Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Three Billy Goats Guff

What makes a troll? That's the internet type, not the mythical creature of Norwegian (probably - I can't be arsed checking, I've had a tooth out, my face hurts) origin.

I had always thought of a troll as someone who comes onto a forum solely to cause trouble, deliberately and perversely arguing for something essentially ridiculous and making stuff up to suit their mental argument. And all desigend to provoke a reaction.

As opposed - to get down to cases - to someone going on a web forum and arguing an unpopular line which just happens to be true.

To get down to actual specifics, I've been banned from the doctorwhoforum. In itself that's no big deal - I've been banned by better sites than that, I can tell you mate - and I can even understand why they banned me. After all, I was upsetting the kind of 'proper' Doctor Who authors which the forum relies on to give its indefinable cachet and I may well have been a bit rude about it (I don't deny that I can occasionally get so wrapped up in the argument - and am so used to the 'anything goes' nature of certain mailing lists - that I can slip into, well, mildly unpleasant sarcasm).

But what I was saying was the truth, and I was never what I would consider to be very rude, nor was I trying to provoke a reaction so much as getting irritated at what I saw as rather creepy behaviour.

Previously I'd been warned for the sin of saying Times Champion was rubbish (it is), that a particularly stupid poster appeared to be borderline special needs (he is) and for defending myself against a sneaky and smug personal attack by a sycophantic guffmonkey named Ben Adams (he is - a sycophantic guffmonkey, that is).

I should probably just have left when my post defending myself was removed by the forum Mods but clown boy's attacking me wasn't. I should certainly have left when a post I did asking what was so great about 'In Vision' was deleted along with various subsequent posts by other people asking why my non-objectionable post had been deleted also got deleted (goodness, all those deletions - it's like a particularly poor episode of New Who).

As it turns out I never got the chance to leave as I got banned for was for saying that Justin Richards doing four of the 10 books in the new multi-part Who series was just another example of the rank nepotism at work in the Who book world and a sign that the publishers could care less about quality. As that was actually me agreeing with a couple of other people who had said exactly the same thing earlier on, you'd think that would be OK, but within seconds the usual suspects appeared on the scene like particularly cringe-making vultures at a feast of arsiness. Lance (who I like as a writer and who, this trait aside, is funny, intelligent and knowledgeable about cool stuff) did his usual 'anyone who might one day commission me is perfect' schtick, and Peter Anghelides - check his bibliography and see how many non-Who plays, short stories and novel he's done, and then remember he's one of Justin 'I Commission Only my Mates' Richards oldest friends - came along, shuffling like Uncle Tom and twisting the facts into pretzels in an effort to make Richards and his little coterie of poor writers look less nepotistic.

Anyway, I thought I was reasonably polite - I scoffed a little at Lance's ridiculous claim that co-editorship of the schoolboy criticism which is the poorly mimeographed 'In Vision' series counts as professional non-fiction experience but I deleted a long post marking out exactly how Peter A had been disingenuous in order to defend his friend, on the grounds that defending your friends is an admirable thing.

But I still got banned for being rude and incapable of courteous behaviour, or some such.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I have very little time for most of the mods on OG, who are a shower of smug, self-congratulatory idiots, more interested in buttering up the very minor writers who post there than anything else, and so being banned by them is hardly a blow to my ego.

But someone I do like and respect a great deal did say to me later that I had been trolling a little and acting a 'bit wanky' and, basically, got what I deserved (he said the last bit nicer than that, but I knew what he meant). Other people mailed me to say that I wasn't trolling and didn't go far enough, and a couple of people I know less well agreed I had been at it, but still...it continues to bother me several days later that this one person thought I was trolling because he's an honest guy and obviously thought I was.

And I genuinely wasn't intending to do so.

Oh well, I'm sure I'll recover - I am, after all, hardly thin-skinned - but maybe I'll stay off all web fora for a while, just in case he was right and I was doing something more than just arguing my case.

For reference though, every writer except Richard Dungworth (who I don't know) involved in the Darksmith Legacy is a bad, bad writer and get commissioned far too much for no immediately obvious reason.

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Blogger Louise said...

is feeling guilty now.

2:09 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Not at all - occasional self-examination is good for my soul :)

2:21 pm  
Blogger IZP said...

I thought the Darksmith stuff was pretty rude as written to be honest, was disappointed to see my name (as someone truthfully not much interested in writing for kids and under-qualified to boot) chucked in, and, as usual, disappointed that you don't derive the same pleasure I do from Jac Rayner's work (and here I'm leaving aside the fact she was my sole literary champion in Who land), but I'd defend your right to express your opinion as long as you kept it the right side of ad hominem.
I reckon your Transmissions review was a fairly good indicator that you're not by nature a 'troll', but even then I think the fact that you probably saw it as a blog entry for here first meant you were quite happy to be rude about previous BF writers in it (I suspect your sideswipes at Baxendale, Hickman and Lidster registered more than your praise of the collection with a lot of readers). Add that to your concerns about Time's Champion and I suspect you started to look like someone with a personal axe to grind to the mods.
If you ever go back, play the ball not the man.

