Cleansing the Augean stables

wellboy has canned the forum over at for ‘personal reasons’. On the face of it this is rather cryptic and should lead to frenzy of speculation – is he ill? Is he broke? Is he John Terry? The reality is probably a lot simpler: he’s finally tired of his site being a magnet for every troll in the hurling world. Every time I ventured back to Up the Déise, I’d marvel at how few posts I had on it – no more than 120 by the end. Then I’d have my opinion dismissed by some Tipp troll as emanating from Waterford and therefore not worthy of respect,  and I’d remember why I rarely stuck around. When De La Salle were trounced by Portumna in the All-Ireland club final last March, the thought of heading over to Up the Déise (never known how to write that; note to self: ask) and seeing the ghouls of Tipperary, Cork and Kilkenny cackling over our misfortune was unthinkable. Add in the constant griping from fellow Déisigh who seemed to think the site had to conform to some notion of Kulturkampf – you’re not a real Waterfordman if weren’t there in ’82 or not following the Blues or not paying sufficient heed to the footballers or not drinking large bottles – and it’s remarkable that wellboy put up with it for as long as he did.

(NB maybe it’s something really awful like illness or poverty that has caused wellboy to take this action. If so, apologies for seeming to trivialise his plight. But the reasons I’ve outlined would have been cause enough for him to do it.)

This phenomenon of trolls reducing originally successful websites to smoking rubble is hardly peculiar to GAA discussion. Worldby Storm, proprietor of  the politics blog The Cedar Lounge Revolution,  referred to the “noise to signal” ratio that has bedevilled to the point where it’s nigh on impossible to have a robust but reasonable debate there. It’s the nature of that first incarnation of the intraweb debate and boon to keyboard warriors, the message board. Speaking as someone who still doesn’t use Twitter, and only signed up as part of an ongoing effort to corner the virtual market in brand deiseach, I nevertheless understand the lure of tweeting where you can comment and don’t have to worry about other people questioning your sexuality as a result.

For the reason outlined, I rarely joined in the brawl at U.T.D. But I’ll miss it. It became the default website not just for Waterford GAA but for all things Waterford, an ambition I briefly held out for  when Come on the Déise! began all those years ago on Geocities. wellboy has built up a tremendous brand. It would be understandable if he decided that maintaining it wasn’t worth the drama.