Internet 101: Promotion and Fisking

Yesterday, Sara Mayhew tweeted at me some of her grand knowledge of blogging.

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It’s the new meme, apparently. Beth Hendricks, Reap’s buddy, brought it up here on Thursday. Rich Sanderson, one of the Twitter harassers, posted it last night:

[blackbirdpie url=”″]

I don’t know which of the company Sara is keeping introduced her to the meme. I’m pretty sure she didn’t come up with it on her own. On her Facebook page, she talked about the idea at more length:

Bad blogging is when you need to quote huge blocks of text. It makes me believe you’re either a lazy or incompetent writer, when you can’t make a summary of someone else’s point.

It starts to become really lazy, like Almost Diamonds and Ophelia Benson’s blog, when it’s 90% blocks of quotes and they insert a sentence or two in between.

At that point, just link to the entire article you’re discussing. But I guess Zvan and Benson aren’t really generating content as much as just being the two old muppets in the balcony.

Later in a comment, she notes:

But guess what, Benson? I’m not a blogger. I actually produce content; graphic novels, online comics, and now a new children’s science education book by the publisher of the Manga Guide To science series. So go ahead and skip over the majority of There Are Four Lights’ content.

Apparently the irony that she posted four pictures of dresses with captions and four sentences about the company on the day she decided to lecture about “lazy blogging” was lost on her, as was the fact that she was taunting the co-author of Does God Hates Women?, Why Truth Matters, and The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense: A Guide for Edgy People–who is also a Free Inquiry columnist–for not being a content creator. But whatever.

While I’m digressing, I’ll just note that those two bits of quote are separated by an interesting exchange, included here for documentation’s sake.

Ophelia Benson: Yup, the two old muppets in the balcony; that’s us, Sara. Good writing!

Daniel Waddell: And here You are Ophie

Poster of Statler and Waldorf in the Muppet Show balcony, with one replaced by Miss Piggy and one replaced by an old-lady puppet.
That’s me on the left as Miss Piggy (because I’m fat, you see) and Ophelia as the toothless puppet on the right (because she’s old, you see).

Sara Mayhew: Go home, pineapple.

“Pineapple”, here, refers to Ophelia, whose Facebook profile picture is currently a pineapple. Sara is not telling, and did not tell, Waddell to leave or even knock off the fat- and age-shaming. Justin Vacula, on the other hand, thought the whole name-calling thing was just perfect.

Link introducing a new podcast. Text in the post.

Introducing the Brave Hero podcast with hosts Justin Vacula and Karla Porter…we’re just two young muppets in a balcony.

Episode one — “Go home, pineapple!” — will be aired Saturday (3/2/13) at 7:00PM EST. We would be honored if #bravehero Sara E Mayhew would call in.

Be a #bravehero and join the growing resistance movement today! Callers — no matter their viewpoints — are welcome and encouraged. Save the online atheist community, save the world.

Just in case you thought this sort of thing was anything but constant. But that’s enough digression.

NBC's The More You Know logo.
As Sara (who is still going on about this on Twitter this morning) is not a blogger, or a “real” blogger, or whatever, and neither are the others who are apparently trying to make this meme that Ophelia (our second most prolific blogger here at FtB) is lazy, here is a little bit of information for them about how the internet works.

First, on linking. I almost always link. Ophelia almost always links. Basically every experienced blogger almost always links. The exceptions are to sites that we don’t want to see any benefit at any point. Why? Because linking is valuable. Just ask this guy I’m linking to, who explained why the Associated Press was self-destructively silly to try to prevent bloggers from linking to their stories back in the day:

The AP should not be asking for payment for its content. The bloggers should be asking for payment for their links. That is where the value is in this economy.

Step away from that ‘comment’ link. I am not seriously suggesting that bloggers should demand or accept payment for links. Indeed, that would be quite unethical — very PayPerPosty: selling out and devaluing our credibility. That’s why we don’t do it. Our link ethic would not allow it.

Still, there is value in our links and the AP, if it understood this new economy would understand that it is a gift economy and links are presents that can be given or earned but not bought. But the AP is still operating in the content economy, which values control instead. That age has passed.

