Troppo as policy mecca

QUT researcher Axel Bruns (presumably along with usual colleagues Jason Wilson and Barry Saunders) has just published some new quantitative research about blogs which contains some interesting results. 

He/they undertook a textual analysis of 3 prominent blogs with somewhat divergent approaches (Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo and Andrew Landeryou) in a bid to identify consistent themes in a comparative way.   The findings are described here and here, and suggest that:

… a clear distinction between the political wonkery and gossip of OC and the policy analysis of Troppo has emerged, with LP perhaps sitting somewhere in the middle (and just to be clear, neither of these descriptions imply value judgments – a mature political blogosphere probably needs all of this, and more).

I subsequently replied to Jason Wilson’s email about the research:

That’s really interesting. It’s also predictable (but nevertheless a worthwhile focus for research, I think). We quite consciously focus more on policy and longer term issues on Troppo, especially economic ones given that Nicholas, Fred Argy, James Farrell and Paul Frijters are all economists of one sort or another, as well as law because I’m a lawyer and Nicholas also has legal qualifications and some degree of interest in legal issues.

We focus more on policy issues mostly because it reflects our personal interests, but also because previous experience with running a more short-term partisan/”politics as sporting contest” approach … tended to result in long and acrimonious comment threads which generated much more heat than light and drove away many readers and potential contributors who find the more typical “robust” style of blog discourse unpleasant, time-wasting and somewhat demeaning. I’m sure our rather calmer, more analytical overall ethos is a significant factor in contributors like Fred Argy, Tony Harris, Paul Frijters and others being happy to post at Troppo from time to time.

The obverse side of that coin is that lots of readers also find the more sober, analytical style a tad boring, turgid and even “precious”. I suspect that there are more readers in total who prefer the more “boots and all” partisan footie commentary style, but it’s a trade-off we make quite consciously.

That said, I occasionally deliberately throw in slightly inflammatory posts or asides to liven things up a bit. Running a group blog and maintaining a lively, entertaining but civil and informed discourse on policy issues is an art form (or perhaps a craft to be slightly less precious) that I continually work on perfecting and adjusting.

 

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Iain Hall
13 years ago

Sorry but it all seems rather pointless to me :roll:
An example of analysing the chip papers in a vague attempt to understand the quality of their content…

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Ken, I’m not sure about the qualitative judgements you make about styles of commenting, but perhaps I’ll leave that aside.

From my pov, Troppo fulfils a valuable niche, but I think it’s punching below its weight at the moment. I know Fred’s been ill, and Nick Gruen appears to have more demands on his time now that there’s a Labor government federally and he’s become a go to person for economic advice, but there are heaps of days when Troppo has only one post – Missing Link. Missing Link is very valuable, but I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing for more content generated by Troppo bloggers as opposed to aggregation and quick commentary on others’ content.

As to the policy/politics dichotomy, I’d question it. There aren’t too many posts on policy that don’t have at least an implicit political or even partisan stance, and lots of what Rob Merkel and Brian (and sometimes the rest of us) write at LP engages substantively and in detail with policy as well as politics. I suspect it’s more of a continuum than is captured in this research.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Thanks, Ken.

Btw, I’m not trying to be snarky – I’m not sure if your “seriously as it deserves” was a tad snarky – in saying that I’d like to see more Troppo original content in the mix. I would. I know a lot of energy and time goes into ML, but because Troppo does occupy a valuable niche in the blogosphere, it would be great to have more content generated by Troppo itself.

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

“LP is quite distinctively (and avowedly) left of centre, whereas Troppo isnt (although some disagree).”

The only way to know for sure if you’re a radical enough centrist is to make sure the complaints that you aren’t come equally from each side.

Jason Wilson
13 years ago

Hi folks – I’m glad people have gotten something out of this research, and Ken’s feedback and insights were valuable. We didn’t mean to touch off any cross-blog – I hope it’s clear that we think that all the blogs under study make a valuable, and unique contribution to the Australian blogosphere.

Niall
13 years ago

Chip papers are chip papers. Doesn’t matter a whole lot if they’re plain white ‘butchers’ paper, grease-proof or newsprint. It’s what they contain which matter and if hot, so much the better. I think the analogy is very apt.

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

The obverse side of that coin is that lots of readers also find the more sober, analytical style a tad boring, turgid and even precious.

