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A Reader Responds to TWOP/Bravo Deal: Freedom of Snark in Trouble?


Reader/writer Sherlynn Hicks shares her thoughts on TWOP’s acquisition by Bravo: has been bought by Bravo. I quietly lament. Glark, TWoP’s Head of Programming, set up a forum entitled No, We Don’t Have Tim Gunn’s Phone Number: Questions About The Bravo Deal. See how clever they are. Glark has responded in the forum with answers, non-answers, evasions and none-of-your-businesses, but in a completely reasonable and nice fashion.

In the forum, TVTourist amply expresses my concern: “I am a little a worried about this change. Will freedom of snark really continue in the forums under the reign of Bravo? Take The Real Housewives of OC show for instance. Bravo won’t allow any negative comments to be posted on its own boards, and TWoP shut down its thread about the show after getting heat from the participants’ lawyers. If Bravo is able to exert the same control it exercises over its own boards, the freedom of snark on TWoP’s boards may really be in jeopardy.” Glark equivocates alluding to a legal, not snark issue, with the Real Housewives forum. (FBLA reminds readers that FoodNetwork shut down their own forums thanks to posts about Sandra Lee.)

Beadgirl, a litigator, counters Glark’s admittedly vague response: “Well, that it was a legal issue worries me…if it was a frivolous legal claim put forth in a big way by expensive lawyers with tons of briefs, and you shut down the thread because you could not afford to prove in court the frivolousness of the claim, that troubles me… [N]ow that you have Bravo on your side, will their legal department be able to help you if it comes up again in the future?”

I would not only ask if Bravo would be able, but more importantly, willing, to defend TWoP’s right to snark, a cultural mainstay of an intelligent, vibrant, civilized internets community. I further admonish my beloved TWoP to look at the Viacom/YouTube money brawl carefully and avoid that bikerbarfight at all costs. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

TWoP forum culture brings me to the Orange County Register’s issue with commenters. TWoP is an excellent example of how a site can effectively monitor comments from the masses. TWoP FAQs state the rules by which the forums operate. For example, a rule is “Don’t start a post with ‘Um.’” Their contention is that it’s snotty and it is. TWoP rule: Your opinions aren’t gospel, other people may have differing ones. They require that you observe proper grammar and punctuation, good manners and respect and no “U R so l8t” because it’s, well, stupid.

TWoP moderators are vigilant and will ban your ass in a hot minute if you do not behave. They delete inappropriate posts, leaving only a terse “This post has been deleted by [Moderator]” which in my opinion is much more shaming than just deleting a post without comment. (At least it was for me.) This forces forum participants to think twice about their posts, offer well-written, cogent and on-topic ideas and opinions and behave the way your mama should have taught you, even if your mama was a racist, bigoted, sexist. The Register should follow TWoP’s example and pay a moderator for the comments.

FBLA has really smart readers, don’t you think? Anyone else care to weigh in on topics of the day?

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