The Standard’s credibility problem

The Standard blog desperately wants to be taken seriously in political and media circles. Collectively it was very miffed by dismissal of comments by the Labour leader and MPs this week:

  • David Shearer “I don’t read blogs”, they are “nonsense”
  • Clayton Cosgrove “Blogs,who cares about blogs”
  • Andrew Little “The blogs dont get to vote in the labour party, so we dont pay much consideration to it”.

These were very unwise disses of a blog that is the voice of many very disgruntled Labour Party members, supporters, ex supporters and potentional voters.

But there is some justification in dismissing criticisms of blog authors and commenters who are nearly all anonymous. There are many doubts over identities, connections and motives, making it easy to dismiss them as irrelevant.

The Standard chooses to be seen as a mostly anonymous political machine. With few people there identifying themselves it has to accept questions about it’s credibility as a serious contributor to political discussion and influence.

The Standard at it’s best

This week I have seen some of the best blog posts and comments in the blogosphere at The Standard, significantly better than it’s normal standard. Passion, anger, fortrightness, eloquence – I’ve seen a genuine outpouring of emotion, knowledge, experience and pleading.

This was initiated by a post by ‘Eddie’ last Saturday – On David Shearer’s leadership - which was one of the best posts I’ve seen under that author name. I agreed with most of what was said.

Posts by different authors followed over the next few days – including IrishBill, QOT,  The Sprout – supporting and criticising David Shearer’s leadership.

The credibility problem

Only two of those posters used their real name – Anthony Robins with Leaders under pressure and Thanks DPF for my laugh of the day, and Mike Smith with Don’t Panic!

Who wrote the other posts? Who were the myriad of commenters?

The post by lprent – Shuffle the caucus deck – was also fairly well informed and written. I and many others in the blogosphere know who lprent is, his identity was outed some time ago and since then he has been open about who he is. But casual readers of the blog won’t have a clue who he is.

Much of what is written on The Standard is anonymous, and this means it’s credibility can be questioned and doubted.

For all I know, apart from a handful of identified people, The Standard forum may consist of a bunch of people immersed in role playing games.

Back to ‘Eddie’

Who is Eddie? Eddie is a long time regular author at The Standard. From what I’ve read the quality of Eddie’s posts have been quite variable – some astute and informed comment, a lot of political posturing and many attacks on non-Labour MPs, particularly John Key, and quite a lot of misinformation including blatantly false accusations.

I’ve seen a lot of speculation about who ‘Eddie’ is. Various names have been suggested. Some think it has been different people at different times – distinct variability in style and approach adds weight to this suggestion.

In fact Eddie could be anyone but me, as I’m certain I’ve never posted under ‘Eddie’ – but no one else can be certain of that.

Eddie could be an MP, although that is vigourously denied by another moniker, lprent. Eddie could be David Shearer, or David Cunliffe, or Winston Peters or John Key, or Duncan Garner, or Fran O’Sullivan, or Barack Obama. Very unlikely of course but there’s no way of knowing.

It has also been suggested that Eddie is an identity used by various staff in Labour MP’s offices. There’s more chance of this being correct. Or a Labour Party official or activist. Or someone from a union with Labour Party interests. It could be a different person each month, each week, each post.

But does it matter who Eddie is? We can read what is posted under the label with interest and take it seriously, or we can (like David Shearer) dismiss any Eddie posts as nonsense. It’s hard to argue against that, because by choosing to post anonymously any author or commenter has to accept that their motives and integrity and accuracy can be easily questioned – or dismissed.

Blog anonymity

I’ve heard many arguments for blogging anonymously. There are good arguments for not revealing identities. And there are also bad reasons for it – faceless no-names are the worst trolls and abusers in social media.

And the use of multiple identities is not uncommon – this can be for quite devious purposes. This impacts on the credibility of all anonymous participants in social media, because it’s impossible to know who is doing it, and why.

