updates: unhappy with changes at work, asking to unblock a website, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. If you’re unhappy with a change at work, should you bring it up before you start job-searching?

It hasn’t been that long since I sent my question, but I wanted to send an update now that the situation is at least partially resolved.

First, I noticed several people in the comments wondering about the 10am-6pm hours of Jim’s workplace, so I wanted to clarify that one of the primary functions of the non-profit he works for is running an after-school program, so obviously all the staff running those programs have to have later hours. Jim doesn’t work with the kids, and he’s not support staff for the teachers; he’s a database admin, which is why there’s not much reason for his hours to line up with everyone else’s. There were also some questions about whether Jim had brought up feeling negatively about any of the changes leading up to the working hour changes, and as far as I know, he hadn’t. Since he was one of the last people to start working from the office part of the time, he didn’t feel like he had much standing to push back on that, and it was more an annoyance than a major problem, at least until his hours were changing. Anyway, onto the update:

My fiance decided he liked his job enough that he wanted to see if he could stay. We were also right in the beginning of buying a house, so it wasn’t an ideal time to be changing jobs, which might’ve provided a bit of extra motivation. The reorg originally happened because his previous boss (and the one who had hired him for his role) left the organization for a great opportunity elsewhere, and Jim wasn’t sure how much of the things he’d negotiated when he started were things he could expect to continue as conditions of his employment there, or whether they were more informal agreements that just stood with her. He ended up having a meeting with HR to get clarification, and they told him that given he is the head of a department (even though he doesn’t have any direct reports because his department is only him), he has a fair amount of autonomy and should expect to keep the things he negotiated for unless there’s a clear and compelling reason to change them. So he went back to his boss prepared to fight to keep his current hours, and then it turned out he didn’t have to. Apparently his boss had gotten confused about what Jim does and was also very stressed about other aspects of the reorg, but had realized on his own after a couple days that it didn’t make any sense to change the hours of the few people who were different from everyone else. So it turned out to be a pretty easy resolution!

Except… just a couple weeks after that, his boss, citing the stress from earlier, quit without notice and without a job lined up because he was so frustrated with the leadership. So Jim is in the middle of yet another reorg. Currently he answers to the CEO who has too much on her plate to really be involved with his job day to day, so he’s down to once a week in office and basically whatever hours he wants so long as his tasks get done. Also, apparently over the last couple months, the entire finance department has also left one by one, and the leadership is scrambling to get those positions filled. Because Jim collaborates with several departments, but is his own separate department, he’s pretty isolated from whatever leadership problems are causing a lot of people to leave and is still really enjoying his job. There’s bound to be more reorganization in his future since there are vacancies to fill and nobody is sure who Jim should really be reporting to, but he’s feeling a lot more secure in his position after that conversation with HR. Plus, he’s been here longer than most other people at this point, so he’s doing a lot of training newbies on the systems they use and being very visibly useful to the organization, which gives him a fair amount of bargaining power when they can’t really afford to lose more people right now. He did just get a tip-off from one of the board members that there’s a push within the board to bring everybody back to the office full time, but now he knows that he has the standing to push back on that if he wants to. And, with our house purchased and no more major purchases in our immediate future, he’s free to search for a new job with no worries if he decides it’s time to move on.

2. I’m not productive every single minute of every day (first update; second update)

I just wanted to write and say that the new job is going very well. I’ve been here about two months now, and I’m enjoying it. Management here is a lot more consistent and I’m much happier in the role.

The irony? They have a time tracking system! We log our time in 15-minute increments and it needs to add up to eight hours. But they’ve been very clear that it’s meant to be a fairly rough estimate and that things like breaks and mental downtime should get rolled into the nearest category. I still don’t love time tracking, but they at least have a good reason for it: the hours are used for grant reporting purposes and being able to say how much time we spent on specific projects is valuable to our funders.

The positive side to the time tracking is that they don’t want you to work more than eight hours a day, and in the rare cases that I do work overtime, the time-tracking system is used to award time in lieu. Interestingly, this even applies to management, despite it not being legally required.

It’s been a very good fit so far, even with the time tracking! There are a few little oddities, part of working at a small non-profit, but no major red flags. The overall culture is much more relaxed and there’s a definite sense that upper management cares about the staff as people, not just productivity robots. Many of the other employees have been here 10 or even 20 years, just because it’s actually a good place to work.

