Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Nope. No dissent here. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

If you read quite a few liberal blogs, as I do, you occasionally run into a recurrent meme about why conservative blogs tend to not have comments threads. I never comment on this, because I don't find it terribly interesting; I mean, there aren't any comments threads on quite a few of my favorite blogs, and to be frank, the only comments threads I tend to follow are the ones on this very blog. My main reason for not reading comments a lot is that I'm attracted to specific blogs because I like the voices of their writers; comments threads tend to obscure that a bit, except on the lesser-traveled cultural blogs, where comments threads can be quite interesting indeed. But the biggie political blogs? Fuhgeddaboudit. I'm forever amazed, quite frankly, that anyone can bother to wade through one of those 200+ comment barnburner threads over on Kevin Drum's blog, and I find the fact that over on Atrios's blog, the number of open comments threads sometimes seems to outnumber actual posts (as of this writing, there are nine open threads over there, with the front page containing posts only as far back as two days ago).

So, maybe the fine folks of Right Blogistan don't have comments because they want to stifle dissent, or maybe they don't much want to spend time doing moderation and fighting comments spam, or maybe they figure it's a cool way to drive up their incoming linkage, since the only way to comment on their posts is to post in a blog yourself. Maybe it's some of all three, or maybe the whole thing's bogus anyway and it's just that the most notable citizens of Right Blogistan don't have comments and thus they are skewing the perceptions. I don't really care.

But I have noticed one particular strange habit of Right Blogistan. Well, habit is the wrong word, perhaps, since I've only seen this done by a small handful of blogs over there. The fact remains, though, that I've never seen this done by a member of Left Blogistan. It's the redirecting of inbound links from specific blogs. Example: go to this post on Pandagon, and click the link to this post by LaShawn Barber. If you merely click the link from Jesse and Amanda's site, you won't get to Ms. Barber's post; instead, you'll end up...well, I'll let you find out. It'll only take a second, and it's actually slightly more interesting than the usual way I've seen this done in the past, redirecting the link-followers to a 404 page. But if you cut-and-paste the link into your browser, or use the "right click/new tab" thing in FireFox, you get the post, right as rain. Isn't that clever!

Well, no, it's not. It's obnoxious and stupid.

I don't really think that not having comments on one's blog implies that one is trying to stifle conversation or muffle the dissent or whatever. But I frankly find it hard to read the redirecting of inbound links in any other way, and I further find it objectionable because it reinforces the echo-chamber nature of Blogistan. It's "You link yours, and we'll link ours, and never the twain shall meet." Linkage is, in my opinion, a very large part -- perhaps the very large part -- of what makes Blogistan the place that it is. It's like a city: you may not like it that the same roads that make it possible for you to go to the movie theater and the supermarket also allow the crack dealers from the wrong part of town to come into your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean you get to erect roadblocks on your own. Longtime readers will recall that, even though I disagreed with him strenuously on many topics, I kept Steven Den Beste on my blogroll for a long time -- until he started doing the same thing. If "No betting on games" is the unbreakable rule in baseball, I think that likewise "No mucking with linkage" should be the unbreakable rule in Blogistan.

If you write a blog, and you maintain it in public fashion, then "ya takes yer chances". Not everyone is going to like what you have to say, and some are going to link it in the process of telling you how full of crap you are. Using a technical trick to try to thwart that process is, simply, intellectual cowardice. Does that mean that LaShawn Barber is an intellectual coward? I'd say it does...especially since she herself comes over to Pandagon and leaves this comment on the post she's blocked:

In a perverse way, I'm flattered that you libs read my blog when the only time I read yours is when you link to me, which you seem to do with increasing frequency.

Ms. Barber, I submit, is not in the least bit interested in any kind of exchange of ideas; she is interested in agreement with her worldview, and agreement alone. That's intellectual cowardice.

(Oh, and looking at the rules for trackbacks that she establishes in the post Pandagon is mocking, I note her Rule #5:

5) If a trackback leads to a non-offensive post, but you allow commenters to libel me, the trackback will be deleted and habitual offenders permanently banned.

Huh. Does that mean that bloggers actually are in some way responsible for the words left in their comments threads? Well, I wonder if Ms. Barber would think that the same applies to Charles Johnson and his merry band at LGF. I wonder, indeed....)

(And yes, if anyone cares to point out any liberal bloggers who have done this, I'll excoriate them just as strongly.)

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