Friday, January 20, 2006

"Hey! You Suck!"--Incivility Shuts Down Wash Post Blogs

The Washinton Post chose to close its comments indefinitely after several angry posts in response to ""a statement made by ombudsman Deborah Howell that Jack Abramoff, who is at the centre of a Washington scandal for having bribed a significant number of politicans in order to 'buy influence', payed off Democrats as well as Republicans after ."

Terry Heaton thinks this is a case of the deeper issue here is command and control from the mountain top.

But Terry misses the another salient point to the Post's actions: it may seem like a big deal, but in truth, it only highlights a general problem with incivility in the blogosphere. And that there is no clear consensus, even among bloggers, on how to handle it. Terry wants to pick on msm for its actions, but would he feel the same way about individual bloggers taking the same action?

As some of us will remember there was quite a bit of fallout after BlogHer over Ambra Nykola's poison-pen blogging about Koan Bremner's presence at the conference. Although Ambra is definitely entitled to her rabid remarks, she blocked dissenting bloggers from posting comments to her entry. Further, Ambra often shuts off commentary on posts at her blog (specifically, look up her post on Sex and the City where she did not want any dissenting viewpoints.)

Basically, she's top-down communicating to the rest of us in the blogosphere--but she doesn't seem to be suffering all that much for it.

Now, when I came into blogging, I was a veteran of the New York Times Film Forums--which, if one didn't watch out, one could end up pretty bruised and bloddy. The Film Forums ended up getting trolled so bad-- with some of the trolls launching personal email attacks against posters and hacking several posters' personal websites--that the usually low-profile Moderators chose to require registration and approval before allowing individuals to post to the Forums.

Knowing what can happen in the Wild Wild West of the 'Web, I expected, when I started blogging, to get flamed, fired on, and fumed at--and by anonymous people (because it's easier to do that when nobody knows who you are.) And, yes, it happens sometimes, but hey, I'm made of asbestos, so no biggie...

Still, there are loads and loads of bloggers who don't know how to handle it and are hurt/offended/horrified/pissed off when it happens. That's why we're having the Us and Them: A Blog Conversation Guide at SXSW Interactive in March.

When bloggers are concerned about incivility and confused about how to handle it, how can we expect msm (that is, for the most part, confused about blogging) to handle it any better?

Frankly, it's a much bigger issue than just the Post's "indefinite" response.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I would feel the same way, Tish. Nice post.

Tish Grier said...

Hi Terry, Glad you left the comment clarifying your position There's an awful lot of punditry that's big on MSM attacks, yet many of those attackers don't spend time dealing with Long Tail Bloggers. Their experience is confined to A-listers, who, quite often, are not a true indication of what blogging is for most people. They are, after all, a breed unto themselves--just as msm blogging sites are, too.

And thanks for the props for the overall post. :-)