Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blogwash? Hogwash!

The Malay Mail decided to stoke debate about blogs with a front page page splash in the weekend edition.

They apparently carried out a survey of 100 people, though how they selected their sample we are not told. Were the respondents bloggers? Do they regularly read blogs? (If you're going to fling around statistics and influence public opinion, you needs to be accountable for the way you collate statistics!)

Anyway, apparently (shock horror):
66 per cent of the 100 respondents interviewed questioning the credibility of blogs as a source of information ... 57 per cent of the respondents wanted bloggers to be made accountable by imposing certain regulations to deter irresponsible bloggers from posting sensitive, inaccurate and false information.
It goes on:
Those who called for bloggers to be monitored said blogs should only be used to share useful information, and not be an avenue to post exaggerated articles, or a place to blow your own trumpet.
What I think the survey does illustrate is the general ignorance on the part of those interviewed as to what blogs are and how they work. Just useful information? How dull! Some of my favourite blogs are the personal ones where there is a real sense of the voice of the writer. Like you, I read all sorts of blogs for all sorts of reasons - but most of all to be entertained by good writing, to catch up with my friends, to share opinions and enjoy a good discussion on matters close to my heart. (Things bookish and writerly most of all.)

Not a place to blow your own trumpet? Not a place to post exaggerated articles? Why the hell not? A blog is an entirely personal space. And just as we take with a pinch of salt the nonsense our friends come up with in the coffee shop, or the bullshit talked by that fella leaning on the bar in the pub, so we need to assess for ourselves the validity of what we read - be it in the local press or online.

Malaysians I think in one sense are already pretty good readers: they've had to learn to read between, behind, through the lines of articles in the local newspapers to find out what is really happening in the country: they just need to apply the same skills to reading blogs!

Sure, there are of course the loony intolerant extremist voices out there. Reading some has had me shaking with anger. But I'd rather know what these people are thinking and how they argue, than not know. And I would defend their right to express their opinions.

Anyway, you can have your say on the topic at

I just hope the Malay Mail throws its weight behind bloggers, rather than just sensationalising the issue. After all, it's been happy to report what bloggers are saying on various issues (thanks Amir!) as a way of accessing the vox populi hasn't it?


boo_licious said...

Yeah, just like you I was questioning how they did their survey. Most of the time people say blah blah, we did this survey but they never clearly state how they designed the survey, what were the limits, the parameters and etc! Sorry, I've been taught before that sometimes it's easy to skew results in a survey and the basic principles of the blogs seems to be completely misunderstood in this survey and I suspect skewed by MMail itself.

Like you I cannot believe Msians are so stupid to just blindly read whatever is put on the platter to them. I mean, sometimes the paper also publishes things that are skewed esp when they are helping a company advertise one item rite? Blah blah, this product is good and etc....

I mean in my food review context, most of the reviews in the papers are paid by the restaurant so they always say it's nice. Mine ain't as it's my personal review and becoz tastebuds differ from one person, I always disclaim and warn people. I also find food reviews subjective hence I also add other reviewers' comments (if any) so the reader can also read other people's views.

bibliobibuli said...

i think what you say is quite right, boolicious ... there are checks and balances built into blogs - they are called COMMENTS and where the comments are switched off other bloggers can post LINKS to the original post

i hope that my blog helps in some small way to plug a gap that the mainstrem media seems unwilling and unable to plug itself - writing about books and posting reviews. your blog definitely plugs a gap - being a much more impartial and comprehensive source of information on eating out

i thoroughly enjoy the blogs i read, which are thoughtful and well written

which is more than i can say for many of the articles in the newspapers!!!! 9the malay mail is stunningly vacuous after its remodelling job and it's only inertia that stops me from cancelling my order

Kak Teh said...

Thank God for blogs - if not we'd all die of boredom. There are so many interesting blogs that u can just do away with newspapers, dont u think?

Anonymous said...

I think we should collect the names of the people surveyed and sterilize them. The gene pool is bad enough already.

dreamer idiot said...

Alarming...not so much the results, as is the rising tide of intolerence in this country... sigh...

I don't read the Malay mail, so thx for putting this up.

lil ms d said...

i enjoy reading personal blogs because of the wit, humour and emotions behind them. also, it's a great way to study malaysians, and what they think. you're able to see real life, which is important to understanding the social history of the country. sure some write about their kids' nappies etc, but it describes a landscape and a network not seen in the 70s, 80s etc. i mean, for eg. a blog about a mother has a band of like-minded readers that support her from all over the world!

in fact a friend forwarded me an erotic malay blog yesterday, and i read it. sure it's fantastical but what i enjoyed was that it had a story line. it wasn't just sex, it was about how a young girl viewed society. it wasn't just gratious /tabloid sex.

haiyah i never pay attention to these kind of surveys. they don't pay my car loan and rent. :D

The Eternal Wanderer said...


