Category Archives: BristolBloggerGate

All about WordPress.com censoring blogs shining a light on shady deals at universities

BristolBloggerGate: It’s just a typical n00b mistake!

So, thanks to radio journalist Martin Jones and news website Bristol 24/7 we now know that the reason for WordPress’s fritzing of The Bristol Blogger today was due to pressure from ex-University of the West of England vice-chancellor Sir Howard Newby. It seems he didn’t like some reference or other made by TBB. The word ‘defamation’ seems to have been thrown around. TBB is back up now, but WordPress has said the offending references must be gone by daybreak (or something similar).

Still, it makes you wonder exactly what it was that earned the takedown…

Whilst the blog posts in question appear to have been taken down, they can still be viewed via caches. One post, dated 26th May 2007, mentions a “private sector training company” in which both Sir Howard and his wife Lady Sheila held an interest being brought in to work with UWE. Another, from 7th July 2007, reflects on Sir Howard’s departure from UWE for pastures new at Liverpool University and again refers to the Newbys’ involvement with private consultants hired to work at UWE.

Similar points have been raised elsewhere – including the WordPress-hosted blogs Sir Howard Newby Watch and EcoLogics. However, the former appears to have been suspended in the same way as TBB was, and the latter’s blog post about the Newby-connected consultancy going into administration now throws up a 404 error message, consistent with a blog post that has been deleted (such as the Newby posts on TBB deleted under pain of blog deletion). Again, all the missing material is accessible through a cache search. Bizarrely, a different blog post on EcoLogics goes into greater detail about the Newbys involvement in private consultancy at UWE (and Sir Howard’s management style and educational philosophy) than the mysteriously missing post. Additionally, an independently-hosted blog, DC’s Improbable Science, carries similar material but remains up and running.

Outside of the blogosphere, mention is made of all the salient points in reports by the likes of Private Eye, The Guardian, Times Higher Education and others. The THE story refers to a different “private consultancy used by UWE during Sir Howard’s leadership…used by Liverpool for ‘work associated with strategic planning'”.

So what exactly was the beef with The Bristol Blogger (and Sir Howard Newby Watch, and possibly EcoLogics)? Is there something in the scandal pipeline that someone, somewhere, is trying to preemptively draw attention away from?

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BristolBloggerGate: Wordpress suppresses words… But which ones and why?

For reasons that are as yet unclear, WordPress today attempted to silence one of our fair city’s most popular political websites, The Bristol Blogger. In place of the usual collection of local political ribaldry, scandalous gossip and five-star muckraking, filling TBB’s front page now is a stark notice:

This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.

No reference is made to exactly what is supposed to have breached the ToS.

So just what was it that got WordPress’s knickers in a twist? The last story posted on TBB was about the pisspoor Tory twitter campaign #kerryout; so is it something to do with the less-than-ecstatic welcome extended to the Conservatives’ Bristol East candidate Adeela Shafi (aka ‘Web wonder Shafi’)?

That article has been rather usefully reposted to Bristol IndyMedia:

Election 2010: Tory wonderweb joy!

January 4, 2010 · 20 Comments

Just been reading Eugene Byrne’s political predictions for 2010 in Venue. A stonking good read mainly because the The Bristol Blogger is in it. Although another highlight is Helen Holland cracking a decentish joke while KRS will be on the naughty step for the forseeable.

Most of the article is general election predictions and observations. Dawn’s gonna hold Bristol South; Paul Smith might win Bristol West (ha, ha, ha!); Jacob Rees-Mogg is tosser etc. etc …

Unfortunately Eugene didn’t mention Bristol East where the – so far – invisible Tory candidate, the fragrant Ms Adeela Shafi of leafy Westbury-on-Trym in, er, Bristol West, has reinvented herself over Christmas as one of the country’s “most web-savvy politicians”!

And ‘Web wonder Shafi‘ – as we now have to call her – will have an anonymous pro-Tory internet campaign – featuring “cutting edge Tory bloggers” – kicking off in the Bristol East constituency today with the Twitter-friendly title #kerryout.

Despite the rather obvious fact – regardless of how many “cutting edge” Tory public schoolboy bloggers form a circle jerk – that Bristol’s political blogosphere doesn’t have the reach to turn over a 7,200 Labour majority in Bristol East – and lazy-arsed Tory horse Shafi will have to get off her backside and knock on doors to make an impact – this soppy little campaign has obviously rattled Kerry who is already issuing daft legal threats!

Now we find Channel 4 News are taking an interest …

Pull up a chair. The election’s underway folks and I’m off to design my ‘Election 2010′ logo …

Or perhaps it’s nothing to do with that at all – TBB has, after all, gnawed at the ankles of pretty much everyone who would like to see themself as either one of the great and/or the good of the city. Frothy-mouthed keyboard-puncher Bristol Dave suspects the work of the City Council’s legal eagles – crackpot little Hitlers (sorry, I mean ‘crack litigators’) that they are; if you have a theory, please do share.

Meanwhile, the Bristol Blogger themself has suggested that anybody interested in finding out why the blog’s been spiked should contact Paul Kim, who seems to be responsible for this sort of thing at Automattic, the company which runs WordPress.

ETA:

More coverage now up in the form of an editorial article on Bristol IndyMedia, plus a quickie on Anarchist 6[Zero]6. Bristol Dave has also fleshed out his theory that this is BCC-related in the comments below.