Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Saipan blogs and usenet

I didn't invent the Internet with Al Gore or anything, but I was a fan of it from the start. I got on the net for the first time in 1994, and all I could access back then were bulletin board discussions. I thought it was great because you could link up with people all over the world interested in the same esoteric topic, whether it was some obscure computer game, a favorite band or the trivial machinations of a favorite sports team.

In those days, the preferred chat places were the various forums on usenet. People could say anything on usenet. It was a total free for all, and naturally it didn't take long for people to completely muck it up. Usenet still still exists, kind of, but it is completely useless. There is virtually nothing but spam ads for Viagra, third world dictators and various people who say you really won millions of dollars, just send your ATM card and the pin so they can deposit your winnings. The people who wanted to discuss the ending of the Usual Suspects, or the latest baseball trade, or what kind of bass Geddy Lee was switching to would have to wade through a few hundred spam ads, flames from wankers attacking the fans and general BS. It became virtually impossible find anything on the actual topic. They stopped going on usenet.

Nowadays, the only real bulletin board I view is the Scuba Board, which follows the model for the current discussion boards. There are moderated discussion boards on virtually everything, and these private sites have all but replaced usenet, and they are run as successful businesses with ads in the appropriate places. People register, people post on topic in specific categories, or those topics are moved or deleted. Abusive users get kicked off and banned. The new Marianas Dive board is moderated, as is Harry's blog, Boni's, mine and others. Cinta and Angelo don't allow anonymous comments. Virtually every successful conversation board is moderated because a mere internet connection is no barrier to entry. If anyone can say anything on these boards, they lose all focus and value, again see usenet now, or look at your email inbox each day.

The Saipan blogs are following the same exact trend, and I'm half surprised it took this long to happen. Anonymous commentators, not all bad, come on, say something absurd, someone has to take time out of their day to respond to something often ridiculous, and the post often gets hijacked by people not especially sincere or honest. Left completely free, there would be penis ads, Biba Candidate X and other assorted nonsense on people's private blogs. I simply don't have the time or inclination to deal with it, so my blog will remain moderated, demonstrable idiots will remain banned, and they can start their own blogs and say what they want there.

Bloggers with a reputation for honesty and sincerity, and not anonymous, will get much more, if not complete, leeway. I've never removed any comment with a name attached and I don't think that is a coincidence. Anyone is free to say what they want on their own blog. No one is owed a platform here. I wanted my thoughts in a letter to the New York Times after the last presidential election, but I couldn't very well demand it. The Times is not mine, and I didn't get my forum. An internet connection is not reason enough to grant someone the right to say whatever they want no matter how ridiculous, at least here. The media have reduced their standards on publishing rumors year after year, and public debate and public awareness have suffered. The internet never had many standards to begin with, though various specific sites like to raise their standards above the nonexistent standards of usenet.

You can yell "fire" in your living room all you want, but you can't do it in a crowded theater, and it isn't censorship to prohibit that statement in that place. You can talk about how awful George Bush is at the top of your lungs, but not in the library or in the middle of the Senate's debate in Washington from the spectators' seats. People can say what they want, but not at any place at any time. My blog will not become usenet.


KelliOnSaipan said...

I wholeheartedly agree. All blogs and forums should be moderated, deleting slanderous, nasty, or rude comments. It just wastes everyone's time otherwise. I think people feel more free to be ugly via the internet, than they would ever be face to face. In the case of forums, it leaves a bad reflection on the whole group.

Marianas Eye said...

Looks like you just wrote your next column!


Marianas Eye said...

There are enough people who would enjoy learning about this world. Title: "My blog is mine."

In a few weeks, when your deadline looms and you're wondering what to write, it will seem perfect.

The Writers said...

whatever you say, that is your opinion and this is your blog. You can moderate it and say whatever opinion you have, because it all boils down jeff that this is your blog and you are even advertising to make it a profit oriented blog and that's your choice. if people don't like such blogs, would you care visit it and "waste" your time with it. People moderate blogs because they prefer to hear and read beautiful messages and pardon my language but to kiss ass.

usenet had his days and this blog thing in the future because technology advances by the day.

Jeff said...

It's a nice falsehood to put out there, and just as your message above doesn't kiss ass, your blog is exhibit A on irresponsibility and abusdity. If you all applied the same standards in your newspaper work you use on your blog, you'd be fired immediately --publishing any rumor from any anonymous crank out there on an anonymous blog is worse than Fox news.

And for the record, you guys have so many ads and money schemes on your blog, that I'm not the only one hoping to make my blog for profit.

rev said...

come on. please. some enjoy. btw, angelo taught us those ads thing. but never, we would solicit local entities to place ads on our blog. puhleez! whatever you say, it's your opinion and keep it. why not write your frustrations on the variety, your favorite paper.

Jeff said...

Your paper has ads, too. So what. So does your blog. What exactly is your point? If the ads are local they're no good, but if it is some BS google ads it's ok.

If I feel this is of more mass interest, I will put it in the Variety, which you're right, is my favorite local paper. The New York Times is still my favorite overall.

If I were a working journalist committing journalistic malpractice in my side venture, I'd do it anonymously too, M, so good idea on that.