A Question of Personal Identity: Who Do Our Flags Stand For?
A BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY MORNING. DJKAKTUS BEDROOM, SUNRISE.
DJKAKTUS awakens, stretches his arms, and gets out of bed. Walking over to his window, he stares out and sighs contentedly.
DJKAKTUS: Yeah, another beautiful day for my SCP Wiki.
Sitting down at his personal computer, DJKAKTUS begins typing away. In the background, the sounds of bird chatter can be heard. It is peaceful at first but it continues growing louder and louder, ever-incessantly louder as DJKAKTUS stares ever-more intently at his computer’s monitor.
DJKAKTUS: Oh, not this crap again.
The SCP Foundation's Spanish (La Fundación) and English (SCP Wiki) language confic communities have once again come to blows. It’s a sad case of cultural differences and a lack of communication causing an unnecessary crisis.
A seemingly petty disagreement over graphics reflecting the author’s personal identity or preferences has spiraled out of control. The rules of La Fundación disallowed such graphics if they did not also relate to the contents of the article. These web page graphics are made with CSS — a way of coding web pages allowing for custom graphics.
For example, while a left or right-wing political CSS theme would be disallowed, the rules made room for story-based inclusions, as seen on La Fundación’s When Day Breaks translation. The policy was taken for granted by the SCP Wiki power users as being deliberately homophobic. In this context, the power users of the SCP Wiki are admins and other prominent people; the upper crust who have direct influence on the SCP Wiki's policy and culture. This is where the core of the miscommunication lies, an immediate assumption of bigotry by those with power to act.
This particular injury is a follow-up to Confic Magazine's coverage of events which took place in November 2021, when some SCP Wiki power users behaved in a patronizing fashion towards La Fundación’s community, a move taken by all to be a deliberate slap to the face.
The SCP Wiki staff then promised punitive action would be taken and La Fundación accepted that, although no action was taken until the present time of crisis. But before that action, on August 12th, there came a wave of accusations from the SCP Wiki’s power users denouncing La Fundación for alleged systemic homophobia due to their rules regarding custom pages
How did it Come to This?
There had been simmering tension between the English SCP Wiki and the confederation of international SCP containment fiction communities since November of 2021. Due to the SCP Wiki staff not fulfilling promises made to La Fundación, there was no resolution to ongoing disagreements and misunderstandings, setting things up so that it was only a matter of time before things went from simmering to boiling again.
HarryBlank, SCP Wiki power user extraordinaire, had been struggling with La Fundación’s policy of not porting custom CSS that featured elements unrelated to the article, and reflective of the author’s personal preferences or beliefs. He had cleverly circumvented this by making the pride colors integral to the works being translated. They were then ported over fully intact.
But this ongoing dispute led to dissatisfaction within the elite rungs of the SCP Wiki community, that La Fundación was still not porting over non-integral LGBTQ pride colors in their article translations. This consternation was too much discomfort for the SCP Wiki staff and power users to deal with motivating them to resume the negotiations which had stalled out ten months prior.
This resumption, however, was not the result of any real movement between the parties, and only came because of renewed notice by members of the SCP Wiki. To La Fundación it looked an awful lot like the SCP Wiki was remembering a policy that they didn’t like and telling La Fundación to simply comply with what the SCP Wiki wanted them to do. There was no doubt within those on the SCP Wiki’s side of the negotiating table; that the policy of those sitting across from them was intrinsically, inescapably, homophobic.
As mentioned, this entire period, the SCP Wiki staff had pending disciplinary action against their own staff and community members who were responsible for a wave of misbehavior inside of La Fundación's community during the aforementioned 2021 go-around. This was a sticking point in negotiations as the SCP Wiki seemed disinclined to follow through on its promises and just wanted La Fundación to do as they were told.
The discussion over La Fundación’s graphics policy had seemingly reached yet another impasse. The staff of La Fundación asked their SCP Wiki counterparts to wait and give them some time to talk things over.
But instead, when La Fundación failed to provide immediate compliance, the SCP Wiki power users began to double down on their initial assumptions. On August 12th, a widespread drumbeat message came hard and fast with a fervently urgent tone. On social media and on the SCP Wiki itself the power users of that community declared themselves in opposition to La Fundación. In addition to denouncing them as homophobic, the SCP Wiki power users went further by saying that that all authors of the SCP Wiki were being threatened by La Fundación and that this fight was a just cause for the benefit of all.
