Did you know Burning Man has implemented a censorship policy? Me neither…until I fell victim to it this weekend.
Does BMOrg really want to get feedback from the community, and listen to our concerns? Or is this just a trick to make it appear like they’re listening to the community, as a way to support decisions they’ve already made and stubbornly refuse to go back on? If you censor customers who ask difficult questions, can you really claim to be open, transparent, and equitable – a “social experiment”?
Rosie Lila, who sources tell me is now in charge of Burning Man’s Commodification Camp business unit, wrote a post on burningman.com (it’s a re-post from her own site from Sep 3)
Radical Self-Reliance and Rich People at Burning Man
[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]
In the two weeks since this year’s Burn I’ve noticed a fair amount of press claiming “the rich are ruining Burning Man” and I’ve seen a handful of stories on Facebook about confrontational run-ins with people at so-called “rich camps” in Black Rock City. I hear a growing conversation around radical self-reliance and the perceived threat to Burning Man culture posed by “turnkey” and “plug and play” camps on the playa. I’d like to offer the following perspectives to help inform your own conversations and dialogues on these topics.
First, let’s talk definitions:
Turnkey Camp: A Burning Man camp built by a production team where (generally) paid staff members create the infrastructure so that camp members don’t have to.
Plug and Play Camp: The older term for turnkey camp.
Radical Self-Reliance: One of Burning Man’s 10 Principles. Radical Self-Reliance states: “Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”
The Ten Principles: The Burning Man 10 Principles were written by Larry Harvey, at the request of the other Burning Man founders, in 2004 to help support the demand of the growth of the Burning Man Regional Network. They were written to be *descriptive* not prescriptive. They are not intended to be dogmatic. They form a cultural guide map that is aspirational, not absolute.
…The solution to this problem is around us educating each other. It’s going to take those of us who are experienced, whether jaded or not, deploying our best human connection skills to talk about this culture that we love so much.
Have you considered that maybe the producers and owners of the turnkey camps are interested in sharing ideas on how to make better camps at Burning Man? Have you considered that maybe there might be something that you can learn from each other? Have you considered that no one has all the answers?
If you’re someone who loves Burning Man passionately, if you’re someone who likes to get involved in making solutions, recognize that solving this problem is going to take us reaching out to others
…the more courageous choice, the more powerful choice, requires you speaking up in kind and patient ways. Be hospitable. Be generous. Be creative in your interactions. Isn’t this why you love Burning Man?
The post asked for comments, welcomed our voices in the conversation…and seemed to be genuine about that. Their words create the impression that BMOrg wants to listen to community concerns about Commodification Camps, that our voices will be heard, that our opinions might matter…that maybe Burners have something of value to contribute to the social engineering of Black Rock City.
Unfortunately, like so much that comes out of this organization, it is bullshit. Propaganda, spin, damage control. We can talk all we want, but that ain’t gonna make them listen. Read the post and the comments for yourself, it’s been 4 days so far and there are no replies from BMOrg to anyone.
They are making the definition of turnkey camps as broad as possible: any camp where the infrastructure is not created by every camp member, whether staff get paid or not. Unless every member of your camp gets an early access pass and arrives at the same time, every camp will encounter a situation where members arrive and the infrastructure has already been built. Defining the issue this way then makes it easy for them to say “oh well, we can’t do anything about it, because most camps are turnkey camps”. Yet again, it is deceptive use of language for societal control.
From the Burner community’s perspective, the issue is not “camps where some camp members get paid to build the infrastructure”, or where some camp members arrive after the building is done. The issue is Commodification: tourists coming on safari, paying massive amounts of money to watch us perform a spectacle that they don’t participate in. And, mistreatment of workers, either DPW who don’t even get minimum wage, or sherpas who don’t get safe working conditions. I haven’t seen anyone saying “no-one who works at Burning Man should ever get paid”, but I’ve seen plenty saying “no-one should be trying to profit from Burning Man”.
The definition BMOrg wants us all to use eliminates these extremely key issues from any discussion. So I dared to question their definition.
Here’s what they say:
You’ll never find one of your posts removed if you remain true to the policies and guidelines posted here. You won’t ever be censored just because we disagree with your opinion.
Here’s my comment:
The name “Turnkey” is confusing. “Commodification Camp” is better, because isn’t that the issue? These camps are selling Burning Man as a packaged tour experience, rather than opening their doors to participation, and Gifting to the rest of us.
The problem is what Commodification Camps are selling is NOT the trash fence, the signs, the cops, and the porta-potties – the infrastructure paid for by the ticket sellers. It’s the art, the costumes, the music, the beautiful people – ie, OUR participation and contributions, which have been given freely and paid for personally, because everyone thought that this party/festival/city/experience WASN’T for sale to strangers who didn’t share our values. Burners don’t want our self-expression to be commodified so that a select few can package it up and profit from it.
I think that BMOrg should disclose to Burners what the commercial deal is for these camps. Does Burning Man get a cut? How do they get so many tickets, when the event is sold out and people wait in STEP but get forced into OMG? How do they get priority placement? How come they don’t have to clean up their camp by Tuesday?
It appears that there are different rules for these camps than for the rest of us. If that is untrue, then let’s see a formal statement of denial. If it’s true, then it is segregating the Playa, and that’s not the fault of the rich customers who can afford a luxury experience, it’s the fault of the Commodification promoters and the rule makers.
I gave them 24 hours, just in case no moderators were working because it’s Sunday. Then I tried re-posting my comment again on Monday, just in case it mysteriously disappeared. No luck – the comment was gone. So I tried a trick – posting it in a different name not associated with Burners.Me. And then, it went straight up. To me, this shows that they’re not even reading the content – they’re just banning comments from people they don’t like.
