Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

dimanche 10 février 2008

DeafRead BROKEN. Do-do?

What do we do about DeafRead? A simple blog aggregator has become the topic of so much controversy, people cannot even agree on whether or not DeafRead is broken. Those who agree that it’s broken can say what’s wrong, but they can’t agree on how to fix it. At the crux of the issue is: what exactly is DeafRead supposed to be?

I’m a mere sporadic blogger, but I’ve been part of DeafRead, both as a blogger and as a reader from the very beginning. That, I believe, entitles me to have an opinion. *smile* And my take on the whole thing is that DeafRead is badly broken and will need to be fixed quickly in order to be saved. The two main breakages are in its values and in the Extras voting procedure, in my view.

The core of the situation is whether or not DeafRead should have an abiding set of guiding principles or not, and if so, what they should be. I want to doff my cap to Tayler Mayer and Jared Evans. I met them both only recently, and Jared, quite briefly, but I have so much respect for them. It’s become very clear to me, via my time with Tayler in the Real World, by reading what Jared has to say in DeafBlogLand, and by what I've "heard" about them both, that both men are very community-oriented and have a clear Deaf center. They also see the value of being open to everyone. So do I. We’re all on the same page in this respect. However, where I differ with how DeafRead has been operated over the past few months is in how posts have been selected for the main page. Do-do? That's the question.

There are a few things that need to be clarified before I humbly offer my solution.

1. Deaf people, as a group, do not reject people. Every group has its share of rotten apples who cling tightly to an arbitrary set of pre-conceived notions about "membership" in the group, and the Deaf community is no exception. I could tell a story about how someone whom I made a strong connection with snubbed me after she found out I didn’t come from a Deaf family. But we as a community abhor this and gladly open our arms to anyone who shows a genuine interest, healthy curiosity, and respect. Case in point: one of my closest friends learned how to sign at the New Signer’s Program at Gallaudet, and he still does not sign like a native ASL user, but he is more than welcome in the community. His list of contacts reads partly like a list of Who’s Who in the community and ranges from people who grew up oral, like himself, to people who come from a Deaf family, graduated from a Deaf school, and from Gallaudet University. Another friend of mine grew up oral, graduated from a hearing college, and did not become part of the community until she was a young adult. She now has friends from all points on the continuum. I’m getting to know this guy that’s new to the area who grew up oral and got a cochlear implant as an adult. He’s been accepted and is very much part of the community too. I, and probably many of you reading this, could come up with scads more examples of how the community welcomes people. Many bloggers in DeafBlogLand are saying how welcome they feel, even though they’re late-deafened, oral with cochlear implants, and so forth. We, the Deaf community, do NOT reject people, and those few that do should be bitch-slapped and set straight. *grin* That’s just not how we operate. And that’s not how DeafRead should operate either.

2. Being Deaf-centered does NOT mean that we are not accepting of diverse perspectives or of people from diverse backgrounds. Being Deaf-centered simply means that one considers oneself to be from the Deaf community, uses and cherishes a natural signed language at times, socializes with Deaf people at least part of the time, and respects Deaf cultural norms and values. There are many Deaf-centered people who use their voices, use technology to hear, socialize with hearing people, work with hearing people, and move between both cultures. A Deaf-centered person is usually not operating in isolation and clinging to only the Deaf community.

Having a strong Deaf center is never about being exclusive nor being isolationist. It is simply about having a clear set of values and principles, and everyone who respects those is welcome.

3. In my perspective, DeafRead is our home on the Internet. My spies (*grin*) at the DeafRead conference shared that the sentiment that we’ve lost our home and that DeafRead has to take a stand dominated the soapbox discussions, though those sentiments were eloquently expressed in many different ways. It is home for those of us who are Deaf-centered.

As in our homes in the real world, we are selective about whom we allow in our homes and even more selective about whom gets to see the entire house. Only people that we feel close to and comfortable with usually get to see our back rooms, the upstairs, our bedrooms, and so on. Friends and acquaintances can get as far as our porches, our living rooms, our kitchens, and maybe more, depending on the situation and on our level of openness. We don’t allow people in our homes who do the following: treat us or our people with disrespect, diss our values, dishonor us in any way, insult us, et cetera. We definitely allow people who are different from us and who have different opinions from us, as long as they’re friendly and respectful. The DeafRead main page, to me, is analogous to the back rooms, while the Extra page is for everybody and anybody.

