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AdLib On December - 11 - 2013

Huffington Post Spy

In the old days, back before “Benghazi!” was how Republicans responded to someone sneezing and Ted Cruz was just a twinkle in the Tea Party’s eye, I was a blogger at Huffington Post. Back then, there had never been an African American President of the United States though a young and determined Senator named Barack Obama was boldly vying for that mantle. Osama Bin Laden was comfortably relaxing in his Pakistan complex and tens of millions of Americans had no prayer of getting health insurance while those who had it struggled with skyrocketing premiums, being denied benefits and kicked off their plans when they most needed it.

George Bush was President of the United States, torturing detainees through water-boarding and torturing Americans by blowing up their economy, jobs and home ownership.

In those stressful times, there were a number of good political blogs for Progressives fighting against the Bush regime and for a better future for the country. As it turned out, I chose to focus on the one by the name Huffington Post. As I acclimated to the site, I was very impressed with the number of well-informed and insightful folks there. Among them  (and there were too many to list here) were HumeSkeptic, ThunderclapNewman and of course our own KQuarksSuperCollider and Kalima.

Though bigger, HP was then as The Planet is today, a community with many independent thinkers who sometimes agreed, sometimes argued but held a modicum of respect in most cases for each other. Trolls were not welcome and those who would descend on the site to disrupt threads and goad others were flagged by members and pretty swiftly booted.

Sounds like a sweet and nostalgic story now.

Here’s a somewhat brief overview on the evolution of Huffington Post from that point forward. Arianna Huffington, as a highly opportunistic and ambitious businesswoman first (not a bad thing except she did cloak herself in Progressive clothes to exploit Progressives for her profit) leveraged the heightened activity at the site, due to the Presidential election in 2008, to secure a $25 million investment from the hedge fund,  Oak Investment Partners.

In the midst of negotiations, a controversy had erupted about a crass post at the site by a member and was elevated by Republicans as an MSM “news” item and a black eye for HP. Anxious to stomp out that fire that might impact her getting that $25 million,  Arianna embarked on a total lockdown of the site, instituting a “moderation” tactic on most articles to block all comments and filter out those seen as undesirable, a policy that is now commonly used and (unfortunately) accepted as SOP. She also began a mass purge of members at the site that was somewhat indiscriminate, to clamp down on what had been pretty much free expression, especially those comments which might be too harsh, controversial or too anti-corporate/wealthy for the comfort of their new prospective hedge fund partners.

This led to much uproar and a big exodus from Huffington Post to other established Progressive sites and fueled the startups of a variety of smaller Progressive sites that welcomed free expression (such as The Planet). As 2009 continued, the powers that be at Huffington Post recognized that by allowing Right Wing trolls to post more freely at the site, the Progressives they intentionally antagonized would spend more time at the site “troll bashing” and trying to prove them wrong, which increased traffic and ad rates. So, the previous prohibition against trolls was essentially lifted (though moderation and banning continued in some more extreme cases) and Huffington Post became the blogging equivalent of PBS Meets WWE Wrestling.

Many longtime Huffington Post members were unhappy with the now-constant moderation of their comments and the permitting of ugly attacks and baiting by Right Wing trolls and their protests about the site grew. Arianna realized that this was a problem and something had to be done so comments criticizing her and Huffington Post were typically “moderated” and another purge of longtime members was launched. The apparent view was that getting rid of those who knew how much better things used to be and populating the site more with members who didn’t know any differently and thus had nothing to complain about, made for a smoother profit-making vehicle for Arianna and her hedge fund partners.

Then came 2011 and the purchase of Huffington Post for a reported $315 million dollars by AOL. The corporatization of Huffiington Post naturally accelerated, the focus on appealing to the lowest common denominator in people to churn the greatest profit also became more prominent. The level of discourse became more base and toxic as traffic grew higher and stories about nip slips and Kardashians had a regular home on the front page. This led initially to many members leaving the site but as time went by, many drifted back to it.

But a funny thing started happening. People were leaving the site from emotional and mental exhaustion, the endless fights and hatred being expressed took a toll on some who just didn’t want that toxicity in their lives anymore. And they weren’t being replaced quickly enough. Added to that, there was greater competition from the growth of Facebook and Twitter and the growth of Huffington Post/AOL wasn’t continuing as anticipated.

In empowering the Right Wing trolls and embedding intense and upsetting conflict in the site, Arianna and AOL had created a Frankenstein that had generated great profits previously but now was becoming  a threat to their bottom line. The negativity of the site was now cutting against future growth and something had to be done.

So Arianna announced earlier this year that all members would be required to post under their own names, in order to discourage people from posting offensive comments anonymously. All members would have to submit to identity verification through their Facebook account. The backlash was huge and severe, many longtime members were upset by the requirement that they give up anonymity in order to post at Huffington Post.

Arianna and HP soon backpedaled, claiming they were just going to require personal identification from new members and existing members would have nothing to worry about, they could keep their anonymity.

When I reported on Arianna’s initial announcement here at PlanetPOV, I received an email from someone I had considered as a friend at HP and who had also joined in here for a while. She had become one of the enlisted members at HP who helps moderate threads and had become quite a passionate devotee to Arianna and Huffington Post. She expressed strong resentment towards my article because after it was posted, Arianna had announced this modification of only new members having to provide personal identification. It was her contention that I was maliciously spreading untruths about HP by not removing or re-editing the initial at-the-time factual article…even though WAPO, NYT and other publications had published similar stories and of course didn’t re-edit or pull them either. What I found amusing was the insult she offered, that by not pulling or changing that article, PlanetPOV was acting as badly as Huffington Post.

