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retraction and apology (updated. again)

[If you didn't already read the post that was here before this, don't bother reading this, then. It won't make sense] I deleted the words to this post, which is not something I do often. I've actually done it twice in three years and both those times were due to my own personal things in the post that I later realized should not be on web. I made a mistake writing about this. People misunderstood what I was getting at or, worse, thought I was talking about them when I wasn't. It's hard to be vague and ambiguous when pointing fingers at someone. Everyone thinks the finger is pointed at them. Eventually it just turns back on you, anyhow. I apologize if I offended anyone who did not deserve to feel offended. Next time, I keep my bleatings to myself if I don't have the balls to come right out and say who I am writing about. Update: Heh. According to my mail, there are more people who think I'm an idiot for taking down what I said than people who think I'm an idiot for writing it in the first place. Update 2: Because I'm tired of answering mail about this: If you must know, this post was about people bragging about the traffic they got from hosting the video of Nick Berg's murder. I mean bragging, as in outright gloating. It was sickening. And that was the gist of the thing and I'm now sorry I took it down (and didn't save it) because there are some people who really should have seen it. And there are other people who got their panties in a bunch even though it was obvious (at least I'm told it was) that I wasn't talking about them. I apologized to several people who took an opportunity to bash me, and I've yet to hear back from any of them. I'm really tired of worrying about other people's feelings when the courtesy is never reciprocated.


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» Searchengines of progress from sisu
Iraqi women practice their computer skills at the Fatima Al-Zahra Center for Women's Rights in Hilla -- USAID Assistance for Iraq (Thomas Hartwell Photo) Last 20 Searchengine Queries -- Unique Visitors -- 5 a.m. Saturday, May 15, 2004 -- [Read More]

» Ramifications of the Berg Video and the Ethics of Blogging from A Single Southern Guy In America
Earlier I wrote about the unprecedented amounts of traffic that many blogs were receiving as a result of the posting, linking, and cross linking of the Berg video. In that missive, I wondered what it meant about us as a... [Read More]


Actually, this stats obsession (or should I say, preoccupation) is one thing that I Do Not Get about blogging. I can see that it might be important to people who are actually trying to use their blog for journalisticm money-making, or rabble-rousing purposes -- the more eyes on your page, the more money, or prestige to your ultimate cause, presumably. But for non-profit/non-activist/non-careerist bloggers, who blog for fun, when does personal validation cross the line to vainglory? You know, Ted Rall territory -- "Ha! Made ya look!" Also, the use of stats-contests as some sort of one-upmanship ("I had more page visits than Insty,* neener") is puzzling. It's like bragging about how many people slow down in their cars to stare at your yard. The brag might be legitimate -- you might have a gorgeously-lanscaped yard -- or it might be because no one can figure out how you got so many rusty cars up on blocks to fit in such a small space.

*Yes, I know Reynolds brags about his hits a lot, or he used to anyway -- I haven't noticed that sort of thing from him lately. I wouldn't fault him for it at all if he didn't keep saying he just blogs as a pastime.

No argument here. If all it's about is the hits and traffic, why not just start up another rotten or consumptionjunction? Does packaging it in a blog suddenly make it more "legitimate"?

A couple of years ago, I remember the proprietor of stileproject getting outraged over someone doing some tasteless photoshops of a dead person. I'm not going to go into detail, but it was bad stuff. Anyway, while I was reading his rant, I wanted to yell at him, "YOU DUMBASS! You're the one who opened the barn door by making this crap available, and making little kids think it's cool or funny, and now you wanna bitch because of what they did? To be like YOU? Shut the fuck up." Most Americans under 30 are so densensitized to porn and gory photos now that it's not even funny. It worries me.

Another point that I considered this morning - if I was a terrorist, I'd include a nasty little virus in the next video I released. Might as well wipe out a few infidels' hard drives while you're killing innocents.

I almost hate to admit that I even downloaded this disgusting video clip.

I don't really give a damn about how my blog is rated (and yes, I could have put up the clip) because it's mainly for me.

I find it disturbing that people use a brutal homicide for political/personal gain. I could have posted the critical portions but I respect the family too much to further the pain to those involved.

We were talking about how far the freedom of speech should be allowed to go two nights ago (at work). I'm glad I live in a country where no one can curtail the rights of an individual to disseminate the content of this horrific slaying but I do wish that everyone would respect the wishes of the family who lost a loved one.

I was hoping beyond hope that I wouldn't be able to find a "snuff film" via the internet. Yet again, my hopes for humanity have been dashed.


I think you perhaps misread why some people have pointed out their stats - for example, my husband did what you decry - but did you bother to read his dismay that the stats came from hits due to the gruesome killing (and we did not even host the video) rather than from the Spirit of America drive?

Sometimes, my dear, I think you doth protest too much.

Sometimes you are just a wee bit too holier than thou for my taste.