I find this of another particular politically oriented blog but not Troppo.

hc
hc
13 years ago

I wonder if LP seriously believe they have a following outside a small range of Labor fanatics. Apart from posts by Brian and Robert Merkel here is little critical analysis of issues – just support for everything Labor and uncompromising opposition to any other viewpoint.

Having a devoted cheersquad-cum-echo-chamber – does not indicate much about popularity. It might show something about the extent of the poverty of real thinking among the dronish leftists who need this reinforcement.

Many of the comments on LP (& on to a less extent on other popular blogs like Catallaxy) are made up of repeat comments by the same small group who reinforce each other’s prejudices by uncritically supporting the essence of much that the posters state.

The advantage of Troppo is that those with strong social democratic values are reminded of economic constraints. Indeed the tension between market efficiency issues and justice objectives is a recurrent theme. That’s as it should be with social democrats – the inevitable conflicts between efficiency and equity.

The extremists on the left who don’t believe in markets and those on the right who believe only in them are both relatively uninteresting types. They are divorced from real political debates of substance. They are also divorced from 98% of the Australian population.

Sociologists and political scientists suffer from the illusion that verbiage constitutes analysis and a way of dealing with inconvenient facts. They could also learn a lot from a basic course in logic and some basic statistics where they learn about how to present a testable hypothesis and to then test it. And, of course, they should learn some economics.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Well, we can test hc’s hypothesis that LP has only a small following.

110106 unique visitors in May.

1563889 page views in May.

As to his claim that we’re a Labor cheer squad, with little analysis, I offer in evidence:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/06/01/kevin-247-born-to-run/

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/06/02/coast-to-coast-labor-governments/

I also note that with the exception of hc, no one else on this thread has decided to do metablog snark, so I’ll be civil and refrain from addressing the rest of his comment.

Nabakov
Nabakov
13 years ago

Hmm, I notice Jason’s mapping criteria doesn’t include much popular culture tags. All policy and no play makes Jack a dull Strocchi.

Aside from the occasional super hot button issues, I think you’ll find most of the longest and most liveliest threads on LP and CT tend to be triggered by what we like or hate that can be easily referenced without playa hater passion – ie: popular culture.

That’s why I originally started hanging around Troppo Armadillo and then Mark’s Larva Rodeo spinoff. Fun and occasionally volatile discussions about the stuff we can all agree to disagree on. If I want a serious policy debate, I’ll buy Doc Gruen lunch again (Which we should do soon Nick. That China thing in particular has legs).

More importantly, CT, to some extent, and LP certainly are the only major Aus current affrays group blogs that aren’t completely blokely. I firmly believe you cannot have an entertaining, informative, provocative and witty discussion about any issue without at least one member of the opposite sex involved.

Fuck policy, let’s flirt. OK, lets fuck with policy, in a flirty kinda way.

This has been an ongoing problem with Catallaxy. There are some fine minds regularly contributing but it basically, even with Birdy’s banishment, keeps degenerating into Fight Club for Nerds. Yes SL did some yeoman-like work there to raise the overall tenor but she’s only one or two women and has other things on her plate now.

Having said all that, hats off to Ken and co for Missing Link and Tropposphere, a couple of well thought out attempts to suggest some local gateway to the blogosphere. If only you could hire soem prfessional designers for the mastheads.

Mind you, not getting a link from Blair’s Terrorgraph sheltered blogshop must really sting. Tossing and turning all night in your sweaty bed right?

And why the fuck did Jason include Andrew L. in his initial mapping? That’s not a blog, that’s the revenge fantasies of a fat angry man watching his future detour around him.

“I wonder if LP seriously believe they have a following outside a small range of Labor fanatics.”

Well you certainly seem to follow it assiduously Harry, to the point where I believe you actually threatened a LPwatch.

Have you tried a combo of marijuana and vigara Harry? With a single malt chaser. Not only will it mellow you out, you will also start experiencing organisms again. And orgasms too. Filthy-minded snark aside, you’re not a happy chappy nowy are you?

Maybe this joke will cheer you up.
Q. How many Zen Buddhists does it take to write a blog?
A. Two. One to write it. And one not to comment on it.

Having lit the blue touchpaper, I will now retire for the evening.

Jason Wilson
13 years ago

Nabakov – I think it was by way of offering a contrast between three blogs in the initial, proof of concept type post. There’s data collected on most Australian blogs for the election period. Having said that, he does have a pretty substantial readership, and if we only selected blogs that were universally popular, well there wouldn’t be any data at all.

