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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Saga of Chelsea Alvarez-Bell Continues, This Time With Journalistic Brow-Furrowing

posted by on July 11 at 9:05 AM

From Slog to Gawker to a new Time.com think-piece about the cruelty of commenters:

By LEV GROSSMAN

Last month a woman who worked for the Stranger, an alternative weekly in Seattle, quit in a huff. She had been writing for the paper’s blog, the Slog. The problem was the comments people were making on her posts. She couldn’t stand them anymore. “The word I would use is cruel,” she wrote in her sign-off.

Actually, if cruel was all they were, she got off pretty easy…

The horribleness of commenters isn’t really a mystery: Internet anonymity is disinhibiting, and people are basically mean anyway. Nor is it a mystery why the people who run websites put up with commenters: the economic model for Internet content is based on advertising, which means it’s based on traffic volume, and comments mean traffic. They’re part of the things that make online publishing work. TIME.com enables comments on its blogs, including mine.) It’s just hard to tell whether they’re ruining the Web faster than they can save it.

Commenters tend to respond with surprise—they’re shocked, shocked!—when people call them on being not nice. In their social universe, this kind of rhetorical slap-fighting is just how you do business, and anybody who feels otherwise is thin-skinned and humorless. As lame and self-serving as this excuse is, we can learn something from taking it at face value. Maybe commenters are just on one side of a cultural disconnect between two incompatible ideas of what the social conventions of the Internet should be. One is based on the standards of real-world, off-line politeness. The other is a kind of communal game in which whoever is cleverest and pushes the most buttons wins.

This disconnect is probably just temporary. In another decade or two, one side or the other will have won out, and then we’ll all be on the same page, and we won’t have this kind of misunderstanding anymore. But I know which side I’m rooting for.

Only a couple of decades? Then what’s all the fuss?! I mean, that’s only, like, 10,000 years in internet time…

RSS icon Comments

1

Eli, your momma wears combat boots.

Feal the meanness.

Grrrr.

Posted by mackro mackro | July 11, 2008 9:10 AM
2

Chelsea has no idea how much she's done for me. She's practically licked my anus.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 11, 2008 9:11 AM
3

Oh wait...

first!

Posted by mackro mackro | July 11, 2008 9:11 AM
4

We got the Stranger mentioned on Time.

You should be jizzing yourself and thanking us.

Posted by Non | July 11, 2008 9:16 AM
5

I wonder if any of the yobs at Time bothered to read her posts or the comments.

The commentators responded with rage because her writing sucked and wasn't up to the standards of The Stranger and Slog, low that they may be. It's that simple.

Time to stop beating this horse to death; NEXT!

Posted by michael strangeways | July 11, 2008 9:16 AM
6

Isn't this a point I tried to make to Dan Savage about his bulldog posts in which he got all defensive?

"Internet content is based on advertising, which means itís based on traffic volume, and comments mean traffic."

Posted by Non | July 11, 2008 9:17 AM
7

Anonymous commenters are what they are complaining about. Most of these print media that have jumped on the web in the last few years, including The Slog, have gone for anonymous commenting, as if that's the only way to do it. And they act like killfiles, registration, self-policing rating systems, and so on are some radical notion they aren't quite ready to try.

Not that I expect much insight from somebody who is still parroting that "shocked, shocked!" catchphrase.

Posted by elenchos | July 11, 2008 9:19 AM
8

Fuck! I fear she may get a book deal out of all this attention. I vote to never mention her again. But answer me this...Does the Slog keep posting her name in hopes of making up the money in ad-revenue that they paid her snivilling ass to come back?

Posted by Still hate Chelsea | July 11, 2008 9:20 AM
9

Eli,
Yeah, I recall her and commenters' postings. She seemed pretty upset when she left the Slog. I agree there is genuine meanness in some of the postings (I have received some of them). Kind of ashame she was driven away. I believe blogs are like kitchens, they generate much heat. Clearly, if one doesn't like it, get out. When, I get irritated at someone's outlandish views, commentary or even personal insult, I do one of two things. I retort civily and usually sarcastically or I move on to the next blog subject. When blogging on the internet one must be thick-skinned. Otherwise, don't bother.

