How To: Ruin An Internet Community

Back on January 8, the world of dog Twitter was rocked. (OK, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic.) The Twitter account Thoughts of Dog blocked another dog account, Theo-sophy. Why? Because Theo frequently commented on the Thoughts’ posts in the voice of Theo the dog. I don’t really understand the reasoning behind The Block but I’m going to try to figure it out and explain why I think Matt (the guy behind both Thoughts of Dog and We Rate Dogs) made a terrible mistake when he did it.

First, I’d like to link to a blog post from Theo’s owner, Nancy, with her perspective on the whole kerfuffle. It’s over here: Now onto my thoughts:

My husband and I have been big supporters of Matt and all of his dog-related business ventures. We have shirts and calendars and my husband literally has the back of his car COVERED in stickers, Yes, we followed all of Matt’s accounts across social media and shared them frequently. One of the things I got a kick out of was the responses on Thoughts of Dog’s posts from “your fren Theo.” They were adorable. I’m sorry but anyone who thinks that a couple of dogs having a conversation about their inner thoughts isn’t cute doesn’t have a heart. So I was stunned when I saw Matt complain on his personal Twitter about people commenting on his dog posts as dogs. The stun was doubled when I saw Theo say that Matt blocked him (her? Theo is a boy dog so I’m going with him….I’m saying that’s Theo’s Twitter account!) on the Thoughts of Dog account with no notice. WTF, indeed.

Before people start coming at me: Yes, Matt can do whatever he wants with his accounts. I’m not saying he can’t. I’m saying this was a terrible decision, especially considering this is his main source of income.

Twitter, as a social media platform, is built for conversations. It’s not a place where you drop some knowledge and hope nothing happens. It’s a place to build a community of people. When you have an account where you are role playing as someone else (yes, Thoughts of Dog is basically an RP account), the last thing you should do is cut out other people role playing in a similar world. That is the opposite of community. The people in your community are the people that are going to support you the most. These are the people buying your merch and going to meetups.

I’m not going to pretend I know what is going on in Matt’s head. I know that his personal Twitter post said he was annoyed with people responding to Tweets in dog voices. I know that he not only blocked Theo, he also blocked people who spoke out in support of Theo - complete with an “I’m glad these people are gone” response. In my mind, what Matt was basically saying to everyone is “This is my playground. I want you to give me your money but I don’t want you to play with my account.”

How should this have been handled? Matt should have just played along and let everyone interact with each other. There is enough internet for everyone. As example of how this works well is all of the various Twitter accounts based on the The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher. Not only does Harry Dresden, himself, have a Twitter account but a ton of the other characters have accounts as well. And those are actual characters in actual books with actual copyrights. Another example is the Green brothers (otherwise known as Hank and John Green - authors and YouTubers extraordinaire). They decided early in their careers that they wanted their fans to be able to make art based on their famous saying “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome” that they actively decided not to trademark the phrase. They chose their community over the mighty dollar.

Another option would have been to just have a private conversation with Nancy about how the Twitter responses made him uncomfortable (for some reason) and he would like them to stop. Of course, this would mean that he would either have to make a public statement asking people to not use dog accounts/voices to interact with his accounts, which might not go over well considering almost all of his posts on We Rate Dogs are pictures of other people’s dogs (Those same pictures that he puts in calendars and sells to people for money.), or he would have to message every single user he has a problem with asking them to stop, which could take up a lot of time.

But he didn’t do either of those. He went straight for the Block User option. Multiple times.

While I’m sure this has all blown over by now and everyone has forgotten about the doggie drama, it has put a bad taste in some people’s mouths, including my own. Personally, I have unfollowed Matt’s personal Twitter as well as Thoughts of Dog because now all I can see is Matt’s selfishness. Even We Rate Dogs has been tainted a bit for me but I haven’t given into unfollowing that account because I like looking at the pictures of the good boys and girls. And I can definitely say that I don’t plan on spending any more money on his merchandise. I’d rather give my money to someone who appreciates the people who support them.

What are your thoughts on the situation?

(Fact) Check Yourself!

Everyone has that Facebook friend. The person that shares every homeopathic "cure" they see, whether or not it actually works. But it doesn't stop with people talking about the healing properties of pineapples. Thanks to people not fact-checking things before sharing them, some people actually believe that Mr. Rogers was a NAVY seal before starring on his television show or that any number of celebrities died prematurely. The question is - why don't any of these people fact check the information before sharing it? Here are some easy ways to check if that fact you are sharing is correct.

  1. Google it. Everyone has access to Google. I bet you even have it on your phone. Simply type a few keywords into the search engine (for example: "pineapple cough") and you will likely find the answer quickly.
  2. Run by a husband and wife team, the website specializes in debunking urban myths. This is one of the best fact checking sources around.

Honestly, these are your two best sources. There are some other, smaller, website around (like Truth or Fiction) but they aren't as established as Snopes.

