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September 7 2010

How To Make An Ass Out Of Yourself On The Internet In One Tweet

Wouldn’t you think if you were a known author you might be a bit more measured in your comments in public?  Perhaps I am giving too much credit to people that write novels, but that would at least be my thought process.

While going through my holiday weekend, a long time friend of mine retweeted a message on Twitter with the purpose of making sure I saw it.  The message was fairly random, and I still have no clue what prompted such a comment, but here is what it said.

Attn bloggers:making lists is not writing.Listing things in order is what they have slow kids do to determine if a helmet is needed.

This message came from Christopher Moore, an author who has made it on to The New York Times bestseller list according to his website.  Why do I say “according to his website”?  Because I’ve never heard of him, but hey, congrats to him for making the list, it’s no small feat.

However, as someone who has written somewhere near 500 lists, I took offense.  I didn’t take offense at saying it isn’t writing, but I felt that the additional little stab about it being “what they have slow kids do to determine if a helmet is needed” was a bit over the top.

So, being me, yeah, I had to respond.

@TheAuthorGuy as a professional blogger who has been assigned over 500 lists in his career, don’t knock work you don’t know, sir.

My thinking was he should at least be aware that there are people out there who work on lists, but whatever, I went to bed and figured it was over with.

Oh no, he had to respond, and instead of going, “Oh, okay” or just acknowledging it, no, he had to continue his thought process.

@seanpaune I didn’t say making lists wasn’t work. I said it wasn’t writing. Thanks for making my point

Huh?  Because I used the word “work”?  Who knows, we’re communicating at 140 characters at a time, it isn’t like we can engage in deep thought.  But, oh well, now he’s annoyed me.

@TheAuthorGuy Well next time a magazine such as Time or Wired runs a list, I’ll be sure to notify them of your disapproval.

Again, I’m ready to move on, I have this thing called “work” to do.  Oh, and no, I wasn’t working on a list, I was writing an opinion piece at the time, but again Mr. Moore had to see how far in his mouth he could stick his foot.

@seanpaune Lazy editing is lazy editing. It’s how editors fill space without having to think. Enjoy your helmet.

Okay, where do you start with this one.

  1. Speaking as the Editor-in-Chief of a technology site, and the former Managing Editor of another site, I can tell you there are a lot of reasons we publish lists.  It has nothing to do with how we “fill space” or “lazy editing”.  It has to do with the fact that they are popular with readers, are often the articles that receive the most comments and we actually get requests for them.
  2. If they were space fillers as Mr. Moore seems to think, then by golly I have been paid really, really well to just fill up space with filler content.

Do I even need to address his comment about me enjoying my helmet?  Yep, he just called me “slow” in a roundabout way.  So, yeah, perhaps I got a tad bit personal in my next response

@TheAuthorGuy the world really needed more vampire novels. Guess it makes it easier for you to spot lazy …

What can I say, if you imply I’m special and belittle my work, I might just have something to say about yours.  I rapidly sent another message.

@TheAuthorGuy BTW, I put out about 2300 non-list posts in the last 12 months. Danny my laziness.

Yes, yes, my phone and auto-correct doomed me by changing “Damn” to “Danny”, but I happened to be walking out the door at the time.  At some point you would think this guy might rethink attacking the livelihood of someone when he has obviously not thought things through.  There are reasons lists get made, but whatever, he wants to continue making an ass out of himself.

@seanpaune This is where you want to make your stand, on the literary integrity of list-making?

Did I at any time suggest that lists had literary integrity?  Nope.  Did I suggest he didn’t know what he was talking about?  Yep.  So, yes, I sent another message.

@TheAuthorGuy excuse me, but you decided to attack lists and somehow I’m the crazy one for defending? Did a list kill a family member?

I was at the point of wanting to know what exactly prompted this guy’s anger towards lists.  Yes, yes, my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek, but anyone who knows me knows I can’t be serious for long stretches of time.  But, instead of an explanation, I get some sort of acknowledgement that “I won”.

@seanpaune Okay, you win. I can’t figure out who Danny is.

Not that I was looking for a declaration of winning, and bringing up an obvious typo from a site the restricts you to 140 characters … woo, you got me there Mr. Moore.  By this point I was at the gym and couldn’t be bothered to care any more.

