Steve Rubel labels the latest activity of "swarms of citizen journalists … mobilizing to settle scores" as "vigilante journalism." It’s an apt name for the phenomenon and it will be interesting to see how the debate moves on this.
Frankly, I’m torn. Bloggers certainly have the write to "kvetch" (as BL Ochman woud say), but should they get any better treament because they have a bigger megaphone? Coming from the world of politics, I know it already happens, so I tend to believe in the "all’s fair" approach (as long as it is legal and ethical). At the same time, bloggers can sometimes be like sports talk radio callers — angry and impatient.
So I guess I come down on the side of saying that it’s fine to gripe on your blog — and get better treatment as a result — just so long as you make sure your gripe is legit and you’ve taken reasonable steps to resolve the problem without resorting to public attacks.
(As an aside, Steve mentioned the Jeff Jarvis vs. Dell thread that many are already aware of. Using the CustomScoop trend tracking tool, I noticed that the issue continues to get a trickle of mentions on an almost daily basis — not great news for Dell.)