Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What if they gave a war, and nobody invited me?

UPDATE: For the surprising number of people arriving here today via Google searches for "Scalzi" and "RaceFail", welcome aboard. I'm not really the least bit interested in Racefail, but I hope some of you will stick around here anyway; I like to think that my blog doesn't completely suck, and I always love to see new readers.

In the book The Art of STAR WARS, there's a section devoted to portrayals of Star Wars in comic strips and editorial cartoons of 1977. One of these has Dennis the Menace standing at night with his friend, looking up at the stars, and Dennis says, "Well, if they do have wars, they're awful quiet about it."

One thing about the Internet that I never get used to is that there can be these massive conflicts going on in various sectors of Webspace, and yet, because I never go into those sectors or even have contact with those who do, I never know about them. If they do have flamewars, they're awful quiet about it.

This morning I was going through my Google Reader subscriptions, got to John Scalzi's, and found this kind-of cryptic post. Near as I can figure, someone decided to go into the comments threads of one of John's other posts and toss in some content attacking someone else on this giant LiveJournal debate-flamewar that's going on, for some unknown reason (probably an attempt to get someone memorialized badly on Google or something). John apparently doesn't like to see his blog used for somebody else's score-settling. Strange guy, that Scalzi. Musta been raised by wolves.

But I was intrigued, so I started doing a bit of searching, trying to figure out what on Earth is going on, and lo and behold, there really is some kind of scorched-earth thing going on that's so big it's got a name: "RaceFail". According to this person, RaceFail is "a discussion about science fiction, fantasy, fandom, publishing, race, racism, power, and many other things." Apparently it's also a giant flamewar involving lots of attacks back and forth, people "outing" one another in various contexts, and...well, there it is.

Why am I posting about this? Mainly because it amuses me that big flamewars can go on without anyone else ever knowing about them. Same way the people involved in RaceFail probably never saw some of the knock-down dragouts we used to have on the FSM boards, back when I bothered hanging out there.

Of course, the Internet is made of people, and people are weird. It pretty much can't be avoided, you know? So go on, you crazy kids. Have fun with that RaceFail thing!

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