Well-respected and tenured SCP Wiki confic author and media creator Dr Cimmerian made a post calling for people to sign a petition. In it, SCP Wiki authors asked La Fundación to remove their articles, in an act of protest & solidarity for the perceived injustices. This post was laden with falsehoods, such as the SCP Wiki staff having been patient with the staff of La Fundación, when in reality the SCP Wiki staff had rushed to judgment when they did not get an immediate response from La Fundación.
Given that there is a vibrant and rich culture of LGBTQ writers and readers which is flourishing on the SCP Wiki, it is no surprise that a call to arms claiming another confic community was acting in a homophobic manner held great and urgent resonance.
La Fundación was now gripped by historical forces pushing them unwillingly down the trail blazed by their Francophonic and Russian counterparts; dealing with the tendency for insular groups like the SCP Wiki's power users to self-reinforce bad ideas. This is in part due to the lack of outside viewpoints by which to point out obvious flaws; due to mutual bias and blind spots these can be largely missed by the in-group.
It seems La Fundación learned from watching their colleagues negative interactions with the SCP Wiki, they followed a playbook that takes its cues directly from the SCP Wiki's history of shooting first and asking questions later when it comes to their international collaborators. The specific play can simplified down to four words: Sit Down, Shut Up.
There's no way to counteract a media barrage like what had been unleashed from the SCP Wiki, so just sit tight and don't let them bait you into action. La Fundación's community was highly disciplined in sticking to this strategy. Allow surrogates from the wider international SCP confic communities to speak on your behalf.
Let the power users of SCP Wiki yell and have the spotlight until they get tired, then gradually push back once the light of a new dawn makes them question the reckless actions taken in the heat of the moment. By working behind the scenes instead of engaging the war of words, La Fundación was able to completely turn the tables in a real David vs. Goliath moment.
IT IS NOW A BLUE-SKY SUNDAY AFTERNOON. CIMMERIAN IS AT A COFFEE SHOP. Smiling with some satisfaction, Cimmerian watches as more petitioners join his righteous and polite, but firm, petition. With all of these names, they could not possibly be refused. Over 1,000 SCP Wiki articles were slated to be taken down. Taking another sip from his glass of ice water, he looked out at the clouds rolling by. So many of his trusted friends had helped him to make this peaceful petition, the authors from the SCP Wiki were more united on this than anything else in recent memory. There was no way for any of this to go wrong.
The following screenshots were taken on August 17th 2022. They document some of the rhetoric being thrown around like weight by some of the most prominent and outspoken members of the SCP Wiki community, all of whom have a large following of loyal fans within the community to varying sizes and degrees. Together, they have a powerful ability to amplify a particular message throughout the SCP containment fiction scene as a whole, merely by using their social media accounts to hammer on similar talking points in a coordinated fashion.
TheeSherm tweeted the following from August 12th 2022 to August 15th 2022:
Dr Cimmerian made only one major contribution to the discourse on Twitter, but did contribute significantly in mobilizing the intellectual elite of the SCP Wiki power user caste, as well as numerous authors trying to make a name for themselves. It was a bandwagon; well over one hundred authors, representing more than one thousand articles, pledged themselves to this demand to remove their works from La Fundación. That thread can be found here.
In step, DJKaktus made the following tweets from August 12th 2022 to August 17th 2022:
The following social media posts were made by SD Locke from August 12th 2022 to August 17th 2022:
Looking at this screenshot of Locke’s author page, we can see that they claim to list over 1,000 articles which the SCP Wiki community has decided to try and revoke from La Fundación. This petition's popularity escalated rapidly, and we can note the authors with more social capital and sway strategically placed atop the list. It was practically a case of Locke-and-awe.
Oddly (and as an aside here), this is a complete reversal of the position which the SCP Wiki elite — and some the same individuals — definitively took in February 2021, when a user asking for a relative 162 SCP Wiki articles to be deleted was deemed an impossible request, due to the damage it would mean to the site's library. In response to the request — itself an act of personal protest in its own right — the SCP Wiki staff held a vote to rescind that author’s right to have a say over their own articles; one that the rare dissenting voice noted to be suspect, and likely a formality.
More information regarding particular individuals' reversals of philosophy and principle can be found on this blog, owned by a Society for Containment Fiction contributor.
It should be said that some of the folks participating in this bandwagon realized their folly before the worm really turned for La Fundación. But those recalcitrant few were unfortunately too little too late to prevent damage which had already been done.
The following screenshot was in response to this Twitter post.
What is to Be Done?
