Thursday, November 11, 2010

When bloggers go PvP

Some players like to PvP in the battlegrounds. Others do it in their blogs, like Tobold and Wolfshead in a recent exchange. Here’s a sample from it.

Wolfshead about Tobold

“when you become a drooling fanboy you risk losing all sense of perspective and objectivity and you become a cheerleader for the status quo.

He doesn’t like me because I don’t like WoW and I can accept that. Truth be told, I don’t particularly like him either. We’ve had a long running feud for many years. I stopped reading Tobold a few years ago, although he does send this blog a lot of traffic when he runs out of original ideas to blog about."

Tobold about Wolfshead:
"The man has to decide whether he loves or hates World of Warcraft. On the one side he is writing a constant stream of invectives against WoW and its players, on the other side he complains that he didn't get invited to the Cataclysm beta, or about some minor missing feature.”
Tobold and Wolfshead are both well established bloggers, each one with a following, who now are cheering from the sidelines. Not everyone approve of the tone of conversation though. Nils for instance says that while Tobold is in the perfect right to write whatever he wants, a less social drama approach to issues would be a lot more enjoyable to read. He thinks it doesn’t make a lot of sense to fight fire with fire. Hugh on the other hand worries over culture of zero criticism that he sees developing in parts of the blogosphere.

Need more rage
I have called for peace in the blogosphere on one occasion. That particular conflict smelled a bit like an office e-mail war spreading all over the blogosphere, taking such proportions that I thought it had gone too far.

But this doesn’t mean that I think all conflicts in the blogosphere are of evil. Actually a little bit of rage adds energy, life and eloquence to our writing.

A blog that never ever infuriates anyone, where you never get anything but facts that as well could have been written by an emotionless AI or harmless la-di-da tales about the blogger’s latest companion pet acquisition, would become incredibly boring to read after a while. It’s nice and cosy, but finally I get to the point where I agree with Ratshag: Need more rage!

I think it’s in the nature of fans to argue or even to feud. We’re opinionated – that’s why we blog in the first place. Because we just can’t shut up. To put a restraint on ourselves, to avoid threading on anyone’s toes at any price, goes against what made us start in the first place. Some of the best, most enjoyable rants I’ve ever seen on a blog have been written in a state of righteous fury.

I’ve seen – and participated – in many fanfeuds long before I became a blogger, back in my days as a fanzine editor in SF fandom. Some of the “wars” were entirely fictional, something we did in agreement for our own amusement, in the same way as I, Gnomeaggedon and Krizzlybear ran a fake mage battle a couple of years ago, arguing for which mage spec was the best one.

On other occasions, there was a real disagreement, different views colliding, but most of the time kept the “feud” on a level where we did it as an exercise of thought and a way to flex our writing muscles. The strongest weapon we would get was to boycott each other’s fanzine, in the sense that we wouldn’t send it to each other for free, which was the normal practice. (I guess it was the equivalence of removal from your blogroll, although the effect actual was the opposite: “You’re views are so stupid that you don’t even deserve to read what I write”.)

However, when we met at the conventions and fan gatherings, we didn’t hold the previous hard words against each other. We fell into each others arms and had a pint together, chatting as the friends we were, because in the end we knew that we were the same kind: geeks with a passion for reading, thinking and writing.

Knowing the boundaries
The key to good blog PvPing is to know the boundaries. Don’t hesitate to call out an opinion as stupid, but try to avoid calling out the person behind it for being an idiot. Be as sharp, poignant and poisonous as you like, but stay civilized and try to not make it too personal.

Among all the bloggers out there, there might be a couple who are complete fuggheads (another useful fanslang term, in case you’re wondering.) And those can be dealt with mercilessly. But neither Tobold, nor Wolfshead are fuggheads. They’re just PvP:ers who like to go a match once in a while. And I actually kind of enjoy looking at it, because they’re both damned good writers.

If anything, I’d like to see more, not less PvP:ing between bloggers.


Nils said...

My personal main motivation to blog is 'rage' about the nonsense other people write (imho). Or, in this case, injustice that is done to another person (Wolfshead).

Having said that, I do not approve of Wolfsheads later comment on Tobold, either.

So I agree with you when you write:

The key to good blog PvPing is to know the boundaries. Don’t hesitate to call out an opinion as stupid, but try to avoid calling out the person behind it for being an idiot. Be as sharp, poignant and poisonous as you like, but stay civilized and try to not make it too personal.

And I'd add something: I do not PvP-blog for the challenge of it, or because it is fun. (It often is fun! :)

But I do it to reach a conclusion, to convince the other guy/girl/reader of what I consider right. Personal attacks run counter to that interest.

The second you make an argument about a person and not about an issue, you offer the other guy a chance to escape your brilliant arguments and 'defend' himself, ignoring your arguments.

I hate it if I make this mistake. Some people are especially unforgiving here. Even the slightest bit of personal attack, intended or not, is instantly used to defend themselves instead of adressing my arguments.

