Club Faggot II – and Vale Ken Parish

I’m very sad to say that Ken Parish has called it a day on Troppo. As he said there were some important private reasons motivating him, but there was also the agro and misunderstanding that flies around routinely. That increased the stress and tedium and that’s a standing invitation to wonder why you’re bothering.I hadn’t been to Cesspitallaxy Catallaxy since a recent bit of excitement there. It’s pretty vexing to read abuse by trolls. What are you supposed to do? Respond to absurd charges which are both completely unreasonable and apparently willful in their misunderstanding of what you’re saying. I generally ignore them but that is nearly as vexing because it is as if you aren’t up to it as if you’re arguments are weak or you’re just a sour old puss who takes themselves too seriously.

In any event Ken wrote an angry departing comment on the thread which he subsequently removed. It took me to this thread which (I think) vexed Ken more than the thread he was on.

There it is clear that a certain urban myth has grown up it seems to be the founding event behind Jason’s claim that Club Troppo is a precious place Club Pony to him or Club Faggott to another commenter.

The urban myth is not true. Who knows if this can be corrected. I was trapped in the bona fide commenters bind respond or not? Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. In any event here is a bit of a correction for the record. I wasn’t going to put my side, but when a certain version of an event gains currency its vexation grows. So I offer this correction.

Whyisitso has claimed that I banned him on account of relatively mild criticism on Troppo.

Technically that’s correct. But it’s misleading. But to appreciate why you need to know a little more. In the middle of a discussion with Harry Clarke that I was finding thoroughly vexing Whyisitso chimed in with this comment.

“engaging the interested, non-expert reader”

Perhaps if you cut the personal preciousness you might begin to succeed in that aim, Nicholas.

Now there’s nothing much wrong with that. But seemed to be typical of the thread itself. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an argument in which you’re trying to stick to the arguments but you begin to be howled down by a group of people who don’t seem to be listening to the arguments, but going on the body language of the situation. That’s how it seemed to me.

Anyway after an hour’s quiet reading before I went to bed, it suddenly struck me that something ridiculous was going on. So with my mind clear, I emailed Whyisitso.

Dear whoeveryouare,

I don’t think it’s right for you to be able to lob casual and abusive asides into the ring without revealing who you are.

If you wish to identify yourself I’ll take your comment out of moderation.



Our anonymous friend did not return the e-mail, but posted another comment on the site which I didn’t see for a while.

So now pseudonyms are banned, eh. Well OK it’s your blog. But my “abuseness”, your main complaint, was pretty mild compared with the personal insults you’ve been hurling at Harry throughout this thread. You really have been behaving as a spoilt child. Grow up, Nicholas!

I don’t really have a problem with this comment either. For all I know he might be right, but I was keen for the thread to be about the arguments. And if whyisitso won’t even say who he is, well it just seems like good money after bad to let him squirt the odd bit of animus about wherever he wants.

You can agree with this or think it terrible. It came to me as a pretty clear way through the fog. Of course no matter how defensible and clear headed you are or not you’re still damned if you do and damned if you don’t that’s why I call it good money after bad. Whyisitso has nothing riding on this he (I’m guessing see how hard it is to engage phantoms) can duck and weave, irritate and ingratiate as is his wish. He can rematerialise as someone else to back himself up. Who knows what he does.
And so he proceeded to show how I was damned because I did. He reported what happened nearly accurately but left out what seems to me to be a critical detail.

Nicholas emailed me complaining about my anonymity as well as the content of my comment which was in the midst of a quite technical but very interesting argument betwen himself and Harry Clarke about protection in the car industry. I surmise that it was the combination of the content of my comment and the fact of my anonymity that had a synergestic effect (sort of 1 +1=17).

Whyisitso didn’t mention that I said I’d publish it if he identified himself.

Anyway, I’m not even sure why I’ve bothered with all this well I am, but I’m not sure if it is worth it. We all have to get on with our lives. But the trolls have taken a big toll on the place.

Sophie Masson was one of my favourite bloggers precisely because what she said surprised me so often. Her reading was wide and different to so many of the worthies in the blogosphere. Ken was a great anchor and founder for Troppo. And I’m very lucky that he let me onto the site which I’ve enjoyed immensely.

I have no intention of letting trolls stop me blogging. I get too much out of it. But I’m very sad right now that Ken who contributed so much a pioneer of the blogosphere and one of its elder statesmen has quit because it stopped being fun.

Now you see I’m at a disadvantage. I don’t know who Whyisitso is. I don’t know if he has made some contribution to our lives. Perhaps he’s done more for us in some other way than Ken has pumping out informative, well argued, moderate, sane and sometimes amusing posts over 700 in all.

Now he might be the Prime Minister and just Whyisitso in his spare time. Perhaps a Nobel Prize winner, or just a good person struggling to do the right thing in his life. But at least from what we know of him, he remained the Lord of Small Mindedness to the end.

Kenny’s spat the dummy. Seems he can dish it out but he can’t take it.

Thanks for everything Ken.

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87 Responses to Club Faggot II – and Vale Ken Parish

  1. Geoff Honnor says:

    I remember saying to Ken a long time ago that there was no harder ask than attempting to maintain an ideologically detached blogging perspective.

    For a start, no-one believes that you are non-aligned and secondly, your blog ends up being like the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years War – laid waste by those continually seeking to expose you as a heretic.

    It’s a hell of a lot easier to run a Left or Right wing blog where the faithful roll up to pledge allegiance, have the truth of their insights confirmed and kick around the handful of interlopers who inevitably front to blow ineffectual – but often very personalised – raspberries.

    Ken kept persevering with the ideal of non-aligned civil discourse long after it had become abundantly clear that it’s bloody hard to sustain without eventual resort to ideological anchoring.

    It’s to his credit that he did and, as I’ve noted elsewhere, he nurtured some impressive spinoff talent in doing so.

    There are very few people who’ve signed off in the Ozblogosphere with as much accrued credit as he has.

  2. Kim says:

    I’d prefer to let this one go through to the keeper, but since it’s my comment on the thread that you linked to second as precipitating Ken’s decision, I wish to comment.

    I saw what I was writing as legitimate criticism. I think you’ve reinforced the point about preciousness despite your disclaimers – whyisitso’s comment is tame. I don’t think the claim about anonymity is either here or there. You don’t object to commenters calling themselves “Yobbo” or “Derrida Derrider” but only when you find someone saying something you don’t like. Or so it seems.

    I remain hurt by some of the comments Ken and jen made which were directed at me personally on one of Sophie’s final posts because I found them needlessly personal and offensive – and I didn’t like my sexuality being made an issue. But I tried not to personalise my comments on Catallaxy, and after Geoff pointed out the positives of Troppo – and Ken’s contribution, I agreed and apologised if I’d been too strong.

    It does seem that Troppo folk are overly sensitive to any criticism.

    You might also wish to take note of the fact that Joe has said “let bygones be bygones” on the thread to which you linked in a very gentlemanly fashion.

    I’m sorry to see Ken go. I don’t think all of his posts were “moderate” though – I think he himself admitted on several occasions that sometimes he liked to veer left or right to get a rise out of people. And that’s part of the substance of my criticism. I’m happy to acknowledge his contribution as a blogger, and as Geoff said, someone who fostered talent as well. But let’s be real, Troppo has been becalmed for quite some time. It does seem to me fair to say that it seems now that Troppo writers are overly sensitive to criticism.

    I don’t know what the claim “But the trolls have taken a big toll on the place…” means.

  3. Jason Soon says:

    My comments in brief
    1) I liked and respected Ken’s work. I hope he comes back.
    2) whyisitso’s ‘foundation myth’ was only a catalyst for my snark which ended up upsetting Ken almost as much as GMB.

    Fact of the matter is, as I explained in that snark, I was getting tired of people from Troppo coming over and castigating me for my comments policy. the nasty comment from Chris Lloyd (student T) claiming that my commens policy was based on ‘cowardice’ was the last straw that provoked the snark, but it was you too.

    Word from the wise – look up ‘reverse psychology’. I never deigned to comment or even butt my nose into Troppo’s affairs until all this.

