Friday, September 12, 2008
How I Was Banned For Life From the T&G Comment Boards
Like many people in the city, I have an ongoing fascination with the surreal horror show that is the Telegram & Gazette comments section. And since I often use the "controlled distraction" method of dealing with ADD, I had gotten into the habit of keeping the T&G comments page open as I did other work. And I found myself often adding to the comments, sometimes to advance the conversation, sometimes to lob a grenade or two. I became used to dealing with usual cast of characters, including the two or three crazed right-wing whackos whom the folks from the 508 Podcast accurately and amusingly characterized as "hating everything in the world". I posted simply as "Jim" and occasionally as "Earl Camembert" when one or two other Jims turned up, so as to avoid confusion. I made an effort to balance my comments evenly between insightful, informative, cogent points of debate and complete, off-the-wall wiseassery. I sort of had the impression that the folks running the online edition of the T&G were hip enough to see that I was just sort of riffing on things. Trying to keep it interesting. That was until the T&G ran a story on John Silber. I don't even remember what the story was about. Something about education, I think. Anyways... John Silber, right? So I added a comment. It was the only one for that particular story. I simply said "On a related note, Season 1 of "Flipper" comes out on DVD this week." So, okay, it was a bit of a crass comment, but I thought it was edgy and kind of funny. Oh, and it was accurate. The DVD set WAS coming out that week. So an hour goes by and I'd forgotten about the comment, and then all of a sudden - WHAM - they went nuts! My inbox filled with about ten T&G "You have violated the terms of service" form emails. It was like the guy on the other end, in the T&G's web office, just went crazy and kept hitting the "send" button. Now I had fifteen of them. Then about twenty. Then it stopped. But the next day I got another one. And I got another one the day after that. And I found none of my comments were being posted. They were ripped. And they have been ever since. I am banned. Banished. Cast adrift. Just to test them, I started posting again this week under a new email address. No sillyness. Just boring debate points. That lasted one hour before they axed me again. So that's my story and that's my lesson: don't make fun of John Silber or the T&G will revoke your privileges and send you to the woodshed.