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?


Izaac says:

Does this mean you’re updating the disclaimer?

Nathan says:

I’ll revisit it, yes.

Nathan says:

Actually, having read it I think it’s suitably gracious and acknowledges my foibles.

They don’t seem contradictory.

simone r says:

I like you, Nathan. I like your blog. The oversharing thing got a little out of hand, but it’s okay for something to get on your nerves just because it does. If people knew all the online things that annoy me…

Don’t change anything too much.

Nathan says:

One of the other posts was that copyright one on your blog. A wise friend also pointed out that my approach to that discussion was domineering and not particularly Godly. Which was part of my rethink.

simone r says:

yeah… that wasn’t your finest hour… (nor mine). Just don’t give up on the scambaiting. (Could you let us know when you put something up on that page?)

Nathan says:

And this is part of the problem.

I don’t know what I did wrong there (other than assuming I was right and prosecuting the case and being a little bit precocious).

I did comment a lot. But in my mind that was me being engaged with the material being discussed.

Goannatree says:


I appreciate the thoughtfulness going into the rethink. I enjoy your sense of humor! I am grateful that you have friends with whom you can discuss these things and who can be honest and loving in their critique!

I think healthy debate and discussion should be encouraged. keep at it brother!

Amy says:

So, not-so-seriously – can I say lots of nice things now and that weighs up all the bad things I will say later?
My pre-marriage counsellor said it should be 1 bad to 2 good, like a sandwich, but that probably could lead to a lot of padding comments.

Seriously, thanks. And I apologise for all the times I have been self-righteous, closed-minded and domineering. I am trying not to do that now, so feel free to call me on it.

Goannatree says:

will do…call you on it i mean…

You know, I like you too, Nathaniel. So much so that I will from here on in use your full first name. So many blogs are at one end of the spectrum too cold and boring, or at the other end, too lovey-dovey and can’t-say-anything-for-fear-of-offending. I am not very confrontational, and won’t really join in an arguement (unless it’s something not important in the scheme of things, like music tastes), but I like that you think about things enough to formulate an oppinion/arguement. So it can get out of hand, well sure, that’s something to work at, but still, I’d far prefer someone to argue with me, than to be passive-aggressive and just not engage at all. You even stuck up for me out of the blue the other day when that annonymos bloke had a go at me on my blog the other day. That was cool. Also, you do a lot of promoting/linking other people’s stuff, and that is a really nice trait. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t beat yourself up too much, because you do a lot for the little blog community yr a part of.

ps- this comment is so sappy and nice that I have calculated that I may now write 7 mean and nasty ones following. Be ready.