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
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.
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.