Nabakov
Nabakov
13 years ago

Good points Jason.

I can’t say if your work will ever prove conclusive but it’s certainly interesting. Bit like life itself.

Helen
13 years ago

I wonder if LP seriously believe they have a following outside a small range of Labor fanatics. Apart from posts by Brian and Robert Merkel here is little critical analysis of issues – just support for everything Labor and uncompromising opposition to any other viewpoint.

You’re obviously not reading there much, hc. Lefties like me oppose the Labor right and their influence on public policy as much as they do the Libruls. Equating anti-conservatism with voting for or supporting the Labor party in Australia is common among people with bad spelling who infest MSM forum threads, but frankly I’d hope for better from a political/economic blogger.

Jason Wilson
13 years ago

Ken – take your points on the qualitative aspects of this stuff. Rest assured, though, that we all do read a lot of blogs, and part of the reason we put these three out there as proof of concept is that the tone of these different blogs is probably reasonably widely know.

Having siad that, a really excellent thing about Leximancer is that you can go from maps (like the ones featured in Axel’s second post) and look at how particular words are used in their context. It actually captures sentences and paragraphs featuring those words. People who have used other kinds of qualitative research packages like NVivo might be familiar with the process of coding text and then having it collated – Leximancer actually automates this and embeds it in a range of visual presentation.

Having a working knowledge of the major blogs, their tone, and the kinds of things they talk about is obviously essential. But the biggest methodological problem in this area is the sheer weight of content out there. We’re experimenting with the methodology as much as we are trying to make claims about Australia’s blogosphere. We’ve collected an enormous amount data for most Australian political blogs during the election period – we’re really just scratching the surface of that material with what we’ve put up so far. We have a long way to go, but I think what we’ve turned up so far is very worthwhile.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
13 years ago

And why the fuck did Jason include Andrew L. in his initial mapping? Thats not a blog, thats the revenge fantasies of a fat angry man watching his future detour around him

Classic, Nabs, and good enough to win you forgiveness for your Fight Club for Nerds crack :-)

And Harry, the most active and lively thread on Catallaxy recently has been one on whether free will exists – and it wasn’t even split on political lines – we don’t do Rudd hatred/worship all the time

http://catallaxyfiles.com/?p=3607

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

(something Kim actually started on this thread while professing to deprecate it, provoking others to retaliate)

I did not, Ken.

I was saying I’d like to see more blogging at Troppo that isn’t just ML. That’s a genuine expression of my preferences, as I’ll now say for the second time.

You’re too quick to see snark.

Laura
13 years ago

Ken, you’re really not pointing out anything that isn’t obvious. This thread was more interesting when it was actually about the gatewatching research.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Laura, it doesn’t appear obvious to Kim, and it certainly is not obvious to anyone who hasn’t been reading the same blogs for five years. Ken is quite justified, and sensible, in putting his version up just in case anyone besides your old buddies was reading and might be tempted to believe Kim.

In fact, your comment is only sensible on the assumption that you are participating in a closed conversation between the same people, which is oddly similar to

Having a devoted cheersquad-cum-echo-chamber

, really.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Gee, Ken, “charming”, hey?

I absolutely deny that I was involved in bullying anyone. If you and Sophie Masson couldn’t accept strongly felt disagreement, that’s your problem not mine. I very rarely refer to those events any more, but you obviously like to hold a grudge.

Others can decide whether it was you or me who introduced “snark” onto this thread, but it certainly wasn’t my intention to do so. I’m sorry you can’t accept that in good faith.

adrian
adrian
13 years ago

Ken, for people who neither know nor care about the history of this matter, I would have thought that your snark is a mighty over reaction to Kim’s original comment.
Maybe I am excessively niave, but I took it basically as a compliment to CT in the sense that she would like to see more original content since because the existing original content is of such a high standard.

Also to characterise the original post on LP as an “I’m the greatest’ ego-fest, means that you either didn’t read it, or did so with a decidedly jaundiced eye.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

Thanks, adrian, that is indeed what I’ve been trying to say – without success I suppose since Ken can’t read what I’m saying in plain English without importing overtones of blogwars others have moved on from.

Laura
13 years ago

Patrick @29 – I was wholly & solely speaking of the dynamic on this comment thread, see my reference to gatewatching etc. I don’t know who you mean when you allude to ‘my mates’. And neither do you.

