Patrick LaForge, editor of the NYT's City Room blog, has 2,229 followers on Twitter. It used to be 2,230 -- but that was before LaForge blocked the NYTPicker from following him!
Yes, it's true. LaForge, who famously labeled us "cowards" in a Twitter message last week, has not only removed us from his list of followers, he has also now taken the aggressive step of actually blocking us -- which means that we can't get his Twitter feeds included in our daily diet of Tweets.
For those of you just tuning in, here's the history of the Battle of LaForge.
Ten days ago, the NYTPicker began Twittering (at www.twitter.com/NYTPicker, where you're all welcome to follow us -- we won't block you!). Within two days, we got a "direct message" via Twitter from LaForge, whose Twitters we'd already been following with fascination at www.twitter.com/palafo:
"You should stop being a coward and use your real name. :)"
As regular readers of NYTPicker know, we posted LaForge's message, along with a lengthy response that explained the reasoning behind the NYTPicker's anonymity. Within hours, we observed LaForge Twittering this:
#Twitter, is it OK to quote a Direct Message without permission?
Sometime later, LaForge got this response from Vindu Goel, the NYT's deputy technology editor:
No, a direct message is private unless you get explicit permission to RT.
We're not sure what "RT" means but we think it might stand for "re-tweet."
What's up with these NYT journalists? The NYTPicker is obviously a media outlet -- we explicitly declare that we cover the NYT, we report on its content and its staff, and we adhere to all the standard rules of the profession.
One of the most widely-accepted rules of the profession is that when you communicate with a journalist -- on the phone, via email, or whatever -- you'd better say when something is off the record if you want to keep those comments private. Otherwise, the journalist might quote you!
For LaForge to fall back on some abstract notion of Twitter protocol seems a little silly, doesn't it? Why should there be special rules that apply only to Twitter communications? A "message" is the same as an email or a letter or a phone call. Right, guys? Isn't that what Bill Keller would tell you?
Honestly, we get a kick out of LaForge's desire to keep The NYTPicker from following him. He's the first Twitterer to "block" us. It's an honor, really.
Patrick, we'll still be enjoying your Twitter updates by going to www.twitter.com/palafo. It's the Internet, dude. You can run, but you can't hide.