Guido’s bluffs, toughs and fluffers

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Thursday, January 18th, 2007
3:56 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.


Well, I can’t say I’m surprised….

Guido Fawkes: Guido himself is basically simultaneously bored by, but amused that the blog boycott / de-link call has so spectacularly badly backfired, with hits up again to a new month and year high at 18,463 page views yesterday.

Backfired? ‘Spectacularly badly’, no less? This passage (and the rest of the entry) stinks of spin and ‘perception is reality’ crap to me. Classic games of a politician… and I thought Guido hated politicians.

In the past few days, Guido has tried to rev me, you and his audience up in a way that he knows is detrimental… just so he can save face and maybe have a bit of fun at the same time (or, at the very least, give the impression that he’s having fun… nothing is allowed to dent that Fonz-like exterior, nossir; it’s tougher than Tony Blair’s Teflon):

Ministry of Truth – Celebrity ‘Big’ Blogger? Big Deal: No, as I say, there’s much more fun to be had in watching Tim and Guido go at it – well sort of go at it, as Guido seems to be doing an awful lot of wimping out.

A few people have noticed this but explained it away as ‘Guido being Guido’. Well, they’re right and they’re wrong… I don’t think they quite grasp what Guido is yet:

The big development yesterday was this clumsy attempt to censor the image of Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) that was published in the original post.

Given Guido’s well-established position on people who seek to hide their shenanigans from the public with cowardly, bullying threats of legal action, it doesn’t matter if Guido initiated this wah-wah-cease-and-desist or not (he was CCed on the emails from the ‘owner’ of the photo, BTW), because he still came out of it looking like a bloody fool.

Advantage, Guido? I beg to differ. The ‘bold hero’ was offered the coward’s way out and took it like a shot.

Expanding on the behaviour of the ‘owner’ of the photo; she went on to accuse me of theft and worse on other peoples’ weblogs!

Here’s an exchange at Tim Worstall’s place and here’s Stuart Bruce, wisely nudging the brakes.

Meanwhile, Guido sits back and chuckles quietly to himself on a job well done, and seeks to escalate matters further – no matter what the cost to his web-chums.

If he’s not behind the action, he’s certainly not doing anything to reel it in (and it’s the ‘owner’ of the photo who needs protecting here… from herself).

This leads me to the primary point I wanted to make about what Guido and his comment-policy generates (on his site and others).

There have been many straw-men arguments from the (primarily anonymous) people firmly in Guido’s corner, but mostly there has been a lot of deeply personal abuse. There has also been a repeated attempt – championed by Guido – to misrepresent my arguments and cast me as some sort of blog fascist.

Sorry, but I’m not having it.

The abuse, I can take. But if you’ve been watching and wincing, I’d like you to bear with me on an expanded repeat of this thought:

Put yourself in the position of a minor blogger, councillor or MP who has been libelled by Guido or perhaps bullied by the people who hang out in his comments and are busily becoming bolder by the day. Do you have 5 grand lying around and time to pursue it? (Or, perhaps, are you willing to employ the services of the only outfit who handle libel cases on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis; Carter Ruck?)

Now put yourself in the position of a minor blogger, councillor or MP who has been almost-libelled by Guido or perhaps bullied by the people who hang out in his comments and are busily becoming bolder by the day (say, if you’re the victim of the repeated hinting smears in comments that Guido is in the habit of not deleting). If you pursue via the means that most bloggers deem fair and acceptable, Guido will delete your comments. Persist, and the anonymongrels will rubbish you far and wide. Try to find out exactly what Guido is up to with his skewed comments policy, and he’ll call you a spammer.

Not a lot of new players could stand up to this kind of attack. Even if they could manage it emotionally, it would be near-to-impossible to manage in a practical sense, as they would not have the network that is required to produce any kind of organic defence (against the type of attack that is usually made up of 100% astro-turf)

The result would be a new branding forever attached to your site; the perception becomes reality… and all because some anonymous bastards have learned that they can gang together and restrict someone’s freedom of speech under the fucking banner of freedom of speech!

Thankfully, I don’t need to go very far for an example of this, as Guido and his comment-crowd have proved my point for me.

There is a distinct difference between presenting a differing point of view and drowning out someone else’s point of view – particularly if you are one person or a small team posing as a crowd.

If you have been bullied in this way will know exactly what I’m talking about, and you will know how readily someone who is trying to censor you in this way will scream ‘censorship’ if you so much as question their ‘right’ to abuse the system and/or treat a fellow human being this way.

Those of you who know what I’ve been up to these past few years will know that I helped make a lot of firsts happen in political blogging, and I am still doing things right now that won’t be done on a widespread basis for at least a few years. Call me self-important if you like, but I’ve learned quite a few things in the process; stuff that even most ‘experts’ don’t know about the long-term political use of weblogs.

