In our constant effort to improve the Harriet experience, we've implemented a new comments feature for readers to express their likes and dislikes.

The new comments feature allows readers to anonymously state a "like" or "dislike" preference for comments on Harriet posts by clicking on the "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down" icons below each comment.

Each reader will only be able to "like" or "dislike" once for each comment, so there's no reason to worry about getting a frantic "like" click frenzy--or the opposite-- from one particular reader.

The like/dislike ratio will be displayed to the left of the handy icons, updating with each vote.  If a comment hits a certain dislike ratio, that comment will be hidden, requiring readers to click to view it.

We hope this feature will give the Harriet community another way to voice its opinions about the discussions occurring in the thread. If you have questions about the new feature, please email us and let us know.

Originally Published: July 16th, 2009
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Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...

  1. July 16, 2009
     Alan Cordle

    Will you continue to moderate comments for select individuals? Or does your new feature re-open real-time posting to everyone, so they can participate in discussions as they unfold?

  2. July 16, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Hi Alan,\r

    The stated comments policy is still in place:\r welcomes comments that foster dialogue and cultivate an open community on the site. We reserve the right to delete comments that contain offensive language or personal attacks. Repeated violation of this policy will result in restricted use of the site. The first time a person comments on a site, his or her comment must be approved by the site moderators. Subsequent comments will appear on the site automatically. Please note: We require comments to include a name and e-mail address. By submitting a comment, you give the Poetry Foundation the right to publish it. \r

    So, yes, we will continue to moderate the comments of individuals who violate the comments policy. Hopefully, this will continue to be a rare thing! \r


  3. July 16, 2009
     Henry Gould

    Travis, could we add a CIRCUS MAXIMUS visual to the Harriet array? This would accentuate the "bread & circuses" feel, which has been gaining momentum. & maybe some stills from Fellini Satyricon. Or shots of dead gladiator. Lion eating Spare Rib.\r

    Don't get me wrong, I like the concept. Slam-dunk. Crowds & Power.\r

    Just so we remember that in certain occasional, unusual, very suspenseful & dramatic situations (see : Bicycle Thief? 12 Angry Loud Blowhards?) the Majority is sometimes... [drowned out by mob roar]

  4. July 16, 2009
     Alan Cordle

    Thanks for your response. I see the dislike button's working on my comment, which was held for moderation briefly -- had I violated anything? I think I've only posted here once before, a few days ago.

  5. July 16, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Travis wrote:\r

    >Each reader will only be able to “like” or “dislike” once for each comment, so there’s no reason to worry about getting a frantic “like” click frenzy–or the opposite– from one particular reader.\r

    Unless a "particular reader" is posting under more than one name, no? It seems to be the case that some regular commentators (in certain cases some *very regular* commentators) are posting under different aliases. \r

    Is there any way of controlling the use of multiple comment-box pseudonyms --which in this environment is insidious, I believe-- via tracking of ISP addresses? (I saw Don Share mention ISP addresses once-- I believe they reveal a message's place of origin?)\r

    And how about keeping people from voting up their *own* comments? Any way of doing that? \r


  6. July 16, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Hey...can we vote on all those crappy poems posted on the main page, too?\r

    Oops. Sorry! (Did I say that out loud?)

  7. July 16, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    And may I make one more suggestion? If those who get a lot of "thumbs down" votes are to be punished by way of disappearing comments, what about *rewarding* those who get the most "thumbs up"? \r

    For example, what if the two or three leading vote-getters over a period of six months were rewarded with a Guest Commentator stipend, even a small one: say at quarter rate that of the regular Big Name Harriet bloggers. \r

    I mean, why not? Lord knows some of us spend enough time doing it! Why not create a new part-time career opportunity for those who just can't help themselves? I mean "who just can't help ourselves."\r

    No question it would attract news. And it might, who knows, even lead, down the road, to a new MFA specialization (in second and third-tier Creative Writing programs): \r

    "Professional Comment-Box Writing for Poets." \r

    The notion might sound wacky, and I suppose on one level it is, but hey, when you think about it...\r


  8. July 16, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Hi Kent,\r

    Good questions. The "particularity" of a reader is tracked by IP address, among other things. So that keeps each to each pretty well. \r

    I like your rewards system idea. We've talked about a number of different options along those lines, so we'll see where we end up.\r


  9. July 16, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Hi Alan,\r

    You were still registering as "new." All should be clear for now.\r


  10. July 16, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    Travis said:\r

    >I like your rewards system idea. We’ve talked about a number of different options along those lines, so we’ll see where we end up.\r


    Well, then would you please vote for my comment? I want to start racking up the numbers without delay. And I refuse to vote for myself!\r


  11. July 16, 2009
     Colin Ward


    IMHO, Nixon Chimes (i.e. "Nichts & Chimes") buttons are a welcome addition. Personally, I've found them helpful since they were instituted on "Egoless" about a decade ago.\r

    These questions are in no way complaints:\r

    1. In the future, will they be applied to the original post? (Sauce, goose, gander.)\r

    2. Can we see the raw totals? (+3 is a sweep in a triumvirate, a cliffhanger in a general election.)\r

    3. Can the names of the responders be placed at the top of each post so we know who we're reading beforehand?\r

    Thanks for all you do for Harriet, Travis!\r

    Best regards,\r


  12. July 16, 2009

    All in all the new feature strikes me as sound and a good idea actually. In my experience blogs and poetry boards tend to have far more passive readers than they have active posters. In conversations these readers tend to get discounted. The fewer active posters can sometimes take too much possession of the proceedings, too easily convinced their posts are just this side of holy writ and accepted as gospel by all those who do not speak up, when, in fact, the reader might be thinking something along the line of 'I can't be bothered with such a blather.' (And let's face it. Few are the posters not speaking to an audience.)\r

    On the other hand, and to paraphrase Jung, every good idea has its danger. I can imagine a poster who has a fan club of members giving him the thumbs up automatically. Conversely, I can imagine a poster having ticked off so many members that, no matter what he or she says, the post will get the thumbs down and as automatically. For example, I can think of posters whose cumulative verbiage is such that, when they post, I tend to scroll through without carefully reading anymore. I suppose I could give them a thumbs down without actually having read the post and out of sheer tedium. I can also think of posters whose limited pool of ideas I've heard so many times I might again give a thumbs down without actually parsing the current post's ideas.\r

    Harriet friends, I think I just talked myself out of ever using the feature. I think I would rather engage someone whose ideas strike me as grand, bogus, or tedious instead. This strikes me as more honest and as personal as these faceless cyber encounters can ever be.\r


  13. July 16, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    Hello Travis.\r

    How many individual readers need click 'dislike'before the comment is hidden, please?

