Friday, January 05, 2007

Blogpower – let’s keep a cool head over this

Blogpower began because a group of bloggers agreed with the sentiments expressed by another blogger. It grew from there and if I may quote from The Cityunslicker and we know that many others endorse the opinion:

Blog power has been great for me, seeing new blogs and building traffic.

It is essentially democratic and to reiterate Voltaire’s Maxim:

I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. [S.G. Tallentyre 1759]

The Spicy Cauldron put it this way:

"The inclusion of sites on this list does not mean I endorse their opinions. Neither does it mean they endorse mine. We simply agree that something has to be done to address the domination of the blogosphere by just a few monolithic blogs."

So what’s happened? Why do some people want to pull out because a certain person is on the roll? Surely we’re losing sight of all the work, of all our visiting of each other and so on. Of what we’re really about.

Blogpower cannot be controlled by one person, it does not endorse any political view whatsoever so how could it be held accountable for representing anything? It is a tool for democracy in the blogosphere. That’s all.

There is no doubt that certain people are being e-mailed or called and it’s being suggested that Blogpower is ‘associating itself’ with an anathema organization. What tosh. Do our American, Canadian and Australian members think that? They probably wouldn’t even know what the British members are going on about.

Blogpower has become an international community of small to medium bloggers who try to get round to as many other members’ blogs as we can. There are blogs on the roll we’d never visit in a million years. Just as there are in the telephone directory.

Admittedly though, the issue is that the roll sits in our sidebar. So, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, please make your views known. Then we formulate our policy on the basis of those views.

What we have here, with Blogpower, is true democracy in action. If you don’t like something, speak about it and we’ll change it. But let's not allow the fruit of our efforts to disintegrate over one man.

46 comments:

Liam Murray said...

Just came across this James and I don't know what the offending blog is but I'll share my thoughts anyway!

I've certainly benefited from the Blogpower initiative and I like the idea of trying to democratise things and lessen the grip of the few big blogs that sweep away all before them. The very spirit of blogging is about individual opinion and interaction so if we're all visiting the same dozen or so blogs and commenting on the same issues then the distinction between blogging and the MSM all but disappears.

We do however need to acknowledge that the scale and scope of the initiative will have a direct bearing on it's success - adherence to that admirable manifesto isn't enough. In terms of scale, if the bogroll ends up with literally hundreds of blogs with no obvious classification or means of navigating your way around (either to find like-minded souls or ideological opponents to do battle with) then people are unlikely to click through and visit everyone or take their time to identify favourites. Likewise on scope - the apolitical, free speech sentiments of the manifesto are sound but as ever with the free speech issue it comes back to the 'shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre' argument. However difficult it may be to agree on there IS a distinction between legitimate (if diverse) opinion and views which are almost universally (in a western, liberal democracy anyway) seen as 'beyond the pale' such as overt racism, sexism, propagation of violence etc. Making that distinction will always call for an element of discretion or personal judgement but perhaps as a group we just need to entrust that call to someone (or a small group) safe in the knowledge that they won't exclude blogs without good reason? As I said before I don't know the offending blog so I can pass comment on whether or not it would pass this test but I don't think a complete free-for-all is wise or, ultimately, in our interests.

youdontknowme said...

let me guess. people are bothered about my blog because I support the BNP. While I support the BNP I do not have a link to them.

I thought the people in this group support freedom and I thought it doesn't matter what our political allegiances are.

I don't support all the BNPs aims but I do support the BNP.

james higham said...

There are two issues here.

1] the sheer scale if hundreds of blogs are added. what I suggest, once the blogs get above 50 [if] is that we then categorize very broadly e.g. Basically political, Lifestyle e.g. Sicily Scene and so on, with no value judgement.

Then we make a second roll of categories and each category links to certain blogs. So, this category list of maybe 10 sits on our sidebar and sure, it requires that second click but doesn't fill up our sidebars.

2] the free speech issue. The instant we ban someone, we are making a political statement. Will I be banned next because the majority don't like my Christian values? In other words, where does it stop?

You say free-for-all and that suggests chaos. But I don't see chaos here. It's just a list of blogs. Blogpower itself has no value system. It's just a tool for all of us.

