25 Jul 2006

Singabloodypore has become a very infantile blog

From Illusio

Soci, the founder of Singabloodypore, loves to go on about how infantile the local blogosphere is. That was last April, I believe. Half a year later, there was a solicitation for co-contributors for SBP. What had me sold was this vision of a non-infantile blogosphere:

I have often contemplated the idea of running a 'socio-political blog' about Singapore that allows contributions from the public, other than just comments and has a group of editors monitoring the content.

It was all it took, really, and I began writing for SBP in October. You'll have to understand it was a time of opportunities. By 2004, SBP had become a news aggregator site where Soci would cut and paste entire news articles without comment or analysis. His call for contributors and fellow editors, could that be a start of a new blog? At that time, anything was possible. Or perhaps at that time, I believed anything was possible.

This was my statement of intent, as well as a sort of acceptance email to his call for co-contributors:

If the blog is run along the lines of crookedtimber.org, obsidianwings.blogs.com, savageminds.org, or long-sunday.net - ie. with group contributors who run/edit the site and with serious and sustained comments by contributors and members of the public, I'm all game for it.

If, on the other hand, you envision a super singaporean sociopolitical news aggregator blog along the lines of boingboing or tomorrow, where the emphasis is more on posting rather than developing a good idea from an original post through replies in the comments section, the site will have my support but I will NOT join in the running of the endeavor.

Yet almost a year later, I am still waiting for my fellow contributors - Soci included - to actually write their own articles instead of cut and pasting articles written by other people. Was there a policy message I missed somewhere down the line? Or did I not get the memo that said "Given the precarious legal position of bloggers, contributors of SBP are advised to write as little of their own opinion or analysis as possible, to protect themselves"?

With every 50-line article SBP contributors cut and paste, a little bit of our collective credibility dies. And we do this, 5 articles a day on average. What SBP has become is indeed a blog with more emphasis on posting, than on developing ideas and discussions. Indiscriminate and voluminous cut-pasting sends out a signal to all readers that the contributors don't respect the blog they run.

And so, SBP gets the readership that it deserves: hordes of anonymouses posting one liners, mostly non sequiturs. Some are spammers, like the commentor who cut/pastes entire falunggong new articles to comment on any blog post, regardless of relevance. Or ranters who just feel great posting their angry denunciations of the gahmen. All done as one-liners, of course. SBP has become a platform for anonymouses to rant and post non sequitors.

You know, once upon a time I thought the sammyboymod forums were pretty wild. Discussions there would start off fine and brilliant, but always degenerate into shouting matches by the third page. Once upon an even longer time, I thought soc.culture.singapore was the gutter of political commentary and discussion in cyberspace. Today, I am forced to change my opinion. Singabloodypore is the new gutter of online political discussion.

Indiscriminate cut/pasting encourages rants and indiscriminate commenting. Neighbourhoods with broken windows, and all that. The failure of SBP members to moderate comments, to guide discussions to a higher ground of analysis and insightful commentary, the wilful policy of benign neglect - all this encourage even more indiscriminate commenting. I have noticed, as have other contributors, the precipitous decline in the tone and quality of comments, coupled with a marked rise in anonymous commentors.

Today, Singabloodypore looks like a slum. The main column is cluttered with miles of cut-and-pasted content that go on and on. We could excerpt just one or two paragraphs, and then use either article truncation or just provide links, if we just want to cut and paste. The side bar is cluttered with too many links. Singabloodypore has not just become a site that I would not personally want to read, it has not just become a site that I do not want to be associated with, it has become the most infantile political site in Singapore's blogosphere. In fact, far more infantile than the sites Soci made fun of last April.

My reply...
Thanks for your comments and feed back.

The blog is out of my hands and I have zero intention of dictating what contributors can and cannot post or comment upon. As for rampant 'cut and pasting' you seem to have very definite notions of what a 'blog' is or ought to be.

It seems that you have already decided to quit based on the grounds that we are drifting aimlessly or without direction. In part you claim that 'thanks to the refusal to police and guide comments' that I have somehow allowed this slide into infantilism to occurr. Fine so be it. The day I assign myself as a police officer of discourse is a day I refuse to contemplate.

Sad to see you go as I am sad to see others go, but I offer you the same as you leave.

You are always welcome back.


As an after thought I realise that I have only ever been asked to censor this blog not by the police or the Singaporean government but by other contributors and bloggers. A recent example was the Jesus-Zombie cartoon. The storm in tea cup had a contributor withdraw because he thought it was direct provocation of the authorities.