Posted by lark | July 11, 2008 9:20 AM
10

Slog writers are the problem. ECB isn't afraid to call fellow bloggers "complete fucking assholes" as she did earlier this week. ECB isn't afraid to call out local columnists by name and insult them, as she did earlier this week. ECB isn't afraid to distort facts any which way to make her foolish arguments.

Commenters are going to push back hard. We don't get to write the headlines. Maybe if the Slog wasn't full of crap crap crap the comments would be more nice. I think the evidence for this is that some writers here get a lot of crap and others do not. Hmmm

Posted by oh come on | July 11, 2008 9:21 AM
11

How far is she going to ride this thing? Has she got a teary-eyed appearance on Oprah booked yet? I'd never heard of her until all of this, but I now officially think of her as the world's biggest crybaby. Yeah, I'm mean and cruel, up here in my anonymous internet ivory tower.

Posted by JC | July 11, 2008 9:21 AM
12

Didn't care then; don't care now.

Posted by laterite | July 11, 2008 9:23 AM
13

Lifetime movie of the week starring Valerie Bertonelli.

Posted by monkey | July 11, 2008 9:23 AM
14

elenchos: They've been testing out user registration at the Portland Mercury's blog for the past couple weeks. It looks like they've been working on it quite a while -- it looks great.

Posted by poppy | July 11, 2008 9:23 AM
15

@11: I'm kinda with you on this. I've actually been reading Chelsea Alvarez-Bell's blog because I wanted to see what so charmed the Stranger that they decided to have her as a guest blogger--and her blog is boooooorrrrrinnnggggg...

Posted by Nora | July 11, 2008 9:25 AM
16

Also,

SHE DIDN'T WORK FOR THE STRANGER.

God.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 11, 2008 9:27 AM
17

What people like Time, and Chelsea Alvarez-Bell, don't seem to realize is that this has been going on for a quarter of a century, in Usenet. It's a game. It's no more offensive than the shock humor of Lenny Bruce was offensive.

Not that I'm calling myself Lenny Bruce. But this process is completely obvious to anyone who's been around for more than ten minutes. Remember when Chelsea first got here? I was all "oh, you're going to get it", and then a minute later when the attacking team was assembled, I switched over to defense to make it fairer.

It's a medium for pleasurable jousting, that's all.

And what happened to Chelsea wouldn't even break the top one thousand wars on Usenet, believe me.

Time's writer is being stupid, and stupid in a particularly naive way. Oh, sure, "in another decade or two, one side or the other will have won out", just like people in cowboy bars have taken to drinking tea with their pinkies extended.

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 9:30 AM
18

We got the Stranger mentioned on Time.

Does this even matter nowadays? What next, Katie Couric gives The Stranger a mention?

Posted by jmr | July 11, 2008 9:37 AM
19

The poor offended writer that Time mentions only got a small dose of the shit that people give ECB every time she posts something on here that exposes her brand of woeful ignorance to the world.

Posted by Dingo Rossi | July 11, 2008 9:37 AM
20

Why won't this Chelsea Alvarez-Bell saga just die?

Seriously, it's just a stain on the history of the Slog. A horrible confluence of vapid blogging (Chelsea), over-the-top flaming (Poe, JTC and many others), and retarded appeasement (Keck).

I just want to forget that it ever happened.

Posted by Hernandez | July 11, 2008 9:37 AM
21

The writers actually read the comments and cry when they aren't nice?

Posted by Fly-Over Illinois | July 11, 2008 9:37 AM
22

Ahh, you squid brains.

Posted by Abby | July 11, 2008 9:42 AM
23

Well, technically, since Keck gave her money, she ended up being an employee of sorts.

I wonder if they made her pay tax on it? And is it taxable as earned income, or as a gift?

Call the IRS, STAT!

Posted by michael strangeways | July 11, 2008 9:43 AM
24

I liked Chelsea. I thought she was great. Her posts weren't any more vacuous than some of the regulars (or ours, during Freaky Fridays). And so-called frivolous posts are just as important to a blog as the heavy ones, maybe more so.