Jeff Jarvis was talking about money in this case, because he was talking about the business of journalism. The same holds true, however, for other forms of currency. In particular, bloggers receive value from having their work read (or watched or looked at, depending on the type of blogging). They can own all the content they want, but if no one interacts with it, they and their work are sitting off in a corner together alone. Even a blogger whose only goal is to get their own thoughts straightened out derives value from others reading those thoughts and giving feedback, though as the blogfather recently pointed out, that no longer has to happen in a comments section.

So links are good. For monetizing, for interaction, for attention, for Google search ranks–they’re good. But they’re only as good as people clicking on them.

The first time a group of readers came across a blog post with no title that consisted of only a link, some of them might follow the link out of curiosity. If all linking posts looked like that, the internet would screech to a halt. People have a very limited amount of time and attention. The amount of content competing for our attention is effectively infinite, and the vast majority is crap. (Crap. n.: Not to one’s liking.)

How do I promote something then? I have two options. I can gush and reason and command you to read it. That assumes that you’ll somehow accept my authority and do what I tell you. Or I can give you a sample (first time’s free) and hope that you’ll find yourself intrigued. You don’t have to trust me. You merely have to trust your own ability to know what you will and won’t like.

Thus, when I link you to Crommunist’s Black History month posts, or a weekly story, or some political action you can take to push our world in a direction we want it to go, I let the work I’m promoting speak for itself as much as possible. I’m the bow, not the target. That’s why these people tend to thank me when I do this. It gives them the traffic they need.

Thus end Internet 101 lesson one.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is fisking, a style of argumentation named after one of the poor fellows it was used upon. Again, to quote and link:

One of the primary aspects of fisking is the use of deconstruction in taking an argument apart and making a counterargument or rebuttal for each point. This can be done on a line-by-line basis, though it is often done for each paragraph or individual point made by a person in his or her initial statement. The Internet provides a perfect environment for this type of argument, since it allows a person to quote and repost the original statement, divided into sections, and then add commentary or rebuttal after each section.

Quoting not just extensively but completely is part of the point of fisking. Fisking is reserved for pieces that are wrong throughout. This is demonstrated by not leaving a single part of the original argument unaddressed, and this in turn is demonstrated by putting the entire argument there for anyone to catch you eliding part of it. It may well be considered a tool of arrogance, but it is anything but lazy.

On those occasions when I have fisked someone, such as Justin Vacula or Damion Reinhardt, they tend to stay fisked. They get a mumbled acknowledgement at best, completely ignored at worst. They don’t get an argument in response, because the thorough quoting demonstrates the thoroughness of the refutation.

So there we are, boys and girls, two quick lessons on how block quoting can add value on the internet. Tune in again soon for a history lesson on what a Gish Gallop really looks like, because that appears to be the next meme. That’s what happens, you see, when I do write at any length, at least according to Sara’s friends on Facebook.

I’ll just leave this here again.

Drawing of beaver face with text "Dammed if you do. Dammed if you don't."
Picture courtesy of Surly Amy Davis Roth. Used with permission.
Internet 101: Promotion and Fisking
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61 thoughts on “Internet 101: Promotion and Fisking

  1. 1

    Question? Then what does my work entail? Because it’s cut and pastey but also giant textey… SOMEONE VALIDATE WHAT CATEGORY MY WORK FITS UNDER!

  2. 3

    Somewhat ironically, the buzzmachine link in

    Just ask this guy I’m linking to, who explained why the Associated Press was self-destructively silly to try to prevent bloggers from linking to their stories back in the day:

    isn’t working. Lawl?

  3. 5


    Question? Then what does my work entail? Because it’s cut and pastey but also giant textey… SOMEONE VALIDATE WHAT CATEGORY MY WORK FITS UNDER!

    File it under A for Awesome <3 ( and certainly not lazy)

  4. 7

    I also write a column for the Freethinker! Every month! Content content content.

    (I also do one for the quarterly Philosophers’ Magazine, but that doesn’t count for this purpose, because, ironically, it’s a roundup of philosophical or philosophy-related blogs, so it really is mostly cut and paste along with a little commentary and scene-setting. Ooooooooooooh lazy – but actually it’s quite a lot of work, more than writing one would be.)