    I know Troppo isn’t responsible for its commenters (like Student T who was also continually making tangential remarks about Catallaxy promoting ‘race hatred’ on your blog) but you and Ken have also been holding me accountable for my own and castigating me for what they do ON MY OWN BLOODY BLOG. And more than that, Ken was continually accusing me of encouraging Bird and JC when all that meant was that I didn’t ban them as the whole lot of you kept insisting I do.

    3) Related to (2) – Look Nick if you don’t want to comment at cesspitallaxy anymore that’s fine. But I take issue at this slight from you (and now from Gees off) that somehow we’re a blog that takes ‘pledges of allegiance’.

    We have regular leftist commenters like FDB, Mark, Kim, fatfingers, and MichaelG. We have Amir Butler, who used to be head of AMPAC (despite Chris Lloyd’s off-topic libel about Catallaxy promoting race hatred because of our robust comments threads). So how come they can take it and you can’t. I stand by my remark that you’re precious and are simply used to a degree of diffidence that you can’t get – and oh to get your hands dirty taking the occasional invective from a dirty prole like GMB (who actually has been making a worthwhile contribution recently IMHO)

  4. Jason Soon says:

    sorry that should have been ‘Geoff’ – not Gees off – that was a genuine typo from typing too fast

  5. Kim says:

    What Jason said about pledges of allegiance. LP has its fair share of right wing, Democrat, Green, anarchist, social democratic etc commenters and the bloggers have quite diverse political positions on the Left as well.

    Robust debate has its benefits as well as its pitfalls. And as I’ve been suggesting, Ken wasn’t always one to pull his punches. And nor should he have. He was consistent in the old days about a free reign on comments at Troppo, and critical of people like Chris Sheil (unfairly in some ways I think) for deleting comments at Back Pages.

  6. Jason,

    I have no idea what you mean by taking pledges of allegiance. This isn’t an aggressive comment. I really don’t know what you mean. I certainly wouldn’t accuse Catallaxy – or you – of trying to corral your site into some kind of political correctness.

    I think it’s strange how the idea of sensitivity to criticism gets bandied about. We all argue for our point of view. Most of us get pretty annoyed with people when we think they’re not giving us – or our arguments – a fair go. You respond to criticism, as you have here, boots and all.

    You’re certainly sensitive to criticism of your comments policy. You say that I lectured you on civility “many many times”. Well I can remember once. Maybe it was twice. I’d say that I complained. It was a customer complaint. To which you replied (from memory) “for chrissakes it’s not a church”

  7. Jason Soon says:

    Well, 3 times including the time you used my comment against me when I was trying to enforce suasion rather than banning was enough. my church comment was against banning, not moral suasion. What’s your point here, Nicholas? My point is that whyisitso’s story wasn’t the motivating factor behind my snark. and even if it was so what? that minor detail you included didn’t seem to make the real story terribly different from the ‘foundation myth’.

    how does this make me ‘better’ or ‘worse’ since apparently the list of crimes and the unremitting hostility that Catallaxy has been getting from some people here is also caused by its comments threads which your post also now seems to imply has driven Ken away. my comments threads on my own blog.

    the ‘pledge of allegience’ reference was alluding to Geoff’s comment that:
    ‘It’s a hell of a lot easier to run a Left or Right wing blog where the faithful roll up to pledge allegiance, have the truth of their insights confirmed and kick around the handful of interlopers who inevitably front to blow ineffectual – but often very personalised – raspberries’

    Anyway if my comments policy sucks so much (and it seems to be an obsession of some of the people here) I’d invite you to look at the range of subject matter and participants in our open forums

    and compare them to, I dunno, Troppo’s?

    Sure we got the mud wrestling as well as the high level discourse, we got comments about Big Bang theory and Russia. It’s like America, the best and the worst in one spot.

  8. Kim says:

    In any event Ken wrote an angry departing comment on the thread which he subsequently removed. It took me to this thread which (I think) vexed Ken more than the thread he was on.

    It sounds a bit like you’re trying to create your own myth, Nicholas.

    I didn’t see the comment Ken subsequently deleted because I was at work and not near a computer, but I gather he described me as a thug.

    I’d invite anyone to read the thread to which you linked and see if that’s fair and accurate. If people think so, so be it. But it’s hardly “civil”.

    Ken’s been writing snarky comments about comments for a long time, and obviously hasn’t enjoyed his blogging if what he’s said about it (including comments quoted in the Higher Ed section of the Australian) is any indication. However, to embed, in your words, a myth that a nasty Catallaxy thread drove him out of the blogosphere is a bit rich.

    You haven’t bothered to acknowledge the comments both I and Joe made on Catallaxy regretting Ken’s departure, or my apology in response to Geoff’s comments (which Geoff didn’t ask for btw) if I’d been to hard on Troppo bloggers.

    You’re very clearly indulging in your own mythmaking.

    I hope Ken comes back. For someone who’s complaining about another blog complaining about Troppo, it seems totally inconsistent to be blaming people on that blog for Ken’s departure.

    I’m sure Ken had good reasons for leaving, and it’s not some sort of dummy spit in response to criticism. That’s an inference that could reasonably be made from what you write in your post.

  9. Jc says:

    I always liked you. You’re reasonable guy who does take himself a little seriously. What have I done to make you so angry at me? Ok, so I don’t like lefty ideology and all that, but so what, it’s no as though the world is ending as a result.

    If you feel I don’t treat you with enough respect I’m sorry and will try to improve my standards in the future.

    Look, think of me as the embarrassing Italian relative. My family does and it doesn’t worry me all that much.

    So let bygones by bygones. Most of he stuff is all in fun anyway.

    So can I post at troppo.

  10. “unremitting hostility that Catallaxy”. Beats me Jason. Is this me? Or someone else. Broadly speaking I’m a fan. I think your comments policy is extreme.

    But as you say, you’re the one with the runs on the board. Ratings isn’t everything. I don’t go visit Tim Blair’s site which outrates all of us (I think) because I find it boring. But other things being equal, ratings are good. That’s one of the reasons we do this – to attract discussion.

    I still think your comments policy is wrong ie. ethically wrong. I think there should be more than a policy of moral suasion or deleting the offending comment when someone responds to one side of a debate by calling the other a ‘bum-sucking homo’. That’s hate speech. Don’t you think? Of course it’s often defended as just a joke. But then if that’s the case, I’m surprised you’re so touchy.

    But you are right it generates more excitement, and I think Ken was lamenting that fact.

    But you make a good point. Still, the thing that I think most governs ‘ratings’ is the content of the posts. People like a bit of a stoush – and they like a bit of right/left slanging – a point that Geoff made.

    Perhaps I sound superior about this. I don’t think I am. But I would say that wouldn’t I? It seems a few people round here think so, so that counts for something. Then again you have to be careful judging by the mood of the crowd.

    But really I DO just think that left/right shootouts are pretty uninteresting misunderstandingfests.

  11. Kim says:

    Beneath your dignity to respond to anyone else other than Jason, is it?

    I wonder why I bothered commenting on this thread at all.

  12. Jason Soon says:

    Who said anything about ratings, Nick? You think I’m just after ratings?

    I wrote: ‘look at the range of subject matter and participants in our open forums’

    You guys have gotten uppity. The point is if you want to go to a blog where you can read people arguing about a whole range of topics including politics, and even the most esoteric topics you can think of, and nut them out, I think the open atmosphere of Catallaxy encourages this quite well. I never said anything about ratings. I agree, Blair can be boring, because everyone is in vigorous agreement.

    We don’t encourage vigorous agreement at Catallaxy. We have libertarians flaming each other over monetary policy -and yes you probably don’t like the idea of flaming – a lot of smoke was blown at that thread but also a lot of light – it comes with the territory. You can’t have one without the other.

    still think your comments policy is wrong ie. ethically wrong. I think there should be more than a policy of moral suasion or deleting the offending comment when someone responds to one side of a debate by calling the other a ‘bum-sucking homo’. That’s hate speech.

    Again with the preachiness and lack of specifics. So what is your specific proposal? What is there other than moral suasion and deleting besides banning ultimately? That I ban anyone who uses the word ‘bum sucking homo’ regardless of what I think his potential is just to please the distinguished economist because he expects the same level of decorum he gets from his professional colleagues?

