Punch-Gate Begets Feces-Gates, And Then We All Just Laugh And Laugh And Laugh.

In case you somehow missed it, Tim Connolly got a mysterious black eye at the Catwalk for Charity. Although he later amended the story, at one point, Matt Barnaby of ESPN claimed Roy-Z punched Timmehin the face. In the day 24 hours after the Catwalk, twitter was abuzz with goofy chatter about Roy-Z and Timmy’s big slap fight. (Roy-Z and Lindy both say it never happened, and not a single person has come forward to definitively say, “I saw Roy-Z pop Tim Connolly in the eye, and I liked it,” so I’m inclined to believe that the whole thing is [hilarious] hogwash.)

Regardless of the what, something happened to Timmy’s eye, so the local media was rightly intrigued, and the next thing you knew, Lindy Ruff and Roy-Z were being asked about it after practice. Connolly is conveniently nursing a groin injury from the comfort of his home, far away from the prying eyes of the Buffalo News.

THEN, John Vogl got compleeeeeetely asinine and wrote this little gem about how it’s ALL TWITTER’S FAULT!  FECES! GET OFF MY LAWN!

I actually think this post is so poorly argued and utterly ill-informed that I’m not even compelled to respond except to say that if Vogl wants to get his newsie-britches all twisted up into a bunch over misinformation on Twitter, he should take it up with former Sabre and current ESPN employee, Matt Barnaby.

Lost in all of the ruckus were a few bits of juicy information:

1. The story that Lindy Ruff is apparently going with (and sticking to!) is that Tim Connolly fell and hit his head while rehearsing a routine that was to be performed during the catwalk. I find this 100% believable (except by “practicing a routine” I think Lindy meant Timmy was, “flailing about like a drunk baboon”), and at LEAST 70% sympathetic.  Who among us hasn’t sustained a minor injury here or there after a few beverages?  It happens, you know?  Unfortunately for Timmy, he’s a handsomely paid professional athlete, so theoretically he and Roy-Z probably should have understood that reenacting the tricky “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” lift from the end of “Dirty Dancing” while drunk backstage at the Catwalk for Charity is inherently risky.  But can you blame them for wanting to put on a good show?  NO!  You can’t!

2. When I first read the Vogl post I found it so irksome that I wanted to leave a comment on Sabres Edge.  I understood that they’ve recently implemented a commenter verification system which makes leaving anonymous comments impossible, but I was willing to jump through their hoops.  I tried to activate my account.  After I gave them my full name, my address, AND my phone number, I waited for an email confirmation that was like, “If you are who you say you are, press this link,” or possibly a text that was all, “If you’re really Katebits, text “Yes, I’m Katebits” to this number.”

Here’s what I got.

Read it and weep.

Yeah, you read that right.  The Buffalo News is sending me a piece of MAIL, that will be delivered to my MAILBOX (not the inbox in my computer, but the actually physical mailbox I have attached to my house), delivered via the US Postal service using an actual STAMP, so that I can begin “commenting right away”.  This is BEYOND redonk.

Now look, I applaud TBN’s for their efforts to eliminate the racist comments left on their articles.  I think it’s healthy to insist that people attach their actual name to what they write on the interwebs, but seriously, this system is absurd.  There has GOT to be a better, faster way to verify that people actually are who they say they are than sending them a piece of mail MADE OUT OF PAPER.

No wonder John Vogl is so confused and angry about Twitter.  If the TBN commenting policy is any indication of how things go over there, Vogl is working in an office that utilizes the technology we’re used to seeing on “MadMen”.

3. There ARE good, social media-savvy people working at the Buffalo News.  @BNHarrington is one of them.  There are many others, but truthfully, I took a Tylenol PM before I started writing this post, and as a result I’m too tired to be linking all over tarnation right now.

4. Ryan Miller has a sad groin.  :(

17 Responses to “Punch-Gate Begets Feces-Gates, And Then We All Just Laugh And Laugh And Laugh.”

  1. 1 Cecilia November 24, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I can’t believe the Sabres had to hold a news conference over a post on twitter. How ridiculous. I keep picturing Roy-z tearing up and earnestly pleading that he would never hurt a teammate, though, and it is bringing me endless joy.