I understand Mr. Moore is a “humor” writer (he named a female vampire character “Abby Normal” … excuse me while I hold my sides from the laughter … okay, done), but comparing people who write lists to “slow kids” was just insulting and in poor taste on so many levels that I can’t possibly conceive how any professional author of any repute would think that was a wise comment.

I have made it my stock-and-trade on this blog to comment on stupidity I see in the world, especially in the entertainment industries, I have even called decisions “stupid”, but I don’t believe I have ever suggested that someone is “slow” or suggested that enjoy wearing a helmet.  Mr. Moore doesn’t like lists, and that’s his right.  However, when you just randomly come out with a declaration such as this, you have to expect someone to take you to task over it.  Every time I say something on this site, I am fully aware that someone may comment with an opposing opinion, and some of them I agree with, some of them I don’t, but I expect it because I put myself out there.  If you do something similar, you have to expect someone to comment back, but responding by insulting and antagonizing them?  Classy, Mr. Moore, classy.

Not only are you a best selling author Mr. Moore, but for crying out loud you’re 53-years-old, aren’t you above schoolyard insults by this point?

Oh, wait, I’m arguing with someone that thinks “Abby Normal” is the height of punny humor.  My bad.



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  • ben

    Holy smokes buddy, you're really upset by this tweet. Have a beer, smoke a blunt, relax. Read one of his books and you might see where the humour comes from.

    • Sean P. Aune

      I don't smoke pot, but thanks for the thought?

      And good comedy doesn't require one to do homework, i.e. reading one of his books.

  • Joe

    Wow, ben is right. You really need to unbunch your panties. Maybe even take him up on the pot smoking idea. Regardless of what you think of his opinion of bloggers and lists, Moore is a talented and funny author. And yes, Abby Normal is funny, not because it's her name but because it's what she calls herself. Which you'd know if you'd bother to read his books instead of just attacking them. Oh wait, never mind. You'd need to have a sense of humor first.

    • Sean P. Aune

      Hmm, two fans of Mr. Moore, and both suggest I take illegal drugs. Intriguing.

      How do I bother to read the books of someone I didn’t even know existed until he and I engaged in a disagreement?

      Wait, are his books filled with him going off about industries he doesn’t understand, and insulting the mentally challenged? Oh, that must be some knee-slapping laughs!

  • Jillian

    Appropriate title…especially since you're all razzed about a retweet. Seems like some "he said…she said…" BS. Get over yourself, read a book. Though, If you're this easily offended, choose a different author.

  • Sean, Huffington Post and Daily Beast were what prompted my tweet. You received my reponses out of the order that I sent them. I really tried to let you off the hook by first trying to say it was lazy editing to assign lists (which was something I was made aware of by a rant by Dvorak made back in the early 00s), and which seemed like a really weak way to reaggregate material instead of producing ideas. Then I was asking you, honestly, if this was really what you wanted to get upset about, throw down about. I tweet things I think are funny. Other people think they are funny, too. The person who retweeted it to you thought it was funny. You'll note I didn't hit you with my bio, didn't say anything about it, I only reacted to your posts, which were awfully bent out of shape. So now the bio, I've written for a living for over 20 years, thirty years if you count the stuff I did for other people, like ads and journalism. So, yes, I understand the industry. I implied you were slow because you were so, obviously taking this shti way, way too seriously, including, oh don't know, writing this rather long blog. And even if you meant the word Deny, instead of Danny, you got it wrong. You meant to say, "Deny my laziness?" I would never do that, but why would you dare me to. You see, right? You understand that even if you hadn't been foiled by autocorrect, you weren't saying what you meant to say? Bad writing.

    You obviously take a lot of pride in writing for a living, but it will benefit you to develop a little thicker skin if you're going to put your stuff out for the public. If you can't function in 140 characters, don't throw down in a 140 character forum. If you are professing your expertise in a field, then don't make lame mistakes while doing it. And you realize that you didn't defend making lists, as you say you did, when you thought I was accusing you of being crazy, you just threw out biographical details. You jump up my ass, directly, first, then I'm the asshole for responding to you?

