Sunday, May 07, 2006

Writing is supposed to be ...

... evidence of civilization. Which hardly means that those who write cannot be uncivil. There's quite a debate going on about this at Lee Goldberg's in connection with this post: Not Interested.
Seems Steve Clackson alerted Lee to what was noted here in this post: A reading sampler. Lee was, as the title of post indicates, not interested. I think he should have left it at that and not gone after Steve as he did. But he certainly has initiated a lively discussion. Weigh in.


  1. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Here's what I posted over there:

    There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but this is not constructive criticism. This is public humiliation. You may say Steve Clackson invited it by posting material that needs work, but there was nothing stopping you from e-mailing your advice to him. Considering you started out writing "utter dreck," it's not really fair to slam a guy for trying to get published.

  2. I notice he "moderates" the comments he gets. He's willing to pick a fight but not will to give people an equal chance. Remnds me of cable tv's approach.

    Personal abuse on the net is as old as the net itself. It's too bad flyting is out of style. At least then Mr. Goldberg's response to Mr. Clackson's appeal would have had some entertainment value.

    "You see Steve I think this is dreck
    and I know your career's a wreck.
    Please don't involve me,
    I've my own trials you see,
    my last book's a boring reject."

  3. Sometimes, for some people, the urge to comment is just too tempting--and having the means to do so at your immediate disposal just sinks you. Remember, back in the day, when you had to walk to the mailbox to mail that nasty response? Well, that probably provided some people with the necessary reflection time to keep a lot of those responses from ever being sent. Maybe some of them should have been, but I can't help but suspect that in most cases, that would have been a good thing.

    Reminds me a bit of my college radio days: when you're sitting alone in that studio, with nothing but a microphone and about 10,000 albums to keep you company, it's not hard to convince yourself that nobody's listening. The same danger presents itself when it's just you and the PC.

    On the other hand, maybe it's a case of believing no publicity is bad publicity...which, unfortunately, is probably valid, so long as sales figures are the primary criterion for success.

    (I can only hope these comments don't prove my point...)

  4. It's that addictive comment button

    That and a nation full of people with poor impulse control. The corporate world's idea of heaven. We've been trained since birth to be that way. It was plotted. It was pushed into being by civilized men who wanted to see how many cigarettes they could get people addicted to. And then along came real freedom of the press. At the same time as quality of information degradation apocalypse. People who wouldn't lie to me keep telling me it's supposed to be this way. Scares me sometimes.


    Wasn't information degradation apocalypse supposed to happen in 1984?

  5. Anonymous12:04 AM

    If only this didn't remind one of so many threads on so many online poetry critique boards. All to familiar, I'm afraid.

  6. That jade suit looks all too familiar as well, Art.

  7. I read through the nasty comments thread on Lee's blog. Sigh. There is a world of difference between offering even the most general of critiques and outright nastiness.

    But I guess politeness doesn't increase readership. Civility takes more time and thought and it seems to be a dying art.

    I must be out of fashion as I still take the time to say please and thank you as well. Silly me.

  8. Beau,

    I don't know how you can say I'm not giving my detractors an opportunity to respond. I've posted every comment I've received. And, as anyone can see, many of the comments in that thread are highly critical of me and my opinions.

  9. Mr. Goldberg,

    "Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them."

    The purity in your administration of the preview and approval layer comments to your blog must pass through is breathtaking. You must be proud of how well you shoulder a burden your peers in the blogging community are fortunate enough not to have to endure.


  10. That "comments are moderated" phrase is just a standard blog tech phrase which is related to the blog platform you use. We use blog software at work that says that, so we can avoid publishing spam and obsenities -- which would not be a responsible thing for a professional publisher to do.

    I recently moved my blog, and even before I had announced it to anyone, and with the first level of anti-spam, I received a "comment" from one of those pharmaceutical spammer robots. So I've upped the spam protection -- I never mind if blogs say that "comments are moderated" so long as they do appear in a timely fashion.

  11. I only moderate the comments to delete spam. I've posted everything else, including this:

    "The truth is this writer is obviously a hack. But so are you, Lee. Let's not forget this. You are the undeniable embodiment of true mediocrity, and your hostility reeks of the knee-jerk, vitriolic sentiment of the ultimately replaceable."

