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It strikes me as very Puritan to think of the relationship between blogger and reader as a covenant. Of course we each have our own attitude to this and you're certainly entitled to yours. But, for me, writing a blog is much more a form of free expression in which I can post what I choose without feeling any sense of obligation to or contract with my readers - if any.

The Happy Feminist

Maybe this makes me a bad blogger, but one of the things I enjoy so much about blogging is that I don't feel much sense of obligation, generally.

Yes, I do feel an obligation to respond fairly to commenters, to not put out misleading information about topical matters, and to disclose edits. But I don't feel an obligation to post every day (even though I do for the most part) or to polish my writing or to write about a specific subject matter.

It's not that I don't appreciate the people who read, but I am very aware that this is a purely voluntary activity and that I can cease at any time. My experience has been that feeling free of obligation enhances the authenticity of what I write. Because I am really not doing it for anyone but myself. The fact that other people want to participate is icing on the cake.

If jurist swindled a nun

What covenant? You do something that works for you, if you choose. We read it. Probably we read it because your writing is better than most and the product feels authentic. But I don't see the covenant. You could write pure fiction if you want. We have no claim. As to authenticity, if there were a covenant, then that covenant would impact the writing, and alter it - and you'd lose any authenticity you were striving for.


I ended up with some questions, not quite a comment I suppose. But I think the answers to these would impact what I thought about any blogger/reader "covenant" that may exist.

How does your blog today differ from what you might have hoped for or expected, or even your intentions, back when you started writing this blog?

How has having found an audience, with many regulars, changed the nature of this blog - and how you think about it, and do you like the new version? Why, why not?

How does this compare with the other dating blog you started from a while back, to keep separate from people who "know" you? What sort of covenant existed on that blog, if any?

You've touched on much of this before, in many of your posts in the Weblog category, but the questions above are what jumped to me again.

I guess maybe creating a covenant - or any fixed rules - might hinder the natural progression and changes that your blog has already taken, and may again take in the future. Though I guess that's silly, too, since you can always revoke the covenant later.

I think Deb said it best in the last post: I think you have to determine what kind of part your blog is playing in your life. Why do you aspire to be a "good blogger"?

Now that I write that, maybe that's part of the key - that last question. You state without further consideration that you aspire to be a good blogger. Would the blog benefit you in the same way you want it to if you were a "bad" blogger?


I actually do think that there is some obligation--maybe not a real one, or maybe not one that you agree with, but some obligation--to finish up the story. Your readers want you to succeed; they are invested in your personal life, even if only in the parts that are in the blog; they come back for both the quality of the writing and for the narrative. So while you obviously have the right to write whatever you want, I always hope that you'll update us on ongoing narratives, or tell us when something has resolved (or not resolved.) I think that we as readers are enthusiastically rooting for you, but part of the cost of that engagement is an obligation--maybe not as a blogger, but as a human being--to let us know when you've succeeded or when something has been resolved.

I'm interested in the "persistent identity" obligation you've written about, since I've posted here under two separate identities (once long ago, this one more recently.) Is part of that an obligation for the blogger to engage with commenters, or is that not part of the story? I sometimes get the sense that you don't really want commenters, which is fine--it just makes this a different kind of a blog than others where engaging with comments is part of the conversation of the site.

I basically think that the obligations of the blog reader are to Not Be A Jerk and to be respectful of the author's space.


I am a huge Stay fan and a loyal reader, but I think that I would vote with my...errr... feet if I didn't like the blog. So I don't think that there's much of a covenant at all. Just as you are free to write about whatever you want, I am free to read it as much or as little as it interests me. That sounds a bit more cold-hearted than it is in practice, because I as a reader have some (pleasant) expectations about what I'll read here, and I aways hope they are borne out. I suppose there is an implied covenant of civility -- trolls and flamers are as little welcome in this blog as they are in most others -- but that's a convention that is not even unique to the Web, let alone to blogs.

Soemthing occurs to me based on this post and an earlier one in which you allude to expectations within "the Sisterhood." It seems to me that you're very interested in social compacts and how communities (e.g., bloggers and readers, or in the case of the Sisterhood, women) maintain themselves. It strikes me that that's a very useful interest for a coach or a teacher to have.


I think you can complain a little. Honestly, it's nice that you don't - definitely part of your charm. But sometimes the complaints are the funniest conversations I have with my roomies. Hmmm... maybe it's in the WAY the complaint is worded. The rule with my friends has always been, if you can turn your complaint into a funny story, you get to vent as much as you want...


