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Blackout review

datePosted on 11:29, February 23rd, 2009 by Lew

This morning’s blackout was quite widely observed. My impressions (and ratings) of some of the usual suspects’ efforts are presented below. Overall – I’m a bit underwhelmed.

The point of the action was not about colouring your site black – it was about withholding content. To black your site out and to obliterate all the content on it, demonstrating what might happen in a s92-safe world. Many did, many didn’t.

So, according to my totally unscientific rating scheme, if you didn’t remove the content the best you got is a bare pass. Other than that, it was points on or off for clarity of message, design, and general commitment to the cause. Don’t take this as me being uncharitable – I figure everyone benefits if actions like this are as well-produced as possible.

publicaddressPublic Address – clear, punchy, doesn’t get bogged down in detail, links through to information. A.

kiwiblogKiwiblog – One post blacked out, ads off, comments off. Given that KB is one of the banner sponsors and organisers of this action, you’d think it was important enough to do properly. Bloody weak. But then some time around 0945, the site redirected to, thankfully. B overall.

The Standard [shot] – Nuked the colour scheme and all content, but didn’t make it black! C+.

The Hand Mirror [shot] – Changed the colour scheme, but didn’t make it black. Page looks like it’s been haxx0red. Content still there too. D+.

Scoop [shot] – `404 Page Censored’. Mixed messages, but 404 is the http error meaning `file not found’, and this is what we’re looking at under s92. Requires people to engage (which they might not), but `page censored’ is a strong statement. A.

Not PC [shot] – Weak. Clearly not an important issue. D.

No Right Turn [shot] – Stock CFF page, nothing else. B.

noministerNo Minister – Partisan hackery plus no blackout and all the content still there – only the animated gif. Minor points for leaving up a full explanatory message. Not quite worse than useless, but almost. D-.

Homepaddock [shot] – Customised blog post and theme, which gets the full point across well. Content remains, however. C.

Macdoctor Moments [shot]- Properly blacked out, but busy and complicated design obscures the message somewhat. B-.

cbtpCapitalism Bad, Tree Pretty – Properly blacked out, Dylan Horrocks cartoon instead of s92 message is a nice touch. B+.

Kiwipolitico [shot] – Stock CFF page, nothing else. B.

TVHE [shot] – Blacked out, but content remains. C.

frogFrogblog – Nice work on the theme, but content remains and the advertised cartoon isn’t actually showing. C-.

BK Drinkwater [shot] – Yeah, it looks like a plain black page, but that’s just because I took the screenshot while the animated GIF was all black. No other content. A-.

Monkeys With Typewriters [shot] – Animated gif and all the rest of the site as usual. D-.

Tumeke! [shot] – Just the banner; the rest of the page links through to CFNZ. Vivid, but not obvious. B-.

The Dim Post [shot] – Stock CFF page. B.

micropartywatchMicro Party Watch – Technical fail, but at least done with some humour. D.

I haven’t rated those who didn’t participate – they all just get `F’ for `Fail’. Also, these are just the sites I got around to checking – add others below, if they’re notable.

36 Responses to “Blackout review”

  1. Rich on February 23rd, 2009 at 12:23

    I use LJ, and since 99% of my readers use the RSS/LJ friends feed, there is no way of blacking anything out.

    I’d guess for the propertarians, s92a is completely in line with their philosophy of corporate rights and you’d expect them to actaully support rather than oppose it.

  2. Julie Fairey on February 23rd, 2009 at 12:54

    You are assuming with this post that everyone that runs a blog can also do fiddly things with the back-end with no problems. It’s not that simple for everyone.

    I made quite an effort to try to do the blackout at The Hand Mirror within Blogger without losing all our sidebar information. I asked Farrar for assistance, or someone to talk to about how to do it in Blogger, when we agreed to do it, and he emailed back that there would be a how to guide. There was eventually a how to guide but it didn’t include Blogger.

