Rising from the Ashes

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by Tim Widowfield

Well, we’re alive again.  Did I miss anything while we were dead?

Folio 55 verso : Phoenix (Fenix) rising from i...
Folio 55 verso : Phoenix (Fenix) rising from its ashes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Waaaah!  They stole my content!”

Here’s the short version of what happened. In one of Neil’s blog posts, he copied the content from one of Joel “Takedown” Watts’ posts, not to steal content (heaven forbid), but to prove that Joel had merely scraped Google for links related to “the science of history.”

Joel took issue with it and claims he sent Neil an email. Perhaps he did. Neil still can’t find any evidence of it, not even in his spam pile. Joel then complained to WordPress.com, and demanded that the post containing his stolen property be taken down.

As far as we can tell, what happened next is that the WordPress guys put that post on private, but neglected to tell us why. Yesterday, Neil asked if I’d changed a post’s status to “Private,” or if we were experiencing another WordPress glitch. I said I might have fat-fingered something.  I had been setting some posts I was working on from Draft to Private, because I was worried I might accidentally publish them.

“Nice blog ya got here. It’d be a shame if sumpin’ was tuh happen to it.”

So Neil, unaware of the storm brewing on the horizon, set the post back to Public. At that point, it appears WordPress interpreted our behavior as evidence that we were flouting the rules and ignoring the DMCA takedown order. Please note that neither Neil nor I received any warnings from WordPress about the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

Last night I was responding to a comment when Vridar’s lights figuratively went out. I clicked to submit, and was told that comments were disabled. Then I went to the dashboard for WordPress and received the bad news. They said we had broken the rules and they were shutting us down. The actual language of the execution warrant was vague; we might have been guilty of copyright infringement or perhaps we were engaged in a get-rich-quick scheme.

English: 3:4 Portrait crop of Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We immediately started asking for an explanation. Here’s a tip for anyone out there who suffers the same fate: Don’t keep asking what’s going on, or they send your requests to the back of the queue. Finally, we were told that it was a DMCA takedown. We could try to present our case, but for now we were dead to the world. Since Neil was the one dealing with that phase, I’ll let him explain the Kafka-esque proceedings that ensued.

“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

WordPress.com was kind enough to pack up our stuff and throw it out on the front lawn. Actually, they exported the whole site (everything except for our stored media files, which are probably gone for good) into a huge XML file, which we could use to import onto another site.

So we set the blog up over on another host, where we have more control of what’s going on. It’s more expensive, but it’s the right thing to do. Several days might have gone by before we got a fair hearing, and even then there’s no guarantee they’d turn us back on.

It’s going to take a while for us to get everything back the way it was. Comments will be disabled for a short time as we figure things out. Some of the content may look funny, because our image library was not exported.

Thanks for all the concern out there.  It’s good to be alive and kicking again!

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Tim Widowfield

Tim is a retired vagabond who lives with his wife and multiple cats in a 20-year-old motor home. To read more about Tim, see our About page.

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14 thoughts on “Rising from the Ashes”

  1. I will not bore you with the saga of how I learned of the recent vicissitudes of this blog or how I found the the new location. I would like to say that I am at least glad that in this era (and your location!) you can’t be burned at the stake anymore. It don’t pay to carefully fisk apologists statements! How low can they go?

    If there is no unpleasantness involved in responding, I would like to know, in light of your recent misadventures, how it is that even this new blog says ‘powered by wordpress’ at the bottom of page? No big deal if you don’t appease my curiosity. I don’t even have a blog so maybe I wouldn’t understand if you did explain.

    I am very glad you are back up. I learn lots here. If there were no gadflies, mischief would reign unchallenged!

    1. Go ahead and “bore” us! We’d be interested in how you got here.

      As for why we’re using WordPress, well, we’re talking about two distinct entities. First, there’s the content management system (CMS) that’s called WordPress. It’s an open-source CMS software package that’s built and maintained by hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer developers all over the world. Second, there’s a hosting company called WordPress.com, which is where we used to be hosted.

      I don’t bear either entity any ill will. Hell, I don’t even bear Joel any ill will. It would be like holding a grudge against a puppy who pooped in your living room. Mostly I feel sorry for him, and I feel sorry for his future students.

      Truth is, if I had tried to move all of our data over to another CMS like Drupal, we would still be dead in the water while I tried to get up to speed.

      1. Alright, the boring story. No input to my rss reader which I use to follow about a dozen atheist blogs of which Vridar is one. So, just traipsing around from atheist blog to blog that are not in my reader, using the little list often called ‘blogs I like’ at most blogs in order to step over to another blog. At Vinny’s blog (he comments here sometimes) I clicked on a blog I didn’t know about, and behold it was McGrath’s blog. There, before exiting without reading any posts, I did notice a post title that mentioned something about the old Vridar’s demise. Which triggered a DuckDuckGo search (little plug there – I like them, they don’t spy on you like most search engines) about ‘Vridar shut down’. Among the results was one that led here. Whew!

        1. My equally boring story is that I saw on my wordpress reader that Tim and Neil had replied to my replies to them, but when I tried to reply further I got the “shut down” message. From there googling got me to McGrath’s discussion of this episode, and hence to the resurrected blog to (eventually!) make my reply.

  2. Since you are interested in how people got here, I’ll mention that I found out about the problems when reading the freeratio.org forums.
    I see it as a day of shame, a day that will live in infamy. Well may you say: infamy, infamy, Watts has got it in for me.
    I’m still mildly shocked by the whole thing.

  3. Glad to see that Vridar is up again.

    How petty of Watts. But also, as it turns out, how embarrassing for him. All that additional attention given to a 200 word post of his that most people would be only too happy to disown. And to his clumsy attempts to wiggle out of the mess. One could almost pity him.

  4. JW:
    Joel Watts sucks.

    Note – The above comment is only intended as a test comment for this new host. No other intent is intended. Joel Watts is 100% responsible for this post as it was his illegal censoring of Vridar that made it necessary. The above comment is fully copyrighted protected with the exception that Joel Watts is free to post it at his uncensored site and even claim full attribution for it.


    1. Sadly Joe’s comment had been caught in the spam folder for the last two days; I’ve rescued it only now.

      Joe, your comments defaulted to spam on the other site, too. I have no idea why. Next time email me to let me know you did send a comment if it does not appear immediately. Ditto to anyone else who appears to lose a comment after posting.

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