  14. July 16, 2009

    Desmond Swords says: "How many individual readers need click 'dislike’before the comment is hidden, please?"\r

    I've found that the answer seems to be two. Man, I am so out of here. This amounts to thought policing.\r


  15. July 16, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    I have now had the opportunity to observe this feature in action.\r

    IMHO: bad idea! This is exactly how we ended up with George W. Bush.\r

    No thanks.

  16. July 16, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Hey, Kent...I just voted for myself. You should're making sense. This is legal under the Constitution.

  17. July 16, 2009
     Travis Nichols

    Hi Desmond (and Terreson!),\r

    We're going to see what kind of response the feature gets before implementing the "collapse ratio" on any kind of regular basis. So, Terre, that your comment got collapsed after two was just a test to see if the thing works. It does. And now your comment is back up there in plain view for all the world. So don't leave just yet!\r

    Thanks for your patience.\r


  18. July 16, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    Hello T.\r

    I attended a poetry event last night in Dublin and got chatting with a Canadian and American who read this blog and my suspicions as to who's considered the voices of authority and most pleasurable to read, were confirmed by two non contributing readers and simple poetry lovers.\r

    Your hidden comment of July 16, 2009 at 7:25 pm, has a minus sign and then the number three -3, is displayed to the left of what Travis has termed the handy icons, stating the dislike ratio is three times that of the like. What it doesn't reveal is the number of, what Travis assures us are, individual reader-votes.\r

    Until we have the information to the question asked, I cannot speak with authority on it, but instinctively I'd see various ways of interprating this thumbs up and down development.\r

    For example, Alan Cordle's very short question-comment reproduced below has a -13 dislike ratio\r

    Will you continue to moderate comments for select individuals? Or does your new feature re-open real-time posting to everyone, so they can participate in discussions as they unfold?\r

    What's interesting is the number of times the handy 'dislike' icon has been clicked in relation to the comment-question. The tenor in the language of this 28 word piece is entirely civil and the comment-question wholly innocuous and yet, assuming that Travis's one-vote claim is correct, there at least 13 people who have expressed a dislike for these 28 words.\r

    This suggests that it is not the comment they dislike, but the author of it, as the comment-question itself is a one sentence neutral non-offensive text. What's to dislike about it?\r

    Instinct also leans toward the thought that the readers expressing a dislike for it are competing writers rather than non-writer silent readers attending here to imbibe the printed conversation of professional poets.\r

    One very successful way to get a readership is to become a banned poet, as traditionally these have often been the ones writing the most interesting and original work, which in the time of it first appearing is roundly pounced on and the subject of attack by the jealous.\r

    The genuine, silent Reader and objective non-partisan non-combatant uninterested in the petty politics of professional poets and who after only a good read, will easily discern the truth of what's happening on chatboards with a fairly static cast of protaganist and far from not reading, go immediately to their favourite banned poet and feast on their writing. \r

    But please, let me be clear: 'like' and 'dislike' icons I've no problem with at all, whatsoever in any way shape or form, as they will contribute to the evolution of the site in a hopefully beneficial way for all lovers on the poetry coach, as they will aid us in the act of expressing thoughts with concision and clarity, keeping, whilst allowing us to guage the level of interest in our writing and dislike of whatever eloquence we believe present in our work by what are, essentially, rival competitors in a market-place in which our product is advertising our practice.\r

    It may well be the case the most popular with the Reader are the writers with the highest number of 'dislike' next to the left of the handy icons.\r

    Dear Reader\r

    Thank you very much for supporting my practice. I have my first book coming out soon: Poetry Assassin. Forty poems from a Fitzgerald poet for the disgustingly low price of 15 dollars.

  19. July 16, 2009

    I like this.

  20. July 16, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    I just voted to dislike myself and got the number up to four.\r

    Thanks very much

  21. July 16, 2009

    Not that there is any way of policing this, but on Reddit we generally try to encourage people to "upvote" or "downvote" a comment on the basis of its value to the discussion, rather than on the basis of whether they agree or disagree.\r

    There is a difference. Perhaps there could be a disclaimer somewhere.\r

    I'd hate to have people decline to give their valuable opinion just because they have a large negative number by their comments.\r

    just an idea.

  22. July 16, 2009
     Alan Cordle

    Where is the button to click and approve of bogus Hiroshima survivor personae? Because I do!\r

    But I disapprove of toilet paper.

  23. July 16, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    Thank you very much Travis.\r


    I figured out how the handy icons work. I clicked at random on the handy 'reds', thumbs down icon on comments showing a positive ratio of 'greens', thumbs up, and noticed that it reduced the number of greens by one.\r

    I then clicked on greens for comments sporting a higher red ratio and noticed the number of reds lower, and so worked out the system. I was particualrly pleased I secured three thumbs down within the first few minutes of my fifteen word July 16, 2009 at 9:01 pm comment, as this suggests a very strong reaction to my writing by, I am guessing, rival professional and not so professional, amateur poets who instinctively react in the unsophisticated manner that expressing oneself via algebra/s of 'like' 'dislike' red and green, suggests.\r

    My current practise on this matter is to click red on any comments showing positive for green and green on comments showing negative red.\r

    Thanks very much.

  24. July 17, 2009


    You might want to email Terreson and let him know what happened, in case he checked out already.

  25. July 17, 2009
     Michael James

    For some reason I believe this like/dislike device is going to lead to a mass usage of "Like" and "Dislike" in the actual 3-dimensional world.\r

    It is interesting that the human duality (which I encountered first in literary form through Joseph Campbell) comes into play even in something so small as like/dislike.\r

    I then came across it again while reading up about quarks -- how their natural state is a subatomic triumvir of sorts. Two "up" quarks and one "down" quark (a proton, no?). Nature at its basics tends towards three -- so instead of yes/no, mind/body, time/space, like/dislike... things are more likely -- yes/no/maybe, mind/body/soul, time/space/infinity, like/dislike/ehhh...

  26. July 17, 2009
     Richard Epstein

    This is a terrible idea. Why would a poetry-related site want to encourage glib, facile responses, instead of extended, reasoned ones? Of all the replies one might make to a thoughtful post, "I like this" (or "I dislike this") must be the most useless imaginable. Do you really want to make quality synonymous with popularity?\r

    But perhaps the initial post was satirical, and soon you will be promoting boiled-baby as a supplement to the food supply.\r


  27. July 17, 2009
     Henry Gould

    A good word to the wise. But I have a feeling there may be a causal relation between "dislike" and "extended". (There's such a thing as over-extended.)

