Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Not to sound like a Republican, but maybe getting the cold shoulder from Slate is the best thing to happen to this blog.

Yeah, it was a nice courtesy to invite Slate to come along for the ride, but we don't need them anymore. And I'm fine with not wanting to owe them anything.

As I see it the Fray's value proposition is twofold:
  • A plce to discuss Slate articles
  • A forum for writers who for whatever reason are unable to commit to more independent venues.

    The first item is dwindling in value, as Slate staffers continue to show little interest in interacting with their readers. And I think this blog is a superior solution to the second item since, as Ender has mentioned, these posts are searchable, and not subject to deletion according to editorial whims.

    So, for those of us motivated to make it happen, I think this can be something better than what we could do in the Fray.

    One more note before I leave -- I had to chuckle at this passage from the latest Sports Nut:

    Costas, alas, may be too cool for his own good. He's technically fine, but he seems above the fray, describing the day's action with a wink—yes, the Giants won in overtime, but it's only football, folks

    Hmmmmm... where have we seen a similar attitude toward sports?

    Ender said...

    Well John, I think you’re right in that the people at Slate feel their focus is better spent elsewhere, and playing into that it’s easy to imagine they’ve adopted a dismissive attitude. Unfortunately, that particular disadvantage was exacerbated yesterday thanks to Geoff being less than our best advocate. Unlike prior fray editors, Geoff has his own vision, and the wagtheslate model represents a challenge to that vision. I also helped by providing Geoff ammunition with which to show us in a less than stellar light. I’m not sure I can be blamed for not anticipating that Geoff would take advantage of the opportunity I presented him with to torpedo us, but I also know that he’s no doubt secure in the sense that he simply gave me what I was asking for. Note to self: Geoff can and will, at convenient times, abrogate his right to express an opinion in his fraywatch column.

    But as I said in the fray, my bad. As a consequence, the bar for wagtheslate to earn an objective notice from Slate is higher than it was before. This is unfortunate since the bar was already high enough. Nevertheless, I take it as a challenge. Wag the Slate still provides the immediate benefits of posting to a community blog, and that alone makes it a worthwhile endeavor to anyone who’s already putting forth the effort to compose their thoughts, opinions, stories for the fray. And as I said in another post, it could very well take a long time to realize our full potential, and for Slate to notice, if ever. I could go on, but the long and short of it is I’m still game.

    Vicious Lhasa Apso said...

    I'm not sure if Senor Ender is going to appreciate this particular use of his forum, but I can speak to the "independent venue" issue regarding Slate because I got banned from the Fray in the past few days for, and I quote, "Off-topic posting."

    What apparently happened is that I cross-posted one of those Killer Spinach posts I've written lately in 3 or 4 other Fora, and in doing so ran afoul of an editorial push to make Politics specifically "topical" to Slate articles under the Politics heading. No warning, just the boot.

    The amusing thing to me is that my Politics-posting is occasional at best, as I generally post in Best of the Fray, where one could hardly say there is a "topic".

    I asked for reconsideration yesterday afternoon but have not heard back. I'm in a sort of limbo and am pondering how to proceed with my writings if the reconsideration is negatively received. This is one option, if Ender is OK with it.

    Dawn Coyote said...

    A business plan for Wag might not be a bad idea - add ads and generate some revenue to pay for more bandwitdh, a web designer, tech support.

    But that's premature. In the meantime it could use regular features, maybe a reality-internet show, some controversy to boost traffic.

    Ender said...

    Dawn, I’m not opposed to someone creating controversy (although I prefer it at least be smart), but I suspect you’re thinking of sick-o-thy-fray as an example of how it works to boost traffic (seem to recall you posting this somewhere. Could be wrong?). Not to say applebutt didn’t have his followers, but the truth was he took some liberties with his stat counter. You see, when you have one, you have the option to give it a starting number. Say, 19,998? Anyway, be skeptical. That’s all I’m saying. As for me, I don’t think we need controversy. Our daily average is steadily going up. Since we’re in this for the long haul, I say we do it the hard way, by posting quality, substantive posts. I’m also totally opposed to ads and/or other money making schemes. Sorry.

    Vicious Lhasa Apso said...

    I find a non-Slate place to discuss Slate/Fray interesting (especially after my recent ban and reinstatement for the minor infraction of posting off-topic on Politics). I like the Fray, but I also think it is flawed and this blog could "work on that".

    Wag the Slate may very well work for the limited task of presenting and saving posts from days gone by.

