I participated in the SOPA blackout on January 18th. All of my personal websites went dark at 8:00am CT and returned at 8:00pm CT. I served 6,235 STOP SOPA notices. My handful of sites were just a drop in the big ocean of over 115,000 sites that went dark. It really felt historic. I took notice of the first time that so much of the Internet banded together to make something happen, and did it happen. Just two days after the blackout the bills have lost major supporters and are going back to committee. It felt like something momentous. A punctuation mark in the big timeline of the Internet. I decided to grab some screenshots and make a little scrapbook of the day.
Here is what thingelstad.com looked like on SOPA blackout day.
Tammy also participated, blacking out Smaller Than A Redwood.
And so did Mazie. I explained to her that we were blacking out our websites in protest of a proposed law. She asked what protest meant and I explained it to her. She didn’t have a strong opinion about SOPA, but felt it was right to go along with her Mom and Dad.
The awesome template I used to black my sites out was developed by Zach Johnson. He had an amazing SOPA blackout story with so many websites using his template. Here is what his website looked like. He increased the font size slightly on his site.
His template got picked up by a lot of sites, including Greenpeace.
I was happy to see sites and services that I care about, and in some cases donate to, supporting the blackout. Wikipedia was the largest site on the Internet to go completely dark. I thought it was a great touch that you could still get to the Wikipedia page for the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) though.
I’m a big fan of Semantic MediaWiki, which is a suite of extensions for MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia. The team behind that project followed the lead of Wikipedia and also went dark. I liked their message and display.
WordPress is a strong supporter of an open and free Internet and they made WordPress.org completely dark.
I’m a supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and they censored their logo and used their site to share information on their opposition to SOPA.
I’m also a supporter of Creative Commons and they put a black banner on top of their site.
A variety of publishers took part on the blackout. Ars Technica had a good banner with content regarding SOPA. Although I thought the banner ad on top was tacky and a bit tone deaf to the point of the protest.
O’Reilly did a very nice job with it’s blackout and a strong message an simple design.
Wired did a very cool blackout using the censoring of words and then changing it as you moved around on the page.
One of the best web comics did an awesome blackout. This is what xkcd did.
And The Oatmeal also did an amazing blackout. This one had an animated GIF that went on for a while about why he took issue with SOPA and involved Oprah on a jet ski in only the way the Oatmeal could.
I Can Has Cheezburger had a nicely done call to action.
Disappointing but predictably, my former colleagues at the Wall Street Journal came out in favor of SOPA.
I was curious what Google would do. The censored logo was striking, and to many folks that weren’t plugged into what was going on I think it was a strong message.
Flickr did a very creative blackout allowing people on Flickr to blackout any photos on Flickr they wanted to. I blacked out one of my photos.
Mozilla, the organization behind the open source Firefox web browser, participated in the blackout.
Reddit was one of the first big websites to say they would participate in the blackout. They had a great mix of content and call to action.
Criagslist participated in the most boring HTML display possible, totally fitting Craigslist.
BoingBoing did a nice blackout and I thought it was cool that they actually showed the HTTP status code.
Minecraft, a game played by 4.7 million people, went dark for the day.
Facebook didn’t do anything that impressive, which was a bit disappointing. They could have blacked out their logo like Google. However, Mark Zuckerberg did at least post a comment on Facebook regarding SOPA.
I’m a customer of Pinboard, a paid bookmarking utility. He didn’t blackout, and I was happy they didn’t since I pay for the service and use it daily. There was a call to action on the top of the site.
I was happy to see my congressman Keith Ellison participating in the blackout.
Dave Winer blogs at Scripting.com and had really debated if he was going to black out. He did, and in fact just totally blacked out with nothing on his site.
Archive.org went dark as well.
TheDailyWTF decided to be different and go white.
ZanHabits also went white, in a very zen way.
Sadly, not all Internet leaders participated. Even though Bing has this big image format on their website that would have easily led to something interesting, even just a black image. But instead it just looked as it always does.
Yahoo was even worse, sporting football news and advertisements. Completely ignoring such a historic event.