Joel versus the volcano

Discuss

71 Responses to “Joel versus the volcano”

  1. eviladrian says:

    You see these sort of “You call yourself a journalist?” comments all the time on tech blogs, where the commenter presumes to complain about how the site has lost its way, while clearly having never read the site before or understanding what the site is about.

    There was a nice response from a Reply

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    “**professionalism**, such as good writing, fact checking, being up front about conflicts, and not being whiny and hypocritical–which is part of what I think Joel is doing in his giz post.”

    By professionalism i mean the standard “not on someones payrol, not personal opinion, not conflict of interest just plain facts” reporting

    Ahah, zio, but there’s the rub! When folks say ‘professionalism,’ they often vaguely refer to things other than mere good writing, fact checking and ethics. They’re suggesting the writer be civil, balanced, measured, fair, respectful, neutral, dispassionate, objective, and any number of other things that are not necessarily consonant with quality.

    “A twitter account which no one will read will have no effect. Whether you’re a troll or an antagonized poster, that’s not an acceptable solution.”

    But that’s *exactly* the solution that one’s free speech allows. Being obscure and unermarkable is tough cheese — and the default condition for all of us starting out. That some people find this ‘unacceptable’ is rather the point of all this: whatever polite fictions are entertained, the underlying facts eventually will assert themselves, one way or another. And perhaps the resentments that result could have been avoided had those polite fictions never been established in the first place.

    It’s not that writers shouldn’t value or love their readers, or refuse to be guided by their opinions and advice. It’s just a matter of acknowledging who has access to the ‘publish’ button — and all the myriad consequences of that.

    • Beelzebuddy says:

      But that’s *exactly* the solution that one’s free speech allows. Being obscure and unermarkable is tough cheese — and the default condition for all of us starting out. That some people find this ‘unacceptable’ is rather the point of all this: whatever polite fictions are entertained, the underlying facts eventually will assert themselves, one way or another. And perhaps the resentments that result could have been avoided had those polite fictions never been established in the first place.

      Err, yes. That’s why people prefer to shit up your site than bitch about you on their own. That’s what I was saying.

  • david85282 says:

    It makes me sad that in a very short time this country has gone from “…And that’s the way it is” to editors defending “fuck you” as professional journalism.

  • dw_funk says:

    I don’t know that many people here are giving journalists enough credit, really. I can only imagine how vexing it would be that, whenever I linked my friends to a story I had written, that they would only need to scroll down to see dozens of people angrily decrying me as a person, writer, reviewer, etc. That’s a new thing, really; newspapers and magazines have “letters to the editor,” but even tightly moderated threads allow for a greater critical discourse than that.

    What I’m saying is that, even though it feels like something you’ve always lived with, the Internet is still a relatively new thing. All of these “journalism bias” and “professionalism” things are actively being figured out everywhere you look, because the immediacy and space offered by this technology are forcing us to deal with things we’ve never had to deal with before. All of this talk of journalism online and offline being equivalent is false; just look at what’s above. The managing editor of this highly popular blog is, if you will, in the trenches, forced (or inclined, at least) to answer directly by an anonymous crowd of torch-and-pitchfork carriers.

    Which is all to say: do I think Joel should’ve written and published a post like that? Eh. But do I think he is violating some sort of journalistic ethics or professional stance? Please.

    And one other thing: the whole “journalist when we want to be but just bloggers when we’re not” is a silly argument. Protecting sources, standing up for 1st amendment rights, etc. is something that anyone should be able to do, in my opinion. The editorial tone of an intemperate post does not invalidate that.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    “Joel is no innocent in this whole affair, either. A number of commenters have claimed that in the past he has responded to a legit but critical comment with a comment containing nothing but”fuck you.”

    What actually happened there, IIRC, was the commenter had posed a legitimate criticism/question, but also accused Joel of being a PR stooge for Foxconn.

    The ‘fuck you’ was obviously for the latter thing– and well-deserved, if ‘unprofessional’! A part of the problem with these things is commenters who aren’t trolls, but who can’t see the difference between their own criticism and their own hostility.

  • Skep says:

    “They’re suggesting the writer be civil, balanced, measured, fair, respectful, neutral, dispassionate, objective, and any number of other things that are not necessarily consonant with quality.”

    All you’ve done there is substitute one subjective term (“professionalism”) for another (“quality”).

    How about this? I think Joel’s intemperate post comes off like an angry, trollish post. I think it is an inconsistent, “do as I say not as I do” argument that only encourages trolls by demonstrating that they really got under his skin. I think Joel can be very thin skinned, and used to be so even from the get go when he worked here and responded to commenters.I think his post at Giz is low “quality”.

