Bitchy Blogosphere

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.

6 thoughts on “Bitchy Blogosphere

  1. Back in the day, we used to say “worry about your own work”, and it’s true now. So many people getting their knickers in a twist about what the other guy’s doing, and not focusing on what they’re doing.

    Still, I like a good fight, and am a veteran forum mud slinger

  2. mods need to be careful, you take way a sites integrity if you mod to harshly, critiscm is a good thing if not done as a personal attack, as your original post says comment on the content not the creator etc, if a mod or blog owner simply does not like a comment (content critical – not personal) made about his/her site and deletes it purely because they cannot take critism then to be honest they should simply remove the comments facility altogether, IMO anyway.

    Personally I would be glad of constructive criticism on any of my sites as I can then work to make them better and more appealing to a wider audience.

    As for personal attacks though, there is no place for this sort of behaviour either online or in the real world, personally when I am upset or angry at someones comment I write a reply while I am still emotional, however I write this reply in a text editor, then take a break and read it again before even considering posting it. The amount of times I have looked at the original comment after taking a break only to find it has either been removed, someone else has flamed the comment or I interpret it in a completely different way is amazing really.

  3. Yeah, it is all too familiar pattern. The funny animation is spot on. Usenet Newsgroups were ruined for me in a similar way. Just recently I thought I would have a look at the official battlestar galactica forum, same story there. I think blogs have a chance of surviving it though because you can delete comments on your own blog and stop reading the worst offenders whereas with forums, newsgroups, etc, the venue is out of your control (unless it’s your own or you are a mod).

  4. I remember only too well the days of the gaming forum when i was a part of that community, rants/raves/massive arguments and unneccesary personal attacks happened on a daily basis. I got so fed up of the negativity one day that I just deleted all the forum links from my favorites and moved on. Infact that day I also deleted all version of quake, unreal tournament and a couple of other strategy games from my PC and decided to do other things instead. I think the negativity has an adverse effect in any community and like the hackers/virus authors the perpetrators seem to thrive on knowing they are affecting others in a less than acceptable way.

    Just my two cents worth

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