Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Brief Internet Primer for Teddy Bart

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Um. Wow. This op-ed by Teddy Bart in the City Paper has some problems, huh?. I mean, I get that "Seasoned Journalist Laments the Rise of the Bloggers" is a whole genre unto itself and it's practically required that every old fart journalist produce such a piece at least once in his or her career, but come on! Make an effort to understand the thing you're railing against.

Blogging has very few fundamentals. It's a medium in which a wide variety of incredibly disparate acts fit under a very large umbrella. But the few fundamentals there are aren't that hard to grasp:

There are posts. Like this thing you're reading right here. They in some way anchor something. A thought, a discussion — something. These posts are written by bloggers, discernible and recognizable personalities who may or may not be anonymous.

The people who come after the blog post? They are commenters. They are not bloggers. Calling them bloggers is like calling everyone on a bus the bus driver. No, there are entertaining people who ride the bus and scary people who ride the bus and annoying people who ride the bus. There are even people who will try to make the bus go some place the driver doesn't want to take it. But that doesn't make any of them the bus driver.

Same with commenters. They can be smart, entertaining, scary, annoying, or even hijacking. They do not write the blog. Some blogs don't even have commenters.

And more importantly in the Internet era, not all commenters comment on blogs. They comment anywhere online someone has given a space for comments, which could be on op-eds written by Mr. Bart or on news stories about Mr. Bart, for example.

Do some online commenters suck? Not any of you guys, of course (well, OK, a few of you), but hell, yes. There are three things all bloggers do when it comes to commenters: 1. brag about the awesome ones; 2. daydream about making out with the attractive ones; and 3. rail against the fuckers.

Now, I'm heartened to see that Mr. Bart, not even a blogger, understands the importance of Number 3 for one's own mental health.

But railing against bloggers when you mean commmenters? That's just an embarrassing misunderstanding of the medium.

It's not too late, though, Mr. Bart, to correct this misunderstanding and join with the bloggers in complaining about commenters. We're experts at it.

All I'm saying is — don't alienate the folks who could potentially be your greatest allies.

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