Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoughts on Blogging

Alice C. Linsley

I maintain 5 blogs and have 5 years experience as a blogger. That doesn’t make me an expert, but I have learned a few things that might be helpful to other bloggers.

I haven’t handled all readers with patience or sensitivity, so if I have offended you, please forgive me. Forgiveness such as that expressed in the comments here would make the blogging world a much better place!

That goes for moderation of comments. It is best to be generous and let prickly or aggressive comments stand, even when they are disdainful in tone. Usually other readers will challenge the comment and sometimes a good discussion ensues.

A comment shouldn’t be deleted simply because it represents a view with which you don’t agree. That isn’t moderation; that’s censorship. It is still censorship when done under the guise of "off topic." Rarely is a comment so far off topic as to necessitate deletion.

When it comes to moderation, STUDENTS PUBLISH HERE! must be watched vigilantly for inappropriate comments and links. I’ve discovered that the word “students” attracts predators, school recruiters, and a large amount of spam geared to young people. Because the virtual world isn’t safe, I never publish identifying information with the student’s poem or short story.

Ethics Forum was created to help my college Ethics, Philosophy and World Religions students. This is a resource to which they turn when preparing their final papers. Here readers will find the latest news from around the world related to ethics, religion, and the impact of philosophy on contemporary thought. Interestingly, the topics that have attracted the most comments deal with male/female circumcision and an article that I wrote for my Ethics classes titled “What Makes a Good Society?” Ethics Forum has a small number of regular readers, but of all my blogs it has the widest international readership.

The blog with the highest volume of visits is Just Genesis. Here the comments are generally thoughtful and relevant. Given the academic nature of the research and the narrow focus of the blog, most readers are people who sincerely want to know more about the first book of the Bible. Rarely do I have to delete a comment.

My rule is to delete comments that attack someone personally. Words like pompous, disturbed and boring signal the need for scrutiny. This is when I track the comment using Feedjit and I make a note of the origin of the comment for future reference. It is helpful to keep in mind that these words usually project on someone else the very traits that describe the person making the comment.

Sometimes a reader will email me rather than post a comment. This is a good way to express criticism or concern because it allows us to converse more candidly offline. Often these conversations stimulate my thinking and I will write about them at the blog.  I have some good internet friends whose acquaintance I first made by this means.

Biblical Anthropology is my newest blog. Here I publish research in my field of interest that doesn't relate directly to Genesis or Ethics.  These are occasional papers and of interest mainly to anthropologists.

There is an INDEX of topics with links at Just Genesis, Ethics Forum, Students Publish Here!, and Biblical Anthropology to facilitate web searches and I try to keep these up-to-date.  If I fall behind in this task it is because I actually do have a life outside of blogging! : )

Blogs can provide a valuable means of communication, inspiration, learning, debate, and encouragement. They also can be used to disseminate evil ideas and images, to inflict pain and to belittle. The blog owner is responsible for what happens and most of us take this responsibility seriously.

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