In which The Dope answers the burning questions of the age
A. The Inside Dope was launched with the goal of providing a place where news and issues could be discussed, argued, and debated, and where readers can speculate on and argue political and other topics. While the site will have a focus on politics and news from the 71st and 72nd Illinois Representative districts, and the 36th Illinois Senate district which encompasses them both, it won't be strictly limited to that area.
I hope that readers from outlying areas will provide insight and news from their neck of the woods and encourage them to do so. The site will also deal from time to time with Iowa politics, national politics and issues, and anything else that I feel might fit.
I'd also like the site to become a place that candidates and activists can use to keep abreast of events and issues in the area. In that respect, I hope that candidates, groups, or individuals will inform me of their events by e-mail so I can make others aware of them.
Q. Are you non-partisan?
A. Yes, and no. I'm partisan in that I strongly favor progressive positions on issues. So the site will be partisan on that level as far as my positions go. I will likely praise or scorn politicians or their ideas from time to time no matter their party affiliation, though this will only be my opinion. I will for the large part keep my posts neutral as far as various interests, candidates, or factions , though I certainly retain the right to comment on any topic. Anyone is free to comment and argue and debate any post which appears. The main idea here is to provide all a chance to express their views, and I expect others will attempt to correct the errors of my ways should they disagree with me.
Q. Yeah, but who's behind this site Dope? What's your agenda?
A. I do not have any particular agenda, (other than that explained above) nor am I aligned with any particular candidate, party, faction, or issue group. I have no desire to become a candidate at any time, and am not trying to lay out some sort of personal platform, though I will express my personal views. By retaining my anonymity, it will reduce attempts to influence my opinion by threats, intimidation, offering favors, etc. (I say reduce, as all of these things and more have occurred) and allow me to remain free to express my opinions without risking the inevitable personalized conflict this might cause. This way, with any luck, the merits of a candidate, issue, or topic can be discussed without things devolving into personal attacks. This common tactic is used to attempt to change the focus from the issue at hand. While it's unfortunate, it's all too common. Don't like the message? Attack the messenger. By retaining my privacy, I hope to avoid this. (Update. What a dreamer I was when I wrote this. The attacks have been relentless, outrageous, and bizarre.)
Q. I'm a politician or rabid supporter of "Politician A". Can I use your blog to post endless B.S. attempts to over-hype them, exaggerate their supposed accomplishments, and make them out to be the second coming? Can I likewise post sickening lies, and distorted, dishonest attacks on their opponents and do the above hundreds of times?
A. If you think that would be proper, you're too clueless to comment on any blog. But needless to say, the answer is no.
If you support a candidate, you're free to post comments saying why or pointing to their accomplishments if it relates to the subject at hand. But this should not be done on nearly every topic or so often it becomes monotonous.
At my discretion, if such things occur or occur excessively, they'll simply be screened out and dumped. They have no place here, contribute nothing to anything and only serve as useless distractions from the actual matters at hand. Not only that, but it takes away from decent people who wish to discuss thing in a rational way. If you want to hype your candidate endlessly and exclusively, get your own website and do it, but it ain't happening here. This is NOT your personal playground. But I reserve the right to post some of such comments just to show others how ridiculous they can get.
Based on nearly a year's experience, comments in general should:
A. Have to do with the subject of the post for which it's left. Off-topic comments are subject to deletion. I realize that subjects often evolve in a thread of comments, so this won't be a hard and fast rule, but please try to stick to the subject. I'll try to provide open posts from time to time to allow comments which might not fit any particular post.
B. Avoid invented rumors which are not substantiated or supported by evidence. If you write in just to say so-and-so is a drunk, cheats at cards, smokes crack with terrorists, kicks his dog, and once violated the law by removing the tags from a mattress, it's not going to see the light of day.
C. Not attempt to pose as someone you're not. I call these "Penthouse Letters" comments as they all sound like, "I'm a student at a small Midwestern university...." This too will get your comment tossed.
In general, just state your honest opinions and don't be too big of a jerk and things should be fine.
NOTES ON E-MAIL vs. COMMENTS
COMMENTS are the place to express your views, observations, thoughts, or responses to anything you read in a post or to respond to a previous comment in the same thread.
E-MAIL in general is the way to contact me or for anything other than the above.
I'm often frustrated when people bring up a dispute or complaint in a comment which I'd dearly like to respond to, but it's impossible due to the fact that it would require a lengthy reply which isn't suited to the limitations of the comment area, and because it's unfair and a distraction to other readers to go off on an extended off-topic discussion with a reader there.
