To assemble the Daily News Round-ups on Howard Forums I’ve got a lot of tech blogs loaded into my RSS reader. As of this morning, The Verge is no longer among them.
At one point I was a faithful listener of The Verge’s Mobile Podcast. Even back then I could see signs of trouble, with surprisingly dismissive jokes about Google+ and its large community of Android users calling them out on their increasingly apparent pro-Apple bias. It’s now at the point where I think The Verge has become toxic to Android and Apple fans alike.
Strike One: Turning Off Comments
Anyone who has ever run a blog has likely been trolled at some point, and sometimes a knee-jerk and/or unfortunately-worded remark can really get under your skin. But for me discussion is so intrinsic to blogging that I consider any post without a comment a failure of sorts.
That’s why I was so surprised to see The Verge turn off comments altogether this past summer:
What we’ve found lately is that the tone of our comments (and some of our commenters) is getting a little too aggressive and negative […] It’s hard for us to do our best work in that environment, and it’s even harder for our staff to hang out with our audience and build the relationships that led to us having a great community in the first place.
Hmm… Seems to me that if comments from your readers are so overwhelmingly negative then maybe you’re the problem, not them. In case you were wondering, I’ve got some evidence to support this.
Strike Two: Clickbait
Shortly after the new iPhones made their début last month, The Verge posted a piece called “The Apple bias is real“. Readers—particularly Apple fans—might have rightfully expected a scoop about some nefarious force standing in the way between Apple and their customers, or perhaps an intensely personal account of how an innocent iPhone owner was attacked by a gang of roving Fandroids. Instead, this:
The iPhone is the favored tech product of a vast swathe of our planet’s population, serving both utilitarian and aspirational purposes. It is the catalyst for and sole supporter of entire ancillary industries. It is the nexus where communication and commerce blend most easily, and it is the surest harbinger of the future that is to come. Any review that doesn’t account for all of these factors might be considered technically objective and ubiased [sic], but it would also be frightfully uninformative. Assessing an iPhone against a blank canvas is akin to describing Notre Dame or Sagrada Família as old, large, religious buildings.
Ok, I see what was done there with “nexus”, but seriously… What the actual fuck is this person talking about?
They go on to say that Samsung and Huawei basically don’t matter, conveniently ignoring that (1) Samsung sells significantly more phones than Apple, and (2) the vast majority of smartphones on this planet currently run Android. These are facts, and to summarily dismiss them is just bad journalism.
Strike Three: More Clickbait
Yesterday saw some more dreck by the same author—this one with the catchy title “Google’s Nexus phones are just ads“, obviously concocted to enrage fans of the Android platform. So what Apple-biased insight greets the reader within? Try this on for size:
For their meager sales each year, Nexus phones are disproportionately influential. This is the result of a positive loop between Google’s high profile eliciting in-depth coverage (such as this very article) of the Nexus devices, which in turn — by being cheaper or purer than the rest — improve Google’s standing among smartphone buyers. Every time there’s been an antihero in mobile, Google has sought to throw up a Nexus against it. That’s often come at the expense of Google’s own Android partners, who are made to look foolish and sluggish by comparison. I don’t think that’s fair or particularly healthy for the Android ecosystem as a whole.
Cool story, and not really reflective of your title, by the way—but I’ve already clicked over to your site, so mission accomplished, right?
Hopefully I’ve made my case for why I think The Verge is no longer a credible source for news or opinion. Their videos are still fairly slick, though, so I might continue to embed those where appropriate.
If you disagree let’s discuss. Unlike The Verge, comments are welcome here!