The question is not rhetorical. I ask myself the question frequently and I ask others to critique me.
I noted in an earlier post that I tend to avoid controversial and divisive blog posts. Maybe I just worry about these matters too much. But I am concerned about how I communicate in the blogosphere.
I recently reviewed the issue about tone in blog posts when I was reading another book on blogging. I was not an early adopter in the blogosphere, so I sense the need to educate myself as much as possible. The author wrote several pages about setting the right tone in posts. He went over simple issues like gracious writing, disagreeing without being argumentative, and just showing respect for others.
In the middle of a paragraph, I paused. This author made no reference to having any religious background, yet he was urging bloggers to be gracious. I am a Christian. My blog and my life are supposed to reflect Christian values and virtues. I have to admit, however, the secular blogger showed greater concern for basic decency than I do at times.
I was convicted.
My next step was a laborious task. I re-read many of my old posts at random. I tried to be objective and ask myself if I really was setting the right tone in my posts. Was I demonstrating fairness in what I wrote? Was I treating commenters with respect? Was I more concerned about getting traffic or truly making a contribution?
While I did not give myself a failing grade, I did conclude that I could do better. Much better. I paused for a moment and began to write some basic guidelines for my blogging.
After some moments of reflection, thought, and prayer, I begin to note basic guidelines I should follow in my posts. Please understand that these guidelines were meant for me; I am not trying to impose them upon others. And, as best I can understand, I came to this point more by conviction from God than self-education to improve my blogging.
Here are my seven personal guidelines as I write my blog:
- Do I write to edify? Regardless of the nature of a particular post, I will seek to make a positive contribution. The contribution may simply be some insights. It may be sharing about some new resource. It may be pointing to other (usually much better) bloggers. Or it may be giving someone a gift. I pray that my motivation will not be traffic, argumentation, or display of ego.
- Do I treat others as I would like to be treated? The golden rule is basic in life and it should not end in my blogs. Whether I am dealing with someone as a topic or a commenter, I should seek to see them through the eyes of Christ.
- Am I certain about the facts I write? Just because daily posts have a sense of informality, I have no right to communicate words unless I am sure they are factual. Informality is no license for me to be loose with words and thoughts.
- Do I allow contrary comments? I am in a fairly visible position, so I take a risk by allowing open comments. But since I do, I must be fair and let every reasonable comment be published. I don’t have to publish off-topic comments or ad hominem attacks, but I shouldn’t ban someone just because they disagree with me. By the way, I have only deleted two comments of the thousands that have been posted over the years. Both were ad hominem attacks on a person other than me.
- Do I respond as a Christian should? I knew the Bible already had my guidelines for this point. The Apostle Paul called them the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. My responses should thus demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.
- Do I pray over each post I write before I publish it? Ouch. I’m not doing very well here. I have to do better.
- Do I receive correction well? Many of those who read my blog are much smarter than I am. When someone makes a correction, they are usually right. The issue is how well I receive the correction.
Those are the guidelines I committed to follow to set the right tone for my blog. And to all you readers: Please hold me accountable and let me know when I violate my own guidelines.