How not to lose friends and alienate bloggers

There is a better way.

  1. Find a blog/article about a topic you’re passionate about online.
  2. Read and comprehend the original post.
  3. Think about a reasonable response.
  4. Write your response, erring on the side of grace and caution.
  5. Read to see if other people have commented since your last comment.
  6. Reread your comment.
  7. Make sure it’s loving in its tone, and not offensive.
  8. Post it.
  9. Realise that other people aren’t like you and don’t necessarily want their comment pages spammed. Post once per response.

How to lose friends and alienate bloggers

  1. Find a blog/article about a topic you’re passionate about online.
  2. Barely read/comprehend the original post – just find key words and points that invoke your bloodlust.
  3. Get indignant.
  4. Post a comment about why the person is wrong.
  5. Only read the follow up comments that talk directly to your point.
  6. Argue with those comments using much hyperbolic subjectivity, little objectivity in order to demonstrate why you are right while continuing to ignore the context.
  7. Read back what you, and they wrote.
  8. Feel guilty.
  9. Post a contrite apology on that discussion and a list of things that alienate people so others will learn from your mistakes.
  10. Hope that the people from the other blog also read yours so that they see said list.

Blogology

I’ve been, as a result of some ill conceived posts in the last couple of weeks, and heated debates here and elsewhere, rethinking my approach to blogging. A little. Not a lot.

My problems involve a gap in my understanding of this blog and its function, and my approach to posting my thoughts and opinions.

Izaac is experiencing similar reservations much earlier in his blogging career. I’d like to prolong that career as long as possible, because I enjoy reading his thoughts and opinions.

To start with – I repent of the times when I have not been loving in the comments. It’s easy to forget that there’s no non-verbal communication at play and that other people own their opinions and positions much more vehemently than I may.

I love discourse, discussion and argument. I love the free and frank exchange of ideas and opinions. What I don’t love is snide pedantry, discussion free of warmth, and comments just for the purpose of disagreement. Wise people whose company I enjoy most in the real world have indicated that I’m not as pleasurable here as in the real world – both in comments here, and elsewhere. One such person made a comment that offering sarcasm and objections without solutions is pretty hollow. I agree. I was convicted by that. And I think commenters here should be too.

Another person suggested that I need to be more careful that I don’t come across as an arrogant chauvinist. These comments both came from people I love and respect – so thanks guys.

It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that not all of my readers know me in the real world – and that’s exciting on some levels, but also scary. Because observers looking at some of my arguments in comments here and elsewhere may not be aware of the real world relationships at play. It’s just something else for me to be mindful as I write, and others to be mindful as they read.

But, the onus for fixing this “problem” does not rest solely on me…

You, dear readers (and commenters), have a job to do too.

1. Understand the medium.
This is a blog. It until very recently was a blog that bore my name, and as such could not be mistaken for anything but my thoughts and personal opinion. It needs to be read as such. It’s not gospel. It’s often not set in stone. I think of some of my posts as a bit of a journal tracking my thoughts, or an opportunity to flesh out my thoughts. I’m more than happy for you to engage, debate and discuss… but if you insult or annoy me it’s likely that I’ll respond defensively.

2. Play nice
I was pretty horrified a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned the oversharing saga on Facebook and one of my friends jokingly took another non-mutual friend to task for their lengthy response.
I’d like to think that the many people who come here would pay each other a certain degree of courtesy.

The blogosphere is a wonderful place – and it’s great for sharing ideas, meeting new people, networking, etc. But in every society there must be “rules”… Communicate Jesus has a list of “rules” that Desiring God (John Piper’s blog) uses to moderate discussion. I don’t really like them. They won’t really work here because I’m happy for people to do many of the things it rules out (commenting off topic, self promotion etc).

But I have one rule to propose. I am happy for people to disagree with what I have to say. I love discussing things. I don’t like constant negativity. I recognise that I will often say things that need to be disagreed with.

Also, given that my wife, and one of my sisters, are now blogging here occasionally (and I’m happy to throw open the doors to other people who express an interest in posting from time to time) I’m going to treat being nasty to them pretty seriously as is my want as a husband and brother…

So I’m instituting this rule:

If you are going to engage in commenting here you must write one encouraging comment for every two negative comments.

I’m not going to enforce this strictly. It would be too hard to police. But if I do notice a string of negativity I’m just going to edit your comments (because I have that power) to make them say really nice things about me. Or delete them.

Your thoughts? How can we make the online world – and this neck of the woods – a nicer place? What would make you comment more often?