Friday, January 29, 2010

Letter to the Blog Police

Like my friend Terry, I had a pretty strong reaction to a recent blog post by quilt artist Dena Crain in which she sets out what she believes quilters should and should not do in their blogs.  I disagree with Dena on many of her specific points, but as the subject stayed on my mind, I was more and more bothered by the overall message that anyone, quilters included, are blogging "improperly."  So, I replied to Dena in a comment to her blog, and here's my comment:

Dena,

I find your take on quilters' blogs interesting, but I disagree strongly with the overall message in your post that there are "right" and "wrong" ways for quilters to blog.  One of the many wonderful things about blogging is that a blog can be whatever the blogger wants to it to be.  You have many excellent suggestions for a quilter who wants to use her blog solely as a marketing tool, but I find it unfortunate that you have not directed your comments to that limited segment of bloggers, and indeed that you are so critical of bloggers whose aims may be very different from yours. 

Many quilters do not blog for the sole purpose of marketing and selling work.  I'm the founder and manager of the Artful Quilters Blog Ring which links over 400 blogs written by quilters who focus on art and contemporary quilting.  Some bloggers use their blogs primarily as marketing tools, but most blog more broadly, about their art, their lives, their opinions.  The blogs express who they are as people, not just as quilters.   It's clearly a matter of personal taste -- and it seems that yours and mine are quite different in this regard -- but what I love most about reading quilters' blogs is that they introduce me to people who share my passion.  They inspire me when they share their processes, their frustrations, their mistakes.  I marvel at the variety of lifestyles we quilters  lead.  I'm reminded of a blog entry from an Australian quilt artist who wrote an entry bemoaning how kangaroos traveled past her house each day, disrupting her garden.  That, to me, illustrated what I love about the broad-ranging topics of many quilters' blogs -- that woman and I share the same art form, but in other ways her life is as different from mine as I can imagine.  Many, many friendships are formed through the blogging experience, and largely because we share so much of our whole lives in our blogs -- and yes, that includes who is coming for lunch, what we're cooking, how we felt while we cleaned the house, what our political views are, etc.  If that's what's important to someone, the blog is hers for her to express that.

To me, there are significant differences between a blog and a website.  I see the  website is the promotional tool for specific focus on the art and the artist's thoughts about it, her teaching, her art-related travel schedule, her biography, the techniques she wishes to share, and of course the vehicle for selling.  I (and, I think, most blog readers) view blogs as something quite different and decidedly more personal.   As I read your post, it seems to me that you want quilters' blogs to be what I consider a website disguised as a blog.  And, if that is how you want to use the medium, that's great.  Go to it!  And your giving advice to those bloggers who want to use a blog in the same way may prove enormously helpful to them.  But please, don't tell us that if we're not doing it your way, we are making mistakes and blogging improperly.

I don't want to read blogs that are as one dimensional as the sort you describe.  For the blogger whose only goal is to market herself, maybe following your rules will get her exactly the results she wants, and that's a good thing.  But to suggest that other quilters who blog are doing something "wrong" or "dumb" or "making mistakes" attaches a negative perspective on a communication device whose strength is that it allows individuality and creativity.  For many of us artists and quilters, having a space to share the whole of our creative lives is a delight and has brought us opportunities and connections more valuable than selling a quilt.  In my view, it's not for anyone else to tell us that we're doing it wrong.  Why should those of us who enjoy sharing our lives, and not just the quilting parts, be relegated to the one-sentence/140 character world of Twitter and Facebook?

Like art itself, blogging provides a realm for unlimited creativity and personal expression.  How you choose to use your blog, and how you choose the blogs you follow, is up to you.  If you don't like blogs that discuss personal lives, then don't read them. It's that simple.  It's not anyone's place, it seems to me, to impose "rules" on how quilters should be blogging.  The quilt world has its share of "quilt police"; we don't need "Blog Police," too.

21 comments:

Suzanne Kistler said...

woohoo!! You tell her!

I haven't read her blog, and I don't think I want to. Like you, the thing I enjoy most about blogs is the multi-dimensional peek into other quilter's lives. I may be moaning about the ever-present fog, when I read of others buried under several feet of newly-fallen snow. Or with a click of a mouse, I can vicariously visit Hawaii.

Or I learn things I never thought to wonder about, of life in Japan.

Or I see wondrous new works in progress, like your fuchsia quilt.

Everything is tied together with a passion for quilting, and so, no matter how diverse the blogging content, there is always something to be gained by reading a quilter's blog.

I guess sometimes that "something" is to not go there again, which is always an option. No one makes anyone read a blog. Don't we do it because we find the blogger has something to offer?