Anyone who knows a little bit about journalism knows that there are many reasons why you don’t go back and continually re-edit an original story as developments arise, you simply write new stories about the developments. This is because the original story stands as a snapshot of the facts at a particular point in time…and sometimes…it is a snapshot that turns out to be just as accurate in portraying the future as it did the past.

This week, Arianna Huffington and Huffington Post betrayed their membership and their questionable promise to continue providing anonymity to their current members by requiring ALL members to provide verification of their personal identity if they want to post at the site. ALL members are now required to submit their Facebook account to Huffington Post if they want to post comments. Seems that not-very-sincere-sounding backpedaling by Arianna turned out to be just what it sounded like.

I know that there are many folks out there that are not concerned about losing their anonymity, who feel they have nothing to hide and maybe even support this attempt to restrict trolls. I respect their perspective and none of this is meant as a diss against them.

My problem with this is multi-dimensional. To begin, do you really want Huffington Post, AOL and any corporate or political entities they are connected with or support now or in the future, having a complete profile of exactly who you are and what exactly your political views are? Extrapolate how might that become an issue in the future for you and an asset to those corporations and political groups (or even administrations) that could be given access to that information. Sounds like total profiling snack food for the NSA too.

Secondly, part of what gives many bloggers the freedom to fully express themselves is the anonymity that shields them from repercussions at work and in their personal life. There are many who readily post strong opinions at HP who would never post such opinions on Facebook, so as not to upset others or bring conflict upon themselves. If your Facebook ID appears on every comment you write at Huffington Post,  just how free will you feel to genuinely express yourself on controversial issues? Abortion, racism, the Tea Party, just how open will you want to be when those who don’t like your views can track you down?

Which leads to the third and most worrisome issue. I know of people who have already been cyber-stalked and horribly harassed for posting their opinions on HP…even before their identity and Facebook page was linked to their HP account. What about the concern for personal safety? If you post a strongly worded comment against Right Wingers in general or suppose you confront a troll on the site…by being able to see your Facebook identity (even if partial), it would make it far easier for a determined hater to track you down. Even if HP was to cloak your Facebook ID in the future, just knowing that everyone on HP is also on Facebook would allow a stalker the opportunity to troll through all of your comments to seek out personally identifying information then go to Facebook and look for a likely match.

This is the kind of policy that comes from corporate thinking. It works for them as a broad, dumb tool, to hopefully tamp down in one fell swoop, the element at the site that has been depressing traffic, the hate speech, but at a cost of everyone’s anonymity and perhaps in some cases, their personal safety.

Corporations want control and information and that’s what this policy gives Huffington Post/AOL in a huge way. Though it is not likely intended to be so, it is anti-blogger, anti-free-speech and anti-security. At the very least, in HPAOL’s database, your political views will now be married to your personal identity (who you are, who your family and friends are, what causes you’ve “liked”) and you will have no idea how that potent information might be used or sold in the future. It also throws a bucket of cold water on free expression at HP. Some members will be less likely to openly speak their minds while continuing to freely express their opinions on controversial issues could open up other members to ongoing harassment in their online and personal lives.

Anonymity is a crucial component of blogging for most people who aren’t professional bloggers. This is not their job, they have a real job out there and their coworkers, clients or bosses could be Tea Partiers or anti-abortion or anti-gay. They don’t necessarily want any of those folks to know their personal opinions on sensitive issues because of the blowback they could get from it.

To evade this infringement on privacy, some folks may set up bogus Facebook accounts and though that may help shield them for the time being at HP, their IP addresses will be linked to that Facebook account so there will be a trail back to them (unless they know how to securely hide their IP address) that may or may not be made available to HPAOL or others in the future (or to the NSA now).

What I can say in closing is that the issues and principles that drove KQuark, Kalima and I from Huffington Post all those years ago remain fully intact here at The Planet. PlanetPOV will ALWAYS protect our members’ anonymity because we believe it is a necessary component of free expression on the web. It’s also a matter of respect, security and peace of mind. Those of ill will should not be given a potential road map to seek out and harass anyone whose opinions upset them.

In our opinion, Freedom of Expression and the protection of anonymity of members at a blog should always be top priorities. At The Planet, they always have been and they will always continue to be.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

984 Responses so far.

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  1. AllenMcw says:

    Count me among those old time HP’ers who is really upset at what Arianna’s HuffPost has done to their loyal users!

    There is only one time when I will post a FB comment on HuffPost and that is to reach out to my friends there and recommend they get away from HuffPost and join one or more of the other alternative sites. At some point in the future (after I have lured as many friends away as possible :) ) I will close my HuffPost account altogether and never look back.

    But for now I must remain an observer so I can reach out to my friends there….I very much value the friends and fans I have acquired there over time and want to at least try to connect with them on another less intrusive forum like here.

    So far I have signed up on 3 sites since HP made this last move and I must say that so far I like Planet here the most. It is more established and lively than the more recent ‘hprefugees’ at MSNBC. Having said that I still plan to contribute to ‘hprefugees’ to try and help them build up and become the lively place I’m sure we all want it to be.

