Thursday, March 22, 2012

Evil Doug

I frequent another blog, Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, which I have written about here previously. I go there daily to read Rex's (Michael Sharp's) write-up of the puzzle which is always educational and entertaining, and to read the comments, often 100 or more, of the other denizens of "Rexville", as the on-line community has been dubbed. Prominent among those commenters is one who calls himself "Evil Doug".

Evil Doug (real name Doug Wolff) is a retired commercial airline pilot who appears to be intelligent, articulate, and very opinionated. His comments on the blog are often funny, insightful and original. When he limits his remarks to the puzzle they are almost always entertaining and some times enlightening. As I said, Evil Doug is a smart guy. But there's a problem, at least for me - he seldom limits his remarks to the puzzle.

As I said, ED (if I may abbreviate) has some very strongly held opinions and he feels free to express them while commenting on Rex's blog. This, in and of itself, might be OK as members of Rexville often express their point of view regarding issues that come up in the context of discussion of the puzzle, but ED takes it a step further. He monitors the on-going discussion and immediately jumps in to respond to any comment that takes issue with his expressed point of view. From my perspective as a "syndicated solver" reading the comments five weeks after they were posted, ED looks like the blog bully, replying to every comment that challenges his opinion or offers another point of view. He seems to need to be "right" in every argument (even though in most instances he is the only one "arguing"). And like most bullies, it is not beneath him to resort to stereotypes and questionable generalizations to make his point - ED, it seems, does not like people who think differently that he does.

Rexville used to be a place where all comments were welcome and diversity of opinion was the cornerstone of its success. Evil Doug has changed that by trying to impose his point of view as the dominant standard for comments on the blog, and none that dispute his stated point of view are left unchallenged. I should point out here that ED is able to conduct his cyber-bullying only because Rex recently abdicated his oversight of the comments section, which has unwritten rules that if enforced would prevent ED's abuse.

I've identified a problem, at least for me, so I feel obligated to offer a solution and here it is: Evil Doug should start his own blog where he can freely express is own point of view and thoroughly excoriate any who disagree with him. Doug is a talented and entertaining writer and I'll bet he would have a lot of followers - I might even be one of them. And he could denigrate posters who disagree with him to his heart's content because it's his blog! He gets to be his evil, entertaining self and Rex Parker's blog can go back to discussing the NYT crossword puzzle without worrying about the bully lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on any objectionable (to ED) comment.

I suspect that some who visit here occasionally will know what I am talking about - feel free to agree or disagree, I welcome your comments.


  1. Shortly after I posted this piece I had some thoughts that helped put the issue in a slightly different perspective. Since I live with three dogs it's easy for me to think in terms of "pack behavior", which sometimes affects us humans too. If one views the commenters in Rexville from that perspective I think examples of pack behavior abound, and lately the pack seems to have been without an Alpha member to control behavior within the pack. Rex, as I mentioned, seems to have stepped away from the comments section and it would be easy to regard ED's recent behavior as an attempt to elevate himself to the Alpha status. That would explain a lot.

    Who was it that said, "The more I know about man the more I like my dog"?

  2. Here's an update on the saga of ED: Evil Dick