Let us all give thanks, and a tasty seed-filled treat, to our little bird who tells me it’s time for an update. This time, two things:
2. I think I didn’t realize (or I had forgotten) that there is a Wikipedia entry for Stitch ‘n Bitch. This ignorance isn’t really surprising; a review of my search history indicates that I had recently consulted that site for “content management system” and “Lynda Carter” and “DIY culture”… but nothing knitting related. Sites like this, which pool the knowledge of users all over the world, are a terrific resource — as long as you realize that sometimes the contributors have their inherent biases or axes to grind.
At this point, you’re probably expecting to see an example illustrating this very point. How fortuitous!
Clicking on the link above will provide you with, of course, the current version of the Wikipedia article. It was actually a hard-fought battle to get it, and (temporarily) keep it, in that shape. Fortunately for us, Wikipedia tracks the changes that were made to an article since its creation, and you can see by following the edit history and the talk page that there have been several skirmishes over the article’s content. Even skimming the edit history gives you a hint of what happened. In short, the content of this article has flip-flopped between a version that mentions knitting groups using the name, the SFSE boycott, and various issues regarding the disputes involving SFSE, and other versions that omitted one or more of these things but expanded on SFSE’s services, like this one. (If this is an example of a pro-SFSE editor’s work, one wonders why the references to Debbie Stoller were left in. So that people searching for Stoller’s name would find this information about SFSE? Because deleting it would have been too radical an edit? I wonder.)
What has happened to this article is called edit warring, and as a consequence the article has been protected against further edits for a month. This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened to this article, according to the history, but just for fun let’s take a look at the latest straw that might have broken the camel’s back.
Specifically, let’s step back to earlier today. There was some radical cutting and pasting to line 19.
It used to read:
In fall 2005, Sew Fast Sew Easy took legal action to police its trademark to prevent consumer confusion with products found on the internet. Due to letters claiming trademark infringement from Sew Fast/Sew Easy’s lawyers, knitting groups that had accounts with [[CafePress.com|CafePress]], an online merchandise site, were forced to remove all items featuring the phrase “Stitch ‘n Bitch”. Local groups that communicated with each other through [[Yahoo! Groups]] were similarly forced to remove “Stitch ‘n Bitch” from the name and description of their group.
But then it was changed to:
In fall 2005, Sew Fast Sew Easy took legal action to police its trademark to prevent consumer confusion with products found on the internet. In 2007, the internet encyclopedia [[Wikipedia]] was sent a cease and decist order requesting their company information be posted in the online encyclopedia since they are the legal trademark owners or have the entire article removed.
(Note: we don’t know that SFSE had its lawyers do this, since it could have been SFSE’s personnel who did this work, so the sentence referring to “Sew Fast/Sew Easy’s” lawyers may have been inaccurate.) But otherwise, who could have wished to delete this information about actions taken against knitting groups? I wouldn’t know. All I have are clues.
Item: IP address (which I didn’t bother looking up myself).
Item: Spelling and sentence structure.
Item: The edit refers to cease and desist correspondence. Unless this action were publicized (was it?), generally only two parties would know that a C&D letter had been sent: the recipient, and the sender. (Also their lawyers, but their lawyers wouldn’t be editing Wikipedia.)
Plus, the talk page for this article, where contributors can explain and debate the changes made, includes this unsigned comment in support of the August 17 edits:
This article will continue to be changed back until either Wikipedia removes this article or Debbie Stoller stops attacking Sew Fast Sew Easy. I support Sew Fast Sew Easy in their endevours to continue using their trademark which they have been using for years until Debbie Stoller decided to sue Sew Fast Sew Easy because she was denied trademark status.
Could this be the aforementioned “cease and desist order”? No, that would be too circular.
An inherent axe is a painful thing.