Am I my Co-Blogger’s Keeper?

Do I have any moral responsibility for what goes on in the ‘nacle? Should we all be blamed for what others write? Let’s examine the opposite concept first, should we get credit for the bloggernacle as a whole because we are participants? This is of course a loaded concept in Mormonism, but I’m proud to be part of this community. I learn from you all, I find comfort from your words, I laugh with you even though I don’t know most of you. There is something surprising and fresh and real about our community, and I’m proud of it. Does pride connote ownership and responsibility?

On the other hand, that sense of ownership could also justify blaming me for what goes on here. Of course, I don’t agree with all of you. Put another way, I’m offended at times by what is written here. I don’t like talking about the temple online. I don’t like telling personal stories about other people who are identified, but not participating. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like hip hop. I don’t like white chocolate. You get the idea…I have my opinions. I imagine that other people are offended by different topics or comments than I am–and probably, there are those out there who have been offended by what I’ve written. Certainly, the bloggernacle is a market-place of ideas, but do we have a responsibility to each other to set parameters, to keep some topics out of bounds, to keep some comments out of bounds? Should we all be responsible for the overall timbre of communication? Should we censor? Blame? Boycott? What are our options for shaping the community?

What about those of us who are perma-bloggers on a group site? Do we have a special editorial responsibility, or is our responsibility to support unfettered freedom of thought and speech? Again, I feel some pride for the quality of BCC. I love this site. I really respect my co-bloggers, but I don’t always agree with them. And honestly, rather than vocally disagree, I tend to ignore the posts I disagree with. Of course, I don’t have the time to follow every thread, but am I shirking my responsibilities for not jumping in and becoming the opposition?

What do you all think, should I be my co-blogger’s keeper? And if so, how?


  1. MikeInWeHo says:

    How could you be your co-blogger’s keeper, even if you wanted to? We’re not all members of the Church in here, and the bloggernacle is basically anonymous. There are moderators keeping tabs on things to delete grossly offensive or inappropriate comments (such as details of the Temple ceremonies, obscene language, etc). Unfettered freedom of thought and speech are intrinsic and a function of the anonymity. Sad that it’s necessary, really. Why do thoughtful members of the Church need this environment to really explore their deepest thoughts, feelings, and doubts? Why can’t we have these conversations face-to-face in the meetinghouse? Guess that’s for another string, though.

  2. Karen, I think the answer to your question is yes, to the extent you can be.

    People who sponsor a forum like this have a responsibility to set the tone and be examples of what is acceptable. I think they actually need to have a little higher standard for themselves than what they expect from the participants.

    I used to just ignore material that I found offensive or painful or misguided. But I’ve now concluded that one of the benefits of participating in this forum is that I get to practice engaging, in a way that I hope is productive and kind, people who are different. St. Francis said it best: “Grant..that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand…” And even if the only good that comes of it is that I refine my own thinking, it has still been worthwhile.

    There really are some amazing and interesting people in this e-ward we call the bloggernacle.

  3. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like hip hop. I don’t like white chocolate.

    I feel your pain. Hip hop has driven almost all other forms of modern music (except for kiddy pop) out of the market that is rock. It is this generation’s disco.

    Of course there is country ;)

    As for chocolate, ever since I’ve become allergic to it, I’ve decided that pseudo-chocolate (white chocolate) has potential …

    Oh, the real issue? How should we treat blogging, like a conversation or like a newspaper?

    I think we treat it as a conversation, and that is how we are our brother’s keepers in this end of the world.

  4. Eric Russell says:

    Karen, the real question is what prompted this post? Did Ronan cross the line with his Jesus on the highway post? That’s what I thought. You need to lay the smack down.

  5. Tough questions, Karen. I think one’s level of participation isn’t a function of an overarching morality. However, I would expect all of us to take a stand when something is believed wrong. I think that perma-bloggers owe it to the participants.

    That said, for much of what I read here, any lack of comment on my part is not a result of disagreement or disinterest, but me talking the time to think about it.

    This relates a bit to Nate’s recent post on the nacle. I really don’t think we can escape the communal aspect of these fora. We can’t be simply scholarly when it comes to Mormonism, like I can with chemistry. No one’s life gets turned upsidedown or leaves their family over chemisty.