  28. July 17, 2009
     Margo Berdeshevsky

    Amen corner.

  29. July 17, 2009

    Travis Nichols says: "Hi Desmond (and Terreson!),\r

    We’re going to see what kind of response the feature gets before implementing the “collapse ratio” on any kind of regular basis. So, Terre, that your comment got collapsed after two was just a test to see if the thing works. It does. And now your comment is back up there in plain view for all the world. So don’t leave just yet!\r

    Thanks for your patience.\r


    First off it would have been nice to have been told my initial post to this thread, and those of others, amounted to a test. For some reason I tend to expect more of poets than I expect of, say, the CIA known for conducting tests without complicit acknowledgement of its subjects.\r

    Second thought. My initial post is objective. It presents both the positive and the danger side of the new idea. It then states that I am not inclined to participate in the new way. So what is to be disliked about such an assessment? Is it disliked because I point out the postive value, because I point out the danger, or because I say the new system is such I choose not to participate in it? So is it disliked because I pointed out the postive, or pointed out the danger, or because I said I wouldn't engage in the new feature, or because someone(s) have an animus against me?\r

    Third thought. Almost two years ago I witnessed the (creative) demise of, the online extension of The Academy of American Poets. The site is a shadow of its former self, so to speak. Here, with this new protocal, I predict the same drop off.\r

    Fourth thought. Travis and all, you got poetry board snarks here that are known to anyone who has worked the lines. One poster upthread, for example, is known through out the online poetry community for, in his capacity as moderator, deleting posts that stand contra to his personal beliefs. He just erases posts. I am guessing ya'll don't get the snarkiness of which poets are capable of.\r

    Fifth item. On the small poetry board I run the consortiuum's mother board has this option of good/bad karma for every post. It is like your new like/dislike feature. The first thing I did when creating the spot was to disenable the function. I figure poets and people either speak up or sit down.\r


  30. July 17, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    I wouldn't see it as a big deal Terreson. Most comments (on any poetry board) amount to one liners. It's all relative.\r

    The guardian books blog has a *recommend* icon, but not a dislike one, and it is interesting that on the very busy threads, there can be 100 plus recommendations for a short one liner, which may be an insult crudely expressed. The thing is, i think, is that we're all instinctive creatures, and if this tehcnology was around in 1930's Germany, the people who organised mass-murderer on an unprecedented scale, would have thousands of greens and the ones speaking up for Jews, black people, gay, lesbian and gypsies, would have thousands of reds to their name. \r

    People aren't voting a dislike for the comment, but for the author. The very logic the like dislike founds itself on, is at the opposite end of the spectrum from intellectualism, and comedic really. It's just a bit of fluff.\r

    And it is only people with aspirations of becoming like we who write a lot and leave posts over one line, who click red. When you are better than other people at poetry who also want to be the best; it's a red rag to a bull and they will hate your guts.\r

    In the text I have as the blueprint non of y'all are interested in, the 7C bardic one that gives a definition of poetry from the mind of one with 1000 years of druids behind them and 1000 years of filidh poets in print ahead of them: it says that one of the four human joys for a poet is:\r

    The joy of health untroubled in the abundence of goading one receives on taking up the prosperity of bardcraft.\r

    When you are cleverer and clearly more genuine than your (usually paid) rivals who poetry si a 9-5 job, you have to be untroubled by the abundence of goading you get. The better you are, the more goading. The more real you are, the more reds you get of the irrate less eloquent.\r

    I am very proud that I seem to be in second place after Cordle in the most reds competition, overtaking Brady who is clearly widely read, can engage in intellectual exchange, and yet who people educated up to and over doctorate level, turn into raging red-necks when he leaves his say. \r


    Because they cannot beat him in debate and it really gets on their nerves, so all the people he trounces, of course they aren't going to face up to the truth that they aren't as clever as they think they are; but cast him as the idiot and go on pretending its them and not him with the main brain.\r

    If there are only 20 so reds against you, that's nothing. How many hundreds and thousands of poets read this board? \r

    The bottom line is the people who work at poetry, they are doing it for Money; but for people like Brady, Woodman, me and you, the red stars, we do it for Love. The people doing it for money, the ones doing it for love, upset their cosy fantasies that they are somehow the inheritors of the dead poet source they champion: the originals who, if they were here talking now, would be in our red team.\r

    It's comedy Terreson.\r

    Thanks very much for reading, please click red, come on, help me get in front of Cordle.

  31. July 17, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Oh, what ego more fragile than the writer of poetry?\r

    Only poets and heroes would trade wealth for vain glory.

  32. July 18, 2009
     Alan Cordle

    I got you down to -22! But I'm hoping for -40, so don't try to keep up. BTW, I think your money theory is spot on, Swords. But the money comes not through writing lasting verse or even selling books, but by making a name for oneself first.

  33. July 18, 2009
     Michael James

    Did he just write "boiled baby"?\r

    I am laughing on the inside right now.\r

    Giggling on the outside.

  34. July 18, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    I was just looking back over some of the earlier threads I'd been engaged in to see how the Like/Dislike function might have changed the tenor and indeed the whole direction of the argument. I found Martin Earl's FISH II thread particularly instructive because it wormed it's long, devious way through various fishy difficulties, one being that Martin himself was, as he described it, "on the other side of the moon" (he was travelling from Lisbon to New York--which, incidentally, are on almost exactly the same latitude. Did you know that, Martin, and what's on the same latitude as Nova Scotia?).\r

    Things are seldom what they seem in a dialogue either, and sometimes what seems a straight remark ends up in the Outer Hebrides while a perverse tangent becomes the Zen shot that gets a thread right back on track. I was placed in a sort of devil's advocate role in that thread, which might not have been possible if Martin had been there all along to readjust what he meant--as he did very eloquently right at the end well over 100 comments later. On the other hand, the difficulties I introduced led us to other endings including Directive, the classic poem about getting lost, and on to Christian Wiman's "Five Houses Down." This might not have happened had readers been encouraged to dislike what I wrote instead of reading it.\r

    Like and dislike is precisely what we must NOT concern ourselves with in such a dialogue, otherwise how can we ever be expected to change our minds? If we come in with the assumption that this or that angle is beyond the pale, or this or that poster is from the other side of the tracks, what hope is there for a balanced Harriet? For I see Harriet as different from all the other poetry sites because it's the only one that is not maintained by and for the PoBiz, simply because it is a.) financially independent of the PoBiz and b.) not run by PoBiz staff. Indeed, Rebecca Wolff has just headlined that she's "Paid to Post," an astonishing observation. Can any other blogger in the world claim that but someone blessed by Harriet? And my assumption would be that the regular staff are paid well too, as indeed they should be. But who else gets paid well to work with poetry but those who are dependent on the teaching business, the higher the more remunerative?\r

