The Denton Doctrine, or, what to do when John Gruber is an asshole
To sum up: the new HP Spectre One all-in-one PCs are heavily influenced by Apple design. Influential bloggers Marco Arment and John Gruber openly accuse The Verge of pussy-footing around discussion of design similarities because of fear of reprisal from HP or fear of angering commenters, respectively. The Verge Editor-In-Chief Joshua Topolsky rebuffs their accusations, then is pilloried in his own comments for being too sensitive.
Many years ago, when I first started working for Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, I found myself being angered by something someone wrote or said about my work. I don't recall what. (It doesn't take much.)
Or maybe we were discussing someone else's public flame out. I don't remember. But I do remember what Denton–the internet's William Randolph Hearst , and someone who has fired off his fair share of dirty accusations–said one should do when the yellow, crooked finger points one's way:
“Just shut up.”
That's it. It doesn't feel good. It goes against instinct and causes the ego to howl and run its tin cup across the bars of its cage. But most of the time, it's not only the most prudent option immediately, it's the option that results in the least repercussion and anxiety over time. People will forget. Sangfroid will outpace schadenfreude. Snipers hiding in the bush will have a target-lean environment and will move to happier hunting grounds. You will seethe and your teeth will wear to powder, but you'll eventually be happier you kept your mouth shut.
(The internet has also inculcated this wisdom as “Don't feed the trolls.”)
It sucks to have to do this, no matter how right or righteous you feel. (It also feels wonderful to ignore this doctrine, even as the sting of blowback is a constant reminder of the wisdom of silence.)
As an admirer and near-daily reader of Marco and Gruber's blogs, I am always disappointed when I see them set up a rhetorical trap for professional journalists like Topolsky and the Verge team: civil criticism can be tempered with generosity and inquiry. It is extraordinarily easy to presume the motivation and machinations of an entire industry–tech journalism, in this case–from the hazy distance being a lone pundit provides.
In the anastomosis of media that blogging and internet publishing has provided, tipping both streams into the swamp in which we're all croaking today, it's not fair for Marco or Gruber to flick their tongues against the work of publications like The Verge and to feign surprise when Topolsky gets upset. It's a mean trick, a bad look. (And to be fair, Marco and Gruber have not gloated publicly over Josh's post this morning–I'm irked largely by the tenor of the comments telling Topolsky what The Verge should or shouldn't have done–but you can infer a lot by previous tone.)
I hope for better from those I admire. And I find the cake-and-eating-it-too criticism from Marco and Gruber, who have the luxury of being respected tech journalists or plebeian pundits at their leisure, to be wearisome. But even if those two mellow out, Topolsky & Co. can expect similar slag to be levied again, and the Denton Doctrine–bitter as it may taste, I know all too well–is currently the best policy those who work in public can follow.
 Except he loves marijuana.