Confessions of a Less Active Lurker

There are two consequences of dropping off the face of the ‘nacle and lurking for several months. The first is that you are harassed by your co-bloggers because of your lack of participation. Kind of a snarky and blog-worthy home teaching equivalent. Although, I have to say I couldn’t tell if they were “hey, we’d really like you to come back to full fellowship” kind of messages, or if they were “hey, wouldn’t you like to remove yourself from the rolls of the ‘nacle before we go to the bother of ex-ing you” kind of messages. Maybe I’ll lie low a little longer, find out, and let you know…

The second consequence is that you start to detach from the adrenaline, and passion, and anguish of blogging, and assume more of an anthropologist’s view. Just call me the Jan Shipps of the ‘nacle, and I’ll impart some (fairly superficial and probably obvious) wisdom on you. Here is my thesis folks: blog threads are like relief society lessons.

Both bloggers and RS teachers usually start out warming up the audience with some preliminary information, and then a question is posed (of varying quality). Now the really inspired comments rarely come out at the beginning, rather there are a few warm up comments, softballs from your friends, or if you’re really desperate, your plants. Then the juices get flowing and, if you’re lucky, and if your lesson/thread doesn’t suck, and if everyone isn’t too cranky because it’s fast Sunday, then you might get a good discussion going. Then, if you’re not careful, and sometimes if you are, some sort of tangent is introduced. There are a few feeble protests, but the cogs of fate have already been set in motion, and your thread/lesson is doomed. Doomed to be either crazy, boring, or potentially really really entertaining–sort of depending on your ability to be amused by the absurd.

But despite substantive quality of the comments, bloggers and RS participants both, probably unconsciously, fall into patterns of acceptable behavior. We identify socially acceptable behavior, fall into line, and self-regulate. We expect a certain tone of voice, a certain turn of phrase, a certain self-effacing attitude. I don’t know why this is. You’ll have to give me some grant money and an internet Ph.d. in anthropology and I’ll think about it a little more. In the alternative, let’s throw it out to the blog collective. Why are comments of equal substantive merit received differently because of tone and presentation? How did we develop a common understanding of what is acceptable? How does one learn to speak with a RS/blog acceptable accent? How hampered do you become if you don’t easily pick up on the social norms? Should they be challenged? Should they be admired? Are certain aspects of our acceptable accent uniquely Mormon? Are you blog/RS fluent and accent free? Any juicy gaffes we should know about? Enlighten me blog friends.


  1. I’m really curious as to the answers, even if I don’t have any. My goal used to be to get linked to in the BCC blog list. When I saw Trap, No Trap there and I didn’t make the cut, I knew that I just really did not understand how the whole thing worked.

    I’ll be checking back in to learn what it is I missed.

  2. Interesting post, and interesting comparison, Karen. I’ve often heard people complain about how church is about appearances or politics. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve seldom seen that.

    But in the bloggernacle, I see a lot of that. Too many ‘naclers are concerned with power and recognition and self-promotion–that’s why concern about “community” is only ever expressed by those who fancy themselves to be its shepherds or overseers or leaders. It’s not those who adopt non-conformist accents (like me) who get ignored. It’s those that are deemed unimportant who can’t get the time of day from the self-styled overseers.

    Stephen M, you and I have certainly had our run-ins. I hope you feel like I’ve never ignored you.

  3. OK, I’ll bite DKL

    What attributes doom you to unimportance on the Bloggernacle?

  4. Seth, I wasn’t talking about myself. I think I make it clear that I’m not ignored. Perhaps I needed to also clarify that I’m not a a self-styled overseer. What’s more, I really don’t know how people like that think–I’m not that political. I just notice that plenty of people do get ignored.

  5. a random John says:

    Hey! I talk about community from time to time. What are you saying?

    I think that in general the bloggernacle is a breath of fresh air compared to the veneered interactions in EQ. Plus you can get up and leave without insulting anyone, especially if you’ve just been lurking.

  6. arj, you mean it’s insulting when I get up and leave elders quorum?

  7. arJ,

    You are clearly a bloggernacle elite. Or, as a true 1337 haxx0r would say:

    j00 r @ n@c13 l337!!!!1111

  8. a random John says:


    That depends. Do you do it after a particularly bad comment or do you do it when the a nursery leader shows up at the door holding your child at arms length? I must admit that I was tempted to do the former recently but I wimped out.


    You are begging the question!

  9. Why are comments of equal substantive merit received differently because of tone and presentation?

    Because tone and presentation matter. It’s important to be nice. In any interaction with other humans we should be sensitive to how they might feel upon receipt of our communication and let our empathy guide us to communicate with others in the way we think they want to be communicated with. It’s like the Golden Rule with an added layer of sensitivity.

    How did we develop a common understanding of what is acceptable?

    I don’t think we have developed this common understanding. It is clear to me that different people have different understandings of what is an acceptable way to interact with other people. I think we do a better job in real life than we do on the internet, as judged against my own standard of what is acceptable (which I don’t claim to live up to perfectly). We’re much more likely to take a combative, disrespectful tone or to ignore one another online than in person, it seems.

    How does one learn to speak with a RS/blog acceptable accent?

    One should try to put oneself in the shoes of the people on the receiving end.

    How hampered do you become if you don’t easily pick up on the social norms?

    That depends on what the objective is. If one wants attention or notoriety non-conformity to the norms of politeness and respect can be a good way to go. If one wants friendship and respect, one should learn to treat others in a friendly and respectful manner.

    Now I will think long and hard about my own way of communicating. I can just imagine somebody whom I’ve treated insensitively or whom I have rudely ignored reading this and noting my hypocrisy.