If anyone has a problem and wants to discuss or argue an issue with me personally, please do so by e-mail so we can discuss it. If warranted, I can summarize the results in a comment after we've discussed the issue by e-mail rather than using up about 3 feet worth of comment space hashing it out.
In general, SEND E-MAIL and DO NOT use the comment area when you want to:
- Contact me directly about anything at all. This is the way to reach me and 100% confidential.
- Discuss anything to do with comments. Perhaps you want a mistaken comment deleted or want to know why one got screened out? Drop me an e-mail.
- Report something on the blog you feel is in error. Bring it to my attention via e-mail so we can discuss it, determine the facts, and resolve the issue or make the correction.
- Send along information, or tips you feel might be of interest.
- Send along links or web site addresses which you feel would be of interest but which aren't related to any posts.
- Send announcements of fundraisers, meetings, or any event you feel may be of interest to readers.
- Report technical problems with the site or trouble viewing the page.
- Ask questions about the blog in general or get help with commenting or registering as a user.
ANYTHING IN THE ABOVE LIST SHOULD NOT BE POSTED IN COMMENTS, but sent by e-mail to email@example.com
***Readers (that's you) are also encouraged to write on any relevant topic or issue of particular interest to you or which is in your area of expertise. Feel free to submit your work for possible publication on the blog.
Submissions should be around 650 words or less. Don't be concerned if you're not an expert writer. We can patch things up. If you have any questions about this, contact me. This could be your launching point to being a celebrated writer. Give it a shot!
Q. Tell me Dope, will you retain the right to delete anonymous or off-topic posts as you see fit?
A. Yes. Thanks for asking. I've had to adopt a policy of moderating comments. This means that all comments are relayed to me from Blogger for approval before they're posted. This may account for a delay between the time you post a comment and the time it appears. Please try to avoid posting multiple times.
Q. Are my comments REALLY anonymous?
A. Absolutely, positively, beyond a doubt, yes. There is no possible way I could ever find out who leaves comments even if I had the desire to. Your comments are sent directly to Blogger.com and are posted to the site from there. I see what you see and nothing more.
A key to the success or failure of this little venture is the quality and quantity of comments left by readers. I strongly encourage anyone with something worthwhile to contribute to post your thoughts on anything you see on The Inside Dope. Speak your mind on the issue. Have a question about a topic or comment? Ask away. Have more to add to the topic or a prior comment? By all means, share it with us. It's all about the conversation and debate and building a community.
But I do have one request, and that is that you refrain from posting as "anonymous". Too many of these tends to water down the comments and makes it hard for people to respond to specific commenters.
So... when posting comments, please take the few minutes it requires to register with Blogspot and get a user name, or at the very least, spend one second to click the "Other" button and enter a name of your choice. If you use this option, it would be helpful if you stuck with the same name every time you posted so we can at least link the comments to a user name. This is not much to ask of readers, and I hope most will follow my suggestions. (Note: Apparently in this area, no one is capable of this simple request.)
Q. I'm afraid to contact you via e-mail. What about my anonymity in that case?
A. Again, I can assure you that your identity will never be revealed. If you contact me via e-mail, obviously, unless you chose to identify yourself, the only thing I'd know would be your e-mail address. This certainly doesn't provide enough to go on to identify anyone.
But if you're still concerned or wish to keep your "regular" address private, I suggest you sign up for any of the many free e-mail addresses such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or gmail. You can register with any name you want, and pick any address you can dream up.
You could try to send regular mail addressed to "The Dope", but it would be humiliating if it ended up being delivered to your house the next day.
I will never divulge anyone's e-mail address nor the identity of anyone who sends e-mail on the site without the owner's prior approval. I've never broken anyone's confidentiality and don't intend to. I value the trust of my contacts and it would be against my own interests to ever break that trust.
In addition to comments, the success of the site will largely depend on helpful readers sending along stories, tidbits, news, events, or anything else they feel might be worthwhile. This is crucial.
Reaching The Dope by e-mail is VERY SIMPLE. Just click on the red e-mail links in the right sidebar and your mail program should pop up a new message with my address and subject line already filled in and ready for you to type your message and send. If that doesn't work, simply copy "firstname.lastname@example.org" into the "To:" line of your mail program. Please don't hesitate to contact me. E-mail is the best way to contact me about anything which you wish to keep confidential or which wouldn't be suitable discussing via comments.
