Monday’s Guardian carries an interesting piece by James Silver about flaming, ‘where hostile messages about writers are posted on forums or blogs”.
For those unaware of this new phenomenon, Silver explains that this is feedback from readers that is ‘instant, ubiquitous, and sometimes downright unpleasant – with some comment threads on the web quickly turning into a feeding frenzy”.
He cites examples involving writers Emily Gould of the New York Times Magazine and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown of The Independent.
But strangely he makes no mention of the most famous recent example of a British writer being flamed into silence – Max Gogarty and his unfortunate gap year travel blog that appeared â€¦ on The Guardian’s website
For those with short memories, last February the Guardian unveiled Gogarty under the headline ‘Max, 19, hits the road’and this standfirst: ‘Meet Max Gogarty, 19, from north London, spends his money on food, booze and skinny jeans, writes for Skins in his spare time. He’s off to India and Thailand to have a good time, and you can join him in his weekly blog.”
Sadly, the blog lasted just one day, perhaps chiefly because the Guardian upset its senstive readers by forgetting to mention that Max is the son of Paul Gogarty, whose byline is seen frequently on the paper’s travel pages.
Accusations of nepotism featured often among the 10 pages of readers’ comments that appeared before the thread was closed within 24 hours of Max making his debut as a Guardian blogger.
For some reason readers failed to warm to Max’s prose, including gems such as: ‘I’m kinda shitting myself about travelling”, ‘I’ll do my best to tell of the debauched beach parties’and ‘every one I’ve spoken to is making no secret of the fact that Thailand should be pretty damn decadent”.
The flamers reacted instantly with comments such as: ‘who’s [sic] son is max then? terrible terrible terrible, shame on you guardian”; ‘the cynic in me is asking, how come Max has managed to get his own blog to write about the same thing that thousands do each year?”; ‘Oh Christ, this guy’s going to get an absolute hammering”; ‘Great to see nepotism is alive and well’and ‘This must be a joke. This guy is going to be torn to shreds. Either someone is very naive or it is pure genius – the blog and resulting comments has the potential to be one of the most amusing things on the web.”
And indeed that is what it became, and there are still two Facebook groups honouring Max’s brief but never-to-be-forgotten blog.
Twelve months on, surely it’s time the Guardian told us what became of poor Max.