Tobold's Blog
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.
Five people of five million don't like you on twitter… talking about you own "e-fame" is one of the things you shouldn't do.
If they started to throw poo in your blog's comments, they would either not pass your moderation, or be involved in a flame debate with your loyal readers.
In their own blogs/twitters they've got THEIR loyal readers, who respect THEIR opinion.
So choice is easy :)
(Note: If I am wrong in the first paragraph of this comment, do not try to argue against the rest of it. If my premises are incorrect, of course my conclusions are. There are some implications in this post that are markedly negative, but they are a result of my analysis of the situation as an outsider, not an attempt to flame anyone involved.)


You have an odd standard for success. You seem to consider success to be doing what you want to do regardless of what anyone else thinks. That's not a great definition of success from anyone else's perspective. This makes your goal an ever-moving target. It's a target no one else can understand, and if no one understands but you, no one can work based off of how you behave.

Your goals are also circular. They are self-justifying and rely only on you. This is selfishness defined.

1. I do what I want to do.
3. I want to be a success.
2. I am a success if I do what I want to do.

CONCLUSION: What I want to do makes me a success, so I will do it.

Aside from the reprehensible nature of selfishness and self-centeredness, the issue is that your definition of success does not jive with what a "normal" blogger would consider success: reader numbers growing and better content resulting. You're not interested in either your numbers or your readership growing--you are only interested in doing what you want to do--so you are seen as an outsider.

The problem for your opponents is that you actually have numbers. If you didn't have numbers, no one would care about you. By saying that you don't care about your numbers (I think you actually do care, but saying you don't is a necessary signaling act) you are saying that you don't care if others care about you. You're basically telling people to f-off. That's directly opposed to how social groups form and survive. You're refusing to be a part of an ecosystem that benefits everyone involved--but you are, by more definitions than your own, succeeding.

But I highly doubt that you are actually only in this to do what you want. You must care what people think of you, or you wouldn't bother writing for the public. I could analyze further, but I'm afraid I've already gotten to conclusions too negative to be particularly useful. In the interest of not pulling on Tobold's beard to much, I'll stop here.
This is feedback to how you have been posting the last couple of weeks more than it is about twitter.

Many of your recent post have been on blogging rather than mmorpgs. You talk about what produces visitors and comments but I for one only read the head lines of those then skip the rest.

Trolls, flamers and and so on are easy to attract and they are not worth listening to, but they do not interrest me one bit. Niether does what other bloggers are writhing or thinking about you.

Your post "Are you reading theory posts?" I did not read that but to answer the question. Yes, I read your theory posts.

Wiki says credibility means this:

"Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message."

I don't believe what you say because of the way you present it, or because of what you used to post, to me you have only the "credibility" your words bring.

I don't know if you look weak or if your "credibility" has been weakened but your post have been boring.
So let me see if I understood these "social rules of blogging" right: It is okay for bloggers to badmouth other bloggers on Twitter. But it is not okay for a blogger to write about himself, or about the people badmouthing him. Hmmmm, aren't these rules a bit lopsided?

I would say that blogging is inherently a vain process. Any blogger telling you that he isn't selfishly interested in himself and his e-fame is simply a hypocritical liar.
"I'm just trying to create a sympathetic place for myself to hang out"

Exactly my view on what casual, non-commercial blogging is about!
Just stick to your vision and turn your back to the "Tobold brand" thing, the expectations from the audience, the wish to have a predictable icon to worship (or dislike). This is your inn. These are your thoughts. You're true to yourself. That is what matters.

BTW I just don't get the Twitter thing. Not at all. I think some of the people tossing out words like "blacklisting" wouldn't have done it in a blog post since it takes more thinking and they would have realized it was pretty silly, just an emotional backbone-reaction. To me twittering seems to be random shouting, trying to get attention for something you didn't bother to think about twice even for yourself.

Anyway: who cares? If people don't like your writings they don't and the world goes on as it always has.

Cheers and love
@evizaer: Your assumption is indeed incorrect. Tobold didn't say he wants to do X regardless of what anyone else thinks. Instead, he said he wants to have a community (i.e. other people around) who accept him for who he is. Instead of trying to make subscriber numbers his #1 priority, he would rather build a quality readership. Quality over quantity. Quantity is not bad, as long as it is only a second-place priority.

Isn't that what we all want from a personal friendship community -- people who accept us for who we are, and don't try to mold us to their expectations?

On a completely different note, I don't understand people's fascination with Twitter either.
Hello from France Tobold.

First time I post here, I began reading when you've posted the theory posts. I just *regret* that I haven't found them or read them before candidly stepping into WOW 10 months ago (stepped out a month ago).

