Iain Dale: what is it you can’t face?

As galling as it is to be included in a rigged game by a crooked referee – against my will and without my knowledge – only then to be labelled a bad sport for objecting, I’ll do my best to keep this on an even keel*, because what’s most important to me here is that you watch the tactics and think about motive.

[*MINI UPDATE - OK, you got me. The headline is a bit much. :o) ]

Let’s start with this extract from the conversation that QT_Ian started and then suddenly grew tired of, which is a response to Iain’s reply to a semi-anonymous web user using the handle ‘Cheesy Monkey’.

‘Cheesy Monkey’ wanted to see if Iain would subject his poll to a wee bit of scrutiny, but Iain wasn’t having any of it. Earlier, he had even refused to provide even a confirmed list of weblogs that sent readers to his poll (when all it would have taken at one stage was a mere nod of approval).

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see the harm in exposing a poll that’s ‘just for fun’ to a little scrutiny, and if I wanted it to be taken seriously I certainly don’t think that I could afford to refuse scrutiny. Unless the poll was rigged, of course… in which case a refusal to cooperate is the lesser of two evils.

(Everything in italics is a quote from Iain’s earlier comment(s).)

1.

“So many questions! Are you TI in disguise? :). “

Is the smiley there so you can cast the seed of doubt and also poo-poo any suggestion that you’re paranoid?

2.

“I drew up the poll and the rules. I also compiled the spreadsheet.”

All by yourself, with no oversight. Of course, you don’t see that I should have any cause to doubt your ability to handle this responsibility, because you still won’t admit that I have caught you cheating at the perceived popularity game before.

Or are you seriously going to tell me that the stats deception than ran for months-slash-years was all a ‘mistake’ and you had “absolutely no interest in skewing the result”?

3.

So you drew up the poll and the rules and you also compiled the spreadsheet. Is it really so difficult to mention that you also conducted the vote in your own back yard (and only ruled out voting via anonymous comments on your website only after this action was challenged)?

You hosted the event, which received the most positive attention in your neighbourhood. This, after previous polls (also ‘just a bit of a larf’) where whole neighbourhoods of the UK blogosphere were excluded because you’re so far to the right that when you look to your left you can see maybe to agitators in the Labour Party and no further. FFS, even looking beyond left and right gives you a neck-ache.

Add to this that you, the host of this poll, have a lot of control over what does and does not get read in your neighbourhood. And you exercise that power most stringently.

Example: Typically, your readers will know little about the circumstances surrounding the closure of comments on Nadine Dorries’ site. Many of your readers are unaware that she behaved in a manner contrary to what most other bloggers would regard to be reasonable. This would go some way to explaining why she is rated 4th as a blogging MP when she doesn’t even belong on the list, as she is no blogger. And before you start, Miliband (who did not rate) is quite rightly regarded to be a joke as a blogger by everyone in your neighbourhood, mainly because his comments are a joke. Any time he likes he can shut down a good point about Conservative policy and say; “Sorry. No can do. Weblog paid for by taxpayers.” But David Miliband is not a close personal friend of yours, and enjoys no protection. It’s open season on Miliband at your place, while Dorries gets the softest ride you can give her.

I will accept your “I don’t badmouth my friends” mantra without complaint here, but even with that in place you still have to admit that devout readers of your weblog will have a far better impression of Dorries than most people, and a lot of that is your doing.

This situation is only made worse by your insistence that your readers should avoid reading anything that might upset them. So often you tell your readers to simply look away if they don’t like this blog or that (while complaining that the left are ‘insular’).

Are you seriously going to tell me – even if you deny every charge of control-freakery and censorship – that there is no ‘home team’ advantage to be had here?

4.

“There will never be a perfect system for any poll…”
“I could have Mother Teresa herself overseeing it…”
“… no system is perfect…”

Iain, you embarrass yourself when you retreat to your game of extremes. Of course you’re not perfect and your poll’s not perfect, and of course you’re not the most evil man alive. But you are an unapologetic cheat. I know, because I caught you cheating and you were unapologetic about it.