    On the other hand, every time I read that Vogl article, I get more and more incensed. I think my favorite is this line: “If they had a thought, it should have been to go outside and enjoy the world rather than sit and stare at a computer screen.”. Says the NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST!

    What a moron. And TBN wonders why their readership has gone to shit.

  2. 2 lifeinspoons November 24, 2010 at 2:07 am

    I love how Barnaby spelled Connolly’s name incorrectly in the tweet. Way to go! Feces, eh?

    And are you serious? Snail mail? Even the government emails. The government!

    I do feel kind of bad that Roy is so offended and upset. Honestly, no, I don’t really think Roy has it in him to just clock someone in the face. At least not in that manner. I’m not sure if he’d find that information more or less upsetting, but I don’t mean it in any degrading way. From what I’ve seen of him, he doesn’t come across as that kind of guy. People like to make fun of him for being “soft”, but I really don’t see the point. Do we really need or want Roy to be a so-called “tough” guy with extra machismo thrown in? No, I just want him to assist in plays and score goals. We have other guys for shoving and bashing. Who cares if he’s “soft” if he consistently puts pucks in nets.

    And what’s with all these groin issues? ‘The hell are these people doing to themselves?

  3. 3 S. Tooth November 24, 2010 at 4:59 am

    As a confession, I’m 29, and I think Twitter is about the stupidest thing ever. I see its value, but it would never have any place in my life because my opinion, when I choose to express it, is never 140 characters. I also don’t think my opinion is nearly so unique or valuable as to have a true desire to share it with the rest of the world and I’m generally disinterested in interacting with people I don’t already know in real life using social media. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that I firmly believe the internet is for porn and trolling and that I’m philosophically opposed to social networking for this reason.
    But it doesn’t bother me at all that other people do it. Even though I think twitter is kind of ridiculous, I accept that other people feel differently and I don’t begrudge them an iota for it. Besides porn and trolling, I also get information from the internet, even twitter. There are some whose opinions and reactions do matter that I will sometimes check in on. And it sort of bothers me that John Vogl doesn’t see that. I think his issue is one of audience though. John’s readership is generally aging and more than a little bitter (and that’s being polite). They primarily use the internet to forward pictures of their grandkids along with all caps messages with the latest dirty joke or “SEND THIS TO 25 OF YOUR FRIENDS OR YOUR CAT WILL DIE” spam to the e-mail list that they compiled in 1997. I realize that Buffalo has a lot of excellent sports bloggers who are hip to the latest technology, but you are in the vast vast minority. TBN can get away with Vogl being tone deaf. You think he could get away with writing such a thing for say, the Seattle Post Intelligencer? No way. I bet that the Seattle Post Intelligencer also uses e-mail verification. Or possibly retinal scanners. It’s sort of a conundrum because TBN probably figures their readership is old fashioned enough to want to use snail mail, but those readers probably aren’t using the internet at all, at least to post comments on Sabres Edge. It is a head scratcher.

  4. 4 Grrrreg November 24, 2010 at 5:31 am

    WOW, that answer from the Buffalo News is fantastic! I actually love them for sending this. I just wish they asked you to telegraph back your activation code. Or maybe send it attached to a pigeon. Anyway, from now on I’ll assume all the Buffalo News reporters wear fedora hats at all times.

  5. 5 SueInVA November 24, 2010 at 7:36 am

    I managed to activate an account at TBN. It took three attempts as several days to get activated but I did get an email, not snail mail. I don’t use it like I used to last year. It’s too cumbersome. The app they use is just junk. So, it seems many people are not commenting in the volume they used to, which is sad actually.

    I don’t read much of what Vogl writes. I hate it when he does the away games. His comments about other arena’s ice girls are particularly irksome. And the guy wonders why he gets no action. Yuck! Anywho, I kind of laughed when I read the post as the stereotype of bloggers just staring at their computers all day is just silly. Whatevs. Bucky and Vogl are tied on TBN writers I don’t read unless I have to, so …

    Happy Thanksgiving, all!!

  6. 6 Sara Meehan November 24, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I’m a regular reader of your blog, and I’m also the woman at the News who sent you that e-mail. You can check — the name on my personal e-mail matches the name on my News e-mail. I had a feeling this post would be coming when I wasn’t able to approve you right away.