However, if the majority agree that some opinion does need banning [in my opinion this is sailing very close to the PC wind], then we need to be all agreed.

You state: "Making that distinction will always call for an element of discretion or personal judgement but perhaps as a group we just need to entrust that call to someone (or a small group) safe in the knowledge that they won't exclude blogs without good reason?"

This might work. But it would still need an absolute majority to pass any banning. And on what issues?

Personally, I have no problem with Irving. If the idiot wants to deny the bleedin' obvious, so be it. He has his reward. On the other hand, if someone on our list is openly advocating paedophilia, say, well that's another matter.

It seems to me that Blogpower is a microcosm of an emerging society making rules for itself. It's a deeply interesting process and this current debate on it can only be healthy, surely.

Fabian Tassano said...

A complex issue, and I'm still chewing it over, but I think I'm with Out From Under on this one - see his post about the Witangemot Club, who seem to have had a similar problem.

I.e. I take the opposite view to Steve of Daily Referendum, I don't think I could continue to support Blogpower if it ejected someone unless that someone contravened minimum standards of legality, decency, legibility, and so on. I haven't searched through every post on Central News, but so far I haven't seen anything which fits that description.

Having said that, I take people's point about whether or not to put people in their blogroll. As I understand it, that is not at present one of the conditions of being a member.

BTW, I'd like to know which groups "are attempting to turn us into a pro this or pro that group". Details please.

james higham said...

The comment of mine above was for Cassilis. Now this one's for 'youdon'tknowme'who commented whilst I was still writing the other:

I'm glad you came out and called a spade a spade because it is your blog that's being discussed.

I think if you look at the last two posts and the draft manifesto, ydkm, you'll see that we very much support freedom and I'm perhaps more libertarian on this than most. However, this is a debate we have to have and that's what we're in the middle of now and I imagine will do so for the next 24 hours.
Just as I said to others: "Hold fire," so I ask it of you now.

james higham said...

Fabian, this is happening too fast and people are asking questions as answers to previous questions are being given.

As for your by-the-way, yes it was the BNP, as ydkm has now said.

I think we ahve the debate in a nutshell now, if we read the whole comments section so far.

youdontknowme said...

Some say the BNP promote racial hatred. I don't believe they do but for the sake of argument we will say they do. I don't see why anyone would have a problem with my blog. I don't link to the BNP site and I don't spout racial hatred anywhere on my blog. take a look.

I do however link to a blog called BNP for Cleveland which is another one of my blogs. I have never tried to have that blog listed on blogpower though and I don't intend to in the future.

Fabian Tassano said...

Dah, James. I mean, which groups are trying to turn us into a pro-BNP group?

james higham said...

Whew! Hey guys, I have to work sometime, you know.

OK, ydkm. We know your case. You've now stated it. Now lets hear from the others too.

Fabian. The answer is in the last post. Steve, of Daily Referendum, takes exception to ydkm's pro-BNP views and therefore feels he must withdraw from Blogpower. I haven't yet established the logical link as to how Blogpower comes into this at all but he seems to think so and has exercised his democratic right, which I hope he'll reconsider.

Fabian Tassano said...

OK, thanks James. So it's just (so far) about Steve wanting to opt out. I thought you meant that Blogpower was being incorrectly portrayed by the media or major bloggers as pro-BNP, rather than what I hope we are i.e. pro-free-speech.

Daily Referendum said...

I would like to apologise to James and the rest of the Blogpower co-operative for any disturbance my leaving has caused. As James pointed out I've opted out for personal beliefs. I have not asked for anyone to be kicked out, I have simply left. I am only one blog and my leaving should not cause any real disturbance. Though I have said free speech should not incite racial hatred, I do believe in the right of the co-operative to read the post of or associate with anyone they please.
It would be best for the co-operative to drop this subject and just let me slip away.

Best Regards

Steve

Ian said...

I'm a little late coming to this one, I wanted to prepare my ground first.

Steve, reconsider, please. I think any inferences drawn from the presence of one or two links in your sidebar will be far outweighed by the overall tenor of your blogroll, and most importantly, by the content of your actual posts. I have really struggled with this issue myself, but with gritted teeth I think I have to accept that YDKM has the right to participate in this co-operative and express his views, however distasteful we find them. I also happen to think that by allowing him a platform we are better able to expose the flaws in his arguments, but that's a secondary point.

