Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Please explain why I shouldn't have an opinion

When I buy a newspaper, there are sections that I like, and sections that I don't like. So I'm using a clever trick: I read the news, technology, economy and whatever else section I'm interested in, and I simply skip for example the sports section that I'm not interested in. What I don't do is write angry letters to the Washington Post, telling them that they should stick to politics, that they have no idea about sports, and they should stop printing a sports section, or I'd unsubscribe. But exactly that is what several readers are regularly doing on this blog, whenever I write about anything but games. Funny thing is that a lot of readers writing to the Washington Post to remove their sports section or they'd unsubscribe have a better chance of succeeding as people threatening me with the same if I don't stick to games. I don't know if you noticed, but you aren't actually subscribed to this blog, and I don't actually make a single cent from you reading this. Which means your leverage is pretty much zero. But in the interest of a fair discussion, I'd like to give everyone the opportunity to express their opinion on why I shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion. Why shouldn't I write about politics, religion, culture, current affairs, news, etc., if I feel like it?

One argument I hear is qualification. Some people say that because I'm European, I shouldn't be allowed to write about America. Which in this globalized society isn't really a sustainable argument. All the magazines and newspapers I read, all the TV news, always contain information about America. Just look at the recent financial crisis, and tell me how I could understand why my European stocks tanked without considering America and it's sub-prime mortgages. I'm well informed about American politics too, and I'm pretty certain that there are people living in the United States who know less about the presidential election than I do.

Another point of view would be that me writing about other things is to the detriment of me writing about games. But why would that be? For example I'm interested in real world economics, and my knowledge on real world economics opens up the door to interesting blog post about the economics of virtual worlds. The better educated I am, the broader world view I have, the better I can understand games and what people are doing in games. If I would start to post several posts on politics a day, and none about games, I would understand your concern. But that is certainly not what I am doing. Over 90% of my posts are on games, and I often post several posts a day. There is considerably more games content on this blog than on many other MMORPG blogs. So a post on something else once in a while can't really turn my blog into something other than a games blog.

So, explain me: Why can't you just skip the posts that you don't like? Why do you have to leave a comment to tell me to shut my mouth, whenever I talk about something other than MMORPGs? Why should I not be allowed to express my opinions on world events on my very own blog, free of charge?
Just ignore them, its your blog, do what you want.
First and foremost, you have the freedom to post anything on your blog - people don't understand that you're doing *them* a service by posting. For free, to add.

The only thing that could be argued in my opinion is that you've labeled it "Tobold's MMORPG Blog" and that's just semantics. I could care less about news I don't have interest in, I just scan through titles and read what I want.
I just think you need to come up with clever acronyms each time you deviate from the norm! This is "Tobold's MMORPG Blog" but that doesn't mean some days it can't stand for "Tobold's Manly Memos (Occasionally Regarding Politics, G)"... with the "G" thrown in there with a gangsta lean to get the chicks all hot and bothered. While I personally find discussion of politics and religion to be 'that section of the newspaper I skip', it's totally up to you what you decide to shout into the megaphone while standing on your own personal soapbox. I'm also a horrible, horrible person that doesn't bother to vote anymore because unless you're a democrat or republican, your votes don't count. OH, BUT IXO! THAT'S NOT TRUE! Those 87 votes for Ralph Nader that year really sent a big message to the government that one time! Similarly, while I suppose I could knuckle down, and come to a decision along the lines of "well out of those two, I guess I could choose this one...", to me that just feels gross, and defeats the point of voting altogether. It's like being presented with a ballot with the option to be punched in the face (republican) or stomach (democrat), or be given an ice cream sundae (independent), and then being told "the third choice isn't an option, lol".

Well met, Ixobelle. The gangsta thing made me chuckle.
I think people aren't telling you you shouldn't be able to, just that it's a bad idea. Yeah, it's your blog, but generally you don't have very good insight into American politics (unlike, say, Scott Jennings in his recent post). The only other political post I remember you making, you pretty much claimed you thought a lot of Americans were voting for Obama because we were feeling guilty that he was black, a sentiment that demonstrates a really clear lack of understanding of race relations in the US. In your recent post, you basically said that we should vote in the election and ignore the fluff, as if the thought or the importance of this hadn't occurred to us before, a sentiment both unnecessary and sanctimonious.

So, yes, you should post whatever you want on your blog. But you also shouldn't throw a hissy fit every time people don't like what you've posted, because you do have a popular blog and people are going to read it. And, especially since the content of your posts is pretty subpar (in terms of an understanding of American politics or), you'll get a lot of heat because people won't agree with you or will disagree with your tone (as I have, on both counts). People don't skip what they don't like on the internet; they disagree with it, often vehemently and vocally. The only way you'll stop the response is to stop writing about American politics in the first place. It's the nature of the internet beast.
Just ignore them Tobold. Political intimidation is unfortunately rife in the USA, often making a mockery of The First Amendment. Here's a suggestion guys, if you don't like it, don't read it.
if we europeans shouldn't have an opinion on the USA, why not first stop f***ing up our economy, he?
Ok, just joking...
Your Blog would be less appealing if you would NOT write about other things because that would suggest you could be a very narrow-minded person... that wouldn't be good, would it?
You have to remember that Americans are some of the most ignorant, misinformed and undereducated people on the planet. Generally, anyone who isn't american isn't allowed to have a view. It's sad but true. I have worked in multinational companies for over 2 decades and I tell you that more than once I have heard Americans refer to a map of the USA as a map "of the world".

Remember the USA is a country where the majority of people don't even have a passport. Where foreign means Canada or Mexico. Where anywhere over 5 hours flight time is a potential place for trouble. A country that goes to war at the drop of a hat but glosses over home grown terrorism.

You write what you want. Your blog has always been a great read, keep it up.

(I'm a brit, btw, who has lived in NY, NY for over 11 years now).
In most cases, people read a persons blog, to read what that person has to write on whatever they are writing about.

Like someone said above me the only thing I can see is the title, labelling it MMORPG Blog, but also said, thats just semantics.

I don't come here and expect the hottest most up to date news on MMORPG games. I expect to read your feelings on MMORPG matters and whatever else you feel like jotting down.

