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August 11, 2006

A Brief Moment of Recognition for the People Who Comment

You know what, over the last three days here at the Whatever, I've posted on two of the most flamey subjects around at the moment -- fanfic and Joe Lieberman -- and there have been hundreds of posts on these subjects from all sorts of people, who hold a full range of opinions of the subjects. All of the posts have been interesting to read, all of the commenters have been playing well with the others even when they disagree, and at no point has anything come even close to flame war status.

I'm so happy I could just about burst.

This solidifies my long-held opinion that the commenters here on the Whatever are some of the best around: smart, thoughtful people who can have a conversation on a comment thread. Look, I don't know what I did to deserve you all -- in point of fact I probably don't deserve you -- but I'm sure glad you're all here. The Whatever is a better and complete place for your participation. Thanks.

Posted by john at August 11, 2006 09:17 AM

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Chang | August 11, 2006 09:33 AM

All of the posts have been interesting to read...

Seeeerrrrrriouly? I really doubt anything I have had to say on the subjects is even remotely interesting. Snide, uninformed and childish, but hardly interesting. You are too kind.

But just to blow on the flames...

Fanfic = furries

Liebermania = furriemania.

Have I lowered the bar yet?

Jimmy | August 11, 2006 09:40 AM

I KNEW something is wrong. All this dialog and not enough ad hominim attacks. In order to make sure the internets keeps working, I am taking it upon myself to make sure both Goodwin's and Snacky's laws continue to be true.

Here I go:
Scalzi is like the Nazis.
Scalzi is like the mean girls in high school.

There we go, much better.


Tripp | August 11, 2006 09:45 AM

I can tell you 'what you do' from my perspective - you lampoon stupidity with skill and wit. You also police the comments and nip stupid rhetorical tricks in the bud.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | August 11, 2006 10:13 AM

I like your comment section too, but I'd like it about twice as much if you'd put your commenters' names before their comments rather than afterwards.

I found the fanfic discussion particularly hard to follow because of this.

Kero aka Kevin | August 11, 2006 11:07 AM


Tripp | August 11, 2006 11:09 AM

Re: Names first

I hear this request all the time and no one seems to do it. I wonder if no good blog software supports it and if so why not?

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 11:22 AM

Movable Type supports it (PNH has it on his site), but the default is to have the name at the bottom, and people are too lazy to change the default, because it involves adding code.

Tripp | August 11, 2006 11:39 AM


Ah. If you have to add code then I wouldn't say Movable Type fully supports it, unless maybe if they give you clear instructions and all you have to do is cut and paste.

You know, some days I think the computer field is taking two steps back for every step forward, but I suppose that is what pays my salary so I shouldn't complain.

Jon Marcus | August 11, 2006 11:57 AM


"Liebermania = furriemania"

Aaargh, the images that conjurs up. My mind's eye is bleeding!

Yes, that certainly lowers the bar...


If you can't even spel "hominum" why shud I listn to you?

Kate Nepveu | August 11, 2006 11:59 AM

Changing the location of names doesn't involve adding code, just moving it. I did it in two minutes to Chad's blog, and added numbers for the comments as well.

And as a public service, if our host would send me the individual archive template as a text file, I would modify it accordingly and send it back! But probably he can do it on his own if he wanted.

Haraln Ellison | August 11, 2006 12:02 PM

Ha! You just wait until I post my Lieberman/Lamont slashfic that plagarizes all of their position papers on agricultural tariffs. Then you'll think twice about our intelligence.

Oh, and I'll throw in some furries, too.

Adam Rakunas | August 11, 2006 12:08 PM

See how smart I am? I can't even get my own name right.

Furries! Furries, furries, furries!

Annalee Flower Horne | August 11, 2006 12:31 PM

Thanks for the civil discourse RE: fanfiction. That conversation usually ends either with fanficcers accusing people who don't agree with them of supporting the holocaust or nonficcers (it's a word now) accusing fanficcers of being a bunch of obese unemployed freaks who will never make anything of themselves.

I enjoyed having an intelligent debate about it for once.

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 12:36 PM

I do what I can to please. I can't guarantee every discussion here is civil, of course. But it seems most are.

