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Earthquakes, Bacon Lung and Twitter navelgazing: this week's Media Hype Power Rankings (and a couple of our favorite Headlines of the Week 5/10 - 5/16)
Posted by Drew at 2009-05-18 12:39:04 PM, edited 2009-05-18 1:37:00 PM (15 comments) | Permalink

In the tradition of ESPN's MLB Power Rankings, where the rankings are fairly arbitrary but they still get read, here are this week's Media Hype Power Rankings.

1. LA Earthquake
Do quakes in California even rate as news? Everyone I've ever met there ignores them unless something tips over. This one will be out of the rankings tomorrow unless it causes a swine flu outbreak somehow.

2. Swine Flu
Any time the words Swine Flu gets mentioned in a headline, people click the hell out of it. Combine this with MSM's desire to make their nonstop coverage of this overblown non-event look like it wasn't a horrendous mistake and we've got a resurgence of a story that was at the bottom of the rankings up until today. Some poor guy died of it over the weekend, EVERYBODY PANIC. Expect this one to drop way down tomorrow unless someone else dies of it. By the way, a daily average of 100 people died from the regular flu yesterday...

3. Tamil Tigers leader killed
OMG some actual real news. This'll be gone tomorrow unless some topless photos of the rebel leader appear. God help us if that happens.

4. Bad economy
Hey the economy sucks, didn't know if you noticed. Variations on people losing houses, jobs, etc. abound.

5. Space Shuttle Disaster?
Anytime media covers the space shuttle, it's in anticipation of a disaster. Kind of like NASCAR and wrecks. Anyhow, media's keeping an eye on this one as the Hubble Telescope gets repaired. Don't expect massive coverage unless someone drops a bag of tools like last time. Speaking of which, there's an iPhone app that tracks the orbiting toolbag. Nifty.

6. Death of newspapers
This story's not going anywhere. The only area of expertise MSM has is all about journalism and news media. They love talking about it. Variations of this include "hey let's charge for content" and "you'll miss us when we're gone!"

7. Twitter navelgazing
Media is fascinated with Twitter. It's a combination of how Twitter breaks news (assuming you can spot it in the vast mass of mundane twattings) and "wow look at me I'm a media person and I have a thousand Twitter followers." This may have come full circle now that there's been an article on how Sockington the Cat amassed 500,000+ followers. I would say it's the Jump the Shark moment for Twitter, except that if Ashton Kutcher hitting a million didn't do it, I don't know what will.

8. Miss California
She's got BOOBS, man, and anytime she opens her mouth she says something dumb. She's a walking, taking media soundbite generator. With BOOBS, man. She dropped down the list this weekend due to a lack of new topless photos. Here's hoping, though.

9. Slumdog stars living in poverty
Yes it's a tragedy but for some reason this keeps getting flogged in MSM about once a week. It started when slumdog kid's dad attempted to sell her to an undercover London tabloid reporter. Latest update: they're still living in poverty, but now they don't even have a house--that got knocked down by bulldozers.

10. Pirates
Pirates? No idea what you're talking about. This is so two weeks ago. But they're still really cool. ARRRR.

Up and coming

11. Obama's a racist
At the White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, President Obama made a joke about permanently fake-tanned GOP leader John Boehner saying he was a "person of color". Conservative media ought to get a day or two of traction out of this one. It'll go the entire week if Obama apologizes for it.

12. Pakistan's adding more nukes
EVERYBODY PANIC. Expect this to jump into the top 10 shortly if nothing else happens, it's a good panic button issue.

13. Maureen Dowd plagiarism
Maureen Dowd admitted to copying from another blogger - actually she admitted to hearing a friend repeat a paragraph that she didn't know was from another blogger and somehow managed to remember it word for word with only one subtle change. I call bullshiat. Nonetheless, no one gives a shiat about plagiarism but media does. Media loves taking about bad media, it's like blood in the water, And she's liberal, so slamming her should be a good way to appear to be impartial.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-05-10 to Sat 2009-05-16:  Giant translucent blobs appearing on British beaches. But enough about the English holidaymakers, this is a story about a four-foot jellyfish  New Detroit mayor turns down mansion offer, even though no official rule prohibits accepting gifts under $25  Sweet potato spill causes massive traffic yam  Woman busted for having sex with underage boys, with mugshot equivalent of being dealt 15 in blackjack  75-year-old granny has "designer vagina" operation to improve her sex life. The sun hasn't been there in years  The rain in Spain shows traces of cocaine  South Dakota's hispanic population has doubled since 2000. Miguel reportedly happy to finally have some company  Actual headline: "Recession Drives Moms to Drink, Do Drugs and Gamble." So...silver lining  City wants to build a shelter for chronically jobless people which will have no restrictions on alcohol use. Don't most universities already have these?  World's tallest dog has leg amputated. Sounds like he'll need a Great Cane  Bristol Palin graduates from high school, despite failing Trig

Sports:  Streaker charged with interrupting a professional sporting event. Defense lawyer asks for charge to be dropped because it was a Mets game  Brett Favre visits renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews regarding his partially torn biceps tendon because it's really, really important that he doesn't have arm pain when driving his tractor on his farm  NASCAR allows Jeremy Mayfield to drive because he did not test positive for performance-enhancing drugs... which should have been obvious to anybody who has seen him race the past few years

Geek:  Oldest human hairs ever found were located in hyena dung. Apparently, early man was delicious  Intelligent women enjoy sex more, probably because they're smart enough not to be having it with you  Scientists create nuclear fuel more dense than the core of the sun; half as dense as Glenn Beck

