We can discuss it here, rather than litter Scalzi's blog entries with an ongoing grudge match.
To be totally honest, I don't hold anything against any of the Making Light crowd. Not knowing any of them personally, I am fairly certain almost all of them are decent people, who if they knew me personally might not like my political stances on certain subjects, but would not assume I am a Bad Guy either. And one of the unfortunate things about the internet is the inability to stand up from behind the keyboard, walk over and shake someone's hand with a smile and say, "Nothing personal, OK?"
What frustrates me about Making Light is that it's moderated for content, as well as tone. Or perhaps it's that content and tone seem to be interchanged too often, such that someone posting something that contradicts the consensus of the forum is flagged as a troublemaker. Future posts which continue to run against the mood of the group, no matter how urbane or polite, are at high risk of disemvowelment, or deletion -- and the one doing the posting is certain to incur a temporary or permanent ban.
Now, if Making Light were an invitation-only blog, or better yet, a phpBB forum with controlled registration, I could understand Making Light regulars getting upset when some unknown guy from the Web wanders in and starts spouting ideas and talking shit that is upsetting to the group. In an environment like that, which would be similar to a private party, such intrusion would be neither acceptable, nor polite.
But Making Light is not a private party. It's just another blog, slapped up there on the Information Superhighway along with all the other blogs, like fast food signs advertising along the interstate. Unless someone lurks for a very looooooooong time they'd not clue in to the fact that Making Light operates like a private party, and any motorist or (especially) hairy-knuckled trucker who pulls in, takes a dump in the john, orders a plate of flapjacks, and starts jawing with the waitress about politics, will be quickly informed that they have just stumbled unknowing into an exclusive gathering, and are violating any number of unspoken social rules which govern the group -- and shame on them for being so presumptive as to assume that just anyone can join the conversation.
Maybe some Making Lighters get yuks from seeing "trolls" zoom in, post a few times, get disemvoweled, get banned, and then the regulars engage in witty reparte with the mods about how such "trolls" never knew what was coming to them.
For those of us who try to stick around and "learn" the ways of the forum, especially when we so often disagree with the political mood of the place, it becomes an exercise so frustrating that you eventually ask yourself a) what's the point and b) why is it worth keeping a polite face when all the politeness and urbanity in the world won't save you from being labeled an Unsavory Character because the group doesn't like your politics on a given political topic.
This would seem to eliminate the "sock puppet" issue, which is largely a self-created phenomenon IMHO because when you set up an "open" blog, then arbitrarily or narrowly moderate -- especially for political content -- you're daring people to circumvent the system, because NOBODY likes being told they can't talk, while others get to talk at will.
Obviously, nobody at Making Light has to give a shit what I think. I will say that it's interesting that someone like Tim Kyger, who has apprently known Patrick since before Patrick knew Teresa, felt it necessary to illuminate the "monoculture" of Making Light, and fully expected to be disemvoweled for his efforts. No doubt he was spared, because of his relationship to the Nielsen-Hayden duo. But if I were Patrick or Teresa and a long-time companion came on my blog and said, in no uncertain terms, that the place had become an echo chamber of thought, with arbitrarily harsh moderation for content, I'd want to reflect on that and consider that maybe I'd not done myself any favors by running the place in the manner I had run it.
Speaking from experience, as someone who has run on-line forums since 1992 (that's dial-up BBS days for you kids) there is such a thing as being too hard-assed about moderation. Now, Teresa and Patrick might be at a point in their lives where they're too old to give a damn if anyone doesn't like their blog mod policies, and fuck anyone who says anything against said policies. When I reach that age, I might be inclined to feel the same.
But I maintain that if you're going to run an "open" shop, without obvious "rules" posted right at the entrance, and no user registration, and you moderate the place the way in which Making Light is moderated, you're not doing yourself or your potential users any favors.
Again, maybe Making Lighters like seeing unwary fish shot in the barrel?
Teresa has made it plain that my sins are near-unforgivable, and I've run out of steam for Making Light. The fish is dead.
Anything else, at this point, is an autopsy.
"Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong." -- Carl Sagan, COSMOS