blogging gobbledygook and such

Social Contracts in Blogs

Before I begin on what my post title means, what do you expect from it? Does the title sound like something you expect me to write? Does it sounds like something that belongs more in a legal blog rather than my blog? Do you feel it’s unexpected of me to write such a topic, given the general nature of my blog?

The reason I ask so many questions (which you should probably expect from me by now!) is because I was compelled by this discussion over at BlogCatalog (warning: it’s quite long as many people had commented):

I submit that we have an obligation to our readers to post within the boundaries of our blog’s stated topic. When we vary from this topic we violate their trust and fill their inboxes and feed readers with information that they do not want. If they want to read about other topics, they will be subscribed to other sources that offer that content. We owe it to them to give them what we promised when they subscribed, and not force them to also accept our messages on other points that may, at best, be annoyingly irrelevant to them and at worst, deeply offensive.

What Say You? Is there a social contract between reader and writer at a blog? Do you have certain obligations to your readers? Are there any other obligations you feel you owe your readers?

– DaneMorgan

I think this idea can be applied to blogs which are specific in topic, but I’m not sure if it should be applied to personal blogs like, say, mine. My comment in that thread was against the idea, but now I’m wondering…

While let it be known that the fact you are reading this means a lot to me as a blogger and a person, and I do appreciate your feedback or response or anything between our relationship as blogger/reader/friend, I ultimately blog for myself. That is to say, what I put up here, it is because I want to and because it reflects a part of me at that point in time.

This blog is about me, and the things I like or care about. If you read bloggerdygook for me, then you’re interested in my view, not necessarily my topic. If you read bloggerdygook for the topics that relate to you, then you might understand if one or two posts doesn’t related to you as nothing is ever 100% suited to you unless you created it yourself. But it wouldn’t be unexpected, because I’ve been consistent in sticking to the topics I usually blog about.

So what if tomorrow I wrote about my sex life, in detail? On a regular basis?

Would that be irresponsible of me as a blogger, because I’m not adhering to ‘rules’ of the social conduct I’ve established with my previous blogging? Should I have a responsibility of providing appropriate, expected content to the ready set of readers here, on the basis that you are my target reader? I mean, by talking about something pretty much not expected of me, wouldn’t I be offending (well, in the case of me publishing about my sex life – I wouldn’t think you’d be as offended if I started talking about cows) and thus neglecting whatever readers which might feel that way?

On the other hand, what happened to bloggerdygook being my purely personal space? If it is, shouldn’t the content be decided by me 100%? After all, I started this blog because I wanted to, and for various other reasons which are purely personally beneficial. If I start thinking about my readers and whether if I’m responsible to provide appropriate content for them, wouldn’t it beat the purpose of setting up a personal blog? It’s not personal anymore, is it? It would be a blog that seems personal but is targeted at people who likes to read personal blogs.

But hang on a minute. bloggerdygook is what it is today because of the contribution of its readers too – the vocal ones, that is. The hits it’s gotten, the awards it’s been honoured with, its number of comments, that’s because of you. So shouldn’t you have some sort of say in what goes here? Which is to say, would it be too much of you to ask me to write on topics expected of me? Would it be too much to write as expected of me, based on my previous writings? But by conforming to that idea, wouldn’t I be restricting myself… bah, I’m muddling myself!

I think maybe this is another one of those things where it boils down to striking a balance. Please yourself, but don’t forget your readers. Please your readers, but don’t forget your own pleasure too. So, going along those lines, I think it’s okay to occasionally go off-tangent from the things I usually talk about (maybe just not my sex life), but not too often if I want to spare a thought for my readers. (At the same time, if I really wanted to bring bloggerdygook to a different focus, I should if it makes me happy, though I should be aware of the consequences of doing that.)