Due to my own imperfection, argueing with these people is really, really exhausting.

Concluding, I am happy that we agree to fight over arguments, not over personalities, Larísa. And I don't even think that it is an especially new concept.

Shannara said...

They are both mentally unstable. Lock them up, and throw away the key.

Ratshag said...

"but finally I get to the point where I agree with Ratshag: Need more rage!"

Okies, I'll swing buy yer place around 8:00 and gets ya good and raged up.

Maarten said...

I'm a bit sad you're reinforcing the idea that an AI would be emotionless. I doubt that intelligence and emotion can be separated (without emotion there is no real direction to thoughts) and if an AI is ever discovered/created its emotions might be alien, but will almost certainly not be absent.

Helistar said...

: please no!

We're all out here reading them.....

.....and laughing.

Talarian said...

I find a lot of "PvP blogging" very elementary school playground: Name calling, petulant "he did it first!", and attacking commentors that dare disagree with you (I use "you" in the generic sense here, not aimed at you Larisa *grin*).

It's sad, because I think folks like Tobold and Wolfshead have interesting ideas, but as Nils points out, the second it becomes personal those points are lost and then it just becomes a battle of egos, which is, frankly, boring. I'd rather go watch reality television; it amounts to the same thing.

As you point out, Larisa, blogging without confrontation, without passion, without rage, gets predictable and dull. But I think there's definitely a way to write and express confrontational ideas, express your passion and show how much something angers you without devolving into 7-year-old-esque, "I know you are, but what am I?"

Larísa said...

@Nils: I suppose it sometimes is hard to distinguish between what's an attack on an idea or opinion and what is an attack on you as a person. If you feel very strong for something, putting your soul into a post, it can be quite entagled.

When I PvP in blogs I don't imagine that I'll make someone change his mind. Honestly I don't. At the best I might make them understand how you can see thing another point of view, making a ground for better communication. But that's about as much I think you can accomplish. People often have exaggerated expectations on how much of a change of a view you can accomplish if you just put your words right.

: nah! They've got a blogger temperament, that's all!

@Ratshag: OK, I'll hold you to that one! Make me rage!

@Maarten: Awww. I'm sorry. You're actually perfectly right. How could I forget about Data? I'll do better next time, I promise.

: I don't agree that they're on reality television level actually. But it saddens me when they say that they unsubscribe from each others blogs etc. Better write about stuff. They've both got the abilitiy to argue intelligently and convincing for their cause.

Anonymous said...

Tobold gets attacked because he gets more readers than anyone else. Some people comment just to get publicity for their own blog. One such person had 7 of the 12 comments on one topic. Envy is clearly a monster and we have seen it rear its ugly head time and time again on Tobold's blog. I had actually never heard of Wolfshead before this outbreak of violence. He is just another tiny little fish attacking biggest fish hoping for a little free publicity.

Tam said...

I think the problem of blog PVP is that people will often claim they've been ganked...I have written posts in opposition to other posts I have read but it's very hard to avoid charges of personal attack or, worse, blog bullying.

I've actually been quite lucky with this one but I still remember the incident of however many moons ago when one blogger advocated a form of behaviour upsetting to the RP community, one of the RP community wrote a post explaining why she found it upsetting and was consequently accused of bullying - and actually if you read people referencing the incident these days (somebody did on my blog a few days ago) the story that is generally told goes along the lines: "a big blogger bullied a smaller blogger."

I enjoy a bit of blog PVP myself, but I largely feel that the only person it's 'safe' to PVP with these days is Gevlon.

Tesh said...

Tangential thought spurred by Nils:

Is the acronym "imho" really accurate? ("In my humble opinion") I see no humility in this sort of PvP writing, or in a reactive blog based on "correcting" others.

spinksville said...

Tam: Yeah, I think it works best if you have an argument with someone who really enjoys arguing for the sake of it (and you do as well.)

River said...

PvP Bloggers....hello! LOL!

I think Tobold, and Wolf have a nice little feud going, it's way more civil then I would be.

Then again I am more unbalanced than any of them.

Oestrus said...

Personally, I enjoy the idea of PVP between bloggers.

I think it is very common in the blogosphere for people to not openly disagree with what someone has to say, particularly if said blogger is very well known and has a very large readership. It's much easier to pat them on the back and put them on this massive pedestal than to break the mold and say that you disagree with them and feel something opposite of what they do.

It's also very easy for me to separate the blogger from the blog. There are sites that I enjoy reading, even though I may not care for the person who writes them. Or I may enjoy a particular blogger as a person (via their Tweets or their personality) and I think their actual blog or writing could use some work. I don't feel they necessarily have to be one and the same.

Overall, I think the blogger PVP is healthy and can be motivational and it serves to get us talking and keep us talking about things we otherwise may not want to talk about or feel intimidated to talk about, given the state of how certain corners of the blogosphere can be.