in Internet United States
It's been a year and some, so why would I re-dredge the saga of "Sprezzatura" Siegel? Probably because there are folks in this end of the blogging world who didn't catch it the first time around and it's a cautionary tale about getting caught with a sockpuppet.
For those that didn't catch it the first time around Lee Siegel was an editor with the US based political magazine The New Republic. At this point he's most famous in the blogosphere for coining the term "blogofascism" and the Sprezzatura saga.
Visit the blog now and you will find it purged: In place of Siegel's prose, and the long and generally abusive thread of reader postings that always followed it, is a bleak little notice from TNR editor Franklin Foer. ``After an investigation, The New Republic has determined that the comments in our Talkback section defending Lee Siegel's articles and blog under the username `sprezzatura' were produced with Siegel's participation. We deeply regret misleading our readers. Lee Siegel's blog will no longer be published by TNR, and he has been suspended from writing for the magazine."
Lee Siegel, creator of the Lee Siegel on Culture blog for tnr.com, was suspended indefinitely from the magazine after a reader accused him of using a “sock puppet,” or Internet alias, to attack his critics in the comments section of his blog. An editor’s apology replaced the blog on the Web site, announcing that the blog would no longer be published and noting that The New Republic deeply regretted “misleading” its readers.
Ezra Klein, as one of the primary victims of Sprezzatura/Lee Siegel's attacks, wrote this excellent coda to the whole saga.
I've been a blogger for three-and-a-half years now, and I well know the business end of an angry readership with instant feedback mechanisms. The temptation to create a new persona and rally support for yourself in comments can be almost overwhelming. Almost. But most of us resist the urge, take the lashing and move on. The next day, our skin is a little thicker, our tone a little harder, our arguments a little tighter.
Some people though can't resist the temptation and their computer skills aren't as big as their egos and they leave an evidence trail that confirms their sockpuppetry.