Thank you to you and your readers for the advice, support and encouragement. It helped me get through a very difficult time, and I’m happy to be settling in at the new job.

3. Asking my office to unblock an “adult content” website (#3 at the link)

I asked the IT guy around the corner casually how hard it would be for him to unblock a site and tried to be pretty matter-of-fact about it, without saying Autostraddle’s name up front. The IT people in the comments had the next part right: he said I’d need to put in a ticket and he’d have to escalate it to his boss (at the director level). He said it wouldn’t be a problem if I needed it for work, I said I didn’t, and we left it there. It’s definitely not worth the effort that would entail, though I’m considering bringing it up with HR as a DEI issue (because, as many commenters wondered, we do not block any other remotely comparable content). Instead, I’ll be saving articles – the obviously safe for work ones – to Instapaper to read offline.

{ 95 comments… read them below }

  1. Tio*

    #3, I was hoping you’d have an easy unblock, but I’d still be cautious about bringing t to HR. Autostraddle does actually have NSFW content, so it might come off as less of a DEI issue and more of an actual content issue. I wouldn’t expect them to unblock something like Slate, either, although I love it.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      My thought is that if OP said to HR that a lesbian-oriented site with some NSFW material and some SFW material was blocked but comparable sites aimed at straight people weren’t, the result would probably be the straight sites being blocked, rather than the lesbian site being unblocked, which, maybe that would be better, but also it wouldn’t actually get OP what she wanted, you know?

      1. Melissa*

        That’s a good point. It’s hard to really say how you’d support it being a DEI issue without pointing out “XYZ site isn’t blocked, and I think it’s because it is for straight people”— which is just very likely to get XYZ blocked, instead of helping you at all.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, when it comes to blocking, there’s several ways to go about it and the most common is block first, ask questions later.

      2. CityMouse*

        Yeah, I just don’t see that being a good idea. I’ve viewed the site on a personal device and seen some NSFW content on the first page, including NSFW autoplay video. I actually think images and particularly video are more problematic than articles. I agree bringing it to HR will, at best, get other sites removed. I don’t see any outcome where this particular site gets whitelisted. And so my question is, is this worth the use of work capital or coming across as having unreasonable expectations at work.

  2. not me*

    I just went to that site and one of the first articles was a photo of a sex aide and an accompanying article about making strap on sex better. Yeah that site wouldn’t make it through our filter and as the IT person that would investigate if someone asked I wouldn’t want to whitelist it.

  3. Rolling Eyes*

    #3 Bringing up a unblocking an NSFW lesbian website as a genuine DEI issue is a waste of DEI resources, undermines the concept of what the purpose is for DEI for the LGBTQIA+, and a ridiculous waste of your political capital.

    1. Boris*

      I just really think that characterizing it as an “NSFW lesbian website” reinforces this idea that everything having to do with lesbians is inherently sexual. Sometimes it is. Some content on Autostraddle is NSFW, and it’s labeled that way to give people a choice about whether to click through. But this language makes it sound like a porn site, which it most definitely isn’t. Its content is fairly comparable to what you’d find on a lot of blogs with a wider audience base.

      I don’t disagree that it doesn’t make sense for OP to go to HR about this. But my experience is that the software is discriminatory. And every time I go to look at an article about or for LGBTQ people and fine that it’s been blocked as NSFW, I get that old feeling of being not enough, or gross, or that my core identities and loving relationships are NSFW. I think this is relevant to a DEI mission

      1. CityMouse*

        Having personally been on the website, I have to disagree. They don’t just have some NSFW content, it’s pretty prominent and sometimes includes images and video on their front page. While Slate, for instance, has a sex column, it doesn’t include NSFW content on the front page and doesn’t include images. It doesn’t do any favors to mischaracterize this website.

      2. BubbleTea*

        I’m pretty squarely in Autostraddle’s target audience and when the original letter posted, I was surprised because I absolutely consider it to be a sex-related website. More so than Cosmopolitan or… whatever websites straight people like.

        1. Alice*

          Yeah, I’ve been reading Autostraddle for a long time but I wouldn’t visit it at work. But of course different workplaces and industries have different standards for what’s appropriate at work. I’ve worked places where I could hang out on the social forum portion of a nude modeling site and others where I wouldn’t even look at LinkedIn.

