Things that could only happen while Ariel is on vacation…

My thoughts last night exactly, dead cockroach.
My thoughts last night exactly, dead cockroach.

Do you know what's bound to happen the moment I go on a date, editor Catherine goes to a movie, and our boss Ariel is on vacation with ZERO data on her phone and no internet connection? The post that went viral all day long — the one that had (miraculously) no drama for the amount of traffic it was bringing in, lulling us into a feeling of internet stranger security — will absolutely erupt in controversy.

That's what happened last night with a post that was submitted to us about a woman who tragically lost her fiancé while they were planning their wedding. Some readers reached out via the comments to express some concerns about the validity of story.

The best/worst/of-course part of this controversy is that the guest poster, and the people who raised concerns, are all based in Australia, which was just waking up as the Empire crew was all winding down for the night.

Because I can't help myself, I took a moment to check my work email before arriving to a dinner date and saw that a Tribesmaid had hit me up to be all, "Sorry to bother you so late, but I just wanted to make you're aware of some major drama happening on this post…" HOLYWUTNOW!?

I peeked in, and yup, there were 18 or so negative comments — most of which were too long for me to actually read and not be the rudest date in the history of ever. Apologizing profusely, and squinting a lot without my glasses, I used my smart phone to sign into the site, kill the commenting option, and moderate all 18 comments. Then texted Ariel with the rare "911 help!"

An hour later, Ariel called me from her vacation spot — whispering as she sneaked out of the room full of her sleeping family members. We had a long late-night phone meeting about what to do. We take reader complaints and iffy editorial content really seriously (like late-night, hour-long meetings seriously) so we came up with a plan…

After doing some research, actively reading the comments, and receiving some emails, we ultimately decided that the post didn't meet our editorial standards, and decided to remove the content from our site. Instead of deleting the post, though, I added an editorial note explaining why the post isn't there, and linked to other posts where readers could, hopefully, find the help they're looking for.

Yup, we totally make mistakes, and sometimes we learn about them at the WORST possible time. This one might have taken an awkward date, a couple alcoholic beverages, a few panicked texts and phone calls, and a night of sleep to fix, but hopefully we made the best decision possible to rectify this one.

  1. Ugh, this TOTALLY happens to us at work too. Small software company – 1 programmer/CEO/CFO/everything guy (basically). Whenever he goes on vacation, we're like, "Bye! We'll call you when the site goes down/we get hacked/the building burns to the ground!" He has MORE THAN ONCE had to fix stuff sitting in one of the restaurants in Epcot at Disney World.

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  2. Ugh, what a bummer.
    On the plus side, nobody's ovary exploded!

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  3. i don't think i ever got to express how much i love it that when i'm curious about something happening in the empire i can just come here and find a post about it 🙂
    i got to read the nice comments only. i think you did the right thing removing the post, also out of respect for the stories and feelings people shared in the comments.

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  4. (1)Still thought it was great y'all even decided to tackle the issue with not one, but TWO posts yesterday. Seriously, I love that about you guys. The tough shit shouldn't be ignored and you don't. Bravo.

    (2)Is it the questions on authenticity? The trollish roll of the comments? I read the post and while I thought "this would be more OBHL than OBB;" I didn't think it was totally out of the realm. A little unusual for its location, but not totally fucknuts crazy. Can you clarify that for me/us? I am just a bit lost/clueless/ignorant/ostrich on it.

    Obviously, I don't need the full postmortem y'all are/will be doing on it but a little more insight would help clear it up for me.

    Thanks! 🙂

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  5. Yeah, I'm confused on what happened. Is it that the OP was lying and it was harmful in some way or were people just making nasty enough comments that it wasn't worth keeping up?

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  6. I just wanted to say thank you for these clarifying/explanatory posts. As a social media manager myself, I understand how frantic and upsetting these kinds of situations are, despite how calm you make it seem in this post. It's nice on this end, too, to see that such things happen, and the world doesn't end. The site doesn't implode. Everything keeps spinning. It's a good reminder. So, again, thank you!

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  7. I thought it was a beautiful, important post and am sad to see it gone.

  8. Posts like this one are why the Empire blog is my favourite of the three blogs which are part of the Empire — I truly love to knowing about what goes on behind the scenes and how the sites run. Thank you.

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