  10. The premise of this post is interesting. I have been thinking over the past month or so that reading comments, as opposed to posts, is gradually become a less and less significant part of my bloggernacle experience. A couple of years ago, when all the whole bloggernacle thing started to take off, the size of active commenters was faily small. As a result, it was pretty easy to get a general sense of where most people were coming from. Not so anymore. Also, back then, there were not nearly so many blogs and posts.

    Given these overall changes, I find myself, more and more, focusing on the content of the posts rather than the discussion in the comments. There simply is not as much time for both, and the signal to noise ratio is generally higher in posts than in comments.

    This is not to say, of course, that there aren’t some comment threads that I follow very closely, or that some comments aren’t far more interesting than the original post. It’s just that for me, the ‘nacle is becoming much less like a RS lesson, and much more like (for lack of a better example) BYU education week.

  11. Oh DKL, give it a REST, man.

    You couldn’t be more wrong about the “self-styled overseers” of the bloggernacle and their intentions (hmm, I wonder who you’re talking about…) Having participated in group emails over the past year or so with them gives me a better perspective on who they are than you and you just don’t know what you’re talking about. You think you do, but you don’t.

    But please, continue with your ignorance, it’s amusing.

  12. I think having good social skills is always going to make a person’s life easier. And the idea that the accent is different in different settings is just a normal part of life in general. You’ll always act differently around your children than you do around your friends, different in court than at a football game, and different on a blog than in church.

    One question I’ve been wondering lately has been on the subject of critical mass. In a ward, if the community gets too large, the ward is split and the community shrinks and personal interactions can become more intimate again. It seems to me at some point the Mormon blog community, which has been (can be) tight knit and personal is going to reach a mass (and I think it’s going to be soon) that even the most dedicated of “overseers” are going to lose track of the big picture.

    Reading this right now there are hundreds of people who have no idea about the blog history of DKL arJ Kaimi Rusty and Myself, and you Karen. The people who don’t know who we are, and whom we don’t know, will soon (or already) outnumber those who do. Personally, I’m starting to reach the outerlimits of my capacity for keeping track of new voices. So what’s going to happen to the community when there are just too many people for a community to exist?

  13. fmhLisa, doesn’t the proliferation of new blogs reflect the splitting? Your problem is that you’re too good. You’re like John Bytheway at EFY. *grin* At a certain point, your fans will have to settle for admiring you from afar, start their own blogs, and get the interaction they need. Kind of like capitalism, only no one is getting rich. At least not on our blog…

    As to the excellent points made by Tom et. al re: the importance of tone…yes, it does matter, but it is certainly different in different settings. A couple of weeks ago in my Relief Society (which is pretty diverse by Mormon standards) a woman raised a point about women and power in the church. Very tame by bloggernacle standards, but she was being pretty forceful in the way she was presenting her point…and interrupted the teacher at one point. It would not have been out of place in a conversation between my friends, but you should have seen all heck break loose. We wound up having a follow up lesson the next week.

    Frankly, I feel really sorry for the woman who brought up the point originally, because I think she had a valid concern, but her needs were not met, because she had her work voice on. Why can’t we be as forceful in RS as we can here, or at work? I agree presentation is important, but I worry that there is the potential full fellowship and friendship will not be extended to those who either do not pick up on the social cues or choose to ignore them…and I’m more concerned about those who just don’t pick up on them. Doesn’t some of the burden lie on us to be more understanding and inclusive?

  14. a random John says:


    You are saying something that I was saying nearly two years ago as I saw T&S changing from a small community to the monster that it is.

    There are some technical measures that can be taken to allow individual blogs to scale better while remaining interactive and provide more of a sense of community. So far LDS blogs have only taken the most rudimentary of such steps.

    Hopefully some of the larger blogs will take some experimental steps and everyone can learn from them.

  15. Why are comments of equal substantive merit received differently because of tone and presentation?

    Funny you mention this, on our new blog, we have been trying to build up some attention outside of the bloggernacle (from friends and family and such). We have found that consistently people whom we felt would have much to contribute, spend more time lurking than commenting. As we have inquired, we have found that so many people who are unaccustomed to blogging fear exposing their opinions to such open scrutiny. It’s a bit disappointing but understandable in light of your analysis.

  16. Wow that paragraph was almost totally unreadable. Sorry. It’s a stream of consciousness thing. I hope my message wasn’t obscured in my weak writing skillz

  17. Rusty: You couldn’t be more wrong about the “self-styled overseers” of the bloggernacle and their intentions

    What I’ve said about intentions is this: “I really don’t know how people like that think,” because basically I don’t understand them. And you’re saying that this is mistaken? Do you really wish to assert that I do understand them and I just don’t know it?

    Rusty: (hmm, I wonder who you’re talking about…)

    I’m no mind reader, but my guess is that I’m casting the net much wider than you think I am.

    Rusty: Having participated in group emails over the past year or so with them gives me a better perspective on who they are than you and you just don’t know what you’re talking about. You think you do, but you don’t.

    Maybe. Maybe not. As I said, I don’t know how folks like this think. As far as behavior goes, I’ve already commented on their public actions, which are the ones that matter in this context. I’ll just add this: The ones that I’ve had the chance to communicate with take every chance they get to congratulate themselves on the great work they’re doing on behalf of the “community” that they style themselves the overseer of. This is consistent with the well accepted notion that most power hungry people satisfy themselves with the excuse that they want to use their power for good things.

    Rusty: But please, continue with your ignorance, it’s amusing.

