege.  Still no hate.  Magic.

2) Set the tone, and the tone will maintain the tone.

Okay, so lack of hate isn’t really “magic” — it’s the tone we set from the beginning.

Have you ever shown up to a conversation that was already in progress?  What did you do?  You listened to what was going on, how people were interacting, and where they were in the discussion before you joined in.  You drew all sorts of conclusions about expectations and protocol just by taking a quick inventory of the situation, and then you went with the flow, adding your perspective in a way that seemed to fit.

That’s what people do when they show up to online communities, too. They take a brief scan around, they pull in whatever cues they can gather, they decide if they want to join in, and then they do so in a way that fits all the factors.  Think of the quality of comments on Flickr versus YouTube.  Flickr takes community management very seriously, and people have gotten the message over time (whether consciously or unconsciously) that being respectful in comments is important.  On YouTube, the expectation is more or less that people will be idiots.  So people are idiots.

Take note of what kind of conversation people are experiencing when they show up to your site. If you monitor it carefully enough in the beginning, it will begin to (mostly) monitor itself.

How do you set the tone? By contributing in the style that you’d like others to contribute. By offering some simple, clear guidelines on how people should treat each other and why. By suggesting to the people in your inner circle that they engage in a certain way. By showing up and being personally involved to positively redirect things when someone goes off course.

3) Stay detached from emotional conversations.

If your job is to keep the community healthy, then your “at ease” stance needs to be slightly above any emotional discussions.  You’re at your most helpful when you’re keeping a bird’s eye view on things and can understand everyone’s perspectives.

This might make you feel like the community’s not really yours.  That’s right. I’m sorry. It’s not. It’s theirs. You are the steward and caretaker, and when you’re hanging out there, you’re on duty.  Like a bartender at a good club, you get plenty of perks from being in the room, but you still need to stay behind the bar.  (And, preferably, sober.)

If you find yourself emotionally involved in a challenging situation, that’s your cue to go find someone else to advise you — someone who understands the community but isn’t involved in the drama. You can’t hold the Smite Buttons and be angry at the same time — that’s just not fair.

But even if you are angry, and you are getting advice from someone more balanced, you still probably need to keep your venting off the Internet. People need to trust you, and blame-heavy ranters are hard to trust.