    We don’t use postal mail for most of our verifications — I’d say maybe only 25% of the people who apply to comment end up getting something in the mail. If they do, it’s because I wasn’t able to verify the address they provided using public records. That’s what happened with your request.

    We have to use physical mail in those cases because of how many fake addresses we’re given. (You should see the stack of returned letters I have sitting on my desk right now, waiting to be denied.) It’s either mail a letter or auto-deny, and the latter isn’t an option.

    I know it’s a frustrating policy. I get a lot of calls from readers complaining about it, and I just do my best to explain what we’re trying to achieve and why it sometimes means a delay.

    I don’t want to blow up the internet-vs.-newspaper debate any more, because I’m of your mindset in most ways, but it’s worth noting that a common complaint is that people in newspapers don’t bother to investigate how blogs/Twitter/whathaveyou actually work before writing about them. Isn’t that what just happened here?

    (PS- Would you mind redacting my phone number from the image you posted?)

  7. 7 RR61 November 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I am glad Sara Meehan posted the other side to this story. Yes, there are BN employees like her and B.Harrington who get it (although I could do without his pro-Yankee tweets).

    However, readers are quick to assume the worst of the BN because of narrow-minded cranks like J.Vogl. Look, I choose not to join Facebook. But I understand why others find it useful and fun. Yet I have the impression that Vogl doesn’t “get” interactive internet sites and chooses to curse the darkness rather than light a candle. Somehow we’ve all encroached on his private little world of sports reporting, and it’s a major PITA for him to have to actually research breaking news.

  8. 8 Katebits November 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Hey Sara! Thanks for chiming in. A few thing:

    – I’ve taken your phone number out of the post. I’m sincerely sorry that I overlooked that. I have been giggling a bit here about how I took your name out of the email only to have you show up all, “Hi! I’m Sara Meehan! I wrote that email!” Hee. At any rate, thanks for reading and commenting, and please accept my apologies for bungling the phone number portion of that screenshot!

    a common complaint is that people in newspapers don’t bother to investigate how blogs/Twitter/whathaveyou actually work before writing about them. Isn’t that what just happened here?

    I do want to respond to this. I don’t see where I’m misunderstanding or misrepresenting anything about the Buffalo News’ comment policy in this post. I am heartened to hear that only 25% of the people get this email (that’s a pretty high percent, actually), but all I said in this post is that this is the email I got, which is 100% accurate. I’m not trying to investigate anything here. All I’m really doing is sharing a funny story about how I tried to leave a comment about how a Buffalo News writer is failing to understand modern media, and somehow the whole thing got booted to snail mail. It’s ironic. (At least I think it’s ironic. I’m always scared to use the word “ironic” for fear of ironically misusing it).

    Even after reading your comment here, I still stand by the assertion that this is an absurd system. There HAS to be a better way than this. Please understand that I’m not trying to criticize how you do your particular job, and I definitely have no beef with how you and I have interacted. I took care to state that I actually think commenter verification is a totally good thing, so I’m sympathetic to this cause. I just reeeeally think that if 25% of customers have to wait for a piece of mail to be delivered before they can leave a comment, the system for approval should be reconsidered. Of course, the next time Vogl irks me, I’ll be ready to go I guess! :D Finally (and this is not NOT NOT a criticism of you) I think it’s a little funny that you say you’re a regular reader of this blog, and yet apparently you can’t use that information to verify who I am. Now, maybe you could’ve vouched for me, and you chose not to (ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTANDABLE. HEH), but I actually think these types of alternate ways of verification could make TBN’s comment system a lot smoother. I mean, common sense probably told you that you can trust that I am who I say I am. I’m not really suggesting that the responsibility of verifying people should be on you, I’m just saying that you and I happen to illustrate that there ARE a few other ways to verify someone’s validity beyond attaching them to a physical address. I’m sure you know this, and I seriously doubt the policy that TBN uses is your creation, so again, please accept my apologies for taking this up with you!

  9. 9 Katebits November 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Oh, and just to be super clear, I don’t see this Vogl/twitter fiasco as an AlternateMedia vs. MSM thing. I think Vogl’s post was just bad journalism. I get quickly frustrated by the blogger vs. MSM conversation and in my old age I’ve found I’m tending to shy away from it.

