Dearest Bleacher Creatures:
It's about the comments you leave below the postings on this blog.
I've occasionally written some dumb stuff, so I expect a good whacking by those choosing to leave some pearls of wisdom below a story of mine.
I've also drawn lots of story material from the dialogue; perhaps the best part of the give and take.
And as to verbal bullets, I find some to be inspired. "Another mud geyser" is probably my favorite.
But having been at the heart of any number of rhetorical rumpuses here and elsewhere on the Internet, I can honestly say I hate the talkback section.
So often, it seems, 75 to 90 percent of what's contained therein amounts to nothing more than a hate train, or spam. I wish people could prove me wrong.
Here's how the hate train of comments take off. Someone initially writes of how they think they wasted their time reading the story, then another chimes in with something cleverer and nastier, followed by another and another.
Two things usually happen at this point: 1. Someone defends the author (G-d bless you), or at least notes that the insults aren't necessary. The haters then turn their attention on the author's supporters, or those supporting an unpopular opinion. 2. Or nothing, the hate train doesn't add that many more cars, and interest in the story quickly erodes.
I say "usually happens" because a significant percentage of responses are extremely welcome. They are about something, rather than about attacking something or someone. If anything, it's these encounters, free of Viagra links and posturing, that make it seem worthwhile.
Even with the occasional dart my way, there are all the things in place for new voices, ideas, connections, and best of all, a better record.
But all too often someone crosses the line.
I can understand the anger at errors of fact. But why would someone feel it necessary to slander me and/or the organization I work for because of some perceived unfair slight, profound bit of idiocy or bias read into a posting?
That in no way gives you the right to start a comment, "Ben, you are a bitch."
I'm hereby passing on stewardship of Google Watch, and I leave this forum in the hands of folks much more capable than I.
But my skin's a little thicker than most.
That leads me to the first and last favor I'll ask of you, gentle reader.
Be a little more humane to the fine folks here at Ziff. They deserve it.
It's been an honor to have your attention.