Tuesday 22 February 2011

Open Salon disabled my blog "by mistake"

On Sunday, February 20, 2011, I go to my blog on Open Salon. I have my account set up to remember my login so I'm a little perplexed that my bookmark in Firefox doesn't immediately lead me to the account. I click to log in, fill in my information then get the following message:

User 217743 does not exist

Did I misspell my user name? I try again. Same response. Have I messed up my password? I click on the option "Forget your password". I get an email and follow the instructions but end up with the same message about User 217743 does not exist. Have I done something wrong?

I go to Google and search on my articles. I still find links to my articles but as I click on two, three, four links, I end up with this message telling me User 217743 does not exist. Then it dawns on me: my account has been suspended. But why?

Did I write something which violates the terms of agreement with Open Salon? The article I just posted the night before "Roxy aka Shelley Lubben vs. the (porn) world" didn't strike me as any more controversial than anything else I had written. Yes, I used the picture of the cover of a DVD for a porn movie but all body parts were strategically covered.

Was somebody upset I had written an article about pornography? I had touched upon the subject before and in doing a search, I found others in Open Salon had discussed this topic.

Was my language unacceptable? In my article, I hadn't uttered a single profanity. Once again, a search of Open Salon led me to examples for every one of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On TV.

My article dealt with Shelly Lubben, a former porn star who found God and has now made it a personal mission to convert all of us to non-porn good Christian ways. Had a supporter managed to infiltrate Open Salon and suppress any dissenting voices?

I write the following email to Open Salon

from     William Belle
to       open.problems@salon.com,
date     Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 8:50 AM
subject  Open Salon suspended my account?

Last night I posted an article from my blog


This morning I can't get in. Any links to my articles in Google come up with

    * Code 300: User 217743 does not exist
    * Detailed information has been written into the error log.

Ah, would anybody be kind enough to explain to me what's going on? Is this a technical error or have I violated some terms of service?

William Quincy Belle

No answer all day Sunday. I forward a copy of the email Monday morning. No answer all day Monday. I forward another copy Tuesday morning. I get a response late Tuesday afternoon.

from     ...
to       William Belle
date     Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 5:24 PM
subject  Re: Open Salon suspended my account?

Hello William,

Thank you for writing.  It appears your blog was deleted by mistake, but I have gone ahead and reinstated your blog.  I am terribly sorry about the inconvenience this may have caused.



I stare at this email for the longest time mulling over what has happened and the ramifications. I manage to log in and yes, my account is there. I discover though that out of the 260 blog postings I had, only two remain. The other 258 postings have disappeared. I check further and find that my list of followers is still there. I notice that my recent comments are showing which I find curious. In doing a Google search on my articles, I ran across a link to an Open Salon article which had one of my comments. When I looked at the article, I discovered my comment was no longer on the page. Now that I'm back in, my comments seem to have re-appeared.

Now, please keep in mind I am not holding any ill-will for ...; he's just a cog in the machine. I don't believe he's personally responsible for this "incident" - unless I hear otherwise! Consequently, when I wrote back, I controlled myself. I didn't write "WTF?" and I expressed in measured terms some questions and suggestions about the ease with which one was able to unceremoniously delete my account.

from     William Belle
to       ...
date     Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM
subject  Re: Open Salon suspended my account?

Deleted by mistake? I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the reinstatement, but I have to ask if this happens frequently? I had 260 postings which represent quite a bit of time on my part. Yes, my postings come from a blog elsewhere but I have had to edit many of the Salon postings because your system doesn't handle HTML in the same way Blogger does. I am sitting here stunned that someone, somewhere wiped out hours of my time and the response is "Oops".

Aren't there any checks and balances in your system from an administration level to double check the deletion of an account? Can anybody just go ahead and delete an account? If an account is deleted, you don't have some sort of safeguard of holding onto the information for X number of days or weeks before permanently deleting it?

I'm flabbergasted. What if I only had a Salon blog and didn't have a blog elsewhere? I would have lost the only copy of my blog. Unlike Blogger which has an export/import for the entire blog, I see no way of "backing up" a Salon blog.

Is the rest of the Open Salon community aware that their account could be deleted like mine?

I appreciate you reinstating me but as I've discovered that only 2 out of my original 260 blog posting remain, I'm wondering whether I want to take the time to put it all in again.


I am only a very small fish in a great big pond. Well may be it's an ocean. Nevertheless, like everybody else spending some of their valuable and oh so limited time in this world jotting down their thoughts about this, that and the other thing, I feel a degree of assurance that the cosmos is spinning properly when I log in and find "my stuff" where it should be.

My question to anybody else blogging at Open Salon or using any of the other blogging platforms: Can this happen to you? I guess question number two should be: Do you have a backup of your work?

A final email from ... explains that my account was not deleted, it was disabled. However, he explains that disabling an account breaks any links to an imported blog. Ah, I manually entered 2 postings; the other 258 were imported. That's why out of the 260, the majority disappeared. I'm not saying I understand, but I have an explanation.

If this is to be categorised as a "fluke", so be it, I matter not to the gods. However, I was serious about my questions and suggestions. As a developer, manager and observer in the workplace, I am fully cognisant of the vagaries of business procedures and their effectiveness. Getting a sign-off can be considered a PITA (Pain In The Administration) however it does avoid those moments where an individual performs an uninformed, ill-considered and unrecoverable action even if with the best of intentions. As I stroll around and overhear some poor soul curse their fate as they expound on the horrors of modern technology and lost time and effort (and unsaved, not backed up files), I smile ever so slightly and silently whisper to myself, "Thank God my computer is working okay."


Wikipedia: Open Salon
Open Salon is a hybrid blogging platform and social network site started by the Salon Media Group, Inc. According to Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh "Open Salon gets rid of traditional gatekeepers, and makes our smart, creative audience full partners in Salon's publishing future." After registering, users can start blogging immediately as well as rating and commenting on other posts. The Open Salon home page functions as a real-time magazine cover and is updated throughout the day. The best Open Salon content is featured on the cover of Salon.com.

Hmmm, would a gatekeeper be such a bad thing? All DEL keystrokes must have authorisation.


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dirtycowgirl said...

Hmmm, still no real explanation as to why though ?
Lately a few people on the blogger forums have had their blogs removed (then reinstated) but with no explanation. So much for free speech I guess. Recently during random searches I found a blog that contains nothing but videos of women doing unspeakable things with dogs. I thought this was illegal so I saved the link and reported it (with the help of one of the blogger TC's who gave me the correct links to use), that was at least a week ago. That blog is still there. Go figure.

Unknown said...

how crazy I just had this exact same thing happen to me I am waiting on a response from open salon right now!! I randomly went to rewrite a recent blog post and to my surprise my previously saved login info was gone and I got a similar user does not exist response when I would go to sign in??? This is frustrating and just crazy I had no problem with it at all for about 2 yrs then this... again just weird!!!!!