No comments = better bloggers?.This is the question posted by this week’s Blogazeroth shared topic, as proposed by Anea. I don’t normally do these as they tend to be a bit offtopic for my blog (which already runs the gamut from mental health issues to elemental shaman theorycrafting, and I find that a bit stretching at times.) However I think it is important to establish why one blogs.
Blogs, Journals, Diaries, Letters
Blogging is not entirely new and unique to the computer age, in my opinion. It follows in a long line of semi-public correspondence, memoirs, journalling, letters to the newspaper. Granted, the responses are much quicker and the readership more random and open. And anonymous. And unedited. I think you get the picture anyway, but the readership is open, and topics are subject to public response. On matters believed important enough, this happens via newspaper opinion columns, letters to the editor in more serious papers, and full on journal articles in the humanities and sciences.
I swear, during my post-graduate studies, half the journal articles I read were littered with passive aggressive personal attacks on ‘rivals’ in the field. Pettiness does not disappear in more academic circles, sadly.
In the days before the telephone and the more widespread newspaper, letters could be fairly public things. Many an intellectuals personal correspondence is published after they have passed on. The privacy of letters is something of a modern concept. Letters controlled the spread of ideas, and formed the basis of intellectual exchange between philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years, and were often written under the assumption that they would be read by more than the intended recipient. As letter writing has declined, blogging increases. Even if the blogging is sometimes bite-sized. Twitter is many conversations, formed a line at a time, and displayed for public consumption.
Blog-o-sphere is not a forum or a guild
Now, there has been recent hubbub that I feel Tam has summarised neatly here, and one of the topics that came up there was ‘it is a public forum, prepare to be publicly answered.’ I think it is very easy to forget that our posts are accessible by everyone. You can of course make your blog accessible to only a few, and the privacy of what you post is then under your control. Post it in the sphere of ‘opinionators’ and it is subject to dissection, denouncement, praise, and so on – possibly from people you had no idea existed.
Now, where blogging does differ from the literary/academic/newspaper mediums is the immediacy of the community. However this community is not like other communities. The blogging community is not like a forum or a guild, because it is hundreds (thousands) of individual opinionators, opinionating in their own style and with no moderator or editor to slap their hand and tell them to write something else, or avoid certain topics. If a blogger wants to post paragraphs of nonsensical babble, there is no moderator to come along and delete the post as spam. If a blogger wants to post an article condemning raiders for being elitist no life bastards, there is no guild leader to /gkick them for disrespecting other members of the community.
There is a certain amount of leadership by popularity, but large blogs such as PPI and Tobold would never claim that he is in charge of anything, and I don’t think any little blogger would want that to pass.
So, Pewter, ‘conversation’? Remember the title of this post?
I blog when I feel I have something to say to the WoW Community at large. I comment on others because they say things which prompt things in me, and get me mulling over certain topics. I blog to share information, to improve my writing (slowly but surely, thank you for your patience.) I blog to hear points of view thrown back at me. To link in to the earlier analogy of letters, I write in my blog because I don’t write to my friends and certainly not on these topics. I don’t think turning comments off, or ignoring other blogs would make me a better blogger, because the dialogue would inevitably be one-sided.
Not that it isn’t already. A blog without comments is something like a soapbox or a pulpit. We would denounce, we would preach, but we wouldn’t connect, and connecting and the desire to connect is one of those fundamentals of being human.