Sunday, February 18, 2007

Community Watch

Community WatchWas skimming through my usual reads this morning when I noticed DuggleBogey’s terse reference to a recent post by Hammer Player, a.k.a. Hoyazo. Followed the link and read through Hoyazo’s long entry about (among other things) how another blogger had criticized him (and his blog), thereby putting Hoyazo on “life tilt.” The post is thoughtful and well written, and had generated over thirty comments by the time I got over there. Most of the responses came from other bloggers (some of whom I regularly read) who in various ways were voicing their support for Hoyazo.

Most of the post details Hoyazo’s play in the ongoing FTOPS tourneys, but he stops at one point to wonder aloud how “‘big’ bloggers” are able to endure abuse in comments, forums, and other media. Hoyazo recognizes that he shouldn’t allow criticism to affect him, but in this case it has and so asks others how they handle such pressures: “How do you just keep going on when you know there are people out there who would do this kind of thing, and say bad things about you personally, and make those bad things publicly available in a medium like a blog where anyone else can see them?”

I’ve seen other bloggers occasionally forced to defend themselves from various forms of abuse (usually turning up in comments on their blogs). Not always pleasant, but frankly whenever someone publicizes his or her thoughts there is always the chance someone reading might disagree. And might bother to make known his or her disagreement.

Besides this here blog, I’ve had some experience writing in other media, including having a regular column for a while in a newspaper with a fairly wide circulation (about a quarter of a million, if you can believe that). I recall having gotten the job, then spending weeks pulling together my first column. It was an op-ed piece, and I admit to having felt some pride when seeing it finally appear in print. A day or two later, I noticed my column had generated a letter to the editor. The letter was only a couple of sentences long, but managed both to dismiss my entire argument as a grand “non sequitur” and seriously call into question my credibility as a commentator.

I felt terrible. Part of me felt like I’d been set up, somehow, by the paper who had hired me. Of course they’d only print the letter that tore my article apart -- that’s what people want to read in the “forum” every day. Another, even less secure part of me felt like the letter writer might be onto something -- that, in fact, I really didn’t know what I was talking about and perhaps should stop this here charade before anyone else learned the real truth about me.

Needless to say, I got over all of that and continued with my column, and ultimately the experience was both enlightening and gratifying. I still write the occasional book review for that paper -- much less controversial are those, let me tell you -- though am no longer writing the regular column. (It was only a year-long assignment.)

In some ways the blog has (in part) turned into a place for me to continue whatever it was I started over there. Of course, blogging is different. This here is a complicated, overlapping set of communities where (one might argue) we all eventually get around to hearing from each other. Unlike the world of print media, we ain’t so bound by time and space -- or even other factors that make it hard or even impossible for us otherwise to communicate with others. Here the interaction seems more alive (if that makes sense), and usually more meaningful.

It is clear from the comments to Hoyazo’s post that a lot of us appreciate being able to communicate so readily with one another. That much is made obvious by the swift, spontaneous encouragement from his many readers for him to keep writing, to keep sharing his thoughts and experiences. And he will, I’m sure.

That -- to me -- is most heartening, and probably makes blogging even more meaningful to me than writing the column (usually) was. That sense that there is a community out there, I mean. And, for the most part, it seems to me to be inhabited by a lot of pretty cool, smart, & funny folks.

Even though I don’t know Hoyazo, I’ll go ahead here and echo one of the comments on his post and add my own “got your back.” Yours, too, reader.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Richard said...

I'm new to blogging and more specifically the world of poker blogging. I'm just beginning to get myself acquainted with all the poker bloggers.

This incident interests me because I know I am not even close to as good as most of these players, and I wonder what gives me the right to write about poker, when a guy like Hoyazo can get criticized despite being great player who seems very knowledgeable about the game.

I agree with you about community. That is definitely the best part of blogging, to be able to communicate with each other, while it seems to me a column is much less personal.

2/19/2007 12:08 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hey, nice piece. Just found it tracking back through some of my referrer links.

It's funny, even the two guys who commented about my play apologized in my comments there. I guess that meant something to me. And the original post that set me off, that poster has already posted something new so I think probably everyone feels kinda bad about the whole thing.

Maybe I overreacted, I don't know. All I know is that it rally effing upset me to see what had been said. As I said in my post and in the comments, I really don't care one whit if someone posts about a bad poker play I make. It's when someone links up my blog and says that it is terrible that I tend to draw the line. But that's just me, and I accept that others are different.

Anyways I got some good advice in those comments, the best of which generally was to thicken my skin and not care what others think. Both very good pieces of advice when we're writing blogs where anyone can comment without anything stopping them or censoring them. It's something I'll continue to work on as I keep doing my thing at the blog.

Nice post like I said. Looking forward to coming back for another read one day soon.

2/19/2007 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Cheeky Cadmunkey said...

Interesting article. It does seem unusual for people to post negative comments on other peoples blogs. Usually the blogging community is pretty supportive and positive to each other.

By the way Shamus your trilby sucks!

;-P

2/19/2007 9:38 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx, Richard. Yes, I think part of what happened here was the criticism went beyond his play/strategy.

Thx for coming around, Hoyazo. I agree there was some good advice in the comments to your post. I nearly added a kind of "existential" coda here that said something about the blog meaning whatever you want it to mean. Would've amounted to a high-falutin' (not to mention redundant) version of AlCantHang's more succinct advice to you (in his comment). I look forward to reading more.

And lol cadmunkey . . . good one. My hat's off to you. (Had thought it was a fedora.)

2/19/2007 12:22 PM  

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