5.

“… and TI would still see a conspiracy, so I have to recognise that at times I just cannot win.”

Iain, there was a way that you could have ‘won’ in the scenario you present here. You could have honoured my request to be removed instead of sticking it to me in your poll and rubbing my nose in it, just to piss me off.

6.

You don’t even mention by name the few weblogs that announced a boycott in your book or on your site, even though you’re a list-junkie from way back and you KNOW this to be a contributing factor to placement, especially with such a low turnout. Your poll is skewed in at least one respect, an act or failure of yours skewed it, and no mention is made of this on your blog or in your book.

[Take note, QT: it was *after* this happened that the requests stopped and demands started. I take this seriously, because Iain took it seriously enough to mess about with his ACPO-sponsored device just so he could mess with me. If this weren't the case, Iain would have replied to my email requesting that I be left out (he could have said "no") or responded similarly to the announcement on my blog (he could have pointed out that I was still included, but instead he clearly described the action as a "boycott", and I will not allow him to wriggle out by pretending not to know what a word means again). Or... he could just have honoured my request for the same reason you left me out of last year's Who's Who. I wanted no part in this charade and he knew it. Iain responded with an even more pronounced charade.]

7.

Speaking of boycotts and notes, it is worth looking again at what you went to print with, Iain, as you do mention the boycott… by making a point of misrepresenting it and downplaying it:

“Liberal Conspiracy encouraged a boycott of the whole exercise as they felt that because it was being organized by someone on the right, right wing bloggers would be the only beneficiaries. The boycott was boycotted by most blogs on the left…” (source)

Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy encouraged a boycott, and you know there is a difference. You also know that other editors of Liberal Conspiracy promoted the poll, so please don’t bother waving their placement in my face again.

And Sunny did not say that right wing bloggers would be the only beneficiaries; he raised the same point I do above, that the poll would be skewed to favour the right (and your mates) because of who was hosting it. (Please try to understand that this applies before you even do anything that you would regard to be a deliberate action.)

This is you playing games of extremes again instead of admitting that where and how the vote was conducted would influence the vote.

This is the only mention of boycotts in the publication. It makes no note of who specifically told their readers that they were not taking part, and does not acknowledge the influence this action may have had on the number/nature of votes for that blog or from that neighbourhood. You have made no effort to be fair to any of the people you really need to be working to convince that you are least trying.

This applies even if you are sincere when you sigh and say that you should not bother in my case.

8.

Of course this is about power. The whole machine is powered by big and little bloggers wishing to be more powerful.

Many bloggers took part only because they individually or as a group were afraid of missing out on influence in the future, and said so.

And we have this from the poll’s own Foreword:

“The power of the Internet and the impact of the blogosphere continue to change how
politics is done and seen to be done in the UK and internationally.”
– Darren Murphy, Managing Director, APCO UK (source)

Bloggers placed highly on this list will use that placement to further their impact and increase their power. Of course they will. Only a fool would think otherwise.

9.

This poll of yours is as reliable and representative as one hosted by FOX News or the Socialist Worker. And you cannot deny that you pretend otherwise the moment you put the ‘Total Politics’ label on it.

If I had tried this, there would (quite rightly) have been hell to pay, and I am nowhere near partisan as you are.

(Psst! To prove otherwise, you will need at least to establish a stupefying level of denial to match ’1234′.)

Open your mind, Iain; imagine for a moment how a poll conducted via Bloggerheads might have worked out… and please don’t insult me by suggesting that I rush out and try it, as I’ve made it clear why I’m not interested. If you still don’t get it, read #10 over and over until it sinks in.

The answer isn’t for someone else from the left to make the same mistake, but for someone above/beyond these differences to conduct a poll like this.

Not just someone who is not you, but someone who is totally unlike you.

And, personally, I’d expect to see some oversight even if there weren’t a proven cheat at the helm.

10.

You, a man whose core interest is politics, ran a poll in which you and your allies were candidates and (shock!) major beneficiaries.

Where are your principles?

Even if you contend that no gain is to be had, why would you set such a bad example?

