The Background on the New Authorship Policy

So, there’s been more than a little drama about posts and authorship over the last six months while I’ve been mostly absented from the blog helm. For selfish and other reasons related to giving things enough wait time that they solve themselves (masterful inactivity one might call it), I tried to stay uninvolved for the most part. Alas, I am no longer uninvolved and opinions over the last six months have strengthened with opinion holders becoming much more vocal that “something must be done.” But what? And how? And why? Well, here’s my version of things:

Though I was still committed to staying out of things as much as possible, back in March I reached out to all of the other editors (all of whom are current, full-time faculty) by email asking them to identify:

A) Issues of concern or questions about posting;
B) Issues of concern or questions about commenting;
C) Need or desire for establishing or clarifying convention or policy associated with either A or B (including anonymity);

D) Anything else.

I then went on to write:

My own view of things is as follows: For the last three years we have operated with no official policy except that all editors must be HWC faculty. Other than that, collegial courtesy has guided the posting. People could do what they want, but usually gave each others posts a one hour cushion (except if they went unnoticed in the scheduling queue prior to posting) and everyone had privilege to sticky posts to the top according to their judgment and allow 24-48 hours of sticky time before challenging or requesting change. Sticking posts to the top was typically reserved for time sensitive issues and posts that, in the opinion of the author deserved extra attention and discussion due to their potential impact on the HWC community. When this started there were a lot of regularly scheduled features, but those have dwindled until such time as someone wants to revive them and/or someone wants to start their own regular feature. Feel free. There have been no content guidelines or restrictions.

We have also gone without a commenting policy. In three years there has been one comment (other than spam) removed from view. The de facto commenting policy has been to allow any and all commentary. The comment referred to above was one that, per practice, was immediately challenged as unfounded, demeaning of its subject, and calumnious. Upon its being challenged, no discussion/defense for it was made. Upon its being downrated 10 times (to zero likes) it was hidden from view. This is as close to a policy as we’ve come. There are no content guidelines or restrictions provided for commenters. (By the way, this policy, like that for posters is driven by my philosophical commitments to Mill’s argument against censorship in On Liberty. I recognize the importance and power of Marcuse’s critique of the impact of the ideology of democratic tolerance on discussion, but I think it makes more sense to keep it in mind as a caveat than to abandon discussion altogether. If you’d like further elaboration on either, I’m happy to provide it.). I will not deny my own motivations either. #1) I didn’t want to be the content police due to time and power issues; #2) I truly want this to be a collaborative and so don’t want to be in the position of giving permission or stamps of approval or whatever.

The anything goes policy has been the basis for allowing anonymous posters. By necessity, I know who they are and can verify that they are faculty. I recognize that this puts me in a position of privilege relative to the rest of the editors. I don’t know what to do about that. Following Mill–and in the early developmental days of the blog–I empowered the Realist project. That project has evolved over the years, as has the blog. I have had multiple discussions with a few of the other editors on the topic and there have been a few discussions on the Lounge on the topic over the years, but to date there has not been a strong community challenge to the policy of allowing anonymous posters.

As a consequence of a different exchange, I invited 12keystrokes to write for the Lounge not knowing that that faculty member’s project would also be a pseudonymous/anonymous one (not that knowing would have changed anything–the precedent had been set). Personally, I would prefer it if everyone posted and commented under their real names, but I do not believe we should mandate for posting (lest we fall further, in the absence of faculty willing to give voice to radical/counter-conventional/potentially controversial ideas and critiques, into the narrow crevasse of “acceptable discussion” (i.e., the problem identified by Marcuse) and I definitely don’t think we should mandate self-identification for comments (thinking of adjuncts, staff, non-tenured, administrators, etc.).

I recognize, though, that I might be standing alone on those things, and so want to reopen the discussion in light of Kamran’s post and the previously stated concerns of a few editors (as well as my own longstanding misgivings).

Making matters worse is the fact that we have no policy for conducting these discussions or determining policy. The benefits and challenges of consensus gathering and democratic vote and autocratic rule are well known. I am open to either taking up or ignoring this meta-topic at the beginning at the end or throughout.