YDKM, you know I fundamentally disagree with you. I also take issue with what you say about views expressed on your own blog, but won't repeat those arguments here. Nonetheless, I have yet to be convinced that you should be excluded from Blogpower.

Bel said...

When I first discovered that the blog in question was a BNP blog, my first (perhaps, socially-conditioned) response was to think 'oh no!' But on quick reflection, I realised that I had no problem with that at all.

Before Blogpower, I had never come across a BNP blog. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough to find them. But I have now come across one, and who knows, a few others. I welcome the opportunity to read what they have to say, and where I disagree, to put forward my opposing views.

But why should YDKM be on the Blogpower roll? Why not? Being on the roll does not mean everyone endorses all his views, in the same way that I would not expect everyone here to endorse all of mine. Is not the point of a collective such as this that we can all air our widely differing views? Heaven forbid that I should only want to hear voices that accord with mine.

We all know what is objectionable content, and what is not. Thus far, I haven't seen anything on YDKM's blog to give me cause for concern. I will not object to his membership simply on the basis of his membership of the BNP.

That said, I respect the decision of anyone who feels he or she can no longer participate. Perhaps the latest statements from James about the purpose and scope of Blogpower will go some way in clearing up any misunderstandings.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that we have a blog by a BNP blogger which contains no 'objectionable' content, and another blog by a non-BNP member full of racist material. Which, rationally speaking, is more likely to 'offend'?

I think that the question whether or not a member of the BNP should be allowed to join blogpower is an easy one. The more difficult question for me is, if someone writes something that is deemed offensive, but which is not a crime, should he or she be thrown out? My every instinct is still to say no.

This debate has made me ask some questions of myself. If a mad mullah blogger of the islamofascist variety were to join Blogpower, would I be happy to link to his blog? A resounding no, but I would perhaps still link.

Matt M said...

Seeing a BNP supporting blog on the roll certainly made me question my being part of blogpower. But, I've checked out the blog in question and, while the views expressed there are almost completely antithetical to mine, youdontknowme is prepared to explain and argue his stance, and for that reason alone I'll support his right to be included.

I'm quite happy to link to blogs which promote views I fundamentally disagree with. We should debate those we disagree with, not try to silence them. The only type of blog I'd have serious issues with is one which served no other purpose than to spew out hate-filled bile.

Daily Referendum said...

I must put a few things straight, YDKM had nothing to do with me leaving blopower, Central news did. He links to BNP home, if you go there you will possibly understand why I left.
Please follow the link and then click on the post "why I'm a racist" for an example of their non-racist opinion.
http://www.bnphome.com/

james higham said...

Part of the problem could be solved, I thnk and I'll check with the other guys, if we ran a categorized Blogroll.

What I suggest is that once the blogs get above 50, we then categorize them very broadly e.g. Basically political, Lifestyle e.g. Sicily Scene and so on, with no value judgements.

Then we make a roll for each category and these rolls sit on a page. The "Category Roll" of maybe ten categories would sit in our sidebars.

That cuts down on the unsightly huge lists plus on the offensiveness factor.

Gracchi said...

I'm with Cassilis. Firstly Blogpower has made me incredibly glad to be a member- just going round people like City Un Slicker, Not Saussure, Sicily etc is a wonder. Ian from Imagined Community is now one of my best readers and without this I wouldn't have been read by him and I think the diverse styles of blogs and diversity of opinion is really good. James as you know I don't agree with everything you say, but I think we have a good argument and discussion and I think we're good blogfriends.

As to a BNP blog. My own sentiments are that its fine for a blog to support any party at all. But its not fine for a blog to step over the line and support racist or sexist or homophobic sentiments. My perception of the BNP is that it is a racist party and I can understand visceral reactions to it. I don't know this blog- so I can't comment on whether he does, other people above seem to think he doesn't endorse racist sentiments. I suppose I would have problems if he were racist, I would have deep problems if say his blog contained tirades against Jews or blacks (I don't know that it does). Lets imagine if a hypothetical blog with such tirades did join, I think I would have problems with it being on my blogroll. So I do think that maybe there should be a way by which the community can police itself or be policed to eliminate people who go beyond the fringe.

