12 posts

Found: The Most Jezebellian Comment on Jezebel

Jezzies. You love them. Their razor-sharp wit, their entirely excessive use of all permutations of the phrase “clutching my pearls,” their lentils or whatever. The articles might be the stars of the site, but the commenters are the mellifluous Greek chorus. Specifically the one in Electra.

The most innocuous part of Jezebel, the Dirtbag, was the site of the most Jezebellian comment thread ever yesterday. Continue reading

…and the Crasstalk Anthem?

So far there seems to be some consensus that all of our glitches are caused by DJ Lance Rock.  Our banhammer will be named after our first ban-victim.  (Watch out Tony Kaye, your insider status puts you in immediate jeopardy! Plus the irony would be kind of awesome.)  There is currently some movement to make the Honey Badger the Official Mascot.

But what about our Anthem?

There have been at least two proposals put forward, but we need more.

1) From slackjawed yoda, the following, which had me tearing up this morning.

2) A worthy counter-proposal, from BaldwinP

Both are appropriately overly-dramatic and ironic while actually capturing exactly how I sincerely feel!

What do you all think?

Let the siege begin!

In honor of Frolic Friday, let us commenters adopt a siege mentality to The Site Which Shall Not Be Named.  No pageviews, even out of idle curiousity.  Perhaps one post in crosstalk inviting dissenters here. 

The interesting gentleman pictured above is Ralf Moeller, who pursued a career in bodybuilding until his stature brought him to the silver screen as a friend to Russell Crowe’s Gladiator.   He also was in The Scorpion King, the tv version of Conan The Barbarian, and has worked on several techno / trance albums.  This makes him similar to Crasstalk – an amalgam of multiple talents and hotness, big but still nimble, and if his sword ever needs polishing, there will be no shortage of volunteers.

I am serious about depriving Gawker of our company.  They don’t deserve it.  The site went to shite, as my Irish friends would say, and while I feel bad for Richard and Brian, both of them will land on their feet.  But since Denton has chosen to take his business in this direction (which is his right), he should not get the benefit of our scintillating wit and he certainly shouldn’t get money for our pageviews.

We are all Untermeyer Fountain Sprites tonight.

Does that look like a Gawker refugee camp to you?  I didn’t think so.  But if a brilliant German sculptor in 1910 sought to capture what Crasstalk is about to become, he would have produced this.

This is Untermeyer Fountain, in the North Garden at NYC’s Central Park.  With a slight pang about my beloved Bethesda Fountain’s tender feelings, I declare it to be my favorite fountain in the entire Park.

Like Crasstalk, it’s simple, elegant and uncluttered.  Like Crasstalk commenters, it’s joie de vivre incarnate.  And also like our beautiful commenting ladies and gents, they’re keeping it real. See? The ladies are dancing barefoot.  It’s almost as though that wonderful garden spun around a few times and generated this wonderful thing that makes you say “Wow!” every time you see it.  That’s what Crasstalk might become.

I am glad that so many of my fellow former Gawkers came over here. But this is no refugee camp.  It’s a big noisy party with a lot of truly intellectual, curious, decent-hearted people in it.  And in my head it looks like this fountain.

So glad you all came over.  So glad we can continue to do meetups, HumpDay posts, book reviews, wine commentary (Mom3, I’m looking at you.), mockery of the absurd, and most of all… the really joyous stuff that happens when a few smart people dance around an idea.

Now let’s turn up that water, crank up the music, and shake what our Mommas gave us.

Where Are We Going, And What’s With The Handbasket?

We’re here because we’re smart and funny and lovable. All of us. We like talking about issues of the day, books and movies, and bitching about our spouses or lack thereof. We give each other advice and support. We post pictures of hot guys and gals, posh rooms and clothes, incredible shoes and cars. There’s a recipe exchange. Can’t find a backsplash tile? Post a picture of it and someone will track down the manufacturer. What should you wear to a summer wedding? Post your budget and preferred hemline and I bet you’ll have it narrowed down to three by lunch. How to deal with a bitchy coworker? Everything from going to HR to toxic tahini will be suggested. Did your kitty die? The Rainbow Bridge ends right here. (PS – when you’re ready, rescue another kitty from a shelter, k?)

If Crasstalk was a party, it would be A-list. Not because we exclude others, but because we include them. Yes, most of us are liberals from a social standpoint, at least. But a rational conservative wouldn’t be given the side-eye. Just no bigotry, plz.

Being told that we are worthless to
Gawker, despite the fact that we have enriched everyone that works there both monetarily and intellectually, had to hurt a little. I know I was offended. But there’s some satisfaction:

We know that Gawker will now be a place more akin to a zoo because we aren’t there. Congratulations, Nick! You said we made this place a ghetto and were peasants. Now you have feces-flinging angermonkeys instead. Hold onto your banana, and good luck posting another Peyser hit piece.

I will never ever again have to deconstruct a moronic post made by a whingy-whiny above-the-law social misfit who got a well-deserved speeding ticket and therefore thinks all cops are bad. Also, my efforts to educate people about how to behave during a road stop to reduce the likelihood of getting a summons will now only be given to people who deserve it. Though you all probably know this already.

We won’t be limited by comment boxes.

Creativity will be encouraged.

We can actually do something about trolls rather than trying to shame them.

No more Cheetos and Black Swans and Spartacus ads slowing pages as they load.

And best of all, we won’t be lining the pockets of people who treat us with contempt.


The Rise And (Hopeful) Fall Of Gawker

(crossposted from MobileLocalSocial)

Before you tear me apart for a sensationalist title, let me explain.

I do not think that Gawker Media, the multimillion dollar blogging corporation, will fall.  As a general rule, I do not second-guess the business strategies of multi-million dollar companies.  However, the bloom is definitely off the rose as far as Gawker’s standing in the public eye is concerned.

