August 23, 2005

"The Kaboodle is trying to take over the blog."

Joel Achenbach writes about the way comments transform the life of the blogger:
The blog originated in January as a catch basin for mental detritus, for the kind of stuff not good enough for print, but too good to waste on casual conversation or, worse, mere thinking. But this spring I began allowing "comments," and the blog suddenly mutated. America, it turns out, is full of smart, clever, creative people who happen to have no interest in working and whose employers have unwisely given them Internet access. Thus every day, on my blog, these strangers show up, just to shoot the breeze, flirt, kvetch, veer off topic and, most of all, pay zero attention to what I have written.

Let's cut to the chase: The blog ignores me.

I am constantly having to post something new just to make the blog interested in me again. My contribution to the blog is what I call the "Kit." The commenters' part is called the "Kaboodle." Some of the everyday Kaboodlers make references to "our blog," as though they're co-proprietors. It's obvious at this point that the Kaboodle is trying to take over the blog. And it won't stop with me: I can picture the Kaboodle rambling across the countryside, panting heavily, stomping through people's gardens, tinkling on little kids' tricycles, etc.

The general trend in blogs seems to be the diminution of the blogger and the elevation of the commentariat.

Okay, commentariat, it's your turn. But before I go — and I've got a long, long drive ahead of me right now — let me say that I don't intend to decline and I don't agree that I'm blogging what's "not good enough for print." I love the form of writing that blogging unleashes and feel that many of the things I can say this way are better than what I could find a place for in other sorts of writing. Okay. Your turn.


Kathy Herrmann said...

Because of its internet nature, and the ability to comment (that is, dialog), blogging is a totally organic medium. Organic both because new content daily changes a blog's face and organic because of how quickly the internet can spread the content to brand new eyeballs.

I'm constantly surprised by what captures peoples' attention in my blog -- and what doesn't.

Additionally, I'm with Achenbach in that my readers have at times influenced what I've written. On several occasions, I've noted visitors doing key word searches on certain word combinations that alerted me "something" was going on the world. And in turn, I went searching to find out what that "something" was and it resulted in several article series.

For me, part of the fun of blogging is the writing. Another part is the feedback -- seeing what interests people and where they're going.

Another element is the intellectual stimulation. I've learned lots of people think like I do (much more than I thought!) and lots of people don't. Then there are the folks in the middle ground who share some of my beliefs while completely diverging on others.

A one sentence summary of the enjoyment of blogging....It's unpredicatable ride.

Jim Clay said...

Are you trying to get us to admit that we have a plot to take over the blog? Because it won't... damn it.

Tonya said...

I am so tempted to hijack this comment thread. I've been wanting to take over Althouse for some time.

Let's see if this will do it . . .

Any Dave Matthews Band fans out there in the Althouse readership? What do you think about the new album? the summer tour?

bill said...

Tonya - No.

Alternate hijack attempts,

1. Fair Tax, anyone?

2. only five weeks until Serenity.

Tonya said...

Bill, back away from this blog post. I mean it!!

Really, there have to be some overzealous DMB fans out there. Right?

Independent George said...

And here I was planning to hijack this blog with comments about cheap airfares or male enhancement pills.

Goesh said...

-it's going to be hard to muster the personnel and resources to take over your Blog given the high volume and diversity of your posts-

Lars said...

Ann, you cannot stonewall this issue: do you take any personal responsibility for UW-Madison being selected as America's premium party school?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BeckyJ said...

I'm on board with the Serenity hijacking...after all, it's what Mal would do.

vbspurs said...


Anyone knows you can only take over a thread when you mention Dubya and/or Iraq, which obviously leads to Dubya-bashing anyway.

Lookie-here at what happened when, mindin' his own biness, the Belmont Club blogger was posting on World Youth Day and Pope Benedict, then suddenly someone mentioned GWBush and it's off to the troll races!

300 posts later, they still are trying to see where Groucho went.

Actually, you know we have to find a good name for it, like Godwin's Law which is the first person to use a Nazi analogy, loses.

I propose we call it Coulter's Law.


bill said...

Dave Matthews is so far off my radar I can’t even come up with a snarky comment. I’m sure I’ve heard something by them, just can’t think of anything. So, if you’re interested, feel free to explain why I should listen to Dave Matthews.

And, why do they hate PC owners of the iPod? Blaming Apple because DMB chooses to treat their fans like thieves is lame.

Ron said...

As much as the comment section is fun, I feel that having intelligent discussion here is like using talk show banter for your obit. "You have 8 seconds to explain the meaning of your life to Leno. Go!" (BTW, "Leno" is "pimp" in Latin)

Threads drift off too quickly for protracted thoughts...


Ron said...

Vicky, love, I think that Groucho went off for two more hard-boiled egg(heads)!

"Say da secret woid and Saddam's statue will come down."

vbspurs said...

Alright, that post above was more cutesy than anything. My thoughts on the topic below.

