html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Question for you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Question for you.

Part of the reason I am profoundly reluctant to shut anyone out here is that I have a sense of my blog as having a duty to the public, like inns and common carriers. Anyone else think of their blog that way?

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25 Comments:

Blogger CharleyCarp said...

Mine's more like a ranch at the end of a long road. Pretty much no one is going to go there by accident, and pretty much anyone who visits is going to get invited in for a glass of whatever is open, and a piece of pie.

It's a long damn road, and the pie isn't always worth having to listen to those damn stories.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I would bring pie if it meant getting invited in and hearing your stories.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous ennis said...

Actually, no. We think of ours as a large private party with doors open to the street. It's expensive to host, and we demand that if people don't treat each other right, or if they're really just being annoying, we stop them from commenting. But this may be more a function of scale, and the fact that we have lots of people just drifting in off of google queries and the such.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

There's dancing at your party, right?

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"public duty"...gosh, that sounds a bit grandiose...especially when so many of us are mere "imaginary people"!

Mine is like a dark well that is briefly illuminated for a moment by the sunlight. But for that instant no-one can tell who is real, who is imaginary, or what is inside, what out...

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a blog. But, I've either run, or helped run several chat rooms for, well, about 10 years. All help channels, one for physics, one for math, one for c++, one for vc++, and one for c.

The software rooms get the most traffic, 100s of people a day.

And, we're pretty brutal. Tolerance is pretty low. We help people out with their problems all the time. But, we don't put up with any insults towards us. We don't tolerate people who refuse to help themselves. A lot of people are very ungrateful.

Basically, anything that annoys any of the people running the rooms in the slightest results in a permanent ban.

Anyway,
Justin

3:02 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

And if they do it twice, you drown them like kittens?

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't get the chance to do it twice.

But, really, the things some people do in there are nothing like anything anyone does here.

And, the people who run the rooms have been there forever and are bitter and mean now. And, busy, most of us work.

And, though there are a lot of people who I think deserve to be drowned like kittens, I don't think I could actually go through with it. I'm too nice. I'll have to wait until I can afford to hire people to handle that sort of thing for me.


Justin

3:15 PM  
Blogger Uneasy Rhetoric said...

I think of my blog as a public space, and I do feel mildly duty-bound to post but ultimately it is my space.

However, I don't think I'd shut anyone out unless they were seriously disruptive (regardless of whether they agreed with me).

3:35 PM  
Blogger LizardBreath said...

Kind of, but not really. Unfogged is an argumentative sort of place, but I like the idea of anyone who wants to argue to be able to be there, regardless of their views. In practice we've banned two people (I think), both for being incoherently abusive, we make fun of people who are aggressively nasty until they go away or calm down, and just last week sometime I was horribly rude to someone who I thought was misrepresenting herself, until she quit commenting.

It's an openish place, but without any controls on the commenters, it'd get nasty, and then it would inevitably get dull.

3:39 PM  
Blogger ScottM said...

Mine started as real life group coordination-- it would have been a wiki, if I had successfully managed to get one up.

Now I occasionally get an outsider or two, but most "blogworthy" things I go do on other people's forums or blogs, so there's not a lot that I put up for me. (Other than a few post roundups or extended thinking about elements of fun for us.)

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so, this just came back to me.

A guy came into the C++ channel asking for help. Or, really more along the lines of demanding help. And, not so much help, as demanding someone just do his assignment for him.

I was trying to just help him, and get him started, and sort out whatever problem he was having. But, he kept demanding I just write the whole program for him. He wasn't being the normal, college student desperate, I put this off too long, I can't finish it in time, thing either. He was just being a beligerent jerk.

Anyway, I finally just said, fine, I'll do it for you, it'll be faster for me to do it, than to help you anyway. I was having him try to explain the assignment, but I kept telling him he wasn't explaining it well, so I convinced him to give me the link to the assignment description.

Then, I convinced him to e-mail me the code he had written so far.

I now had both his name, and university e-mail address, plus I had the link to the course home page which gave the name, and e-mail address of the professor.

I did the assignment for him, e-mailed him the code. Then, took the whole chat log, and the e-mail he'd sent me, and put that into an e-mail to his professor, along with the code I'd written, with an explanation.

The professor e-mailed me back and said thanks, and that he'd have a talk with the guy.

I'm sure he didn't get into any real trouble, but, still, it made me laugh.

Justin

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

billo @ 3:01

I may be misreading you, but I find it depressing that so many people these days seem to echo the sentiment that `public duty' is a `grandiose' idea.

It really ought to be a basic assumption that we have a number of public duties, and therefore need to spend some time thinking about what they are.

In a nutshell, it's how civilization works.

s.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I consider public duties as baseline decency as well.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Bob V said...

I always felt my blog served a public purpose--despite spending my first two years having two readers (both of whom were friends). I still tell myself that my blog is vaguely guided by the goal of making the world a better place by dispersing my ideas, which are naturally superior to everyone else's.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I didn't say "shut her out," I said, ehem, please allow us to properly socialize her back into her natural place in our, uh... society.

5:04 PM  
Blogger CharleyCarp said...

You're always welcome, of course.

In anticipation of pie, a short story of which one of your recent posts reminded me. [It got a little long. Feel free to delete.]