    And here is a recent contribution from the same prole you and the others in Troppo have an obsession with who used the lamentable phrase ‘bum sucking homo'(who isn’t actually homophobic by the way, he has been unreletingly civil to a gay mathematician who gives him his dues – maybe you just come across as snobbish as you do in this thread) and notice the interesting responses he provoked in all of us.

    This has got nothing to do with my not wanting constructive debate ultimately, Nicholas. I am just annoyed by your incessant snootiness – it’s not as if you’re actually achieving your aims because of it.

  13. Nabakov says:

    The thrill has gone.

    I suspect many are getting old, bitchy, stale and bored by the same old routines played out again and again and now by the same old new ing

  14. Jason Soon says:

    well I have to support Kim’s points there belatedly. The thread she was on seems to have her got her unfairly singled out for being responsible for Ken’s departure.

  15. Rob says:

    A lot of this is about bad memories, I think. Those of us who participated in the great Troppo education and sexuality wars will have differing recollections of what actually happened, no doubt, but I recall a spasm of personal and ideological venom directed against Sophie that had to be seen to be believed. There was something different about those attacks – it wasn’t just the usual blogstorm. I said at the time there was a smell of burning witch around Troppo and I think it’s never really gone away. It’s still in the neighbourhood and in our nostrils and I think it did destroy the fantastic site that Troppo was then and for a little while after. And because it was never mitigated by apologies or retractions it remains a wound unhealed.

  16. OK Jason, I misunderstood you. Still I was trying to make a constructive comment. In fact you can take everything I said about ratings and apply it to what you lauded about Catallaxy.

    “look at the range of subject matter and participants in our open forums”. Ie it’s better than here. I agree it is. So good on you.

    Kim, I didn’t have anything much I wanted to say in response to what you had said. I’m finding this pretty tough going. I didn’t and don’t accuse you of anything. I don’t want to rehash the Catallaxy thread.

    Jason says I’m snooty when I respond to him. You think I’m snooty when I don’t respond to you. It’s fair enough of you to make comments presumably to me in expectation of some response – but I don’t have much response. You say I’m mythmaking and various other things. I might well be. I’m just telling a story of things from where I see them. You have your story too.

    It’s been a long day, it’s 2.38 am and I’d better get to bed.

  17. cam says:

    It’s a hell of a lot easier to run a Left or Right wing blog where the faithful roll up to pledge allegiance

    Sites also develop their own tribalism that isn’t necessarily ideological either.

  18. Ken Parish says:

    Some clarifying observations.

    Although I am very grateful for Nicholas’s support, I would on balance have preferred it if this post hadn’t been written. I quite deliberately deleted my initial narky parting shot because I concluded it was inappropriate, unproductive and in many ways an example of exactly the sort of blogging behaviour that has caused my longstanding disillusionment with the genre.

    However, since you’re all engaging in “metablogging” aka navel-gazing, I might as well clear up a few misconceptions that have become evident on this thread and the “slag Parish and Troppo” thread over at Catallaxy. First, the latter was merely the immediate trigger for my deciding to chuck it in. Apart from my longstanding disillusionment with blogging (on which I’ll expand below), there are changes afoot in our family’s situation over the next year or so that I’ve explained privately to Nicholas.

    Secondly, several people have observed that (a) I used to have a much more provocative style and robust comment-allowing policy; and (b) Troppo is now duller and “not what it once was”. Historical explanation is in order here. Accusation (a) is a fair cop. I explained my then policy very clearly in an article about blogging I wrote for Chris Sheil at Evatt Foundation 2 or 3 years ago:

    In any event, Schudson’s monitorial citizen concept suggests that we shouldn’t be too precious or dismissive about employing tabloid circulation-boosting tactics from time to time. They may be unavoidable for anyone who aspires to a meaningful monitorial role. A monitorial blog is likely sometimes to have more in common with a Collingwood versus Carlton grudge match than a genteel academic debate, at least if we want to attract and hold a broad general audience. Not that many academic debates are all that genteel anyway; the current Windschuttle versus Reynolds and Ryan stand-off being a prime example. The most prominent current embodiments of Schudson’s monitorial citizen are radio talkback shock-jocks. Large numbers of politically disengaged Australians rely on personalities like Alan Jones as fire alarms, signalling issues their audience should regard as worthy of attention. However, talkback hosts are generally quite right-wing in political orientation, and the radio medium itself imposes inherent constraints on the depth with which topics can be explored. Superficiality is unavoidable. Political blogs may have more potential as vehicles for monitorial citizenry. Bloggers span the entire political spectrum, so that disengaged citizens have a much wider available range in choosing the pundit whose political attention filter they’re most willing to trust. The blogging format also permits in-depth exploration of topics, while also allowing readers to absorb information to whatever extent they choose.

    If occasional outbreaks of tabloid sensationalism are the price that must be paid for bloggers to attract a large enough general audience to fulfil a meaningful monitorial citizen role, perhaps it’s a price worth paying. As long as the bread and circuses stunts are interspersed with more meaty analytical posts, intellectual depth and rigour need not be sacrificed.

    Although I still think there’s some substance in that view, I’m now much less sanguine/hopeful than even that heavily qualified view about blogging. Further experience has indicated that, while blogging continues to generate new and exciting talented contributors who write fresh and challenging material whose quality and interest is higher than much of the daily fare of the “quality” end of the MSM, there is a huge attrition rate caused by the relentlessly negative, hostile, tribal, “attack dog” atmosphere of the commenting culture on most blogs. With very rare exceptions (John Quiggin comes to mind), excellent writers only last a couple of years, before giving up and moving on in resignation or disgust, having decided that the freedom and other positives of blogging are outweighed by the unceasing nasty, petty tribalism. Comment box discussion at most blogs is with rare exceptions no more than a pretext for participants to shout past each other and broadcast their impervious ideological prejudices. It isn’t dialogue at all, so what’s the point? I partly acknowledged these aspects in my Evatt article, but understated their impact and the full extent to which they radically devalue the blogging experience and result in many of the best writers being driven away from the medium.

    It has been that conclusion that led me, in consultation with Nicholas and Don Arthur, to implement a more rigorous comment editing policy that peremptorily deletes ad hominem and trolling comments. It may well have removed most of the “bread and circuses” aspects from Troppo’s culture, and obviously some find that boring. So be it. It has resulted in eminent writers like Nicholas, Fred Argy, Tony Harris and Saul Eslake deciding that Troppo is a space where they can participate in blogging without being subjected to gratuitous and unpleasant partisan sledging. In that respect blogs are analogous to TV. There’s always the remote control if you find a particular blog either boring or boorish (I generally don’t bother reading comment threads at Catallaxy or Blair because they are mostly in the latter category to my taste).

    Anyway, that’s my lot. All the best.

  19. haiku says:

    Nicholas runs a very earnest and interesting series of posts. He takes the time to write seriously and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he took a stong line on comment moderation.

    Sophie got more criticism than she deserved – but she was prepared to tolerate nothing, and was inclined to assert neutrality when she clearly wasn’t neutral. It was not surprising that there was a stoush.

    LP tolerates a lot of dissent (despite what its detractors imagine), and has a reasonable balance of views, with very little censorship.

    At the end of the day, I like Zoe’s comments policy: if you don’t like it, get your own blog.

  20. Rafe Champion says:

    It seems that I still have two or three months to go until I burn out.

    I am very pleased to leave the problems of blog management to other people and for what it is worth my approach to personal abuse and invective is:
    a) don’t do it.
    b) try to ignore it when other people do it.
    c) stop reading people who do it to excess.

    Parallel to that, my aim is to be clear about differences but also to look for any common ground where action can be pursued in a bipartisan manner.

    Thanks again Ken!

  21. James Farrell says:

    Nicholas, whatever you do, please ignore the ‘boring’ accusation. It’s the cheapest put-down out there. Just write to please yourself: you can’t do more. There will always be someone who appreciates it. CT will rise and fall in popularity according to the number of active contibutors and the chemistry between them. These factors are out of your control.

    The comments policy has always been fine. Insult mongers should be warned once, then restricted to a comment a day, then (if they don’t go away of their own accord) banned. The problem is with borderline trolls like whyisitso, who are not abusive, but just derail threads with unnecessary meta-commentary, without having much of substance to offer. John Quiggin handles people like that really well. But he has the advantage of running a blog that people that people who are easily bored stay away from.