And Mr. Poe, she DID work for The Stranger. Regular staff? No, but neither are many of the regular names on Slog and Line Out. Blog posts are work.

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 9:50 AM
25

My biggest issue with what this is all suggesting, and what many seem to just shrug off, is that accepting that the internet is full of assholes. That doesn't mean its ok.

Fundamentalistic asshole-ness isn't any different then being a fundie christian. "oh we're all nice in real life"...so are most fundie-christians when they're going about their daily business.

Posted by harold | July 11, 2008 9:51 AM
26

So many thoughts...

First and foremost, it must be said again: WE'RE FUCKING FAMOUS FOR BEING MEAN AND MAKING A GIRL CRY!!!! I don't know about the rest of you, but that is the greatest thing ever!

Second, maybe I'm just naturally evil, but I just can't believe people would really get bent outta shape over some dumb comments on a blog post. Maybe it is just years of desensitivity listening to Howard Stern...

Also, In another decade or two, one side or the other will have won out...Is there any doubt who will win this imaginary war? Polite people never win against assholes with no souls or conscience.

Finally, whoever is cleverest and pushes the most buttons wins...is there any doubt Mr. Poe takes this one?

Posted by Mike in MO | July 11, 2008 9:51 AM
27

Oh wait, I forgot to add the most amusing part of the equation: "old-school" Sloggers like Meinert and Kerri Harrop chiming in during the whole saga to extol the virtues of what Slog "used to be". I found those bits of revisionism to be just precious.

Posted by Hernandez | July 11, 2008 9:51 AM
28

I have no idea who this Chelsea person is, because I haven't really read Slog much these days. Because of the commenters. I did the guest Slogging back in March and I didn't really read the comments on my posts. And then I stopped reading comments on anyone's posts, and then I just stopped reading. I didn't leave in a huff, I just got sick of it and drifted away.

There are other sites where I actually like the community, so I hang out on those. And, to be fair, there are people who come onto those site and are like, "You guys are so meeeeean!" I guess it's about finding your little corner of the internet with a moderation policy (or lack thereof) that you can get behind. Slog sure isn't it for me. The commenters here have ensured The Stranger doesn't my page views, but you can't please everyone and there are other people who are drawn here instead of me.

Posted by exelizabeth | July 11, 2008 9:55 AM
29

"I dare you to find me something more boring than someone correcting another personís grammar," wrote Chelsea. Well we have a winner: someone writing a story about someone whining about someone correcting another person's grammar.

Posted by kinaidos | July 11, 2008 9:55 AM
30

Fnarf, if you call that work, well...even if it is, she most certainly didn't do any "work".

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 11, 2008 10:02 AM
31

To a certain extent, I agree with Fnarf that in this kind of medium you should expect to take some shit, and that it's part of the game. The stuff that I thought was way overboard with the whole Chelsea thing was that commenters started telling her to just kill herself or shoot herself - nasty stuff in that vein.

Posted by Gabriel | July 11, 2008 10:03 AM
32

Is this a cautionary tale of how we are losing our humanity on the Internet? I sometimes think it is a sign of how we are becoming more intellectually lazy. "Fuck you, your idea is stupid" is quicker and easier to write than a thoughtful analysis explaining why the idea is stupid.

Regardless, after re-reading my posts, I stand behind most of what I've posted here on Slog. I'd say most of it in the "real world", well except the sex stuff, I probably wouldn't say the sex stuff...

p.s. I'm happy to learn that Mr. Poe was able to make lemonade from the lemons.

Posted by PopTart | July 11, 2008 10:04 AM
33

chelsea ding dong bell
when shall we be fully rid of you

Posted by tiffany | July 11, 2008 10:06 AM
34

It's not just a catch phrase. It's a great movie. The origin of "shocked, shocked":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM_A4Skusro

Posted by former editor | July 11, 2008 10:10 AM
35

time.com=evil. timecube.com=

EARTH HAS 4 CORNER
SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY
TIME CUBE
IN ONLY 1 EARTH ROTATION.
4 Corner TIME, CUBES EARTH.
If a God existed, he would be EVIL
to DENY 4 Opposite Corner Days.
NOTE: Paired Opposite Arrows on
drawing exists only as Opposites -
cancelling to nothing as One/Entity.
Composed of Opposites, Earth has
Zero Existence, as One is Nothing...

