Wednesday, June 15, 2005

No boycott, sorry

Eli thought all the ballots were in (despite the fact that it's not yet the last day for voting). Shirley checked on that and Eli is correct. So Eli counted his group, Keesha counted her's and I counted mine. We had no disagreements among us about the totals.

The results will go out Friday in the gina & krista roundrobin. If you're one of the 400 members who don't receive the round-robin, please e-mail the site and you'll be notified on Friday as well.
This is member business so it's not going to be posted here. (And that was noted when the ballots were first spoken of as well as when the first announcement was made.)

Besides the 1103 who voted, there are members who did not request a ballot. If you are interested in the results, e-mail the site and we'll get something out to you on Friday as well. (We is Shirley and myself.) I'm sorry for the delay but we're not doing it on Thursday. Thursday is for Indymedia. We're not putting that on hold.

While we were counting, a tempest of sorts appears to have broken out.

If you haven't read Rebecca's latest, you should, if only to prove once and for all that I do not control the content of Rebecca's site.

Michael e-mailed a petition. Wanting a boycott of sites. We're not doing that. Rebecca was correct in her assumption that I wouldn't go along with that but I would say, "If you don't want to visit a link, don't visit it."

That is your business.

And I'm not anti-boycott. I think boycotts are very effective.

I just don't think this is an issue that warrents them. (Hold on for a summary of Pru's comments.)

I'm not sure if it's the "Night Letter" or the editorial that has people more upset.

With regard to the "Night Letter." Not everyone subscribes to The New Yorker. There's no online version available so whomever you're sending this out to is not going to be able to read what's posted and check it easily. More importantly, they may feel the Newsweek issue isn't important anymore. Even more importantly, they may want to write something on it but have it on their list of things to do and not get around to it because there are only so many hours in each day.

With regard to the editorial. I wrote about Todd S. Purdum's article because, to me, it was the most worthy of comment in Tuesday's New York Times. Others may have felt differently. I believe it's been noted (by Rebecca) that I had to get up and walk away from it that morning because it was an entirely different type of entry than what was posted. There was no humor and it was refute, refute, refute. Pudrum didn't bother to know his facts, I'm not here to spoonfeed him. When I came back from a brief walk, I was in a place where I could mock the article. For me, humor was more effective than what almost went up.

Point? Who knows what reaction someone else had? They might not have written about it because they were so outraged or disgusted by it. Or they might not have written about it because they didn't know of it. (It was buried inside the paper.) Or they might not have thought it was important or surprising coming from the New York Timid.

That's their right. They need to speak in their voices about what they see as the important topics.

What I'm mainly reading is that the point on you can't have it both ways needs to be argued. We argued it here. (And we haven't stopped. Bully Boy can't claim he believe the intell yet decided to increase bombings in 2002 to push Hussein's hand. It doesn't work that way. If you belive you're dealing with a madman with all sorts of weapons that could attack the U.S., you don't start these high powered bombing raids months before you go to war. If you do, then you've put the United States in grave danger.)

It's an important point, one that we'll continue to stress here. But just because we feel it's important doesn't mean others will. They're entitled to their opinion.

Here's a summary of Pru's e-mail (I don't have permission to quote -- I think it was implied but in case it wasn't, I'm offering a summary):

What goes up here, in my voice or anyone else's, is in part or whole a reflection on the community. The community feels ownership of entries here. For that reason, it's only natural that the reaction would be anger over what members see as the community being ignored when they seek out links.

That's a really good point and one that I hadn't honestly given a great deal of thought to.

However, I asked repeatedly in several editions of the gina & krista round-robin that members stop trying to get us linked. Rebecca outlined the reason why (again, proof that I don't control Rebecca's content). A member e-mailed something for a link and it went up at another site. Only it credited him for something I wrote.

I didn't know about that. I didn't find out until the e-mails came in. When they first started arriving, I did e-mail him and ask him what post these people (visitors) were talking about because there were probably fifty e-mails addressed to him. I was thinking I'd forgotten something he'd shared with the community.

Then it turned out that he had been credited as being me. He felt so bad. He kept apologizing.
He wasn't going to send any thing else to this site because he felt so bad. He was afraid members would think he was trying to take credit for something he didn't do.

No member read that and thought, "Glory hog!" They all grasped the error and knew enough about him from here and the gina & krista's round-robin to know what was what.

