The internet is my life. I work here, play here and socialize with friends here. As an on-line freelance writer, my articles span several websites. As a gaming blogger, in my leisure time, I have a huge presence on a Runescape site. As a fiction writer, I have stories dotted around three other platforms. I use social media to keep up-to-date with my friends, who are scattered around the world.
I am British, but the SOPA and PIPA legislation have the potential to impact many of my regular on-line haunts. I am not a pirate, but either of the bills could affect my livelihood. I decided early on to join in the protest.
This was harder than it looked. Here is a breakdown of how I intend to disappear from the internet on January 18th 2012 and why:
My profile here could be impacted by the use of YouTube videos and potentially other modules. The rules of the site prohibit the use of copyrighted material. If any writer attempts to do so, then their article will not be published. (I discovered this when I included a quotation. The inner algorithm queried it, as content duplicated elsewhere on the internet. Oops!)
But SOPA allows for suspicion only; or a rogue picture might be contested. In that case, the entire Wizzley website could be taken off-line and/or DNS banned in the USA. It wouldn't even have to be me who made the mistake, but another writer here.
I would rather not do without Wizzley. Without control of the coding, I cannot add a display notice. However, a quick message to the site owner provided a solution. On January 18th 2012, my account here will be made temporarily inactive. It will be as if I was never here.
My account at Suite101 would be affected for all of the same reasons as Wizzley.
When I approached a senior editor there for ideas, she commented that I will not be the only person asking this week! Unfortunately there is no mechanism there for temporarily disabling an account. It is live or it is deleted. Instead she suggested that I remove all of my profile information and black out my image.
My own website will not pose any problems at all. I have full access to every page within it. This means that I can personally ensure that no pirated nor copyrighted content ever enters it, but again SOPA allows for suspicion. I also have a forum in there, which could potentially see someone leaving a comment which falls foul of the law.
I will insert a piece of coding similar to that being used by the likes of Wikipedia. It will render the content inaccessible for the duration of the protest. The front page will display a notice explaining why.
My personal blogs often make use of videos from YouTube to support my writing or provide variety for my readers. I might occasionally give a bad review to a book, DVD or album, which might incur the wrath of its creator. Any of these would make me vulnerable to a take down under SOPA or PIPA.
They are both on the Blogger/Blogspot platform, which denies me access to the main website code. However, I do have the ability to change my templates. I spent a good half an hour trying to determine if I could code it in such a way as to ape the notices on my website.
I'd just worked out an adequate fix, when I learned someone else had already designed a whole SOPA protest template! I will be using that instead. I'm a writer and a geek, I'm not an artist. They did much better than me.
My gaming blog has been regularly updated since 2007. It has well over 200k hits on it, so this will possibly be the most missed of all my on-line platforms.
I do not have access to the code behind it, as it is part of a much larger, platinum awarded Runescape fan-site. I might have accidentally broken it.
I had already messaged a site administrator with the query, but she went off-line before I received a response. I explored my own options and found one which could well take me temporarily off-line. I could make my entire blog private! I tested it last night, but there was a bit of a problem.
This blog is massive. It has over 1000 entries and attracts a relatively large regular readership. They all leave comments. Nothing so big has ever had its settings simultaneously changed at the same time. The current theory is that it looked to the server like a DDOS attack, so I was immediately IP banned.
At this moment in time, the biggest Runescape fan-site forum is off-line, while the owner tries to see what went so badly wrong. (Edit: Sal has fixed it! Though the entire forum has changed and I'm no longer IP banned.)
I still intend to see how to use Merch Gwyar's blog to register my protest. It is currently a matter of working with the owner to see how I can do that without destroying the whole site!
As a moderator or member of various forums, I have instigated polls to see which of them will be made unavailable. The voting is on-going and the fixes are all specific to their sites. Right now, the polls are showing an over-whelming member support for action. I am confident that, by midnight, they will all be participants in the day the internet went on strike.