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Blog Struggles: Taking The Moral High Blogging Ground

Blog Struggles Article SeriesOh, the stories I could tell. I wish I could tell you about all the times when my instinct was to take the low road, to accuse, to play Devil’s advocate, to leap to conclusions, to express unfounded opinions, and to lower my standards. Oh, the times, the many times.

A constant struggle of mine is to evaluate a subject or issue and determine which path I should take. Considered by many a leader in the blogging industry, I have a reputation to uphold and enforce. Still, it’s constantly challenged by the bits of news, gossip, rumors, and assumptions that fly around the industry.

Which should I write about? What sides should I take? Which side is right? Or, which side is the more righteous?

Or, as many do, which side should I take to generate enough attention to bring in the links and traffic?

Some days, I feel like the ethics we once so proudly affirmed to the world in the early, idealist days of web communication, now scatter to dust as integrity turns to greed, even greed with the best of intentions.

The moral ground I stand upon shifts depending upon who I’m blogging for, including the different “me” in my different blogs. Here, on , I am you, not me. My opinion isn’t important, though I do have some, but I work hard to take the middle road, showing both sides of the issue and taking none, when both sides are both wrong and right, and it doesn’t matter which side I take. I walk a very narrow middle road here, putting out information for you to decide for yourself, and rarely be guided by my personal opinion on the matter.

On my other blogs, the ones I own and control, I’m directed by the content as well as the perception of the persona on the blog. How would she stand on this or that issue?

When I blog for income, such as on the , I have to speak for them as well as for myself, thus, I have to take a path that serves their needs as well as my own.

So the decision to take a stance on an issue is a constant struggle for me. I’d love to shout out how stupid this or that issue is, and how unimportant it is in the bigger scheme of things or how short-sighted it is. I’d love to condemn the fools who spout “expertise” when they are young and still naive about the real world. I’d love to scream at foolish governments and leaders and the decisions they make that are self-serving rather than community-serving. And don’t get me started on the narrow-minded jerks that spread manure on this planet just to watch weeds grow.

Your blog is your playground, and for you, you may take whichever path you wish. For me, it’s a constant struggle to find the highest ground I can take along my blogging path, to stay safe above the fray, so I can tell you the reality of the situation, show you the evidence letting you make up your own mind. I constantly have to stop myself from making assumptions, guesses, or opinions, blogging a drier path and not a muddy one.

Blog Struggles Series

This is one of an ongoing series of articles on blog struggles, the challenges of blogging as I see them from 14 years of experience.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

9 Comments

  1. Posted November 10, 2007 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    This was interesting. I was just discussing this with a friend yesterday, the great debate over whether to “play nice” to avoid hurt feelings or whether to tell it like it is to help others from wasting time or money.

    It reminds me of when I was looking for reviews on a Dell laptop – I wanted to hear about people’s bad experiences so I could make an informed choice. If all the reviews were glowing or glossed over the cons, could I have shopped effectively for the best computer for my needs?

    What about a plugin that sucks? What about information that isn’t accurate? I’d be interested on knowing what you choose when you come across something (say a product, service, information) that you know not to be good for others. Do you say nothing at all and “play nice” to not hurt feelings?

  2. Posted November 10, 2007 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Being that we report about Stephen Colbert, one of the hottest topics that we have is the WGA strike. There are some entertainment blogs that are trying to stay “neutral”, but quite honestly, we just decided screw it, we believe the WGA is in the right and we’re going to show our bias. And so we do.

    We questioned being so pro-strike on the blog, but after talking to Comedy Central and “Colbert Report” staffers who say that our blog is one of the most informative around about the strike and they appreciate our efforts, we realize we made the right decision.

  3. Posted November 10, 2007 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Interesting, especially as it goes against what we’re often told: that if you’re too middle-of-the-road, if you don’t take a stand, you’ll lose readership. You’ll come off as wishy-washy.

  4. Posted November 10, 2007 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    True true Lorelle. I’d like to say that with a personal blog and a smaller rating you can say whatever you want, but even in the simple case of my online diary I consider how my audience will react and it causes me to hold back from time to time. For example, the other day I posted a joke that had a curse word in it. Because I have a few people who read my blog that a bit straight laced I posted a disclaimer. With my r/l friends, I’d never have to do that.

    I guess there can truly be no pure diary when it’s public . . . but that’s okay. What is writing without an audience to consider? It helps you develop that inner filter and makes you a better writer in the long run.

  5. Posted November 10, 2007 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    @James Chartrand – JC:

    >>>Do you say nothing at all and “play nice” to not hurt feelings?<<<

    That’s up to you. You have to do whatever you think it right for you and your blog. As I wrote recently on the Blog Herald in Number One Rule in Blogging: Play Nice or Pay, if you are going to stir up the pot, you have to be ready to be responsible for the end results. We live too much in a society where it’s shoot first, ask why later, but don’t take responsibility.

    We all have to decide which road to take. If a WordPress Plugin is causing harm, and it’s our job to report on it, we have to report on it. This is a matter of the value to the masses over the individual. However, if you don’t like it, just because you don’t like it, and you feel like ranting and raving because it makes you feel better, that only helps the individual, you, not the masses.

    Your opinion matters, but sometimes only to you. I’m not saying anyone has to “play nice” all the time, but you have to be ready for the consequences for stepping over the line.

    I like to write and read facts, not assumptions or conjecture. Facts, evidence, experiential expertise. This means writing with name calling, leaping to conclusions, and screaming just to the loudest in the room, whether or not you have something to say, is time wasting. That is not playing nice. It’s playing childish.

    We all have a filter inside of us that determines what is right or wrong. For some, it’s a very dense filter that little passes through. For others, big chunks of crap gets through our filter. Your blog’s content is the result of what gets through that filter. You become your filter, defining your blog’s character and integrity.

    On some of my blogs, I can say just about anything. Here, I don’t. My filter lets very little through. As I said, the blogs that pay me, I have to take into account their moral and value filters not just my own. It’s my job.

    I’m so thrilled we are talking about this subject. It’s long been ignored and I’m thrilled it’s on the floor for discussion.

  6. Posted November 10, 2007 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ve vowed to stay true to myself in my personal blog. That means I don’t choose topics just to boost readership, and I take positions I’d argue face to face.
    On the other hand, I wind up regulating myself mostly over either privacy or respect for those I care about. I won’t say anything that’ll come back to haunt my kids, such as telling my true feelings about specific teachers. There are other ways to deal with these real-life issues.
    Thanks, Lorelle, for a thoughtful post.

  7. Posted November 10, 2007 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea of not writing or publishing anything that will “haunt my kids”, which means you are thinking well into the future, understanding that what you publish today will be around to bite you in the future.

    Excellent point! Thanks.

  8. Be a Good Daughter
    Posted November 24, 2007 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Hi your article is amazing.
    I will definitely read your site..
    See ya

  9. Posted November 27, 2007 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    This post is definately right for me. My nature it to confront, confront, confront! Maybe this will give me good reasons for a little restraint. Thanks.


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