    • Rob Beschizza says:

      By ‘quality’ I mean what’s worth saying, what’s worth reading, and perhaps what’s truthful in the human sense. It’s not a substitute for professionalism, but rather an attempt to illustrate the valuable things that professionalism itself is often a poor substitute for. But sure, it’s all subjective.

      I do think Joel is trolling the trolls, true. But most of it is from the heart. You can tell the trollish bits by the especially contemplative elks.

  • gwailo_joe says:

    For a long time I thought the term ‘troll’ meant like someone was fishing. . .trolling for insults so to speak: you say some mean thing specifically designed to make people react. Those people: most of the time they’re asking for it.

    But now I see it’s really more of an Elfquest/early Tolkien/Billy Goats G. kind of a troll: always grumpy and negative with ne’er a good word for anyone.

    Some people are just mean and rude and feel better about themselves by insulting others: these internets make that really really easy to do. So there you have it.

    If everybody gets a keyboard, the ignorant masses will have their say. . .believe that.

    Also: contemplative elks. . .yes, that’s good. heheh

    Professionalism in media. . .well. I’m all for it!

    But the definition is rather subjective. And culture (media-type too) is always changing. . .especially of late. Sure the idea of completely un-biased actual reporting of important events is a great standard. . .that in our era has oft been realized (and oft sorely lacking. . .). But back in the old days of newsprint: it was All opinion and slant. You don’t like the viewpoint: buy another paper!!

    Those days are done.

    But the more things change etc etc: you really don’t like the editorial viewpoint of some damn website; after a few comments, if they ain’t changin’ to suit you; stop cryin’! Move on! Find your niche! Nobody likes a constant crybaby. . .

    But finally (finally. . .) While the creative rant by Mr. Johnson was a perhaps necessary venting, I wonder at its efficacy: yelling at people who yell all the time does not stop them from yelling.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    ” they should start acting like journalists (like disclosing sponsors) ”

    They don’t disclose sponsors?

    • zio_donnie says:

      Poor choice of words on my part maybe, yet the doubt stands and it’s the cause of this rant. Gizmodo reviews of certain companies’ products sound more like promo pieces than anything else. I am ok with it, i mean cool who cares, i just want some specs and photos and maybe a video, killing time mostly.

      But the Gadget Guide as in “read it before purchasing”? No not really. Giz can be fun at times pulling random stunts like the tv-b-gone thing or the stolen iphone. Unfortunately acting like a 15 year old gets you a community of 15 year olds. That’s what many people that look for actual reporting say (using inappropriate language maybe) and that’s why the guy is butt hurt calling almost everyone a troll. He wants a serious audience but he works for a blog that often just acts like it is run by 15 year old fanbois.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m one of those guys who never comments. This being my second comment ever. My first being of about 6 months ago ( on boing boing ! ). Already I feel like I’m wasting my time but I just wanted to say that Rob you are indeed kinda awesome ;-) And Joel is too. Heck, everybody here at boing boing is awesome. Thanks guys!

  • penguinchris says:

    If there’s anything positive about this rant, it’s that it has prompted discussions like this – quite a deep discussion thread by boingboing standards (which is not to say anything bad about boingboing comment threads – they’re among the best on the internet which is why this and slashdot are the two main sites I visit daily and comment frequently on).

    When things like this come up I find myself realizing that, especially here on boingboing, I’ve posted comments that are really negative, cynical, dismissive – frankly this is quite easy to do with a lot of stuff posted to boingboing, but I feel bad about it when I realize afterward what I’ve done. I’m basically a troll. I think it comes from being highly skeptical of everything I see or hear – I do this in “real life” as well – I am a scientist though and am basically trained to do this :)

    But, I’m here because I like most of the content, and I like the lively discussions. I’m not sure how many comments don’t ever get past moderation, but there are almost always some negative comments that you might consider trollish. I like that boingboing lets these through, because it prompts interesting discussions.

    I have never read gizmodo, but I understand that the “community” there is awful. I’m imagining something like xbox live (I have a PS3, where it’s bad, but I hear the xbox is much worse). I guess I’m thankful that on boingboing there’s a more civil and interesting community of commenters.

  • fxq says:

    So this means the trolls won one, eh?

  • marence says:

    I am not what most people would consider a journalist. I am a sometimes blogger and sometimes author, and I don’t get paid for most of what I write. Except for personal rants on my personal blog, I follow the Code of Ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists.
    From their website:
    “The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior. The code is intended not as a set of “rules” but as a resource for ethical decision-making. It is not — nor can it be under the First Amendment — legally enforceable.”
    The whole code is here: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
    Whether you’re writing for a major daily newspaper or a blog, everyone I know who claims the title “journalist” follows these rules, or tries to. Then again, I don’t know many sleazy writers, thank the gods; I know they exist, I’m not that naive.
    I think Joel’s piece, while probably not “professional” by the standards of a newspaper, is an example of how our new media forms warp and degrade boundaries that used to be fixed by the medium. His rant (which I found amusing) is part criticism, part tantrum, and part social commentary, which 20 years ago would have had to have been 3 different things – a magazine article, a drunken night out with friends, and a zine article, most likely.

