introducing readers to writers since 1995

October 10, 2004

My Blog, My Rules: Deal With It;
or, How To Get Your Comments Taken Seriously

by Ron Hogan

Since a certain "media columnist," upset with the critical disregard in which I hold her, has spent the weekend berating me with increasingly vituperative e-mails--though I suppose I could have avoided the whole mess by simply laughing at her first one and deleting it rather than engaging her in response--I thought I might take a moment to elaborate on my "policy," such as it is, towards your comments on the posts here. Actually, of course, when I say "your," I'm not referring to the perfectly nice and thoughtful majority, just to a handful of chuckleheads, but here it is anyway: You comment here at my sufferance, and I can and will delete your posts or ban you from commenting at my discretion. I don't care about blogosphere protocol, and I'm not terribly interested in providing a forum for unfettered expression. I try to write "with an even tone and an open mind," as someone very kindly noted recently, and I expect the same from anybody else who wants to put in their two cents here.

Criticism is all well and good, and if you disagree with an idea that's been expressed here, or believe I've made a factual error, I invite you to say so. If you're an author who feels that I've done you a disservice, I'm happy to provide you at least one opportunity to explain why. BUT... you ought to be able to do it in an intellectually dignified manner, without resorting to ad hominem attacks. If you can't manage that, I might leave your words up as a public display of your intellectual shortcomings, but I could just as easily strike them off the site entirely. It's my call. So here are some guidelines you might want to keep in mind...

Claiming that you're a successful writer and I'm not only ensures that I'll consider you an insecure chump. Not because I might have written or contributed to more published books than you, or held more prestigious editorial positions at more widely read venues, or gotten more traffic at my website than you have at yours--maybe I have, maybe I haven't. The reason I'll think of you as insecure is that I've met plenty of genuinely successful writers, and every one of them is strikingly self-assured about their talent. Genuinely good writers don't need to tell you how good they are--in fact, they're usually more interested in talking about anything other than what you think of their success. Another, related point: genuinely talented writers tend to respect the power of the written word in every instance, and don't refer to e-mail correspondence or blog commenting with condescension in comparison to "real writing, i.e., for publication in legit outlets." If you don't care enough about what you have to say to me to take it seriously enough to get it right, I don't see any reason why I should take you seriously, either. And if you're going to e-mail me rather than post comments, don't suggest that I won't publish your correspondence because I'm "not used to being challenged by someone like [you]." That just makes me think of you as arrogant as well as insecure...though of course the two frequently go hand in hand.

For that matter, if you're taking the time to write to a blog, don't try to suggest that blogs aren't "real" publications that you don't have to treat with anything other than disdain, especially if you're going to claim you need to defend your reputation against a blogger's low opinion of you. Don't flagrantly display your resentment of the attention blogs (mine or anybody else's) have been getting from the mainstream media lately, even if it's more attention than you've gotten.

And don't try to claim that you have a life and bloggers don't; again, it merely makes you look insecure. Do you think Dan Brown gives a damn what I think about him? I suspect he doesn't; I suspect he's comfortable enough with his success that when people criticize him, he really just gets on with his life, instead of whining about how successful he is and how great his life is and how "minor" other people are by comparison. For that alone, as bad a writer as I think Dan Brown is, I hold him in higher regard than I'll hold you if you write to me like that. And chances are good I won't let you say it on my blog. If that makes you even more upset, start your own blog about how terrible I am and what a great success you are, and forbid me from responding to it. That'll show me.


Damn, I was just joking when I emailed you that I couldn't wait to see who took you on this week.


Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 10, 2004 06:08 PM

You tell 'em, Ron!

Posted by: Max at October 10, 2004 08:00 PM

As always, Ron, well said.

Posted by: Lani at October 11, 2004 07:27 AM


Posted by: alizinha at October 11, 2004 03:12 PM
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