So why ban it? Here’s their policy [with my comments]:
Comment Policy for Burning Man’s Blog, Facebook Page & Galleries
Burning Man values the spirit of a civil community discourse. We think that a lively, on-topic public conversation is one of the best reasons to write and host a Facebook page, a blog, and image gallery, and that without comments, they’re more or less just another webpage. [Yes, my comment was very much on-topic]
That said, we also have a responsibility to maintain this space for the benefit of all our visitors. The comments made on these services will have the power add to or detract from the their general vibe, and it is our responsibility to see to it that they serve to enhance the experience of our visitors, rather than chasing them away. [that’s what I’m talking about: enhancing the experience of Burning Man]
That means that we expect commenters to identify themselves in their posts, and conduct themselves as they would as guests at a party, where spirited conversation is welcome, but unruly and rude behavior is not. It also means that our moderators can and will remove posts that they believe run counter to the spirit of civil discourse. [not rude, not unruly, not even spirited; definitely civil discourse]
This page is our attempt to give you some idea of what we mean by “civil discourse” on the Burning Blog, our Facebook page, and image gallery.
Anonymous comments are not permitted here. Our contributors will identify themselves when we write Burning Blog; in turn, we want to know who you are and that there’s a real person behind the words you post. We’ve seen what can happen in spaces that make it easy for “hit and run” comments: things can go completely septic, fast. [while my comment was not in my real name, it is what I write on the Internet as. The other commenters on the post are: DustyRusty, Wrath, Rich, Corvus, Janus, Rio …these appear to be pseudonyms or nicknames too]
Comment Censorship (There, We Said The C Word)
Trust us: we will not censor comments because your point of view is different from ours. [No, I definitely don’t trust you, BMOrg] We will, however, censor comments that we believe run counter to the spirit of civil discourse. [since when did questioning authority become outside of the spirit of civil discourse? Isn’t it the ENTIRE FUCKING POINT? Otherwise it’s just a lecture from the Rulers] We also may choose at times to turn off the comments feature on a specific post (before it’s posted), due to a variety of factors including subject matter, web traffic patterns and timing, or the author just plain not having the ability to engage in the dialogue at the time of the posting. Feel free to trackback and post your thoughts wherever you like. (We may turn comments on that entry later. We also think it’s bad practice to turn comments off mid-conversation, and will avoid doing so if we can.) We also turn off comments on posts after 2 weeks so that we can focus our moderator efforts on contemporary conversations, not on nuking the piles of spam (and little else) that get posted to old conversations.
When We’ll Moderate
If you’re aware of expected behaviors in this forum and make an effort to be polite, you’ll never find one of your comments removed. [Polite, meaning, toe the party line, don’t question BMOrg] The spirit of civil discourse, however, might be different to everyone, so here, as we see it, is a partial list of violations of that spirit (and possible causes for a post’s removal). The list includes, but is not limited to:
Overtly off-topic posts. [no, was 100% on topic]
Intentionally disrespectful or disruptive behavior. [no, was polite, respectful, and not disruptive in any way]
Spamming: our linking policy can be found below. Posts containing more than one URL, or any URL not relevant to the conversation, will be considered spam. [no URLs, although I did fill in the “website” field they provide]
Snide, rude, threatening personal comments about or directed at any person, be they other users, the moderators, Larry Harvey, other Burning Man staff, Burning Man volunteers, your own mother…we don’t care if you have a low opinion of someone — that’s your business. But this isn’t the place to get personal about it. [no, nothing personal anywhere]
The above applies to the Burning Blog authors too. If you’re going to talk smack about an entry, talk about the entry. Don’t attack the author. [no, said nothing about the author]
Impersonation of a member of the Burning Man staff. It’s one thing to produce satire – we get that – but another to falsely impersonate another person with the intent to mislead people who trust our website for information from us. Impersonation posts will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. [no, no possibility of mistaking me for a member of BMOrg]
Unnecessarily attitudinal or inflammatory language, or posts that attack a point of view without explaining why. Again, disagreement is okay, but there’s a difference between saying, “That idea will never work because I don’t think people will clean up after themselves the way you think they will,” and saying, “That idea will never work. It’s stupid, and anyone who believes that is an idiot.” [no, no inflammatory language, no attitude, no attacking any viewpoint…just politely asking questions]
Posts that contain vulgar or abusive language targeted at any group, be it ethnic, racial, religious, class-related, etc. We hope this goes without saying. [no, no such language]
Conversation killers. A comment that doesn’t add to the conversation because it changes the subject, wanders off onto a tangent, or attempts to bait readers into an off topic discussion may be removed. [no, post was on topic and didn’t change the subject]
Content that knowingly violates the copyright, trademark, or trade secret of any individual or entity. [no, possible violation by using Nomad Traveler’s term Commodification Camps, but I’m sure he would approve]
Spam-whinging. We made that word up. By it we mean, “The same exact whiney complaint, repeated ad nauseum as often as possible, with ‘fingers in ears,’ no matter what anyone says to you, at the expense of evolving dialogue.” Dissenting opinions and debate are absolutely welcome here, but dead horses should be tied up outside. If your fellow commenters express that you sound like a broken record, they may be right. Hey, we know it sounds like something nobody would ever do on purpose, but you’d be surprised… [no, only posted once; hardly a dead horse, since it’s about the post itself]
Note: repeat offenders and known trolls may find their IP addresses banned. [I don’t think BMOrg really understand how the Internet works]
All edits, post removals, and user actions are at the sole discretion of Burning Man and its moderators, and are subject to appeal only if you can somehow establish that you’ve seen the error of your ways AND if we are feeling particularly magnanimous and/or perky that day. Otherwise, post-removal decisions are final. [I don’t see any error in my ways]
Usually if you find yourself moderated, you’ll find that if you go back and attempt to say the same thing while trying to be a bit nicer (gasp! yes, nicer!) that very same opinion will be entirely welcomed. (Go ahead, make fun of us for saying this. We don’t mind.)
“Hey, I was just ‘expressing myself’! What about Free Speech??”
Burning Man supports the right to free speech. [yeah right!] We firmly believe you have the right to host what you want on your own website (so long, of course, as it doesn’t violate anyone else’s legal rights) – and we have that right too. Thus, if one of the things we don’t want on our site is your comment, we reserve the right to simply remove it. [now the truth comes out!] Our aim is to be as hands-off as possible and let you enjoy a spirited dialogue, but we retain the right and the responsibility to maintain this space in the manner consistent with the atmosphere we hope to create for our visitors.
