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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ahmadinejad, Tumeke, Boycotts, Blog Stats and Holocaust Denial

A boycott has been launched of Tumeke's blog stats. Prominent kiwi-bloggers Whaleoil, HalfDone and Keeping Stock have each set out their cases; charges range from holocaust denier to holocaust promoter.

"the state of Israel was created 'on the pretext of Jewish suffering' from the second world war"The authors at Tumeke are politically hard-left activists; most notable is Tim Selwyn, who was convicted and served prison time for sedition after he threw an axe through the window of the Prime Minister's electorate office. In addition, the Tumeke blog publishes a lot of material that we disagree with, which is routinely badly argued for and poorly supported. Not surprisingly, this site does not feature on our blogroll. The only thing that Tumeke publishes that we find of interest is their blog rankings. They helpfully publish these on a sub-blog, Tumeke NZ Blogosphere.

The current boycott is over some inflammatory remarks Tim Selwyn made in response to the Iranian President Ahmadinejad's remarks at the recent UN's anti-racism conference.

Tim cited The Guardian who reported that
...[protestors] heckled Ahmadinejad after he branded Israel a "cruel and oppressive racist regime". He said the state of Israel was created "on the pretext of Jewish suffering" from the second world war.
Tim then said,
Problem is though, what he said, it's all true isn't it? The Jewish State is set up for Jews - quite specifically to benefit them as a race and a religion - and they carry out massacres in refugee camps (like they did earlier this year) in order to carry out the colonial/land confiscation/occupation/subjugation template upon which Zionism has been practiced. That's all true isn't it - no matter how you cut it. So he said it at the right place but he said it at the wrong time - Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day gave the extra pressure on Poland and Germany to cave. [Emphasis added]

We can definitely see how this is inflammatory. The phrase "it's all true" suggests that Tim agrees with everything Ahmadinejad said, including the statement about a "pretext" of Jewish suffering. However you could read Tim as specifying the charge of Israel being a racist state as the element he agrees with (a highly questionable and extreme statement). What the all applies to is ambiguous and could be interpreted either way.

We are left uncertain whether Tim is a holocaust denier or not; and uncertain that, if he is, what that requires us to do. We have not seen any evidence to suggest that he is a holocaust promoter. That said, we have seen enough to stand firm in our decision to not add Tumeke to our blogroll and to continue to have little time for the content of their blog; we will not be offering their authors any guest posts in the near future.

However, we fail to see that a link between featuring on Tumeke's blog rankings and endorsing the content on Tumeke's site has been established; the suggestion that MandM featuring on the blog stats on the sub-blog Tumeke Blogosphere amounts to MandM being complicit in or endorsing the comments make on the political blog Tumeke doesn't follow.

Given this, joining the protest is not morally required although we respect the decisions made by our fellow bloggers to withdraw their blogs from his stats completely. The situation for MandM is slightly more complex as we run the Top 10 NZ Christian Blog rankings. For us to join the boycott we would have to not only withdraw our stats from Tumeke Blogosphere's rankings but also cease using them.

The MandM top 10 score is obtained by averaging Tumeke Blogosphere's stats with HalfDone's. On HalfDone's stats MandM is ranked number 1 Christian blog, on Tumeke's stats we are usually ranked around number 3 as different formulae are used to obtain each. If we drop Tumeke's stats from our formula then we are left with only HalfDone's which automatically hands us the number 1 spot on our own rankings; we are concerned that joining the boycott will look like a bit of an 'own goal'.

On the other hand, prior to the boycott, not every Christian blog that HalfDone ranked featured on Tumeke Blogosphere's stats and now a couple of the Christian blogs that did have joined the boycott so they too will no longer feature on Tumeke's stats. This means that I now have too many blogs that do not feature on Tumeke's stats to make my formula fair. The obvious solution is that I either stop using Tumeke's stats (might as well join the boycott) or I develop my own formula or I stop doing the stats.

So until these things become clearer or further evidence or argument is presented, we will remain with the status quo and will not be joining the boycott. Feel free to help us work through the issues in the comments.


  1. Tim is mostly guilty of being a leftist and someone who conflates situations with historical situations without an accurate understanding of what he's doing. It's a typical, ignorant position. I'm not going to condemn him for that, because alot of people do it to varying degrees.

    I haven't read the arguments on the other blogs, but, I would say that the concept of Tumeke doing the blog stats for everyone ... rankles. And, Tim knows that by doing so, he sort of "owns" the NZ Blogosphere.

    Personally, if I was going to boycott Tumeke, I would do so for honest reasons rather than as a cover.

    As to where the stats come from ... I think any stats that do not take into account daily unique visits are fatally flawed - but that is a side issue to this.

    I had a go at Tim 4 years ago for doing this sort of conflation. He still doesn't have a clue. But then he's still also on the left, which says it all, really.

