Explaining the North Minneapolis Blog Scene

Jeff Skrenes ha put together a 2-part series on the history of the North Minneapolis blogs that duke it out over where that quadrant of town should be heading.

It’s a great crash course for those interested in understanding the players and where they are coming from, from Skrenes’ balanced and humorous perspective.

Johnny Northside Trial Follow-Up

I’ll create a round-up of stories about the Jerry Moore v. John Hoff (Johnny Northside) trial’s conclusion below.

Sheila Regan at TC Daily Planet: “Jury says Hoff didn’t lie, but has to pay anyway“. Sheila also has a piece after da2 of the trial titled “Who’s lying? Moore vs. Hoff, Day 2. Now we know that the jury agreed with Hoff’s truth.

Abby Simons at the StarTribune: Jury: Blogger Johnny Northside must pay $60,000 to fired community leader

Bob Collins at MPR: Sometimes the truth doesn’t set you free

Terry Yzaguirre at the Minneapolis Mirror: Jerry Moore awarded $60,000

Eric Zaetsch Developers are Crabgrass: “Johnny Northside trial. Reported a half-hour ago, Plaintiff Jerry Moore was awarded $60,000

Noodleman at Secrets of the City: “The verdict is in: Johnny Northside must pay damages

UCLA Law School professor, Eugene Volokh, at The Volokh Conspiracy: “$60,000 Damages for Blogging the Truth About Someone, Intending to Get The Person Fired

Kevin Giles has a column in the Star Tribune that references the case. “In social media, why let the facts get in the way?” Giles’ column is rather weak, since it suggests that Hoff lied about Moore, which is not what the jury decided in the case.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt: “Dangerous Free Speech Ruling: Blogger Has To Pay In Libel Case… Despite Telling The Truth

Mitch Berg at ShotInTheDark.com: “Boundary Issues

John Hoff at The Adventures of Johnny Northside: “Damn Right We’re Appealing–All The Way To The U.S. Supreme Court If Necessary! Stay Tuned…

David Brauer at MinnPost: “Johnny Northside: ‘Damn right we’re appealing’ $60,000 judgment”

Rosie Gray at the Village Voice: “Blogger Fined $60,000 For Telling The Truth

Wonkette riffed on the Village Voice: “Vile Blogger Fined $60,000 For Spreading Malicious Facts

Slashdot picked up on the story, with 310 comments so far: “Blogger Fined $60K For Telling the Truth

John Egan at the Technorati Blog: “Maine, Minnesota Cases Test Free-Speech Limits of Bloggers”

John Cole at Ballon Juice: Um, “You Can’t Handle the Truth?

Phil Villarreal at The Consumerist: “Blogger Must Pay $60K To University Employee Fired Because Of Post”

American Bar Association Journal: “Firestorm re $60K Award Against Blogger, Despite Lack of Defamation, May Be Focusing On Wrong Issue

Anna Berend of the Motherly Law Blog at BlogHer: “Social Media Faux Pas: Defamation Lawsuits

Benjamin R. Skjold and Carl F. Engstrom at Skjold-Barthel Business Attorneys: “Free Speech Threat or Misled Jury? Verdict Against Blogger “Johnny Northside” Likely the Result of a Flawed Special Verdict Form”

Brett Clark at JDs Rising on MinnLawyer.com: “Is the Special Verdict Form to blame for the Johnny Northside verdict?

And a sampling from the Twittersphere:

John Hoff Johnny Northside v Moore Trial Reaction Tweets

If you see more pop up, let me know and I’ll add them here.

Do I Write About Don Allen for the Money?

Donald Allen raised an interesting theory in the comments of an earlier post, where he suggests that the reason I write about him is for blogging profits. As I understand it, he seems to think that I’m profiting off of him due to the amazing amount of traffic this blog receives when I blog about him.

Donald Allen
March 9th, 2011 at 8:21 pm
I can’t believe your actually trying to get traffic to your blog this way – how funny, but brilliant.

I hope you make some money

While I do run ads on The Deets, Don is delusional if he thinks the reason I write about him is for the money I make from it. Here is some data to back up that statement:

AdSense Earnings by Day from Don Allen Posts

The above chart is a daily breakdown of the revenue generated by the ads that have run on the pages where I’ve talked about Don Allen. If you study that closely, you may notice a huge spike on Feb 22nd, followed by a return to its normal pattern. That was a special day for me. That was the day that I made 64 cents off the content I’ve written about Don Allen. And, that was the ONLY day that I’ve made money off the blog posts I’ve written about Don Allen.

Here is another way to look at the data:

Revenue Per Don Allen Related Blog Post

That is a post by post breakdown of the revenue generated from the posts I’ve written about Don. One person clicked on one ad on one story, which generated 63 cents. And the ad impressions in aggregate have made me a penny off of Poopgate.