Showbiz:  "Cheers" star John Ratzenberger files restraining order against girlfriend, goes into long-winded explanation that country music often leads to cars getting set on fire  Today in 1944, George Lucas was born. The birth was filmed in 8mm, re-released in 1965 in Super-8 with updated placenta effects, and remastered on Blu-Ray in 2008 with Hayden Christiansen's face superimposed over Dad's  Charges dropped against man accused of shooting at Dog the Bounty Hunter. Dog says he hasn't filed civil suit, still needs to mullet over

Politics:  High Court Derby field is set and five of the six are fillies; however, Old White Guy is still the odds-on favorite to win  Although they represent only a fraction of Americans, public-sector labor unions have become the most powerful political force in US government. Submitter would write more, but it's time for his break  Obama performs first miracle, resurrects military tribunals for terror suspects

Music:  Chris Brown says those naked pics of Rihanna are fake because her whole body is exposed and not one bruise can be seen  If you're a guitarist having to choose between two bands and the better choice is the band with Fred Durst in it, you're really in a bad spot in life  Britney Spears spent $450,000 on security on her last tour. That's a lot of money to protect the general public from chlamydia and hepatitis B

Business:  General Motors bankruptcy inevitable. GM shares set to fall like a rock. OOOOOOHHHHH like a rock  Seagate shows 1,100 employees to the other side of the partition  GM tells 2,000 dealers they can no longer sell GM cars. Dealers reply, "Duh, that's pretty much the problem"
· · ·

Bi little ponies, Happy Ending Meals and ABBA rebjorn: Headlines of the Week 5/3 - 5/9
Posted by Drew at 2009-05-11 11:26:22 AM (32 comments) | Permalink

Nothing new to report on media stuff this week, so instead I'll go on for a bit about what I spent this past weekend doing: hanging out in Vegas strip clubs at bachelor parties.

Two of my friends had bachelor parties in Vegas this weekend, which was a completely random yet welcome coincidence. One of the guys I've played soccer with for years, the other was a friend of Alexis Ohanian who founded Alexis and I have accidentally been ending up in the same place at the same time at least once a month since January this year, and this weekend it happened again. The short version was too much alcohol, lots of fun.

The slightly longer version is I often joke that eventually I'm going to be involved in something that lands me as an article on Fark. It almost happened Thursday night. For years I've been reading articles about people who sue strip clubs because they get injured by the strippers. Thursday night I actually witnessed it. The bachelor was brought up on stage for the requisite boobie-smacking to the face ritual that all bachelors must go through. Initially there were going to be two girls participating but at the last minute someone decided to add a third one. She was nice and hot but also kinda crazy. Crazier than the usual stripper continuum. The third stripper decided she wasn't getting enough face-time (so to speak), so she stood up on the bachelor's lap, shimmied up the pole, flipped upside down, and slid down on him from above - damn near ripping his arms off in the process. Of course it was hilarious. Only later did it occur to me that we were a shoulder-dislocation away from becoming a Fark article.

At any rate that's what I did this weekend. Drank too much, had fun. Pretty much the plan for every weekend now that I think about it.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-05-03 to Sat 2009-05-09:  Catholic Church weighs in on genetically modified foods. Lettuce pray  Little girl finds condom in her Happy Ending Meal  Young attractive white girl becomes first American to die of Swine flu. In the 24-hour cable news world, this is also known as "the perfect storm"  Sixty-six year-old sealer rescued after spending two nights alone on an ice floe. Plans on going clubbing to celebrate  Breeder arrested on fraud charges, claims it's alpaca lies  Who keeps pandemic level at 5. Who did? Yes. Who kept the pandemic level? Yes. No I'm asking you  Dentist office explodes in Ohio. With pic of the large cavity  Stockholm police make two giant cocaine busts. Modern art just gets weirder every day  Swine flu victim in LaGrange is still seriously ill after two weeks. Doctors would like to help her, but don't know a-how-how-how-how  High school orders shot glasses to give to students as a prom party favor. Somebody's going to be very madd about this  Puppy eats alphabet magnets, poops next Dan Brown novel

Sports:  The oldest rivalry in baseball heats up again, and of course we're talking about Amherst vs. Williams - a rivalry that goes back to 1859, or slightly before Jamie Moyer started pitching  Mets prospect Pagan arrested for traffic violations, will be burned at the stake during the summer solstice  Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield suspended indefinitely after failing two drug tests. NASCAR won't say what substance he tested positive for, but considering his record it's safe to say it wasn't speed

Geek:  Medical community applauds first double-hand transplant in U.S  Scientists think warp driven starships may be possible one day, at least until some acting ensign pulls out all the computer chips to play dominos with the engineer  Experts concerned Nefertiti's bust could be fake, plan hands-on investigation

Showbiz:  Lindsay and Ali Lohan learn to surf. In other news, Pacific Ocean to be treated for gonorrhea  Surrogate mother pictured carrying Sarah Jessica Parker's twins, said to be an openly bisexual tattooed rocker. Sarah worried she may end up with bi little ponies  Fawcett about to be turned off

Politics:  Gay groups want Obama to pick the first gay Supreme Court Justice. The first "openly" gay justice, that is, so Scalia doesn't count  Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Countrywide) is going after shady lending practices. Next up: Ted Kennedy's war on alcoholism  Obama to give speech regarding Muslim relations. No, not HIS Muslim relations

Music:  Apple caves in and approves NIN app after Trent publically farks them like an animal  Lenny Kravitz plans to tour England with Jimi Hendrix's guitar, image and anything else he can rip off  After fifteen years, it looks like ABBA has been partially rebjorn

Business:  Bernanke: Economy should grow again later in 2009, but if we experience expansion lasting more than four years, we should consult a doctor  Citigroup analyst weighs in on which banks need to raise capital after recent stress test, which is kind of like a blind guy telling you your girlfriend is ugly  Office supply manufacturer Bic erases 88 jobs, folds staple Kansas plant to clip costs, notes workers' dedication and tacks on severance. Pens
· · ·

Any ideas for a new Fark book?
Posted by Drew at 2009-05-06 12:47:35 PM (78 comments) | Permalink

Hey guys

Been working on trying to get another book up and running. After the last experience it's become apparent that making fun of the media, while interesting, is great for killing free publicity. And that book's been written now, so it's time to take a different approach.