You’ll never find one of your posts removed if you remain true to the policies and guidelines posted here. You won’t ever be censored just because we disagree with your opinion. If you find you ever do feel you were unduly censored from posting your opinions to the Burning Blog comments forum, please do feel free to start your own blog to talk about those feelings.
See, the thing is, I did exactly that. I started my own blog, and 1300 articles later, I can now talk about my feelings to hundreds of thousands of people. But what about everyone else? Is it only Burners.Me that gets censored? Most of the posts on burningman.com now have very, very few comments – so how many are they actually censoring? There doesn’t appear to be any oversight of the censors, and “if you don’t like it, start your own” continues to be their policy.
In the last JackedRabbit, Will Chase said:
Turnkey camps in Black Rock City are the talk of the community lately, and understandably so. Theme camps that provide all-inclusive camping services for (sometimes large) fees mean that many people visit Black Rock City who wouldn’t otherwise experience Burning Man, but they also raise questions about Radical Self-Reliance, Communal Effort and Decommodification that challenge our core values.
While this is going to be an ongoing conversation, we wanted to let you know that we share your concerns. Right now we’re taking in your feedback, looking at the situation carefully, and talking to the parties involved. We’re trying to create an accurate picture of what’s happening – we are gathering facts to understand the scope and nature of the problems associated with Turnkey camps. This is a continuation of a process that started with a round table discussion with Turnkey camp organizers two years ago, and included the creation of Turnkey Camping Guidelines.
Right now our various teams are deep in their debrief processes for the 2014 event – what worked, what didn’t, and what changes should be made for next year. Turnkey camps are currently being discussed at all levels of the organization and we are reviewing the options available for making positive changes.
And, we’d appreciate your formal input. If you have had a first hand experience with a Turnkey camp – either as a producer, a staff member, a participant or as a community member, please let us know about your experience through our feedback form.
We know that if we all work together as a community, we can find a way to stay true to Radical Inclusion without undermining the rest of the Ten Principles. This community has faced similar challenges throughout its history, and this probably won’t be the last one. Indeed, our society would not be a real community if such challenges did not occur.
We’ll figure out the way forward together.
Stay tuned for more on this topic in the near future!
I think the key wording here is “create an accurate picture”. They’re not trying to understand, they’re trying to shape the discussion into an image that suits their goals. And it appears that welcoming Commodification Camps is very much a part of this picture they want to paint for us.
Rather than engaging the community, like they pretend they’re doing, in fact BMOrg are sticking their heads in the sand. They hope they can just keep bullshitting everyone and get away with it, while they commercialize the Playa step by STEP. They want feedback through a form, not publicly visible comments. They have been directly approaching commenters who criticize them online, asking them to come into HQ for a face-to-face chat. One of our readers shared this with us:
April 25th, 6:54pm
Hey there … Will Chase from Burning Man here.
OK so we have no problem at all with constructive criticism, disagreement and dissent — hell, yell it from the rooftops if you want — but we DO have a problem when it’s based on misinformation, because that doesn’t serve anybody.
Where do you live? Because I’d like to invite you to the Burning Man office in SF to meet with me, and you can tell me everything you think is wrong with what we’re doing, and what you think our intentions are, and I can set you straight, person-to-person.
I’m quite serious about this, because I’m frankly sick of your sniping on our posts, implying that we’re a bunch of greedy nefarious assholes and that all we’re trying to accomplish here is to get one over on people and cash out. Because I’ll tell ya what, you couldn’t be more wrong … and it doesn’t serve our community for you to be spreading BS.
Also, you seem like a smart guy, and maybe you’ve got some good ideas about what we could be doing better. And I’d be happy to learn from you.
Whaddya say? You willing to step out from behind your anonymity and have a conversation?
Thank you for reaching out, but I have tried to be pretty clear on my advice in the past. Would be glad to have reasoned dialog on any and all topics. However, I fail to see why the ad hominem aspect of a personal meeting is necessary. Though not as auspicious a dialog, the anonymous Publius was a good advocate in the Federalist Papers. As Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
Would you like my email address?
Nope, that’s now how this is going to work. Anonymity may be beneficial for some things, but not this. We have the principle of “immediacy”, pretty much for this exact reason … because there’s no substitution for face-to-face, personal interactions when it comes to interpersonal understanding. You seem to have some interesting ideas that we could learn from, along with a number of misconceptions that I’d love to clear up for you. The offer stands to come in and meet with me. Let me know if you’re interested.
No matter to BMOrg that this reader doesn’t live in San Francisco. They didn’t even bother to ask.
Tell them, not the community, because only they matter, not the community. Rather than “figure out the way forward together”, they’re going to make decisions away from the public and tell us that it’s for our own good. These will be decisions that suit their interests first, and the community second. How much do you want to bet that the decision will be “Commodification Camps can continue, and can get whatever placement they want, and all the tickets they want, and leave tons of MOOP”?
I don’t really mind that my comment got censored, because I can just go and post it here to a MUCH bigger audience – and in the process, further raise awareness about the disconnect between BMOrg’s words and their actions.
What about everyone else, though? What about Burners who have intelligent opinions, but don’t have a highly visible blog? Isn’t Burning Man supposed to be an experiment, in new ways we can live together without commerce or commodification? Don’t BMOrg have a Civic Responsibility to do what their citizens putting in the Communal Effort want…rather than what is most profitable for themselves?
One commenter on Facebook coined the phrase “social capital Ponzi scheme”, which I think is a great analogy:
A while back the phrase “social capital Ponzi scheme” came to mind.
We who gifted their love, time, energy, capital towards the “community” over the years had an expectation that that community would still be there, to enjoy. We expected it to be valued and perserved, not exploited for crass commercial gain.
It was OUR collective investment. No amount of quibbling about trademark and LLC and whatnot will make this any less true. Now the scheme needs fresh-meat gullible social capital “investors” to keep the whole thing from imploding. It’s sad to see so many “much ado about nothing” types either naively or willfully ignore the cancer. The cancer is the very real possibility that the passionate volunteers — those who helped create the vibe of BRC — will get fed up and quit, because they realize they are no longer contributing to an actual investment in community over the long term.
