07/31/09 248 W - + 17 - 13 Chief Clack Clicks Off

As covered by Firegeezer last week, Baltimore's Fire Chief Jim Clack posted his last posting on the Watch Desk. He'd been a participant for about a year, reading and posting some 500 times (!) to the Baltimore City forum. He started posting about the same time he started as Fire Chief, and on a discussion board both busier and tougher than the North Carolina forums. (Our Raleigh-Durham forum is a comparative field of friendly crickets. And the issues facing our fire departments are nothing like those up there.)

Why did he leave? Chief Clack cites anonymous posters, and their ability to "rude, obnoxious, defamatory and even openly racist." And the resulting impressions upon readers of the Baltimore Fire Department. (He posted his note on the same day that Dave Statter co-presented an expo session on the subject of social media and fire department reputations. More on that later, hopefully.)

Chief Clack notes that as an alternate, he'll be posting on the IAFF Local 964 forum. That one's moderated and has a code of conduct. Stepping back, what conclusions can/should we draw about discussion boards and anonymous postings? Regionally, or nationally. Can proverbial kitchens get too hot, even for veteran fire chiefs? Or do they take downward and irrevocable spirals when things get (anonymously) ugly? Firefighters play rough, and it should be no surprise that their digital selves are equally or even rougher. Do we need thicker skins online? Better manners? What do readers think?

I feel people who post and do not ID themselves are obviously in one of two categories: (1) they do not know what they are talking about or (2) they just want to stir the pot. Maybe they are in both.

In my opinion, blogs and forums are for learning and not about promoting ourselves or casting stones. They (blogs) are a wonderful tool for sharing ideas and opinions for the benefit of all readers. It’s a “good thing” if firefighters will abide by the simple rules of courtesy and respect. People are more apt to recognize honesty and humility as leadership traits rather than arrogance. Are you confident in yourself? If so, then you can discuss a heated topic, take it on the chin as needed, and yet still be a professional in the midst of peers. We (the fire service) have a lot to be proud of without promoting our selfish stupidity on blogs.
A.Rich - 07/31/09 - 14:38

I will agree with AC except that to me the blogs can also be a person’s own bully pulpit. Mike maintains one here for the sharing of news and ideas. Unfortunately, as has always been the case, there are many who have a hard time with different ideas. I think it is great that Mike does provide this forum, I just wish we could all use it more without some of the childish bickering that occurs. For the record, the people here that have these ‘coded screen names’- I pay them no mind at all. Like CPT AC says, they either do not know what they are talking about, are trying to stir the pot, or both.

Now, I maintain one that is for my ramblings, my opinions, etc. I am not beyond discussions, but it is my blog. And I do moderate it, since there have been a couple of “anal openings” that have tried to post some pretty crude stuff. I have only begun to explore some of the blogs out there, and I have been amazed at the quality of infromation that is out there. I am probably getting ready to add another blog that focuses just on EMS stuff, how to’s, tips, tricks, etc. Probably coming out sometime this fall.

I think that the blogs and forums have a tremendous learning potential, we just have to put it to use.
DJ (Email) - 07/31/09 - 17:32

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