/epic

This will be the first time that most of you have read this exchange because (watch out; repeated point coming) it was conducted in a neighbourhood that’s very different to the one you’re probably used to.

Have a chew on it and Iain’s complete failure to respond to any of it, unless it’s to have a go at me and misrepresent my position (again) on his website while offering no right of reply.

I’ll be back with more as time allows.

Tories swimming happily in foreign money

Sunday Times – Lord Ashcroft funds Tories from Belize tax haven: Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservative party, has channelled money into party funds from the Central American tax haven of Belize, despite a ban on overseas donations. (more) (see also)

Telegraph – Lord Ashcroft’s donations to Tories to be investigated* by watchdog: While there is no suggestion that the peer has broken the law, which requires political parties to take donations only from companies that are registered in Britain and “carrying on” business, critics said that at the very least the party was breaching the “spirit” of the rules. The Tories insisted the donations were legitimate.

(*Maybe. RTFA to get the full picture, rather than placing your trust in the headline.)

Too bad we can’t have an inquiry into money Ashcroft has splashed about among certain right-wing activists. I’m sure that’d turn up a few surprises.

Well, when I say ‘surprises’, I for one will make an effort to *appear* surprised, just to be polite….

[Psst! Speaking of money and manners, I just got off the phone with the good people at Total Politics about an unrelated matter. I was most polite, and called using the number provided on their website. My reward was to be accused of being “aggressive” and not going through ‘formal’ channels. Oh dear.]

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UPDATE – Meanwhile…

Scoop (NZ) – Key fails to rule out funding from Lord Ashcroft: John Key needs to explain exactly what relationship the New Zealand National Party has with multi-million dollar political donor Lord Michael Ashcroft after failing to deny serious allegations in Parliament today, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen said. Today during question time, the Prime Minister raised the possibility that Lord Ashcroft could be providing financial assistance to the National Party without donating directly to the Party. John Key did not make any attempt to deny the suggestion as an MP normally would if an inaccurate suggestion was made.

Do not underestimate the power of perception

BBC – Warning sounded on web’s future: The internet needs a way to help people separate rumour from real science, says the creator of the World Wide Web. Talking to BBC News Sir Tim Berners-Lee said he was increasingly worried about the way the web has been used to spread disinformation… Sir Tim told BBC News that there needed to be new systems that would give websites a label for trustworthiness once they had been proved reliable sources.

Yes, a little ‘wilful distortion’ flag would be useful. But one problem here is that the same people who play these games also have no issues with multiple identities, multiple voting, etc. etc. etc.

People like this are sure to game the system in order to defend themselves and make baseless accusations of invention/bias/etc. against others.

[‘Obsessives’ only: Speaking of such things, you might want to take a look at all the ‘different’ people defending Donal Blaney’s original Wikipedia entry. Take a close look at that and/or the history of his latest entry (and those of Iain Dale, Paul Staines etc.) and sooner or later you will encounter this nest of sock puppets.]

Anyway, getting back to that ‘power of perception’ thing, today Nigel Morris makes Iain Dale just that little bit more influential by declaring him to be so, but he does so while thinking that Iain Dale has “350,000 readers every month”.

Iain Dale doesn’t have anywhere near 350,000 readers every month, but the fact that Iain Dale cheated in order to give everybody the impression that he does isn’t something you’re going to read in Iain Dale’s neighbourhood anytime soon.

The Omni chair: a review

Andrew of SumoLounge was kind enough to send me one of his products, the Omni chair, and I’m happy to oblige with a review.

Now, I should make it clear from the outset that bean-bags aren’t for everyone, and they can be temperamental and sometimes downright vindictive. I was thrown by one, once. Honest.

Five stitches to the chin, and I still bear the scars. It completely ruined an otherwise spectacular leap from the storage chest.

So this time I played it safe and let the kids face the danger.

Incidentally, they’re not too impressed with the colour (Pitch Black) because they’re still children. But I chose that colour (Pitch Black), for the very same reason.

(Don’t ask if we would have them eat from a trough. You wouldn’t like the answer.)