Black Rock City today seems to be run like a tyrannical dictatorship, exploiting its volunteers, exploiting its customers, suing charities, and telling us they’re saving the world while lining their pockets via complex tax shelters. We pay them for the privilege of going to their party, which makes us customers. We pay to bring our art and music, which makes us contributors. We participate and put communal effort in, which makes us citizens. We get no vote, we get silenced if we speak out, we get ostracized and prevented from buying tickets through their profiling system. Only they can make money, if anyone else tries the legal team comes down on them like the Hammer of Thor. Radical inclusion, my ass. If you’re on the board, you can produce all the promo videos and multi-million dollar Commodification Camps you want.
On that, here’s what they say about using videos of Burning Man to promote your brand:
in concert with our principle of Decommodification, Burning Man takes a strong stance against any images, video, or audio from the event being used in any type of commercial manner. You can’t use Black Rock City as a backdrop for a music video or a fictional film. You can’t use Black Rock City for a product promotion, for any kind of commercial, or for a fashion shoot. Not even if you’re from VOGUE. Seriously. Next to violating the privacy and other rights of participants, nothing is as degrading to the future of our city and culture as using Burning Man to sell something, and we stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation.
And here’s one of their director’s commercials promoting his brand:
And here’s one of VOGUE’s fashion shoots, which BMOrg charges $150,000 for according to SFBG. Seriously.
Is this the society we want? We have to live by the rules and shut up, while their directors get to ignore the Principles and do whatever they like to monetize the Playa. If we speak up about things that concern us publicly, we get summoned into headquarters for The Questioning. Is this really something special that we should export around the globe, and bring millions of virgins into for the purposes of “acculturation”?
It’s hard to see how Burning Man can get better if BMOrg take the public position that there’s nothing wrong in the first place, and only ever have to consider viewpoints that agree with the decisions they’ve already made. OK, fair enough, they have the right to delete any comments they want on their web site: but don’t feed us blatant lies like “You’ll never find one of your posts removed if you remain true to the policies and guidelines posted here. You won’t ever be censored just because we disagree with your opinion.”
I see through your hollow words, BMOrg, many others do too – more each week. I didn’t really expect you to consider my post, or answer my very reasonable questions; but I also didn’t think things have sunk so low that you censor anything that doesn’t fit the Corporate Speak. Why not just ignore questions you don’t want to answer, like you’ve always done in the past? Like you’ve done with the other commenters to this post? [Update: that’s exactly what they did, once I tricked them into thinking it wasn’t Burners.Me commenting – they ignored it. Are they really having a conversation with Burners via social media?]
Maybe you’re still fooled, dear reader…but the Kool Aid has well and truly worn off here.
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. -Abraham Lincoln
[Update 10/7/14 5:30pm] – Will Chase from BMOrg has responded to this article, see comments. They claim my comments somehow got caught in their “spam filter” – which makes no sense given that the exact same content went straight up when I said it was from someone other than Burners.Me. Anyway, they have published the comment, but have still not answered any Burner questions on their post. I asked Will when we might expect a response, he said “I don’t know when for sure, but I know that we will”. Coming soon…
[Update 10/7/14 6:24pm] In tracking down a troll comment to this post – which appears to have come from Burning Man HQ, like several other troll comments hiding behind fake names – I came across an old message from Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell that I had not seen before. It was sent on February 17, 2014, answering a question I asked her on December 16, 2013. Make of it what you will:
Steve Jones quoted me out of context, and it’s picked up here as if it’s true:
http://burners.me/2013/12/05/not-so-vogue/ [NOTE: this link she posted actually says the story is NOT true]
We NEVER ever took any money from Vogue to do a shoot. There has yet to be a shoot at Burning Man with our permission. What I said was that we always say no, and sometimes they come back and ask again…and that we sometimes use a high fee to just dissuade them from further conversation if they insist on being pushy. $150,000 site fee is absurd. And, if anyone said they’d do it, we’d just laugh. It’s like a dumb game with some of these companies, so we play along sometimes to just see how far they’d go.
When we say NO we mean no, and so many of them say: “pretty please”, or “why not”, or “for how much”….i mean really.
There seems to be a Vogue photo shoot in the 2010 November (or 2011?) French Vogue magazine that looks like Burning Man. If it is, we didn’t approve of it, and have scratched our heads internally about it since it was spotted several years ago.
There have been other Vogue photo shoots:
September 3, 2014 http://www.vogue.com/1067007/burning-man-festival-fashion/
August 29, 2012 Paris Vogue http://en.vogue.fr/fashion-culture/fashion-exhibitions/diaporama/burning-man-1/9498
November 2010, Paris Vogue David Mushegain http://soyons-ouf.blogspot.com/2010/11/burning-man-in-french-vogue.html
May 2010 British Vogue: http://www.ramshacklechic.com/2010/05/british-vogue-does-burning-man-yet-another-hit/
Sep 2009 US Vogue: http://www.vogue.com/871783/vd-true-original-yvonne-force-villareals-desert-couture-at-burning-man/
I am truly grateful to the holder of this web page
who has shared this impressive post at here.
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burnersxxx, The Great BMOrg Cash-Out of 2010-2017, $35 to 47 Million: an Updated Estimate post disappeared yet another time from the burners.me Facebook page.
It is weird, some posts remain, but solely a few that link to the burners.me site remain. I viewed the ‘Most Recent Posts’ list upon burners.me, and solely 4 posts prior to 20 October remain on Facebook. Might Facebook not show posts linked to burners.me after seven days of no comments? Might the posts remain searchable, and appear again, might a comment occur on the post? Might Facebook desire payment for posts to remain upon your page? I remember Facebook desiring payments of George Takei, and of others, a few years prior, for such as promoting the Facebook page towards friends of people whom comment on his posts.
I began this comment of the belief of it might be censorship, thus commenting upon this Burning Man Introduces Censorship post, but, at present, I am of the belief of it to be a matter of Facebook policies.
Much obliged, again!
When it says “Earlier in 2014”, I get an option to choose between “Highlights” and “All Stories”. If I select All Stories I see your post of Oct 12, but not my later re-post of it. Bizarrely, I can’t see any posts at all before October 26 under “Insights” right now.
Facebook certainly does some weird stuff, there is no censorship coming from our end.