The internet is an angry place.
So, explain me: Why can't you just skip the posts that you don't like?
One reason is the title of your blog. It's not Tobold's Blog, it's Tobold's MMORPG blog. People generally expect a blog called "Tobold's MMORPG blog" to contain posts about MMORPGs, not politics. Of course, this is your blog and you're free to write whatever you want. But if you started tagging your posts, those who don't care about your political opinions could skip them easily and still be able to read everything you write about MMORPGs.
You have to remember that Americans are some of the most ignorant, misinformed and undereducated people on the planet.

It's hard to take anyone seriously who paints with such a broad brush.
It seems to me that Metrogamer has a good point. In my daily newspaper, there's a sports columnist who is so excruciatingly bad at his job that he always gets me annoyed with his silly views. Over sports! And do I stop reading him? No. Getting upset over something is a good and perfectly valid form of entertainment. Of course I don't write angry letters to the paper or send him hate e-mails, but that's just because I'm not that sort of person. I'm sure other people do. All the time. And I'm sure people keep writing this stuff to the Washington Post as well, their complaints just don't happen to show up in the paper, like how it works here.

People won't skip your posts, Tobold, particularly not those they think will annoy them. It goes without saying that this should not stop you from posting whatever you want (although if you go too far I'm sure the Man will gome get you :P).

To sum up: I often find myself not agreeing with your posts, but it's my choice to keep coming back. But I do find it a bit distracting every time you write these "I have the right to write whatever I want so please stop telling me to stop!" posts. Why not just accept that some people will get upset and write angry stuff no matter how many times you tell them that you can do as you please?

Besides, as you've said several times before: you'll delete those comments that you find particularly vicious. You rule – us minions are just annoyances anyway!
I like your blog, Tobold. To be honest, I usually only read the MMORPG stuff, but I sometimes scan through the other bits. Your posts are always interesting and you are a nice guy. Keep up the good work.
To be fair, freedom of speech is much underrated and within the ultimate medium for free speach (Internet) there is a stunning number of people who are too happy to tell others to shut their mouth. Discussion culture is lacking, because there are simply too many people participating who lack education and experience for a reasonable discussion. Don't want to say they are not entitled to opinions, but the uttering of opinions and a well-led discussion are two different things.

Your blog. You write what you want. The market dictates if the blog is an ongoing success. Be prepared for idiots who try to hurt you once you state your point.
... generally you don't have very good insight into American politics ... But you also shouldn't throw a hissy fit every time people don't like what you've posted

I would very much welcome if people who think that I didn't understand an issue, or who disagree with my opinion, would post their opinion to fill up my gaps of knowledge, or to give intelligent counterarguments to convince me of the other point of view. I never complained, or deleted a comment, of anyone disagreeing with me. But "you're wrong, shut up" is NOT an argument. The very purpose of this blog is for me to be able to express my opinions. Imagine everytime I wrote something about WoW 1 million WAR players would tell me to shut up, and everytime I wrote about WAR 11 million WoW players would tell me to shut up. The blog would be empty if I listened to everyone who told me to shut up.

I challenge you to compare my degree of "insight" into American politics of yesterday's post with the degree of "insight" that several mostly anonymous American commenters presented. There were people claiming Obama is a marxist, for gods sake! The very reason I wrote that post is that I find that the current election is plagued by deliberate misinformation campaigns. So I can't help but think that anyone telling me to be quiet is part of that attempt to keep people as badly informed as possible. If anything I wrote in that post is factually wrong, I'd love to hear about it. If you disagree with any opinion I voiced, I'd love you to present your point of view. Just don't tell me to shut up!
Please note that yesterday's post, as most of my posts that aren't about games, was clearly labeled with a disclaimer stating that it wasn't a post about games. The New York Times contains stories not about New York, and Tobold's MMORPG blog contains stories not about MMORPGs.
Please note that yesterday's post, as most of my posts that aren't about games, was clearly labeled with a disclaimer stating that it wasn't a post about games.
That doesn't really help much, because you still need to read the disclaimer. If you use labels/tags, a feed reader is able to automatically categorize and hide those non-game-related posts.
The New York Times contains stories not about New York, and Tobold's MMORPG blog contains stories not about MMORPGs.
The New York Times categorizes their stories. That makes it easy to skip the sports pages. Imagine if the New York times had all of it's stories intermingled. That's how your blog is now. There are no "Games" and "Politics" sections.
The problem comes from people who get agitated whenever the point of view they've been convinced is the only correct point of view is mentioned and discussed openly. Start talking to a Christian about how 96% of his/her religion was established a few thousand years before in a "pagan" religion, and you see the same exact reaction. Its a natural human reaction to being confronted by something you don't want to be confronted by. Nothing more nothing less.

Hell, the second time I posted on this forum I was totally misunderstood, and I'm almost bragging here, had the next days post about what I had to say. Even though I was speaking facetiouisly about raiding in WoW, it was taken seriously by Tobold and other readers, and I was labeled elitist, even though I was totally being anti-elitist. Ultimately, there was a misunderstanding in my post, as sarcasm and careful reading isn't the most practiced skill in internets reading. I made a remark I had found funny a week or so before about aimlessly jumping around as a casual player. I meant it as a slap to Blizzard who at the time did not even throw casuals a bone. I was ridiculed because of it, although if you read my post, it is clear, albeit you had to read carefully. What of this event I remember vividly of the last couple of years I've frequented Tobolds?

What I took from this is that people see all sorts of angles in any given topic. What a "MMORPG" blog should and shouldn't discuss. Whether politics is a valid topic. Whether a non-American can speak of American politics, etc. Read carefully, and Tobold's original post was not "for" or "against" any particular candidate. His post basically stated the truth. As the most powerful empire in the world *at the moment*, American voters should think long and hard about who they vote for. To argue that Tobold should just shut up and not express an opinion assumes, incorrectly, that Tobold himself, his family, his friends, neighbors, etc, are not affected by American actions. That would be an idiotic assumption.

