FAQ: Google blog censorship, and complimentary blogs through the Erotic Authors Guild

Last week, many Google Blogger users received email regarding changes to Terms of Service. According to the email, Google is enacting a policy restricting certain explicit content. This may affect erotic authors who maintain blogs through Blogger.

The Guild offers complimentary blog hosting to its members as a benefit. This is done on the WordPress platform and is not difficult to set up.

Q: How do I know if Blogger’s new policy affects me? It seems to be referring to visual pornography, and not necessarily written erotica?

A: It may refer to explicit imagery for now. However, next week or next month, policy could change again. Book cover images, in many cases, could also be deemed “explicit.” And, whether or not you’re in violation is at the whim of Google.

Q: Isn’t this censorship? What happened to the First Amendment?

A: “Freedom of speech” is frequently brought up when a content or service provider (Google, Amazon, Facebook, internet discussion board, etc.) decides to restrict or remove certain content. The First Amendment refers to the government’s ability to silence you. Google is a corporation that provides you with a membership and space on their servers, therefore it’s subject to their terms.

(In much the same manner, I could write a strongly worded letter to the editor of my local newspaper. This doesn’t mean it’s my Constitutional right to force the editor to publish the letter in the Editorials section.)

In these cases, the recourse is to publish your work elsewhere.

Q: The Guild says it offers a WordPress blog. But I’ve heard that WordPress is just as bad when it comes to censorship of explicit content. Won’t I run into the same problem?

A: WordPress.com is a service that hosts blogs, very similar to Google Blogger. However, WordPress is also an open-source software, which can be installed free of charge on most any web server. It’s the latter WordPress that we’re referring to here–terms of service only apply to blog authors who are members of WordPress.com.

The Erotic Authors Guild installs this open-source software for you on its own webspace. If you’re setting up “Author Mary Jane’s Blog,” it may look like www.eroticauthorsguild.org/maryjaneauthor. If you own the domain maryjaneauthor.com, it can also be pointed at the blog being hosted at the Guild.

Q: I am not technical at all and would have no idea how to setup my own blog?

A: The Guild has administrators who can set this up for you. Mainly, you would have to choose a theme/template (this governs the appearance and layout of your blog.) There are thousands of free themes to choose from.

WordPress also has “plugins” which do just about anything. If you want to add a survey poll, install a widget to purchase your books, or add a calendar to your site, there will be a plugin for it. Again, the Guild can get this set up for you.

Q: Are there examples of WordPress blogs?

A: This blog (where you’re reading right now) is on the WordPress platform.

The Erotic Authors Guild official page is also done in WordPress, as is this author’s official site.

Q: Are there terms of usage for the Guild-hosted blog?

A: It’s an Erotic Authors Guild, so explicit content is expected.

If something violates the law, such as child exploitation, we would need to take appropriate action.

The Guild also has a set of core values, and we would ask that our members adhere to them, on their blog as well as in other interactions.

Q: How can I get my blog started?

A: If you’re an erotic author, you just need to join the Guild via the “become a member” link at our site. Specify in the appropriate comment area that you will be interested in having blog space.

If you are a non-author but are dealing with censorship or bullying issues that necessitate a hosted blog, the board of directors can discuss with you and consider on a case by case basis.




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