Blogs should not be the private playgrounds of their authors. They should be written for the benefit of readers and those who participate in the discussion.
Recently, Tom Wark put up a post on his blog outlining some tips for starting a wine blog. While I had commented that I don’t like to jump on the band wagon of topic trends, there is one thing I want to add to Tom’s list: share your sandbox.
By posting and opening yourself to comments, you invite contradictory points of view and the implication is that you are prepared and willing to engage in intellectual intercourse (not mental masturbation).
Coming from a scientific background, I am guided by two rules (among others): 1). Don’t open your mouth unless you are 100% sure you know what you are talking about and can back it up, and 2). Be prepared for scrutiny and criticism. Blogging exposes the author to such criticism and demands that your case be solid. You should not expect a deluge of praise and support from an army of sycophants with every new post.
There comes a point in any discussion where you cannot argue your case any further. Your contention may fall apart and you have effectively “lost” the debate. In the course of the discussion/debate you may have painted yourself into a corner. As a result of the exchange, you or your point of view may have been discredited (through others’ actions or your own).
This is what frequently happens when you invite others into your sandbox. It doesn’t feel good when it happens but you have to accept that others may out-argue you, just plain prove you wrong or even make you look bad. All you can do is try to take a preemptive approach and follow the corollary of rule #2 (above): Prepare your post and argument in a way that can handle debate. Your own argument, or your defense of it, should not end up embarrassing you. Anticipate the criticism and counter arguments.
Nobody wants to loose a debate and nobody wants to be proven wrong or have their contentions defeated on “their turf”. But it happens and it stings. I have always seen blogs as debate forums. I am not seeking to convince my “opponent” to my way of seeing things. I am contending for the minds of the readers.
I have some strong opinions and when I debate an issue, I do it with all the strength I can muster. I don’t condescend, I don’t insult or mudsling. If I attack anything, it is an idea, not the person putting it forward.
That is why I appreciate Alder Yarrow for respecting me every time we disagree. And there are times when we are worlds apart. But he has never “banned” me, he has never deleted a post that he did not like or felt discredited his point of view and he has never terminated a discussion that was going in that direction. This is no special, privileged treatment; he does this with others who disagree with him. He “fights” valiantly and honorably.
He and anyone else will receive the same courtesy here.
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