I received seven responses. (I have received permission from a few authors to share their responses. No one denied me permission, but if it wasn’t granted, I don’t want to publish their words.) A few of them were:

#1) I personally would like to see posters using their true identity rather than a pen name…On the other hand, I do like the freedom to be able to comment anonymously from time to time. What I would like to see is more posting. I want diversity. I want exciting topics; hot topics to be debated among colleagues. I want to see more of us sharing resources and sharing teaching/learning strategies…I personally do not like to use the Harold Lounge as a place to sling mud, especially at each other, but if it is a free space then I have to deal with the mud slinging I suppose. I do feel a bit shy to post things if I think a fellow poster is going to rip my grammar apart. On the other hand, this is a public forum and I should be open to critique. My vote is that we keep the policy as it currently stands, such as it is. I hope that everyone on this e-mail, myself included, will step-up their posting.

#2) More postings would be nice…I believe all the editors have done a decent job of managing their content. As [someone] stated, the mud slinging does not work for me either. If it comes with the territory, so be it. I think collegiality will win out in the long run if we make it our priority. My vote? Leave everything the way it is with no official policy.

#5) The use of anonymous posts is always questionable, and I believe it is deplorable for a protected class of academics–protected for the express purpose of speaking freely–to then hide behind an anonymous name. When one doesn’t have power and security, the situation changes. But our tenure demands something more of us, or else we betray the goals of tenure. When a tenured professor lacks the courage to write under one’s own name when writing something potentially controversial, it contributes to every argument that claims “professors don’t need or deserve tenure any longer.” …I believe anyone still ought to have the right and ability to post anonymously. Acting virtuously and acting within one’s rights are distinct things. Finally, and most importantly, I enthusiastically agree with [#1] that we need more on the Harold Lounge: more variety, and more posts that get back to the heart of teaching…The use of anonymous names on the Harold Lounge has been damaging to both the blog community, and the HWC faculty community as a whole.The use of anonymous names may be damaging to the HWC community as a whole.

The others included the suggestion that we develop an ethics policy for posting, one person who said s/he couldn’t answer due to grading work, one who was “torn” on anonymity, but agreed regarding quantity and variety of posts, and another who suggested everyone commit to more posting and that maybe I could find more editors.

From these responses, I drew the conclusion that there was no strong consensus for immediate action with respect to anonymous authorship, though there was a lot of ambivalence among the editors. Nonetheless, their diagnosis of the Lounge “problems” centered on the amount, type, and limited sourcing of content, especially in my absence. I settled on a laissez-faire path for the spring and summer at least. As the new academic year approached, however–specifically, while biking to DWFDW–I found in myself a growing conviction that the time had come to require any and all authors who post to the blog to use either their own names or be otherwise identified/identifiable. Comments, I believed, should continue to allow for anonymous and pseudonymous contributions.

You might wonder what led to the blooming of this idea in me.

Over the last six months two voices have come to dominate the blog. Both voices were those of anonymous and generally unknown (except by me and a few others) authors and both have projects that narrowed the scope of the Lounge function. (This site was originally launched as an unofficial project of Faculty Council when I was the secretary in order to: 1. Create a central location for information (for both efficient notification and long-term repository) that affects faculty; 2. Create a means for asynchronous discussion and consideration of ideas, proposals, initiatives, and controversies other than “reply all” email; 3. Facilitate professional development through the sharing of resources related to teaching, our disciplines, and our profession (i.e., higher education in general); and 4. Foster a sense of community and connectedness that is crucial to morale, institutional health, and so on. )

12Keystrokes’ project began with the assertion that as of Fall 2012, the Realist’s voice had become the dominant voice on the Lounge (a premise I disagreed with then and now, but that it was made and not disputed by anyone else suggests that 12Keystrokes may not be alone in perceiving things that way. I certainly cut down on my posting in the Fall of 2012, relative to past semesters, but numerically I still outposted Realist by a long ways. At any rate, by March of 2013, the Lounge was pretty much the Realist and 12Keystrokes show. Not exclusively, but mostly.

