Re: can someone please explain what this blog tagging this is all about?

From: <>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 15:46:13 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <>

On Jan 14, 2:50 am, Frank van Bortel <> wrote:
> hpuxrac wrote:
> > As many times as HJR has changed things and ditched all of his old
> > content there are still at times useful articles and postings out
> > there.
> > However it looks like now both the ( old site as of just a couple of
> > weeks ago now ) and new and improved site are both offline and
> > unavailable. There's some kind of message about oracle blog tag
> > spamming?
> > Sorry I just don't understand. There was a lot of excitement several
> > years ago about oracle blogging but much of that excitement ( and
> > quality of postings ) kind of has dropped off the ege of the world.
> > I don't use any of the news readers ( whatever they are ) and/or
> > aggregators ( whatever they are ) just have a couple of url's I check
> > out from time to time ( limited ) as well as cdos.
> > So any of the background info related to what is going on and why
> > people might be taking websites and content offline would be
> > appreciated.
> > Thanks
> Nope - I'm baffled. Both with Howard's behavior and with
> this Oracle blog spamming - looks to me if you do not want
> to be in, don't - a simple as 1-2-3.
> --
> Regards,
> Frank van Bortel
> Top-posting in UseNet newsgroups is one way to shut me up

I must say it's this attitude I find bewildering.

You're on a train, reading. Your neighbour is wearing an ipod. He decides to turn the volume up so that the sksshh-sksssh-sksssh of the beat disturbs you. You politely ask the person to turn their ipod down. They refuse to do so, saying 'it ain't that loud, mister. What's your problem?'

So much for hypotheticals. Let's consider real blog aggregators. Blog aggregators take feeds from many people's blogs. Visiting one site lets you see the totality of what's going on in the Oracle 'blogging community' with one quick overview. Very useful, very functional. Unfortunately, aggregating things together means that what for an individual blogger is one trivial little post gets aggregated together with everyone else's trivial little posts and suddenly it's not a trivial little problem any more. Suddenly, there's a mountain of collected posts generated by this "game", driving out almost any other information.

Blog aggregators work by showing new posts at the top of the page. As new posts arrive, old posts get shunted downwards... until they fall off the page altogether. Because of the sudden influx of '8 things' posts (shorthand for the blog tagging pyramid scheme's posts), one of my blog posts went onto the front page of OraNA and disappeared off it in slightly over twelve minutes. If it happens to my posts, it happens to others' too. So now OraNA isn't a great overview of what's happening in the Oracle blogging, but is instead swamped with 'me-too' posts from people who have chosen to participate in the pyramid scheme known as blog tagging.

That is a loss of functionality. It is inconvenient to me. It is disruptive to me. If it is inconvenient to me and causing me disruption, I am fairly confident that it will be inconvenient and disrupting to others. Lots of others. But maybe not you.

So I wrote to about 4 or 5 of the people who had 'passed it on', each to about 8 others, to ask them would they mind contacting their 8 and asking *them* not to pass the thing on further as it was damaging the aggregation functionality. One of them replied that it was his blog and he'd do what he liked. Besides, the people running the blog aggregators were 'skimming' his work, probably to their financial advantage not his. Another replied that as he didn't use OraNA himself, it didn't seem like much of a problem. The others didn't respond at all.

So I blogged about it, simply pointing out that if things went according to the quite open plans of the devisor of the tagging "game", by round 4, there would 4096 me-too '8 things' posts. I didn't demand anything. I didn't call anyone anything. I simply pointed out the maths and asked whether people would please stop 'passing it on': by all means post 8 personal things about yourself, but don't encourage 8 others to do the same, on and on, because to do so would be to cause damage to the aggregators. For this I was accused by one of throwing my weight around ("When I signed up to my blog I didn't realise I had signed your terms and conditions"), another said simply that I was just being "grumpy" and a third simply said, "Chill dude, you'll have an aneurysm". As if this has anything to do with my emotional state or a desire to dictate to others!

That is precisely the "it ain't loud, mister" response I would expect to have to put up with on the train, but had hoped I wouldn't have to put up with from members of a supposed "community" of bloggers.

You tell me Frank: if I don't "want to be in" (which I don't), tell me how, simple as 1-2-3, I "don't". That's like saying, if you don't like the white noise coming from the earbuds of the guy sitting next to you, don't listen! But the fact of the matter is that the choices of others have impinged on the functionality of a website I use. Their actions have **taken away** my choice not to participate. Whether I like it or not, OraNA gets flooded with these posts, and I can't opt out of that.

Oh, considerate members of the Oracle blogging community have said I could learn to use an RSS reader: you can filter those, after all. (As if I didn't know about RSS readers already!) Trouble is, how do I install an RSS reader on a SOE PC? Or on a friend's PC? Or on a PC to which I don't have rights to install anything? No problem: Firefox has a reader built-in. Great... so what do I do if I don't use Firefox? Or my SOE PC dictates IE6 and nothing else?

This is the "if you don't like the noise, mister, sit somewhere else" school of nuisance management. It's **my** fault for being there, and the solution is for **me** to move, even though the noise and buisance is being made by someone else! No thanks: all these workarounds assume too much and miss the "moral hazard" of making the victim take action to ameliorate the consequences of the actions of the perpetrators.

I thought of starting my own blog tagging game. I'd start with a post that went something like this: "Post 8 personal things about yourself and pass this note onto 8 other people. Bill Gates will donate $1 for every time this note is passed on to another group of 8 people". What would happen then, Frank, do you think? This, too, would be seen as an innocent bit of fun? A game to enjoy, nothing to worry about? I don't think so. When you get those sorts of posts in your inbox, you call it spam. The Oracle community has just indulged in a giant bit of spamming. I'm told by Tim Hall that it's not spam at all because it's not written by anonymous commentators on a blog but by the blog authors themselves. I'm supposed to believe this makes it alright, but to me, it makes it much worse.

So what about my behaviour don't you understand, Frank? If I find train travel noxious, abhorrent, noisy and unpleasant because of the behaviour of my fellow, but inconsiderate, passengers, would you be surprised if I started driving in to work? I find what has happened pretty unpleasant. I find the attitude of those involved in what you quite correctly call 'blog spamming' abhorrent. I simply don't see why I should, or should be expected to, continue to make my work available to such a community. That's unfortunate for the many who haven't engaged in this round of spamming, but then perhaps those people should make their voice heard. Passive acquiesence in the vandalism perpetrated by a few gets you a slum with no nice amenities, after all.

I have been told my action is disproportionate, but the people saying that don't (it seems to me) appear to appreciate the scale of what has just gone on here. Like you, they shrug and say, 'don't like it, don't read it'. To them, it's trivial, so my response seems completely way off beam. But I see a site has been vandalised and a mode of behaviour condoned which, in any other context you care to mention, would be condemned as a pyramid scheme, spam, a virus, a distributed denial of service attack -call it what you will, but those involved with the Internet generally do not take kindly to things which propagate exponentially with a seemingly benign payload.

I won't make my material available to a community that thinks generating and encouraging exponential traffic growth is a game and that so long as it doesn't affect them personally, it can't be that important. Simple as that. Received on Sun Jan 13 2008 - 17:46:13 CST

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