    HP done their loyal users a great disservice and I for one think that somewhere down the road they will regret it because they will lose so much money from lack of advertisers (due to loss of users) that they may well go out of business in the next year or so.

    I don’t want to sound harsh but I will not be sorry to see them go at this point. They violated their users loyalty and privacy in a BIG way. No matter how many of their loyal users implored them to change their mind and back off of this they kept going full speed ahead. From my perspective it has been quite some time since they actually cared about their users.

    They made their bed, now they have to sleep in it!

    On a lighter note I am happy to be one of the newest members on Planet and hope to be very much engaged in the lively conversations and yes even disagreements here…..in a respectful way of course. :)

    Thanks to several already for making me feel welcome here.

    Regards,
    Allen

  2. PollyTics says:

    Thank Goodness for options. I have been quietly distrustful and distressed by HP for awhile now and they have now just done their duty by forcing to seek alternatives.

    Thanks Planet!

    12799251-silhouette-with-thought-bubbles-abstract-vector-illustration.jpg

  3. goleafsgo says:

    Happy New Year to all friends at the Planet.
    I no longer post at HP. It is very disappointing for me as I truly enjoyed responding to articles and posters …most times, but I will admit it there were times when some responses to my posts were scary and almost threatening. But the most important part of it all was that I learned so much researching my posts since I would not make statements that I could not verify…even so, those who disagreed with me refused to accept any kind of factual references. So, how effective I was in changing anyone’s mind is questionable. Nevertheless, the friends I made were many, and their conversations were informative, sometimes sad, ofttimes delightful, and even humourous, overshadowed the vitriol and hate so prevalent on HP thus making it worthwhile posting.

    However, this past year or more, it seemed to me there was a significant groundswell of hate, of viciousness, especially concerning gun control articles, to the point that I seldom commented on them, even though doing so would draw many responses… for Ariana…of course all of them would be negative and most downright scary in tone.

    I have noticed that so many of my friends have left HP. Some, like murph have remained. Today, his post had only sixteen responses when usually they are upwards of a hundred or more. He keeps on trucking with his informative, intelligent and honest comments. I know I have learned so much from him. The article he was responding to was about the Koch Brothers and the impact on the electoral process…the democratic process. Excellent post, murph!

    Further reading of the Washington Post brought me to a poster who provided an excellent link. This was written in 2010 before the election. It reveals the history of the Koch brothers,their activities and Libertarian beliefs based upon their upbringing and the impact it has had on America i so many spheres. It is a long article, but well worth the read. It may open the eyes of some, and confirm the facts to others,and allow a better understanding of the dangers posed by these two powerful men, particularly in this election year.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

    What I get from this article, and recent Tea Party bickering within the GOP is an emerging picture that makes me uncomfortable…suspicious, particularly with the “bipartisanship” of Paul Ryan re the budget deal, the emergence of Rand Paul’s ideology being plastered all over the media, coupled with the more visible, outspoken Mitt Romney. Is something going on here? A change of tack?

    • Nirek says:

      Goleaf…, Murph does have a great way of expressing his views. He is here quite a bit and we love his postings. Welcome to the Planet btw. Check out the off topic thread. Also all the other spots here on the Planet. You will be welcomed everywhere here.

  4. yankhadenuf says:

    HuffPo has morphed into a “product” that is unrecognizable. When I joined in 2005, I was anti-Iraq War and finding places to hide out that would not ban me when I called out Israel policies as one of cause factors of American invasion.

    • Welcome to the Planet yankhadenuf! I hope you enjoy it here, I sure do and have been for a few years now. It’s a great place.

      Would you mind elaborating on some of those Israeli policies that may have led up to the US involvement in the Iraq war? I’ve never really been able to make such connections myself.

      • Kalima says:

        Hi KT, I can think of one of them. Saddam Hussein was paying Palestinian families a cash reward if their sons volunteered for suicide bomb attacks against Israel. It was later confirmed by many different sources.

        • Hi Kalima. I have no doubt about that, but that is not an “Israeli policy.” I think you may have misunderstood. Yankhadenuf was referring to Israeli policies that contributed to the US involvement in Iraq.

          I cannot think of any Israeli policies that would have had anything to do with our invasion of Iraq. Maybe it is I who misunderstood yankhadenuf’s comment? Did he mean Saddam’s policies toward Israel?

    • Piul05 says:

      Definitely.

      I joined in 2008 and there were many memorable discussions and none of the bland, vacuous dialogues we witness now. They “mistake” sanguine for rude; forceful for insulting and civility for conformism. Take for example, this week’s post on Ariel Sharon; all that is allowed are comments about how “wonderful” he was -- a courtesy that the HP, curiously, did not extend to Hugo Chávez. Even the right-wing British Daily Mail has allowed comments which reflect the general view of the public.

      All in all, it’s become easier and easier to wean off the HP -- there’s hardly anything there worth reading and the comments, which were the main reason people joined, are suffering from a severe case of anemia. I only feel sorry that I cannot contact many if the people I befriended over the years but with whom I did not exchange email.

    • Nirek says:

      Yank and Piul and nomanand Debos,l, welcome to the Planet. I have been here a couple years and still am finding parts of the Planet to go to. It takes me longer to navigate as I’m old and computer illiterate to some extent. I finally figured out Morning blog. Lots of “news”stories there. I most often go to Off Topic since my interests are all over the place.
      Try going to the weekend music thread, it’s fun !