Fair disclosure: For over four years, I have been a commenter on Gawker blogs, most notably on Gizmodo.

I remember when Gizmodo pranked CES.  Which was a pretty bad thing considering that the prank consisted of a Gizmodo blogger screwing with companies’ presentations at a trade show.  The videographer responsible was not fired and still works quite happily under Gawker’s main imprint.

This year, as with every year, Gawker blogs have found themselves in hot water for their practices.  Gawker itself received a takedown notice and the rather disingenuous ire of Facebook celebrity, reality tv show host, and author Sarah Palin for printed large excerpts of one of her books.  But the Gawker story that really took the cake was “iPhone4gate,” in which Gawker/Gizmodo paid $5,000 for a working prototype of the iPhone 4, destroyed it through disassembly, and then wrote about it at length, before sending it back to Apple, Inc.  Whether this was legal I will not opine.

I do think that it was not a major departure from established journalism practices.  Gawker’s bounties for tips and the like are well known and, frankly, paying $5,000 for the iPhone 4 is no different than paying $5,000 to a paparazzo for naked photos of Insert Hollywood Starlet Of Little To Middling Talent.  It was a major development for Gizmodo and got Jason Chen’s face on many news segments.

It also marked a turning point for Gizmodo’s writing and authorship in my opinion as a blog historian of Gizmodo.  For a goodly amount of time, Gizmodo had been a tech news site in the “traditional” sense of the word.  It featured specs, photos, tear-downs and reviews of upcoming consumer electronics.  It favored the big companies – Apple, Microsoft, Google, Motorola, etc. – but it still had a lot of bleeding edge information about the tech world.  To read it today, one would not recognize it.

Last month, Joel Johnson, whose personality tends to raise hackles with the readership, wrote an entire post telling the commentariat in no uncertain terms that they could go to hell (actually, his language was far more harsh than that).  Again, fair disclosure: I am not a fan of Mr. Johnson, or his pretentious writing which, frankly comes across as preening, and was banned for openly criticizing him.  Since then, I tend not to comment on Gizmodo.  Several weeks later, Mr. Johnson had angered some other readers and some hacking was their retaliation.  Mr. Johnson’s response was to tell commenters to all f**k off.  It was petulant, counterproductive, and off-putting.

At present, there is an article about a wooden roller coaster someone built in their backyard.  There’s a posting about a YouTube video shot by putting a camera around a cat’s neck.  There’s a story about a girl who got trapped in an arcade claw machine.  There’s a YouTube video about multiplication tables in Japan.  In contrast, Engadget (Gizmodo’s main competitor) has stories about a 100-disc Blu-Ray changer, a useful hack for a portable WiMAX device, Kindle sales data, several upcoming Android handsets, and stories about tablet computers not called the iPad and about patent cases and Senate legislation about technology.

In short, Gizmodo is now US Weekly to Engadget’s Economist.  The Economist has better writing and better serves its readers but US Weekly sells more because it just goes for the low-hanging fruit.

Putting this in perspective, this last week really brought to the fore how the sea change is a real thing and not the product of selective perception.  Last week, Google announced the Chrome laptop.  Engadget liveblogged the event with a dizzying gallery of photos and ample coverage of all the details.  Gizmodo didn’t even attend.  Instead, they posted about an ice hotel decked out like Tron and then wrote about the laptop later on.

Finally, capping out the fiasco was a massive security breach of Gawker’s servers in which all accounts – user, editor, and commenter – were compromised.  The hackers gained access to thousands upon thousands of passwords.  My password was on the list compromised but hackers were not able to decipher the password (which has since been changed).  Gawker had known about the flaws in its securities for months.  In one internal chat exchange, Hamilton Nolan remarked about the hacking of accounts, saying if it was editor accounts, “that’s a problem”, if just the commenters, then it was “unimportant.”  This was reported far and wide.  NPR mentioned the hacking of Gawker accounts on its “Morning Edition” program.  Additionally, Forbes magazine wrote a lengthy detailed piece on its blog, including a screencap of the chat in which Mr. Nolan called the breach of commenter accounts “unimportant.”

For their part, Gawker sites are now having to cover themselves as a story.  Several have had to try to assure readers that they aren’t considered “peasants” by the editors.  While I’m sure that Jason Chen and Kat Hannaford don’t consider the commentariat to be peasants, as someone who was banned by a Gizmodo editor (notorious blowhard Joel Johnson) for disagreeing with him, rote assurances don’t ring true with me.  UPDATE: I WAS BANNED FROM GIZMODO FOR POSTING A REMINDER THAT JOEL JOHNSON WROTE AN ENTIRE FEATURE DEVOTED TO INSULTING THE COMMENTERS.

In the meantime, Gawker sites are to launch a massive redesign next month.  This may be too little too late.  As it is, the software code is on the internet to be compromised, the site itself at present loads somewhat slowly because of all of the scripts embedded in it, and the content, quite frankly, is fairly piss poor.  If the new Gawker empire to be feature the crown jewel of Gizmodo writing more three-sentence stories about jackasses riding skis while being towed behind a truck (another story Gizmodo ran instead of covering the Google Chrome event), then it will lose its title as a place to go for tech news.

And that’s where Gawker stands: as a blog network that is vicious, vindictive, and populated by people who, at best, scoff at their readership and, at worst, are openly hostile to them.

As one who used to post between ten and twenty comments a day on Gizmodo, I cannot say that I will continue to comment on Gizmodo (or Gawker) in the future.  There’s not much to say about a two-sentence story about Android-themed wedding cakes.

Love, luck, and lollipops,

OMG! Ponies!