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Last post ?

November 18th, 2004

Chris Sheil has announced that Back Pages is closing down, after exactly one year. Chris is taking six months off to write a book, which raises the prospect that he may return to the scene at some future date. Chris has a lengthy farewell, but isn’t taking comments, so I’ll be glad to host any appreciations here (critical comments aren’t precluded, but I’ll be ruthless in enforcing the norms of civilised discussion, which include respect for the recently departed). Chris also offers a lot of useful advice for bloggers.

I haven’t had time to formulate my own thoughts, but I’ll try to write something later.

In the meantime, this is as good an opportunity as any to note that Chris’s blog and this one were joint winners, with Surfdom and Troppo of Lord Sedgwick’s award for blog which consistently attracts the best comments. So you can all give yourselves a pat on the back.

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  1. November 18th, 2004 at 15:13 | #1

    I just like to thank Chris both for giving us the benefits of his own insight, and providing an excellent forum for some usually well-informed and insightful commentary. I wish him every success with his book and hope he has time to come back to blogging in the future.

  2. November 18th, 2004 at 15:19 | #2

    I would like to wish Chris well. I enjoyed his football reports although I am a rugby league man myself (the workingmans game) and union is too intellectual for me (actually I started with Aussi rules, so it was all a mystery at first, what is all this crap about offside?).

    I would recommend that people read the account that Chris gave of the compatabilities and incompatibilities of blogging with other activities, also his insights into the disciplines and opportunities of blogging compared with other forms of discourse.

  3. Guido
    November 18th, 2004 at 15:40 | #3

    BP was the blog that made me survive the elections. The comments after the results was definetely the only ray of light out of the gloom.

    I wish Chris well and please….come back by 2007!

  4. Mark Bahnisch
    November 18th, 2004 at 16:44 | #4

    I’m sad to see Chris go as well – he was always very well worth reading and Backpages had a very comfortable feel about it as a place to hang out. And I am pretty sure his was the first blog I ever posted a comment on.

    Maybe I’m about to induct myself into the Troppo faux centrist hall of fame as well, but I feel at some point – maybe about halfway through the series of Fear and Loathing posts during the election, the feel and tone changed at Backpages – a bit more of a Latho cheer squad than I’d have liked – and some of the commenters were resistant to any criticism of Latho and Labor. That’s not Chris’ fault, of course, and I’d be the first to acknowledge – with Guido – that having the virtual community at his place to visit in an election campaign which dragged a lot of us into a higher level of emotional commitment than perhaps we’d anticipated was a very good thing. Chico noted at Troppo that BP recently experienced trying times is a good one as well – the constant RWDB crud that marred the comment threads for the last few weeks, and to be honest, some pretty cruddy LWDB responses from a minority – must have frustrated and annoyed Chris.

    I also got the sense a couple of times that Chris wasn’t absolutely happy about the huge commenterariat that BP finally attracted – at times he seemed to look back fondly on the days when it was a fairly small crew who’d post longer analytical posts, knew each other quite well, and I agree with Chris that comments threads with 100+ comments on them get fairly hard to follow.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon – the ‘feel’ of the virtual group dynamic (and the way it shifts) at BP or any other long term blog would in itself be well worth analysing – I suspect there’s a thesis topic in there for some pioneering social psych postgrad.

    I had a bit of a feeling this was coming, but as with all goodbyes, I’m still very sad that the moment has arrived to say farewell.

    Chris, if you’re reading, take care, and good luck with the book, mate, and thanks for all the good times.

  5. James Farrell
    November 18th, 2004 at 19:38 | #5

    Chris’s writing is enjoyable anywhere, but I preferred him as an Armadillo. The posts at BP were stimulating, but the comments threads were not worth wading through (for slow readers). The mixture of left and faux centrist at TA deters groupthink and mindless barracking. But there is no single formula for an intellectually satisfying blog. I voted against JQ going group (did we vote on that, or was it just a passing threat?) and would do so again.

  6. November 19th, 2004 at 06:41 | #6

    Surely this blog attracts the best comments. Who could take someone called Lord Sedgewick seriously anyway? call for the Third Umpire!

    On another issue, I am not happy with the comment in the masthead that the Right is scared stiff of Quiggin. I think John is a big huggy bear of a man, but then I dont think of myself as Right.

  7. Homer Paxton
    November 19th, 2004 at 07:11 | #7

    Rafe, the only working man’s sport is football the greatest export from Victorian England!

    I would urge CS that his talents are in conducting a blog rather than writing books!

    Mark,
    I think your comments on the election are close to the money however it seemed to me the mood changed in the last week when it was obvious the ALP couldn’t win.
    Before that however the election blog was sheer fun and insightful.
    It was a must read and I hope will be in the next election.

  8. Naomi
    November 23rd, 2004 at 10:52 | #8

    I too will miss Backpages! Chris did a valiant job. The extended comments proved that it was becoming a victim of its own success – I was really honoured that Chris kept dropping in and reading even the longest!

    Good luck writing Chris.

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