The Ivyist.

Editor’s Note: Here and on the FB group I often get asked for advice or an opinion, mostly about clothes but sometimes about other stuff. So I’m starting this feature, randomly, for us to weigh in. NOT POLITICS. But life.

In the fall of 2023 I put forward to the group this thinking. I think of Ivy-Style as somewhat of a public trust,, and I KNOW it is the largest and most comprehensive by far representation of the Ivy aesthetic. The site did go through a period, though, where some of the content did not reflect what I would deem Ivy-appropriate values. Again, not politics. In the interests of inclusion, I polled us about whether or not to edit or remove these posts.

The result was an almost universal leave-it-as-it-is. And so I did.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a former contributor to the site. They pointed me to a specific post that they had written, which included a picture of themselves, and said that they no longer believed the position that they had taken in the post. Would I please take it down? Or at least remove their image and some information about themselves (nothing that would allow you to locate them or compromise their safety)?

I thought about the position of the group (’cause personally I would yank that s**t down in a hot minute) and proposed this. I explained the group’s position, but suggested that this individual write a new piece explaining how their thinking had evolved. They declined, and a little more forcefully asked that their image be taken down and their name be removed as author of the piece.

What would you do?


32 Comments on "The Ivyist."

  1. It takes courage to admit when we’re wrong. I respect the individual writer in question for experiencing an evolution in their personal views. But “the Internet is forever,” so the saying goes. This site, like any long-running ad-supported blog with articles and contributors, is not unlike a magazine (you know, the ones made of paper from days of yore). This writer had an article published in the past that reflected views he held then. There’d be no way for him to scrub the record of his statements from the past were they in actual print, and in many ways the same is true online. His views have evolved and I hope that he considers expressing them here or elsewhere online. It’s the only way to set the record straight.

    At the same time, I am very grateful to have been able to say and do some truly embarrassing and ignorant things in a time before social media existed. I was able to make mistakes and learn without broadcasting my awkward and sometimes quite offensive forehead-slapping attempts at humor from before my young brain was fully-formed. And you can bet I’d be working overtime to make right with people I’d have hurt in the past were such things written and available for public consumption.

    This Internet place is a digital record. It’s arguably not as permanent as etched clay tablets or stone slabs, or even papyrus, or codex books, or microfilm. But it’s the record we’ve chosen for these times.

    • John Burton | January 25, 2024 at 4:52 pm |

      YES. I think, anyway. Setting the record straight is not only a privilege, in some cases it is an obligation. God knows I have had to do it.

  2. *I’ll amend my previous comment to add that if there is a real sense of threat to this individual’s safety as a result of this article, that might be different — maybe changing the authorship to “Anonymous Contributor” with an editor’s note wouldn’t be out-of-line in such a case. I also swapped in “he” for “they,” having made a possibly erroneous assumption as to this individual’s gender.

  3. The internet is written in ink.

  4. Charlottesville | January 25, 2024 at 2:57 pm |

    In the earlier discussion, I strongly supported leaving old posts alone, but in this case, where the poster personally asks for it to be yanked, I would urge you to either take it down, or at least remove the picture and any identifying information and change the name to Anonymous or something similar, as Nevada suggested.

    Despite the cliché, I see no reason the internet needs to be forever, especially in the present atmosphere of doxing and humiliating people over things said or done years ago. Even if there is no real threat to the poster’s safety, why leave up something with which he no longer agrees and which causes him to be uncomfortable? It’s not like a website is a court transcript, or the Congressional Record, and even they can be amended under some circumstances.

    • John Burton | January 25, 2024 at 4:50 pm |

      A few reasons, but I could be convinced otherwise for sure. First, either the site is a historic record, which was the argument used when I wanted to pull posts, or it isn’t. Revisionist history is a slippery slope. If the site can be edited, it can be edited. Second, the real value add would have been for us to learn of this person’s growth in this area. What I do not understand is being willing to share an opinion you outgrew, but not being willing to share what you learned. That doesn’t sound like you think there is value in what you learned. No?

  5. MacMcConnell | January 25, 2024 at 3:13 pm |

    I use my real name. I standby my opinions, sue me. I will never change my negative views on Belgium or bit loafers. If I ever did someone please shoot me.

    Maybe I missed something, but I never read anything on this site that someone could lose a job over.

  6. We don’t get do-overs in life but we can get make-ups. He should write a new piece or shut up.

    Essentially, this guy wants to be able to act as if he never wrote the piece and wants you to censor your own site to do it. Stick a little note at the top and fix yourself a cocktail:

    Editor’s Note: The author has informed Ivy-Style that he has since changed his position on this issue and asked us to remove his name and picture. While we are sympathetic to his situation, we refused because we do not wish to censor this website’s past and set in place a dangerous precedent. Thank you.

