If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…Don’t Weblog

Comment to my post:

However, if you don’t use Zooomr, you shouldn’t criticize. If you didn’t donate, you shouldn’t criticize.

Bullshit.

Zoli’s Weblog:

I’ve never thought I would agree with Shelley Powers one day – she often attacks people and tends to be mean. Her comments on Scoble’s blog were somewhat vicious… but I have to admit she raises valid points. Zooomr is a great service (when it runs) but is far from being a professionally managed company, as recognized CEO Thomas Hawk himself.

Go me.

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45 Responses to If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…Don’t Weblog

  1. Ethan says:

    WTF…? Isn’t there already a Paula Abdul in this world?

    “Thomas, you did your thing up there, and I’m so proud of you… you’re an old soul.”

    Time to go read a book… :-)

  2. jd says:

    I read Shelley because she’s mean. And usually right.

  3. -Andy- says:

    If mean = honest or blunt or all those other words that are similar in scope… I prefer Shelley’s approach.

    I dug my way through those Scoble/Zoomr comments and I guess I’m wondering why you (Shelley) are considered mean for giving an opinion that doesn’t give warm fluffy feelings to the Zoomr fanboys.

    IMHO – Blunt? Yes. Mean? No.

    Of course, I spent my formative “internet” years over in the social anarchy that is/was USENET so maybe “mean” means something other than what I think it does?

  4. Shelley says:

    Ethan, that must be an American Idol thing. I like the guy, whatshisname, the one everyone hates.

    Joe, watch out or I’ll come over into your comments and make you cry.

    Andy, you know I had to read my own entries in Scoble’s post again. Aside from the spontaneous reaction, “Oh god I can hear the angels singing on high” response to Thomas Hawk’s ‘speech’, I really didn’t think I was mean or vicious. Blunt, yeah.

  5. Audrey says:

    I think this is probably the thing that keeps most of your regular readers around. I don’t always agree with you, but it’s really nice to have a space where people can be critical without allowing it to slide into personal attacks (including the ‘you’re mean/stupid/cranky for saying my beloved project doesn’t work’ variety).

  6. Karoli says:

    I don’t think you’re mean. Harsh, yes. But not mean. And I was (and am) one of the pro-Zooomr commenters on the Scoble thread.

    I meant what I wrote — I do think you’re fundamentally correct. But as someone who spends the majority of her time in the fundamentally correct world and often wants to scream, it’s nice to escape it once in awhile for the riskier, less correct folks.

    That’s all. Your points are all well-taken and valid.

    Have a great weekend.

  7. Scott says:

    Usenet was social anesthesia.

    It’s worth noting that Zoli works for Zoho, the company that is currently helping Zoomr out. Maybe they’ll be able to give some professional guidance. I mean heck, Zoho is the Web 2.0 company that is so anti-web 2.0 they built a business up FIRST before launching their Web 2.0 office suite so they wouldn’t have to worry about funding.

  8. Scott says:

    correction: Zoli is an advisor to Zoho.

  9. Shelley says:

    Seth: go me!

    (I can never get enough of that.)

    Oddly enough, Audrey, for all my evil ways, people around here are not mean. Every once in a while I have a drive-by comment that will cause me to punch instead of slap. For the most part, though, as you say, this is not a contentious place, though it is not necessarily a ‘web 2.0′ feel good, comfy, cozy place.

    I like blunt folk. Even when being blunt means telling me I’m wrong (wrong, yes, to shut up, no). I really don’t like people who smile and say sweet things while stabbing you in the back. Luckily, none of you are that.

    I seriously do think I attract the best readers and commenters in weblogdom. And that ain’t no puffed smoke up a skirt, either.

    Karoli, I do understand. And I appreciate you weren’t one that wanted the Greasemonkey Shelley filter (though I was rather looking forward to seeing that..) Unfortunately, neither Hawk nor Tate are listening. That company is not going to survive if they don’t get some saavy business and systems folk on board.

