An Open Letter to Arianna Huffington On the New Contributor Platform

An Open Letter to Arianna Huffington On the New Contributor Platform

Huffington Post has launched a new publishing platform. And for part of one day I was allowed, once again to publish my articles on single parenting. And then they discovered my post going viral and they killed my account. I’m still in some odd form of stasis. I’m still ON the platform, but I’m not able to load the platform. I’m guessing the company that admins the program doesn’t have an easy way to suppress authorised users. So today, when I try to load the contributor platform it goes into some broken load/reload sequence and never escapes until I quit the browser.

Here’s what that looks like:

If you go look, my new contributor page is still online: John McElhenney on The Huffington Post. You’ll notice the last four posts, if you try to load them will result in the following screen.


Okay, so what can be going on here? Why won’t the Huffington Post Blog Team, the divorce editor Brittany Wong, or Arianna herself answer my question about why I would be banned from publishing on the new contributor platform.

Well, the entire idea of “contributor” only holds together if you look at their community statement. Here’s the little part they put in about removing posts from the new platform.

We reserve our right to remove posts that abuse that spirit of community, such as hate speech, anything overtly commercial in nature and posts that we believe may be attempting to mislead the public in some way. There may be other times when we will remove a post that has been flagged by our community for other reasons, including matters of professionalism and taste. We hope and expect those times to be rare and we will not take these decisions lightly. But in building this community, we respect the right of its members to be vocal about their objections. When those objections arise, we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the space we’re trying to create.

That’s all fine and dandy, but if there is no recourse, no way to ask “What happened?” then they have violated the true spirit of an open community. Apparently the blog team has oversight on the new platform. So if ONE of my posts was flagged, why were all four of them taken down? If I was given publishing credentials, why were they taken away within hours of my first post? If I had a successful post on The Huffington Post why would you suppress that post, especially if there were no clear violations of your trust agreement?

Dear Arianna,

I know you are no longer involved in the day-to-day execution of the Huffington Post. While I applaud your opening the new Contributor Platform, and even your grand gesture in the Statement of Community that surrounds and empowers the new system, I am sorry to say, the lack of transparency is death to openness. An open community means there are channels for communication when things go wrong. If your blog team never responds to a contributor and yet continues to suppress that contributor’s writing, isn’t that a violation of your own statement of community?

When you say “we will leverage the sound judgement of our editors to determine what is best for the spirit of the place we are trying to create” don’t you think that information should also be made public? If the blog team suppresses material, shouldn’t they also answer requests for information about why?

If the Huffington Post wants to create an open community bounded by ethics and moral inclusiveness, they should not also engage in hidden and unfounded suppression of valuable and reasonable material.

I am optimistic that you will answer my question about why four of my posts were accepted, published, and then suppressed in a matter of hours. I am also optimistic that you will reinstate my publishing privileges, as you so warmly welcomed me to the Huffington Post publishing family over three years ago.

Yours Respectfully,

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Catch up on the entire Huffington Post story

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