Tobold. Say whatever the hell you want, whenever you possibly can. You've mislabeled me and I even accused you of libel because of it, but I still respected your opinion, I just got angry that you misread what I wrote (I signed as nick, which I changed after so I wouldn't be confused for other people). But I would never tell you to not speak up and give your opinion. To do that would be to act contrary to what the internets and blogs stand for, which is universal freedom of speech.

If I had to guess, the problem is that this blog is in English. I would guess, and I think Tobold even gave a mini-statistics example of whom comes here daily. Americans make up a good chunk, from what I remember, of your readership. Americans in general have been told time and time again that only pundits and their parents have valid ideas about politics. Here in the USA, if you are even somewhat famous, a lot of people whine and complain if the somewhat famous person dares exercise their freedom of speech. Tobold, you are famous, maybe not as much as a Hollywood actor, but to your readers, they see you as a "game blogger". They've been trained to discount and actively disregard and even shout down anyone who speaks up about politics, who they consider "famous" because their handlers have trained them to do so.

Please, Tobold. Speak your mind, whenever you want. Whether or not I agree with you, it isn't the point. The point is to have one more voice out there encouraging discussion and thought. Whether that be a video game, or American politics.
"But "you're wrong, shut up" is NOT an argument."

And neither is, "you're wrong, you're an idiot"

Tobold, If you are going to strive for reasonableness in discourse, I recommend that you subscribe to it as well.
About comparing me with Scott Jennings, let me quote what he says about the Republicans: Instead they would go to political gatherings strongly, horribly reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s Nuremburg rallies to rail at their enemies for being terrorists and socialists and Arabs and the other. Literally. Raising the Republican bogeymen, much as Jews were for the Nazis - no actual meaning, simply the other to scare the faithful with in lieu of an actual reasonable dialogue. This is not merely troubling. It is deeply frightening for anyone with a sense of history, and the Republican campaign has been extremely irresponsible in its prosceution of the campaign and its consequent corrosion of the national dialogue. I disagree with many people politically - this does not mean they are Insert-scary-meaningless-word-here.

Wow, he compares the Republicans to the Nazis, and I get told that his posts are more insightful? If I had written the above paragraph, you guys would have ripped me apart.
If I had written the above paragraph, you guys would have ripped me apart.
With all due respect to Jennings, I think you're the bigger target here. ;-)
Always enjoy your opinion
A thought-through opinion is always valuable, unless the subject is irrelevant in which case you should just skip it.
Pretty much what you said.
/support Tobold

I've just been over the post a few below this with the flame war.

I love it. There is a wonderful microsm of the internet and politics. The uninformed, the misinformed, the misrepresenting, the righteous, the sarcastic and the jaded.

Write whatever you want. On balance, the blog will always be an MMO blog. When something important to you comes up, write about that too, it is after all your blog, your choice.

Personally, I'm here to read the blog. If a political piece lets me see how Tobold thinks and believes, that's fine. If it's a boring piece I skip it. Don't much care for the Football Manager posts, but I won't attempt to deny him the right to post them.

Anyone of us in the commenters section? We're just the loudest monkeys hurling ... items. No one comes here to read me, they come here to read Tobold and he should be left to post what he wants.

Rock on my fellow monkeys.
I put up with politics at work, at social gatherings and even in my own household, so finding you crafting your own slippery-slope of opinionated rhetoric, regarding american politics, kinda breaks the immersion bubble for me. And to be quite honest, the whole post/linking to the story of the kid and the gun, was out of the fuggin blue, Tobold. I dont think that the dissenters here are doing so based on principal any more than they are out of shock that you'd touch a topic like that this close to an election, on an MMORPG blog no less.

I touched on it, Shalkis touched on it, and a few others have touched on the fact that if you want to make this a new meme of your site, you really need to add tags and/or a completely standalone section to park this political stuff in. I hate that I'm even having to spend, no, -waste- the time to respond to this on one of my favorite gaming blogs. Put in some tags, or a seperate section for those days when you want to have a political maalox moment. That would be much better than the current hat trick you're trying to perform.
I thought the comments on that political posts were rather funny. Like that one post that said "Obama is a socialist because some of his ideas vaguely sound like the ideas of socialists". Spreading the wealth in Obama's sense is very different from spreading the wealth in the sense of a socialist.

And, being a socialist in and of itself isn't necessarily bad, that's just what the US government in the cold war wanted to make you believe.

Personally, I'm rather certain I have a better grasp of American politics than the majority of Americans themselves. Yes, I'm arrogant and a fool, but I also study (political) economics.

Anyway, @Tobold, write whatever you want, when and how you want it. It's your blog after all.
i don't get why people feel entitled to tell you how to run your own blog.

i've been reading for a while now, posted infrequently, and this is just bloody stupid. Everyone is allowed their own opinions, i don't see you forcing them on people and if a post isn't something you want to read about, then just stop reading it!

keep up the good work, especially your PERSONAL views on things,(not that this is an instruction on how to write your blog :>) if i didn't want opinion i'd just rely on news sites.
"if i didn't want opinion i'd just rely on news sites."

Heh, you can get opinion there alright :) The opinion of their advertisement partners, that is.
hehe true, take everything with a pinch of salt and all

but still, blogs like comment articles are a source of opinions, whereas you expect your news to be more factual based
they are out of shock that you'd touch a topic like that this close to an election

That's exactly the point I don't understand. Did you actually read my post from yesterday with an open mind? I basically said: "Ignore the circus and the personality cult, examine closely the political positions, and then go and vote for the candidate of your choice". Where is the "shock that I'd touch a topic like that this close to an election" coming from? When else than a shortly before an election would somebody post something like that? It is a sad if any message of "go out and vote" is nowadays considered to be pro-Democrat and anti-Republican.
This post isn't about MMO's, how dare you? Please change the blog name from "Tobold's MMORPG Blog" to "Tobold's great big LIE, no MMO INSIDE, I HATE AMERICA!"

Thank you.
We Americans are idiots, and every now and again, we'll say something and confirm it.

Basically, it's come down to this: "Speak against my opinion and I'll tell you to shut up, you dumb European!"

It's stuff like this that got us into this current trouble in the first place.
I read and enjoy *Tobold's* MMORPG Blog, even if I don't agree with all of Tobold's opinions. The value of this blog is that it is written by one person, who has a broader view than simply playing computer games.