  • siliconsunset says:

    Love that guy. I miss him being around here, classin’ up the joint.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    In one sense (attention) but not another (influence).

    Net trolling in the last few years has gone from an individual act to a social phenomenon. And that’s not to mention the other things which aren’t really trolling at all, but are still hostile or otherwise bad form.

    Put simply: this is Gizmodo being honest about the fact its audience will never steer the ship. The win here is that someone’s being straight about where the power really lies in publishing, and refusing to confuse ‘readership’ for ‘community.’

  • Sagodjur says:

    So many people are talking about “professionalism” and “journalism” but I haven’t seen much of this professionalism to which they refer in the mainstream media ever. What is perceived to be professional is subjectively determined. Ask a Tea Party “patriot” what they think of Fox News, and they’re likely praise the professionalism of the organization.

    • zio_donnie says:

      While the traditional media has many flaws and not everyone is following strict ethics, there are guidelines that more or less every major outlet follows and consequences if they fk up. Gizmodo on the other hand is trying to be both a personal opinion blog and a journalistic outlet.

      For example in the stolen iPhone bruhaha they invoked the journalist shield for their blogger. Now if they want to be called journalists they should start acting like journalists (like disclosing sponsors) and stop whining about critics. Unless they want to become Fox which everyone knows is entertainment and not news.

  • zio_donnie says:

    So basically what he is saying is that he is not a “journalist” but an enthusiast that gives opinions. Fine by me.

    “I understand why you think every review should have fifteen pages of statistics and never mention any other products or competitors: You’re a weird geek.”

    No mate you are an unprofessional hobbyist. Nobody gives a fuck about your opinions if you sell them as opinions. You sell them as reviews and unbiased reporting. People have issues when you review the latest BMW based on iPad compatibility. YOU are the fucking geek.

    You want an unbiased “journalist” badge. You have it wrong and you fail at that.

    If gizmodo is a good example of bloggers as journalists i would never give bloggers journalist status.

    The rest of your rant is about standard trolls. Yeh there you are right. The new iPhone does not warrant death threats. Said that if you don’t want public opinion don’t allow comments. Stupid.

  • i_prefer_yeti says:

    people read comments? I had no idea! I better start wearing pants.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Nobody gives a fuck about your opinions if you sell them as opinions. You sell them as reviews and unbiased reporting.”

      This is one of the weirdest things about commenters: how do you not understand that a review is an opinion? That’s all that it is. An opinion. Criticism isn’t math.

  • Phrosty says:

    A “smackdown?” Hardly. He loses his head and writes a troll post whining about trolls. The piece is not to be confused with constructive criticism.

  • Daemon says:

    I don’t know about the rest, but calling autistic people robots seems a bit uncalled for…

  • Teller says:

    Troll is such an overused term. I’ve said this thousands of times on hundreds of blogs.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    All reviews are opinions. Reviews exist only where products can’t be objectively specified; the implication is that the only honest reviews are opinions.

    The key word is trust, between the author and the reader. The more of it there is, the less writing is necessary.

    • zio_donnie says:

      Agreed that a review has a percentage of opinion yet what is mocked as “fifteen pages of statistics ” AKA objective facts is important. You can hate the way a Ferrari “drives” but you cannot dismiss the stats.

      This is mostly about “mentioning any other products or competitors”. Yeh i can see why people get pissed if every fkin smartphone is reviewed as an iPhone copy. Or every gizmo that has a screen is compared to the iPad.

      “The key word is trust, between the author and the reader”.

      Hmm. Ok why the hell do you need comments then? I trust a journalist because he describes facts without bias. I follow entertainers and commenters because i like their opinions. Reporting is not judging.

      My point is that Gizmodo sells itself as an independent gadget “guide” not as a blog for random nerds stating personal opinions. You want journalist status you should give more “statistics” and less buzzwords.

      I read Giz regularly, i enjoy it and never comment. That said they are full of them selves.

      • Rob Beschizza says:

        Indeed, eventually we might not need to have ‘comments’ at all. Everyone will publish in their own venues and there’ll be magical context fairies that sense it and present their offsite comments inline, at BB. That might sound like a trivial distinction, but it will solve some of the bizarre issues that come up now and again, such as people thinking they’ve been silenced when we ban them, or being upset at our technical inability to comprehensively delete their accounts, etc. It’s already going toward this, too: trackbacks were obviously the ur-example, but many commenting systems cross-post to twitter and facebook now.

