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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Frustration

Posted Sunday, August 5, 2007, at 7:47 PM

When we put out the call for community bloggers back on June 11, we pretty much accepted everyone in the first wave of responses -- we did not screen anyone based on their religion, their politics, or what have you. As it turns out, we have one or two bloggers who tend to emphasize religious themes. We didn't seek them out, but their presence is not unexpected in a Bible Belt community like Shelbyville. It doesn't mean that only Christians are welcome here or that we'll never have a non-Christian blogger. In fact, we've already gotten some good, vigorous back-and-forth debate going on religious issues in the comment sections of various blog posts, which is as it should be.

There are disclaimers on our new site that it's impossible for us to screen all posts and comments for offensive material. We have given you, the reader, a mechanism for reporting profane or otherwise offensive material to us. But we do try to keep an eye on this program, and -- especially now that we're just starting out -- there are practical limits to how many blogs we can keep an eye on. As we've discovered, the way that our blogs are laid out on the site (which comes from our corporate offices in Missouri) isn't designed for 50 or 100 bloggers, and I tend to doubt we'll be hosting 100 blogs any time in the next few months. I don't rule it out down the road, but for right now I thought it would be good if we started with a manageable-sized group of bloggers. That's a practical decision, not an ideological one.

It's always possible for anyone to start a blog, any time, for free, using services like wordpress.com or blogger.com.

One of the founding principles of the Internet is that whatever you do, someone complains about it. We've already had a couple of people who claim that we only allow Christian bloggers, or that we only want positive comments, or that we have in some other way tried to stack the deck. It just isn't true. The very fact that these people are welcome to use our site to make these comments goes a long way towards disproving them; if we were, as the complainers allege, trying to control the ideology of this forum, why would we allow their comments?

I also, in one of my previous posts, said that if anyone was really interested in having a blog they should go ahead and contact me about being added to the list. Neither of the people who complained about our so-called ideological slant contacted me, just as neither of them asked for a blog back in June when the door was wide open. Instead, at least one of them has continued to complain that we aren't interested in a variety of viewpoints -- which is ridiculous.

We are hoping for a vigorous exchange of opinions. We want people from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints to use this system.

But we ask that people stay focused on ideas, not personal attacks. Make your own point, and point out the flaws in others' arguments, but don't call names, and don't jump to conclusions about someone just because they disagree with you. That should apply to our bloggers and to the people who respond to them.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
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see my response in 'Welcome to the T-G blogs'

I am not trying to disrespect anyone here.. I would just like the chance to start a few topics.. Now, do I still need to email you or is that a ridiculous question on my behalf?

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Aug 5, 2007, at 9:08 PM

I agree totaly and love the comments as long as they are kept on a professional level

-- Posted by michaelbell on Sun, Aug 5, 2007, at 9:59 PM

Just answer questions.. And professionals, by the way, provide data and research and are able to answer the questions..

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Aug 5, 2007, at 10:26 PM

Amen on that one darrick_04! I haven't been on here long at all....but already I've noticed that people's questions aren't answered to the fullest or at all! It would be nice to have a few more varried topics on here to discuss. And, yes, it would be nice to be able to start your own topics once in a while....but, I understand why you can't have THAT many bloggers. From what I've read, there's alot of people who are tryin to push their own beliefs off on others......THAT'S WRONG.....plain & simple. There's several people who have been VERY critical of other people's beliefs. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinioin......but, that doesn't mean your opinion is the best, or by far....right! Everyone on here is "supposedly" adults......I think it's time a few start acting like it! Don't get me wrong, I think this blog thing is a great tool, but it needs to be used properly by everyone. Provide info for others.....but I don't think it's sooo necessary to be so critical!

-- Posted by Krysi on Sun, Aug 5, 2007, at 10:48 PM

I am just asking you to PLEASE give darrick_04 his own blog so he will stop dominating the blogs and I can sit down with my morning coffee and enjoy what you are trying to do with these blogs. Open dialogue is wonderful, but beating a dead horse is just stupid. In order to comment on one blog I had to do through 50+ comments and 30 or more were just from him. Stop the insanity!!!!!

-- Posted by James48 on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 8:28 AM

oh and one last thing. Blogs are just people's PERSONAL opinions and not a classroom where you go to get an education. The 2 comments previous to mine keep demanding "answers" Well go get some answers from the government or a theology professor. You can't expect to get answers when you just keep bombarding people with questions that noone really has the correct answer to.

-- Posted by James48 on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 8:31 AM

Well some anwers are nice.. If you post a blog, expect to take the heat and give someone a clue as to why you think what you think.. Simple as that!

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 11:18 AM

YOU KNOW WHAT IS REALLY FRUSTRATING???? TO LOOK AND REALIZE THE 6 OF YOUR BLOGGERS WORK AT THE T-G...SO MUCH FOR PEOPLE APPLYING....

-- Posted by stolen25 on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 10:22 PM

James48 a government official nor did a theology professor write these blogs, so therefore we are not asking them for answers...