I found the thing funny. That's why I said, in the round-robin, don't e-mail for a correction. No one needed to do that. The person who highlighted the site was trying to help. The member who e-mailed to get it highlighted was trying to help. It was an honest mistake made out of confusion not malice and it's really not important.

But the member wouldn't stop beating himself up over it. Something so minor and so unimportant. So I asked, yet again, that members stop sending things to get links elsewhere.
Everytime that flares up, someone gets upset. Today it's Michael (and others).

It's not worth it.

We do quite well on our own. An e-mail from one of Wally's relatives or Erika's friends or whomever means more than "I saw you linked on ___ and decided to visit."

Why does it mean more?

Let's use Wally. He e-mailed to basically his entire family, extended no less. They know Wally. They love Wally. If they enjoy something they read, they'll be back because they'll talk about it with Wally. It's a very personal connection that shouldn't be underestimated.

It's been at the heart of the membership from day one. Members (starting with Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava) have made a point to share it in their world. "I heard about this site in journalism class today because this guy Ty was talking about . . ."

That's how we grew. Our UK membership continues to expand for that reason. It's a grassroots thing. Or call it "organic." Whatever it is, it's how we became the community we are today.

As a resource/review for the left, we couldn't make the decision of "we're not paying attention to these voices because they don't note us!" if we wanted to. But I don't want to.

It goes against everything the community stands for. That's not to slap down Michael. I'm thrilled that Michael's so passionate about the community. Reminds me of Jim and I applaud it.
And hopefully, the frustration that Michael's feeling will either vanish or lead him (and friends or alone) start up his own site the way Jim, Ava, Dona, Ty and Jess did.

The reason the site was started was to talk about issues that weren't getting attention. That's why we had no problem taking on Simon Rosenberg when members kept e-mailing that they couldn't go anywhere online without hearing how wonderful he was. He wasn't. And he wasn't a shoe in. And we weren't the only ones against him.

We also exist to highlight the left because the mainstream isn't going to do it. And that's why the boycott proposal goes against everything we stand for.

But if you feel highlighting isn't occurring, then maybe it's time you started thinking about creating your own site. Ty, Jess, Ava, Dona and Jim did. Rebecca did. Folding Star did. Betty did. Kat did. Or maybe you need to think about doing a round-robin like Krista and Gina or doing a newsletter like the UK Computer Gurus. If you feel silenced, start using your voice.

I appreciate Michael's passion (and that of everyone who signed his petition) and it's great that you feel ownership of this community because it is your community. But we aren't doing a boycott on this. It goes against what the community stands for. Again, that's not a slap down.
Emotions can run high when something means a lot to you, I understand, and as Pru pointed out, it can feel like a personal insult to you or a rejection.

But we don't need links. We never did. What has gotten us members (not visitors) has predominately been word of mouth from you to someone you know.

I'm not mad at Rebecca or angry at her. But I certainly wouldn't have chosen to write about this tonight. (I do have a link-fest that I intended to do of things members sent in.) I've been going through printed copies of all the e-mail ballots making sure that before I got on the phone with Keesha and Eli, my results were correct. That took up the bulk of the evening. I had planned to get on, do a quick link-fest and call it a night.

Rebecca has every right to write whatever she wants (but note again, I do not control her content) and Michael has every right to address an issue to her because he's a member and she's a member.

But we're not launching a boycott. Had Rebecca not posted on this, I would have replied to Michael (and the people who signed the petition) in private e-mails.

But it's up there and it's out there. And I'm tired and don't have the energy for private e-mails.
If someone wants to link, they will. If they don't, they won't.

We don't trade links or agree to promotional agreements. A member likes a site (that includes me) or an entry and we highlight that. There is no "do this for us and we'll mention you here."

And just as their are sites that are more left than our community is, there are sites that are not as left as we are. Which isn't to play "more left than thou," but it is to acknowledge that just as we don't agree with everyone who's against the Bully Boy, everyone who's against the Bully Boy doesn't agree with us.

Rebecca rightly noted that I didn't know the "blog rules" so I couldn't play by them. I am aware of them now. We didn't get where we are by playing by rules we had no part in creating and we won't play by them now. To attempt to do so is to try to be something other than what we are. The moment we start doing that, we're just one more blog trying to be someone else. There are more than enough of those.