When I write about how ridiculous Don Allen is being when he threatens local reporters, I’m not doing it for the money. Instead, I’m taking a moment to say, in public, that Don Allen is being ridiculous when he threatens local reporters.

And, just in case things aren’t crystal clear already, I’m donating the 64 cents I’ve earned to the TC Daily Planet (following Erica’s lead). However, since a 64 cent donation would be largely eaten up by merchant fees, I’ve nudged that up 100X:

Donation of my Don Allen Ad Revenue to the TC Daily Planet

If I’ve followed this chain of events correctly, I think it breaks down something like this:

  1. Sheila Regan, writing for the TC Daily Planet, writes a story that mentions Don Allen.
  2. Don Allen Threatens to sue them if they run it.
  3. TC Daily Planet runs the story anyway. They don’t get sued by Don. The earth keeps spinning.
  4. Sheila Regan, writing for the TC Daily Planet, covers the Jerry Moore v. John Hoff trial, where Don Allen testifies.
  5. Don Allen threatens Sheila again.
  6. TC Daily Planet runs the story anyway. They don’t get sued by Don. The earth keeps spinning.
  7. I write about Don Allens ridiculous ongoing threats against journalists.
  8. Don Allen accuses me of profiting off this type of content.
  9. I demonstrate that I don’t.
  10. Rather than buying a Supermom’s chocolate chip cookie with my blogging profits, I donate 100X the amount to the TC Daily Planet.

I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Comment Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?

Squashed wrote an interesting post comparing blog comments to graffiti, suggesting that there are similarities between the two, and that having high hopes for quality comments on blogs is an exercise in frustration:

The part that sometimes surprises me is that a lot of people get quite upset about the nastiness of comments on other people’s blogs. To me, this is sort of like complaining that a limerick written on a toilet stall door is obscene and poorly-spelled. Of course it is! Were you reading a stall door looking for literature? It’s possible you could have uncovered the work of one of the world’s great, constipated poets. But that’s certainly not what you should have expected.

As someone who does get upset about the nastiness of comments on other people’s blogs, I have a hard time agreeing with Squashed on this one. The reason being that publishers (bloggers, newspapers, etc.) have the ability to decide what’s acceptible on the platform they provide. While you can’t control what people say elsewhere, you can certainly control what people say on your own site. It’s your site.

As I’ve shown before, Andy Post at Minnesota Democrats Exposed has taken an editorial stance that allows for racist, violent, and downright distasteful comments to be posted to his blog. To me, the type of commenting graffiti Post hosts looks more like graffiti vandalism than graffiti artwork, but our tastes may differ.

Comment graffiti is not something that publishers have to tolerate on their own site. It’s up to publishers to decide what level of civility they consider tolerable on the platform they provide to commenters.

A Politics-Free RSS Feed for TheDeets.com

If you’re like Bill and would rather have a politics-free version of The Deets in your RSS reader of choice, here is an easy way to do it.

Go here. Input the category you’d like filtered out. Then replace the current feed in your RSS reader with the one you’ve created. By default, for Bill, it’s set up to filter political posts.

And, for those of you who are only interested in one category of what I spew out here, you can do that too. Click to that category’s page, like this:

Then add “feed/” to the end of the URL, like this:

Slap that URL into your favorite RSS reader and you’ll be good to go.

The Deets’ Top-10 Posts Read by Minnesotans

Looking through the most popular posts on The Deets for 2010, I see that some things I wrote about Craigslist and Comcast are at or near the top of the list, due to their national interest. However, if I filter visitors to The Deets by location, and just look at Minnesotans who visited this site, I can get a better feel for what regular readers here were reading.

  1. What Your MGM Liquor Warehouse Purchases Purchased – Real estate porn.
  2. Are Tom Emmer’s DWI Convictions Appropriate Wikipedia Content? – This was among the most revised sections of Tom Emmer’s Wikipedia page throughout the election.
  3. Tom Emmer’s Tracker, Abby Michaud’s Racist Blogging History – No election influencing footage was gathered by trackers associated with any of the gubernatorial campaigns this year.
  4. Mary Lahamer and Bob Collins’ Disappearing Tweets – Bob coincidentally deleted his account, and Mary never explained her Tweet censorship.
  5. Tom Emmer Related Search Engine Traffic – Lots of people were interested in learning more about Tom Emmer’s drunk driving criminal history, and proposed legislation to soften penalties on arrested drunk drivers. After the election, I started receiving “what went wrong?” type search traffic. People were asking who was Tom Emmer’s campaign manager.
  6. Top-75 Restaurants in Minneapolis / St Paul – There remain a ton of awesome non-franchise Mexican restaurants to choose from in the Twin Cities.
  7. Groupon Minneapolis Deals are Pretty Solid – I’ve become a big fan of Groupon.
  8. Minnehaha Dairy Queen’s New Bike Drive Thru – Did this get much use? I didn’t hear much about it this summer.
  9. Luke Hellier’s Lie of Omission Regarding Wikipedia VandalismIn August, I predicted that Minnesota Democrats Exposed would have less traffic in a year from then, based on Luke’s ability to run it into the ground. But he quit.
  10. Anyone But Tom Emmer – 57% of Minnesota’s voters agreed with that statement.

