Thursday, June 26, 2008

What I've learned about blogging in the past two years

Today is the second anniversary of the birth of Ms. Kitty's Saloon and Road Show. When I started writing the blog, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd only gotten a screen name so that I could comment on the several blogs I had discovered through some now long-forgotten process. I think I must have read something in the UU World that alerted me to the fact that some interesting things were going on in cyberland and that it might be fun to watch.

Well, if you're an extrovert like me, it's hard to just watch. Extroverts almost always feel as though they have something to contribute, even if it's just affirming somebody else's idea. We know what that feels like and so we often chime in with the "me too" comment, just to keep the other person company. There's something about that "Comments: 0" that feels a little sad.

My style here has evolved from those early days. I've learned a few things, made a lot of friends, admired dozens of beautifully written posts and gotten new ideas from a bunch of people. It's been a great two years. Reading blogs has become a valued part of my day and I often get ideas for my own work from what others share. Writing posts has become a discipline I enjoy.

I tried to write a long list of "what I have learned about blogging in the past two years", but so far I only have a few items:

1. It is unwise to suck up to sycophants or to damn the dissenters. Hey, everybody has a right to his/her own opinion and it's wise to let them be and not try to change their minds. I've learned more by listening than by arguing.

2. Civil is as civil does. Being nasty to dissenters just makes the dissenter look better than the dissentee (does that make sense?). If you want civil dialogue, be civil to those who challenge your ideas.

3. These are real friends, not imaginary. I have met many of my blogging friends in person, not just online. It is important to be good to them. These friends have expanded my own world by what they post on their blogs.

4. I have a responsibility to be careful about what I post. I have had a couple of occasions when someone was hurt by something I'd written and I have had to backtrack and make amends.

5. In some ways, my readers are a cyber-congregation and I am a cyber-preacher and pastor. I am honored by this relationship and want to nurture it, not harm it.

I'm sure I've learned more, but it would be interesting to me to know what others are learning from their blogging. I wouldn't mind adding to my list.

15 comments:

moreover said...

I'm glad I saw this today on uuapdates.net as my own atheist uu blog is just a few days old. I hope I'm not being a sycophant when I vow to take your advice :)
Martin
My blog is at http://juuggernaut.wordpress.com

(btw, on blogger comments, is there a way to make links such as mine active or is that disabled as a matter of policy for spam protection?)

ms. kitty said...

Hi, Martin,
I haven't disabled anything so I don't know how to tell you to link. It's not something I've figured out.

If you're taking somebody's advice because it's good advice and you're not just trying to score points, then you're wise, not being a sycophant. Or that's my thought, at least.

Thanks for your thoughts. I noticed when you came online and I've been reading you.

jess said...

You have to code the link manually in Blogger comments. ;-)

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Jess. Hopefully it will help Martin too.

Robin Edgar said...

This link will be even more helpful to Martin aka jUUgernaut or anyone else who wants to embed active links in Blogger comments.

I am glad to see that you have learned that it is not wise to damn dissenters Ms. Kitty. To be honest I was somewhat (albeit quite pleasantly) surprised to see that you saw fit to post some of my recent controversial comments. I am also glad to see that you understand that you are a cyber-preacher and pastor and that your blog readers are a cyber-congregation. Would that some other U*U ministers who blog understood that. I tried to convince Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris of the UUA's Department of Congregational Services and Ministerial Fellowship Committee director Rev. Beth Miller that U*U clergy whose blogs identify themselves as U*U ministers (even if they are pseudonymous) effectively have a cyber-pulpit and what they say on their blogs needs to conform to UUMA guidelines, but they both jumped through all kinds of rationalizing hoops to pretend that this was not so. I find it find it rather disturbing that the UUA and MFC will allow certain unmentionable U*U ministers to insult and defame people on their blogs with complete impunity just because they blog under a pseudonym. As I pointed out to both Rev. Robinson-Harris and Rev. Beth Miller it is actually a worse reflection on the U*U religious community if the minister blogs offensively under a pseudonym because no one knows which minister is the offender and people may assume that it is any number of other U*U ministers who are responsible for the offensive material. It is quite clear from my communications with Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris and Rev. Beth Miller that they do not believe that insulting and abusive U*U clergy need to "backtrack and make amends", so you are to be commended for doing so completely voluntarily.

ms. kitty said...

Robin, I'm publishing this comment because you offer something useful to Martin and are sticking pretty much to the topic. But I don't want to rehash old issues that you have with my colleagues. If you want to do it on your own blog, that's fine. Please don't do it here.

Robin Edgar said...

Actually the issue is by no means old Ms. Kitty. That particular issue is reasonably "fresh" and, to my knowledge, your colleagues' highly questionable response to that issue has not changed to this day.

Thanks for posting my comment anyway. I wouldn't have submitted it here if I didn't think that U*Us in general, and U*U clergy in particular, needed to be reminded of that issue.

As you say.

Civil is as civil does. . .

Dare I say U*Us are as U*Us do? ;-)

Or, as Jerry Rubin might put it. . .

Don't tell me what U*U principles are. Show me what U*Us do 24 hours a day, and I will tell you what U*U principles are.

ms. kitty said...

I know the situation you mention is not old to you, Robin, but I really don't want to feature it on my blog. I will delete any subsequent posts that mention it.

You're always welcome to post relevant comments. Sometimes your idea of "relevant" will differ from mine; that's just life.

Mile High Pixie said...

Very cool! Those are good lessons for everyone to learn. And I must say that I appreciate your insights and the printing of your sermons. Talk about outreach!

And I appreciate also the shoutout on your blog. It's an honor.

ms. kitty said...

You're so welcome, Pixie. Thanks for the kind words.

Joel said...

I have had a couple of occasions when someone was hurt by something I'd written and I have had to backtrack and make amends.

I wouldn't take this one too far. Sometimes you have to say, "To hell with it; I'm right and you're wrong." Gentler than that, of course, but that's the gist of it. (Although I'm the one you'd be most likely to say that to, and I happen to know it's usually not true.) :)

But at the day's end, it's your blog, and your rules. Dissent is fine, but dissenters don't need to tax you with it unduly.

Joel said...

And let the record show that I posted that before I read Robin's comments. :)

I have no ax to grind where Robin's concerned; heck, I don't even understand what the argument is about. But the principle applies; your blog, your discretion. His blog carries with it the same privilege.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Joel. I don't like to censor anyone but I do reserve the right to say what goes here.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Happy Blog Anniversary, Ms. K! I've learned a lot from your blog about grace and discretion - and I deeply appreciate the trouble you went to with last year's bloggers dinner at GA. Here's to more happy years of blogging - and making the rest of us stay on topic.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, EBS. I am enjoying hearing about your journey into ministry and wishing you a wonderful experience.