Thursday, 28 November 2013

Blogger Revealed

It is time to reveal who it is behind the Worcester Park Blog keyboard. What better way to do this than via the medium of video...

Just to fill in any gaps, here is a set of FAQs...

How and why did you take over the blog?

Back while Andrew was still the blogger and I was one of its many readers, I saw the blog as a very readable and entertaining as well as extremely useful resource for finding out was what happening in and around Worcester Park. Like many people I noticed that after the Green Lane Mosque was rejected last year that the frequency of postings dropped right back.

I had met Andrew through various local community activities so I knew who he was and I had also sent him several stories and photos about things I had spotted going on. He had posted a couple of these, but in January of this year he went for several weeks without posting any stories, including some which I had sent him. So I went to see him to make sure nothing untoward had happened. This was when he informed me he was leaving Worcester Park. Obviously this meant the blog would just wither on the vine and stop. I half joked about buying it from him but didn’t really think I could do the same job Andrew had been doing.

However after thinking about it for several days I decided that making a go of it would be better than losing the blog altogether. So I went back and offered to take it over. Over the course of the next few weeks Andrew agreed that I should take it over, we worked out an agreement and I officially took control on the 16th of Feb 2013. Then there was about a week and a half when we both wrote articles but Andrew wrote his final hurrah on the 28th of February. Everything since then has been me.

Why reveal yourself now?

Many readers will be aware that my identity has not really been a great secret! Anyone has been able to look me up on various Whois sites, and both in July and also again a few weeks ago I invited all blog readers to a local pub and showed this very video. However because of a new development, I think it is important to now make it clear who I am.

I am also involved in local politics and I have just this week been selected by the Conservatives to stand for Sutton Council in next year’s elections representing Worcester Park. I want to continue to serve Worcester Park through this blog but it is not right or fair of me to be writing a blog and standing as a political candidate without clearly laying my political cards on the table. It is important that people are able to judge what I write with that background knowledge in mind.

Why have you written posts about yourself, 'Simon Densley' in the third person?

When I first took over I was very conscious of the fact that Andrew had done such a brilliant job for many years and I just wasn’t him.  So initially I kept the same level of anonymity so people wouldn’t just stop reading it. I wanted to spend some time proving I could keep the blog going so when readers did realise it wasn’t the same person writing it, they wouldn’t judge me merely as the new guy who wouldn’t be up to the job, but instead on the posts I had been writing that hopefully show that I am up to the job.

However, because I was also quite active in Worcester Park, there were things I was doing around the area that would be considered ‘local news’. So I decided to keep the two roles separate and occasionally write about myself as a separate person doing stuff in the local area. I must admit that I have grown to like this style of writing and prefer it to writing ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’.

Why do you sometimes write comments on posts as the Blogger and sometimes as Simon Densley?

It depends on the sort of comment I want to make. If I want to thank someone for something or say something pretty uncontroversial or provide some additional information I will comment as the blogger. However if I have something contentious or political to say or I want to pull someone into line for a comment they have made I will have the guts to do that under my own name. I don’t like the idea of ‘trolling’ and I don’t make comments using alias; being the blogger notwithstanding - which is obviously a bit of a special case.

What's Andrew, the original blogger doing now?

Andrew moved with his family down to Ashtead. Astute readers may have noted a few wry references to Ashtead and a blog being run down there. Andrew is now running Ashtead On Line, the Ashtead version of the blog. You might find the font he's used in the header a little familiar...

What happens after the election?

Of course I am hoping to represent Worcester Park on Sutton Council after next May’s election and if so, I want to ‘take readers with me’ as I find out what it is actually like to win a council seat and then to take on the responsibility that goes with that.

Of course representing Worcester Park on the council will have a lot of overlap with the work I have been doing running the blog anyway. It will be my official job to know what is going on in Worcester Park and to communicate with Worcester Parkers about local issues – so not much change there then.

However there will undoubtedly be some small changes to the blogging. In many cases I will have more inside information about issues. However it will also be necessary to keep people’s confidences when dealing with certain issues and as such I will not be able to ‘spill the beans’ on everything that goes on. However I can’t see that affecting the majority of stories.

