Don't Let Me Stop You

What the heck, you'll do what you want anyway.

Objectionable Flag

Posted by Dan Draney on August 30, 2005

If you are a keen observer of the blogspot.com environment you may have noticed the recent addtion to the strip across the top of this blog (and others). It now shows the word “Flag?” and a little picture of a flag. This new feature allows readers (or passersby) to mark a particular blog (or post) as “objectionable” to them.

Google reassures us that there is nothing to worry about:

Blogger Help : What is the “Flag” button?: “What is the ‘Flag’ button?
The Flag button is not censorship and it cannot be manipulated by angry mobs. Political dissent? Incendiary opinions? Just plain crazy? Bring it on.”

However, in the same article they also say:

“Special Case for Hate Speech

When the community has voted and hate speech is identified on Blog*Spot, Google may exercise its right to place a Content Warning page in front of the blog and set it to ‘unlisted.'”

We’d be interested in seeing a clear, objective definition of “hate speech,” if one exists. Absent that, it seems there is some potential for manipulation by “angry mobs.” Mainly, this just seems unnecessary, a waste of bandwidth, and something to make the pages load a little slower.

Our main beef with this new “feature” though is that it has introduced invalid html code that is beyond the control of the user into every page of every blog on the system. We have gone to quite a bit of trouble to validate DLMSY to the “XHTML 1.0 Transitional” standard and to keep it validated. Admittedly, the actual impact on the viewing experience of readers is probably nil.

We reported the bug to Customer Service, but since it is “minor” there is no guarantee they will fix it anytime soon. The problem (which you can see by clicking on the W3C icon at the bottom of this page) is an improper “br” tag. All that is necessary to fix the error is to add a space and “/” between the “br” and the “>” of the tag.

Technically, the W3C icon is only supposed to be displayed on validated pages, but we’re leaving it for now, hoping Google will fix this.

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