Guido: fun and education, education, education

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
10:11 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Guido’s belated dance number comes to us a few days after the ‘boycott’ brand was first applied, rinsed and repeated – and the first thing you’ll notice is the cool, unshakeable exterior.

Too bad about the ultra-paranoid level of moderation and the ‘rebuild’ giveaway, then…

A few people have noticed that Guido did a sneaky rebuild of his blog yesterday, and there are few possible reasons for this new format (that forces you to use anchor links instead of links to individual articles, complete with inline comments), but the most likely ones are an attempt to tempt prying eyes with an alternative article or two and and effort to keep the comments one step away from the action. I suspect mostly the latter, as this measure also makes it difficult to link to specific exchanges under comments.

[MINI-UPDATE (10:36am) – Well, that didn’t take long; proper permalinks are back. Moderation is currently switched off, too. After all, it only takes a minute to change such things… just as it only takes a minute to introduce backlinks (Blogger’s version of trackback) and proper timestamps.]

If you run and hide, then bluster at how insignificant your opponent is, you do come off looking a bit silly… especially when you try to throw the resulting traffic figures back in his face, as Guido has done today.

Still, in spite of Guido’s ‘logical’ claim that I’m violating my own ‘boycott’… again, I’m going to ask you to watch, learn and make up your own minds.

And a lot of you appear to be in the process of doing that; take a look at the stats Guido has published and compare the recent ‘page load’ to ‘visitor’ ratio to earlier data and I’m sure you’ll be able to work out what’s going on.

While we’re waiting for Guido to be a big boy and drop by to address maybe one issue that he hasn’t invented or carefully skewed in his favour on other weblogs (see below), I’m happy to entertain any discussion on the subject of self-regulation… and I’ll even lead with an example:

One thing Guido did yesterday was make a series of single (flawed, if not false) counter-claims under comments on other people’s weblogs (on those rare occasions when he didn’t have other people doing his dirty work for him). Examples of this can be seen here, here and here.

I had to address these comments in a limited way, as it’s simply not the done thing for two bloggers to battle it out in the comments of someone else’s weblog.

You may have broken this rule in the past, but I’m sure you’re aware of it. Some people call it ‘etiquette’, but it’s one of the self-regulatory measures that already exist (and basically stop the whole thing from falling apart or descending into farce).

What Guido likes to do is take advantage of these rules while showing little regard for them himself; Guido’s attempt to downplay or rubbish singular points (or invent single issues that he then goes on to rubbish) on other people’s weblogs is one example of this, and the way he manipulates feedback on his site (via a misleading policy, deliberately restricted format and a near-to-fanatical level of moderation) is another.

Another thing Guido likes to do is misrepresent his opponent’s position before charging in with a ready-made rebuttal. Surprise, surprise, this is just was his sock-puppets and anonymongrels are busy doing, too; even if it’s not Guido wearing many clever disguises, it cements the point I raised about Guido being a poor role model for bloggers. (FFS, I’ve touched some nerves before, but this is the first time anyone has ever tried to cast me as a willing tool of New Labour. ‘Peter Hitchens’ has even slipped his chain and started charging around trying to convince people that the now-classic Teens page is a genuine attempt to reach da yoof. It’s not, BTW.)

But Guido’s favourite trick by far is repeated use of the false dichotomy.

If he challenges someone about unknown funding and the untoward changes to agenda that might result and you dare to point out that he himself cannot boast the same level of transparency, he will ask; “Err, who do you think is funding Guido? And why? Lizards? Halliburton? The Illuminati*?” If you try to raise a point about the need for bloggers to look at the way things are going and consider the wisdom of revisiting the subject of self-regulation, he will brand you ‘Blog Brother**’… or perhaps ‘Yog Brother’ (waves).

(*As any fool knows, the Illuminati are lizards. From outer space. I suspect Guido is trying to throw us off the scent.)
(*Please excuse me for being privately amused that it took Paul two days and a long night in the pub to come up with this.)

In short, Paul Staines is the kind of person who will, without hesitation and with stupefying regularity, use your own values as a weapon against you… often in the most dishonest and misleading way possible.

Like it or not, we as bloggers have formed a number of small communities that tie together as one big community, and already share a number of self-regulatory values. Guido has no respect for those values, and has shown – especially in the last few days – how willing he is to exploit them… which is why it is so very, very stupid to herald him as a good example of a blogger, as it’s part of the reason why the existing self-regulatory values continue to decay at an alarming rate.

Perhaps this is why Iain Dale happily chatted about Monday’s post on Fox News Lite after it was raised as the lead ‘blog of the week’, but failed to find the time to mention it on his own weblog.

[Sidebar: Pot, meet kettle.]

After all, the feedback aspect of 18DoughtyStreet is far more tightly controlled than that usually enabled and allowed by the blog format that Iain such is a fearless champion of.