    Sure. Anything I can do to at a little bit of light to your humdrum life…

  18. The ones that I’ve had the chance to communicate with take every chance they get to congratulate themselves on the great work they’re doing on behalf of the “community” that they style themselves the overseer of.

    Hey DKL — who are you talking about? I’ve talked with you about this kind of stuff. Am I one of the people you are referring to here?

  19. High-Handed Admin says:

    settle down, everyone. This isn’t the place to air personal grievances. That includes MA/LDSelect scuttlebutt.

  20. High-Handed Admin: I’m curious how my comments can be construed as voicing personal grievances–it’s not like I brought up the question whether I deserved to get banned from T&S. I’m even more curious why someone would seek to explain the development of LDSelect in terms of personal grievances.

    Basically, I wrote my comments to address Stephen M. (Ethesis)’s point that he’s not listed when something like “Trap, No Trap” is. It won’t do to pretend that he’s not listed because he’s got the wrong tone. He’s the one who’s being ignored here, not me. And I, for one, think that he’s got a legitimate point.

    Geoff, don’t worry about me. I’ve haven’t got any beef with you that you’re not fully aware on account of my having already expressed it directly to you in private.

  21. DKL: Too many ‘naclers are concerned with power and recognition and self-promotion–that’s why concern about “community” is only ever expressed by those who fancy themselves to be its shepherds or overseers or leaders.

    I’m pretty sure that is where you spoke of their intentions.

    DKL: As I said, I don’t know how folks like this think.

    Exactly my point. Because you don’t know how they think you don’t know if they are “power-hungry” or not. It’s too bad that you would come to such a conclusion rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt. Especially these guys. But whatever.

  22. Stephen (#1!),

    The BCC sidebar is rubbish, as you can see. But there was a bloodless coup a while back ’round here and the Emperor lost some of his keys. So, welcome to the sidebar! Of course, you’ve been on the MA for ages, and now you can customise LDSselect so that Ethesis is the ONLY blog in the bloggernacle. Progress!

    (Oh, and yes, we all need to learn to be civil, both those that like a good scrap, and those who sit at the edges longing for others to scrap.)

  23. DKL: I’m even more curious why someone would seek to explain the development of LDSelect in terms of personal grievances.

    Who did this? Where?

  24. Ok, DKL. I was hoping that was the case. The grievances you described in #17 don’t sound like anything you’ve ever said to me in private so I wanted to be sure that there wasn’t something I had not heard about. I’ve never thought of you as being duplicitous so I figured I’d just ask…

  25. Dave,

    Of *course* you deserved your T&S ban. We would have banned you earlier, too, but we were just too busy ignoring you. We’ve been very busy, you see, trying to make a ‘community’ where we can act as its overseers. We fancy ourselves that way.

    It’s a good thing it’s Friday, or we would ban Ethesis too, for having a conversation with you.

  26. Stephen M, you and I have certainly had our run-ins. I hope you feel like I’ve never ignored you.

    Not at all, though did you get my invitation to do a guest post at my blog?

    You kind of grow on people as they get to know you.

  27. So, welcome to the sidebar! Of course, you’ve been on the MA for ages, and now you can customise LDSselect so that Ethesis is the ONLY blog in the bloggernacle. Progress!

    Hey, it is a good Friday, all in all.

    Even better that I’ve avoided being banned by Kaimi ;)


  28. This is a great thread, Karen (hopefully, my comment will generate the critical mass to start the interesting discussion :P). I remember when I first visited the LDS blogs almost a year ago that I didn’t know quite what to make of the people here, and the comments they were leaving all over the internet about their personal beliefs and experiences. So, I left one or two comments to the effect of “you guys here are crazy!”, but then found myself strangely attracted to the discussions here on Church issues – precisely because I never felt comfortable asking questions or commenting in Church settings.

    So after I realized that there were some good people here and not just a bunch of crazies, I felt more invested in the comments I was leaving, taking them more seriously, and making attempts to engage people in an honest discussion of the issues. I do make an effort to be polite in my comments, because, as others have said, it’s important to be nice. That said, sometimes people say things that REALLY stick in my craw, and I sputter and stew while I’m writing a scathing response (which I usually delete).

    P.S. Is anyone else watching the Opening Ceremonies? What’s up with the weird hats the Austrians were wearing (I think it was the Austrians – the ones with the skunk tails on their heads?)? And I have to say that the 2002 Olympic berets were so much cuter than the ones this year – they look like woolen helmets – lame! Okay, I’ve got to turn this off – this is the third time I’ve heard them playing “YMCA”, and the Village People and Bob Costas are not a winning combination. Go USA!

  29. Ariel (who is only mostly joking) says:

    I showed up just after Bannergate, when I read the Tribune’s article on it and wanted to see what the fuss was about. I was impressed when I commented on FMH and one of the Lisa’s replied to my comment, and used my name- I assumed that only familiar faces would be noticed, but it seems that some here want to preserve the sense of an inclusive community. That’s one of the reasons that I’m still here- I enjoy the dialogue that is freely extended to both the new and the familiar.

    When a church nursery gets too big, it splits. Perhaps we should split the ‘nacle? I’d like to see all the blogs with an “A” or a “B,” and commenters randomly assigned to each set. Or maybe we can get creative and make a “lions” group and a “tigers” group. The “overseers” would be like the nursery leaders: controlling everyone and making them all think alike. Even better, we could split it between “iron rod” and “liahona” blogs, so as to even better influence people’s minds.

    Just kidding.

    A random John- I’d be interested to hear about some of the measures that larger blogs can take.

  30. So, according to Karen’s original post, we’re at the point where the scufuffle should start to blow over, and the self-effacing tone should begin to show up, and everyone will start behaving themselves now, right? Right?

