A friend just started reading blogs after years of me talking about them. After drifting out of the tech theme into more general blogs he came back to me shocked at what he saw. “I thought you said this blogosphere of yours was a friendly place”, he said.
Like in real life, the bloggers argue, agree, fall out, kiss and make up. It seems a never ending circle of “he said she said”, gossip, backstabbing and shifting allegiances. I had never heard of the word “snarky” until the last year or so then it seemed to be everywhere. “Snarky” was all the rage (and caused a good deal of rage too).
Why is negativity and bitchiness so popular? I guess these types of posts and bloggers get noticed. If you are in this for the attention or the links, sniping is going to get you lots of both. While constant negativity isn’t going to be great for the reputation it will get you known at least.
Lately there seems to have begun a backlash against “snarkiness” and negativity. Scoble wrote about the mob out on the attack against Dave Winer. Bloggers who made their names by being snarky seem to be turning their back on the approach.
Ordinarily I would be all for this move, I tend towards pushing for people to be respectful and positive. I am worried though this backlash against negativity will turn popular bloggers against daring to be critical. Already we see themes of cheerleading where a topic or new web2.0 startup appears and everyone has to bandwagon the thing to death.
If you are worried about offending but feel you need to argue against someone it is quite simple. To critique without offending you just need to
- Don’t be personal – Comment on the creation not the creator
- Be factual – Opinion is fine providing you can back up why you think the way you do
- Have a point – Attack is fine providing you have a reason other than just to hurt someone else
- Empathise – Try thinking from the other point of view, does it have validity?
You don’t need to be vicious, hurtful or sarcastic, but I think we need to keep criticism alive. We have talked before here about how important feedback is. Blogs have an important role to play, we can say things the mainstream press can not get away with for fear of offending more straight laced audiences.
So I say keep making waves, the blogosphere needs the boat to be rocked occasionally.