      Again welcome to all our new friends. Unofficially since I’m just another resident of the Planet.

    • Piul05 says:

      Now it’s a barren land of inane comments, where people who barely read the threads, let alone understand them, pat each other on the back for coming out with a “civil” (read totally off the mark one-line) answers. There is a vicarious interest in watching friends who gave in and signed with Facebook despair over the plunge that quality and content took since December 9th.

      Seriously, if I wanted a venue like that, I’d stick to the Daily Mail UK -- at least, it’s consistent with its right wing, sensationalist. deliberately misinformed appeal to bigots and Schaden Freude enthusiasts.

    • Dbos says:

      Money talks;Arina’s model was to use free posters brains then sell them as her very own; when the posters rebelled she made more money by linking to FB then totally abandoned them . The divorce was not amicable.

  5. yankhadenuf says:

    Good to see so many fellow ex-HuffPosters sprouting at this and other sites in the new year beyond Epoch Times and Poynter. I guess AOL (and Facebook) are no longer in control, *snickerdoodles*

    • kesmarn says:

      Welcome to the Planet, yankhadenuf! I think you’ll find that you can express yourself here without knee-jerk, inconsistent censorship that delays or evaporates your comments. And your privacy will be protected at the same time. Win-win.

  6. Piul05 says:

    Nice to see so many of my HP friends over here.

    I wish you all a happy Xmas and New Year.

  7. Quick Brown Dog says:

    Hi AdLib,

    When I logged in for the first time to PlanetPOV I noticed that it uses WordPress. How secure is WordPress as a company WRT providing info to the NSA or corporations? Doesn’t HuffPost use WordPress too? Or is WordPress an AOL company, like Tumbler is now Yahoo’s blog interface and Blogger/Blogspot is Google’s? Also, I notice there is a Twitter sidebar — does this compromise security of the site by giving information to Twitter?

    • AdLib says:

      Quick Brown Dog, not sure if you’re just kidding but showing Twitter feeds or YouTube videos or whatever on a site is simply showing data from another site, that’s it. Nothing to do with our site’s server or data.

      We never share data on our site with anyone.

      HP began with a different blogging platform than WordPress which is just a software so no, WordPress has nothing to do with nor any access to our database.

      Hope this puts your concerns to rest.

    • Kalima says:

      Hello QBD and welcome to The Planet.

      WordPress is the software system we use to run the site and in the last almost five years of running The Planet we have never had any security breaches and are quite secure. Our Twitter account is mainly to promote our articles that are written by members here. We have over 1200 followers who retweet our articles, and we retweet interesting stories from our followers. There is no compromise of security or private information, and the only way for anyone to get that information is, if you offer it yourself. The Planet is safer than many sites. Just don’t give out personal details like your email address in a comment because we will immediately remove it to protect your privacy. If you want to share your email address with a member here, please ask us in Admin to pass it on for you as long as the other member is in agreement.

      Here is how you can keep updated to replies to your comments. You can either tick the box under your new comment before you submit it, or go to Settings in your Dashboard. Click on “Comment Reply Notifications”and then click on appropriate box. You will then get alerts when members reply to your comment, in your inbox.

  8. Assumed Name says:

    I’ve not been on the internet to comment for ages-- my son’s over zealous robotics coach overtook our lives until the team lost the state championship last weekend (I contained myself as I didn’t jump for joy or shout, “Whoo-Hoo!!)--but I finally skimmed through HuffPo this evening and signed in to comment how excellent it was that a young man with Down Syndrome was accepted into college when I was asked to do so via FB *and* verify my FB account with my telephone number. (I mean, how creepy is that??) Not only do you have to display your name, but your name will be associated with your entire comment history. Does Pentecostal Aunty Em or your Tea Party boss really need to know the extent of your left wing political leanings? Furthermore, how does this promote civility (the HuffPo comments are still dicey as ever as far as I could see) or sustain free expression? The only thing I see is information mining to no civil or free end.

    (Of course, at this late date I’m certainly repeating what others have already said, but my undies are in a twist and I needed to blow off steam.)

    Off to delete my HuffPo account…and perhaps read more frequently from legitimate news sources. *smile*

    Toodle!

    • Nirek says:

      AN, you are not alone as you can see from all the posts on this thread. Good to see you again. Sorry they lost, sounds like a good competition.

      • Assumed Name says:

        Thanks for the welcome back, Nirek!

        The robotics program, The First Lego League, is very nice. This year’s theme was disaster relief. In addition to having their robots run through several simulated relief efforts, the teams do charity work and side projects. My son’s team, for example, made care packages for the homeless with food, hand warmers, etc. (We carry ours in the trunk…whenever we spot someone, my son is able to quickly grab a bag and offer it.) The team also made a roll up board game in English and Spanish that teaches children how to be safe during natural disasters--and based on their prototype they received a nice grant from a local college to produce and send it to California, Ecuador and (I think) Columbia. If you happen to know of happily bouncy adolescent geeks (one of my favorite groups of people!), here’s the web URL:

        http://www.firstlegoleague.org

        All the best,
        AN

    • Kalima says:

      AN, congrats on deleting your “Dark Side” account, and welcome back. We have missed you. :)

    • Hey AN! Great news about your son getting into college. That’s wonderful.