Posted by umvue | July 11, 2008 10:13 AM
36

The thing that surprises me a lit about Slog is that in a way, for the regulars anyways, it is not a truly anonymous forum. Alot of you people know each other in real life, from going to Slog Happy or other things... And yet, you are still oftentimes assholes online. I understand people who are assholes anonymously, but you would think that the "real life" aspect would cut down on that.

I agree with PopTart about the whole intellectually lazy thing. Easier to say shut the fuck up and kill yourself than to draft a coherent counter-argument. There are a few here who this usually doesn't apply to, though (Fnarf comes to mind).

Posted by Julie | July 11, 2008 10:20 AM
37
Posted by So THAT'S where he went | July 11, 2008 10:24 AM
38

It's not just a catch phrase. It's a great movie.

Perhaps Chelsea could have watched this movie to learn to take a more detached view regarding commenters.

Peter Lorre: "You despise me, don't you?"
Bogie: "Well, if I gave you any thought I probably would."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxNYZdQaC44

Posted by jmr | July 11, 2008 10:25 AM
39

Casablanca may be the greatest movie of all time. Its definately my favorite of favorites. I can watch it over and over and still love it.

Posted by mirror | July 11, 2008 10:34 AM
40

@37

There is no death match. And he seems to spend most of his time on defamer. WHY THE NAME CHANGE

Posted by askljdklasjdklasjdklasjd | July 11, 2008 10:37 AM
41

I never wanted to kill. I am not naturally evil. These things I do just to make myself more attractive to you, have I failed?

Posted by Abby | July 11, 2008 10:40 AM
42

Gawker has lured Mr. Poe from us, war should be declared. Gackers and Sloggers can meet in Iowa and duke this out. We could take those NY pseudo intellectuals in a heartbeat. Especially if Bob joins us.

Posted by PopTart | July 11, 2008 10:41 AM
43

Making lemons out of lemonade is much more fun, don't you think?

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 10:44 AM
44

AMY NICK STEIN POE FEIT ____ ______ ______

Posted by WHY IS EVERYONE LEAVING SLOG | July 11, 2008 10:49 AM
45

Perhaps its best that Mr. Poe moves on--his ability to shock and appall here has been waning for quite some time.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 11, 2008 10:51 AM
46

Gawker? Poe on Gawker? This is a tragedy. A betrayal, even.

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 10:58 AM
47

I'm still mystified as to why Chelsea got so much heat in the first place... yeah, her posts may have been light fluff- but I've always found Slog to be a unique mix of light and intellectual posts, with a liberal dose of ranting mixed in. The variety is what makes it so interesting to read.

I always had a sneaking suspicion the commenters on her posts were overly critical out of shear spite for someone who was given Slog privileges over them, just as these same people seem to crop up to raze the Freaky Friday guest bloggers.

In any case, she really should have taken a page from the playbook of Charles and ECB and grown a thicker skin.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | July 11, 2008 11:12 AM
48

There's not a lot of tolerance for vapidity here. Vapidness. Vapititude?

We don't like vapid peeps.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 11, 2008 11:16 AM
49

i'm stiff miffed that chelsea got paid for gettin her feelings hurt. i got my feelings hurt on slog and i didn't even get a lousy t shirt.
is it because i'm black ?.. is it because i'm BLACK !!???

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | July 11, 2008 11:18 AM
50

Kelly O and Ari Spool give umvue can of Rize, umvue drink Rize, freak out, Chaz out, UMVUE BECOME CHARLES MUDEDE!

CHAZ WILL SMASH OPPRESSIVE CARTESIAN CONCEPT OF LINEAR TIME!

And no, I don't feel like letting it go.

Posted by The Incredible Sulk | July 11, 2008 11:21 AM
51

@50's got you there umvue, your post was a bit Mudede.

@48 For the record, I don't like marshmallow peeps either.

Posted by PopTart | July 11, 2008 11:55 AM
52

@49

Yes.

Posted by I'm black! Really! | July 11, 2008 11:57 AM
53

I would kill to know what Chelsea thinks about all of this and also wonder if she is the one who posted @ 24.

