Content is ruled by the free market. If people don’t like something, it goes away. TV shows that nobody watches, magazines that don’t sell, radio programs without an audience — they are cancelled, shut down, shown the door.

Stuff people hate vanishes. It’s cultural Darwinism.

The curious exception seems to be blogs, where contempt can contribute to success. This became clear while reading the nasty comments hurled at Jeanie DiNapoli of the Times Union’s Bethlehem Blog.

Ms. DiNapoli wrote recently how much she dislikes soccer and those hideous horns blown by South African fans at the World Cup . The nerve of her to criticize “the beautiful game!” This not only brought out agitated soccer supporters, but Bethlehem people demanding to know what her post has to do with the town. For example, “Dellane” wrote:

This blogger appears to be more interested in showing off to her friends that she has a blog then offering Bethlehem related information.

People that don’t like Jeanie’s writing are never shy about leaving comments, but — and here is the important part — they keep coming back again and again to re-read their snarky remarks and see if anyone responded to them. This racks up more hits. And more hits means mo’ money.

So, folks, keep going back to look at that blog post you can’t stand. Read the comments five times, ten times. Leave another nasty comment. Go back again. Your anger spins the dial on the hit counter.

52 thoughts on “Blogonomics

  1. Yep.

    I had one complete stranger who told everyone she could how much she dislikes my blog, how I’m too wordy, I’m a dork, etcetera. She even wrote a post about it on her own blog. And yet, curiously, she still comments and leaves strange passive aggressive comments every once in awhile. It’s strange and a bit worrisome, but hey, traffic is traffic.

    It’s like that moment in the Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts,” where the market research showed that the average Stern hater tuned in for far longer than those that liked him for the same reason his fans did: they wanted to hear what he’d say next.

    Blogs are slightly different, in that rather than simply trying to get a rise out of themselves, the people giving the traffic also want to see their own contributions highlighted and responded to. There are many blogs here on the TU site where people go just to read the comments and see if they got a response for calling someone fat, and the content itself is a complete afterthought to the readers.

    Though while it’s unavoidable once you reach a certain level of exposure, I still think by and large you get exactly the audience that you write for. Negativity breeds negativity, snide breeds snide, and rude breeds rude. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – some of my favorite blogs are written by complete jerks.

  2. I think the difference between myself and people who write just for the sake of getting blog hits is that I personally don’t CARE if people post on my blog or not.

    That’s right. I just spoke blasphemy. I don’t care if you comment on my blog or not. You want to comment, fine. You don’t want to say anything, that’s your choice. The fact that you visited – even if you didn’t say a single word – still means that you saw the ads the Times-Union put on the blog. And in the end, your visits to the blog – not just your responses to the blog – are what matters.

    As far as I’m concerned, I’m not trying to recreate shock jock radio here. I write about photography and trivia and culture and fiction. And other things. That’s my bag.

    Besides, if I really wanted to just put together a flame-war series, I’d go back to writing in USENET newsgroups. Ah, those were the days…

  3. Hmmm. If ever I get into blogging again, my first effort will be titled, “I’m a Neo-Con Tea Partying Meat-Eating Vegan (Hey, I Only Eat Animals That Graze) Who HATES Deaf Dogs and Designer Clothes and Actors!”

    That should just about cover it. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone. Then I’ll just watch the comments roll in!

  4. The difference between you and Jeanie, is that she stirs up trouble unintentionally (or at least I think that she does).

    I don’t understand it, really. It seems almost personal. The same people jump on her regardless of her topic. In fact, I would almost wager that those people read the blog author, and nothing else before forming a negative comment.

    The other point I wanted to make was that there have been a few very strictly Bethlehem posts over the last few weeks. These have included, Town Board meeting notes, street closures, etc. Those posts got almost no comments compared to Jeanie’s post. And the major thing people posted about? Lack of Bethlehem content for people to discuss. Go figure.

