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Guy Murray

Nate, nice new blog. I enjoy reading what you write--though I admit it takes me a couple of reads depending on the content; however, this one I got the first time around. I have to say I agree with your assessment of the Snark. While I occasionally visit, and have even left a comment or two over there--it seems a bit incongruous with the overall spirit of what the bloggernacle should be.

This is, I think particularly true of him being listed on the M.A. portal, given their criterial for what types of blogs are to be posted there. But, I doubt it's too politically correct to be bad mouthing the Snarker. He/she/it/ they seem to be quite popular, and are linked by most sites in the 'nacle--though again I must confess ignorance at why.

Where did Bushman suggest as you say the bloggernacle may represent the rise of a kind of Habermasian?

Also, is it true you are about to leave the laborious life of a litigator for the luxury and prestige of academe? If so . . .best of luck.

Nate Oman

I heard Bushman makes this remark at the LDS law students conference held in Washington DC a few weeks ago.

I still have a couple of months as a litigator.

Jim F.

Nice post, Nate. --Even nicer title for this blog.

Stephen M (Ethesis)

Nate: A Good Oman, An Iron Helmet ...

Wish you well in settling in permanently with a private blog.

BTW, the only time I know of someone contacting the snarker about a post, he pulled it.

For what that is worth.

S. P. Bailey

Nate: You have nicely situated in great texts something I had been thinking about.

The Snarker's assertions (there wasn't much of an argument) about certain young academics' credentials seemed particularly cowardly to me. I can see the value of anonymity for equal-opportunity satire. But simply saying "I think X is no scholar, etc." does not qualify as satire.

"Who the hell wrote this humorless attack?," it made me think, "How would the author know one way or the other? He/she neither made an argument nor put his/her name or background on the line."

My ultimate conclusion: through such caustic cheap-shots, the snarker has squandered to a degree its standing as a good-humored comentator.



I have been disappointed at the apparent unwillingness of the more influential bloggernacle blogs' to promote ethical norms for perma-bloggers. Most blogs seem perfectly content to post comment policies, but whether a comment will be edited, or an anonymous poster will be outed or an individual will come in for personal abuse has been largely a black box. There is a general unwillingness to acknowledge that one is even in a position to influence what is acceptable at other blogs--although this is clearly not the case.

Snarker could have thumbed its nose at any norms, but it would find itself further outside the bloggernacle community--the same way that the Enquirer is outside the newspaper community.

Nate Oman

Matt: I don't quite understand what your complaint is. Are you objecting to the somewhat random and inconsistent ways in which "more influential bloggernacle blogs'" (I take this to be a euphemism for T&S, or do you actually intend to criticize others) apply their comments policies? Or are you suggesting that the permabloggers at T&S (and elsewhere?) should have done more to promote ethical blogging? Or is it a combination of the two, ie T&S (and others?) has been arbitary, and this has set a bad example? Or are you suggesting that permabloggers at T&S (and elsewhere?) have some power that they have abused other than example?

I am not trying to be defensive here. I am just a bit confused by your comment.

For the record, I think that T&S has been too random and inconsistent in how it has policed the comments.



I'm saying that influential bloggers at T&S and elsewhere should do more to promote ethical blogging (BTW, why so defensive about T&S?). When I wrote the post I was thinking about an incident that occurred a few weeks ago when I posted anonymously at BCC and was subsequently outed. In response I wrote the following:

Dear BCC Administration,

I believe that one of your members has used my IP address to confirm and then reveal my identity when I have chosen to post anonymously. When I comment anonymously, whatever my reasons for doing so, I have the expectation that my identity will not be revealed to the larger public. I know that administrators can see my IP address and confirm my identity if they want to. Personally I think it is poor form to do so, but many blogs accept this practice and I reluctantly accept that when I comment in the bloggernacle. To confirm and publicize my identity when I have chosen to remain anonymous is a violation of trust.

Perhaps this too will simply become an accepted part of the bloggernacle--the cost of admission. That would be unfortunate and, I am guessing, would chill conversation. As has been pointed out in a related context, anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.

If the person who chose to identify me as the anonymous speaker has, as I suspect, access to admin functions that helped them identify me, he/she has made BCC an unsafe place for all anonymous speech. That seems to go very much against the spirit of BCC--or, at the very least, against at least half of its founding spirit. I urge you to consider your ethical obligations to your readers and posters and develop and publish a policy in regards to this matter.

Kind regards,

Mathew Parke //a.k.a. anon

Now I have no doubt my identity was revealed more as a prank than out of malicious intent and I was not particularly bothered to have my real name appear next to my comment. The Queen's guard did not knock on my door the following evening. But I think it shows a certain cavalier attitude towards readers/commenters that makes it difficult for them to seriously engage the conversation.

In a similar vein, some perma-bloggers at T&S have stated they feel no compunction about protecting readers' identities internally. I have enough faith in T&S to think that this would lead to a public outing, but I have no doubt that identities are passed along in private conversation. Whether or not this presents a problem is debatable, but that debate has been studiously avoided.

You often strike the pose that blogging is a silly enterprise and not to be taken seriously. I don't think you really believe this. I suspect your near-constant objections to "navel gazing" is a means of separating yourself from the "so-called intellectuals" of another generation who reveled in butting heads with church authority. As long as something is silly, it poses no threat to authority and you are left free to theorize to your hearts content. Then again, perhaps my attempts to play Freud fall far from the mark. In any event, it seems clear to me that bloggers staunchly resist formalizing the enterprise. Why should they, they put lots of time and effort in providing free content--read it or leave it. On the other hand without norms guiding both commenters and bloggers I don't envision the bloggernacle developing into more of what you have elsewhere stated what you would like it to be.


I should add that I had a private conversation with BCC admin and I don't believe BCC would reveal an anonymous commenter's identity a second time--even as a joke.

Nate Oman

Mathew, I've no idea if your Freudian analysis is correct or not. That is the problem with Freudian analysis, so I will leave my subconcious to you.

I know this probably sounds odd, but I have resisted trying to have really formalized discussions about norms in the community and such because I want to avoid sounding pompous, and I suspect that any attempt on my part do so would be interpreted as pompous imperialism. Furthermore, I think that people are genuinely torn on the issue of anonymity. Treating it as sacrosanct may well encourage people to give vent to their nastier side. There is a certain disciplining function to posting under your own name.

I don't regard blogging as silly, and I certainly wouldn't spend as much time on it as I do if I did. I do, however, want to resist the attempt to endow it with cosmic significance because I don't think that as a medium it is capable of delivering cosmic significance. It provides a nice medium for conversations and connections between geographically dispersed people. I also am slightly suspicious of the bloggernacle as community meme because I fear that it tends to exacerbate personality conflicts and the notion that there is a divide between "insiders" and "outsiders." I may well be mistaken about this, however. I haven't quite worked it out in my own mind.


Blogging lacks the potential for cosmic significance only if you believe the same of conversations. But I'll drop the issue.

Stephen M (Ethesis)

You've convinced me that I need to do a post on dealing with humorists.

Stephen M (Ethesis)

Done. http://ethesis.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-do-you-deal-with-snarker-everyone.html is where I put my comments.

Hellmut Lotz

Nate, becoming a target of the caricaturists is a compliment.

I am jealous that you are being lampooned at Snarkernacle and I am not. Being ignored is worse than being ridiculed.

With respect to anonymity of the Snarkers, I think that's how it has been traditionally. Commentary and reporting require that journalists reveal their identity. If you write a gloss, however, then you ought to do so with a cover name.

When you find the leisure then I would like to hear your thoughts about why Mormonism has been lacking a public space.

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