I hope any changes would be generally positive and more akin to the blog growing and not a shift in style and content. Although I may also have to be a little more careful with any cynical or tongue in cheek humour...

The other positive thing is that via the blog I will be able to ask for people’s thoughts and opinions on various matters that I will be able to take back to council meetings. So if something controversial is being considered for Worcester Park, I will actually be able to ask people what they think and make sure the council is aware of this before a decision is made.

If you’re a Conservative, why isn’t the blog more political than it is?

I consider the Worcester Park Blog to be primarily a local service for the people of Worcester Park. I took it over in February with the intention of keeping it going in the same style and form with it continuing to serve the people of Worcester Park. At the end of the day most things that go on aren’t specifically political and I have tried to include items of a political nature only when they would be ‘news’ anyway.

In the small number of posts I have written with some political content I have tried to ensure that as well as being genuinely newsworthy in their own right, I have stated the facts and included other people’s opinions. I have also refrained from moderating comments which disagree with my own view.

Of course anything I write will naturally be from my own point of view and that means that certain posts will sound more ‘Daily Telegraph’ than ‘Guardian’ however  I like to explore issues and try to find out what’s really going on regardless of any political position. A good example would be the video I made of the squatters.

While at the end of the day I am free to write whatever I personally choose, I think it is important for the Worcester Park Blog to serve the whole Worcester Park community and I aim to continue running the blog in this way.

Have you gone back and edited any of Andrew’s original stories?

No, I have kept the historical stories exactly as they are apart from adding a clearly marked update to one post where new information was relevant to an older story. Other than that, all of the original posts are preserved exactly as Andrew left them. I felt that keeping the old posts unchanged was an important part of keeping the integrity of the blog.

Why do you think Andrew chose to sell it to you?

Andrew told me that he had already had other offers for the blog but that they had been from local businesses that just wanted to take advantage of the readership for commercial purposes and change how it was run without keeping the underlying ethos.

I think the fact that I was already doing local community work and had already sent him a few photos and stories to use he thought there was a chance I might keep it running in its existing form. When I offered to take it over from him I said that it was my intention to keep it running in the same style and format and for whatever reason he believed me. I hope I have stayed true to that goal!

How much money does the advertising make?

On average I make just over a pound a day from the ads. I can’t control what ads people see, everyone gets something different I think. Probably all down to what Google thinks you might personally be persuaded to purchase. However I can remove certain categories of advertising and to date I have removed a number of categories that I didn’t like or was getting complaints about.

Will you answer other questions posed here?

Yes – provided they are genuine questions and not just political point scoring (and I might even answer some of those too).

19 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Nichu said...

Thank you Andrew for a highly entertaining, informative blog that played a significant part in my choosing to come to live in Worcester Park. Good luck with the Ashtead blog - I'm quite jealous of the somewhat leafier photo at the top of the page!

Simon - it's been great seeing the frequent postings about all things Worcester Park. The tone is indeed very similar but I had my suspicions when the posting frequency ramped up. Keep up the good work.

Andrew said...

Thanks to you Andrew for your informative blog over the years which has certainly brought the community together, at least in a virtual world, and certainly kept our fingers on the pulse of local events and issues. Best of luck in yours and your family's new (ad)ventures.

And long may the blog continue to serve the community under your penmanship, Simon.

I did wonder how someone with a 9 to 5 could possibly be all over Worcester Park taking photos at any time of the day!

The reason for posting the Stephen Fenwick mickey take video has become a little clearer, however. How long before the banner turns from green to a familiar shade of blue?!

Not that gullible said...

Michael, in the interests of declaring political affiliations and the avoidance of duping blog readers, (which you expressly feel so strongly about), there's obviously something patently absent from your comment.
So perhaps you'd like to come clean about your own political affiliation? [Since it's obvious enough to any blog reading 'politically unbiased', 'normal voter', that you're not a 'politically unbiased', 'normal voter'].

Guest said...

I like the blog and as an adult I can ignore any political bias. Please don't stop as it provides informative information.

guest D said...

Michael, while Simon's revelation gives an immediate feeling of distaste, I sat back and thought about his posts as a blogger and as Simon.