      Regarding Huff and Puff, you’ve made a wise decision. Data mining it most certainly is. Hello Big Brother!

      Have I told you that I just love your avatar?

  9. Reincarnation_TPS says:

    One of the best things about this site is no front page images of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber.

    This site is what HP used to be, if memory serves, many, many years ago.

  10. Reincarnation_TPS says:

    BTW,

    I recently noticed I lost about 100 fans so far on HP.

    I went down from around 1600 to around 1500 or something like that.

    • HLL says:

      Hey Reincarnation ~ I just checked and have lost 600 fans so far. That’s at least as many people who have closed their accounts. I still have mine to track how many are leaving, but I’ll close mine soon too. I’ll NEVER sign in with the FB link. YUK YUK YUK!!! The definition of “Big Brother is Watching You!”

      • NoManIsAnIsland says:

        Hi, HLL,

        I’m more than ready to close my account
        but would like to save some of my posts
        — and even more, some of the astonish-
        ing posts sent to me — but I haven’t
        figured out the best way to do it yet.

        Best wishes to you and yours for a Happy
        New Year!

        • Kalima says:

          Hello NoManIsAnIsland and welcome to The Planet.

          When I left in 2009, I went to my comments, copied them all, pasted them into Text, and then printed them out. The comments/replies to you can be more complicated and take some time, but when I was there you could click on your comment and it would take you to the article and your comment, and you could copy and paste the replies from other posters. If they were comments not connected to yours, it helps if you can remember the article they were posted on. If the comments you want to keep are from your fan base, you just go to your list of fans, click in their username and their comments should show for you to check through and copy. Good luck. :)

          A bit of work but if you want to save them, it’s worth the effort.

          • NoManIsAnIsland says:

            Hi Kalima,

            I posted a response to you on 12/30/2013 at 1:27 PM, but I
            did something wrong, and it
            ended up under a post by
            Aquarius 1027 — 18 posts below
            this as I write at 4:08 P.M. CST
            on 12/30/2013.

            I’m going to copy and save it in
            case you have difficulty finding
            it. I’m sorry for the trouble.

            I thought of reposting it here
            but didn’t want to double post it.

            NoManIsAnIsland

    • Aquarius,we don’t have a “fan,” system here. I think you’ll find that everybody here will become your fans. Even if we disagree on some points, your comments and posts will always be respected. It really IS a community here.

      • Reincarnation_TPS says:

        I just meant that people are leaving HP. And this in no way reflects how bad it may actually be since many of those fans haven’t even posted in the last few months, six months or few years. HP is probably hemorrhaging more members than it appears just by looking at how many fans are lost.

        • Dbos says:

          yep had 3500 fans lost 250+haven’t posted since “The edict”.thousands of my friends in the same boat as you and I ;sitting in life boats with the expert sailors watching the ship go adrift .

          • NoManIsAnIsland says:

            Dbos,

            I was No Man Is An Island on
            “Guff’nPuff” Post but don’t
            think our paths crossed
            there.

            WOW, I Love your sardonic
            “sitting in life boats with
            the expert sailors watching
            the ship go adrift” and hope
            I don’t presume too much
            to say I feel I’m also in one of
            those life boats with you and
            others who made up the life
            blood of the formerly respect-
            able HP!

        • I hear ya, and couldn’t agree more. I hope they lose all of their quality commenters and see just what a barren, intellectual wasteland they have made for themselves.

          I certainly would not shed a tear in their direction. ;)

  11. Reincarnation_TPS says:

    Hello Planet POV.

    I haven’t posted on HP since December 9, and I do not intend to anymore. I refuse to link HP to Facebook. I have not deleted my account but I refuse to link to Facebook so that’s it for me.

  12. AdLib says:

    If you’re newer to The Planet, you may not be aware that all members can post articles on whatever they’d like. The articles that are about news and politics are more likely to appear on our front page while articles that are more more personal, observations, about the arts, etc., are more likely to appear in Speakers Corner.

    That said, just wanted to point out to our newer members that SmotPoker just posted a new and very amusing article, “The Night I was Karma’s Bitch” which appears in Speakers Corner and if you want a fun read (very well written too), I highly recommend clicking and checking it out.

    FYI, all of our posts, front page and Speakers Corner, appear under the “Recent Posts” widget in the right hand column, always check it out to see if you’ve missed a great article (to those who have opted in, we send emails with links on all of our posts to our membership).

    So, check it out and enjoy!

    • Greta42 says:

      AdLib: Back again with unresolved problem concerning WordPress. I wonder if you received the comment I sent to you on your post about tips for newcomers? Since I haven’t heard back from you, I thought to try again.

      It seems when I attempted to sign on to WordPress, my log in name was recognized by them and then they asked for my password. Alas, after many different attempts were tried, nothing worked. I cannot remember signing up for WordPress before but that being said, I cannot even change the password without including some verification of my ownership of my log in.

      What can you advise me to do?

    • Aquarius 1027 says:

      Thank you for the information, AdLib!- Not only is it my first day at The Planet, it is my first hour! Nice to meet you. -- Looking forward to exploring all of the sections. And definitely enjoying this site where the right to privacy as well as the freedom of speech is respected. -- Hope your day goes well!

