When we first started setting things up here, I worried that some of our first-time bloggers wouldn't be familiar with trolls or flame wars or some of the ways in which an Internet argument can turn ugly. I was concerned that some of them would take it too personally when someone disagreed with them. Being an experienced blogger, and an even more experienced participant in various Internet discussion groups, I wanted to share my wisdom and experience with them.
Well, guess what?
There have been one or two commenters in our blog area that have gotten my goat, and even though I know I should let the matter drop I keep trying to defend myself. I'm behaving, in short, like an Internet newbie.
The basic issue has to do with how we chose our community bloggers. We put out an open call for bloggers back in June, and took pretty much everyone who responded promptly, without regard to their politics or religion. The others we put on a waiting list, and you'll be seeing some of them turn up in the next few weeks.
The trouble is that one or two people have been whining because they don't have blogs -- even though, in at least one case, they never actually asked for one. I keep going through these long explanations of how we selected our bloggers and about why it's not practical for us to offer an unlimited number of blogs to anyone who asks. But every time I repeated my arguments, I sounded more and more pompous. Everything I wrote was true, and I stand behind it, but I think I've started to come across as a know-it-all.
I should know better. Expressing yourself on the Internet, whether through your own blog, or responding to someone else's blog, or participating in some sort of bulletin board, mailing list or discussion group, requires you to have broad shoulders. Sometimes, it's best to just stop responding and let everyone figure out for themselves who's trying to have a meaningful discussion and who's just trying to cause trouble.
It's a good lesson. I expected to be the one teaching it, not the one learning it.