    Scott, you know I thought Zoli was Zoho, but was somewhat surprised to not only read his post but Thomas Hawk’s response back. Already after a day, the situation is starting to strain. I can’t believe how much Hawk and Tate continue to blow it. How many chances can two people get?

  10. Scott says:

    Yeah.
    “Enjoy your sleep this weekend, we’ll be working.”

    What’s that little smiley for “rolling eyes”?

    Some of us don’t have to work this weekend Thomas because we’ve got our poop in a pile and our servers are working.

  11. Shelley says:

    Advisor to Zoho — well, he’s got good advice for Zooomr — they need to listen to him.

    “Some of us don’t have to work this weekend Thomas because we’ve got our poop in a pile and our servers are working.”

    Cracked me up.

  12. Bud Gibson says:

    Let me take the opportunity to put in my vote for the Shelley Greasemonkey filter. In some ways that might be the most fitting comment on the whole zoomr phenomenon of all. Heck, it might be the most fitting comment on the whole social pandering system that has grown up around Bay Area Web 2.0 mavens.

    I don’t like you, so you’re just not a part of my world anymore.

  13. Ethan says:

    I’m sorry, did you just say something…? ;-)

  14. Gordon says:

    well, i could care less for all the silly catfighting going on here but whatever. i do think it was cool to see zoho step and help zooomr out. no matter what anyone says, it was a great thing to see.

  15. Scott says:

    Agreed Gordon. Zoho, both their products and their company, impress me every time I hear about them.

  16. Shelley says:

    Why the term ‘catfighting’ Gordon? Do you see any cats around here? Or is because I’m a woman who has been critical?

    I’m sure this will help Zoho’s votes in the web application contest, but I’m actually more impressed with the time Zoho personnel have spent in helping Zooomr. Now that the only problem, the machines, are restored, I’m sure the site will go live today.

  17. Karl says:

    I looked over your Zooomr post and didn’t comment because I know nothing about the service or what is going on behind the scenes.

    However, the notion that someone who isn’t directly involved with something shouldn’t comment on it is indeed bullshit. The worst kind.

    Lawrence Krubner’s comment kinda nailed it for me.

    I’m always happy to have your thoughts to think about Shelley.

    This is one of the least ‘mean’ corners on the web. Here are a bunch of folks who don’t necessarily agree with each other, or the host, yet can converse, share, and sometimes connect.

    That’s a rarity.

  18. Why the term ‘catfighting’ Gordon? Do you see any cats around here? Or is because I’m a woman who has been critical?

    Well, that took longer than I thought, but at least no one so far has called you ‘shrill’ or ‘hysterical’.

    I actually think this is an improvement. Sad, isn’t it?

    There is a probably a “Godwin’s Law” equivalent hiding in here somewhere. Something like “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that a female participant being critical will be described as ‘catty’, ‘shrill’, or ‘hysterical’ approaches one.”

  19. There is a probably a “Godwin’s Law” equivalent hiding in here somewhere. Something like “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that a female participant being critical will be described as ‘catty’, ‘shrill’, or ‘hysterical’ approaches one.”

    Perhaps we should call this the “Michael R. Bernstein Law”? Or perhaps priority should be shared with the author who has been so articulate on the subject? We could call it the “Powers/Bernstein Law”.

    There really should be a name for this phenomena. Naming it helps bring it out into the open.

  20. Yeah, I can certainly imagine how it would be used in practice… One could make comments saying “I”ve got a shrill number of [n]” and then ask, “What’s your shrill number?” (akin to this famous example of an “Insert entity here number” )

  21. Well, Er… Lawrence, I’m not going to claim priority just yet, because the last time I thought I had coined a phrase it turned out that I had been scooped by a Sunday paper comic (it was “in the future we will all have fifteen minutes of obscurity”, and the comic was ‘Cathy’).

    Susan, how are you proposing calculating a ‘shrill number’? What does it measure?

  22. Amyloo says:

    Oh, Michael, it’s all just about pitch. I say the same thing a guy says, except 3 half-notes higher, and everybody knows it’s 300% more irrational.

