Category Archives: This Blog

Live Blog Test

The block you see below contains some pretty generic text in a test of a live blogging system. Since I’ve live-blogged from the county commissioner meetings before, I thought I’d try it. I also thought it might have some interesting applications in the future.

Assuming I take a laptop to the commissioners’ meeting Monday, I’ll try to live blog there. The improvement of the Cover It Live program is that it allows you to ask questions while I’m working. Those can be posted. Also, it automatically puts on a time stamp.

In the future, say when two presidential candidates are debating, we might want to employ it there. I can see the sports reporters doing it too.

Our Apollo Project

Some of you who were heavy into the speedway debate from a year ago might recall that I took a little time off in the middle of it. A year ago this coming Saturday our family was joined by a 12-pounder we appropriately named Apollo Alexander Gardner. On Sunday we celebrated his first birthday, because this weekend he’ll be celebrating by going to Canada. This is purely a selfish post, but hey, when the phone rings in the White House at 3 in the morning this is the kid who’ll be sleeping (if he knows what’s good for him) in the room next to mine when the next president answers the phone.

We’ve pretty much kept Apollo off sugar, but on Sunday we let him dive right into his cake.

Check out the NASCAR cars in the cake. They came with the cereal. He’s a huge Cheerios guy.
Apollocaketwo.jpg
He voted for Pedro and all his wildest dreams came true.

An Update on Comments

We Kitsap Sun bloggers just got word that the problem we’ve had with the comment function is because of an overload by spammers. Our IT folks expect to have it fixed in about a week.

Here’s the important part: Until then the comment function on our blogs will go on and off until it’s fixed.

Thank you again for your everlasting patience. In the meantime we will continue to provide vital and riveting information.

A Scientific Experiment’s Results

You may have wondered what this was all about.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul gives this Web site no mojo.

I read somewhere that if you mention Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman who one caucus goer described as a Libertarian running as a Republican, in your blog you’ll get tons and tons of hits.

I didn’t want to actually write a lot about Congressman Paul, other than my conversations with his supporters at the caucuses. If you click on the link there’s a picture of one and there’s some audio you can listen to that includes the supporter arguing with a McCain backer.

My solution was to trot out a mysterious two-line post that included his name. It was a scientific experiment of sorts.

The post earned 17 hits, hardly the kind of record postulated by some whozits.

Conclusion: Putting “Ron Paul” on your blog does not necessarily equal megahits. If it were a primary, he would have finished behind Duncan Hunter. I could have written “Kevin Benedict” on there and gotten more.

I’m not talking about the former catcher who Tommy Lasorda said would come in third place if he raced a pregnant woman. Kevin was my best friend in high school. Chicks dug him, in part because of his Ford Pinto with the shag carpet and killer 8-track player.

“It’s all part, of my rock and roll fantasy.”

Blog Problems

UPDATE: It looks like the problem has been fixed. I want to answer Bob’s question too.

I’m hoping the solution you suggest is something we end up with. I’m not consulted much by the corporation when it comes to software, but I’m going to ask what plans there are to adopt something new.

What I have tried to do, unsuccessfully, in the meantime is provide a way to create trusted commenters so you no longer have to wait for me to approve a comment before it posts. Trusted commenters would have to register with another service, then would be approved by me for instant posting. The problem is it’s not working. We’re not sure why and I can’t seem to figure out how to make it work. At this point I’m wondering if we’ll all just have to wait until we get new blog software. I’ll let you know when I know.

FROM EARLIER TODAY: We’ve been informed that we’re having a problem with our blog server. It’s not accepting comments.

Maybe if you stopped sending ads for things to improve the male performance, if you know what I mean, or links to pictures of people doing naughty things, we wouldn’t be having this problem.

I’m not saying you, specifically, I’m just saying we get a lot of spam.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be a temporary problem.

Two Blog Matters

One — Some of the feedback we’ve received and, frankly, lamented over ourselves is about the frustration of having your blog comments take hours and sometimes days before they post. Especially now that we have immediacy on the comments after news stories, the technical policy on the blogs inhibits conversation. Obviously, that’s a bad thing. So I’ve been in contact with the corporate technical types trying to fix that problem on these blogs. I can’t guarantee it will happen, but I am optimistic.