  5. I thought the “mo’ money” meant for us TU bloggers, and I did receive a check once – but it had a 95% “Gustafson tax” attached to it. Haven’t figured that one out yet… 🙂

  6. Yeah I have also had people ask what some of my blogs have to do with East Greenbush. I tell them, I live in EG…..let’s face it, there’s only so much that goes on here. Plus it would get boring. I’ve had a few people make comments about my lack of proper grammer, and spelling, which I will admit ain’t all that gud. Hey folks, I’m just a guy telling amusing stories (or at least one’s I think are amusing).Also everyone’s a tough guy behind a computer, and everyone has a right to their wrong opinion. 😉

  7. Shelley: Mo’ money for the TU! We do it all for them, after all. It’s our little way of helping maintain a great American institution, the newspaper.

  8. “Hmmm. If ever I get into blogging again, my first effort will be titled, “I’m a Neo-Con Tea Partying Meat-Eating Vegan (Hey, I Only Eat Animals That Graze) Who HATES Deaf Dogs and Designer Clothes and Actors!””

    You forgot to add about using a cell phone at a bar trivia event in your blog name. 🙂

  9. Re: BL (in response to the comments Jeanie receives) “It seems almost personal.”

    I think in a lot of cases it is. There’s some serious Haterade being drank over there.

  10. I thought her post came across as tongue-in-cheek and I’m assuming, from the last line, not 100% serious- I’m shocked, because it’s not something I would call controversial at all, and yet, as you said, here are people spewing off comments against Jeanie.

  11. Oh Chuck! I am ashamed of myself. What can I say? I am a very forgetful and very old woman. I forgot to insult not only you but J. Eric Smith and Teri Conroy, too. At least you are in good company!

    Well, the blog post will be about the time I went on a fox hunt, brought the pelt with me to a bar trivia event and then annoyed everyone there with my loud cell phone conversations. 🙂

  12. Sorry–hit “submit” too soon. The band, of course, had the most eclectic song list anyone had ever heard.

  13. Regarding @3, Rob, I thought that I came by it naturally(genetically). But on 2nd thought, maybe enviroment played a role in it, having grown up with train whistles and fire sirens, and living within 200 feet of a power substation for 20+ years.

  14. I’ve said it a million times, and will continue to say it until I can’t anymore, people are really tough behind a keyboard and a fake name. But, catch them in public, and I bet they wouldn’t have the nerve to say what they wrote.

    I bet if the shoe were on the other foot, the commenters would be furious that someone would bash them in such a way. It’s a terrible double standard and the reason I use my real name and a link to my personal blog in all of my comments.

    It kind of goes along with the whole “if you have nothing nice to say, then shut the hell up” thing. Well, that’s my nice version, but you get the point.

  15. Yup, try to carry on a serious conversation civilly and sink beneat the waves in silence.
    Sink your fangs in someone, get some blood flowing in the streets and watch the thread go viral.
    Go figure. Guess maybe our on-line world is the world of our lowest common cultural denominator.

  16. That’s interesting, Chuck. I think about that all the time.

    I believe that there’s a difference between providing content that has no byline and hurling anonymous comments out in a blog. Think about it: not everything you read has a name attached, and as I’ve said publicly, there is a long tradition of people writing under pseudonyms.

    I don’t recall Ben Franklin being condemned for writing as Silence Dogood.

    Albany Eye was not just a name, but a persona and point of view. It was not used to randomly toss out insults and harmful attacks, but to offer commentary. And it was — almost always — done with a wry smile.

    Some will say that I’m rationalizing, but I disagree. Albany Eye did more good for the community than harm and entertained many readers. It was a harmless diversion that provided a few minutes of interesting reading every day, nothing more, nothing less. It’s unfortunate that people bestowed on it any more importance than that.

    And coming full circle, nobody was ever forced to read it; if they didn’t like that it was written anonymously, they could go read something else.

  17. Rob, I read the Bethlehem Blog every day because I’m from Selkirk and I look forward to Freddie Dunn who declares himself the Town Idiot. Freddie, I lived here for 10 years…I know some idiots and you definitely are not one of them.

    I must say that I’m not a big fan of Jeanie’s blogs but I just figure it is her opinion- as annoying as it might be to me. I have to tell you, she does seem to stir up controversy whether she is trying or not. I just go on my day and then see a delightful blog from Freddie and forget about it. It is just a blog. Can’t we all get along?

  18. Personally, I take my very limited audience, very modest comment rate, and very meager traffic as testament that I must be doing something right . . . since it’s not fights or insults in the comment section that’s pulling people onto my blog . . . .

