Blogosphere: November 2007 Archives

Imagine a world where opinions are censored without the censored being aware of it. You write passionately and publish your views and as far as you know, your opinions are out there for the world to consider.

Except that they aren't. Nobody but you can read what you wrote.

Such a world exists at SFgate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, according to a new blog called Investigate the Media. This blog was set up by a frequent commenter on Chronicle articles at SFgate. He discovered that he could only see certain of his comments when he was logged in under his username. From another SFgate account or when not logged in at all, the comments were shown as deleted. The coding trick involves the "cookie" that is created on your computer when you log in to the SFgate website. The motivation?

Why would SFGate do such a thing? Because ever since public input was first allowed at SFGate, many commenters who had their comments deleted would come back onto the comment thread and point out that they had been silenced for ideological reasons -- i.e. they weren't sufficiently "progressive" -- or because they had pointed out ethical lapses at SFGate and the Chronicle. Or any number of other reasons that the Chronicle did not want known. So, to pacify these problematic commenters, the SFGate moderators came up with a very clever and underhanded coding trick to prevent deleted commenters from ever finding out that they had been silenced.

A commenter adds:

What refined censorship. The censored don't know they've been deleted, so when they never get feedback of any kind to their comments, they are slowly demoralized and stop posting altogether. It's fiendishly clever and completely dishonest to all readers, left and right, though most of the left probably would approve.

Meanwhile, like a kangaroo court, the San Francisco Chronicle runs a kangaroo court of public opinion where citizens are misled into thinking that they have been heard. It's like a Monty Python skit but nefarious instead of funny.

Via Little Green Footballs.

There are at least a few of you who make faithful use of my BatesLine blogroll headlines page, also known as the NewsGator page, because it uses the NewsGator feed aggregator to collect headlines from the 100 most recent posts from about 160 blogs that I've handpicked as some of the most interesting on the web.

Until today, I included on that page feeds from several sources of op-ed columns and other paid, long-form opinion journalism: American Spectator, National Review, TownHall, and You'll find a prolific daily output of well-reasoned and informed opinions on those sites.

And that was the problem. While an individual blogger posts on an irregular schedule, these corporate-owned, employee-staffed sites typically post the new day's collection of a dozen or so columns in the wee hours. That means that each morning there might be 50 new op-ed pieces on my NewsGator page, pushing the previous night's output of ordinary, one-or-two-posts-a-day bloggers further down or all the way off the page.

So I've created a second headlines page: The BatesLine op-ed headlines page. Visit there for your daily dose of intelligent opinions and commentary.

By the way, the old NewsGator URL that ended in .php is now obsolescent, so change your bookmark to the link above. I've purged all PHP from my site, because PHP, dynamic content, and my shared hosting provider don't get along. With MT 4.0, I was able to provide a statically-built linkblog and spotlight using the new built-in MultiBlog capability.

There are still several things on my blog to do list:

  • Import entries from my old hand-rolled linkblog into my new MT-driven linkblog
  • Use Apache mod-rewrite and RewriteMap to direct links to my old numerically named archive entries to the new named versions
  • Read Wild Bill's Passionate Blogger blog every day for constructive tips on how to be a better blogger with a better blog
  • Reinstate full-text RSS and Atom feeds

As always, your suggestions for improvement are welcome.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from November 2007.

Blogosphere: October 2007 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: March 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]