This originated as a policy issue, but now that we have the rapid-fire on the stories, it seems to make no sense. Technically, however, there is a challenge. The stories and the blogs use different software. Those who speak out on the stories are registered users. Those registrations don’t translate to the blogs. So I’m trying to make it work with our Moveable Type blog program.

How it would work is that I would be able to mark some of you either as “authenticated” or “trusted.” So if you’ve been lurking for months and don’t comment, but one day get the urge, your comment won’t post right away. If we go with “trusted,” that means we trust that you won’t resort to profanity or some other taboo. If we generally like what you add to the conversations we start here, then we’ll mark you as “trusted.” Everyone else will be a case-by-case basis. I can only think of a couple of you that we’d not add to the “trusted” list.

The problem with just letting everything post is we get probably 10-25 spam comments for every legitimate one. I’d rather have you wait than go through dozens of spam to get to the good ones.

As for when this gets implemented, I’m hoping we can get this started this week. No promises, though.

Two — We have a notification feature on the right side of the screen that allows you to be notified when we post a new entry. More people are getting away from e-mail notification and going to RSS sites such as Bloglines or Netvibes (or maybe some other format I’m unaware of), but if you get the e-mails I have a question. Would you prefer a single notification daily, or would you like us to send you a note every time we post a new entry? Or, would you like me to send multiple notifications, but exclude some of the minor ones, such as the “On Notice” entries? Send me your thoughts in an e-mail at sgardner@kitsapsun.com to weigh in, or leave a comment here and wait hours for it to post.

Blogging is About Career Survival and Career Satisfaction

While I was away Chris Henry posted a conversation about the purpose of these blogs. She led with a comment she received on another post. The commenter wrote, “Note to management: This is not blogging (not just you, Chris, all of the official paper bloggers). This is not the way to build readership through a blog. Why are ya’ll bothering?”

When I first read the comment, I thought it was another knock from a member of the pijama-wearing “blogosphere” who love to brag that they’re taking over news gathering from traditional journalists such as myself. Then Chris forwarded the woman’s elaboration. The first thing she did was apologize for her tone in the comment. That calmed me down a bit. Then she discussed some of her criticism.

For me blogging is about the items in the headline. It’s about survival, having fun and providing something beyond what you get in the news stories. For me it’s a blast. We’re working on improving what we offer. This medium allows me to write a little, or a lot, more conversationally than the news stories. I appreciate both styles and appreciate being able to do both.

The survival issue should be obvious, especially in light of this bombshell, the second in about a year.

How we do it is another question, and something we newspaper writers are still figuring out. On Monday I attended a class in Seattle among journalists discussing blogging. One of the most important lessons in the discussion is that we’re all still learning. Why I get bent out of shape when someone like the critical blogger weighs in is she presumes there’s some sort of rules to blogging. The rules to me seem to be to do what works. We’re figuring this out as we go. Sometimes what we do hits and other times it doesn’t.

Plus, there seem to multiple blogging methods. Some are all opinion. Some offer links to multiple stories. Some are dissertations about dogs, daughters and problems with pooping.

I’m convinced that for the time being blogs are a necessary element of newspapering. What I try to do is provide something you don’t get in the regular news stories, but more than anything I want this place and the other blogs and the news stories to be the go-to places for this community to discuss community, and often bigger, issues.

Some of the criticism of the Kitsap Sun blogs after Chris’s post was that comments can sometimes take hours or days to post. I agree with that criticism, especially because the feedback on the stories is immediate. One of the technical issues, I think, is that we get bombarded with spam comments with lots of offensive material. Somehow, I guess, we don’t get those on the stories. If we can figure out how to overcome that better, perhaps you’ll see a change in the comment policy.

I hope you’re having fun here, because I have had a blast. It adds to the workload and given the hit counts it sometimes seems like a futile effort, but it’s just about the funnest thing I do.