Anyone who blogs without identifying themselves and their connections and motives must forego a degree of credibility, or at least accept that their credibility and opinion is open to question – and dismissal by politicians.

The Standard – are you serious?

Some Standard authors and commenters seem to desperately want to be noticed and taken seriously. They often talk up their popularity. They implore politicians to take serious note of what they are saying.

The problem is, who knows who is who and who is serious at The Standard?

I know some of the authors (sometimes at least) are serious about what they do, and I respect some of what they say. The same with some commenters.

But I also know authors who have blatantly bullshitted to try and score political points.

And I know commenters – and blog administrators and moderators – who are deliberately trying to shut down and shut out and discredit anyone they disagree with or don’t want commenting. For example while I was commenting there I was the target of an ongoing campaign to portray me as a liar – not surprisngly this was done by gutless anonymous commenters who repeatedly made things up and lied.

The Standard’s credibility problem

There are excellent posts and comments by anonymous people at The Standard. That’s amongst a lot of noise, nonsense and nastiness initiated by anonymous numpties.

Because most posts are by anonymous authors, and most comments are by anonymous participants, The Standard as a whole has to accept doubts about it’s credibility as a serious voice in politics. There’s just too many question marks over identities, veracity and motives.

Why should David Shearer and other MPs take The Standard seriously, when there is serious doubt over much of what is said there?

You can choose to be anonymous if you like. But those who choose not to be identified have to accept that targets of your opinions can choose to not take you seriously.

And if a blog as a whole like The Standard chooses anonymity as a principle of it’s operation, and supports and protects anonymous personal and political attacks, then it has to accept that that seriously diminishes it’s credibility as a serious political force.

Shearer called The Standard on it’s nonsense and The Standard hasn’t really got a leg to stand on – for all anyone knows it might just be a machine.

14 Comments

  1. Outed? Don’t be daft – my name and email is on the domain and always has been. Try http://dnc.org.nz/whois and look up thestandard.org.nz. Look up labour.co.nz which I brought long ago to provide a email domain for Helen and others in the Mt Albert electorate in the days of usenet and uucp.

    We talk about our numbers mostly to irritate the right thinking people who predicted our demise years ago.

    We really don’t care that much about what the politicians or the media or fence straddlers or even the general public think. We didn’t set up for them. Our target audience are the people from the broad labour movement as stated in our about. That is who the authors are, who they write for, and who most of the commentators and readers are. It includes a considerable number of the active members of the NZLP, Greens, Mana and unions.

    I suspect that the “anonymous” crap is more about political deflection than reality. And I think it has backfired because they managed to piss off the Names in the media and other blogs who wrote about the same topic before we did.

    • “We really don’t care that much about what the politicians or the media or fence straddlers or even the general public think. ”

      The royal ‘we’. But the blog is just about you, is it? You keep claiming that everyone at The Standard are individuals with their own views.

      Some authors and commenters at The Standard obviously care a lot about what politicians and the media think. Maybe you should read what ‘we’ say a bit more.

      • We really don’t care that much about what the politicians or the media or fence straddlers or even the general public think.

        You keep claiming that everyone at The Standard are individuals with their own views.

        Yes they are. But we do have some standards when we are selecting authors. One of those is to not select people who wish to get an authorship to further their own personal ambitions. That is something that is pretty clear when you consider that many of them use pseudonyms.

        Some authors and commenters at The Standard obviously care a lot about what politicians and the media think.

        The authors often care a great detail about what “politicians and the media think”. And we are quite happy to hold a satirical and critical mirror to the pretentious buffoonish actions.

        But we just don’t care about what they think about us – which is what you appear to be concerned about in this statement.

        …then it has to accept that that seriously diminishes it’s credibility as a serious political force.

        It is apparent throughout your sites that you want people supporting you and valuing your opinions. However as you aren’t exactly the most effective person at listening to others I will will repeat (and hope that a bit of rote learning will penetrate that mental block you have).