    That's why Harriet has a huge incentive to rise above the tendency to "Like" and "Dislike," which inevitably is going to bug us because there are such rivalries in the field---as there always will be when any job market's tough. \r

    One of the things I liked most about Columbia up there on Morningside Heights in the 50s was that there was no town-and-gown tension, whereas it was simmering there right below the surface all the time in New Haven (I lived on Orchard Street!). And in Cambridge the friction was ancient and deadly, indeed to such an extent that if you went up to Kings or Christs with a local accent in the 50s you would have to get elocution lessons or the other students would bully you. I mean, there were fist fights all the time, particularly on Saturday nights!\r

    The only time the local rowdies and the silver spooners got peacefully together was when the Beatles came to town in the early 60s!\r

    Like and dislike have no place here on Harriet, at least if you want to welcome into the community individuals who are outside the mainstream. I hear Desmond Swords loud and clear, our "grafter" from Dublin--who incidentally chose to speak the Queen's English in his last comment just above and not the various North Country and Irish dialects that are his native tongue--he did that so we would not dismiss him. And Desmond can make the town-and-gown argument much more eloquently than I can because he's suffered so much humiliation from it in the past.\r

    There should be no place for such prejudice here on Harriet, and I do ask you urgently to reconsider this new scheme.\r


  35. July 18, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    Hello Alan.\r

    I was in the Oaktree pub in Kilmainham tonight, after dining with several colleagues in po-biz: Dublin playwrite John D'Arcy, Tipperary poet Noel Sweeney and God; Mike O'Moore from Balanateer in Dublin 25; who I'd gone the Oaktree with: leaving Sweeney and O'Moore in a modernist minimal and spacious apartment in the arts district of south inner city Dublin. The hostelry is just close enough (after a ten minute stroll) to being on the edge of the metropolitan suburban fringe, for a rural feel of being at total peace to be present, as we drank our couple of pints.\r

    Prior to God and I going to the pub, we had spent the immediate afterward of our shared dinner reading poems: God, D'Arcy or Sweeney, issuing instgructions as to the accent one must recite in.\r

    American deep south, culchee, Monaghan, Kerry, Munster, Belfast, Galway, Mayo, Kilkenny, New York, LA, cokcney, mancunian, geordie, Welsh, Cornish, Canadian, Indian, Nigerian and scouser.\r

    These were some of the voices, accents we had to try and speak in. And it struck me as we issued our thoughts verablly, how the surname was being used - making me realize that that is all one can hope for as a bore with pretentions to becoming serious in the endevour of being straight faced.\r

    Any write who is taken seriously, is known by their surname. My name is Kevin Desmond and so I made sure from the off, this was adhered. Sweeney too: not interested in pretending to play friends with people. What's your name: Sweeney; no pretending we are anything other than the strongest of rivals in po-biz.\r

    And it reminded me, that you and I Cordle, have that, whilst few others on poetry-social-network sites like this, do.

  36. July 18, 2009

    An interesting article Harriet's new way brings to mind.\r\r


  37. July 19, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    oops, errata.\r

    Should read..\r

    And it reminded me, that you and I Cordle, have that, whilst few others on poetry-social-network sites like this, do not.\r

    Thank you very much, please click red.

  38. July 19, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    Agreed. The tyranny of the demos in action, demonstrated before one's very eyes.

  39. July 19, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    Yet that seems exactly where this sort of thing tends to go. I've seen it happen on several poetry boards before. It almost always ends up as an ad hominem popularity contest. I find it fascinating how even on this thread the intelligent questions by a few folks, in a neutral, non-judgmental way, have already gotten dozens of negative comments.\r

    One fatal flaw of this system as it's currently set up: It IS a popularity contest because we cannot see the actual vote tally, only where it stands as a total. It would be interesting to see, when the tally is in the negatives, if there were any positive votes, for example. Or if lots of votes cancel out to zero, coming from all sides.

  40. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    Thanks, Tere--a truly inspired response, and one you are certainly qualified to post! \r

    For those of you who don't know him, Terreson is the author of "The Pee in the Pool of On-Line Poetry" at Clattery MacHinery, essential reading for anyone who wants to research the whole phenomenon of Cyber Poetry today. \r

    Wikipaedia entry for SHUNNING. \r

    "Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. It is a sanction against association often associated with religious groups and other tightly-knit organizations and communities. Targets of shunning can include, but are not limited to apostates, whistleblowers, dissidents, people classified as "sinners" or "traitors" and other people who defy or who fail to comply with the standards established by the shunning group(s). Shunning has a long history as a means of organizational influence and control. Extreme forms of shunning and related practices have rendered the general practice controversial in some circles."

  41. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    Thanks for that, Arthur Durkee--a valuable comment.\r

    On the other hand, it’s obvious that quite a few posters have clicked 'red’ out of protest, or perhaps just to show what could happen if the system were abused. You can’t judge anything by the 'reds’ and the 'greens’ on this thread, it seems to me, except that a simplistic dualism has no place in evaluating views about poetry. Indeed, a binary scale creates opposing factions–fans generational flames, hardens critical defenses, widens the divide between those within the academic enclave and without. Since Harriet belongs to the people, let’s work toward a more holistic dialogue.\r

    As a community we seem to like best discussing the 'odd-men-out,’ like Robinson Jeffers, Philip Larkin and, yes, Elizabeth Bishop, poets who refuse to join any clique but, like all gifted eccentrics, “keep the spot sore.”\r

    Would that some of this interest in the peripherals of modern poetry rubbed off on our tolerance for each other.\r


  42. July 20, 2009
     John Oliver Simon

    Just prior to the introduction of red and green thumbs, every thread on Harriet was wrenched into a back and forth on Thomas Brady's hobbyhorse. Confront him, overwhelmingly refute him, as I and others did, or ignore him, the result was the same: the discussion was hostage to the lowest common denominator. \r

    This vulnerability to the loudest bore is an artifact of cyberspace in the absence of a hands-on moderator, or as now, a community mechanism for up and down. Community verdict on Brady's blather was overwhelmingly down. He has apparently either recognized that he was unwelcome and withdrawn or been banished for bad ratio. I hope the door didn't hit his butt too hard on the way out.\r

    It's good to talk about poetry and poets without being incessantly preached at that anyone you might be interested in isn't Keats. Those remaining here can certainly be silly: I find Knott's insistence on Carruth's criminal complicity with Norton in the case of The Voice That Is Great Within Us truly strange. But he doesn't insist on taking over every single thread.\r

    And it's true: the poet can be one weird voice crying uncomfortable things in the wilderness. Stone him, stone him!\r

    Balance that with the welfare of the community. Answers are not easy.

