Kottu wordle today. The Unrecognized characters are Sinhala
There’s been some debate about Kottu’s standards. Kottu is a blog aggregator. The effect is that some Sri Lankan blogs can pool traffic and form a sorta community. It started just cause it was cool to do and interesting to read. The data structure and design is something I sketched out for coordinating tsunami relief (never happened) and the name and first idea was Mahangu’s. It’s grown to a pretty happy and convivial place since and I generally enjoy reading it. It does have basic standards, which are published.
The published requirement for joining Kottu are:
1. Having a working feed (which most blogs do)
2. Being ‘Sri Lankan’, as in based in or covering Sri Lankan experiences
3. Being original content (not copy/pasted)
4. Observing very basic standards of libel and obscenity
5. Being updated in the last two months
The method of joining is a personal email to me, mainly cause I’m too lazy to put a proper contact form in. It also helps to have a working email for feed problems. I treat all email as private. Beside’s that, I’ll explain the basic process.
Someone sends me blog URL. I get this mail on my phone. If I’m sitting around I’ll add it thru my phone, but that’s a bit annoying and I generally mark the mail as unread to process later. I try to respond to all requests within 24 hours, but sometimes I’m busy or out of town, lately I got back to people 4 days later and apologized. Rarely I forget entirely and I quite sincerely correct and apologize when people mail me about it.
I put the blog URL into Kottu to see if it can read it. This also shows me the first post. I also open the blog in another tab to have a look. I’m not looking for content really, the main issue is number 3, original content. A lot of submissions are just copy/pasted from other places on the net, so I run a sample of text thru Google to see if it’s original. Beyond that I just check if it’s sorta Sri Lankan experience related (which is broad) and add the thing. Libel/obscenity doesn’t really come in till later.
Every now and then the database melts and I go on a great purge. I click thru every single blog and see if the latest date is older than 2 months. I remove those, and there are too many and the contacts to scattered to inform people. This is mentioned on the About page.
This is simply because each blog syndicated on Kottu has a physical cost, specifically RAM. I keep having to buy more RAM for the server so I try to minimize the dead links it’s polling. I’ve been trying to figure out how to automate this cause it’s a pain. This is in relation to point 5.
The other issue more readily at hand is point 4, libel and obscenity. I try to follow this in the most legal terms. Libel, legally, applies to private not public figures. So, attacking a public figure, organization or named blogger is actually OK.
The big scene now is more broadly defamation, and privacy. That is specifically mentioned in the terms:
it’s basically not cool to personally attack people to the point of (seriously) threatening violence or publishing phone numbers, addresses, and revealing anonymous identities. There is a lot of rough and tumble on Kottu, but there is a grey line.
Outing a private figure or anonymous blogger is simply not permitted under the Kottu terms, nor that of most blogging platforms. I don’t actually get into the attacking part that much cause I think that’s part of the blogosphere, but I am especially sensitive to anonymous bloggers being outed. And that’s mentioned. Most of the recent removals were simply for that.
That is not covered very clearly under most law, but I do think an anonymous blogger has a reasonable right to privacy. I also think it’s important that Kottu is a safe place in that sense, because media is under physical threat here. This privacy issue is discussed further here: How To Protect Blogger Privacy.
And that’s about it. I don’t read all of Kottu or even all of my comments so I do depend on people to contact me about issues. If there are problems I try to work them out privately over email and only then recourse to removing someone. I think I’ve been generally fair and kept to the published standards. In any case there are enough people and enough public commentary to keep me in line. Anyways, as to my ultimate involvement, I quote from the About page:
Indi, that is I, am basically the janitor. I add feeds, I keep an eye on the database, and generally try to keep the place clean. I do have opinions – which I write on indi.ca – but they have no bearing on Kottu. I’m no saint, but I am lazy and it is easy for me to simply syndicate everyone that fits the requirements above without thinking too much about it. I’m sorry that there’s still a human element here, but there is. I cannot be assed to be any sort of active figure, I’m just trying to keep the place clean.