        Our target audience are the people from the broad labour movement as stated in our about. That is who the authors are, who they write for, and who most of the commentators and readers are. It includes a considerable number of the active members of the NZLP, Greens, Mana and unions.

        Where is the focus on the opinions of politicians and media in there? There isn’t.

        This causes a different site dynamic. We aren’t looking for the support and approval of others. I realise you have a learning difficulty understanding this because you seem to follow the Slater model of personal aggrandisement. But instead of having the comments of slavish minions eager to hear your words of wisdom and occasionally a few mocking visitors as on your site (and Slaters), we get a pile of comments by people anxious to tell authors why they didn’t quite get it right. The moderators weed out the ones who haven’t anything interesting to say but insist on saying it loudly.

        The ideas and open arguments and the effect of that on the labour movement is what is of interest to us, because that is what we select authors for. The interest of media and politicians is an incidental side-effect and criticism like yours is couched in arguments that is relevant to those making it but is irrelevant to our purpose.

        Anyway, I was responding to Anthony’s and now Irish’s request that I review your ban on being able to comment at the site (permanent bans are usually lifted by the person who imposed it). You are getting further away from being a ignorant newbie on social media thinking that you can wow people with being simply being bullheaded. But you still don’t seem to be capable of taking the time to understand the point of view of others. It means that you’re not likely to be of much value on our site. You’d simply wind up running into a moderator again.

      • It’s good to see more discussion and less officiousness and attempted viciousness from you.

        But we just don’t care about what they think about us…

        You’re speaking on behalf of how many people? Presumably just the very diverse group of authors – do you have control over their opinions and ambitions?

        I’ve seen a number of people who seem to care very much about what the Labour leadership and caucus think about opinions and concerns of commenters.

        You don’t seem to recognise that your blog has grown much bigger than you and your ambitions.

        It is apparent throughout your sites that you want people supporting you and valuing your opinions.

        Yes. Isn’t that why most people comment on political blogs – to get support and acknowledgement of their opinions? They are not machines, like me many of them seem to have emotions and egos.

        I don’t know how many post and comment in social media hoping to be ignored.

        However as you aren’t exactly the most effective person at listening to others…

        Hmmm, who said that?

        But you still don’t seem to be capable of taking the time to understand the point of view of others.

        And again – funny that.

        Another funny thing – a number of Standard regulars seemed to suddenly understand me much better after you banned me. Was that because they knew they no longer had to be in attack mode and paused to reflect?

        One of my primary blog tasks has always been to understand the point of view of others. Some of that involves raising issues, contesting ideas, even sometimes provoking comment and pushing boundaries.

        Most of the time I honestly try to contribute and engage on blogs. I did that at The Standard far more than some of the resident trolls that were protected by your ‘moderation’.

        And I think I came to understand you a lot better than you apparently understand me.

        You’d simply wind up running into a moderator again.

        Or more likely a moderator would run into me again, on a very uneven playing field. That’s fine if you want The Standard to be a select circle of activists who allow a bit of compliant fluff.

      • I’ve seen a number of people who seem to care very much about what the Labour leadership and caucus think about opinions and concerns of commenters.

        Yes I have noted your tendency to treat commentators as being authors on The Standard. They aren’t as is made quite clear in the about and the policy. A rather strange delusion that other commentators don’t share and which ultimately got you banned for trying to tell us what we the authors should do.

        We welcome commentators, but they are welcomed as guests in our place. Your basic problem in my view is that you tend to act like an untrained tomcat trying to leave piss stains on the wall marking our place as yours without understanding why the owners find the odorous results objectionable.

        Presumably just the very diverse group of authors – do you have control over their opinions and ambitions?

        I sit on the editors board of The Standard trust which makes occasional decisions about strategy and direction of the site mostly via e-mail and phone. Mike Smith and I are the trustees tasked to carry out the operations. Which I do in conformance with the policy. Basically the policies haven’t really changed since late 2010 when a series of decisions we made about how to bring new authors in.