      3. fanciestcat*

        If this was a SFW queer site, that would absolutely be relevant to the DEI mission, but Autostraddle is not that and should by most IT standards be blocked for the NSFW content. It’s just not a very good example to use.

      4. LWH*

        I’m a lesbian myself and Autostraddle absolutely does have sexual content on it, a pretty extensive and explicit section of the site is that. Which is totally fine, but work is also totally justified in blocking it. This is ridiculous to frame as a DEI issue. There is absolutely such a thing as LGBT content being blocked by filters as sexual when it isn’t, but Autostraddle has plenty of actual sexual content, and that’s why it’s getting filtered. The fact that some other sites aren’t getting filtered (which is an assumption we’re making to begin with) doesn’t change that, and if you were to bring that up, it’d just result in those sites also getting filtered, which doesn’t help OP any. This would be a hill to die on if it was, say, PinkNews getting blocked, but last time I checked PinkNews didn’t have an entire Shibari 101 section.

      5. Don't kneel in front of me*

        I never heard of the site. I just went to it for the first time, and one of the front page articles was “try these exercises for better strapon sex” and the thumbnail is a strapon with a purple dildo.

        This is absolutely a NSFW site and according to other commenters the target audience is the lesbian community. It is completely fair and accurate to call it a NSFW lesbian website.

  4. Random Dice*

    #2 was hard to read.

    Being forced as the only queer person to educate everyone else about every -ism, and being forced to publicly adjudicate whether someone was racist?! Aaaaaah.

    And being fired shortly after refusing to do something illegal? That smacks of retaliation.

    I’m so glad you’re in a better place, with lovely meds helping balance out your neurotransmitters.

  5. Delta Delta*

    #1 – It sounds like Jim’s workplace is on the brink of implosion. Entire departments full of leadership are quitting, and the board (which I’m guessing is not there all the time and is probably volunteers) is not going to make things better by drastically changing how people on the ground are doing work. I’ve been on nonprofit boards, and I observe that one of the worst things a board can do is try to micromanage the staff. Jim might want to start looking elsewhere, because this may get worse before it gets better.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Came to the comments to see if anyone else read what I read. The place is imploding!

      2. Quill*

        The things I can think of that make that seem less strange are either 1) he’s been clued into the timeline and scale of the implosion (think: we’re being bought out next fiscal year and your specific position is going to be needed throughout the changeover) or 2) the chaos is limited to one subgroup.

      3. Random Dice*

        Very interesting. Thanks for making me think.

        She’s talking about using her work computer so she doesn’t have to use her limited phone data.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Yup, sounds like Jim’s workplace is not long for this world. At least the house is bought! I’m glad Jim can keep his hours and remote work, but it’s probably time for him to start looking for a new position, because this sounds like utter chaos. Even if Jim is insulated from most of it now, and has the standing for pushback on his hours and workplace, things don’t sound healthy or sustainable there.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Fully agree. And there is absolutely no harm in looking around; whether he decides to take the step of talking to people or putting in applications is up to him.

      2. ferrina*


        Jim should be quietly job hunting. This workplace is putting on a red flag parade, and it’s only a time before a troupe of red flag clowns piles out of a tiny car. Start looking at exits now. That way you have time to be picky about the next job, and you aren’t picking a new job out of desperation. And if this place miraculously turns more functional, Jim can always decline other job offers. Just because you’re interviewing doesn’t mean that you’re going to leave tomorrow.

  6. Boris*

    As another WLW and one-time Autostraddle reader, I just want to put out there that I don’t think Autostraddle’s content is that much more nsfw than some of what Slate publishes, especially in the “How To Do It” column.

    I also want to put out there that I’ve noticed (by accident, frankly) that my work blocks LGBTQ-specific dating apps (HER, specifically) but not, for example, Tinder. (Should we be messaging/ swiping at work? Maybe not. But find me 10 people under the age of 35 who haven’t done it on their lunch break. I’ll wait.)

    I noticed in the comment section of the last time the Autostraddle reader’s question was posted was filled with apparently straight people who went to that website and determined it was too sexual. And sure. We shouldn’t be reading sexually explicit content on our company wifi.

    But I just want to emphasize that queer content and especially lesbian/WLW content gets filtered out in a way that feels deeply discriminatory whether it’s sexual or not. Autostraddle has a lot of SFW content too. I want to validate OP’s experience that it feels discriminatory that straight people get to use their judgment when it comes to this stuff, but we don’t because of the way that straight society sexualizes our existence.