Obviously 99% of blogs are fine- I don't think we should police things that are within the realm of normal or even eccentric politics. But as Casslis rightly says there are somethings that pass that boundary- overt racism is one- and I wonder whether we should be sensitive to that.

youdontknowme said...

Though I have said free speech should not incite racial hatred

Is anyone inciting racial hatred?


Nonetheless, I have yet to be convinced that you should be excluded from Blogpower.

I don’t think I should either. People who have joined Blogpower should have read the manifest. In particular they should have read item 2.


Before Blogpower, I had never come across a BNP blog. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough to find them. But I have now come across one, and who knows, a few others.

Well if you look at my blogroll I have a few BNPers on my list, as well as a few liberals and a Muslim. I also have others that disagree with me. I link to their blogs though because I like reading them.


He links to BNP home

The post that he has up at present is the very first time he has said he was racist. It is hard not to hate all those people when you see the pictures that he links to.



For those who are leaving because of my BNP membership- just read my blog. I do not go on racist or anti jewish tirades. I do not have posts where I say I hate all blacks. I don't want my blog to be like that.

ThunderDragon said...

This issue is beginning to spiral out of control.

I do not think that anyone should be prevented from joining Blogpower because they support a particular political party, whether or not that party is in itself 'objectionable'. Most of us support political parties; we don't always agree with everything that they say, whether it be by the leader, the general membership or manifesto. I think that personal views should come into it, however. I have no objection with someone disagreeing with me, as disagreement makes life interesting, BUT there are certain things which go 'beyond the pale' as it were. YDKM should not be restricted by his support of the BNP, but by his own personal opinions.

I will not link to a racist blog, but I will link to a BNP member's blog, so long as it is written in an acceptable manner and encourages discussion and accepts that some may find their party objectionable - and does not go overboard with the defensiveness. This applies to the comments made on the blog as well, by the blogger and others.

Maybe the best way to prevent this issue arising in the future would be for applications to join Blogpower to include a caveat to encourage debate, and accept the views of others - and for all new applications be posted on the defending the blog blog for any objections about that site's inclusion to be raised by current members. (Maybe and/or a "trial period"?}

I support free speech, and will not object to anyone having or writing on a blog of their own - but if i is offensive in content, that blog should not be allowed to join Blogpower. I'm not sure whether Central News falls into that category yet. Before this arose, I would have said no. But some of recent comments by YDKM and his supporters, especially on Central News itself has made me much less sure.

However, I have no answers as to what to do now, unfortunately. But IF we eject anyone, it must be on THEIR political opinions, not their parties.

puddlejumper said...

I only joined Blogpower yesterday. I have to admit I was stunned to discover that by joining I had inadvertantly become associated with a pro-BNP blogger.

I considered leaving.

However I absolutely believe in free speech along similar lines to the Voltiare quote...

I deceided rather than leave what appears to be a very rational and informed debating chamber I would simply add a disclaimer underneath my blogpower logo.

Rather than having an "admissions" procedure for blogs on the blogroll, would it be possible to dedicate a page or a thread where members could give a written "peer-review" of the sites we include?

That way new members could browse whilst still allowing for a balanced opinion?

I agree with James that if we start to "censor" bloggers we risk becoming as "exclusive" as some of the bodies many of us are so outraged by.

ThunderDragon said...

Puddlejumper has a very good point. Hence I have edited the Blogpower logo to add a disclaimer underneath it, reading:

"Blogpower bloggers hold diverse political opinions. Blonging to Blogpower does not mean that I support their views, or they support mine."

The image can be found here. Please feel free to use this logo if you wish to.

james higham said...

My last comment before going to bed [different time zone to you folks]is mainly to Thunderdragon:

Disagree that this thing is 'spiralling out of control'. With one casualty so far, the debate, given our disparate views, has been remarkably constructive. I haven't seen any invective which I have noticed on other fora of this nature.

Agree - the disclaimer banner is a good option for those who wish to use it and thanks for preparing it. Now is that democracy in action or what?

