Skin It Back
When we added a comments section to The Truth About Cars, I was determined that TTAC would not become what Jalopnik’s Mike Spinelli called “a picnic over a cesspool.” To that end, TTAC instituted a zero tolerance policy towards comments that flame/insult the website, its authors or fellow commentators. I’ve sent dozens of emails to offenders, explaining why their comment(s) were edited or deleted. I’ve also permanently banned seventeen subscribers from posting. I believe this policy has been a success. But I want to give you a chance to publicly vent your feelings on our editorial policies without fear of retribution. And here it is.
Given our “death/suicide watch” coverage, it’s no surprise that some readers continue to believe TTAC is biased against The Big Two Point Five. Some feel so strongly they consider us anti-American. First, I would remind these critics that the site contains both positive reviews of domestic product (Fusion, Navigator, GT500, Corvette, SSR, Outlook, etc.) and negative reviews of transplant vehicles (Tribeca, M5, Cayenne Turbo S, etc.). Second, criticizing American companies is not un-American— especially when you’re trying to alert these organizations to the dangers they face. If you beg to differ, well, differ away.
Meanwhile, anyone who wants to forward a more positive perspective on Detroit’s fortunes is invited to submit one or more 800-word editorials justifying their optimism. We’d also welcome any writer willing to chronicle the triumphs and tragedies of foreign or transplanted automakers (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW, etc.). In any case, rest assured that TTAC’s always open to editorials on any automotive subject, including opposing viewpoints. And, in our defense, our Detroit-centric coverage reflects limited resources rather than ambitions.
TTAC also stands accused of hypocrisy. Specifically, my editorial calling Bob Lutz an idiot had many wondering why I felt free to make such an undignified statement when they’re prohibited from making similar remarks about the site, its authors of other commentators. At the risk of making an invidious distinction, TTAC’s zero tolerance anti-flaming regs do NOT apply to the editorials themselves. Our essayists’ job: stimulate vigorous debate. If I/they must use hyperbole and deliberately provocative prose to achieve these goals, by God I/they will. If this double standard rankles, well, now’s the time to say so.
I’d also like to know if we’ve got our editorial mix right. Generally speaking, TTAC’s publishing a single piece per day, alternating between rants and reviews. I experimented for a bit, running my Jalopnik precasts in addition to the normal editorial posts. Would you like these audio features back again? What about QOTW (Question of the Week)? While we’re at it, should TTAC resurrect the “as read by” audio on the editorials and reviews? Do you want to see accompanying video, or are we best off sticking with writing?
Those are my concerns. But I don’t want to frame this debate. Let slip the dogs of war. Don’t hold back. Tell us what we’re doing wrong or, if you’re feeling charitable, what we’re doing right. No holds barred. No limits, save [a bit of] linguistic decency. And one more thing. Don’t think I get a thrill out of banning people from commenting here. As you might have guessed, I may not share these miscreants' opinions, but I share their passion, frustration and anger. Clearly, they don’t understand or appreciate the boundaries of civilized discourse. But it's equally obvious that they have strong beliefs. For that, and nothing else, I admire them.
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