    On the subject of Catallaxy, we should remember that it’s diverse. Andrew Norton has no trouble distingushing between robust debate and personal abuse, and has an explicit civility policy. I assume that applies to Don too.

  22. Jason Soon says:

    I see Ken can’t resist taking another parting shot at Catallaxy and irony of ironies compares it to Blair when Troppo is closer in its moderation policy to Blair than we are – Blair bans dissenters. We don’t ban anyone.

    This is what I mean by the unremitting hostility. And he refers once again to the Ken Parish thread on Catallaxy when Kim has already noted she withdrew her excessive criticisms and JC said he wanted bygones to be bygones.

    Notice that on the thread I had nice things to say about Ken. I remarked on the fact that I thought he was unfair to JC for bagging him out on Troppo and then not giving him a chance to respond. Bagging someone out and then censoring their response is unsporting. If you don’t want people to snipe at you, don’t snipe at them.

    Aside from that I made that now infamous stray comment about the pony club which was provoked by Troppo regular Chris Lloyd. I would *never* have said anything about Troppo whatsoever and would have been happy to adopt a live and let live attitude if not for the numerous sledgings directed at Catallaxy from here – so let’s not pretend this ‘boring’ snark was gratuitous put downon my part, Farrel. Over at the Parish thread, it was other commenters that started it – I don’t control them – Kim and Bird and JC don’t write for me, they’re only commenters. I and c8to put in good words for Parish as you can go see for yourself on that thread about c8to’s gun post.

    But at the end of the day he still couldn’t resist a parting shot.
    I was prepared to let bygones to bygones but I’m not a turn the other cheek guy. The Old Testament is more my kind of thing and all I got to say now is my view of him is much diminished. If he has personal issues, deal with it, dont’ get all uppity and take it out on us.

  23. derrida derider says:

    Don’t go, Ken – we’ll really miss you.

    As for the trolls, I reckon blog owners should never hesitate to just delete without notice comments they consider obnoxious or irrelevant, and ban persistent offenders (Zoe’s right – they can always start their own blog, where people who find mindless abuse interesting can post). I’ve had the odd comment deleted myself, and usually in retrospect agreed I was over the top. Even where I haven’t agreed I’ve never contested the blog owner’s right to do it.

    People should learn not to comment unless they think they’re actually adding value to the thread. Adding value is perfectly consistent with firmly pointing out what you believe to be others’ ignorance or error (remembering as you do that what is good for the goose is good for the gander).

    As for anonymity, some of us are in jobs where our bosses may not like us commenting on things that may be work-related. Anyway you can generally find the real name of a regular commenter without too much effort.

  24. James Farrell says:

    Jason, there’s a massive difference beween banning commenters for personal abuse and banning them for dissent.

  25. Ken Parish says:

    Jason (and a couple of other commenters on this thread notably “haiku”) demonstrate that they either don’t understand (or rather wilfully choose to ignore) the distinction between “dissent” and ad hominem sledging. I am not aware of any single occasion when dissent about any issue has ever been censored at Troppo. Both Nicholas’s and my objections to comment threads at Catallaxy arise from the fact that at least Jason’s threads (Andrew and Don and to an extent Rafe have more civil moderation practices) regularly exhibit ad hominem abuse of the most extreme and distasteful sort. Jason is responsible for them because he publishes the blog. Sledging an opponent’s personal qualities is not “dissent”, it is blatant bullying (not to mention often defamatory), and it certainly doesn’t merit a “chance to respond”. I have no objection (in terms of ethics/civility) to c8to’s post about gun laws or his comments about gun laws on the thread here at Troppo. My objection was and remains that the thread was used by others as a pretext for ad hominem abuse that made no attempt whatever to grapple with the substantive issue under discussion.

    This last Melba-like comeback to the comment box (not that I’m promising never again to post a comment on a blog) might at least serve some useful purpose if commenters understand more clearly the distinction between, on the one hand, robust argument focused on the substantive issues under discussion and, on the other, personal abuse of other participants. I’m not claiming that I’m lily-white and have never been guilty of the latter myself, but it’s certainly a distinction I’ve always observed to the absolute best of my ability. There is a world of difference between suggesting that someone’s argument is stupid (or whatever) and that the person himself is a fool.

  26. Chris Lloyd says:

    I understand the anonymity issue from your point of view, but I do not think that the commenters identity should be invisible to the blog owner. BTW: Could you please explain your blogname? I’m too dim to get it :(

    I am starting my own blog – built around the statistics profession, not poltiics, but believe me there will still be plenty of religious zeal! Pathetic really. Anyway, I will not allow any commenters whose identity I cannot track. Indeed, I think the threat of sending some of Bird’s comments to his boss (if he actually has one) would be a marvellous deterrent.

    In case nobody noticed, it is Soon who can’t resist a last parting shot. But he has a great way with words. His “pony club and the young liberals” comment was pretty inspired.

  27. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    Comments policy across the board in the blogosphere is a disgrace.
    Admittedly tim Blair is probably the only open hypocrite when it comes to policing their own policy however is that any worse than Larvartus Prodeo who wish to say black is white.

    I am somewhat amused by Ken’s damasacan conversion as in the old days I was hit by more insults on this blog then anywhere else with Dave Ricardo leading the posse.

    Like all of us Ken gained a thinner skin when criticised than when he was criticising.

    I think the nest election will be interesting. Last time one could not let an hour go without visiting backpages however I suspect this time round the humour and all round attitude will be different as the pro and anti- government writers line up.

    I do wonder how Nick despite his great gruen intellect ever survived advising in politics.

  28. Kim says:

    Kim, I didn’t have anything much I wanted to say in response to what you had said. I’m finding this pretty tough going. I didn’t and don’t accuse you of anything. I don’t want to rehash the Catallaxy thread

    Fair enough, Nicholas.

    It seems to me, Ken, that your view of the contemporary blogosphere is one-eyed. There are a lot of lengthy threads at both LP and Catallaxy which might involve argument but don’t involve pointless left/right stoushing and bring out interesting aspects of the questions under discussion. For instance, I think the quality of the discussion on these two threads is high:

    And the first demonstrates it’s possible to discuss the vexed issue of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism without descending into invective and name calling.

    It has resulted in eminent writers like Nicholas, Fred Argy, Tony Harris and Saul Eslake deciding that Troppo is a space where they can participate in blogging without being subjected to gratuitous and unpleasant partisan sledging.

    And this really does reinforce the impression that “eminent” writers aren’t to be subjected to the same rough and tumble as us plebs.

    I find some of the posts by these gentlemen interesting, but I’d ask what value blogging by them adds aside from the fact that Fin Review articles by them are made available on line? If there’s to be some sort of norm that they’re treated differently from less eminent or well known writers…

    I think you’re nostalgic for the “good old days” when posts were longer and more analytical on the whole and comments longer and fewer and largely by a few regulars. Quiggin’s blog is probably the one that most closely approximates that era still, but the medium has moved on. You don’t seem to like it. That’s fine, and it’s your privilege, but I don’t think the disillusionment you express is objectively based.

  29. Ken Parish says:


    My conversion on the road to Damascus on commenting policy had nothing whatever to do with personal criticisms of myself. It arose from the monstering of Sophie Masson, which caused her departure from Troppo and that of Wendy James, closely followed by the monsters themselves who followed Mark B to Larva Rodeo (after I had declined to exercise censorship of people who were in turn monstering Mark B). I took a long sabbatical from blogging after that, and decided to return only on the basis that all abusive comments from whatever source would be strongly moderated. I don’t claim that I’m not just as sensitive to personal abuse as anyone (and more than some) but my change of moderation policy (in consultation with Nicholas and Don) was entirely unrelated to any such criticism. I was slagged plenty of times over the 3 years or so during which I exercised a laissez faire moderation policy not unlike Jason’s current one, and copped it on the chin on the misconceived notion that this somehow promoted open and productive dialogue. In fact it achieves the opposite. I don’t specifically recall Dave Ricardo sledging you Homer, but he certainly could be very sarcastic and cutting when he felt like it (which was often). I apologise for not exercising greater moderator control at the time, because you are one of the blogosphere’s unfailing gentlemen who does not deserve such treatment (in fact no-one does).