Now, what do I think is broken with DeafRead? I know that no solution will please everyone, and I don’t expect that mine will, either. But here we go.

1. I’ll start with the easiest – the Extra section. DeafRead has published guidelines for what is to be published on the front page. Anything else that doesn’t follow these guidelines goes to Extra. The team added the ability to vote on what goes on the front page, and anything that gets 5 or more votes gets moved to the front page. There have been many, many posts moved to the front page in the past month or two. When that happens, that’s a clear indication that the system’s broken. Well, I think that voting needs to be removed or revised. Some people have complained that their posts, which *clearly* did not follow the guidelines, should be on the front page, and many posts that clearly did not follow the guidelines were voted on and moved to the front page in violation of the guidelines. There is apparently a lack of understanding among some visitors that just because a post is interesting or just because one agrees with it does not mean that you should vote to move it to the main page.

I suggest either removing the voting privilege or not allowing voting without an explanation as to why the particular post fits the DeafRead guidelines, with clear examples.

2. DeafRead needs to go back to having a Deaf center. The very first guideline is entitled: Deaf Related Posts. The first sentence for that guideline reads: "The entry must pertain to the deaf community and culture." Let’s follow that guideline and clarify it to add language about respecting Deaf cultural norms, natural signed languages, and so on. DeafRead needs to take a stand or watch this online community fall.

This is the best solution, in my opinion, because it leaves room at the table for everyone. The “success stories” that Cochlear Implant Online churns out would go to Extra and remain available for viewing rather than being rejected. All non Deaf-centered posts would go to Extra, easily available for everyone and anyone to peruse. This would also include anything a Deaf-centered blogger writes about that is not about the Deaf community and/or culture. For example, if I were to write an opinion piece on the wide-open presidential election and the candidate I support, it’d go straight to Extra. Or if I were to write about how fantastically easy it is to buy a car online, zoom to Extra. That way no bloggers are told, “Sorry. You don’t belong here.” Everyone gets to be on DeafRead. Everyone gets to bring their perspective to the table. But DeafRead gets back to its roots and to what made it great in the first place.

This is also the simplest solution – tweak guidelines, fix the flaws with the voting system, clarify the purpose for the main page via a vlog/blog entry, and what will probably be the hardest part – BEING CONSISTENT with what goes on the front page.

Again, I’m just a humble long-time member of this online community who wants everyone to be able to participate, while maintaining a clear Deaf center harmonious with our collectivist way of life, offering a possible solution after a great deal of thought.

Best of luck, Tayler and Jared. *hug* to you both.


  • At 06:44, Blogger DE said…

    Dang good summary and suggestion.


  • At 07:28, Blogger Abbie said…

    I am curious, what do you think about those that blog about their own cochlear implant experiences?

  • At 07:36, Anonymous Jared Evans said…

    Tayler and I will be making some changes to DeafRead soon. Stay tuned for our announcement.

  • At 08:42, Anonymous Anonyme said…


    If Jared & Tayler decides to end deafread due to various reasons. It will become lost to us.

    Best if we bookmark our favorite bloggers in order to avoid this.

  • At 10:10, Anonymous brenster- said…

    Moi- your suggestion is very simple solution. that is not what i had in mind but really, it's impossible to please everyone anyway :-) i'd be happy with anything as long as the DeafRead returns to its original purpose!

    i concur with you about the voting system. i believe that it should be eliminated, because too many completely non-related topics were moved to the main page! Yes, there have been a few posts that "might" be related topics that were sent to the Extra page. Nothing is perfect. The owners of vblogsites could simple contact the human editors to follow up on their "supposedly related" topics. I have already talked with one of human editors that I am not in favor of Extra voting system.

    you explained the clarifications about the deaf community very well and that affirmed what the others have been trying to say all along. Thank you. I hope the readers get your message.

    lastly, glad to see your post today. keep bloggin!