I find that very, very few people like or comment on posts more than about 5 back on the Facebook feed anyway. Your article is still in our “Most Recent Posts” side bar on the blog, and should come up under Google searches.
Oh, that’s it, an option. I solely desired to mention it to you, so you were aware, nothing more. I was viewing the cash out post to see if any might have provided intelligent disagreement, of which there is none, it is excellent to permit the post to scroll below the end of the page. Much obliged, again.
And, kudos on 100K, awesome!
thanks very much! Since pretty much every post here gets challenged in a variety of ways, and there’s been almost nothing to challenge yours, I think we can assume you’re on the money – or, conservatively underestimating it.
You can drop the Vogue thing, from looking at all the links to the vogue articles you’ve provided none of them actually qualify as a fashion shoot (I’ve done a couple of fashion shoots in my life).
The 2014 story is a personal experience piece with 4 photos exactly from BM, 3 of them are selfies of the author and one is a photo of Robot Heart by RH resident photographer Christian Lamb.
The 2012 story from the French vogue is a series of 16 photos by an artist photographer, such works can be featured in an arts gallery or a coffee table book.
And while the sale of photographic art that was created at BM is regulated by the org it isn’t forbidden.
The November 2010 french piece has the most photos, but still it looks like a travel / experience piece and not a commercial fashion shoot.
The 2010 British story is a travel piece by the writer with 1 selfie and 1 another photo that looks like the writers friends, This is actually the most problematic article since it features advertising on the same page as the BM photo (but doesn’t use BM directly for this advertising, a legal loophole, yes, stinks but kosher).
The 2009 Story is again the personal experience of the writer and her trip to BM, 1 Selfie photo.
Stories like this emerge every year after BM in numerous publication (rolling stone has a yearly feature just for example). None of those are Fashion shoots that are intended to promote a specific brand / designer / trend.
the question is should publications be allowed to publish photos from BM at all? commodification occurs since BM is being used as content to sell the publication, on the other hand, I don’t think the org is interested in keeping BM a secret (especially not back in 2009-2010, before the event was a sold out event). and travel stories / art shoots have been seen in many a publication.
I do believe Maid Marian when she says that no paid photo shoot for vogue has taken place on playa.
(and no I didn’t drink the cool aid).
After initially picking up Scribe’s quote, a high level insider cast some doubts to me about the story – which I covered here http://burners.me/2013/12/05/not-so-vogue/
The key quote from that article is:
“According to our source, that story is not accurate. In fact, Vogue offered them this much money, and BMOrg turned it down. Or perhaps, BMOrg named their price, and Vogue turned them down. Anyway, the exchange of $150,000 for a photo shoot for Vogue, apparently never happened.”
It seems like the source still had incorrect information, and my assessment was accurate: they named a price and Vogue didn’t bite. Perhaps it was an “ironic” price.
I asked Marian directly for clarification and she didn’t respond, which made me think it must be true. It turns out that she did respond, 2 months later, via the Contact section of this web site rather than replying to my email. I apologize to her for missing that, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt and drop the “$150k photo shoots” allegation going forward – unless other evidence surfaces.
As you’ve pointed out, there is nothing in the rules preventing them earning money from professional photography. This is being discussed right now on this Facebook thread, which I see you’ve also commented on.
When it comes to money, and it’s increasingly obvious that’s all the Borg is about, morality, fairness, openness, and principles (These are only useful for the promotion of L. Harvey and M. Marian as ‘visionaries’ commanding speaking engagements and possibly fees) are easily jettisoned. I’d be extremely hesitant to believe anything coming from the mouths of their PR dept. or spokes persons.
Another great piece by the say!
too early in the morning….that should be ‘by the way’…..
On Facebook, I have experienced my “Regional” community trying to shield newbies from hearing about BMOrg “politics”. What they don’t realize is that discourse about Burning Man’s trajectory is actually part of being an active Burner community participant. I experienced that with my former camp too- shield the newcomers from hearing about the bullshit until they’re fully indoctrinated and it’s too late. By the time they learn for themselves what others have been censored from telling them (in the name of spreading only good vibes, of course), we are told to either drink up or shut up.
Hmm, so it seems you weren’t censored after all (as Will says… do you doubt him?)… no retraction?
What I find somewhat creepy, is your tracking your commenters home address’. Anyone else feel that to be not so attractive to chime in here?
I think you have interesting questions and points, but I’m not so sure your approach often serves you very well. It comes across to me that most of your blogs are often jabbing more than actually wanting to be taken seriously as addressing the issues they include, just my 2 cents on that…
It seems Will felt that way too by inviting you to meet with him. I don’t know Will or work for the org, but I admire what they do to make this amazing thing happen. I think they’d be the first to ones to admit that it is always a work in progress and that there are always ways to improve things.
It certainly has grown over the years with all sorts of growing pains and lessons, there are many ways to burn and I’m sure there can be room for plug and play camps in some way… I like the way I burn and am not in a hurry to judge the ways others do it. Hmm, not so sure if Tolerance is one of the principles, though it surely is an unspoken one…
Adrian with the Black Rock Weekly had an interesting story on being a plug and player himself from this years issue… I think its an interesting topic and I imagine the issues with it will be worked out in due time. Maybe a little Patience could be added to the principle list. Lol.
See updates at the end of the post.
Will did not invite me to meet him, that was one of our commenters. Please do us the courtesy of reading what we post before criticizing it.
Recording IP of commenters is a built in feature of WordPress.
So you recommend adding Tolerance and Patience to make it 12 Principles?
I don’t recommend adding principles to a list, as in numbers, I was saying them jokingly (note lol) as seemingly reasonable traits that might help you to actually communicate more effectively. This blog topic makes a case that you were censored on the burning blog. Then the person in charge of the burning blog responds saying it was not. Your posts are posted. You want an immediate response, and whine when you don’t get it, that’s where the trait of patience comes to bear. It’s seems pretty clear the “principles” are not commandments or laws, just ideas of perspective. I think your comments and questions on the plug and play scene are reasonable, I am interested to see their response, I will wait, that is what patience is, that’s all.