  31. So anyway, this one time, I was blogging, and I realized that I was maybe wrong, and then hum . . .

    Karen, I’ve been thinking about your comment all evening. About the very hesitant submissive . . . I guess . . . feminine tone that we use in Relief Society. I’ve been so . . . okay with that, I guess, just dismissing it as one of those things that have to be done in order to insure that everyone is comfortable and the social order remains smooth and orderly.

    How did I ever become a feminist seriously? I worry so much about everyone being comfortable and nice and friendly and please please please don’t bring up any of those hard questions in blunt manner in relief society and ruin my perfectly good glazed look.

    And even here . . . in the blog world, I think we gyrl types are much more hesitant, much less confrontational, much more likely to call for peace talks, much less likely to take a stand or ask uncomfortable questions. Much less likely to take on leadership roles.

    Is it all part of the programing?

    I still do think that Nice is very important. I think that good manners and making people feel comfortable, and using big heaping teaspoons of sugary diplomacy are all really important things. But when does all this nice leave off creating a comfortable place for us to be and instead become dishonest and stiffling and oppressive? I certainly think the wiggle room is wider in the blogs, but is it wide enough? And is there a way to make it wider in our real-life church lives? It’s a good question.

  32. Ethesis,

    If banning ever looms in your future, you can always buy us off. Danithew always does. I’ve got a nice revenue stream going there. Or, you can beg abjectly like Steve Evans does. It only takes an hour or so of begging to get him unbanned.


    If it helps any, we all thought you were nuts too. Actually, come to think of it, scratch that. We still think you’re nuts. You’re cute, though. In a nutty sort of way. You know, “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell” sort of thing.

    And by the way, all good and sane people know that the only thing worse than the winter Olympics is the U.K. version of The Office. Hell will include Ricky Gervais doing ice dancing. That’s absolute doctrine. McConkie said it somewhere in MoDo.



    The overseers are not amused by your attempts at humor. Get back to work, you’re behind on your quota for the day.


    I’ll worry about effacing myself once I’m done effacing everyone else. I’m selfless that way.

    By the way, your comment-tracking sidebar is the pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread.


    Fun post, by the way, and I’ve enjoyed the comments. I’ll be eagerly awaiting your next post in 6 months. I always say, if Karen is posting at BCC, then it must be time to get ready for general conference, and to rotate the tires on the car.

  33. Well, Polly, er, Kaimi, glad to see we agree on something.

  34. BTW, I thought I should note that I link to Trap, no Trap. It says valuable things, especially to other parents who have lost children. There is an overwhelming anger many in that position feel, and he expresses it well.

    He hasn’t blogged for a while and comments are now limited to team members. It is probably silly, but I’m concerned for him because of the long quiet.

  35. FMHLisa – maybe you’re right that women are less likely to take on leadership roles and speak their minds confrontationally here, but you’re a shining example of a woman who took the bull by the horns and waded into the fray with spectacular results. FMH rocks! Now many more women have joined the world of LDS blogging – and the proliferation of blogs run by women is a positive trend towards creating a balanced dialogue here.

    As for being too “nice”, well, there are definitely many ways to get a point across. Jumping up and down and waving your arms around calling people racist, sexist, or just plain stupid will definitely get attention. But personal attacks like these obliterate the possibility for meaningful interactions, because the conversation degenerates into a “you’re an idiot” and “you don’t have a testimony”. Very pleasant. On the other hand, being overly “nice” could lead people to feel too intimidated to share what they really think about the issues for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. There is a way to talk about controversial issues fairly and reasonably, but it’s difficult to strike this golden mean – especially when we’re sharing our feelings and beliefs (and not deciding whether two degrees below zero is just way too cold to go skiing this morning).

  36. Stephen M (Ethesis), I saw your comments concerning it, but I never received an email. I did write something up. I’ll put the finishing touches on it and shoot it to you if your offer is still open.

    BTW, what Kaimi says about banning from T&S on Friday rings true. When I was banned, it was on Wednesday and Saturday.

    Naiah, I have a tough time admitting that I’m misbehaving, so that if you were to expect me to stop, you’d almost certainly be disappointed.

    Elisabeth, I watched the opening ceremonies. It reminded me (in some vague sense) of the Manti pagent, only it had Peter Gabriel & Pavarotti (interesting combination) and didn’t sport as many anti-Mormons and polygamist fundamentalists.

    Kaimi, either I missed the ignoring phase or you T&S’ers need to work on your ignoring skills. You all always made me feel adequately rewarded for my misdeeds.

    Arial, I’m sorry that you missed Banner of Heaven. Eric Russell wrote this review of it that is quite good:

    I think that he sums it up pretty well. The site is still up at in all its glory. Feel free to check it out directly. As you probably know, I played Miranda. I’m quite proud of the work we did there. It’s one of the few things that I wax sentimental about.

  37. Elisabeth,
    It’s really interesting that you’d say that I jumped in the fray and all that. I never viewed it that way myself, I just needed someplace to spew my mind vomit and all the other stuff just happened. I certainly don’t consider myself in any kind of leadership role in the naccle. Nor even really on my own blog, other than the power to add a delete new bloggers at fMh and an occational banning, I pretty much don’t administrate . . . even there. It’s anarchy.

    I’m pretty sure I’m totally off topic at this point, but I’m going with it.

    I do have a fairly good idea of whom I would consider the PTB in the naccle, all voluntary and mostly unoffical roles, but it’s fairly obvious . . . right. I’m not sure how to account for the fact that none of them are women.