What do you think?

ps. I’m still leaning towards no contract – I don’t think I’m obligated content-wise, that is. Truth-wise, now that is a different question…

Comments on: "Social Contracts in Blogs" (22)

  1. I really don’t think bloggers and readers are in any kind of contract… a blog is 100% the property of a blogger and they can do with it whatever they want to, the readers just decide whether they read it or appreciate it or not.. if u want to blog about ur sex life [i really wish u wouldn’t], go ahead, if someone doesn’t like it, he will unsubscribe or stop visiting, u can’t keep everyone happy and shouldn’t intend to… Always be true to yourself…
    Let me cite some examples to support my answer
    Scorsese is famous for making thriller movies and people like them, but if one day he wants to direct a love story, would he not, just because its not expected of him? i don’t think so…. In the same way, any artist, painter, musician does what he pleases to, if these people don’t like it, others will…

    sulz: hahaha, don’t worry, i don’t want to either! i’ve read some sex blogs – well, sex is interesting – but i don’t think i’ll do as good a job as them. 😛

    i think if scorcese did that, many of his fans would rebel and protest! but at the end of the day it’s his decision… there will be fans who will support him, i’m sure. hmm, good example! 🙂

  2. Contract?? That sounds legal. 🙂 I don’t care about such things, specially when you have a personal blog. You will find an audience if you are interesting. Lets KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. 🙂

    sulz: haha, well i was borrowing the term off the poster of the thread – it’s meant figuratively more than literally, of course. well, i guess my blog’s interesting enough, seeing as you come here occasionally. 😉

    okay, let’s kiss. 😆 (unfortunately i tend to be a bit long-winded to be simple enough!)

  3. I’m not sure – I’ve been straying from what has become my ‘designated area’ a lot lately, and my stats fell recently. As blogging is essentially an exercise in self-obsession and attention-seeking, I guess when you’ve got a readership you don’t want to lose them by changing what you say.

    I didn’t think you ought not blog about this kind of thing, and when I saw the title I thought you’d be talking about the kind of thing that’s been discussed on my blog lately too: whether the blogger has an obligation to blog, because they feel pressured too, because they don’t want to lose traffic, because they feel like they’re letting their audience down.

    And I was interested to see what you had to say, because I think it’s a very interesting topic! 😀

    Suzy x

    sulz: so will you be going back to what you were known for soon? oh, the obligation to blog, i definitely feel that. why do you think i never not have a post at least once every 4 days? 🙂 to me, quantity is a kind of quality. that’s why my blog is a mix of fluff and serious stuff. when i can’t think of something to blog, that’s when i post a bunch of quizzes and let you entertain yourselves, haha.

    well, i’m glad you found it so, i thought it was an interesting issue too! 😀

  4. I think it’s ultimately up to the writer of the blog to pursue whatever direction they see fit. Truth be told, I don’t feel obligated to my readers to write anything — they choose to read and comment to posts as they see fit, and, as far as I’m concerned, I’m blogging totally to satisfy my need to express my opinion. Of course, I absolutely love when people read and (especially) comment on my posts (hint hint), but that doesn’t mean my readership should dictate what I write. I’m the writer of the my blog for a reason, after all.

    sulz: yup, that sums the sentiment of this issue up, really. if a blogger allows the content of his or her blog to be dictated by the readers (which would mean that that isn’t exactly the direction the blogger wants go) it’s kinda falling into peer pressure. blog pressure… hmm.

  5. thebeadden said:

    Sulz, I love going to blogs and finding something unexpected. If you knew what you were getting every time, well…I should change that because I do go to focus blogs too. But the ones I read for my own pleasure, it’s just a treat! 🙂

    sulz: well, as far as my blog’s concerned, there are definitely a few surprises every now and then! 😉 just not my sex life, i promise. i’m not that open! 😆

  6. “I ultimately blog for myself”….I think that says all you need to know.

    Just as my blog is for me…it is the one place I am obligated to no one but is my outlet and my release..and it is for my own comfort and gratification if someone else out there reads it, understands it, can sympathize with it or just simply enjoys it..even if that someone is only myself… I accept that most will not read, care, like or even notice the blog sitting there, but I do.

    sulz: yeah, as much as i do make thought for my readers, i can’t lie – it’s for me! 😛 it’s also probably healthy to have a designated space where only you have total control of it. too many things in life we are obligated to, whether it’s people or responsibilities.

  7. the problem of ‘social contract’ lies in its definition and scope of application. if it is about ‘appropriateness’ of specific blogs, then you can say that ‘Blog A’ has a set of conditions deemed to be appropriate. ‘Blog B’ on the other hand has different types of conditions of appropriateness. in conversational analysis, ‘social contracts’ also apply to different types of situations. you don’t speak to your teachers the way you speak to your friends during class e.g. interruptions.

    so, it depends.

    sulz: the linguist speaks! oh, back in college days we speak to teachers like they were our friends. some of them are, actually! 🙂

  8. It’s way much better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not. That’s what I believe. So I do whatever I like with my blog, Ojrak.

