This post is somewhat special. Why ? Because i once promised myself i would not carry things out here, but instead try to resolve things with the people involved in private, and thus spare myself, and them, the public dissection of things done, said, not done and not said.
But in this case, the incident™ carries implications which range further than i can currently foresee, and discussing them in private is something which for various reasons does not seem to work. So, instead of just mulling it over in my brain, i decided to put it out here for everyone to read. (Everyone who cares to, that is).
There – that is out of the way. There is one more little disclaimer, which i need in order to protect the little sanity i have left (or perhaps not that little). In the remainder of the post, i will refrain from naming people. I will refrain from describing the incident™ in any more detail than needed. Because, in the end the incident itself does not matter. What matters is how people dealt with it, and what the end result was. (And no, i am far from happy with the result)
Right – now that that is out of the way, let me lay out the facts.
- SomethingBad™ happened.
- RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it.
- Some people involved in SomethingBad™ read it. Some commented, some did not. (actually, most did not)
- RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it some more.
- Some more people involved noticed it, together with APossiblyGuiltyParty™, who was rather irritated at the posts, and at what they said about them.
- There is some discussion about the incident™ in the guild forums. And it is more a discussion than a flame war, because despite what many people may assume (considering we are talking about an online game here), most of the people involved were actually rather mature and sensible human beings. (disclaimer – perhaps some are not, but in that case, they all did very well at trying to appear sensible)
- Things seem to have resolved themselves. At least as far as the incident™ is concerned. What is left is to see what is needed to repair whatever was broken during the discussion. Fortunately, the number of inexcusable outbursts and the amount of foolish name-calling was kept to a minimum, so for people viewing this from the outside (me), things seem mendable.
So far, so good. Now enter stage 2.
- RandomBloogerOne™ decides that something like this should not be, and should not happen. They in turn follow that decision up with leaving the people involved.
- The Rest™ is standing around, wondering what the hell is going on. Some say friendly good-bye’s, some ask RandomBloogerOne™ to get back, as things are resolved, and some simply stare at all the shattered things on the ground, wondering.
- A bit later, an explanation appears as to some of the reasoning behind the decision. It also exposes just how far RandomBloogerOne™ has taken it, and how difficult taking those steps has been.
- Again, many read the explanation. Again, few comment. And no, i did not comment myself. Instead, i sat down pondering what to do, and what you now read is the result.
And that is where things lie now. Considering that i am writing this post, it should be obvious that i am anything but happy with the situation. But the reasoning may not be. And in the end, this post has very little to do with any attempt to change anyones mind – i know i do not have the words (or whatever else is needed) to do that. It has to do with a few basic assumptions which lie underneath the decision, and which i consider dangerously flawed.
Dangerously flawed, because they make a decision seem sensible which really does not at all address the core issue behind the problem, and which in the end causes a lot more unhappiness than several other options.
But i get ahead of myself.
If i understand the reasoning correctly, one basic assumption is that
- If you blog, you step on peoples toes (sooner or later you will). And if you blog with a certain tone, and in a certain way, you step on more peoples toes.
I would say that this assumption is true. And anyone blogging should be aware of that. It is all but impossible to write good blog posts without being at least a little judgemental in what you write. And that always carries the risk of stepping on peoples toes.
There is another assumption related to that.
- If you blog about people around you, those people may not like it. Their friends may not like it, and thus may not like you since you wrote those ugly blog posts.
This, also, is a rather sensible assumption. It means that people will judge you based on your blog posts. And sometimes, you may not like how they read your posts, and have to deal with the echo which comes from that.
Now, based on those two assumptions, it would seem reasonable to say
- Anonymity is your friend. If none know who you are, then there is little risk of stepping on people’s toes, or writing ugly blog posts which can be traced back to you.
At first glance, this indeed does seem reasonable. At second glance, this unfortunately reminds (at least me) of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckward Theory
Before anyone jumps onto this – no, I do NOT think that the idea behind the decision is to be allowed to become a “total fuckward”. Still, what is the anonymity needed for, if not for the saying (or writing) something which you perhaps would not write if you were not anonymous ?
So, how about another deduction from the assumptions above ?
- Being a blogger who is also part of a group requires that all posts are checked against who from that group will be offended. The result of this check can (but does not have to) require modification of a post
This also seems to make sense. And it is actually part of my own blogging routine. I try to blog in a way that does not needlessly step on peoples toes. The keyword there, though, is needlessly. I am sure i have stepped on several toes already, and most likely will again.
Actually, this post had a hard time getting past the deduction above. But in the end, i decided that the need to write the post outweighed the risk of antagonizing people with it. And i decided that i rather deal with angry comments than keep all this bottled up. But back to the actual post.
Looking through blog posts, and blog post comments, there is a huge number of fanboy/fangirl posts, which contain sentences like “i would love to be part of that” or “wouldnt an all blogger guild be fun” and the like. This is not limited to specific blogs, or specific persons. No, most reputable blogs had a number of like comments from a number of readers. So, based on that, i would conclude that
- Blog readers like (or think they do) to know who is doing the blogging, and are willing to go through some length to actually become “available” to a blogger.
Oddly enough, this contradicts the deduction of anonymity above. Also, again reading through various blogs – it seems that the more successful ones are ones where people can relate to the person blogging. It would be the absolute opposite of anonymity. (Ok, Snottydin may be seen as a counterpoint to this theory, but in this case, i claim that snottidyn is more satire than blog, and hence the rules do not fully apply)
Also, many blogs have a number of followers who read it simply because they can relate to the stories, and know what is written about, not just for the witty comments and funny jokes.
And there is where, in my eyes, the dangers lie, and why i consider the reasoning dangerously flawed.
Yes, it is difficult to be a blogger and be part of a group. Yes, it does require quite a lot of care to not accidentally damage the group with a badly written blog post. And even with the good posts, there is a certain risk for group drama to occur once the posts are made. But in most cases, this drama can easily averted without resorting to censorship on the blog posts. Sometimes, all it requires is to first speak with people, and then write a post.
Yes, it may lead to a few posts not being written, or rather, being written in a different manner. And it may lead to a few dryer posts, because many people just love to read about drama, as long as they are not personally involved. And it may lead to a different way of dealing with problems. But all that does not make for less good a blogger, or less good a person. I would even go as far as to say it leads to the opposite.
I apologize if this sounds spiteful, but to me, moving into anonymity is like running away. Yes, it will help in the short run, but in the long run, you still need to face whatever you ran from, or you will run into its relatives again. Alternatively, charting a course which allows you to stay clear of any like situations will ultimately force you to limit yourself, and in turn take more from you than what it would have cost to stay and try to mend the situation.
So.. what is the bottom line ?
Being a blogger means that sometimes you shatter things. Shattering illusions seems like fun. Shattering china seems like a waste. Both will happen. Being a blogger means that you have the responsibility of dealing with that. And dealing with it is definately not always easy. But dealing with it by running away, leaving others to stare at the spot you just vacated, wondering what he hell just happened is
- taking the easy way out.
- just plain wrong.