I'm not surprise you make some enemies. It's also a measure of success as it means you're disturbing on some itchy points. Your theory posts partly shows the dark side and some 'by designed' "addiction" inducers in WOW. I feel most WOW players just can't have time to find, read, accept or understand these theory post now. Some of them will awake later.

Thanks to WOW I've seen some potentials of "metaverses" and realize they are too important let them in the hand of money makers only. I find your theory analysis priceless.

Keep up the great work.

Twitter, huh? Bill Simmons offered this:

The more interesting angle for me is how Twitter and Facebook reflect where our writing is going thanks to the Internet. In 15 years, writing went from "reflecting on what happened and putting together some coherent thoughts" to "reflecting on what happened as quickly as possible" to "reflecting on what's happening as it's happening" to "here are my half-baked thoughts about absolutely anything and I'm not even going to attempt to entertain you," or as I like to call it, Twitter/Facebook Syndrome.
Makes me even more happy that I rejected Twitter as useless nonsense when it came out.
I don't twitter because I'm not promoting anything.

When I have something to sell, then I'll twitter >.>

Until then, I'd just like to share my thoughts. I use tobold's place here because my own blog is more specifically directed, and Tobold manages to find such interesting topics.... now....


A couple of lyrics to make you think:

"It doesn't matter if it's good enough (good enough)
For someone else." - The Middle

Blogging, to be effective, interesting and fun, must be done for the individual, and not the group.

If Tobold was not writing to generate discussion (such as what you did in your post, and I'm doing now), then as he said himself, he'd just not do it.

So your premise is correct, and this blog of Tobold's is very selfish, but if he wasn't getting satisfaction from it, then he wouldn't do it, since he is not getting paid for it, as I see NO advertising on this site.

He instead freely shares his thoughts with us for his own selfish reasons, and we read it and interact with him through comments (again something he wants), for our OWN selfish reason of putting our voice to the topic.
I finally quit Twitter AND turned my blog into a news feed system that will only post NEWS about whatever game I am playing.

It is all because of hate, lies and idiotic banter.

Like you did previously, I shut it all down. I got sick of the rhetoric of all these supposed game pundits.
The sideline commenters and so called "expert" analysts (their opinion...not mine) of all things MMORPG had become a sham.

Somehow this belief that they know what is right, wrong and who should be listening has become too much.

I have removed myself from the future of the MMORPG industry as well.

I once was Openedge1...I am NOW Logged_off.

Aside from the reprehensible nature of selfishness and self-centeredness...

Why is selfishness reprehensible? In certain circumstances it is not only justifiable but wholly appropriate.
One such circumstance is the writing of a personal blog in which the only true interest is that of the blogger's own thoughts and opinions. If said blogger doesn't think selfishly about such a venture it will cease to be what they had intended to create.
I am thankful that Tobold has selfishly held onto his vision for his corner of the internet. If he doesn't protect it who will?
Who cares what anyone else thinks. If your satisfying yourself with your blogs, thats what ultimately matters.

Whoever doesn't like you doesn't have to read you; it's as simple as that.
I searched "Tobold" on Twitter, too. A few people did not like what you write, how you write and some did not like your Gevlon Hoax.

Why do you think Twitter is a hateful place? Because of some persons disagreeing or outright hating you?

I do not get it, you have so many readers who apparently like to read you, why do you get upset if someone does not like you.
Now I'm almost scared to check my own name...

I think there is credibility, and you have a good amount of it. That doesn't mean your blog is perfect, but it's good enough and that's all anyone can realistically hope for. A stunt now and then wakes people up from the doldrums of Check morning blogs, Read blogs, Sometimes comment, Close Firefox, Go to work and forget about blogs.
The impression I've gotten is that Tobold doesn't want a community that he has to compromise with. That basically undermines the two-way relationship that communities usually establish. He asks for help in certain posts, but in others says that he will do what he wants, regardless. It sounds like he wants to do theory posts, so why would he ask if we care? Talking about something indicates you care about it, so Tobold spending so much time addressing his community and doubters recently shows that he cares, regardless of what he has said that indicates the direct opposite.


You missed my point. I wasn't saying that Tobold is selfish and other bloggers aren't or that blogging isn't an ego-stroking affair. I was making a comment on the way that Tobold's behavior signals to other bloggers in a negative way. As an explanation of the signaling, I showed how Tobold's comments signal selfishness and how a community that generally does not signal selfishness would react.

Blogs generally aim to develop community unless the blogger already has celebrity. Tobold signaling that he doesn't care about gathering readers (even though he does, or has said he does in the past) or about what those readers think about his blog (even though he has asked before and seems to care), is separating him from the larger circle of bloggers, naturally generating a backlash.