Sounds pretty reasonable to me. I've changed back to my original moniker, as it is what I use on almost ever blog I comment on...and it is a bit less generic than "Dan". :D


I don't believe that you have any obligation to your readers. Write what you want. If people like to read it they will. If they don't, then they can move on and read something else. It's not like you're trying to make a living off of this blog.


Thanks for responding with one of the more thoughtful, stimulating posts about the function and nature of blogging. One salient point -- no one expects you to blog about every single detail/occurrence in your life -- being human demands that we reserve something of ourselves from others, but again I must note that bloggers walk a very fine line, perhaps one which cannot ever be easily negotiated, between inviting genuine public participation and commentary into a private life (the public, performative aspect) and then deciding what to withold without alienating or disappointing the reader (the private aspect). You should read Malcolm Gladwell's essential post on his private blog (posted today) about the derivative nature of blogging and the perils of "low value added chatter". You have one of the better blogs out there, don't you want to keep it that way?


don't use the place as a platform for self-expression, an excuse to link to something only tangentially related, or a place to trumpet a cause

I agree with much of the above except for that statement, for the reason that this is such a subjective issue...what might seem to be a tangent to one person could possibly hold the promise of an interesting and valuable new discussion. As for the self expression, and trumpeting a cause...why not? That's the charm of conversation and interactivity...it takes us places we might not bother considering or thinking about. We all encounter blog readers who have things they are passionate about, and spam and harassing comments aside, I welcome that among my readers! :)

Re. your comment that the blog may not be as polished as you'd like all the time...you're too hard on yourself. It always appears coherent, well-worded and thoughtfully presented to me...(& I envy your editing skills and lack of typos! *grn*)

Nancy Drew

A blog becomes what you want it to be. I love reading your blog and have greatly enjoyed the posts that Synciti seems to have not enjoyed so much. It's okay to step back from the intellectualism and show your emotional side. By doing this publicly, obviously you open yourself up to public comments that don't like it. But you also open yourself up to readers who do. Follow your instinct. Maybe your lesson here is to learn to not listen to every criticism and trust yourself.


Sorry beautiful, you're wrong on all counts. The blog is a place for you to write and express yourself in any way you desire. It's possible that none of it is true whatsoever (what about the anonymous lawyer blog which was a complete work of fiction). For all we know, you've never been sailing in your life, you're a 56 year old man who lives at home with his mother, and you don't really like doggies.

If you develop a following of readers, that's fine. But, readers come and go. If a reader gets bored with your writings they can move on. However, it's not your job to entertain them. Thus, if Syncati is unhappy with your writing he/she can go elsewhere. It's not as if he's paid a fee with the expectation that he will be entertained.

Sometimes your posts interest me. Sometimes not. In most cases there must be something I get out of them because I come back here fairly regularly. However, you owe me nothing.

The question does begin to change if you are using the blog to try and attract readers. Think of an author trying to attract readers in an attempt to sell books. Stephen King or Dan Brown needs to keep their readers interested. Otherwise, they can't make a living. This forum is not done in that vein.

In other words, don't worry about what the readers think.


Some self-expression or self-promotion is inevitable and acceptable, if done tactfully within the norms of civilized conversation. Presumably, what isn't wanted is the imposition of long-winded rants, obnoxious criticisms, or pitches by domineering egotists or the blogging equivalent of aggressive telephone solicitors. And, maybe the implied convenant is simply one of civilized conversation, sharing, and exploration.

But what we really want to know is whether Sherry is going to have a good time sailing ooop north on the big J boat. Oh, and also, does she prefer Life Caulk, 5200, 4200, or polysulfide compounds for deck leaks. And has Lila learned any new tricks.


Don't feel obliged to put up posts. If you have a thought or feeling that you're willing to share and that you think ought to be shared, please do share. The one bit of all of Synciti's critique that I'll come close to agreeing with is that if YOU (not Synciti) feel that you're posting things that aren't really interesting or worthwhile, don't post them. If that's all you can think of, then don't feel obliged to post; use the writing time to express yourself more privately in a journal, where you don't have to worry about anyone else's seeing it.

I would add a last obligation on the side of the reader: if you demand that the author be interesting in every post, be prepared for many days of silence, and be faithful and waiting for when the interesting stuff comes back.

And to try to offer something in return: listen to the little clip here and if you like it, I'll send you the song. It's by a pop band called The Feeling, and a google search for the song's name pops this blog on the first 10 hits.

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