"What's Going On at 911Blogger"... yeah, right... GW Defends the Stranglehold on Comments

casseia's picture

GeorgeWashington has stepped in to take some of the heat for Reprehensor, who has been buried under an avalanche of negative feedback about his plan to moderate comments. For some reason, I'm almost more offended at GW's patronizing attempt to calm the rabble than I was with Rep's more matter-of-fact announcement of the advent of unabashed censorship.

First, GW suggests that dz thought of abandoning comments several times, because they led to the need for greater bandwidth and thus higher operating costs. Yeah, that's right -- and that's why a number of us coughed up money for a new server. Have you noticed, though, that it's been weeks since comments blacked out due to server overload? The site seemed to be operating without loading delays as well. In fact, things seemed to be toodling along just fine.

But wait! That's not why the Hoover Dam on comments was put into place, rather

[a]nother reason is that the moderators have felt that there is a real danger that hate speech by posters might be attributed to the site, which could end up shutting down the site (there are stories of similar things happening to other 9/11 sites).

What? Like what 9/11 site? Really, what site is he talking about, but more importantly, what HATE SPEECH is he talking about? Was it the occasional gay slur? Don't think so. The occasional anti-Semitic remark (generally made by someone sloppily misusing the term when intending to refer to Zionists)? WHERE WAS THE HATE SPEECH AT 911BLOGGER? And how does hate speech get a site shut down, what with the First Amendment and all?

Finally, we saw some people causing disruption and infighting instead of actually contributing anything (such as information, activist ideas, etc.)

Ooooohkay. The real motivation seeps out. It's those damn wedge issues again! Those naughty 911bloggerites who just couldn't let some things rest for the sake of UNITY are going to ruin everything! They. Must. Be. Stopped.

Then in the end, GW suggests everyone take a chill pill for a month and work extra specially hard on "hard-hitting" blogs, "sharing news tips" (sounds like sharing advice about lip gloss) and activism. Move the ball down the field! Rah rah rah!

In the back of my mind, I have been putting these recent developments into a context that became clear to me some time ago. That is, the number of people who comment at 911blogger is a tiny fraction of the number of people who visit the site. So who cares what happens to comments? The site will go on! Well, GW's final patronizing exhortation about submitting blogs made a lightbulb go on for me -- the people writing blogs are the same group of people who comment. Bloggers have been writing for their audience. Blogs have arisen out of a discursive community made up by commenters as much as by bloggers. Likewise, activism has been engendered by that same community, especially truth squads, who knew that their acts of derring-do would receive standing ovations when videos were uploaded. Of course, certain of the "usual suspects" will continue to churn out blogs for the sake of hearing their own virtual voices, even as the crickets chirp in the background. I guess that's a good thing, because Lord knows I'm still not entirely clear on the significance of the wire transfer...

Evolutionary pressure ain't pretty. I'm sure it will become more clear over time what behind-the-scenes force has caused this upheaval in the Land of Blogger, what has caused it to become so inhospitable to the community that used to thrive there. In any event, the tiny proto-mammals of truth must now stream outward, away from the disaster and the dinosaurs, creating other sites and other communities. However, I reserve the right to be deeply irked.