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Sunday, February 13, 2005

The concession call

I know, I know... technically the polls are still open over at the JIB awards, but we’re not talking about Kerry sitting awake in his hotel room at 5:00 AM wondering which way Ohio is going to go. No, my position in the polls has all the suspense of Ralph Nader’s campaign headquarters on election night. In short, nobody is waiting around for my concession call.  :-)

None-the-less, the call we should all be making today is to Dave of Israellycool to thank him for coming up with the idea for these awards, and for doing all the unpleasant scut work to make the JIB Awards a reality. It was a fantastic idea and he carried it off with class and aplomb.

To borrow an expression Dave might recognize: ‘Good on ya!’

As to the JIB Awards themselves, I am very pleased with the way things turned out. I discovered a bunch of talented bloggers/journalers that had never crossed my radar, and I even picked up a few new readers myself. Best of all, treppenwitz got to ‘share the stage’ for a time with some extremely well written blogs.  That, by itself, should keep me writing for another year!

Of course I’m sure that most of you are aware that there was one bit of unpleasantness.

I won’t mention the name of the little attention whore who made such a spectacle of himself (I really don’t want to feed either his habit or his ego). Suffice it to say that in his quest for attention/traffic he insulted a very talented (and popular) writer and did a horrible disservice to the other bloggers who were running in the same category. Instead of a contest where second or third place might have held some value (and pleasure) for those involved, the other blogs were relegated to the role of a punch line in a very un-funny joke.

If this guy had a shred of decency he would use his farewell post to apologize to Dave, the other bloggers in his category and the entire blogging community for being such a thoughtless, self-centered ass.

Kroikee!!!  Did I say that out loud?!

Posted by David Bogner on February 13, 2005 | Permalink


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The awards have definitely been a great method of finding new blogs to read, some very good ones I might add.

And in reference to your rant I wanted to say one thing. When you communicate solely by writing it can be difficult to express sarcasm and or humor effectively.

The downside is that it makes it very easy to cause a misunderstanding between people.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 13, 2005 8:45:20 AM

Jack... About your first point, this is exactly what Dave had in mind when he came up with the idea for the JIB Awards... he will be very pleased to hear that the concept was a success from that point-of-view.

As to your other point... I agree, misunderstandings happen all the time because even the use of emoticons does not allow one to convey the range of tone and subtlety that we have in our face-to-face interactions. However, when a person has almost daily 'misunderstandings' and generally invites ill will and antipathy from those with whom he interacts... then I blame the messenger, not the medium. I would ask everyone who curently links to him to remove any mention of his site from their blogs, but I can't figure out how to do so without actually mentioning his name!

Posted by: David | Feb 13, 2005 8:57:26 AM


I looked at your blog once a long time ago, but it also took the JIB to make me a confirmed reader...you are now in my Bloglines (according to bloglines there are 12 of us).

You write beautifully!

Posted by: Safranit | Feb 13, 2005 10:09:07 AM

What's the point of getting bent out of shape over the "competition"? The whole point of the JIB is hooking up with more good readin', no? Thanks to Dave of Israellycool for setting this up for all us J & I Bloggers.

Speaking of blogging awards, with all this good writing and reading I was rather surprised that not one single Israeli blog made it into this year's Bloggies. The blogs nominated in the Middle East category certainly do make for some interesting reading, especially from an Israeli standpoint.

Posted by: jennifer | Feb 13, 2005 10:44:38 AM

Now that you mentioned it...I never had a closer look at the comments. Seems there always have to be some idiots to argue up the sand grains in Sahara. Those who, of course, would have it done much, much better. Just...why do they never come up with such projects themselves but always hide like snipers and wait for others? Because, okay MHO, they are weak in mind. They have no sense for interaction with other humans. David, there are so many of those dorks out there...ignoring them would deem the only decent measure.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Feb 13, 2005 2:05:19 PM

Safronit... I'm in no mood to be charmed! Oh, Ok... but just this once. [visibly relaxes] Thanks, I needed that. :-)

Jennifer... I didn't get bent out of shape over the competition, but rather over 'He who shall not be named here' that seems to be casting a stench over all of us with his bad behavior. As to why none of the Jewish blogs did well in the 'other blog awards', I can only guess that Iraqi war blogs were much more topical during the voting. I don't feel like we were given short shrift or anything. Actually, I think one of the reasons Dave wanted to start the JIB Awards was because so many of 'our genre' of blogs simply don't register on the radar of mainstream bloggers/readers. This was a very good first step.

mademoiselle a. ... Surprisingly this was not about someone criticizing the way Dave set up or ran the awards, but rather it was all about a blogger who wasn't satisfied with the amount of attention/votes he was getting who decided to say something insulting about the frontrunner in his category in order to generate controversy and traffic.

