A Blog on BloggingPosted: July 14, 2012
Once in a while it’s fun to write a blog post on blogging itself. So here goes…
I’ve tried (and failed) previously to explain the reasoning behind why I blog. I’m still not totally sure why I bother at times. I’m also aware holymansam.wordpress.com can lack a bit of direction. But you, the reader have kept on reading (or so the stats tell me) and for that, I’m grateful.
One of the most important things about blogging is, to quote The Guardian “comment is free”. Without readers joining in with the discussion, blogging loses its soul. Books, journals and newspapers don’t enjoy this same level of interactivity. Letters to the editor only let a tiny percentage of readers comment. Blogs let everyone have a say (even the spambots). The internet has given us all a voice. This is something that should be celebrated.
This may be controversial, but in my view, unless you have the comment facility enabled, your blog is not a blog.
It’s not so much that your missing out on insight from friends and those who know more about the subject than you, (although that’s all true) but rather the fact that you send a very negative message to your readers.
By disabling the comment function, you are refusing to let people engage with your writing. You may not be doing this in an arrogant fashion, it just looks that way to your reader. Like it or not, the majority of blogs invite comments. So if your blog doesn’t have this feature, you stick out for all the wrong reasons.
The best lecturers give time for questions. But blogs that don’t let the reader comment are worse than a lecturer that ignores his students questions. Unless you turn the comments on, you’re having a one way conversation with your readers.
One way conversations are no fun. Remember that guy or girl who just talks at you rather than to you? You can’t get a word in edge-ways. We’ve all been on the receiving end of those ‘chats’. A few of us have given them too (sorry).
Journalists are encouraged to have at least one specialist subject. Something they know a lot about. Most (though not all) of my specialist subjects fall under the heading of ‘Christianity’. Theology is one of these subjects. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert, it’s just an interest/hobby. Now, in doing something as absurd and as difficult as trying to describe what God is like, you’re going to make some mistakes whatever level you’re at. But what I love about theology is the amount of material I’ve learned and gleaned from others through podcasts, books, and yes…blogs. These mediums have both corrected me and further enforced what I already believe.
Unsurprisingly, there are hundreds of blogs on theology and loads of them are absolutely brilliant. The writers write well and the readers respond reflectively.
But I’ve noticed a concerning trend among bloggers who fit into the ‘reformed’ category. That’s right, they’ve turned the comments section off! I realise that especially with bigger blogs, there may be issues surrounding censorship. It’s right that offensive comments are deleted. I’ve done that before. But it’s not too difficult or time-consuming to do this. You don’t solve the problems 1% of your readers (known as trolls) cause by censoring everyone! You just censor the trolls. Simple.
For me, you lose credibility if you aren’t willing to let the audience engage. If you have comments turned on (well done, you) and want extra brownie points, then do what Vicky Beeching models so well and respond to your readers comments. That’s going the extra mile. But the bare minimum should be letting your readers having a say – it’s what blogging is all about!