Putting out Tomorrow’s flame war… Updated!

Tomorrow.sg flame war ends here
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Remember Sondra?

Well, the A-list bloggers / editors over at Tomorrow.sg decided to do two thing to remember her, which included:
– keeping her blog going (i.e. web hosting fees)
– printing a book consisting of her blog posts for her family and friends

As this initiative required hard cold cash, the editors decided to ask the blogging community to donate to the Idle Days Fund. While this seemed like a simple, kind gesture, a flame war brewed in the comments on that particular post. If you take the time to look through the comments, you’ll see the different points of views (and personalities) emerge.

One of the pertinent points expressed by readers was about an apparent “blogger class divide”. Readers felt that tomorrow.sg was meant to be a public forum for the Singapore blogosphere, and as such, they felt that editors were inappropriate in publicizing this project on tomorrow.sg. Instead, they suggested that it should have been a private project organized on one of the editor’s own blog. Are we looking at a case of elitism? I don’t think so, simply because Tinkertailor did mention that it wasn’t suppose to be a big hoo-ha.

Still, it was only after her death that I learned more about Sondra. From then on, I felt that her credentials speak for themselves: She did her part in building up the Singapore blogosphere. Thus, perhaps the cause of the flame war was that her impact on the local blogosphere was best felt by the editors at Tomorrow.sg, and intrinsically less so by the typical local blogger who might go “Sondra who?”.

Whichever the case may be, a flame war surrounding the death of someone definitely isn’t the best way to go. Realize that “taking no action” is also a form of action. Likewise, holding back your aggression may sometimes be a more potent form of expression. Getting back on Tomorrow, if you don’t subscribe to the idea of the Idle Days Fund, ignore it and look at other things on tomorrow.sg which interests you. If you do wish to help even if you don’t know Sondra (like me), then you definitely know how to do your part.

UPDATE: Apparently more bloggers, including IZ Reloaded, revealed that Tomorrow’s editorial actually exposed La Idler’s private identity without her prior acknowledgement! Is this a major boo-boo on the editorial’s part?

UPDATE 2: This quote bakes my cake: “of self-deceit and lies“, while this word makes my day: “Autocracy” (See Wikipedia definition).

UPDATE 3: Mercermachine wrote: “And in 20 years, people will look back on Tomorrow and mark it as one of the turning points of Singaporean society from authoritarian and overly conservative to democratic, and possibly socially liberal. It will be one of the benchmarks of the maturing of Singapore into a first world nation not by economic standards, but by social ones.”
– While this looks to be overtly generous to the Tomorrow editorial, I agree with the author that we are all going through a growing process. Much like the old days of soc.culture.singapore, we evolve with the medium. Be it tomorrow.sg, nextweek.sg or nextyear.sg, we are defintely more socially aware than ever before. Consequently, from these baby steps, we’ll grow to be a more socially matured society.

24 thoughts on “Putting out Tomorrow’s flame war… Updated!

  1. Hi Kevin,

    I would identify as the primary concern the issue of the proposed book rather than the funding itself. Some felt, not without good reason, that La Idler would not have wanted her blog to come out of the closet (especially to her family). Whether or not that would have been her intention, the earlier posts by tomorrow.sg’s editors were vague about the extent of her family’s awareness as well as her expressed wish. One can of course argue ad infinitum ad nauseum as to what her real desire might be, but I dare say the way tomorrow.sg’s editors responded with ad hominems and abuse to what seem to me reasonable expressions of concern (as well as tomorrow.sg’s implicit assumption that to publicise/publish a blog openly is everybody’s default desire) is unwarranted, and undignified, to say the least.

  2. I think this is much ado about nothing. She’s dead and gone and doing stuff like this isn’t going to help her parents and sister get through the grieving process – they will just be reminded of all the things she chose to keep from them but bare to the rest of he world, and go through the whole cycle of regret all over again.

  3. I’m also hoping that it is not a case of elitism. But it would serve as a reminder of the potential sensitivity required to handle issues like this. Even though it was not meant to be a class divide, but the way it was projected may lead to misunderstanding and lead others to feel so. Especially, the editors of tomorrow.sg have not made any official statements in response to the queries since Jseng stated that his views are not representative of tomorrow.sg even though he is an editor of tomorrow.sg.

  4. Budak: Good point. When I saw this point of view, it reminded me of Tomorrow.sg before the institution of its linking policy. I was sharing my point of view as a concerned individual, but like you said, the editors didn’t seem to take it well. I definitely comment less on tomorrow.sg issues now (this being the once in a blue moon exception!) 😛

    Jean: Long time no see! I’m sure part of the flame war was very much due to the concern (love) other bloggers have for Sonya. The flames are burning for good reasons, though it could have been better managed by those in power.