    • John Burton | January 26, 2024 at 6:42 am |

      I kind of agree with this. If you thought you were wrong, have the spine to say so. If you don’t have the spine to say so, then live with your mistake. Putting forward an opinion carries with it an obligation.

  7. The site was always edited, wwwwaaaayyyy before John came on board. So if you are saying “leave it in the original form” – that ship sailed. Comments, posts, etc., were always edited. So we cannot operate from the assumption that the site is pure and it is now being filtered.

  8. Were it me, I’d take the post/comment down and move on. Life’s too short. Bigger, more interesting fish to fry surely.

    Kind Regards,


  9. There is a legal and ethical consideration here that hasn’t been discussed, and that’s that unless the article was a work for hire (meaning that Ivy Style purchased the rights to the article and explicitly “owns” it), the writer still controls the copyright and has the right to have the work removed if they wish. Having it published on this site doesn’t inherently transfer that copyright to Ivy Style unless that is explicitly granted by agreement. Even if it says something like “Copyright Ivy Style” at the bottom of the post, any assertion that Ivy Style owns the copyright is not legally binding or enforceable unless the author explicitly agreed to transfer ownership of the creative work by contract or agreement. Any permission informally granted to you, even in writing, is just as easily revoked unless Ivy Style has actually purchased the article or the writer has explicitly relinquished his or her rights.

    Lastly, “The Internet Is Forever” is just an aphorism. It’s not a legally binding, prescriptive rule. Whether or not anyone else thinks it’s wrong to “scrub” the past, which is hardly a universally agreed upon idea to begin with, the author is well within his or her ethical and legal rights to demand its removal.

    • John Burton | January 26, 2024 at 6:35 am |

      The site does contain the disclaimer that all content is copyright of the site.

      • As I mentioned above, that’s not at all legally binding unless you have a signature stating that they’ve transferred ownership to you. To repeat:

        Even if it says something like “Copyright Ivy Style” at the bottom of the post, any assertion that Ivy Style owns the copyright is not legally binding or enforceable unless the author explicitly agreed to transfer ownership of the creative work by contract or agreement.

        This is one of many reasons why websites explicitly require you to agree to their Terms of Service before using their services. It’s a contract. Putting “Copyright Ivy Style” at the bottom of your website is a nice notice that might signal to people that you are prepared to defend your copyright if needed, but it’s essentially meaningless as far as legal rights go.

        • How does he retain ownership of something that he gave away? Did he do so expecting to retain ownership? Money had to change hands for I-S to own it? Really? What if both sides agree it was worth nothing? If the author does NOT assert ownership, why does he retain ownership?

          • Because saying “hey, go ahead and publish this” isn’t giving something away, it’s allowing someone else to publish it. “What if both sides agree it was worth nothing?” is even more meaningless. The value of an objection has no inherent relation to copyright. The person who creates the work controls the copyright. End of story.

            That copyright doesn’t automatically get transferred just because someone else was allowed to reproduce a copy. And the author doesn’t even have to assert ownership. It’s something that automatically exists once the work has been created. So aside from being ethically dubious to claim ownership of something you’ve simply reprinted, it’s also legally incorrect.

  10. Is it that necessary to refer to that individual as “they”? Does that person identify as “non-binary” and has specifically asked you to use the plural pronoun? If that’s not the case, using the plural offends English grammar.

    • John Burton | January 26, 2024 at 6:34 am |

      A MUCH more interesting take is to ask why that would light you up so much. If they did ask me, then it is not something relevant to you. If they didn’t ask me, and I did it just to preserve anonymity, then it is further not something relevant to you. What would be appropriate is for you to look at why that is the point you took out of the whole article.

  11. Grace is easy to give, asking forgiveness is a humbling experience. A measure for a measure. I encourage the removal.

  12. I agree that if the owner of the content wishes it removed, it ought to be removed. While an explanation would be preferable, the original author has not obligated themselves to provide one. A simple agreement with anyone posting could have clarified these issues, but it would be cumbersome and rarely relevant. Perhaps the evolution in question is worthy of exploration as its own topic.

  13. There’s also the practical issue that you might not want to signal to potential writers that you are difficult to deal with. Whether or not you agree with this person’s motives, they’ve asked you to remove something they’ve were nice enough to allow you to use, they’ve changed their mind, and your suggestion is for them to create MORE free content for you, that you will presumably insist can never been removed? That’s not a particularly gracious way to respond, in my humble opinion.