The book folks want to do another kinda best of fark thing, which I think isn't very exciting. I do like the idea of using Fark articles to prove a point. The problem is, what point?

I figure this book needs a subset of articles to concentrate on and a point.

For example, one idea I've had that got shot down is the Fark guide to Florida and how it will Kill Us All, publisher said it was of limitted scope. Or maybe they're afraid of pissing off Florida, I'm certainly not.

A more recent idea was something like Drew Curtis' Guide to Not Getting Farked, a how-to book on not ending up as a Fark article for politicians, entertainers, criminals, Floridians, etc. That's probably my default idea atm but I was wondering if anyone had any better ideas? If I use your idea I'll come hang out with you for a day (or weekend) and buy you all the beer you can drink.
· · ·

Swine flu coverage was sensational because Media thought it was crap too... OMG SWINE FLU WILL KILL US ALL IN THE FALL. Plus Headlines of the Week
Posted by Drew at 2009-05-04 12:14:56 PM, edited 2009-05-04 12:26:39 PM (167 comments) | Permalink

One week after writing my original article on how the swine flu isn't going to kill us all, the numbers bear it out: ONE new death since last Monday, compared to around 700 people (on average) who will die of the regular flu in a seven-day period. The vast majority of people get over the swine flu on their own with no hospitalization necessary.

Do we get an apology for MSM sending droves of people to hospitals who aren't sick? Driving down the stock market several hundred points on panic selling? Scaring people into cancelling air travel because they might end up in an enclosed space? Causing a run on ammunition and guns by people expecting the apocalypse? No, we get another load of hysteria: swine flu will kill us all next fall. See, it's going to go on summer vacation and come back as Spanish Influenza and wipe out the entire human race. It's happened before. Doubters will be the first to die. No apology for you.

Compare swine flu coverage to the way suspicious explosions in New York City are covered. Almost immediately, MSM reassures us that there is no evidence of terrorism. Do we know what caused the explosion? No, but there's no evidence of terrorism. From the getgo, MSM takes a calmer approach: let's not get crazy here, be calm, wait for the facts.

Next time there's a flu outbreak I'd love to see similar coverage. Please don't go to hospitals unless you really have to because they're busy. Don't fret about the stock market, it's a buying opportunity. No need to cancel air travel, wash your hands a lot and don't stick your fingers in your nose. This is not the apocalypse, we'll get through this. Don't panic.

Here's why we didn't see media coverage aimed at calming people: MSM never believed this was a real threat in the first place. Notice how coverage tone changes when something serious really is going on. "Be calm, don't panic, wait awhile, see what happens." As opposed to pure media-fueled hysteria like shark attacks, bacteria on doorknobs, killer bees, kudzu, white sugar, and so on.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-04-26 to Sat 2009-05-02:  Man gets called into work so he can be fired, returns home to find his house on fire. Wishes he had been laid off  Lighthouse keeper opens the most isolated café in Scotland. While I respect that a lot, I'd be fired if that were my job, after killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts  Newest thing in car tech? Device that limits teenagers from driving over 80. Back in my day, we called that a Chevette  High on a hill hiked a naked trekker / Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo / Townspeople said "Cover up your pecker" / Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo  Buddhist preacher issues etiquette guide for gay monks. What is the sound of one hand reaching around?  Fewer Americans are adopting Chinese children, mainly because they'll just want to adopt again 30 minutes later  Car Flu kills at least 41 in Baghdad  Adolf Hitler's family won't see any money from the sale of his paintings, since their past efforts raised a little furor  The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support torture, with white evangelical Protestants most likely to condone it. Jesus facepalms, glares disapprovingly through the little hole  Pentagon using Facebook and Twitter to recruit new employees, because if there's one thing the military needs it's someone who posts every minute detail of their life on the web  Search continues for blind hiker who has been missing for 7 days and 14 nights

Sports:  To: The Yankees - Subject: "You suck " - From: The Tigers - CC: Sabathia  Mexico decides to conduct a bunch of soccer games the way we do in the US: With no fans in the stands  Kentucky Derby fans endure three hours elbow-to-elbow with drunken, sweaty idiots wearing ridiculous clothing just to get two minutes of action, much like submitter's prom night

Geek:  Apple and Verizon may be in talks to produce a device that might "shake up the tech industry." Insiders say it will be called the iPerbole  Ice chunk larger than the state of Rhode Island breaking off of the Antarctic shelf. Yay, Rhode Island's back as a unit of measurement  Experts warn that the Internet is running out of bandw

Showbiz:  Maagie Gyllenhaal aand Peter Sarsgaard aanounce maarriaage plaans for Itaaly in Maay. The aacting couple, daating aas of 2002, aalreaady haas aa daaughter named Raamonaa  World's largest tub of popcorn being constructed as a promotion. You can wash it down with the world's largest cup of soda, also known in the movie theater business as a "medium"  Papa of African girl to Madonna: "I've made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby"