The Deets for The Kindle

Did you know that you can read The Deets on your Kindle?

The Deets for The Kindle

Amazon charges $1.99 / month for this service. Of that, I make 30%, so if enough of you do this, I’ll be able to keep a full stock of quinoa in my cupboards.

If you really love your Kindle and think that anything is better when read on that magical device, one way to get The Deets onto the Kindle for free (or a 1-time fee of $10) would be by using Instapaper. That’s all explained here.

Under that model you’d still need to click each article to individually sync them in, so maybe the $2/mo Amazon charges makes sense for Kindle addicts?

Either way. Now you know.

It’s free for 14 days, so sign up, then forget that you signed up, so I can make 60 cents/month off your forgetfulness.

How to Moderate Blog Spam Better than Luke Hellier

This is a quick lesson in “Do as I say, not as Luke Hellier does”.

If you take pride in your blog and your blog’s appearance, don’t allow spammers to overrun your comments. It’s unprofessional and gives the impression that you really don’t care about your audience or your appearance.

For an example of what NOT to do, here’s a recent screengrab of comments Luke Hellier allowed to go live on his website below an article titled, “What’s everyone saying about Tom Emmer”.1.

Screen shot 2010-05-02 at 8.58.48 PM

Notice that comments 3-6 share a similar format. They have some sort of commercial intent and provide no on-topic commentary. This is because they’re trackback spammers who’ve pinged Luke’s blog in order to generate a link back to their website. The first 6 comments all had this in common. Allowing your blog to become a host for spammers is a sign of either incompetence or just plain disrespect for readers. It’s like being the one person who let their kid get vaccinated, and went on to infect a good portion of the school with a new supervirus.

As you can see, I left an on-topic comment and threw Luke some unsolicited advice on how to be a better blogger:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.32.31 AM

Did Luke take my advice? Kind of. He deleted the spam that had built up on that post AND he deleted my comment. But don’t worry. It’s didn’t take long for Luke to earn more comments on his post . . . in the form of even more spam:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.27.52 AM

How to be Not like Luke

You may be thinking to yourself “I don’t want to be as unkempt at Luke Hellier’s blog, so what do I need to do technically to show that I have some pride in my appearance?” If that’s the case, here’s what you need to do (assuming you’re also running your blog on WordPress): Nothing.




Because WordPress, by default, doesn’t allow that type of spam to go live. But if you uncheck a box that’s checked by default, you may end up as unkempt as Luke Hellier. To confirm, go to Settings > Discussion and make sure this box is checked:

Screen shot 2010-05-03 at 10.38.27 AM

With that box checked, every time a new commenter leaves a comment on your site, it will go into a moderation queue. While this does slow down the approval of comments from first time commenters, it also prevents spam from ever going live.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with Luke Hellier’s approach to comment moderation, assuming that he’d rather do something manually that’s easily automated. As long as he’s not really lazy or without pride, he should be able to stay on top of his spam issues. We can confirm this by searching for mentions of comment spammer topics, like Viagra, to find out. Looks like that term is currently mentioned over 3,000 times on MDE . . .

Minnesota Democrats Exposed and Viagra

. . . so Luke is either having a “hard” time keeping up with Viagra spam or he’s been writing about that topic more than I realized.

By the way, every popular blogging platform offers similar comment moderation options so the chances of running into the same issues Luke has brought upon himself are slim to none. Unless you’ve inadvertently changed your comment moderation status to something reckless, you’re good to go.

1. “Everyone”, from Luke Hellier’s post, is Nick Ayers, Tim Pawlenty, and Tony Sutton.

An Unsolicited TP Phone Call

This past Saturday night, I was hanging out with Paul Merrill, talking about politics, sex, and religion, when Paul asked me if I ever receive any strange or harrassing phone calls from people who’ve read The Deets. He noticed that I publish my cell phone number on this site along with the qualifier “Use it. Don’t abuse it.”

I told Paul that 90%+ of the calls I receive are very positive. They’re generally people who want to connect for one reason or another. Reporters and other bloggers for sure. And people I’m trying to meet up with who’ve lost my number but use the site to find it.

While talking about this, I received a call from from PRIVATE NUMBER. I showed Paul that, we laughed, then I tried to answer it. Unfortunately, I was too late, so it went to voicemail. Well, here is that voicemail in its entirety:

The next time someone asks me about whether I receive harassing phone calls by publishing my cell phone number to the web, I can mention this fake eurotrash, teasingly helpful, anonymous cyberbabe’s call.