I know a lot of people think conservative bloggers or those who read blogs who happen to tilt right, think said people only read Rightie blogs, but that's not true -- especially not in my case.

So whenever I go to read, say Daily Kos, I can't help comparing his style of posting to say, that of Ann's here or InstaPundit's.

Ann allows commentary, and thus a slap-happy, chummy atmosphere is more evident than say, at Glenn's.

But that doesn't mean the commentaries are any the less acute or unintellectual for it. In other words, both the personal and the thoughtful are acceptable.

InstaPundit doesn't allow commentaries on his blog, because first of all, it would melt the internets, but secondly, because his staccato, precise posting style would suffer -- and he knows that.

And as much as an InstaPundit forum would be fun...I wouldn't like it.

One of the reasons Daily Kos is so peripatetic in his postings is that he knows his Kossites are there to comment in general, more than to comment in specific about the topics at-hand.

(And more than even that, it's a way to let off steam when you're in opposition, something which is severely frustrating to those with entitlement complexes)

When I was Instalanched, I observed to a friend I got 2,000 hits in 1 hour. He said I would've gotten treble that if I had been Koslanched.

That's when I was thinking that's quite correct, because Blogosphere has a visible imbalance towards right-wing bloggers (and I don't just mean in the TTLB Top 20), so thus it's not surprising left-wing bloggers congregate to one particular blog more than others.

The concentration gives it a different dynamic. Less prominent left-wing blogs, less diffusion.

When you have a forum like they do, and like Ann does, it's about like-minded people sharing their thoughts about life, not just about the topics presented by the blog-owner, which are merely a fulcrum to get things started.


bill said...

Serenity hijack: For any Firefly fans, I recommend finding the comic book series before seeing the movie. It’s a 3 issue arc - last issue comes out next month - and is supposed to gap events between the end of the series and the movie. Second issue: “I knew that guy wasn’t dead!”

Now the last time I bought a comic book they were a quarter, so paying $2.99 was quite the sticker shock.

vbspurs said...

Ahh, Ron, the Marx Bros. (the original libertarians). How I love their anarchic mayhem. What better way to hijack a thread but to quote them!

Groucho: It's what we call a sanity clause.

Chico: You can't fool-a me. There ain't no Sanity Claus.


Ron said...

Victoria, do you believe that the left/right disparity in the number of bloggers of each type will even out over time, or is there something intrinsic to blogging (or the net?) that creates this distinction?

This is a good blog topic in itself.

Ron said...

When on You Bet Your Life Groucho questioned a woman who informed him that she had 10 children.
When he asked how she could have so many children, she replied, "But Groucho I love my husband!"

and Groucho shot back: "And I love my cigar, but at least I take it out of my mouth once and a while!"

I believe she sued him for these remarks...

Ron said...

Now, I doubt this is true, but Groucho claimed that Chico ratted on the Marx family to HUAC in exchange for help with IRS problems. This caused no end of grief for Groucho, (LES Jewish Socialists in the 1920's? Amazing!) but he fought through it. Later in the '50's, Chico still had money problems and came to Groucho for a loan/handout!

Groucho's line: "At that point I knew -- he was a greater comedian than I would ever be."

Even if it's not true, it's a great setup for that line...

bill said...

Snopes has Undetermined for the Groucho comment and lawsuit.

Ron said...

bill: Ah, but even if untrue...isn't that something we wish Groucho did say?


bill said...

Ron - true, but I also work part-time as a groove stomper. I just find something humorous in the stone-faced refusal to admit to a joke.

it’s just a joke.
That’s your opinion. Frankly, I find your constant need to try and infer the reasons behind the chicken’s motive a little offputting. Did you ever think that maybe the chicken just saw something shiny? Or just wandered off and inadvertantly ended up on the other side of the road? Chickens aren’t that bright.

Monty Loree said...

Hi Ann:
Commentary on your blog is important to your revenue source.

Often I've found blogs because of the comments on the blog. It's good for traffic. Your revenues would drop drastically if you didn't have people writing unique content and planting keywords into your blog.

Comments are leverage to your own writing. As long as they keep clean and on topic I whole heartedly invite them. Ultimately you're trying to get more traffic from search engines. Your commenters will help you as they drive content which drives website traffic.

More comments = More money

XWL said...

Re: Serenity hijacking, I think that's much more of a Jayne move, but don't forget only 38 days until the movie release.

Re: Commentariat, Can we as a culture agree to stop using soviet era language quirks for describing new phenomenon (maybe Pajamahadeen instead)?

Re: DMB, that was a joke, right?

Re: The difference between right/left blogging I think stems from frustration with academia and MSM (most bloggers from a centrist/right viewpoint are doing so as a reaction to irritation from reflexive leftism of MSM and academia, and because of the nature of their opposition they attempt to do so with intelligence and reason). Bloggers on the left do so out of frustration with being less influential politically (from their viewpoint they are the smartest beings to ever traverse this planet, so why isn't anyone else listening? and because of this they tend to descend into petulant whining).

bill said...