Politics:  "Citrus plot" makes paranoid Iranians so fearful of Israelis they look for conspiracies in oranges, are still blaming everything on the juice  Obama secretly tested for swine flu after man he shook hands with in Mexico drops dead the next day. Officials concerned because Obama's touch usually heals  White House apologizes for Biden's swine flu comments, Manhattan fly-by, President Bush, New Coke, destruction of the Library at Alexandria, and for calling time-out with 11 seconds left in the game when they were out of time-outs  

Music:  Some Geek creates a song based on the components of the H1N1 virus. Still not as catchy as "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" (link to mp3 file in article)  What do you do with a rural road said to have little bumps, tight curves and accidents seem to be cousin' a pile up? Name it after Jerry Lee Lewis  New movie chronicles history of NYC punk club CBGB. Farkers under 25 think that store has some really cute clothes

Business:  US Airways to add a fee for paying a fee. Don't hold your breath that this will go away, unless you want to start practicing for the day they start charging for air  Citigroup asks for Timmah Geithner's blessing to pay corporate bonuses, on this, the day of his daughter's wedding  We don't make a lot of the things you buy, and that's kind of our problem. BASF
· · ·

Why Swine Flu Isn't Going to Kill Us All, Part II
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-30 3:09:13 PM, edited 2009-05-01 9:40:31 AM (484 comments) | Permalink

Here's what's happened since I wrote my original article, "Why Swine Flu Isn't Going to Kill Us All".

- A toddler in Texas has died of the swine flu
- Mexico's infection and death estimates continue to climb
- The World Health Organization has raised it's pandemic warning from 5 to 6, the top of the scale

These three items have ruled headlines for the past 24 hours. However here are a few other things that are going on that you may not have heard.

- 36,000 people die every year from the regular flu.
- Since I wrote my article on Monday, 1 person in the United States has died from swine flu.
- The tally in the last three days: Swine Flu: 1, Real Flu: 295.

I mentioned in my last update that only 18 deaths had been confirmed to have been from Swine Flu, and that the other figures were estimates. That confirmed total has since been revised downward to 7. To quote Stratfor's reaction to this data:
"There is still a lack of information regarding the particulars about this new pathogen; but if it has killed only seven people after two months of spreading in a country with somewhat limited health care services, perhaps its virulence is not so harsh after all, even if its communicability is impressive."

The WHO's alert level reflects communicability not lethality also

The incubation period for swine flu is thought to be 2-3 days. And since Monday there has been 1 death.

There are hundreds of interviews with people who have Swine Flu. They all have the following things in common: generally the symptoms are mild, no one needs hospitalization, and recovers on their own in a few days.

Once again, I have to say it: Don't Panic.
· · ·

Why we're not all going to die from Mexican Flu, by Drew Curtis age 7. Bonus: Headlines of the Week 4/19 to 4/25
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-27 2:28:07 PM, edited 2009-04-27 2:41:54 PM (170 comments) | Permalink

Finally, something of substance has appeared in the news. Swine Flu will kill us all. EVERYBODY PANIC.

First off, I mentioned this in my book in the chapter on Media Fearmongering (which, if you read it, you're already recognizing the signs in MSM today). The problem with being the guy telling everyone not to panic is that if you're wrong, you're an idiot. As opposed to being wrong when predicting the apocalypse, in which case everyone just laughs at how silly you were for predicting the apocalypse. If you want to win every argument with no danger of coming down with "Long Term Idiot Stigma", be a consummate pessimist. If you think about it, probably every argumentative asshole you've ever met is one.

Here's why you shouldn't panic:

- The Mexican Government estimates that 86 people (or more) have died from Swine Flu. Okay, that's tragic. But why the hell are we taking their numbers at face value? For starters, if you read the fine print the death numbers being tossed around are estimates. There are 18 confirmed deaths so far. Which ain't awesome, but it's a damn sight better than a hundred.

- In quite a few articles I've read, I've seen statements to the effect of researchers aren't sure why the cases in the US and Canada appear to be milder than the ones in Mexico and none have resulted in death. I know we'd all like to pretend that Mexico has its act together, but last time I checked Mexico was a third world country with third world healthcare. Do the math.

- Speaking of no one having died in the US and Canada, not only has no one in a first world country died from Swine Flu yet, but so far no one's even rumored to be in danger of dying. And most of the confirmed cases got better on their own after a few days at home. EVERYBODY PANIC

- It is no doubt a source of great disappointment to MSM that they can't add that Swine Flu is "drug resistant" or "there's no known cure". Because it's neither, it responds to Tamiflu and other treatments. Yes, I realize there are distribution hurdles in the event of a huge outbreak, but currently it's not an issue and I don't expect it will become one.

PS: if anyone is offended by my portrayal of the Mexican Government and their suckasstic healthcare system as a bunch of 3rd world incompetent boobs, which they are, you'll get over it

You won't see this discussion in MSM because, as humans, we're primed to act on fear. It's human nature. MSM is a reflection of what people are reacting to, not a reflection of what's actually going on in the world. People click the hell out of fearmongering articles, so MSM keeps running them. That, and no MSM outlet wants to be the guys who "didn't see it coming". Buncha pansies.

The problem with making fun of MSM pandemic reporting is that eventually there's going to be a pandemic. You don't have to be Nostradamus to make that call, it's as likely as War, Famine, Taxes, and me drinking beer after dinner (or during). So, although I put myself at risk of contracting "Long Term Idiot Stigma" by saying it, let me be the first to tell you this ain't the big one.