    I’m just going to speak my mind here . . . brace yourselves.

    Here’s the sugar:
    I happen to be one of the few people (besides, it is rumored, his wife) who actually very much likes DKL, so this review is nothing personal.

    But Arial,
    Here’s the medicine: I wouldn’t much bother with BoH. I only dropped by now and then and mostly I found it mind-numbing, I never have figured out why everyone cared so much.
    But suit yourself, there’s no accounting for taste.

  38. FMH-Lisa,

    I think you vastly understate the feminine populace of the PTB. By my own, completely unofficial count, a likely-as-any-other list (off the top of my head) of major nacle PTB includes:


    3 out of 8 female. Not proportionality, but not at all bad.

    Others who are probably viewed as having some amount of nacle clout and leadership (again, not at all a bright line, and again just off the top of my head, so I’m sure to miss some):

    Geoff J.
    DMI Dave
    Carrie and/or Kage

    Let’s see, what’s that list? 4 women, 11 men. Not perfect, by any means. But nothing near complete exclusion. And the list is by no means exhaustive. (In fact, I’m already noticing people I inadvertantly left off of it). Nor is it static. Give ZD a few months to build up nacle capital, for instance, and I suspect that Eve and/or Lynette will be on everyone’s lists of nacle PTB.

    Elisabeth notes that you’ve started a nacle trend, Lisa, and she’s right. I’m with Elisabeth, that you deserve a lot of credit for it. Whether you like it or not, you’re a major nacle PTB yourself.

  39. Karen, since you are inactive, we will all talk about you tomorrow in bloggernacle council meeting.

    My feeling is that participation in the LDS blogging community should impose a sort of self-restraint in our behavior that makes it recognizably different from the behavior displayed elsewhere on the Internet. For the most part, I think we succeed. So, yes, I think there is something distinctively Mormon about our interaction in this forum. I’m probably naive to hope that it has something to do with our recognition of one another as brothers and sisters, so I will attribute it to learned behavior, something we learned at seminary or in the mission field.

    The proliferation of LDS blogs is not problematic, in my opinion. Blogs and different sites appeal to different people and some find a niche, some don’t. My observation has been that blogs which ask interesting questions in interesting ways tend to stick around, whereas blogs which want to preach tend to fail. The really big question for me is this: How long can we continue to recycle the same discussions?

    I think it is all about “community”, but in a different way than DKL in comment # 2. I view my participation here as a way to practice community building skills – listening carefully, learning something I didn’t already know, learning to say what I think, learning to be patient and kind when it would be easier to condemn and dismiss. Come to think of it, those are the skills I need to develop at church and in real life, too.

  40. 3 out of 8 female. Not proportionality, but not at all bad.

    Oh sure, Kaimi. And now you are probably going to claim that wage parity exists among bloggers as well, huh? :-]

  41. fMhLisa: I happen to be one of the few people (besides, it is rumored, his wife) who actually very much likes DKL, so this review is nothing personal.

    ROTFLMAO. That rumor about my wife had better be true, or I’m in for a big surprise. But thanks for the kind words. It comes as no surprise that many people didn’t find me to be the most compelling feminist.

    Kaimi, the fact that there are lists or concerns (written or unwritten) about PTB in a place like the ‘nacle would strike me as offensive if they weren’t so very silly. Maybe I need to get out more often, but I’ve never seen anyone anywhere make such a list in any context unless the purpose was to (a) congratulate themselves on their own inclusion, or (b) bemoan their own exclusion. In fact, this is exactly the sort of exclusionary politicking that I was so negative about in my earlier comments. This is exactly the point that I was trying to make, and that people seemed to misunderstand as being directed exclusively toward the MA group.

    it’s good to see (if I understand her correctly) that fMhLisa doesn’t count herself among these communal overseers (Is this why her site has so quickly risen to prominence in the bloggernacle?)

    Maybe I’m just overly optimistic about human nature, but I can’t see anyone taking anything positive away from attempts to make such lists in the nacle. Is this a list of people to curry favor with? or people that you shouldn’t piss off? People to revere? People who somehow “deserve” to be listened to more than others? I should be ashamed of myself if these were ever the rules that I played by.

    The way the scriptures portray it, apostasy begins with a class system.

  42. fMhLisa,
    I can confirm the rumor, I actually very much like DKL , after all he really is quite dashing.

  43. I think there’s something else to this PTB dynamic which is worth considering:

    A good proportion of those cited as PTB are less-(or in-)active bloggers. This is fine actually as sometimes a lot of good work is done by those who’ve moved on from active blogging but can still lend their wisdom behind the scenes. But it is incumbent on the PTB to raise “new talent” to decision making statuses at the more established blogs, and to fill their own spots if they go into retirement. (Many have done this, so count this as continued encouragement rather than criticism.)

    As a proud member of a number of bloggernacle cliques I know that this sounds very hypocritical, but I think recent events show the need for us all to act as a team, to open-up the elite committees that “oversee” the “community,” and otherwise share the love. Just thinking out loud here (i.e. imagine me slouching on the couch drinking a Null Komma Josef saying this, not thumping a pulpit).

    DKL, although he has his own inimitable style (that rubs a few people up the wrong way), is talking some sense here. It may be time to break down some walls (and there are some behind the scenes discussions a few places to try and achieve this). We don’t want chaos, but the inter-blog warfare and elitism needs to stop (or be toned down — I do like the banter just not the intense rivalry).

    I think someone should put a post up asking small-blog bloggers (I hope that’s not too patronising), lurkers and commenters to express their opinion on “how to make the bloggernacle better” (otherwise the elites, though well-meaning, will decide for them!)