Right! Onto the testing floor we go:

Tester #1:

“The beanbag is brilliant. It has plenty of room and is tough wearing. It would probably be better in some brighter colours, and be available in smaller sizes. If it was available for a cheaper price then I would buy it.”

Yes, I know that the chair comes in many colours that are much brighter than black. But don’t let on.

Tester #2:

“The beanbag is soft, comfy but a bit on the large side and it gets in the way a lot. At times it is quite stiff, but overall it is a very nice and comfy bean bag and I would happily buy this beanbag from a shop.”

Putting young consumer aspirations aside…

Yes, it is big. You’d need to reserve an armchair-sized hole for one or have a place to store it if you didn’t want it complicating your every journey across the living room.

Tester #3:

“I think the bean-bag is comfy. The size is great, it fits four people on it. The colour is too dark. I think it will look better in another colour.”

Tch. Kids. What do they know? Black goes with anything.

Yes, it fits four people on it. Four little people, some of whom will be spilling over the edges. Still plenty big, though.

So…

The nylon cover is tough and, I would add, easy to clean.

It’s big and comfy, with plenty of room for most adults.

Because of its shape, there are corners to be negotiated, but a rounder product, the SumoSac, is available.

Here, it’s mostly used as a lounge station for morning or afternoon television, or as a flexible body platform during gameplay.

Please note that it *will* take up space. Because it is big. It’s not a weighty item, which makes it easy to move about, but if there isn’t a place where it can sit in standby mode, then you will need a place to store it, or you will forever be moving it about.

(And it hasn’t made its move against me yet, but I know that it’s only a matter of time.)

Oh, good. You’re all (still) here.

A little something special for you, courtesy of Page 3.

Happy Hadron Collider Day!

That’s two piers down

BBC – Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare
BBC – Fleetwood Pier in Lancashire

I call Morgan for the trifecta.

“Stop hitting yourself.”

Hi everyone.

Well, after (almost) calling me a bully and publishing the bare minimum (One. Comment.) from a reported 60 submissions, the good people at the Daily Mail have completely failed to respond to my rebuttal and done nothing to clarify their recent statement about their comment moderation policy, so I guess they must really mean/believe what they’re saying.

*sigh*

So, as much as it pains me to do this….

Could you please – via email – forward the following to everyone you know?

It’s an important message that recipients will appreciate and remember you for.

==================== || ====================

Dear Readers of the Daily Mail and Mail Online,

SHORT VERSION:

1. Please do not visit the Daily Mail website and submit comments until further notice, as they have issued a statement saying; “We get more comments than we can possibly deal with and our moderation side hasn’t been able to keep up.”

2. Please forward a copy of this email to your family, friends and work colleagues.

LONG VERSION:

Martin Clarke, editorial director of Mail Online, Britain’s ‘most popular’ newspaper website, recently issued the following statement regarding comments submitted to online articles:

“If you want to complain about a story some days after it’s published you have to take a more traditional view of things and write to the editor, the same as you would as if it was in the paper. We don’t publish all the letters we get.”

So please, if you have any criticism regarding any online article that’s more than a few days old (e.g. objections to the inaccuracy of quotes, the omission of facts, the unreliability/distortion of figures, and/or the overall quality of reporting), do try to take a more traditional view of things and write to the editor privately. Perhaps in a letter.

There’s no need to go sounding off electronically (and publicly) under ‘comments’, as it is unseemly and needlessly modern.

Mr Clarke would also like those readers wishing to submit comments of agreement or praise to the website to know that;

“In an ideal world we’d get every [non-libellous and inoffensive] comment published, but it’s a hell of a job moderating 7,100 comments every day. We are reviewing our entire moderation policy. This is becoming more and more of an issue for us. We get more comments than we can possibly deal with and our moderation side hasn’t been able to keep up.”

So, until further notice, can EVERYBODY please STOP submitting ALL COMMENTS to the Daily Mail website? Staff simply cannot keep up with the current volume.