  5. 9

    Hey, roundups are extremely valuable – they provide rapid promotion of links vetted by a blogger, so their local community knows those sources are (probably) worth engaging, when the lone blogger doesn’t have the time to write in depth about each source individually. Most everyone on the net, commenters and content providers alike, can read far more content than they can produce.

  6. 11

    I don’t know which of the company Sara is keeping introduced her to the meme. I’m pretty sure she didn’t come up with it on her own.

    Prolly not. As you point out, the barely-coherent Hedricks made the same point previously.

    The pitsters do have their little Themes. Reminds me of Fox News and the Moody memos.

    A short while back they were encouraging everyone to read and join the ‘pit, remember that? Wonder how that worked out for them.*

    * I don’t really wonder.

  7. 12

    I can’t get over how a weeaboo wannabe “mangaka” who produces seen-it-a-million-times storylines with an art style so bland it could cure insomnia is patting herself on the back for being superior at generating content. And I wanted to like her stuff way back when I first tried it (well before I knew what a disgusting person Mayhew is), I really did, but Legend of the Ztarr was one of the many, many uninspired “manga” that did nothing for me other than drive home how terrible white people are when they set their hearts on drawing “Japanese” comics out of some fetishistic love for all things Japanese. But she is tenacious, I’ll give her that, in both her mediocrity and her mendacity.

    As for blog posts that are primarily quotes with little commentary (by the blogger or the other readers), I don’t usually care for them. I prefer a 1:1 ratio or better in the OP. But it’s easy enough to just ignore the posts that bore me and to click through to read the original of what’s being quoted if it happened to catch my interest. If bloggers never quoted heavily, I wouldn’t find the ones I click through to. Also, given the blogs I read, the comment section on the quoting blog is often more active and/or host to a higher quality community of commenters than the original. As for the other kind of quoting, I love reading a good fisking like some people love ice cream or football.

  8. 13

    As a reader, I actually really appreciate the block quotes. Most of the time, I am more interested in the critique than I am the original article. I can decide from the quotes whether it is something I should go read or not.

    I follow a crazy number of blogs, so I don’t always have the time to read every single associated article. This provides a great summary of the main points. Also, it lets me make my own decisions as to whether the summary understood by the author is the same information I get out of it. With a summary, I just have to take the author’s word for it.

    Don’t Change Stephanie and Ophelia. Your readers love you the way you are.

  9. jmb

    A. Noyd. No kidding. Can’t believe she gets grants to teach comics–it’s Liefield or Land for hackery, only more bland. And her site and book self-promotion is a mess. I guess this is the only way she can think to get attention, by being a brat on more popular blogs? It’s not like there is any shortage of manga-inspired webcomics out there, some of them quite good…

  10. 15

    One of the first blogs I ever read regularly was Eschaton, the political blog of economist Duncan Black (who wen t by the ‘nym ‘Atrios

    He (and his now fellow bloggers) rarely post more than a short paragraph and a link, sometimes accompanied by a graphic. His readers go to the link and then discuss the content in the comments. It’s still a hugely popular and successful and, to me at least, very useful blogging model.,

  11. 16

    Look, we can argue about who the best bloggers are, but any list that doesn’t include Digby at Hullabaloo is a failed list. She was one of the first, is still one of the best, and she almost always has long quotes.

    What Digby does.

  12. 17

    Here’s a thing: I’ll hands-up confess that i don’t always follow the links. Sometimes, if the quotes intrigue me or I’m told I really need to read the whole thing. But more often than not I bail. I’m a busy lad and I have to ration my time.

    However, that makes me more reliant on the quotes than ever. Particularly if it’s a critique of a particularly turgid piece by some muppet or other. I’d rather someone else do the hard work of pulling out the juicy bits than have to trudge through a mass of Padenesque text.

    In summary: I need quotes. Give me the damn quotes!

  13. 18

    Wow, another half-assed meme races through the independent thinking crowd at the speed of dumb. Colour me surprised.

    “Rawk! Bad blogging! Mayhew wants some kudos from her besties. Rawk!”

