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Monday, May 12, 2008

Why You Should Know (and Love) Kirtsy

kirtsy!You know how you're reading a blog post you really like, and you get to the bottom and you want to leave a comment, and you find all these logos that seem to be asking (telling?) you to do something that involves Skirts and Digging and Stumbling -- which, if I were digging in a skirt, I would totally stumble, but that's because I am often not as coordinated as I like to think I am -- and you don't know what to do because you just want to leave a comment already? And then you wonder briefly what Sk*rt and Digg and Stumble (which I would link to, but I'm new enough at this that I can't even be sure I've found the right site to link -- sorry Stumble) are. But as you wonder, you remember all those long and lonely nights in college where your boyfriend insisted on playing Dungeons and Dragons, and you couldn't go out to get pizza until he became an eleventh-level dwarf with a frabjous mega-stick, which was just going to take one more roll of his twenty-seven-sided die...and then your eyes would glaze over and you would leave the room, and he wouldn't notice anyway because in his quest to become a better dwarf he was about to defeat the evil something-or-another... And all these terms at the bottoms of posts sound a lot like a grown-up version of some new game language that borrows from English. And you see a Technorati symbol in the sidebar, and your neck hairs stand on end from the stress of all this Tech stuff since, really and truly, all you want in the world is to be able to insert a picture into a Blogger post without the line-spacing going on wonky on you. So, you ignore all these terms that you don't have time to figure out, and you just leave your comment -- or not, because by now you've been so distracted by Dungeons and Dragons and fake languages and stupid boyfriends who broke your heart 15 years ago that you forgot what you wanted to say, and anyway, everyone else's comments are so witty that you just want to go back to bed. You know that feeling? Yeah, me either.

But I did always want to know about this Sk*rt thing, since I had a niggling feeling that it might have something to do with women and blogging (you know, since mostly women wear skirts). But now, suddenly the sites that used to offer you a Sk*irt no longer want you to have new clothes, or want you to donate clothes, or whatever Sk*rt was all about. Now they're all Kirtsy. Which is a funny spelling for a thing you might do in a fancy skirt. And it's starting to seem like when my bank changes its name every eighteen months getting bought out by another bank, and I just can't be bothered to care.

But before you sigh and think here's yet another term you don't have time to learn, or yet another network you can only half-heartedly be a part of because it's difficult to figure out, let me tell you that (a) it's EASY; and (b) it's important; and (c) you really REALLY want to know why Sk*rt had to become Kirtsy -- because even if you don't know it yet, it has everything to do with you and the potential power of women blogging. So here's the scoop, in case you don't know already.

Sk*rt was started by three amazing women who wanted to create a gathering place for excellent internet content, a place to go to find the latest and greatest information about a wide range of topics of interest to women. Content from high-traffic well-known news sites might rub shoulders there with content from a small-time blog, solely based on reader interest. And anyone can nominate content, and everyone gets to vote on what stays on the front page -- so it's dynamic, and democratic, and wide-ranging, and it gives women the power to consolidate their voices should they want to. Great idea, no?

Fast forward a few years down the line to sometime in the past month or so, and a publication called Skirt! that's apparently available free in some states (I've never heard of it, but it doesn't have a Michigan thing going on) got all ants-in-its-pants and threatened to sue Sk*rt for trademark infringement over the name. The story's complicated, and I don't know all the sordid details (which the rockstar-formerly-known-as-Sk*rt is too classy to publicize), but here's what it appears to boil down to: a print publication with some money behind it threw its weight around and threatened in some ugly ways a group of women who were trying to do some good in the world of the interweb -- and there's an awful lot of talk about how this smacks of yet another way in which The Man tries to squelch things when the power of women's voices gets intense and interesting (read: threatening to The Man's power).

I can't say for sure what happened, since I don't have all the info. But in the interests of righteous indignation (which is so much more satisfying than the wrongeous indignation we so often hear from The Man), go check out The Bloggess's forthright post about what happened. Or this one, which gives the outline of the turn-of-events that is the name-change-to-avoid-lawsuit.