So go off and kick trashcans, let a friend keep an eye on things while you’re gone, and come back when you’re ready to be sane again.  You just saved yourself from a mutiny.

~~~~

More soon.

Love,
Sarah

Dear Silicon Valley,

First of all, I don’t know if I’ve told you this lately, but I love you.  We do great things here, and this life is pretty damned fun.  You’ve taken very good care of me, introduced me to brilliant people, given me the tools to stay connected with a world of friends, and even started paying my rent.  I’m forever grateful that we found each other.

And I have a favor to ask.

I’m noticing that the stuff we make here — these websites and tools and communities — can influence the rest of the world pretty significantly.  It used to be that only the geeks were using the Internet, but now it’s becoming “pretty much everybody.”  And here’s the powerful thing: when a website is considered “good,” whatever that website displays as content, images, default settings, or options is considered “normal” by its users. You have the power to influence “normal.” I could give you examples, but I know you already know what I’m talking about.

The favor I want to ask is this: please think about how you’re handling race and gender on your websites.  Just look at it.  You don’t have to change anything.  Just make a mental note in your head about what your saying to your users about the importance of race and gender, and the categories that exist for them.

I’ll give you a hint: If you’re still asking about race in a required drop-down menu, you’re way behind.  Because doing it that way says to a user:

  • You have a race.
  • It’s really important to me.
  • It’s one (and only one) of these listed here.

Seriously, I really don’t think you’re doing this, because it would be horribly weird.  My friend with the half-Jamaican-half-Chinese father and Irish immigrant mother would either laugh hysterically at you or be extraordinarily offended.  “You want me to tell you what? WHY??”

The way we build a profile page matters.  You get that it matters.

So… this next part’s gonna sound a little weird, but hear me out for a minute.  I think gender is taking the same path as race.  It’s still visually defining, but people are starting to acknowledge that there are grey areas. And those grey areas are growing.

There’s a longstanding argument that “male” and “female” are a biologically-defined and relevant way to split our population in half. But if you’ve ever met a feminine man or a masculine woman, you know that these categories are way too rough to mean anything more than a stereotype sometimes.

It goes deeper than that.  For example, within lesbian communities, “butch” and “femme” have been considered separate genders for awhile now.  Yes, they’re both female (well, sometimes), but they have different roles both in the community and in relationships (except when they don’t, which is true for any gender).  There’s also a growing presence of people who are living today as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Sometimes you notice them and sometimes you don’t.  (Hint: You won’t know how many you aren’t noticing — that’s the point.)  There are people born intersex — with the biological features of more than one gender (and there are more of these than you might expect).  And you may have noticed this in cities and among young people — there’s also a growing presence of folks whose genders you just can’t identify.  Some of them, if you ask them respectfully, will tell you they feel like both genders.  Or neither gender.  Or a gender that needs a new name.  They might answer to both “he” and “she,” or they might prefer something different.  They’re in-between, and that’s where they belong.

Just for a minute, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who has spent a lifetime feeling just as uncomfortable in the men’s locker room as in the women’s locker room — for whatever reason.  Imagine having to dress in clothing that just feels wrong to you, everyday, because you know it means you’ll be treated better than you would if you wore what you like.  Imagine walking through the world knowing that everyone’s first assumptions about how you see yourself, who you love, and what feels right for you are completely wrong.

Now imagine signing up for a cool website, and then being required to select an option from a drop-down menu that doesn’t include anything that represents you.  If you don’t decide to close the browser window right then and there, you’ll probably pick the gender of the restroom you still use in public when you have no other choice (even though people might stop you to tell you you’re in the wrong one no matter what), and you’ll feel defeated. You’ll want to argue that whatever they think they’re learning from that drop-down menu, it’s not really true. You’ll want to tell them that they’re adding to your humiliation by making you do this. You’ll want to tell them that they’re missing a huge part of you by boiling this rich and beautiful characteristic down into a two-option drop-down menu.

Okay, you can come back now.  That’s all I needed from you — just to think about it. The truth is, there are no perfect solutions to this problem right now.  Gender is still relevant (except when it’s not) and drop-downs are still the cleanest way to gather data (except when they’re not).  To quote Facebook (a site that’s only sort of doing it wrong), “It’s complicated.”

So just keep an eye out.  Be aware of what you’re calling normal.  Make a mental note of who it might be excluding.  Make conscious choices about how you handle things.  And please remind the web developer in the next cubicle to do the same.

Thanks and love,
Sarah Dopp

The BlogHer Geek Lab in Washington, DC was loaded with questions about how to improve a blog and increase its reach.  I ended up on my soapbox more times than I expected, ranting about misinformation and imploring bloggers to rethink their strategies.

I’m summarizing most of my rants below because I think they’ll be helpful to some people.  Please keep in mind that I’m coming at this from my own experience.  I’m not an “ad revenue” blogger, and there are plenty out there who can give you tips on what they’ve done to be successful. I encourage you to go talk to them, too.