So, before you click on that share button, make sure you check yourself before you wreck yourself. (Yeah, I went there.) And feel free to check other people. Sure, they may get angry that someone showed their gullibility but maybe they will think twice before blindly sharing. After all, knowledge is power.

Software stuff

I have a scanner at home. (I believe it's classified as a 'flatbed scanner' but I don't know all that much about it.) For those of you with scanners, what sort of scanner software do you use? I usually use the wizard that pops up when I plug the thing in and I was wondering if there was something a bit more....efficient. But I don't want to spend a ton of money on it either. The wizard is free and it works. If there isn't anything free (or at least really cheap) that works better, then I'll just deal with this.


Around Christmastime last year, my husband purchased PlayOn a digital media server that streams to your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. I think they handle the Wii too, but I'm not positive. To be honest, I didn't pay too much attention to the Wii stuff since we have both a 360 and a PS3. We haven't really been using it a lot lately. However, last night, we found streams for both anime and jdorama. That means my daughter can watch Cardcaptor Sakura (which is impossible to find on DVD) and I can watch jdoramas without having to wait for them to download. Unfortunately, all is not honey and cakes. What PlayOn basically does is scour sites like YouTube, Hulu, and Veoh to find streams of the show you want. That means there can be a ton of pixelation and just crappy video. A good example of this is the opening to Densha Otoko. It was pretty unwatchable. Though I did watch the first episode of Papa to Musume no Nanokakan without a ton of trouble. It was broken into 4 separate parts so that was kinda annoying, but the video wasn't completely awful. I'll give it a few more tries to see how I like it for my stuff. Otherwise, it'll be relegated to anime only, which is good news for my daughter!

Win a Kindle!

Over at Bibliofreak, they are giving away a Kindle II. (At the bottom of this post is a link if you'd like to enter as well.) I'm intrigued by the Kindle, but I don't really have the money to spend on one. On one hand, I don't really read a lot. On the other hand, I don't read a lot because I don't have the time to lug books around with me to read when I have a chance. (Like at lunch. Reading a book might be better than drowning myself in TMZ every day.) I think the Kindle would be easier to tote around and I could easily read a couple of chapters at lunch or backstage at my daughter's dance performances. It would be nice to read a book that isn't intended for kids....

Xbox Live + Netflix = Fun!

I'm sure many of you know about this now. I'm going to talk about it anyway. If you have an Xbox 360 that is Live enabled and a Netflix account, you can stream movies and television shows right to your television. And it's not just a huge list of crappy movies either. My daughter is a big fan of Hannah Montana so we've queued up the entire first and second seasons of the show for her. My husband likes Red Dwarf so we have the last three seasons set up for him. I love Japanese dramas and anime so there's things like R.O.D. the TV on my list. It's a great way to spend a relaxing weekend - catching up on old TV shows or watching movies. If only there were more hours in the day for me to work through our queue!

We can be heroes

Since our daughter was staying at her grandparents' house this weekend, my husband and I jumped at the opportunity to pick up City of Heroes again. Well, this time we're playing City of Villains but it's the same game. We've been playing with a few of his World of Warcraft guildmates and it's been tons of fun. I hope that I don't get too addicted to it again! (Don't worry, I still take care of my daughter. It's the mundane things like washing dishes that get pushed to the side.) I forgot just how fun the game was!

Utada Hikaru - Colors

I have been debating how to handle the music reviews for the site. On one hand, the previous format was handy and had some pretty good information. On the other hand, it was tedious and boring. So, for now, I'm just going to write about songs. They may contain a lot of hard information or they may contain nothing but my personal feelings. You'll still learn about songs you may have never heard before, which is the whole point of talking about them.

First up is Utada Hikaru's "Colors." This was her only single released in 2003. The B-side of the single, "Simple and Clean," may have been more famous than the A-side since it was the theme song for a couple of the Kingdom Hearts video games. "Colors" wasn't put on an album until the 2006 release of Ultra Blue.

The song itself starts out fairly laid-back. In the beginning, the lyrics flow like a lazy river. They pick up a little at the chorus, which is the best part of the song. The background instruments are unusual enough to catch your ear but not too strange that they turn you off. As a whole, it sounds a lot like "Simple and Clean" with a few slight differences. It's not surprising that the single was so popular.

Sekai no Melody

One of my extremely geeky hobbies is online singing. There are a number of groups floating around the internet that people can join. Usually, you send in an audition clip and then you are assigned to a group. After that, it works a lot like karaoke. You are assigned certain lines to sing in a song (either in your group or a song you signed up for) and it is your job to record you singing those lines. Right now, the main group I sing with is Sekai no Melody. Unlike many other groups, SnM tries to get away from only recording Japanese songs. As a result, there are groups that focus on other languages as well. (For example, one of the groups I'm in focuses on English songs.)

Yes, I know it is very geeky but it's also a lot of fun!