    Readers come and readers go, some that sees me as interesting reads me no matter what I write, no matter how bad my blog design is.

    sulz: wow, that’s a great quote! good answer. 🙂

  9. I don’t mind reading the saucy details on sex from tomorrow on. 😛
    Fundamentally I think that relationship between blogger and reader is very transient; people come and go and if a blogger had to maintain a certain style despite herself progressing in life, and generally change as a person, she winds up not being herself anymore. That’s not right, isn’t it? I think it’s important that bloggers be themselves, and if the readers don’t align with them anymore, then too bad. I think the only clause that is needed in the contract is for a blogger to be forthright, and true to themselves.

    sulz: wah, you would?? if like that, i think your kinky result is inaccurate lah. 😆 (should be full marks!)

    hey, interesting perspective about transience! ah, that true-to-yourself bit, yes agree.

  10. Paragraph 1, What I expected: Are you starting a dating service? No, yes, yes.
    Paragraph 8, I’d just as soon you didn’t. None of MY business! 😉
    Although, Paragraph 9: No, no, no.
    # 10: Still is! Yes, yes, no.
    # 11: No! Yes! YES!
    # 13: I think you ought to continue to write from your true voice. If you do that, you will have readers without having to cater to them. Unless you are getting paid to blog, you don’t owe your readers any particular thing.
    Hah! You made me work, so I returned the favor. 🙂

    sulz: haha, that was definitely some work! you sounded kinda… orgasmic. :mrgreen: hahahaha! affectionate teasing aside, you’re right, sulz must be sulz. which includes bawdy, totally inappropriate jokes. just taking your advice, y’know. 😉

  11. I believe that a personal blog, since it is after all a part of your personality, shouldn’t be edited in anyway. Whatever you post will be in sync with what you post only if you are true to that.

    Having said that, if you are true to yourself, you won’t post anything out of the ordinary. Hence, the equilibrium would be maintained.

    I talk about a lot of stuff on my blog and I was thinking breaking my blog based on content. Someone adviced me against the idea and I think it is the wise decision.

    sulz: personality – that’s what they refer to celebrities as sometimes, right? so does that make me an internet celebrity? haha… just a tiny one, perhaps. 😛 among friends.

    hey, good point about equilibrium! though i wouldn’t say i wouldn’t post anything out of the ordinary… i might spring some surprises every once in a while. 😉 variety is the spice of life, after all!

    well, it depends. i have a couple of other blogs for different interests. if i were to lump them all here they’d probably have more attention than where they are now, but at the same time i like to compartmentalise my interests. in life i’m the same. i wouldn’t want to mix family with friends, lovers with co-workers etc. boils down to individual taste, i suppose!

  12. Oh its perfectly fine to go off-tangent!! Its your blog, come on!! If you dont decide what goes in it, who will? and you have all the right in the world to decide what you want to write… and I think beauty of blogging is that there are no rules!! You write what you feel like!

    sulz: exactly the point i made in that thread! great minds think alike. 😀

  13. Blog what you want. It’s your personal space. If you want to share the intimate details of your sex life, feel free. Personally I’ll skip over those posts, but that’s just my screwed up head.

    I enjoy the variability of your blog.

    I’ve been known to go off on tangents on my personal blog and my teaching blog. I figured I was driving my ESL blog readers crazy with my Linux rantings, so I create a Linux blog (which got about a dozen posts and I then abandoned). Geekiness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea 🙂

    sulz: it’s not your head, i’m sure practically everyone doesn’t want to read about my sex life! 😀 yes, i need to remember it’s my space and my readers are visiting me, not moving in with me, haha!

    yes, i admit as much as i love blogging, i don’t get geekiness all that much. but i’m sure there are plenty of like-minded people around if you’re looking for such!

  14. A blog is an optional thing, so, it’s up to the blogger in terms of what to do with it. I ended up merging Randomly Relevant with the first one that I had called Eternal Catharsis so I wouldn’t have to juggle all the time 😀

    sulz: i’ve been doing this for over 2 years, it doesn’t seem optional to me! i mean, i feel like a big part of my life is over if i choose to stop blogging! this is the only place guys even talk to me. seriously.