I missed that the invite to meet was not to you… though I imagine it might be informative for you to get an inside look at the way things actually operate instead of by so much conjecture.
so that’s why you’re alleging in another post that Larry profits from drug sales? To give us “an inside look at the way things actually operate instead of by so much conjecture”?
Exactly, which in that case it’s called satire. Or an unbalanced perspective ridiculous mocking cacophonesque prank form of burners.me speak. Or maybe just hijacking conjecture by its own means… by accentuating its own specious demeanor.
Oh, OK…the drug dealing you’re saying Larry does is “ironic”. Got it.
BTW, they censored me AGAIN on that post. Rosie asked me for clarification, although I thought I was being pretty clear. Anyway, I gave her the courtesy of directly answering her questions, which is more than she or her paymasters have done to mine and the rest of the community’s. On Oct 9 I said:
“Hi Rosie. Let me clarify:
Does Burning Man get a cut? Simple question: some camps now are for-profit. Some camps have multi-million dollar budgets. Do they pay anything to BMOrg, or is it free of charge for anyone to come and set up a for-profit camp?
Tickets: Caravancicle got 120 tickets for its guests, plus tickets for all the staff that worked there. How could they get so many tickets, when the event sold out in 42 minutes in February?
Priority Placement: Caravancicle/Lost Hotel got an entire city block on the K-Hole, the area between 8:45-9:00 J to K. It was set aside for them, and after Tuesday – when everyone was supposed to have packed up and left – almost all of their infrastructure was still there (I would post a link but I’m hoping this comment gets past your censorship filter). I bet if I showed up and tried to park my RV at 9 & K I would have been told “this area is reserved”.
Leave No Trace: When the final MOOP map was completed, Caravancicle/Lost Hotel got pretty much the worst score for yellow/red. How can a camp that just blatantly ignores the rules and values of Burning Man get an entire block set aside for them?”
…and then I posted again, with the link:
“Here is the link that shows what was still left on the Playa on the Wednesday after the burn: http://mapsengine.google.com/gallery/mapviewer?id=zK_ghNc0p65g.kaWuvvipHkks&hl=en”
That comment is still awaiting moderation. It’s been more than 9 days now. How patient do you think I have to be? The link is on-topic, and in no way offensive; clearly, the censorship is personal. I’m not whingeing, just telling it like it is.
More to the point, the whole community are still waiting for answers to these questions – I’m by no means the only one asking the same thing. The most recent one was Heartspace, who posted 3 days ago and has still not received any response:
“Rosie Von Lila –
From reading your essay and the comments I think you are missing the main point of people’s anger: the apparent preferential treatment the rich are getting from the Borg.
Sure lots of the camps and art projects get blocks of tickets assigned to them – that’s how I got my ticket this year. We merely get the right to pay the normal price for our ticket, and it certainly wasn’t enough for the whole camp. But the reason for those allocations is the public benefit that is presented by the artists and theme camps, without which there would be nothing happening at the event! Plenty of camps they get placed without getting any tickets allocated-that’s not a problem.
So the simple questions you need to answer, and for some reason seem to be avoiding, is this: why do these “Concierge” camps get any tickets allocated to them since they are not providing any public benefit? And what price are they paying?”
Rosie said (about the tickets):
“At this time, I don’t know the specifics of this situation well enough to speak about them”
This was October 10, 8 days ago – so how much more patient should we be? At what point is this actually BMOrg stonewalling, rather than Burners lacking patience? How hard is this to figure out? Is there something else going on within BMOrg, so that no-one there can explain how Caravancicle got 120 tickets for $17,000 for head Commodification Campers plus who knows how many paid sherpas? The camp was organized by one of their Directors, so it’s not like it should be too hard for BMOrg to track down the people responsible. It’s now more than 6 weeks after Burning Man ended, how long does this take? Rosie has certainly had plenty of time to slander Burners.Me on Social Media – during business hours, which means someone is paying her to tell lies about us, but somehow not paying her to tell the truth to the Burner community.
I think the community is looking for something different from all this
bullshit“cacophonous pranking”. You know (or perhaps you don’t): honesty, the truth, some straight answers.
Coming soon…ironically, of course.
Jeez Burnersxxx, lighten up a smidge. The bemorgatrons peddling playa dust as a drug is a joke. A spoof on the pile of conjecture that seems to thrive here.
So you conclude the slowness of their checking their spam bins is censorship as opposed to maybe being busy with producing a gargantuan feat of a back yard bbq for 70k peeps hundreds of miles away? Maybe try posting your link in code, with a (dot) instead of a period (.). That’s what I do anyways.
My assumption as to the slowness of a reply is that it is complicated to figure this stuff out, and if there was a perceived mistake (or not), then it might behoove them to make sure they get it right with the next step and not blurt out a knee jerk of a continued mistake. I can also imagine them not wanting to engage you on your blog.
In short, they are busy doing cool shit, and busier as fuck doing boring shit, sorting out problems without making them into bigger problems… I think we will hear from them when we do, and I imagine they’re reading everybody’s input.
First, my problem (according to you) was lack of patience. When I pointed out that no, that’s not the problem, you’ve changed it to “lack of sense of humor”. It’s true that the ironic hotel sales, ironic merchandise, ironic contracts selling souls to Satan, ironic corporate takeovers, and ironic brainwashing, no longer seems that funny to me – given what’s really going on. I think my sense of humor and irony is just fine, it’s the “trust BMOrg” part that has become more cynical over the years I have been writing about them.
Your comment is also speculation. Just because you were there 30 years ago, doesn’t make your speculation a better kind than mine. Mine is based on their public statements, their actions, and information from sources – much of which I have chosen not to publish at this time. Generally, we publish facts, not speculation; the idea that “Burners.Me is full of misinformation” is a propaganda meme being promoted by BMOrg. Just because the propaganda comes all the way from the top of the pyramid, doesn’t make it true. They don’t like being held accountable for what they’ve told the media. I will admit that “which one of these 10 companies might buy BMOrg” was speculation – but I said as much in the introduction to that post.
I have no agenda, or misguided loyalty to a corporation. I happen to believe that truth is important, especially when they start talking about “spreading this culture globally” and “saving the world”.