Also, saying one thing and then doing another is generally considered hypocrisy, yet no one mentions that in the comments. And claiming you are someone who you are not in an apparent stunt to draw attention is, well, a bit childish. This kind of behavior does not reflect well on Tobold, but he doesn't care. He will do what he wants. A backlash from this kind of behavior is predictable, especially when the culprit is a high-profile, well-established blogger.
"So let me see if I understood these "social rules of blogging" right: It is okay for bloggers to badmouth other bloggers on Twitter. But it is not okay for a blogger to write about himself, or about the people badmouthing him. Hmmmm, aren't these rules a bit lopsided?"

It is seen as OK for bloggers to talk about one another through any means they'd like, just like it is in real life.

It is not seen as OK for one blogger to pull a stunt to increase his page views while actually offering little-to-no content that is valuable to readers who read his blog for its usual or advertised content. This perception is similar to perceptions people have in real life before: the person who pretends sickness to receive attention from her parents and relatives--it's not hard to see that the illness is feigned, so the larger community that knows it and sees through the stunt recognizes it as reprehensible behavior and will talk about it behind the attention-getter's back.
I do not get it, you have so many readers who apparently like to read you, why do you get upset if someone does not like you.

It is seen as OK for bloggers to talk about one another through any means they'd like, just like it is in real life.

I was chatting with somebody, and he compared the Twitterers to the people in high-school who would whisper behind other people's back, never directly, but just loud enough for the person to hear. And I think that is a pretty good description of what I object to. Twitter isn't "talking to one another", it is talking to one another and then leaving a public record of it, so you're sure it sooner or later gets back to the person you said bad things about.
That's true, but I don't think it's worth worry. It happens to anyone who has much of a following. With success comes criticism. You have to live with it--it's a fact of life. Thousands of other bloggers have huge followings and have absolutely no problem shrugging off the inevitable criticism. You'd be well-served by growing thicker skin and showing more professionalism. When you cry about haters, people can smell blood in the water. If you show weakness, those with negative opinions will jump in to gain what they can by trying to show that they are "superior" to you. It's basic social maneuvering.

Leaving comments like this makes me feel pretentious/presumptuous, but I prefer to risk that and let you know what I think is going on (and I'm most likely right--I've not gone out on a limb with anything I've said) instead of letting you flounder.

Why is selfishness reprehensible? In certain circumstances it is not only justifiable but wholly appropriate."

Certainly. The question isn't if you are being selfish, though. It's a question of signaling. You have to signal to others that you are not being selfish to reassure them that you're engaging in an even dialog with them. Even though that's seldom the case, this is the kind of behavior that makes people popular and successful. It's really hard to get far without signaling effectively.
evizaer says: Leaving comments like this makes me feel pretentious/presumptuous

The fact that you are leaving dozens of them, all in the same style, is certainly enforcing that impression.

I 100% agree with you that I am showing weakness, signalling selfishness, and all that. But what you don't appear to understand is that this is quite deliberate. People who can't stand me talking about myself from time to time, or questioning myself instead of pretending to be Super-Tobold, will hopefully be driven away by this. Those who enjoy reading my thoughts even when they happen to be about blogging and not about gaming will stay.

You are totally right about signaling, but I am signaling loud and clear that I am only human. And unlike what you suggest, I believe that this signal attracts the better sort of readers. Nobody wants to read just another gaming blog with "how I killed Thaddius" posts and reviews that are so balanced that they have no soul.
You are signaling in a way which turns your peers against you. If you want to do that, go ahead. I'm just telling you because you're acting surprised when people oppose you for doing it.

Signaling weakness and selfishness doesn't get you ahead, it's a great way to find someone to dominate you. You clearly don't want that. So what do you actually want? Your always saying one thing and then doing another.

I give up. Have fun showing others that you are weak, selfish, and that they don't matter. It's a great way to make friends keep yourself safely on the moral high ground. And continue to attention whore while claiming innocence, that really endears you to the right people.
Tobold, has the thought ever crossed your mind that these tweets were more a reflection upon the blogger you claimed as your twin than upon you?

Re "So let me see if I understood these "social rules of blogging" right: It is okay for bloggers to badmouth other bloggers on Twitter. But it is not okay for a blogger to write about himself, or about the people badmouthing him. Hmmmm, aren't these rules a bit lopsided?"

How about "It's OK for a blogger to badmouth people tweeting about him, since they cannot respond here because he will surely moderate these out?"

Here's the deal. You blog about whatever you want, and sod us if we don't like it. We tweet about whatever we want, including our disgust that one would want to associate himself with an online persona we find unworthy of reading (and certainly blogging about) even to prove a point, and sod you if you don't like it. How's that sound?

