Monday, Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog posted its latest 1 in their “Summer of Disappointment” series, where fans of each team write up a post going over the most disappointing aspects of their beloved team – seasons, coaches, uniform choices – that type of thing. Greg Wyshynski, editor and founder of Puck Daddy sent out a request on Twitter to get someone from each team for a then-unnamed project.
Summer project time! If you’re a team-centric blogger or fan that can bring the funny in Aug. on guest posts, email firstname.lastname@example.org
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 24, 2014
I didn’t apply, mainly because there were two guys who were better suited for the project than I was, and they run a certain website. And, well, they were interested:
So that was that. I really expected the boys to get the gig, whatever it was. So when we got the Carolina Hurricanes “Summer of Disappointment” post, I realized 1) that was the “project”, and 2) 328 wasn’t doing it, otherwise we would have heard about it already. I read it anyway, because things like this are always good for discussion, and during the offseason, any Canes article is a good article, right?
Yeah, about that. It’s not that it was written poorly with lots of typos or had incorrect facts or anything like that. It was just incredibly underwhelming. Parts that tried to be funny missed the mark, and other areas just came off as flat out bitter and angry for some reason.
Karmanos made a stink about the poor attendance, stating he’d move the team if they didn’t sell a certain amount of tickets sold.
Which they did. He still moved the team anyway to a city where few cared about hockey until the Hurricanes made the playoffs.
They then lost half their fans because they sucked, got some back when they stopped sucking and won the Cup. And then like the viciousness that it is, they started the cycle all over again.
But I digress. Most Disappointing Moment goes to Karmanos announcing he would move the team, a day that lives in both Whalers and Hurricanes infamy.
This post isn’t about “correcting” the Puck Daddy post or showing you what that post “should” have been.3 It’s more to explain what pissed me off the most about it, and why I think there’s been such a negative backlash towards the post.
There are 18 bazillion bloggers4 on the Internet, and almost every single one of them want you to read their posts. The goal of the blogger – especially a sports blogger – is to attract a bigger and bigger audience. It’s not to make money – anyone who starts (or joins) a blog with the sole intent of making money should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque. Bloggers work for visits and views; pagehits are our crack5.
Debra Bree, the hand-picked author of the Canes Puck Daddy post, is not one of those people. Skimming through her Twitter feed, there’s no links to blog posts, Tumblr posts, or a link to anything in her bio. I thought maybe I was missing something, so I asked Wyshynski if I was. I wasn’t.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 19, 2014
Here’s the thing. If pagehits are blogger crack, Wyshynski is Avon Barksdale6. Puck Daddy is the #1 viewed hockey blog on the Internet. Even the slightest exposure can blow up a website. For example, back on July 9th, Puck Daddy posted one of their “Puck Headlines” posts which compiles posts from both hockey blogs and traditional media. One of the links in the compilation was a post Section328.com put up the day before where Mike and Doc debated whether the Canes would make the playoffs. Normally, when a new post goes up, you see a surge in hits from regular readers, helped along with plugs on various social media outlets by the site and the author. The following day, without the plugging (who keeps talking about their posts the following day?7) and the newness, the dropoff is dramatic – usually around 90%. With the exposure from Puck Daddy, instead of a 90% drop, the post had a nearly 50% increase in hits, despite the Puck Daddy post going out in the afternoon. So figure at least a 140% increase in visitors to the website, just for one link and nine words in the middle of a bunch of other links about other teams.
Now imagine – instead of one link and nine words, an entire post dedicated to your writing and your blog, seen by one of the largest hockey audiences on the Internet. That’s “the rub” – an opportunity to take your audience to the next level, to be on the “big stage”, so to speak.
Then take that – that rub, that golden ticket – and give it to someone who has no use for it, or at least wasn’t ready for it. If you were someone who wrote for a site that would have had a use for that rub (or a fan of a site that you’d like to see get it), you’d be pissed too.
Wyshynski mentioned to me that Puck Daddy was a site that “promotes new voices”, and that’s a great sentiment, but he also has to realize what effect that has. Within hours of the post going live, Bree made her Twitter account private, despite listing it in the post, likely as a result of negative criticism she was receiving. In an attempt to “promote a new voice”, Puck Daddy took one that wasn’t ready, and potentially ran her off from ever doing something like that again. 8
Potential blogger jealousy aside, another reason for the vitriol is embarrassment. The Canes fanbase has long been sensitive about how they’re perceived and feel they’re often disrespected by mainstream media and fans from older and more established teams. So, can we be surprised that they’re upset when other teams are represented by major team blogs from SBNation, yet their team gets represented in the national spotlight by a first time writer? That’s the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and your country is represented by Ralph Wiggum with a flagpole up his nose.
Last thing, then I’ll shut up about this. Replying to some criticism towards Puck Daddy (and himself) about the quality of the post, Wyshynski countered with a “don’t shoot the messenger” defense:
It might be weak sauce, but as he should know (Wyshynski has years of experience as an editor in traditional media), as an editor, everything that is posted is your responsibility, whether it be typos, factual inaccuracy, or just plain lack of quality9. The “Summer of Disappointment” series has no set deadline (I’d assume “before it’s fall”), so it’s not like something had to be posted yesterday by 1PM and that’s all they had so screw it let’s run it anyway. Plus, the SoD posts are (mostly) guest posts10, so they get emailed to Puck Daddy, where they’re then posted, meaning someone (either Wyshynski or another editor/approver) had to sign off on it before it got posted. Puck Daddy isn’t the messenger here – it’s the product. If you get a burger with a rotten tomato on it, you complain to the restaurant, not the tomato grower, because it was their responsibility to give you something up to their standards. If the restaurant blames the tomato grower, then maybe you adjust your view of the standards of the restaurant accordingly.