Grouch Marx FBI file; or as they refer to him as “Graucho.”

bill said...

Serenity hijack: Well, the trailers certainly lead you to believe it could be a Jayne-style action movie. I think they should change the tagline to “Let’s be bad guys.” Or “Oh God Oh God, we’re all going to die.” It’s looking like Book is getting short shrift on this one, so I’m hoping the next movie explains his background. My bet is he was involved with the Alliance at Serenity valley.

Ron said...

bill: the graucho fbi link didn't work.

and the point of being a groove stomper is what exactly? Just to be a pill? So is it enjoyable if someone does that to you, or are you annoyed?

I suppose it's funny to go to a party and be churlish; but do it systematically and look how many parties you get invited to!

L. Ron Halfelven said...

"I'd like to buy a kit."
"You'll have to get a kaboodle too. It's a set." -- George Carlin

Bruce Hayden said...

One kinda good thing is that now has that silly mechanism to keep comment spamming down - the feature where you have to read and type in the non-machine readable character key in order to comment.

Yes, it is a pain, but, I am sure, not nearly as painful as having to delete all the comment spam that is now starting to show up.

Monty Loree said...

As well, uses rel="nofollow" in the anchor text with comments. This means that you don't get credit for links in the comments section with regards to search engine ranking. This seriously discourages blog spam in

The only credit you get by leaving your link is when a person physically sees it and visits it.

rel="nofollow" has been described as a "link condom".

It's hilarious.

Paul said...

This, is a Blog?

Finn Kristiansen said...

"Iraqi's out of Iraq NOW!!!"

K, I just always wanted to say that and this "Kaboodle" post of Ann's seems like the perfect spot.

Actually now would be the perfect time to take over her blog, while she is busy driving. I feel so liberated, like I can say commenty-spammy things like viagra and cialis and "read my Xanga diary" without any punishment.

Ploopus, do you have a blog?

vbspurs said...

Victoria, do you believe that the left/right disparity in the number of bloggers of each type will even out over time, or is there something intrinsic to blogging (or the net?) that creates this distinction?

Actually, this topic really intrigues me, Ron.

But I can't help but using Marxist-Leninist, Foucaultian-influenced theories about the topic, because that's how my professors trained me to think as an Historian (yes, my undergrad degree was in history. Lot of good that did me in medicine...).

Didn't work, so hah! But I can still think like them, alas.

So using their theories of the dynamics of power, that you can say that blogs are the perfect medium for those who want to control and use their power once grown, unidirectionally.

Unlike the anarchy of USENET (which is dying, if not dead already), where you have to "swallow" various types of people, of all viewpoints -- yes, even with killfiles --, an one-writer blog is like a film director, which some progressive intellectuals in Europe call "the fascist in film-making" since their auteur vision overrides everything.

These single-writer bloggers set the tone, the viewpoint, the direction and ultimately, the outcome of what goes inside a blog, by their very one-ness.

Obviously, multi-partenered blogs like Donklephant (small wonder it's a centrist blog, would say these intellectuals), or blogs with commentaries set to 'on' will have less of that strong-man direction which the Left fetishises as Rightist, because of "feedback participation" or "input".

Here, in lieu of anything deeper on the topic (see below as to partially why), I'll just echo what Leroy W said, that blogs fulfill a central need for expression that Conservatives feel was denied them in popular culture to date.

And his assessment of the reason why left-of-centre bloggers do so, is also aligned spot on.

This is a good blog topic in itself.

It's been percolating in my mind to do this, and I think I will rather.

I'll let you know if and when it's posted. :)


vbspurs said...

Actually now would be the perfect time to take over her blog, while she is busy driving. I feel so liberated, like I can say commenty-spammy things like viagra and cialis and "read my Xanga diary" without any punishment.

*streaks across the room with CASINOPALACE.COM on her boobs*

Ha! Ha! You can't catch me. Ooh ESPN cameras!


Ron said...

Victoria: Blogjacking! Dat's good for a dime in these here parts of the IntraWeb! Someday, Ann will be able to hear these comments in Silvio through some sort of podcasty like program...but not today!

bill said...

Ron - sometimes the joke is only for the person telling the joke and parties are overrated - too many people.

And The Smoking Gun should have the Groucho files here. Sorry for the bad link, earlier.

bill said...

one final hijack attempt...combining Serenity and the earlier post on movie marketing is this Firefly Movie Using Viral Marketing

Tristram said...

"Dave Matthews is so far off my radar I can’t even come up with a snarky comment. I’m sure I’ve heard something by them, just can’t think of anything. "

All I know is you probably don't want to drive aconvertable next to the tour bus.

bill said...

Tristram - funny, I don't know the band, but I do know the story you're referring to.