    Recent blog post: Anti-Catholic Fear Mongering in NZ

  2. One of the issues I cited as to why we have never been terribly impressed with the Tumeke Blog is the lack of care that goes into what is said, why its said and how it is supported. Given this, I think your charge of ignorant conflation is probably more correct.

    Regarding blog rankings, I agree with you that not considering uniques is a flaw in any blog formula. This is partly why I have not developed my own formula as I would want to use uniques but then the issue of gathering them comes up, not every site has a stat counter and not all that do have their stats public. Still I deplore prolific posting and commenting being given equal weighting with unique hits and backlinks. This is why I average both sets of stats.

    Another issue is that by virtue of doing blog rankings you immediately up your uniques and you guarantee a steady flow of backlinks (this is less true for us because we only rank 10 and less people are interested than with the big NZ blogosphere rankings). Tim's come out so long after the month they relate to that I am sure people visit his site multiple times looking for them before they turn up - I recall someone accusing him of deliberatly delaying them to inrease his hits once (I forget who). At least with HalfDone his are usually out within 24 hours of the month's end.

    Recent blog post: Ahmadinejad, Tumeke, Boycotts, Blog Stats and Holocaust Denial

  3. Madeleine,

    I think you are correct about the weighting given to number of posts, but not about comments. If readers take the time to comment at certain places, it indicates a certain level of popularity, I suppose, of the blog. It's recognition of the blog being a place to hang out and talk to others. Blogs without many commenters, while potentially popular and interesting are still a little like ghost towns. So, if the stats are relatively close, where the hubs are (ie where the commenters go to interact) is a great measure of the popularity of the blog. Especially, too, because statcounter (for instance) can't count the number of times a blogger comment window is opened.

    While as the post count is really redundant. If it has a positive effect, it will be translated into increased traffic anyway.

    Another issue is that by virtue of doing blog rankings you immediately up your uniques and you guarantee a steady flow of backlinks...Yup. :)

    Recent blog post: Anti-Catholic Fear Mongering in NZ

  4. I don't disagree, my issue is with the equal weighting, not so much the fact that comments are considered.

    I am not sure of what I think of rewarding a blog for being a popular hangout when the category it is being ranked in is public discourse, might be ok if the category was social networking. However, I definitely think that comments indicate that the material is interesting and of a degree of quality. Though sometimes, especially with more considered blog posts, leaving a comment takes a lot more thought and effort so those blogs don't get as many comments as the blogs that post lighter material as people can pop in, skim read somthing light and short and throw their 5c worth up and move on.

    Also, I just now deleted a spam comment from this thread, it was about cycling and linked to a cycling video on you tube. If was more unethical I might have left it there purely so it could be counted.

    In addition to encouraging the non-deletion of spam comments, heavy weighting of comments encourages sock puppet commenting - it is much harder to falsely raise backlinks than it is to cheat on comment numbers.

    So in summary I share your view that comments should be considered but they should not receive equal weighting as uniques and backlinks - though what weighting of course is the next question.

    Hmmm. Maybe I am going to have to bite the bullet and devise my own formulae. If people don't have stat counters or make their stats publicly available then I will have to guestimate them and if they want to be ranked more accurately then they can just add a statcounter.

    Recent blog post: Ahmadinejad, Tumeke, Boycotts, Blog Stats and Holocaust Denial

  5. If it were me (and notice I have not come up with any alternate formula, because all of this is just too hard), is I'd just use things like back links, comments, etc as tie breakers. Ultimately, unique visitors is what really counts - they are eyeballs on the screen, while as the tie-breakers then would shuffle blogs around within a certain range of activity. But honestly, unless the difference between blogs is in the order of several hundred unique visitors, there's really not much in it between most of us.

    Recent blog post: Anti-Catholic Fear Mongering in NZ

  6. It would be good to be able to ascertain the bounce rate, how many of the unique hits were there becauce they were interested in the material v how many people were there for 2 seconds because they were searching for something else and left immediately on reaslising that the blog they landed on was not what they were after.

    Alexa's new features might be helpful in this. I will give it some thought.

    I think abandoning the Top 10 NZ Christian blogs is the last choice on my list going by emails and feedback I have received and also my own sense that since starting the ratings some bloggers have felt more confident about being openly Christian, they have created some solidarity which in a hostile country like New Zealand is something worth hanging on to.

    Recent blog post: Ahmadinejad, Tumeke, Boycotts, Blog Stats and Holocaust Denial

  7. My so called spam comment was my polite way of saying:
    "There is more to life than blog stats - get outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts" :-)


  8. So what is the point of the boycott?

    So someone with views different to yours disagrees with you.

    He denies the holocaust? I guess he hasn't visited Auschwitz. Why can this claim not come to the table? If he has evidence then let him show it and then refute it; if not he can be called out for making assertions.