As the voices of the Realist and 12Keystrokes became more and more dominant through the spring and summer, questions (or criticisms) about the purpose and function of the blog became more prominent both on the site and in my private correspondence with colleagues on the subject, and I began to think that my return would not be enough to offset the turn that things had taken, a turn that (I believe) was manifested in the tone of posts and comments alike. I saw it as an ugly turn.  So, on my bike ride, I started to think about what I could do and what, maybe, should be done, and I kept coming back to a common complaint that I heard put forth by critics of Realist for years now and also by critics of 12Keystrokes–namely, that it is not right (or good) to allow someone to post both as a faculty member and with a hidden identity.  On Tuesday of DWFDW, I sent out another email to the editors, suggesting the new policy and asking for their feedback. In that, I wrote:

As for reasons, I could write pages, most likely, but I won’t bore you with all of that. In brief, I am persuaded by 12keystrokes’ argument that perhaps my own knowledge of the identity of the Realist has blinded me to some of the impact of the Realist’s oevre. I am also persuaded by Kamran’s (and 12Keystrokes) arguments that such public expression of opinions–political, philosophical, personal, and otherwise–as those that constitute the primary posts of a college faculty blog ought to have a degree of transparency that allows for, even encourages, discussion and contribution. Whether the author wants to hold respondents to the same criterion can be a personal preference, at least for now.

Furthermore, while I don’t have empirical evidence beyond anecdotal, I have consistently received feedback about the blog over the past 8 months in particular, expressing anxiety, disappointment, dislike, and a number of other negative words about the tone and function of the blog, especially with respect to the quality of information, the tone and direction of focus, and the tenor of the discussions that result. I agree with these assessments and, in truth, I’d rather shut the thing down and go back to all faculty email discussions about controversial topics than continue enabling a tool that turns our collective focus exclusively or even primarily inward. When I started at HWC, there were a number of circular firing squads already in existence. One aim of the blog was to allow communication for finding common ground and opportunities to (civilly) discuss and consider controversial or difficult topics. If it got away from that, I will take the blame for it. I do not, however, want to further codify either an in-crowd echo chamber or a gladiatorial arena.

There are certainly more reasons, including a few selfish ones (I simply don’t want the drama), but that will do for now. Still, I asked opinions and received back a collection of votes for the status quo, and so, even while I am now pretty strongly convinced of the value of the change I am proposing for author’s, I don’t want to do it by fiat.

I do want to do it, though. What say you, six months after the question was initially posed?

In response, I received three emails. I also had two discussions in person with other editors. One (the Realist) said, “Whatever you want to do is fine.” The other four were all enthusiastically in favor of the new policy. As of this writing, I have not heard from any others. That was enough for me.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks to the two authors affected by this change, particularly the Realist. Realist has been supportive of this project since before it began and often picked up my slack. Realist’s annual takeovers in the summer and over winter break and during midterm week provided me with desperately needed respites from my own compulsions and habits (and voice). I will always be grateful for the generosity, both of action and spirit, that Realist has shared with me throughout the last two and a half years. I have said it in person and I will say it again, but I should like it known publicly how deep and profound my gratitude is to the Realist for the support and contributions.

I am also grateful to 12Keystrokes for showing me a perspective that I did not and do not share, but certainly found thought-provoking and a project that, whatever else, will certainly have been a catalyst for the evolution of the Harold Lounge. Of course, I invite one or both to re-join us under their real names, with or without disclosure of their secret identities, and encourage them, if they’d like to continue blogging elsewhere pseudonymously or otherwise. As with all faculty blogs, I’ll happily post a link in the blogroll to Realist’s Cave or Camp Realist or whatever.

I once read that a “bureaucrat” is best defined as anyone who spends more than 50% of their work time on internal matters. That has always seemed right to me, and it’s always been my goal to make sure I never qualified. It is my hope that after this post and the activation of the new policy, this blog will become less bureaucratic and inward focused and more oriented toward serving the goals for which it was created. And I hope that all of you readers (or at least some of you) will help me make that happen, too. It won’t happen without your help.

Thanks, in advance.

UPDATED (8/23):  To fix the paragraphs and one spelling error

12 thoughts on “The Background on the New Authorship Policy

  1. What a thoughtful process you have been through Philodave. I appreciate the transparency of the decision-making process and I hope the results of the change move the Lounge forward. Thanks again for all of your hard work.