  44. Dave,

    I’m not politicking. I’m going to blog on my own site, whether or not anyone thinks I’m a PTB or whatever else. I didn’t start blogging out of desire to be a nacle overlord, and it’s not a reason that I continue to blog.

    I find your own bait-and-switch here more than a little disingenuous. You seem to think that it’s fine to shadowbox with unnamed elites and powers-that-be and overseers and whatever the hell else. Well, why not put the cards on the table? If my list is wrong, then who are our culprits?

    I don’t mean to put myself on any lists out of aggrandizement. Believe me, I have better things to do than create self-drawn lists of how powerful I am. On the other hand, it’s my perception – perhaps wrong – that many nacle participants see me as a PTB. So I put myself on the list. My list was my own best attempt to be objective; if I was wrong on any of the details, including my own place on it – which is entirely possible – please enlighten me.

    So my list was an attempt of sorts to call Lisa on what seemed like overdrawn rhetoric. Anyone who claims that bloggers like Lisa or Elisabeth or Julie or Rosalynde doesn’t carry major weight in the bloggernacle, is either being disingenuous or just isn’t paying attention.

  45. Here’s a start, Ronan: we can all stop using freakin’ abbreviations that aren’t obvious and/or widely used in the real world.

    Here are my best guesses at PTB (from Google):
    Physikalisch-Tchnische Bundesanstalt
    Physical Therapy Board
    Parti du Travail de Belgique

    Am I close?

  46. Hey, just copying Kaimi, who copied Lisa. How about, The Bilderberg Group?

  47. Ronan,

    That link is positively bizarre, mate. You need to lay off the zero-point Joe before posting. Especially the bottles that you (accidentally) fortified just a bit. Enlish-version WoW, indeed!


    It’s true that I was just copying Lisa. It’s also true that if PTB stands for “Psychological Therapy Bound” that the list doubtless retains its accuracy.

    However, just to be clear (or perhaps to establish that we’re all talking circles around each other; one of the two), I read Lisa’s original use of the term to mean Powers That Be (a phrase which she, in turn, probably stole from David Boreanaz).

  48. By the way, the observant may note a trend here:

    David Landrith stirs the pot.
    K. David Wenger sets him straight, as usual. :P
    Lisa quotes David Boreanaz.
    Elisabeth touts David Brent.
    And of course, the first nacle blog ever was DMI. Whose Mormon inquiry is that? That’s right, it’s Dave’s.

    Thus, the true secret of the bloggernacle is this: It’s really Davids all the way down.

  49. Well, I for one definitely consider Kaimi to be in the inner circle (not that my opinion matters to the PTB, but for what it’s worth…)and would have thought he was soliciting votes had he not listed himself with the others. His sidebar links on T&S have helped lots of newbies (myself included) get in on the dialog. And I’ve appreciated that.

    As for getting feedback from readers, that was really helpful for us over at FMH on our “Readership Down” thread last year. Many readers and (usually) lurkers gave us their 2 cents both online and by e-mail about what they liked and didn’t like and we really appreciated it. My guess is that more input for this would come in if it were done on one of the “founding” blogs.

  50. Double posted w/ Kaimi so have to add that while expecting me, my parents planned to name me David (they assumed I was a boy ’cause I was so much more active in utero than my older sister). So does that mean I have the secret password?

  51. [Personal attack deleted]

  52. Hi, darnell. I can understand your sentiment, as I’m sure Kaimi can understand why so many people dislike me. Though I’ve never met Kaimi, my interactions with him have lead me to believe that he is quite a nice fellow (in spite of the fact that there are several things that he and I must agree to disagree about).

  53. Kaimi, I was a bit harsh about your list. There are certainly people in the ‘nacle that are accorded more respect than others, and I think that neither men nor women dominate that list. My issue is with the larger impact of some group that conceives of themselves as elite, and I grabbed onto your list in a way that didn’t reflect its intent. If there is one thing you shouldn’t doubt, it’s my genuineness. When I’m friendly to people, it’s because I’m a genuinely affable fellow. And when I become friends with them, it’s not because of any perceived advantage they offer.

  54. David Boreanaz! Yummy!

  55. FMHLisa,

    It was touch-and-go (until the moment of decision) whether Indigo was going to be named Indigo or Charisma. Her blue eyes decided it, but Charisma was definitely in the running for a while.


    Fair enough. That’s the danger with such a list. I meant it in one way, but it could certainly be seen as a sort of country-club, membership list. I hope that my own list isn’t used that way; but doubtless there are people who would misuse it. If only they understood that being a ringwraith is an honor. It’s an honor just to be nominated, really. I would elaborate, but I have a few wayward hobbits to kill first.

    Oh, and I should admit that my own comment about baiting and switching was too harsh as well. We haven’t met, but I do think from our interactions that you’re generally an affable person, as you say. Quite affable. In fact, if I ever had to aff somebody . . . hmm, I’d better not finish that thought.

    Though I will say that you were awfully quick to agree with all of the horrible things that got deleted from comment 51. And it was a true parade of horribles. “Kaimi tortures small children and medium-sized puppies, sexually harasses the livestock, eats foie gras on top of his chilean sea bass, and worst of all listens to country music” — and all you can say in my defense is “I can understand your sentiment”?

    Affable, my aff! Aff you, buddy!!


  56. That actually got me curious about the origions . . . looks like it’s been around a while. The Angel connection didn’t actually occur to me, but mummm I do like the Angel connection. Be still my heart.

    Ah hem, the subject? Power, that’s right.