Posted by: David | Feb 13, 2005 2:22:26 PM

Oops, David! I certainly did not mean to imply that it was you that was misbehaving, but rather 'He who shall not be named here,' whomever that might be. (Do let me know privately if I've linked to him from my site, which BTW isn't dead, just focusing on a different direction. :) )

As far as the Bloggies, it wasn't the Iraqi war blogs I was referring to, but rather the pro-Palestinian and Palestinian blogs. A bit of an eye-opener, especially in light of recent developments with the neighbors.

Posted by: jennifer | Feb 13, 2005 2:59:47 PM

Jennifer... I know you didn't mean me. No worries. I just got finished reading over 150 comments over at the site that ended up (justifiably) spanking everyone else in the category. The Hillul Hashem that 'He who shall not be named here' has brought on Dave's hard work... on the JIB Awards... on the other blogs in the Humor category... and on Jewish bloggers in general is enough to make me want to vomit. All this because a selfish little person wanted a little attention.

When will people like that learn that when they do/say something stupid online, they represent more than just themsleves?

Posted by: David | Feb 13, 2005 3:18:12 PM

I read your blog, Smoothstone, Hatshepsut, Hasidic Gentile, and a few others daily. My New Yorker subscription, well let's just put it this way, the comics are great. The rest is recycled. These blogs are a fun way to learn about the world, in a format where one can ask questions and make requests. Blogs are skipping the middle man and have an immediacy to them that is quite entertaining. I think they are a fascinating literary development.

Posted by: Alice | Feb 13, 2005 5:08:27 PM

I wasn't surprised to see that the JIB blogs didn't register on the larger screen. We are a minority within a minority and it takes a little more doing for people to see us.

And then when they do they hopefully are exposed to someone who writes beautifully, produces interesting and informative content and does it consistently.

Sometimes the way to get noticed is to start your own awards as Dave has done.

P.S. Senor Bogner, If there is one thing that I have learned during my stay here it is that you should never upset the chef. A man who wears a gun while chopping liver is unpredictable. ;)

In any case, if this is the biggest problem of the week I shall be pleased.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 13, 2005 6:17:39 PM


In your modesty, you did not mention your own involvement, in helping me find a name for the awards, as well as the numerous instances of good advice. And not to forget the great logos provided by Zahava (and I assume your gentle coazing :)) So thank you once again.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way they turned out, despite the instances of pettiness and nastiness. Including, may I add, the many insinuations that the aim was to make my own blog more popular. It seems that you will always have detractors, even when your intentions are good.

Posted by: Dave | Feb 13, 2005 7:03:40 PM

That should have read "coaxing". :)

Posted by: Dave | Feb 13, 2005 7:04:50 PM

Hi Dave...congratulations on your placements in the JIBs. Of course, I believe that there's more to life than first place. (But I hope it's still OK to believe that I was robbed...)


Dave at IsraellyCool definitely deserves kudos, if only for putting you back on my blog-dar...

As to your other point, I think that in the particular situation you mentioned, it was clear at least to one of the bloggers in the same category that the ribbing was in jest. And I am certain that the blogger whose name you didn't mention never meant to slander anyone. I think the worst he's guilty of is overenthusiastic self-promotion. (And I'm probably guilty of that too.) But I don't think a blacklist is the answer...


Posted by: Esther | Feb 13, 2005 8:58:06 PM

Alice... I'm honored to be placed in such company, but don't give up your New Yorker subscription just yet. I may have an occasional inspired turn of phrase, but the New Yorker is the real deal.

Jack... I was never upset... just very hurt for all the funny and talented writers in that one category who suffered because of this one thoughtless person.

Dave... as they say, "No good deed goes unpunished". As to my giving any advice... advice is easy and free. You invested your valuable time and money to be able to make sure things ran smoothly and fairly.

Esther... Yes, you were robbed, but I think you might be mistaken as to who robbed you. I have seen this 'harmless jester's' private e-mail to Jeff at PW in which he said:


Sorry for insulting you on my blog earlier today. I meant no harm. I was
just feeling bitter - and not because of anything you did.

If you’d like me to publish a clarification or apology I will.

That does not sound like someone who made saying something 'in jest'.

True, 'slander' might be too stron a word, but his modus operandi is to do/say insulting or outrageous things and then privately apologise after the sh*t storm has brought him a new load of fresh traffic. He is a parasite that thrives off of other people's discomfort and anger and I refuse to become an enabler by giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Make no mistake, I have nothing but respect and admiration for you and the other people in the Humor category. You were all denied the satisfaction of having your work recognized. However, Jeff is not the one you should be angry with. As a big guy (meaning large in stature) I can tell you that there is no right thing to do when a little guy takes a swing at you. If you fight back, you're a bully. If you don't, then you are a laughing stock because you got your *ss kicked by a little guy. Big guys like Jeff (meaning, in this context, people with lots of traffic) are constantly having to deal with little jerks who try to pick cyber-fights in hopes of generating traffic and attention. Unfortunately, in this blind quest for attention, you were the one who got trampled.