Other contributors have asked me to separate items that were felt to undermine a particular post and the links were removed.

And a rather long time ago in blogtime a contributor was felt compelled to leave because their English or topics were not 'good enough'. It seems that self-censorship is alive and well.

As for the comment numbers increasing in the last 6 months this is true but that has now returned to the pre-election norm. Commentators can contribute as much as they like. Some may feel unable or unwilling to comment at length, they each have their own motivations and reasons for doing so. To say that we will only accept comments of a certain length and 'academic standard' is too much though.

This blog was my creation but it has taken on a direction of its own and I have no intention of attempting to determine its direction. Nor the time to do so. The blog items shift according to the interest of readers and contributors, to the Singaporean news items, requests from campaigners of various 'single issue' groups. NGO's approach me, individuals approach me to take up something they feel readers should be able to read simply because it is not being covered in the mainstream press.

To say 'no' to these requests because it doesn't meet our current discussion topic would be rather irresponsible.


akikonomu said...

"The blog is out of my hands and I have zero intention of dictating what contributors can and cannot post or comment upon." - soci's words today.

"I have often contemplated the idea of running a 'socio-political blog' about Singapore that allows contributions from the public, other than just comments and has a group of editors monitoring the content." - soci, last August.

You, sir, are either incoherent, amnesiac, or a liar. Which are you?

soci said...

I am probably an incoherent, amnesiac liar.

Only a few days ago you wrote about a great thread going on at SBP...

Why the personal level?

soci said...

The two statements are not incompatible.

Possibly your bone of contention is 'editors monitoring the content'.

Would you like to become an administrator? Can I trust you, who are?

akikonomu said...

I thought you don't care any way the comments go. Why care now?

OK seriously this time. Your original solicitation last August promised a more disciplined blog, with "editors" doing "monitoring" both the content posted as well as the comments. Your current stand now, as well as your refusal to do any moderation, is in direct contradiction to what you promised and envisioned last year.

The sort of reply like "Gee, the blog is out of my hands! I don't control anything! I can't and I won't!" is infantile and intellectually dishonest. And I'm being very objective.

akikonomu said...

And now soci wants an administrator! Folks. This man says he wants editors, then he says everything is out of his hands, then he says he is beholden to all the nice activist groups asking him to post stuff, and now he wants an administrator.

"The two statements are not incompatible." Then, kindly elaborate.

pantalaimon said...

I'm quite sick of the word 'infantile'. Can we have a new epithet, please?

I'd agree that SBP hasn't lived up to its potential. As a contributor who has only written two posts, though both were analytical ones, I confess I must be to blame at least in part. I've simply lost interest in the project, to be honest. However, kicking up a fuss about the fact that SBP is, has become, basically a news-site, strikes me as a bit of a waste of time. I for one find the one-stop source for all that can be cut-and-paste reasonably useful, if not the most intellectually scintillating website available. It's not great, but its existence in its current form is a plus rather than a minus, so why the rant?

Steve, please keep resisting calls for censorship.

Anonymous said...

I agree - this blog should not change one bit. I like the mix of news articles, with the occasional paragraph of comments at the start or the end of the posts, and the more 'analytical' ones.

On the other hand, I find it hard to understand some recent posts and comments containing personal attacks, supercilious moral outrage at fellow commentators for, amongst other things, getting the production date of a film wrong, and a rather patronizing jibe at a Falungong sympathizer.

I am glad this unpleasant development is halted.

Anonymous said...

this is why blogsphere cannot replace SPH, which gets huge advertising income and uses it to support teams of journalists and news infrastructure; pity it does such a poor job in analysing and commenting

complaining about this blog gets you no where; why dont you start making it better by writing articles yourself?

(I am available, but I have been putting my stuff on my own blog...
you are welcome to re-use my stuff though)

Anonymous said...

didn't aikonomu got slammed all round for his posting on MDA and censorship?? Sooo deskaaa, hehehe...

Anonymous said...

Case of the pot calling the kettle black. Bi-suicidal.

il mango di Treviso said...

I like this blog. I have actually linked it on mine because it is intelligent, informative and well written.
So keep up the good work, and thank you for existing.

how-about said...


Matilah_Singapura said...

Oh my, elitism has now entered the blogsphere.

And why indeed not?