    Is it really surprising that people hate the Jews? We kind of have this problem going back for several thousand years.

    Recent blog post: Interpretative techniques

  9. "Is it really surprising that people hate the Jews? We kind of have this problem going back for several thousand years."

    But that's exactly my point! We know people hate the Jews, we know where this ends up - there are people alive who've seen it. (and one who saw it who was abused as a Nazi by the Iranian President's entourage).

    These conferences are *exactly* the place when the next holocaust or WWII is stopped - where anti-semetic tyrants must be told they are not welcome, that we in the west are prepared to stand up for what is good, no matter what that means. Since we're not prepared to say that, staying away is probably the next best thing.

    What I really have a problem with is suggesting that people have no legitimate reason to not attend or walk out of conferences, other than some crackpot conspiracy theory. People have very real concerns about Iran's motives, and those concerns are some of the most serious and grave on the planet today. And they're repeating from recent history.

    Recent blog post: Reply to Tim

  10. Is this thread about the content of Tim's post, or how NZ blog rankings work? Both interesting issues, but the conflation is confusing.

    Bethyada, please read Tim's post before assuming he's a holocaust denier. Clearly he's not, as I've pointed out on my own blog.

    Recent blog post: Tumeke boycott a red herring

  11. Either or! Lucyna and I are women, we can multi-task.

    As you can see I am not convinced he is a holocaust denier either; please also note that MandM have not joined the boycott.

    I do think that Tim Selwyn's comments were ill-phrased so I can see why other people might take them that way. I also think that Whale Oil's comments on his waterboarding post were spot on.

    Recent blog post: Surrounded by Brainy Women

  12. EM, I don't know whether Tim denies the holocaust or not. Note my question mark. But even if he did, he wouldn't be the first.

    Scrubone, I don't have an issue with NZ or any other country walking out on Ahmadinejad, but frankly I think the UN is a particularly dangerous organisation. The world would be better off without it. I don't hold my breath for the UN being at all helpful to the Jews, their existence makes it worse for the Jews. How many resolutions have the UN made against Israel? Do they ever say anything against the Palestinians? And why are Palestinian refugees not treated like other refugees? The whole thing is a crock.

    I am cautious about silencing people because they say things we don't agree with. The continue to do so but it goes underground and may not get adequate refutation in the public square. And gagging laws are more likely to be used against the righteous, thus people will still speak evil but those who speak the truth will get punished.

    If people want to dissociate themselves from Tim that's fine. If Tim speaks rubbish then others can refute him.

    Recent blog post: Interpretative techniques

  13. Just wondering, Am I the only person who has commented that has met either Tim or Bomber. Not that it means anything, but, still, are we publicly talking about people we have not even met, while at the same time not corresponding directly with the people who made the comments that have offended to ask about the comments made?

    Recent blog post:

  14. Dave, I haven't commented, and probably never will. Not even now. Mind you, I haven't met Tim or Bomber, not that that matters. Especially as I aren't commenting about it, I suppose.

    On the question of "are we talking about people we haven't met" (and obviously I exclude myself from this "we") surely you realise this is a blog, and that's what blogs do?

    Recent blog post: Echos of 1980

  15. "I am cautious about silencing people because they say things we don't agree with. ...And gagging laws are more likely to be used against the righteous..."

    I am not proposing silencing people. I am proposing distancing myself from someone, and even more important, withdrawing my freely given assistance.

    I suggest people read the comments at the end of the last stats post.
    1. He kindly acknowledges my assistance - I have been helping him, and I was happy to do so. My involvement here is far more than just being ranked.
    2. He regards Tumeke! links are a plus for a blog and will break a tie with that criteria.

    Given that many blogs find his posts objectionable, that puts those that agree with him at a very slight advantage.

    Yes, the term used on the WhaleOil post is over the top. But it's making a point - whether or not he likes it, whether or not he believes it, he is castigating people who are trying to avoid very bad things happening, and supporting those who (however indirectly) are most likely to end up doing them.

    Of course he doesn't want to slaughter the Jews. Helen never wanted to cling to power either, but didn't the EFA make us wonder?

    I just can't help but think that these international conferences are the very place where the next holocaust has to be stopped - where tyrants must be told that threatening another country is unacceptable, no matter if their comments are "missread" or no, they should not make them. Worse, pretending that there's no cause for concern and we're only boycotting it because the US told us to really makes you wonder.

    I minded the to and fro about the last conflict less. Few people died in Gaza (though it's terrible that anyone did, the whole situation is so avoidable from the Palestinian side).

    But if we get this international stuff wrong, we genuinely risk repeating some very bad history. We can stuff up with Gaza, we cannot stuff up with Iran. It was the lack of early international reaction to Hitler that made what should have been a small problem one of the worse ever.

    Recent blog post: Reply to Tim


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