In closing, I hope you don't think I'm all about ranting. Usually treppenwitz is a polite, respectful place. I hope you'll stop by again when I've straightened up a bit. :-)

Posted by: David | Feb 13, 2005 10:40:48 PM

Re: The private email.

He did publish a clarification, on his site. It reads, in part: "...really did think that, given that your blog is very funny, and given that you are obviously Jewish, anyone and everyone would take it as if I had said the pope was neither catholic nor polish."

It seems clear he wrote the "private email" because he thought Jeff had taken offense and he wanted to apologize, but it seems equaly clear that the insult was not intentional.

Posted by: A | Feb 13, 2005 11:52:50 PM

The logic of your rant puzzles me.

How can you say the people in that category were denied the satisfaction of having their work recognized when over 1000 people voted at that category? No other category got anywhere near that many votes. If nothing else, this situation brought MORE people in contact with their work, and made MORE people aware of their blogs.

How can you say that Esther was "robbed" when she was more than 30 votes behind before this situation began? She was going to finish in second place, and she finished in second place. In his comment above, she does not seem unhappy.

How can you say that the nominees had their accomplishment cheapened? Or that they were denied pleasure, or "relegated to the role of a punch line?" Have any of them told you this? Have they said anything to make you think that this is how they really feel?

How can you say they "suffered," as if they'd been denied food and water (or ripped to shreds on a well-read blog like your own.) From what did they suffer? Additional attention?

What's the evidence or reasoning behind any of these statements about the harm done to other nominees? They appear unsubstantiated.

There's more bad logic in what you've written.

We agree he said a foolish thing about the big blogger and it very well might may have been meant as an insult, but it may have been a joke. Not being able to read minds, I can't tell (though this was the Humor category.) In any event, his one sentance hardly constitutes picking "a cyberfight," as you alleged. He didn't even link the big blogger in the original post, which suggests he wasn't hoping or expecting to be noticed, as you have also alleged.

More to the point, David, this isn't your fight. You haven't been harmed, so why are you inserting yourself into this situation? Are you settling some grudge? Are you acting as a proxy for someone who has a right to complain, and may have complained to you privately?

All of the bloggers in the category have the talent and means to fight their own battles. They haven't. Where do you come in? And why?

From here it simply looks like you are trying to destroy another blogger, but I can't understand the reason. He did say a foolish thing about a big blogger but the big blogger took care of it, in his own way. The big blogger did fight back. He made his point (the cry baby picture.) and life went on.

Shouldn't that be enough for you? Why have you trumped up these charges about "suffering" and "robbery" and "cheapened accomplishments" and
"picking fights" and launched this crusade?

Posted by: A | Feb 14, 2005 12:16:59 AM

Ehhh. The New Yorker has grown tiresome. Their please-flog-me-again attitude after 9-11, pathological obsession with blaming Bush for everything, snobbery about people who believe in the wrong God (Buddha is OK I guess) just piss me off and bore me. They don't make me think. Booorrringgg.

Posted by: Alice | Feb 14, 2005 12:33:26 AM

Just to clarify, I said I was robbed. Because when our work doesn't come in first, that's something we just say! "I was robbed!"
It doesn't mean that I allege any kind of misdoing on Jeff's part or the other part.

As for the over 1000 people who voted in this particular section of the competition, I would have loved to have welcomed them all as visitors to my blog. But I don't believe that the thousand or so people who voted in that category actually visited all the blogs in question before casting their votes.

And FWIW, there was a time when I was actually a solid first in this race. Hence my disappointment. But I'm over it, and past it, and I hope that all the "bad blood" that seems to have remained beyond the contest's end will trickle away as the days pass...

D, you don't have to worry. I'll be back. I just hope you're willing to have someone who is not responding to your call to remove "the offender" from her blogroll.

Posted by: Esther | Feb 14, 2005 3:09:29 AM

At this point the only thing that is left to do is engage in some type of activity that we can use to restore the honor of all parties.

Pistols at dawn, sabers at noon or my favorite, an all-out "Three Stooges" style pie fight.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 14, 2005 3:16:56 AM

You were ahead at one point Esther, but by mid-week you had already fallen to second.

Nothing that happened between the big blog and the bad boy cost you a prize.

Hey, did you get new visitors from the JIBs? I think that's all that really matters.

Posted by: A | Feb 14, 2005 3:59:32 AM

A... I have to ask a favor. It is disconcerting for you to conduct your line of inquiry from behind a single letter and a fake e-mail address. No, I have never asked that people use their real names here, but your real e-mail address is a requirement for civilized discourse.