If the people taking umbrage about you writing about US politics are Americans, well, they are simply acting out the tired-old stereotype of isolationist yanks. Apparently you aren't allowed an opinion about their country's politics if you aren't a yank, even though the ramifications of who they vote in for President will be important to everyone. Just look at the state of the world since they voted in a guy that they'd "like to have a beer with" (good ol' Dubya).

But then I guess this isn't reciprocal, because most Americans are so ignorant of the world that they couldn't possibly have a well-informed view of any other country's politics.
Please write about whatever you choose. I usually read most everything as I like your outlook on things. It isn't like you use games to draw readers and then post frequently about other things. The blog is mainly about games--almost exclusively. The off-topic discussion is dusted in every once in a while.

Side note:
Please don't refer to "us" as dumb Americans. We aren't all dumb or idiots and while I understand the stereotype, I don't appreciate it. If you want to admit you are dumb go for it, but please don't lump me in that. To be honest, when a person refers to "We Americans are idiots" he often means to say, "All Americans but me are idiots."
About comparing me with Scott Jennings

Who the heck is Scott Jennings?

It is your blog, write what you want. :)

You opinions about American politics do not matter, as you are not American and are biased to your own aims. Nothing wrong with that, I would say I am biased to what benefits me and America. You are if course 'allowed' to right about it, just like we are allowed to discount it.

Whether you are actually informed or not is tough to tell, as you really have not said much except you don't like Palin. Another poster in the other thread said it better, but post about something specific and why you like/dislike it and it will be a better discussion.

Scott Jennings is the guy that won a lot on Jeopardy.
Freedom of speech is a misnomer. They should call it "Freedom to agree," since many who disagree with an opionion are chastised, even if those who attack or praise them are less informed. Unfortunately, such ironies are lost on most folks. George Washington understood how disagreement was necessary to a functioning democracy. Yet, too often, people let words hit a nerve and they get defensive -- it's human nature. So often a debate like this is good to help people rise above generalization-triggered-emotions. May level heads prevail!

For the record, I like your posts that are occasionally non-MMO related. I also respect that you always preface them with a waiver stating it is not related. If I'm interested, I read it. If not, I move along. No big deal.
Why is Freedom of Speech even being discussed? I may be wrong, but it only applies to US citizens (in this context). Tobold is not one (I don't think), and if he was, the government (or anyone else) is not censoring him.

I think you have to understand how irritating it is for many of us as we constantly have to deal with celebrities and public figures of all shapes and sizes (you are probably the most well known name in MMO Blogging) that interject themselves and tell us how to vote without telling us why we should.

Someone on the other post correctly called you out on your complete lack of substance and that you simply based a lot of your post on how you felt about the candidates. This is a very common pitfall amongst Obama supporters.

Obamafanboi: Yay change!
Normal Person: Well what exactly is he going to change?
Obamafanboi: I don’t know. Yay change!

@ Some Brit poster up there who thinks he knows America because he lives in New York

The majority of American’s don’t have passports because until recently one wasn’t required to visit either of our two neighbors (Canada and Mexico). Actually for many islands in the Caribbean a passport wasn’t required either. This was changed in 2004, I believe. I am not sure how travel is restricted in Europe due to the EU but I imagine if Europeans didn’t need a passport to travel to other countries within the EU then many of them wouldn’t have a passport either.
"I may be wrong, but it only applies to US citizens (in this context). "

You're wrong. Freedom of speech is protected by the US constitution, and by the European Convention on Human Rights. There is nothing in the laws of either body to prevent non-citizens from exercising their free speech (debatably so, though, incitement to terrorism could be considered protected though not all jurisdictions agree on this).

Tobold isn't exercising his First Amendment right, he's exercising his right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which both EU member states and the US are signatories.
Why is Freedom of Speech even being discussed? I may be wrong, but it only applies to US citizens (in this context).

The constitution of the country I'm a citizen of guarantees me the same freedom of speech that the US contitution grants to Americans. And as far as I know even somebody who is a citizen of a country with a repressive regime who does not have freedom of speech in his country would still enjoy freedom of speech in the USA.

celebrities and public figures of all shapes and sizes that interject themselves and tell us how to vote without telling us why we should

I never told you how to vote. I told you *to* vote. I did not endorse either candidate and party. I mentioned some examples of the circus surrounding various candidates, and as the biggest circus is around Sarah Palin that might have sounded disrespectful to that particular vice-presidential candidate. But while I do think that the public image they are trying to project of Sarah Palin is misguided, I don't think the woman is as simple as she seems. Nor, for the record, do I think that George Bush is as stupid as his popular image. You don't get to be president of the United States by being stupid. The whole "you should vote for that guy/gal because he is just like you" strategy is flawed, because obviously you'd want somebody much better than yourself to be president, not somebody average. I certainly don't think that all Americans are stupid, as far as I know the average IQ in the US is the same as in Europe and many other countries. Whether the highly polarised and sensationalist US media lead to every American being optimally informed about the election is a different question.
You're not allowed to have an opinion because you are just an AI in a European university trying to rule the world...
uh you are allowed to have your own opinion, but surely you do not try to suppress people who have opinion on your opinion ? if you got the right to spout your own opinion dont these people also have the same right to voice theirs ? unless you want only the good opinion and not the bad ones ?

Because you opened the door, and you allow commenting. :) Regard, Ravious
it seems that many of these people's opinions are that tobold shouldnt be allowed an opinion though
wait tob , this kind of post always riled people up.. is this an attempt to garner more site visit ? assuming your got less visitor when you announced that you are back playing WOW. kidding :)
@ people who want Tobold to tag all political posts: Have you people really become that lazy? It's called a friggin scroll wheel! Or "page down". Or Reading The Friggin Title And Deciding If You Want To Continue Or Not ™. Look, this may shock you, but no one made you read the post.

@ Americans We know you're not stupid. LOL.
@tobold and @Namthe: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a good point. I did do some quick research and it appears there is no clear answer to whether the US constitution applies to non-citizens in the US. Some say it does, some say it doesn't, some day only pieces do. That leads into much deeper waters with the treatment of certain individuals... so not a simple question.