  23. Shelley says:

    Maybe we need a shrillometer — a widget for our sidebar that counts every time ‘shrill’ appears in the comments.

    Double for ‘catfight’

    “hysterical” would be good for triple points

  24. Michael, I’ll leave the calculations to others — I just thought I’d toss the term itelf into the fray. Go, Shelley.

    Er, “hysterical” might present problems. How to distinguish hysterical as in funny from hysterical as in an entry in the DSM-IV. Then again, maybe that’s the point.

  25. Karl says:

    Anyone think it interesting that these are the same terms applied to Liberals by some Conservatives?

  26. Scott says:

    Anyone find it not so funny that no matter what the topic of conversation in any given blog post is about, someone will eventually bring politics into it?

  27. Karl says:

    I have every right, as Shelley permits, to raise the question.

    And no matter how much I may hate it, I realize I can’t avoid politics. Neither can you.

    Such is life.

  28. Doug Alder says:

    You say what you mean and mean what you say so you’re mean ;)

  29. Anyone find it not so funny that no matter what the topic of conversation in any given blog post is about, someone will eventually bring politics into it?

    The word “politics” has many applications. RSS has a rather complicated politics. One reason to prefer Atom over RSS is that Atom has a less complicated politics. Smoking a cigarrete has political implications, since one can hardly do it nowadays without being aware of the controversy that surrounds it. Eating food, driving to work and washing one’s clothes can all be thought of as political acts, since controversy surrounds each action. One could argue (it has frequently been argued) that all of life is fundamentally political.

  30. One can easily avoid politics. I can’t believe anyone who ever tried that, would say it’s impossible.

  31. Karl says:

    Sounds like you have a point of view Sergey. One that you’re trying to convince others of.

    Re-read Lawrence’s comment. Says it better than I can.

  32. Karl, not really, I’m just saying that you’re both wrong.

  33. One can easily avoid politics.

    Do you mean that you can easily avoid this weblog thread? Did you know, ahead of time, that politics would come arise as a subject, and did you decide, ahead of time, that you wished to take part in a conversation about the word “politics”? Or do you find it surprising that the subject has come on this thread? If the subject has taken you by surprise, then you must admit that such things are not easy to avoid. You can not avoid something if you do not see it coming.

    To say that life is fundamentally political is only to suggest that disagreements among people are inevitable. To say that “One can easily avoid politics” is to say that you know some secret method of avoiding all disagreements with others.

  34. Avoiding the politics is not the same as avoiding the word “politics”, neither it is avoiding conversations like this one, so the first paragraph of your reply misses the point. Disagreements do not necessarily lead to politics either. And to see that life is not “fundamentally political” one just has to stop seeking politics in everything. Politics is just something you engage in or not.

    Also, isn’t it ridiculous to bring up the controversies of washing your clothes (what??) as an argument that politics are relevant to any topic?

  35. Shelley says:

    “Karl, not really, I’m just saying that you’re both wrong.”

    I would agree with Karl and Lawrence, Sergey, so I must be accounted wrong in addition to being ‘mean’.

    If I keep racking up the negative attributes, I’ll end up ranking along with Truemors as the worst thing to hit the internet. Which probably means I should move to California and do a startup.

    I was thinking of a site and service called Bitchrs, where you can pay people to be mean to others for you. That way you can say what you want, without having to be personally accountable. What a resource this would be for weblogging.

  36. Phil says:

    You’ll have to launch Bitchrs now before someone else does it for real. It’s not all bad. Pro: A-list beckons. Con: whatever server you sat it on would collapse under the load in seconds flat. But if we could watch Zoe sleeping while you fixed it, that’d be cool.

  37. Shelley– Hereyago!

    Bitchr, Bitchrs

  38. Brian H says:

    I take it that the politics is everywhere crowd are making an aggressive assertion about life: that the issues of common weal and the direction of society are relevant to everything from urban design to corporate ground-rules to road building to … and you can’t avoid the issues just by saying “I’m not political” or “I’m not interested in politics.”

