What makes blogs and bloggers prone to blogfights? Wired just ran a story on the best blogfights of 2006 and I’m sure most of us are aware of at least one of those listed. Remember Kevin Rose vs. Jason Calacanis?
But what really brings bloggers to quarrel?
First of all, blogs are typically published from one person’s point of view. As expected, dozens of authors discussing similar topics will likely lead to differing opinions and insights. This is a normal scenario, though sometimes, overly critical statements are made which are then taken in the worst way by the opposing party. And then on some not–so–rare instances, intelligent arguments degenerate to childish tricks that get the rest of the blogosphere all interested, giving the warring parties more publicity than they’re expecting. That’s if we don’t assume that part of the reason they’re fighting is the media mileage they’ll instantly get — good for traffic and buzz.
Most of the highly publicized blogfights though are typically among the heads of large blogs and online services. Before Rose–Calacanis, there was Calacanis vs. Denton, armed with name–calling and other dirty tricks. With the two men heading their own blog networks, they had everything to fight for, especially for the coveted top spot among all blog groups. For cases like this, prestige as well commercial interest obviously plays a big part in adding fuel to the fire.
Small personal blogs, not just big niche networked ones, also have their own share of little online battles. Typical points of arguments start with differing opinions on certain topics and explode into other more personal details. Personally, I’ve had my fair share of blog fights, most of which were involved with content or design theft. But as everyone grows up within the blogosphere, the better bloggers learn to deal with their “inspired” audience and just lean towards tolerance and guidance.
But why are we more susceptible to online confrontations than in the real world? Perhaps a big reason is the absence of physical interaction and danger. The web is an equalizer in many ways; a young blogger can express his opinions even against established personalities. And if you have something really worthwhile to say, there is a chance you’d be taken seriously and provoke a healthy discussion, but if you’re unlucky you’ll probably get slammed for your thoughts and poked fun at. Not only because they can, but also because there isn’t much you can do about it.
Blogging for several years now, I’ve learned that the most effective way to avoid unhealthy blogfights is by simply ignoring attacks or flamebaits. Some write for the sake of soliciting exaggerated reactions to get their split–second share of the spotlight. On the other hand, good blogfights can be made by fueling intelligent discussions, even among parties with opposing arguments. Blogfights can be good, some of the world’s biggest problems are better solved by throwing bright minds into the mix and get them to bash their own ideas until the best ones stand out.