I submitted my first-ever story to Slashdot this week, when I heard from a friend in South Korea: He was suddenly unable to access his own BlogSpot weblog. I did a little footwork, and was amazed to find out that South Korea was ordering ISPs to block entire blog sites, on the rationale that they might contain links to forbidden material. I had no idea that South Korea, which I have always thought as a liberal democracy, did that kind of thing.
This is the kind of story I expect to read about on Slashdot: After all, they justly cover the Great Firewall of China with unrelenting attention. But my story was rejected. Perhaps it was not well-written, or perhaps it violates some style guideline. I don't know. The selection/rejection process is totally opaque.
I wasn't looking for a byline, so I don't care that they rejected my account of things. But I am disturbed that this story has never appeared in anyone's version. Why does Slashdot care when China censors the Internet, but looks the other way when South Korea does?
I feel a general affinity with the "Slashdot ethic": Free Speech, Free Software, etc. But now that I've seen how partially it is prosecuted in the selection of stories, I'm never going to look at the day's crop of stories without wondering which stories I am not reading, and what agenda is guiding that process of selection.
I thought about writing them a nastygram, but I'm sure they get enough of those, and really, what end would it serve? Either they don't get it or they're not operating in good faith, and telling them off isn't going to change either of those things.
So: I include the rejected story below in the hopes that someone will read it and tell a friend, just as my friend in Korea let me know what was going on.
The Korea Times reports the South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has ordered ISPs to block access to web sites to stymie the distribution of videos depicting the decapitation of South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il. At least 39 sites have been blocked. Additionally, 12 people have been arrested for downloading the video on P2P networks. In-depth coverage is available from OhmyNews.
The blacklist of sites includes not only distributors of the video, but also sites discussing the video, including blogs hosted at Blogger (a.k.a. BlogSpot) (e.g. "BigHominid's Hairy Chasms") and TypePad (a.k.a blogs.com) (e.g. "The Marmot's Hole"). Concerned bloggers cite a breach of the Korean Constitution and have begun to circulate a petition to the Ministry of Communication. In the meantime they are using anonymous proxies to read each others blogs.