SmirkBlog Debuts

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Originally published: Thursday, January 12, 2006

Every so often I take a gander at a site called Smirking Chimp. The name is an unsubtle reference to Dubya's simian-like affect. Visiting the site, however, is a bit like venturing into a deep, dark jungle, akin to Conrad's imaginings. In the discussion forum, flame wars are the norm. "Chimpsters" fling poo at one another and beat their chests. But, all defer to site owner Smirky Chimpster. (I do have to wonder at a site owner donning the moniker of the site's object of scorn.) He is the alpha chimp because he controls the delete button. I avoid this site, for the most part, for the reasons stated, but scan it periodically for news items other sites seem to miss.

On one of my occasional perusings I noticed a new feature added to the site -- the SmirkBlog. Now readers can actually read "the thoughts" of site owner Jeff Tiedrich himself, or as he humbly refers to himself, the "Chairman." Is this because Tiedrich is bubbling with original ideas that must find fuller expression? Not if the first few entries are any indication. Indeed, Tiedrich may have accomplished the impossible; revealed a mind even less interesting than Markos of Daily Kos. No. Methinks there is another reason for Tiedrich's sudden foray into the blogging format. Apparently, the lack of original content on the Smirking Chimp caused the site to be excluded from the Liberal Ad Network, or LAN. Booman of Booman Tribune explained this while addressing reader concern about the LAN's impact on political writing.

i talked about this again last night over beers and trivia with Chris [Bowers]. Here is his version of what happened.

He was getting a ton of new requests to be added to the network. He was having trouble figuring out how to determine who should be added and who should not. And that led him to draft up the standards. He basically needed an on the record standard to justify rejecting some requests.

Now, we did this a little differently with the Philly Ad Network. We would get an email with a link to a new site and get asked for feedback. But we have a trickle of requests and can handle that kind of system for that ad network. We would have had to spam-block Chris if he asked for feedback on every request he was getting.

So, he made up the standards, and there was some feedback and some adjustments in the two-week period before the rules went into effect.

It was not done to punish anyone. It was done to handle a problem of volume. Anyway, the Smirking Chimp site was determined not to be a blog because they do not do original writing. I never even noticed that controversy, but not everyone agrees with that standard. Chris claims to have an email sent to him by the owner of SC that acknowledges that the site is not a blog. I believe him.

Anyway, that is story from Chris's point of view and he doesn't disagree with my critiques of how it was handled. I think he knows it should have been handled better. He didn't argue with me when I said the rules should have been grandfathered in, but his rationale is also valid. He didn't to have to tell a prospective new member they couldn't join because they didn't meet a standard that also not being met by an existing member.

The whole thing has been a headache for him. But he isn't complaining. He's just a little surprised by all the furor and suspicion.

I'm looking forward to the SmirkBlog entry that says, "So can I be in the LAN now? Huh? Can I?"

Chairman Jeff Tiedrich producing thoughts.