Q. Are all submissions to and on the blog property of the Inside Dope for publication and other purposes?
A. Funny you should ask that, but yes, all submissions in the form of comments or other submissions (other than e-mail) become property of The Inside Dope for publication or any other purposes. Such is the way of the blog.
Q. I found a spelling / grammatical / factual error on your site!
A. Crap!! The Dope lives in horror of inevitable spelling errors, and is so rotten at grammar that I probably can't even worry about it. But if you spot a glaring error, by all means contact The Dope, preferably by e-mail, so I can fix it as quickly as possible.
I will never knowingly post something that is false. But I depend heavily on readers to be my watchdogs on factual errors. If you spot one, please contact me quickly via e-mail explaining the error and providing a source and the reason I'm incorrect if possible. I'll gladly correct any proven errors that are brought to my attention. Pointing out errors in comments is not needed, as it is off-topic and I can't carry on correspondence with an individual on such matters in comments where it doesn't belong. Please use e-mail for any matters or complaints regarding the site itself. If I make a correction, I will acknowledge it on the blog.
Q. I've spent hours searching for tiny clues, chasing leads, barking up all kinds of trees, and wasted a lot of valuable time trying to figure it out. Now I know who you are!
A. No, you don't. It's a safe bet that if you think you know who The Dope is, you don't.
Q. You're that one guy!
A. No. I'm not. Sorry.
Q. Then you're someone else!
A. OK, I'll give you that. Yes.
Q. I'm the sort of person that can't stand not knowing who you are. I absolutely hate that I don't know every personal detail about you, because without a person to focus on, I can't tell how I should react to the site. I'm all about control and being judgmental based on who wrote something rather than what they wrote and can't function if I can't make things personal. I have a great need to put you in a nice, neat category. Why won't you just tell us who you are so I can feel better?
A. I'm sorry you feel that way. However, I'm not going to "go public" just to make people feel better. There are many pluses and minuses to being anonymous, but at this time, the pluses outweigh the minuses. This area is just a little too incestuous, catty, and unfortunately small-minded to allow a non-anonymous blogger to operate with any freedom or independence. It would quickly destroy what I hope the site has become. The Inside Dope wishes to be, and to remain, a blank slate and feels that this is best for the blog and will promote a freer exchange of ideas and opinion.
UPDATE: Since I first wrote this FAQ, my feelings on this have been confirmed a thousand times over, as I've been subjected to a truly shocking amount of threats, intimidation attempts, and various other attempts to either silence me or buy me off. I should add that these were mostly from just one party, though there have been several others who have been very vicious in their attacks and threats. I take this as confirmation that I must be doing something right.
Q. What's up with the tip jar thing?
A. The Dope doesn't want to be too pushy about this, but there are expenses involved with putting up The Inside Dope. If you appreciate the site and enjoy it, please consider dropping something in the tip jar. Any donations are greatly appreciated. I don't expect to profit from this site, and sincerely doubt that would be possible. But help in covering The Dopes' costs are welcome. Clicking on the tip jar will open up a window where you can easily make a donation via PayPal using your credit card or bank account. If you're not a member, signing up is easy. Transactions are handled completely by Paypal and needless to say, I don't get any personal information if you donate. It too, it a completely anonymous process.
I've not set any certain amount that people must give, so you can contribute any amount you like, from a buck to a few grand (hey, I can dream, can't I?). Every little bit helps.
A sincere thanks to those who have donated already. You're the best.
The more parsimonious among you (about 99.9999% of you judging by the number of donations) may find a good way to chip in without actually taking any money out of your apparently dust-filled pockets by clicking on the ads in the sidebar.
*UPDATE* You can now purchase Dope recommended books by clicking on the buttons in the sidebar and purchasing them through Amazon. This too, tosses a few (and I mean few) cents my way. It's much appreciated if, when making purchases through Amazon, you could do so through the links on the blog. Thanks!
Click on them and then hit your "back" button to go back to The Inside Dope, then do it some more. Do it A LOT. Every click gives a few pennies to the cause, and if enough people click, it can help. The ads have been up for around 6 months now and are rarely clicked on. They're bringing in an average of 12 cents a day. It would be nice to raise that a bit. Up on the blogtop, click, click, click.
Q. How many offspring are in a litter of armadillos?
A. Always five, and they're either all male, or all female.
Originally posted April 2005
Last updated February 6th, 2006