    Anyone reading the thread can see many comments that oppose my I'm at loss to understand your gripe.

  12. An ol' cynic named Blue made a post,
    then an innocent Lee made the boast,
    "I pass all the crap
    'cept the spam that I trap,
    so your gripe's an unwarranted roast."

    So, it's true then our Lee is a prince
    and his goal now is just to convince
    unreasonable Blue
    he's got more things to do
    than to argue with someone so dense.


    Mr. Goldberg,

    I'm a cynic and you've got better things to do. I'm sure of it. Once is explanation, twice is defensiveness. Let it go. You've more than 40 posts to the thread you started. And it proves? Conflict sells tickets. Old lesson.

    I try to stay away from places where my comments have to undergo an approval process before they're allowed into the discussion. No matter how benevolent the King says he is, it's basically unfair.

    But it's your blog. You have the right to make whatever rules you need for whatever reasons you invent. Who am I to pick on you for it?

    But I have rules too. So, I'll spend my comments at blogs that don't need a "Comments must be approved before they appear" sticker on the entry form.

    I'll keep my rules and stay in my world. You keep yours and stay in yours. You won't miss me for even a second, trust me.


  13. Anonymous5:23 AM

    Beau - Goldberg uses Typepad, the moderated comments thing is a standard option to avoid spam. He doesn't "approve" comments, he just makes sure they're not spam, then lets them through. Half of the blogs I post on have the same thing, because they get hit with spam. It's fairly simple and clear, but you seem determined to make into something more sinister. "Let it go"? Take your own advice.

  14. Anonymous7:36 AM

    Spam can always be deleted, if it should manage to get through. When people tell me they operate Comment Approval solely to stop spam, I say rubbish. They're doing it because they're not comfortable with the idea that anyone can post anything at anytime on their site. What they want is a little control over the conversation, even if they're very virtuous and post everything afterwards. Fact is, it's a power trip.

    Frank controls spam by having us type in these letter thingys at the bottom of the comment page. Works fine as far as I can tell. I handle it by hosting comments through Haloscan and have had zero problems with spam. BuzzMachine, a very busy site I used to frequent, uses Wordpress and does not have Comment Approval enabled, using spam deletion software instead. Trolls who stop by are ridiculed, which is much more fun than never seeing them. Last I heard, no one was pyschologically damaged by the occasional appearance of a four letter word. We are all adults and can recognize the childishness of a person's character when they have to resort to bad language to slam their point home.

    Beau, I'm with you here.

  15. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Noel: "If" spam gets through?? It does. A lot. On lots of blogs. Which is why you see this being used, as well as the word id thing. When leaving comments, I find the moderation thing less hassle, because it means I don't have to squint at a blurry image (and get it wrong half the time). Why are you insisting there's a huge conspiracy here? "Fact is, it's a power trip." - oh really? And that's absolutely true for every single person who uses it, eh? Come on.

  16. Anonymous8:45 AM

    James, I would never insist it's a conspiracy. In my experience individuals are perfectly capable of going on power trips without needing to team up with other people on power trips. Of course, when they do team up, it's much more unnerving, but then that's not a conspiracy either. That's more like the Nazi Party (or the IRS).

    There was a young man from blogspheria
    who got zero comments plus spam.
    He said to his wife:
    "Enough of this tripe,
    I'm boss in my tin pot dicteria."

    Blame Frank and Beau for this. Poetry is something I've only just started experimenting with ... in case you hadn't noticed.

  17. Anonymous1:40 PM

    The idea that Lee Goldberg is censoring the comments on his blog is funny. Spend 5 minutes on there and read the nasty things that people write about him -- all of which he allows. What do you suppose he's omitting? Death threats?

    Most blogs use comment filtering protocols in order to eliminate the spam. (Typepad has the system in place which Goldberg uses. They don't have the comment verification system that you see on this blog, for example.)

    This whole thing is a red herring anyway. Even if a blog owner allows comments to post unfiltered, s/he could still delete them based on whatever whim they have. What makes you think that any blog comments section is unfettered dialogue?