The Goals Rant

If you ask me, “How can I make my blog better?” I’m going to ask you what “better” means.  What are your goals? If you don’t know, stop whatever you’re doing right now and figure them out.  Here are some common ones:

I want to…

  • express myself in a creative, positive way.
  • vent my frustrations in a safe and constructive way.
  • work through some challenging issues.
  • document a process or experience.
  • create a space for myself that’s separate from my daily life.
  • establish a certain kind of reputation.
  • convey a certain tone and aesthetic.
  • serve a certain community in a certain way.
  • build a community that supports me.
  • make money with ads and affiliate revenue.
  • find new work/jobs/clients/customers.
  • maintain my existing work/jobs/clients/customers.
  • give friends and family a way to keep track of me.
  • keep track of my thoughts and the interesting things I’ve found on the web.

If you have a lot of these goals (and hopefully some others I haven’t named yet), that’s great!  Now you need to prioritize them. Which ONE do you care about first and foremost? How about second? Third? Fourth? Lay them all out in order — NO TIES! It’s fine if your priorities change in the future, but you need to be honest with yourself about what they are right now.

Once you’ve got that, you’ll know what “better” means. And you’ll probably be able to brainstorm about 20 answers to your original question without any help from me now, too.

The Money Rant

So you want to make money from blogging, and you’ve heard that ad revenue is the way to go.  That’s great and I completely support you, but let’s talk about it for a minute.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself in a series of (mostly unrelated) events that all drilled into this same themes from different angles:  Women. Technology. Sexism. Sexual tension. Sexuality. Sexual privilege. Sexualization. Sexual harassment. Feminism. Power. Reaction. Anger.

The tech industry is a male-dominated field, and it doesn’t have a lot of social infrastructure in place for dealing with its sexual transgressions.  To add insult to injury, we’re stuck with woefully inadequate language to describe what’s happening in general terms.  The phrase “women in the tech industry” doesn’t refer to a unified group of people with common opinions and experiences.  Instead it describes a scattering of individuals who are, far too often, trying to get a job done as the only woman in a room.  They face sex-related challenges in professional situations on their own, and they’ve found their own ways of walking through them.

As a young woman in the tech industry who’s still just trying to figure out the rules to the game, I have to admit I’m a little pissed off about how much in-fighting, criticism, and judgment I see women dishing out to each other on the subject of sexism, sexual harassment, and other concepts that start with sex.  Forgive me for sounding naive and idealistic here, but it seems like our energy would be better spent respecting the differences of our individual paths over such a rocky terrain, and throwing each other a rope when needed.

As a gender-bending queer, I’ve always felt like mainstream representations of “women’s issues” included a lot of things I didn’t identify with, relate to, or experience in my daily life.  On the same token, I fight my own unique list of social battles that many “mainstream women” (which is a bullshit notion in itself) don’t have to deal with.  Our paths are different.

Except when they’re not.

Every single person on this planet can look at any large group of people and say, with plenty of evidence, “I’m one of them.”  That same person, looking at the same group of people, can also say with just as much truth and proof, “They’re not like me.”

And when we’re talking about sex -ism/-uality/-ualization/-ual harassment, what we’re talking about is a big fat knot that has no right answers, and we all have to find our own paths through it.

I’d like to walk through it with the support, thoughts, ideas, respect, and understanding of the women around me.

(p.s. Just dawned on me: stuff about sexual harassment in the tech industry is usually about office politics.  I’d just like to say that I work with the best, most respectful team on earth, and that area in my life is just fine.)

It started with a conversation about dating. I tried define my dating class to a friend, and quickly came up with a string of words that sortakinda summed it all up: intelligent independent creative queer professional. This class includes me, and I had to acknowledge that we’re sometimes hard to date.

Another friend-in-this-category, sfslim, quickly noted that we’re also a hard class to find. I decided to take this as a challenge, and put out the following request to the Internet:

quick poll: would all the self-identifying “intelligent indie creative queer professionals” pls raise their hand via @ reply, dm, or email? May 19, 2008

I wasn’t really expecting the results. So far, over the course of a day, 25 people have raised their hands. They’ve come through public replies, private direct messages, email, facebook messages, and IM. More than a quarter of them have come from strangers. A handful of them have been unsure if they really fit, so let me describe what I’m talking about here:

Intelligent – Do you notice change? Are you witty? Do you see patterns in what’s going on around you? Do you critically analyze the opinions that come your way and consciously decide which ones to accept? Can you usually find the information you’re looking for on the Internet?

Independent – (I didn’t really mean indie in the label-free musician sense. I was just working with limited character space.) Do you insist on keeping a flexible schedule? Do you create interesting projects to work on? Do you define yourself by your skills and passions instead of by the name of your workplace? Do you enjoy time alone? Do you (at least try to) examine any sentence that includes the word “should” to make sure it’s right for you before accepting it?