Scoop Metcalf

Blog visitor and anti-NASCAR speedway zealot Jacob Metcalf has a blog of his own (and one on the P-I) on gaming, a topic on which I know nothing. Nonetheless, among the gaming community he scored a scoop when he posted that Bungie and Microsoft were parting company.

The rumor caught fire within the gaming world, with thousands ready to denounce 8bitjoystick (AKA Metcalf) as an “idiot,” with one commenter telling Metcalf, “Success, you made it to a newspaper. Of course, once everyone realises how full of crap this is, it won’t really work for you.”

The problem for the naysayers, though, was Microsoft and Bungie weren’t denying it. Then they announced it. Jacob was right.

Did any of the flame throwers come back and admit they were wrong? Puhleeez.

For my money, Jacob deserves to thump his chest a little on this one.

Blog Rules Revisited

Steven Gardner writes:

Back when this was a Speedway blog, I posted rules specifying when comments would or might be deleted. Please read them again.

Personally, I’m going to have a heavier hand in deleting comments. It bothers me that people who do engage in intelligent discourse eventually get tired of wading through garbage. So I’ll be deleting more comments than I have in the past.

So go read the rules again, and as it says at the end, “Play nice, kids. Be honest, but as we’ve said in the past, assume your opponent is every bit as smart as you, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

This Is Not a “Blog War”

Steven Gardner writes:

Over on the 614 Division Street site there are a couple conversations related to our blog. Seems like a good time to weigh in about what we believe our role is and our relationship to 614 and other sites.

This began when an anonymous poster there wrote:

“Teach Steve Gardner what real blogging is all about. No top-down censorhip like we see at the Kitsap Caucus.”

I responded like any promoter would, thanking the commenter for mentioning us and inviting all to stop by anytime to see if we’d learned anything. Of course my name was an embedded link to this site.

Beyond that, I don’t know what the poster means by “top-down censorship.” One time during the year and a half that I’ve been doing blogs I had an editor change one thing besides grammar mistakes. It was over a headline the editor thought wasn’t accurate.

We also disallow some comments, mostly when they contain profanity. One particular commenter has had several comments disallowed because he fails to understand that we won’t permit anyone to copy the entire text of a story and publish it on our site. That is, essentially, plagiarism. As writers, we’re sensitive to that.

Other than that we let most things go, opting as 614 hoped “on the side of free speech, not shilling for one particular political party.” I’ll agree that the debates get boring sometimes. You ought to try reading them — all of them — as we are required to do. Nonetheless, for now we think our approach is more in line with encouraging a “free exchange of ideas,” and the price paid for it is putting up with occasional or frequent dummies. Political discourse runs a range from educated arguments to sloganeering.

614’s take on the blogs was, I believe, thoughtful.

As we stated in the comments section We don’t view Steve Gardner’s blog as “competition.” The free exchange of ideas is what (to us at least) blogging is all about, therefore, we don’t view blogging as a “competitive” medium.

In essence I agree. I suppose if you had to choose one blog to read I’d prefer it was this one, but you don’t have an either/or choice.

At least one of 614’s commenters seem to believe the changing news environment is all news to us.

Competition is healthy. It is no longer the case that the reporters at Kitsap Sun or Bainbridge Review or Port Orchard Independent have the strangle-hold on what is news.

Thank you for that observation, Captain Obvious.

Again, the Internet medium doesn’t call for a “war.” In the old days we competed for quarters against other newspapers. If someone was at a news stand and bought a paper, it likely meant the other paper wasn’t getting purchased. We still have that competition to some degree because we still get more money from people reading the printed paper than the online version.

But if my blog entry gets read, and then someone goes to 614 or the Seattle Times, we all still get to keep our quarters. News is available from a ton of sources. That’s as it should be.

Keith said we’re “copying” 614. I think you should be able to see differences, but even if we are copying, who cares? Should we not have a politics blog? Should the P-I not exist because maybe the Times was published first? Should 614 shut down because Lary Coppola’s West Sound Politics blog came before it? We think we are in a good place to offer a forum for political discussion. In fact, I think we went without it for too long. If I hadn’t been spending so much time with the speedway blog, I would have suggested “Kitsap Caucus” long before.

