Bloggers, go forth and regulate!

Globe and flags

Globe image courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.

A few months ago, I read the Sunday edition of The Washington Post and there was an article in there about a famous novelist (sorry, I don’t want to say who because he’ll mow me down with his BMW and pelt me with M&Ms). The article had a quote from the famous novelist, stating that he would never want to become a blogger because blogging is so unregulated. And I thought, “WHAT??!!!”

I don’t agree that blogging is unregulated. I think that writer was mistaken on two fronts.

First, he’s missing out on the wonderful world of blogging. I feel so much richer since I started blogging. Not in the monetary sense — although I’m aware that some enterprising bloggers have found ways to make money from their personal blogs.  I feel richer in the intellectual sense. I see fabulous pictures and videos from all over the world. (Twisted Sifter and Ad Pitch Blog, I’m talking to you two in particular!) Those pictures and videos would probably have taken me years to discover on my own, if at all.

Other bloggers have used their blogs to discuss their life stories and things they’ve learned from their own experiences, inspiring educational conversations between themselves and their commenters. Still others share their humor or their artistic talent.

Second, I’m not so sure that blogging IS unregulated. Okay, anybody can start up a blog and think they can say whatever they want, but we still have to follow the policies of WordPress, Blogger or other platforms.

We also self-regulate. As a professional writer and editor, it’s a point of pride to make sure I write my blog posts correctly (grammar, spelling, etc.). I think many others feel this way — no one wants to make patently obvious mistakes and put it out there in public to be preserved forever.

And we regulate each other. Whatever you put online, someone sooner or later is going to call you on it. It might be a factual error you make or the fact that the commenter doesn’t agree with your mindset. Some bloggers try to inspire controversy and argument, but I tend to avoid those blogs.

Bloggers write for various reasons — to entertain, to inform, to enlighten, to commemorate, to celebrate, to share creative work, or to express personal philosophies. As a Freshly Pressed blogger pointed out this week, we also blog because we like to connect.

Some brave bloggers have even shared some of the darkest of life’s experiences. I get the sense that they not only want to write that post, but they need to write it as a form of catharsis and are helped by the supportive comments of their readers.

So, Mr. Novelist, this is the world of blogging. There’s a lot of fascinating flavors around here. If you ever change your mind, come and join us.

Blog readers, your thoughts? (P.S. Text in video below has minor errors; please, don’t shoot me. I can’t fix ’em.)

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35 Comments

Filed under Writing

35 responses to “Bloggers, go forth and regulate!

  1. I agree, what an odd thing to say! If you’re going to say that blogging is unregulated, then you may as well say that all websites are unregulated. Anybody can set up a website, but if it breaks laws, then it can get taken down, or the owner fined or prosecuted or whatever, and the same applies to blogging. And I was thinking the same thing as I was reading your post, and then you said it – we self regulate and regulate each other. How many other outlets result in quick and varied feedback from around the world? Maybe he meant that the writing is not “properly” published, i.e. anybody can publish on a blog whether they’re any good at writing or not. But still, an odd thing to say!

  2. Hear! Hear! I feel equally enriched by blogging. As a writer, I find it the most democratic, eclectic, interesting, provocative, informative, curious and inspiring medium yet devised. As for regulation? It’s overrated.

  3. Writers of books can also write whatever they want, so why is this different from blogging?

  4. Yes, we should self-regulate and make sure we present the best posts possible when we blog. I tend to stop following blogs when they don’t do some sort of editing and their posts look like they just freewrote whatever they were thinking of and then hit Publish. Blogging is a medium that sharpens writing skills, and I think any writer that shuns it only cuts out another venue to practice their skills.

  5. Most of my favorite authors have blogs or facebook pages. The few who don’t are mostly older and not comfortable on the internet. I suspect that particular writer’s attitude is untypical. John Scalzi, for example, is a very active (and very good!) blogger, as is Kim Harrison and many others. Some only write about books or their own lives, some are political and topical. They are interesting and fun to follow … as are all my fellow bloggers. I have learned a huge amount from you and many others … about writing, photography and life. You have all made me feel less isolated and part of a living community. I have discovered so many like-minded people who cheer me when I’m blue and let me peek into their worlds in words and pictures. Blogging has given me a lot. There are bad bloggers … but mostly, I think we give a lot to each other and ourselves.