Question - for the third time I ask and hope to get a response eventually - what do you think of having a Blogpower list of category links for our sidebar, each one linking to a blogroll?

Goodnight Blogpowerers - please turn out the lights when you go to bed.

ThunderDragon said...

Categories is definitely a good idea, as it will cut down the amount of space taken up by the blogroll.

Andrew Allison. A Conservative View said...

If anyone has been on Central News they will know in the past two days I have been commenting on it. I disagree with the views of the blog, but tonight I have commented about the BNP on my blog and given Central News a link. I have done this in the interests of free speech and in the 'blogpower' spirit. If we start banning people because they are members of the BNP, I will certainly leave. Blogpower has been good for me and I've read so many blogs I would never have normally come accross. On my blog I urge everyone to stand up for our rights and liberties. Everyone has those rights and liberties whether we agree with them or not.

James: You are right. We will shortly have to catagorize blogs and I think it is a good thing. We are becoming a victim of our own success, and long may it continue.

Gracchi said...

Thanks for the new logo Thunder Dragon I've added the new logo I think that is a good thing

Ian said...

Thunder Dragon, about the new logo, I'd like to echo Gracchi's praise and thanks. I'll be uploading it myself.

As for categorising the blogroll as a possible solution to the presence on it of Central News, I'm not convinced. The issue is Central News being part of Blogpower, and whether he is behind one link or two is perhaps secondary. If anything, if he is to remain part of Blogpower, let's have the courage of our convictions rather than leave ourselves open to accusations of trying to sweep his presence under the carpet.

How that will help us keep things tidy as the roll expands, of course, is not for me to say. Hell, I only administer it :)

Out From Under said...

I'd be very very surprised to see an "anti-Jewish tirade" on a BNP site. The BNP are pro-Israel and have Jewish members and a Jewish Council Group Leader.

For those who haven't read it I highly recommend Sean Gabb's article on the BNP and free speech.

Praguetory said...

I'm glad that most of you seem to support free speech. I have to say that this was always going to happen and was the main reason I didnt join you guys in the first place. Nevertheless, congratulations on your success. There's some excellent blogroll and when I hear that some of the better ones had considered quitting until Blogpower came along, that's all the better. Well done all.

Daily Referendum said...

Out from Under,

Read this:
http://www.spearhead.com/0405-jt4.html

I think you will find the final paragraph will be of most interest.

Gracchi said...

And this isn't an issue about free speech- its an issue about promotion none of us want to and none of us have the power to ban the BNP- we are discussing whether we should have a member that is a BNP Member. We can't control speech and most of us don't want to so don't make this an argument about free speech- its an argument about whether a member of the BNP should be invited to join a group.

a very public sociologist said...

How do you get yourself on Blogpower anyway?

james higham said...

AVPS, have a look at the sidebar - all instructions are there. You're welcome to contact Ian. Ladies and gentlemen all, I've read everything above now - been out all day and now am ill and must retire but things seem to be OK. We've needed this debate and some clear indications have come out. The biz of the categorized blogroll was opposed by one man - the poor soul who'd have to administer it, so that's understandable. As for me being racist, you'll need to draw your own conclusions form my writings. Perhaps you'll need to ban me.

Have a lovely Saturday evening, folks and hope to see you tomorrow. I'm for bed now.

Andrew Allison. A Conservative View said...

You've been tagged. Look at my blog.

Andrew Allison. A Conservative View said...

Sorry James. I was thinking of you at the time. I can see where I went wrong, although if all of you would like to respond, all the better.

Ian said...

James, I'm not, ahem, categorically opposed to the idea when it comes to making the roll more user-friendly, I just don't think it's the answer to the current problem.

Ian said...

Just testing - apparently there have been problems posting comments to this thread.

FlyingRodent said...

Sorry kids, but if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.

And I've laid down with some dogs, I can tell you.

Not Saussure said...

Sorry to come to this very belatedly, but I'm with the majority of the posters here; I did a double-take when I saw there was a BNP-supporting blog, too, but if we start making rules on who's permissible and who isn't, then I don't think I want to play. It's pretty obvious to anyone who looks at a random sample of Blogpower blogs that we aren't about a particular ideology and -- pace the Flying Rodent -- I can put up with being seen in disreputable company (indeed, I'm sometimes the disreputable company myself). There are some things that I won't stand for, in which case I'm out, but I'm not going to leave what I think is a very valuable initiative just because I vehemently disagree with some people who're part of it.