Posted by Amanda Knox | July 11, 2008 11:59 AM
55

Some of the commenters take things way too personally. They take criticism of their post as a personal attack on them. Some, like Charles, bring it on themselves. At this point I can see Charles masturbating as he reads every complaint (OK, that was a personal attack). ECB also takes too many posts as personal attack. Why don't you take the cue of many in the film and literary business and not read your reviews?

Posted by elswinger | July 11, 2008 12:13 PM
56

@55,

What the fuck are you talking about? ECB almost never responds to comments on her posts, whether legitimate criticisms or personal attacks. Are you pretending to be some sort of mind reader?

Posted by keshmeshi | July 11, 2008 12:47 PM
57

@23:

Technically, she could have been classified as an "independent contractor" under state and federal labor law, so definitely NOT an "employee" as the Time piece indicated.

Also, because she was only paid $200, Mr. Keck would not be obligated to file a 1099 with the IRS on her behalf, since she earned less than the $600 annual minimum for reporting.

Posted by COMTE | July 11, 2008 1:14 PM
58

@55, please pay no attention to @56's anger. She is not lashing out at you; instead, she's transferring her florid fecundity for Bellevue Avenue into rage at you.

As soon as BA puts cream filling in her Yoo-Hoo, everything will return to normal.

Carry on.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 11, 2008 1:15 PM
59

@41

If you were any more attractive I'd have to buy stock in vasaline.

Love,

Me

Posted by Joh, womanizer professional | July 11, 2008 1:17 PM
60

*Ho-Ho (not Yoo-Hoo).

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 11, 2008 1:17 PM
61

@60 I would've also accepted "Hoo-Ha", "Hey-Ho" and "Vagina".

Posted by Hernandez | July 11, 2008 1:20 PM
62

@61, I appreciate your near-elastic flexibility. Much like a Hoo-Ha, Hey-Ho, or Vagina.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 11, 2008 1:23 PM
63

Please don't shit on my parade...

Posted by michael strangeways | July 11, 2008 1:25 PM
64

I never commented on her posts her posts reminded me of some goody two shoes trying to fit in with the rough crowd by saying fuck waaaay too many times. Seemed to me most of the topics were sorority girl crap - like exfoliating for crying out loud? This isnít Glamour Girl - itís a nitty gritty city rag.
Her fluff didn't fit in with Slogs fluff. Slogs fluff is at least interesting, pertinent to our area and often something I might think about later or bring up in conversation with someone later in the day. She was lame and her posts uninteresting. What a cry baby and a quitter - even if she did come back to win $1 per comment and tell us how she won. I think Slog readers were the winners - we didn't have to read that goofy, girlie drivel any longer.

Posted by irl | July 11, 2008 1:28 PM
65

You got a problem with girlie, Mr. Tough Guy?

Posted by Fnarf | July 11, 2008 2:22 PM
66

There are people who respect and appreciate the fine line between being clever and just being an asshole, and there are those who don't, won't, or simply can't comprehend the distinction. The latter are called social retards, and the Internet just happens to be their primary enabling mechanism.

I'd expect anyone with a comments-enabled blog to understand that, so...I guess it's great that The Stranger is rid of a Slogger who doesn't. Good for you, Slog!

All of a sudden I want a nice tall glass of Yoo-Hoo...

Posted by nait | July 11, 2008 2:49 PM
67

To #53- She doesn't give a hoot about all this silliness and frankly is surprised people are still rambling about this. For everyone else who seems to enjoy the tediousness of beating a dead horse with the skeletal remains of a horse.
Here's the about the closest thing to the "deal": this entire event has been dragged out by the commenters themselves. If you hated her writing, you certainly had the webpage tracking system fooled. Not to mention the money generated by the ads, her writing was quite profitable for the Slog. Your 'witty' comments are what brought this retarded moment into existence.
In conclusion, you made your own mess. Chelsea didn't.
Oh, and one last thing Mr. Poe, The Special Olympics want their medal back, apparently using the same dis over and over again is considered retarded not special.

Posted by codisimo | July 16, 2008 10:20 PM

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