  14. 20

    I wonder if this meme isn’t a reflexive reaction to our criticism of the long-winded, pretentious, wall-o’-text style blogging of some pitters.

  15. 21

    also: my most-shared and most-read blog posts ever are 1)The boobquake post, which is just a picture of me with a single sentence explanation; and 2)the point-by-point deconstruction of a post on sex-work over at Feministe. Readers find a lot of value in these posts. Plus, summarizing leaves you open to accusations of “twisting my words” when you’re writing an extensive critique of someone. Quoting their words, as well as linking to the original, protects from that. There’s of course still accusations of quotemining, but of course if you provide the link, readers can go check for themselves whether you made some quote mean the opposite of what it was supposed to mean by extracting it from context.

  16. 22

    Look, we can argue about who the best bloggers are, but any list that doesn’t include Digby at Hullabaloo is a failed list.

    Absolutely. A recurring post on Eschaton is simply “What Digby says” and a link…

  17. 23

    I actually produce content; graphic novels, online comics, and now a new children’s science education book by the publisher of the Manga Guide To science series

    It’s always about Sara and how great she is, isn’t it.
    I always picture her in a scene I experience with my kids once in a while:
    They’ll jump up and down and shout “look what I made, look what I made, look what I made” because they can’t stand it that for a moment the adults are talking to each other.
    I guess that when Sara was little she either always got all the attention imediately so she “learned” that it works, or she never got any at all, which is why she’s still jumping up and down, waiting for somebody to pay her some.

  18. 24

    Giliell, actually this is about another pitter meme – that FTB/Skepchick are “just” people who write blogs, while the pitters are people who actually do things; so in Sara’s case, the “doing things” involves her mangas, which she uses as a contrast to “just bloggers” like Stephanie and Ophelia (and the reason they get away with claiming Ophelia is “just a blogger” is by claiming that all the books she co-authored were actually primarily written by the other person)

  19. 26

    Mandrellian @ 10

    These are all major or minor aspects of the central issue, which is that they are existing wrong, i.e., they exist at all. Eventually, the trolls will be telling, e.g., Ophelia and Stephanie that they metabolize nutrients wrong or some such. There will never be a dearth of things that they supposedly execute in an incorrect fashion, ready for criticism.

  20. 27

    @22 A Hermit

    It’s weird, that post of mine reads like a response to yours, but it’s pure coincidence. I was probably typing as yours posted.

    Atrios is a guy I would definitely put on that “best of” blogger list. I was playing on that recurring theme you mentioned in my post–“What Digby does.”

    If your blogging habits roughly resemble theirs, you’re fine, regardless of what grudge-bearers say.

  21. 28

    You mean like the “just blogger” Stephanie with an additional daytime job? Just because she doesn’t brag about it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it…
    But I remember, PZ should stick to teaching…

  22. 29

    The ‘pitters are desperate to find anything they can turn into a criticism. That this latest attempt at mud-flinging represents an even greater leap into poorly-thought-through cluelessness than their previous efforts at straw-grasping (this is what happens when you take all that straw to make arguments out of) is particularly hilarious when you consider most of them contribute nothing more to the atheist community than their obsessive stalking on twitter (though I guess maintaining so many sockpuppets accounts does require some effort) and the ‘documenting’ of the evils of FTB/Skepchick/A+ via screenshot.

    Especially when the same people who worship those who make hour-long podcasts to discuss a single comment on Facebook are bleating at those who post quotes on blogs of not generating substantive material.

  23. 30

    I learned something today. I’ve seen the term “fisking” thrown about a few times on FTB, and I had always assumed it was a misspelled figurative usage of “fscking.” The metaphor seemed to fit.

    The comparison of Benson and Thunderf00t is just silly. I don’t always agree with every point Ophelia Benson makes, but her writing is always coherent, and gives the impression of having been proofread. Her posts are sometimes lengthy, but never wordy. With her effective writing, she has changed my initial opinions on a few topics where I may have been predisposed to disagree with her (specifically, the minutia of the whole TAM-irresponsible-messaging-from-women-bloggers thing last year).