    1. LJ*

      Be that as it may, a website with an article picture of a sex toy on the front page is not the place to start a DEI conversation

      1. Boris*

        I’ve never brought this up with HR or as a DEI conversation. It’s absolutely not worth the capital, and it’s nowhere close to being an equity issue of great importance anywhere I’ve worked.

        But all of this handwringing about a picture of a sex toy on a website: should Instagram be blocked? There’s a lot of sexual content on there. What about Tumblr back in the day? Do people still read Cosmo? Allison writes posts about NSFW-adjacent topics with some regularity. And, again, what about Slate, which frequently posts Allison’s work?

        The software is homophobic.

        1. Ahnon4Thisss*

          The software probably autoblocked it because it has the word “straddle” in its URL, not because it’s a lesbian site with some NSFW content. There is probably a whole list of words that get autobanned like that because they can have sexual meaning. We can’t say that the software is homophobic for sure. OP could test various queer websites that don’t have potentially autoblocked words and see if they’re also offlimits, and if they are, that would be a huge problem.

          Also, yes, if your company blocks websites from being accessed, sites like Cosmo should be blocked because a good portion of their content focuses on sex life.

          1. The Person from the Resume*

            I do not think that the word “straddle” or the name “Autostraddle” is the problem.

            What people are saying is true (LGBTQ+ content is inherently percieved as more sexual than identical straight content), but also Autostraddle (of which I am a regular reader) contains NSFW content, and I would not go there on a work computer. I don’t go to Slate either on my work computer. And while I would not freak out if I did accidentally opened a Slate page on a work computer (like clicking on a link in AAM) if I accidentally clicked on the How to Do It column, I would have a little freak out.

            LW is not even talking about viewing Autostraddle on a work computer, though. She was using her phone’s wifi, and it was blocked that way. Still would not burn capital on it.

          2. BubbleTea*

            Websites are definitely blocked by those software programmes based entirely on the fact they’re LGBT focused. Even if they’re not actually about sex at all, and don’t mention it anywhere.

            1. nodramalama*

              Then raise THAT with HR. Raising it about a website that puts NSFW content front and centre so it can be read for fun does not seem like a good use of social capital to me

            2. LWH*

              “Websites that aren’t sexual at all that are LGBT focused get wrongly blocked” can simultaneously be true with “Autostraddle is a site with sexual content and is blocked on those grounds”.

        2. Malarkey01*

          In 3 clicks I was at articles with graphic sex act pictures that were screen grabbed from a porn site showing full nudity (granted I got there by clicking the NSFW link under Love and Sex) but this isn’t a drawing of a toy. In all my years reading AAM I’ve never been presented with sexual images or advice on sex acts.
          I am by no means prudish and enjoy a good porn video in the right context and time and I also enjoy a lot of queer non sexual articles and understand that queerness is assumed sexual often when it’s not, but this site obviously has things that are not appropriate for the workplace and I think it makes it difficult to separate out the truly bullshit way tech blockers discriminate with this letter’s example which I think would be appropriately blocked straight, gay, I don’t care in the vast majority of American offices.

    2. hellohello*

      Exactly. How many people here are reading Ask A Manager (which has included posts on BDSM, public sex, etc. etc. in the past) or a website like Slate (which regularly posts articles that include sexual content and imagery alongside their more sfw content) in the office, but took one look at Autostraddle and decided the entire site is NSFW because they include some sexual content.

      I wouldn’t personally use capital on it, because it’s ultimately not a work-necessary resource so probably not worth the fight, but the fact that software automatically blocks that website but doesn’t block other sites with comperable amount of NSFW content *is* indicative of the way everything LGBTQ+ is considered inherently sexual in a way non-LGBTQ+ content isn’t.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I do understand your point and feel that we should work more about better delining what we consider not work appropriate to be considerate of ALL people, not just cis white guys. I do think there’s a significant difference between AskAManager writing “my coworker is bringing up some NSFW stuff – how do I deal with it professionally” and Autostraddle posting an article on how to best use a strap-on.

    3. Boris*

      So I hear what all of you are saying, and would love to know if any of you have an LGBTQ identity. Again, I don’t think any of this is worth fighting over in the workplace or as a DEI issue.