Your assumption is it’s complicated to figure out things like how did Caravancicle get 120 tickets for their campers + however many for workers. Actually, it’s not. I provided Rosie with this link to help her, all the people involved are right there – and being paid (well) to do this, and deal with the consequences of their deliberate decisions. The “Barbecue” you mention is not for another 320 days. http://burners.me/2014/06/13/breaking-burnileaks-the-new-scalpers/
Once again, you were *not* censored and Rosie even replied to your questions the following day (maybe you missed it?)… hard to keep up with all this running in circles on all these blogs…
(From the burning man blog, that was the origin of this blog post…).
—– begin paste—- (**punctuation** mine)
Rosie von Lila Says:
October 10th, 2014 at 9:42 pm
“Does Burning Man get a cut? Simple question: some camps now are for-profit. Some camps have multi-million dollar budgets. Do they pay anything to BMOrg, or is it free of charge for anyone to come and set up a for-profit camp?”
Just so we are being factually clear, would you please kindly specify which camps are for-profit, who in those camps is profiting, and what evidence you have?
**The Burning Man organization receives payments for entry passes, and does not take any “cut” of any alleged profiteering.**
Re: Caravanscicle, I am not involved in ticket distribution and don’t have that information at this time.
“Priority Placement: Caravancicle/Lost Hotel got an entire city block on the K-Hole, the area between 8:45-9:00 J to K. It was set aside for them, and after Tuesday – when everyone was supposed to have packed up and left – almost all of their infrastructure was still there…”
**Carvanscicle was a registered theme camp that went through the same process that all placed camps went through.**
The infrastructure remaining on Tuesday at the two camp sites at that location was due to unforeseen circumstances, as I understand it. Placement takes note of these kinds of issues.
—– end paste—-
A few years ago, when the event hit the ceiling of selling out of tickets, there was an attempted “lottery” for distribution, it created a problem that theme camps were suddenly unable to move forward without having secure tickets. To fix this, they implemented a plan to divi-up tickets to registered theme camps outside of bulk sales… how many each camp gets must be decided somehow… I don’t know how they do this, but it seems to have been an accepted process so far…
There is a story behind this particular problem-ed camp, but I’m not so quick to presume that its causing the sky to collapse and all is corrupt, I’m sure that there will be adjustments made from lessons learned and policy will be hammered out.
Back to the point of this blog… All I’m asking of you is to simply admit you were not censored, because you were not. Your posts are up and and even addressed in a timely manor, and if you want to make sure your urls don’t get snagged in the spam filter, you need to spell them with (dots) instead of periods, if you mean to equate spam filters with censorship, then we can all understand your reasoning.
Your “slander” hyperlink to that facebook page doesn’t work either, does that mean facebook is “censoring” you? I personally don’t think so.
I’ve just demonstrated to you how I was censored – AGAIN. It says “your comment is awaiting moderation”, not “the link you posted went to the spam filter”. That appears to be an invention of Will Chase, I have already described how that doesn’t make sense.
Rosie responded with questions and a pathetic attempt to get me to do her job for her and betray my sources. These are deflections to change the subject, not real answers.
Are you saying that the Directed Group Sale theme camp tickets were $650? That is a huge scoop, if true. I believe you’re just spreading misinformation again, perhaps part of some damage control organized social media trolling attack. Certainly a modus operandi of BMOrg.
You may need to be approved to join the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers group, to follow the link I provided. They are not censoring me, stop trying to put ridiculous words in my mouth. Facebook does censor posts, so does BM…which is the purpose of this article, I have posted their censorship policy verbatim. Which would be obvious if you actually read the story.
OK, I hear you, you feel you were censored. I don’t agree. Maybe we could agree to disagree?
I still haven’t been approved on that facebook page and I have had a post on the burning man blog lost in the url catcher (or “spam filter” awaiting “moderation”) too. I know how it feels being blocked, though I don’t feel I’m being censored.
As I’ve mentioned on a blog here before, I don’t work for the org, I have nothing to do with this issue other than being an observer that sees that you seem to have a bias that the org is greedy and corrupt and you don’t ever seem to acknowledge that they are actually responsible for a lot of really good things and that they actually do care … Like for the event itself. Some wanted it to end after 1996. The current LLC (most of which were there from the beginning) are the ones that fostered it alive to this day. I think that’s a good thing… just sayin…
Alas, it is not my intention to “put words in your mouth,” I certainly don’t presume to do anything of the sort. If you like, we can bat this topic back and forth endlessly, or leave it here and agree to disagree…?
If I’m wrong about this bias thing, let me know and I’ll stand corrected. I know you post a lot of blogs on other topics and I admit I tend to read the ones that are more provocative, I admit this may color my perspective on this… you obviously like the event, creating this blog space to focus on it, though it just seems ironic that you seem to so disrespect the org that is responsible for its very existence.
My bias is towards the truth, and that’s why if I find BMOrg lying, my tone is critical. Unfortunately that occurs much more than it should. If the messenger would shut up they could keep lying; or, they could stop lying, and the messenger would stop criticizing.
I am frequently attacked by people connected to the Org using multiple fake names – like yourself – and that’s why some see my tone as being defensive. I reserve the right to defend myself from such attacks.
Unfortunately, both of the above happen quite frequently. Here are some other recent examples of piss-poor deceptive behavior from BMOrg:
Exploring the Other – 2014 Edition
Burning Man’s Gift Economy
These posts, as well as the Censorship one you’re commenting on, are filed in our category “Dark Path – Complaints Department”, which is for the critical stories. As of right now, there are 114 posts in that category, out of 1283 total posts – 8.8%.
For the first couple of years, it was running about 1 in 10. I have actually tried to reduce the number of critical complaints, and now it’s about 1 in 12. It is unfair to say that I am negatively biased, when 91%+ of posts are not negative.
There are some who still drink the Kool-Aid, in their eyes BMOrg can do no wrong and are somehow saving the world by throwing an annual rave. Anyone calling them out for unethical behavior must be evil, because hurting BMOrg hurts Burning Man which therefore hurts the world. I am not one of those indoctrinated cult members, but I do make a genuine effort to present plenty of content here that will appeal to that crowd also.