    Believe it or not, I have a lot of other things to respond to in this thread, but for now I have to go to work!

  10. 10 Sara Meehan November 24, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I knew that your request was probably from you, but since we’re making everyone else jump through the hoops, it’s not fair of me to say “Hey, I read her blog! She’s cool.” Know what I mean? And since you’ve never posted your address or your phone number in the blog (smart!), I didn’t have any way of matching up that info. That’s what we look at — we’re verifying residence more so than identity.

    I agree with you that there has to be a better way to do this. But how? Right now we publish name and hometown with every comment, so the address has to be accurate. Public records (property records, phone records, voter registration records, etc.) are our main sources for checking those. But they’re a finite resource, especially with the way the population is aging. Home ownership is on the decline, more and more in our generation are getting cell phones instead of landlines, and voter registration is pathetically low.

    Almost everyone has a cell phone, so maybe there’s a way to do it with those — but then we have to drop the residency idea. Almost everyone has an e-mail address, but getting an e-mail using fake info is a cinch.

    I don’t know. It’s an issue that we’re going to have to deal with soon.

    “All I’m really doing is sharing a funny story about how I tried to leave a comment about how a Buffalo News writer is failing to understand modern media, and somehow the whole thing got booted to snail mail.”

    That’s fair. I took your post to mean that you were assuming we mailed EVERYONE a letter, but your point stands whether it’s one reader or all of them. And yes, I do get the irony in the circumstances. :-)

  11. 11 Katebits November 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Sara, I really want to thank you for pushing back on this issue, because it’s really made me think about my position here!

    I think The Buffalo News absolutely should rethink the idea that residency is the best way to verify a person. I am a homeowner and a registered voter in Buffalo. I bought my house a little over a year ago, and my guess is that the Erie county record keepers are being super slow to update my information, which is why my address isn’t showing up in public records yet.

    During our little Christmas concert today I got to thinking, “What is it about me that makes me ‘real’ in the eyes of society?” (I know! Deep!) I don’t think it’s my house. I think we’re increasingly living in a digital world, where things like my blog, my Facebook page, and my twitter account, really DO add up to a verifiable identity. The Buffalo News would have been wise to fully adopt a more forward thinking approach to “identity” instead of falling back on old-fashioned notions of fact checking. (I mean, public record? It will probably take Erie County YEARS to figure out where I live! :P) And, as you said, property ownership and voting registrations are both very low for young people- and I would think that young people are the people most likely to be interested in leaving online comments AND vitally important customers for the newspaper.

    I’ve recently used two better ways to identify myself online that I think are better than what TBN does.

    1. I followed a link not to long ago to a People magazine article, and all of the comments were attached to people’s Facebook pages. I know not everyone is into Facebook, and lots of people have issues of privacy with them, but Facebook IS a pretty solid way to attach a name (and a face) to every commenter. I’m not saying TBN should switch to a system that requires Facebook to use, but I think there has got to be a way to use Facebook to verify that I am who I say I am. Facebook is a HUGE public record of me, and if I’m willing to use it to verify my identity, I think that option should be available to me.

    2. My gmail got hacked a few months ago, and in order to get my access back I had to give them my phone number, and then they texted a verification code to me.
    I was skeptical at first, but after a little online investigation I realized that the system is legit and I did it. It worked perfectly. I would have happily done this for the Buffalo News. I had to give you guys my phone number anyway.

    I don’t think either of these solutions would work for everyone, which is why the snail mail method should be available for those who aren’t comfortable with Facebook or texting.

    I think TBN was doing the responsible thing when you implemented policies that make anonymous comments impossible, but I also think the paper took a huuuuuge step backwards in time by choosing this method of commenter verification.

    Lastly, I know that devious people will always find a way to buck the system, but I think there’s a little room for some faith in humanity here. Surely, with a few basic verification measures in place the vast majority of the offensive comments could be eliminated, and the rest could be dealt with on an individual basis.