Laura
13 years ago

‘your old buddies’ = ‘my mates’ and so forth. Did you mean my cats? I haven’t seen another living soul today, besides them.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
13 years ago

come on Chester, don’t let the nationality of your first name control you …

GJ
GJ
13 years ago

I don’t wish to be linked to much of the above – it has become extremely unappealing!! However, I would like to make a brief comment re the politics/policy focus of LP and Troppo – I confess to having developed a conscience avoidance of Landeryou.
Leaving aside the issue range of both blogs and examining what seems to me to be their core thrust:-
LP’s focus is essentially “social commentary in brief” – usually from a centre/left perspective. There is clearly a place for this – a well-written blog with attitude – but one should not confuse entertaining commentary with public policy analysis.(Robert Merkel posts would an exception to this generalisation.)
Troppo obviously does take public policy analysis and development more seriously though not always effectively. A consequence of such an approach is a limitation in output – but people who are genuinely interested in policy prefer quality to quantity.

(As an aside, Kim should not have responded to hc outburst re ‘verbiage constitutes analysis’ – that response, unfortunately, would have left hc saying “I rest my case”)

hc
hc
13 years ago

Kim,

You thought I was being snarky – I thought I was being accurate. Apart from Brian and Robert I don’t read much on LP that is not apologetics for one side of politics. Moreover, apart from these authors, I don’t find much at LP that deals with the world in an analytical way – with climate change, problems of regulation, immigration policy etc etc. These issues are addressed as mainly a leftwing moan about goodguys and badguys and their political judgements without much analysis. There is often some socio-babble thrown in to give the impression there is something more to the posts than there is.

The commentators are an cheersquad who do little more than defend the faith. Smart Alec showoffs like Nabakov try to inject humour I think because they tire of the ritual and the platitudes and sense the uselessness of trying to argue. They’d in fact be miles better off watching The Simpsons.

The writers at LP often don’t even have an internally consistent ideology – they constantly espouse policies that arguably damage ‘working families’.

Your own silly post supporting the nationalisation of childcare facilities is an instance. No arguments in support (e.g. economies of scale, information issues) just an internal reference to MB who says a ‘whole of government approach’ has much to recommend it and a reference to a commentor who complains about being bounced around on private buses! It does not advance any debate.

It is inaccurate to claim that LP is ‘influential’ if it is only preaching to the converted. Echo chambers don’t deliver influence – they are only social clubs in, what Bob Dylan would say, ‘drag disguise’.

I wasn’t trying to snark – I was just saying that the LP contributions often have low value to me. Their attractiveness is that they are so damn irrational – one feel’s compelled to point it out.

That’s definitely not the impression I have of Troppo although I often disagree with the contributions here. You were originally bucketing Troppo for not saying more. I think LP should say less but put a bit more effort into theory not feelgood leftwing cliche.

Jason,

I was of course alluding to the consistent pursuit of libertarian ideology at Catallaxy and I did such it was much less an issue than the tunnel vision of LP. Of course I am a long-term supporter of Catallaxy’s open mindedness.

Vee
Vee
13 years ago

Whilst you test the methodologies, remember that dynamic IPs whether they be dial up or broadband will indicate more unique visitors than actually exist. It is a contingency that is important to cover.

Jason Wilson
13 years ago

Vee – I agree, but we’re not measuring traffic – just networks of links and concept-mapping particular blogs. Other might be doing that sort of stuff on Australian political blogs, but it’s not our focus.

Jason Wilson
13 years ago

I want to make it clear that I’m not wanting to buy into any cross-blog stoushes. At all. So here goes…

hc:

It is inaccurate to claim that LP is influential if it is only preaching to the converted. Echo chambers dont deliver influence – they are only social clubs in, what Bob Dylan would say, drag disguise.

This leads us into interesting questions. The question of “influence” is vexed. What does influence mean, anyway? The influence we’ve suggested pertains in this instance is simply based on inlinks and LP’s position in certain kinds of conversation. It’s based, in other words, on quantitative measures, and it’s influence as defined by debates in the blogosphere.

We’d happily concede (or at least I certainly would) that this doesn’t necessarily say anything about who the audience is. The Fin is more influential in terms of politics than New Idea, aven though less people read it – who the readers are is important. If actual policymakers read blog A, but blog B gets a bigger audience, which is the more influential? Hard to tell without talking to lots of people.

It’s also hard to measure whether or not people’s minds are being changed on particular issues – whether blogs are influencing people in the sense of “opinion leadership” – without doing other kinds of research. I am aware of people who are doing more ethnographic modes of research on these kinds of questions.

