December 11, 2006

"Did blogger Ann Althouse encounter disinhibition effect from another blogger or was it just plain old passive-aggressive behavior?"

Apparently, Glenn and Helen talk about me in their new podcast, the one where they answer questions from their readers/listeners. What's that all about? Andrew Sullivan? (More later!)

AFTER LISTENING: Here's the link Helen offers for "the disinhibition effect." (I'll read some of that later.) Glenn and Helen talk about my encounter with TRex at the CNN party. The post of mine that Helen reads from is this. Key excerpt:
...TRex... wrote about me on his blog -- Firedoglake -- after I blogged a ... picture of him last night. He said:
Ann Althouse came by a few minutes ago and took photos of me and John Amato. Amato was nice to her. I just growled under my breath and kept typing.
Ha ha. That's what I expected from half the bloggers: just growling and keeping on typing. It was actually surprising how un-socially-awkward most bloggers are. But thanks to TRex for embodying the stereotype I'd had in mind....

[A COMMENTER: I think he showed admirable restraint in not insulting you out loud, as some might have done.]

Actually, you're quite wrong. Passive aggression is not admirable. If he had confronted me, I would have explained things and defended myself. He's afraid of that. That's not at all admirable. You think it's easier to sit there and growl and throw stink bombs from a distance or to engage with me and have to defend your arguments?
Glenn and Helen have a lot to say about nasty bloggers and blog commenters. Helen reads an absurdly nasty comment some fool left on her site, and Glenn is clear about not wanting comments on Instapundit. Another topic in the podcast is what can a blogger do to get more traffic, and one of the things they don't mention is: have comments. But that idea is tied to something Glenn does say: keep adding new material. Comments are new material, and people come by to see how a comments thread is developing. But I can just imagine what would happen if there were comments on Instapundit. Without monitoring, they would devolve into craziness instantly -- instacrazy. Glenn would have to hire someone to watch the comments for him (or sink a ridiculous amount of time into the task). Actually, he probably has readers who would take the job for a small fee and do it well. But comments would change the whole feeling of the blog -- the sharp, clean look we know and love.

BELATED OBSERVATION: TRex is a funny name for a passive aggressive type.

27 comments:

stephenb said...

bad link

Ann Althouse said...

Whoops. Fixed.

dave said...

Wow, the insane blathering is really reaching a peak.

Take a fucking Zoloft and get over it, lady.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, they don't talk about me and Sullivan. They talk about me and TRex.

Goesh said...

With almost 7 million site meter hits, you've got some muscle and maybe should 'lean' on a few more folks...just a thought

Troy said...

And there's dave -- the epitome of just plain ol' aggressive. Try a little passivity (to paraphrase the song).

I agree Ann; it sounds like passive-aggressive. TRex is a definitely ironic name. Are there any passive-aggressive dinosaur names? Brontosaurus sounds too lumbering and herbivorous. TRex sounds too aggressive. Did you see his arms? Maybe he has really short typing arms and snaggly teeth and TRex is just a self-deprecating (in no way related to the probability of a "T" or "Rex" being in his name) name. Dino -- too aggressive. Barney -- too passive.

Henry said...

Derve, I suspect you're right that Sullivan could out-argue Reynolds on the administration's foreign policy, one-on-one; This is not because Sullivan has more intellectual heft, but because he spends a lot more time obsessing about the administration.

The problem with Sullivan is that on any topic at any time, his enthusiasms can outrun his facts. Reynolds is much more conservative in this regard -- his point of view is more consistent and his rhetoric much less inflamatory.

I thought it pretty telling that in his recent Bloggingheads.tv podcast with Robert Wright he framed his statements about Iraq with a reference to another blogger he respected (Bill Quick).

Reynolds takes himself less seriously, has a lot less ego, and a lot more respect for other people's expertise. That's a big reason why I read Instapundit and not Sullivan. In the end, you learn more.

Troy said...

Oh -- and dave. The proper word is "inane". If you're going to be an ass at least be an ass using proper vocabulary. And if you meant "insane" -- "inane" is a better word in that sentence anyway.

Henry said...

T. Rex could be a good passive-aggressive moniker. I've read (see here, for example) that with stubby forearms, small eyes, and lumbering body, T. Rex was likely not the ferocious monster we imagine, but an overgrown vulture, scavenging other dinasaur's kills.

reader_iam said...

Insane blathering/inane blathering

Aren't those some of the things we look for in blogs, anyway?

Otherwise, why not just stick with books?

Ron said...

T. Rex? He's not that "Bang a gong, get it on" guy? Oh, wait, he's dead...

Anonymous said...

Funny you think of a raging carnosaur. Raging something, I guess.

Trex is a building material. They take old milk jugs, shred'em up, sweep the floor at the sawmill, mix the offal with a plastic resin to produce ersatz boards that have a cartoon-like resemblance to wood decking. From orbit I mean.

It's a much more appropriate visual image to conjure for the subject material.

Simon said...

