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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A bucket of spin from the chummer-in-chief

I promised you a fisking of this post from Paul Staines, and here it is. Remember when you read this that it comes from a man who claims to hate spin:

Am away for the weekend and forgot to put comment moderation on. You-know-who posts five comments on one post - then cries "he deleted me" when the inevitable happens. Iain has now banned him as well, so he is starting an anti-Iain Dale blog to join his anti-Guido blog. That is fine by me, freedom of speech means he is entitled to publish his views.

It was four comments, with three of them refuting the usual bullshit from his gang on anonymous bullies (i.e. the abuse that is designed to undermine and discourage anyone exercising their right to free speech). But now those comments have been deleted, they can be anything Mr Staines wants them to be.

The difference in audience size enjoyed by the likes of Iain and Guido compared to the contributors to our respective anti-blogs is growing. Now readers will know that Guido, like Iain, is a humble type, shy and retiring even, so it is with some hesitation that Guido ventures to say that the reason Iain and Guido have far more readers is that we try to be entertaining and bring news. Now Guido may only aspire to gossip and tittle-tattle (over 80,000 people have watched the Gordon the Bogeyman story), but that seems to be what people want and enjoy.

Well, that audience may well appear to be growing at an impressive rate, but only because Staines uses the number of comments as a key aspect of measurement... and he's been busy fostering an audience of individuals who like to pose as multiple individuals. Each time his measurement-audience grows by one member, it appears to grow by 3, 6 or 12. The 'humble' comment I'll classify as sarcasm and put down to a rare moment of self-awareness... but it's a dark path that you walk down when your efforts to be entertaining interfere with the selection of news (or when, in an effort to be 'entertaining', you blur the line between news and editorial). As for giving people what they want... do I need to finish this sentence?

It may not be what others think Guido should write about, it may not be in the deferential style that others think should be employed, it certainly gets up the noses of the old media and the embedded-in-the-political-system journalists known as the Lobby. If you don't like it, don't read it.

I'm not sure if Staines is suggesting here that I'm a willing/unwilling tool of the establishment, but I can afford to let it go; the "If you don't like it, don't read it." fallacy is the highlight here. It's at blogs like that of Dale and Staines that a nugget of unsubstantiated gossip evolves into (or is deliberately reinforced as) an 'open secret'... and from that point is eventually unleashed to do its damage. I don't like it, but the only way to combat it is to show people how it's done. There is also the small matter of the anonymous bullies that spill over from such weblogs into the weblogs and lives of others. A fire does not go out because you turn your back on it.

Simple. Better still, offer a more compelling and attractive product that beats Guido in the competitive marketplace that is the blogosphere. That takes hard work. The easier path is just to call for censorship or attack and try to undermine the legitimacy of your rivals. Claim that Iain and Guido's ascendancy is not based on hard work or talent, but lies and fiction, claim that the two most successful and well known bloggers in Britain somehow undermine blogging. We have done so much to popularise this medium - it is not going to wash. Blogging is just an easy way of publishing, it is a software platform, not a religious movement. Get real.

Following the path of least resistance is hard work? News to me. There's also a staggering misrepresentation of our respective positions here:

1. As has been made clear, it is Guido who engages in censorship, and there has been no call from me to censor views that I do not like.

2. I have also shown on a number of occasions how anonymous bullies (and those who breed them and/or hide behind them) censor the views of others... usually by intimidating their rivals or (*cough*) undermining the legitimacy of their rivals.

3. There are lies and fiction at work in these claims to ascendancy, and also a fair amount of cheating... but I don't discount the actual popularity or level of awareness that exists. In fact, I've expressed concern about it:

4. When Iain Dale touts himself as an expert and says "This is what blogging is!", he provides an easy 'out' for those who don't wish to engage, and a master class for those who wish to subvert. Dale and Staines have not popularised the medium... they've enabled the dismissal of this medium and popularised its misuse.

5. I don't recall claiming blogging to be a religious calling. All I've been doing is promoting its legitimate and intelligent use... along the same lines that Dale and Staines claim to be doing:

"The power of blogging flows from directly connecting with the readers, key to that direct connection is honesty." - Paul Staines

"Blogging has become a phenomenon which can help shape the political and current affairs agenda. It can be a force for good as well as a means of destruction." - Iain Dale

The new anti-Iain blog is in a sense a tribute blog and further evidence that the contributors have a poverty of ideas. They would enjoy more success if they tried something less derivative and more novel. Meantime Dizzy wants an anti-blog as well. You're no one daahhling, if you haven't got one.

Ah, yes.... this is something that Iain can be proud of. No doubt I'll have to re-think my position lest I give the man more credit than he is due. Nice try. As for the tired old Tory line of 'poverty of ideas' (from the left)... isn't this a bit rich coming from the guy who emulates Drudge and brought the Popbitch concept to politics?

PS - I don't see Iain Dale criticising this actual copy of the Guido Fawkes format or presenting it as evidence of a 'poverty of ideas' from the right... do you?

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JimJam said...

Have you really got nothing better to do ?

12:41 PM, April 10, 2007  
Tim said...

Aren't you tired of recycling this line?

12:43 PM, April 10, 2007  
Aaron said...

Have you really got nothing better to do ?

Yes, he probably has. However that may be the most infuriating aspect of the whole thing.

3:41 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous said...

Looks like Guido is sincerely flattering you . . .

8:32 PM, April 11, 2007  
Guido 2.0 said...

He's having himself on just a bit, too. Lord knows what he plans on achieving by having a go at Recess Monkey with something he didn't even create.

Here's the hyperlink for those who need it.

9:04 PM, April 11, 2007  
El Dave. said...

Is there any independent verification of Guido's claims for the number of hits?

9:11 PM, April 11, 2007  
Guido 2.0 said...

AFAIK, the only independent data Staines has presented has been Alexa data... which is fundamentally flawed.

9:28 PM, April 11, 2007  
Tim said...

Gah! Wrong profile. Twice.

Excuse: I was neck-deep in a *fabulous* article that is headed your way soon.

10:19 PM, April 11, 2007  
Tim said...

Oh dear. Having seen RM's promotion of the video in question, I suspect the original intention may have been to show RM in a positive light.

I'm begging to be corrected on this...

10:52 PM, April 11, 2007  
El Dave. said...

I'm sorry if this is a stupid thing to say, but can we (if I'm allowed to use the 1st plural) to put an 'independent' thing on his website?

2:05 PM, April 12, 2007  

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