    Thunderf00t’s writing, on the other hand, was a stream-of-consciousness nightmare. His use of whitespace, linebreaks, and the <I> and <B> tags might have made sense if he was writing notes for a spoken-word presentation, but were simply painful when unleashed unfiltered on the audience. I know this has all been said before, but chalk me up as one more voice in the consensus.

    The woodchuck offers the most succinct possible analysis. If you did anything differently, you’d catch flack for writing walls of text without quoting enough. One thing that’s always gotten under my skin re: Twitter is that discussion tends to take the form of endless parroting of unoriginal ideas with little original analysis. I think the present case is an example of this.

  24. 31

    Complete digression here. Delete this if you think it is derailing.

    Sara Mayhew is a pretty talented artist. She’s clearly got some chops as an artist and stylist.

    However, she does that thing that too many young, manga-infuenced artists do and paints herself as a ‘mangaka’, a manga creator. As someone who has made a modest amount of scratch drawing manga-influenced art over the years this is irritating beyond belief. I never did anything other than advertise myself as someone who did a manga-influenced style. I did not pretend I was a manga creator.

    Many moons ago Fred Schodt defined manga as Japanese-created or Japanese-published comics. It’s a term of art. To say that a Western artist is a manga creator, without having her work published in Japan, dilutes the term. It just becomes another syonym for ‘comics’. We might as well call the latest Batman or the latest Dylan Dog titles ‘manga’.

    Though of course when we get to call every comic artist a ‘mangaka’, then no-one gets to be special.

    The alternative is to retain the word ‘manga’ as a term of art for Japanese comics and everyone else can do ‘comics’, be they American comics, American Pseudomanga or whatever. Use a different term. However, I’m sure that will put the wannabes in a snit, as they lose the cool handle.

    I hope she really doesn’t come here, bleating that the term ‘manga’ is associated with a style. Anyone who has read more than one issue of Garo magazine knows that manga is not a style. That is a sterile path to tread.

  25. jmb

    Personally I don’t care if “manga” is applied with regional distinctions (like “manwha” in Korea) to serial art which follows a particular visual style and uses manga-originating visual or dramatic tropes, which her work certainly does.

    But it’s painfully obvious that Mayhew has dramatically puffed up her artistic reputation: she has two comics, neither very long, both VERY derivative, with arguably poor worldbuilding and characterization — neither of which has any reviews to speak of online. Her “international award” was many years ago, from a long defunct UK anime con, for “Best Teen Comic.” She doesn’t advertise on other comics. She was a TED speaker some years ago, but how many other people are TED speakers too these days?

    So, to get the attention she feels is her due, she stirs up drama by tearing at people with more community standing than her, in order to curry favor with the biggest, nastiest drama llamas in the community. This is a very familiar pattern (in HP or SPN or other fandoms, like hand-crafted makeup and knitting) right down to the offenders being old enough to know better. The only thing missing right now is a plagiarism scandal.

  26. 35

    Could we please avoid addressing this by denigrating Mayhew’s work? I can’t do it, most of you who are criticizing it probably can’t do it either, so it’s a bit petty to rail at her for what she can do. You may not care for it (personally, I’m not at all into manga so it sails right by me), but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad — she seems to have a strong market for it, anyway.

    This is exactly analogous to what they’re doing to Ophelia. Ophelia is an excellent writer and blogger, and what she does fits exactly into the conventions of this medium, but we’ve got a bunch of bitter, ignorant people declaring that she’s going about it all wrong. Do you want to be the bitter, ignorant people who tell Sara Mayhew that she’s doing her work all wrong?

  27. 36

    Do you want to be the bitter, ignorant people who tell Sara Mayhew that she’s doing her work all wrong?

    Once again, PZ, it’s exactly the same tactic that “we” have been conducting against the likes of the Discovery Institute for years. This is a repeated error you’re making. The technique isn’t out of bounds. You and yours just don’t like being targeted. Do what you always wanted the Discovery Institute to do. Engage, debate, resolve. There is no other way out.

  28. 37

    Could we please avoid addressing this by denigrating Mayhew’s work?

