Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blogspot - swimming back toward paradise

Yesterday I published a dialogue between the B&B Boys and myself that rambled on about honesty, criticism, and unconditional love and how nice we all are to each other on Blogspot. 

I have to say that the comments were more interesting than the dialogue.  Rebecca and others liked it the way it is, enjoy the criticism-free, warm fuzziness of Blogspot and others, like Nan and Bonnie seemed kind of excited about the prospect of barehanded debate. 

I was more confused than ever.  But that is the nice thing about Blogging -- and living -- there are seldom any right ways to do things. Ginger suggested a code word for more honest opinion giving on some blogs.  Ginger did say that when she says she loves my blog she really means it...which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

I admit that, although I brought up the topic, I kind of lean toward Rebecca and Rachel -- that the world is full enough of criticism and, as Kerry said, sometimes the nice comments are the best part of my day. 

I also go in waves, as J9 said.   Sometimes I just like hugs and sometimes I crave criticism.   But, thinking about it more last night, I think that the format of Blogspot makes debate more difficult and other formats, like email groups, make debate easier. 

The way Blogspot is set up, the person who does the post is more of a performer, sets the stage and performs.  Then people comment.  But it is hard to go into the next round because I don't think many people go back again to read yesterdays comments in order to check out the comments that came after commenting on the original comments.  And after 24-48 hours there is a new blog posting anyway.   Blogs become history very very fast.  The format is blog, comment, and on to the next blog.

Several years ago I was part of a very active poetry email group.  There were between five to seven members.  We blurted out poems and loved each other to death but we also had a code phrase -- "Real criticism wanted" -- which would instantly change the response of all members to well-meant but picky and sometimes difficult feedback.  We developed huge trust with each other over time and were able to dance through the alternating waves of "love me" and "criticise me" with grace.  Since all emails were sent to the entire group, the format was more circular than linear. 

I know I'm babbling.  I do enjoy taking off the gloves and getting into it over various things but my impression of Blogspot is that it is more of an engine for performance/applause/love/support.   An email group -- or maybe a group blog -- are better for the debate/feedback loop kind of stuff. 

I'm glad I got people (and myself) thinking about that.  An email group could work -- although, having said that, I'm not sure I have time for anything else on my plate right now. 

So I think I'll just slip back into Tom Sawyer's river and drift along with loving and being loved.  It does feel nice in the morning to settle in with friends, pull up the comforter, and turn up the electric blanket.  

I love you guys! 


  1. Personally, I like a bit of criticism to spice things up...'Why don't you...?' or Why not...?' or even 'What if...? are phrases I'd welcome with open arms.

  2. I'm wondering if 'criticism' is the correct word. Like Jinksy, I would enjoy hearing an opposing point of view, hearing another perspective, the 'what ifs.....', etc. Rather than criticism (although that is great too when constructive) I crave a more open, honest, fuller disclosure type of comment. What do you REALLY think? Where did the post take your thinking? What is your honest reaction? Those are the type of comments I enjoy.

    But the question then, is how do you know who can tolerate such openness and could prove hurtful to some fragile souls or weak egos.

    I also think as you suggest, that the type of comments most commonly seen are due to the time constraints we all have. So we read, learn and appreciate and leave it at that.

    As with life, there is no one 'right' way and we grope along with our commenting doing the best we can, hopefully with respect and as much depth as the medium and blogger can bear.

  3. You're right about blogging being more like a performance than debate, and it's true we all get enough criticism in the rest of our lives. When I particularly want critical feedback I usually say so in the post (though that has not yet encouraged many to give dissenting opinions!).
    It's really hard to argue with people you don't know. Even over the dinnertable most of us would be inclined to keep criticism of a stranger's thoughts to ourselves and our conversation only mildly dissenting, if at all.
    I used to be annoyed by vapid comments, but now I realize they're just saying 'hello'. And with that, I started leaving 'hello, I like this' comments too, which when you appreciate a post is better than stopping by and then leaving without a trace.

  4. This is "the next round" - you highlight the comments from yesterday, you add more thoughts, and the debate continues today. But you're the 'chair', you're in control, and it goes on for only as long as you want it to.

    I'm doing my PhD in computer-mediated dialogue and I've decided (after some research, not just because I'm Blogland Dictator!) that blogging is primarily a monologic rather than dialogic medium, i.e. it mostly consists of "someone saying stuff" (followed by some responses) rather than "people talking together".

    I do like the sound of that poetry group :)

  5. When all comments are positive, a lack of comments becomes the worst form of criticism. If no one drops by your blog to leave a comment, the implication is that what you've written is not up to par, uninteresting or offensive in some way.

    I say the "worst form of criticism" because the lack of detail leaves the writer floundering not knowing if the topic was uninteresting, the writing substandard, if he has offended a majority of his readers in some way or all of the above.

