Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tacky faux pas by Jones camp

Tonight the Dwight Jones campaign made a mistake. It apparently decided to force-feed its propaganda into the RVABlogs aggregator to dominate its front page with 24 posts.

On the surface, it seems somebody's half-baked idea got put into action. That those same people could so thoroughly misunderstand the spirit of cooperation that has made Ross Catrow's RVABlogs the boon to Richmond it has been doesn't speak well for the Jones' camp.

Maybe it will turn out to have been an accident? Probably not.

Will this begin a process that will force Ross to ban campaign web sites, or set rules about the number of posts from one site? Or, will this just take care of itself because it will backfire on the perpetrator so badly that we won't see any more of it?

Update: An email from Kevin O'Holleran, Jones' campaign manager, just came in (7/11/08). He wrote:

I just saw your post about the RVABlogs. Just to clear up any confusion, this was not done purposefully by our campaign. You may have noticed that we made some redesign changes to our website that was switched over at about 9:20 pm on Wednesday night. I’m not by any means an expert when it comes to websites, but what I believed happened was when we switched it reposted all of our previous posts backdated through May through our RSS feed.

Again, this was an unintentional mistake and hopefully won’t happen again. Please let me know if you have any other questions.


John said...

Based on how infrequently Jones' site has been updated since it launched more than a month ago, I'm pretty sure it was an error of stupidity -- or more likely whoever was adding the posts is oblivious to the existence of RVABlogs. Annoying as hell, though.

F.T. Rea said...


Perhaps there was no intent to jam all those posts into RVABlog's system. But I do think this situation opens the door to asking what constitutes a blog.

If a car dealer started posting 50 ads a day for used cars, while calling them blog posts, should RVABlogs allow itself to be used that way?

If a candidate has a blog they write that's one thing. But when the "blog" is simply a matter of press releases straight from a campaign web site, it seem to me a stretch to call that a blog.

Waldo Jaquith's VA Political Blogs had an episode a year-and-a-half ago where a small group of bloggers insisted that he run images he felt were over-the-top (violence). He removed the posts in question, saying it was his choice to make. He asserted that he should not be expected to promulgate material he deemed to be obscene, or perhaps out-of-bounds, legally.

I agreed with Waldo.

So, we know the aggregators that have been so important to the development of the blogosphere can be abused.

Was the case of the 24 Jones posts an example of that sort of thing? Or was it something else? Maybe a statement from the Jones camp will soon clear this up.

Bookstore Piet said...

At the very least some sort of editing tool should be employed. The increasing number of posts by 'blogs' that are run by Media General and several other companies make it increasingly difficult to separate blog from MSM. Unlike my personal blog, my blog for my bookstore is not listed at RVA Blogs. Just think it would be in poor taste to use the site in that manner.

F.T. Rea said...

Bookstore Piet,

Although I'm glad that RVABlogs has not been overly concerned with establishing rules and guidelines, I sense it's gotten so big that now it might have to change.

Once an aggregator gets a big enough following, it seems the dark side of human nature inevitably seeps into the gears, to violate the spirit of what is a free service in the first place.

Some people seem to think the Internet is self-policing. So, we'll see how this goes.

Bookstore Piet said...

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, they do as the commercial sites drown out the individual blogs. Breaking RVA Blogs down into categories might help but I doubt it is much of an income generator to pay for an editor to ensure the right blogs are in the right categories. When I listed my blog on Blog News Network they asked if I was available to be the local editor. I declined. It's too fine a line between filtering content and censorship and I didn't feel like spending that much energy being on the tightrope....

Ed said...

I kind of like the anarchic (is that a word) nature of regards to Jones, why on earth wouldn't you add the candidate blog feeds to the aggregator? These are actual Richmond citizens running for office. Look I like "what my cat ate for lunch" stories as much as the next guy, but shouldn't a well-thought out Paul Goldman policy position post get equal billing?

F.T. Rea said...


If I was deciding what to do, I would draw a line between a blog by a candidate and his routine press releases. I would probably draw other lines.

But I'm not running RVABlogs. And, I have no quarrel with how Ross is doing it. I agree with you that the anarchy is refreshing.

I also think these discussions are valuable to a method of communication that is evolving fast.