    I don’t want to denigrate her work, I don’t know enough of it to even criticise it, but for hell wherever Sara Mayhew appears she has to rub it into people’s faces how. fucking. great. she. is.
    As I said “look at me, look at me, look at me!”.

  29. 38

    Thanks, PZ. It’s a little weird to find comments like that on a post in which I explicitly defined “crap” as a matter of taste. Also, it isn’t as though this behavior would be acceptable, say, from someone who had published several well-received books on skepticism.

    While we’re at it, folks, let’s stop with the attempts at mind reading, too. It really doesn’t matter what Sara thinks she’s going to get from behaving this way.

    Hunt, when we engage and debate, people like Vacula and friends run away instead of addressing the arguments. They just repeat their “points” as though no one had told them why they’re nonsense. Makes things basically impossible to resolve. You’re talking to the wrong people.

  30. 39

    Stephanie, feel free to ignore hunt. On my blog, he actually tried to tell me that because non-101-level discussions of privilege tend to happen among the oppressed in their Movements, rather than with privileged folks hankering for some philosophizin’, these privileged discussions were happening in an elitist leftist Ivory Tower. 😀

    on a separate note, I think it’s quite fair to point out the cultural appropriation/inaccurate naming of referring to a manga-style western comics by a western artists as actual manga. The term really is supposed to refer to “comics created in Japan, or by Japanese creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century”. I made the mistake of calling it that, too, and now I feel duly chastised :-p

  31. 41

    You know what this #bravehero nonsense reminds me of? The ridiculous martyr complex in Expelled where Ben Stein stands up for the plucky ID scientists taking on the dogma of evilution by the Scientific Establishment aka Big Science. They really seem to see themselves as these underdogs who are oppressed by hate speech such as “Guys, don’t do that.” Fucking pathetic.

    The constant nitpicking of certain feminist skeptics by the pitters is also identical to the howls of outrage from the right over any tiny little thing Michelle Obama does. They are really no different from wingnuts at this stage.

  32. 42

    The quality of Mayhew’s work is, of course, a matter of opinion, and not relevant to her arguments. It’s arguable that she made it fair game by both bringing her work into the argument and suggesting that there are (or should be) some objective quality standards re: blogging.

    That said, the “you can’t/shouldn’t criticize it if you can’t do better” is fallacious. Just as it doesn’t take a Ph.D. biochemist to poke holes in Michael Behe’s bullshit (or a Ph.D. psychologist to poke holes in bad evo-psych), it doesn’t take a professional artist or writer to find flaws in art or writing. Roger Ebert’s career as a film critic is not invalidated by the fact that Beyond the Valley of the Dolls wasn’t the best movie ever.

  33. 43

    I’d like to point out another reason for using BIG BLOCKS OF TEXT; it makes it kinda hard to accuse you of taking it out of context. Also, simply summarizing someone’s article or blog post practically begs your opponents to claim you’ve misunderstood the deep meaning of their thoughts. Because if you actually understood what they wrote, you obviously wouldn’t/couldn’t disagree with it.

  34. 44

    Hunt is incoherent, as always, and has completely lost track of the argument.

    Tom, I know the fallacy. What I’m saying is that this is classic ad hom: Sara sucks at drawing, therefore her argument about blogging is stupid. You could say that PZ sucks even worse at drawing, therefore his arguments about blogging are even stupider. The whole line of attack in which we assess irrelevant aspects of the other person’s work is ultimately distracting.

    JohnM: Yes. It’s exacerbated too by the fact that some of us come out of usenet culture (and I think usenet culture greatly influenced blogging, even if you weren’t involved with it), where you couldn’t link at all and oblique references to ‘that comment from so-and-so on Thursday’ were almost impossible to track, so you’d just quote the whole point you were referring to. And if you didn’t quote it, you just knew the person you were arguing with would squawk that you were misinterpreting them.

  35. 45

    Actually, I find Sara’s work to be quite proficient. But you’re right that we’re off subject here.

    Stephanie. My sincere apologies for the hijack. Please feel free to delete my posts.