      • NoManIsAnIsland says:

        Hi there, Aquarius! Very nice to find you too!
        I hope you’ll be able to see this, as when I clicked “View This Comment,” I couldn’t find
        your post to respond to — even after scrolling
        through several pages.

        I did find your comment on my dashboard, but when I clicked on it, nothing happened — and when I just saw it on PlanetPOV’s home page also, still no luck by clicking it! That’s why I’m answering you here.

        I’m more than “Ready to get rid of the old and bring in the new for 2014″ and champing at the bit — not to mention foaming at the mouth —
        to remove the vicious GOP/TP, not only in state and federal levels but down to county, city, hamlet,village and truck stop levels, also!

        Happy holidays and a very happy New Year to you, my friend! :)

        And since this isn’t a reply under your post
        to me, please let me know if you see it —
        and even more important, if you don’t! ;-)

        • Aquarius 1027 says:

          Yes, received all of your replies! :) Like getting even to that truck stop level -- take out every single last GOP/TP!

          I am still getting used to different formats as well. And HP was my first blogging experience about a year and a half ago. Then it disintegrated and I had to venture further out into cyberspace. It has been like finding a new world that I never knew existed!

          Happy New Year to you as well -- so glad to still connect with you, my friend! :)

          • NoManIsAnIsland says:

            There wasn’t a reply box to click under your post of Jan. 1, so I have to hope you’ll see it under your post of Dec. 31. Of course if you get e-mail notifications of posts directed to you as I do, there shouldn’t be a problem anyway.

            Your post of Jan.1 beautifully encapsulated all my feelings about my own brief time of active posting on HP — from last January to the fateful day of Dec. 9 or 10!

            I’m afraid I’ve lost the majority of my closest friends at HP forever, but I’ve reconnected with a few of this select group — including you,
            naturally — here and on two other sites.

            Until I read your comment about HP being your
            first blogging experience, I had never even thought of myself as a blogger. For about the last 8 years I’ve posted on a number of other sites, such as the “New York Times” site and several others of its caliber; but I felt I was just
            commenting on articles and other posters’ remarks — just as I have in letters to the editor of newspapers.

            And I’ve never read a description more poignant yet simultaneously humorous of the trials of a neophyte blogger than yours, which I quote for anyone else who might decide to read this as well as the pure pleasure of adding it to my post (and in hopes of adding some class to it, too!):

            “And for me, with HP as my first venture into blogging as well as needing to catch up on technology, it was like being stranded on an island. And having to find not only a boat but the directions on how to operate the boat before I could escape. And then – finding a way to navigate into ports that appeared to have their instructions for entering in a foreign language!”

            I’m still barely computer literate, and becoming more knowledgeable hasn’t made me any fonder of computer systems — especially the
            unlamented HP’s.

            We didn’t have a white Christmas; but on Jan. 5, we had 10.6 inches of snow and -5 degrees, the lowest temperature in the St. Louis area since 1999!

            I’m almost O.K. now, and thank you VERY much for remembering and asking! I know you’ve
            gotten all my PlanetPOV posts so far, but I’m not sure you saw what I think was my last post to you on HP, which you’ll find below. When I sent it initially I hadn’t remembered if I had thanked you for your original words of encouragement to me, but I’ve left that part in anyway so you will read it verbatim (Incidentally you’ll see I changed my mini-bio from “Ask not for whom the bell tolls” to give a hint to any of my friends remaining on HP why I can’t and won’t post any more!):

            “No_Man_Is_An_Island
            508 Fans · Sorry everyone — I “lost” my voice somehow.

            Good evening Aquarius, I don’t have any record if I thanked you for your heartwarming good wishes of a month ago, and if I didn’t, I want to apologize and thank you now.

            You’ll be glad to know that my physiatrist gave me a second injection on Nov. 21 — that 6 days later, the day before Thanksgiving, enabled me to get out of bed without ANY pain, even under heavy medication, for the first time since Aug. 24th!

            And although only time will tell how well I’ve healed, I haven’t had to take a single pain pill since Nov. 27 and have pretty much resumed my normal activities.

            I asked my physiatrist’s nurse to tell her I thanked her for giving my life back to me, and she said she would.

            I really appreciate your concern and good wishes, and even though I imagine we’re unlikely to meet away from HP, I consider you a true friend.

            Cheers!”

            And cheers again!

            9 Dec 2013 9:23 PM

            • Aquarius 1027 says:

              Thank you so much for your kind words! :) And yes, I did get that last HP post of yours to me but I think it was just when I chose not to comment anymore on HP. Refused to follow their rules and regulations -- reminds me of similar times in the late 60’s and early 70’s when even then I disliked corporative and political manipulations! At a coming-of-age time for me, will never forget that turmoil and rebellion experienced by so many. In part, that is why I chose my name -- the lyrics of that song reflect my continued hope for peace. -- Indeed, I consider you a true friend as well. You are a rare find among the many stars out there in cyberspace and you shine far brighter than most! :)

              I also never thought I was blogging, rather just commenting. Then I had to learn about wordpress, etc. and it appears that almost everyone and anyone has started these blog sites over time. It is hard at times to connect with others who are much more familiar with getting around! -- I found the admin at the Planet to be very patient, helpful and quick to respond to my neophyte questions!