[Sidebar: One of these ‘experts’ should be aware that I stopped giving him free advice a long time ago, for two reasons; I was sick of hearing my words coming out of his mouth, and because it became clearer by the day that he didn’t personally believe in any of the values he was parroting, I became quite comfortable with the idea of just watching and waiting for the day when he falls flat on his face. Amusingly, there’s someone who has played a role in this recent drama who should agree with me on this.]

So… let’s get down to it…

I make no excuses for wanting this to reach as wide an audience as possible:

If you value freedom of speech, and the way weblogs currently enable it, you will want to ask yourselves the following questions:

– Have the mainstream players in the political and business arena shown respect for the blogging ethos, or (perhaps wary, often utter) contempt?

– Does a growing culture of anonymity restrict or enable anonymous bullying and astro-turfing? (Keeping in mind that even an anonymous blogger can be bullied or drowned out.)

– Would you voluntarily forgo some measure of your anonymity if you knew it could stem the tide of complete bastards who wish to abuse a culture of anonymity?

Finally, this:

– If any of the above strikes a chord with you, would you include someone like Guido on your blogroll (especially when his website’s format/policy is nothing like that of a genuine weblog)?

Guido may be busy pretending that all is well and refusing any kind of change (not even the minute-long operation of ‘time and date’ timestamps option that would have allowed him to leave the field sidelines with some dignity), but there’s a lot that has changed in the past few days that can’t do a damn thing about… and it was his (in)action that led to these changes.

(Oh, and Guido? I’m particularly enjoying the fresh spin that casts you as the hapless victim of a nefarious scheme to spam/censor you. A bold and inspired move, considering the circumstances.)


  1. Mr Eugenides says

    Would it be awfully childish of me to note that if one clicks on the "Blog Code matches" widget on your sidebar, we discover that you and Guido are 78.74% related?

  2. Manic says
  3. Mr Eugenides says

    Behind the curve yet again. Damn.

  4. Lobster Blogster says

    I'm in total agreement with you that Guido is a complete shitbag, but I looked at your questions and I don't think my answers would make comfortable reading for you.1. mainstream players – no idea what you are getting at here, nor why I should care2. growing culture of anonymity – not sure where the evidence for the premise of your question is, so an answer is not possible3. voluntarily forgo – er, no. Anonymity is a feature, just learn how to use it properly. I for one had never come across GirlWithAOneTrackMind until I read she had been outed. I enjoyed reading her archives, but I think she had been naive to believe she could have got so much exposure, and include biographical details, without someone tracking her down. Anonynimity has shades. My friends all know my blog name, and one or two even who are not so friendly. But otherwise I just happen to prefer to be a blogging lobster. It's no big deal, nickname is another word for it.4. on your blogroll – sorry never had one. Could never really get to grips with who I'd put on it. I read that they can help drive traffic to your blog, but I'm non too bothered about that either. It's just a hobby, a way of expressing thoughts and taking an interest in what other people get up to.Personally I believe you are seeking a technical solution to the existence of bastards. I don't think there is one, the problem is a social one after all, and not one that's likely to be solved soon. Can't close without offering my own "solution". Bastards: 1. learn to live with them, 2. try to socialise them (but, they won't enjoy it, so) 3. don't expect any early results.PS everything about this particular character shows that he tries to protect his "reputation" in every way he can. I think your campaign is getting under his skin and he's shitting himself :o)

  5. Manic says

    1. New Labour, Conservative Party, The Sun, etc. etc. etc. etc. (I can expand in a later post if you like – I kept notes. One thing to look for is Alastair Campbell's blog where – just like Guido's blog – he was allowed to discuss politics and you were not.)2. More anonymous attack blogs have been popping up. The word is spreading about the near-untouchable aspect of blogspot hosting.3. Your call. But would you rather be out or outed? Golden rule of the web; don't do or say anything that you wouldn't want to appear on the front page of a newspaper4. I know some people that are really, really bothered by getting on blogrolls… but that's for later. Perhaps.Technical solution to bastards: I don't believe I have one, but do have something that will make them easer to ignore. Stay tuned.Skin: Agreed.Cheers.

  6. Lobster Blogster says

    1. Crikey, you've got to be pretty desperate to worry about either official Labour or Tory web presence in any shape or form. I know that the The Sun is printed on softer paper so that it will flush easier.2. Quote sources please!3. My local rag has a circulation of 20,000 say. Potentially a web circulation is 5 billion. In practice my blog gets 10s or maybe sometimes a hundred odd hits a day. It would seem there's a long way to go before "Joe Blogger" has anywhere near the readership that a letter to the local paper can command.

  7. Manic says

    1. It's not the contempt (which was expected) but the *level* of contempt that they thought they would get way with… and mostly did. Example:…2. Sources? Fuck that. Try experience:…3. Keyword; cumulative (see: 'echo chamber')Can't do better than that right now, sorry. It's late and I'm tired. Let me know if you need more.

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