About nine months ago, I started writing blogs on this site. I had written a couple on my own site, but it seemed a rather pointless exercise venting my spleen to a grand audience of three (usually family members).
Anyone who writes a blog, about anything, surely wants to get as many hits as possible. You want your effort to have some end-result, after all. It doesn’t affect my choice of topics, but it made sense to write for an established site. I do these blogs because it combines two passions – writing and football. There’s no other reason, it won’t lead anywhere, I don’t profess to do it better than everyone else, but the internet has allowed us fools to find a voice.
But that said, there is one thing more that I always look out for after writing a blog – the thing that makes me check back on the article for two days – reader comments. This is not to boost my ego, or to repair my fragile confidence or hope that I haven’t been viciously put-down, but I think it’s a crucial part of blogs, almost as much as the original article is, as it shows my writing has had some effect on someone (good or bad), and it stimulates some debate (sometimes). You may write an article that gets 10,000 page hits, but if it never gets a comment it seems a bit of a waste to me.
What I wasn’t prepared for though was the nature of some of the comments.
I’ve made it an unwritten rule not to post comments on my own blogs. I have seen so many nice comments that I want to say thank you for, but was wary that some idiot would then accuse me of being full of myself. I got burnt once, commenting on criticism of my blog on Soccer Saturday, where he proceeded to talk drivel, and then talk down to me as if he was disciplining a misbehaving dog.
Wow… Not exactly Watergate this piece!
Get a life, Howie. Haven’t you got anything better to bitch about?
Being in a foul mood that particular day, I rather stupidly replied:
Brilliantly spotted Lee – a blog on a football programme is indeed not the same as one of the biggest scandals in American politics. No fooling you is there?
To which he replied:
Good for you! You Googled ‘Watergate’.
Think i was making a witty put-down as opposed to your Stating-The-Bleeding-Obvious one. What are you, twelve? Bless.
Lesson learnt – some people do not want a discussion, but to trade insults. And the common thread with such people is their appalling grasp of the English language, which rather weakens their arguments. Not that I am perfect, and it is churlish (sp?) of me to point out bad spelling, but then I have become an apostrophe Nazi, a much detested breed. Anyway, here’s some of the biting criticism I have received over the past few months:
I hope your hands actually fall off so you cannot reproduce c**p of this nature ever again.
loosen your bo**ocks up. (I tried this, but my next article was even worse)
One of the worst articles i’ve ever had the displeasure. Give up & find a new job. Honestly.
Ah, yes – let’s not forget those who think that this is my job, what I dedicate every waking moment to. God forbid that my research hasn’t been pain-staking, involving going undercover for 12 months at FIFA or befriending Alex Ferguson over a 5-year period just to give my random thoughts a bit more “gravitas”. An accusation of “lazy journalism” can’t be too far away.
Oh hang on, here it is, a comment after I used some random examples (and stated quite clearly that I was using random examples) to show how much charity work clubs do:
The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation last year raised more money for charity than any other Prem League club, yet there is no mention of it here. It seems the author is guilty of the same lazy over sights that he’s accusing the press of.
Sometimes you know what is coming, and never was this more so than when I wrote a blog on Kenny Dalglish taking over at Liverpool, saying I felt it was a decision taken by the heart rather than the head, and not one I agreed with. There was no malice, I just gave my opinion, in an unoffending manner. It wasn’t long before the bile started appearing:
Who the hell do you think you are? are Mun U going to cut their cloth after all the Glaziers are virtually bankrupt and in hock to the hilt whilst Liverpool are now debt free. I’m sick of all you so called friends of Hodgson crawling out of the woodwork, all you really want is to see Liverpool relegated.
Written with such venom, bitterness, looking for a reaction…what’s your problem??
I see you’re a City fan,you worried Kenny’s gonna get Liverpool a top 4 finish? A ball hasn’t been kicked yet and you’re panicking. Pathetic piece of journalism.
Awful attempt at journalism. You ain’t got a clue. Get another job please
It’s the totally fabricated allegations that puzzle most. Being told that you hate so-and-so or want team X relegated because you expressed an opinion on something.
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And if that doesn’t work, just make stuff up. Like this reply to a blog defending Roberto Mancini:
What irks me is that he has no respect for mine, or others like me, he dismisses us of talking tripe, like his knowledge of this situation is somehow superior to ours, it isnt, its just his opinion……….I like his ‘why do I bother’ remark….like by being a City fan he’s doing us all a favour.
I’ve seen from other (non-football) bloggers that they have been “stalked” by trolls offering ridiculous opinions on their articles and deliberately disagreeing with whatever has been written, in the same way that celebrity articles online cause a rush for the first person to gleefully make a comment.
A small-time blogger gets it easy of course. Jonathan Wilson, a journalist who writes (mostly) about Eastern European football for the Guardian amongst others recently also commented on feedback he gets to articles, for a piece on the Football Supporters’ Federation website. He commented:
“Journalists are now expected to walk a gauntlet of abuse as an everyday part of their job…..criticise a big four (six?) club at your peril. Accuse Arsenal of petulance, United of arrogance or City of negativity and you’ll spend the next 48 hours metaphorically wiping the spittle off your Twitter feed.”
He talks of the “great trinity of regular complaints:
“lazy journalism”, ”I expect better from the <insert name of newspaper>”, and “I can’t believe you get paid for this rubbish”.
Even the best journalist gets things wrong. A blogger certainly will. I write articles I wish I had never started or even conceived in my head, and I read old ones and think that I may have been too harsh, or argued badly, or maybe it was put together in 15 minutes because I have a job and a life and sometimes the real world needs my greater attention. Though it sounds like I am complaining, as per usual, I really am not. Comments are, as I said, what keeps blogging alive, keeps it interactive, and aids debate. Long may it continue.