Blog Activism

We just got this note from Tina in Finland, who agreed to let us blog it here. Regardless of how you may feel about the issue, it’s a pretty powerful story.

Thanks to the fantastic flexibility of WordPress, I was able to make a campaign site supporting the legalization of fertility treatments for single women and lesbians in Finland that quite possibly was a major factor in the law passing. (Treatments had been available before, but had not been explicitly legal, and the conservative parties had introduced a motion to make them illegal) The site shot up in popularity and we were sent statements by all kinds of politicians, including EU reps, ministers, and members of parliament. In the end, treatments were legalized by a 22 vote margin (83-105) which was far more than anyone dared to predict.

The site got over 11,000 people to sign a petition, got them to write letters to specific MPs (which Finns never do), and got hundreds of them out for a peaceful and well-behaved protest that made the front page of the biggest newspaper in Finland. (I put a link to the English newspaper article at the bottom of this)

We ran this site, that got thousands of hits a day, with no more than five individual citizens (with day jobs). Had I had to set up a site from scratch, I couldn’t have given the other non-html-fluent people passwords to add and change content, etc, and the whole thing would not have been possible. Part of what also made this work was that the site looked slick enough (thanks to the template and customizable header) that I didn’t need to fiddle with that, and could focus on adding the tidal wave of content that rushed in in the final days before the vote. AND you had made WordPress translatable, so the details didn’t look funny in Finnish.

We love to hear stories about people using blogs as a lever to move the world, even if it’s just a little bit.


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Matt

68 Comments

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  1. foolswisdom

    Wow, powerful story. Thank you for sharing Tina!

    It is wonderful that WordPress helped keep the technology out of your way and contributed to your ability to concentrate on the content and the collaboration.

    This feedback fuels my own efforts. Thanks again.

    Like

  2. timethief

    What an inspiring story. IMO this feedback illustrates perfectly the wonder and the power of wordpress technology in action. The technology is truly accesible to everyone and its free. Moreover, sets the blogger free to write as opposed to being burdened down by or caught up in the “geeky” technicalities. My thanks to Tina for sharing her story and my thanks to Matt for posting it.

    Like

  3. Justin

    WordPress is a wonderful platform for this kind of stuff as it does allow you to get down to whatever you wanna talk about and not have to worry about formatting or any technical aspects of web site design.

    such a great story, proud to be a blogger on wordpress!

    Like

  4. dljournal

    Activism is always better than apathy. And I agree with timethief – it was an inspiring story.

    Like

  5. axewielderx

    I do not know which is more amazing. That anyone actually got politicians to do something or that 11,000 people found your blog HERE.

    Like

  6. Michael Sync

    Great Story!
    Thanks.

    Like

  7. i-düşsel hayvan (BB)

    really such a wonderful story.

    Like

  8. Kunal

    A really powerful story ..

    Like

  9. hazel8500

    This is an excellent reminder what can happen when people can accomplish when connected to each other in pretty much real time or at least in passing.

    Proud Word Presser!

    Like

  10. maurina

    It is happening in my country as well. Things that no one even dared to write about 5 years ago are up and about in WordPress. It is amazing how more free everyone is online, and even more so when it is as easy as one two three.

    Like

  11. odetojoy

    It’s wonderful to be able to see stories as moving as this. I’m so happy that you were able to use this venue in something so meaningful, and I am happy to see that a success has come of it!

    WordPress is fantastic. I am proud to say i am a blogger here as well!

    Like

  12. flawedplan

    Me too, thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  13. Daijinryuu

    With the right tricks, fixes, and templates, people can even use the service to create blogless websites, I’ve made one on a former account…

    Like

  14. Jen

    That’s a fantastic story; what a testimony to WordPress!

    Like

  15. saniroy

    Proud to be member of this community! Thanks.

    Like

  16. afloo

    Inspiring story.Wordpress has provided me sevaral blogs in Hindi for our activism.

    Like

  17. broadband

    Excellent job.
    Of a whole other latitute please support this new privacy campaign:

    http://broadband.wordpress.com/2006/10/18/care-about-your-online-privacy

    Like

  18. Laurent J. Krauland

    Great story!
    This will be a inspiration for me to share more and more through WordPress.

    Like

  19. marcomkc

    WordPress is the perfect glove for a lot of thoughts…
    ] marcomkc [

    Like

  20. marcoos

    http://akcjaobywatelska.wordpress.com/ (Akcja Obywatelska = Citizens’ Action) – this blog is an activism blog that gathers opponents of the nationalist government in Poland.