  2. Thanks to all the editors for considering the question on behalf of our general population. Thanks especially to you, Dave, for posing the question, considering it thoroughly, and following through so conscientiously. I hope our bickering didn’t taint your much-earned sabbatical (it feels like we got caught throwing a kegger while the parents were out of town and left a mess for you to clean up). Sorry about that. Will try to keep moving things in a positive direction from here on out.

  3. Thanks, to all three of you. If you three are happy, then I feel like I must be not messing up TOO badly.

    • Except for the lack of paragraphs. I wish I could claim “stream of consciousness,” but, alas, it was merely user incompetence. Oh well.

  4. 12Keystrokes has been in agreement with most of ______’s position since she/he first stated it a few years ago on the Lounge. (This individual’s position was not included in PhiloDave’s post here but in some of that background email.)

    #5’s comment about the use of anonymity on the Lounge assumes a certain politics even while it does not acknowledge its dependency on that orientation/politics. #5’s comment only gains “virtuous/moral traction” if its politics is a given (and it is 12Keystrokes’ understanding that virtue or morality and politics – in the ideal – are not often compartmentalized). #5’s politics seems to be that tenured faculty should criticize unjust administrative/etc. practices: that sounds pretty virtuous, especially if you agree with those politics. 12Keystrokes doesn’t have a problem with that broad formulation, but who adjudicates what’s “unjust” or in need of criticism? (And, in the wake of Realist’s demise, please do not respond with one of the many “obvious” abuses.)

    Let’s be frank (that’s not a name/anonymity pun!): Realist found favor – political favor – by taking aim at “the boss” (the Other, the unjust, THEM, etc.). In this post announcing a new authorship policy, PhiloDave thanks Realist for Realist’s functionality or utilitarian value during semester breaks and such – and there can be no doubt that Realist did serve that function – but the expressed thanks implicitly endorses the political/ideological content of Realist’s writing even while it explicitly disavows that of 12Keystrokes! (That’s two exclamation points in one paragraph, folks.)

    Explaining the reasons for this new policy by focusing on the exchanges between 12Keystrokes and Realist also elides the political/ideological content of Realist’s (et al.’s) writing.

    Presumably, had Realist shown more restraint or thoughtfulness – or, more likely, had 12Keystrokes not forced the issue – the status quo on the Lounge regarding anonymity/pseudonymity would have been maintained.

    In the real world – as opposed to an institution of higher education, where some employees possess a special, rare status called “tenure” – anytime an employee criticizes “the boss” there are often real and swift consequences. (And if #5’s comment from “the inside” is any indication of how some faculty have felt about Realist’s antics, imagine how people in the “real world” would evaluate the value of tenure.) Still, it is possible that if Realist had used her/his real name, perhaps she/he would have exercised a less corrosive kind of criticism. But given more of the same from Realist year after year, 12Keystrokes finds that unlikely.

    In contrast, 12Keystrokes’ use of pseudonymity was not put in the service of Realist’s (et al.’s) politics – or, if not a shared politics, a shared “aesthetic” or tone – but used to critique that politics/aesthetics/tone. (Not also virtuous?)

    Any talk about virtue and using real names to criticize unjust action seems misapplied, feels less certain when one faculty member is criticizing another, at least when that talk is formulated the way it is in #5’s comment. (Notions of virtue and “courage” sound odd unless there is a possibility that criticized faculty will engage in some kind of retaliation.)

    Again, let’s be frank: no one should receive extra points for using their real name when offering the kind of mainstream criticism* that 12Keystrokes has been putting forward regarding Realist’s (et al.’s) economics discourse/representations of class/populism-jingoism. PhiloDave and 12Keystrokes couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to evaluating what Realist (et al.) has done on the Lounge, but political difference should be explored – and a discourse that reinforces a status quo should be examined.

    Pulling the plug on Realist (but not before bestowing a kind of “golden parachute”) does not suddenly undo the harmful discursive impact of years of Realist’s writing. Unlike PhiloDave’s relationship with Realist, 12Keystrokes and PhiloDave have not known one another. (But 12Keystrokes feels no unreasoning animosity or anything to PhiloDave.) Interestingly, PhiloDave writes about his feelings for Realist and how those feelings influence his perception of Realist’s writing/project/politics, but he has not been critically self-reflective enough (or so 12Keystrokes suggests). This is one reason – and not a small one – why 12Keystrokes remains committed to contributing to the evolution of the Lounge.

