Saturday, November 26, 2005

Flame-war on my blog?!

OK, am I crazy? Go check the comment thread here and tell me, because I am confused - who is right and who is wrong: me, Doctor Biobrain or enigma4ever? This is not a rhetorical question - I want to know if I was blind to something that I should have seen, or if I did not act correctly. Tell me straight.

That post is about the new Carnival of the Liberals. Enigma4ever posted a comment suggesting that the word "carnival" is bad - something that Repubs can use to laugh at us. Obviously, she is new to the world of blog carnivals, as this term has been around for more than three years and has quite a precise meaning in the blogosphere. It is no shame to be new to something, of course. We are all here to learn from each other. Nobody who is aware of carnivals thinks twice about the connotations of the word - it has its own life on blogs now, and is not Left or Right in any way. I posted a comment explaining this.

Then, Biobrain chimed in, saying pretty much the same thing but in much stronger language. Enigma4ever kinda agreed with the sentiment, but took offence at the choice of words, and misunderstood Biobrain as addressing her personally. Actually, he addressed the idea of backing down (changing the name of the carnival) as abominable and was not directly adressing any person on the thread, something that is clear from reading of his comment.

What ensued was a series of comments by Enigma4ever, each more agitated than the previous. Me and some other commenters tried to explain, and more importantly, tried to get the discussion back on track - about the Carnival of Liberals.

Then, I got three e-mails in a row from Enigma4ever from which I deduced that Enigma4ever is a woman, that she's never been to my blog before, does not know what a carnival is, did not actually read the post (which explains a lot), let alone the stuff linked from the post (that explain even more). I get accused of being offended and offensive, of cronyism, of mysogyny, of being rude, finally even of lying. Believe me, I was trying to be SUPERpolite in answering her questions. I addressed every point. I tried to explain everything very calmly. Ah, to no avail....

Now she has posted on her blog about this. Go see for yourself. I posted a comment, very politely, which she summarily deleted, accusing me of being rude and of lying. I posted again, politely, just to see it being deleted again. Apparently, on her blog, I am not allowed to explain myself.

Some of the things I tried to explain to her over e-mail, in comments on my blog and in comments (now gone) on her blog follow below:

We are all angry - at Bush, Republicans, conservatives, Religious Right, media, etc... She tends to direct her anger more straighforwardly on her blog. Biobrain tends to funnel his anger into satire, metaphors and snark on his blog. Both are fine. I like both styles. But I do not usually do that kind of thing on my blog. Non-bloggers, including some people who do not have the thick skin attained over years of Internet flame-wars read my blog. I want to keep it nice and clean for such guests.

The comment thread on which those two butted heads is inappropriate for that kind of activity. My blog is not Eschaton or Political Animal or Kos. It is small. If you come to my blog, it is as if you come to my home, not a public place where everyone can scream. I ask people to be polite. Dr.B backed off (I think - at least there are no new comments by him), but enigma4ever posted additional four comments - that was unneccessary. He misunderstood her and responded with speed and heat that was not called for. She misunderstood him and responded with speed and heat that was also not called for, and then proceeded to do it again and again. I doubt Dr.B even checks that thread any more. We've all moved on to new posts, new threads, reading other blogs....

The Carnival of Liberals is not MY Carnival - I am not its founder or proprietor (or 'moderator'), I am just helping to promote it because I think it is a good idea. If she has read the post, my comments on the post, looked around my blog, or followed the links in that post, she would have know this fact. I promote a lot of carnivals, including the Carnival of Feminists. Neither the founders of the carnival of the Liberals, nor I, have coined the word carnival. It was coined by Silflay Hraka - the inventor of the carnival practice, the founder of the original Carnival Of The Vanities. There are more than 130 active carnivals going on right now, and about a half (or more?) of those contain the word "carnival" in the title (something I find boring, but nobody finds insulting). Some of those carnivals are Righty, some are Lefty, most are both or neither - unpolitical in theme and topic.

I have known Biobrain for more than a year from comments on Legal Fiction blog , since back when neither one of us has started our personal blogs yet. He is brilliant, if sometimes crazy, and his analysis is usually spot on. His post about Condi Rice, if you have read it, is extremely sarcastic about her or women like her. I don't see how anyone could have misread that post as admiring such women - it is devastatingly snarky, yet Enigma4ever did understand it that way, i.e., literally.

Dr.Biobrain did not insult (with an F-word) Enigma4ever personally, but targeted the idea he thought she was espousing. Close reading reveals that clearly.

If Enigma4ever has been a reader of my blog for even a month, she would have know who Paul Deignan was, as I have followed that sorry saga quite closely. The post about it is still on the front page as I write this, as that sordid affair is barely two weeks old.