    So I contacted Idiot/Savant who was very helpful indeed and encountered some of the same troubles I did. He was able to work it out but I wasn’t. So in the end rather than loose all the side-bar for ever I opted to make the page background and the text background black. This meant you couldn’t read any of the posts. So yes the content was still there but you couldn’t read it.

    I’m not sure how we didn’t make it black, or what hax00red means. If I sound defensive and grumpy it’s because I don’t think we deserve such a low rating (a fail) at all, and particularly in comparison with others.

    A lot of people in smaller blogs made a significant effort to honour the blackout despite not necessarily having the technical skills. It would be nice if you could show some appreciation of that.

  3. Anita on February 23rd, 2009 at 13:40

    I was thinking this morning that one of the problems with this kind of action in general is that it advantages those of us who are technically confident and have our own hosting. Yet again it privileges wealth and education.

    I was going to write (even before I saw Julie’s comment) that people who managed to make the point although they were using shared hosting platforms (like blogger) deserve bonus marks because it was much harder for them than it was for those of us who could just slap on a .htaccess.

  4. Russell Beaumont on February 23rd, 2009 at 13:59

    I had a go at fiddling with the template too… It made my brain hurt, so I just resorted to the tried and tested ranting and pouring poo all over Judith Tizard.

  5. Idiot/savant on February 23rd, 2009 at 14:03

    I’ll echo Julie’s comment: blacking out blogger without having to rebuild your template from scratch was a real shit. I managed to get some good advice out of the blogger help group which did it without screwing anything up – but unless you’re confident editing templates in their raw form (rather than using the WYSIWYG) then its a non-starter.

  6. Deborah on February 23rd, 2009 at 14:21

    I’ll support Julie on this too, independently, ie. not as a member of the Hand Mirror group.

    I blog at, which is a shared platform. I found that I could put up a static front page, and turn off comments, but that’s all I could do without taking down my blog, or make it private, which would mean that it couldn’t be seen at all. So I went for a banner across the top, which incidentally, means that I have lost my rather nice (I think!) header from the NZ women’s suffrage petition, and a blackout page, which became my front page for the duration. In other words, not being at all confident playing around with CSS and coding and the like, I did what I could. That’s what many bloggers have done i.e. what they could. I thought that Julie did excellent work in doing what she could to show The Hand Mirror’s support for the blackout.

    Your grades reflect technical proficiency, not commitment to supporting the blackout. You should make that clear.

  7. Francois on February 23rd, 2009 at 14:42

    I just plain didn’t know how to do a blackout. I mean I’m pretty new to this bloggiing thing so my technical ability is rather low….

    Also, I’m glad I’m counted as a “Usual Suspect” :P Considering I’ve only been on the blogosphere for less than a month…

  8. Will de Cleene on February 23rd, 2009 at 15:23

    Lew, I think you miss the point. Julie expresses the main one, that the technical limitations of the various platforms and user proficiency limit the homogeneity of the protest.

    Even in this regard, there was a lot of people helping other people try to comply as best they could. And that’s great.

  9. dave on February 23rd, 2009 at 15:24

    I think perhaps it is time you looked at Big News some time

    Tou would have graded me a B+ – with a B for follow up

  10. dave on February 23rd, 2009 at 15:26

    I also think you are a little critical of people who do not know how to do the technical side of it. If they were rated lower it could be because they didnt have the technical know how

  11. dave on February 23rd, 2009 at 15:27

    Oh, and sometime you should pay a visit to Big News at I would have rated a B – and as B- for follow up, no doubt.

  12. Julie Fairey on February 23rd, 2009 at 16:30

    Thanks for the back-up :-)

    btw I can’t get the pageshot to load, which seemed rather ironic!

  13. Julie Fairey on February 23rd, 2009 at 16:42

    Tumeke has a graphic representation of what the top 50 in the blogosphere rankings looked like during the blackout:

  14. Psycho Milt on February 23rd, 2009 at 16:50

    No Minister – all the content still there –

    If you found an easy way to get at any content other than the Blackout message, you must tell me how you did it. Access to all content except the Blackout post was removed – which was in fact the whole point of the damn exercise, not painting your blog black.

