Sunday, January 07, 2007

Peed off with Telegraph blogs

This is my third and final post on the subject of those Telegraph blogs.

ed. Update now added (in red): go to end of post

Here's what happened when I tried responding to Shane Richmond's blog posting entitled:

The Most Read Blog Posts of 2006

This was his ranking:

1. Shane Richmond: Singalong-a-Shearer (4 July)
2. Hilary Alexander: Posh's short sharp shock (3 August)
3. Anton La Guardia: Slip of the tongue (1 April)
4. Shane Richmond: Altered images (4 August)
5. Kate Connolly: Europe's biggest brothel (17 May)
6. David Rennie: The cartoon row goes on (1 February)
7. Anton La Guardia: How has this cartoon crisis come about (2 February)
8. Hilary Alexander: Hilary vs Hugh - fashion week fighting (19 September)
9. David Rennie: On the trail of the extra cartoons (6 February)
10. David Derbyshire: Peter Gabriel interview (27 October)

Are some of you regulars thinking what I'm thinking ? So off went the following Comment:

Popularity contests

Whilst not wishing to detract from your top ranking, Shane, might I take issue with you on one point. These are not necessarily the "most read blog posts". They are the post titles, with accompanying graphic and first sentence or two, that have attracted most interest to make folk want to click and read further .

It is perhaps not surprising that titles that mention celebrities occupy the top two positions, and others, with words like "brothel" and those cartoons look equally click-worthy. A more balanced survey would take account of other factors, whether measurable (eg number of comments) or perhaps not, such as time spent reading before moving on to something else.

The largest number of comments on a blog was for one of Colin Randall's (some 180 as I recall), but some of his faithful followers - myself included- did show an occasional tendency to stray off-topic, or even invent the occasional new visitor to enliven the proceedings.

But then the blog is essentially a branch of showbiz, would you not agree ?

That was sent 3rd Jan at about 6pm. Nothing appeared that evening. In fact, nothing appeared the whole of the next morning. Yet other comments, received after mine, went up. But I could not immediately protest. Why not ? Because I learned recently that when the Telegraph moderators go to work on a backlog of Comments, they deal with them on a " Last Come, First Served Basis" . Or "First Come, Last Served". Yes, that's official: it's from the horse's mouth (email from Shane Richmond).

So, to put down a marker, I sent the following short Comment to the same thread, which went up almost immediately:

A proper audit ?

Afterthought to the comment sent yesterday, Shane (although not as yet displayed !).

Does your league table include posts from that renowned, but sadly erstwhile blogger, Colin Randall ? Or Alec Russell, for that matter ?

That one went up quickly, thus making it abundantly clear to Telegraph readers that an earlier one was missing !

It took quite some time, though, for the earlier one to appear - hours, not minutes.

There was a similar performance today (see Comments on previous post). Comments received at the Telegraph this morning went up immediately.

One of mine, sent Saturday, only appeared 8 hours later. Yes, 8 hours !

ed : note added 10 Jan - it was held back, in fact, nearer two days in total !

And another sent the same day, to Toby Harnden's blog hasn't appeared at all. And even Toby is finding replies he sends to his own blog fail to appear (see Comments, previous post). Toby thinks it's an IT fault in the system. Personally, I think it's a human fault - failure to clear backlogs, exacerbated by the perverse policy of moderating in reverse chronological order. Whatever the explanation, it's not being dealt with.

Hell, what am I doing, documenting all this stuff ? Anal-retentiveness was not part of the New Year's resolutions ( except for cleaning that model ship on a monthly basis).

Let's not mince our words: those of us who post comments to Telegraph blogs are seen as a sad little bunch of individuals who can be treated in the most casual offhand fashion.

So the comment was sent two days ago - and is still waiting to be "moderated". "So what ? Let 'em wait. Show 'em who's boss. And if they moan, well, we can just ignore their comment altogether. No, that's not censorship, 'cos we won't even bother reading it. We'll just consign it straight to that good 'ol virtual dustbin. "

Well, I'm reading you loud and clear, Daily Telegraph. So here's me, blogging off. You can go find yourself another mug.

Update: Toby Harnden is in deep s***. I'm keeping quiet ( one doesn't kick a man when he's down). And Ben Fenton has once again got backs up by mixing up astronomy with astrology, at Patrick Moore's expense. It's not on his blog this time, for which I took him to task on a previous occasion, but a main article, inviting comments. Here's something I bashed off quickly, which has yet to appear at the time of writing:

" This is not the first time that Ben Fenton has used his privileged position on the Telegraph (or his blog) to introduce an astronomy topic, and then proceed to trivialise it with references to astrology. This might be understandable (though not forgivable) in a red-top tabloid.
Does he have any idea of the insult that he causes to readers who thirst for the latest scientific discoveries concerning our planet, the Solar System and the Universe ? Does he not realise that there are many among us who have astrology mentally bracketed with seances and tarot cards, and consider it a pollutant in any discussion of astronomy ? "

14:00 London time: The Telegraph has recently added a batch of extra comments to Ben Fenton's story. Yes, you guessed correctly: mine is not among them. It has clearly been censored.
Mental note: there's no point wasting any more time in sending comments to either the Telly's blogs or its main stories. The new Victoria HQ has become the Kremlin for Conrad Black's new empire.