I read you anyway. You are a good blogger, but most of us have better things to talk about that than the subject of this article.

I am rather disappointed in you, not that you would care, or need to - it's your blog. Our blog is our blog.

But from now on, I shall think of you as Michele, the final judge of all that's right, eh?

I think you missed my point, Beth. Obviously, I was not talking about your husband.

"I'm talking about the people who keep on about it, the people who brag, who show off their stats, who flaunt their hit charts like a badge of honor."

He did not do that.

I wasn't commenting about people like Beth's husband either. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about the video and its fallout... I was thinking about observations I've made over the years I've been blogging, about stats wars and stuff.

By the way, I thought your post was very clearly a general comment on stats, spurred by this issue of the video. I didn't think you were pointing out any particular person -- if people think they were being singled out in a weaselish fashion (no name, no links) then they don't seem to know you very well.

Ain't that the truth, Andrea.

Sigh. Although I understand your reasons for taking the post down, you did make some good points.

I'll second your nomination for Da Judge, and nominate Beth for The Onion Thin Skin Award™. Most importantly, I'd like to give the Drudge Wannabe Award For Excellence in Tabloid Blogging to the guys at Wizbang. Did I mention that they're bigger than Instapundit? And Kerry served in Vietnam, by the way.

If anyone would like to bestow a title upon me, feel free. I've been an Inbred Asshole™ for a while now, it's time for a change.

Re your note in my trackback post: You're so right, Michele . . . People are all too apt to get things wrong and feel hurt when no hurt was intended on one's own part . . . I was actually agreeing with what you wrote in the sense that it started to dawn on me, as I was writing about supercharged traffic, that it was probably prurient interest -- and not (as we had imagined at first, projecting our own well-intentioned motives onto others) the public's earnest desire for information the mainstream media chose not to reveal because it might help the President.

Every now and then, a little boasting is not only fine, but necessary.

Besides, it helps sell ads. In a perfect world, you wouldn't need those, right?

Commenting on Skillzy (comment #2): It would indeed be very hard to imbed a virus in a video I would think -- the receiving program wouldn't recognize the format -- however if one was malicious one could hire one of these malware/spyware developers and insert some pretty nasty, annoying stuff onto hardrives. For instance, if you hit a site looking for a snuff film -- the code would be inserted by the website, so you get things like pop-up windows saying "next coffin is for you" or direct you to another website when you try to go to google or yahoo - that type of thing could be used as part of an information campaign to dispirit the opposition. It would probably be of interest to terrorists who have a "spray the machine gun" mentality and aren't worried about collatoral effects. It probably wouldn't be a good way for the US to work because it would piss people off who become innocently infected.

One might even be able to target such an attack to effect hard drives coming from IP addresses associated with countries or regions, however. Eventually we will probalby read about this if it hasn't happened already. In a way, having the commercial malware guys out there doing their own kind of evil sort of helps because the fixers get to the problem before someone with perhaps more evil intentions takes advantage of a security hole.

Not having that "immunity system" would be an unintended consequence of Congress outlawing "spyware"...not saying they shouldn't regulate it but it does serve a useful purposes in these historical times.

Read up about stuff like CoolWebSearch or clientman and you'll see what I mean. (Bottom line check for updates daily for virus protection, spyware busters and if you use microsoft IE explorer and office applications).

Jim H -

Not that I'm any sort of expert, but I believe sometime in the last 6 months or so, Microsoft did notify users that Windows Media Player could be used to execute malicious code like a worm style virus. They've long since issued a patch plugging the vulnerability, but they had also done so with the vulnerability that led to the Sasser virus. So, yes, someone could send a virus out in a video file, but that's a much more difficult way to disseminate a virus than an email attachment.

Michele - think we've sufficiently deflected the topic here ???

Well, I missed the bruhaha, again (pout)

I'd venture that anyone boasting about hits or traffic from this past week is pretty full of themselves - because the phenom we saw last week wasn't that blogdom was suddenly discovered by the masses and we all became their instant darlings - it was a symptom of a public thirst for knowledge by a public that got a major whiff that the media wasn't doing that. And we only saw a small fraction of the people that are regularly traversing the internet.

Anybody that wants to crow about how great they are because they were standing in the middle of the road when the bus came along is pretty much a moron in my book.

(There, will that re-ignite the controversy? Damn I've been hanging around with those instigating Kiwis too long...)

Oh, and before anyone throws me in the hypocrite pile because I did refence the numbers - they were just put out there as numbers to show the volume of the phenom - I got absolutely no illusions that people hop outta bed and race to their computers to read the drivel that gushes forht from my fingertips...

See I can't even effing spell...

I think the ones it was directed at probably got the point. Not that it will change their grandstanding behavior one jot.