And, please, in the name of all that is solidarity, and taking ownership of our forums, and supporting each other's voices, do what I did and go check out Kirtsy. I promise, it's fabulous. It's easy to join, to grab a button, and (unless you're a Blogger imbecile, as I apparently am) easy to add the "Kirtsy this" gizmo to the bottom of your posts, so that your fans can nominate your posts too. Your words could show up there. Or not. Your choice. But here's the thing: even if you don't ever send a post of yours to Kirtsy, or nominate someone else's, it's a site worth knowing about and caring about because it represents all that is strong and fabulous about women who blog: range, and vision, and multiplicity of perspective, and strength, and articulateness, and dynamism, and perseverance in the face of adversity. You will find mounds of interesting content there that's worth checking out.

So show Kirtsy some love and respect -- just like they dish out every day to women every where -- and prove to those silly litigious fools who try to stop a good thing that women will not be silenced.

take me to kirtsy!

P.S. Forgot to add: if you already knew and loved Sk*rt, don't forget to change over to Kirtsy, get new buttons, and all that fun stuff!


Jenny, the Bloggess said...

You. Rock.

You, my friend, are going on the blogroll for the obscure D&D references alone.

Laura Mayes said...

What a beautiful post. Your words made my day! Truly. Best to you and long live kirtsy!

supertiff said...

i didn't read the whole post yet, but i had to stop here it say 1) i'm with you on all these buttons being the being the equivalent of some eleventy frillion rule role playing game, and 2) 'wonky' is my favorite word.

well, it's my favorite word that can be used in mixed company.

the blogess is reading you?
you must be the highest level dwarf there is!

Sandy C. said...

You rock! Thank you for posting this :) I just say Kirtsy in passing today in a press release. I will have to check it out now :)

One La Costa Mom said...

OMG I'm giggling over the D&D stuff. Great post, the Kirtsy chicks would be proud. I too am totally confused by all the action verbs at the bottom of posts. I'd include them in mine if I knew how.

lattemommy said...

I'm ba-aack!

First off - fabulous post! Thanks so much for sharing. I've been wondering WTF about all those terms at the bottom of people's posts, but I've been way too preoccupied to find out. Now I know, and I know who to thank. You rock.

Secondly - I'm so glad I'm not the only person who gets so bloody frustrated by Blogger some days. But I'm totally too much of a computer idiot to move my blog, so stay I will...

Thirdly - oh, the D&D. I know your heartache well. Too well.

Luv ya, babe! Off to check out Kirtsy...

mommytherobot.blogspot.com said...

my skirt badge turned into kirtsy one day and i didn't even know why. thanks for the explanation. when i started my blog, i just didn't have enough mom friends who would know what i was going thru, now its kinda turned into work. but fun. but still work.
thanks for the post!

mommytherobot.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LceeL said...

Please don't lump all men together. It's not right. It's not fair. It's not accurate. There are some of us who know and understand your issues with a male dominated society and we do our part (a small part, at that, sometimes) to work against gender stereotypes wherever they rear their ugly head. Like I'm doing right now.

mommytherobot.blogspot.com said...

BTW I am one of those of can speak D&D except its really HTML codes. I've had other bloggers email me how i did what on my blog and i'm pretty helpful. (used to work as a web designer). let me know if you need help.

MommyTime said...

Oh, Lceel, I would NEVER lump all men together, and I'm really really sorry if my post seemed to suggest that. I have a lot of wonderful friends (and a husband) whom I would immediately identify as men who are feminists. What I was hoping to indicate with the phrase The Man was specifically NOT all men but only the bozos who insist on abusing a sense of privilege and hierarchy based on money or a desire to keep women from being perceived as equal. I know there are lots of great men (many of whom are great male bloggers) who would be/are equally incensed over the whole Skirt! vs. Sk*rt controversy. I'll do something to amend the post to be sure that's clear. Thanks for suggesting it wasn't -- and I hope you will not take offense where certainly none was meant!

We are THAT Family said...

I'm new to Kirtsy, but I'm enjoying it!

Judith Shakespeare said...


While I've been enjoying sk*rt/kirtsy for a while and have absolutely no problems sending up the kudos to the brilliant ladies behind the site, changing the name was the best option all around... The double branding fiasco would be harmful to both business now that skirt! is online as well.

