With Doug Pagitt throwing in the towel, declaring blogs as places that do more harm than good, I got to thinking about how blogs can foster healthy and constructive conversations. As I think back on conversations I have found helpful, here are some suggestions that might make blogs more good than harm.
1. Invitation: A topic people can read, and are able to post on. You've posted and invited people to read and join in. And remember most people will be listening, whilst a few interact and post.
2. Respond to Comments: When people comment actually bother to reply to them, so many bloggers don't. Say thank you, ask questions, interact, and send private e-mails to say thank you. Probably this is the one most bloggers cannot be bothered to do. They want to put up a post, let others put up comments, but won't do the hard work or thanking, asking, and interacting and participating.
3. Model: As you post, and interact, model being open, generous, questioning, when people push your buttons, ask them to help you understand where they are coming from. Facilitate an atmosphere of mutual respect.
4. Comment: Ask questions, make suggestions, don't lash out, and don't accuse people of things they didn't say. And if they refer to something that needs to be read, make sure you read it, and don't assume you know what they are referring to. Be open and come from a posture of wanting to learn not teach/correct/rebuke.
5. Moderate: If people flame, rant, shout and scream, make sure you are moderating comments, and interact with people before they are posted. When your buttons get pushed, ask for help to understand and be understood, rather than making accusations.
6. Sum up: At the end of a discussion say thank you again, and sum up what you think took place for all involved.
Now as you can see a conversation takes a lot of work, and practice, and in reality I wonder if most bloggers probably don't have the time, and can't be bothered. And as I write this I realize how often I have failed to live up to this process. But if we post topics worthy of and needing conversation, lets aspire to and invest in making them great conversations.
What about you, what ingredients/elements/experiences have you found helpful for blog conversations?