  15. Slade on February 23rd, 2009 at 17:18

    For the record, Kiwiblog had the Stock CFF page until lunchtime today. (So that’s a “B” then ?). Your thumbnail shows what the site looked like after that. Whale Oil was nicely blacked out too – just a link through to the CFF site. (Guessing that’s an “A”). Cheers

  16. Travellerev on February 23rd, 2009 at 17:33

    If you use a free wordpress blog with a partially adaptable template you have no access (unlike the Standard) to the actual html, so no total black out.

    But he wtf, section 92 is postponed and that can only be a good thing.

  17. Anita on February 23rd, 2009 at 17:50

    Slade writes,

    For the record, Kiwiblog had the Stock CFF page until lunchtime today. (So that’s a “B” then ?). Your thumbnail shows what the site looked like after that.

    No, the thumbnail shows that KB looked like until 9:45 as Lew says in the post. It looks like PDF had technical challenges.

  18. A picture of the blackout | No Right Turn on February 23rd, 2009 at 17:55

    A picture of the blackout…

    Like many other blogs, No Right Turn was blacked out this morning as part of a webwide protest against the imposition of the guilt by accusation copyright law. So how did it go? Pretty well. Tumeke has assembled a collage of the top 50 NZ political blo…

  19. Scoop Coverage: Blackout Against Section 92A…

    Article: Scoop Full Coverage…

  20. lprent on February 23rd, 2009 at 18:00

    I was at a job interview in the morning, and at a meeting at midday when the site was due to be turned on again. So I used Maintenance Mode because it allowed a few clicks to turn content back on.

    Clinton (who’d probably admit to being not that hot on webbery) found it and turned it back on with two clicks. Pretty cool considering that I’d forgotten to send the e-mail about how to turn it back on.

    I’m a functionalist rather than a style monitor :)

    The content was only visible from higher then subscriber login-mode which allowed writers to carry on writing content. The rss feed was off, and it allowed me to write a rant about what was so obnoxious about the current position of s92A

  21. Lew on February 23rd, 2009 at 18:04

    Hi everyone,

    (Sorry about the delay; I’ve been packing madly all afternoon.)

    So, wow, I’ve completely failed to communicate my purpose with this. It wasn’t a case of measuring intention or technical proficiency or pointing fingers, it was a matter of reviewing the results, regardless of other considerations. The rating system was a mistake, in hindsight, and I apologise if any of you feel like I belittled you or your efforts.

    All the logistical and technical reasons why it didn’t come off perfectly are entirely legitimate – but I’m not distinguishing on that basis. Partly it’s a comment on the nature of the action as thought up by CFF – it perhaps turned out to be too complex for full implementation. But as Ev says – it worked, and that’s really the only metric which matters. Bravo to all who took part – however you did.

    Addressing a couple of specific things:

    dave, I actually did to Big News, but failed to put it in the list. Sorry! Your screenshot is here:

    Milt, I hit a link from the front page and got some content. It’s possible it was cached content, but I wasn’t really being thorough enough to check.

    Slade, what Anita says is as I saw it, from two computers on two networks. The shot was taken at about 0900.


  22. Psycho Milt on February 23rd, 2009 at 18:55

    Yep, nothing makes you surly quicker than someone belittling work you put a lot of effort into. Figuring out how to close off the access to previous posts in Blogger was a prick. Of course, now I’m going to be awake all night wondering how you got to them…

  23. rogeredgnome on February 23rd, 2009 at 19:42

    Congratulations Lew you are the most pompous blowhard on the NZ blogosphere

  24. Julie on February 23rd, 2009 at 19:56

    Surely the end result here was that the Govt has listened, and although we have to keep vigilent and may need to act again in future, there has been a victory for collective internet action?

    Thanks the response though Lew, can’t have been easy to reply given all the critical comments. I’d be keen to know how you accessed our content too. But I think I figured hax00red out, thanks to the miracle of Google.