    I hope this will be as successful as Tina’s action in Finland. :)

    Like

  21. sprinkledis9

    Inspiring, this. It gives me hope that I might stir action in the so-muddy waters of community activism in London. Great Stuff! Great WordPress!

    Like

  22. beatme

    Wow this really gives me renewed hope!! I started a blog recently which deals with my own experiences within the UK family court system and includes such things as judges making judgements on cases that they have not even heard (well that is what happened to me anyway)amongst other dirty deeds dished out by so called professsionals involved with family law in the UK. All i need to do now I guess is learn how to submit to search engines and maybe I can enjoy the same sucsess as Tina. for anyone interested please check out http://www.illegaleagle.wordpress.com.

    Thank You WordPress!!!

    Like

  23. Robert - SCIL

    My organisation were really sceptical when I suggested we set up a blog. However we have made contact with a whole range of different people, including a group of disabled people in Japan.
    We have also been shortlisted for some new funding from the Lottery and one of the reasons they gave, was that they were very impressed with our blog.

    Like

  24. jericbilo

    great to hear that. it’s nice to witness history unfolding.

    Like

  25. charleslemark

    i hope that would encourage other bloggers to start their initiatives on the issue that surrounds them.
    good luck!

    Like

  26. notapundit

    It is good to hear about the power of WordPress and WordPress.com. While not a supporter of fertility treatment for non-traditional families I do recognize Tina’s testimony to how fantastic this site has become and how it will continue flourish in the future. Great job folks.

    Like

  27. carocat

    Great story. Well done. :)

    Like

  28. japes

    Thats true, i didn’t realise the power of wordpress until we launched ours http://telanganautsav.wordpress.com , once again my sincere thanks to WP.

    Like

  29. BFP

    Our readers are of the opinion that the Government of Barbados established it’s own blog as a direct result of the Barbados Free Press.

    Later, the Deputy Prime Minister called for the regulation of blogs (meaning ours!) – saying that blogs were “marginalizing parliament” !

    References…

    http://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2006/05/27/barbados-labour-party-blog-reviewed-linked-to/

    http://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2006/07/19/barbados-deputy-prime-minister-says-internet-blogs-marginalizeparliament-calls-for-regulation-of-blogs-call-in-shows-on-radio-television/

    http://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2006/05/29/establishment-of-barbados-labour-party-blog-huge-journalisteditor-karen-walrond/

    Like

  30. Santosh

    thnx for sharing dear..

    Like

  31. easteregg

    Yes, that is a great story. Nearly unbelievable.

    Like

  32. w2ed

    Am I the only one to notice that there was no link included to that english translation of that article? It’s good to hear that a blog helped to change a country, but I’d like to read more about what was going on. (Sorry if it sounds nit-picky, but when someone says they included something, I’m curious to know what it is…)

    (Then again, didn’t curiosity kill the kitty?)

    Like

  33. everythingelse

    damn! makes me feel very useless.

    Like

  34. Thomas

    WordPress is greeeaaat!

    Like

  35. Cem Basman

    Chapeaux, Tina! That’s a great story!

    Like

  36. Pingback: Blog Activism « Progressive Podcast
  37. tnstampgirl

    So cool. I love WP!

    Like

  38. lmighton

    I think it would be cool if we gathered more true stories about blogs affecting change. Or here, perhaps, specifically on WordPress blogs affecting real change. Can anyone think of other examples they’ve read or heard about?

    Like

  39. macka

    existence is not a lonely word.

    Like

  40. Hypercube

    While stories like this is good, wonderful, poweful blah blah, it’s all wonderful until something bad happens. I sincerely hope that you guys will not make any policy changes to reduce the freedom of expression here on WP.com as a result of a story which will be quite opposite as to what you’ve posted here, someday in future.

    And wanted to remind you that this is in no way undermining what you guys are doing right now, as a community we all are greatful to you, but… (just keep in mind that last word with the ellipsis)

    Like

  41. Pingback: I’ve tried to keep the comments separate from my posts « A Tableau of Crimes & Misfortunes
  42. disembedded

    Very much admiration from me to Tina and her friends for their success on a particular issue that is extremely important to many, specifically regarding women’s rights to ultimately make their own informed decisions with respect to health and medical decisions about their bodies. Further, it stands as another hopeful beacon in the long-standing, uphill struggle to achieve gender equality, and more.

