Saturday, August 29, 2009
A reader commented that he read about my evil twin hoax on Twitter, which kind of surprised me, because I'm not on Twitter. I tried it out about a year ago, found that the character limit didn't fit well with my verbosity, and stupidly deleted my account. So now somebody else is Tobold on Twitter.
So I typed "Tobold" in the Twitter search box. Do you call that tweeting yourself, like googling yourself? First thing I found was that every blog post of mine results in 11 separate but identical Twitter entries. Some software apparently turns my RSS feed into an abbreviated URL, and then posts that URL together with the name of my blog and the post title. Apparently the sort of people who previously made automated blogs out of RSS feeds from other blogs have invaded Twitter as well.
But that was the harmless part. The people who actually mentioned "Tobold" in their tweets were a lot worse. What an ugly and hateful place this Twitter can be! Makes the official WoW forums look like the salvation army. Which was insofar a surprise as on my blog the comments were relatively mild. What you could read this week in my comments section was not a heavily edited version with lots of comments deleted by comment moderation. You saw all the comments, as there were none so bad that I had to moderate them out. The only comments I had to moderate this week were spam in Japanese.
I am pretty proud of you readers right now. A huge amount of you were able to see my question of whether you read my theory posts as exactly what it was: A question, not a grab for attention. And I got far more answers than I would have expected, covering the whole spectrum from saying my theory posts are tl;dr to loving them. On the evil twin hoax I also got nothing but good feedback, some approving, some disapproving, some just laughing, or calling my bluff, but all of them within the limits of polite society, and some offering quite intelligent analysis or thoughts of their own. Pretty much exactly what I was aiming for.
The most obvious explanation is that comment moderation works, so people who have something unpolite to say about me now do it on their own blogs or on Twitter. Which is great, because I'm not forced to read Twitter. But I was wondering whether there also was a difference between the opinions of people who just read blogs, and the opinions of bloggers about bloggers. The most vitriolic comments on Twitter about me were from other bloggers, many along the lines of me having pulled a series of cheap stunts to increase visitor and commenter numbers, and planning to "punish" me by "blacklisting" me. Wow, I haven't heard the word "blacklisting" since I stopped playing Everquest.
It appears as if some other bloggers are very much caught up in a mindset in which a blog is all about "credibility", a "brand", and trying to maximize visitor numbers. I can certainly understand that, it is quite fascinating to watch your visitor numbers grow over the years. But at some point you stop caring about numbers, and start to become more worried about quality. I'm not an idiot, I know perfectly well that asking who reads my theory posts makes me look weak (as does this post), and that pulling stunts and messing with people's minds is going to drive away more readers than it attracts. But for me the perfect situation would be to have a community here where I am allowed to look weak from time to time, as keeping up the appearance of always being in command is rather hard, life just doesn't work that way. And I would love to have a community that thinks for themselves, enjoys the occasional unpredictable experiment, and doesn't just "believe" what I say because of my "credibility".
Fortunately I think I'm slowly getting there, which is a definitive step up from earlier this year. If I lose the kind of sanctimonious reader on the way who objects that my vision of myself doesn't fit with his view of how bloggers should be, that is just fine with me. I'm not out to start a personality cult of myself, as dear leader Tobold. I'm just trying to create a sympathetic place for myself to hang out. And Twitter apparently doesn't quite fit the bill.