The advice of many La Fundación members has been solicited, asking them how this conflict could be avoided in the future, both in terms of what could be done to prevent it and how things should change to ensure that it is prevented.
The first of the following screenshot was sent by the main administrator of La Fundación, and amounts to a public declaration of “no comment.” Confic Magazine respects the wishes of the administration of La Fundación. As such, the commentary from community members will be relayed anonymously. The other official communique from the La Fundación staff can be read here.
"Being part of SCP-ES does not mean that you agree with its policies in this regard. I wouldn't go so far as to call them homophobic, but I think it's a bad decision that limits the freedom of authors just like their ban on the Black Highlighter theme.
Good warning that it took me a while to respond or give a statement on the subject for reasons of time waiting if this situation ended in the best way but honestly I am seeing that the problem still exists between the communities so I would like to comment from a perspective neutral that I, as a user who is part of the sites as a member, personally believed that the real reason why the administration of the Hispanic branch site decided to have a policy of not using logos related to issues of religion, politics, sexuality, etc. is simply for aesthetic and design reasons that the translators and the site itself wanted to raise within their site as a policy, even though I must mention that if the day where the LGBTQ+ pride day is celebrated, as I understand it, if a user or translator wants to celebrate that day in his article the user, if he wants to, can do it during that time that the day lasts this in my opinion I see it as If it was a Christmas or Halloween event, what if the aesthetics of the site change during that time, but then also taking this into account, for me the real reason why the users of the EN community are complaining is because the authors want their own SCP articles in the translations to also have the format and logo of pride and support that is predefined within their article regardless of whether it is related to the plot of the content of the article itself but from that point the conflict begins here.
Users complain and demand respect for not fully translating the article with all the design and logo included in the Spanish-speaking branch and site because this would break the rule that if the article is not related to the plot of the article then you cannot use the logo if it is not during the month in which the holiday occurs and if the translator himself decides to change the logo during that time, the same applies to users of the EN branch is not acceptable because it does not allow the logo to be used in articles within the ES site regardless of its relationship with the subject, but well, the only thing that I could conclude with all this controversy would be to give a possible solution in creating a survey and vote for all Hispanic branch staff if they fully agree with changing the translation policies of articles from other branches and communities to their own site and then if the vote results in maintaining and not making any changes to the policy from your site I think the most appropriate thing would be to make an agreement of separation and disassociation from the community.
It is with the EN resulting in the previous case and past controversy that occurred with the community of some authors who for the same circumstances decided to separate from their community to then create their own site and community that is still active today and currently known as the RPC authority or in English RPC Authority well then already [I've said] everything I wanted to say with this statement of mine I hope I have provided some help and knowledge on all this topic I humbly send my greetings."
"Hi Harmony, I have to say that I prefer to refrain from commenting to avoid creating controversy; I see this issue as a very delicate matter from which one should not draw hasty conclusions. Also, I don't feel like I can really represent the general opinion of the Hispanic community of SCP writers, I'm just an occasional translator and more focused on my own Hispanic splinter; I recommend contacting the staff and the team of ambassadors of the Hispanic branch to find out the official position on the matter.
Greetings, and have a nice day."
"Being part of SCP-ES does not mean that you agree with its policies in this regard. I wouldn't go so far as to call them homophobic, but I think it's a bad decision that limits the freedom of authors just like their ban on the Black Highlighter theme."
This is all ultimately a tragic miscommunication which has spiraled inexorably out of anyone’s control. It persisted on momentum until those who had unleashed it realized their error, and have been hastily working to patch the damage their words have caused. It's not unlike those Warner Brothers characters who run off the edge of a cliff, the momentum of their chase keeping them sustained until they look down, and fall. The SCP Wiki’s elite clearly do not have any regard for haphazard applications of force if their recent conduct is anything to judge them by.
Before we can narrow our focus down to the present, we must contextualize contrast North American totemic cultural priorities with Central and South American LGBTQ culture. Much like their North American counterparts, oppressed gender and sexuality minorities began shaking off centuries of oppression with more militant fervor in the 1960’s. The LGBT pride flag was designed in 1978, 44 years before the events of August 2022. The trans pride flag was designed in 1999. Both of these flags were designed in the United States of America by Americans. Both have gone on to become ubiquitous parts of American culture.
But what of Spain? To be frank, there was one notable member from the Iberian peninsula who testified to their experience was indifferent towards the issue of the CSS inclusion and tended to side with their counterparts in the western hemisphere. It is possible that if there were more prominent members from western Europe there would be a greater diversity of opinion but this does not seem to be the case.
