Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘stomp

I had this short conversation on #edsg about the change.org petition to get rid of Stomp. Depending on your browser, the conversation might appear in full or only my initial question might be visible. Click on this tweet link to read the dialogues in full.

There were at least two major responses by the owners of Stomp to netizens who rallied at change.org to stomp it out.

The first was MDA responds to anti-Stomp petition. If I could summarize via tweets or text messages, the responses might be:

  • I doubt the accuracy of change.org numbers, but I show you how many likes and visits we get for our site.
  • You want freedom of expression and we provide it at Stomp, but now you want it shut down.
  • Instead of shutting Stomp down, let us know how we might regulate it.

Stomp tries to be social media but it is not. It is anti-social media.

It thrives on the worst behaviours of social media and hides behind the veil of information via “citizenship journalism”. Behaviours like rumor mongering, taking narrow perspectives, and sensationalizing the trivial or the negative.

Admittedly, these same sorts of behaviours are also present in social media platforms. However, those platforms do not pretend to be actual news sites and are more open to critique and self-regulation.

The second response was Singapore Press Holdings to review STOMP following petition to close ‘public shaming’ site. The headline led with “a review”, but an editor-in-chief reportedly said, “I’m not forcing everyone to read it [STOMP]. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere.” The statement was dismissive of change.

Stomp is like a place of ill-repute that you know exists. While you can ignore it, you know it is still there festering and infecting. How can you not want to do something about it?

I think that the owners of Stomp are missing the point. It is not the freedom to share what you want or to choose what you read. The issue is a lack of respect.

Where is the respect for a person you photograph or video record and then bitch about in a public platform?

Where is the respect for the reader? The near unbridled sensationalism certainly draws attention, but it is ignoble to assume that this is all that matters or what sells.

I say we try to stomp Stomp (and its ilk) out of our collective psyche. If we cannot get rid of it because it is the spawn of a media powerhouse, we can dissuade people from using it. Better still, we can educate our kids to know and behave better than Stomp.

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The online Straits Times decided to feature something from My Paper (slow news day?) and in the Breaking News section no less.

The article? Kids’ errors posted online. A secondary school teacher posted “her students’ poor English usage in their assignments on her Facebook account.”

Of course people had a reaction to that. The article was careful to include the feedback from Stompers and MOE. And we know how, um, different those perspectives can be. (Several English lessons can be conducted on the article and their responses alone!)

My reaction is in the title of my entry, but I am not nonchalant about it.

There is nothing new about teachers doing this. Before Facebook there were blogs. Before blogs, there were personal Web sites and email. Before that teachers would compile these gems on paper.

The greater issue is why and how teachers do this. Are they doing this for a hearty laugh, privately I might add, among a community of practitioners? Are they also sharing these with students for the purpose of educating them instead of embarrassing them?

In either case, the paper medium used to restrict access to these gaffes. Blogs and Facebook are more public, hence the greater access and scrutiny. The public reacts to the published work but does not necessarily understand the teacher’s intentions.

Instead of reacting negatively to this event, I see this an opportunity to educate. Administrators and educators should not shy from Web 2.0 because it is an excellent platform for personal publishing and social networking. Informally it is also a platform for modelling values and practices.

In this case, how the teacher shared the examples is a key issue. If the examples were incriminating, then limit the posting to one or only an invited few. If the examples were educationally useful, then prepare them and the posting for public viewing. In the latter case, this could include clearly stating the intent, stripping the writing of all means of identifying the students, and maintaining a professional tone in the posting.

There may be a thin line in social media that divides when one is writing personally or professionally. But there is a line nonetheless. If you cross it, you deal with the circumstances.


News articles or Stomp entries like this crop up from time to time: Teachers blog and they get attention for the wrong reasons.

That is why I get my trainees to edu-blog. They are not only reflecting as they experience my course. Nor are they simply providing opportunities for informal learning and interaction. They must learn how to blog for teaching and learning, and they must learn how to blog responsibly when blogging as professionals.

A blog subject like “Things I hate about teaching” is bound to catch the eye and set tongues and fingers a-wagging. It was posted on around Teachers’ Day no less.

This blog entry by a teacher was featured by stomp, but I don’t know how many 1) bothered to read everything, 2) understood what a teacher might go through, 3) read the original source, and 4) realised that it was posted two years ago (based on the time stamp)!

From a teacher educator’s point of view, this makes me ask:

  • Did the teacher cross any lines? Just what are these lines?
  • How does edublogging differ from mainstream blogging? What are the trade offs?

Here’s my observation: At the moment, the 25 responses for the blog entry span two years and included comments from teachers from other countries. How’s that for engagement and impact?


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