  36. 46

    Also, let me add that there are also conventions for fashion and art blogging — conventions that differ from what atheist/political/science bloggers do. To chastise Mayhew for posting pictures of herself in different outfits is as misplaced as to chastise a philosophy/political blogger for quoting chunks of other people’s text.

    Maybe you don’t read it much (I don’t), but fashion blogging is huge on the internet.

  37. 48

    PZ Myers (#34)

    Could we please avoid addressing this by denigrating Mayhew’s work?

    I think it’s more than fair to rip someone’s work (honestly) if she’s puffing herself up saying her output is superior content-wise to what other people produce. She made the quality of her work part of her argument. It’s more than a matter of taste, too. Mayhew may draw and write her own stuff rather than copying and pasting* and she may be minimally competent at it, but that doesn’t change how derivative her stuff is. You can find eighty zillion would-be “manga” of the same quality and with a similar art style, storylines and characters all over Smack Jeeves or Drunk Duck or the like. Putting effort into creating something hackneyed is not superior to quoting extensively with a bit of commentary.

    *I have respect for that. But if she thinks that’s important, she could try to make a case for it without the self-aggrandizement and sniping.

  38. 49

    I concur with A. Noyd’s statement. The quality of the artwork is, of course, open to opinion. However, I would say we are justified in criticizing it because Sara specifically brought it up to contrast her perceived difference between herself and Ophelia and the others here. She used her artwork to claim she had a life outside of blogging.
    If she wants to argue that she is superior to Stephanie and Ophelia because she has skills besides blogging, we should be able to counter argue by criticizing those skills. If she had never made this argument, it would indeed be unfair to criticize her art.

  39. 51

    You know, I didn’t say a word about Mayhew’s ability. But calling herself a “mangaka” is a level of conceit and appropriation something similar to some upper class white kid talking about how “ghetto” they are because they did some rap on YouTube. It doesn’t matter whether they’re good or not, it’s the fact that the action is only a few steps below blackface.

  40. 52

    Kelseigh Nieforth (#50)

    But calling herself a “mangaka” is a level of conceit and appropriation something similar to some upper class white kid talking about how “ghetto” they are because they did some rap on YouTube.

    Hahaha, I like that. Though, there is a context where I think it’s acceptable for a Westerner to refer to herself as a “mangaka”: when she’s speaking to a Japanese person in Japanese. But then, that doesn’t communicate the same thing since it’s a general term in its mother language. It would require a modifier like 日本の漫画のようなものを作る placed before the 漫画家, which (together) would translate to “a comic creator who makes stuff like the comics of Japan.” And then the Japanese person is still likely to ask which Japanese comics her own comics are like.

    What gets to me is when people draw English language “manga” pages right to left. Weeaboos think it’s more “authentic” to go against the natural reading order for English because that’s how manga translated from Japanese are read. Except, with translated manga, that’s a situation that arises from a compromise. The convention these days is to sacrifice reading order so as to preserve the art rather than, as was done way back when, reversing the art to accommodate reading order. But there’s no fucking reason to create an original, English-language “manga” reading right to left other than some stupid conceit about doing it the “Japanese” way. Japanese kids sure aren’t reading the panels of their comics one direction and the text another, though. It’s cargo cult comic creation is what it is.

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    A. Noyd in #51 hits the nail on the head with the terminology issue. Context is key here. In Japanese, “manga” is a pretty generic term. But if we’re speaking English, and working in the context of English-language comics, the term “manga” loses any useful meaning if it’s applied to non-Japanese comics. The American comics industry output lots of heavily Japanese-inspired work from the early 90’s on (not the well-known superhero stuff, obviously, but some of the more obscure franchises from publishers like Image). Noone felt the need to call that stuff “manga” due to the art style.

    Let’s take a parallel example. Speaking in a general context, “comix” is a misspelling of “comics” and can be taken to have a generic meaning. But speaking within the context of the English-language comics industry, “comix” is generally understood to refer to the underground stuff from the 20th century by R. Crumb and his ilk. You’ll sometimes even see Jack Chick included here, because the key feature of “comix” is that it was English-language outsider art. No one refers to obscure, indie-produced, Japanese manga as “comix.” We have separate terms for that stuff, like “doujinshi” (if it’s derived from commercial properties). And making another parallel, we don’t call Western fanart and fanfic “doujinshi,” even though we’re looking at essentially the same phenomenon manifesting in different cultures.