Fellow bloggers, even liberals, say F*** and other mean stuff to each other on DU, DKos and other big liberal blogs all the time. Nobody is ever offended. Shrug, smile, move on. That is what Biobrain did when she attacked him, (I am not excusing his language, but she matched him,
then upped him four times more). Perhaps stroking his ego is a much more efficient strategy in getting a fellow blogger to play nice than fighting back or complaining....Stroking her ego by being super-nice to her had the opposite effect. I don't understand why.

My blog - my property - my rules. I'll close the comments, or even delete them if I want. I never did that before, I am not going to do it now, and I hope I will never be forced to do it in the future. Also, I never delete comments (except spam and my own duplicates when Blogger misbehaves).

I have never, nor will I ever edit or modify my own or anyone else's comments. She believes that Dr.B used CAPS initially. I don't think he did. I certainly did not modify his comment. The only person using caps in that thread is enigma4ever.

Posting more and more comments on that post defeats the purpose. That is now an old post. Nobody, including Biobrain, is going to go and read that comment thread any more (except now that I drew your attention to it, attention that will last a few hours at most). Blogs move fast. Dr.B has probably never read her comments there at all (except the very first one, the one he responded emotionally to). I don't think he backed off - he never came back to that thread to see if anyone responded to his comment at all.

I think everyone should read this post about blogging ettiquete and ethics. It's a good one.

I told everyone, including enigma4ever and Dr.B, to play nice in my playground - why does she take it personally? What's wrong with playing nice? What nasty words have been said to date will be forgotten (not deleted, though), and we can all move on, can't we?

I am not the one offended here, although she thinks so (in her e-mail). It takes a lot to offend me. I've been on Usenet since early 1990s, I've blogged on campaign blogs - I've seen everything, I heard everything, I've been called every name imaginable, my computer was hacked by someone who did not like what I said on a forum. And none of that, ever, offended me. It is fun. Blogging is fun. Watching F**k-fests on comment-threads is sometimes fun, too, though I never participate - just not my style, I am too polite.

It appears she is offended by something I said/did. Why? What did I do? Apart from trying to be nice to both her and Dr.B and trying hard to drive the topic BACK to the carnival, and not let the thread get hijacked with tangential topic of who offended whom, what else did I do wrong? Why is she insulted? Because Dr.B attacked an idea, and she misunderstood that he attacked her personally?

In the blogosphere NOBODY apologizes to anyone for anything. Never did, never will. The rules of conduct are different - insults are part of the game, threads move on, not everyone is in a good mood every day, everybody gets to blow some steam off online and everyone's happy in the end. Insults stated online are NOT taken seriously by bloggers (except lunatic types like Deignan).

I have treated both her and Dr.B with utmost respect. Why does she feel I did not? I read his and her comments (and now e-mails) and figured out what each person misunderstood, then used that information to try to get everyone to play nice. Why is that not respectful? What does she want me to do - chastize Biobrain? Apologize for him? Call him a nasty name? That would be too funny - that is just not something done on political blogs.

He is a grown man. She is a grown woman. I have no need to mediate between them, apologize for anyone, or scold anyone. I can ask politely for level of discourse to rise to a certain level, and if it does not I can close comments, delete comments or even ban people - something I have never done before and hope will never be forced to do in the future.

The fact that she is a woman is irrelevant to this whole thing. Nobody, including myself, KNEW she was a woman. I just learned that fact from her three e-mails. Why does gender make any difference who says what to whom? Why does one have to be polite if writing to a woman, but
not towards a man? How does a woman reciprocate? Anyone wanna cross swords with Amanda Marcotte for sport? Or Echidne? Or Shake's Sis? Or Bitch, PhD? Good luck! Why does it matter if he's a man and she's a woman? Online, we are all equal and gender-less, especially when the handles are genderless.

As for the carnival, if a short comment by an unrelated person (Biobrain) on an unrelated blog (mine) has anything to do with the carnival, I do not see the connection. It is up to her if she wants to participate or not. It is none of my business, except on that one particular date when I will host one edition of it, when I will gladly accept both her and his entries.

So, yes, I am asking everyone to be nice. How is that not OK?

So, dear readers, tell me. What did I do wrong?

Update(originaly posted in a wrong post below): Now this is hillarious: Paul Deignan (man, that guy googles himself 24 hours a day) went to enigma's blog and posted a comment which was, you guessed it, promptly deleted.

Update [2]:Enigme has deleted her post. I hope this means the whole skirmish is over. However, my post will remain, as I never ever delete posts. Just a policy.

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