Which brings me to my next issue. I don’t see how you can find my position on the NASCAR track in my coverage, because I never did decide for myself.

For what it’s worth, when ISC was in the midst of trying to get the Legislature’s approval, Grant Lynch told me that he thought our coverage was “fair.” You might argue that he was just blowing smoke up my butt, but if you believe that you’re saying we shouldn’t believe anything he said.

I went to California to witness a race weekend and offered several stories. One was about how neighbors to the Sonoma track generally didn’t resent the impact Nextel Cup race weekends had on their ability to get around town. Another pointed out that the community closest to the California Speedway wasn’t the big financial winner there.

My final story about the speedway showed how legislators worked behind the scenes to defeat the track. The only negative feedback I got on that story came from speedway opponents. I don’t recall hearing from Keith or Denise on that one.

Our purpose here is to offer a place for political discussion from both sides. We’ll link to other sites, including other papers and blogs. We think it makes for more interesting reading.

It also means we’ll continue to include comments such as Mick Sheldon’s that my story about Chris Endresen was “mushy.” That was fair criticism. Then, of course, he also felt compelled to write, “Steve Gardner we all know tilts to the left.” I don’t know what evidence Mick might think he has to support that notion, but he’s entitled to his opinion and I hope he continues to post on our site and wherever else he pleases. He’s entitled to his opinion even if he’s wrong, which I’m not confirming or denying.

Welcome to the Kitsap Politics Blog

Steven Gardner writes:

For the last 18 months or so this blog has been a place to discuss the pros and cons of what supporters and opponents called a potentially transformational project for Kitsap County, a NASCAR speedway.

It’s time to talk about something else.

Here.

So to all you political types, consider yourself officially “On Notice.”

I’ll explain Stephen Colbert’s presence in a moment. First let me tell you about the blog. This site will now be devoted to politics, focusing primarily on issues that involve or impact Kitsap County. At times we might engage in discussions of national issues. Even those, however, would likely have some impact here.

At the same time, we’re not killing the “Tracking the Speedway” blog completely. Its history will remain. We’re going to change the name and the address, but all the previous content will remain.

For the past five months the conversation about the speedway has been a political one as the NASCAR bill moved through the Legislature. In fact, I’d argue that most the content we had before could even be considered in a political context.

You had good arguments here. Bad ones too. We don’t want to lose all that content or keep it alive on a blog that should no longer exist. So it’s getting a new address and a new name.

Another reason to start this blog is that we’ve had political issues that didn’t fit here because the board was so specific. Those issues either found their places on other blogs, or didn’t get discussed here.

For example, in December we posted a video showing the difference between Randy Neatherlin’s photo on his campaign ad and the one on a Democratic ad. Had we a political blog then, that entry would have ended up on that instead of on “The Bremerton Beat.”

Every reporter on the Local News desk here will be able to add content. There will be overlap between the blogs. In fact, I’m sure we’ll develop an understanding of where to address issues as time goes on. We’ll learn by doing.

So over the next couple weeks, once the Web guys get everything settled with the redesigned Web site, we’ll change the name and the address of this blog. Thank you for your contributions here and keep them coming.

In fact, we haven’t decided on a name yet. We may settle for “Kitsap Politics,” but we welcome your suggestions.

Regarding Mr. Colbert’s presence, the “On Notice” board will be a regular feature here, as it was on “The Bremerton Beat.”

“You’re on notice” means “I’m watching you,” not “You’re dead to me,” which is a different board. Send me your nominations for things or people you’re getting a little suspicious of, or getting a little tired of, or you think isn’t getting the attention it should. Feel free to duplicate other peoples’ nominations. If something gets nominated a lot, it’s more likely to get on the board.

Then again, this isn’t scientific and is subject to the blogmaster’s personal bias and sense of what’s relevant and/or funny. The board will be updated as frequently as once a week.

As for this week’s board, the first seven are all political references, and Tori Spelling is on there for grins. She may be dead to her mother, but she’s only on notice here.