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Tough Day On The Web

The reactions to my call for RIGHT librarians has been quite puzzling for me. First, let me digress…

The LISNews search engine is even worse that I thought. I did a search for RIGHT and another for right, and was returned zero results. The original title of the story was Are you on the RIGHT side?, so I would think a search for one of the 6 words in the title would return that as a result. Ths is more than a little frustrating. I don't know how I'll fix it, but I'll try to figure something out. I'm in the middle of setting up the new server, so I'm a bit preoccupied for a few days, or maybe a week. On that same note, expect LISNews to be a mess for a few days next week as I move the code to the new server. I expect LISNews is going to take more time to move than all the other 30 domains combined.

So anyways, like I was saying, I got a lot of email responses to my query, more than I expected, and they were also much nastier that I expected. The comments left on the story were actually better than I had hoped, with some people for, and some against. Someone actually understood my incoherent and rambling writing as well. It was the email responses I got that puzzled me, about 12 in total. Normally when I propose a new idea, or write for responses I get 1 or 2 if I'm lucky, so 12 is just a landslide for me. At least half were from people I didn't know. They were some pro, some con, and some just wanting to know more. A few others were from folks who I would consider acquaintances (or Ecquaintances) and where not anything to write home about, but 2 really stuck out.

They were both from people who I've fully supported in different ways in the past. They're both people I'd consider well know, smart, and very active in the profession. They're both people who are unapologetically left sided as well. And they both pretty much ripped my head off for even proposing such an idea. One was not really against me exactly, but more of a rant against the right in general, but the other was aimed squarely at me. This person was insulting to me and LISNews. I've gotten some nastiness from this person in the past, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised to see it again.

So, these emails, coupled with the general tone in the comments this week, the shear volume of comments & stories, and a few other things have left me feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and rather negative towards LISNews. The current version of LISNews is just barely over 4 years old, and it's running pretty well without me now, so I think it's safe to take some time off, rethink what I'm doing with the site, and just focus on the server. It's going to be a significant amount of work to get all the LISHost members sites moved to the new server, so even if I wanted to I'd be short on time to devote to LISNews.


chin up Blake.

I see this differently.

Your "landslide" response indicates interest, dare I say "passion" our here. Your ability to stir some emotion is what every good advertiser seeks to do. This is good for you and LISNews. You don't want this to be a "milk toast" blog, regardless of what head rippers may say.

One insulting email out of twelve isn't bad either. Judging by the sour puss of our local Wal Mart lady who handles the returns/exchanges, an 8% rant rate ain't too shabby.

I think Greg sums up my initial reaction to the idea. I was feeling not so crazy about it, partly because it seems like plenty of political opinion is expressed on the site through the stories posted and the comments. Reaching out to the Right as part of introducing the idea of a political forum might give people the heebie jeebies. I'd feel the same way if the idea was introduced for leftish librarians as well.

Hi Blake,Thanks for sharing your frustrations with us. I agree with the others that you have done a great service for the library community.I'd like to add that I think LISNews is succeeding as a forum for different points of view. This is the FIRST forum where I've felt that people on opposite sides of an issue listen to each other and offer facts or considered opinions in reply instead of ad homineum attacks.I'm not saying that EVERYONE does, but enough do to make this worthwhile. I occasionally post to on USA PATRIOT Act issues. Their "forum" is called "Go Postal!" and it lives up to its reputation. Very little in the way of informed dialog going on there. The Wall Street Journal allows people to react to some, but not all columnists, but WSJ is up front that they won't post all comments to their site. I have to say that they will post a few left comments.The point is that the vast majority of web forums are either EXTREMELY RIGHT or EXTREMELY LEFT (Think and opposing viewpoints are smothered. You've managed (with others) to create a good source for library news with a journal space where anyone can set up their shingle and talk about whatever their path takes them. I think the result, for the most part, are intelligent people of mostly good will seeking the truth as they understand it. Not everybody, but enough to make this place work!Take care and get some rest!