Your assertion that "over 1000 people voted at that category" doesn't offer any proof that people had their work recognized... In fact most, if not all of those 1000+ people followed a link from PW and voted. period. A few who did poke around and looked at other blogs in the category went back to Jeff's blog and left disparaging comments about how unfunny the other blogs were and what a joke the JIB Awards were. Is that your idea of good exposure, because I'm less sure.

As to your questions:

"David, this isn't your fight. You haven't been harmed, so why are you inserting yourself into this situation? Are you settling some grudge? Are you acting as a proxy for someone who has a right to complain, and may have complained to you privately?

All of the bloggers in the category have the talent and means to fight their own battles. They haven't. Where do you come in? And why?"

You seem to make an assertion that one only has a right to point out an injustice if they are personally harmed. I don't agree. In fact, in many cases, those that are harmed are too modest and/or too hurt to say what needs to be said... so others who might be viewed as being more objective (i.e. less personally involved) should rightly step up and say the difficult things.

I have neither the inclination nor the power to destroy anyone. I have nothing but my own opinion and you are free (as is everyone) to put forward your own view of the matter.

As a last point, I would encourage you to use another word besides 'Crusade'. It is a poor choice from a few standpoints. Most obviously because of what the Crudades really were... and secondly because if I was actually trying to rally a popular uprising against a particular individual (as you suggest), it wouldn't make sense that I would save my harshest criticism of him for the comments section which only a tiny fraction of my modest readership bothers to read.

You are invited to respond, either here or in private, but I must insist that you do so with a valid e-mail address, otherwise your comments will be deleted. This is a civilized forum and we do not point accusing fingers at one another from behind masks.

Esther... Please don't think for a moment that I am the sort of person who says ' do as I do or go elsewhere'. Treppenwitz is a very diverse place with readers/participants who hold an incredibly wide range of opinions on how the world should work. My voice tends to be percieved as the 'loudest' simply because it is my name at the bottom of every post, but my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone who comments here.

Jack... Pies at dawn... I like it.

Posted by: David | Feb 14, 2005 9:18:36 AM

David - I'm smiling, because the same sort of controversy erupted at this year's Catholic Blog Awards... Now they're talking about having a nominating board or some sort of review process, finding a way to prevent 'stuffing the voting box' and so on. I find it ironic that quasi-religous blog awards generate so much vanity and jealousy.

Maybe next year I'll just tune-out the blog awards, the same way I ignored the grammy's this year:)

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Feb 14, 2005 2:06:09 PM


Regarding your rant:

I'll respect your wish not to mention him by name here. But it's no secret that he and I are rivals of a sort (as anyone can see from my blogroll). I don't care for his style and have told him so. I don't like his namecalling and obnoxious sarcasm.

But I still think you're out of line on this one. While his remark about PW was in poor taste, he clearly meant it as a joke, and quickly clarified that on both his site and Jeff's. The fact that the humor category was at stake only proves that point.

Regardless, before launching such a public tirade against him, you should at least have contacted him privately for his side of the story. His blog can be rude, but he's always respectful in private. The invective you've hurled at him here is (IMO) worse than almost anything I can remember him posting.

Finally, I don't see that this episode had any effect on the JIB awards. PW was blowing away its opposition before this fight broke.

In general, the real problem with the JIBs was that blogs with groupies easily controlled their categories. (Personally, I was stunned by the intensity of competitiveness in the campaigning for awards which carried no prize!!) It was a victory of popularity over quality. That's to be expected, of course, but it might be nice to consider alternative award techniques.

In short, I think you owe XxxXxxx, if not an apology, then at least a private exchange of views. Like Nosson Slifkin, he deserves a hearing before you ban him!

Posted by: Zman Biur | Feb 14, 2005 11:06:25 PM

Steve... Unfortunately, this wasn't pettiness between rival blogs, it was one blogger doing what he has become famous for; being an attention magnet. Good attention or bad, he wants it all. In this case there was a lot of collateral damage.

Zman Biur... If you look at the e-mail I quoted in my response to Esther, you will see that this person was not trying to be funny. Funny was his plan 'B' that he tried out when he needed a way to public ally explain his behavior.

Also, you are wrong. It wasn't that close a contest, but it wasn't a laugher either. In most categories there was a clear front-funner, but thanks to his insatiable need for attention, it is hard to even see the 'also rans' in the humor category.

You are entitled to your opinion, but you won't convince me on this one. I went the private communication route the last time he acted up. You're right, he is all about respect and politeness in private. I'm sure Jerry Springer is a sweet man in private as well. I just don't approve of the way he earns his ratings.

Posted by: David | Feb 14, 2005 11:17:48 PM

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