  • fxq says:

    Rob, thanks for pointing that out – separating ‘readership’ from ‘community’ is a knife edge that’s hard to walk. I just wonder if it’s ever worthwhile to acknowledge the trolls. (I wish there was more hard core research on this!)

  • Beefmalone says:

    The hypocricy over there is amazing. Their community policy basically reads that as long as you aren’t abusive then they can take what they dish out yet they’re banning people left and right for comments that are miles below the level of abusiveness evidenced by Joey’s post. If the contributors and the site are making money off the posts then they’re professionals whether they act like it or (in this case) not.

  • spook says:

    A smackdown? This came off more like a tech journalist coming unhinged, and engaging in the blog equivalent of shooting up the post office.

    I certainly understand that the internet is a frustrating cesspool of a place, but didn’t he have a personal blog for stuff like this? Or even just a coworker to rant to?

  • ratcity says:

    The problem here is that Gizmodo exists for, feeds off of, and encourages its idiot readers. Gizmodo is a terrible, unethical rag.

    Why go out of your way to work at a rag that’s the tech blog version of Calvin pissing on a logo and then complain that your readers are boorish jerks?

  • Sagodjur says:

    This is the point that I’ve tried to make with far too many people on the internet:

    “1) We put up a post you don’t like. 2) Rather than ignoring the post and enjoying a different post—or in the worst case deciding you do not enjoy the mix of stories of [website] any longer and going somewhere else—you decide to express your dissatisfaction.”

    Granted that well-intentioned concerns may be politely expressed through emails to editors, so many entitled people seem to think that because they feel some form of ownership over a blog or a platform or a format or a software suite due to their enthusiasm, they have a right to fill the comments with vitriol.

    The bottom line is that if you don’t like an article, you don’t have to read it. If you don’t like a blog (whether or not you used to), you don’t have to visit it. If you want to rant about how the author is wrong and stupid and [insert criticism here], then do so on your own blog. Don’t ruin it for everyone else.

    Of course trolls feel entitled not only to troll but also to get attention and ranting on their own unvisited blog won’t do that for them. For some reason they equate freedom of speech with the right to force people to listen to what you say. You have a right to speak, but I have a right not to listen.

    Then there’s the whole other issue that 1st Amendment rights on the internet are a complicated issue. The 1st Amendment states that congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Websites aren’t the government. Companies who run websites are not the government (yet). The 1st Amendment doesn’t necessarily apply. If you walk into a store and start yelling at the top of your lungs things people don’t want to hear, the store can ask you to leave. Not to mention that not all internet users are American citizens and not all websites are hosted in the US.

    • Beelzebuddy says:

      so many entitled people seem to think that because they feel some form of ownership over a blog or a platform or a format or a software suite due to their enthusiasm, they have a right to fill the comments with vitriol.
      They do, if they wish. They probably don’t even see it as vitriol. They care, deeply and passionately, about whatever, and clearly commenting thus far hasn’t gotten their point across.

      Then the site owners have every right to edit or delete those comments, if they find them objectionable.

      And the commenters, again, have the right to protest the deletion in whatever manner is available to them. Often this involves shitting up other threads with unrelated protests.

      In the likely case that that’s more comments, the site owners can delete those, too. And ban the users.

      Then the users, now thoroughly disenchanted, have every right to sockpuppet and make new accounts with which to derail the site over their issues.

      And the mods have the right to ban them again, too, and their IP range. And institute draconian moderation policies that piss even more people off.

      Those people then mouth off in new comment threads, and the cycle begins anew.

      When communities go bad, it’s almost never a one-sided thing. Nothing encourages trolls like mods/editors who take offense at every thing. Who blow up into angry rants like Joel is doing here, stomping on the ground and screaming about how they’re going to take their ball and go home. Joel is just as responsible for inciting the hateful vitriol as his users are for supplying it.

      • Rob Beschizza says:

        Your description of the tit-for-tat process is particularly interesting, because it ends the moment the correspondent realizes that he can set up a twitter account or tumblr or facebook in 2 minutes and the moderator instantly loses *all* power over them. That freedom is the heart of the matter here: everyone has that freedom, but they actually value being published at Gizmodo (or Boing Boing, or wheverever) more.

        Not everyone, of course — just those specific complainants who deploy ‘free speech’ arguments when they get banned/censored/unpublished from someone’s website.

        • Beelzebuddy says:

          Your description of the tit-for-tat process is particularly interesting, because it ends the moment the correspondent realizes that he can set up a twitter account or tumblr or facebook in 2 minutes and the moderator instantly loses *all* power over them.

          A twitter account which no one will read will have no effect. Whether you’re a troll or an antagonized poster, that’s not an acceptable solution. It didn’t work when it was microsuck.com back in 1998, it won’t work when it’s jizmodo today.

