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Wednesday, December 31, 2003  

Blogospherics: Guys are saying

  • Good bloggers don't steal
  • Sometimes, people we want to consider friends in the blogosphere do things we can't approve. I recently learned a compiler of blogs by African-Americans behaved in a way my blog bro' George Kelly of All About George is thumbs down on. George has written him a letter.

    Dear Prince Campbell, operator of American Black:

    On Tuesday morning, I stopped by Prometheus 6 and read his "Sticking a Toe Back in the Water." P6's notice of your site, and his praise of American Black's list of black journalists and editorial bloggers, made me curious enough to visit.

    As soon as I saw the "Black Media Sources" links on your page (copied here ), I knew where you'd ripped them off: Negrophile's links page. Sure, you added a few extra links to your roll, but not enough for you to plausibly deny theft. I mean, what are the odds that your list, independently created, would reproduce all of Negrophile's name and code errors? Including at least one that I was asked to correct only yesterday?

    If you had wanted to use the list, it would have been fine. All you needed was permission. I mean, it's right there in the license on Negrophile's front page.

    The error in doing something like this is that it's on the Web. You want your site to be read. You even link to Negrophile. You want to be part of a community, to participate in it and to gain acceptance and consideration for your words and opinions. There are lots of ways to do this, but what you did isn't one of them that will work in either the short or long term. You're essentially admitting either an inability to create a list you like, or an unwillingness to create. Which is it?

    Come on. You can do better. The sooner you start, the better off you'll be. Hell, as soon as you do, I'll be the first to applaud you.

    Note the problem is not that Campbell borrowed someone else's expertise. It is that he did so surreptitiously. As George explains, all he had to do was ask. But, much too often in Bloggersville, people don't give credit where it is due, usually in regard to sources of information. Many bloggers don't cite where material they publish is coming from at all. I think they do that because they believe appearing to know it all makes them look smarter. It doesn't. It makes them appear egocentric and sneaky.

    I believe an apology from Campbell to Negrophile and George will put this unfortunate episode behind us.

    I commend George for speaking out. Months ago I was faced with a similar dilemma and didn't know what to do. A blogger who is one of the few other Native Americans around had padded her blog, Wampum, with phony links to make it climb in the blogosphere ratings. Someone circulated an email with proof of the fraud. When I received it, I decided to send it to another blogger who had known her longer with the suggestion he tell her to desist. I never wrote about the woman's dishonesty until now. Perhaps believing me to be a patsy, she subsequently joined an effort to destroy my blog by slandering me. Now, I wish I had spoken up when I initially realized what an unethical person she is.

  • Lousy links mislead readers
  • Another blog brother, Roger Ailes (not that one) has noticed a recurrent blogger sin -- citing a news story as saying something it doesn't.

    It must be something in the blog. Daniel Drezner fills in for Sully Joe and immediately laspes into Sully's habit of linking without reading. Drezner asserts that this Los Angeles Times article is "trying to predict the 2004 election" by "roll[ing] out th[e] fact" that since 1960, "'the party in the White House lost when the unemployment rate deteriorated during the first half of the year.

    In fact, the article doesn't try to predict the election. The article is about jobless rates. It cites the fact, and then cites an author of several books who says that it's not a coincidence that the President loses when unemployment increases before the election. But there's nothing in the article predicting the outcome of the 2004 election, or even suggesting the outcome in 2004 will follow past history. The Times article doesn't say it, and it doesn't quote the author as saying it either.

    Next time, Daniel, "[r]ead the whole thing -- yes, even if you need to register." And don't pick up Sully's bad habits.

    I suspect some bloggers just throw things up without reading them because:

  • They think they already know what the source is going to say based on their opinion of it.

  • Reading and comprehending an item takes time. It is faster to not do either.
  • They believe readers will not notice the discrepancy.
  • It is true that sometimes readers don't have time to follow up on links. That is why they trust bloggers to link accurately. I believe we let them down when we don't.

  • 'Joe' may be most common commenter
  • James McLaughlin of A Skeptical Blog, who I've known since my guest blogger days, has been getting visits to his comments from a sock puppet.

    I noticed our sock puppeteer is back. I can only assume he is not really reading the blog and is unaware that we know he is one person, or he is just to stupid to realize that we know he is one person. In any case the list is as follows.

    Poster: Mark IP address:
    Poster: Joe IP address:
    Poster: Joe IP address:
    Poster: Tim IP address:
    Poster: J Edgar IP address:
    Poster: Cliff IP address:

    Now I don't really mind the sock puppet, it reflects more upon our commentator than it does me. But I am a bit bothered by his attempt to copy someone else's identity (J Edgar, who has a different IP and email address than the J Edgar above).

    My commenting rules are real simple. Unless your post is 90 percent obscenity then I don't erase and I don't ban. So keep up the good work guy. All you are doing is provoking laughter.

    Which is not a bad thing.

    When I post at group blogs that have comments sections I often encounter a rude and disapproving fellow who calls himself Joe, too. But, come to think of it, a lot of sock puppets are probably just not-so-average Joes.

    10:20 AM