  43. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    John Simon Oliver, friend, \r

    Your post came up just as I was writing my plea for protection, and you posted first. So this comment is a little out of order.\r

    Yes, I have stood up for Thomas Brady, but look, over the past 6 months he has blasted Harriet into orbit. I mean, why don't you look at the numbers? It's easy to see that from a small sleepy place last January Harriet's become dynamic, popular and the mosty attractive poetry spot in town. And that's why I defend him, and with such relish. On the other hand, I also point out all the time what I find over the top in what he says, or just plain unacceptable--which you never seem to notice in my apologies. And why not? What's wrong with your eyes and your judgement? \r

    Over the top goes with Tom's sort of territory, I would say, such a great turner-of-tables, a scholar magnificent and first class satirist. For that reason I simply won't let you all gang up on him. Equally, I don't want you all to conclude that I'm a figment of his imagination either, which has been very hard on me, and gotten me into all sorts of trouble with the management--because I'm the one that's in disgrace, not Thomas, I'm the one that has to wait up to three days "in moderation" before I get anything posted.\r

    You tell such wonderful stories about poetic battles in South America, John Simon Oliver, about towering personalities clashing in chaos, about ridiculous causes, tilting with windmills in pink frilled extravagances. So why are you so unsettled by Tom? That defeats me completely--you are so much older and more experienced than the young grad students who one can understand why they go bananas. I mean, you're face to face with the Real Thing in Tom, the real Che Guevara of Letters--and Che Guevara wasn't half ridiculous, and a fraud, and a vain villian to boot. But look at the gold in his image? Look at what he's become--and what he did?\r

    Can't you give some of the generosity one needs to deal with Pound or William Empson, God forbid, or Ron Silliman to Tom, John Oliver Simon? Can't you see he's our brightest future in the making?\r

    I honestly have no idea who Thomas Brady is, and only guess that he's young. Don't miss his forest for the small trees he throws up, I say, don't let his breast works block your vision!\r

    Harriet is witnessing an unfolding, and you want to silence him? You, John Simon Oliver?\r


  44. July 20, 2009
     William Kammann

    Sid was dyslexic; so he thought people were dissing him. It's hard to like Sid. Face it, the threads are verbose and seldom to the point; if there WAS a discernable direction in the original post. The flaw is not in the stars... I like the feature, but Sid's agin it. Remember, a no vote will elect George Bush to a third term (the machine is rigged!).

  45. July 20, 2009
     Margo Berdeshevsky

    The thumbs are certainly reductive, and the lions are always hungry. (And the recent game-boy matches for scores are adolescent, but one can try to ignore them.) But the blatherers--are deadening to the mind and to the spirit. One could hope that they have ears to notice how much dead space they can create. But if not, Harriet, please do listen to pleas for a different experiment. This one is not succeeding. Like/dislike are really not adequate words for poets. \r


  46. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    You always speak out of your love for life and your experience, and every time I see your name come up I look forward to a special gift--even if sometimes I'm personally a little disappointed (joke).\r

    This last post is most definitely a gift.\r

    There are always solutions just as there will always be the ends to those solutions that will plunge us back into muddles--and worse. The problem with Thomas Brady and myself are so recent, and although I can't assume this for myself, certainly in the case of Thomas the gifts he has brought to Harriet have been infinitely greater than the recent irritations. As I maintained in my note to John Simon Oliver just below, I feel Thomas Brady is a phenomenon that is unfolding right here on Harriet before us, which is one reason why he has been so repetitious. What we've got to do is find a way to cradle that gift in him even when it poops all over us and squalls. That applies to all of us, I would say, but particularly to leaders like yourself. Indeed, why can't we make this most special Blog: Harriet the place where 21st Century Poetry really began? Why can't we police ourselves by talking to each other instead of squabbling?\r

    I've learned a lot in the last week, even though I've been furious. I'm sure Thomas is listening too--probably even better as I am so old!\r


  47. July 20, 2009
     Catherine Halley

    Hello Harrieteers--\r
    Humans are still reading and reviewing posts! So never fear, we hear and appreciate your thoughtful responses to this experiment. We'll let it go a while longer and see how things shake out. Thanks, Cathy

  48. July 20, 2009

    I like the idea someone mentioned upthread of putting the poster's name at the beginning of each post rather than at the end. I also agree that the like/dislike categories are too simplistic and that the experiment as it stands isn't very useful.

  49. July 20, 2009
     John Oliver Simon

    You might try getting my name right, Christopher.

  50. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    I'm so sorry, John Oliver Simon. Like Martin Earl I learned to read in the 50s (in the 40s actually--I'm older) and was taught to sound everything out. So I'm a poor speller and not good at whole word recognition.\r

    I'll never do it again, I promise (setting himself up for yet another disaster!).\r


  51. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    I apologize again for mixing up the order of your name, John Oliver Simon. Please forgive me.

  52. July 20, 2009

    OTOH, I agree with JOS about hobbyhorses and one trick ponies mucking up the threads.

  53. July 20, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    With all due respect, Rachel, I don't agree with the way you say that. That's blog talk and this is Harriet. There's been far too much of the old mud slung about in the last 2 weeks, and we're looking now for soil much more fertile. We're also interested in more useful vehicles than bandwagons, which after all just lead to war or to Florida elections!\r

    It's not that you're wrong necessarily, just that "hobbyhorses" and "one trick ponies" are clichés and we can do metaphors.

  54. July 21, 2009

    Christopher Woodman says: "With all due respect, Rachel, I don’t agree with the way you say that. That’s blog talk and this is Harriet. There’s been far too much of the old mud slung about in the last 2 weeks, and we’re looking now for soil much more fertile. We’re also interested in more useful vehicles than bandwagons, which after all just lead to war or to Florida elections!\r

    It’s not that you’re wrong necessarily, just that “hobbyhorses” and “one trick ponies” are clichés and we can do metaphors."\r

    Woodman, you finally succeeded to reaching to my last bad nerve, and this over three sites. Where do you get off telling Rachel, or anyone else as you have want to do, the way they should say what they think? I mean talk about thought policing! While you rail against poetry sites and po-biz, frankly, yours is a most censorious voice. You are forever telling us how we should think and how we should speak and how we should see things.\r

    Don't ever tell anyone again how they should say what they think. \r


  55. July 21, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    I'll think about what you say carefully, Tere--I certainly don't want to stir up more trouble.\r

    I thought I covered myself by saying a.) "With all due respect" and b.) " "I don't agree with the way you say that." It was just my own opinion, in other words--my attempt to help. Also I'm 70.\r

    I think this little flare up pretty much gets to the heart of the matter. Would anyone else care to comment?\r


  56. July 21, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Somewhat relevant to this thread about 'judgment' on poetry blogs, many of you may remember the raging debate we had about censorship. It preceded, and may even have inspired the current 'Like/Dislike' feature. At that time, one Jack Conway was wreaking havoc here. He may actually be the only person ever officially banned from Harriet.\r

    At any rate, his real name is J. North Conway and I thought some of you might be interested in following this link I found about our old (hell-raising) friend Jack C.\r

    "BIG NEWS for my new book!\r\r

    Named one of the five best for the season.\r

    Comment by Jack C."

