Every week for the last six months, I’ve submitted a post to the “Carnival of the Vanities,” a linkfest that features smaller to medium size bloggers and what they consider their best posts for the previous week.
This week’s COTV was hosted by Eric Berlin. Given the proximity to April Fools Day, Mr. Berlin posted guidelines for submissions requesting “humorous and offbeat” posts. It was a great idea and Eric did a great job with it, going so far as to divide the entries into groups with one entry in each group a fake! This took an inordinate amount of work and the result was both funny and well written.
But there was a catch to Mr. Berlin’s posting guidelines:
Posts about Terry Schiavo will be ignored. I don’t care if she is consumed bodily by a flash of light. You can go back to talking about her next week.
Since I had perhaps two or three rather mediocre posts that were not related to the Schiavo matter, I submitted this post where I tried to draw an historical parallel between the polarizing effect of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 and the Schiavo issue.
The post was not accepted. Nor did I receive any word from Mr. Berlin that my piece was disqualified. I wrote the following email to Mr. Berlin and the organizer of COTV:
I am writing to complain about Mr. Berlin’s restrictive, arbitrary, and capricious posting guidelines for this week’s COTV.
During a week when literally thousands of sites are posting about little else, Mr. Berlin saw fit to exclude entries that mentioned the Teri Schiavo matter. For myself, I tried to comply by submitting a post that dealt with the Schiavo matter tangentially, focusing on the historical parallels between the polarizing effects of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and the Schiavo matter.
Would it have been too much to ask Mr. Berlin to at least list the sites he disqualified? I notice that there are far fewer entries this week than normal (my guess would be about 25% fewer). Is this due to his exclusionary policies?
Mr. Berlin also suggested that “humorous or offbeat” posts would be “welcome.” Since at least some of the posts he accepted are not “humorous” (I’ve only scanned around a dozen or so entries) was he implying that non humorous posts would not be welcome? Apparently, this is not the case.
I’m sure wide latitude is given to sites that host COTV, as should be. But in the six months I’ve been submitting entries, I’ve never had to tailor my entry to the individual tastes of the host. I believe this sets a bad precedent and serious thought should be given to disqualifying someone who seeks to impose this kind of restriction in the future.
Finally, I object to Mr. Berlin’s lack of common courtesy in not informing people of his editorial decision regarding their post. Simple decency required it. Yes, it would have been more work. But if the host is going to arbitrarily decide what posts he will accept, doesn’t it stand to reason that he should do as much as he can to accommodate those who erred in submitting an unacceptable entry? How difficult would it have been to hit “reply” on the email board and ask for another post?
It’s not my intent to start a “blog war” here. And I’m asking for no special consideration regarding my own post. But the procedures Mr. Berlin followed for this week’s COTV should be examined and, if necessary, something should be done to avoid this kind of misunderstanding in the future.
P.S. I think that Eric did a great job with this week’s COTV and I’m not advocating he be prevented from hosting in the future.
Linkfests should be fun. They’re supposed to give us smaller bloggers some exposure. But when someone unfairly excludes an entry because of a prejudice against a particular topic, what’s to prevent someone from excluding a post on the basis of politics? Or race, creed, religion or sex?
I hope the organizer of COTV takes heed of my letter and prevents any future problems with this excellent event.