Comments on the Culture of Sports Internet Commenting Sections from the Troll’s Perspective.

Jeff Pearlman got Goatse’d. That’s what happened. He wrote a bad article, someone criticized him for it, he confronted the person, the person sent him a link to Goatse, and he clicked it in front of his 7-year-old daughter.

Just a heads up, but don’t google “Goatse.” While the content is extremely strong, the joke that Pearlman was the butt (lol) of wasn’t so much his reaction to seeing it, but that his attackers got the best of him.

Pearlman may not have deserved seeing the very wide eye of the Goatman, but people get swept into that sort of thing.

What Pearlman conveniently left out was that he was doing virtually the same thing to Jeff Bagwell that his commenters did to him.

Pearlman wrote one article about how he doesn’t believe Jeff Bagwell should go into the Hall of Fame–because Pearlman believes he did steroids, with nothing more than very loose circumstancial evidence. Even I wrote a post responding to Pearlman about how egregiously off-base and irresponsible that was. He was holding Bagwell to an incredibly high standard–have proof that you didn’t take steroids or else you shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame–and then not holding himself to, at the least, a similar standard.

*Puts on Jon Stewart wig*

One commenter asked, pretty simply, Why didn’t anyone do any actual investigative journalism and find at least some evidence–including Pearlman, who acknowledged he covered baseball for Sports Illustrated, and Bagwell himself, while Bagwell was playing. Pearlman’s response.

Jonathan—I say this out of frustration, and nothing personal whatsoever. But the ol’ ‘How about a little good old fashioned investigative journalism.” Like it’s so easy, and therefore the media is to blame as much as the players who used.

But … how … No, it’s not easy, but it’s not fair to cast the first stone when you yourself didn’t do the legwork.

The kicker in Pearlman’s Bagwell article is this:

So, again, Joe’s right: Statistically, Jeff Bagwell is a Hall of Famer. And, on a personal note, he was always an approachable and nice guy. But, dammit, thanks to baseball’s meekness (for lack of a better word), Hall of Fame voters (I’m not one, for the record) have the right to suspect anyone and everyone from the past era.

“He was a nice and approachable guy, yet I’m going to take this time to defame him. I don’t even have a reason to.”

Sounds familiar.

In that Bagwell post, there are 106 comments. Five are from Mr. Pearlman himself, none of which address, or even consider, how horribly unfair it is to accuse Bagwell of doing PEDs.

So if he doesn’t hold himself to a standard that he holds a professional baseball player to, why should anyone respect what he writes?

That’s when people took him to task for it. And when it was clear he wasn’t going to respond to well-written responses, a very few though, Well maybe he’ll respond to extremely vitriolic ones. Which he actually did (this was his fatal mistake). And the commenters laughed (“lmao”). And when he started cyber-stalking, two of the commenters were kind enough to not hang up on him immediately and said “Look dude, we were just having some fun with you.”

Note that Andy claims to have spoken with Pearlman for more than an hour and Pearlman used only three quotes.

* * *

The joy of internet commenting is that blogs are, more or less, a meritocracy. The most interesting sites get the most hits, but the most respected sites get the best comments, and most times the least of the worst comments.

Very few sites have that balance between awesome commenters, great content and huge website traffic. Cracked.com and Craig Calcaterra’s Hardball Talk. These are two respected sites. They do their due diligence and their content, though it’s not always Pulitzer stuff, is quite often very good.

And another thing, comment sections are often a reflection of the site itself. And trolls will often avoid doing anything to a site or person that they respect. Not that everyone who’s been trolled deserved it–hell no–but respect is earned on the internet.

The most respected bloggers I know are bloggers who put effort into their posts, respond to decent comments, show intelligent correspondence in doing so, and sometimes correct themselves if they did something wrong. They don’t respond just to the ones that say “That was a great article.” They’ll also tell you they work at keeping their comments section clean–that includes deleting the occasional ad hominem “your a moron” comment.

A respectable journalist would’ve taken the time to find the evidence against Bagwell, asked some clubhouse attendants, asked some people close to Bagwell, and reported if something was off. Pearlman didn’t. He posted a gossip article. You know what happened from there.

Pearlman’s CNN article is pretty decent, if not a thinly veiled attempt to vindicate himself. “Ha! Look, I got them to apologize to me. They actually like me.” People on the internet do enjoy the anonymity. That’s not a shock. That’s one reason why some write some vitriolic statements–another is that they can get away with it. Have I blown your mind yet? And if Andy did love Pearlman’s book, that doesn’t mean he has to appreciate watching Pearlman throw Bagwell under the bus for no reason.

The best any internet writer can do is write to the best of his or her ability–write an essay that’s well-written, has decent support and isn’t some piece of inflamatory garbage–and know that he/she did a good enough job to the point that the story stands on its own. If the writer can look at a dumb comment and laugh, more power to him.

The difference between the well-respected bloggers and the rest is knowing the difference between a legitimate and/or well-written response to a post of yours and reading a comment that’s more or less “your human garbage lol.” The more you respond to the latter, the more you’ll receive.

There. I hope that makes sense. Now go post on your blogs. Delete the bad trolls. Respond to the legitimate gripes. Attempt to enlighten the ones that don’t understand. And be willing to admit you’re wrong sometimes. That’s all we ask.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under MLB

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s