    Pulling the plug on 12Keystrokes’ project wouldn’t promote collegiality (and it would lesson a focus on teaching practices). Moreover, it would just be odd if, simply because 12Keystrokes’ identity had to be announced, the plug would be pulled successfully. It’s just not part of the project.

    12Keystrokes has been busy for the past couple of weeks and has only just found and read a few of the email exchanges between Lounge authors/editors and this post here and discovered that authorship privileges have been revoked. (Looks like everyone has been busy.) But again, like some nine months ago, PhiloDave, 12Keystrokes accepts your invitation to write for the Lounge, and this time under a very, very real name — which, presumably, will change . . . something and when that happens so please sound off about it (exclamation point withheld). So zap my email or whatever needs doing.

    (*Note 1: Yes, that’s “mainstream criticism.” Is this note really needed here on the Lounge?)

    (Note 2: Dave, please provide the number of posts attributed to Realist and yourself since you mention that in your post. Sharing those numbers will clear up any way off perceptions re: dominance.)

    • Hi, 12Keystrokes.

      A) Your first paragraph is a perfect example of at least one thing I have found frustrating in your writing, which is the looseness of your referents. I have all of the emails and I still don’t know what it is that you agree with. I said I received seven replies to the original email and posted three replies verbatim. You say it’s not those. I described four other responses, which are rather different from each other. There is nothing in your first paragraph to suggest which or what you’re agreeing with.

      B) I like the joke in your third paragraph. but I have no idea what you mean when you say, “Realist found favor–political favor–by taking aim at ‘the boss’.” What favor? Do you mean here, as in special privileges or adulation? Just as I disagree with your premise that Realist’s voice is the dominant voice here, I also disagree with your idea that Realist is particularly popular. What’s your evidence? Do you have any? The support for Realist among editors and readers has been largely luke-warm and qualified at best by my view. Can you refute it?

      Or do you mean at the college? And so, you must mean as a faculty member, which can only be asserted truthfully if you know who Realist is, which I doubt, and know that the faculty member who writes as Realist has leveraged that fact for favor among other faculty members which I know to be false because it hasn’t happened. Again, I know not of what you speak.

      C) Still on that third paragraph, if I say thank you to my neighbor because they picked up my mail while I was out of town, that is hardly an endorsement of an anti-fracking sign posted in their yard. I thank Realist for what I appreciated about Realist’s efforts. To suggest that it implies an implicit endorsement of Realist is both ridiculous and exactly the leap I hope to help people NOT make through the promulgation and enforcement of the new policy. Also, doing so requires ignoring many times over the past three years when I have responded critically to Realist’s position and general formulations of things. You can do your own research to find those in the Archives.

      D) Disagreeing with you does not mean that I agree with Realist. That’s basic logic. It may be the case (and/is) that I have criticisms of both. Do you typically list all of your criticisms about people before saying thank you, so as to avoid any implicit endorsement of their political/ideological stances? I don’t. If you do, remind me not to do you any favors. I also thanked you, by the way. Not enough? If I had written, “I don’t agree with Realist on everything but thank Realist; also, I don’t agree with 12Keystrokes on everything but thank 12Keystrokes” would you have been satisfied in a way that you aren’t now (on this criticism at least–the one about implicit endorsement and explicit disavowal)? Are you objecting to the lack of parallelism? Take a look at H below and see if you can think your way to an alternate explanation than your own proposed one.

      E) “He has not been critically self reflective enough,” you write. Is there a point at which my critical self-reflectedness could satisfy you? And how could you possibly know how critically self-reflective I have been or am? What a sentence.

      F) In the same paragraph, you misread what I actually said. I did not write that my feelings about Realist influence my perception of Realist’s writings; I wrote that I have come to believe that such a thing is possible (note the use of “perhaps”) to a greater degree than I previously acknowledged/thought. Those are not the same thing.

      G) Will do. You’ll find the email in your inbox shortly.

      H) Sure. PhiloDave posts: 1,430 (244 in 2012). Realist posts: 395 (88 in 2012). 12Keystrokes posts: 35 posts (0 in 2012).

      • Hi, PhiloDave.

