Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Giving people credit. It’s Important.

Those in the Star Wars community probably know that Bonnie Burton (the woman behind the Star Wars social media & blog, as well as author of a wildly popular Star Wars craft book) was fired.

The social feeds have continued, but it’s obvious that the heart is gone from them. It used to feel like sitting down with a friend to talk about Star Wars- sharing pictures from various conventions, celeb tweets about SW love, and bringing up stories that caught like wildfire- like the outpouring of support for Katie, the first-grade girl bullied for liking Star Wars.

Now, it’s become just another bland corporate account. Sure they’ve begun sharing stories, but it’s just like every other feed out there now. Promoting their own new items, new shows, RTs when people beg for birthday wishes… and don’t get me started on this tweet:

A lot of the people I know from the fan community have taken to using #StarWars instead of @starwars on Twitter. I’ve seen a fair number of people admitting that they stopped following @starwars- myself included. While it’s improved since that first rocky week after Bonnie was fired, it still doesn’t have much of a personality.

But that’s old news. There’s more. The official Star Wars site went under a redesign, including their blog. And mysteriously, all of the past bylines (including all of Bonnie’s) vanished. All attributed to “Star Wars Blog” while those currently working on it get bylines. (On these posts, the photographers still get credit)

Which isn’t cool. At all. It’s disrespectful to her as a writer (as well as everyone else who wrote content for them in the past). You don’t see the New York Times erasing the bylines of every person who stopped writing for them. Why? Because that’s who did the work.

Star Wars is the cultural mainstay it is because of the fans. Beyond that, it’s what it is because of all the people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm and contributed to it. Removing bylines is like trying to erase the past- and that’s wrong. You don’t see journalist’s names removed from pieces simply because they left a paper or were let go. You don’t see sports teams pretend that players they’ve traded or who retired weren’t part of their franchise. Why? Because it’s part of the collective history.

Bonnie Burton’s work is just that. By seeing a byline, nobody will assume that she still works for Lucasfilm. Most people are savvy enough to see that the date of the post was from months ago or a year ago, and that she hasn’t written anything recently and figure it out. All they’ll know is that she’s one of the hundreds (if not thousand or so) people who’ve worked for Lucasfilm, helping to make Star Wars what it is. Bonnie isn’t likely the only person who was affected by this- but she’s the one who pointed it out. Credit should be given where credit is due.

It’s hard to explain why this upsets me so much, but it does. But Star Wars is just that big a part of my life.

Update: It’s been pointed out below that Bonnie’s craft posts are still there if you keep scrolling backward, or if you figure out her author page name. But with the current design, these posts will be somewhat buried until someone else posts something craft related, and her name will never pop up on the sidebar.

So it is just her pop-culture posts that had the byline removed. As I said below, I feel even more uncomfortable now, since it wasn’t just a clean wipe of the bylines from all the old posts. They kept her bylines for craft items. Why? The only answer that makes any sense of why you’d wipe one but not the other, is that it’s to keep the SEO active for anyone searching for her Star Wars craft book, so that searches will lead back to the Star Wars blog and not just her social media profiles or shopping links to buy the book.

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  • http://twitter.com/VaderManion Kevin Manion

    Absolutely, well said!  Thank you for writing this.  

  • http://twitter.com/MaryKateClark Marykate Clark

    I think it’s abusive and over-the-top to go and remove her by-lines. It’s personal and evil… and it’s glaringly unprofessional. 

  • Valerie_22153

    Why would Lucas Films feel they need to do this?  It seems childish.

  • http://www.whitneydrake.com/ Whitney Drake

    Honestly, that’s one of the things I can’t fathom.  They didn’t remove the credits for photographs they use, but they removed bylines?  The only guess I have is that they wanted to make it easier to find what their current writers have posted.  But it seems a little against any publishing platform to take away someone’s byline- no matter what the intent.

  • http://www.whitneydrake.com/ Whitney Drake

    Thanks for commenting!

    Since Starwars.com changed all the older bylines, not just Bonnie’s posts, I wouldn’t say that it’s personal or evil.  Inept and unprofessional, yes.  There’s no good reason why any bylines should be removed.

  • Jedi1138

    you do realize there are still a TON of posts with bonnie’s name, right? it doesn’t look like they took her name off of most of them.
    http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/author/bonniegrrl

  • http://www.whitneydrake.com/ Whitney Drake

    Thanks for commentin – it would seem they kept her craft posts attributed to her.

    It doesn’t change the fact that they wiped the bylines from the pop culture posts- and I do remember the old design having bylines for those.  I will amend my post to clarify that it seems to just be her pop culture posts- but it’s still a weird thing for them to do.

    Weirdly, the fact that they left her craft posts bylined makes me feel even less comfortable about all this.  After all her craft book is still selling well.  It feels more like they knew they needed to keep her name on those posts to make sure they show up if people are trying to search for links to her craft book.

  • Jedi1138

    yeah, maybe. but it also looks like there’s other stuff still active too. her posts about bullying are still there.

    http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2010/11/18/young-girl-bullied-for-liking-star-wars/

    you’re right that its weird. but it doesn’t seem like it had much to do with her. pete vilmur’s posts about collectibles are still there too.

  • http://www.whitneydrake.com/ Whitney Drake

    All things that are something that people would remember those individuals wrote and would be something googled for.  So clearly someone understands SEO.

    It just seems weird.  Why zero out some names and not others?  I did say in the post that it was disrespectful to everyone who wrote for StarWars.com that had their names removed- Bonnie happens to be the person who noticed it, which is why this focuses more on her.

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  • http://twitter.com/Totz_the_Plaid Totz_the_Plaid

    People connected with Star Wars altering things to change the past? Yeah… never heard of THAT happening before! #sarcasm

    First banning David Prowse from events, then doing this to Bonnie… ugh!

    Lucas and his goons need to stop treating both fans and former employees like shit!