    Read what you said, and what I said again. If you didn't say what you intended to say, that's not me being an ass. That's just you getting it wrong. I don't think you are lazy, I really was trying to let you out of the whole exchange with the editor comment, if anything, I'd say you're probably working too hard. Really, Sean. Chill.

    BTW: The whole thing about "I don't have to read it to know it's funny." I'm kind of happy you're not reading my stuff, but read that through again, put yourself in anyone else's place, and imagine their opinion of your intelligence?
    I'm not making the call, I'm simply saying, think that through and consider how it sounds.

    • Sean P. Aune

      Mr. Moore,

      How was my response of "@TheAuthorGuy as a professional blogger who has been assigned over 500 lists in his career, don’t knock work you don’t know, sir." an attack? You made a comment, I made a comment, I went on about my day. I didn’t find your comment funny, so I responded, that really could have been the end of this whole thing, but you chose to prolong it. Perhaps you should “develop a little thicker skin if you're going to put your stuff out for the public”?

      If you want to get into a long argument over lists, go for it, but there is a reason lists are done, there is a reason I am paid well for them. To call them “lazy” when you have never worked seriously on one is just misinformed. I have never written a novel so I would never try to comment what it is like for you to write one.

      To give you a brief idea, if I’m working, with nothing more than a bathroom break, a list of 40 items or so takes me eight hours. I begin gathering the resources, I research each resource to make sure I am including only the best options, I then write a completely original description of each source. It is a research intensive job and nothing something where you just plug in information and walk away.

      As for my autocorrect typo, nice of you to get it wrong in your reply. I said it was supposed to be “damn my laziness”, you somehow changed it to “deny my laziness” and then used that as the basis to criticize my writing. Wow … okay, then. You couldn’t be bothered to scroll back up and get your facts right?

      Oh, by the way, your typos in your reply to me:
      reponses
      reaggregate (a hyphen would have been nice)
      indus try
      shti
      I’ll give you “retweeted” since no one can agree on that one yet

      As for the whole “I don't have to read it to know it's funny”, if you’re going to quote me, as you are doing so by using quotation marks, at least bother to quote me correctly.

      As for the length of this article, people who know me were e-mailing me after seeing my side of our exchange. I could either tell them all the entire story over and over again, or I could, I don’t know, use this website I pay for every month. Wacky concept, I know.

      • So, well done. Way to completely miss the point.

        "And good comedy doesn't require one to do homework, i.e. reading one of his books."

        That sound the kind of comment you want to own in public? I'm sorry list making is hard for you. I think I understand, now, why it might be. Good luck.

        • rizzn

          List making is easy, Chris.

          Look, I'll demonstrate:
          Reasons why Christopher Moore is an Ass
          1) He writes comedy vampire books. As if the Twilight books don't make fun of themselves.
          2) He picks on bloggers because he views their craft as inferior. This coming from a guy who writes hacky vampire novels is what makes Chris's elitism funny to the rest of the world.
          3) Who's Danny?
          4) If listmakers are lazy writers, museum curators are lazy artists.
          5) He can't admit he's wrong.

          Of course, good list-writing isn't easy, and it fills a desire for both online publishers and readers.

          Have you ever heard of this new thing they have called search engines, Chris?

          You use them to find stuff on the web.

          The problem with search engines, though, is that many times they're not effective at finding the best resource to solve your problem – only good at finding the resource to solve your problem as written by the webmaster with the best search engine optimization skills.

          Let's say you're searching for a resource on how to enhance a flagging erection, and instead of finding an unbiased opinion post on where to find a good fluffer, you'll stumble upon a dozen or more sites trying to sell you "h3rble vi4gra!!!11!!eleventy!!"

          That's where listmakers come in. They, as a regular writer for a popular (or even unpopular) online publication, will understand their audience, and can craft a list of hand selected resources for fixing that hypothetical impotence issue of yours.

          The author of one of your favorite publications can *instinctively know* that you're probably not looking to get scammed, and can use their research skills to find actual resources to help you keep it up, whether it be medical or otherwise.

          I dare you to try it – go and research (using standard search tools) for you to keep Little Mister Moore at attention, and tell me it doesn't take you some time *without the aid of a list post.*

          For that matter, pick just about any more esoteric topic you can think of. How about the best tools for managing your Flickr library? How about the most essential plugins for use in your custom WordPress installation? How about a side by side comparison of all the publicly available e-readers on the market today?

