September 16, 2008

Obligations Of A Blogger

In the past couple of weeks, I have done some blogging about blogging (see this , this , this and this.) Here are some further thoughts.

Bloggers have obligations to their readers. These obligations fall into a few categories:

1. An obligation to be interesting. I don't care how much I agree or disagree with a blogger, if she is interesting she has done her job. I would much rather read an interesting post I completely disagree with than a bunch of agreeable pablum.

2. An obligation to be responsible. This one is tricky. Part of being interesting is to speak your mind, but part of being human is a responsibility to protect other people from unnecessary embarrassment.
I have struggled with this one. The solution I have come up with, when being critical, is to be specific about the media source, but not name the writer, or speaker.

Another ethical responsibility is to protect readers from the disturbing ravings of lunatics. I have never censored ("moderated" in web-speak) a comment on my blog. But if something disturbing or threatening came along, I would feel no compunction about doing so.

On the other hand, when a blogger opens an area of discussion for comments, his readers have a right to expect that every reasonable point of view will be allowed and that censorship will only be used to protect the reader, not the ego of the blogger.

Some bloggers (see Stalinist Cult Blogs) don't want comments. They want compliments.

3. An obligation to care enough to do it right. There is an alarming amount of sloppy blogging. From time to time everyone misspells a word or creates a typo. However, when I see a pattern of sloppy writing; when I see an inability to create a simple declarative sentence; when I see a stream of misspellings, I lose confidence in the blogger's ability to provide me with anything useful.

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