  19. Rob (and JES and others), it’s not just the anonymity at work in this, it’s the talk-radio mindset. Give it fangs, put it out there, say it often enough and loud enough, and it develops a “truth” all its own, a truth that’s enhanced if it’s been bloodied with someone’s reputation. That a lot of these gunslingers no longer even bother to be anonymous is downright scary.

  20. Me too, Eric. Minimal controversy on mine. I like it that way – it’s sort of an escape for folks. Now I think I’m going to go write about my dismay regarading the fact that there are no tv shows about farmers.

  21. Makes you the exception, Rob. The blogospere is like AM radio- full of people on whom the professionals might bestow the term “aberrant self-promoters”. (Y’know, the Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Von Hindenburgh types).

    Me, I’m glad there’s variety that includes stuff I can just read and enjoy.

    Teri, there’s a rural channel on cable with lots of farm stuff. Of course, this being America, it costs extra.

  22. When I ran my own blog in pre-TU days, I had comments turned off, as a conscious decision, which I explained in a post I wrote in 2004, which I still think is relevant . . . for those who haven’t seen it, here’s the link in my archives (because it’s germane to this conversation, not because I’m trying to drum up hits, per accusation made on Tea Party blog when I linked to something there) . . .

  23. True confession: I was the one who poked you via e-mail for the “Big Spender” comment on your “Mother’s Day Dunkin’ Donut Disaster” post.

    It would have been more fun as a comment . . .

  24. (With apologies to JES for the digression in his comments (a reason not to have them?)) I wanted to say that we were down there last May for Ranger School graduation. It was a pretty incredible e3xpereince.

    More on topic (as opposed to moron topic), I really enjoy reading the comments. While the posts are themselves interesting, I would think that they would be sterile without the feedback. I would feel like I was receiving a sermon rather than reading a dialogue. Of course, things can get out of hand, but, on the whole I like remembering that different people look at different things differently. I feel as if I get much more of the “truth” by getting all of the varied perspectives of what is true. There is a richness, IMO, when you set people up and then have a back and forth (despite the jackasses). Comments (not necessarily my own) are my favorite parts.

  25. True Confession #2: I was the one who gave you a good natured ribbing about your Barbaro recipes.

  26. Oh, jeez, wow . . . . I hadn’t remembered the genesis of that post!! Now I feel retroactively bad for expressing more concern for Dunkin’ Donuts Mother’s Day Guy than I did about Kristi being in the accident. Sorry, Kristi, if you visit here.

    That was my only active engagement with you in Albany Eye days, other than as a regular reader.

    I can’t remember if I told you this before or not, but I once received a threatening e-mail from a WGY address threatening to out me as Albany Eye . . . I couldn’t decide whether to feel litigious or flattered.

  27. re: I would feel like I was receiving a sermon rather than reading a dialogue.

    My aversion to comments is probably reflective of the way I am in real life, too . . . I’m GREAT behind a pulpit or with a microphone in hand, and find it easy to extemporize and speak publicly that way.

    Without that distance, though, I’m kind of awkward and uncomfortable to hang out with . . . I’m lousy at “Meet and Greet” types of things where I have to engage people cold . . .

  28. Speaking of Albany Eye, Rob, I see that you’ve linked here to a few specific posts. I was a big fan back in its day, though… is there a way to skim through archives/perform searches? I’ve looked to find the original blog, and assumed it was removed, but I am wondering if there’s a way. Can you tell me?

  29. Oh, those nasty commenters. I surely get my fair share on my blog!

    One time my mother (84yrs old) said I should write about one of my expeiences as a personal assistant to senior citizens. I did, although I thought nobody would ever care about it. Well it turned into one of the more hate-spewing comment collecting posts I had received to date.

    Then there was the post where I told a story about about an incident with my daughter and one commenter had the nerve to tell me that I was a terrible mother!

    I agree with many of the other comments on this post which state that people will say mean things when anonymous. Whatever.

  30. Disclosure: I’ve never read Jeanie’s blog and have no desire to run over there and check it out now.

    That said. Guilty as charged. I’m still wondering what in the heck a ban in the South Colonie schools had to do with Guilderland. The one on Thatcher Park made more sense since Guilderland inhabitants do visit the place but kids in Guilderland don’t go to South Colonie schools.