Annalee Flower Horne | August 11, 2006 12:37 PM

and regarding Lieberman/Lamont slash, there's a long-running joke about 'founding fathers slash' that gets referenced on my lj friends list sometimes. I'm not sure how it got startd, but I dearly, dearly hope that it's hyperbole and not a reference to something someone actually did. Because if it's the latter, I fear for the species.

CoolBlue | August 11, 2006 12:48 PM

OK then....

It's Miller time.

Anonymous | August 11, 2006 12:57 PM

Tragicly Annalee there is slash and RPF for everything, even that. Just don't google it. For the love of god don't.

Brian Greenberg | August 11, 2006 01:00 PM

Yeah, us...

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 01:00 PM

This is true, anonymous. In one of the comment threads I made I joke about Jesus slash, because I thought "hey, no one would slash Jesus." Surprise!

Anne C. | August 11, 2006 01:06 PM

I also thank the intelligent and diverse posters. It was invigorating.

I second (or third) PNH's request for names first.

Lisa | August 11, 2006 01:17 PM

I think it is kind of fun to have names last. A lot of times, I start reading a post and I play "Guess who said this" and then see if I'm right. (Quite often I am, especially when I guess CoolBlue or Bill Marcy, those are too easy to pic out, and I mean that in a good way, guys).

But yeah, commenting here is fun and usually civil and usually involves a good discussion that goes beyond, "Oh, Yeah? Well, well, then you SUCK!" I think the host deserves compliments as well for gently but consistantly nudging us away from the infrequent Godwin-like flamey tangent.

Harry Connolly | August 11, 2006 02:02 PM

Good moderating policy + Willingness to grapple with controversial issues + High traffic = Excellent comments

The comments here are good because of the way Whatever is moderated.

Djscman | August 11, 2006 02:18 PM

Scalzi: Now I'm curious, though not curious enough to check for myself. Who was Jesus slashing? Mary Magdalene? Simon Peter? The devil in the desert? All twelve apostles?

I've been thinking about tackling an Indiana Jones/Anne Frank slash, but just haven't found the motivation yet. I've got a great last line though: "Despite everything, I believe that people are good in bed."

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 02:21 PM

See, now, that's just wrong.

Annalee Flower Horne | August 11, 2006 03:24 PM

Technically, Djscam, it's not slash unless it's a gay pairing. There's apparantly some debate about whether lesbian pairings are slash-- I'm a nerd for knowing that, but there you go. Straight pairings are called 'Het.'

RPF porn... ::Shudder:: you want to talk about something that's morally wrong... ew. That ****'s squicky on so many levels. Legal issues aside (and I'm sure there are legal issues on that one), I oppose it on the grounds that if I were to google my name and find out someone had written/drawn porn about me and put it on the internet, I would probably be sick. I don't see why celebreties should be any different.

Chang | August 11, 2006 03:25 PM

Oh, man. That cat is baaaaadddd. That's just not right. I feel icky all over...

Annalee Flower Horne | August 11, 2006 03:26 PM

...sorry, that should read Djscman. I am apparantly illiterate. No offense intended.

Smurf | August 11, 2006 03:44 PM

I was gonna pick a fight with the girl who made the "he can't blame the Jews" joke, but I was just too happy at the time.

Andrew | August 11, 2006 03:44 PM

I believe the linked Jesus slash in the other thread was Jesus/Judas.

I have the notion I've seen Thomas Jefferson/John Adams somewhere.

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 03:47 PM


Chang | August 11, 2006 03:56 PM

Argh!!! Then it's safe to say somewhere we have seen Martha Washington / Dolly Madison pairings.

And what of Disney characters?

Looney Tunes?

I... think... I need... to clean my mind out with a stiff wire brush...

Annalee Flower Horne | August 11, 2006 04:05 PM

Chang: Don't ever follow a link to an internet quiz. One of the major hosts (not quizzilla... the other one... I'm a loser for knowing their names...) has a sidebar full of cartoon sex. Including Pikachu and Lisa Simpson.

I wish to God I were kidding.

