1/31/2009

Does outside.in Have a Problem with Gays?



Please see update following for Outside.In's response.

I've been using outside.in for quite awhile now. It's a web service that looks for geotags in posts and then assembles neighborhood pages on their site with news and information from your local area.

It's a neat service and other than the major mainstream news outlets most of the stuff they get from bloggers are stuff about what they had at a restaurant or a rant about the dry cleaners. Boring stuff, really.

I seem to be one of the few more, uh... serious bloggers using the service. My posts, of course cover all sorts of stuff.

However, I've noticed that at certain times posts touching on LGBT issues that are geotagged get mysteriously "deleted" from their service. Most of those posts deal with things like talking about LGBT people in a positive light and South Carolina (my home state).

For example the post in the photo is about the night I met my partner Michael. It mentions places in Charleston, SC that were important to us including Sullivan's Island and a restaurant we ate at the night we made a commitment to each other.

At first the story, which was geotagged, appeared on outside.in, however, as I looked at my feed on the site today I realized the post had been deleted.

As I looked around more, I found other stories about South Carolina and LGBT issues that were deleted by the service.

I sent this message to outside.in asking for an explanation:
Why do I find that posts about things like LGBT matters get "accepted" when they are geotagged but then you go in and "delete" them later?

It's strange but it only seems to happen if I mention something in relations to certain areas, such as South Carolina.

Does Outside.In have some policy about not accepting stories or allowing stories about gay and lesbian matters in areas that are vehemently anti-gay?
We'll see what the response is, but I'm not holding my breath for an honest one.

UPDATE: I received the following response from Chrysanthe at Outside.in. Hopefully, what she has outlined is the case and this was a technical glitch. I'll keep an eye on it and see what happens from here on out.
Thanks for writing in! I'm happy to clear up our editorial policy for you. We embrace locals discussing matters that they care about. As far as content goes, if it's local, we want it!

We use an automated system to grab stories and to autotag posts with location information (which is why we ask bloggers to use proper place names, which works most of the time, but also to geotag when you are talking about neighborhods or cities in general as described here).

There are several factors that may be causing your stories to be deleted after detected from the feed. One, we had some hiccups in our system that grabs posts from feeds last week and have just been catching up. Two, we do not accept content generally about a state or county as a whole. We'd need zip codes for an area, or an exact location. We don't have blogs that cover a state in general. We focus on local: places, that park on the corner, your city, etc. Third, it looks like your blog is associated with regions in Arizona, which is possibly why we weren't getting stories about South Carolina. Fourth, there is a known bug in GeoToolkit that we're trying to fix. If you ever see an error message when using the feed editor, please don't click the back button, but retype the URL outside.in/geotoolkit into your browser bar to avoid posts being permanently skipped.

Remember that if there are specific stories relating to exact places that our system is not picking up, we have this great tool that gives you the power to correct it, GeoToolkit: outside.in/geotoolkit/feed. You can add in places that we missed and associate posts with cities and neighbohroods. It takes the guess work out of it!

Hope this clears things up.

Chrysanthe
Community Coordinator


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