        So when it comes to authors conforming to the site policies, then yes I do. One of my roles is to be the manager/sysop of the site, both it’s hardware/software and enforcement of operational procedures. And you should understand that I’m trained and have worked as a manager, grew up in a managerial family, and even have a MBA in operations from your fair city’s university. I’m obviously far more clear about the role and its limits than you appear to be with your one-man band suppositions.

        …a number of Standard regulars seemed to suddenly understand me much better after you banned me.

        …more than some of the resident trolls that were protected by your ‘moderation’.

        And I think I came to understand you a lot better than you apparently understand me.

        Evidently not.

        Moderators don’t attempt to tell people what they should do on the site – there is no faster way to lose your audience. Moderators just say what they may not do in their behaviour onsite. People follow our rules, not the ones that they think that we should enforce for their benefit. This is model followed by all enforcement groups of any value because they look at mens actus far more than they look at mens rea. We are uninterested in what you think, we are interested in how you behave.

        The site isn’t interested in providing the type of ‘fair’ and ‘safe’ environment that you seem to feel that we should. In fact that is seldom found in any online environment that isn’t either designed for children or is stupefyingly boring or is uninhabited.

        So it isn’t my role to protect anyone from anyone else. Happy attacking and joyous dissension is damn near the site motto. I usually only intervene if I see people over stepping the bounds on one of our behavioural rules or if I’m bored shitless (as is everyone else) with a argument that really just needs to be bedded down with an “agree to disagree”.

        I take cognisance of what authors say, like Antony and Irish, because they are who I am answerable to. I take less of a interest in the views of our guests because my role is to provide a place for them to interact not to be their friends.

        Basically you’re a bit of a newbie. You’re making the same dumbarse mistakes that many do when they first discover the net, spent only a few years learning the basics, but don’t understand etiquettes that have evolved over the decades I have been on it. Which is the point that Irish made to me when we were talking last night.

        Yes you can try to make your own rules on your own site and find out how well they work. Trying to make them on other peoples sites without the permission of the operators is a sure way to draw reactions that you don’t like

      • Yes I have noted your tendency to treat commentators as being authors on The Standard.

        I don’t know where you get that idea. It’s generally obvious what the difference is (hard to be sure when anonymous though).

        Moderators just say what they may not do in their behaviour onsite. People follow our rules, not the ones that they think that we should enforce for their benefit.

        In theory. In practice some moderators enforce your rules strictly, even sometimes going beyond that, but in many cases they give commenters a free pass to get away with anything they like.

        It was not uncommon for commenters to repeatedly and without censure disrupt threads, breaking policy rules at will. And the aim of that was to shut others down and to try and manouvre them into getting banned. That sort of thing continued month after month. When I was involved the blame would be aimed at me, but it was obvious I wasn’t the instigator.

        Since I have left I have seen numerous breaches of policy, unmoderated.

        It’s your choice how lopsided you want to moderate, and I chose to play the game knowing a ban always hovered that any excuse could trigger.

        But don’t try and sound high and mighty about your wonderful policies and moderation, it’s a joke.

        The site isn’t interested in providing the type of ‘fair’ and ‘safe’ environment that you seem to feel that we should.

        That was obvious from the start.

        Happy attacking and joyous dissension is damn near the site motto. I usually only intervene if I see people over stepping the bounds on one of our behavioural rules..

        I don’t see how someone as obviously astute as you would believe that for a minute. If you said “Happy attacking and joyous dissension is damn near the sole domain of those in the favoured circle” I might believe you. The TS behaviour police are very selective.

        Basically you’re a bit of a newbie. You’re making the same dumbarse mistakes that many do when they first discover the net, spent only a few years learning the basics….

        Basically you prove you haven’t got a clue. Do you know when I started using the net? Do you know when I first started commenting on blogs? Even if you bothered listening you wouldn’t know because I haven’t revealed that.

        And you probably didn’t listen when we worked together in the mid 80s. In those days you were too self absorbed.