No need for the dick-sizing folks; I think the net is BIG ENOUGH for all of us... :-)

Anonymous said...

well, i like this blog where i could read a mixture of news -
one-stop news reporting, why not? MUCH APPRECIATED! GOOD WORK, KEEP IT UP. THANKS SOCI

Anonymous said...

So far, the blog has impressed me a lot. keep up the good work, steve.

sgnobody said...

so clearly akikonomu joined SBP building on the reputation that soci had singlehandedly built. and when akikonomu cannot get what he had hoped to achieve in the beginning, he slams the creator of the blog.

3 cheers for the infantile blogger, akikonomu.

Anonymous said...

All's fair in Love and War.

Anonymous said...

"The failure of SBP members to moderate comments, to guide discussions to a higher ground of analysis and insightful commentary, the wilful policy of benign neglect - all this encourage even more indiscriminate commenting."

Wait a minute! Was Singabloodypore about to be taken over by Singabloodypressholdings?


Alan said...

My friends,

At least whatever the form of this blog, I can safely say that this blog does not claim to be everything.

At least it is not hypocritical??
It serves the needs and meets the interests of those who want to hear alternative views from the contributors - and not edited, etc..

It is too vast a job for the admninistrator.

On hypocrisy, I thought of relating the Straits Time report published on July 26, Wednesday (page 1)!


"Sundays will never be the same ...for...50,000 students from low income families.....
The Straits Times has agreed to deliver copies of its weekend edition, The Sunday Times, to these students for a year".

How can these be FREE, when the Straits Times is using the MOE 'Opportunity Fund' through the schools, to pay for the newspapers.

See how the Headlines is misleading ?

(it gives the impression to any reader that it is doing a community job for free. But it is NOT the case. Free for the students but the Sunday Times is STILL being paid by exploiting the Opportunity Fund.).

See how under the cover of the funds from the govt, the Sunday Times can increase their sales and make profits..... Especially when their readership is DOWN and DOWN. And they need to show to their advertisers that the readership is high in order to continue with the advertising revenue.

See their game plan !

I just hope the PM and MOE reads this, and stop this exploitation by the Straits Times to make money for themselves under the pretext of the 'Speak Good English Movement.

Beware of the insidious moves by corporations !

Anonymous said...

people are hard to please; it probably costs less than 80c a copy since MOE is ordering in bulk, < $40K, hardly an amount to make a difference to SPH, and would be helpful to the families who can read what they want and then sell the paper to karaguni men; isnt that better tha spending 50M on a unsuccessful research centre?

Opportunistic said...

Yes, $40K per week and multiply by 50-52 weeks, we get at least
S$ 2 M (at the maximum).

Still not bad using govt's and taxpayers' money !

$ 2M per year just for one day edition per week for one year.

Why can't the papers DONATE the papers esp when they (SPH) are SO cash rich?

They should NOT even charge a nominal sum if they really want to help the low income families, and if they want to be good corporate citizens.

At this point, they have not declared how much they want to charge the papers and one can only assume that the price will be 80c as after all they want to collect the money from the Opportunity Fund.

(compare this with the genuine altruism of people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, and so many others).

Do we realise that the schools will have less funds for more worthy projects ?

If the identified schools spend this amount for the papers out of the Opportunity Fund, then there is less money left for more important projects.

I see Alan's point. In that the Straits Times should be forthright and clear in its headline and not mislead the readers, who would think that the papers is donating the papers for FREE.

(I went back to the papers and read it again. and I can see how they have been less direct and worse, misleading, unless one reads the article carefully.)

I also hope the schools do not fall into this trap. Use the money for a better purpose.


It is sad that today, the 'givings' have a catch, too.

Anonymous said...

I still say it is a small sum of money compared with other items, and actually do the people some good; you need to share the opinion, but why get so upset?

Matilah_Singapura said...

Hypocrisy, is a heck of a lot more "exciting" than congruency.

And fancy being so pie-eyed on "fairness" , to the point where judgement itself suffers.

Tax-payers money (legalised larceny by govt from private citizens and corporations) is "sunk" money — i.e. anything goes, and anyone can go for it.

Most people are glad to accept their "free money" from the govt terms of subsidised housing, Progess Package, subsidised healthcare and education...but get bent OUT OF SHAPE when a CORPORATION sells its products to the government for a PROFIT.

Does anyone apply uniform standards anymore? ;-)

pantalaimon said...

Housing, subsidised healthcare and education have high probabilities of improving the quality of life of many citizens. Favouring an individual corporation does not. People and corporations are not of equivalent worth. I would have thought this was too obvious to require explanation.