If I were to start a blog with some opinion, I would do my best to answer the folks, who I had just made a negative minority... What's wrong with asking questions? I'm sorry my responses were too much, honestly they were too much for me too.. But just skip over them next time!

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 11:20 PM

Stolen25: We have made no secret, from the outset, about the fact that our blogs would feature both people from within and outside the news staff. What, exactly, is wrong with that? Are we not allowed to let our own reporters blog on our own web site? Heaven forbid!

You had every opportunity to ask for a blog back in June. You didn't. We ran notices in the paper and on the web site asking for bloggers. If you missed our call for bloggers, it's because you weren't a reader of the T-G at that time -- which is your fault, not mine.

I've even posted within the last week that people who still want a blog should e-mail me and we can talk about it. At least one person has done so, and I've added him to the waiting list; we'll be adding some more bloggers within the next few weeks, and if this person fills out a release form and sends me a photo, he will be one of them. You won't.

You haven't made any real effort to ask for a blog, and yet you keep whining about how you don't have one. It's like the old joke about the man praying to win the lottery and God finally tells him "meet me halfway -- buy a ticket." But you obviously aren't interested in having a blog, because it apparently wouldn't be as much fun as complaining about not having one. I think anyone who has followed your comments will recognize the real situation.

As I keep saying, anyone can set up a blog, for free, in five minutes' time, using WordPress or Blogger. The T-G has no responsibility to offer space on its servers to anyone. We're trying to offer a variety of community voices, not because we have to, because we think it's a good thing to do. We have already added a number of bloggers, more than other comparably-sized papers within our chain, and will be adding more in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, we have given you, and continue to give you, a free forum to whine and moan and use our own computers to impugn our professionalism. How much more can we do?

-- Posted by Jicarney on Tue, Aug 7, 2007, at 11:50 PM

I am just curious... Why can't we submit info online and click the "Agree" button stating that our views to not expressly represent those of the Times Gazette, instead of having to come there and sign up??? I am not being rude or selfish I just honestly am wondering?

I just feel like this is as extensive as being jailed or buying a car... Wouldn't it be easier to access our information online rather than stumbling through papers...? Again, are these just legalities that the T-G ownwers want done? Just a question, not tearing apart the blog...

Thanks!

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 11:16 AM

Jicarney: You said "You had every opportunity to ask for a blog back in June. You didn't. We ran notices in the paper and on the web site asking for bloggers. If you missed our call for bloggers, it's because you weren't a reader of the T-G at that time -- which is your fault, not mine."

Perhaps he/she (stolen25) is like MOST of the people that live in Bedford County and don't read your paper. I for one don't purchase it because I really don't care who got arrested, I don't care about horseshows, or what happened this day 50 years ago. I buy the Tennessean and USA Today where I can get a good variety of news and as for you advertising on your website, how many people actually came here BEFORE the blogs? I can count on one finger of how many I know that did. I was in no way interested until I heard about the blogs and thought "well that may actually interesting." and as for having to post your picture on here, that is crazy, you don't have to do that on other blog sites. With such strong opinions being bantered back and forth on here, I would almost be terrified to put my pic up, what with all the crazies that live in the area.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 12:03 PM

We have quite a bit more content than "who got arrested ... horseshows, or what happened this day 50 years ago." We are, however, a local paper; we can't possibly compete with USA Today in covering the war in Iraq, so we concentrate on something no other newspaper can do -- covering Bedford County. That means any number of things -- human interest stories, local government, and, yes, who got arrested. The beauty of the newspaper format is that various sections appeal to various people, and you can skip right over what you don't find interesting.

Our circulation is about 7,000, which actually means that a pretty sizable percentage of Bedford County households take the newspaper. We always wish it were higher, of course.

Your point is well taken that new initiatives like this will probably bring in people who don't read the newspaper. We're hoping they do. My original point was that stolen25 keeps whining about not having a blog as if it's my fault for not knocking on his/her door and forcing him/her at gunpoint to sign up. He/she keeps implying that we are somehow trying to suppress some voices and not others, which is just plain wrong; we accepted literally everyone who asked for a blog the first time around.

We are not WordPress. We are not Blogger. It is not practical for us to offer an unlimited number of blogs to an unlimited number of people, as some have suggested. That's exactly why those services exist. We are, however, trying to offer a variety of community voices. We're still experimenting to see how many is the right number.

As far as filling out a release form, using your real name and a photo, those are the conditions set up by our corporate office. The release form covers various legal issues like ownership of content. I don't want to summarize it here, because I'm not an attorney, but I don't think there's anything unfair or unreasonable.

I happen to think it's a good idea for people blogging here, under our umbrella, to use their real names and photos. If someone doesn't want to give their real name, or sign a release form, or use their photo, there are -- I hate to sound like a broken record here -- plenty of other places where you can get a blog.

The advantage to setting up a blog here is that -- despite Vindicated's comments -- the Times-Gazette is relevant to a lot of people in this community. We have a well-established web presence and a pre-existing audience. So our bloggers have gotten an immediate readership. In return for that, the Times-Gazette gets to decide who can blog and under what conditions. We're trying to be as fair and community-oriented as possible while we make those decisions, but they're our decisions to make.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 2:00 PM

You say:

"We are not WordPress. We are not Blogger. It is not practical for us to offer an unlimited number of blogs to an unlimited number of people, as some have suggested. That's exactly why those services exist. We are, however, trying to offer a variety of community voices. We're still experimenting to see how many is the right number."