Obviously, as the person who's not Jac Rayner who liked some of my stories you remain alright by me... oh, and cheer up!

7:06 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Ian: "I thought the Darksmith stuff was pretty rude as written to be honest"

Honest is good - like I say I know that I can get a little too wrapped up in points scoring and general arguing and lose sight of what counts as rude or not.

Ian: "was disappointed to see my name (as someone truthfully not much interested in writing for kids and under-qualified to boot) chucked in"

I don't think that was me - I can't think what I would mention you for that would aid any point I was trying to make?

Ian: "you don't derive the same pleasure I do from Jac Rayner's work"

She's simply not terribly good (and her qualified success is a mark of the poverty of writing talent in this country at the moment), though I did say reasonably nice things about 'The Last Dodo'.

Ian: "the fact that you probably saw it as a blog entry for here first meant you were quite happy to be rude about previous BF writers in it"

This I think though is unfair. I have no writing ambitions whatsoever so I don't need to be diplomatic and, tbh, for my many faults I don't think has ever accused me of being sneaky - if I don;t like someone or something in the public arena, then I;m happy to talk about it in the public arena, and to say it to people's faces. Blog, OG or mailing list makes no difference to me, nor should it to anyone else. If oyuhave an opinion which you believe strongly enough to mutte rin private, then have the courage to say it in public. So there!

In any case, I posted the same review on OG, here and on a couple of mailing lists which I know Hickman and Lidster at least are members of and have criticised their work in various places before (and praised Hickman hugely on JPAudio back in the day for 'The One Doctor').

And the Hickman reference in the review was specifically aimed at 'Bang Bang a Boom' which contains a very similar style of joke to Burk's short story. As for the Lidster to Baxendale and Lidster - well (a) they're both barely literate imo and (b) if that sngle passing reference registered more than my praise for Dave Hoskins, Kelly Hale etc with any readers, well they're clearly more interested in Who politics than actual Who writing.

Ian: "Add that to your concerns about Time's Champion"

It's rubbish and it's not written by Craig Hinton. I'm hardly the first person to think that, though I may have been the first to say the first part out loud.

Ian: "play the ball not the man"

Sometimes when the man is particuarly odious, it's so much easier and more satisfying just to leave a trailing leg to clip his ankles, so I'll probably not go back and interrupt all that mututal masturbation :)

Ian: "Obviously, as the person who's not Jac Rayner who liked some of my stories you remain alright by me..."

Oh wait there - I did mention you, in a list of ten authors I thought would turn in more interestng work if given the Darksmith series to write. Is that what you mean? How can that possibly be 'disappointing' tough? You might not think you could write such a book and might be indifferent to the whole idea, but you weren't being linked to thinking Justin is shite in any sense other than I like your - and 9 other people's - work. Disappointment would be a very strange emotion to feel...

8:11 pm  
Blogger IZP said...

Disappointed I guess because I felt I was being brought into an argument that wasn't mine. Hardly heartbroken, mind, let's be clear!
I get all your qualifiers though but I'd say rule one on OG(DWF(whatever) etc. is thou shalt not be rude about the guests of the GallifreyOne convention, writing aspirations or not, so if you write a review that's funny waspish and personal here or elsewhere it might look like fighting talk when you paste it there too!
Their gaff their rules.

How's the gaping gummy wound, will it prevent repetition of the world famous Stuart grinning photo?

8:32 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

"How's the gaping gummy wound, will it prevent repetition of the world famous Stuart grinning photo?!"

It's a rear tooth so it doesn't impact my Californian toothiness. Hurts like hell though.

And apologies if you thought you were being used in an argument - that certainly wasn't my intention and tbh the 10 names were just the first ten decent writers I thought of (at the risk of adding insult to injury, yours wouldn't have been one of my more reasoned ten writers to turn out a children's Who series :-)

8:36 pm  
Blogger IZP said...

Hey. We're dead simply ages, there's no need to apologise to me.

8:38 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

I wasn't really sorry - I was practicing lying through my teeth in case I ever decide to go back to OG :)

"Goodness, The Rapture is a splendid piece of work. And isn't Nick Briggs good too."

"I can't believe Justin Richards doesn't do more Who work"

"I hope when JK Rowling dies that she's remembered to leave a synopsis or two with Cris McKeon"

8:42 pm  
Blogger IZP said...

Good luck with that plan, I expect you'll want to get some practice in while you've still some teeth to lie through.

8:57 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

You know, that could sound like a threat, coming from some people ;)

10:24 am  
Blogger SAF said...

Bloody hell, how did I miss you being banned. Just been too busy on authonomy lately I guess.

9:00 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

You're just too important now that Harper Collins contracts beckon, and people leave comments calling you the heir to Douglas Adams and the greatest comic writer since Wodehouse.

BTW, did I mention that Evil UnLtd made me laugh a lot?

9:29 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

Tee hee. No, you didn't - but you have now. Glad about that. And that was only the first third. :)


10:39 pm  

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