        In “The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books” Meghan Cox Gurdon – children’s book reviewer for The Wall Street Journal – writes about the backlash she received for “Darkness Too Visible,” a 2011 article in which she criticized an “increasingly dark trend” in Young Adult literature. Allow 12Keystrokes to quote it at some length:

        The late critic Hilton Kramer was seated once at a dinner next to film director Woody Allen. Allen asked him if he felt embarrassed when he met people socially whom he’d savaged in print. “No,” Kramer said, “they’re the ones who made the bad art. I just described it.” As the story goes, Allen fell gloomily silent, having once made a film that had received the Kramer treatment.

        I don’t presume to have a nose as sensitive as Hilton Kramer’s—but I do know that criticism is pointless if it’s only boosterism. To evaluate anything, including children’s books, is to engage the faculty of judgment, which requires that great bugbear of the politically correct, “discrimination.” . . . [P]eople in the book business [should] exercise better taste; . . . adult authors [should] not simply validate every spasm of the teen experience.

        . . . I appeared on National Public Radio to discuss these issues with the Young Adult book author Lauren Myracle, who has been hailed as a person “on the front lines in the fight for freedom of expression”—as if any controversy over whether a book is appropriate for children turns on the question of the author’s freedom to express herself.

        . . . Now, although it may seem that our culture is split between Left and Right on the question of permissiveness regarding children’s reading material, in fact there is not so much division on the core issue as might appear. Secular progressives, despite their reaction to my article, have their own list of books they think young people shouldn’t read—for instance, books they claim are tinged with racism or jingoism or that depict traditional gender roles. . . . [M] larger point here is that the self-proclaimed anti-book-banners on the Left agree that books influence children and prefer some books to others.

        In high school 12Keystrokes was assigned Kerouac’s novel On the Road. During one class discussion teacher opined, “There’s no such thing as a relativist. Talk to some ex-hippie my age and ask how they raise their kids. When they answer, they will sound a lot like their own parents. Anyway, they won’t tell you that they let their kids do whatever the hell they want.”

        12Keystrokes’ perspective is that a problem needed to be addressed, but it wasn’t being addressed due to a variety of factors: a lack of sophistication with theory/rhetoric, frustration over Reinvention, a growing case of demagoguery, visceral mechanisms (e.g., “trust”). “Realist” – as s/he/it operated on the Lounge as opposed to a 3-D person – needed to be reined in.

        This isn’t about laying blame (see E & F below) either, PhiloDave, but let’s be frank once more: 12Keystrokes worked to see that those reins were applied while you (as you acknowledge) took a laissez faire, free market/invisible hand kind of approach.

        12Keystrokes assumes it would be/is a thankless task. Yours is the only thanks given. Thanks. As instructors, we are careful to distinguish between “person praise” and “task praise” when assigning grades or providing other feedback to our students. Grades never measure the worth of the human but only how well a person performed on a particular task. So, too, praise related to one’s postings on a college faculty blog. The new authorship policy will help keep person praise and task praise separate (see C & D below) even as it helps everyone (like our students) be a bit more accountable and “professional” (but not overly staid or anything), which are default workplace norms. Your recent line of reasoning – like Fish’s – appears to recognize that free speech/anonymity as some absolute possibility can never be (and never was on the Lounge).

        Re: A/the email:
        Since that individual gave no consent to be quoted or named, 12Keystrokes does neither. You will have to work around that frustration. At least now everyone – including Realist – gets a better picture for how a lack of clear referents (such as happens with anonymity) can create frustration.

        12Keystrokes hasn’t read all of the email. If memory serves _____’s position re: “Realist”/anonymity is the most recent date-wise, and it may be the most consistent over the years because this individual stood on principle, never compromising. In contrast, some other positions put forward on the Lounge or in editors’ email seems inconsistent – as you write, “largely luke-warm and qualified in my view” – because they have been more responsive to political concerns. Noting that (or this) seems worth noting, and makes for a transition to the next paragraph.

        Re: B (and angling toward E and F):
        More about “(special) privileges” in a separate post. For now, it is enough to say that Realist’s popularity – both its ups and downs – is indicated by the comments to Realist’s posts and that much of B, particularly the call for evidence/refutation, comes across as a show/display rhetoric.* It is possible that if 12Keystrokes had written “visceral/political favor” it would have limited your waterfall of speculation as to referents, but none of that is certain.