  6. Let’s face it – we are crowd-regulated. If people visit your site and your followers and readers continue to grow you are “successful” and accepted, at least by them what read you. If you post drivel on an irregular basis (guilty – mea culpa), no one is going to read you and you will die a quiet ignominious blog death.

    • Good point. And this is why I like to analyze the site metrics that WordPress provides about which are the most popular and least popular posts, and where readers are coming from. It gives me a sense of who’s reading and what people like to read and I like to accommodate both from time to time.

  7. I think serious bloggers do self-regulate and that we form a world others cannot understand until they become part of it.
    Great post.

  8. Impybat

    I also think that was a strange thing to say. I wonder what blogs he’d been looking at.

  9. Maybe by unregulated Mr Novelist means not pre-vetted. What a wonderful world we live in where any writer/blogger can now publish and find an audience, rather than a publisher making a judgement call on what is worthy. I agree with the previous comments that each blog is regulated through its audience.

    • I agree. What is worthy to be published is definitely a judgement call. J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter books got rejected about nine times before somebody got wise and published her work. I wonder if publishers ever use focus groups or test audiences? Probably not.

  10. Who cares about regulation!?!? (ok so I might want p*rn to be screened out) Is there some imaginary censor who decides what is fit and what should be obliterated in the editing world–ok, so there might be…who wants that ICK, if a writer cannot write in a way that is pleasing to the reader, the reader can put it down. You can tell that I do not have the context of the article, can’t you?! 😀 I did not yet today have tea and thus, I could not request more of said context before my brain did what it did. It is unregulated without tea.

    • Yep, I need tea to get me going, too.

      The publishing world has changed so much, wouldn’t you say? Now we can create our own books, get them published in e-book format and sell them online. But if we go that route, it’s up to us to make sure that what we produce is of good quality and pleases the reader.

      • I am not sure that I follow the ‘please the reader’ bit. I write. Others might read. Others might like. Others might not. shrug

        On the other foot, I quickly learned during my education that the instructor often cared quite a lot that I met his expectations. I asked him if there were anything wrong with my facts or my grammar. He said, “Well, no…it’s just that I said…”
        Then, I said, “Do you want me to write, or do you wish me to take dictation.”

        After I finished being annoyed, I asked him for more input. He taught me a lot and to this day he has altered his course to reflect our mutual learning.

  11. I’m sure it can be a frustrating world out there for successful authors who have paid their dues and made it past the gatekeepers. I guess I get it. Writers are still working hard to get their words to the public, but the way they do it is changing dramatically. Change is a hard thing to embrace. Regulation is shifting rapidly away from the elite and toward the readers themselves. Blogs are a big part of that. Yes, there are some low quality blogs out there, but there are so many brilliant ones. Mr. Author just needs to spend some time in the Blogosphere.

  12. I love that blogging exists, in its regulated and unregulated facets. It opened an entire world for me–and many others as well. Great post, Editor.

  13. I wonder if Novelist really meant to say was, “Blogging makes one so vulnerable. Any mistake I make in grammar is right out there, any topic I expound upon might not be popular, and what if no one comments or likes my writing?” After all, no editors to white-out the messies, except the inner editor, and if he or she is on an extended coffee break than the messies are seen by everyone! They could diminish ratings. At least that’s what I think he meant to say.

  14. What a nutty novelist. Blogs are forms of self expression, like diaries or journals. One cannot and should not expect to regulate self expression. Was his name Big Brother?

  15. He seems a little elitist and snooty…or maybe just intimidated by the vast unknown and bloggers’ willingness to confront and interact.
    You have to be brave to blog – as well as being a good sport, open to ideas, considerate, and willing to self regulate.
    Not everyone willing to try.
    Blogging is a different sort of writing.
    He’ll be left behind with ideas like his.

  16. Fascinating discussion. In my experience, bloggers of a feather flock together, so we all congregate in our little shoals in the great blogging ocean to mix metaphors. There are some whales with millions of followers as we know, but for the most part we swim with our like-minded blogging friends, who may be writing on science, spirituality, food, farming. poetry or whatever, but what seems to draw us together is an unspoken similarity of outlook or philosophy. I love the conversations…
    And after a life-time of writing, both journalism and books, I find that my writing has improved since I began blogging; and also that my mind is much more active as I look at things, throw them up in the air, wonder if they’d make a blog, do some research, and generally keep thinking creatively!
    Sorry to go on for so long, but blogging is one of my favourite subjects!!!!

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