Don't Panic.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-04-19 to Sat 2009-04-25:  Fourteen horses die right before Florida polo match. It was a biatch getting them out of the pool  Stephen Hawking rushed to hospital. Doctors fear he may never walk again  Judge rules KKK Imperial Wizard's son is too stupid to stand trial for murder with his dad. Behold, the master race  Man sues after being hit in the head with a discus. Says he faces hurdles daily and has now hired a P.R. firm to track and field calls from the media. The bar is set high, but he thinks he can win his case. Javelin  Teacher/student sex suspect gets off on a technicality, teenage boys  Whale protection research vessel collides with endangered whale. Officials say blubbering would serve no porpoise - it was just a fluke, and they've made the best out of a bad cetacean  Indian tribe seeking restitution for lands lost in the 1800s. They plan to Sioux  Badly mixed supplement to blame for polo horse deaths, most of the home runs hit in the 1990s  Berlin to host the second annual international toad song contest, which will be sponsored by Bud. Weis. Er  Couple caught having sex in dumpster. I told you she was trash  Man finds Hidden Falls, falls

Sports:  Fifty-year old Mark Martin guides his AARP Chevy to the win in Phoenix. Promptly disqualified for having curb feelers that were out of spec  The Cavs bench nearly gives Detroit a bailout, letting them cut a 29 point lead to 7 in the fourth quarter before LeBron and his cabinet return to the game to restructure the plan  Previously on "All My Celtics", Kevin and Leon were lost and Danny had a heart attack. Today we learn that Tony has been receiving death threats for months, while Rajon has a mysterious foot injury

Geek:  You get a leech on your eyeball. Do you c)  Dirty dead stars often survived by aimless, drifting rock groups after they are blown away. This is not another Kurt Cobain link  Survey indicates that there are five times more paralyzed people in the US than previously thought, citing new survey method where researchers knocked on doors and actually waited more than two minutes for someone to answer  

Showbiz:  Madonna hospitalized after horse accident. She suffered minor injuries but expected to be back on her knees in no time  Rachel Maddow's show has suffered a 40 percent audience drop since last fall, which is to be expected because the nice weather is moving her viewers outside to play softball  Lindsay Lohan is scared to pump her own gas for fear of being burned to death, sudden overwhelming urge to fellate the nozzle

Politics:  Jane Harman, vigorous Democratic supporter of illegal NSA wiretaps, completely outraged she was wiretapped. Jane, you ignorant slut  Jesse Jackson offers to go to Iraq to free journalist. It's a deal, no trade-backs  McCain says Obama, in releasing the torture memos, is starting the worst "witch hunt" he's seen since his boyhood in Salem

Music:  Pink Floyd sues record label over missing royalties, dark sarcasm, thought control  Amy Winehouse wants to write children's books, in case your 9-year-old needs to learn how to freebase cocaine or make a bong out of some tinfoil and an apple  Ringo Starr's drum skin from the Beatles-era to be auctioned and expected to fetch £100,000. It's in great condition and only been used for minimal, overly-simplistic beats

Business:  Fishing is on the rise, despite a crappie economy  So, like the head of MySpace may be replaced by the former chief operating officer of Facebook. No word on how many times this has been Twittered  Chrysler might not be able to Dodge Chapter 11
· · ·

A world without ant sex, layoff greeting cards and a crotch glove for sale: Headlines of the Week 4/12 to 4/18
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-20 1:50:39 PM, edited 2009-04-20 3:07:03 PM (41 comments) | Permalink

Anyone else tired of pirates? Me too

Here's what happened: media ran the initial pirates capture Alabama story (which no doubt scared some residents of Mobile into nearby grocery stores to stock up on milk and eggs). They were shocked at the extra traffic it got. To keep the momentum going, they ran even more stories about pirates. Pirates are cool! Here's hoping it's beaten to death by now. It's already April and we haven't gotten to the shark stories yet. And don't get me started on the The Pirate Bay verdict...

Fark was at Notacon this weekend, and it was terrific. Great talks, great tech, good times all around. Thanks to everyone who came to the Fark Party on Friday night - who knew there was an actual drink called a Blue Screen of Death?

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-04-12 to Sat 2009-04-18: unlists books by or about gay people from sales ranking and searches, provoking massive Amazonfail protest on Twitter, blogs. Out of the bookstores and into the Tweets  Ariana Russell describes herself as the "human etch-a-sketch." Clearly her parents shook her a lot as a child  Wild Turkey crashes family's Easter dinner, marking just the latest time that Wild Turkey has played a role in destroying a family get-together  ♫ I'm. An. Ang. Ry. Di. Vor. Cee. ♫ BURNIN' DOWN THE HOUSE ♫  Silver canisters on Washington beaches may contain poison. The most dangerous ones are labeled "Coors"  Exclusive photos of the three pirates who have kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile. THIS IS AN EX-PIRATE  Seattle Children's Theater seeks IT professional to fill job opening. Must love children, though not as much as the last IT guy  Actress who played Mickey Spillane's secretary dies at 84. But there was something about this case that didn't add up. I couldn't quite figure it out. This dame had class. Who would ice her? I decided to start poking around  Man bites off end of own penis. Police found him after receiving an anonymous tip  Man at Panda Express eats shoots and leaves  Saplings from Anne Frank's tree to be planted in 10 US cities. Arbor macht tree

Sports:  Seattle Sounders player won't be charged for sexual assault. Prosecutors refused to believe any soccer player would actually try to score  Thabeet does not go on  Reports: Celtics' GM has heart attack - or it could just be Aingeina