  30. Jason Soon says:

    Frankly I think it would’ve been wiser if you hadn’t written this post.
    It has obviously reopened old wounds. People were already saying ‘let bygones be bygones’ over at Catallaxy, everyone was wishing Ken a good rest and telling him to come back when he’d gotten over everything. Sleeping dogs were lying.

    You were aware that comments would multiply like topsy when you wrote this, weren’t you? Personally despite the number of words I’ve written, I’m happy to have it all wiped and replaced with a comment-free ‘Goodbye Ken’ display with ‘Candle in the wind’ playing in the background or something like that and let things simmer over until Ken got back refreshed.

  31. Kim says:

    Speaking of moderation, can someone please let my last comment through? I think it’s only in there because I put a couple of links in.

    And speaking of the alleged “monstering” of Sophie, I’m annoyed at this myth as well, as one of the “monsters”, Ken. You seem to have completely erased from the record the homophobic comments which both you and jen made, some of which were highly personal and directed at me, which did a hell of a lot towards raising the temperature.

    But I suppose you’ll put your preferred version of events forward, ignore my response, and then take your bat and ball and go back to your hiatus.

    I think it’s unfair and hypocritical to raise these issues in the way that you’re doing as though all the fault was on one side and you were trying to be some sort of impartial moderator. You were not, and it was not.

    And the whole “leave Sophie alone” gang seems to exemplify this new “don’t talk back to the eminent” Troppo policy in its birth pangs. Sophie may have been widely read, as Nicholas said, but a lot of the time her posts were characterised by factual errors and very sloppy logic. To which your response was “she’s an artist, she doesn’t need to justify her argument”.

    You are completely ignoring your own role in these events, and appear to be completely unwilling to take responsibility. I’ve acknowledged a thousand times that I said things I regretted. You seem to prefer either not to see or not to accept responsibility if it conflicts with your myth making and historical revisionism regarding Troppo.

  32. Rafe Champion says:

    I am starting to wonder whether I must be missing out on something by being such a nice person and keeping out of the argy bargy.

    And what if I am not a nice person at all, just boring and lazy?

    Maybe I should go back through the thread and find some loose comments that could be used as a pretext for saying what I really thing about some of you dumb [insert obscenity of choice]s.

  33. Ken Parish says:


    I have no idea what your references to “homophobic” comments are referring to (I’m referring to tooo many referring tos in there somewhere). If I ever made any comments that you interpreted as such, I’m sure it was a misinterpretation. I don’t reckon I have a homophobic bone in my body. Can you tell me what you’re talking about and maybe we can sort it out even at this late stage? If you merely reprising the debate where I took the view that sex education should not espouse the moral worthiness/equivalence or otherwise of any form of sexuality (in that in my view these are questions that are private to a family and in which the state has no business intruding beyond teaching tolerance for diverse sexual orientations involving consensual behaviour between adults), then I simply don’t accept that that is “homophobia” whose principal definition is “unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality”.

  34. jen says:

    This is lively isn’t it? A blogospherical brawl. A room full of shouting. That’s what I love! As I type here on my tropical desk, just me and Mr Mozart. It is a civilised ABC FM shout into the void.

    Just call me bandwaggon mama. I thought might canvass a few topics

    Well since Parish and I no longer speak due to matrimonial bliss I didn’t know Troppo was banning comments. What we need on the blog is a ‘bad blogger zapper’,

    I’ve said it before, ‘words words words’ – really a bit dull after you’ve verbally abused someone to an inch of their ability to be interested.
    I am advocating the judicious and centrist use of violence.
    What I think would work is a massive blast of electric current right to the thorax.

    Log on and you’re dead.
    Kill the bad blogger,
    Kill him dead.
    Piggy …

    I have read almost the whole entire thread at catallaxy and have to admit is fun in a mindless self-indulgent sort of a way and – as I am taking a sickie and the opportunity to be as mindless and self-indulgent as possible.

    I looked for the offensive stuff about you Kim and can’t find it, but I think it must have been the up-herself, smart-arse jen speaking – luckily she’s gone now.

    What I did find was a robust and widely diverse comment thread on Sophie’s article back in the blogging baroque. True you lot, this blog has had some good moments

    (pause for eulogy)

    But times change folks and Ken hasn’t got the energy he once had. He’s been looking after me 24/7 for 3 or 4 years now and frankly he’s running low on spark -and that’s not taking into account how old he is – and we can’t take that into account very well because no-one in this house is any good at maths.

  35. Rob says:

    I was going to leave this alone but….

    Kim, as far as I recall the only person to use the ‘she’s an artist, she’s entitled’ line in those debates was me. I don’t recall any homophobic digs by Ken although Kevin Donnelly definitely deployed a few in the course of a couple of the threads we’re talking about.

    Ken is right to say that Sophie was ‘monstered’. Sophie was an unusual and unusually engaging blogger but she wasn’t good at stoushing. She was stunned and distressed by the treatment she got (I had some email exchanges with her about it) and she showed in some of her comments that she’d been wounded. In my opinion that was unwise, not least because the attack dogs smelled blood and went rabid. And it went on for thread after thread.

    I don’t know what it is that inspired such animus towards Sophie but you know as well as I do, Kim, that there has been at least one ‘I hate Sophie Masson’ thread over at LP.

  36. Jason Soon says:

    what I said stands, people.
    If Nick or Ken chose to wipe this whole thread, I won’t hold it against them.

    I think some of the angst here deserves a decent burial.

    We can live and let live.

    As it is, it looks like we’re now back to revisiting l’affaire Masson.

    By the time Ken gets back I can assure you Mr Bird (who is really quite a decent fellow) will be nine tenths of the way towards rehabilitation (he’s already nearly there and given his word never to use the ‘c’ word again over drinks and he was very solemn about it). JC is going all reconciliatory too.

    and Ken will see the Catallaxy experiment has worked and maybe consider readmitting some pariahs.

  37. Rob says:

    Yeah, you’re right, Jason. I need to get over it too.

  38. jen says:

    Jason’s school of polite linguistic correction.
    My name is Jen and I’ve been swearing off and on now for 40 years. I’ve said it all, poo, cunt, shit, bum, bastard, fuckwit and fucktard, there’s no motherfuck’n swearword I haven’t stooped to.
    Help me.

  39. Ken Parish says:


    Although like you I initially expressed the view that I would have preferred if this thread hadn’t been started in the first place, I actually think it might have served some useful purpose in terms of clearing the air. Whether the same proves to be true over at Catallaxy remains to be seen. There are certainly some welcome early signs of civility from Joe C, but I’ll wait and see in relation both to him and Graeme Bird.

    Finally, I fail to see how anyone (i.e. you Jason) could derive from anything said here the proposition that we have suggested that “eminent” bloggers should be treated more delicately than anyone else (a suggestion you’ve made at your own blog and that Kim parrotted here). Troppo’s behaviour rules apply equally to everyone and they’re very simple ones: argue on the issues as robustly as you like, but don’t attack people’s character, personality etc. The rule applies to Fred Blogs as much as Fred Argy. I simply suggested that these more conservative but universal rules of behaviour have in fact allowed Fred Argy etc. to feel comfortable about blogging here, where Sophie and Wendy were effectively driven away by the much more lax commenting rules I previously espoused. I’m sure there are lots people, not just older ones, who have extraordinarily worthwhile opinions to express but get frightened away by the hostile attack dog culture of much of the blogosphere. If you reckon you can get commenters behaving in a generally civil manner by laissez faire means, that will be great but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    PS At the risk of further reprising l’affaire Masson,I’m not sure that anyone ever directly attacked Sophie’s character or personality on the relevant old Troppo threads, but they certainly relentlessly ground her into the dust over an essentially trivial nit-picking point about the meaning of anarchism while completely ignoring the real and valuable insights she was offering. Many of them were/are people who could happily read and dismiss a Shakespeare tragedy as valueless because old Bill didn’t spell very consistently. It’s fine to make a point, even a pedantic one, but it’s not fine to drive someone into the dirt to extract a knockout victory. What have you won?

  40. vee says:

    I started to read the first comment but then I decided to give it a miss. I value a centrist blog as it is the only correct or rather pragmatic view. The rest are well mostly full of codswallop and slogans. Some blogs are progressing to the extremes of their views and that’s irritating when blogs are the last internet forum of sensible debate.