    Oh my, a list, how frightening. I would never have dared. I’m still a little shaken. In fact this whole subject makes me feel a little squirky and a lot self-conscious, like I need to wear ill-fitting gray and let my hair get a little greasy and sit in the back corner next to all the old issues of National Geographic. Well, except for the part where I get that illicit thrill, the same illicit thrill I’m mortified by and terrified of. Oh what a coil.

    (sorry for the thread jack Karen)

    So now I’m looking over the list and trying to decide what it means. What is this Power, in real terms, and why do I consider myself seperated from it, while you disagree, and DKL steams. (He does this a lot, it’s one of his most charming attributes. I have a real soft spot for relentless boiling pessimism. Call me quirky.)

    I’m not denying that there are influencial women in the naccle, nor that I would be considered one of them. (Although even writing that makes me feel weird, why am I so uncomfortable with the idea? Nuther subject.) However, I have always had a sense, and I suppose I could be wrong, that there is still a seperation, along the lines of Hard/Soft power.

    As I said, these are just impressions, and as I try to put them into concrete terms so I can write something about them, they slip away from me. I suppose most naccle power is soft-ish. The only hard powers, really, are the powers to bann, to link, to post, to delete. Am I missing something?

    The intensity of these hard powers depend on the size and scope of your blog.

    Everything else, all the soft power, is based on influence and politicing. So now that I wrote that . . . here’s where I think the difference lies. Women are present in the influence part, but almost entirely absent from the politicing part.

    I think.

    Other ideas?

    Or is it all in my head? I don’t know why, but I’ve always had the vague impression that there is an inner sanctum, a stately garden, with a wall, filled with marble statues (with appropriately placed fig leaves) and a nice babbling brook, where very important emails are pondered and only people with Y chromosomes have keys.

    You may have guessed I also have a fondness for maniacal paranoid hyperbolic metephors.

  57. excuse me for having a slight mental breakdown here, but rereading my last comment, I realized that I’ve become a unconscious elitist. If there’s anything that chaps me more than an elitist it’s a bloody entitled elitist. I wrote that post with kaimi in mind, even refered to him in the first person, without regard to all the other people involved in this here conversation.

    I feel dirty. Excuse me while I go take a shower. It’s time to exfoliate.

  58. FMH-Lisa,

    That’s a great image. Alas, it bears little resemblance to the reality that I know. T&S decisions are mostly made on a messy internal listserv, to which no fewer than four women have keys. And if you think that women are absent from the politicking, then you’ve clearly never seen the inside of the T&S listserv. :P (My vast network of spies informs me that women are also . . . how to put this . . . not entirely absent from politicking with regards to other blogs’ internal listservs, either. And that’s all I will say about that one, thank you very much).

    So yeah, there are no smoke-filled rooms with tacky nude calendars on the walls where Nate and Steve and I meet and decide how to divide up the nacle for our protection racket. Or, for that matter, oak-paneled rooms where we sit around in tweed coats and smoke pipes and munch on mediocre brie. It’s listservs all the way down, really.

    I did have Steve Evans on my speed-dial, before we both moved across the country. But if you’ve ever talked with Steve, you must be aware that our conversations were typically not about pondering important blog thoughts. They mostly consisted of me asking him how Thunderdome was going, and him saying “it’s DROME, not DOME!”

  59. Hum, I don’t Kaimi, I think you need to do some exfoliation yourself, then get back to me.

    Seriously, I think your dismissing me a little too easily. I’m not saying there’s any intentional sexism involved. Because I really don’t think there is. But I can’t help but wonder if our gendered (male and female) behavior doesn’t play a stronger role than we are aware of in how decisions are made, and influence wielded, even in this supposedly and potentially neutral space.

    It feels very male centric to me. Power everywhere does. But here too. Very much so. It’s not necessarily a numbers thing, although that is part of it. I can’t put my finger on how to explain it, or what it means, but can’t you feel it? If you open your eyes and look? Don’t you sense it too?

  60. There is nothing elitist about having a one-on-one conversation in someone else’s blog comments. Even with someone whose name you don’t mention. Even if you refer to them in second person. You, you, you, you. You you. You.

    So, anyway, I suspect that you (you!) are absolutely right that “our gendered (male and female) behavior . . . play[s] a stronger role than we are aware of in how decisions are made, and influence wielded” in the nacle. My own comment was just a criticism of what seemed to me to be an overstatement on your (you!) part, when you (you!) said “none of them [the PTB] are women.”

    Anyway, I’m going to go break out the sugar scrub and exfoliate. (And thus the comment chain comes in full circle, back to your prior mention of sugary diplomacy.

    I actually do use a sugar scrub, by the way. Mardell bought one a few years back, and I tried it out, aand then I ended up stealing it from her, and now I buy the stuff for me. I don’t generally steal her cleaning gear — in fact, she’s usually the one stealing my razor blades, or even worse, borrowing my razor without telling me and getting it all dull so that I chop up my face when I use it — but I made an exception for the sugar scrub. That stuff smells great, and it’s really really good at, well, scrubbing.

    It’s expensive, too. Like most guys, I generally shave with $1.50-or-whatever-it-is shaving cream from the corner drugstore, and the single most expensive non-sugar-scrub item in my daily routine is probably a $4ish bottle of shampoo. So the sugar scrub’s price was a surprise. I swear, if men’s grooming products cost $20 a jar, there would be revolution in the streets. Either that, or a lot of smelly guys.)

  61. Well, yeah, now that you and I are the only people up at this unholy hour (don’t you have church tomorrow?), I suppose now it’s not so bad to exclude the whole rest of the universe from our conversation, but what I did above really does still bother me because I wasn’t *intentionally* excluding everyone else from the conversation but I pushed them all out anyway. I’m creepy.