To me, Burning Man is something that has been created by the Burners, not the administrators.
Hey, good luck on your endeavors. Time will tell… or not… it’s all dust and illusions… or maybe pixels and illusions here…
I don’t agree with many of your perspectives, you don’t agree with mine, perhaps we are not really seeing each other eye to eye here with these damn screens in the way. Maybe we’ll meet someday, or maybe we have, out on the playa or elsewheres around a fire; I’ve never had a conversation with anyone in that environment that anyone felt attacked by some sort of multi-headed borgamatron…
I have posted here in a few places over enough time that I don’t remember where, or under what name. Like most posters here (yourself included), I posted with a pseudonym or using the name slot as a heading title to the following post. I never did it to run around sounding like a crowd. I speak only my own opinion and am not a member of any organized PR, any other group or conspiracy. (Nor live under a bridge).
It’s been a bit of fun, but not really all that productive. TTITD has been a lot of fun, this internet word/idea wrangling is a bit like a hangover, lol.
Trying to sign off this thread here… guess all I really want to say is: no hard feelings to anyone, don’t take anything personally by me… see ya at burning Montenegro. wikipedia(dot)org/wiki/.me
“To me, Burning Man is something that has been created by the Burners, not the administrators.” As much as I hate to prolong this thread… This statement may encapsulate the difference in our perspectives… if you think about it, the administrators ARE burners… and hey, you’re an administrator too… it reminds me a little of a favorite childhood story by Dr. Seuss, the Sneetches.
Much love to all you burners, and burning administrators too, cheers,
It was nice that Larry did an art project this year, with his shop at the Souk.
I see it as crowd-sourcing a party, saying “you guys bring the art, the music, the chicks, the booze, and the food… I’ll rent the hall and keep all the ticket money”…and then saying “wasn’t my party great, because of everything I did”.
Perhaps we can leave it at: “we made the party together, thanks to all of us it was great – let’s invite everyone back to the next one, and do it all over again”. Cheers, Dan. It feels like we’ve got somewhere 🙂
BMORG have painted themselves into a corner.
BM as a product is quite contradictory. The elements of hedonistic adventure, partying and networking are widely appealing to a lucrative market of high profile individuals. The elements of sleeping in dirt, hefting lumps of wood around and fiddling with camping stoves are less so.
Unfortunately for BMORG all of these elements are intrinsically bound via the Principles, so to sell to their preferred customer profile they need to find a way to weasel around them (hence censorship).
Conflating turnkey and P&P is weak, as is the ‘all in the name of education’ angle, and the inaccurate assumption that criticism stems from jealousy of the wealthy.
The argument about ‘educating the influencers to change the world’ is ridiculous. People with the £££ to afford P&P are quite capable of grasping the concept of pitching in without having to be handheld through it, especially at the expense of those newbies & vets who are fully bought into BM culture but cannot secure a ticket.
Congratulations. Black Rock City is now a real city, complete with an out of touch, self aggrandizing, greedy big city political machine. Detroit would be proud.
Good gawd, editing!! Your posts are like novels, not blog posts! Could you please get out the red pen and trimmers, we don’t need a court case, we just need the basics. Consider linking to the expanded text on stuff, rather than giving the article editorial-Viagra every time.
reading is hard for you, huh? Perhaps you should consider taking some sort of course. Or – here’s a thought – just don’t read posts here if they are too long for you. I’m only going for intelligent readers, not ignorant monkeys.
I note that most of the writing in this post is actually quoting BMOrg, maybe you should take your literacy issues up with them, troll.
Well, what do you know. This Monkey uses a static IP address from an ISP a couple of blocks from BMHQ. Which other commenters to this site have used the same address?
Jon Mitchell (Burning Man’s webmaster)
This Monkey Goes to 11
Lame, BMOrg. Lame. You write blog posts saying you want to stop all the Anonymous criticism of your organization, and that you’ll censor posts if you can’t tell who they’re from…then come here to troll my site under pseudonyms and fake email addresses.
This is solely the tip of the iceberg in regards towards the BMOrg social media crew commenting upon your site, and commenting upon your Facebook site. The manner of which they stay on message is amazing, complaints in regards of the editing, stating it is solely conspiracy theories, and stating Burners must not trust any statements upon your site. The comments of the BMOrg social media crew, and of the representatives of the BMOrg, are easy peasy to discern, often, perchance, a tad of an arguement, and then an ad hominem attack, all the while seldom providing of real facts, or answering queries, except within the same manner, the coolaid is strong with them.
thanks ABP. Another thing I’ve noticed is they never stick around to acknowledge any response I provide to their troll questions.
Most curious to me, is seeing these exact same tactics being used on other sites – those that are critical of the government, NSA spying, etc.
For those who are interested Jan Irvin gives a great overview of the Troll Playbook in this video (relevant section starts at 16:00) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auJWTHn-W70
Your comment somehow ended up in our spam trap. No idea why, it certainly wasn’t done on purpose. (We don’t look at our spam trap on a daily basis, by the way.) I’ve reinstated it. Sorry about that.
thanks Will (although my comment as burnersxxx from Burners.Me doesn’t appear to have been re-instated as of 2:03pm Oct 7).
Can you please let us know when and how BMOrg will be responding to these community concerns?
Oh I see … you have to un-spam it and then approve it as well (silly WordPress). Didn’t realize that. Done.
As for your other question, I don’t know when for sure, but I know that we will.
Dude, your post has been up on the blog since yesterday. And no, they don’t owe you a personal response.
Did you even read the article? After two days of trying, the post went up as soon as they thought it wasn’t from Burners.Me
I specifically say in the article that I didn’t expect a response to my comment, and don’t care about it. The problem is NO-ONE in the community is getting a response on this issue: despite BMOrg insisting the issue is important to them, and they want to encourage a dialog with the community, the only thing happening is people being asked to fill out their private feedback forms.
You don’t think they owe ANYONE a response?
Yikes. They had better step up and present an accurate picture. This is one of if not the single biggest issues–Turnkeys and what participation means…and not only has Burning Man not answered–the only answer they give is censoring your comments?
Shocked. It is like Casablanca.
This saddens me, and I think they owe you a) an apology and b) all of us a response.