I say and WITHOUT HATRED:

The only problem is that 'WordPress' and 'Blogger' do not concern issue within BEDFORD COUNTY... It would however be practical for you allow an unlimited number of people to READ(which involves paying) your newspaper, so why not make it unlimited as to who can own a blog(free)? If I wanted to blog on Myspace, I would (and I do) but generally those people do not pay attention to blogs, they simply post their party pictures up and worry about being popular, they simply don't care about issues...

So the "right number" of people blogging should never be limited...

Myspace, Facebook, and even Blogger etc... all do not make you go to their local offices and sign release forms, since it is an ONLINE feature, you SIGN UP AND AGREE TO NOT PUBLISH INFORMATION THAT IS COPYWRIGHTED OR IN SOME WAY PRETENDING TO REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORGANIZATION!!!

Nor do either of those three expressly represent BEDFORD COUNTY or it's citizens... Since we can all READ your news, we should all be allowed to WRITE our opinions too...

I am not saying you did not "put out the call" but upon the first launch day, half of the then 12 members were T-G employees... Now anybody in their right mind would think, well apparently it wasn't advertised efficiently. We are not "whining" because we don't have blogs, or that we don't have the chance to, we are dumbfounded by the PROCESS in which you must sign up!

We are only asking to make this widely available, EASILY AVAILABLE, and less troublesome.... It's really simple

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 3:39 PM

Thanks for your comments. We will have to agree to disagree; I believe there is a difference between what we do, under our umbrella, and what the free-for-everyone blogging services do.

You can start a blog about Bedford County, or any other specific topic, on one of the free services. People do it every day. If you have something worthwhile to say, people will find you, will read you, and will respond to you. It may not happen immediately, certainly not as quickly as it would happen if you had a blog here, but it will happen, and there are many blogging success stories to prove it. As previously stated, if someone decides to start a Bedford County-oriented blog through one of the free services I will be happy to mention them and link to them in my own blog, if that will help get things started. But the T-G is not a free blogging service. We are a community-oriented, newspaper-affiliated web site. There are differences -- legal differences, differences in what the community expects from us, and what have you.

The release form, as I said, comes from our corporate offices in Missouri, and I'm sure that they sought legal advice before drafting it and before deciding to require it.

No one who has picked up the release form so far has had any problem with it or found anything unreasonable. At least, if they have, they haven't said anything about it.

I regret that you aren't comfortable with the way we have our blogs set up.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 3:58 PM

Ok, fair enough.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 4:06 PM

CONCERNING THE BLOG "HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE...." WRITTEN BY MICHAEL BELL...

Hmmmm.....awfully curious as to why comments made AGAINST the war were deleted. I read this just the other day and found that particular comment interesting and today it is now gone. ARE YOU TAKING AWAY THE FIRST ADMENDMENT??? I would like an explanation for this because if you are going to censor then I am going to make sure that Michael Bell is gone for pushing "religion" on a COMMUNITY PAPER SITE!!!! You claim to want open dialogue yet censor the right of the person commenting to be against something. Maybe I should call the ACLU....

-- Posted by Vindicated on Mon, Aug 13, 2007, at 4:39 PM

Only one comment has been deleted since the new site launched last week. It had nothing to do with politics -- I couldn't have even told you what the comment was about. The comment contained a sexual vulgarity, and one of our readers clicked on the little exclamation point and flagged the content as offensive. I immediately e-mailed the commenter to tell him what I had done and why, and he or she could have easily re-posted a similar comment without the vulgarity.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Mon, Aug 13, 2007, at 5:24 PM

Also, if you're commenting about Michael Bell's blog, it would be better if you comment over there. No one will be looking for it over here.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Mon, Aug 13, 2007, at 5:24 PM

I now see that you did leave a similar comment over at Michael Bell's site.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Mon, Aug 13, 2007, at 6:38 PM

Humm! Just a thought here, Im guessing we could email one of the bloggers requesting a certain topic be discussed? Personally I would rather state my opinion and remain anonymous! After all everyone does know everyone in Bedford Co.

-- Posted by Disgusted on Thu, Aug 16, 2007, at 2:52 PM

Just for future reference, going to a wordpress or blogger spot is really a good idea.

You can be anonymous on them.

And, emailing in topics is a good idea, Disgusted.

Online communities are just like real communities. Sometimes there is friction. The Shelbyville Times-Gazette is offering some really neat stuff. It's not going to satisfy everyone, but its HyperLocal.

I think that's really cool and wish I had more of this in my county.Dialogue is good, guys. And the rules are the rules, comments are going to get cut if they are offensive and don't adhere to the code of conduct here.

There is a way for everyone to get along.

-- Posted by T. Sharp on Fri, Aug 17, 2007, at 8:43 AM


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