ThunderDragon said...

I agree completely with Not Saussure. Any glance at the blogpower blogroll will see that we are diverse in our ideologies and opinions, and I'm not sure that anyone who won't visit a blog simply because they link to someone of a specific party or ideology is the sort of person that I am bothered about losing as a reader.

Daily Referendum said...

Thunderdrgan.

I'm sorry you feel that way.
Did you know that I've linked to you in my latest post? or that I'm slowly but surely adding members of blogpower to my own blogroll? even some of those who have been critical about me leaving?

Or that a lot of members who do not agree with my decision to leave have contacted me saying they will continue to link to me?

Best Regards

Steve the Whipping boy

Daily Referendum said...

Thunderdragon,

Sorry I meant to say:

Best Regards

The BNP's Whipping boy.

Leonard said...

Sorry, nothing to do with me, just got led here by a link from a link etc.

No real feelings towards BNP one way or the other but I am in favour of free speech and all that entails. Don't know the chap at Daily Referendum but feel it is a bit disingenuous to make a point about the BNP with a link to comments by a man who apart from being dead, was in fact booted out from the BNP a number of years ago.(1999 I think) As for Spearhead,this has nothing whatsoever to do with the BNP, now or in the past. It took me about 2 minutes to do a bit of research on this but that is because I like to see both sides of the picture and make up my own mind, old fashioned huh!
That is the problem theses days, people are so convinced that they are right, rather than actually letting people put forward there point of view, better to discredit them and shut them up, even if it is bogus.

ThunderDragon said...

Steve - there is a difference between not wanting to link to a BNP blog and not wanting to visit a blog that does so. I don't disagree with your right to not link to a BNP blog; I just that that someone who will not visit a blog that does so (of which you are obviously not one, since you are adding blogpower blogs to your blogroll). I will also continue to link to you because I like your blog.

There is a big difference between those who exercise their right not to to link to a blog with which they disagree so profoundly, and those who don't link to, or visit, a blog because of who THEY link to. You are obviously of the former; you disagree with the BNP so much as not to want to link to Central News because of the BNP connection, but you are still link to and visit those who do.

I certainly did not mean to imply that it is you or people like you that I wouldn't miss, but people who wouldn't visit me because of who I link to rather than because of what I write.

I hope that you see the difference.

TD

Daily Referendum said...

Leonard,

Mr Tyndall was not booted out he was replaced as Chairman. I know he died 18 months ago but was still attending and speaking in BNP meetings up until he passed away. For example:

Dear Mr. Tyndall,

We are now in election mode in the lead up to June 10th. Accordingly I am instructed by the National Chairman to write to you in the following terms:

The many photographs of you in neo-nazi uniform have always been a public relations handicap for the Party. After the end of this week - weekending 18/04/2004 - I am instructing you, with the authority of the National Chairman, not to address meetings of the British National Party until after June 10th. This also applies to any interview requests from the media.

Yours for Race & Nation
A. Lecomber,
Director, Group Development & Regulation

By the way, the fact that he was allowed to speak after the election speaks volumes itself.

Regards

Steve

Daily Referendum said...

Thuderdragon,

I apologise, I'm getting overly touchy about this whole subject. I'll be glad when I can put it behind me. Yesterday I published my final post on the BNP. I'll answer any comments I get from it and then I hope that I never get involved with this subject again.

Best Regards

Steve

Onyx Stone said...

There are some reasonable posts by youdontknowme on Central News. I don't agree with all of it, but I haven't found anything to be offended by. The guy says he does not support every aim of the BNP, but supports some. (I'm sure most of us say that about at least one of these corrupt political parties each election.)

The points he does make, he argues in a reasonable way. Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant. If people want to evict him, they should clearly state what he has posted that is so offensive. If it is only because he is associated with the BNP, then we should all be immediately evicted for being associated with him.

I find things in all of your blogs that I disagree with (even my own sometimes, when I check it the next morning).