However, no one is stopping Tobold from saying anything, so it is a non issue. Disagreeing or even telling him to stop is not limiting his Freedom of Speech.

It seemed pretty clear to me that you question the qualifications of Palin and the age of McCain, the only ones you called out by name. That's all well and good, but at least just admit your bias.
Tobold - it's hard to have the kind of high-minded dialogue that you are calling for when you are in your comments section calling people stupid, isn't it? In the comments of your last political post, you called people who think that Obama's policies are socialist stupid.

The fact of the matter is that income redistribution IS a socialist policy, whether you like it or not. You may not like the connotations of the word "socialist". Tough. Further, recently some quotes from Obama have come to light about how he wishes the Supreme Court had done more to redistribute wealth, and how he tried to get primarily Marxist professors in college. You can hem and haw about income redistribution, but it IS socialist, obviously Marxism is socialist, and universal healthcare is socialist. So are welfare and social security, for that matter. Are they communist, or totalitarian? No.

Words have meanings, and you are intelligent enough to know that. The word "socialism" describes some policies we already have, and many that Obama proposes. Again, if you don't like the connotations of the word, I can't help you, but you should be more intellectually honest and less insulting. You can't call for a more intelligent discussion on the one hand, and then deny the meanings of words and flame your opponents at the same time. That's the kind of thing I expect from the WoW forums, not your usually fabulous blog.
Regarding the US Constitution, and whether America recognizes the rights of non-Citizens: You don't have to go as far as the Constitution. America had the idea from the very moment of conception, in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

I swear, that stuff is way more exciting than WoW. Go read the whole thing, it's very short:
@Anonymous: The DOI is not a legal document... is it?
I think what really makes this stuff nso complicated is the fact that we use the same words, but with different meanings.

Universal health care is not socialist in my book. It is something every 'good' person in this world wishes for. Just like helping a hurt child that knocks on your door is not socialist. The question is just what you have to sacrifice to be able to pay for universal health. *If* it leads to a decrease of 30% of gross domenstic product one *should* discuss if it is worth it, because this would effectively also kill a lot of people or ruin their lifes.

So - be careful with how you use words and how you interpret words other people use. It is generally good a assumption, that other people are not completely stupid. Even if they say that Obama is a marxist, they probably do not mean that he wants to turn the USA into the (dead) UDSSR (within 4 years). I'm pretty certain they just use this phrase to express a feeling ..
I'd say the average person should probably keep their mouth shut and listen and read instead of talk. Most people just display their own ignorance. After all the fool speaks and the wise man listens. But I don't follow my own advice very well.
I'm staying out of the political discussion currently going on here, but of course you have the right to post about it.

I think a lot of people don't realize that the global economy means that one country's decision will affect the rest of the world. The outcome of the US election will affect you, so you have every right to comment upon it. It's usually the people who disagree with you who start the cries of "ZOMG STFU FOREIGNER!"

And it's a shame.
From Wikipedia: Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society. Modern socialism originated in the late nineteenth-century working class political movement. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution which represents the transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Universal healthcare, and progressive tax systems taxing the rich more than the poor, are "social", not "socialist".
People don't always understand that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from speech they don't like to hear.
If the DOI isnt a legal document, the Queen wants her colonies back.

Anywya, I repeat myself. Post what you want, if people dont like it, they will leave, and the blog will be a better place for it - especially considering they cant be bothered to read the disclaimer you posted a little while back.
Tobold said:

It is a sad if any message of "go out and vote" is nowadays considered to be pro-Democrat and anti-Republican.


First, you touch on the gun debate and express your confusion on how something like that could happen, then less than a few hours later you make the most politically laced post I've ever seen on this site, and now you're trying to take the high road of being some kind of political saint because you think that people will buy into the notion that you're "just trying to tell them to go out and vote"?? And now you've gone and comitted the sin of putting one party in a pro-stance versus the other. And we're the ones who need to keep an open mind?

Epic Fail, Tobold.

For shame.
My trouble with Universal Health Care is more about how it intersects with economic theory, often to the detriment of service and optimization. I have similar concerns with insurance. There's nothing partisan about my concerns, but you'd never know it from the media rhetoric. *shrug*
Tobold - you are still denying reality. From your own definition: "...administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society."

This is the part that Obama's working on right now. Whether he's ready to move to state ownership of everything or not, his policies of wanting to control the distribution of income are very much in line with socialist theory.

I haven't said Obama is advocating complete socialism, just that many of his policies are socialist. If you look at a policy of raising taxes on those who work for it and handing that money to people who don't work or earn very little, that is a socialist policy, not a capitalist one. You can't describe it as "social" rather than "socialist" - "social" is not a political/economic category.

The fact of the matter is that you don't want the word socialist used to describe his policies only because you like them, you like him, and you want him to win. Your desire prevents you from admitting that his policies are best described by a word that has negative connotations for many.

And that's fine, but it's not noble or honest or anything that you have been calling for. It's the fundamental state of politics in America, and one of our biggest problems: everyone is such a good team player. We all cheer for our team, playing up their good sides and ignoring or denying any blemishes. I do it, and you are doing it whether you can admit it or not.

It's your blog, do what you want, but don't delude yourself - you are not neutral, you are not promoting or engaging in a scholarly, intellectual exchange of ideas. You are promoting your candidate of choice, and you are deriding those who don't like him. Either admit it or just move on, imho.
Please post whatever you feel like posting Tobold! The danger of posting on politics is that, if someone disagrees very strongly with you, it might ruin their ability to enjoy your other content. This isn't your fault, it's purely on the head of the person who feels so strongly about the topic that he or she simply won't listen to someone who disagrees with them.

Let me give you an example: I used to love listening to a WoW-related podcast called "Taverncast". Then, about a year ago, they changed their format (because they all quit WoW), and in the first episode one of them started talking about Universal Health Care. I disagreed so strongly with her statements (I think her name was Kirn-Kittair or something...) that I had to stop listening at that point. I never listened to one of their podcasts again, because I couldn't respect someone with her opinions on that subject, and didn't want to support someone like that. Her opinion made me dislike her so much that I could no longer enjoy the other content she provided that I used to find at least mildly interesting.