  57. July 21, 2009


    Blog talk? No. I use both of those terms in real life. Cliches? Sure, but apropos, IMO.\r

    As to the rest of your post, "we"? Are you riding in on your own bandwagon?

  58. July 21, 2009
     Arthur Durkee


    This is exactly why likes/dislikes doesn't work: it brings the discussion down to this level. Or rather, it brings it down to this level far more quickly, and far more directly. As if poets' fragile egos weren't already delicate enough! \r

    Jung once said: The person least likely to realize when they are being possessed by their unconscious forces is the person in question. I see this in play all the time. Not to try to psychoanalyze anyone from a distance, although it's tempting when it's as obvious as it often is, but people really do reveal a lot about themselves when they react from emotion rather than considered thought. It's often TOO easy to make a knee-jerk reaction in this medium, when one can dash off a reply in the heat of the moment, and hit "Post Comment" before they cool off. Pretty much everyone does this. (I make no claims to being better than anyone else at this. Certainly I do it too. Who doesn't? On the other hand, I do make claims about having learned by observing.)\r

    You say you couched your request in polite terms. That is nit-picking of the worst sort: it is defending ill will by saying it's okay because it was politely worded. That's basically adhering to the letter of the law (laws of courtesy, of there are such things) while trampling all over their spirit. The veneer of politeness is not convincing, in this instance, because the message behind the polite veneer was strongly condemnatory.\r

    Yes, you do have a bad habit, no matter how politely worded, of telling others how to think, and how to express themselves. Before you take umbrage: you DID ask.\r

    On the other hand, in this you are hardly alone. The blogosphere (which includes Harriet; see below) is rife with such rhetoric. I don't see less of it here than elsewhere. In fact, I see pretty much the same voices, and the same arguments, here as everywhere else in PoetryWorld. It gets boring, frankly, because it's so utterly predictable.\r

    This thread, and most of the other "discussion" threads on Harriet suffer from being dominated by several loud voices who believe that the only way to state their views is by shouting down everyone else's. And also who have nothing positive to say–all comments are negative, or attacks, or veiled insults. Do you really stand in that category? You decide. Nonetheless, a little self-awareness goes a long way, and you (and everyone else) might look at the way you (everyone) express yourself, as well. \r

    Coming down on other people for the way they express themselves is exactly what you say you don't like other people doing to you: think about it. (This is classic mirror-projection, to use another Jungian term: people projecting out onto the world exactly what they can't see in their own selves; and the world is very kind as to mirror it back.) It's a matter of walking one's talk. If one says that one doesn't like to be corrected, then one is on very shaky ground when one has the habit of correcting others all the time.\r

    Finally: Saying that this is Harriet and not "blog talk" is patently absurd: for one thing, this IS a blog. For another, most people operate pretty much the same way, no matter what the venue, be it blogs or message boards or Harriet. (Saying "this is Harriet" presumes several things, some of them elitist, others of them separatist, few of them affirming rather than insulting. Who's a snob, then?)

  59. July 21, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    "You can’t judge anything by the 'reds’ and the 'greens’ on this thread, it seems to me, except that a simplistic dualism has no place in evaluating views about poetry."\r

    In which case, why bother having them?\r

    All it does it stir things up. it doesn't add anything. It just turns discourse into even more of a binary partisan argument. Make no mistake, most people are going to click red or green depending on whether or not they like what the person says, or whether or not they like the person. It's purely subjective.\r

    In this literary-critical world, especially in poetry, where so many critics already decry the rampantly subjective nature of most reviewing, do we really want to make things MORE subjective? or provide more fuel to that particular fire?\r

    Not I. Obviously I share the minority position, however, and I'm quite content with that.

  60. July 21, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    There's mostly truth in what you say, Ralph Durkee. Indeed, it's another illustration of the way even the best human beings can be undermined by hidden contradictions, leading them into behavior that is just the opposite of what they stand for. So we have the tragic dark sides of our saints, Albert Schweizer, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, and the discordant notes in the biographies of the wisest and most uplifting human writers, George Orwell, Robert Frost, and those legions of unfathomable meltdowns and suicides.\r

    But it's heavy hitting to apply them so heavily to me here, Arthur, and indeed can be the first fatal step in the process that leads societies toward cancer wards and even final solutions. The dissident that has the courage to go against the grain is always vulnerable to such charges, and the establishment always holds all the cards when it comes to the crunch. If the dissident reacts to the accusation that her intrusions are selfish or his voice too loud, he or she is dismissed as self-absorbed -- an Emmeline Pankhurst is dismissed as a lady that protests way too much, and a Ralph Nader for road rage!\r

    All I can say is that if I am guilty as accused, which I am, the observations I made to Rachel still remain valid. Thomas Brady arouses a lot of anger on the site not only because he rides hobby-horses, i.e. distinct intellectual positions he espouses with great force and frequency, but also because he's so witty, unflappable, and better informed than anybody. Indeed, he's a powerful threat to the graduate students and academics who would dominate this site, and I mean, who is this guy with so many facts and no credentials? Also he's a pony that does more tricks than they've ever thought of in college, and this makes them go bananas. Indeed, there's no end to Tom's fun with them, and he never seems to tire or get mad. So let's get him.\r

    As to myself, Arthur, I will try harder not to give advice or take what appear to be superior positions, but I do believe in Harriet, and I'm a lot older than most of you. By the same token, I hope you can be more tolerant toward me in return, and not dismiss me as a fraud. Indeed, your advice has two cut in two ways!\r


  61. July 21, 2009

    I think I have this right. I am pretty sure I have this right. So the like/dislike rule applies to respondents only? It doesn't apply to a blogger's original thread?\r

    I mean if the respondent should run the chance of getting shunned why shouldn't the blogger run the chance of getting the anonymous thumbs down? Fair is fair.\r