Note to self: when you blacklist a blog, remove it from your RSS reader too.

I've been reading your blog for several years now, and if you jump back just a year or so and look at the direction your posts have taken in regards to subject matter, I think you'll agree that you are slowly turning your blog inside-out on itself with all of this "internalizing" you are doing to yourself.

You took a break from posting due to whatever reason, yet here it is just a couple of weeks after your return and you were Gevlon for one minute, Tobold the next, and then you were upset that someone stole your nick on Twitter and that people were making critical posts about you on the intarweb.../gasp...omg! :P

Those who enjoy reading my thoughts even when they happen to be about blogging and not about gaming will stay.

Have you ever thought that there is a good percentage of your long-time, loyal reader base who might prefer posts only about games?

One thing is for certain, your blog is evolving. One look at your archives since day one shows a pretty clear delineation of your ideas and focus.

Let me ask you this:

Why not evolve your website? Why stick with the limitations of the blog-o-sphere when it is becoming all too clear that your needs require a more robust web presence?

I'd register with/join a "Tobold Forum" in a heartbeat.....

Tobold, I don't think you could handle Twitter. You're sensitive about what people say on your own blog (which is your right, btw). Twitter is realtime reactions to web content, real opinions - and you can't moderate it like you do this blog. Others can say what they wish. :) Also, people read your blog because they want to, because they have it bookmarked or on their RSS reader list. On Twitter, the audience is often more objective because I share things to my 1200 followers there that they might not otherwise read or be interested in. It's a whole new world out there...
I find things like this really hilarious. Some people still don't understand what you are about, Tobold, even after you go blue in the face shouting it to the world.
The capacity to look weak and keep going takes a lot more strength than simply keeping command of your community. People refuse to look weak out of fear. Which leads to fewer creative ideas and less risk taking with posts.

If computer games designers were afraid of failing, they'd never try to make new games, and we'd all still be playing the same games we were playing 10 years ago.
Tobold, I don't think you could handle Twitter.

Oh, I totally agree. Not only am I sensitive, I'm also definitely a bit old-fashioned about concepts like politeness and respect, of which Twitter is pretty much the deliberate anti-thesis.

We tweet about whatever we want, including our disgust that one would want to associate himself with an online persona we find unworthy of reading (and certainly blogging about) even to prove a point, and sod you if you don't like it. How's that sound?

That sounds as if you are following a very modern trend, one which I call the "FoxNews trend". Given enough sources of information, we are now able to select and visit only those which do not make us feel uncomfortable.

Be assured that Gevlon makes me uncomfortable as well. So does Twitter. I just choose to engage with these uncomfortable thoughts, and blog about them.
Gosh Tobold, I surely hope you're not talking about a bit of harmless fun a few of us had the other day. But if you are... well, you're entitled to your opinion, and I guess your opinion makes me a valueless troll.

Fair enough.

For what it's worth, I've been a Tobold reader and supporter (especially with respect to your right to write whatever you damn please) for a long time. Well, was, anyway. The fun that was made wasn't *of* you nor *at* you -- it was at the idea that anyone could confuse you with Gevlon and at the perverse truth that random blurble attracts more comments on blogs than thoughtful theory. But by all means believe what random people tell you without, you know, checking it out.

Seriously. Assuming it's all bad is... I dunno. Disappointing. Maybe a bit paranoid.

Not that I expect this will make it past moderation anyway. Oh well. /shrug
Not that I expect this will make it past moderation anyway. Oh well. /shrug

Now who is paranoid here?

As I said, there was zero comment moderation except for some spam in Japanese this week on my blog. In fact since I turned comment moderation on, I had to delete LESS comments than before. People see that comment moderation is on, and auto-censor themselves.
"People see that comment moderation is on, and auto-censor themselves."

Mostly. Now if only we could find a way to apply that to the Russian spam before it even begins...

Course, if I read Russian I might find it's NOT the spam it seems to be and really insightful commentary.

Oh look! Flying pig!
You'll laugh, but I actually copied and pasted the Japanese spam into Google translate to see what it was about. As far as I could make out, it was for a dating site. Definitely it wasn't gaming related.

You know in a way this whole discussions brings up an ongoing topic of Gevlon's. Essentially all the bloggers are attempting to fix the market with Blogging edicit. The goblin way is do what makes you the most money, regardless of what the rest of the market thinks of it.

In a way Tobold's blog is very Goblinish. He does what he wants, how he wants, and profits from it in his own way... regardless of how it affects other bloggers.

I think that's why I like both of your Blogs. You write about what you want, regardless of how the blogging community takes you.
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