On occasion, it appears to become necessary to explain to the general bloggernacle populace what is and isn’t appropriate behavior here. Apparently, we’ve reached one of those moments again.
In the interest of helping out bloggernacle moderators everywhere and in the interest of not having to explain to a bunch of whiny, whiny, whinos over and over again why their behavior is considered trollish, I would like to offer some basic advice regarding appropriate blogging styles.
- Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever call someone else to repentance on the internet (or, at least, in the comments on a blog post). You don’t know this other person. You don’t know their status before God and man. You cannot adequately judge the thought, prayer, or effort they have put into their life and their relationship to God. If you feel the need to kindly point out how they have chosen to ignore all modern revelation on a given subject, you are not behaving kindly. This isn’t to say that you can’t point out modern revelation (or anything else) relevant to the subject; it is to say that you cannot put up your interpretation as the one, true version. Finally, you should do the following before you click submit: read the comment out loud in the most angry and then the most belittling manner possible and then decide if it continues to need to be posted. This won’t solve all your fitting in problems, but it will help immensely
- Be friendly. Although we sometimes receive criticism for being a bunch of glad handers, it is almost never a bad idea to complement someone on a post (unless, of course, it is a horrible post, which I happen to disagree with vehemently, in which case you are dead to me forever). Although you wouldn’t be able to tell it from most of my posts, most blog posts represent some time and effort expended on the part of the author. If you like it, then we will like you, especially if you have some cool insight to add. Even if you don’t like it, we will probably like you, if you disagree in an intelligent, humble manner. The internet is a great equalizer; credentials are unnecessary for participation. If you would like to participate, please make yourself welcome by…uh…making yourself welcoming. It really helps.
- Be civil. There are times for incivility in bloggernacle dialogue. However, as a new participant, you do not know them. Your first act as a participant shouldn’t be a tirade against all these conservative goody-two-shoes Mormons who won’t let you watch R-rated movies in peace. Get a feel for what is appropriate at your blog of choice before commenting. Some time spent as a lurker can be time well spent. I am often reminded of Robert Heinlein’s observation that a community where everyone is a ruthless murderer, with handy access to death-dealing devices, is a very polite community. We all consider ourselves witty, insightful, and, on occasion, capable of dealing out rhetorical death blows. Before you start slinging your bon-mots, learn when the situation calls for it and when it doesn’t. Otherwise, you might get shunted out an airlock (or banned as a troll…which you feel is worse).
- Finally, realize that this IS a clique. There is nothing wrong with that. I am not saying that those in the clique only want to hear themselves talk (although that is often what happens). I am saying that we built this community and that we are happy with it. This also means that we are not looking for someone, whom we do not know and have never met before, to come along and tell us what we are doing wrong. There is a place and a time for that and your first blog comment is not it. This doesn’t mean that criticism is per se bad (we do have our merry pranksters). However, you have to realize that, although you discovered this blog just last weekend, we have been doing this for a while. We have cultivated a community where we can hash out our problems in a way that is helpful for us. If you find what we do unhelpful and cannot think of a productive way to help us improve (or want to), there is a big, big internet out there for you to inhabit. Knock yourself out. If you like this space, please realize that it is here because we enforce the rules as we see fit. And, in part, those rules are arbitrary, sporadic, and nonsensical, because we are. If you want to participate, you’ll figure it out. If not, there is always Meridian, where they don’t let you comment at all.
In the interest of full disclosure, I fit in primarily because I have been here a long time. I began blogging because a friend, whose coattails I still ride, asked me to participate. When I first began to comment on other people’s posts, I thought of myself as the great threadkiller because no-one ever seemed to respond to or notice my comments. Eventually, I got my own blog, started writing my own stuff, and people took notice. Not a lot, but enough (and of the right sort) to keep me going. Authors talk about finding their audience and I found mine. I then proceeded to involve more friends in the endeavor, overcommit myself to several blogs, and then publicly leave and come back several times. I have had the whole VH1 blog story and I have, on the whole, enjoyed it.
It is, in its own way, a way that I approach God. It isn’t the only way (and I am not convinced it is the “best”), but it is a way I have done it. For now, that is enough.
For the newbs, welcome to the conversation! We are glad to have you here (just don’t forget to do your home/visiting teaching and your good deed daily). For the oldsters, we’re glad to have you. Please feel free to add your rules, your stories of bloggernacle initiation, or anything other lovingly navel-gazing moment that you need to in the comments. Ya’ll come back, ye hear!