    “lmighton” asked if there are other WP websites that are trying to affect real changes. Well, mine is partly aimed for that in a small, tiny section of the world. As my readers will note, my real identity on my blog is concealed. This is because of my wish to maintain an appropriate degree of confidentiality. I work with and provide intensive psychotherapy with severely emotionally disturbed, but very bright young people at a renowned longer-term group care facility.

    One of the missions of my website is to provide a wide-ranging selection of both serious articles and humorous postings. I don’t reveal the address of my website, but a fairly large number of our students (a very computer savvy bunch), as well as many direct-care and administrative staff members follow my eclectic postings regularly and frequently tell me, in private, how much they’ve enjoyed my funny stuff and learned from my more serious writings. Many of the latter focus upon the defense of our basic freedoms, as well as the need for a greatly enhanced acceptance of human diversity in all of its forms.

    Luckily, my workplace is part of a major research university which for some years has had very direct and wide-ranging policies supporting diversity, human rights and equal access to all university resources, which is quickly and firmly enforced when violations do occur.

    Again, my heartfelt congratulations to Tina and her group for their success, and my very best wishes to all here in the WP world!!

    Like

  43. blaze

    Just proves you guys are definately doing something right :)

    Like

  44. neath

    Terrific! That is what the net is all about for a lot of us. Please keep these kinds of stories coming!

    Thanks,

    Neath

    Like

  45. worddrow

    Amazing story!
    Bulgarian blogs (the main blog is Blogger, but nevermind that) are uniting against the “Trud” Publishing House, and also the “Trud” newspaper, because they are trying to restrict the access to online-available materials for blind people. The site includes some of the books a person HAS to read – the classics, you know. All of them are in Bulgarian, and the site has special software and tutorials for the handikaped users. The so called “Trud” Publishing House as I said before tried to close the site down, because it violated its rights.. bla bla. But, the funny thing is that they don’t have the right to do that AND some of the materials they claim to have rights on aren’t exactly theirs.

    So the Bulgarian blogs are uniting agains the opressor. “Trud agains the blind people”

    Like

  46. Nero

    i dont understand how is that a powerful story?

    Like

  47. veltis
  48. attilachordash

    Using a blog or a wiki to articulate a community aim and to plan a campaign is the real participatory politics. It would be terrific, if there were more cooperations and intersections between blogs and wikis in that respect. For instance I offered a More Life: Pro-Tech campaign for life extension&regenerative medicine in my wordpress blog related to Campaigns Wikia. http://href.hu/x/1jyr
    Cheers, Attila.

    Like

  49. print

    There is one point, enabling technology. You can invent steel, it is used to kill millions.

    You can develop encryption, it is used by terrorists.

    I do see wordpress as an enabling service. I think it is blown a little out of proportion, I certianly wince at the Adam Curry idiot types who say things like ‘omg world hunger is over because we coined a word ‘podcasting’ omg we own all t3h audios!’.

    Your technology did perhaps give more crediblity to their efforts, or help them organise. Perhaps lowered the level of involvement required by each voice. Before, you get 11,000 people making their voice heard, that is a strong element.

    Today, you can do harvest the minions of bored office workers with liberal-romantic ideas who like elloquent sounding political ideas.

    Certainly today, those who are more active about something get heard.

    Now, try and open your mind, if this was a press release from a white supremacist organisation, saying that wordpress helped their cause (shut up anyone who starts firing off about T&C’s, this is an example) would you feel a bitterness to it?

    What I am saying is, one of the wordpress developers doesn’t share their opinions, but your services helped them in a very powerful way. Now there are other services that do that, but I just thought it was interesting.

    Of course, the point it, would you have censored someone who was campaigning against this?

    Or, if they had won, would you have published their heart warming tale that wordpress enabled them to pull people together to not pass a bill that would give single women and lesbians the right to use donor sperm.

    Like

  50. CAPitalZ

    Wow way to WordPress!

    Like

  51. Pingback: El poder de los Blogs « Calilandia
  52. Ali Eteraz

    this is great to hear.

    blog activism works. i got thousands of signatures for a petition to try and stop stonings in iran.

    i also had about 60 blogs link to my original post.

    http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/10/04/stand-against-women-stoned-to-death-you-apathetic-monsters/

    Like

  53. comicard

    Fantastic word press — sorry but my english is bad

    Like

  54. Anna Sebestyén

    Great story and I am just sending it to http://globalvoicesonline.org/ which aggregates such powerful grassroots actions including activism and citizen journalism (often getting ref from Instapundit, among others). So far they have not had Finland on the list, but hopefully they will soon come and report on the Finnish issues, too. Thanks, Matt, and Attila for referreing me here. WoM travels fast. :)

    Like

  55. Dick Devos's Head

    WP has been great as a platform for activism, My blog, the Disembodied Head of Dick Devos, has garnered attention and helped me get involved in a race where the candidate I lampoon has spent almost $20 million and his party $10 million more.