Rhiannon_S | August 11, 2006 05:12 PM

I once (some years ago[1]) found a website devoted to Godzilla slash but it seems to have vanished from the aether now. I didn't dare click on the stories but one of them was Godzilla/Cthulhu. There is probably someone working on Mothra/Snape right now though.

[1 footnote: I just found out I was on the net before amazon.com was. I feel old.]

John Scalzi | August 11, 2006 05:14 PM

Join the club, Rhiannon.

Chang | August 11, 2006 05:39 PM

Yikes! I was, too!

old... so old... too old for godzilla/cthulu/enkidu slash.

CoolBlue | August 11, 2006 06:41 PM


I just found out I was on the net before amazon.com was. I feel old.

I was on the 'net before AOL.

I am old

mythago | August 11, 2006 10:03 PM

Scalzi, swear to us that you will never, ever again use "fanfic" and "Joe Lieberman" within fifty words of each other.

Carol Elaine | August 11, 2006 10:27 PM

Mythago, my eyes are still bleeding from reading the phrase "Lieberman/Lamont slashfic."

And now my fingers are bleeding, too.

In response to John's entry:
i no u r, but what am i?

Thomas Armagost | August 12, 2006 12:53 AM

Patrick Nielsen Hayden... Hi.

See you at World Con, Scalzi.

Good luck to you both.

This is my first comment. Have I ruined everything yet?

uhura | August 12, 2006 02:42 AM

I was on the Net when Netscape was hot and IE was late to the party. I remember the first MSNBC broadcast day.

Ah, gopher and ftp....the memories.

Jeff Hentosz | August 12, 2006 09:05 AM

Ah, uhura, you're but a maiden still. You want old? Watch this: Where my Mac peeps at? One word: eWorld.

Anyone? [echo]

I remember the very first time I was flamed on a message board. It was on AOL. The subject was typography and graphic design. I felt hot in the face, punched in the gut and just about as humiliated as I ever had. Sticks and stones, my ass.

Thomas Armagost | August 12, 2006 09:33 AM

eWorld, yes. I wasn't there from the beginning, but I was there to the bitter last hour.

AOL, yes. Remember the Writers Lounge chat room?

Jeff, the first time that I posted to a BBS, I thought that the message would be local to Riverside, California, which is where I still live. I didn't realize that I'd sent the message around the world. How they laughed and laughed. Talk about embarrassing.

John Scalzi | August 12, 2006 09:36 AM

Hey! I remember the Writers Lounge!

CoolBlue | August 12, 2006 10:58 AM

Thomas Armagost

I didn't realize that I'd sent the message around the world. How they laughed and laughed.

Ah. Via FidoNet?

You know, those same protocols were eventually incorporated into the Internet.

And as long as we're bein' all nostalgic, today is the 25th birthday (anniversary?) of the IBM PC

Mitch Wagner | August 12, 2006 05:28 PM

I was on the Internet before the Web.

Thomas Armagost | August 13, 2006 09:18 AM

Twelve and a half years have passed. Yet just hours ago I horribly embarrassed myself while commenting at The Huffington Post. Enough said about that.

ILink, Intelec and RIME... Ring any bells? They were echomail networks that I used back in the day. They weren't FidoNet. The ILink writers conference was my main digs.

ILink was founded by QWK format developer Mark Herring in 1986. I first logged on in early 1994. By then it had over eighty conferences. All of them were moderated. It superfically resembled usenet, but the guts of it were quite different.

I'd log on to a BBS via modem on a dialup connection. The BBS was run by a lone sysop. It was a local phone call away--this explains my initial confusion as to where the messages were going.

A message normally took as long as 24 hours to reach all of the BBSs in the conferencing system worldwide.

You can still access a few BBSs--albeit via telnet. The experience is very similar to the way it was in the old days. Sadly, you'll have a hard time finding ILink anywhere in cyberspace.

This is too much information. Sorry!

Andrew | August 14, 2006 04:01 AM

Just to be evil, I remember the days of 2004, when I knew several people in the John/John slash set, who were (jokingly) boosting the Kerry loves Edwards idea. "Their Love is So Democratic" and such.

astridv | August 14, 2006 07:01 AM

Just delurking for a second to say how refreshing it's been to read a discussion of fanfic that didn't devolve into gratuitous exchange of ad hominems.

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