    It can be hard to correct an unknown fault.

    Interesting topic Mark.

  6. I agree with what everyone wrote above...and I am not just being nice. I sometimes, as you may know, will put in a zinger, but blogs are not like conversation where facial expression and tone of voice can be seen and heard to temper the constructive criticism.

    I do think you have captured it well when you say it is some kind of performance. I regret that because I originally was writing to please myself and to keep a diary for my grandchildren. (You can quit laughing as only the most serious and lonely child would be interested, I know.) But it hard to stay honest when you want to please your readers.

  7. I too agree with everything said above. The most striking is by Tabor, to me, the lack of the ability to see body language and expressions is what drives me to stay positive. What may be a pun or a joke may be taken wrong. I have read posts where a person is hurt to tears by a negative comment. Cheri had asked me to join her group and set my post to receive comments through email. It ended up coming up on email and on the post also and my email box stayed full all the time. Sorry guys I enjoy the 'performing arts.' I am having my blog made into a book for my grandchildren.

  8. B&B...outstanding two days of posts! It's up to us to paint a picture using words, when blogging. Being void of tone, is the challenge. In turn, I believe most choose positive words to ring a positive tone.

  9. I also prefer real criticism than smart arse comments I get from people. I am trying to let stuff roll off my back and down the crapper, and the nice things people say are well, nice.

    I do feel however that many people just come over to get you to come visit their blog, oh and on my food blog, not FSO or others, and see people buckle to the pressure of feeling they have to visit so many followers. Then they just quit. I am happy to just write for myself, if no one ever came over, I am great in my own living room.

    Silence can be golden...Positive silence is fine too...

    Okay I think my pendulum just flew off the clock :)

  10. Now I am up to speed, and read the previous post...I agree on all fronts, since I only post food that I am really proud of, and the photos ego was already over inflated without help...

    Real criticism wanted...I love thinkers like you, and btw way I have to go all the way to your beginnings, but what is the debating teams history? Maybe a post to revisit the purpose of your beginnings would be in order, a way of re-writing history of sorts...homework due at your leisure :)

  11. I love you guys, too. Interesting discussion. I agree with Barry about the pernicious effects of silence. I've looked many times at comment history of various posts to find out what it is that creates a vigorous response to some posts and what elicits only a few comments. And for the life of me, I'm not sure I get it. And I've read the blogs of people that have hundreds of followers or that are "blogs of note" and don't see much noteworthy. What makes the difference? What about a blog makes it worth following or visiting often? I know one woman whose blog I loved reading until it became a "blog of note." Then it became strained, as if she were trying to live up to her hype and having a hard time. Why are some blogs so heavily visited when they seem little more than self-promotion? I guess if we're not writing for ourselves, it's not worth doing, but having someone affirm you or ask questions is validating.

  12. We love all three of you too - Wordpress has a feature that you can check every time you comment, and it will e-mail you with subsequent comments. Also, you could start a facebook group for poetry - I've found that fb is a bit more immediate and lends itself to conversations a bit better.

  13. I was by, made for a very nice conversation with Camillo during lunch.
    Sorry - I was going to stop there but have something to say....
    I know a couple blogs that have the option to request notice when another comment is made on a post. This is nice for when you want to know what is being said by other visitors, and what additional responses the writer gives, but it is not a challenge nor a learning experience to leave a comment that does not get a follow up from the writer. After reading both your posts and all the comments, I am confused about what it is you are wanting from your readers. Is there really any comment that I can make to help you learn more about a topic. Yesterday, I gave you an address of a blog a young mother in Sao Paulo writes, often there are two days of comments (is this a discussion?) and I go back to see what else has been said and often add another comment to the stream. But she writes of child rearing, and learning Portuguese and living in a foreign country - these are things I can add my thoughts and maybe contribute to her knowledge and understanding. But really what can I say to you about writing or photography that will challenge you. Here is a challenge read my blog from yesterday, open a dialog about it that would be a challenge or would be helpful for me....

  14. I see we were on the same wave-length on this one. Your contributors seem genuinely interested in how you think. Somehow, it's hard to get into a debate with this medium.

  15. Well, you have really touched a nerve, it seems. What you have "babbled" has caused your readers to make some of the most thoughtful comments I've seen in awhile. Also made me look at a blog that I haven't read for some weeks: snowbrush.blogspot, where the author writes lengthy posts maybe once a week that seem to invite debate among his readers because he will take a risky stance on a topic and make diligently prepared arguments to support himself. Interestingly, his most recent topic (his ailing blind dog) has only invited the most sympathetic of remarks. He makes no attempt himself to be "a nice guy" so it's fairly easy to disagree with him--if you don't mind him cutting you to shreds in responding comments. I am afraid to comment on his blog most of the time!