    Truth be told...but never mind.\r


  62. July 22, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    Well, you DID ask. I didn't open that door, and I probably won't go through it ever again, here. I said what I needed to say; and the rest is not up to me. \r

    Will my opinions on like/dislike sway the powers that be that determine whether such options will continue to be used on Harriet? Doubtful, very. But then, I don't expect my opinions to be even heard, here, much less actually listened to, or responded to. Like you, like others, I've been around this block several times, and I have no illusions.\r

    In fact, my remarks were general. I DID say that others act in those ways, I did. That pretty much everyone can get into it. So if you want to take my remarks as applicable to many folks, that;s fine. If you want to take them personally, I can't help that, either. Yet I do think about how I phrase things, and I tend to say them only after carefully considering my own language, so as to be as precise as possible, and state my positions clearly. If I wasn't clear enough in already stating that my points do cut all ways (not just both ways), then consider me as saying so now. Again, everyone has done it–although some make more of a habit of it than others.\r

    On the other hand, for example, was calling me "Ralph" meant to be a joke, or was it a brain-fart? It's the ambiguity of such things, if you don't indicate them to be joking around, that makes people take umbrage, and get pissed off. I reserve judgment for now. I'll just say, condescension works all ways, too; you may think you're a lot older than most of us, but that may or may not actually be true. Doubt anyone around here knows much about me, nor do I expect them to–or care to. Not my problem. (And I'm completely neutral about the issue, to be honest; I am moved to shrug, at most.)\r

    It's very hard to tell tone of voice, or if people are joking, in a text-only medium in which no-one can hear the other speaking. This is well-known. Hence, the need to use language precisely rather than sloppily. (I find it hilariously paradoxical how so many poets are so sloppy in their prose, or their blogs, etc., when at the same time they decry imprecision in Poetry.)\r

    Did I ever say I dismissed you as a fraud? I'm familiar with you, and your history. I've done my research, and I even defended you when you were being banned, elsewhere. Don't assume I'm ignorant, and don't assume everyone here is younger, or less experienced, than you. This is precisely why going out of your way to tell people how to express themselves comes across as condescending: because in fact you don't really know if it's merited or not, you just assume it is. And THAT is arrogant. \r

    And no, I am not singling YOU out: lots of people do that, and my comments are general. But again, you DID ask.\r

    What you say about "dissidents" (perhaps too strong a word in a discussion that really means nothing, in the big scheme of things) is true in many situations, online. Having been perceived as such myself on numerous poetry boards and blogs, simply because I bring a different (non-"poetry professional" yet very well-read) perspective to discussions in which I choose to participate (which is a tiny percentage of what I actually read through). I've been banned a few times, and I've left a few poetry boards willingly, of my own volition, when it became clear that outsider viewpoints were not only not welcome, they were rejected with extreme prejudice. One wastes one's time if one pursues matters, in such circumstances. I'd rather go write a poem. LOL\r

    Calling oneself a dissident is often a tactic of self-justification. I did not say that YOU were doing that, but I did point out that in many of these poetry sites the worst gadflies (you've named some few of those, so I shan't) tend to use exactly that excuse: "I'm being attacked simply for being the voice of dissidence." Actually, when someone is being an agent provocateur they're not being a genuine dissident, they're just stirring up trouble for the sake of stirring up trouble. There IS a difference. Pretty much everyone knows what that difference is, from observation and experience. The other tactic one sees a lot, among those who think that discussion consists of insult or shouting everyone else down, is claims that they're just being honest or telling the truth. But being honest isn't being only negative, and only insulting. Not in the real world of discourse, anyway.

  63. July 22, 2009
     michael robbins

    You say this sort of thing so often that I suppose you believe it. I suppose I'm coming around to the notion that you are Brady, since it's so hard to imagine that anybody could be taken in by his act. Maybe you could point us benighted academics (that's how we get pegged, even if we're also well known for our poetry & criticism, right, Chris?) to some instances where he proved "better informed" than, well, anyone at all, ever. We must have repressed our memories of these shameful comeuppances.

  64. July 22, 2009
     michael robbins

    again (sigh) that's a reply to CW, not AD. this "reply" thing works even less well than the thumbs do. (I clicked "thumbs down" on one comment no fewer than ten times, just for the hell of it, & each one was recorded by the site.)

  65. July 22, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    P.S. I only spoke out on this thread because your question, which seemed to genuinely invite honest responses, opened a door to a discussion I find interestingly relevant to the topic of this thread. The whole like/dislike issue opens the floor for a (meta-)discussion regarding critical styles, and commentary styles. It's worth discussing, in general, because mostly it's taken for granted. Or so my experience has been. \r

    Often one runs into personality-ego-level minefields whenever this topic about style of discourse comes up. The question of how to respond to someone one disagrees with, without being either condescending or pedantic, is very much a matter of style-of-discourse. I have always maintained that if one can think of only one way to make one's point, one has set false limits upon one's own style of discourse. There is almost always a more courteous way to say something, if one just stops and thinks about it. The quick-response of a blog comment as well as the even quicker response of a like/dislike button, by their very speedy nature, promote knee-jerk responses rather than thoughtful discourse.\r

    So, if one really wants to generate discussion and dialogue, here or anywhere else, the like/dislike binary paradigm seems a very backward way to go about it. Such simple binary opinion-registering isn't likely to deepen discussions, only to polarize them. Hence, I deem it useless, and more likely to generate new divisions rather than heal old ones.

  66. July 22, 2009
     Arthur Durkee

    What's even more amusing, Michael, is when the only category worse than "benighted academics" is "benighted amateurs," particularly when such further dismissals come from the same source. As if no credentials were ever good enough to satisfy, or any lack of credentials. LOL When one sees that sort of internal contradiction, it's not difficult to see that the true underlying thought is "everyone but ME is benighted." On balance, the reverse is often more true than not.

  67. July 22, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    You did say it, Arthur, indeed you did. And I did ask the question and you did answer it.\r

    The "cuts two ways" at the end of my last comment was just a hope that I wasn't the only one listening. I also do suspect that you replied to me at some length partly because you do take me seriously, Arthur, whereas the tone of Terreson's and Rachel's attacks made a reply hardly worthwhile. I did reply in any case, and yes, I'm still in the loop--which means I'm still open. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't feel that either Terreson or Rachel are engaged now that the door is slammed shut.