After all, there’s a lot of work to do. Presently, there are articles going back as far as December 2005 that still invite readers to submit comments (that will probably never be published) because staff simply have not had the time to work out a way to close comments on old articles yet.

You can imagine how this compounds the problem, further adding to the huge number of comments submitted.

The Daily Mail obviously does not want to give the impression that they are accepting comments when they know that they have no capacity or intention to publish them, so the only logical option is to call ‘time’ on the whole affair until the editorial team get their act together.

This cycle must be broken for the site to move forward, and you can help by:

a) not submitting positive comments until further notice
b) submitting any negative comments via a ‘more traditional’ letter to the editor

Your patience is appreciated.

Please remember to forward this message to family, friend and work colleagues.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

==================== || ====================

Go to it gang. Oh, and do keep a weather eye out for updates. The Daily Mail peeps might be a little quicker with their next response…. and there’s no telling how polite this one is going to be.

The Sun demonises Musa Ahmet

I invite you to read this, watch the video and decided for yourself what’s going on.

Personally, I think those bastards at The Sun have got a bloody nerve making their readers afraid for no good reason while stirring up trouble and poking this man with a stick. But that’s just me.

The Daily Mail responds at last!

For those who came in late:
Bloggerheads – Julie Moult is an idiot
Bloggerheads – The Daily Mail: let’s kick arse and take names

Judith Townend – Campaign against Julie Moult ‘smacks of bullying’, says Mail Online: A widespread internet campaign against one of the Daily Mail’s reporters ‘smacks of bullying’, according to the editorial director of its website. Speaking to Journalism.co.uk today, [Martin Clarke, editorial director of Mail Online] said the comments on the article in question were not published, because the story was already a few days old, and this was not an act of censorship. Users should use the feedback button on the site, which sends requests directly to Clarke, to complain about a story, he added. “If you want to complain about a story some days after it’s published you have to take a more traditional view of things and write to the editor, the same as you would as if it was in the paper. We don’t publish all the letters we get,” he said. Clarke confirmed that 60 comments had been made on the article, but these remained unpublished as of Friday afternoon – until Ireland’s original post was set live. ‘[I]n an ideal world we’d get every [non-libellous and inoffensive] comment published’, but ‘it’s a hell of a job moderating 7,100 comments every day’, he said. “We are reviewing our entire moderation policy. This is becoming more and more of an issue for us. We get more comments than we can possibly deal with and our moderation side hasn’t been able to keep up. We’re not into censoring comments – if that comment had been posted on the day or even the day after we would have probably got it up there.”

Thank you, Judith Townend, for finally getting us somewhere with these people. I was beginning to feel like a forgotten member of the great unwashed for a bit there.

Let me just fire off a quick letter to Julie Moult before we proceed, because there are obviously hurt feelings to be nursed and boo-boos to be kissed:

Dear Julie,

I currently have plans for a little music-video victory dance and some prize-giving when the first real image results come in, and that’s it, so you can relax.

I am sorry for being a little bit mean, but I think it is fair to say that you’ve given your fair share of grief in service to your evil overlords, so please understand when the apology section of this letter cuts short rightabouthere.

Don’t expect any sympathy from me over anything reasonable that carries on beyond this without my help, unless it somehow goes Teh Full Kilroy, and you have to change your name and your face and your hair and go to live on a small island somewhere, and even there people are writing “Julie Moult is an idiot!” on walls because they saw it on a nearby island that has internets… in which case I might be inclined to think that maybe you’d had enough.

But even then I’d want to review some of your latest articles first, just in case I was wrong.

See, I did my homework, and you really have been an idiot. If you’re somehow not totally responsible for all the stuff published in your name, then you’ve been an idiot for allowing the people who are truly/equally responsible to continue to put your name to their idiocy.

It is my sincere hope that one day soon you will be able to stop being an idiot, and from that moment you can count on me to defend your honour against all comers.

Everyone makes mistakes, that’s why Nazi racoons have self-destruct mechanisms.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

(ahem)

Thank you. You’ve been most patient.