Sherard -- respectfully, the Windows Media Player flaw people is related to surreptiously run code via the WMP program -- for instance, a bad guy could send html-formatted email that contains code that Media Player may "trust", thereby bypassing other controls (such as Outlook). Inserting an actual virus into a video file would be as unlikely as doing it through an MP3. It is more likely a bad guy would use the video as a lure to get people to visit a website or click on an attachment. (Sorry everyone to take this trajectory into a technical discussion)

I've seen some of the ghoulish stats bragging. And I think this is a great response in the other direction, from Adam at Boston Common:

So far, that means roughly $110 in extra ad revenue. But it just doesn't feel right taking money that stems directly from omebody's murder. So Nancy and I are going to figure out an appropriate charity to donate the money to.

Would that others would do the same, or would that they'd respond to evil in the ala the Tom Family fundraiser y'all did at the Command Post.

That is a great response, Jen. I suppose I'm guilty of "ghoulish stats bragging," because I posted about it. The past few days have been nuts. I've never had six hundred original hits to my blog within twelve hours---by the end of thursday I'd had almost 2,000. That in itself is noteworthy, if for no other reason than documenting how odd and how very random Google can be. When my tiny little blog is in the top five search results for "Muntada Al Sadr," you have to wonder what the hell is going on. No one pays attention to me---mainly for good reason because I spew shit on a regular basis.

I'll admit without hesitation that I directed people to the video. I have absolutely no idea how many people went to those links, but I have to think more than a few did. I saw absolutely no income roll in because of this and I'm glad my site is not enabled for that because I wouldn't have liked it, but I don't think you should jump up and declare that everyone who might have made some money is benefitting from evil. Bloggers made the video available; they picked up the mainstream media's slack---why shouldn't they be compensated for their expenses? In my post I asked people to take care of whomever they downloaded the video from to defray bandwidth charges. I knew they were going to get slayed by their hosting providers. While I'm sure there are a lot of sickos who dowloaded it and enjoyed watching it, I can't make the assumption that they're all sickos. I assumed that some people wanted to watch it to see what the mainstream media wasn't allowing them access to. The information wants to be free, and thanks to the internet, it is.

It's up to each and every blogger to wrestle with their conscience on this one. I can tell you that I am very glad I escaped an ethical dilemma, but I know it's not the same for others. They will brag and gloat and be thrilled by the ad revenue and hits to their tip jars and ramble on about how important the blogosphere is and exaggerate their role in it. Let's face it: most bloggers ain't Edward R. Murrow. I know I'm not. That said, however, bloggers do provide a service, and they did pick up the slack in this circumstance. Why shouldn't they at least be compensated for their costs? You think CNN gives a rat's ass about this sort of ethical dilemma? That's their business. Whether or not this is a blogger's main goal---to provide news that the mainstream media isn't picking up---because of the randomness of the search engines, they were put in a position where, whether they liked it or not, they were forced to pick up the slack.

I should probably mention that I have absolutely no idea what Michele's original post was about:)

Interesting post. Some comments:

1) As a reader, I'm not offended if a blogger boasts about her number of pageviews every now and then. An all boasting, all the time site would probably not have that many pageviews.

2) I think there's bragging and then there's bragging. I would not be opposed to somebody saying, "We ran such-and-such story that the mainstream media refuses to run, and got ten million hits. Take that, mainstream media!" I would be opposed to somebody saying "we got ten million hits, we are bigger than Jesus!" Mostly because today's ten-million-hits wonder can become tomorrow's "this domain for sale".


I wrote a comment serveral hours ago explaining that I did not want you to delete the post - and apparently it did not go through, since I do not see it now. Or perhaps it was inadvertantly deleted.

Never in my original comment did I suggest you delete the post. I just disagreed with what you were saying. I did feel like you were generalizing.

I think it is nice that all your loyal fans have jumped to protect you against this 51 year old woman who felt like you were slamming her husband. I understand now that you were not slamming John.

I apologize. Please feel free to put the post back - and if you never got the last comment I wrote apologizing to you - well, I'm sorry about that too.

As to my 'getting my panties in a bunch' and your reciprocating stuff - geeze, Michele, at least give someone 12 hours to respond. And I have linked to you for months and months, and I don't expect you to reciprocate by linking to me, because you have your own standards.

I'm sure you are the most courteous of people. I am too.

And to those who are pissed at me and say I'm thin skinned, well you are right, I am thin skinned. That's me.

Michele is a tough chick - that's her.

So, I formally and politely apologize that my feelings were hurt for my husband when I read your post earlier.

Obviously, I'm a big fat dummy - so feel free to rag about me all you want. I'm too old to care.

Beth, for the record, I was never pissed at you, and I don't think you're a dummy. But I will take you up on your offer to rag on you:


Ok, I'm done. Hey, did you hear? The Red Sox are back in first place! YIPPEEE!!

Argh. Beth, that wasn't about you either.

I think I learned a lesson today.

Why is it that people think you're talking about THEM even when you state that you're not talking about anyone in particular?

Is it because the entirety of human life is basically JUST LIKE junior high school?