Add my vote to "no Blog Police." Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter

Terri Stegmiller said...

Thanks for your thoughts! They reflect my feelings as well.

Kim West said...

I had commented to her that I think of blogs as a virtual guild. I now rethought my position. It is more like a bee meeting - you don't talk about just quilting at a bee meeting - you talk about kids, health, family, problems, etc.

I don't like blogs that are for marketing. I tend to only read once or twice and then unpublish. Exceptions are the designer's blogs... but they too seem to have a more personal aspect to them.

Barb said...

Bravo! The best thing about blogs, in my not-so-humble opinion, is that there are real people there. They make me think, laugh, and inspire me to do better work, myself. That's the juicy life.

Terry said...

Well said. You know I agree!

Helen Conway said...

Hear Hear. I like you left a long comment saying much the same thing ( which I note, also like yours, has not been allowed onto her blog yet). One thing I said was that a blog is a medium like a pencil or a pen. And no-one has the right to tell us how to use that 'properly'. Last time I checked freedom of speech was a fundamental human right! Besides which, she is just plain wrong. People do want to read the things she says we don't want to read about. The more comments/ emails I read about her post the sorrier I feel for her - she seems not to have latched on to the great benefit of freindship making that comes via our improper and uninteresting blogs!

Gerrie said...

Yes!!

Karen said...

Hear hear!! Let the blog police go the way of the quilt police.

Deborah Boschert said...

Ditto.

carol s said...

Yes! Thanks for expressing what I wanted to say, but couldn't, because I don't have a blog! Maybe I will get one, so that I, too, can say what is important to me.

Joyce said...

I agree. I am totally not interested in using my blog as a marketing tool. I am retired and intend to stay that way.

mathea said...

Bravo! Well put!

Jean S said...

I find Deena's blog very stiff and formal - also judgmental. I'm much more comfortable with getting to know individuals through their blogs. It's the miracle of the internet. Thanks for your opinion.

Sleen said...

She kinda sucks the life out of blogging AND quilting if you ask me...

yuck.

Lizzie said...

Wow, it your post blew me away. I couldn't believe that someone would write such narrow guidelines. I had to check out Dena's blog - isn't it a "rant" by her definition? I agree with you, the blog is for family, friends and other interested in our work.

Wendy said...

Never read her before, and certainly won't now that I looked! All that ranting... no we don't need Blog Police and then a box that says Donate! you've got to be kidding!!

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

Thanks so much for your well put response.
It says it all for me.

Kristin L said...

Well said. (But you knew that already.)

Dena said...

Well, my post certainly got some interesting dialog going!

And Helen, your comments were indeed approved and posted.

I don't mind at all that some of you disagree with my position; that's bound to happen. I don't expect all, what, 27 million (?) quilters to agree with everything I say.

However, I think the term "blog police" is rather over the top.

I shared thoughts, not rules. If anyone felt any particular idea did not fit their situation, they could easily ignore it without calling me names.

The ideas I shared in my article were all derived from hard-learned lessons I have experienced.

If you can benefit from any of them, fine. If not, then why let that bother you? Why should you care? I have not attacked any of you personally, nor would I ever do such a thing.

Surely the definitions of words like "properly" and "successfully" have to do with your criteria. Is your blog meeting your goals and purposes? If it is, and if you're happy with it, then surely you must be blogging properly and successfully. But if you're not entirely happy with your blog, you might well benefit from some of the ideas in my post.

Surely, if you're all allowed to blog as you please, so then am I?!

Dena

http://www.denacrain.com/blog/?p=3107

Dena said...

Well, my post certainly got some interesting dialog going!

And Helen, your comments were indeed approved and posted.

I don't mind at all that some of you disagree with my position; that's bound to happen. I don't expect all, what, 27 million (?) quilters to agree with everything I say.

However, I think the term "blog police" is rather over the top.

I shared thoughts, not rules. If anyone felt any particular idea did not fit their situation, they could easily ignore it without calling me names.

The ideas I shared in my article were all derived from hard-learned lessons I have experienced.

If you can benefit from any of them, fine. If not, then why let that bother you? Why should you care? I have not attacked any of you personally, nor would I ever do such a thing.

Surely the definitions of words like "properly" and "successfully" have to do with your criteria. Is your blog meeting your goals and purposes? If it is, and if you're happy with it, then surely you must be blogging properly and successfully. But if you're not entirely happy with your blog, you might well benefit from some of the ideas in my post.

Surely, if you're all allowed to blog as you please, so then am I?!

Dena

http://www.denacrain.com/blog/?p=3107

Azreada said...

Right on!!