Skirt! (the magazine), despite the the hooha floating about the blogosphere, actually is a woman-"powered" magazine. Yes, it may be backed by "The Man"... But how is that different from the million of us bloggers who blog on the [Blogger] platform controlled by Google (which, incidentally, are men)? Does the fact that "The Man' supports your blogging make it less worthy of being a blog? Of course not. Just as Skirt! is no less worthy of being a legitimate business.

So what it boils down to is the argument over which business was a legitimate business first.

Hence sk*rt is now K*rtsy.

(Now back to your feminist post...)

MommyTime said...

Judith, no need to duck! You are right, of course. Plenty of men are behind businesses I know and love, just as plenty of women are behind some things I'd label as partaking of the antics of "The Man." And, in fact, the point isn't that the rebranding is a bad idea. Kirtsy is a much better name, in my opinion, as it captures better the idea of giving a nod to something good. And you're right about the "legitimate business first" issue. What I have a problem with is that apparently Sk*rt won some litigation (which they didn't initiate) but Skirt! continued to bully, and it's the threatening tactics I have a problem with.

I'm really NOT anti-man. I am married to one. I work with many great ones. I support a lot of male-owned businesses. I'm just anti- whatever is undertaken in ways that seem to be anti-woman, if that makes sense.

*stepping down off soap-box* :)

Judith Shakespeare said...

The "litigation", from what I can tell, was simply a dispute with the ICANN people... (the peeps that control domain registration and the like). ICANN determined that sk*rt did nothing wrong as far as their domain name goes- which they didn't, of course. What skirt! "threatened" was to take sk*rt to ACTUAL court over trademark infringement- which they did do.

It would have been our logical next step had we been in the same situation, you know?

MommyTime said...

Hmmm... I thought it had already gone through a court and further action was threatened. But if I've misunderstood that, then I am quite willing to admit to being very wrong on that score. I'll see if I can turn up some more concrete research on this today...

Judith Shakespeare said...

Dude, we should do this more often... You post; I hang out. :) Fun times.

Of course, I could be wrong. It does happen. LOL.

Judith Shakespeare said...

According to skirt! magazine:

"As a first step to let them know we were serious, we did what most companies do, we filed a complaint with ICANN that was brought under UDRP. (This is not by any means a court of law. It is a domain arbitration board.) This board does not govern trademark law. You're right, they did rule against us and they did rule that the other site was not cybersquatting. We actually expected this. However, cybersquatting is very different from infringing on a trademark. From the beginning, this site was alerted that we would act to the full extent of the law to protect our mark and they knew they couldn't win. As a company, we would have never carried forth this action if we didn't know we had a case that would win. Believe it or not, we don't have money to burn either."

And the article on Blogher doesn't offer much but seems to imply that they changed their name in order to avoid a lawsuit that hasn't happened yet.

Which definitely makes sense... After all, if a judge has already ruled against trademark infringement, then this wouldn't be an issue.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Good points, all.

According to the lawfirm that successfully represented kirtsy in the dispute:

(Sk-rt.com) did in fact have rights and legitimate interests in respect of the domain name and (b) the disputed domain name was not registered nor is it being used in bad faith.

You can read about it here: http://tcattorney.typepad.com/domainnamedispute/2008/02/another-cybersq.html

Judith Shakespeare said...

Thanks Blogess! So it was only the cybersquatting allegation that was heard and not the trademark infringement... And it makes complete sense that sk*rt won that (especially considering that skirt! was originally at skirtmag.com, right?). Trademark infringement would extend far beyond just the internet though, and it's pretty safe to assume that (depending on when the magazine established its trademark)the outcome of that case would be different.

All in all, I think that the name change works out for the better.

Angela at mommy bytes said...

Awesome! I'm so glad that I was never a D&D widow, although I've been known to pull all-nighters playing obscure text based computer games in college..

Anyway, loved your post, and I put up one with some words from the fabulous kirtsy ladies to us editors which really show how they shine.

MommyTime said...

Jenny, thanks so much for the clarifications.

And Angela, thanks for the kind words. I went and read that post, and it was wonderful. Long live Kirtsy!


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