In the United States, in a nutshell, the Stonewall riots led to a more militant movement demanding gay rights and representation which has continued to the present day. In fact much of the widespread oppression of the LGBTQ liberation movement outside of North America can be attributed to the rise in the 20th century of authoritarian regimes and heavy-handed intervention by the powers that be on the northern half of the American supercontinent. Not that this has any direct impact on what has happened in the containment fiction space, but every mighty river has its small tributaries.
The sources do not mention any widespread usage of pride flags outside North America, not speaking about them in any fashion whatsoever, not even to address their absence from the literature. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from this is that while North American, and to a lesser degree European, LGBTQ individuals place a great emphasis on the importance these flags hold in representing their identities, this same reverence is just not present in their Central and South American counterparts. While many parts of the LGBTQ culture from the North Atlantic has percolated through culturally interpreted by these cultures, pride flags have not been one of the elements carried over to any noticeable significance from the literature available to English-speaking audiences.
Pride flags are of course a ubiquitous part of popular culture but prominence alone does not instill objects with multi-cultural meaning. They are along in the Americana baggage train. Whilst they do provide a symbol for LGBTQ folks everywhere to see themselves in, the flag can never fulfill its fullest potential unless it is being authentically blended with home-grown culture, to create something new and unique to the place which the design finds itself in. To treat one's own cultural expression of LGBTQ identity as the be-all end-all of all expressions of gayness is homosexual chauvinism. It also plays dangerously with the idea that one quality of yours is your most important; a breeding ground for militancy, and an "us-versus-them" dichotomy that we naturally want to be on the winning side of.
Given that we also have the testimony of numerous La Fundación users backing up this lack of enthusiasm towards flag-waving pride, it is safe to say that the denial of total identity as synonymous with these icons, these flag layouts, is a cultural difference and not in any way an expression of homophobic, transphobic, or queerphobic intolerance.
But none of that was of interest to the SCP Wiki power users.
The situation is even stickier; there is a force imbalance here, with the SCP Wiki being several orders of magnitude larger and more active than just about any of their international colleagues. But what does that size difference actually mean in practice? Simply put, the mere size of the SCP Wiki and their ability to drive hate towards La Fundación is a serious problem as knee-jerk reactions of the larger community can send a tidal wave crashing over their smaller fellows. Imagine, as is the case with less organized or populated recipients of this treatment, if there was no platform by which La Fundación's reply could be propagated. The magnitude of the damage they inflict on their smaller colleagues is incomprehensible to the larger community, like a human hosing down an ant colony. For the larger party, it is just a careless, reflexive splash. To the smaller party, it is a world-ending tsunami.
The escalation of rhetoric by the thought leaders of the so-called “main” SCP Wiki has been the major driving force of the actual conflict as it has taken place. There was the initial incident, but past that, this has been those influencers seeing and almost salivating at a chance to show a united front against a perceived opponent, picking up that ball and running with it. A play for easy applause from the in-group, but that quick-hit acclaim comes cheap and fades fast.
In a conversation on the escalating rhetoric on social media, a member of the Society for Containment Fiction said that the arguments being made by the power users resembled a reverse No True Scotsman fallacy. Saying that anyone from La Fundación dissenting on the SCP Wiki’s widespread, unfounded accusations of homophobia isn't really a part of that group, insinuating that true La Fundación members were with the SCP Wiki. The problem with that assumption is that, far from it, La Fundación members, LGBTQ included, had been driven away. Instead, they were actively mobilizing to make their case and fight back against the unsubstantiated allegations being levied against them by the SCP Wiki power users.
There has now been a great backpedaling by those precise individuals most responsible for inspiring the tension in the first place attempting to now recast themselves as calming mediators after driving this this conflict to the precipice in the first place, but they have had their chance to speak already.
It is now time for La Fundación’s voice to be heard, at the expense of those who talk too much and say too little.
THE SUN HAS SET ON TUESDAY.
SHERM sits by his desk, rubbing his chin in his hands. The likes and retweets have stopped rolling in. There have been no likes or shares from anything in hours. The joyride is over. SHERM: Ah, we might’ve gone a little too far on this one. Powering off his computer, he walks off the stage as the scene fades to black.
Dr Cimmerian is still facing difficulty from his recent misfortune, more details of which can be found on his GoFundMe page.
Cartoon graphics and background image of this article's cover are licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0 and are reproductions from the following sources:
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