          That’s the thing, though. He’s not attacking ‘all commenters,’ just a particular constituency within them. The ‘speaking directly’ device is just that, a device.

          He’s attacking anyone who dislikes his content and posting style and promising to ban anyone who says so. I like boingboing, but there certainly are things I would change, and if Xeni made a post saying SCREW ANYONE WHO THINKS I DON’T SHIT SOLID GOLD JOURNALISM I would take some small offense to that. Imagine how much more if I actually cared.

          Gizmodo’s intentionally alienating certain readers by making clear to them that they don’t have the influence they’ve tried to assert .

          That may be what he’s trying to say, but what he’s really saying is “your posting is having a tremendously upsetting effect on me.” That’s the trolls winning right there. The only thing better than making someone give long-winded pissy rants is making them beg for you to stop.

  • social_maladroit says:

    I don’t know the backstory, but what I think is “unprofessional” about Joel Johnson’s rant is that Gizmodo is a business and he’s its employee. He’s not some blogger on a personal blog. He’s just put everyone on notice that he’s so thin-skinned he’d rather drive readers away than using the moderation system that’s already in place to deal with the bad apples. If that’s how they want to run their business, well, at least they’ve got stolen iPhones going for them.

    WTF does he mean by “entitled, half-witted thinkers”? Entitled to what? Express their opinion of his opinion on his boss’s web site? The horror.

    • Sagodjur says:

      You don’t seem very familiar with Gizmodo. All of the editors write posts from their personal perspective and it appears that their boss encourages it. The editors would have been fired or toned down by now if their approach wasn’t good for business. Joel’s not the first Gizmodo writer, nor will he be the last, to say “fuck you” to the trolls that fill up the comments section while regular, contributing commenters attempt to hold civil conversation. As one of those contributing commenters, I appreciate that he’s willing to be honest about his thoughts on the matter. The trolls are a pain.

      • social_maladroit says:

        Nope, I’m not – there’s only so much time in the day and there are other tech blogs out there. I skim Lifehacker, but the self-promotion-to-interesting-content ratios of all the Gawker blogs has struck me as being on the high side.

        (Do they even have moderators, or is their system of hiding every post by default, except for posts by starred commenters and comments promoted by starred commenters, the extent of it? And when you talk about a “troll” on Gizmodo, what exactly do you mean? “Troll” itself is subjective. There were some Usenet newsgroups I read in the mid to late 90′s…ah, never mind. Thank God for Linux.)

  • Pag says:

    I don’t read Gizmodo, so I don’t have any opinion on their reporting, but I’ve read a lot of people calling them biased all over the web. If a few random trolls call you biased on your site, just ignore them. If people who don’t visit your site hear from multiple sources that you’re biased, maybe it’s time for a long hard look at what you’re doing to see if you may, in fact, be too biased.

  • Reruns says:

    No writer in the history of the universe has ever been unbiased, and only very few, who were also very stupid, have claimed to be.

  • Beelzebuddy says:

    He mad.

    One thing, Rob:
    trolls, miscreants and entitled creeps

    It is a site that ostensibly claims to put forth professional and unbiased reviews. I do not see it as a leap of faith, nor entitlement, to expect that professional, unbiased reviews would include things like relevant statistics and comparisons with similar products. Yet that is precisely what he accuses his audience of unreasonably demanding.

    Then he concludes with at least a page of butthurt ranting about how little his readers’ comments bother him, and how large and mighty his editorial member can be on his own site, when swung in service of censorship.

  • Talia says:

    One thing that strikes me about this all is any time, any blog anywhere, makes any kind of post about how dickish people are being in the comments, people freak out and proceed to rip them a new one. Should the bloggers just shut up and take the abuse, then, rather than speaking up about it? Heh.

    • Beelzebuddy says:

      Should the bloggers just shut up and take the abuse, then, rather than speaking up about it? Heh.

      In my experience, the slightest bit of community engagement is all it takes. Any site will have at least as many fanatically loyal users as trolls. Engage the ones who might be voicing an honest opinion, even if they’re pushy and obnoxious about it. Everyone else recognizes them as pushy and obnoxious too, trust me, and the knowledge that you’re actually reading the comments and care what people think will motivate them to shout down the real trolls all on their own.

      This doesn’t happen as often as it should, because editors often accrue a sense of entitlement, too. It takes a measure of humility to stoop to asking random users how you can do a better job. People also begin to believe direct engagement subtracts from their authority, or possibly authoritah. Complaints should be directed to management, with nary a reply or peep to anyone else, or else.

      Attacking your audience, like Joel is doing here, has the opposite effect. By insulting all commenters, by telling them they have no right to voice their opinion and should consider themselves damn lucky he even enables the feature, he’s alienating the shit out of his own support base.