      But I need you to hear that that every time a queer website is blocked where a similar straight one wasn’t, it feels deeply othering at least to me. It hurts, in the same way that other micro aggressions hurt. It’s not a big deal, but it’s there. It’s similar to times in the past when I introduced my wife at work events, and had to wonder how many people were quietly judging.

      I totally agree with Allison’s advice, and OP’s update. But this comment section is not passing the Pride-month vibe check.

      1. L-squared*

        Just because its pride month doesn’t mean people can’t disagree with members of the LGBT community.

        I respect how you feel about this. But at the same time, I just also can’t see this being a DEI issue either. As someone above said, at best, all it would do is get other similar sights blocked, as opposed to getting this one unblocked. Is that really the desired outcome? That if I can’t read my site, neither can you?

        1. quicksilver*

          Uh, yeah, the desired outcome is parity and consistency — if LGBT+ websites aren’t permitted to be accessed on a work connection because they feature some sexual content, fair enough, but then why should websites with non-LGBT+ sexual content get a pass…?

          It sounds a lot like you’re arguing in favour of the double standard.

          1. L-squared*

            I’m not arguing for a double standard, but if OP isn’t going to get what she wants anyway, it seems a bit… petty to just say “well then I’ll make others unhappy as well”.

            Like there just seems to be no outcome where OP is happy, just one where more people are unhappy. And really, this is all to save on phone data.

          2. L-squared*

            It would be like if you know there is no where your manager will let you work from home 5 days a week, and by pushing it, all that will happen is everyone else has to come into the office more. I mean, why do that.

        2. Fushi*

          No one is saying that you can’t disagree with queer people during Pride – and that kind of mischaracterization of the argument as something completely absurd is very disrespectful, btw, so you might want to reflect on your urge to do it – but the fact is that queer people simply have more context for these issues, having dealt with them for a lifetime. Being shut down over and over by straight people acting like there’s no possible way this incident ties into the disparity between how society views straight sex-related content (ie, it’s not graphic unless there are images of fully naked people doing it) and how it views queer content (ie, the second you mention your orientation it’s suddenly NSFW), is an experience that naturally evokes memories of lots of past homophobia, so even if you’re not intending to be homophobic, and are convinced that you’re totally right, it’s worth bearing in mind the prior experiences of many LGBTQIA+ folks in the way that you approach this type of discussion. Many of the comments are not putting in the work to do that, and I would urge folks to consider the larger context Boris is pointing out rather than doubling down here.

          1. CityMouse*

            To explain, why it’s uncomfortable for me particularly to be asked my orientation is because there’s this really common thread to how this conversation goes. I’m bisexual which sometimes results in people, including fellow queer people, doubting the extent that makes me really part of the community, so then I find myself compelled to explain the extent of my past relationships or the harassment I received based on said relationships to establish my “cred”, so to speak. It’s massively uncomfortable.

            1. Bit o' Brit*

              There’s a similar tension around asexuality, especially if you’re not also aromantic. I don’t identify as part of “the community” because most of it seems to think my orientation doesn’t exist anyway.

          2. nodramalama*

            But the issue here is that you have no idea who in the commetariat identifies as what. Boris’s suggestion is that straight people are shutting it down and sorry but the implication of “it doesn’t pass the Pride month vibe check” is that ‘apparently’ straight people should be quiet. The commetariat shouldn’t be required to reveal their sexuality to engage in this conversation in order to have their point be valid.

      2. Ahnon4Thisss*

        Yep, I’m bi.

        I am not denying that LGBTQ websites get unfairly blocked due to their subject matter revolving around queerness. I just think it is understandable that any websites with explicit sexual articles be blocked, including hetero predominant ones like Cosmo. I would be saying all of this no matter what orientation Autostraddle focused on. If a straight person wrote in and the website was full of the same articles and title cards, I’d be saying it’s too NSFW on the surface to justify asking for it to be unblocked and shouldn’t be viewed in the workplace.

        It just isn’t worth OP burning up social capital at this point, especially because the IT guy basically told her that her request would need the site to be for work related things and she found a way to make it work for her.

    4. not sure*

      In our company Slate, Cosmo and other sites similar are also blocked. I noted too that I first went to autostradle.com (incorrect spelling) which immediately took me to an insecure malware site – so just for that reason it could be blocked. And visiting the site and immediately seeing quite graphic sexual content isn’t me, a straight person, sexualizing your existance – it is literally being presented to me.