    This whole discussion is a bit hysterical for so little reason. At no point did Goldberg abuse the person in question. Sure, he poked a little fun at him. But the guy invited it.

  18. Anonymous2:07 PM

    The guy invited a little friendly advice, one aspiring writer to an established writer. It's pretty harmless. If his writing isn't finished or polished, or even needs a lot of work, you're certainly doing him no favors telling him it's great. You have to be honest, but you can be honest tactfully, maybe even privately. If a person has a great love for something, even if they have yet to really develop the skill, there's no harm in encouraging them while telling them exactly what's wrong so that they know how to attain the skill they so desperately desire. Lee is of course free not to be interested in putting in the time to do this, in which case a polite return e-mail thanking the would-be author for the invitation but declining to get involved would be a fine response. Lee shows something of his character by the way he handled this man. He enjoyed kicking him around his forum.

    And no one is suggesting Lee is censoring the comments on his blog ... only that he is on a power trip wanting to approve them first. ;-)

  19. The spam defense of subtle intimidation?

    The entry form doesn't say comments "are filtered for spam." It says comments "will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them."

    Some people seem to believe the latter means the same thing as the former. Well, I'm suprised is all I can say.

    I'm also a little bewildered. I've confessed to being a cynic. What, James and Mr. Montgomery missed that part? Does that explain why they are still needlessly defending their hero?

    It's that cable tv remark I made, huh? Please accept my humble apology. It was uncalled for as well as sloppily proof-read. Mr. Goldberg doesn't look the least bit like Bill O'Reilly, really.

    Mr. Montgomery,

    My eyes see being thrown out of a lounge for inappropriate shoes as different than being denied access at the door for failing the bouncer's dress code. It's a subtle difference, I know.

    Also, "poking a little fun" should not be a limited access freeway traveling in a single direction. Or so I've been told by people who wouldn't lie to me.


  20. Anonymous10:59 PM

    For the record, Lee Goldberg is not my hero. Frank Wilson is my hero.

    Frank gives me work and Lee never did a damn thing for me.

  21. Anonymous5:29 AM

    'It says comments "will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them."'

    Yes, which is the default text in Typepad. But don't let that get in the way of the hysteria.

    'Does that explain why they are still needlessly defending their hero?'

    Okay, there's obviously no proper discussion here, if you're going to keep throwing in ridiculous statements like this. He's not my hero. I'm just trying to offer a rational voice in the face of all this over-the-top rhetoric. Clearly, that's not welcome here. Fair enough, enjoy yourselves, far be it from me to ask you to be realistic.

  22. OK, James. You're making way too much of this. First, take a breath. I don't agree with your take on this and you don't agree with mine. That's OK. But it is tad overboard to state that this isn't a "proper discussion" just because I don't agree with you, isn't it?

    What, you expected me to cave to your point of view at the first rationalization you presented? The second? Wait, did you offer a second rationalization? Or did you jump straight to announcing a POV counter to yours as hysterical and ridiculous?

    No - your second was - that what I found as subtle intimidation was actually typepad's 'default'. THEN you jumped to the high ground of calling my perceptions "hysteria". You must lead one very calm life to call entries such as mine 'hysteria'.

    Now, I'm not admitting for a minute that my rhetoric is 'over-the-top' or that there's 'obviously no proper dicussion here' OR that your POV is 'realistic', OK, but I will admit it was unfair of me to imply you, and Mr. Montgomery, thought of Mr. Goldberg as your hero. I apologize to you and to Mr. Montgomery. Please forgive me.

    I wish you good luck and a great day, week, month.


  23. Gee, I was unaware until now of how much comment this post had attracted. Lively, too. I would only add this: Lee Goldberg deserves a bit of respect in this case. I thought his response to Steve was a tad harsh, but Lee has taken his lumps in style. And Lee may not have intended it, but he sure has brought Steve's book to a lot of people's attention.

  24. Oh, one other thing: Steve also has linked to comments both pro and con. Including this one: Can’t Take the Heat? Go Cry to Momma!
    So he deserves a lot of credit, too. On the whole, it's been a pretty clean fight. Vigorous, but clean.

  25. I agree with that person who said Frank was their hero.
    Frank for president.