And now, for Martin Clarke, editorial director of Mail Online, I have this:

1. Julie Moult is no innocent flower, it could have been far, far worse if I’d so much as pushed the snowball, and I find it delicious to be half-accused* of bullying by the Daily Mail.

[*Next time, fellas, don't be so shy. It's important that you stand up to bullies when you can and not show fear when you do.]

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2. It is my own personal experience that even reasonable comments made in a timely fashion fail to make it past Mail moderators most of the time. Of course, these could be false memories implanted by magical Googlebomb pixies, so I invite the Daily Mail to share with me records of each and every comment submitted under my name (‘Tim Ireland’), so we can see what’s what.

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3. And if they must stop accepting comments after a week, or maybe even “a few days”, they should at least have the decency to do as The Guardian does and deactivate the comments facility when it is no longer in use. Look, here’s another article I submitted a comment to over a year ago. I just captured this image of the page and, as you can clearly see, comments are still officially open and the text actually invites you to make a comment. All of the Mail’s ‘comment-ready’ articles appear to be like this, and it’s simply not good enough:

Try harder.

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4. On his lecture about the correct or preferred ways to give feedback, I will remind Mr Clarke that the feedback link he describes is a lot further from the article than any invitation to submit a comment, is tucked up snug as you like in an upper navigation bar giving no indication of its purpose other than the name it was born with, and is such a recent addition to proceedings that it’s still marked ‘beta’:

No... harder.

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5. I also wish to hush Mr Clarke mid-word on ‘complaint’. Yes, comments do allow one to make complaints, and the Daily Mail are not expected to publish every complaint, even if one isn’t dealing with the limitations of print. But Mr Clarke is not going to lead me down that path quite so easily. This was more than a mere complaint. This. Was. A. Correction. It contained a complaint of sorts (about the fact that the correction was first issued by Google but someone didn’t listen) but it was, I am sure any reasonable person would agree, a fair attempt to address a major factual error that even contained valuable new information (about the miracle of relevance; one of the “several factors including popularity” that would otherwise have passed without mention).

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6. This, too, is what comments are for. At least, it is in the part of the internets where I come from. (I know of at least one influential blogger cheat who differs on that point, and the rules appear to be different in his neighbourhood.) But if the Daily Mail are willing to try doing things my way for a bit, I’m sure I can attempt “a more traditional view of things” from time to time in return.

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7. “It’s a hell of a job moderating 7,100 comments every day”

a) It’s a job, isn’t it? And you’re not out in the weather or digging ditches. Be grateful! (beat) That is what I imagine a Daily Mail reader might say to that. But I could be wrong.

b) Oh, boo-hoo. I’ve heard this one before, but it doesn’t hold water. Either the Daily Mail can cope with their commitment to accepting comments on every article or they can’t. They should not have articles live that give the impression that they been subjected to scrutiny and passed without comment when this simply isn’t the case, as this betrays of the trust of readers.

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8. OK, so 60 comments were submitted. I’m ready to believe that many of the later ones were along the lines of “Julie Moult is an idiot”, but by the time the later comments were arriving, most web users would have assumed that there was no way anything was going to be published, and probably wished to make their displeasure known to the mods via comments they knew were never going to see the light of day (e.g. comments not unlike “Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood!”, which is a fun phrase to slip into any busy paragraph that’s likely to be read by a lawyer sipping hot coffee). If Mr Clarke does reveal any of these, I’d appreciate him not suggesting that any comments made by people frustrated by selfish moderation are the cause of selfish moderation. Nadine Dorries tried that trick, and it got her more laughs than support.

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9. OK, so 60 comments were submitted, but from all of those comments, no-one mentioned anything worthwhile, such as the obvious problem with the practice of Google bombing supposedly starting “in the early 90s” (i.e. 5-6 years before Google existed)? Seriously? Happy to hear otherwise. Over to Mr Clarke on that one, I guess.

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[Prepare for facepalm. I repeat: Prepare for facepalm.]

10. OK, so 60 comments were submitted. While I’m happy that they’ve finally published something, I’m really quite astonished and disappointed that this is the ONLY thing they’ve finally published under that article:

Oh, FFS.