    However, I'd contend that the pure blog model flushes posts in a way not too different from a BBS. This post I am commenting on has scrolled down the page fairly far in just two days. That will only pick up steam as more people post here, not unlike the Fray's busiest BBs.

    Posts can be searched for, but, seriously, who's searching?

    If you focus on a web presence for Fray posts as the selling point, people will likely follow the Reynolds model and set up their own blogs. My response to my recent ban was both to join your group and to start my own "ball rolling". People already get community on the Fray; exposure as a goal might be better served by individuality.

    I think you ought to focus on wagging Slate, over other functions. You might be able to present back to the editor particularly good posts here that were overlooked on Slate. You could serve as a sort of sounding board on Slate. You could have helped me publicize and advocate my cause. In doing so, you would probably build up interest in this board as The Place to Critique the Fray.

    But, I have limited faith in the present entity's ability to actually "wag" or "boomerang" Slate. (Beyond an interest in your cause) I was kind of hoping you'd help me "Wag Slate" back into my reinstatement, or at least publicize my plight on the Fray, but that did not happen. You didn't take the bait. And the Editor's response to your Wag the Slate post conveys "don't tread on my copyright" and "don't hint we support this".

    The lack of mention of, or aid to, me indicates this is a cliquish (not unlike Best of the Fray)endeavor focused on a limited set of personalities (was the "smart controversy" comment intended for me?), and the Editor's post indicates Slate's lack of responsiveness to those personalities' advocate (frankly, I don't think Slate will ever give "license" to an entity whose raison d' etre is basically critical of the magazine ... it might, however, serve as strong "union" advocate of a sort for Fray posters, without that imprimatur, which, btw, is not necessary to its success). You're not Wagging Slate very well so far.

    JohnMcG said...

    And what would be more cliquish than a group forming a bloc to protest an editorial decision?

    If you got flushed/ban, that's your own fault and your own problem. Geoff was pretty clear when he started that we wanted to boards that were linked to a column to be about that column. You can agree or disagree with that policy, but you can't pretend it was a secret or a surprise.

    You ignored that policy, and suffered the consequences. That's unfortunate, but I'm not moved to act on your behalf. This "you failed to defend me when..." crap is part of what some of us are trying to escape.

    Vicious Lhasa Apso said...

    Bluntly, "topicality" (say, posting a "Killer Spinach" item on Politics) is such a lame excuse for deleting a post, much less banning someone, that y'all should be up in arms about it. We do Slate a favor by engaging their articles and their fora of discussion, increasing traffic and interest.

    I was not aware of the "topicality" policy because I am not that obsessed with the Fray. Frankly, I mentioned clique-iness because y'all seem so obsessed with a limited set of people and goal I don't know how you'd get broader appeal. If you want to shun people like me who want to bring other stuff to the table, our own issues, fine, it'll end up being you and 10 other people reading each others' posts and wondering why no one else is interested.

    If you're not up in arms, then "Wag the Slate" has little point. It's just a limited clique of people who will read each other posts. What then is the point of this place besides circular authorial masturbation?

    BTW, the definition of clique is not any old group, it's a small and exclusive one, the sort that would see their solidarity with a limited set of people and not just about anyone on the Fray or Slate with a complaint. That your solidarity is with yourself and a limited definition of what this site could be testifies to clique-iness where broader-mindedness would be the better approach.

    In short, for anyone else to care, you're going to have to act like you care about someone besides yourselves.

    When I hear intricate gripes about the Editor and Slate's imprimatur, and ignoring people like me trying to raise other Slate issues, and stuff like that, I think you are headed down a narrow little clique alley when y'all seemed to be saying you wanted a broader audience.

    Create your own relevance, let them come to you. Part of that would be taking on causes broader than the clique's handful of ideas, eg, things relevant to other Fray people who might come here.

    Relevance: it's your choice.

    BTW, I was reinstated, as a result of my own efforts (not the people promising to Wag Slate ... tell me when the tail's wagging ...), and the policy is silly to begin with. Treating someone tossed for of all things "topicality" like they are an ex-convict or something, is crazy. That's a tad too plugged into the Fray's little Rules. If I post off-topic on my soccer board in another site, they move my post for me, they don't delete it or tell me to get lost.

    My point is that if this place doesn't have an edge and an appeal/solidarity broader than yourselves to it, it's pointless, it's a web fray with fewer people. A clique, destined for the incestuous oblivion of most cliques: general irrelevance.