The term Fisking, or to Fisk, is
blogosphere slangdescribing detailed point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, disputes the analysis of presented facts, or highlights other problems in a statement, article, or essay. [ William Safire, [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/magazine/19wwln_safire.html?ex=1298005200&en=a5d02adfe7aca7c6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss "Blargon"] , The New York Times, February 19, 2006.] Eric S. Raymond, in the Jargon File, defined the term as:
A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or
handwavingis considered poor form. [ Jargon Fileentry [http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/fisking.html "fisking"] ]
The term is named after
Robert Fisk, a British journalist.
More broadly, the British newspaper
The Observerdefined fisking as "savaging an argument and scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet." [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1509575,00.html Archbishop on end of a good Fisking] , The Observer, Sunday June 19, 2005] The technique also has its critics. Andrew Orlowskiin The Registercommented that "Many of today's debaters prefer 'Fisking'—line-by-line rebuttals where facts are dropped like radar chaff—to rational debate or building a coherent argument." [" [http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/21/how_dumb_kids/ How computers make kids dumb] ", The Register, Monday March 21, 2005]
"Fisking" in its current meaning was coined by
bloggersin December 2001, following a short three-paragraph attack by Andrew Sullivan[http://web.archive.org/web/20040416224040/http://andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2001_12_09_dish_archive.html#7786744 The Daily Dish] , Sunday, December 9, 2001, Internet Archive] in response to a The Sunday Independentarticle written by Fisk earlier that month that recounted Fisk's beating at the hands of Afghan refugeesin Pakistan.cite web
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20011210065358/http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia_china/story.jsp?story=109257
title = My beating by refugees is a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war
author = Fisk, Robert| authorlink=Robert Fisk
accessdate = 2008-03-09| date =
December 9, 2001| publisher = " The Sunday Independent". Independent News & Media( Internet Archive, posted and archived the day after it was written and responded to, perhaps due to time zone differences)] Though the term was not coined by Sullivan at that time, it appeared soon after on Instapunditand Sullivan's weblog.
Eoghan Harrishad in 1999 used the term "fisking" with a different meaning; "To fisk is not to face the facts for as long as possible and, when found out, to divert the public from your mistake by spinning shiny stories in the air."Fact|date=August 2008 However, no one else appears to have used the term in this sense, and Harrislater remarked that he had "lost a coinage." [Eoghan Harris, [http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1002554&issue_id=9425 "Web man beat me to 'fisk' verb"] . The Sunday Independent, (Ireland), June 29 2003.]
Comparisons and distinctions
Fisking can be compared to the
Usenetstyle of responding to an argument's specific points by quoting lines prefixed with the ">" character (which contrasts with the style often found in top-postinga reply, all in one piece).
Fisking is different from
flaming, with which it is sometimes confused. Fisking is not merely verbal abuse, although it may contain a substantial amount of derision, scorn or even profanity.
Fisking is similar to the
line-by-linemethod in policy debate, where one debater addresses each point of an argument in turn, as opposed to addressing the entire thesis of his or her opponent.
* [http://www.word-detective.com/071503.html#fisk "There's a reason we left you in the wilderness, so please stop shouting"] etymology by The Word Detective
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