Given half an hour to really put my mind to it I’m sure I could think of areas of interest even more insignificant than crosswords, and I’ll bet all three have their dedicated online forums.
I can also be just as sure that, within them, you’ll find entrenched belligerent shouty views from those who believe the subject matter and their opinions are the most important things in the world. This isn’t shock news. It’s just the nature of the Internet.
So it’s a shame when conflicts over irrelevances explode into extreme action. People sharing the same interests become enemies. Some, because of abuse or simply because others don’t agree with them, drop out. And when that happens, there are others who gloat about it, as if the loss of a community member somehow represents a victory.
The ongoing pseudo-fued between the lesser spotted (extremely rare, in fact) Xim- and Lib-trolls shows little sign of abating, and for my money it’s all wasted breath – or keyboard bashing, anyway. Polarisation is on the increase, perversely at a time when the lines between Ximenean and Libertarian clueing continue to blur.
In the pre-Internet past blatant Libertarian devices such as ‘fire starter’ for F were an absolute no-no for the ‘correct’ newspaper series, but the advent of cryptic blogs around 10 years ago has meant that solvers are seeing and understanding clue devices across all series. Not all are popular, but there is more common ground. The Times of a few years ago would have insisted on ‘fire’s starter’ or ‘starter of fire’, but not now. ‘Fire starter’ will do just nicely.
We will always be in a situation where some groups of solvers will strongly dislike the outer reaches of some clue devices, so rather than get worked up and frothy-mouthed why not just enjoy other cryptic series where they’re not used? There’s enough room and variety for everyone.
Today’s crossword is tomorrow’s fish & chips paper, a light-hearted diversion for perhaps an hour of what might otherwise be a dull day. If you enjoy it, great. If not, let’s hope tomorrow’s effort brings more satisfaction. But don’t dwell; setters don’t want you to, because setters know that, ultimately, what they produce is of no importance beyond the need we all have for a bit of fun.