  • At 10:48, Anonymous brenster- said…


    i know your question was directed to Moi, but i hope you'd not mind if i offer my perspective.

    my opinion:

    it depends on their "center" for each post. in my opinion, those who live exclusively in the hearing world or "in the mainstream", have no contacts with the deaf community, and have no desire or interest in being part of the deaf community have "hearing center." therefore, their posts relating to "success stories," "listening," "talking," and anything exclusively related to "hearing center" should go to the Extra page. I know that some people will disagree with me, and that is okay.

    hey, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with those who prefer to talk only, prefer not to learn sign language, prefer not to be part of the deaf community, and prefer to be around with hearing people (NOTE: they are not normal!). yes, their loss but nothing is wrong with that.

    and it has nothing to do with rejecting and accepting. it's just that they have a different center from ours.

    If their topics are related to deaf community and its culture, learning its sign language, culture, meeting new friends from that community, and such, then yes, they should go to the main page.

    That's only my opinion.

  • At 11:04, Blogger moi said…

    Hi everyone,
    Thanks, DE and Brenster for weighing in! I hope that whatever Tayler and Jared come up with is a solution that is truly Deaf-centered and pleases the most people.

    Jared, thanks. I've noticed an attempt to be more Deaf-centered in recent days, including putting the CI surgeon tribute video in Extra, where it rightfully belongs, according to the current guidelines. Looking forward to learning what you two have decided.

    Anonymous, I've done that already. My online RSS aggregator is set up to go with the blogs I enjoy and these days I check it before I check DeafRead. I think that everyone should set one up.

    Abbie, that's a good question. I would want to defer to the community rather than providing a definitive answer. But my two cents would be that if one with your type of background were to blog about learning/using ASL, finding one's place in both worlds, and so forth, since that's more Deaf-centered, would belong on the main page. Posts about "oh, wow. I haven't heard that bird call in 20 years!" or videos of oneself speaking come from the "to be hearing is to be normal/better" paradigm and would go to Extra. But that's just me.

  • At 16:26, Blogger moi said…

    I didn't see your reponse to Abbie until after I'd posted my comment. Thank you, and yes, that's along the lines of what I was thinking. Every post, no matter who writes it, would be evaluated on an individual basis.
    Thanks for the praise, btw. :) always enjoy your comments in DeafBlogLand.

  • At 17:04, Anonymous K.L. said…

    I wonder if it would be worth creating a page that specifically labels itself ASL topics, and another page that is labeled Oral Deaf topics.

    The Deaf Community is so much larger than either group, that it seems sad to put everything that isn't ASL on a side page. Like it just isn't deserving of being on the main page.

  • At 17:05, Anonymous K.L. said…

    I wonder if it would be worth creating a page that specifically labels itself ASL topics, and another page that is labeled Oral Deaf topics.

    The Deaf Community is so much larger than either group, that it seems sad to put everything that isn't ASL on a side page. Like it just isn't deserving of being on the main page.

  • At 17:24, Blogger Abbie said…

    I personally don't care whether I appear on the front or the extra page and I will tell you why. I created my blog to tell my story as a deaf women long before I discovered deafread. I thought Deafread could help me expand my horizons into the deaf culture. In the end, I am just so thankful that in real life the deaf culture is nothing like this.

    You are suggesting is an act of segregation, you want to push our little moments where no one can see them but if we use ASL, everyone is all eyes. I rather be accepted for the person that I am as a whole instead of a simple label on a page. You are entitled to your own opinion as am I and I will be looking forward to Tayler and Jaren inevitable announcement.

  • At 22:58, Blogger moi said…

    Thanks for weighing in. That's definitely an option for the editors to consider. It'd keep things on an equal footing, yes.

    Thanks for coming back and sharing your thoughts. I'm sorry you felt rejected, since that was not my intention. As far as I'm concerned, you're part of the community.

    I agree with you about blogging for yourself. I feel the same way, which is why I maintain a private blog for me, my family, and my friends.

    Speaking of DeafRead, here's part of a comment I just posted over at Jodi Del Dottore's latest entry:
    Everyone, I consider all of you who show a healthy curiosity and respect very much a part of the community. I'm actually excited at this opportunity for dialogue. I used to feel like "never the twain shall meet" when it comes to oralism and manualism. But now that I'm reading about parents who are giving their child everything by including both signs and spoken language, about oral deaf people who feel they are part of the community, and so forth, I'm feeling more hopeful that we'll be able to build bridges.


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