Geek:  Praying to God is like "talking to a friend." A friend who will kill you and curse your descendents if you make any other friends  Ants inhabit a "world without sex," thus demonstrating that marriage is not an entirely human construct  Eerily beautiful Hubble pic of colliding clusters. If only there were some sort of term for clusters engaging in this sort of intercourse. Cluster

Showbiz:  Porn legend Marilyn Chambers found dead. Old sweat socks lowered to half-staff  Doing what hundreds of robots could not, Fox terminates Sarah Connor  Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger get together for first time in years. Friends give it 9 1/2 weeks

Politics:  Vatican rejects Obama's choices for ambassador because all of them are pro-choice. STAINED GLASS PARKING LOT  Obama appoints new official to protect our borders, while leaving our Barnes & Nobles scandalously open to attack  Obama says the US tax code is too complicated and he'll rewrite it. Because if there's something the federal government excels at, it's making things simple

Music:  FOR SALE: One glove. Only used on crotch. $100,000  Hungry Eyes will be on Eric Carmen as he is sentenced to be All By Himself in jail cell for at least 30 days stemming from his DUI arrest  Moby hires David Lynch for video. Hard to tell which is worse, the animation which looks done by a 12-year-old playing with a black marker or the song itself, which is a long, drawn-out Radiohead computer fart  

Business:  Marriott hotels will no longer automatically give out free USA Today newspapers in the morning. Spokesman says that the move will save money, trees, brain cells  PepsiCo sues Coca-Cola over KO's false advertising claim that Gatorade lacks the electrolytes that plants crave  Roses are red, violets are blue. Seven hundred and forty-nine of your co-workers are laid off and so are you. Love, Hallmark
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Anyone wanna play Warcraft on my server? Deathwing (horde)
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-14 12:58:58 PM (80 comments) | Permalink

Sup all

A friend of mine and I have a tiny guild on Deathwing (Horde) server, we're looking to try to get more folks into it. If anyone would like to xfer on over there, contact LarryObama in-game (named after the president's lesser-known brother) about joining. He should be on the rest of the day.

I should be on later too, got a soccer game in the evening if the rain holds off which will keep me offline through tomorrow probably
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Long awaited continuation of Fark's moderator policies pt II
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-14 11:44:14 AM (475 comments) | Permalink

So here's the long overdue followup to the previous moderation discussion thread. It took awhile because I wanted to wait til I had a ton of time to talk about stuff in thread etc and so on but I realize now that's not going to happen

This is actually parts II and III, I figure I better dump the whole thing before another year goes by between installments

Part II intro

A lot of people find it surprising that I'm not really big on participating in online communities. Not that I dislike it, I just prefer socializing offline. It's probably helps though, I don't consider myself to have a vested interest in the community so I don't get overly-involved and tilt things out of whack in the process.

Along those lines, it hadn't really occurred to me that on occasions where other sites have posted discussions about moderating, there was some reason for it. Either because they're having "community drama" or there's some upcoming huge change. I forget who mentioned it in the previous thread but the thought hadn't occurred to me.

So for the record, the timing of this discussion has nothing to do with anything.

This discussion is going on mainly because 1) it's not really dealt with anywhere else on the site and 2) I said I'd do it back in August on a previous unrelated post. There's no ulterior motive for it, other than helping you (and us) get our heads wrapped around what we're doing and how it's different from other places. A lot of people get tripped up in the differences, for example falling back on free speech as a defense to posting something truly horrific in a thread. We don't go for that here. And there are other differences as well. So that's the main reason, just clarifying how Fark is different.

A couple points from the previous thread before we continue with the discussion:

Free so-and-so: we'll be discussing this later and why this is unhelpful. In general, people who are in need of a campaign to bring them back are likely not coming back. Keep those out of this post (and any other thread). We cut some slack in the last thread in the spirit of what we're discussing, but not in this one.

Inconsistency: One of the things moderators do is clean out what we call the narc queue. It's a listing of all the narced comments that have stacked up since the last time the queue was emptied.

Odds are what happened in both cases is moderators never actually entered the threads in question. There was one or a few narcs in the queue that got cleared out and that was it.

This brings up a couple issues on our end. One of which is TF threads for the most part should be left alone. The other is context, which a few folks have mentioned above. We'll work on that. I'm not 100% sure what the solution is offhand but we'll see what we come up with.

However, the expectation should be that we will never be 100% accurate or 100% consistent. We don't have enough resources to do it to that extent. We are however trying to be as accurate and consistent as possible, but realistically we will never be perfect.

And now, the new stuff.

Checks and balances
There are two separate groups of moderators. One group hands out the actual bans, the other reviews them (when contacted via Farkback email). The moderator that hands out penalties cannot instruct the review group to leave an individual on permanent ban status. They can request it, but they can't mandate it. The final call lies with the review moderator. I have seen some instances where people write in to Farkback claiming that a particular mod has it out for them. We don't rule out the possibility, but the system we have in place makes this highly unlikely. I will not say that it hasn't ever happened, however I will say that some moderators have been removed from mod status for this, and currently no mod is under review. In some cases, the mod in question had an accidental bias. In some cases, it was intentional. The result was the same - the mods were replaced.

Regarding the Farkback review mods, if you ever find yourself in contact with them, behave the same as you would in traffic court arguing a speeding ticket. Here are the main arguments you should never make.

1) Do not argue that everyone else was doing it. Cops don't catch every speeder either. Or even most of them.
2) Do not insult the review mod. It's not a good idea to insult a traffic court judge either.
3) Do not attempt to use loopholes to escape a ban. This isn't court, mods are instructed to call out BS when they see it. No technicality in the world will work if original intent was clear. Explaining what happened is a great idea however, there's a subtle but important difference there.

