Some of the comments about today's dust up have raised an important issue. What does the community of Colts fans owe to one another? Some readers who agreed with my position in the post, found it to be heavy handed or mean. Another reader wondered why I bothered investing so much effort responding to "a fan writing an "article" on a blog." There seems to be differing opinions about what bloggers owe to one another.
I want to lay down 18to88's ethic for criticism of other sites and writers.
1. We treat bloggers, websites, and MSM guys the same
The same praise, the same criticisms, the same standard. Why? Because we respect other bloggers. Stampedeblue is a nationally recognized source for Colts news. Anyone who writes on their main page (not fan posts) deserves the same respect as other national sites like CHFF, FO, SI.com, or whoever. In a situation like today, it may seem unfair or heavy handed to go after a newer writer with the same guns blazing that we would Peter King or Kerry Byrne. It's not, though. It's a sign of respect. In this world, you stand or you fall on your merits. If someone is good enough to write for a respected source (which SB certainly has become), they have to be prepared to face intense scrutiny.
2. We recognize that all sources have their own goals
18to88.com is not Stampede Blue is not Indyfootballreport.com is not Colts.com. Even though we hold all sources to the same standard of excellence, we recognize that each source of Colts news is different. We don't criticize those sources for the choices, just for their content. There are features on every site that don't interest me. If there is a regular feature on SB that I don't like, I tend to ignore it. I don't like enjoy every feature John Oehser does. I certainly don't read everything from Colts.com. To that end, I try not to comment on stories just because I don't like the topic. I recognize that the only site dedicated to stuff that exclusively interests me is my own. If an article is wrong, I'll comment. If an article doesn't interest me, I won't. I just assume someone else finds it interesting. I'll talk about specific stories, but not the blog in general. It's none of my business how or why they do things. My opinions on those topics are private, and when I share them with the authors, I share them in private.
3. We are always honest
Whatever we post or comment on here at 18to88.com is what we honestly feel. We will never feign outrage just to have something to write about. We won't go on a rant just to get attention. Whatever we write, good or bad is our legitimate take on an issue. We don't have any agenda other than to express ourselves. When you read 18to88.com, you can be sure you are getting what we really think. We never try to stir the pot just to stir the pot. There's nothing we dislike more.
4. We don't argue just to argue to make a writer look bad. We don't pump up a guy just because we like him.
I've said nice things about Kravitz, CHFF, and any of a number of other authors that I usually shred. Conversely, if we should ever disagree with any of our favorites (even 'untouchables' like Phil B Wilson, John Oehser, Shake), we'll say so. Now, guys whose work we like get a lot longer rope than the guys we usually fight with, but that's what credibility buys you. I can't wait for the day where Johnny O or Shake and I have a serious disagreement about something. It'll be fun to go 10 rounds with those guys. They are good analysts and thinkers.
5. Everyone has a right to their opinions, but not all opinions are valid.
This is important. Anyone can talk about the Colts. Anyone can have a take. Having an opinion doesn't make you right. Opinions backed by sound logic and fact are more credible and useful than opinions based on the undocumented observations of a given writer. If Phil B Wilson notices something, his voice carries more weight than a random fan's, even if he can't necessarily prove it. If Peter King gives an opinion, however, and a fan can prove that he's wrong using hard evidence, I'll listen to that. I'll listen to anyone's argument. That doesn't mean I have to respect those arguments. They have to be backed with either credible experience, stats, facts, or excellent logic. Every crazy theory is not equal.
So, back to the blow up today. Was I hard on MasterRWayne's piece? Yes. Very hard. I admit it. He had a piece published on the front page of a major sports blog. It was linked on a national site. I happened to hate the piece and disagree with it strongly. I said what I said, how I said it because I hold SB to the same high standard I do every serious site.
Should I have saved my big guns just for the big boys? No. To do so would be to insult Stampedeblue as a site.
The thing I most respect about the job that BBS has done at Stampedeblue is that he has built an excellent community, one of the greatest on line. He does an incredible job of reminding people to keep rooting for the Horse above all.
That family type atmosphere has spilled over into the other Colts blogs, and I understand why some readers get skittish when there is criticism of pieces posted on one blog by another. There is a sense, especially when we were all attacked by Kravitz, that we are in this together. We read and comment freely on one another's stories. When there is dischord, it feels like a fight in the family almost. Beyond that, when the discussion strays from the topic at hand and gets personal, the fight becomes boring fast.
We try to keep it on the topic, but within those boundaries, I reserve the right to use strong words (stupid, crazy, wrong, ignorant) to describe weak, poorly researched, or flat wrong statements by any author, even one in the family. If blogs are to be taken seriously we have to be fair. We have to be as hard on each other as we are on everyone else. Otherwise, we are just as bad as the MSM guys who lecture us about standards. Moreover, we have to make sure the work we do is top notch.
So at the end of the day, will we keep hammering away on stories we don't like? Yes. Without reservation or apology. Don't take it personally if we attack a writer or a site you like. We aren't saying the writer is a bad person or wrong all the time. We are just saying they were wrong about this topic on this day. Tomorrow, they'll write something else. If it's good, we'll praise them for it.
The best part about 18to88 is that no matter what, if you disagree with us, you are free to make your case and prove us wrong.
We'll take any argument, any time. I'm a sucker for a good fight.