    Those that are meant to be discussion boards are all filled with ideological trolls and it seems that blogs are becoming that way too. They’re filled with insults rather than debate and discussion.

    Maybe ideological blogs are like politicians – once they’ve lived in their ivory towers for so long, that’s all they say.

    Bring back Ken, Long live Parish, Bring back Ken, Long live Parish, Bring back Ken, Long live Parish!

  41. vee says:

    I forgot to mention it’s lonely being a centrist.

  42. Chris Lloyd says:

    Kim sez:

    I think you’re nostalgic for the “good old days”

  43. Robert says:

    Man, are people still banging on about Sophie Masson? Ferchrissakes, get over it!

    Ken, it’s never nice to see someone retire from the blogosphere, and it’s a tragedy when it’s someone who has been at it for so long and has contributed so much to the Australian blog scene. Thanks, and best of luck with whatever you do with all your newfound free time!

  44. Ian says:

    Very best wishes, Ken…. See ya ’round :-)

  45. Jason,

    If I swear a bit more on the banking thread will I get some drinks?

    Best of luck, Ken. While I have not had regular cause to comment on your threads, the ones I have read have at least been thought provoking.
    (I am sorry for lowering the tone of this thread with a joke at the start).

  46. Jason Soon says:

    you’re welcome to a drink anytime you want to, Andrew R. No such thing as a bad excuse for a piss-up. But aren’t you in Perth or somewhere far out like that?

  47. whyisitso says:

    I’ve just caught up with this thread after Jason drew my attention to it over at Catallaxy, and it’s taken a bit of time to read it through. It appears I may have had a (very minor) catalyst role in Ken’s decision, and I regret that.

    Nick’s retelling of the tale of our little blow up is accurate. I didn’t mention his promise to publish my comments if only I revealed my identity. I didn’t take it as seriously as he obviously did. I thought I was being fairly meticulous in recounting the sequence of events at that time, but I do now plead guilty to omitting that detail. I agree with Kim and Jason however that it doesn’t change the substance of the story to any real degree.

    This episode started at a thread on the economics of protection in the car industry. It was quite a technical and serious discussion on a subject which interested me greatly. Some of it was beyond my economic knowledge (admittedly not that great). There was an intense exchange of comments between Nick (the poster) and Harry Clarke:

    I stayed out because I didn’t have anything substantial to contribute (a state which I’ve been accused of being in permanently!) until the patronising baiting of Harry, and the comment from Nick that he was trying to “engage the interested, non-expert reader” overcame my natural shyness, hence my comment recounted by Nick above. Harry incidentally reacted throughout with the greatest dignity and patience to this baiting.

    Yes I often troll, and (quite rarely) troll abusively, although hopefully not to the extent of one Dave Ricardo whom Homer remembered infamously above. There are many many far more abusive commenters on popular blogs than me.

    There was a time when I commented using my real name, but I found there are quite a few negative effects on your real life (thanks to Google), and I’m not involved in sitting and staring at my PC 24/7.

    I think many more than half of blog commenters are anonymous, and even those who appear to be using “real” names are not using my real identity. How easy would it be to invenmt a real sounding name with an email address to match, and not face the accusation of using a pseudonym. At least whyisitso is an obvious pseudonym, and quite a good one I would have thought, based on a real identity whom I admired.

  48. Thx Whyisitso. I appreciate your explanation and candour.

    Remember, it is very easy to misunderstand people in this medium. No body language, no visual cues to scan. No quick correction if someonne is missing something.

    You took great exception to my writing that I was trying to “engage the interested, non-expert reader”.

    Have a look at where I said that. You may think it was bait to Harry – who is not a non-expert reader but a Professor of Economics. But I wasn’t saying that my comments on the thread were seeking to engage the interested non expert reader.

    What I said to Harry in the comment was this.

    I can’t follow your arguments which seem based on impressions you have formed, rather than words I have used. In your latest comment you say “You didn’t talk about terms from trade losses from tariff cuts in your first post. That came after I asked for the PC evidence.”

  49. Gaby says:

    Sorry to intrude at this late stage into the apologetics, valedictory or otherwise, but I think, for me, Ken made a very important point about blogs in his first comment above.

    “Comment box discussion at most blogs is with rare exceptions no more than a pretext for participants to shout past each other and broadcast their impervious ideological prejudices. It isn’t dialogue at all, so what’s the point?”

    Exactly! I am a commenter and one of the major attractions for me is the possibility of dialogue. I don’t think you’ll find final answers in a blog, but light will be cast which may perhaps provide some illumination for participants. This is certainly my experience here at Troppo and as a dilettante with an interest in ideas, it certainly is fun.

    Given the essential nature of a blog as a colloquy, comments, while probably not the most important, are integral. And abuse is inimical to any such dialogue. In fact, I reckon an argument conducted in the real world with the level of abuse sometimes encountered would end up in trading blows, rather than witty bards. Pace Hobbes, sometimes “clubs” are, and may just have to be, trumps. In fact, no response is worse for me than abuse would be, as it means that my comment just didn’t register. Abuse is merely the recourse, using a word I first saw on this site, of a ‘fucktard”.

    Furthermore, I think it eminently “wise” that Nicholas ventilate the comments policy on his blog given that they are inextricably mixed with the blogging endeavour. So requiring that comments not be abusive or directed at the maker but rather are of substance, at least loosely connected with the topic or the thread in order to promote just such a possible “omni-logue” are not unreasonable constraints. Abuse is generally used by either the arrogant or the convinced, not those prepared and eager for the opportunity to advance and defend their ideas.

    Club Troppo is certainly not boring for me. Far from it. I’ve learnt a lot. And had a lot of fun along the way. I hope to continue to do so.

    Finally, Ken, thanks for all of your posts and comments and for running this blog. I’ve really enjoyed your stuff. And I think you must be a very fine lawyer too. I’d even downloaded “The Speluncean Explorers”. Hadn’t thought about that since I was sent an excerpt to read for my very first tute ever at Law School ( it was a criminal law tute). But I’m sure you’ll set the Hart-Fuller debate on positivism v. natural law as part of your Juris course. Hope to see you posting again sometime soon.

  50. Kim says:

    Kim, as far as I recall the only person to use the ‘she’s an artist, she’s entitled’ line in those debates was me.

    Nicholas, as well, if I recall correctly, Rob.

    Ken, I’d be happy to support what I’ve said by finding direct links to comments you made which I found to be personally directed against me and homophobic, if you wish.

    If “happy” is the right word.

    But I remembered it specifically because Nicholas referred to allegedly homophobic comments at Catallaxy (whatever that has to do with Troppo is perhaps the subject of this post…)

    I also would like to point out that your claim that I’ve “parrotted” Jason’s points is offensive and demeaning of me.

    But so far I believe in the last two days you’ve specifically called me a “thug” and then implicitly accused me of “monstering” Sophie, which I guess makes me a “monster”. Now I’m a “parrot”.

    But you are leaving blogging because there’s too much gratuitous abuse flying around?

    Please explain.

    No doubt you rest easy at night thinking that I’m not eminent enough to consult a solicitor to sue you for defamation. Remembering that you raised that spectre in the first place.

  51. Kim says:

    By the way, due to the wonders of Google caching, I’ve now retrieved and subsequently read the comment you deleted.

    And I find it very offensive, and I’d ask you for an apology.

    And I find the imputation in the post that Nicholas made that you left blogging because of comments made on the Catallaxy thread to which he linked also offensive, because I was one of the ones making those comments, for which I subsequently apologised if they’d been too harsh.

    Or am I not deserving of the same respect as your “eminent” economist contributors?

    I’m sorry if I haven’t devoted my professional life to becoming Chief Economist for ANZ Bank or CEO of a mortgage brokering company.

  52. Kim says:

    Oh and you’re being completely disingenuous, Ken, by suggesting that L’affaire Masson revolved around the thread on anarchism – though that did expose her complete inability to reason or to defend her “arguments” under rational criticism.