  15. There are basically two types of blogs as you’ve yourself mentioned. Professional and Personal. If you’re writing a professional blog say about software and tomorrow you start writing about cars, that would be kind of unfair.

    However, a personal blog is something completely different. It’s a place where you share your life, your experience. And life can never have one topic. There will be cows and there will be sex life. So you talk about it. And that’s what the readers want. They want to read about your life, the entire thing, not just a part. A personal blog is like a phone call or a conversation, it can not have one fixed topic and therefore there’s no obligation to your readers. You write what you want and they read that and comment accordingly. It’s not like a magazine where you only write what people want to read. That would destroy the entire beauty of personal blogging and randomness.

    sulz: haha, they want to hear about my life except my sex life, some of them have explicitly made that clear to me! 😀 oh, another nice quote – ‘life can never be one topic’! no, great analogy altogether! damn, you’re good. take after your mother, obviously. 😆

  16. Your blog is your blog. If you’re writing a personal blog, you don’t have any obligation to tell readers what they want to hear.

    So if you did turn this into a blog about your sex life, well, you’d lose my readership, but I wouldn’t feel like you’d broken some kind of unspoken agreement or anything like that. And if you turned this into a blog about cows… I have no idea how I’d react, but I wouldn’t think badly of you for it.

    If we do have a duty to keep to our original topics, then I’ve screwed up pretty badly, since my recent posts have had very little to do with media studies. I should probably change the name, but I’m too attached to my header image, and I still get plenty of people reading the old media posts.

    sulz: oh, so you’d think badly if i did write about my sex life? 😥 haha, don’t worry, my sex life is only to be discussed with the doctor or the person with whom i’m involved in such an activity.

    yeah, i just thought about your blog – if you lost some readers because of your fiction blog going on, i wouldn’t be surprised. as for me, some of the media posts before didn’t relate to me; your fiction blog is like a soap opera. as long as i keep up with it i can relate to it! 😀

  17. gentledove said:

    I agree with most people, it’s your blog, but your blog is an extension of you and people like YOU in the same way as all your other friends and they kind of trust you to be “our” Sulz, isn’t it like some singer/actors who start out so sweet and nice and make themselves like family friendly, then when they reach a certain pinnacle of fame they suddenly go wild? but it does seem as though blogs of a feather fly together. It’s all about being you. As BG says if you start taking your clothes off??
    Much better to stick with the wok and stuff

    sulz: haha, blogs of a feather fly together! 😀 true, if i change too much i’d lose some readers and i might also gain some. and lovelyloey does have a point about not being true to myself if change is what i’m really experiencing personally but i’m not changing the content to keep the readers… all back to balance, i guess. but mostly being true to yourself. in my case, no sex life details, promise. 😆

  18. The whole idea of a contract, even a verbal one, sounds too formal. Just my personal opinion but contracts are for business dealings – because both sides do not totally trust each other and have expectations on paper they want met.

    sulz: the word contract is meant figuratively, i suppose, though in the thread someone said it’s a hyperbole, so… 🙂

  19. I didn’t say I’d think badly of you! The only reason I’d stop reading is that I’m not interested in hearing about other people’s sex lives! (Sorry, not even yours! 😛 )

    sulz: i guess my latest post is off-limits huh, then? 😉

  20. […] September 4, 2008 Filed under: Personal — sulz @ 11:30 pm Well, you guys did say it’s my blog and therefore I get to decide what goes […]

  21. Am late in adding my 2 cents…but I think I had this debate a while back. Am leaning towards no contract too. My space is mine for whatever I want to put on it. If the readers don’t like what is expressed, they have so many others to choose from to read what they want and like too. Right?
    Though about writing something shocking, if it is ur personality; go on ahead! if not, well at least u get shock value 😉

    sulz: thanks for your two cents, the no-contract camp always welcomes new members! 😀 true, true. a blog isn’t like a restaurant who must cater to its customers’ choices. hehe… 😛

  22. What I love the most about the blogs I read is the freedom! The freedom! *turns into a hippie*

    sulz: please don’t start on the drugs! oh wait, you did. 😛

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