Blake, here's my unsolicited take on this.

1. I wouldn't say you took a huge risk by proposing a Political Librarian Weblog (in fact, it's an excellent idea); the risk came in identifying it as catering (or giving voice) to a conservative viewpoint. You'd probably have been better served by letting the politics play out in the forum, rather than defining them in advance. What you have now is an ideological battle without a proper forum and, unfortunately, you find yourself in the center of it.

2. There is a prevailing sentiment that LISNews has a left lean. That may be true, but that is in no way your problem or responsibility. The onus of change rests squarely with those who lean right, who need to become active contributors. Balance is not achieved when the left posts and the right responds. That seems clear enough.

LISNews is a wonderful, blank canvas that you have given us, which takes on the many colors of its participants. If it comes off as a "bastion of liberalism" or whatever, that's just a reflection of the dynamics of the community. A political forum under the guise of LISNews should have the same blank slate on which to draw.

Blake, don't let a few disrespectful, inflammatory individuals sour you on this wonderful community you've created. You do too much work and receive too little accolade, so I respect your sentiment. I only hope that the encouragement of the usually quite masses will refuel your enthusiasm.

They're both people who are unapologetically left sided as well. And they both pretty much ripped my head off for even proposing such an idea.

I'm curious--were they taking issue with the notion of a political discussion area, or with your openness to views on the right?

In any case, you have my gratitude for running this show, and for being fair-minded.

I tend to notice the leftward posts the most, and my sense is that LISNews has been a "bastion of liberalism" or something like that. If I tried harder I could probably convince myself that the POV of posts and posters aren't as unbalanced as my first sentence sounds.

It would be boring if everyone had the same views, and probably a bit scary. I learn toward the left myself, but as Walt said, only on the USA scale. If you want really left wing, try Europe.

And as one of the newer authors on LISNews and someone whose blog is hosted with LISHost I just want to say, "Thanks Blake for all the hard work!"

Geez, I hope I wasn't one of the abusive commenters--but I think not, particularly since I only score "left" on today's warped political scale.

My only problem with the idea is that I think that the Right is already enormously involved in LISNews, at least within comments; if I had to count, I'd say a majority of comments these days come from mostly-pseudonymous or -anonymous people who I'd call right-wing. (I think that's becoming more true as some of us un-pseudonymous centrists or modest liberals are swearing off any "discussion" in this ./-like atmosphere.)

On the other hand, if you find yourself backing away from LISNews a bit: You're not the only one.

Nor do I see any problem with encouraging thoughtful right-wing librarians who actually want to discuss issues to do so.

[And yes, I've been flamed by left-wing writers too--most of them also pseudonymous/anonymous. Oddly, a few months ago, I heard Phil Och's song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal"--a reminder that the true left wing, when America still had one, despited liberals much more than it despised conservatives.]

I agree with all of my colleagues above. Head-rippers be damned...

(I just totally lost my train of thought. Is it time to go home yet?)

Anyhoo, I think your interest in making LISnews a place more open to repectful dialogue from both sides of the fence is a grand idea. There will always be people who disagree with you, it comes with the territory of running a site populated by educated and intelligent people. But, don't let the naysayers get you down. You do great work here and it is appreciated by all of us.

If some members cannot debate with the Right about topics such as filters, Ashcroft, etc., without resorting to personal attacks, let them. The same goes for Right thinkers that ignore legitimate arguments from the Left. The best part of the site would be the airing of views on these topics from both sides. I think there are plenty of LISNews users that would be appropriate in their responses. I think its a hip idea that would be loads of fun.

Don't sweat the morons. It's the people you respect you gotta worry about!!! ;)

I think part of it might be the perception that you want to slant it rightward. It's not like we don't have any right-leaning media in this country.

Well said. A purely political section would deteriorate quickly, if my experience on Usenet is any guideline. Comments and journals allow for free expression of ideas, and then it isn't Blake's problem.