Monday, May 22, 2006

Daring to venture into one's own comments section - or, I Am Not Insane

(June 1: minor edits.)

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Here I report another instance of, how shall we say it, lack of attention to dialogue, from The Union.

(I don't expect different results)

In his May 13 column, editor Pat Butler addresses The Union's commenting guidelines and moderation:
Links to stories... can be posted after we review where the link takes our readers.

Any efforts at playing gatekeeper to the comments section leads to the inevitable uproar from some posters who will claim that we are being censors, which is not the case. Our government still permits other ways to express yourself.

My comment (visible here)
re censorship - Pat, if you failed to publish, or differentially delayed publishing, certain comments that met the written guidelines, would you consider that to be censorship?


The very fine Daniel Davies (via Jeff Jarvis via John Robinson) on how to handle comments from your readers:
First ...

Second, never go silent. The advice "keep your chin up" is diametrically wrong. As any boxer will tell you, you keep your chin down and your gloves up. If something is worth broadcasting to the world, it is worth defending if someone takes the time to criticise it. I really do not understand why so many ... don't get involved in the comments threads themselves. This is not to say it's worth replying to every single drive-by troll, but ten times out of ten, you will gain people's respect by being prepared to mix it with the plebs on an equal basis. Simply confining yourself to the one-way communication channel ... is patronising and undemocratic, and it's not surprising that it drives people mad.

... Third ... Fourth ...
The most important point is the second one, though. ...

(Mr. Davies also gave us The One Minute MBA, two years ago; we are still grateful.)

Emily Bell of The Guardian, also via JJ via JR:*
there is a lurking important point about how we conduct discourse, not just on blogs, but everywhere: in politics, in the street, in our homes and in the media. Condescension, bullying, lecturing and abuse are all bad things, and discussion is a good thing. Sometimes, however, we have all spent so much time indulging in the former that we forget how to do the latter.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another candidate blogger - Terry Lamphier for Supervisor

May 22 update:

I received no responses (i.e., not even "No" responses) from County Supervisor candidates John Spencer, Hank Weston, Martin Harmon, and Gordon Beatie regarding my "blog setup help" offer from a week and a half ago.

The only active blogger of the bunch listed below is still Nevada City City Council candidate Barbara Coffman.


He accepted my offer, so I've started a weblog for Terry Lamphier, who's challenging John Spencer for the position of Nevada County's District III Supervisor.
(I put up several of Terry's past Other Voices columns and his introduction, but will be backing off and letting him do the heavy lifting from here on.)
(For more of his views, see the comments on posts over at Russ Steele's
NC Media Watch; for example, on George Rebane's On Balance a Philistine? post, or on Russ Steele's Do you know what LOS really means? post.)

Today I've extended offers of "blog setup" help to John Spencer and to the District IV Supervisor candidates (Hank Weston, Martin Harmon, and Gordon Beatie); I do hope they'll accept.

List of known Nevada County candidate weblogs:

For Nevada County Supervisor:

For City Council of Nevada City, most active first:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An attempt to breach the walled garden

Last night's Nevada City Council meeting was unusually interesting; The Union's Josh Singer reported on it, candidate Barbara Coffman blogged it, and Yubanet reprinted the controversial handout from the City Manager that was given to all attendees.

None of these online pieces references the others.*

So I decided to try to add a "cross-reference" comment
("More info: here is the sheet Mark Miller passed out; here* is Barbara Coffman's report on the meeting. - Anna")
to The Union's (moderated-before-publishing) comments section for this story.

I suspected that it wouldn't go well - that an institutional fondness for the "walled feedlot" style of web 2.0 architecture, or perhaps a purely coincidental (and, if still extant, long-standing) proclivity of the institutional software to choke on URLs in comments, would cause the comment to appear late or not at all.

And indeed it was so; I'd written and submitted the comment this morning, but by 5 it was still not online, although much later comments had appeared.

(to her credit, when I emailed to ask why it wasn't online, the web editor asked me to resubmit and then did approve it (it's now here); but the later the comment appears, the fewer the readers who see it. And "the system sometimes eats comments"* isn't a satisfactory explanation, and doesn't help to prevent it from happening in future.)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Not a good day for news.

S's cancer comes back, she relinquishes much of her liver and will have to go through chemo again.

Friends lose a son.

You'd think a vengeful God could at least bother to aim.