June 02, 2002
Eric Alterman's PseudoBlog

Friday's entries in Eric Alterman's lame attempt at a weblog include this remark (no anchor link, but it's near the end):

. . . . quite a few (mostly conservative) bloggers are very pleased with themselves for having discovered a typo or two in this site, despite the presence of my crack editors.

As one of those picky bloggers, I can say that I'm not so much pleased with myself for noticing obvious mistakes as annoyed with Alterman for not fixing them when they were pointed out. Here's what I wrote, using his comments function, on May 23rd:

If you're going to quote 'John Hile' of MicroContent News in a paragraph bragging about your blog being edited, you might want to (a) spell his name right -- it's Hiler --, (b) link either his site's 'front page' or the particular entry you quote, instead of some random entry from two months ago on Google and the Scientologists, and (c) make both corrections in less than four days. Time to fire your editor?

Another ten days have now passed, and both errors still stand, right in the introductory blurb, Altercation Explained. I see no excuse for that, particularly since misspelled names and false links are far more misleading than bad grammar, or bad punctuation, or misspelling of common words where the intended meaning is obvious. A silent correction would have sufficed, though two errors in one sentence might also have justified a brief note including the word "Oops!" or equivalent.

Of course, no one's perfect. I myself should have said "four days", not "three", since Altercation Explained is dated May 20th and I wrote my comment on the 23rd. I somehow thought it was already Friday, though it was still Thursday. (Friday was the last day of classes, so it was a natural mistake.)

While I'm at it, here's some more good advice:

  1. How about some archives? No true blog lacks them. Alterman certainly understands the concept of archiving, since his site includes a link to his archived Nation columns. He also says (on the 29th) of a New Yorker piece that it has been "honorably maintained online in the magazine’s archives despite its embarrassing wrong-headedness". So why doesn't he archive his own blog entries, with or without corrections?
  2. How about some anchor links so others can link to specific items? Consider the logic: Andrew Sullivan has been getting a lot of grief for his own lack of functioning anchor links. Alterman despises Sullivan. If Alterman had anchor links he could help make Sullivan look bad. QED. Of course, they're only really useful if you have archives.
  3. Using the <blockquote> function to indent quoted words would help the reader distinguish between Alterman and his quoted letters. Without them, the page looks just a little too Doris-Kearns-Goodwinish for my taste. Indenting the first line of each paragraph makes things even more confusing.
  4. A comment function that displays all comments as submitted is a lot more sporting. (Including the writer's e-mail and web-page addresses instead of just the home town is also more egalitarian.) Sure, you get a lot of crap mixed in with the good stuff, but the software should allow you to delete anything that is egregiously offensive. (I haven't deleted a comment yet, and I've had some doozies.) Alterman's blog treats submitted comments way too much like old fashioned letters to the editor of a print journal: the editor is free to omit all the most cogent criticisms or edit them out of recognition, and can spend his time writing clever replies to softball questions and wallowing in the more obsequious fan letters. Alterman may say he's not doing that, but how do we know?
  5. If I looked like VodkaPundit or InstaPundit, I would put a picture of myself on my site. Since I don't, I won't. Need I say more?

Feel free to tell me I'm wrong in my comments, but keep it clean.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at June 02, 2002 07:32 PM

I wonder if perhaps Eric's problem is twofold. First, like many journalists, he's a little too lazy. But most importantly, he's been drinking his own bathwater for too long and he's come to think that he's above the rules the rest of us live by. There's a certain intellectual sloppiness at play here and he doesn't seem to like being called on it.

Posted by: Charles Austin on June 2, 2002 09:30 PM

Actually, I don't think Alterman is blogging at all. I think he sits down and types out his little bits and then hands them to some intern or somesuch who then puts them into a blog-thing-like content manager. And nobody has a clue what they are doing.

Posted by: Bill Quick on June 3, 2002 12:00 AM

I think that Andrew Sullivan needs to look at the good Doctor's thrashing for some pointers in his next bitter exchange with Alterman.

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 3, 2002 01:55 AM

I'm so very happy you mentioned #5, Dr. Weevil. I myself had considered sending him an email suggesting he consult with a makeover specialist - after all, his blog has a budget, doesn't it?