Additionally, it's a really good idea to contact Farkback first to make sure that the issue at hand isn't just a misunderstanding. Time and time again, we've had accidental bans handed down on people who haven't done anything wrong who decide to start the conversation via the nuclear option by blowing the hell up. In these cases, the individual would have been returned to normal status with our apologies. Always try the path of least resistance first.

Moderating is not all manual. Often what appears to be manual moderating from the reader level is actually automated. I'm not going to go into detail as to what's actually being done, but it's more complex than anyone suspects. It's everything you can think of and a few things that wouldn't occur to anyone.

What can you do to get booted permanently
It's actually pretty hard. Many Farkers can attest to this, you really have to try. Here's a list of things that will close the door.

Threatening physical harm. All threats are taken seriously and law enforcement is contacted whenever this happens. If the threat was issued from a work computer, employers are contacted as well.

Hacking other accounts. This includes creating new accounts to evade bans on existing accounts. The gray area for most people is accounts with passwords that are easy to guess, or in some cases accounts where people actually give out their own passwords for others to use. For us this is not a gray area. It's bad. Just because some people are dumb enough to leave their houses unlocked does not mean anyone can or should just go in there.

Posting truly disgusting content. There's a gray area here somewhere without a doubt (the famous picture of the soldier holding a gun to Vietnamese guy's head comes to mind), but some stuff is without a doubt over the line. We're not talking stuff people might accidentally think was ok, we're talking stuff posted with the intention to be as disruptive as possible to the greater community. Like posting flashing images on epileptic sites, there's no mistaking what the intent was there. You can't always know when the line is crossed, but sometimes you _definitely_ know the line was crossed. Stay far away from the line if possible.

Indicate to a mod (through either word or action) that previous repeated unacceptable behavior is likely to continue. We covered this one already in part one. Our system is designed to ding these people, if they voluntarily offer up evidence that they were pegged correctly then out they go.

Amazingly telling a mod to go to hell isn't on this list, but it really doesn't help. I don't recommend it.

Why do TF threads get moderated more than regular threads
A bunch of people asked me this at the Chicago and DC parties. Two responses here. First, stats for July last year (no distinction made here between manual and automated deletions btw)

Total main page comments: 535724
Total deleted comments: 12951 - 2.42%

Total TF-only comments: 369553
Total TF-only deleted comments: 3227 - 0.87%

Second, TFers are probably not aware that the mods have actually been instructed to leave TF threads alone for the most part. However they still check out anything that arrives in the narc queue. Only TFers can narc. The vast majority of TF comments are deleted due to a narc notification from other TFers.

Why we don't allow talking about bans in comments
In a recent Chicago Fark Party announcement thread, a guy popped up complaining that one day wasn't enough notice for him to be able to attend. It turns out that there had been half a dozen notices posted already, but this guy hadn't seen any of them. That'll happen, not everyone reads Fark every day. Most people don't, in fact. They come once every few days, check out a few links, then leave. People don't read everything that appears on Fark. And neither do I for that matter. One of the side-effects of this is that complaints about bans posted in comments will likely not be seen by me or any mods - the very people who can solve the issues.

We instituted this policy years ago, probably back in 2000 when comments first came out. Pretty early on, a well-known Farker caught a ban. Friends of his got organized and began protesting via threads to bring him back. Mass hysterial ensued, there was a mini-revolt. In the meantime, unbeknownst to any of the well-intending protestors, the individual contacted Farkback, worked out a solution, and was unbanned within about 15 minutes. No one else knew this, and the only way of letting people know was via the comments (which we have already established not everyone reads all the time). The protests continued for more than two weeks after the person was back on Fark, because there was no way to notify everyone what had happened. It was a huge pain in the ass.

When people complain about moderating in a thread, they're generally trying to do one of two things. One of them is to rectify a problem and/or get some clarification on a matter. This can be better handled by contacting Farkback (or emailing me). The other goal is to kick up a fuss, have a drama llama moment. This doesn't help anything and doesn't leads to a solution for all the reasons cited above. Some people aren't interested in a solution, they would prefer to go out in a blaze of self-sabotaging glory.

The non-existent new boobies policy
Years ago, we used to run boobies links on the main page of Fark. Not too many, only about 2-3 a day usually. We made the decision for a couple reasons, one was to make Fark more work friendly. Fark was ending up in workplace web filters, making it unavailable to some. We don't want anyone getting fired for reading our site. The second reason was objection from advertisers, who didn't want their ads being displayed next to questionable content. I argued like crazy on this one, but apparently advertisers never saw ads for strip clubs and escorts in newspapers or phone books. If we could ignore advertisers I'd be all for it, it's not like I suddenly like ads just because I'm running a site that relies on them. So we moved boobies links over to their own site and now there are 5x the number of links each day. Hooray.

So we had an issue where in protest, people started posting more inline pics of chicks in bikinis etc in threads than usual. Previous to that happening, we were at a reasonable number of inline pics per thread (just a few here and there) and there was no mandate to crack down on boobie pics. Thanks to the sudden influx of boobies pics from people protesting against our nonexistent boobies policy, we actually had to establish one.

Fark is much larger than most people think.
Fark mods don't know most people. Fark is freakin huge. Fark has over 400,000 active accounts, and over four million individual readers in a given month. I've had people email me asking me to personally intervene in clique spats, which I'd be happy to do if I had any idea who was involved and what it was about. I never do, Fark is too huge.

Problems with our ban system
This system isn't perfect, and we're constantly retooling it. Here are a few of the problems that we're already aware of.