    5. Flipperty*

      Plenty of lesbian posters felt it the website eas sexual, got falsely accused of “obviously being straight” and had to turn around and go “um no I’m a lesbian, please don’t make assumptions.”

      It’s a massive, massive assumption that anyone who disagrees with you must be straight.

      1. CityMouse*

        It also plays into the negative stereotype that straight = prude, queer = sexual and isn’t okay.

        Also, don’t ask people to out themselves.

        1. Quill*

          This. I don’t have any specific experience with the site, but the idea that everyone here has to announce their identities in order to have any sort of opinion on how wise it is for OP to ask about this specific site… well, to borrow some words, it does not pass the pride month vibe check.

          1. LWH*

            Yeah 100%. As it turns out, queer people don’t always agree on things. Almost like we’re a diverse group of individuals.

    6. Dancer*

      I’ll admit I don’t read Slate a lot (and not nearly as much as Autostraddle), but I have yet to see them put NSFW content on their front page (regular readers are free to contradict me on this).

      If you genuinely don’t see the difference I don’t know what to tell you. Yes, blocking software can and often is discriminatory. This is not a good example of that fact.

  7. WellRed*

    That time tracking software sounds miserable, not because tracking time is inherently unreasonable in some cases but because it needs to add up to eight hours? Am I missing something. I sat outside with coffee for 20 minutes today. Does that count against me? No one works eight solid hours.

      1. fanciestcat*

        LW#3 I’d be careful with what you mean by “comparable content”. A lot of people here are comparing Autostraddle to AAM, Slate, or Cosmo but as far as I know none of those sites include uncensored screenshots from porn, which it sounds like Autostraddle does. Discussion of sex is not on the same level as images of sex from a censorship perspective. So if you know of unblocked sites with porn screenshots, you have a lot stronger of a case. Although the outcome will probably be more blocking, not Autostraddle getting unblocked.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I spent years in a law firm, which obviously uses time tracking system to bill clients (and also perform financial analytics for budgeting/pitch purposes). There is generally a placeholder number for time not spent specifically on client-related work. They asked us to enter a full day, even if it included placeholder time, because it made it easier for the finance team to tell when people were missing time (had not completed/turned it in) versus just had a light day. If they didn’t have that, they had no idea whose time was missing or not and would have ended up having to constantly re-run bills to capture late-released time.

      1. #2 Op*

        Yeah, I use the “General Administration” tag, especially for the first half-hour of my day, which is generally coffee, catching up with co-workers, etc.

  8. L-squared*

    #3. This still seems like you are trying to pick a fight just to pick one. I fully believe that you don’t read NSFW articles at work. But, from the comments, it seems a lot of the front page would be considered NSFW. Sometimes its just not something that needs to be a “thing”. I’m sure there are plenty of websites that you could get decent content from that aren’t nearly as questionable.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Considering raising something with HR is not picking a fight. Why are so many commenters today being so uncharitable to the LW?

      1. L-squared*

        I mean, it is. You are raising a non work related website as a DEI issue. I’d categorize that as picking a fight, because you are implying some kind of discrimination at that point.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Taking it to HR also implies that access to non-work-related content using the work network is a DEI issue, and that…is a stretch.

      2. Joron Twiner*

        To be purely strategic: I think that raising to HR the issue that LGBT semi-NSFW sites are blocked while straight/cis semi-NSFW sites are not blocked will:
        1. result all semi-NSFW sites being blocked
        2. make OP look like they are focused on NSFW things during work hours
        3. damage OP’s social capital when raising other DEI issues, unless they have a stellar reputation

        Yes it’s absolutely unfair that LGBT stuff is more sexualized, but I don’t think there is a way for OP to get what they want (the site unblocked) without blowback to their reputation.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yes, do I read autostraddle all the time? yes. am I too embarrassed to mention it to coworkers? also yes? They say bring your whole self to work but they obviously don’t mean it

  9. LJ*

    Reading again, LW3’s original problem was really just about going over their data plan. As a PSA because I know people are paying $80, 90, or more – there are great prepaid plans out there where you can get all the data you could reasonably use in the $30 range. It’s worth perusing the NoContract subreddit or the slickdeals forums.