    Like

  56. Harshad Joshi

    Hey..We can also add some more tools to WordPress to increase its usability. For eg, we can incorporate a ‘Vote/Poll module’ which will eable native support for voting on WordPress on many topics.

    I am sure that many activist bloggers will defiantely find such kind of a vote/poll system very exciting and useful.

    BTW, WordPress rocks. Its the number one blogging tool on the Net.

    Like

  57. pobiznews

    Great story, great comments but of course short of time to read them all.
    However, I am just “rrrring” over such words like “Li” or “Bisx”. I thought they’re, well I don’t know what to say, since they’re human behaviours. But some people say they’re reactions of some kinds of (something is not OK, psychologically, physically and biologically). Is that true? I think this opens a new discussion

    Like

  58. pobiznews

    Great story, great comments but of course short of time to read them all.
    However, I am just “rrrring” over such words like “Les” or “Bisx”. I thought they’re, well I don’t know what to say, since they’re human behaviours. But some people say they’re reactions of some kinds of (something is not OK, psychologically, physically and biologically). Is that true? I think this opens a new discussion

    Like

  59. Pingback: Lithiumed!
  60. nomadsoul

    we see also a lot of activism in favor of free and open software in here =-)

    Like

  61. Sovereign John

    This is an imspiring story. A blog can be a powerful instrument. WordPress plays an vital role in the process.

    Like

  62. strayfromthestraightline

    What a great and inspirational story! Its amazing what the internet has done in the lives of people around the world especially when its used for good like the above. Congratulations!

    Like

  63. vuee

    O’Folks (theelderlies.wordpress.com) started as an email list and then went blogging to Blogspot and then transferred to WP when that became available. It is very much easier for people to find and use information on the WP. OFolks had to come about because our local city and tribal councils did not allow older people to participate in their senior center. In fact, the city staff with the knowledge of the manager and mayor attempted to prosecute elders for running their own meetings. Eventually, a secret dossier was built, at taxpayer expense.

    The city finally ran out of money to pursue.

    Because of coverage at the blog about the senior center conditions, there is now a sign inside reminding the director to unlock the fire escape. The City of Bethel still prohibits people from serving on committees and council and police unless they belong to certain Christian churches. Small steps but I hope the other information is useful elsewhere.

    Like

  64. veltis

    @print, you have a point, on the other hand generally when white supremacists get a big enough platform to start shouting from, other people around them get shocked enough to build a platform of their own. I don’t think the problem is the new ease of platform-building–the problem is apathy about building one at all.

    I don’t think WP and similar services allow for propaganda on a massive scale that would change the minds of people who are totally against something. (one would need TV and “real” media for that)

    It does, however, allow people to organize their arguments and gather the support that IS out there into a clear statement that politicians, who are scared of being caught saying something they don’t mean, and have no time to do serious research, can agree with and use as a resource. If they skim the site info and notice it’s about the holocaust being a fraud, etc, it’s unlikely they’ll want to be associated with it.

    Though along the way there may be small victories for this theoretical “supremacist group”, ultimately more platforming leads to more discussion, and more discussion gets at the heart of the matter. In Finland (where I live) people who were against the treatments mostly hadn’t thought about the day-to-day reality of them much, because the law didn’t affect them personally. Even though the discussion did not convince everyone, at least it made the facts clear, and the discussion was about the real things, not the knee-jerk assumptions.

    Like

  65. blindape

    I believe that worpress.com is an easy place for people to start blogging and gain impact.

    Personally I wished my blog had more to say and more visitors ;-) Otherwise, I’m just starting to blog anyway.

    Great story.

    Like

  66. ansel

    Thanks for posting this… blogs are fantastic for activism – WordPress in particular. We’re using WordPress for the new Students for a Free Tibet @TX website, and I’ve been writing about my own activism at my personal blog for a while now.

    It’s especially awesome the way WordPress supports so many languages. The Internet needs to be more internationalized… something like 80% of all webpages are in English, which is ridiculous and reflects the unjust and one-sided distribution of economic and technological power in this world which we all need to work to change…

    Like

  67. Pingback: blog activism « gcvs policy & strategy team
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