  6. MikeInWeHo says:

    Perhaps not theoretical chemistry, but applied chemistry for sure! ETOH has destroyed many a family, a nice SSRI just the reverse.

  7. Elisabeth says:

    This is an interesting question, Karen. I see the blogs as being a classic manifestation of rugged individualism, with the community building effects trailing behind as an afterthought.

    Unless you have a group blog, like the excellent Various Stages of Mormondom, whose authors all post on a particular topic set each week, post content is a free-for-all based on the interests and preferences of the individual blogger. Occasionally, I’ll ask one or two of my co-bloggers what they think of me posting on a potentially controversial subject, but this is more of a sanity check than out of respect for anyone’s particular sensitivities.

    I’ve also been very surprised when I’ve blogged at other places, that the blogger in charge isn’t concerned about limiting the topics I choose – they just expect me to find something vaguely interesting. I guess you can always delete posts you don’t agree with, but I have been taken aback at times at the lack of censorship in the bloggernacle. It has taken me awhile to become comfortable reading and participating in frank assessments of Church policies and doctrine, since I’ve never before been in a supportive environment to do that.

    In any event, I find the discussions on the blogs to be respectful, and a generally productive exchange of ideas. For the notable exceptions, I usually just shake my head and move on to another blog. I guess I don’t feel obligated to make a stand and correct anyone’s ideas, unless no one else is speaking up and I find the idea utterly abhorrent.

  8. Elisabeth writes:

    “I’ve also been very surprised when I’ve blogged at other places, that the blogger in charge isn’t concerned about limiting the topics I choose – they just expect me to find something vaguely interesting. I guess you can always delete posts you don’t agree with, but I have been taken aback at times at the lack of censorship in the bloggernacle.”

    Talk about the understatement of the day. You were our most conscientious guest, by far, E. I still remember being (pleasantly) surprised when you asked if you could run potential post topics by me — and then sent me a list of ten! I’m pleased that we surprised you at least as much by saying “sounds good – write on what you’d like.” :)


    I agree, it’s past time for a Karen-Ronan smackdown. There can only be one.

    My money’s on Karen, of course . . .


    You write, “No one’s life gets turned upsidedown or leaves their family over chemisty.”

    I’m no expert in family law (unlike Elisabeth, who is is currently educating Nate over at NCT ;) ) but I would bet that someone, somewhere, has cited “lack of chemistry” as grounds for divorce.

    Of course, you’re a chemist, so you don’t have to worry about that possibility. :P

  9. I’m in the “don’t censor”[1] camp. It’s what makes the bloggernacle so vital for me. Also, if you choose co-bloggers carefully, I honestly think you can trust them and cut them slack. BCC works well in this regard, I think.

    1. Obscenity and blasphemy and outer-darkness style apostasy aside (maybe!)

  10. I could never hit a man with a British accent. I could hit on a man with a British accent. Perhaps Ronan has a single brother…

  11. Sorry, Karen. Just sisters.

    Oh, and my other rule: if possible, settle one’s grievances privately before going public.

  12. Are bloggers their co-bloggers’ keeper? No, even if they participate in fake blogs.

  13. Being fairly new to blogging, but highly opinionated, (according to my wife,) I very much apprecitate the freedom that is shown in confronting those who opinions differ. However, saying that I do not feel it is a license to be offensive or to belittle.

    I appreciate your efforts to moderate, and if necessary edit, but sometimes it is necessary for us to confront those who offend us one on one. There needs to be a way of contacting somebody directly without airing it out on this blog or any other blog. Do you have amethod inplace that allows direct contact if desired?

  14. We really encourage people to leave their email addresses so they can be contacted personally. Of course, those who are intentionally being inflammatory are unlikely to do so. I’ve emailed people who’ve commented before, because I thought that continuing a conversation in private was the best course. However, leaving an email address is only suggested, not mandatory.

    I think I’m with you George, on the issue of liking the freedom to debate. In general it works well, but sometimes things veer into territory that I’m very uncomfortable with. Which probably forces me to grow a bit…not that bad of a prospect!