Labour List – a warning to all potential contributors

This entry was posted on
Friday, January 16th, 2009
at
3:06 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

During a previous conversation, LabourList.org founder and controller Derek Draper suggested that I share with the class our entire email conversation.

I’m happy to reveal all of that previous conversation at any stage, but for now I’m treating this as an open invitation and bringing you the entirety of our latest email conversation… after this quick statement from the latest self-proclaimed master(s) of bloggery:

“We encourage anyone who has had a comment denied to repost their thoughts on their own blog, and leave a trackback instead. Although we might think a comment is inappropriate for our conversation that does not preclude you making your point elsewhere. The Labour List editors intend to make a feature of our readers’ comments, and we reserve the right to repost interesting or pertinent comments in the main blog, for further discussion. You are welcome to write a complaint to the editor if you feel you have been treated unfairly.” – Labour List website statement on comment moderation

Now, on with the recent email exchange that tells a rather different story…

It begins with my directing Derek Draper to a website that has published my comment and question about his use of other people’s creative material without credit and the apparent pretence of spontaneous submission, because he deleted the version that I submitted to his website. Fool that I was, I thought he would at least calculate that maybe this was the wrong message to send during the opening stages of his appeal for genuinely talented people to genuinely send their stuff in, so he could feature exploit it on his website… but he’s not even smart enough to offset his corruption with a little bullshit and charm:

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:05 AM

Nothing to say for yourself, then (see comments)?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/jan/14/labour-peter-mandelson

No comment on your use of other people’s creative material without credit?

Are you really pretending to receive submissions from the general public that are in fact the work of yourself or close associates?

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland

11:07 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

i’m trying to build a popular website here, not get stuck in a geeks ghetto

oooooh! i wonder how long it’ll take you to post that on your blog

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:13 AM

“which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand”

You really don’t understand how weblogs/communities work, do you?

“i’m trying to build a popular website here”

You really don’t understand how networking works, do you?

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? I want to be absolutely clear on that, just in case you suddenly decide to backpedal later.

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland

11:37 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

11:46 AM

which bit of “i am not accountable to you” don’t you understand

The part where your website invites comment, thereby suggesting accountability.

Also the part where you campaign for debate and engagement, thereby suggesting that you are willing to have what you say or publish challenged and that you are willing to respond to those challenges with a valid response (not “nerney nery ner ner, I’m not playing”)

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? Again, I want to be absolutely clear on this point.

Tim

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

12:14 PM

I’ve answered your question. Please answer mine.

Tim

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland
CC: Greg Jackson, Sue Macmillan, Tom Miller, Alex Smith

12:33 PM

see below, in caps

The part where your website invites comment, thereby suggesting accountability.

Also the part where you campaign for debate and engagement, thereby suggesting that you are willing to have what you say or publish challenged and that you are willing to respond to those challenges with a valid response (not “nerney nery ner ner, I’m not playing”)

ARE YOU SO NAIVE THAT YOU THINK I/WE WILL BE ABLE TO ANSWER HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS? YOU MAY GET 0, 11, 8 and 2 (YOUR LAST FOUR POSTS) WE GET HUNDREDS EVERY DAY. WE ARE BUILDING IS A CONVERSATION AMONG A COMMUNITY NOT A BI-LATERAL SERIES OF DISCUSSIONS WITH SELF-IMPORTANT BLOGGERS

ONCE AGAIN, MASS MEDIA VS GEEK GHETTO

I HAVE TO SAY I AM GETTING BORED OF THIS

So you refuse to answer any questions about your use of creative material without credit? Again, I want to be absolutely clear on this point.

WHY DO I CARE IF YOU’RE CLEAR OR NOT? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Draper

3:05 PM

1. Please stop shouting.

2. I’m not sure why you’ve CCed Greg Jackson, Sue Macmillan, Tom Miller and Alex Smith on our conversation. Perhaps you meant to BCC them instead. Still, given your earlier invitation, I’ve taken it one step further and invited everyone in the whole, wide world. Hope you don’t mind:

http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/01/labour_list.asp

3. If you do not have the capacity to deal with comments, then don’t invite them with too few moderators in place (see also: Daily Mail) and/or the site in its current state (you ask for an email address and a password, but don’t even attempt to verify authenticity – ditto for postcodes, not that asking for this level of detail is in any way called for in your situation).

4. I personally don’t have the time to deal with too many comments. I also like to know who* is attempting to publish what on my website. So I introduced TypeKey registration; it requires a pretty high standard of identification, and in conjunction with MT a clear indication when someone is trying to bypass that requirement. This greatly reduces the number of comments I would normally expect, but to do otherwise would be selfish and irresponsible in my view, especially as I have been so critical of other ‘leading’ bloggers who run their comments like an open sewer, and mainly delete comments that are damaging/awkward for them personally.

(*In my experience I have noticed many political ‘players’ who fool around with multiple/false identities. This is not tolerated or enabled on my site in any way. Also, if the law somehow becomes involved, I know the buck stops with me, but I have a fair shot at identifying the source of any troublesome content that I haven’t written myself.)