      • siliconsunset says:

        I’m obviously biased, but when I read that I saw him attacking the audience as a whole; I see him insulting obnoxious people.

        To pay for school I wait tables. I refuse to kiss people’s asses. I work third shift at a diner that’s popular with the after-bar crowd. Some might argue that when I correct the attitudes and actions of our ruder and more obnoxious customers I’m hurting sales and future attendenance, but I feel that no amount of their business could make up for having to put up with them or the disturbance they cause other customers. Luckily, my boss agrees.

        When one takes the time to filter, you get better end product. As the jerks get removed from the pool, the customers left tend to enjoy themselves more. Bonus: occasionally the plastered assholes actually apologize and behave better in the future.

        I know not everyone has the freedom to take these kinds of steps in their place of work, but I do. So does Joel. We’re simply doing what we think is best, it just happens to also be something that *feels great*.

  • Pica says:

    Discarding the futile “ooh-trolls-imma-smack-you-down-SO-HARD” part of this article, I find it interesting that there’s a vague, completely-unsupported argument that “ent journalism” is radically different than regular journalism — that a review at Giz is not 15 pages of analysis, but more like a chat with your buddy in a bar.

    Then I looked at the staff listing on the lefthand side:

    Editor
    Features Editor
    Investigative Reporter
    Reporters

    Don’t put on the tap shoes if you can’t do the dance.

    Yes, the internet has fomented a weird sort of opinion economy where you can get paid for saying what you think. (Sometimes at VERY high volume.) But it’s a meritocracy: you have to earn the right to have that opinion respected.

    That might entail *actually* putting in the effort of doing some careful analysis, reasoned comparison, or in-depth investigation and reporting.

    Back in school they called it “showing your work.”

    But if you’re not willing to do that, then you might as well just change your title to “Guy In A Bar” and go start a tumblr account as Rob so cavalierly suggests.

    Good luck with that. I suggest not enabling comments when you do.

  • Skep says:

    Hmm…Joel’s post is the kind angry, intemperate post that many professionals fantasize about writing and posting but don’t, because they are **professionals**, not whining and intemperate trolls.

    Joel used to whine about trolls when he blogged here on Boing Boing, too. It seemed unprofessional then and it seems unprofessional now when he is doing it on Giz.

  • davy_k says:

    wow, this was awesome. I’ve read Gizmodo a lot, but never felt the need or desire to comment until Mr. Johnson’s article, which seemed to paint in rather broad strokes every one of Giz’s readers as stupid and worthy of scorn – because they wrote mean things in the comments.

    Oh sweet irony! I posted my first ever comment pointing out the irony of hurling epithets at others for the crime of hurling epithets. I then removed Gizmodo from my bookmark list because, heck, there are plenty of gadget blogs, and I can pretty easily skip the Giz.

    Out of curiosity though, because flame wars are schadenfreudetastic, I checked today to see how the comments were going. And whattya know, I’ve been banned! There was a message from Jesus Diaz that I’ve been banned. Yep, Gizmodo is a strange place, and you shouldn’t go there.

    I wonder how successful the practice of excoriating one’s readers is in new media? My guess is that there’s a flurry of traffic immediately, and then a huge fall off.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    The point about professionalism is that it really doesn’t matter what readers think is professional or not. It’s one of the specific complaints that can’t achieve anything, because it relies on the assumption of a relationship that doesn’t really exist. Because the writers don’t care about professionalism and because readers aren’t customers, that criticism just can’t help anyone.

    I know that might seem obtuse, but it becomes less so the more you realize that no-one on the web really gives a toss about the proprieties of traditional media.

    • Beelzebuddy says:

      Because the writers don’t care about professionalism and because readers aren’t customers

      But the writers do care. Every site’s writers care.

      No one here is under any illusion that boingboing is anything but a bunch of links. Yet it took Xeni fawning over the iPad to make Cory’s fanbase sit up and go “dude, what the hell.”

      So then Cory chimed in hatin’ on the iPad.

      That already is more professionalism than Gizmodo has shown. And Gizmodo comports itself as a professional site. Their title is “the Gadget Guide.” They have “reporters” on staff. They call their opinions “reviews,” not “hey check this out.” That, to me and I’d wager most people, implies an attempt at a professional appearance. An appearance which they seem incapable and unwilling to live up to.

      Furthermore yes, readers are their customers, in that they’ve got the eyeballs ads get served to. We’re boingboing’s customers. It doesn’t matter that there’s no price of admission.

    • zio_donnie says:

      I don’t really understand the point of your other post but as far as professionalism goes i believe you are wrong. By professionalism i mean the standard “not on someones payrol, not personal opinion, not conflict of interest just plain facts” reporting. This standard i believe is universal and has no distinctions between traditional and new media if we want to talk about journalism. It has nothing to do with readers or entitlement. You either report, advertise or opinionate.