              Glad that you continue to do well. :) In the middle of the deep freeze as well here in PA, went to -9 the other night. Only had about 4 inches of snow last week. -- All the best and always wonderful to connect, my friend! :)

            • NoManIsAnIsland says:

              You’re most welcome for my “kind words.” Kind they may be, but they have the equally important virtue of being true — and no one deserves them more than you! :)

              I had a feeling you might have seen the post but couldn’t tell me because you had done as I and thousands of other loyal HP users had done: we stopped posting rather than bow down to HP’s
              foul and draconian new rule for account verification.

              I don’t think I’ve said this before, but I want you to know “The Age of Aquarius” is one of my most favorite songs of its era; and although I don’t hear it often anymore (of course I can listen to
              it on YouTube anytime I want), whenever I hear it again it will remind me of you and, of course, my own fervent wishes for peace.

              And while I don’t know what I could have said or done to deserve your celestial praise, I felt a frisson reading “You are a rare find among the many stars out there in cyberspace and you shine
              far brighter than most! :)” What eloquent and glorious use of the English language that is, and it has left me speechless — though luckily for the sake of this post, not wordless!!!

              There’s no way to say this without sounding conceited, so I’ll just do it. From time to time in my life away from the internet, people have said I’ve changed their outlook and even their lives
              by what I’ve said and done, and on HP and other sites people have said my mere words have had a similar effect. I’m always awed and very humbled to learn this as I just say whatever comes into my mind and have never felt I’ve gone out of my way to help someone — even if the person in question feels otherwise.

              And this brings me to the reason for going into this much detail about the subject. I have no idea why, but every time I’m given a new encomium it always equals or exceeds the one before it. Just a few weeks ago I got a post from an HP fan (NOT on HP, obviously) and friend which prompted me to say words to the effect
              I had never gotten a greater compliment in my life and couldn’t expect to get a higher one when, POW!!!!! — you just did!

              All the best and always wonderful to connect with you, too, my friend! I know I’m repeating your words, but I don’t know any way to express the thoughts better — I trust you won’t mind.:)

              — No Man Is An Island

            • Aquarius 1027 says:

              :) Understood -- and thank you! Each one has talents and gifts to use, how one chooses to use them is what is significant. -- Feel free to use my words, I have always enjoyed writing and poetry. And I love oldies songs! Your name was also the title of a old song as well. ( besides being from a famous quote) The sentiment of those lyrics reaches across all boundaries imposed by those who choose to use their talents and gifts to benefit only themselves or their personal agendas.

              My boat is somewhat adrift tonight -- not able to find a port of interest. But the oceans are vast and there is more to explore. -- Keep warm on your journeys! :)

          • NoManIsAnIsland says:

            Yay! Thanks for letting me
            know you got all my posts.

            When I said to let me know
            even if you DIDN’T get my
            posts I realized it could be
            a little difficult for you to do,
            but thought it was worth a
            shot anyway.

            And connecting with you
            again is a great way to
            end this year and start the
            next, my friend! :)

            • Aquarius 1027 says:

              Happy 2014! -- Same here, my friend! :) Lost so many friends at HP -- had no idea if I would ever find you. That is what has been the hardest, the connections that were just cut apart one morning. I am grateful for those who gave me a few suggestions before the axe fell.

              And for me, with HP as my first venture into blogging as well as needing to catch up on technology, it was like being stranded on an island. And having to find not only a boat but the directions on how to operate the boat before I could escape. And then -- finding a way to navigate into ports that appeared to have their instructions for entering in a foreign language!

              Will improve in time, yet I still dislike computer systems! -- Did you have a white Christmas? We had just an inch of snow that arrived for Christmas eve. -- Hope you continue to do well and all the best for you in the new year! :)

      • NoManIsAnIsland says:

        Thanks for your very quick response, Kalima! As soon as I have time, I’m going to copy and paste my favorite posts and responses, but it will be a long slog as over the last 11 months I think I’ve
        accumulated more than 30 pages on my profile section to go through.

        I haven’t answered you until now for when I got a notice in my e-mail about your post and clicked
        “View this comment,” it didn’t take me to it.

        And I only saw it now because I’m trying to answer a post from Aquarius 1027 I got in my e-mail box this morning. I can’t find it on this page, but, ironically, I found yours here! I saw the post from Aquarius on my dashboard and on
        PlanetPOV’s home page, but clicking on both notifications didn’t take me to it. So I’m just going to reply to another of Aquarius’s posts
        and hope it’s read.

        When you read this, will you tell me how to find responses faster, or should I direct the question to AdLib (as I noticed you mentioned AdLib is the tech wizard at PlanetPOV)?

        But mastering the learning curve aside, it’s a delight to meet you and AdLib, and reconnect with some of my favorite fellow escapees and expats from HP here.

        I have to admit it’s not easy adjusting to the unfettered freedom of speech, absence of quixotic and irrational censorship in the name of “moderation” (HAH!), the absolute dearth of the tabloid trash increasingly infesting HP, and the troll-free zone you provide! It’s a monument-
        tal task; but someone has to do it, and I’m up to the job.

        But having escaped from the internet gulag of Guff’nPuff Post with my faculties intact, every-
        thing seems possible and achievable now.

        I don’t know where you live; but having read you
        are awake when we in the Western Hemisphere
        are sleeping, I assume you’re on the other side of the International Dateline than we. If this is the case the new year will come to you first, and I wish you a very happy one!