    The thread which caused all the stir was the one about the female teacher who explained to her kids that she was a lesbian because they’d seen her being picked up after school. This was in the context of a series of posts, after you’d invited our good friend Dr Donnelly to post his alleged expertise about education here. And because dear Sophie, who couldn’t possibly be asked to abide by the same canons of argument and logic that you claimed to hold so dear, tied herself in absurd knots by conflating homosexuality and pedophilia. At which point, you and your partner jen, decided to use every epithet in the book that might go together with “uppity lesbian” against me to suggest that I was arguing for the teacher’s right to continue in the school’s employ out of some sort of self interest, or identity politics agenda, or something. Which I found extremely offensive, although unlike the precious but eminent Sophie, I stayed in the kitchen when the heat was turned up.

    But I found your remarks absolutely disgraceful, personally offensive, and worthy only of a gutter hack.

    There you go. How’s that for clearing the air?

    I had no intention whatever of raising Sophie on this thread. But I’ve had it up to here with your “official” version of what went on and your posturing as some sort of apostle of civility.

    In your time, you got down and far too dirty, Ken (and your offsider jen), and I haven’t forgotten. You’re now making up some revisionist narrative to suit yourself, because you’re disillusioned with blogging generally. I don’t want to let it stand without putting forward what I believe to have been the case.

  53. haiku says:


    I apologise unreservedly for conflating “dissent” and “ad hom”. It was the latter I was intending to refer to. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and the attempts you made to straddle the centre – not always an easy place to be, but generally one to be admired. Cheers.

  54. whyisitso says:


    I think you are still misunderstanding the reasons behind my original “personal preciousness” comment.

    My reference to the “interested non-expert reader” didn’t refer to Harry. I saw myself as the interested non-expert reader. But during the thread I became increasingly frustrated and angry about a number of lines by you including:

    “Harry, It’s not only bad manners, it seems to me to be bad science to assume you’re arguing with a complete nincompoop.” and “DD, How much do you actually know about what you’re talking about?”

    I felt that if you were genuinely intent on engaging such an interested non-expert reader you would have avoided such personal demeaning comments to other serious, competent commenters. I was fully aware of both yours and Harry’s eminent qualifications in economics.

    This particular thread wasn’t just your average opinionated political thread where insults are almost de rigeur. I recognised it for what it was intended to be – a fairly learned discourse conducted primarily by learned people. Your tone, Nicholas, was offensive in my eyes, and I reacted.

  55. Bring Back EP at LP says:


    I wasn’t complaining merely making an observation.

    I liked the ‘old’ troppo and I like the ‘new’ troppo they are merely different.

    The new troppo will be quite distinct and somewhat specialised. Nothing wrong with that.

    I want to add I liked Dave Ricardo despite his rantings against Christianity and he was never a troll although to be honest ‘trolling’ is in the eye of the beholder.

  56. Ken Parish says:

    I really don’t want to carry on this increasingly pointless “discussion” initiated by Kim. However, I’m very concerned that some people who don’t know the background might accept Kim’s scurrilous assertions that I am “homophobic” and “absolutely disgraceful, personally offensive, and worthy only of a gutter hack”. Hence I don’t see any viable alternative but to respond, even though it’s (a) boring; and (b) pointlessly raking over ancient history. The only alternative would be to delete the entire thread as jason suggested, but that might give some people the impression that I had something to hide and was gutless and running away from Kim’s accusations.

    Kim has predictably ignored my own attempt to reach some more peaceful form of understanding (which I should have realised from previous experience with her would be futile). As I had suspected and predicted above, Kim’s bee in the bonnet is about the series of posts in March last year concerning “Jane” the lesbian teacher. There were several such threads, but the key ones (i.e. the ones with lots of comments) were this one by Sophie Masson and this one by me. If anyone can be bothered, feel free to read through the entire exchange (as I’ve just done and found it very tedious indeed) and see if you can find any statement by me that could reasonably be described in the extreme, abusive terms employed by Kim. BTW For anyone who can be bothered reading the threads, Kim at the time called herself “yellowvinyl”. For those who can’t be bothered reading the threads, the essence of my position was accurately summed up by Geoff Honnor as follows:

    “”You are prejudiced against gays. But you canot admit it because of your moral vanity.”

  57. Kim says:

    Well, I’m happy to accept the suggestion that people look at the thread themselves. I don’t believe I’m making “scurrilous” and “disgraceful” assertions. But if Ken takes offence, I apologise wholeheartedly. As I said, I had no intention of discussing Sophie stuff here – and it was Ken not me who raised it. I note that Ken, disgusted by “abuse”, won’t do me the equivalent courtesy of apologising to me for calling me a “monster”, a “thug” and a “parrot”.

    I’m not going to comment further here, but I think that it was a most unfortunate choice to combine a post on Ken’s farewell with a rehash of old disputes and claims about Catallaxy as Nicholas did.

    So FWIW at this stage, I wish Ken all the best and I continue to maintain, despite my disagreements with him, that he’s made a most valuable contribution to the blogosphere which I’d like to see continue.

  58. Ken Parish says:


    I take your apology in the spirit you intend it and tender my own to you in the same spirit.

  59. Ken, I’m very sorry to see you hang up the keyboard and hope it’s not permanent – and I think Geoff has captured my sentiments eloquently as well.

    I’d also agree with Kim – I think it was an ill advised choice on Nicholas’ part to mix up a farewell to Ken post (which should have produced an appropriately well mannered thread) with some sort of rehash of some dispute about Catallaxy’s comments policy (which was always going to lead to a stoush – inter-blog metablogging is very bad news for reasoned discussion). I can’t see myself why Troppo is so concerned about what goes on at Catallaxy, but I don’t really have time to read all the relevant threads, but I do think that Ken deserved a farewell thread free of extraneous issues.

    All the best to you, Ken.

  60. It was unfortunate that Ken got tangled up in this – and it was my error. I should at the very least have run it by Ken before I posted and he would have set me straight. So my sincere apologies.

    Mark, we’re not so concerned with what goes on at Catallaxy. Likewise I wouldn’t imagine Catallaxy or anyone there is too concerned about us. We’re (That is Ken and I) critical of the comments policy there. Then again you’ve had the same problems at LP. These things are incredibly difficult to manage. We seem to have at least three experiments going on. Very laissez faire at Catallaxy, lots of angst behind the scenes at LP about how to respond to various things and Troppo which Ken has said is a bit stricter.

    I might say for the record that I very very rarely delete comments. All I can remember are the deletion of Whyisitso for reasons I’ve explained and not because they were particularly abusive – along with an offer to post if he identified himself. He’s generally free to post here and is not ‘in moderation’ in any sense. I also put an intemperate attack on Rafe by a regular commenter here in moderation and emailed the person who’d written it counselling a more moderate response but indicating I’d take it out of moderation if he wished.

    Also Graham Bird and Joe Cambria turn up in moderation almost whenever they post. Ken may have done something to bring this about and as witness to the madness and extra work for the hosts at LP and Catallaxy I did at one stage say to Ken that we didn’t want them at Troppo but I certainly haven’t done anything active to stop any of their comments getting through. Given that when they do comment they seem invariably to end up in moderation I imagine there is something in the WordPress ether that puts them there. I’m pretty happy for them to stay there. Joe put the nice comment up the top, but it sat in moderation and I didnt rescue it. Someone else did. He has by the way emailed some personally highly abusive comments (no joking just really nasty stuff) to others at Troppo – not me.

    Anyway, that’s all I can think of. Ever! (Though perhaps there’s an episode or two that I don’t recall.) All that having been said, my own view is Whyisitso’s – that the right metaphor to apply is not censorship (people have the whole blogosphere in which to play and express themselves) but whether you invite someone round to your place for a chat. So I’m untroubled about applying a stricter comments policy than Catallaxy if we ever have to apply it.

    So at least in practice, and at least so far the difference in practice between Troppo and some other sites is very very slight. The main reason we don’t have such shouting matches on Troppo is that the posts don’t create very intensively ideological ‘hooks’. I don’t think that makes them boring, but it may well mean that we have a lower profile in the blogosphere and my guess is we get less traffic than Catallaxy and LP, but I don’t know and I don’t look at what our traffic or anyone else’s is.

    Our comments policy is also a function of the time we have available. LP has a lot of contributors and can call up resources to ‘watch’ a particular thread for insursions against its rulings. Catallaxy posters must spend quite a bit of time cleaning up at least some threads. We can’t/don’t want to spend that amount of time. And we wouldn’t (normally :)) debate the toss for a similar reason – it just goes on and on.

