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.

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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

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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.

The bolder the lie, the bigger the laugh

Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan tell us in a candid moment that the U.S. presidential race is over. In their view, because of Palin.

Video and transcript here.

But in her most recent column, Noonan says pretty much the exact opposite.

Enjoy the laughs.

PS – Alaska is close to Russia! Alaska is close to Russia!

The Daily Mail: let’s kick arse and take names

[UPDATE (06 Sep) - Exciting NEW link! --> The Daily Mail (actually, genuinely) responds at last! <-- Will have no impact on this post, as its work is done and plans are afoot. Mwahahahahaha!]

[You know this is going to be a fun post, because it comes in two exciting parts. Please stand by to share with family and friends and any bloggers you might now... there's plenty of names to be taken and arses to be kicked.]

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Part One

It is now a week since I first went on the record and declared that Julie Moult is an idiot.

The article that started all of this is riddled with errors and fallacies, but the two that most people find easiest to grasp are as follows:

1. What Moult describes is not a Google bomb, and Google themselves have pointed this out.

2. Google bombing did not start “in the early 90s” (i.e. 5-6 years before Google existed).

Got that part?

Good.

I now invite you to take a closer look at the article… just to see if you can see what I can see:

Daily Mail grab #1

Have you spotted it yet?

No?

Maybe you’d care to look closer:

Daily Mail grab #2

Yes, for starters, it’s apparent that the article has not been updated since 11:25 PM on 22nd August 2008, despite the presence of two glaring errors.

Many bloggers and other web users are aware of those glaring errors. In fact, literally tens of thousands of web users have taken an interest in my article, those errors and the author behind them (including people at 36 different workstations at Associated Newspapers, according to my stats).

As I mention here, I initially sought to bring one of those errors to their attention via comments (the good people at the Daily Mail make a big deal about their allowing comments under every article, yes they do).

I submitted this; “What you describe here is not a Googlebomb, but what Google regards to be relevant image result. Google themselves told you that, but you didn’t listen.”

And…. ah, I see that almost everybody out there can now see what I see… but just in case there is any lingering doubt, let’s zoom in even closer:

Daily Mail grab #3

Yep, that’s right.

No comments. Not one.

Let’s take a look at that again, just in case we missed one:

Daily Mail grab #3

Nope. Not a sausage.

After thousands and thousands of visitors that have dropped by knowing that there is something wrong with this article, not one comment has been published about it and not one change has been made.

And if that’s not bad enough, The Daily Mail then go on to lie about it:

Daily Mail grab #4

“No comments have so far been submitted”…?

What a pack of lying bastards.

Rather than admit that they made a mistake, the Daily Mail have instead followed the example set by Iain Dale; they have let outright falsehoods stand, resisted any attempt to address the matter via comments, and also given the false impression that the article has been subject to reader scrutiny all this time.

And it looks like they’ve been at it for years.

MINI-UPDATE – As I write this, I discover that Stewart Kirkpatrick submitted a comment, too. I’m sure there are plenty of others who have shared a similar experience involving this article alone. This self-serving censorship happens all the time at the Daily mail website and every savvy web user knows it.

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Part Two

I waffled on a bit in that first part. I’ll try to be more direct and to the point in this next part. How’s this for starters?

Would like a word

This Googlebomb nonsense is the mere tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen far worse, and odds are that you have too.

I’ve had a gutful of the Daily Mail making their readers worry about stuff just isn’t real. I think they’re well overdue for some serious scrutiny and I find myself in a unique position to do something about that… with your help.

- Bigdaddymerk runs Daily Mail Watch, which is currently one of the top search results for ‘daily mail’ and only a quick refit away from being a serious contender for top search results relating not only to that tabloid’s name, but also key articles, issues and columnists. I’ve been in touch, and he’s keen to play ball.

- I’ve just brought a dozen or so editors together for The Sun: Tabloid Lies. It’s early days, but I think I’m onto something with the specialty-based work-sharing and the tactic of documenting clear and obvious cases of this tabloid deceiving the reader.

The rest writes itself.

If you are the author of an established weblog, and you would consider committing maybe an hour or two a week to documenting the lies and falsehoods of the Daily Mail (focusing on a subject, speciality or columnist of your choosing), then I’d like you to get in touch using the following email address:

bloggerheads DOT com AT googlemail DOT com

[Note - Make sure to include the URL of your weblog (and/or links to any past articles you have written about the Mail), plus any task preferences you may have and/or any special skills you can bring to the table. I'd also like to hear from anyone who thinks they can help with the practical side of the build and/or anyone who would be more interested in targeting The Sun... or maybe even The Express, a tabloid that's full of righteous anger and owned by a pornographer.]

Then, shortly, we’ll all sit down with Bigdaddymerk and have a private chat about tasks, missions, and tactics.

Ideally, the broad aim of the new Mail project will be to waste less time barking at the liars, by instead reaching out to the readers who are subjected to their lies on a daily basis.

Those readers will probably never change their politics or stop worrying about young people causing cancer and affecting house prices, but they may calm down a bit and they might even stop buying the Mail every day if they realise that a lot of the stuff in it has been invented, misrepresented, or blown out of all proportion.

So what do you say, internets?

I say those bastards at the Mail are due a jolly good kicking.

I say the time has come for us to form an ugly mob orderly squad and pile on blindly cut into their circulation with surgical precision.

Shouty Lewis Prothero in V for Vendetta

UPDATE – Heh. Don’t be afraid to throw your hat in, but I’d best point out before it’s too late that competition for the Richard Littlejohn gig is already fierce.

:o)

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