> When Blogs Attack...

When Blogs Attack...

Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | No Comments

This morning I read an article on TechCrunch by one of my favourite writers – the lovely Ms Sarah Lacy – on how the recession in the US was declared over in June 2009 and that she hadn’t seen much of an effect inside Silicon Valley in that friends of hers didn’t lose their apartments “just” because of the financial crash.

Ms Lacy then compared today’s situation with that of 1999-2000 when the dotcom bubble burst and many Internet based companies simply lost their value over night and were forced to close, putting people out of jobs and lots of companies closing entirely.

I’ve never been to the Valley and nor am I best placed to comment on how bad one situation is against the other, but Ms Lacy – a tech journalist who has lived through both events – is far better placed to comment and compare and if she says the Valley got off lightly in comparison then so be it – and a well researched look at the numbers seemed to back up her theories. I read the article and I enjoyed.

I then did something that I very rarely do; I had a quick read through some of the comments on the site and was appalled by some of the ones that I read. Many of the comments asked if the article was serious and questioned Sarah’s judgement and ability to write and some even called for her to be put out of a job. I refuse to rehash any of those comments here.

A lot of the commenter absolutely missed the whole point of the article – which this was specifically about the Internet industry and purely based around the Valley. The article was not about the state of the economy in other industries or in other parts of the world.

Both Ms Lacy and my other favourite writer – Mr Paul Carr – have long blogged about the issue of those who leave comments doing so behind aliases and not their real names and generally the comments attacking the writer rather than leaving any comment constructive to the discussion that the writer has tried to have with the audience. I’ve always thought it was a bit of a non-issue and couldn’t see what these writers were getting at – today I’ve witnessed it and sympathise.

A while ago I read a post on Sarah’s personal blog which basically said that she now refuses to engage the audience via the comments section due to the amount of hate that is directed at her for expressing her views or her interpretation of the facts as she sees them. During this particular article, she questions whether continuing a career in writing was really worth it when she could easily go off and do something that doesn’t set her up for this level of abuse.

I’ll say it again, I love Sarah’s writing style, I enjoy her articles and most of the time I agree with everything she says. If I strongly agreed or disagreed with her I would probably leave a comment, but I certainly wouldn’t attack her for what she had written. If I was that strongly against something she’d written, I’d either move on or avoid reading her future articles.

I was compelled enough to leave a comment on today’s article defending her against the barrage of abuse. The latter part of the comment read:

I'm amazed by the level of uproar and backlash against Ms Lacy, I believe she is a fantastic writer and whilst this subject is controversial, you've all failed to read the article in the spirit it was intended. I love that Sarah writes and presents on TC and would hate to lose her to the haters and negative comments that have been made on this or any other article she posts here. You all need to learn to grow up and stop attacking if you don't like something.

I purposely switched off comments this site sometime ago, not because I’m afraid to engage with my audience (I’m not even sure anyone actually ever reads anything I ever write anyway), and nor am I afraid of similar abuse being posted towards me for my views. The reason is that blogging on this site is something I do for myself – it’s a creative output that I enjoy writing, to express my own views or be a record of my thoughts and feelings at that time about a specific subject.

If anyone does wish to engage with me on anything I write, then I’m more than pleased to discuss further via Twitter or email – but comments are not something I’m planning on switching on any time soon. I just hope Ms Lacy doesn’t read the comments that were left on her article and take them to heart, some of us do like her work and appreciate the effort that goes into them – and I for one hope that she continues to write on TechCrunch.

UPDATE: Sarah just replied brilliantly to all of the comments directly on Twitter with this:
comments on my recession post = iq test to see if you can read a whole article. indefensible this recession worse than 2000 on tech. obvious
Classy Ms Lacy, classy!

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