Monday, 29 September 2008

10 Blogging Commandments...

The Evangelical Alliance have published their "Ten Blogging Commandments" which came out of the recent "Godblogs event in London.

The Times have picked up the story here and commented here

Some people aren't impressed, such as Dave Warnock with some interesting criticisms while some who were at the event are a bit confused as to what was published.

Personally - I can see how this started out as a good idea but I am unsure the Times article is actually good PR. It feels a little bit too much like airing our dirty laundry in public without actually adding much to help.

I am relatively new to blogging. I have been a moderator of a football messageboard for 5 or 6 years now, which has over 500,000 posts on 47,000 topics in 4 years, but only recently entered the blogging world having been interested by the blogs of both my brother Jon and Phil Whittall.

Here are a few of my personal observations, and if I am honest, disappointments:

1) I have been surprised at the strength of criticism on some blogs. It seems very odd, that less hurtful things are said by rival football fans trying to be offensive, than fellow Christians trying to represent a different viewpoint. In fact, it appears that some blogs / bloggers only exist for the purpose of running down other people / ministries / theological positions etc.

2) "Christian bloggers" seem to have a subculture of their own, and within that culture there are very definite groups or further subcultures so it is far too easy for new people to be dismissed. I deliberately look at blogs that differ from my own position on subjects to be stirred on the issues and engage with thinking that is different to my own. Some blogs appear to be , or are moderated to look like exercises in backslapping by a particular clique and anyone outside of that sphere gets run down too quickly.

3) It appears that many bloggers don't want to discuss things, they just want to prove their own rightness. A fantastic example of a blog that does not fall into this trap is complegalitarian which really has become a place for genuinely effective discussion.

4) "Unity" is used as both a bomb shelter to hide in once a fight has been started and also a tool to prevent further discussion. To some it is a trump card to play once you have had your ounce of flesh. You can say whatever you want then hide behind "unity" - but only after breeding disunity through false accusation or deliberate misinterpretation of someone else's viewpoint. It appears that people want you to respect their right to believe what they do and therefore uphold unity, while withholding the right to say whatever they want about your position without any negative reaction, which would of course, be you bringing disunity... So "unity" becomes a means of bullying rather than the foundation of a conversation, which is no unity at all.

5) Blogs don't really allow for personality in the same way that speech does. People say things in a way or with a strength way beyond what they would say to someone's face. People know me as a pretty easy going, humorous, fairly sensitive chap. At uni my nickname was "Jolly Dave". I wonder if that has made it across into cyberspace.

This is a humorous take on the ten commandments that brings a bit of joy back into the conversation.

On a more personal level, these are the basic presumptions I want to move forward with:

1) Hear the person - not their background, denomination, church background etc.

2) Not to use inflammatory language. It just does not help whatsoever.

3) Guilt by association is not guilt at all.

4) Don't question their motivations - even the person who is the most wrong on a subject needs to be engaged with as a fellow believer trying to get it right. I hold that because one day I may find myself as the most wrong - even though I know I am trying to get it right.

5) Don't write off 99% of what someone stands for on the basis of the 1% you disagree with. Most of us have more in common with each other than we think, and even where we disagree, we can still learn how it works for someone who holds that view.

Forgive the fact there are only 5. I may add more, but that will do for now. More to the point, forgive the times I stray from my own list.


Jongudmund said...

What's really annoying is when you make a comment and then someone tells you you're wrong and uses a TOTALLY DIFFERENT SITUATION to justify their criticism ;)

Glennsp said...

I don't know how long you have been reading 'Complegalitarian', but I have been reading it from the day it started and I disagree with you completely.

Comps are routinely ridiculed. Several of the regulars are so damaged by events in their pasts that they seem unable to assess anything Comp clearly. (The damage I refer to is not my assumption, but comes from information the individuals have shared on the blog)

On many occasions people who have written positively about Comp have been impugned in several different areas of their character, competence et al

I have seen several people who tried to engage with the posters and commenters from the egal side just give up because of the unwarranted hostility and uncalled for accusations.

It gives me no pleasure to write this, but it is the truth I have observed.

In some ways it is a moot point at the moment as the Wayne has cut off all access to past comments for the time being

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I have seen several people who tried to engage with the posters and commenters from the egal side just give up because of the unwarranted hostility and uncalled for accusations.

I can understand that, and the poll now ont he front page of the site shows clearly that comps felt unsafe there.

I guess that highlights my point even further though - as comegalitarian is the best discussion on that area I have ever found!

The fact with all its faults it is still the best does not bode well for similar blogs, usually linked with a particular organisation promoting one side or other.