As a founding member of the INWBA (Inland Northwest Bloggers' Association) I'm doing something today that gives me no joy. I am removing the link to INWBA from my blog. Even harder to do, I am removing the "We are United" button; for we are no longer. This is my form of protest. My further association with the organization is on hold. The reason for this is because the INWBA webmaster has banned Huckleberries from the INWBA web site. Huckleberries is the blog that breathed life into the organization not to mention most every blogger in the area. The very thing we united against when the County tried to ban access to Huckleberries on County computers.
The issue is porn links that turn up as part of comments on Huckleberries, a blog hosted by a Spokesman Review associate editor. I have seen these links on only one occasion and literally had to be walked through the site to find them. It is my understanding that without registration, a counter productive measure for a blog trying to generate hits and therefore revenue, it is nearly impossible to stop them completely. I also have been lead to believe that the Spokesman Review porn filters prevent accessing those links even if clicked upon.
I am not trying to diminish the unsavory ability the determined have to place links just about anywhere they want. I do wonder if the issue is as large as it appears INWBA would like to make it. I honestly do not know; I am not technically savvy. However, there have been enough comments from people who are to make me wonder why so many are deemed wrong. I'm not comfortable with that. I am also not comfortable with the fact that it was played out on Huckleberries blog rather than in private communication. Self rightousness is not an attractive trait, especially when one's opinion is in the minority.
There are at least 31 blogs sponsored by the Spokesman Review. To my knowledge those sites are not monitored by the INWBA webmaster to see if the same activity occurs. I would feel better if this appeared less like a personal vendetta and more people were lodging complaints. Thus far it seems to be the same individuals every time the issue comes up.
This bloggers war has gotten completely out of hand and I'm sick and tired of it. It's like the Spokesman people are the Sunnis and the Coeur d'Alene Press people are the Shia. As an individual blogger, not a commenter, I feel like an American GI in the middle and the INWBA Kurds have just launched an IED into our midst.
I get frustrated with the dialog at Huckleberries at times; we don't always agree on issues and when the tone goes beyond what I care to tolerate I don't participate. I do not stomp off in tantrum mode. I realize Huckleberries is a work in progress. The Spokesman Review is a strong supporter of blogging and has given Mr. Oliveria free reign to sort it out. The tone waxes and wanes. In time he, his editors and his public will discover the comfort zone and it will proceed from there. In the meantime there are growing pains.
As for personal attacks, I have no tolerance for them. I can judge the man from my experience alone, not hearsay from others. He has never been anything but gracious, helpful and supportive to me. That he sometimes likes what I have written well enough to link to it makes it fun. Fun because someone other than myself acknowledges a thought. And yes. He has linked to posts where I have disagreed with him and/or his paper. I'd like to think it's because I try to make a relatively well thought out observation in a civil manner. Huckleberries is a blog that occasionally links to mine. Dogwalk Musings is a blog that occasionally links to his. It's that simple.
The battle of the bloggers is sophomoric. The insults and rudeness and public humiliation are beyond the pale. Both papers and their blogs have a place in the community. The Coeur d'Alene Press will always be the town's "feel good paper". The Spokesman will always be the regional paper. The area is growing like topsy. We have the opportunity to be a part of an emerging force in community communication. Those who don't play nicely with others will be left behind. Nipping at one another's heels and yapping incessantly reminds me of the lyric Gavroch sings in Les Miserables, "...never kick a dog because he's just a pup...you'd better run for cover when the pup grows up!" If you don't believe it just take a look at Bacchus.