    As I said above, all of this would be different if you have actually paid them for their work and own it, but it sounds like don’t based on context clues.

  14. Gregory Carrara | January 26, 2024 at 3:53 pm |

    I use my own name on the internet…hell I don’t care who knows it is me. As a trial lawyer, perhaps I think more than others before i speak because my depositions and cases are on the record. But, even if I was not a lawyer, I like to think about things I say and post publicly. I have no idea what this person’s post may have been, however, in the age of keyboard warriors, and this world where everyone needs to post their opinions, which are like, well, you know, we all have one, this is what happens. You want to stick your political opinions down everyone’s throats, take your stances, be a critic, make a nice post-whatever, but, it is out there, you put it out there, and well, tough crap. Think before you post. And I stand by my posts, and would never change them because, well I am always right!!! 😂.

    Kiddding about the last last part, I was wrong once, I think it was in 1987. 😂

  15. Part of the ivy lifestyle is having good manners. It seems very rude to not accommodate this person’s request to have something that they have written removed from the site. The heart of good manners is the golden rule — do unto others as you would have others do unto you. If you were in their position, what would you want them to do?

  16. Idk the notion of asking someone to write a follow up is fine, but why on earth would someone who obviously no longer wants their article on the site purposely draw even more attention to it? I mean, I definitely understand why you, John Burton Ivy Style site operator, would want more content. And it might be interesting to the rest of us, but the person very obviously doesn’t want to do that. And why would they? It would be purposely drawing attention to something they’d maybe rather forget. Something about refusing to remove it when they were nice enough to give you the article for free also seems really uncaring and umempathetic to me.

    Respectfully, the site is not “the public record” and it is not a sacrosanct space. It’s not even a site for “news” anymore. It’s a collection of musings from random members of the site, interspersed with advertorials for the sponsors. No offense, but the notion that there are lofty editorial standards that we must abide by seems like an insincere cover story because… you just don’t feel like removing it?

  17. People are alluding to this person’s article as if it’s something “bad” but it’s not even clear from the post that forgiveness is even necessary, just that the person “no longer believed the position that they had taken in the post.” That could be anything!

    I find it curious why the article can’t just be removed given that John has said his inclination is to yank it down “in a hot minute.” Plenty of people here have said that it should be okay to remove, and the people arguing for it to stay seem strangely invested in teaching this person a lesson for some reason. Bizarre that this is even a question if Ivy Style didn’t even pay for the article.

  18. I think you should take it down. It is the kind thing to do. Don’t you make mistakes?

  19. I am genuinely perplexed as to how this is a difficult question at all. Artists, writers, musicians, etc. should always have the final say as to what they do with their work, whether that’s publishing or NOT publishing it. And whether or not people think it’s poor form or somehow unethical to “unpublish” something, the artist should still gets to decide.

    The only exception is when they’ve sold the rights to someone else, whether that’s a book publisher, record label, etc.

    The site operator for Ivy Style may have the de facto final say as he is in physical control of this site, but I think it is clear the ethical thing to do would be to allow the creator of the work to decide.

    Just my two cents!

    • John Burton | January 28, 2024 at 4:09 pm |

      Should, but almost never do. Claw backs are not a thing in creative fields.

      • So you agree that the author *should* decide but you won’t allow them to because… claw backs (a separate and unrelated topic) are not a thing in some other context? Even though the author wants it gone, you yourself said you wanted to yank it, other people are telling you it’s okay, and you’re still not doing it….why?

  20. Charles Dana | January 28, 2024 at 4:10 am |

    What would I do? I’d take down the post. This is a clothing blog. As Charlottesville said, it isn’t a “court transcript” or “the Congressional Record.” It’s not a historical journal or Official Repository of Crucial Sartorial Discoveries and Insights. We jawbone about Ivy clobber. No, not the Ivy “aesthetic.” Ivy clobber. Stuff that, for us, is gratifying to wear. That’s all. Now a contributor, for reasonably solid reasons, wants one of their posts removed? Then remove it and forget about it, as some other contributors have advised. Don’t overthink this question.

    (Yes, the internet “is forever,” but that’s not your problem, JB; let the person who wants their comment expunged worry about whether their post will somehow, sometime bubble up to the cybersurface after you expunge it…….should you decide to do so.)

  21. Honestly I think it is your site and you should just do as you wish but for transparency I think it should be clear what the site policy is. I remember discussion before and it was about things being offensive, right? I think editor note is good for that if you don’t want to take it down. Good luck!

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