Again, that's no one's fault but my own. But there is a danger in talking about hot-button issues in that you risk alienating a chunk of your audience that otherwise would love to listen to you. I made the right choice by just not listening anymore. I did put a message on their forums so they'd know why I stopped listening, but I never told them they weren't entitled to their opinions or that they had no right to talk about them.

So more power to you Tobold, please keep posting anything you want on your blog! I just wanted to share my view on one of the consequences that you may or may not have considered.
By writing on the internet you are "common property".

There are thousands of people who are unable to express their opinions in the real meaning of a discussion. Remember your blog entry some days ago about this very issue? Some of them at least do have a "qualified opinion", but their ability for discussion is limited. Latest at that point they will start being personal.

Others simply do not understand what you are talking about on politics and economics. They are overchallenged and their brain performs a displacement activity, causing them to post that you should shut the f*** off about things do not know anything about. Same thing in every forum on the net. In RealLife™ they might push you first and beat you up later.

If you want an intellectual duel, don't do it with defenceless people.

Keep it up Tobold!
Also, I really wish I hadn't read the other comments here. All the people employing dishonest, bad-faith tricks of rhetoric to try to demonize Tobold should be ashamed of themselves. It makes me sick.

I'm trying really hard to find where he told you who to vote for, or expressed a single policy opinion either way, and it's simply not there. The only thing he did that was remotely close to partisan was criticize a strategy of media sensationalism that has been used more by one party than another, and asked you to ignore that sensationalism and vote on the issues.

If you have a problem with him saying that you should vote on the issues rather than, say, who wears the bigger flag pin, and you take that as partisan, then you must have absolutely no faith in the issue stance of your chosen candidate. And that makes me sickest of all.
Much Ado About Nothing - the world is still vertical, and we all soon die.
Ignore the idiots Tobold. Don't tag your posts. Don't stop posting about whatever it is you want to post about. If they stop reading your blog, it's their loss, not yours.
John Kai, The Truth about Markets.

John Kai is a Fellow of St.John's College, Oxford, and a Visiting Prof. of Economics at the London School of Economics. He has been Prof. of Economics at the London Buisiness School and Prof. of Management at the University of Oxford. He has been director of an independent think tank, set up and sold a highly successful economic consultancy business and has been a director of several public companies. He now writes a fortnightly column for the Financial Times.

Buy it today. It is the best economics book I know and MANY people here NEED to learn about economics. You seem to like to discuss about it. This book is not hard to understand and will open your eyes. Yes - it is red - but the Author is hardly a Communist. Hardly.
Anyone for a game of tennis?
I think you should write more about european politics! :)
"Universal health care is not socialist in my book. It is something every 'good' person in this world wishes for. Just like helping a hurt child that knocks on your door is not socialist."

Charity is by choice, socialism is by dictate.

In your example, helping the hurt child is charity, being forced to pay more taxes to support universal health care is socialist because the government controls and organizes it.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that US citizens in general are kind of weary of hearing the at times loud nearly to the point of obnoxiousness, opinion of Europeans (and even Canadians! Even our neighbors get dragged into this) on gun control.

It's a really touchy subject because at this point you guys have had your strict controls long enough that there IS a cultural disconnect.

(It is worth noting that in connection to the previous post that sparked this one that the licensing involved in owning a submachine gun or machine gun costs a fortune, and even that license doesn't cover much beyond ownership, ability to purchase, and being able to fire it at a firing range.)
You have the right to post what ever you want on your blog. It's your blog. What you don't have the right to, is the expectation that what you post will not have an effect on people's opinions of your blog. It's their opinions. If you open your combox to those opinions then they may very well express them. You are free to skip over those comments if you choose. You are perfectly free to disregard any and all of them. But if you choose to voice your opinions here, or anywhere else for that matter, then be prepared to encounter some criticism. Now, I will agree that much of the criticism, going both directions, has virtually no substance. Unfortunately, if you open the floor to everybody, the ignorant among us will speak up as well. Best to just move on.

Now, why do I think it is a bad idea for you to post on politics? For the same reason that it is a bad idea to talk about politics or religion on vent when your in a big guild. They are subjects that generate a lot of emotion and strong opinion and the discussion resulting tend to degenerate quickly into petty insult-fests rather than continuing to be discussions. In a big group you are going to have a lot of different opinions so long as the group was not organized around those subjects. Here, your readership is brought together based on a common interest in MMO gaming. Since the organizing principle of this group has virtually nothing to do with politics it stands to reason that the people here will have diverse views on politics. I understand you having an opinion on these things but when you choose to express them here, which you have every right to do, you also choose to create threads which will generated a lot of heated discussion and a lot of ill will between those who participate. I am not saying that it was your intention to create the conflict but making political posts will have that effect.

More to the point, if you wonder why some Americans are reacting poorly to these posts, especially conservative Americans, well, you are coming from a liberal European point of view so obviously your views will be most at odds with conservative Americans. It is going to alienate a certain portion of your readers. Here in America, have been knee deep in political bullshit for 2 years now and frankly it is getting pretty old. I am ready for it to be over. I play games and read about games to get away from that kind of crap. Yet, when you bring up a hot button topic like the 2nd amendment, I do feel obligated to say something about it. To try to defend it. Further, these arguments seem to encourage self-righteous, self-absorbed, condescending assholes like "Anonymous : 29/10/08 09:54", who's tirade is just more of the same tired old "Americans are such hicks" crap. America is a pretty big place and making broad generalizations about us just comes off as willful ignorance. Coming from someone who is so well traveled I would expect better discernment and less of the over used political myths. Do you know why most Americans don't have passports? Because, we don't hit a border that requires them every 1000 km. You didn't even need a passport to enter Canada or Mexico until recently. People don't pick up a passport until they need it and if you don't work for a multinational company that requires over seas travel and you don't make enough money to vacation over seas, then you are probably not going to have a passport.

In summary, you have a great blog about MMO's I don't want to see you bring it down by turning it into yet another political cesspool even temporarily. You are free to do what you want. That is just my advice.
"Start talking to a Christian about how 96% of his/her religion was established a few thousand years before in a "pagan" religion, and you see the same exact reaction."