        I don’t intend getting into a pissing contest, but you wouldn’t have been long out of nappies when I wrote my first computer program. And you were probably still at primary school when I installed the National Bank’s first terminals throughout Auckland.

        …but don’t understand etiquettes that have evolved over the decades I have been on it.

        Funny. Political blog etiquette The Standard way, where everyone is behaviourly modified to conform.

        You don’t appear to be interested in practising etiquette. You have your own blog farm, where everyone is equal….

  2. Darryl

     /  November 15, 2012

    Rubbishing Blogs, Forums etc, by the Labour Party is just plain nonsense. Most of the people posting on these blogs, are there base supporters. It tells you how thick these MP’s are.

  3. Fran O'Sullivan

     /  November 15, 2012

    How joyous to read LP’s lengthy justifications. How surprising also to read of PG’s ban. Short fuse eh?

    • I had several short term bans before the final permanent ban. One famous ban was for holding Eddie to account for making false accusations – he banned me because I was too slow proving that he was making things up. But I provided multiple proof, even though it was obvious he was bullshitting. And of course he knew that, he was trying to shut me up for spoiling his attack message.

      And after mass attacks on me I was given the word – for causing thread disruption.

      And Labour wonder why they struggle to win back support. I’m not the only ex Labour voter to be confronted by The Standard unwelcome committee. Most give up quickly and walk away. I just happened to have reasons for persevering. It’s been very useful – I understand the Labour problems much better now.

  4. I agree with Darryl. Two years the Parliamentary Labour Party had a pretty good approach to social media. It needs an urgent upgrade.

  5. We should debate Pete’s ban. I have actually been really impressed by some of his more recent posts and comments on kiwiblog. But on the Standard he had this habit of going into troll mode and made far too many comments and disrupted too many threads. Lefties like focussed discussions with people contributing useful information. If Petey did this he would have been fine.

    I am happy to propose this in open mike (next week) and see what people think.

    • Who kept attacking who? Who kept disrupting threads?

      You really don’t get it micky? Your first post of the day was often trolling me. Your weren’t the worst but you were regular, very regular. Tell me you’re kidding about thinking I always did the disrupting?

      Resident trolls were protected – remember when you said TRP would never getted banned by lprent? Those with favoured status can do as they please (I see felix got a weak ‘warning’ today, what would have happened if I’d said anything like that).

      I know others are well aware that I was simply seen as an open target for attack – it kept happening for how long, certainly 18 months or more. And you have the bloody cheek to blame me for it all. Leftie blindness (‘do no evil, see evil in anyone deemed opposition’) is real.

      Tryhard trolls even openly talked about trying to deliberately get me banned by provoking me, knowing they would be given a free pass on any abuse. One reason why I persevered was to keep smiling in their faces. Their games never worked, my bans were always when I knew I was pushing the boundaries, by choice.

      Except the last, permanent ban, I knew lprent was looking for an excuse, he just gave up waiting and did it anyway.

      And why did he ban me in the end? Because I said all the crap allowed at The Standard was a waste of a great opportunity to do something really positive for leftie politics.

      But the last century activists would rather continue to bitch and moan and attack and abuse and lie, thinking somehow it would win them some victories. How many potential Labour voters have been harrassed off The Standard?

      But that’s what lprent wants to protect. He’d rather keep his small minded power base, he’s not interested in any greater political good. His blog, his choice. But it’s a bloody shame to see something with so much potential wasted on a few shitty livers.

      I’m not asking to come back to The Standard. I don’t want to be allowed back because I have been seen to have behaved myself at KB, which I always have, long before I even started at TS.

      TS is a sympton of greater problems within the Labour movement. And like the caucus TS seems blind to the damage they are doing.

      Blog power could be used to initiate a better way of doing politics, absent all the pettiness thatys rife at TS, and in the house (yes, Nats too).

      It’s the 21st century, isn’t it time NZ politics grew up? And bloggers? We’re not compelled to keep repeating past crap.

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