But somebody else makes a similar point to my own, in slightly toned down language, and questions why a "quality paper" allows Fenton to publish his trivial down-market guff.

And the s*** just keeps getting deeper for Toby Harnden......


Louise said...

I've just been accused of 'twittering' by Roo, so will continue in the same vein. I read the Shane blog about the 'most read' blogs too, and was surprised (no I wasn't) to see that Colin R didn't get a look in ... I think that is pretty toady of the Telegraph as I'm sure more people read and participated in Colin's blog than Shane's boring stuff for example, where usually there were just a couple of replies from geeks in the IT world.

Try and keep a New Years' resolution, Colin, and stay off the Telly blogs - we are used to you flouncing off in a huff every now and then, knowing that you can't stay away for long, but do try staying away from their blogs - they are mainly rubbish any way!

ColinB said...

Seems the English language has acquired a new irregular verb, Louise: to abstain.

I abstain
You boycott
He flounces off

But I concur with you wholeheartly re Shane Richmond's dodgy self-serving league table. One would have thought that a tad of modesty was called for. It was he who should have added a cautionary note about crude click-counting statistics.

Sarah said...

I haven't read any Telegraph blogs for months, having given up just after Colin R's departure. I realise now that I went in to read his blog and then visited the others. With his gone, I have no initial reason to go there, and thus never visit the others.

It's the same with the Times. I read Charles Bremner's and that's about it.

ColinB said...

Hello again Sarah. Glad to hear you had a good trip back home with your lads. Though riding around on the top of a bus through outer London suburbia ain't exactly my idea of fun.

Any ideas on what set Colin R's Telly blog apart from the others ? Here's my germ of an idea, although he may not thank me for it. It's to do with age and life experience mainly. Today's younger set are obsessed with their self-image, how they will be judged by their peer group, their prospects for future celebrity. Older folk, closer to retirement (whether voluntary or imposed !) can afford to reveal a little more of themselves, if only by subtle hints and cues, which makes them more human and accessible. And knowing when to remain aloof, rather than mixing it. But there's a downside: one can attract oddballs and attention seekers by being too accessible. Nuff said for now.....

richard of orléans said...

I think we are all a little too un English and, except for Sarah, a little too old to be accepted in the politically correct world of the Telegraph. If you notice there are not too many bloggers on the Telegraph who look much over forty and or have much knowledge of the non Anglo Saxon world (or much desire to learn about it). I am sure that Colin's departure was a conscious, or not very unconscious, move to rejuveniate the image of the paper and get rid of a Frenchie.

Obviously they are not very keen on reader participation. I can't think of a better way to eliminate it than what they have done over the last few weeks. Colinb the truth is, they don't want your comments, let alone mine.

As somebody approaching a retirement age I don't want to be anti youth. I am sure I was not always very tolerant of the oldies. But as somebody, fit, healthy intelligent and knowlegeable of French culture, it is tough that the English youth(and to be fair not just the English youth) seem to think that we have absolutely no right to a living space on this planet.

Louise said...

I think you are probably right, Richard - the Telly is trying to rejunivate and it's working! Soon it will be a tabloid and fairly indistinguishable from the Daily Mail. Like Sarah, now that Colin R has left I don't read the blogs very often - I had a quick look at today's blogs - over half were sport-related (fine if you love football) and some of the others are really pathetic - Erin Baker feeling a bit 'rusty dusty' getting back on her bike and Francisca Kellett writing about 'fluffy' snow (how about the word 'powder') - oh dear me, these girls have just left primary school.

Ben Fenton's article on Patrick More was an insult to a brilliant man and as to Toby H and his advanced hanging of Saddam...if he had been on TV his head would have rolled (sorry - not intended).

As you say, they obviously don't want the fiftysomething + readers any more, especially those who have escaped to another country. I don't care though - it's still free online and I have stopped buying it on a Saturday for the crossword at the gross price of CHF7.- as a box of firelighters works out cheaper and lasts longer!

Sarah said...

Colin's blog was relevant to my life. He wrote about life in France which I could relate to and comment on. Every post meant something to me as a fellow Brit living in France.

That is what is missing from the others. They are not relevant to me, and while I might be interested from time to time in an item, it is not enough to get me to go into the blogs in the first place. Unless I'm having a really slow day.

I prefer to comment on the debates in the Times, if I have something to say, that is.

The bus trip was fun essentially for the boys. It also got us out of the rain and into the warm for the duration. And it took us to new places even if they were mostly ghastly. At least we now know they are.