    They would say that you may be passive with respect to politics, in which case you are letting others make all such decisions for you willy-nilly, or you may just be a free rider, taking the fruits of decisions and efforts and arguments others have made and either assuming them to be natural background or focusing strictly on your own welfare and personal gain.

    In other words, if you’re not political, to these folks you’re either blind, uniformed, ignorant, or selfish, and they feel both contempt and worry. The worry is that your apathy will allow untoward developments that exploit your inaction or sheep-like lackadaisical voting or economic decisions.

    Then, of course, there are those of us who see the political as the power-motivated, who can’t bear to see someone else who thinks differently and longs to control and correct them …

  39. Karl says:

    “In other words, if you’re not political, to these folks you’re either blind, uniformed, ignorant, or selfish, and they feel both contempt and worry. The worry is that your apathy will allow untoward developments that exploit your inaction or sheep-like lackadaisical voting or economic decisions.”

    Admitting that it is impossible to avoid politics, no matter how much I want to, does not imply what I feel about others.

    I think it’s like eating. Part of human existence. So it is literally impossible to be ‘not political’.

    Susan, that logo rocks :) Giggled out loud here at work when I saw it. I fully expect the civility police to say that such a service attracts negativity and trouble.

  40. the controversies of washing your clothes (what??)

    To use detergent, or not to use detergent, and if you are using detergent, which kind should you use? I’ve environmental friends who will argue the point with you for hours. The impact of detergent on the ecology is an issue they take seriously, and obviously its an issue they’d like to see greater governmental regulation of.

  41. Then, of course, there are those of us who see the political as the power-motivated, who can’t bear to see someone else who thinks differently and longs to control and correct them …

    I agree with you about the power-motivations of the infinite number of actors who make up our society’s political battles. When I look at the conflict surrounding RSS, it is clear that ego drives many of the main players. They seek to control RSS because it is a way for them to gain control over us. And they want control over us so as to maximize their own profits. Likewise, when I see the conflict between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, regarding programming languages, I think it’s clear that each corporation is struggling to maximize its own power. However, I think at least sometimes positive social good arises from these fierce struggles, so I don’t see these political battles as wholly negative. Nor can I imagine a human society free of these struggles, which is why I’d side with those who feel life is fundamentally political.

  42. “They would say that you may be passive with respect to politics, in which case you are letting others make all such decisions for you willy-nilly, or you may just be a free rider…”

    Whatever, if you don’t want politics in your life, you can avoid it no problem. If that results in someone looking down on you for not giving a f***, who cares?

    I still think none of the people saying you can’t avoid politics actually tried to, or even wanted to. And that’s the point, you can rationalize your way of dealing with life all you want — others can and do live differently, and no amount of logic can deny that.

    Lawrence, “Politics of Machine-Washing” sounds like a good title for a book. “The Flag is Not Machine-Washable” is an eye catcher too :). Well, seriously though, if your friends care so much about the chemicals you use, I’d just ask them for advice and use whatever they’d recommend. If they haven’t come to a conclusion in their argument, I’d just keep using whatever I used before. Did you see politics in there? I bet you did, but there wasn’t any.

    It’s the same way with RSS, I know there’s some controversy about what version is what, or something like that, but I don’t care — it just works. If I were to decide what version of RSS to emit on my blog or something I’d just look it up, make a decision and forget about it. It just doesn’t matter. It’s the same way with road building, who’s the president, etc etc (in my country anyway). Some people worry and argue about that, and some others get things done.

    And before you refute all of what I’ve just said, please note that what I’m saying is not based on logic, but on experience. So go on and prove yourself that you haven’t got a choice but to engage in politics and that it all matters a lot. “Life is fundamentally political” is just a belief and there’s a lot in life besides it.

  43. Did you see politics in there? I bet you did, but there wasn’t any.

    There was a lot of politics in there.