But, we can tell who is being linked to, and maybe (the topic this thread started on) we can tell the sorts of things particular blogs are likely to feature over time. It’s a start, and we’re hoping that developing methodologies using these new tools will tell us some important things.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

You were originally bucketing Troppo for not saying more

No, I wasn’t hc, as I’ve said repeatedly. I was saying that I enjoyed reading a lot of Troppo posts and I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to go without – because there have been quite a lot of days when it’s just been Missing Link.

As to your comments on LP’s content – each to their own is all I’ll say. But it is wrong to suggest – as Ken has done as well – that LP is an “echo chamber” in terms of comments threads. You can see that’s not the case if you look at some of the discussion on the Henson photos for instance:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/topic/politics/culture-wars/bill-henson-controversy/

I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a group blog with posters coming from a particular perspective. It’s upfront, so what’s the problem? It’s not as though we all agree on everything (you could also consult some Greens/ALP stoushes on LP), or for that matter that we’re all praising Rudd as much as you seem to think.

By the way, I agree with Brian that the distinction between “policy” and “process” that Ken makes is a problematic one:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/06/10/is-larvatus-prodeo-australias-most-influential-political-blog/#comment-477174

One of the areas where the Rudd government is open to legitimate criticism is the claim that Rudd acts on “evidence based policy” – alcopops might be a case in point, as might the NT Intervention. You can’t firewall “good policy” off from political choices, and how those choices are made.

I don’t know how economists view policy questions and process, and I’m aware from your previous comment that you seem to have a poor opinion of political science, but all the literature from political science and public administration going back to when the distinction between “administration” and “politics” started to be called into question post-war by American scholars suggest that it’s an impossible one to maintain.

Economics also, I’d argue, functions in part as an ideological view of the world – and that’s whether we’re talking about neoclassical concepts of rational action or behaviourist understandings of action. That was pretty clear in the days of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, and I think it would improve rather than diminish debate about policy if political orientations colouring scholarship and policy research were upfront now.

C.L.
13 years ago

“Troppo as policy mecca.”

Personally, I drop by for Ken’s Juan Cole links.

Top shelf independent analyst.

Interesting take on the utterances of Ahmadinejad, for example.

Antigone
Antigone
13 years ago

Frankly, as a mainly blog reader-lurker I’ve been amazed that “Kim” from LP has for so long been able to get away with exactly the sort of I abuse/provoke you and then when you reasonably or even angrily respond I either plead innocent or up the ante and seriously abuse or misepresent you heaps more game which has been so, involuntarily, by her, exposed on this thread – and to which Laura discreetly, and elegantly, as ever, alludes.

I could list a sizeable number of people, male and certainly female commenters “Kim” has dropped on in this way over the last year or two on LP and other blogs. I wasn’t around to read her efforts on CT or elsewhere prior to that, but Ken Parish, I take your solemn historical word.

I don’t give a fig for Kim, who ever he/she is, views about anything, or more importantly her method of argumentation, which is one of the main reasons I find it difficult to log on to LP, even though occasionally I am interested in what new might be said there about current affairs. But I AM curious as to the silence of the LP gang or other commenters in the face of her repeated behaviour.

Is this the Belinda Neal syndrome, writ small?

C.L.
13 years ago

“…Cassius Clay-esque we are the greatest post over at LP…”

But I’ll pay that – LOL.

melaleuca
13 years ago

Club Troppo has plenty of stimulating posts that lead me to think about and research the topics covered. I’d rate it number one by a country mile.

Since I’m not feelin’ the least bit bitchy today I’ll also say Catallaxy and Larva Prod are well worth the subscription fee.

JC
JC
13 years ago

If CL (or other readers) want to suggest other interesting international bloggers you would like us to add to the monitoring list feel free to propose them.

Heres some blogs you may want to add.

Ideas Milton Friedmans son who is also an academic. Leans libertarian. He puts up some great posts at times. Safe for any lefty to visit.

Depleted Cranium. At the moment hes got a piece about how cities had a real problems with horse shit before cars. . We never think of that. The bloody smell in the cities in those days must have horrible. Mentions something that would send any progressive into 100% explosive anger was how they only seemed to have kept the area around the stock exchanges clean of horse crap (that was interesting).

