Monday, March 12, 2007

The Topic That Shall Not Rear Its Head

Has reared its head over on Eschaton, where we see Atrios crying foul over the idea that somebody might take offence to a post where he says, essentially, that he doesn't link to your blog because it SUCKS.

(Yes, that's actually the name of the post. "Why your blog sucks".)

Now, I'm pretty confident that Atrios won't read this, as I don't update enough or in the right "Glenn Greenwald" fashion, and have committed the (previously unstated) unpardonable sin of having light text on a dark background.

(I wonder how he handled blackboards as a former academic, but I digress.)

Still, were he to read this, I'd suggest a few points:

#1: Every blogger, no matter how well read, tends to suffer from "Ted Barlow syndrome"; the belief that nothing you say or do or write matters. I think it's a bit of a misnomer, in that almost EVERYBODY suffers from this problem- with bloggers its just a little more apparent because they actually do have a venue for what they're saying. This is why people complain about not being read, but the alternative is potentially talented writers simply stopping entirely.

Like, well, Ted Barlow.

#2: He needs to learn himself some Pagerank. Yes, blogrolls matter.

#3: He needs to learn himself some manners. Whether or not you agree that blogrolls are an important community- and identity-building tool, I think everybody can agree this is kind of a bad move. Telling people that are ostensibly on the same side as you "Go away, your blog sucks and you suck for writing it" is pretty goddamned wrongheaded no matter how you look at it.

(Individual arguments and opinions? Sure. Go nuts. But a generalized "piss off and die?")

#4: He's starting to sound a little like a winger. Not in his opinions, but in how he's presenting them. In both of the pieces I linked to, he didn't quote a single word of the critical blogs that he's supposedly responding to. Indeed, the "your blog sucks" posting features such a lovely bit of strawman argumentation that it would make a Fox News anchor weep:

7) An elite cabal of bloggers, all on the Hillary Clinton for President campaign payroll, have conspired to suppress your original voice by any means necessary, including the implementation of very elitist and anti-democratic peer review systems such as the open posting and "recommended diary" system at Daily Kos. This is certainly an interesting theory, and one which several blogs seem to be devoted to exploring, but absent further evidence you might want to look for alternative explanations.
Gimme a break. If Atrios wants to respond to critics like skippy and Mary Scott O'Connor, then by all means, I recommend that he do so. Both have put forward excellent arguments about the nature of blogrolling and of the concept of a "blogosphere" itself that deserve to be engaged seriously and honestly. Screwing around trying to be funny is just insulting. It's also more than a little sad: it smacks of an affectation of not caring that is contradicted by the existence of the posts themselves.

Oh, and as for #5?

If you think skippy or MSOC's stuff on the blogrolling controversy is a reason why either blog "sucks", you're out to lunch. O'Connor's entry on Kos was one of the best, most savage pieces I'd read in a good while, and skippy's entries on this issue have been consistently interesting and (unlike "your blog sucks") often really funny.

Of course, I might just think this because my blog sucks, along with everybody else that Atrios tossed overboard.

Somehow, though, I think I'll continue to "look for alternate explanations".

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