As the Blogger he has posted articles, which in the main have been factual and where he has stated an opinion it is clear that it is opinion and has not followed the 'Mudrock' approach of mixing the two. Replies as the Blogger have been in the main to correct his errors or to reinforce 'the Blogs' position on matters such as Racism.

As Simon he has posted opinion and argument, allowing himself to escape his self imposed confines as the Blogger.

Every information source has a bias and as an intelligent adults we assess that in evaluating the information and hopefully turn to alternate sources to cross check it.

What will be interesting is how open the platform will be in the run in to May's elections?

Guest said...

Thank you Andrew for setting up and running the blog and thank you Simon for taking over. As an adult I can make my own mind up. Please continue providing the informaton.

hrtless said...

I love the irony in the last statement above.....

'Will you answer other questions posed here?
Yes – provided they are genuine questions and not just political point scoring...'

Anyone remember the Councillor Stephen Fenwick video posting?

Shame, I enjoy this blog. However, whether bias or not, anything remotely political posted on here (in my opinion), will always be tainted. This is regardless of which political party the blogger is seeking to represent.

cloverbitz said...

thanks for posting this. i have enjoyed reading and would like to read more. can't wait to see what else you have. keep posting!


Stop Hatred said...

It's a shame that this blog is now a political tool. In retrospect there was a clear shift earlier this year when the blog started fueling hatred, rabble-rousing and pandering to the lowest common denominator. Unashamed and typical Tory nastiness and the whole tone of the blog shifted as the blog became littered with xenophobia, ignorance and implicit and often outwardly explicit racism. The Fenwick pettiness confirmed the nastiness and biased nature of the Tory propaganda.

I would like to thank Andrew for all his fantastic work, and the blog really became required reading as a humorous, tongue-in-cheek, yet informative and well-written look at suburban life. It's such a shame to see what it evolved to in the last year, giving a voice and encouraging the basest elements.

Not that gullible said...

Michael, within your protests of overt political bias and agenda, your own covert political bias and agenda is obvious to everyone - so don't bother with your whining, because you're kidding nobody. And you can drop the ridiculous fantasies about being at random places in the political spectrum as well.

Very few of us are naïve enough to be duped by you, so you're gaining nothing by whinging and continuing to pretend your explicitly political agenda is 'invisible'. If you continue, you're likely to only succeed only in annoying readers with more intelligence than you think they have.

Most blog readers recognise that very few of us have the time and commitment to run a blog - and we're very grateful for those that have pursued this. Readers use the WP Blog as an information source and can ignore the political angles if we want - exactly the same as we do with the local Guardian or any other media source. Kindly shut your miserable political cake hole.

guest D said...

Mr Gullible,

Michael's political affiliations having nothing to do with this. Simon as the Blogger posted an article that was strongly political. I personally think it was because he got carried away with the heat of the moment and didn't intend to dupe his readership. Micheal thinks otherwise.

Michael's or my political viewpoint have nothing to do with Simon's actions, if you think so perhaps you would like to explain how.

Michael said...

There is no 'overt political bias and agenda' on my part. I am merely expressing annoyance at the fact that Simon was using the blog in a covert way to perhaps gain political advantage as others had also stated. You seem to find this practice perfectly acceptable.

You will be pleased that this will be the last I say on this, however can you answer the question below.

"Kindly shut your miserable political cake hole" was this directed at Simon? ...or 'overtly politically biasedly agendered' just at me?

Simon Densley (Consv Activist) said...

Dear “Stop Hatred”

Here are several posts that prove you are wrong:

They include a few positive posts about people from various nationalities and a quote from the Minister at St John the Baptist Parish Church Malden who in June wrote:
”The owner of the Worcester Park Blog has made it clear that he is appalled by racist behaviour and comment.”

So how is it that you seem to have got the wrong end of the stick?

Andrew said...

Furthermore, perhaps the WP Blog's main instigator/antagonist (not that gullible) would like to stop hiding behind his/her vaguely ironic moniker's and add some substance to his/her words? They seem to have a lot to say (or rather disagree with), but fail to take any responsibility for their posts by using veiled anonymity. I don't think I can be the only person to recognise their blunt (borderline rude) comments about other contributors on here across various topics recently.