Creative – Do you come up with new ideas when you’re in the shower or taking a walk? Do you have a form of self-expression that feels satisfying and allows you to be playful? Do you enjoy brainstorming? Do you like to make things better? Do you value the time you spend thinking and experimenting? Do you believe your perspective matters?

Queer – Does your gender or sexuality just not quite fit the traditional binary categories (man or woman; straight or gay)? Do you feel excited when you see people playing with or challenging those traditional roles? Are you hopeful that things are shifting in a direction that will better encourage you to be yourself? (This category is big and complicated, and I’m not gonna get into its subtleties here. You pretty much get belong as soon as you say you do… even if you’re not fond of the word.)

Professional – Do you make (at least some of) your living doing things you’re personally passionate about? Did you intentionally choose your line of work? Do you bring unique value to your work? Do you feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for your career path? Do you have a strong sense of personal integrity about your work?

These descriptions are my own perspectives, and none of these categories have clear boundaries to them. To me, this combination of traits is gold, and I want to know as many “identity revolutionaries” (to use sfslim’s term) as possible who share them.

I’m not putting out a call for people to date (although, hey, if the shoe fits…). I’m putting out a call for community. Rally up, folks! Tell me where you are! I believe we’re more powerful when we’re connected, and I know we each have a lot of work to do.

As a side note, to answer a question someone asked: No, I’m not going to publish this list anywhere. Many people are raising their hands privately, and it’s not my place to share their identities, even with each other. I believe you have the right to tell and curate your own story.

If you’re part of this fantastic class of people (which I’m now just calling the IICQP folks) and haven’t already raised your hand, please do so. Leave me a comment, send me an email, shoot me a twitter reply, find me on facebook… whatever you prefer.

Just raise your hand.

Edit: As of 9pm 5/20/08, the total number of hand-raisers is 41. Hot damn, people! I love you guys!

Edit: It’s June 9th, and we’re totally up to 53, oh-yes-we-are.

I’ve worked the last two years in the branding industry, and I’ve learned what an impact your reputation has on your ability to get stuff done. Please listen to why I support Barack Obama for president:

If you agree with me for the same reasons, please go make a badge, explain your perspective, and post it on your blog or your profile on social networking websites.

If you agree with me for different reasons, please go make a badge, explain your perspective, and post it on your blog or your profile on social networking websites.

If you disagree with me for any reason, please go make a badge, explain your perspective, and post it on your blog or your profile on social networking websites.

Right now. I’m serious. Go.

Thank you.

(hat tip: Chris Heuer)

hat1.jpgDear Friends,

There’s a lot that’s missing from this blog. I rarely reference my art, my social network, my adventures, or my grapplings with identity politics. And that’s unfortunate, because these are significant and interesting parts of my life, and I’d like you to know about them. I’ve been keeping them off the radar because it’s been easier to let people make assumptions about my personal life than it has been to try to explain it to them. The downside of this is having to face some really wrong assumptions, all the while knowing that I haven’t done anything to prevent or correct them.

For reasons that continually boggle my mind, a lot of this seems to hinge around my sexual orientation. So let me take a stab at creating some common ground by offering up the label that makes the most sense to me: I’m queer.

This word seems to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so here’s how it works in my life. First of all, I’m not straight (most people seem to figure this one out). Second, I’m not a lesbian (and I’m pretty damned sure about that, so please don’t challenge it). Third, I’m somewhat androgynous (which, incidentally, is not the same as being butch). I live in the middle ground. I have a high tolerance for ambiguity. I’m queer.

“Queer” is a word with positive connotations in my circles. Unless you’re saying it with a glare and a snarl, it is not an insult. You can use it to describe me.

Another word you can use is “bisexual.” I don’t mind this term (and it’s a lot more appropriate than “straight” or “gay”), but you should know that I rarely use it to describe myself. To me, the term “bisexual” suggests that there are only two genders in the world, and I disagree with that philosophy. We can get into that debate another time. For now, I’d just like you to understand that gender is rarely an important factor when I’m deciding who to date.

I find that many people tend to assume I’m a lesbian, so I don’t think of this post as “coming out of a closet” so much as “submitting a clarification.” If we can get onto the same page about my identity, I think we’ll find we have a lot more to talk about. I hope you’re game.

Love,
Sarah

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There’s a yucky yucky trend going on in social media right now: Asking for Address Books. This is evil. Do you hear me? EVIL!

BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD!

KNOCK IT OFF! PLEASE! JUST QUIT IT!

Okay — step back. What am I talking about. I’m talking about when you go to LinkedIn or Facebook or MySpace (or pretty much ANY of them now), and the website smiles all cutesy at you and says, “Oh, hey, I’m really glad you like our website. You know, there are probably people on here that you’ve never thought to search for, and it’s a real shame that they’re not in your network yet. But if you just give us the username and password to your Gmail account, we can check all of your friends’ email addresses against our database and find all of them for you. It’s quick, it’s easy, and your friends will thank you!

Sounds harmless enough, right?

Don’t give it to them!

I don’t care how much you like them, or how safe they tell you they’ll keep it for you, or how much convenience they’re offering you. Your address book is your address book and it does NOT belong in the hands of a social networking website.