Sigh. I just knew some wanna be intellectual atheist was going to chime in with some unsubstantiated attack on Christianity. Where people discuss politics, they discuss religion. Ok, 96% you say, that is a very precise number. It must have been referenced from somewhere. Mind sharing it with us? Respectable research reference please and not some circular reference to some popular opinion piece. Or did you just pull it out of your ass?

"And, being a socialist in and of itself isn't necessarily bad, that's just what the US government in the cold war wanted to make you believe.

Personally, I'm rather certain I have a better grasp of American politics than the majority of Americans themselves. Yes, I'm arrogant and a fool, but I also study (political) economics."

Let me guess, Keynesian?

Universal healthcare is socialist when the aim is for the government to provide that univeral care. The government will be controlling the adminstration of the organization and deciding on how the goods are distributed. Taxing is not socialist in and of itself but using the revenue from those taxes to redistribute wealth, either directly or through services is socialist. It is just so damn common now that we don't see it as socialist.

And just so that you know Tobold, I am not a Republican, I am not a Democrat either. I am a conservative libertarian. I absolutely agree that we should be voting on the issues rather than holding a high school popularity contest. I also don't think we should be running around the world starting wars either. I don't care what you think about our politics but I also don't think we should be letting our politics have an effect on your countries beyond the economics of free trade. I think Clinton should have been impeached, but I also think Bush should be impeached and for far better reasons. I think that McCain is a horrible choice for the country, but I think Obama will be worse. And yes, Obama is a socialist, but then so is McCain. The only real choice here is "do we take the fast train to our demise as a country or the slow train? I am thinking that the fast train will be more entertaining. And it would be fun to see if we can destroy ourselves before you bat shit crazy Euros do. Personally, I think our political rescue over here is going to come in the form of Mexicans taking over half the US and I am all for it. Mexicans are friendly folk when you speak Spanish and you don't assume they they are criminals or some other stupid redneck myth. Europe on the other hand? Well, have fun with Islam when they take over. Hope your ladies enjoy their burkas. Send me a post card.
Sorry, for the double wall-o-text crits. This crap gets my Swedish in a twist. Yeah, I know about Swedish Socialism. It's embarrassing. I am a first generation American. My parents are named Kjell and Gudrun. They are even more embarrassed than I am.
Tobold, love your blog =). “Butch” (despite posting a self-avowed wall of text) has an interesting point. The question is not whether or not you should be able to comment on politics – of course you can! The question is whether or not it’s a good idea to put it on a blog that most people read for gaming. Personally, I am fine with it as I am interested in not only what you have to say about MMOs, but also you as a person. For example, I find posts where you mention your job in passing interesting even though they aren’t about games. However, you have to expect that hot topics such as politics (or religion, or Taiwan, etc.) will lead to a lot of angry comments / bad discussion. Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons. I’ll still be reading either way though =).
Wow. I read these comments, as a proud and patriotic United States citizen, and I become even more afraid of the ignorance of so many of my fellow countrymen.

I didn't think that was possible, for folks to be less aware than I already suspected they were.

You do the world a service, Tobold, with your very occasional political post on your blog mostly about mmorpg's. You pull the sheet of the wreck, and show the world how it is possible nearly half of the country I pledge allegiance to will be voting for a McCain/Palin ticket less than a week from today.

It is possible because of the very dangerous cocktail of fear/hate and a low i.q.

Again, keep up the great work sir! I've said it before, it's the only blog I bother to bookmark.
If those things Obama is proposing considered socialist, then Australia must damn well be a socialist country, because we've got all those things.

@ Americans telling non-Americans not to comment on American politics: What information do you have access to that the rest of the developed world doesn't have access to? Are we not using the same internets?
"Charity is by choice, socialism is by dictate.

In your example, helping the hurt child is charity, being forced to pay more taxes to support universal health care is socialist because the government controls and organizes it."

Socialist policies in a democratic system are not by dictate. If you don't agree with the policies, don't vote the party in. There's a fundamental difference between a socialist form of government and a socialist policy. I just don't get this running-screaming-into-the-woods attitude everyone has whenever the word "socialist" pops up. Our public school system is a socialist policy. Every child should have milk is a socialist policy. Should we do something else because it's socialist? Private schools? Let the undernourished kids grow up with serious health problems? What?

I disagree with your use of the word "charity" also. A child who is hurt has a right to assistance from a nearby adult. Ignoring such a situation is simply not humane. The proponents of universal health care feel exactly the same way about the economically disadvantaged and otherwise uninsured.
So thats a no on the Tennis?.......slackers :(
I think that you should be able to discuss whatever you want on your blog, but that you should expect and accept some criticism for mixing recreational and emotionally-important subjects.

The writer above who mentioned not discussing charged topics like politics on guild chat or chat servers had a good point, although it only partially applies to your blog. (It is much harder to avoid guild chat than to skip over a blog post.)

A question for Tobold: do you discuss politics with other casual non-related social groups (like coworkers or your online guilds), especially if you know there are people present who strongly disagree with you? If political discussion doesn't seem appropriate in that setting, then perhaps you might understand more about those who object to your political postings.

Another reason for not posting political subjects here is that it does not seem like a good forum for ongoing serious political dialogue. For example, I might enjoy participating in a serious discussion about American gun policies or socialism, but I don't think a single comment thread on your blog is the best place for it. A good dialogue on these topics requires a lot of effort by the host to read the replies, moderate trolls or other disruptive authors, and responding to substantial contributions. There are other established political forums which support serious discussions, and I would rather use them than spend time writing for the smaller subset of your readers who also want to discuss politics.

My only suggestion is to use a cut-tag/more-link *early* in your political postings, possibly even at the beginning, to minimize the impact for those who prefer a less-controversial or more game-focused blog.

Thank you for a very interesting blog--I look forward to reading it each day.
Note that even if I don't agree with the semantics of calling it socialism, the debate going on here is a good thing. It is way, way more intellectual than all that mudslinging and swiftboating and bad jokes that produced so much of the news in this campaign.