          Remember, that information needs to be gathered – by you – without the aid of a list post.

          Come back and tell me that list-making isn't hard work.

          Obviously, you can't. Because you didn't stop to think about your words – fairly hilarious for the rest of us, since you're a writer by trade making a big deal of belittling other writers who don't pen "humorous vampire novels."

        • Sean P. Aune

          Mr. Moore,

          I made the comment on a blog and URL named after myself, that means I stand by it.

          Tell me, have you ever tried having an argument the amounts to anything more than finding fancy words to cover up the fact that in the end your entire stance can be summed up as, "You're stupid!"? All you have done from the start is suggest that I am of a lower IQ, slyly bring up references to the fact I need to wear a helmet and so on, all the while making typos, misquotes and other basic errors.

          You cite that I don't argue the subject of lists, I present you with the facts, your entire comeback can be summarized as yet another insult to my intelligence.

          Yes, you understand everything, you worked in print media 20 years ago (as did I with two monthly columns in print magazines, mixed in with various freelance projects), and I can assure you that working in print is a very different beast than working as a blogger; beyond the basic rules of journalism, performance is measured in completely different manners.

          Lists serve an enormous amount of those requirements, and while I could just slap something slapdash together, as some of my colleagues do, I take pride in my work and turn in the best pieces I can. This is something that has been valued by blogs and actually led to bidding wars for my services, but you instead see it as another glowing opportunity to insult my intelligence and suggest that I'm slow.

          All of this could have been avoided had you simply asked me questions about lists, possibly apologized when you saw someone was offended by your comment or simply ignored my reply. Instead you chose to engage me and continue with an assault that, as I have already said, can be summed up as “You’re stupid!” followed by your best Simpsons Nelson laugh. Well, bravo, you’ve cut me to the quick and laid bare my inadequacies. Oh, woe is me, whatever shall I do? I know, I’ll take the high road and say, “good on ya”, and move on with my life.

          Yes, yes, I’m sure you’ll come back with some shockingly sly witticism to the affect of, “Oh yeah, you really look like you’re moving on.” Woo-hoo, go you. If you’ve won anything here it’s the fact you’ve worn me down. Some of us actually have work to do around here, and I think I would find bashing my head against a brick wall more rewarding than continuing this “dialog” with you (countdown to you saying, “make sure you wear your helmet” or “another sign of your slowness” in 3 … 2 …).

          Now, scamper off to your little hole and knock out one of those knee-slapping vampire novels of yours.

        • Emilie

          perhaps just maybe "Does that sound like the kind of comment you would want to own in public?" Because as you've typed it there it makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever. I can understand the problem of making a point with "tweets" but you have plenty of room there. I have a suggestion, go back to your book writing. People who write something in print have plenty of help from editors and such where as online writers (list makers and all) have hardly any help and have to generate tons of content on an alarming time crunch. Two completely different types of work.

          Oh, btw, as part of your prime target audience (female late twenties) I have absolutely no want to read your "work" as I'm sick and tired of all the vampire stuff that has flooded the market. The only time I have liked any vampire work was in Terry Prachets books. The man is a Genius!

  • Bill

    Dude, read an actual book sometime. You might actually learn who a few authors are. And sorry, try a real job sometime too; sorry but "professional blogger" sounds like "30-something living in my mom's basement playing Warcraft".

  • Amanda

    Ummm… I may be a little late to the party, but The Author Guy has written 12 novels and 3 of them are about vampires, the first one having been published in 1995. All the snarky-ness implied about vampire novels being the only thing he writes is really unfounded.

    And I'm not saying that Moore was the most mature person about this whole deal, and (though I don't know him personally so I can't confirm this) I bet, from the tone of your responses, that he thought you'd be fun to screw with and honestly you gave him what he wanted and it was funny to read.

    Little advice, Sean: Don't feed the trolls.

    P.S. Another petty correction, but, Abby is a teenage girl and she named herself. Her name is completely realistic. If you go on a teenage Emo/Goth/Scene girl's facebook/myspace page or personal websites you'll find a ton of girls with the same lame, punny names that I'm sure they thought were completely original.