Is he worried that someone will point out that his guide to political blogging highlights Guido as an excellent example of the ‘open and honest’ aspect of blogging when it is anything but open and honest?

“Interact with your readers, respond to their comments, accept their revisions,” that’s what Iain pushed forward using Guido as his ideal model. It’s perfectly clear that Guido does not do this – so, yes, I suspect that Iain is concerned that he’ll come across looking like a hypocrite or a fool.

As for the charge that I take myself (or blogging) far too seriously, I’ll simply raise my hand and say ‘Guilty as charged!’

Somebody has to take things seriously, otherwise nothing gets built… and with this arsonist on the loose (and others praising arson as the ideal), there’s a lot of building to do.

(PS – The left is boring. The right is far more exciting… and they have snazzier uniforms. It would be unseemly of me to point to things I have produced/written that are far more entertaining than this Bit Of Necessary, so instead what I think I’ll do is privately message my supporters so they can invade other weblogs and sing my praises and/or fight my battles for me. That’s the way this whole open networking thing works, right?)

UPDATE (2:40pm) – I’ve just turned down an invitation to debate this with Guido on a podcast. So far Guido has shown no interest in engaging in an actual, honest debate on the level terms provided by most weblogs, so I wasn’t convinced that he would conduct himself fairly in a recorded debate. Amusingly, Guido insisted on going ‘uncut head-to-head’, but refused (again) to engage in a debate via the comments function on my site (there’s ‘no right of reply’ on his) on the basis that he was “not interested in boosting Tim’s traffic.” Pfft! And he calls me big-headed.

UPDATE (2:52pm) – Pardon me for being coy about the people who invited us… no need for that now.

UPDATE (3:05pm) – Tch. Guido’s out mouthing-off on other people’s weblogs again.


  1. Nosemonkey says

    OK, to play Devil's Advocate for a moment:1) The rebuild may have had nothing to do with your campaign.- He did, after all, update his blogroll the day before you launched it. May be time for a (long overdue, considering how dated the site looks) spring clean.2) Cock-up rather than conspiracy?- He buggered up his blogroll HTML when updating the code (I know because it was a link to me he screwed up). He may also have buggered up some settings. Blogger is temperamental at best – part of the reason I switched to WordPress was that I could never get trackbacks or backlinks to work at my old place. The very look of Guido's blog is surely an indication that site coding isn't one of his strong points?3) Guido being a poor role-model for kids. Sorry, bloggers.- I still don't buy that he is a role model. Some bloggers may envy his traffic – and quibbling about precise traffic levels matters not a jot to those who only get 20 visitors a day. The page load / visitor count thing is largely for him to up his advertising rates, from what I can tell. (Though this may not matter anyway, according to Jeff Jarvis in the Guardian Media section on Monday, that I don't appear to be able to link to here.)- I doubt, however, that many bloggers have even the faintest hope of being able to build up the network of contacts in and around Westminster that Guido evidently does have. The reason Guido can be a gossip-monger is that he has the contacts to be able to get gossip. The majority of other wannabe big bloggers simply don't and won't.4) The honesty thing.- First, it was Dale's description, not Guido's, as far as I'm aware which, as you note, makes Dale the fool if it's iniaccurate. If Guido's ever self-applied it, that's another thing entirely. But still – I've seen no evidence that what he writes in his posts is dishonest.- Second, Guido's comments are part of the character of his site – they usually don't purport to add any additional detail to his posts, and are 99% blatantly silly. They have also been a part of the site long enough to have built up their own community, all working sheep-like towards the good of the site as a whole, and all using the dialect of the site (you know this – check out b3tards' shared slang and response to being attacked, or the self-contained communities that sprang up on Comment is Free in well under a year).- Third, if his unique visitors versus page loads thing is even slightly accurate, the vast majority of his site's visitors don't bother with the comments anyway. So it really doesn't matter what he does with them in terms of the impression people get of blogs and blogging, surely?

  2. Manic says

    Cheers, Nosemonkey. Happy to respond.1) True. The universe is infinite and nothing is unpossible. Even the change back less than 10 minutes after I mentioned it could be a coincidence.2) He rides on Blogger; templates are easy to screw up (because you need some passing knowledge of HTML), but backlinks and timestamps are incredibly easy implement, as you just turn them on and Blogger does the rest.3) I contend that there are people out there right now peddling simple-minded, wrong-headed solutions to MPs that are desperate for easy answers. I didn't mention kids, just adults who act like children.4a) See point #11. And Guido's very approach to comment moderation is dishonest4b) The sheep are breeding.4c) Some people access and refresh comments via the Blogger pop-up, which will not register on Guido's stats; others will refresh and read comments on the page generated by a single post, which will. And a lot of what starts in the shit-bucket of Guido's comments takes on a life of its own and spreads beyond his blog.

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