    But again, thanks for being cool, Sara! Any conversation that causes me to wonder, “What makes me…real?” while playing “Silent Night” is a conversation worth having! :D

  12. 12 Katebits November 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    And since some of the other comments got a bit lost in the TBN comment policy debate, I wanted to address the Twitter issue.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t have any trouble with people who don’t like or use twitter. I think John Vogl will either have to get over his comical aversion or risk falling WAY behind in his profession, but whatever. For the vast majority of humans there is no need to use twitter at all.

    My objection to Vogl’s post is that it is INCREDIBLY obvious that he has NO idea what he’s talking about when it comes to Twitter. Like, none. He used incredibly strong (and unattractive- FECES!) language to express a totally ignorant opinion. He said he “ventured into that God-forsaken site and discovered what I expected to discover.” This is one of the most pathetic statements I’ve ever read. Twitter is not a “site” that you “go to”. It’s a stream of information that users carefully harvest and cull in order to suit their needs. What he said was akin to walking into a library, picking up a copy of a Sweet Valley High book and then screeching, “LIBRARIES ARE A DEN OF FILTH.” The fact that he proudly declares that he “discovered what he expected to discover,” makes me very suspicious of his willingness to approach information with an open mind- which seems like a key skill for a reporter.

    The way to get information from twitter is to have a feed, and since Vogl is such a proud non-user of Twitter, I have to assume he was just randomly checking various people’s accounts. That is a PREPOSTEROUS way to use Twitter. Asinine.

    That post was not just offensive to people who use twitter (which incidentally is nearly ALL of his colleagues), but it was patently incorrect. I have no idea what Vogl read when he ventured into the feces of Twitter, but I can guarantee you it was NOT the eagle-eye view that he claims he got. The fact that he apparently thinks he has a clear understanding of what went on on twitter in regards to punch-gate is worrisome.

  13. 13 Grrrreg November 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I think your library analogy is bang on. Very well said.

  14. 14 Sara Meehan November 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Kate, thanks for the suggestions. I hear complaints all the time but it’s rare to get constructive ideas to fix whatever the problem is. It’s definitely something we’ll need to address in the near future, so any and all ideas are welcome.

    As for the Twitter fiasco … I’m not a fan of Twitter myself, but it has an audience, and just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place on the Web. I was a little surprised by how strongly worded John’s post was. I’m not surprised he’s catching flack for that.

    Actually, I think the funniest thing about that post was that it got re-tweeted 32 times. Also ironic!

  15. 15 mcguffers November 28, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I wish I could sound astute with some more on the media debate, but I keep focusing on the possiblity that one of our players got hurt practicing the dolphin. Until we get a Stanley Cup, I’m gonna brag about that. :D

  16. 16 Tim November 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

    “I’m not saying TBN should switch to a system that requires Facebook to use, but I think there has got to be a way to use Facebook to verify that I am who I say I am. Facebook is a HUGE public record of me, and if I’m willing to use it to verify my identity, I think that option should be available to me. ”

    The problem TBN was having with comments was that people were ‘anonymously’ commenting and ‘throwing feces at one another’ (why is it so fun to use that word?). So I don’t see how using Facebook to verify identity helps any here. Sure, you play by the rules, and you probably have one facebook page, but not everyone does. Heck, my wife has a facebook account that she didn’t even create (to go along with the one she already has). No one verifies anything online. Everyone wants to give you an e-mail address for free so that they can send you things and (hopefully) make money. Then other people want to make money and figure they can verify who you are by using an e-mail address. The only reason they do this is because they need a unique key in a database, and an e-mail address is a pretty good thing to use as a key because no two are the same.

    The cell phone idea? Now you are on to something. It costs money to have a cell phone and your number is unique. Since it costs money, people are unlikely to get another one to use as a ‘fake’ identity. Unless someone steals your phone, you are who you say you are. But what about those who don’t have cell phones? I guess that’s the same problem for those of us who don’t own homes, or aern’t registered to vote (or aern’t old enough). Verifying identity has always been a problem, and that’s part of the reason we have notaries. Obviously that doesn’t translate into the online world. It’s an interesting problem. I for one am happy that TBN is taking the extra step to try and verify identities. They took a lot of flack on the internet because of it. They probably don’t have it right, but most of the time the person who takes the first step doesn’t get it right. But someone has to take the first step.

  1. 1 Thanks, Craig Rivet, and BLOGGER SOLIDARITY | Shutdown Pair Trackback on November 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm

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