The name "Trex" seems wholly appropriate - an ideological dinosaur, a relic of the days when misbegotten reptiles walked the earth with impunity. Ehh.

Comments are a two-edged sword. I've argued in the past that blogs without comments are all-but sterile, and I'd suggest that Instapundit isn't the exception that proves the rule, insofar as Glenn doesn't really engage in deep analysis, he just links and adds an immediate reaction. Which isn't invalid, to say the least, but it's often quite unsatisfying; there's room for blogs like that, but I don't read, for example, SCOTUSblog, Althouse or Volokh for news, I read them because I'm interested to hear what those writers think about a given subject. And as soon as you get into that, then comments sections become valuable, because they hold the reader to some kind of account. Of course, the other side of the sword is that some people -- as demonstrated upthread -- can't distinguish between constructive criticism and just outright abuse. The latter isn't helpful to anyone, and it's a mystery to me why anyone engages in it.

General topic blogs with comment sections also have a habit of evolving little communities. One of the nice things about Althouse (the place) is that you've got Ann and a collection of regular commenters (I'm not going to list, since I'll unintentionally forget someone) who don't really know each other, but we're all kind of interacting and spending virtual time together, sharing thoughts, opinions and views. Even the more dysfunctional family members. ;) The best way to describe it is a coffeehouse; Ann sets what's in the newspapers that are laid out, and thereafter the discussion ranges around those topics. I think that's quite a valuable thing to have.

Joe Baby said...

Amato was nice to her. I just growled under my breath and kept typing.

I don't doubt that he feels this way, but this is also a bone to his regular readers. He's bragging.

Which makes him all the more an ass.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with much of what Simon says. As to Glenn Reynolds, I think that if he ever had an itch to include comments, he would just have to look at the community that seems to have evolved at Helen's site. A couple of months ago, I used to enjoy reading the comments there. Now, I pretty much just read what she says, and leave it at that.

Indeed, I think that maybe the success at having a good community at at decent sized blog is for the moderator/blogger to be somewhat brutal sometimes in kicking out those who abuse the forum. We have seen Ann do this a couple of times (notably to one persistent former student of hers). And I have seen it done over by Eugene Volokh more than once too.

I suspect that it isn't just getting rid of someone who doesn't fit, but also provides a mild in terrorem affect, making us all somewhat more careful of what we say.

Final point - purely political blogs get to be stale, almost strident. That is why Althouse, Instapundit, and Volokh work for me. Sure, Glenn talks some about technology, but far, far, less than on a technological blog. I like a little diversity, and I just linked from Instapundit to a comment by Mickey Kaus on Vista.

Pogo said...

It oughta be Caspar TRex to be accurate, I'd think. Or maybe TRex Bovinus.

Wickedpinto said...

I can't remember but I think Trex was a brand of velcro shoe back in the 80's. Maybe thats the origin of the name.

Anonymous said...

TREX is a brand of outdoor man-made decking material. Called "phony" by some. Looks terrible after a while, say others. Not sure if it is easily stained or warped (or both).

Could be said about a lot of things, and some people as well, I guess ;-)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Boy, did I misinterpret TRex's growl. When you mentioned it in the context of the Diva Blogress discussion, I was visualizing a Conan-esque and ribald grrrrrowl.

So sorry to have missed that. But it makes my misunderstanding all the funnier.

Simon said...

Ruth Anne said:
"I was visualizing a Conan-esque and ribald grrrrrowl."

Conan the Barbarian or Conan O'Brian?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Simon: I was thinking O'Brian because it's his schtick. But I think either would do.

Anonymous said...

I like your photographs. You (and Rick Lee) show me parts of the world I've never seen. It make dredging through all that law stuff you write about worthwhile!

Thesaurus Rex said...

"Passive aggressive"?

You silly, silly woman.

I am strictly aggressive aggressive.

I guess you never read this:

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/11/28/late-nite-fdl-merry-christianists/

Silly old lady.

Blogs are for kids!

Anonymous said...

Is it technically feasible to limit comments to people willing to sign their full names to them, possibly with the city they live in.? I'd bet that would eliminate a lot of the nastiness.

Ann Althouse said...

How I know "Thesaurus Rex" isn't really TRex: He wouldn't choose such an unflattering picture of himself for his profile.

Ann Althouse said...

Kenneth: I can't get rid of commenters or require more than I do, which is that everyone have a Bogger account. If someone did something really wrong, Blogger (Google) knows who everyone is and where everyone is. And there are "terms of service." One could write to Blogger about violations and let Blogger respond.

Ann Althouse said...

And Kenneth, I wouldn't want to bar pseudonyms. Some of the best commenters are people who actually need to use them for good reasons.

And "TRex," I have read that post and it in no way refutes my point that "you" are passive aggressive, which was an observation about the way you behaved in person. That you go back to you blog and write mean things was quite well taken into account. You didn't have the nerve to express your hostility in person. Not that I want you to! I'm just observing that I find that behavior unattractive and lame.