  25. Julie on February 23rd, 2009 at 20:05

    And I have to say I concur with Lew’s (and others’) observations about Kiwiblog – I noticed it was still up around 7am, when I’d finished fiddling with THM, and emailed Farrar who told me his ISP had been instructed to blackout from 8am. But I noticed it wasn’t until significantly after that. We all had our glitches I guess!

  26. Lew on February 24th, 2009 at 00:16


    Thanks the response though Lew, can’t have been easy to reply given all the critical comments.

    No, I don’t mind critical comments, as long as there’s something in ’em, which there seems to be in this case.

    If several of you blocked all your content and yet I got some (I’m not just making it up!) I can only assume it was cached. I apologise; it is something I ought’ve tried to control for. Sorry that the nefarious bandwidth-saving techniques of ISPs and corporate IT departments have cast you into disrepute. For what that’s worth :)


    Congratulations Lew you are the most pompous blowhard on the NZ blogosphere

    I can think of quite a few who would dispute my taking their place atop that august pedestal.


  27. bkd09 on February 24th, 2009 at 04:54

    So sorry to people on Blogger that I didn’t show people the easy way to do this: put in the css lines

    div { display:none; }
    body { background:#000; }

    In the head of the template, and link the picture in the body. *Smacks Forehead*. Would have been A- for everyone.

    Really, I’m just gloating about the A-

  28. I Got An A-! | BK Drinkwater on February 24th, 2009 at 06:19

    I Got An A-!…

    My minimalist approach to yesterday’s blackout earns me an A- from Kiwipolitico’s Lew. Scoop and Public Address both got better grades, but I wouldn’t expect to compete with the Titans….

  29. Julie Fairey on February 24th, 2009 at 08:43

    See bkd09 that is still a bit too complex for me! But thanks for trying :-)

  30. David Farrar on February 24th, 2009 at 09:48

    The official period of the blackout was starting 8 am. I know this as I proposed the blackout on Monday at Foo Camp.

    I checked my site just after 8 am. It was totally blacked out, in that not a single page was accessible as it redirected to CFF. If you found something different then you were probably accessing a cached copy.

    So I had my site blacked out to the maximum posible extent during the entire time of the blackout.

  31. Anita on February 24th, 2009 at 10:16


    Weird, I saw it not blacked out well after 8am on a machine which really shouldn’t have been able to see cached copies. Not to mention that a hard rewrite should beat caching. Yours was also the only site which I had this problem with, everyone else’s blackouts seemed to appear immediately.

    So the short answer is that if both Lew and I could see unblacked out content (which we separately did) well after 8am from at least four different networks (assuming Lew only checked from one, I checked from three for peculiar reasons) then I expect a lot of other people had the same experience.

    You might want to check whether the caching was at your ISP and/or get them to check their logs.

  32. Lew on February 24th, 2009 at 10:44

    Anita and David,

    I checked from two different networks – my home cable account, and from inside my employer’s (fairly typical) corporate network, with the same behaviour.

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter what was intended, or what should have happened – what matters is what did happen, and that’s what I took shots of.


  33. Lew on February 24th, 2009 at 14:13


    Points noted.


  34. Jordan Carter on February 24th, 2009 at 15:43

    Didn’t even make it onto your list? :/

  35. homepaddock on February 24th, 2009 at 17:27

    Plea of mitigation – like many of those who commented above I’m not technically competent and was too scared to do too much in case I couldn’t undo it again (in spite of clear instructions from Macdoctor).

    But it wasn’t a competition and whether or not the blackout was noticed by the government the good thing is that the offending legislation won’t come in to effect on Saturday.

    This battle is won though the war may not yet be over.

  36. adamsmith1922 on February 25th, 2009 at 11:29

    Instead of debating who did or did not blackout, or to what extent their blackout was in fact a black out, we should recognise that only an initial skirmish has been won and not the campaign.

    Much more remains to be done. Including ensuring that the views of creatives and consumers are properly represented.

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