    I’m really not a comic geek and I was speaking off the cuff, so hopefully I didn’t botch that too badly.

    So yeah, the pedant in me grates a bit when I hear about western manga. Folks (above) have made the point that Mayhew’s work is fair game since she invoked its quality as a talking point. This might have merit, but I still agree with P.Z. here. I’d prefer to take the high ground and not rip apart her chosen art. I’ve produced plenty of bad art in my time, and it would kind of suck to have that thrown in my face just because I’m on the losing side of an argument. I’d rather focus on the fact that she made an arguably meritless and mean-spirited criticism of someone else’s writing style, which apparently wasn’t even an original idea. I think this hearkens back to the recent discussions about civility. Just because we don’t fetishize civility, doesn’t mean we should discard it entirely in all cases. If you tear apart someone’s cherished work, you’re going to produce an emotional response in that person that might destroy whatever small chance there was of ever seeing eye to eye on any issue. If that person is making an unsound argument or is otherwise at fault, you’ve just further impaired their ability to see their own error. And, preemptively, in case Hunt is still reading, that doesn’t mean Discovery Institute gets a pass. That would be a slippery slope fallacy. When a person’s life’s work is demonstrably, objectively bad and incorrect, and when that work itself is the focus of a discussion and not a red herring, it is of course proper to deconstruct and, well, fisk it, or fsck it, as the case may be.

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    To chastise Mayhew for posting pictures of herself in different outfits is as misplaced as to chastise a philosophy/political blogger for quoting chunks of other people’s text.

    Unless I’m missing a comment, the only problem brought up about Sara’s fashion blogging is that she is NOT using photos of herself in different outfits, she’s just posting photos taken of other people from websites and then giving short commentary on them, which is the exact same thing as giving a large quote and then commenting on it. So the problem isn’t fashion blogging, it’s her blatant hypocrisy in calling it bad writing and shifty blogging when others do it but making excuses for why it’s OK for her to do it.

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    Sara’s work seems amateurish, at best a vanity printing. It’s got loads of flaws in layout, story construction, and linework. Maybe the stories are fun, but it seems to eat many pages without really getting a story through. Poor scene setting and character introduction, too. Not sure if I could find her stories engaging enough; the characters seem to float in and out of frame, and without introductions, I don’t know who is who. Not very engaging at all.

    But I read several comics with bad design. I rather like watching artists learn and grow and sometimes turn pro.

    I don’t understand why it’s a point, at all, why would you bring up ‘I wrote stories on fictionmania!’ would seem to be as relevant.

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    For instance, is written right to left. I don’t know why, but the characters are designed to evoke reading a CLAMP book or somesuch. Makes up for being general girl-at-school with some interesting personal interactions and does backgrounds and full-length introduction shots, etc.

    I think the idea is they want to print not in America but fit into a market that already exists. There’s more than several ‘American’ titles published this way, and they’re more likely to find shelf space in this format than they would have in American comics format.

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    Sassafras: it’s also likely that she didn’t get permission from the original photographer before using the photos, something else she said you can’t do when blogging.

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    Put me in the camp of people who love extensive blockquoting. Often I don’t want to follow links to sites (WND, WUWT, the like) because I’m pretty certain it’s not good for my blood pressure to read through (and I obsessively read through articles & comment threads, it’s positively unhealthy).

    Also, I find a positive link (e.g. I really liked this, go check it out!) usually does not require extensive blockquoting, whereas a systematic deconstruction (fisking as noted in the OP) just ‘looks and feels’ better when it does (at least in my opinion).

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    I dunno. This where I have to somewhat respectfully disagree with PZ. There are far superior femala mangaka such as CLAMP, Peach Pit, Higuchi Tachibana, et al, than Mayhew and only a fraction of an internet troll as she is. This is not to say my example doesn’t have their issues…but IMO they deserve far more respect as they’ve broken grounds in an culture that is resistive to assertive women without making asshats of themselves. Just saying.

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