Doc Cleveland: In Praise of Late Term Papers
Ramona: Sticks and Stones
I used to be proud to invite people to contribute to dagblog. Whenever I met a writer, I would encourage them to share their work here. We're not the biggest blog in the sphere, but I would boast about the intelligence and civility of our discussions.
We still have plenty of those these days. I think that the interpersonal rancor has even declined. But the hostility and disrespect towards outsiders has grown. I do not feel comfortable inviting writers to contribute here anymore.
A few weeks ago, a book publicist asked me if one of her authors could guest-blog at dag. I said sure. Fresh voices and ideas are good for dagblog. We have plenty of great voices and ideas here already, but everyone is quite familiar with them by now. I figured that if it went well, she might send more authors our way.
I passed on instructions, and the author contributed a post about the Middle East. It was a fine post, unexceptional but not bad. People responded more or less respectfully at first, and I emailed the publicist to encourage the author to reply to the comments. I don't know if he ever read them, but I hope he didn't because the comments soon turned snide and derisive.
If the publicist read them, I doubt she will send any more authors our way. Why risk upsetting her clients for the chance of a few readers from dagblog?
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo left his first comment at dagblog the other day. In another context, I would have been proud. Josh gave me a place for my voice to be heard--for all of our voices to be heard. He went out his way to help dagblog grow and to help me develop my career. I owe him a lot; I think we all do.
But Josh's comment entered a thread full of insults and hostility directed at him personally. So I was not proud; I was embarrassed. I understand that people feel animosity towards Josh because of what he did with TPM Cafe, and I doubt that any of us thought that he would actually read the thread. After he commented, most people had the decency to leave well enough alone. But one person replied that his comment was, in essence, a piece of shit. (Don't go running to find it; I deleted the reply.)
I'm sure that Josh's feelings were not hurt. "You've got to have a thick skin in the business," he wrote to me. But I doubt that he will ever go out his way to help dagblog again.
Yesterday, an author who has blogged occasionally at dag announced to me that she finished her second book--self-published. I congratulated her, bought the book, and encouraged her to blog about it at dag, which she did. The first comment was a complaint about people "marketing their crap" at dagblog. I replied to that comment, but I don't know what happened after that. The author got upset and deleted her post. I'm sure that she will never post here again.
As Josh wrote, you've got to have a thick skin in the business. But that's easier said then done. You may never have written a book, but I imagine that most of you have created something that you were proud of and in which you had invested yourself. Perhaps you can recall how vulnerable you felt when you shared it with other people. And if you have ever tried to sell your work or search for a job, you may be familiar with the distress of having to market yourself. It's hard enough when the audience is actually polite. Why would anyone subject themselves to open derision?
Perhaps I shouldn't care about how people respond. Their comments are not my comments, not my business. If I don't like how people treat those I invite to dagblog, maybe I should just stop inviting people.
But the moment I stop caring is the moment that I stop trying to grow dagblog. It's the moment that I stop spending my time making dagblog run. It's the moment that I stop writing here.
In the past few days, some of you have offered to make donations to support dagblog. That's very generous of you, and we appreciate it, but we don't need your money. If you want to help dagblog, then the best thing you can do is try your best to make dagblog a place where people would actually want to write.