While an undergrad, I had a part-time job unloading trucks for a produce company. For years, I've been saying it was a fruit and cocaine company -- not because I actually know of anything illegal, but the owners seemed pretty casual about the fruit thing, drove expensive cars, and I heard they were busted after I left. It was a great job, because I could pretty much eat all I wanted, and you haven't lived until you've had all the Flathead Lamberts you can possibly eat in a sitting.

OK, so one evening, after class, we get one unloaded, and the guy from the furniture store next door came over madder than a wet hen. It seemed that my boss had ordered too much corn, and when the shared truck arrived at the furniture factory, there wasn't enough room. And so they hadn't picked up a bunch of recliners. I'm standing there waiting to get paid, and my boss basically promises the furniture guy that I will drive to Utah and pick up the missing furniture.

What? I've never driven a semi. I don't have any kind of special license. I may even have engaged in activity perfectly compatible with unloading trucks but not with driving them. (I was a college student, cut me some slack). No matter, it's been agreed, and so off I go.

It takes a few miles until I really get double-clutching down, but soon enough, I'm tooling along the highway. It's about 350 miles, the first half of which is narrow two-lane, and the first half of that a winding canyon. It's dark. I blow right past the weigh stations -- having always done so in the past, and thinking I have no idea what to do at one, and that nothing good can come of it.

At dawn, I arrive at the furniture factory in Utah. I sleep about an hour before the shift change, and went try to find someone to load the chairs. Luckily, the arrangements were well made, and so I got a very complete tour of the factory while the loading guys were busy loading. It's really interesting how they build the recliners and overstuffed chairs. What was better was how proud all the people were -- the factory was a big damn deal in their small town, and they wanted to make sure I was properly impressed.

5:21 PM  
Blogger capella said...

Nope. If someone finds what I write entertaining or interesting, they're welcome to read or comment, but I don't generally write with an audience in mind.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

Nope, my blog is simply not that significant. It's just a chance to share, mostly with family and friends. Anybody is welcome to most of the posts, although I have some restricted posts which only those on my "preferred" list get to read (anybody I know that is adult, since at least one of my readers is only 12...and although she certainly posts enough anal-rape-and-bondage material that I can't really feel I am corrupting her, I don't want her getting any of it FROM ME), I've never had to delete a comment.

I would, though, if it was hurtful to somebody else. I myself have pretty thick skin.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"S", I think you're spot on. Public duty and decency are the foundation of civilisation. And I certainly think that public space is (depressingly) undermined in many ways -capitalism, say. (R.Sennett is excellent on this).

My two cents, though, is this: sometimes people will have this sort of missionary-like zeal to change the public order when what they're really interested in is their own self-centred goals or, in extreme situations, just control.

that's not meant as a criticism of you, M, by the way -just a general point.

In this specific example I do find it a touch grandiose to be talking about public duities when at the same time other people are considered as *mere* imaginary people.

The whole point about a public space, as far as I understand, is that it is a space for equals. Blogs usually end up being essentially about the person writing them. This may sound harsh-but it's not meant to -but I don't think of Megan's site, wonderful though it is, as a public space where there is a real openness to debate.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Scheherazade said...

I don't think a blog is a common carrier, at least not quite like a hotel. Maybe more like a bed-and-breakfast: the bath is that way, and you'd better like flowered bedspreads and calico pillows, because you're in the Meadow View room and that's what it's like in there.

My blog is a place for me to write down my thoughts and to share them with the world. For me it's the daily practice of writing that matters. And the public part of it is important: it's practice being honest, and being vulnerable, and sharing as truthfully as I can what life looks like from my eyes, without being defiant or ashamed. I do think this is a public good: people sharing details of their lives with people who are different is good for the world. It's a bit abstract but I do think that stories connect us.

The ensuing conversation is like an added benefit, that I really enjoy. But it's not the main purpose of the weblog, and it's not the primary obligation I'm undertaking. Over time it's become a bit like a dinner party, and I've learned a lot and laughed a lot from my guests.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Dubin said...

This is actually kind of interesting. You think of your blog as a public forum, yet you DO censor us in certain ways. The whole kindness rule. And all.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Dubin, I am sorry about that oppressive kindness rule. I know how you chafe under it.

I was thinking more about the 'inns and common carriers' analogy and decided it doesn't hold. Inns and common carriers are held to higher standards not because they are available to the public, but because the public depends on them. There is no sense in which the public depends on this blog. It was a bad analogy, and I am free, Free, FREE, to act as I please.

10:39 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

I think of my blog as an open letter to my mom and my little service to the community of stumped technology users out there. I know a lot of google searches end up on my blog, I hope that they found what they needed. I try to explain how I fix things. It isn't much of a conversation (I have exactly one imaginary person and he uses his full name, which makes him a bit more real) as my notepad. For a while I refused to call it a blog. I hate that word and all of its bizarre extensions (blogosphere? ugh.)

I haven't ever managed to say anything interesting enough that anyone disagrees with me.

My parents call to talk about things I write in my blog. I don't know if I could manage a larger community. I guess that makes it more of a piece of pie blog.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

The comment counts at the moment I post this were:

17, 17, 17, 34, and 24.

I am SO tempted to comment 10 times just to make the numbers come out cool.

But I am not OCD.

6:17 PM  

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