5. Don’t wave your traffic in my face. It’s unseemly.

6. It’s also a bit of a cheat if you’re relying on the number of comments/contributors to prove your popularity/importance, when (a) many of those comments are critical of you and your efforts after an artificial MSM PR push, and (b) your site allows people to easily pretend to be more than one person.

7. Let’s keep in mind that I’m not asking for special treatment. I would expect anyone arriving on your website to expect a fair go. One good thing about you clearly not having the first clue about who I am is that it allows me to be sure that you would treat any question you didn’t care for as an irrelevance. If my comments were marked as ‘trash’ or deleted in line with a fair and clearly stated comment moderation policy, or if a reasonable explanation were given at the time (or even following an email query), then I’d be left with little else to say. But what you have done is invite comment, but refuse accountability. That’s going to lead to some pretty short and essentially one-sided conversations when the sign above your shop door suggests otherwise. Bit of a fraud if you ask me. On that note, you also claim to be campaigning for engagement and debate, but you refuse to engage, never mind debate. I may wish to tell a few people about that, for the same reason I would tell them about any other fraud, cheat, swindler or rip-off artist that had just rolled into town with a truckload of bad fish and clever spiel.

8. You have not answered my question about your use of creative material without credit, and instead have asked me why you should care what I think. Well, even if you’re being terribly selfish about the situation, you should at least care because you are calling for submissions from writers and artists while showing that you have scant regard for their legal and moral rights. Dedicated, talented artists tend to notice when this happens and they take this kind of thing very seriously (not least because their stuff gets nicked more often than the work of careless, talentless people). They would sit up and take notice if a stranger pointed out what you’ve been up to and your attitude to date… and I’m no stranger to most of the independent producers in this country likely to create just the kind of anti-Tory propaganda you are obviously keen on (but unable to produce for this project, despite your claim here to have; “a roster of the very best freelance film and video creating talent in the UK”).

9. And finally, we arrive and just who the hell I think I am. Just for the fun of it, I will treat this as a serious question instead of a sign that you regard yourself to be far more important than me or anyone else in this community; my name is Tim Ireland, and I regard myself to be a blogger with standards designed to serve and protect the wider community, not just my own self-interest. And just in case I fail on that front, my site allows anyone willing to identify themselves to challenge me and/or call me to account. In other words, I’m the guy who actually does what you only claim to do, I’ve been at it for 7+ years, and I’m smart enough to know that I’m still learning.

10. I also regard myself to be a bit of a tattletale.

Tim

-

Hey, everyone! Derek Draper is a fraud and a cheat who has no idea about, and no respect for, the online community that he wishes to infiltrate. He should be treated as you would treat any carpetbagger or outsider with less-than-honourable tactics and intent.

And if you, like me, write, photoshop, animate, make videos or produce anything else to do with political campaigning or communication, I urge you not to submit your material to the LabourList.org website, as Derek Draper has made it clear that he is willing to use that material without credit, and likely to become quite shouty and hostile if confronted about it.

And now, to close, here is an extract from the guide to blogging offered at LabourList.org. Perhaps Derek would care to read it sometime:

In short, a blog is an open diary, recorded as a web page. Typically a blog allows readers
to leave comments on items the blogger writes about. There is some consensus to the
effect that this is an essential dividing line between a blog and a general website…

Netiquette

As well as bearing in mind the tips above about content, it is also important that a few
conventions are obeyed. Just like anywhere else, the internet has unspoken rules and
conventions (‘netiquette’) which are almost always followed. Good table manners make
for satisfying meals. There are some widely recognised rules for bloggers:

1. Act in a courteous and civil fashion, especially in debate.

2. Avoid SHOUTING: keep capitals to a minimum. The same goes for bold type.

3. As above, make sure you attribute work and inspirations. It’s also a very good idea
to check that any materials you replicate are not copyright protected.

4. Keep to comments policies where they exist.

5. If you change a blog post, anyone interested will be able to tell by using Google’s
‘cache’ feature, or even more comprehensively, the Wayback Machine. If you
make an important change, it is important to be open, or you decision may be
represented as dishonesty.

6. Try to answer comments!

7. Stay away from nasty personal attacks. If you don’t like something, politely
disagree, or move on and find something you do.

8. If you have accidentally repeated comments, or made an obvious typographical
error, apologise.

(Hm. Perhaps now would be a good time for me to apologise for misspelling “nerny nerny ner ner” earlier. Sorry about that.)

UPDATE (3:45) – Derek Draper’s reply appears below. It seems he got as far as #1 and gave up. Well, it’s further than he got with the Labour List guide to blogging.

-

From: Derek Draper
To: Tim Ireland
CC: [none]

3:37 PM

good grief, i wasn’t shouting it was in CAPs to differentiate it from your text

i don’t care what you put on your blog, haven’t you realised that?

i can’t even be bothered reading this email it is too long

[Derek Draper]
www.labourlist.org
www.flowvideo.co.uk
www.diy-therapy.com
020 7486 2400
MIND Journalist of the Year

-








About Tim Ireland

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