An Example of What is Wrong with the BlogosphereLast year, I wrote a post titled "Why Blogging is Booming and Newspapers are Struggling to Catch Up." There is a lot about blogging technology and the people who are using it that is fantastic. One downside, however, is the reality that anybody can post anything at any time; people who are immature and, quite frankly, not very intelligent or professional, can say whatever they want. This can lead to petty back and forth feuds that resemble nothing so much as elementary school children who are bickering. I try to stay above the fray but unfortunately I have been drawn into some exchanges that I later regretted; moving forward I intend to avoid pointless exchanges with people who do not take their work seriously.
Before I participated in the Pat Croce conference call I did my homework not only about the sport but also about Croce. I tape recorded the entire call, transcribed the questions and answers and constructed a very thorough post that provides a ton of information about SlamBall and Pat Croce. Not everyone took such a professional, serious approach to this conference call. One person who--to borrow an old lyric--is so wack that I won't even call out his name phoned in after most of the other people covering the event were already on the line and did not bother to record the interview. Not surprisingly, his account of what took place is riddled with inaccuracies. In his post he also criticized me for asking Croce questions about the time that Croce spent with the 76ers. I posted a comment at this guy's website pointing out that he had attributed questions that I had asked to another participant and attributed questions that another participant had asked to me; I also reminded him that I saved the questions about the 76ers to the end of the conference call when the moderator opened the floor to all of us and there was general silence. If Croce had felt that the questions were inappropriate then I am sure that he would not have given lengthy, enthusiastic answers to them. Instead of apologizing and fixing his mistakes, this guy deleted my comment. So I sent him a personal email asking why he deleted my comment without fixing his mistakes. I also said that each of us asked the questions that we thought were most relevant and/or of interest to our readers so I did not understand why he singled out my questions for ridicule. I told him that I don't really care what he thinks of my questions but that he should at least get straight who said what.
Instead of acting in a professional manner and addressing his mistakes, he replied with a couple insulting emails and then made a post at his site calling me a "toolbox" and quoting from my email to him--out of context of the rest of my email and without asking my permission or even telling me at all. He mockingly said that the Croce conference call was not an interview about Darfur for Newsweek, as if that justifies his sloppy work and total lack of professionalism. Then he bragged about how his post about the Croce conference call has been linked to by more websites than my post has. That is actually a very interesting point; it is also worth mentioning that on Ballhype both his inaccurate account of the conference call and his post mocking me have been "hyped up" more than my detailed post about the conference call. What does that mean? He obviously believes that this proves that his work is great and my work is trash. The reality is that Ballhype is a social networking site. Friends "hype up" each other's posts. As I write this, the number one NBA post at Ballhype consists of the photos from DeShawn Stephenson's birthday party; that post has already received more Ballhype "love" than anything that I have ever posted at 20 Second Timeout. Does a post with those photos have more intrinsic value and merit than articles about Hall of Fame players or articles that provide in depth analysis of NBA games? Popularity and quality are not the same thing. The formula for creating a big, popular website is not hard to figure out: post pictures of scantily clad women, employ "edgy" humor and suck up to the bloggers who run the biggest sites in the hope that they will acknowledge your existence by linking to you. As Howard Cosell said in a different context, I never played the game; my approach is to do thorough research and write carefully crafted articles for intelligent readers--and I have no intention of ever changing.
I wrote the article about the conference call that I would have wanted to read if I had not been able to participate, an article that provides insight into who Croce is, how he became interested in SlamBall and what exactly his duties are as SlamBall Commissioner. I am not part of the "cool group" that hypes up each other's posts. I don't have much interaction with other bloggers, certainly not nearly as much interaction as I have with NBA players, coaches, scouts and other people who are directly affiliated with the sport. That is why it is so ironic that some of the people who are in the "cool group" have sniped at me that I am a self-promoter as if they have accused me of a deadly sin; these guys promote each other far more than I promote myself and they do so for reasons that have nothing to do with the intrinsic intellectual quality of the posts. It is hypocritical of them to criticize my efforts to promote my work when they work together to promote each other. Furthermore, what difference should it make to anyone how much or in what way I promote my work?
I promote my work because I am producing high quality articles and interviews about the game of basketball and I believe that there is an audience that is more interested in understanding the sport than in looking at Stevenson's birthday photos. Maybe I am wrong about that or maybe the audience that is interested in my kind of writing is much smaller than the audience that is interested in the Stevenson photos.
I don't care if the people in the "cool group" mock me and I really am not interested in joining the clique (as if they would want me in there anyway). All I politely asked in my comment at this guy's site is that he demonstrate enough professionalism to not misquote me. It is a sad commentary on the state of the blogosphere not only that he refuses to honor this request but that the blogosphere rewards his conduct instead of condemning it.
posted by David Friedman @ 12:15 AM