Pioneering on the Internet

15.01.07 - By Ted Sares: As both an Internet boxing writer and a socio-political columnist, I have noticed some remarkable things during the past many months. For one, the ability to get instant feedback on my work is now available. But what's even more remarkable is that I can engage my posters openly regarding their feedback, though admittedly this takes no little amount of courage.

Now I am the first to admit that I am not in the same league as those voting members of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) or other top writers. They get paid for turning out their pristine efforts and in that regard, they are true professionals. Indeed, their stuff frequently inspires mine. However, those who write for newspapers or magazines may have a limited horizon. The future in my opinion is the Internet pure and simple. Affirming this notion is the fact that in recent years many of the elite boxing writers have transitioned to or joined Internet boxing sites.

The number will only grow. That said, if these writers decide to embrace the process of engaging their posters, I see the possibility of a leveling process taking place between the elite writers and the poster-tested Internet writers based on their respective ability to handle a post adroitly. It remains to be seen how the egos of those who write for a living can handle the harsh criticism of Internet posters who pull no punches, play no favorites and whose messages are not filtered in the same manner as Letters to the Editor of a boxing magazine or newspaper.

If some do decide to engage, there are certain suggestions they may want to keep in mind as an Internet writer, though admittedly they are easier to suggest than to follow:

1. Never engage in or exchange personal insults.

2. Deal with the post and not the poster.

3. Don't stray from the subject of the thread

4. Avoid racial (or related) issues.

5. Always be respectful but maintain the courage of your convictions.

6. Be willing to say, "point taken."

7. Back your response with facts when necessary and make it informative and educational consistent with the style of your thread.

8. Arrogance begets arrogance. Avoid it.

9. Never underestimate the boxing knowledge of a poster.

Needless to say, I frequently fail to follow my own advice. Here is an example of that.

Poster: "Mr. Sares left out several key facts. Augustus a guy who has been fighting at junior welterweight/welterweight took the fight on two days notice to fight a lightweight at a 137 pounds. In case some of you didn't know Augustus is not a light weight and hasn't been for years. To ask a guy who lately has been fighting at welter and junior welter to go down and make 137 is crazy, and to me it doesn't really mean anything. It wasn't even very good work for Diamond fighting a man Clearly handicapped by the 137 pound weight and also the two day late sub."

Author: "......, for God's sake, read the posts. I never give fighters excuses once they enter the ring. They own it. I left nothing out."

Of course, some posts got downright nasty and this is where ego and staying cool comes into play. If things get out of hand, a good web administrator is essential. I have thick skin and generally can handle it, but it may not be for everyone. The ego can be a delicate variable, particularly for those who engage in creative endeavors.

So what is really being pioneered here? Quite simply, the process of open and instantaneous feedback, if an author decides to use it. Now the process is simple enough, but when your thread results in over 100 posts, the exercise can become a bit of an effort...not unlike being in a lengthy and heated debate. It also can involve taking a good deal of abuse. Still, in terms of improving one's skills, the exchanges can only increase one’s knowledge base but they can improve the ability to communicate quickly and accurately.

Whether the payback is worth the effort and how all this evolves remains to be seen, but I will continue to experiment with this, albit on an intermittent basis. Indeed, many of my fellow Internet writers seem to be getting their toes wet and I see a trend building. After all, when has a writer had an opportunity to get immediate feedback on his or her work in the form of a post and then engage the poster in an open and instantaneous exchange. If that's not cutting edge, I don't know what is. And I intend to be in on the pioneering aspects of this electronic excitement.

Article posted on 15.01.2007

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