      New media like blogs allow for a certain interactivity namely in the form of comments. Traditional venues allow for them but largely ignore them or outright delete what they feel like. Blogs exploit (or use or build on depends on your point of view) comments because the community is what really differentiates them. I mean what’s the point of Gizmodo when you can read a dead tree mag on line (like wired)?

      I think that blogs have readers because the readers feel like they are part of it in a way they cannot be part of the NYT. I come to BB for the opinions on news (like Cory’s) and user comments, not for the news clips which are all over anyway.

      This of course is a double edged sword. I am not defending dedicated trolls but it helps if one follows his stated policy. If you say that you are a TeaParty blog noone trolls you for bashing liberals. But if you market yourself as an indie music blog and only review Lady Gaga people are going to call it on you.

      Last but not least. Pros (new or old media or in whatever line of work) do not whine about criticism especially when critics have some valid points. Blogs are only now realizing the value of quality editing after the “unedited new citizen journo media” drivel. Lately many blogers have taken on the self important attitude of old media, like refusing criticism. They are becoming what they used to laugh at.

  • johnnyaction says:

    I hate comments and most comment makers.

    This is one of the few web sites that I even bother to read the comments on anymore.

    I’ve found that since I stopped reading comments on most sites my levels of rage about stupid people, morons, idiots and trolls has gone way down.

    Yes I’ve lost a few poignant insights and maybe some helpful information but overall I feel that my internet time is much less frustrating.

    It’s probably just me getting older but in general I feel that it has become way more socially acceptable to be a complete jackass feminine hygiene nozzles than it should be.

    In before “Hey kids get off my lawn!”.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    “By insulting all commenters, by telling them they have no right to voice their opinion and should consider themselves damn lucky he even enables the feature, he’s alienating the shit out of his own support base.”

    That’s the thing, though. He’s not attacking ‘all commenters,’ just a particular constituency within them. The ‘speaking directly’ device is just that, a device. Gizmodo’s intentionally alienating certain readers by making clear to them that they don’t have the influence they’ve tried to assert . That’ll rattle certain folks who don’t like the idea of alienating *any* readers, but it’s a calculated effort: it invites people to identify with the author rather than against him. And a great many are vocally supporting Joel in Gizmodo’s comment thread.

    It also encourages those he’s addressing to act out in the thread. And, of course, Gizmodo’s summarily banning those who do. If you like the idea of communities on the web, you could see it as a ruthless and long-overdue curation of a particularly toxic community.

    • JadedLion says:

      “It also encourages those he’s addressing to act out in the thread. And, of course, Gizmodo’s summarily banning those who do.”

      BWAHAHAHAHAHA That is so beautiful, man. An epic soundtrack accompanies this imagery, one with a majestic chorus in a minor key.

    • MattWPBS says:

      “And a great many are vocally supporting Joel in Gizmodo’s comment thread.

      It also encourages those he’s addressing to act out in the thread. And, of course, Gizmodo’s summarily banning those who do. If you like the idea of communities on the web, you could see it as a ruthless and long-overdue curation of a particularly toxic community.”

      I think you might be a bit mistaken there Rob, unless you’re a regular reader of Gizmodo (I am, and I find it quite entertaining).

      The reason there’s a majority showing in the comments being vocally supportive of Joel is because of two factors. First is the “starred” commenter status, where the featured comments come from people who the Gizmodo staff have given a star to. Works quite well as a system to stop “FIRST!” style comments, but also means that people become insanely protective of their star, and won’t post disagreements. The second factor’s much simpler – a lot of criticism of the post (even some simply suggesting it might qualify as offensive) is being moved to the #phantomzone tag channel, and the authors are being banned.

      Apart from that particular article, you see people being banned for calling out the editors on factual mistakes, or twisting of statements as reporting. God forbid that someone take Gizmodo to task for complaining that the Galaxy Tab ships with a proprietary cable, when it’s a standard cable. There’s a community policy in place at Gizmodo, but some of the editors do not seem to actually follow it (either in engaging in the community, or in banning people).

      There’s one other highly salient point that someone raised in the comments, and which I haven’t seen Joel or anyone at Gizmodo address. In Joel’s post, he argues that Gizmodo is mainly a ‘conversation at a bar’ rather than journalism, but part of the defense over the iPhone 4 thing was that they were journalists (before exposing their source). It’s not something where you can jump either side of the fence depending on what’s convenient.

  • Skep says:

    “Rob Beschizza

    The point about professionalism is that it really doesn’t matter what readers think is professional or not. It’s one of the specific complaints that can’t achieve anything, because it relies on the assumption of a relationship that doesn’t really exist.”