Blog Maverick.Mark Cubans blog. The only multi billionaire I know of with a blog Some interesting pieces at times about technology for the dude in the street. Lefties will like him because hes having a huge shouting match with Bill O Reilly because Cubans TV company HDTV- is supporting some lefty show He hates OReilly with a passion


NY Hotties
. Its a blog written by a highly priced NYC hooker who talks about her Johns etc. Dormant for the moment but always hoping shell get back to writing. Said she went to Yale or whatever and isnt a bad writer. Ads on the side are pretty decent.


View From the Right
. Could only be from NYC. This is a guy of Jewish descent that converted to the Anglican church(called Episcopalian in the US due to the war of independence). Hates Bush, with a passion, very right wing but quirky seeing he was supporting Hillary in the election. Doesnt believe in evolution. Hes very good writer though but Best avoid if you think criticism Islam is offensive.

Dynamist blog
: the acceptable face of Libertarianism. Safe for any lefty to visit seeing Virginia Prostel writes a column (or did) for the NY Times. Jason Soons met her so he can vouch its a safe site.

How about not just blogs.

Great Articles in

New Yorker

.
Best magazine ever. Very safe leans (Tory) left.

JC
JC
13 years ago

Last one

Science based medicine:

Excellent site for hypochondriacs. Group blog by doctors who hang well deserved shit on unsciency junk medicine like naturopathy, needles stuck in bodies and interesting stuff like that.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

Ken, since you stated in your email to Jason that you dislike “acrimonious” comments threads, can I ask what possible purpose publishing a comment such as the one at 46 serves? It’s just personal abuse – bizarrely masked by a supposed concern with bullying.

I recall the last time some of the research that Jason and the QUT crew did was discussed on Troppo the thread similarly descended into meta-commentary about the quality of particular blogs and the ethics and practices of bloggers. I think I said at the time that was most unfortunate, and perhaps researchers could better direct their endeavours towards analysing why so few blogs have any relationship to some sort of putative public sphere that some bloggers claim to be fostering.

I think everyone here knows that inter-blog stoushes are very rarely edifying. We’re capable of doing a lot better than this.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

I’d also note, in this context, that the “About Troppo” section here notes that threads “can often be derailed by ad hominem abuse”.

Tu quoque?

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

Snark is in the eye of the beholder, apparently, Ken.

I didn’t read those comments as being snarky. I can’t see how saying you’d like more of a good thing could be interpreted that way.

The one about Sophie Masson at LP, which appears from what you’ve said here to be the comment that pushed your buttons was a response to SL, as I recall, which in turn was a response to another commenter who wanted to see more women represented in the ranks of the “political” blogosphere. It thus should be read in that context, but what you appear to be doing is suggesting that anything Kim says has to be filtered through your own interpretation of what went on here years ago regarding l’affaire Masson. As a commenter has said here, it’s ancient history, and would be news to a lot of people reading this thread, but it’s also unfair of you to level accusations about others without linking back to the threads concerned so people could make their own minds up.

I was also involved in that whole thing, and I don’t accept your ascriptions of blame as being fair or your interpretation of what occurred. It struck me at the time – and I think it’s happening again here – that you were wearing two hats – one as moderator calling for civility and the other as boots and all participant. That’s not a sustainable juggling act, as you’d have to recognise, I think, if you reflected on it. I’d also point out that disputes which take an emotional toll on their participants are rarely clear cut and rarely is either or any party without blame. I myself have regrets, and I’m not the only one who’s acknowledged that and apologised if I’ve hurt any feelings. You seem to want to continue to interpret anything coming from people who were on the opposite side of a dispute to you as possibly in bad faith, despite that, and despite the fact that all this occurred about 3 and a half years ago. I’m not sure whether “forgive and forget” is in your vocabulary, on the strength of what you’ve been saying on this thread.

Here, too, you appear to be saying that a comment I make can’t be taken seriously because you’ve chosen to characterise me as being “sanctimonious”. It’s fairly clear that whatever you’re doing here is very far from practicing civility or indeed avoiding acrimony, your other professed aim. You’re more or less openly admitting that your dislike of ad hominem comments only comes into play when you don’t hold a commenter (Kim or me, in this instance) in high regard, and if that’s the case, you’ll impute motives to commenters rather than take them at face value. The “Belinda Neal” comparison at 46 was entirely gratuitous, but you won’t accept my saying that and hold to your own stated comments policy because you have a problem with me.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

Sorry, for “high regard”, read “low regard”.