    Finally the prominence all this has had leads people to believe that they’ve been placed in moderation when they’ve not been creating its own cycle of agro and misunderstanding. For instance Kim decided she was in moderation in this thread. Unless Ken put her there, which I very much doubt, the comment was simply the result of WordPress’s default setting to moderate any comment with two or more links in it as potential spam.

  61. Jc says:

    Sorry too, Ken

    Sometimes words don’t express meanings to well. Lot’s stuff I say is tongue in cheek.

    A few days after I read what I wrote it never sounds the same.

    As I said on the Cat thread, you really are a gifted writer and we all will be at a loss.

  62. Jc says:

    Also Graham Bird and Joe Cambria turn up in moderation almost whenever they post.

    Actually, Nic, there is only one place and we all know where that would be.
    I sent a strongly worded email after my name had been mentioned a few times and I felt it was unfair to be placed in moderation. If you’re named, you should have a right of reply.

    Correction….. I was placed on moderation here and at that another spot.

    Nic, hows this for a deal. You will never be broadsided by me at the Cat again if it makes you feel a lot better. No tongue in cheek stuff, but I will disagree with you ( in a nice way …. or as best I can) if I feel it is warranted.

    I have always maintained you are a nice person…. right from the beginning of our stoushes.

    You may want to correct that accusation above?

  63. david tiley says:

    Aside from all of these issues, when Ken is on song, he is a thrilling read, and few can do a sustained rhetorical argument better.

    I hope he lobs in and does them when he wants to.

    And, as someone said up there, an election is coming and none of us will be able to stay away from our keyboards.

  64. whyisitso says:

    “All I can remember are the deletion of Whyisitso for reasons I’ve explained and not because they were particularly abusive – along with an offer to post if he identified himself. He’s generally free to post here and is not ‘in moderation’ in any sense.”

    That’s apparently the position now, but it needs to be made clear that Troppo banned my IP for a number of days (I didn’t record the actual number) after the objected to comment was deleted. I kept testing the comments facility daily until eventually I was allowed back.

  65. Mark, we’re not so concerned with what goes on at Catallaxy.

    Nicholas, I don’t know if I expressed myself as well as I could have, as I was writing on the run, but all I was saying was that I wasn’t sure what the issues were and lacked the time to follow the links to find out. But I’d prefer to stay out of metablogging on this thread and just leave my contribution as good wishes for Ken and a hope that he reconsiders.

  66. Just to clarify Nicholas’ point for the record, Birdy is moderated at LP but Joe isn’t.

  67. On the ‘procedural point’ if I can call it that, you were placed in moderation because I didn’t want to spend time removing your baiting of me. It was a practical matter. All you had to do was return my email with your response. Instead you upped the ante by replying on the site. Well there would have been no point in removing your first comment just to provoke you into a second and stronger comment. I wanted debate on the argument, not on your impression of my manners. (Of which I will try to say a bit more in a subsequent comment).So as a practical matter I didn’t have much choice. I didn’t want at thta time to enter into further into the comments you were putting on the site and since you would not engage with me privately – something that you could have done on this occasion as well I might add – I stopped you posting. I had no alternative other than to sit and watch the screen and I’m not doing that.

    On the substantive point, I really think you need to re-read the post.

  68. Ken Parish says:

    Thanks for all the good wishes from so many. While hesitating to use the word, re-reading this thread I can’t help gaining an impresion of myself as a tad precious and certainly thin-skinned. But that’s the whole point, and the very reason why I decided it was time at the very least for a long break. When you stop being able to treat blogging as a game akin to a “brain gym” and to be able to deal with the occcasional irritating commenter with the mildly amused disregard they merit, then it’s time to give it away. I reached that point some time ago.

    Maybe I’ll regain the perspective and sense of fun after a long break and feel able to post again. I hope so, because I’ve actually gained a huge amount of fulfilment out of blogging along with the anger and anguish and depression, and despite my deep reservations about the wider political/sociological value of the medium. In any event, thanks again and best wishes to all. I’m especially heartened by Joe Cambria’s approach, and thank him specifically because I did find many of his deleted comments very distressing indeed. Maybe Nicholas might consider whether JC should be removed from moderation (if he’s actually in moderation – I don’t recall doing it but his comments certainly seem to be excluded most of the time). However, that’s a decision for Nicholas. I’ve offered to continue helping behind the scenes because there’s quite a bit of work in running a popular blog and I don’t want to see Troppo die because Nicholas doesn’t want to handle the burden alone. But the managerial decisions for the foreseeable future are his.

  69. Ken, like I said above, I never put JC into any kind of moderation and I’ve checked the system and can’t find any sign that he’s in moderation.

  70. whyisitso says:

    Nicholas, thank you publishing your defence concerning my original comment. I still think your banning me for the way I intervened was a total over-reaction. It’s all very well to say “I wanted debate on the argument, not on your impression of my manners”, but that’s the way of blog comments throughout the blogosphere. It was a valid, if arguable interjection on my part, as your manners in my view were detracting from the serious and interesting argument you were making. In this role you are a blogger, not a university professor or the managing director of a company, both of which I understand you have extensive experience, and no doubt have conditioned you to expect deference from those you deem inferior. You really have confirmed that my use of the word “precious” wasn’t an inaccurate characterisation of your attitude.

    Regarding private email communication, I don’t do private unless the matters are truly private. This was a public stoush and I resorted to making my case on catallaxy, as I wasn’t able to make it on Troppo.

    I’m rather glad this matter has now been thoroughly aired and other people can make up their own minds about the merits. Our row does bring to the fore the role comments have in the blogosphere, and the extent to which they should be controlled by a blog proprietor. I’ve always thought that robust interaction is beneficial to blogs, but not all people agree. Professor Bunyip (retd) was a really excellent blogger who simply eschewed comments. That resulted in vigorous commentaries on other blogs.

  71. jen says:

    David, I thought exactly the same.
    The Parish is fundamentally incapable of not posting when the mood strikes. It is a physical thing. He heaves and groans himself out of the brown leather couch into which he regularly disappears and his mind starts tapping.
    Blogging is, after all a luxury – I’ve always thought it. A wander in mind. Comments are soft in the morning, soft and sleepy.

  72. Fine Whyisitso, but I think you misprepresent me. I wasn’t after deference for any reason other than to have a decent discussion. I was spending more time than anyone else. I was sent scurrying to the net to check and demonstrate things. I thought THAT was what blog discussion was about – getting to a slightly more informed position on things by exchanging ideas, information in the context of vigorous disulfiram, and where appropriate, contest and debate.

  73. whyisitso says:

    OK Nicholas, I think we’ll have to leave it at that. Any more would just be going round in circles.

  74. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    Can I just say that when Ken fills up his car with petrol is a great example of parish pump politics!

  75. Jason Soon says:

    If people are going to start banning Homer for his bad puns, I won’t object …

  76. We’re working on a plugin that detects puns and puts them in a special area codenamed ‘Homeration’.

  77. whyisitso says:

    Not even original, Homer. I’m sure you’re aware Ken’s first blog was called “The Parish Pump”

  78. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    Puns are by definition not original however mine are very funny.

    I guess Jason will be doing that Soon.
    I had better stop as there will be too much Gruening going on and there is no Honnor amongst bloggers.

  79. whyisitso says:

    For some strange reason I find I’m agreeing with Jason more and more.

  80. Homer, you may be put in Homeration which as I should have said on my last comment, with apologies to Big Brother, should also be known as the Pun-ishment room.

  81. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    Does that mean I am banisched?
    I will go into my Shiel then

  82. harry clarke says:

    This went past me and I missed the discussion.

    I am sorry that Ken Parish has left. I thought he was a thoughtful
    person and I am sorry that I may have irritated him from time-to-time.

    He generally didn’t irritate me – I just thought he was a smart guy.

  83. James Hamilton says:

    Probably too late now, but thanks for your efforts on a wonderful blog, Ken and all the best for the future.

  84. Geoff Honnor says:

    “I will go into my Shiel then”

    This seems unlikely, Homer, and it’s your “Sheil” (as he was frequently wont to observe) that you won’t be going into.

  85. Bring Back EP at LP says:

    Nonsense Geoff,

    He is usually too rolling stoned to know

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