From the Department of Mendacious Hypocrites

So yet again this blog, or more specifically my role as editor here, has received another lashing at the hands of an angry blogger, this time our friend AK at Sublime Oblivion.  I first read the attack yesterday without much thought or reaction, despite the personally harsh tone.  You get used to these kinds of things, and it’s far from the first time it’s happened.  I suppose I should have seen it coming when he left a comment over on Streetwise Professor attacking me, but I don’t spend all that much anymore trolling the comment boards.  Nevertheless, I’ve got a number of emails from friends and colleagues expressing their surprise and confusion, so I thought the incident should merit a mention.  Fun, right?

I’m really not sure what we did over here to set him off … although Ido see now that I mistakenly had though his blog was listed on theblogroll, which it was not, but that’s now been rectified for anyone whowould like to have a look.  I am pretty lousy about the upkeep of thatlist of links – but all you have to do is ask and you’ll be on it.  Ialso recall a hostile exchange on a comment string when I had linked toone of his articles, but that was quite a long time ago.

One fact that AK does get wrong, however, is the level of traffic and audience attracted to this site.  We usually keep our stats private, and try to avoid boastful, self-referential congratulations, but the average daily visitors to this site is much higher than one might suspect.  Just take a look at the publicly accessible Alexa data (which is really quite flawed, but that’s what we’ll go with).  They rank this site at 270,229 in terms of traffic, while Sublime Oblivion comes in at a respectable 395,580.  We have 494 sites linking in, while he has 90.

I am not trying to be disparaging, though that is a natural reaction after being attacked in such a way.  AK runs a good web site with a growing audience, and puts a lot of effort into it.  I often radically disagree with the views expressed there, but not really to the point that I’ve ever felt the need to invest the time in a take down.

At any rate, I am sure this is quite boring to the vast majority of youout there…  Blogging about blogging about Russia is an exhausting,solipsistic exercise enjoyed solely by just a handful of people.  A long time ago I came to theconclusion that there is no way you can make everybody happy when youpublish opinions about Russia, especially when they don’t always fitinto neat little boxes.  This blog is by no means some perfect example of how it should be done – our opinions are heavily slanted from experience, we thrive on unpleasant and controversial subjects, and our spelling is often atrocious.  We enjoy reading a wide range of different Russia blogs and websites, and when possible, we are happy to engage.  We recognize that we’re just one voice in the corner among many.

There seems to be a quest underway to seize the title as “the sensible, moderate, non-pro, non-anti Russia commentator,” but nobody has really gotten very close (maybe Michael Idov way back when).  Youcan expect backlash from the camps whether you say something as outrageous as “Russiahas a real human rights problem” or something even more daring like”Medvedev’s liberalization effort should be welcome and encouraged.” You just can’t win, and everyone will fight you to the last breath towhittle down the debate to only the voices which reinforce their ownclosed-minded thinking.  I know this, because I am guilty of it also, but I am trying to quit.

So in conclusion, what’s to be done when someone you’ve never met calls you a liar,hypocrite, coward, etc.? I think you just ignore these kinds of provocations and get on with the day.