A short while ago, we were openly discussing how not
to hold an open discussion in the free air of the internet. It was a highly editorial post, stating my (and apparently, others') disagreement with the view that the "high road" is composed of off-hand insults and closed comment threads.
With that in mind, I bring you another blogging faux pas, courtesy of the Copyright Alliance blog. In a post titled "Setting the Record Straight on PROTECT IP," Sandra Aistars takes aim at an article posted elsewhere on the web:
Since the introduction of the PROTECT IP Act we frequently see articles and blog posts that severely mischaracterize and make false assertions about the legislation. For example, today we noticed a piece that claimed that the PROTECT IP bill would be a detriment to entrepreneurship. As an organization that represents individual artists and creators, who are themselves entrepreneurs and small businesses, we share the author's concern for entrepreneurship and economic growth. The creative sector in the United States, which is comprised largely of people you would consider the copyright owner next door, accounts for 11.1 million jobs across the country. Unfortunately his portrayal of the PROTECT IP bill is factually inaccurate in virtually every respect.
This is quoted verbatim. If you haven't noticed by now, there are no links to the original article or any mention of who wrote it. Considering this lack of information, Aistars could be talking about something her neighbor wrote and shoved under her door for all we know. In this day and age, I don't see how you can expect to tackle someone else's arguments without at least mentioning their last name.
It's a shame, too. Aistar's post does a fairly good job laying out her disagreements (even if I don't agree with all of her disagreements) in a very easy-to-follow point-by-point argument. (Although, she does spend more time than is needed pounding home the point about the bill addressing only sites dedicated to infringement, which according to the beneficiaries of this law include archive.org, Vimeo, Soundcloud and 50 Cent's personal website.) The problem is, no one knows who she's arguing with and even worse, nobody can verify whether this mystery person made the claims she's attributing to them.
It would seem that linking to the original article would be second nature... unless you're trying to avoid people actually reading what you're arguing with.
If you're confident in your argument, why wouldn't you link to the article? Techdirt disagrees with pretty much everything and yet, every post links to the source of disagreement. But the more Aistar calls out "the author" as a nameless, linkless being, the less inclined most people are to believe that her piece is even-handed.
If you haven't Googled up the solution to this "mystery writer," I'll go ahead and provide you with the link that the Copyright Alliance apparently couldn't get coded in by presstime:
"Blacklisting Entrepreneurs: PROTECT IP Could Harm Web Startups" by Paul Kedrosky
Of course, it's no use rushing to the Copyright Alliance blog to ask why this was handled this way. The comments are closed and pingbacks have been politely asked to leave. Ironically enough, Copyright Alliance did take the opportunity to exercise their one-way rights and leave a comment on Kedrosky's post, which takes this whole situation past "obtuse" and into "egregious." Since I told myself that I'd be very even-handed in dealing with this bizarre breach of internet etiquette, I'm ending this post now and opening it up for discussion. Have at it.