No sarcasm detector
This is probably the number one weakness of our system. Sarcasm is often difficult to detect in text communication. A moderator will see a sarcastic comment and with not much else to guide them will have to determine if it's an actual statement or not. Combine this with our mantra of anything can be undone, and you end up with a disproportionate number of accidental bans handed out for harmless sarcasm. I'm definitely not saying don't be sarcastic, but be aware that tone does not come across in text. If you get dinged for sarcasm be sure to use Farkback and let them know. They'll have you back on as soon as they can.

No method for handing out individual warnings
Fark's ban system is great at getting rid of habitual trolls, but not so good in dealing with people who are only trolls some of the time (or rarely). We all have our hot-button issues that get us bent out of shape. Occasionally one of these will come up (pit bulls, net neutrality, Florida) and people lose their cool. One of the more common requests we get is that warnings be issued instead of immediate timeouts and bans for infractions. We're currently working on a change to the system that will allow this. The issue has more nuances than most people would think. It's on deck however. As in later next month or the following one.
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Television orgasms, exploding pie factories and Swedish transexual philosophers: Headlines of the Week 4/5 to 4/11
Posted by Drew at 2009-04-13 12:16:27 PM (17 comments) | Permalink

This has been a pretty busy week, what with Somalian pirates being killed by SEALs and Italian earthquakes (they're like American earthquakes, but more caffeinated and much smokier), and Obama visiting Iraq. For that story, we ran the headline Hussein back in Baghdad, which seemed in very poor taste, which is why we liked it.

Of course, the big news this week is about the Somali pirates. It's too early to tell if Obama pulling out his junk and slapping some pirates with it will have an effect on international perceptions. It won't put anybody's preconceived ideas to bed, but it can't be a bad thing to let some people who hear America speaking softly to be reminded that it still has a big stick (bigger than any previous sticks, if the rumors are to be believed...). Also, do not mess with SEALs. Anybody who can snipe three pirates simultaneously in total darkness, win a Grammy and marry Heidi Klum is someone you definitely don't mess with.

Also in the news, we're starting to wonder if Thailand celebrates every new election of a prime minister with either a coup or threat of open revolt, much the same way that American cities celebrate sports championships by rioting and setting fire to everything that isn't lootable. The Thai red-shirts appear to be just as violent and out of control as last year's yellow-shirts were. If there's one thing that Star Trek has taught us, though, it's not to invest too heavily in the long-term prospects of red-shirts. It's just a matter of time.

Headlines Of The Week for Sun 2009-04-05 to Sat 2009-04-11:  Hussein back in Baghdad  First gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts, then Connecticut, then Iowa, now it's moving on to Vermont. Yeeeeeeaaaaarrggggh  Man's heart comes to stop. Collaborate and listen, Ice saved his ass with a brand new invention  Driver killed gas attendant because she was a witch. He hates these wiccans  British women are now allowed to orgasm on the television before 11:00 p.m., most still prefer the washing machine  Church to hold Easter services at a bar. Bloody Mary prices not nailed down yet  Swedish transexual wins the right to call herself Immanuel after years of being told that she kant  One killed, six injured in pie factory explosion. Blast heard up to 3.14159265 miles away  News media confirm they have surrounded Captain Phillip's house and are holding his wife hostage, will accept interview as ransom  Due to one careless doctor, Chicago may be facing a tuberculosis outbreak. Choking is not a symptom, so the Cubs should be okay  For the first time, the White House has reached around barriers and invited a gay family to the Easter Egg Roll

Sports:  Cavaliers release Snow on the grounds that his knee is a licky boom boom down and it ain't gettin back up  Celine Dion considering bid for Montreal Canadiens, if she can get the Titanic theme song back from the Maple Leafs  Greg Norman has now blown more Masters than Barbara Eden

Geek:  Richard Petnel, maintainer of Ad Block Plus, dead at 57. He was YOU'VE WON, CLICK HERE  Anonymity is becoming a thing of the past, says this article submitted by GooberMcFly  MIT makes a gardening robot that tends plants, finds terra fauna

Showbiz:  Choreographer from TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" arrested for sexually assaulting his dance students. Expected to go to a place where "So you think you can put your feet above your head" is more commonly used  Megan Fox lined up to play She-Hulk in upcoming movie, directors wanting a sexier yet more savage version of the Hulk. Pants are still expected to rip open, just not hers  ABC will allow the final three episodes of '"Pushing Daisies" to air Saturday nights at 10:00 PM, starting May 30. In other news, stay tuned for the 87th-season premiere event for "According to Jim"

Politics:  House approves Obama budget, rejects lupus  McCain describes time in Hanoi Hilton, saying "I couldn't control my despair. All my pride was lost." Oddly enough, other men feel the same way about time in Paris Hilton  Bainimarama sworn in again as Fiji PM, looks like it's gonna be a cruel, cruel summer

Music:  And you may find yourself in Prospect Park... and you may find yourself at a Celebrate Brooklyn concert... and you may find yourself paying really low ticket prices... and you may ask yourself, "Well... how did David Byrne get here?"  Rapper Flo Rida wants fans to call his cell phone. If it doesn't pick up, its because his ringer was on low low low low low low low low  Billy Bob Thornton booed at Toronto concert after insulting Canadians, even though badmouthing Canucks is an American tradition going all the way back to when they successfully invaded the U.S. and burned down the White House  

Business:  Airline service best in four years, says reporter who has not travelled by plane since 2004  GM feels that selling a biatchin' Camaro will boost image, increase sales of Dead Milkmen CDs  Merkin accused of cover up
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