A situation has arisen at Tokyopop.com that I don’t think should be kept only there. As many of you may know from Brigid’s posts on the Mangablog, people have been frustrated about the condition of the Tokyopop.com website. Namely, since the “upgrade” to 2.0, it has been buggy and not well managed. One of the users of the site, an artist known as Sixxx, has been very vocal about the bad code and poor management on her blog. Last weekend, she was banned from the site and her profile was wiped from the system.
Sixxx was a popular person around the site. She was on the front page every day as a “Most Popped” user. Her art was used as avatars, and was often featured in other blog posts. She also spoke her mind about the problems on the site. Her posts weren’t mean or nasty. They were written by someone who obviously cared about the site and was frustrated at what it had become. Apparently, after another venting on her blog, which Sixxx had the comments set for moderation before posting, the webmaster of Tokyopop.com, Matt Paladino, aka MP (who was also on Sixxx’s ignore list) left a comment on the blog that appeared without Sixxx’s approval. The only way he could have done this is by using his power as a webmaster. This was a blatant abuse of power, and Sixxx called him on it. A few days later, while Sixxx was logged in, she was kicked from the site and banned. Her account was removed and not a word has come from Tokyopop.com to Sixxx or to anyone inquiring about it. For more information, check out this Live Journal.
I don’t normally get involved with these kind of situations, especially since I don’t even know Sixxx except by repuation. But what Matt Paladino did, and Tokyopop.com approved of my their inaction really gets me riled. It was completely wrong for MP to abuse his power like that and flaunt it so blatantly. His actions are more like a petty tyrant than a webmaster. But then, we all know what happens when the wrong people get power. If MP didn’t like what Sixxx was saying about the site, he should have just fixed it and not played little games. Users should not be afraid to speak their minds, especially when they have been violated. It’s one of the basic freedoms in the Bill of Rights, and part of what this country was founded on.
Some might contend that Tokyopop.com was in their right to ban Sixxx, as it is their site. And honestly, in their Terms of Service, it does say:
“TOKYOPOP reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including email) by you, or to restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the Website or Services at any time, or to terminate your Membership for any or no reason, with or without prior notice. “
Employers can terminate employees as well if they are “at will”. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to have a good, justifiable reason for termination. Employers who don’t end up paying for it. I see no reason not to hold Tokyopop to the same standards. From the evidence I’ve seen so far, there is no good justifiable reason. A bruised ego is NOT a reason for banning. Not if you truly want to build a site for users to come together. But with the way the site “upgrade” has been handled, I am really beginning to wonder if that’s what they want.
Tokyopop can continue to ignore this, and try to pretend that Sixxx never existed. But to continue to do so will only hurt their reputation more and more. How can you trust a publisher that censors it’s fans? Businesses that treat they customers badly will find that they have no more customers. And with more and more competition out there, I don’t think Tokyopop can afford to be pushing away it’s customers. If they want to keep on good relations with their users, then Tokyopop should issue some sort of statement. Whether it’s to Sixxx directly or on their site, it doesn’t matter. My personal opinion is that they should lift the ban immediately and issue a public apology. But, I think there’s too much pride at Tokyopop.com to do such a thing. They should say something. The longer they stay silent, with their heads in the sand, the worse they are going to look. There is no “innocent until proven guilty” in the court of public opinion, and there is no greater proof of guilt than silence.