On the subject of Simon being the sole controller/contributor to the blog, I don't think he can promise that the blog will remain absolutely impartial due to his membership/representation of a political party. I very much doubt he would wish to or be able to speak openly against his party's policies/activities, and therefore I don't see how he can ever promise to remain absolutely impartial. Fortunately his party does not have much involvement in the decision making in Worcester Park at present so there is not much of a conflict however if that changes then it would be a different story.

As for being informative, hard working and engaging discussion about local issues, I don't think there can be any argument that he is and has been doing a good job.

Andrew (the former WP Blogger) said...

Given that Simon has posted links to numerous articles which show multiculturalism being embraced by this blog, I assume that 'Stop Hatred' will respond by showing us some blog posts which back up his assertion that the blog has become 'littered' with 'xenophobia', 'ignorance' and 'racism', as I can't seem to find them?

Andrew (the former WP Blogger) said...

Firstly can I thank all those who, in response to this blog post, have thanked me for creating and keeping the Worcester Park Blog going for so many years. Your gratitude and kind sentiment is humbling and greatly appreciated.

To those of you who have expressed disappointment that the Worcester Park Blog is now 'biased', I should point out that it was never anything but biased. Nobody - unless devoid of opinion or insight - is truly independent.

Everything I wrote, from my first blog posting in 2008 to my last in 2013, was written with my own bias.

Indeed I received many an email asking my 'what gave me the right to publish my opinions in this way'. I recall I normally replied citing free speech and inviting anybody who disliked reading my opinion either to stop reading, post their own opiniong in response, or set up their own blog and fill that their with own opinion.

For 5 years, the blog was filled with my own bias. The difference was, that my bias was undeclared.

Simon's bias is overt, and declared. You all now know that he is standing as a candidate for the Conservative Party, and can all now read the blog posts in that context and with that understanding.

So your situation has immeasurably improved, has it not?

Then there is the issue of what would have happened to the Worcester Park Blog had Simon not stepped in. Writing the Blog takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. As fun as it is, it demands constant input and attention.

As regular (and also constipated) blog readers will have noticed, in the months leading up to Simon taking over the blog in March this year, I was unable to put anything like the time required to keep the blog active and frequently updated.

Selling the blog to a commercial interest, who was interested only in cashing in on the high level of concentrated local traffic to the site, was one option. It would have meant instant cash in my pocket, and the slow (or perhaps switft) death of the blog as a community platform.

By passing the baton on to Simon, the future of the Worcester Park Blog has been assured. Without his daily input and hard work into keeping this blog going, it would have died a sad death and no longer would there be such an engaging and informative way of bringing together the community and keeping them informed on what is happening in their local community.

Having assumed all along that my decision to leave Worcester Park would mean the end of the Worcester Park Blog, to see it grow and flourish under Simon's penmanship is a true joy.

Becoming a local government Councillor is a demanding commitment. Only those who really care about their local community, who really care about local people and who are prepared to put in hours and hours of hard work, without recompense or other reward should apply.

I have seen those qualities in Simon in his tenure as Worcester Park Blogger. I look forward to seeing those in action further on his election as local Councillor - albeit from a distance.

I signed off my last posting as blogger by saying 'Long live the Worcester Park Blog'. I leave you with exactly those sentiments.

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

I would like to say ... every newspaper you read has a political bias ....all of them. If you you do not want to hear centre right politics in your area do not read this blog OR read the lib dem controlled blog .... OR read both and as an adult make your mind up. Simples!

Stewart Consv Mackay said...

Who is to say that the volunteer you keep quoting does not have a political affiliation??... I am also fairly sure that Cllr Stephen Fenwick is well aware that the local conservative action team want to win the next election...

Steve said...

Sounds like an attempt to boost one's standing (in an otherwise generally hopeless campaign - the Tories having been all but wiped out from Sutton council quite some time ago) by running on an 'I'm the Worcester Park blogger' campaign.
I suspected as much after article after article reporting on the improvements to the High Street referred to the 'money from Boris' - last time I checked the GLA consisted of 25 people (the Conservatives being a minority).

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