    (And I was using a first person tense, with a second person pronoun. So I’d still say, “I refered to you in the first person,” wouldn’t I? Otherwise you could only refer to yourself in the the first person, which just isn’t the case. Eh?)

    A nice stiff washcloth (no fabric softener) is a really cheap way to exfoliate. I’m all about cheap.

    And I can’t believe you (YOU) would have the audacity to accuse me (ME) of overstating my case. I have never in my entire life been guilty of such a heinous crime. So there.

    But seriously, hello, anyone out there, including you (You) Kaimi. Any insight into this sense of male centric power in the naccle? The ifs and whys of it?

  62. Lisa, I have a very vague sense of male-centric power in the bloggernacle, but it doesn’t bother me because I feel like they’re the only ones that care about this power. I mean, power over what?? People talk about academic politics being especially vicious because the stakes are so low, but the stakes of bloggernacle politics are, well, NOTHING. There’s no money being made, no significant fame or glory to be gained, no jobs at stake–I just don’t get it. I’ve never been able to get interested. I’m as competitive as the next girl (you should see me trying to peek at how fast the woman next to me has her treadmill set, and then making sure I’m going just a teeny bit faster–psycho!!), but I just don’t see either how or why to compete for bloggernacle elite status.

  63. C’mon guys, do you really think ANYONE cares for bloggernacle elite status? I mean, what real power does that have? It seems merely a psychological state that people aspire to. (“hey, look at me, people read my blog!!”) But that’s not power and it doesn’t affect anyone else.

    Perhaps it’s the power of influence. (“hey, go read x-blog, I recommend it.”) But I don’t know what the big huff is if someone has influence to direct other people at other blogs is.

  64. Blogs are way better than any Relief Society lesson I ever had.

    Although you shoulda been there when I shared how my skimpy red negligee made doing the bills ever so much less contentious.

    I know I’ve told that before, but it bears repeating.

  65. Okay, so I’m not denying that bloggernacle power/elitism is totally unimportant. Because clearly it’s seriously low stakes.

    And you know what, I’m not a competative person. I have no personal interest in the question as far as me wanting to control or influence anything. (well not much anyway and certainly not intentionally) In fact that idea that I might have control or influence makes me want to crawl under a rock.

    But that’s not really to the point of the question for me.

    I’m intersted in the if/why’s more more as a reflection larger questions.

    I mean the very fact that it is so low-stakes, no one has much of anything to gain, and yet . . . it still all comes around to men having power. Why is that? What is it about us, our behaviors, our assumptions, our motives that makes things fall out into this recognizable male-centered pattern? (assuming it does)

    It’s all very slippery and subtle, based in expected behaiviors, we don’t notice we’re doing it, we don’t notice the results, because it’s all exactly what we expect. But still I’m intersted in because until we do start to notice and understand, then the patterns are never going to change.

  66. Eric Russell says:

    What power do men have in the bloggernacle? What power does anyone have? Admin power to delete comments??? This is one of the strangest threads I’ve ever read.

    fmhLisa, I don’t think any constructive discussion of the issue you are trying to address can take place unless we know specifically what power we’re talking about.

  67. Eric,
    In a way, you’re illustrating exactly what I’m talking about. (Maybe. Or could be I’m just delusional, and as no one else seems as compelled by this idea as me, I’m leaning toward that possiblity.) It’s not about traditional ideas of “hard” power (like banning or deleting), it’s about impressions and behaviors that underlie our assumptions, that are so much a part of what we are that we don’t see it.

    The fact that you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there, that fact that I can’t explain what I mean clearly doesn’t mean it’s not there. It just means (if we’re going with my theory here) that it’s such a pervasive assumed foundational set of behaviors and beliefs that we never see it. Because it’s just there. Always. Like the air we breath, taken totally for granted until it starts to stink or blow or get thick with polution.

  68. FMH Lisa, I’m afraid you read DKL’s version of my intent rather than my actual comment. (The misspelling of my name was what tipped me off.) I’m not actually interested in BoH at all- why would I want to read about Jen getting felt up when I already know it’s fiction? But I was interested in the Bannergate situation- it was interesting to see how “nice” mormons attack each other when they feel that it’s just. (That’s one of the few things that the ‘nacle shares with RS.)

    Honestly, I think the bloggernacle is already starting to split, and I think it is along the iron rod/liahona lines. There will always be people who read both kinds of blogs, but those who are happy where they are will stick to the thoughts with which they are comfortable.

  69. I can attest that DKL is one of the least Hitler-like guys I know.

  70. Is Godwin’s law limited to Usenet, or does it work in the ‘nacle, too?

  71. gst: I can attest that DKL is one of the least Hitler-like guys I know.

    Thanks, man.

  72. Yes Ariel,
    I was facinated by that train wreck too. Even though I’d never really read BoH much, I couldn’t take my eyes off the fall out. Go figure.


  1. […] I haven’t been around since we emerged from the primordial slime of LDS-Phil, but nearly so. In the past few years I’d say that the 1% rule is being generous at best. Many, many more of us read and skim than comment, and many, many more of us comment than generate content of our own. I’ve wondered in the past why this is so, and others have as well (our own Karen hall has hinted at it in two separate posts, here and here). I’m not convinced that lurking is necessarily a bad thing, nor do I believe that everyone should get their own blogs going (though some should, I guess). The level of activity is an interesting concept, however. Let me throw out a theory, and you tell me whether you agree: the level of participation in the bloggernacle is roughly equivalent to the level of participation in the Church as a whole. […]

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