It’s no big secret that I’m Pagan. I talk to people about it all the time, and there was a period in my life when I was much more actively writing articles for Pagan websites. I kind of got out of the habit of it around 2005/2006 when I began doing some occasional work for White Crane, a Journal of Gay Men’s Spirituality. Those occasional pieces eventually winnowed down as well and now I just write for my own blogs.
But I had taken for granted that the sites to which I’d originally submitted my work would maintain those articles. Boy was I wrong!
In the early 2000’s I had contributed a couple of articles to The Witch’s Voice website. This is a long running site that has been providing a platform for Pagan voices who wish to share their own discoveries within their faith traditions. Three of the articles I had written there were linked on my web resume as part of my personal bibliography.
For whatever reason, I wanted to share the article I wrote on the ecstatic, spiritual experience in dance music with someone recently. However, when I went to pull that link I was greeted with this page.
Now, I don’t mean to pick on WitchVox. They’re a great site, and they do a lot of good things. And sure, they probably had to dump some content. I can understand that. Well, maybe not, given that you can just go to BestBuy and get a terabyte server or that you can pay for unlimited bandwidth for next to nothing a month. But whatever. They had to make a decision, and they chose to bump articles from people who didn’t have active profiles.
So, how was I going to get my articles back? My first shot was to check the Internet Archive. Sadly, they didn’t index the entire site, and the caches that they had for my articles only turned up one of them. Incidentally it was my favorite article I wrote on WitchVox, about how the Passion of the Christ can be viewed through the lens of Roman ritual sacrifice. That piece got more hits than anything I’ve ever written, mostly because it got picked up by MetaFilter and reblogged hundreds of times, with ALL kinds of back and forth about it. I even remember getting some feedback from Fritz at WV that it was one of the most hit articles that they had ever hosted. I was shocked and proud. And now it lives on via the WayBack machine. But the other two I had to go elsewhere.
Both of the articles found homes on other sites that had similar interests to mine. My article Holy Rave: Sacred Ecstatic Dance Music was picked up four years after it had originally been published and republished on the Gay Witch Network, buried somewhere in their blog pages. I don’t even know who reshared it. But they faithfully copied the entire article word for word. Similarly Rin Daemoko at OccultForum.org copied and pasted my article Secrecy as Power/Proclamation as Power within days of my having written it. Now, I don’t remember ever giving Rin permission, but without his having copied that article over I would have lost it to the ether.
If it hadn’t been for these two people who copied and repasted my article on their forums, and the Internet Archive caching my page I would have lost these pieces of my bibliography forever. I’ve reblogged all my articles over at my LiveJournal just to have another backup of the text. But its original home is gone.
A lot of people I know get bent out of shape over people “stealing their content” by reblogging it somewhere else. But let this be a cautionary tale. If you’ve got your content in one place, you’re at risk. There’s no guarantee that your publisher will keep your work alive. But fans, people who love your work and want to share it with their circles of friends will want to keep it alive. They will do what they can to keep copies of your work in the hands of the people who need it.