Second last day for the 100daystooffload.com challenge and I continue to contemplate ‘what’s next’. Which is both technical and philosophical. Time for a contribution manifesto, me thinks.
I don’t currently support ‘comments’ on my blog. I have long been in two minds about the whole process. Not least because I have seen avid bloggers both enable, disable and re-enable comments. I have read their reasoning and share much of it. Particularly regarding interaction volume.
I have also worked in the publishing industry long enough to hear and feel the concerns of authors. For no matter how keen marketing is on the whole ‘engage with your readers’ piece, authors know the implication. To paraphrase William Lamb: the possession of a large follower-ship implies many responses to interactions.
In such a flurry of social media, an ever growing portion of one’s day can be taken up simply answering correspondence. At least in a bygone age, when writing meant ink, pen, paper and a stamp, there was a barrier to entry. But today, not only does one contend with querulous readers, but bots trolling your posts with adverts.
However, setting such fears aside, I think there is a case to be made. But one I seek to make for contributing rather than commenting.
The Philosophy of Contributing
In a world of armchair generals, it is easy to comment on everything. It requires little engagement or understanding of the content. What ensues, is often a waste of everyone’s time.
In extremis, commenting can descend into flame wars with respondents biting back against others biting back. Each response is analysed for transgression as each side scours the landscape for weakness. It is a new Cold War but, being social media, temperatures run high leaving a very hot environment — no thank you!
Instead, I hope to shift the emphasis from commenting to contributing. In doing so, I am seeking to create a space for a meaningful conversation about the life of the mind.
My purpose for creating a contribution space on this site is to provide the opportunity for me to learn from you. To hear your experiences and in turn become a better writer and contributor myself.
In that context the first, perhaps the only, rule of contributing is: be civil and be informed.
For those seeking a space for unrestricted free speech, the contributions section of my site will not be that space. As such, contributions will be held for moderation.
While I will encourage people to write long form responses to articles, contribution moderation will be intolerant of spam. More specifically, shameless self-promotion. Which includes, but not limited to:
- Shopping websites
- Websites which have no relevance for the topic in question
- Websites which are pornographic in nature
- Websites which support bigoted or intolerant views (as defined by me — remember, this is a dictatorship)
The notion of offence is moral, not ethical. That is, ‘morality’ is a general system of thinking bound to a specific society, while ‘ethics’ is as a supra-societal system. In this context, what offends is highly correlated to the society in which you live. One person’s praise is another person’s hatred.
In the spirit of a benign dictatorship, my determination of quality contributions will be both objective and subjective. No offence is intended, but as offence is a social construct, taking it is at your discretion.
If you run a website, I encourage you to respond with an article by way of contribution. I hope to leverage the IndieWeb with a ‘ping me!’ section under the regular contributions section. If technology doesn’t serve me with a dog turd, simply enter the URL of your article and ‘ping me!’. Your contribution will then appear under my article, after moderation.
If you don’t have an online writing presence but would like one, now is a great time to start and Write.as is an excellent entry point to the world of online writing.
Privacy matters, and I go to great lengths to ensure this site respects your data privacy. My plan is for contributions to be the same. I hope to host all contributions on my server, not including those by way of articles on your own website. If you want your contributions removed from the system, I will have them deleted.
Putting It Into Practice
Well, that is the theory out of the way. A little more tinkering to go and it will be time to put it into practice. If you have any thoughts on the above, I would love to read them. But for now, this will need to be done on a Mastodon or Twitter page near you.
Goodnight and good luck.