Like a lot of web pages, this one started off as what I fondly refer to as my "cheesy vanity page".  It had a main page with way too many banners, a family pics page, most of which still exists, a links page and the #OakGrove on DALnet page, which now refers to a pretty much extinct channel on IRC.  Most of the original work was done longhand, me writing and learning the basics of HTML as I went.  It was fun and exciting to see it take form, and I pestered friends unmercifully to "Go check out what I've done to the site..."

As time passed and the grove began to look more and more like every other Pagan site, I decided that enough was enough and the grove began to take on a new form, more like it is today.  The old background image had to go due to popular demand (Too hard to read text printed on it) and guests kind enough to comment steered me into a combination of text and link colors that was reasonably legible on this one.  I saw the grove as more than just another page of Pagan links but something other than a place to show off my kids' pictures.  I saw it as an extension of myself and a place where anyone could come and stroll through the cool shade to relax, laugh, and perhaps learn a little.  Other than the much welcome constructive criticism regarding the legibility, the comments have all been good, so I guess I did something right for a change!

Somewhere during all the writing and twiddling I decided to post this site on one of the many "Vote for #1" lists.  Every day I made sure to get in my vote, and it became almost an obsession checking their page periodically to see if anyone else had voted for me.  Each vote was a thrill, ("WOW.. Somebody liked the site!") and Amberflame got lots of entertainment just watching my face light up when the grove moved up a little more each week.  Last weekend was a small milestone for us, being our 4 month wedding anniversary as well as our 1 month handfasting one, so as a surprise to me she put in shameless plugs on some of the mailing lists she's on for people to please go vote for the grove.  A few people did, and as a result the grove received enough votes to go to the top 5 ("Woo-HOO!!  Look, kids, Daddy's banner is on the list!!"    "Yeah, okay Daddy.., now come play Nintendo...")  Despite the lukewarm enthusiasm from the children, once in the top 5 the grove continued to get votes enough to stay there, and all was well with my world... until 2 nights ago.

One thing I've done since being on the list is checking out other sites, usually those ranked at the bottom.  I've found a few that were real gems and voted for them so they could move up, others I waited seemingly forever to load all their .gifs and .jpgs and Java and crap, finding out just why not even the site owners bothered to vote for themselves in the process. (Who has 10 minutes to wait for the main menu to come up anyway?)  As I was checking out one more site's links page the other evening, I saw something I never thought I'd see on a Pagan page:  a banner ad for an adult porn site.

Now don't get me wrong, personally I have nothing against adults viewing pretty much anything they want.  But this rubbed me wrong 2 ways:  First, we Pagans have enough misconceptions to live down already to be associated with graphic pornography.  Even more importantly, there was no age check on the banner link, so any minor browsing the Pagan site could go straight to the porn site.  I e-mailed the rating list owner about my concerns:

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a site on the [list] carries
a link directly to a porn site.  The site in question's home URL is:
[withheld]  and the outgoing URL from the list is:  [withheld] Don't get me
wrong, I don't mind porn and detest censorship, but everything has its

To which I received the following:

"I think you are mistaken, it leads to a personal Wiccan page, not a porn
site. Do you remeber [sic] the name of the site in question?"

Gee, I thought that was clear enough... oh, well:

Sorry, the porn site is on their links page.. a banner reading "Kara's
dynamic sex" .. the url it connects with is:  [withheld]
Sorry for the confusion.

By 6:00 PM the next day, almost 20 hours later, there was still no response and the Pagan site still had the questionable link up, so I wrote again:

I wrote to you last night concerning a site on the [list] that
carries a banner ad on their links page that goes to an adult porn
site.  I have checked again today and the site is still on the list and
still carrying the offensive link.  This is, in my opinion, detrimental
to the Pagan community as a whole (Goddess knows we have ENOUGH
misconceptions to live down already!) as well as making graphic
pornography just that much easier for minors to stumble across.  Also, I
have two young children of my own that sometimes look over my shoulder
while I'm websurfing and would just as soon they were spared this sort
of thing until they are a little older.
While I don't have anything against any adult viewing anything they wish
to see, I cannot in clear conscience maintain a link to [domain name]
while this site on the list has the porn link up, as this makes me
guilty by association.  Therefore, unless you can give me a valid reason
not to do so, it is with deep regret that effective midnight tonight I
will remove all links and banners for your site and cancel my account on
the [list] and link exchange.

At midnight, still no response, so the links on my site came down.  The next morning I found this in my mailbox:

We are looking into your complaint, but we do have real lives that take
pritority [sic] over the site. If you can not wait at least 48 hours to give us a
chance to follow up on something, then perhaps our resources are not for
you. Wether [sic] you continue to use the resources or not is your choice, but we will not have members of our free services attempt to bully, intimidate or
mandate how we conduct our site or resources for the pagan community.
If you have not really explored the site, we do offer a Pagan Sexuality
area that is rather risque as well. You as a parent have the duty to ensure
your children do not access material that you deem inappropriate, but your
views are not ours, we will address the issue tomorrow when we have the
time. Until then, reassess your attitude and remember that not everyone
blushes at the sight of the naked human form or sexual acts.

Good grief, you'd think I'd kicked his dog!  Okay, one more try:

Your point about life taking priority over the site is well taken, but
this is an issue that I feel requires a little attention.  I am well
aware of your adult section; It is tastefully done and requires
registration and a password for admittance.  Although I've never entered
that section, I imagine it probably wouldn't fall into the same category
as a porn site.  I commend you for the steps you took to keep it out of
sight of minors, in any event.
As for bullying and intimidation, I fail to see how my comments could be
construed as such and am somewhat put off by your attitude.  I simply
made a complaint that was apparently ignored, so I did what I felt was
necessary to uphold the integrity of my own site, which I designed and
promote as a family resource site.
I have enjoyed being part of the [list] and would like to be a part of
it again when and if the site in question drops its porn link.  Barring
that, I wish you well in your endeavors.
Please advise me of the outcome of your investigation.

I really miss watching people vote for the grove.
I'm still waiting for a reply.
The links are still gone.
And I'm still proud of my "cheesy vanity page".

Sometimes you just have to have principles.

Oakdancer 5/5/99

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