  5. Cobalt: I share your sentiments. I asked Gssq about how tomorrow’s editorial was organized and he explained to me that they work independent of each other in order to uphold their own freedom of expression. I felt that this might make them appear seperated in their cause, and judging from the different views they each posted… nuff said. They need a good PR agent (You hear be Gab?) 😛

  6. I felt that for the same reasons that Yahoo refuses to release the userid and passwords of a deceased use to their families, we should not assume too much when it comes to the intentions of someone who has passed on.

    Like you have said, taking no action is also a form of action, so it is mind boggling why people did not choose to leave it at the touching tribute posted on Tomorrow.sg. After all, there is such a thing as too much action.

    If the editors of Tomorrow decide collectively to make the call and go ahead, there’s nothing stopping them, and who knows, maybe it *might* help the family in some way. But there is no need to degenerate into mindless name calling which smacks of childishness.

  7. Its a perfectly typical singaporean response: ie.

    If you don’t like, don’t visit/join/take part.

    If you don’t like, go start your own site/blog aggregator

  8. And one more thing, havent they realised that if you want anyone to donate for a cause, you’d expect them to ask how is their money used.

    It can’t be the case of :

    This is the plan. Like? Donate. Don’t like, f-off.

  9. I think a lot of people have forgotten that Tomorrow.sg was never a public domain. It is privately funded and as such, it is a private website. The owners, which I assume are also part of the editorial team, shall ultimately have the freedom to decide how and what they want to do on their site.

    Just because the owners of the site are kind enough to open the participation to the public, it doesn’t mean that the public will have a say how Tomorrow.sg is run.

    If certain members of the public are not happy with the direction that Tomorrow.sg is going, then go away. Why get upset by something that is brought onto oneself?

  10. I personally don’t care which way it goes wrt to Sondra’s blog – if they want to pay and publish – fine for them. Other people want to help? Then go ahead. But if they put it in public and invite public participation, they must be open to possible criticisms, and deal with it like adults.Frankly, it is their behaviour that begets the gnarly responses.

    And if we’re going to debate this private vs. public thing, then I’d say tomorow.sg’s own linking ‘policy’ stands: if they are a public blog then they’ll have to take the comments and attention that come with it. If they only want sycophants and boot-lickers, then they are welcome to make their blog private and assessible only by password.

  11. I wish to add that upon writing this, I’ve learnt of more significant points from fellow bloggers about this discussion. This isn’t so much about Sondra as much as:
    1. Establishing an individual’s privacy rights (on identity).
    2. Defining the difference between Private / Public initiatives (on fundraising).

    Are there more salient points you’ve observed?

  12. Perhaps I should apologise for creating more of a hoo-ha over this issue than it really should. It was very painful watching her identity thrown out in to the public when as a friend, I knew that she treasured her privacy very much.

    Maybe I should not have voiced out my feelings and opinions. It feels so wrong for me now to have done so.

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  14. I too was struck by that statement. Self-deceit and lies?

    Get over yourselves, is all I have to say. GTFOver yourselves.

  15. The editors are not saints themselves as their flaws seem more and more apparent with each passing day and incident on Tomorrow.sg. Certainly they won’t win new friends and stand to lose old ones if they carry on with the way they handle issues and feedback, especially criticism.

    Afterall, Tomorrow.sg is something uniquely Singapore and all of us hope to see this child blossom whether we are editors or readers. There’s a phrase in Chinese, ?????? which roughly means the biggest critic is the one who loves you the most. Though this may not be true with all criticism involved, but it is appalling to find the over reaction from this whole issue.

  16. Hi kevin

    No, it’s not a PR stunt 🙂 It’s just what i feel. I believe it is a shame that the larger significance of Tomorrow is being forgotten-by both sides of the Sondra conflict.

  17. Hello MercerMachine, thanks for answering my question. I’ll update the article accordingly 😀

    You wrote a good reminder on the virtues of Tomorrow.sg, but that’s something that I believe most of us already recognized. If not, we wouldn’t have written passionately about issues at hand, so I don’t think anyone is really out to devalue our super duper blog. Remember, we have nothing to gain other than to help build a better tomorrow, so it would be great if the editors were more open minded to diverse views.

    With the moderation powers tomorrow’s editorial had, they could have handled any unhappiness more maturely. An example of an editor doing this well was TinkerTailor who wrote an FAQ on the situation. It’s a great PR move and matured editors like TinkerTailor make me feel that there are good checks and balances in the tomorrow team.

  18. Kevin:

    I challenged TinkerTailor’s set of FAQs on his blog by posting my side of the arguments with civility in the comments section. He has deleted that comment and banned me from commenting on his blog.

    I post this just to clarify things a little and do not intend to start something unpleasant.

  19. If you read TinkerTailor’s blog comment about deleting your post, he explains his stand pretty well. I’d say take a break and don’t worry too much.

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