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April 16, 2010



I wanted to ask you a question, and while it's a little off topic for this particular area, I'm going to ask it anyway.

I read several Montana Blogs. Left in the West, 4 & 20 Blackbirds, Electric City Weblog, and of course, this one. I've grown to respect your opinion, as I think many others have as well.

Electric City Weblog is always interesting to me since my own personal opinions seem to be almost in direct opposition to those who post there. I've seen you comment there before as well.

I'm getting to my question, really.

The owner of that particular site is Gregg Smith, which you know. He regularly removes posts that question him in any way, or that he apparently just doesn't want to deal with. He defends behavior in his cohorts that he lambastes in people he disagrees with, all the while claiming objectivity. He poses as Anonymous commenters, and even as other commenters on his site, and attacks others or attempts to undermine their arguments. Etc.

All this you may disagree with or agree with. I understand that Gregg Smith runs his own site, and he's free to do any and all of those things.

Through all of this, you show Gregg a great deal of respect. I believe that you even stated that you respect him, though I can't find a reference. I don't find a lot to respect in his behavior.

I want you to set me straight.

Here is my question: You seem to have a great deal of respect for Gregg Smith. Why?

All this you may disagree with or agree with.

Actually I do stridently disagree with most of that. And the different views we have will likely taint any answer I provide here. But I'll give it a shot anyway.

The short answer to your question is this: he's earned it. The longer answer requires a broader view of the history of Montana blogging, and our roles in it.

I've been active as a commenter and reader of blogs for over a decade. I've had my own website for over 6 and half years, and was cajoled into starting it by 2 conservative Montana bloggers, Dave Sherman and Craig Sprout. It would be a gross understatement to say that I've learned a helluva lot about blogging, and bloggers, in that time. One of the first things learned is that the blogger is not the blog, and it takes a considerable amount of focus to actually get to know the person behind the website. Most people assume they can do that with ease, just as most people are confused about their own objectivity. What I learned is that if you really want to know the person, engage them outside of the venue of conflict, and preferably meet them. Often in blogging, familiarity can breed respect, even among vehement disagreement. Don't let the word get out, but I actually have some respect for Dave Budge, Carol Minjares and Steve Eschenbacher. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy poking them with a stick, but there is more to those people than what they tap out online.

'Back in the day', there were next to no liberal bloggers in Montana, and what there were didn't tend to engage conservatives outside of their own websites. I was a little different. Because my focus was on the blogging, not the ideological divide, I frequently commented at conservative websites, often making myself a pain in the ass to them merely because 'that's not how it's done'. Well yes, yes it is.

ECW was no different. When Gregg started, he was something different from your typical conservative blogger. He was anonymous (typical), he controlled comments (typical), and he was more than willing to blast the Straw Man of the liberal (typical). But Gregg was doing something that lots of conservative bloggers aspire to, but very few do. He was actually being a 'citizen journalist', and most of his focus was leveled at the Great Falls city government. He was very quick to lodge FOI requests and comment on the results or lack of them. It quickly became apparent that he wasn't going to remain anonymous, so he declared himself. And he did what successful bloggers do. He built a community of readership. Those things definitely earned my respect, if not my agreement.

Before things became truly fractious and hostile in the Montana blog-0-tubes, I was doing the Montana Weblog Awards. To pull that off required the trust of all who participated. Many on the right didn't trust me, and were vocal about it. Gregg did offer trust. And even though I was as much a pain in his ass as I was to any other conservative, Gregg actually reached out to me, through email. Our out-of-blog relationship has grown since then, and I've found him to be a person worthy of my respect because of it. I respect him even more because of what he's accomplished with ECW. He has built a very large and vibrant community of posters and commenters, including many active in Great Falls government, and possibly a future Montana Representative. To accomplish that takes a degree of skill, time and effort certainly worthy of respect for those who follow blogging as I do.

Please understand that my respect for Gregg does not always extend to his co-bloggers, and even more rarely to many of his commenters.


"Actually I do stridently disagree with most of that. And the different views we have will likely taint any answer I provide here."

I could provide examples for most of it (obviously not for the deleted posts), but from what you said in the remainder of your reply, I doubt that it would effect your response either way.

Thank you for answering my question.


I get really tired of hearing that we women are "jealous" of Sarah Palin. Jealous, no. Appalled and afraid, yes.

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