Category Archives: Blogging

Australian Politics in a Digital Age

A Dr Peter Chen at the University of Sydney is doing some research for a book Australian Politics in a Digital Age, and is asking readers of this blog (and a few others) to participate in a survey on their political engagement. If you’re interested, the survey won’t take long.

The results might be interesting.

Venting Thread – WordPress edition

WordPress.com has gone and changed the commenting system on us. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it, but I know people are annoyed so – here’s a thread to vent about it. Or anything else that’s been annoying you.

Hacked again UPDATE: old error taken advantage of

SEE UPDATE:Somebody hacked this blog over the weekend and introduced a link to their new pissweak parody site. It’s been removed, but since I don’t quite know how they hacked this blog, please be alert for strange things they might have introduced while they were here.

Funnily enough, my long-time stalker publicised the new smear site within hours of it going up; and then promptly trumpeted the hack (a tiny change in my sidebar) as supposed “proof” it was me. You draw your own conclusions.

It’s almost funny how little these people must have going on in their lives. Can you imagine how lonely they must be? I kind of feel sorry for them.

UPDATE: Didn’t occur to me to do this, but one of the people with an intense interest in the minutiae of this blog and my life in general has suggested checking the wayback machine, which reveals that the error was there probably from when I first typed the blogroll link. Sitting there, pointing to a vacant wordpress blog that the hoaxer – after trawling through all my links in case there was one he could take advantage of – eventually used.

That’s a relief – the thought the hoaxer had been tinkering around inside my WordPress account doing god-knows-what was rather disturbing.

So: it appears there was no hacking – just a very old URL error that one of my bizarrely dedicated followers (what did you do today, dear/lonely old man next door? I went through every detail of some Victorian barrister’s weblog to see if I could find something to abuse him with! My life has meaning!) took full advantage of until I fixed it.

The lesson is: check your links. And check the wayback machine if you think someone’s tinkered with your site.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to my devoted typo-checker monkeys, typo in the update corrected.

On Line Opinion vs people’s opinions

Where do I sit on the now infamous On Line Opinion spat?

On the one hand, I do believe in free speech. But on the other… if you’re publishing something, either an article or a comment, you are doing more than just listening to it – you’re promoting it. Do you, as a website owner, have an obligation to publish any material, no matter how hateful, dishonest, misleading and downright damaging to honest debate?

I don’t think you do have such an obligation. I think publishing such material is making a choice – and a statement. You are saying “this view is not so extreme and destructive that it is beneath contempt; I think it is a legitimate part of the debate”.

The background, as I understand it:

  • On Line Opinion (OLO) published this ludicrous piece by Bill Muehlenberg in which he revealed that he spends a lot of time reading “the gay press” and attempted to suggest that gay people can’t take marriage seriously because some gay people don’t agree with his views on marriage.

  • The following comment was published:

    “It’s interesting that so many people are offended by the truth. The fact is that homosexual activity is anything but healthy and natural. Certain lgbt’s want their perversion to be called “normal” and “healthy” and they’ve decided the best way to do this is have their “marriages” formally recognised. But even if the law is changed, these “marriages” are anything but healthy and natural. It is, in fact, impossible for these people to be married, despite what any state or federal law may say.

  • Reader Greg Storer objected to homosexuality being declared a “perversion” and asked OLO to remove the comment.
  • OLO refused.
  • Storer and others contacted advertisers.
  • ANZ and IBM pulled their advertising.
  • OLO complained.
  • The “Australian Christian Lobby” came to its defence, as did The Australian. (Ouch.)

I’d argue that publishing an argument from someone like Muehlenberg which amounts to little more than an ad-hominem attack on gay people via insulting some prominent gay political figures is an editorial choice which is not required just because you’re trying to give reasonable space to both sides. And publishing a comment calling many of your readers relationships “perversions” is

The former is not an honest or reasonable contribution to debate, anyway. It’s the kind of thing that smothers genuine discussion – it certainly isn’t part of it. And the latter is, in reality, indistinguishable from hate speech.

The question I’d ask OLO is – where do you draw the line? If you had some anti-Semite spouting foul slurs about Jews, would you give her space? Is a reprehensible view acceptable just because you know several people who share it? Where do you draw that line? How many people need to believe something obviously false and dishonest before you’re willing to publish it as an “alternative opinion” in the guise of “balance”?

And if you choose to draw the line too broadly, why shouldn’t advertisers choose not to support your site?

To be honest, I’m not sure what kind of advertising really suits a genuinely free exchange of ideas, anyway – corporate money is fairly wary of anything controversial, which would hardly be something such a site should shy away from.

I suspect if you don’t want to scare away mainstream advertisers, you need to keep your content within certain bounds. Bounds which exclude publishing naked hate speech and misleading rhetoric.

Sorry, but on this occasion I think OLO stepped over the line, and it shouldn’t be surprised by the result. (And not just because they’ve got the ACL in their corner.)

The Reassurobuddy 3000

A new product announced in last week’s Bugle:

The Shankhound Reassurobuddy 3000, the pocket-sized friend that never disagrees with you, programmable to fully back up your world view and personal opinions. The Reassurobuddy 3000 will be a pal to you whenever your real friends think you’re being an unreasonable tool, an offensive prick or a general pain in the arse. Set the Reassurobuddy 3000 to customisable settings how you want. Whether you’re hard right wing or blindly communist, cold-bloodedly practical or wishy-washily idealistic, a tolerant and friendly philanthrope or a short-tempered bigot, the Reassurobuddy will back you up with generally supportive comments like “Damn right mate”, “Couldn’t have put it better myself” and “Yeeaaahh.”

As well as more specific internet-generated political and personal remarks, insults and out of context bendy Micro-Facts (TM) about whatever you are talking about.

Also, new for the Reassurobuddy 3000, the Over The Top button, to make the Reassurobuddy go way further and more extreme than you. Not only can it make you think you’re right about something, but now with the OTT facility, it can make you think you’re actually being quite reasonable about it by comparison.

The Reassurobuddy 3000, because you’re not always right, but you always want someone to tell you that you are.

I can’t think of anyone who’s been hanging out for one of those.

I’m sorry Dave (& Jeremy), I’m afraid I can’t do that

If anyone’s wondering what’s happening at Pure Poison, there’ve been some kind of server issues at Crikey. (ZOMG IS IT A CONSPIRACY OR HAVE THE COMPUTERS TURNED ON THEIR MASTERS EXCLAMATION MARK NUMBER ONE NUMBER ONE EXCLAMATION MARK.)


But Ha-al, people need to read my most recent retort to Andrew Bolt no-ow!

They’re apparently restoring the last day’s worth of posts and comments at the moment, so they should reappear very soon – hopefully fully intact and with all the comments up to the point where the system went awry.

UPDATE: 2.30pm maybe? They’re still working on it.

I blame Anonymous – I told Dave we shouldn’t have blocked credit card payments to Wikileaks, but he’s all like “hey, they’re traitors and need to be stopped”, and then he offers to help the Egyptian government to block the internet, and next thing we know our blog stops working. It’s either the vengeance of internet freedom fighters around the world, or a run-of-the-mill computer error AND WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF SUCH A THING.

Me, elsewhere

The two previous posts both have updates referring to me-related content elsewhere:

And to top it all off, this blog features a self-promoting stub of a post all about stuff I’m doing elsewhere! Yes, I never stop giving.