    I’m with BL as far as comments on blogs. I won’t call it a sermon but will say it’d be like reading opinion articles or something without the feedback of the commenters. Yawn. And (as you may have noticed) I like to comment. Again, guilty as charged. I can sometimes get heated up. Just check me in the whole PB mess (who I paid no attention to before he went on the rampage against bloggers whose blogs I cherish instead of ignoring) or on Capitol Confidential in conflict with all the State worker haters.

    Yes, I’ll admit the anomyity plays into it but I think (most of the time) in a good way. The internet allows us to speak freely and have the give and take that’s sorely lacking in today’s rather repressive and divisive society. We talked like that 30 years ago and didn’t hate each other for it and I sorely miss it. I’ve said things on this blog that I wouldn’t dare say in person for fear of physical retribution or just because they weren’t PC enough.

    On the bright side, I got steered to a couple of new blogs (this one included) that are proving interesting and I’m tempted to check out J. Eric’s because his comments have been interesting despite what he says about finding them difficult. Ay! Too much internet, too little time.

    I freaked out when TU experimented with adding gravatar some places and my pic showed up. This was too close to home. People who had been rather vehement towards me could recognize me on the street. Lesson learned and gravatar changed.

    And, obviously, I like to talk.

    On the flip side of the question, what about the blogs that have seemed to die because the blogger themself hasn’t posted in eons. I’ve given up waiting for a new post from a couple I used to read avidly and watch for new posts on.

  31. I guess too that I pretty much think that if I click on the Guilderland blog, it’s because I live there and want to see what’s doing there and that’s why I’m like what the heck are you talking about South Colonie here for? I was slightly annoyed at Thatcher Park but not as much because it’s a place most everyone in the area visits.

  32. Roz…I hope you do decide to return to blogging. I always enjoyed reading your posts, they worked well presenting a different dynamic to the CP blog. And your food pics always made me a little hungrier.

  33. About a month after I started blogging, I mentioned in a post that my dad had died of melanoma. I got a comment from someone who said that my dad deserved to die of skin cancer because he was white. It’s one of the few comments I’ve ever deleted (after discussing it with my boss), and a good introduction to the reality of being a blogger.

    I don’t get nearly as many comments as some of my colleagues do, but the majority of the ones I do get are thoughtful and on topic. I feel pretty lucky overall.

  34. My favorite station employee response to a disgruntled viewer’s phone call during my tenure with TV stations… “Thanks for watching.”

  35. I should too note that my commenters are awesome and I’d happily and confidently put them up against anybody else’s in terms of their overall quality and thoughtfulness. Particularly last week’s about my struggles with weight, which didn’t garner a single negative response or attack I had to delete, which is surprising considering how somewhat hostile some have been to my presence here from the beginning.

  36. Sam: Being polite is always a good approach, but it sometimes INFURIATES the person complaining.

    I was always absolutely amazed at the sarcastic and bitter responses viewers sometimes got when they emailed the station. What made it even more astounding was that the replies would come from people on the air.

    Yes, some of the viewer comments were rude and stupid, but to have on air talent hurling out insulting emails to viewers was crazy. Can you imagine sending an email to GE complaining about your refrigerator and getting a message from Jeffery Immelt calling you an idiot?

    It would never happen today, of course. These days those emails would end up on some blog so fast it would make your had spin.

    I have a bunch of those emails saved somewhere on a disc. Someday I’ll find them…

  37. Naomi, that comment was just messed up big time.

    You know, guilty as I am for participating in the PB mess, here’s the thing, if you don’t like someone’s blog — just don’t read it.

    Seriously, there’s too little time for the blogs I want to read. I’m always saying too much internet, too little time. And then I need time for video games and reading and, oh yeah, I’ve got to work for a living, don’t I? Take my grandson outside to play every now and then. Actually, do something else now and then. And watch the what, like 3, good television shows on a week.

    If you really hate someone’s blog, why read it?

  38. Oh, and they can be rather bad to other commenters too. There’s one on the Guilderland blog absolutely obsessed and angry over the fact that I won’t give Juicy Burgers another try because I got rare when I ordered well done on my first visit. WTF? Is it truly the end of the world if I don’t eat at Juicy Burger?

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