Why? Here’s why:

  • Spam. We know it, we hate it, we’re sick of it. When you give out your address book, you give out a list of email addresses that are connected to legitimate people who use the Internet regularly, and this is very valuable to email marketers. Your social networking site will promise you that your email addresses are “safe,” but sometimes “safe” means, “We promise we’ll ONLY share it with our partner companies — you know, our hundred closest friends. And by the way, when a larger company buys us out, those rules will probably change.
  • Impersonal Invites. I’ve received invitations to social networking websites from people I’ve barely ever spoken to — people I would need to reintroduce myself to if I ran into them at a party. Why did this happen? Because those people gave up their address book to a website, and that website went ahead and invited every email address that wasn’t already in the system. If you let this happen, it can make people feel uncomfortable, and it can make you look disrespectful. The worst part is that you might not even be aware that it’s happening.
  • Trust. You don’t give your friends’ phone numbers out to strangers. Please don’t give their email addresses out to a centralized database. That information is theirs to share; not yours.
  • Identity Fraud. They’re asking you to give out full access to your email account when they ask for your address book. Your email account is a critical link to your internet identity. Access to it is supposed to be a SECRET!

This plays into another yucky technique (which is as old as dirt, but far more powerful with the emergence of social media): Data Mining of Personal Information.

There’s a service called Rapleaf. It allows you to plug in your email address and find out what your reputation looks like on the web. The same people run a service called UpScoop, which lets you plug in all your address book data and social networking site information to scan the profiles of everyone you know — public and private — so you can “keep up with your friends.” The same people run a service called TrustFuse, which lets email marketing campaigns check boatloads of email addresses against the Rapleaf and Upscoop database to find out lots and lots of information about the people they’re trying to get money out of. (Edit: Here’s a good analysis of the RapLeaf/UpScoop/TrustFuse drama if you want more. )

Evil, I tell you. Evil.

Do you read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service of every website you give a username and password to? I don’t either. We like to function on trust. And if someone I respect invites me to use a service, I will often take their word for it that it’s a good service. But now I can’t do that anymore, because I don’t know for sure if they’re actually inviting me, or if some robot monster manipulated them into giving them my email address before they even had a chance to create a profile.

Social networking is a good thing — it’s doing phenomenal things for communities at an international level, and it’s important that we represent and express ourselves on the web. But please pay attention to what people are asking you for out there.

And don’t underestimate the value of your friends’ information.

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Once upon a time, there was a social networking website called Friendster.

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Friendster had a good thing going for awhile, being the only decent social networking website on the Internet and all. But then Friendster made a few mistakes, and people stopped using it. Even though Friendster is still out there today, most people consider it dead.

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Then another social networking website came along called Facebook.

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Facebook had a good thing going for awhile, too. Since Friendster had already paved the way for social networking, there was already a broad user base to draw from, and LOTS of people joined Facebook. (Facebook made some pretty big mistakes, too, but we’re not going to get into that right now.)

Facebook and Friendster had a lot in common. They both let people post information about themselves. One of those information pieces was “relationship status.” You know, like single, in a relationship, married, etc. Friendster went a step further than the standard categories and added a category called “it’s complicated.”

Facebook decided this was a good idea, and they did the same thing. After all, many relationships are complicated, and it’s important to let people express themselves in a way that fits.

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Then Dead-Friendster yelled out, No! No! We said that first! It’s ours! And they added a trademark symbol to it, to claim their territory.

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And then the Internet laughed and ignored Dead-Friendster, because even though Dead-Friendster wanted to be important again, you just can’t trademark a complication.

And because the Internet is a cruel, cruel place, the Internet decided to give the trademark (in spirit) to Facebook. Just to spit in Dead-Friendster’s eye.

And they all lived complicatedly ever after.

The End!

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A recent Facebook-based conversation with Susan Mernit got me thinking about my place in feminism and technology.

I started to argue that “I’m not a feminist tech geek.” I play along with the male-dominated industry by adopting the behaviors of the men around me. I have a history of working on all-male teams and being treated as “one of them” rather than as “the woman.” You’ll find me in a button-down shirt, but you won’t find me in a dress. I expect the same respect and treatment as any man, and I nip any potentially sexist situation in the bud before it escalates. I have a firm handshake, I look people in the eye, I speak with confidence, and I refuse to be pidgeonholed by my gender.

And yeah, okay, I guess that could make me a feminist tech geek.

Argument lost.

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