  68. July 22, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    Dear Everybody,\r
    I think one of the biggest mistakes I have been making on this site is to defend Thomas Brady, I know that, and yet here I've gone and done it again. I think I only do it out of an old teacher's instinct, to crack down on the bullies and rub their noses in the right of even the most unlovable and annoying child in the class to be free! \r

    It was hard to reply to Rachel's attack without following it back to John Oliver Simon's before it, because she used his exact words--polysyllables, but so few of them. He had written:\r

    "Just prior to the introduction of red and green thumbs, every thread on Harriet was wrenched into a back and forth on Thomas Brady’s hobbyhorse. Confront him, overwhelmingly refute him, as I and others did, or ignore him, the result was the same: the discussion was hostage to the lowest common denominator.\r

    This vulnerability to the loudest bore is an artifact of cyberspace in the absence of a hands-on moderator, or as now, a community mechanism for up and down. Community verdict on Brady’s blather was overwhelmingly down. He has apparently either recognized that he was unwelcome and withdrawn or been banished for bad ratio. I hope the door didn’t hit his butt too hard on the way out.

    I replied in some detail, but unfortunately I got John Oliver Simon's name wrong and although I've apologized after every instance (4 of them in all, and I'm still sorry) he has never spoken to me again.\r

    Perhaps the on-going snub is also because of the content of my reply above where I defended the person whose name shall no longer be mentioned. Of course it was partly your fault, John Oliver Simon, because in-spite of our total differences you insisted upon calling me him. And you of all people should know the difference, and certainly not stoop to that level.\r

    I wonder if, in exchange for this undertaking from me, the 4 posters involved in this immediate discussion, JOS, R, T, & MB, could also give an undertaking not to suggest I'm the unmentionable either. It doesn't really matter, but it might help lift the clouds if you do.\r

    Arthur Durkee has been fair on this--he knows who I am, and that I'm just me. Indeed, he also knows that if you combine me with someone else you dislike you just create another binary, and that means more dualism and strain.\r

    So, if one really wants to generate discussion and dialogue, here or anywhere else, the like/dislike binary paradigm seems a very backward way to go about it. Such simple binary opinion-registering isn’t likely to deepen discussions, only to polarize them. Hence, I deem it useless, and more likely to generate new divisions rather than heal old ones.\r


  69. July 22, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    What is interesting, is how online text that takes less than 3 seconds to scroll past, causes others to react as strongly as they have done. \r

    I don't get it, on the web, text on poetry generating so much bad blood. \r

    If the texts of Brady and Woodman had no validity, they would be ignored and no one would care. It is precisely because they are saying treuths which others find uncomfortable, they generate so much anger from others. At least, that is just my personal, individual opinion.\r

    Brady might be a one trick critic, but his argument is well put and he reads very well, clearly very widley read, whilst his detractors, by the force of their ire, it is clear have lost all sense of reason when he is about.\r

    They cannot counter him, so start moaning he is *dominating* threads. It is not Brady who dominates, but the force of his intellect.\r

    One idea may be to hide comments that are over a specific length, and that way the reader would now that that comment was a voluble one.\r

    thank you very much for reading.

  70. July 22, 2009
     Desmond Swords

    I also had the same thought as Terreson, that the original article should be subject to the love-hate button.

  71. July 22, 2009
     Tom Harr

    A common complaint about the Internet, whether it’s being leveled by a journalist who just lost his newspaper job or someone who found herself the target of online rage, is that it’s such a shallow, spiteful place. While it’s a ludicrous statement – the Internet is merely a medium, not anything homogeneous – the complaint is valid in large, and vocal, parts of the online world. It’s odd that in this age of loosened borders and individualism, online you can be drowned out with boos and hisses just by stating an off-center position. Sure, the idyllic promise of the Internet is that it can bring you news from around the world and expose you to people and things you never would have seen otherwise, but in reality many of us use it simply as an echo chamber. [...]\r

    With all the filters, communities, forums, and moderated comment sections, you never need hear an opposing viewpoint ever again. Web site forums that used to be interesting and lively can quickly turn knee-jerk and unified, with those possessing quirky senses of humor or an interesting take on things shamed into never commenting again. [...]\r

    The bully who will relentlessly attack the target of his rage from the safety of a blog is often the same person railing against the lack of human decency today.\r

    -- Jessa Crispin\r

  72. July 22, 2009


    I don't know if you are using multiple personas here or not. I never said that you were Thomas Brady, however, because I don't believe you are.

  73. July 23, 2009
     John Oliver Simon


    I did indeed suggest that you were one and the same as "Thomas Brady," a pseudonym to begin with, because your unfailing sycophantic praise of him has a truly narcissistic tone. It's very hard to imagine anyone being taken in by his act who isn't on the take. \r

    You say you aren't him. I accept that. Let's move on.

  74. July 23, 2009
     Margo Berdeshevsky

    I don't even truly care who's who. Anymore than I care about author photos. Content counts for me. The poetry. When the blather here turns to interpretive biography, i change the channel and go back to my books. The rest is--or I hope remains, shorter lines, or silence. \r


  75. July 26, 2009

    It seems the discussion has run its course. Just as well. Guess we'll see in what direction Harriet takes herself.\r


  76. July 26, 2009
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Let me just say, though, that I have, in fact, actually been to places even more serious and humorless than a poetry blog. Let's see, I had to go to my ex-boss's funeral that time... and then to Mother's, then Dad's, my brother-in-law.\r

    Shit, I still have to plan my own damned funeral. I had to bury the old dog today.\r

    Thank God for poetry blogs or I'd never have any fun.

  77. July 30, 2009
     Christopher Woodman

    If I might be permitted one more observation, here at the end.\r

    The trouble with the Like/Dislike option is that it encourages posters to think as they are reading a comment, "Do I like this?" instead of "What is this trying to say?" or "What's in this for me?" or, best of all, "What's going on here in general? How did this come up, for what reason? What's in this for the discussion?" \r

    As it is now one becomes polarized, whereas in an ideal discussion one should rise above both personalities and viewpoints. That's an ideal, of course, but this is a site I would hope could model an ideal, and be an example of poetry discourse in this country at its best.\r

    As to the nitty-gritty of it, and speaking more honestly than I probably should, I know that the present system brings out the very worst in me personally, and I suspect the same thing happens to others--you can see it very clearly in the absurd swings in the voting. Also, I can hear the howls of protests everywhere, "Why did that comment get trashed?" "Why red for that?" Well, sometimes what you wrote got trashed because I trashed it myself, that's why. Indeed, I get all heated up by those Reds and/or those Greens and I think, this simply isn't fair! -- and start spraying my scent around indiscriminately which, needless to say, is going to be mostly Red when I'm feeling like that. I mean, I've cast so many votes in the last week I'm not proud of, and I hate to see our beautiful discussions so defiled!\r

    I'd love to see lots of green votes for what I'm saying so we could all admit that this is, Yes, what we're doing and No, not what we want.\r