June 17, 2011 may have been the best day of Ken Silva’s life. It was also, most probably, the worst day in the history of journalism. For it was on that day that the USA Today quoted Silva in its article on the upcoming Wild Goose Festival.
It seems that the USA Today didn’t call Silva, since it’s difficult to find a phone number for him (I have, and I’ve called him a couple times). Instead, the USA Today simply cribbed a quote from one of Silva’s blogs and took his word for his own credentials.
Silva is the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, New Hampshire. It is a church with no website, a hard-to-find phone number (or this phone number), and at last report, eight members. The address of the church, 24 Crescent Street, is a vacant building. (It is actually listed as the home of “Stevens Alumni,” whatever that is. It has also formerly been the home of “Green Acres Fine Food and Wine.”)
Silva does not have any pictures of himself online, nor any more than the most sketchy of biographical information. He does not allow comments on his site (though he does not hesitate to comment on others’ sites). He has repeatedly refused to appear on Doug Pagitt Radio. He has refused multiple invitations from Doug and me to join us at our events.Since Silva does not allow for any other means of communication with the outside world, I called him at the numbers linked above (you can, too!). I first spoke to him in 2007 and blogged about it. He was a decent human being on the phone.
And he may be a decent human being in person. I wouldn’t know.
This I do know: on the internet, Ken Silva is a troll. He doesn’t play by the rules (yes, there are rules). Among those rules are, if you’re a blogger, you should allow comments, especially if you comment on others’ posts.
He runs two sites, neither of which I will name or link to. He often double-posts — that is, posts the same thing at both sites — and he constantly links between the two sites. This is a way to game the system of search engines, since permanent in-bound links from authoritative sites is a major way that Google prioritizes search results.
He also uses names (like mine) and URLs (like mine) in posts that have nothing to do with me. Again, this is gaming the system, for it’s giving Google the impression that his site is an authoritative site regarding information about me.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in free speech above almost everything. Silva has the right to say whatever the hell he wants about me or anyone else. He’s free to game the system (until Google catches him). He’s even free to solicit donations, which he’s been doing recently.
But you, dear reader, should know that every time you click on a link of his, every time you rise to his bait on Twitter, you’re aiding and abetting a gossip and slanderer. You’re also helping him trick Google.
I encourage you, if you care for what is good in the world, and if you want to protect your own soul from hatred, gossip, and slander, to never again click on a link of his.