One. Comment.

/facepalm

[For regulars only: Does No. 10 seem like the kind of thing Uncle Iain would do before huffing; "Well, that's what you *wanted*, wasn't it? Tch. There's no pleasing you!".. or is it just me?]

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UPDATE – Far be it from me to point out the blindingly obvious, but if the Daily Mail introduced the simple measure of comment registration, the rate of flippant and ill-thought-out comments would drop enormously. Immediately. If the system included user profiles that allowed readers to follow a hyperlink under a comment contributor’s name to a profile, with that profile providing details of how long they’d registered and what other comments they’d contributed, *then* they’d have something approaching a sensible solution. This kind of thing will become more and more important as a general election approaches, as both of the main parties are shameless astro-turfers. (And to be fair, I should point out that The Guardian had registraton in place from the get-go over at CiF, but took ages to introduce profile links/pages.)

They’ll be saying I pick on girls, next…

*deep sigh*

I’m just going through some data and I’ve happened across a little something that I missed in an earlier conversation….

The other day, Jennie Rigg was giving me stick for pursuing Iain over his ongoing lies, instead of just ignoring* him.

(*Ignoring him and thereby – in theory – rendering his efforts inert. Once the trend is a little more universal, of course.)

Now, I do not want to pick on Jennie, I don’t want to make a big thing of this, and I can see and understand the temptations involved. I will also readily admit that I have it much easier than most other political bloggers, as I am a long way from having to struggle for an audience.

(Because of the way many people seeking to cloud this issue have been playing this, I need to waste a sentence here to point out that the latter observation is not a dig. At anyone.)

But c’mon… what is this?

“The best thing you can do – the best thing we ALL can do – is ignore [Iain Dale]. The more people talk about him, the more he becomes interesting. If we all stop talking about him (and yeah, I know, I’ve been guilty of that myself the past few days) then he ceases to be relevant.” – Jennie Rigg, Aug 31 (source)

What Jennie refers to in the above comment is a criticism of Dale over Facebook pokery, but what appears below is an extract from the post she refers to earlier in the conversation (i.e. the little something that I missed). In that post, it turns out that she completely fails to ignore Iain Dale and instead encourages her readers to play his reindeer games. This is not “talking about” Iain Dale but actively fuelling his main attention-seeking machine (which, ingeniously, runs on other peoples’ wishes for more attention):

“Iain Dale wants your votes for political blog of the year. I’d be very amused if nobody at all voted, but there’s little chance of that, and I’d probably be more amused if lots of liberal and leftie blogs made it into his charts. Vote Mortimer! Of course, for your vote to be eligible, it has to be for a blog that’s already on the TP blogroll. You can submit blogs to the blogroll here [link].” – Jennie Rigg, Jul 21 (source)

When Iain Dale is not passing his poll off as an unscientific bit of fun, he is bolstering it with claims that it is representative, and he would not be able to do this if enough people from the left refused to take part in it in any way. For a signal of the importance of this point is to Iain, note how Iain plays down the importance of any boycott in his final flourish.

Jennie may have a point when she says that my attempts to highlight the flaws behind the poll merely promote the poll itself (and it is a compelling point, as Iain Dale is a consummate bullshit artist, resilient even to evidence that he himself has published proving him to be a cheat), but her capacity to argue that point with any credibility goes up in a wee puff of smoke when she participates in the poll herself… right down to carrying a badge for the result on her blog:

So if any blogger who didn’t participate in Iain’s poll and isn’t carrying one of his little badges of approval on their website wants to have a go and pick up where Jennie left off, the floor is open.

Otherwise, I still say that Dale’s deeply flawed poll warrants scrutiny over weary acceptance.

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UPDATE – Bugger. I note that I posted this at the same time that Jennie was announcing that that she was taking a pre-conference break. Still, it does nothing to change the fact that she’s left an opening, so do step forward if you think you can fill it. I’m sure we can stick to the point while leaving any comments on Jennie’s specific actions for later, when she’s around and able to have her say on it.

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