  10. PDB*

    A place I once worked instituted a time tracking system, not for billing, the new boss was just a richard. Son of a gun, every task magically took 1/2 hour instead of 15 minutes.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’m not sure it is being a “richard” to put time tracking in place. It does have useful applications (other than billing): understanding where time is going, comparing to estimates, resourcing/forecasting for future projects, etc etc. As much as I hate the actual mechanics of having to remember to fill out time sheets and track down the correct code to put time in (I work cross-company on a lot of different things and they each have their own set of codes set by their own project manager or whoever) – I don’t know how companies have any idea where time is going if they don’t track it!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Just completing the thought – time is a company resource just as much as money is. I expect people would raise their eyebrows at a company that had no idea where their money was going or what it was being spent on at the macro level, because they didn’t keep any records…

        1. Grith*

          Does a company see itself as spending the resource of time or does it see itself as generating the resource of “useful work” (which depending on the job can directly translate to physical products or not)?

          Any functional company should realise that the output is what actually matters. And yes, you can argue time is a resource that can be considered as an aspect that contributes to that, but that’s all it should be – part of what goes into the “spent resources” side of the scale to balance against useful output. It’s when it becomes the main determining factor of success or failure that it becomes a problem.

          1. Wintermute*

            you still need to track how long things take, in terms of people-hours. “units of work” is so abstract as to be useless and very, very few companies pay on the basis of units of work (agricultural and some piecework skilled labor, that’s about it) companies pay for labor in units of hours or weeks of 40 hours.

            If you’re not tracking how much time is spent on what, you have no idea of project efficiency, of what processes or procedures are wasting time, of whether workloads are reasonable, you have no way to assess whether you have the capacity for a new product or line of business or how many people you would have to hire to scale up a process.

            Time tracking can be a pain, yes, but if a company isn’t doing it they’re being absolutely irresponsible, at least unless your job can be completely described as a single line item on a single project. Few professional jobs can be described that way. Even when I worked in a call center I was dual-skilled into both customer service and retail store support and they needed to know how much of my time went to each.

            1. Bit o' Brit*

              My workplace does that by measuring an employee’s output on a monthly basis and dividing it by their FTE hours. Average that, compare to input (we’re a service company), and we can model required staffing levels. Previous attempts to use time-tracking (to identify bottlenecks where our crappy system was slowing people down) failed absolutely miserably.

    2. There You Are*

      I worked in inside sales once. Not a call center, not customer service. We were paid a [meager] base salary plus commission. As sales people, our metric should have been sales. Make your numbers or don’t, doesn’t matter how many conversations you had or emails you sent or virtual software demos you did. You meet quota or you don’t.

      But we got a richard who decided she needed to know what we were doing every 15 minutes of the day — on a hand-written sheet she’d created — and then blamed US when sales dropped.

      She couldn’t understand that we weren’t talking to customers or demoing software or processing sales contracts when we were hand-writing whole paragraphs of description on a sheet of paper so she could feel like she was actually managing us when, really, her only skill was watching the clock and rotating through favorites.

      Also? Every call we made or received, every software demo we did, every email we sent out, every contract we processed all happened within a sophisticated CRM system. But she was an idiot who need *hand-written* daily diaries.

      1. #2 Op*

        God, that sounds absolutely agonizing.

        I’ve gotten used to using the time-tracking system here, which is just picking categories from a drop-down list. It takes me a few minutes a day, and it hasn’t been too bad.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      A team I managed years ago was asked to start keeping time because we needed to demonstrate their value to a subset of organizational leadership who didn’t understand why some of their standard-measure KPIs were different than a similarly-situated group. It made a huge difference in their perceived value to the organization (their KPIs were also shifted to be more in line with their specialty). It’s genuinely not always implemented to make people’s lives difficult. The trick is to make sure that the system is straightforward, measures what you intend to measure, and doesn’t take more time to do than the actual work.

  11. fanciestcat*

    LW#3 I’d be careful with what you mean by “comparable content”. A lot of people here are comparing Autostraddle to AAM, Slate, or Cosmo but as far as I know none of those sites include uncensored screenshots from porn, which it sounds like Autostraddle does. Discussion of sex is not on the same level as images of sex from a censorship perspective. So if you know of unblocked sites with porn screenshots, you have a lot stronger of a case. Although the outcome will probably be more blocking, not Autostraddle getting unblocked.