All in all, I agree with Mr. Quick. He doesn't blog - he emails to an intern. More paper-models of writing.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler on June 3, 2002 08:41 PM

Alterman never corrects errors he introduces at The Nation or in his MSNBC column, why should he start correcting his errors now?

Posted by: Brian Carnell on June 3, 2002 10:59 PM

I like Alterman's blog. He may misfire sometimes, but his blog is smart, substantive, and well-written. It has rapidly become one of my favorites.

I was going to say that I thought many of your complaints were petty (unfixed typos, not linking someone's "front page"), but then I read some of your recent posts and realized, as a new visitor to your blog, that this sort of thing is your bailiwick: debating "ajouter ŕ" versus "ajouter sur", quotation marks versus a block quote, and the Weekly Standard's psuedo-intellectualism (sic).

Finally, self-deprecate all you want, but telling somebody that he shouldn't show his face because, in your opinion, it's not attractive enough? I don't care how evil you are. That's just not cool, Dr. Weevil. There is a certain consistency here, though, in elevating form over substance.

P.S. I thought "QuasiMoDo" was funny. (That wasn't a looks slam too, was it?)

Posted by: p84269317 on June 3, 2002 11:31 PM

When I want to be anonymous I make my email something like p84269317@--- too... Lying is transparent in the blogworld. Alterman tells lies. He crafts quotes and scenarios in ways that are nothing short of telling lies. (Bush in Brazil: "You got blacks here too?" Link to an untranslated German language site...) He writes a post about Barry Bonds, and it's transparent he doesn't give a rat's a-- about Barry Bonds but wants to insinuate racism on the part of all-American baseball fans because Barry is not popular... Transparent and really rather typically filthy same-old same-old from the dead but still zombie-ing along left...

Posted by: c.t. on June 4, 2002 04:45 AM

I've added Altercation to my list of blog favourites... it's clever, witty and edgy. I'm there for the content and his sharp style of writing, but I have to admit it bugs the hell out of me to have to stumble over the typos at Altercation, which seem to be popping up on a consistent basis, and more often than the weeds on my front lawn.

However, Alterman's "blog" is one of the few that I visit on a daily basis. BTW, it's one thing to critique the *quality* of a photo, it's altogether another thing to aim and throw judgmental darts at whether the subject of that photo is pretty enough to qualify in having their photo posted on their own site. C'mon Doc, that blows.

Now, the good Doctor offers realistic and honest advice when he points out the issue of broken and dated links. It's a nuisance and they've gotta get that and the typo thang together. I agree with Bill (Quick) in that Alterman's likely not "blogging" per se, but pour moi, in the end, it's the content, plus the bloggers' take on things (whether I always agree or not) and the quality of writing that's at the root of my return visits to my "fav" blogs, and for that, Alterman's got it goin' on.

Posted by: Lisa Dalbello on June 5, 2002 11:03 PM

Just one question; Is Alterman seven or eight years old? What a complete joke of a human being.

Posted by: Matt Judge on February 12, 2003 11:28 AM

February 18, 2003, 7:50 ET.
Does Mr. Eric Alterman have email?
If he does, please address it to me.

Posted by: Theodore Flint on February 18, 2003 10:50 PM

February 18, 2003, 7:54 PM (ET)
My email is flint205@highstream.net.

Posted by: Theodore Flint on February 18, 2003 10:53 PM

Eric Alterman is a pathetic little cretin who
responds with obscenities or vulgarities to any
substantial criticism, he is a hit and run
COWARD, a total piece of asswipe who is as ugly
on the inside as he is physically.

Posted by: Michael Hardesty on April 7, 2003 03:47 PM

Mike, I hope you were being facetious, because you are responding with obscenities and vulgarities yourself.

"Eric Alterman is a pathetic little cretin who
responds with obscenities or vulgarities to any
substantial criticism, he is a hit and run
COWARD, a total piece of asswipe who is as ugly
on the inside as he is physically."

Posted by: LV on October 27, 2003 12:26 PM

Spelling seems to be more important than content or political discussion. This isn't 6th grade where you get points for spelling and grammar. This is life and if you uderstood what was written, then that's the point. Even a few vulgar words in the right place are also... life.

Posted by: jHRS on November 30, 2003 03:07 AM

Mike, you're still a racist. And a hateful name-calling one at that.

Posted by: windex on August 27, 2004 01:44 AM