An update on WordPress and Turkey

WP Letter

It was my birthday yesterday. I don’t like my birthday much; it just feels like a reminder of another year gone and what I’ve got to look forward to for another year. Still, it was nice to spend a few hours with my family, and I’m putting some money together with savings to get a new camera.

I had one interesting surprise, though. I received a reply from the Turkish Embassy about the WordPress ban. I wasn’t expecting one at all (I thought they would just ignore it) and while it’s a carefully worded reply, there are a couple of interesting things in it. I’ve uploaded the letter to Flickr if anyone wants to have a look and I’ll quote a few sections below.

This was the first thing I noticed:

“However, after consulting with the telecommunication services provider Türk Telekom, it has been established that technically it is impossible just to ban several blogs hosted by ‘wordpress.com domain’. Therefore, the ban had to be applied to the whole site.”

I’m almost positive that’s wrong. Technically impossible? It should be a simple matter for Türk Telekom and other ISPs to distinguish between WordPress and individual blogs; if they mean people would just open new blogs, they can just add them to the list as they find them. Blocking access to 1.3 million blogs to stop just a handful is just crazy. And it’s not stopping people from seeing them anyway – they can just go to Wordprexy.

This was the second thing:

“We would also like to inform you that, those bloggers who have directly been affected by the ban placed on ‘WordPress.com’ can apply to Turkish courts in order to revoke the decision of 17 August 2007.”

At first I thought they meant just Turkish bloggers but it seems they mean all bloggers affected, which is good; they know the ban impacts people from all over the world. It seems that my letter has already been forwarded on so there’s not much point doing another, but I wonder if there might be a case for making a joint statement from users of WordPress to coincide with the November 1 court sitting? It might carry more weight coming from a large number of people and it could even be co-ordinated with MidEast Youth’s petition.

So that’s the letter. I was surprised to get a reply at all and I think it was a reasonable response, if a cautious one. It’s ironic, though, that it came the same week that Iran blocked access to Google and Gmail. What a world we live in.

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12 thoughts on “An update on WordPress and Turkey

  1. A belated Happy Birthday! and also thanks for all the work you do answering questions on the forum.

    Like you I’m surprised by the answer you received.

    CJ: Thanks TT! I don’t mean to seem like a grouch about my birthday, btw – I just don’t like much of a fuss, that’s all. 😉

    I like helping in the forums, so it was nice to see a community of volunteers there when I started; let me slide right in. I just have to make sure I don’t answer too quickly as sometimes I misread the questions otherwise. 😆

    The reply really surprised me; they’re almost directing me to the next step, if I want to take it that far. I just thought they’d ignore it, so this is much more than I expected.

  2. Hmmm, interesting. I wonder how effective a massive letter-writing campaign to the court would be? Do we know where such an application would need to be sent?

    BTW, on a privacy note, you might want to consider blacking out your name & address info on the letter. We can all start stalking you now 😉

    CJ: Thanks Judy, I’ve blacked it out now. I can’t believe I didn’t think to do that before; it’s the first piece of advice I give to everyone, don’t publish anything personal online! That’s the last time I publish a post at 3am, LOL. 🙂

    I’m not sure what kind of impact a campaign might have but it might be worth doing as a statement to the Turkish authorities; my idea was to have something we all signed and sent to the court, and perhaps CCed to media outlets and politicians. I’m not sure where it would need to be sent but I’ll have a look, see what I can find out.

  3. hi cj!

    i really think you should provide social bookmarking options under this post!

    also links to your previous posts about wp ban could be helpful. 😀

    CJ: Hey Sanjida, you might have a point about the social bookmarks. I tend not to do them because they can look a bit cluttered and not everything I write about would suit them anyway… but I probably should here. Thanks for pointing it out. 😉

    I did link to the letter for the Ambassador, and if you click that there are links to the other stories, or the Free Speech tag. I didn’t do more because I don’t like having trackbacks everywhere and most people on WP are familiar with the story by now anyway.

    Hm, your comment went into moderation, even though others have gone through. Maybe your new name needed authorising first, Netty Gritty?

  4. happy (belated) birthday. i know how you feel about birthdays, i don’t fancy mine either which is why i keep it secret. 😛 (a bit juvenile, i know.) i think that you got a reply from the embassy shows that your voice is acknowledged, and under the circumstances, i’d say that’s better than nothing. 🙂

    CJ: Thanks sulz! I don’t really hate my birthday, I just don’t like much of a fuss made over it… and I can certainly understand not publicising it – I wouldn’t either, except this letter seemed like some kind of weird birthday gift. 😛

    I wasn’t expecting any kind of response at all, so being aknowledged was more than I could have hoped for. More than that, they’re almost directing me to the next step, if I want to go that far, so I was really quite surprised. It’s always nice to be taken seriously. 😉

  5. the mideast youth provided a link to this post to all who has signed the petition; nice! 🙂 i wonder how many hits is that worth?

    CJ: Yes, I just got the email. I might have to send a box of chocolates to say thanks. 😛

  6. They are just lying.

    “…technically it is impossible just to ban several blogs…”

    This is a big lie.

    My blogs http://bilimvedin.blogspot.com and http://cevaplar.wordpress.com were blocked in January 2007 and are still blocked. They are blocked because of Adnan Oktar (a.k.a. Harun Yahya)

    They can block individual blogs easily. They don’t have to block the whole domain. It is bullshit. They are making fun of us.

    CJ: Thanks for confirming that; I was sure it was possible as well, but the more I read their response and what the lawyers said to Matt Mullenweg, the more I think they mean that people would just create new blogs. Which is just as stupid (you can’t ask someone to block all possible permutations of a name, it would be millions), but perhaps that’s what they mean by “techncally”. It’s like splitting hairs, though, isn’t it?

    And apparently YouTube’s blocked again now as well. What’s next, Google like Iran?

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