    1. Wintermute*


      a lot of people here are assuming that this filter is a bad one and it just used the domain name or general category.

      it’s equally likely it’s a very good filter and the reason this one site is blocked where others are not is that they used a webcrawler and an image recognition program run against the sites image directory went “those… are genitals. **block**”

      high quality verified filter lists are actually a big business, and companies put serious effort into verification these days. not all filter providers use these data sets because they aren’t as cheap as keyword filtering, but they’re also not rare.

      1. Kenneth*

        Your last point about the verified filter list is likely what’s going on. The company didn’t create the filter list, but is using one from an outside source that they can override where needed.

        But it isn’t a filter list, but a category list. They look at a site or domain to see what kind of content is hosted. Content discussing firearms, NSFW, etc.

        So whoever built the content list determined that Autostraddle has NSFW content – because it does – so it’s in the category list as having it. So if the content filtering service is configured to block NSFW, then *all* sites listed as having NSFW will be blocked, regardless of whether the site also has “a lot of SFW content” (as others have said). That it has any NSFW content is what matters.

  12. NetNrrd*

    I think I missed the Autostraddle story when it was posted, but I have an Autostraddle-and-network-filters story. I’ve had to administer block/allow lists for websites when I worked for a financial company. But for the past several years I’ve been working at a university where we don’t have any kind of network content filtering. (And, therefore, I promise you that I really don’t want to know what the kids are looking at.) Some time back, there was some issue with Autostraddle’s website where it wasn’t loading properly for some devices at my university due to technical issues, not any kind of administrative block. I got a trouble ticket from someone who was very hesitantly trying to ask if it was filtered and gosh, it’s got useful content for our queer students. I’m an occasional reader of the website, so I’m quite familiar with the content there, so I replied with the information about how it wasn’t us blocking the site and then noted that the ticket contained the most erudite and charitable description of trashy gossip and best-of-instagram I’d ever seen. The next time the requestor and I met up at an all-hands, we shared a laugh about it.

  13. Dancer*

    LW3, for the love of everything our community fights for, do not raise “we block a website that occasionally puts NSFW content on its front page” as a DEI issue! All you’re going to achieve if people check it out at the wrong moment is reinforce the idea that non-straight people are all sex-crazed.

    You are starting to feel like this is your first workplace activism and are horrendously misjudging the situation here. The issue isn’t that Autostraddle is a lesbian website, the issue is the NSFW stuff that sometimes ends up on the front page. Yes, it is clearly marked as such, but your company still has the right to not even risk you looking at that stuff on company time and bandwidth.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Update 1 (unhappy with changes at work) – I just want to pick up on one part:

      > He did just get a tip-off from one of the board members that there’s a push within the board to bring everybody back to the office full time, but now he knows that he has the standing to push back on that if he wants to.

      Tread carefully. I think there’s a distinction between his manager wanting him back at the office, and a push from board level to get everyone (regardless of role) back to the office. “Pushing back” on a board-level initiative is likely to need a lot more capital (and be less likely to succeed); the decision made at individual department level probably doesn’t provide protection against that if there is a wholesale change from the top.

  14. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Update 1 (unhappy with changes at work) – I just want to pick up on one part:

    > He did just get a tip-off from one of the board members that there’s a push within the board to bring everybody back to the office full time, but now he knows that he has the standing to push back on that if he wants to.

    Tread carefully. I think there’s a distinction between his manager wanting him back at the office, and a push from board level to get everyone (regardless of role) back to the office. “Pushing back” on a board-level initiative is likely to need a lot more capital (and be less likely to succeed); the decision made at individual department level probably doesn’t provide protection against that if there is a wholesale change from the top.

  15. KG*


    I wouldn’t start this fight because it requires company resources for a non-company purpose.

    A ticket, an IT person, an escalation to their boss, and a meeting between them … so you can browse on your break. Even if this were New York Times I would find it an inappropriate use of others time to deal with it.

    The IT person probably is like “omg I have real work…”

  16. Victoria Everglot*

    Any website that has NSFW content on the front page where you have to quickly scroll past it/quickly close a popup to get to the safe content is, well, not safe for work. It doesn’t matter who the target audience is, or how much of the site centers on important social issues or other safe topics, porn discussions and strap-ons are not work-appropriate. This shouldn’t be controversial.

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