    It depends on what you mean by “doesn’t matter.” If you think of boing boing or giz as personal blogs, then it doesn’t matter. But if you want to be a trusted source of information, no matter what the medium, I think it does matter. That doesn’t mean you can’t be biased, though, but it does mean you should be upfront about your bias.

    I also disagree that people on the web don’t give a toss about the “properties of traditional media,” if, by “properties of traditional media” you mean **professionalism**, such as good writing, fact checking, being up front about conflicts, and not being whiny and hypocritical–which is part of what I think Joel is doing in his giz post.

  • bklynchris says:

    Somebody should tell Joel that people who demand “statistics” from him when he is opining on a gadget that they are probably not on the ASD (if, indeed, that is what he is insinuating). More likely they are merely ill informed, and naive about the content and INtent of Gizmodo. AND, um, journalism should never be a word used to describe anything under the Gawker webzine flagship…or for that matter this site.

    All that said, why I think I just might close my drapes and go read Gawker…its been a while.

  • Rob Beschizza says:

    “No one here is under any illusion that boingboing is anything but a bunch of links.”

    Actually, this hasn’t been true for a long time, and the claim suggests that you don’t really read Boing Boing an awful lot these days. Much of our traffic and ‘attention’ is generated now by original reporting, exclusives and features, many of which are archived here:

    http://boingboing.net/features.html

    These are also what generates the majority of discussion about Boing Boing in ‘the media’ (as you could crudely measure by searching for BB at Google News, for example). The ‘link curation’ abides, of course, and is always going to be a big reason people come here. But the days of pure authorial aggregation, so to speak, are long gone.

    The key to understanding why readers of free/ad-supported sites aren’t customers (in the meaningful economic sense) is found in the nature of the relationship. A customer and a vendor complete a transaction based upon a medium of exchange and agreed-upon prices. When you go to a free website, however, the exchange is organic and unpredictable — it is the intrinsic result of viewing the content. This is why advertising is magic and makes the world go around, so long as someone, somewhere, is actually being a real customer.

    I really don’t care about abstract ‘professionalism’. Sorry! This approach has never harmed me; this is maybe because I’m kind of awesome.

    • Skep says:

      “I really don’t care about abstract ‘professionalism’. Sorry! This approach has never harmed me; this is maybe because I’m kind of awesome.”

      By that qualifier you imply that you do care about non-abstract professionalism. I think Boing Boing in general, and you in specific, generally are professional in your approach, even as you claim nobody cares about such things. You do retractions and update incorrect posts. You, to the best of my knowledge, try to be correct. And you try to be upfront about ads and sponsorships. Do you deny this? And do you deny that those things are part of “professionalism?”

      • Rob Beschizza says:

        Sure, those are the professional qualities that I (we!) do care about. But when Jim McGizmodotroll says professionalism, its a broader thing that I think is intended to influence the authors in ways that don’t really involve professionalism.

        I am not, of course, saying Gizmodo embodies all the professional qualities I value! Haha lol no QQ. (though it certainly does embody some of them.)

        • Skep says:

          Thanks. I guess much of what we are both discussion hinges on being more specific about what we mean rather than using a subjective term and assuming we do or don’t mean the same thing by it.

    • Beelzebuddy says:

      Ah geez, looks like I stepped right in your business plan. I really should have seen that coming, I do it like every time.

      What gets marketing jargon off shoes?

  • Goblin says:

    Joel takes the cake on this one, out-trolling the trolls… my, my, my, now that’s not self-righteous in the least. For Christ sake they’re just Gadgets Joel. If you can’t either be accountable to your readership or ignore those that disagree with you then you shouldn’t be in online bloggerism. Either grow a skin, ignore the peanut gallery, or go home. Regardless of what you do, Joel, stop your whining.

  • Skep says:

    ” Gizmodo’s intentionally alienating certain readers by making clear to them that they don’t have the influence they’ve tried to assert .

    Every mod knows “Don’t feed the trolls.” How is Joel making it “clear” to Giz trolls (well, Joel trolls, really) that they don’t have influence by writing and posting a whole angry rant allegedly just for them? If you don’t like trolls don’t write and post a huge pot of 100% troll chow on your site.

    Joel is no innocent in this whole affair, either. A number of commenters have claimed that in the past he has responded to a legit but critical comment with a comment containing nothing but”fuck you.”

    Joel seems to want giz commenters to post nothing but prim and credulous hosannas, yet he does not model the behavior he demands of others. You can say that nobody cares about “professionalism” on the web, but the issue needn’t arise even to that level. I think Joel’s inconsistency is more than just unprofessional, it is just plain wrong in any context. By his own behavior, Joel is morally estopped from complaining about indecorous writing on Gizmodo.

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