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Athena Dreaming

Blog Etiquette

I’ve had some conversations over the past few days with a few (ir)regular readers of my blog. Apparently I should have done this a while ago, so apologies for being late, but there is a thing called “blog etiquette” and it applies whenever you read someone’s blog.

I’m not talking about silly stuff like whether or not it’s ok to have a conversation in the comments section. I am talking about courtesy and respect.

All appearances to the contrary, this is my private space. I designed and coded this site by hand; I pay for it out of my own pocket; I registered the domain name many years ago. This is my home on-line. As such, if you enter my home, I ask that you treat me with the same respect that you would if you were sitting in my living room drinking my tea out of my teacups.

The main purpose of this little space is to have something to pass to my daughter (or other children, if we have any) when she is old enough to want to know what she was like as a baby, what sorts of adorable and hair-raising things she did, what I thought of it, what kind of a person I was, what sort of a mother I wanted to be. I’m not sure if these are questions she is likely to have until she has or is thinking about children of her own. But I know that I now am at the stage where there are a thousand similar questions I would like to ask my mom. Did she believe in CIO? Was she trying to be an attachment parent? What was her philosophy on playpens? What did she think the job of a mother was? What was it like? Did she succeed? And sometimes she can tell me. Sometimes she can’t–it was a long time ago.

I have chosen to make this blog publicly accessible because I have friends and family in far-flung places with whom I want to share the details of my life with my little girl. But that doesn’t make this a public space. That doesn’t change the purpose of this blog–which is a gift to my little girl. A very strange gift, to be sure. I’m not sure what she’ll make of it. But I want to give her honesty, or what good is it?

In any case:

As you read, please remember that this is my home, and my 14-month-old daughter is listening in.

I expect to be treated with respect. This does not mean you have to agree with everything, or even most things, that I say. I would be shocked if anyone did. It does mean that if you are going to contribute to this little project of mine by adding something in the comments section, it had better be phrased respectfully and with courtesy. Do not call me names. Do not make accusations about my intentions. Do not insult me. You may disagree with me if you’d like. If you want to disagree strongly and aren’t sure if you can do so in a respectful, courteous way, I invite you to use the email address posted to the left or linked to my name below each entry. Don’t make it a part of the blog.

If you do, the best you can hope for is that I will delete your comment and bann your ISP. I can do that; I own this site. Just as if you came into my kitchen and called me a bitch, I would show you to the front door and you wouldn’t be coming in again.

However, you may instead find that you have your own scathing, publicly posted comment here. I can do that too; it’s my site. I own it. Just as if you came into my kitchen and called me a bitch, I might have a few choice words of my own before showing you to the door and telling you you won’t be coming in again.

This is my house. You come in here; you play by my rules.

Incidentally, as I own this site and have registered the domain name, I have a tremendous amount of access to information about this site’s readers. I can tell where you’re coming from, what keywords you use to get here, where you leave to, what your IP is, all kinds of things. If you are coming here with anything less than honourable intentions, I suggest that you consider how much I can learn about you that you might not want me to know. As I said, this isn’t public; this is MY space. And if you come in my front door with a handgun I’m going to call the police and given them your license plate number.

This should be pretty clear, no?

Following are a few quotes from other sources on this topic, just so we can all be clear that this is not my own tyrannical despotic take on blog etiquette, but a fairly common and (I thought) widely known fact:

Appropriate comments, of course, depend on the blog and the poster. An obvious overall guideline is to take your cue from the blog author, and other “guests.” For instance, if you are on a blog with swear words in many of the article titles, it’s probably o.k. to use profanity in your comments (unless of course you are calling the author names, which is **never** o.k.). If you are on a personal blog obviously kept for a small audience of family & friends, it might be appropriate to post some comments in the same tone as the postings (i.e., “I had that same problem when I was pregnant! I tried chewing on ginger candy…”) but would be entirely inappropriate to disagree harshly with their politics or other viewpoints (i.e. “oh my gosh I can’t believe you are eating SOFT CHEESES DURING PREGNANCY! what are you, trying to kill your baby??? …”). Generally, if a blog is personal, and you are intruding, keep your comments friendly and supportive. They aren’t asking for your critical viewpoint. On the other hand, political blogs or other blogs where a small group of people maintain a fast and fierce dialogue about current events would be a great place to voice your disagreement (with respect, of course), especially if you have a new, informed viewpoint. A recent post about social networking on Dan Gillmor’s blog is a good example of vibrant, but courteous, disagreement. From Cafe Mama

Comments and the “Living Room Doctrine.” I consider my blog to be a virtual extension of my living space. As such, any comments that I would find threatening or offensive if said to me in person in my living room will be deleted. It’s fine to disagree with me (I allow that in my living room). Not fine is unbridled hostility, name calling, etc., either towards me or towards other commenters. No sock puppets – commenters who change their ID solely for the purpose of making a new comment seem like it is coming from a second commenter will have their comments deleted and their IP address banned. Spam and off-topic comments will be removed. From Learning the Lessons of Nixon

This is not a shopping mall. This is my living room. Please keep your muddy feet off the sofa and leave your cigarrettes outside.

Thank you.

Furthermore: This is my home. If you do not have a friendly interest in my life, I would ask what the hell you’re doing here. No one is forcing you to read this. Showing up to read someone’s journal solely to find reasons to dislike them is, at the very least, bizarre. Such behaviour skirts dangerously close to trolling. No one likes trolls.

I hope this clears up any misconceptions anyone may have about their role here, or what kind of behaviour is expected or tolerated. I seem to have forgotten that not everyone is knee-deep in the blogosphere.