My only suggestion is to use a cut-tag/more-link *early* in your political postings, possibly even at the beginning, to minimize the impact for those who prefer a less-controversial or more game-focused blog.

Well, my get out the vote post had the warning that it was not a games post in the first line. Can't do much earlier than that. Tags, even if I would use any, would appear at the bottom.
Tags, even if I would use any, would appear at the bottom.
That's if you're using a browser. If you use a feed reader, you can filter with tags even before you see the title of the post. In addition, Blogger provides tag-specific RSS/Atom feeds and tag-specific pages.
I also don't see the point about Tags - either the subject of the post makes it obvious it's non-MMO related (i.e. it doesn't mention WoW or WAR, trade-crafting etc), or the first few lines tell you enough.

The whole "Tobold's MMORPG Blog" title issue astounds me - it seems to be suggesting that it's "OK" (as opposed to "Not OK") to post such items if the name was just "Tobold's Blog". Does that mean that a number of people wouldn't read the blog becuase it didn't have "MMORPG" in the title??

Finally, Tobold has repeatedly (over a number of years) gone out of his way to encourage debate - exchanging opinions is one of the corner-stones of the internet, enabling two-way communication to a far greater extent than the old one-way mediums of tv, radio and newspapers.

I don't play MMORPGs, never have done. However I read a blog to find out what's going on in them, how they work and so forth. I read *this* blog because the subjects are (IMHO) treated rigourously, fairly, and with balance. I continue to read this blog because *Tobold* writes it - and I am also interested in what he has to say on other subjects.

It would be a very dull place if you only read about what you agreed with.
I also don't see the point about Tags - either the subject of the post makes it obvious it's non-MMO related (i.e. it doesn't mention WoW or WAR, trade-crafting etc), or the first few lines tell you enough.
See my comment above. Filtering based on tags can be automated.

Does that mean that a number of people wouldn't read the blog becuase it didn't have "MMORPG" in the title??
Yes. If you want to read about cars, you probably won't find what you want in a magazine called "Home and Garden". Reading it would be a waste of your time, even if the quality of it's articles about homes and gardens was top-notch.

I continue to read this blog because *Tobold* writes it - and I am also interested in what he has to say on other subjects.
Well, I'm not. I read Tobold's MMORPG Blog because it tends to contain insightful posts about MMORPGs. I don't particularly care who makes an argument, as long as it's well-founded and logical.

It would be a very dull place if you only read about what you agreed with.
Indeed, it would. But that's not the issue here. I don't care whether Tobold is left-wing, right-wing, anarchist, totalitarian or something in between.
Setting the political debate aside, I believe the reason people have such a strong reaction is that, when they read an MMO blog, they are reading it for fun. They are here on their recreational time, by and large. I read such blogs while I eat my lunch, usually. I look forward to lunch, and I sit down with something tasty and say to myself that I'm going to go read some fun MMO discussion. If others share that mindset, you can imagine why they have a negative reaction to political posts when they were expecting fun.

It's my view that people tend to get particularly upset about someone messing with their recreational time. You carve out a part of the day for yourself, and then something ruins your plans. We all know what it's like when we had planned a raid or whatever and the server goes down.

Anyway, not saying don't post what you want, just sharing my view on why people don't want politics in their fun time.

- The Anonymous Semantician
*idly wonders if the average citizen wants politics anyways... and if they don't, isn't such intentional ignorance denying the responsibility to actually be a citizen? "Who watches the watchdogs?" and all that...*
"A child who is hurt has a right to assistance from a nearby adult. Ignoring such a situation is simply not humane."

You're mixing concepts here.

I don't think the child necessarily has a 'right', which appears to imply a legal concept, to assistance. However, your second sentence about being inhumane by not responding is correct.
Your analogy is flawed, Tobold. Your blog is the equivalent of one of the sections of a newspaper. Let's call it the "Entertainment" section. Suppose a political piece was put in the Entertainment section written by someone who has very little exposure to the political scene. I think it's understandable that people would criticize such an article. This is also why people react negatively to your comments on the American political situation. Everyone has an opinion, but unfortunately not everyone takes the same amount of effort to make sure that option is well researched and educated. In the past it seems you have not put the same amount of energy into your American political ideas as you have your MMO ideas.

While you are completely free to write about whatever you want on your own personal blog, don't be surprised when people come here looking for insightful MMORPG articles and get upset when they see less insightful political commentary.
"Why can't you just skip the posts that you don't like? Why do you have to leave a comment to tell me to shut my mouth, whenever I talk about something other than MMORPGs? Why should I not be allowed to express my opinions on world events on my very own blog, free of charge?"

You can express anything you like. You yourself could choose to remain aware of the blog's title, "Tobold's MMORPG Blog," and accept consequences for straying from that. But that's your matter. I think it's easy enough to change the title if you want to. "I Am Tobold And This Is What I Think," or "Tobold's Toilet" (but pronounced with a sophisticated Twa-let). Something catchy like that.

And you invite us to have our opinions on your opinion by allowing comments. Free of charge as well. Thanks.

So, the game's on.

You tell us how to vote. We tell you to stuff it. You complain.

Perhaps you have a sense now that our politics are touchy enough without foreigners opining.

You should be free to say what you want, but heaven forbid we take the same license?

(Heaven, by the way, is that place over your head. Some of you European elites might consider religion a dead myth. Marx's opiate and all that. See? Opinion, and controversial subjects, aren't always matters to have fun with.)

What am I missing here?

Civility? You tossed that in the trash when you picked sides. "...What is really scary this Halloween."

You might consider growing a skin before venturing into the brambles.

But, hey, that's just my opinion. Cheers.
What am I missing here?

You're missing that I never told anyone how to vote. You're missing that I made a post about the quality of political discourse. But while you were missing that, you found something. You found that someone criticizing the quality of political discourse sounded like he was attacking your favorite party. What does that tell you about your party?
You are correct, you have the right to blog about any subject you choose. But while you are very informed about MMO's, you are very uninformed about America. You repeat every hackneyed cliche in the book - America is not as you write about it - we "normal" Americans know better. You have built an enviable following because you have written well about something you understand well - MMO's. There are countless mediocre blogs critizing America - why would we bother to read yet another one?
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