        Re: C and D
        For the first time in your comment, this is not a show/display. Yes, it would be more accurate to state that the thanks does not endorse the anti-fracking sign in your neighbor’s yard. Yes, at times you have responded critically to Realist. (This is one of those “in my head” moments which you are sure to recognize. Also see above re: person/task praise.)

        Back to the show/display: the analogy of picking up the mail depicts the utilitarian function Realist performed, but it studiously ignores the ideological work Realist undertook. A more accurate (albeit imperfect) analogy would have a neighbor picking up your mail, opening it, and corresponding with your contacts while using a pseudonym but also your address. The neighbor writes about her/his relationship with you, your views/posts, and a certain anti-fracking sign (or, perhaps, actually begins making and mailing anti-fracking signs to your contacts). Going back to _____’s position, it’s basic logic/human nature that your startled contacts would turn to you for some kind of explanation/action, whether the neighbor wrote only once or 395 times (or over 1,500 times adding in comments, yes?). D appears to revise the ridiculous analogy in C since it depicts you dealing with the kind of neighbor that you actually had working for you.

        Again, 12Keystrokes’ perspective is that “Realist” as it operated on the Lounge needed to be reined in. You acknowledge a laissez faire approach – you weren’t moved to act – and being one of your “contacts,” 12Keystrokes weighs any talk about “logic” or agreement/disagreement in light of that inaction. Receiving just one anti-fracking sign is a pretty dominant experience.

        Everyone – please be careful about who you ask to pick up your mail.

        Re: E and F.
        It’s easy: you yourself periodically state that your decisions (or convictions) are grounded in your feelings. Viscera: tough stuff, common to the species. 12Keystrokes cannot measure how critically self-reflective you or anyone else has been, but neither is it outrageous to suggest that you are still working through something, as C through F demonstrate. In that regard, 12Keystrokes is not interested in some reductive laying of blame. (And F: OK.)

        Never meant a long comment but a simple takeaway, nothing radical: common ground. Not to be an armadillo.

        *(B is a perfect example of what is most frustrating in your writing, mostly because readers do not appear to recognize your recourse to show/display rhetoric. After all that fooled by randomness/“who knows why anyone does anything” talk you want evidence/proof?)

        • I enjoyed that, thank you.

          In reverse order:

          1. Asking for evidence for an assertion of fact (e.g., Realist is popular, or Realist enjoys special political favor) is a very different thing from asking for an explanation of cause or motive. You wrote in your first post that, “In many ways, Realist emerged as the dominant voice on the Lounge–particularly in 2012–via sheer number of posts and apparent popularity among other Lounge authors and readers.” I have said I think that is false (and offered evidence to support my opinion). I have not asked about your motive(s) because I would have deep suspicion of the veracity of any answer you gave, even if sincere. I have asked about your evidence for your perceptions which drive your assertions, though. Big difference.

          2. I think your revised analogy is not close to the situation it ostensibly describes.I am uninterested (and unavailable) in taking up that explanation, though. The short version is that this blog is not my mail (literally or figuratively–see your quote of me in your first post), and anyone who would do what you suggest would be rightly described as a jerk. I would think about informing my friend/contact of his neighbor’s liberty-taking, but I wouldn’t look to my friend/contact for an explanation.

          3. All rhetoric is show/display isn’t it? How could it not be?

          4. Like I said, thanks for showing me a perspective whose full scope I had not adequately appreciated or accounted for prior to your project.

    • PhiloDave hit the nail on the head. Your writing is hard to decipher. Are you suggesting that you are going to write under your real name? I’d sure like to see that.

      • You don’t seem to be following either PhiloDave or 12Keystrokes or the larger arc of this whole anonymity thing.

        • You are correct. Not particularly interested in your obtuse conversation about your various intentions. My response was very specific to this comment – “But again, like some nine months ago, PhiloDave, 12Keystrokes accepts your invitation to write for the Lounge, and this time under a very, very real name.”

          I’d definitely like to see you post under your real name. I think the interactions you would have with your colleagues after that point would a priceless learning opportunity for you.

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