Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hoax math, part 2

Here's another case of "One step forward, many steps back," courtesy of David Christopher Bell.

In a June edition of B.S. stories, Bell talked about a Chinese man who supposedly got trapped in South Korea after his passport was defaced by his 4-year-old son.  Lot of news sites posted a photo of the passport, although it turns out the scribble marks were added digitally.  The Chinese Embassy in Seoul eventually had to state for the record that this story was bogus.

Let's see how Gawker Media fared as a whole:

Casey Chan at Gizmodo reported the story as true.  He got 223,200 pageviews.
Gabrielle Bluestone at Gawker reported the story as true.  She got 80,100 pageviews.
Mark Shrayber at Jezebel reported the story as true.  He got 30,000 pageviews. 
Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku was the only person to report the story was fake.  He got  62,000 pageviews.

Adding those numbers up, you've got roughly 330,000 Gawker readers who were fed bullshit, and 62,000 Gawker readers who were given the truth.

That's over a 5:1 ratio!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hoax math

My favorite writer at Cracked is a guy named David Christopher Bell.  About once a week, he writes a column about "B.S. stories" that tricked people on the internet.  This column is great, because he invariably mentions hoax stories that were picked up by Gawker.  

Even in cases when one Gawker writer tries to debunk a hoax story, you can often locate a second writer who helped spread the hoax in the first place  For example, today Bell mentioned the "B.S. story" about a dumb criminal who supposedly asked Siri where to hide his roommate's dead body. The misunderstanding came from a joke screenshot that had been found on the defendant's phone. In fact, the phone in question didn't even have Siri installed.

Jay Hathaway at Gawker reported the story was fake.  His post has 35,700 pageviews.
Eric Limer at Gizmodo, however, ran the original story like a fool.  His post has 71,000 pageviews.

This is what I consider a case of: "One step forward, two steps back."

To be fair, Limer did eventually update his post and acknowledge the story was false.  It just took him several hours.
     
"Huh???"

  











Sunday, August 24, 2014

Haters gonna hate

The chaps at Ordinary Times have taken a small stand against Gawker's brand of "chattering class bullshit."

Here's what happened:  Leah Finnegan (who was hired recently because she "hates the right people") decided to spit some of her hate juice on Max Fischer over at Vox.  Fisher had written a satirical column about how the media reports on foreign conflicts, and Leah thought this column absolutely sucked.

And so a writer at Ordinary Times looked over the whole situation and basically said: 'What's the big deal?  Max's column wasn't bad.'  He also elaborated on the feud that's apparently brewing between Gawker and Vox Media.

It's always useful to have dissenting voices, because you really don't want the internet to dissolve into a giant Asch conformity experiment.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ladies leaving Gawker

Myles Tanzer tweeted the news that Rachel Rosenfelt is leaving Gawker.  She was hired in June to be their first-ever Executive Producer.  Now they'll have to find somebody else!  

Tanzer also said Lindy West is departing Jezebel.

Nicholas Jackson, meanwhile, made the observation that Playboy had "moved off Kinja" and launched their own website.  This might just be speculation, though, because I couldn't find any official announcement saying Playboy had disassociated from Kinja.  That said, Playboy revamped their website this week to make it more Facebook-friendly, and their "SFW" Kinja page hasn't posted anything since June 25th.    

Friday, August 15, 2014

Popehat offers advice

Ken White (aka Popehat) discusses why it's maybe not a good idea for bosses to sit idly by when their female employees are dealing with harassment.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sam Biddle: Disingenuous?

Wired has a long profile about Stewart Butterfield, the man behind Flickr and the new messaging service Slack.

It's available to read here: http://www.wired.com/2014/08/the-most-fascinating-profile-youll-ever-read-about-a-guy-and-his-boring-startup

Of course, what caught my attention is when Butterfield let loose a short complaint about Valleywag, and I think he does a pretty good job of summarizing Sam Biddle's approach to journalism:  
“I fucking hate Valleywag,” he says, finishing his macchiato. As he puts his cup down, he reels that back in a bit, recalling a pleasant interview with one of its writers. “Or at least I hate Sam Biddle.” Sam Biddle, for those of you who have yet to be personally insulted by him, is Gawker’s Valleywag editor, tasked with covering the technology industry and its foibles.
Valleywag gleefully channels the hostility and contempt people have toward tech-types in San Francisco and New York right now. We have to stop Google! Have you seen what Facebook is doing now? Tech bros are the new investment bankers: greedy, clueless, chauvinistic, unforgivably rich. Valleywag delights in popping the industry’s self-inflated balloons.
The problem, Stewart says, is that Sam can be disingenuous in a manner that borders on lying. He cites a Valleywag story about Ben Horowitz—an old friend of Butterfield’s whose firm is an investor in Slack. In the story, titled “Prominent Venture Capitalist Discovers Black People,” Sam cast Horowitz, who is married to a black woman, in a light that made him look racially insensitive. Stewart insists that Horowitz’s words carried the exact opposite intent, and Sam had to know it. (Sam points out that the post in question was based on a quote from Horowitz that initially appeared in The New Yorker, which it changed after publication. “I absolutely did not deliberately misinterpret or misconstrue Ben Horowitz’ words,” Sam says via instant message.)
I tried to figure out which Valleywag journalist Butterfield might've had a "pleasant interview" with, but so far the site hasn't mentioned his name.  (It was probably Nitasha Tiku, though.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A world without comments?

Nicholas Jackson offers a novel solution to Gawker's current struggle with their comments:  KILL THEM ALL!

It won't happen.  It would never happen.  But it's an interesting thought nonetheless.

In Jackson's utopia, there would still be space for sites like Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit.  However most "comments," such as we're accustomed to seeing at the ends of articles, would be replaced by entries on personal blogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Update regarding Jezebel's "rape gifs" problem

Earlier today, Joel Johnson announced Gawker was disabling all image uploads in their comments. This change would be effective for the entire Kinja platform.  The announcement was made after the porn and rape gifs started to spread to other Gawker blogs, such as io9.

This sounds like an effective stop-gap measure.  However, some commenters felt it was a little weird that the issue was solved so quickly.  In other words, the Gawker tech team could have prevented Jezebel's writers from being traumatized, yet they waited until:

A.)  Jezebel aired the matter publicly, and
B.)  The gifs spread to other sites besides Jezebel

That's the perception, at least.  I'm not in Hungary, and I'm not part of the tech team.  Maybe it took them an entire month to develop that stop-gap measure.