Shocklog: Introducing the term to the world

On: October 12, 2006
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About Twan Eikelenboom
One of the first Masters of Media to crawl upon this blog (2006/2007)! Still following (and at times contributing) to this great project. Working at Dutch sectorinstitute for e-culture Virtueel Platform. Special interest in stories resulting from new media product use (think: sat nav gone wrong) and independent gaming. Also blogging at http://newmw.wordpress.com

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shockTo our surprise the term shocklog, a wellknown term in the Netherlands, was nowhere to be found on the rest of the World Wide Web. We wanted that to change, so we -The Masters of Media- coined the term on a new English Wikipedia entry. So what are those infamous shocklogs about?
A shocklog is a weblog that usually contains controversial, critical, surprising and/or appalling content. Below is our initial entry, but of course the discussion rages on at Wikipedia.

Shocklogs are weblogs that use shock and slander to sling mud at current affairs, public individuals, institutions and so on. Authors of shocklogs usually comment on an item in a very provoking and insulting way, often resulting in even more seriously offensive comments, such as threats of rape and murder.

Occasionally shocklogs will incite the reader to undertake some (online) action, usually in the nature to harass or harm a specific target. The shocklog has a close relation to the static shock sites. The popularity of shocklogs make it interesting for advertisers and therefore these sites become forced to provide shocking material, sometimes leading to harassments and false accusations of innocent people.

History
The term shocklog is a combination of the words shock and weblog. In the past shock has been combined with other words to create popular terms, for example Shock Jock, Shock Rock and Shock Site. In all these cases the term is used to underline offensive and provocative content.

Shocklog popularity
In 2005 the popular Dutch shocklog Geenstijl won the Dutch Bloggies award for Best Weblog. Probably due to its popularity with its readers it won a Dutch Bloggies award from the public for Best Weblog in 2006. The popularity of the shocklogs raised concerns in the traditional media (source).

Shocklogs and the mass media
Through their provocative actions, shocklogs have attracted the attention of national mass media more than once. By posting content on their weblogs they have alerted the media about certain issues.

In 2004 Dutch weblog Geenstijl and their visitors joined in a competition to come up with a name for a new taste of Doritos chips. Although there were some debates, in the end the Doritos Geenstijl was available in Dutch supermarkets. In 2006 the same weblog posted confidential and personal information of Ernst Wesselius, who was with the justice department in the Netherlands Antilles. The shocking part was that the weblog also posted personal erotic stories written by him.

Retecool, another Dutch weblog, was mentioned in the news in 2005 when they asked their visitors to post edited photos about a new Dutch television channel called Talpa. When Talpa send the weblog the demand of deleting the posts, the weblog posted this message directly on the weblog. After 24 hours the weblog decided to delete the photos.

There have been countless more cases in which the shocklogs attracted the attention of national media, usually by calling on the participation of their readers.

The Netherlands
Shocklogs are especially popular in The Netherlands (called Treiterlogs). The main shocklogs do not only post offensive content exclusively, but they do draw a crowd that is often interested in expressing their frustrations. In many cases the delicate topics discussed on those sites anticipate on current sentiments in Dutch society.

In this respect an example can be seen in the community’s response to the messages posted regarding the murder on the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004. When it became clear that the suspect had a Moroccan background, and that he’d acted on behalf of his radical islamic beliefs, the discussions on various shocklogs got overheated. The murder on Theo (who actually was quite experienced in posing controversial statements himself) leads to numerous ‘debates’ that consisted merely of explicit and even racist comments.

The largest shocklogs in The Netherlands are Geenstijl, Jaggle, Retecool and Volkomenkut. The unique visitors on those sites vary from an estimated 25 thousand to 38 thousand a day. The thing these Dutch shocklogs have in common is a more or less provocative style describing news facts, other websites and blogs.

See also
Geenstijl Wikipedia entry about this shocklog
Shock Site Static website that contains shocking material.
Netwerk Report on web/shocklogs Netherlands: 2004.

Further reading
Bloggen is zo 2004 Sjoerd van der Helm. Masterthesis. Netherlands: 2005

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