If that ever happens, I might as well ready myself for acouple of jail sentences...considering that I've blown my trumpet quite a lot on my blog.

All the more reason we need something like a PEN set up in Malaysia to protect the rights of writers/bloggers.

lil ms d said...

you might want to read this.

sharon if you want the erotic site's url drop me a line. don't want to clutter your comments box. unless others want to know :)

madcap machinist said...

miss d, i want! >:)~<

amir said...

Well, I'm not working there anymore.



CW said...

Many people don't realise how different blogs are from "traditional" websites, especially if they are comparing them with company or organisational websites in which content is carefully vetted and in most cases "approved" before posting. Blogs on the other hand are completely individual and uncontrolled - and if you think of them as being another way of interacting with others and having a conversation on topics that interest you, then it doesn't matter if they are not always 100% factual or correct or whatever. After all, when we talk we are not always "right" or unbiased or clever or witty! (This accounts for the extremist views we see on some blogs - I agree, Sharon, I'd rather see these sorts of horrific statements than ban them, even if they do make my hair stand on end...) As you say, when looking at anything online, it's always worth considering what you're reading, who the author was, what his/her agenda is, if any, and what others have said about the topic. Come to think of it, this applies to reading stuff in print, too.

acid burn said...

ah well, the print media are just feeling threatened by bloggers..

bibliobibuli said...

acid burn - the print media are just feeling threatened by bloggers.. as well they should! the writing is often much better and as kak teh says, how boring life would be if we only had the print media to go back to

has it also struck you all that many of the best bloggers do write for print media but write much more exciting stuff online where they have their own space without word limit and editors?

ms d - i think that's a very intersting point you make about blogs giving an overview of malaysian society at a particular point in time

cw - i think waht you say is spot on and maybe people need to be educated about how to read blogs

amir - i don't blame you but miss you in my malay mail! but it
's right isn't it ... the newspapers feel they can quote stuff from blogs to illustrate the way public opinion is swinging and then the next moment slam us all for writing nonsense ...

Dean said...

Wow. I mean WOW! What a weird country you live in...

I sure as hell would get pissed if they ran a story in the papers here like that. What a bunch of wackos! I could get started, but I won't. That'll do, that'll do now...

Yang-May Ooi said...

Hi Sharon

There's a lot of anxiety in the traditional press and among the general reading public about blogs, partly because of lack of knowledge. I wrote about the power of blogging a while back in my post which your readers might find interesting.

Part of the issue is about trusting the person who is writing. Your identity is clear on your site - who you are and what you do. That fosters a sense of trust and respect when one come across your site. It also makes you accountable and responsible for what you say in your posts. That I think is the key.

While I do think the survey and article you mention comes to some ludicrous conclusions, it is nonetheless right that people approach sources of information with initial scepticism - including the traditional news media sources and gossip over a cup of coffee. Otherwise, we'd all be fools and easily led by anyone telling us things we want to hear.

The irony of course as you point out is the question of the accountability and responsibility of the Malay Mail in the way it researched the "survey". Have many bloggers written into the paper raising all the issues that are raised in your blog? That might make for some fun reading in the letters section of the paper!

Yang-May Ooi, Fusion View

Totally Depleted said...

So, does the Malay Mail want to play the role of Blog Police? Who died and made the king?

lainieyeoh said...

strange, after their 'blogging babes' article.

Anyhow, I was looking at the answers, and it would imply they have a lot of leading questions.
ie: Should blogs be a place for exaggeration of the news to mislead the public?
obvious answer: no.

lainieyeoh said...

haha..i just realised it might look like something newspapers don't want to do, letting the newsreaders know that the internet is a good place to find information, discussion, commentary and articles on the current local issues.

sympozium said...

The Malay Mail is a huge disgrace to journalism. I wouldn't use it to wipe my ass after taking a dump - too much crap (the paper, not my ass).

bibliobibuli said...

dean - weird? in some ways certainly. but that weirdness makes for fun in some ways. and it's good to have things to kick against.

yang-may - thanks for the link. you say it all so well. i don't know whether there was any follow-up in the malay mail ... wasn't reading while i was away but will check the back issues before i recycle 'em

totally depleted - i think the writers of that article feel they can get away with shoddy writing because they are writing for mainstream media which confers automatic superiority on their effort even if they write unsubstantiated poorly argued crap. if it was a blog post it'd be shot down pretty fast by the readers! irony innit?

lainie - yeah, one day bloggers are flavour of the month in the MM and invoked to fill pages. next they're down the plug-hole. whatever suits them.

sympozium - haha. glad you recycle your newspapers.