Michael (or Rebecca, I read the entry quickly because I'm really tired) noted that I read magazines in print form. I do. And that means if a member doesn't catch something, we're behind the curve on it because I'm going to wait until I have the print copy to read it. So sometimes we lose out. And sometimes we're ahead of the curve because we're spotlighting something that's in the magazine but not availalbe online.

Everything comes out in the wash? Is that the saying?

We're doing more than fine. To put it into magazine terms, we're Rolling Stone. But someone's wanting us to be Time or Newsweek. I don't read those magazines. Not because they're mainstream but because I honestly think of them as primers. There's not going to be any deep thinking in them. (I'll note Clift isn't available in print in Newsweek and she's probably the best writer they have.) If they make waves, it will be towards merging with the right. But even then, there's no deep thought in them. I've shared this opinion with The Third Estate Sunday Review and we always talk about an edition being a parody of those magazines.

Vanity Fair will do a hard hitting story. Time and Newsweek and will couch their remarks or back off rom them (sound familiar) and each year the photos get larger and larger and the text gets less and less. It's not yet People or In Style, but they're getting awfully close.

I'd rather read what Patricia Williamson or Naomi Klein or someone who puts thought into their work thinks. Not someone who's got to clear thirty hurdles just to keep a sentence in.

And that's what people may have missed about the Al Franken cover story in The Nation. It was badly written in my opinion. It tried to be everything and ended up being nothing worth reading, my opinion. But The Nation didn't go back to the writer and say, "Oh no you don't!"
They let Nicholas Hoffman weigh in with his thoughts. Even if you didn't care for his thoughts (I didn't), you have to be glad that something made it into print that wasn't written by committee, that didn't have to meet the approval of various editors and various advertisers.

We're not shooting for mainstream, not even the left's version of mainstream. We reserve the right to disagree with anyone. That's why we don't sign up with alliances. People shouldn't have to worry that as they're attempting to work Harry Reid over to their side, we're going to run one of Isaiah's comics about our "bendy-buddy Harry Reid."

I disagree with a few points Rebecca's made (while respecting her opinion). One of them is that you can't break through (those aren't her words). As she notes, we broke through. Anyone can break through. Cinderella Man was supposed to be a hit and Monster-In-Law a flop. Cinderlla Man's the flop and Monster-In-Law long ago made back it's cost.

You can't predict what people will embrace. And if you try to, then you get forty films trying to be Pulp Fiction and all bombing (remembering 1996?).

Anyone can break through, my opinion, if they're speaking in their own voice. But then my idea of break through and someone else's are different.

And I would urge everyone to think about what it is they want for this community.

Members will work overtime trying to set us up with a link and then I'll go and knock Slate or whatever and they'll e-mail and say, "Why now!!!!"

There's always going to be a "now." We're not generic. And I'm never going to take the attitude of I have to go begging for links or I have to tailor my words to get them.

If I'd done that, we would be like so many other sites that are trying so desperately to stand out but getting nowhere because they're saying the same thing that's up on every big site.

I'm happy to let anyone else grab something. There are topics that have gone up here that I only wrote about because no one was writing about them. I'll pass on something to Folding Star, for instance. Or to Rebecca (especially if I see something on The New Republic).

We're not an echo chamber and that's why we've got a community to begin with. The issue of "blowing my credility" came up in a Third Estate Sunday Review roundtable and then again in Beth's interview. If we went mainstream, or mainstream left, that might be something to worry about. I'd have to hedge and walk everyone through bit by bit. Instead we've got a community that's more on the ball than I am. I can indicate and everyone knows what we're talking about.
Or every member does.

But we're not existing for the casual visitor.

So please stop trying for links. It just makes you upset and then I get upset that you're upset.
We don't need any links, it's been nice whenever we've had any but we could never get a link again and our community would still continue to grow. Pru's performance of the Dementia Monologues is the perfect example. She ended up having a friend narrate from two entries here. People were laughing and they've started checking us out. Hopefully, they'll become members.

Pru and her friend's Saturday night performance did more to get the word out on this community than a link would have.

I'm sorry to say no to something that a number of members have signed on to but it goes against why this community exists. I'm going to do the link post and then call it a night. (Counting ballots was neither fun nor easy.)

The e-mail address for this site is (And prior to starting this entry, all but 20 e-mails had been read.) (And there are no links in this post because I'm just too tired. And if I didn't italicize something, it's not getting italicized. Nor will there be any corrections to typos in this post. I didn't want to write it to begin with. One more time, proof that I do not control Rebecca's content.)