        NoManIsAnIsland

        • Kalima says:

          Hello again NoManIsAnIsland, it might be that the comment you are looking for from Aquarius is on another page because there are many comments on this post. You could try clicking on Members Directory, finding Aquarius on the members list, then clicking on their name to see their profile page and recent comments.

          If there is a red reply button under the comment you are replying to, it also makes it easier to find if you reply there.

          Yes I suppose it must feel very different here with all the freedom we offer at The Planet, but once you get used to it, it seems like paradise after all the restrictions imposed on members who post on HP.

          I’m in Tokyo which means I’m 17 hours ahead of PST, and 14 hours ahead of EST.

          So let me wish you Happy New Year with hopes that it will be a good one.

          Hope to see you here again next year. :)

          • NoManIsAnIsland says:

            Hi, Kalima,

            Of course the fact you’re in Tokyo
            doesn’t mean you’re Japanese or
            even speak the language, but I
            imagine you probably do speak it.

            So while the Turkish (or Arabic)
            origin of “Kalima” does give me
            some pause, I assume it’s a
            screen name and hope it’s not
            presumptuous of me to say

            “Ohayō gozaimasu soshite
            dōmo arigatō gozaimasu!”

            I found Aquarius on the
            members list and clicked
            the red reply button to say
            I had sent a response to a
            previous post (to Ad Lib)
            since I couldn’t locate the
            latest one.

            It’s really a great tip to use
            the members list this way
            as I lost a half hour
            scrolling through the
            HP “disaster” thread we
            HP expats been very busy
            filling up!

            And if you do speak
            Japanese and I made some
            mistakes, I’m sorry.
            Japanese is the Oriental
            language I know the least
            of. I do better in Mandarin
            and Hangul and best in
            Tagalog.

            “God willing and the creek
            don’t rise,”
            as some people say not
            terribly far from where I
            live, you will see me next
            year.

            Have a good day and
            Cheers!:)

            • Kalima says:

              No I’m not Japanese but my hubby is and that’s why I’m here. I’m European born in Germany and moving to England first as a 9 year old, and later a 13 year old. I do speak Japanese but don’t read Kanji, your Japanese is fine.

              My name comes from one of my cats, her name is Kali. The “ma” is self explanatory I think, ;-)

              So in Japanese I will wish you a Happy New Year again, and look forward to you joining our discussions here on other posts.

              Yoi Otoshi yo!!

              Glad you found our Members List useful.

              By the way I do a blog here, Morning Blog, where I bring international news stories, opinions and human interest stories almost every day. It used to be every day but the new paywall system got the better of me. You can find it in the four widget boxes on the right of your screen, above the Recent Comments and Recent Posts widgets. Or even easier, here.

              http://planetpov.com/2013/11/20/morning-blog-11-20-13/

      • Welcome Aquarius. I think you’ll find the Planet to be very refreshing from what HP has become. There really is a free exchange of ideas and beliefs here.

        There is also the rarity of genuine civil discourse and no mean spirited attacks on other members and yourself.

        I came here after the AOL buy-out of HP, and found it very refreshing. A true oasis among the deserts of heavily modified or anything is acceptable websites.

        Trolls are just not tolerated here. At all.

        • Aquarius 1027 says:

          Thank you for the welcome, KillgoreTrout! -- Nice to meet you! -- HP was my first venture into blogging about a year and a half ago and now it is disintegrating. Have to catch up on technology and terminology but finally managed to navigate here. Glad to have found this planet of both respect and freedom in cyberspace! :)

      • AdLib says:

        Thanks so much, Aquarius 1027, just replied to another comment of yours, welcoming you to The Planet!

        Glad you’re enjoying it here, we really do have a high regard for our members and their freedom of expression. Makes a big difference after being smothered by word blacklists, moderation and deletions.

        Nice to meet you too and look forward to seeing you around here!

  13. CAdawn says:

    Help! I have a few emails from posters and can’t seem to find how to reply to them. I clicked on “view this comment” and it takes me to the site of comment, but I have to scroll thru days of comments. I’m doing something wrong.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey CADawn! The best way to see all the replies to your comments, like you could at HP, is by a simple process. Then you will have a Replies icon in the top menu that you can click to see all the replies you’ve gotten to your comments.

      It’s easy, just go to your Dashboard, click on Jetpack then again on Jetpack on the sub menu. On the screen that comes up, click the green button to connect your WordPress.com account (if you don’t have one, you can create one by clicking the green button) and you’ll have this great feature.

      Most folks here have a WordPress.com account, you need it to register at Gravatar and have an avatar displayed here. And unlike Facebook, these accounts are “dumb”, they don’t request any personal information.

      If you need any help with this, don’t hesitate to ask.

      • CAdawn says:

        Thanks, AdLib. I’ll play around today. I’m not on WordPress, so I’ll take care of that. I’m still not done with xmas shopping, so I’m off the internet most days, but soon I’ll get the hang of this.
        Thanks again.

  14. agrippa says:

    I never thought highly of Huffington Post. I thought it was sensationalistic -- it was full of clickbait.
    I decided that creating clickbait was the editorial policy of the site.
    The comments reflected that; in other words, the site trolled itself.
    I just go there for the comedy.

    Huffington Post is not unusual -- “if it bleeds, it leads” -- the Daily Beast and Mother Jones are full of clickbait as well.
    It is how a website ( not different from print, radio or TV) makes money.


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