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Friday, October 5, 2012

What Makes a Blog More Relevant?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've Been Thinking

            Did you watch the presidential debate?  Do plan on watching the upcoming debates?  If you are keeping up with the political campaigns then I'm sure you have a few opinions about the issues.   I'm not a foaming at the mouth politico, but I do tend to keep up with the activities in the political arena as well as world affairs and social issues.  I have a lot of opinions about many issues, but I have had a tendency to keep mum on most of these on my blog site.

            I won't say that any change is coming that will include disclosing many of my opinions and actively promoting any agendas, but as I have been hinting in my previous posts a change of sorts is coming.   Actually it might be more of a reversion to some of my earlier blogging tactics.  I'll explain shortly, but let me first tell you about my decision to tweak the blog.

Where'd This Come From?

            During the Hijack This Blog! project there were two standout posts for me--that is, posts that were particularly dear to my heart so to speak.  One of the posts that generated some of the most active commenting activity was that of Andrew Leon--Is It Better To Be "Nice" or Honest?.  Not only did Andrew's post generate a healthy dose of comments, but they were comments of substance.  It was a true discussion, which is something I like to strive for on Tossing It Out.  I want to see more of this type of activity.

           The second guest post that I thought had exciting prospects was from Stephen T. McCarthy--Become An "Educated" American Patriot.  On his blog, Stephen is capable of successfully pulling off extreme controversy to an extent that I never could because I just don't consider myself that educated when it comes to politics and American ideology.  And also I'm hesitant to alienate too many readers with radical (by some standards) thought.   I did, however, appreciate the challenge that Stephen brought to the table with his post and the response it generated in the comment section.

           Inspired by those two posts I have decided to return to a certain element of introducing controversial topics in my blog posts.  I'd like to see more relevance and some deeper thinking inspired by my blog posts.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm no brilliant intellectual guy who is steeped in the issues of the day.  There are just some things I wonder about sometimes and I like to hear what others think about those thoughts.  I have come to a conclusion that there are many things I don't understand and I'd like to clarify them in my mind.  Maybe some of you are the same way.  It doesn't hurt to gauge our own opinions against those of others to come to a greater understanding of the ways of the world or the world beyond this one for that matter.

Some Backstory

       In the earlier days of Tossing It Out I had a forum day called "Thursday Debate" where I would present a controversial topic and either pick a side or just present different sides.   I would then ask what the readers thought.  This was frequently not my most popular day for comments, but it was often the most fun and most interesting.   I've not totally strayed from controversial topics, but I feel like I've generally lightened up on the issues.  Could it be time for me to return to this concept?

          I think so.  I will not be striving for complete change.  Content will continue to be eclectic and often random.   There will still be the occasional guest post and the on-going nuttiness that I dredge from my old brain.  But I will also be sometimes tossing out an idea, an opinion, or a pondering and hoping that you will have something to toss back to me.  After all that is what this blog was originally intended to be.

           If you're interested you might want to go back to my early post "Mission Statement" to get a better idea of where I like to be coming from (and some of you might say I've never strayed from that).   But if you don't have time to go back let me quote the Mission Statement that I made at that time:

The "Tossing It Out" blog is here to entertain, stimulate, and inform whenever possible. The author will make every attempt to be accurate and fair at all times and will be open to the input of any readership the blog may develop. There is no set course, no absolute purpose, and the content, though at times random, will strive for cohesion and clarity.

         Let me emphasize "stimulate" in the context of this current post.  I want to think and I hope I can find others who want to do the same.  And lest there be any fears of over-politicizing or focusing on American politics be assured that though I may bring up issues that are related to the politics, I don't plan to get into the current campaign to try to sway votes or focus on the current election. 

        I don't want to toss out the spirit of this blog, I just want to toss in a few ingredients that will make for a more savory stew.

         Will controversial issues scare you away from this blog?   Do you ever feel the need for more mental stimulation?    What are some topics that you think might be interesting to discuss?

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  1. Yeah, poltics and blogging can alienate readers unless you're an impartial or skilled writer. I'll still drop in but I tend to avoid politics on my blog as my purpose is to promote my books and make friends be they liberals or conservatives.

  2. Brave man! I remember you used to do more controversial posts. Seems like ages ago.
    Go for it.
    I'll stick to amusing and informing. You know, deep stuff, like Sharktopus.
    And yes, I did watch some of the debate.

  3. I have to agree with you Lee when it comes to those two posts being particularly poignant and honestly I like the direction that it sounds that you're taking this blog in. The thing about controversial people that gets me is that I'm not sure why they're being controversial, sometimes I can mistake controversial people for being bad people if that makes sense? With you I know you're a really good guy so I don't have those fears at all, great post Lee and I can't wait to see where you're going with Tossing It Out next!

  4. It would depend on the degree of controversy you spark and the degree of reaction it would generate by way of comments. I guess, and I speak for all, it highly depends on whether a particular piece of controversy offends the reader. If it does, I most probably wouldn't spend too much time wasting my words on the matter.

  5. Controversy doesn't scare me much, although I can find extremist views on some topics exhausting. I'm more a middle ground type of personality - I tend to be able to see both sides of issues. Sounds like you're going to have some fun! :)

  6. Sounds like it could be fun! I read controversial posts but I don't often comment. I prefer to stay out of it when the comments get defensive or nasty. But if it's a healthy discussion, then I might participate!

  7. Jeremy -- I think a lot lies in the intent of the blogger. Similar to a business not wanting to alienate certain groups within its customer base by taking sides on issues, the blogger who is speaking about specific topics doesn't want to divide that audience. My blog has always been about a variety of things.

    Alex -- I never completely got away from controversy, but I did mostly keep the topics rather light in the past year or so.

    Yeamie - The whole issue of the whys and what makes the controversy is something I want to explore and better understand in future posts.

    Duncan -- It's difficult not to offend at least a few people with even the lightest of topics. Let's face it, some people are very easily offended because they dig too deep to look for the offense in something. I hope to present things in a way to offend the least amount of people, but I know that's not usually possible. Today's post will probably even offend some even though I've only expressed future intent. That's life--I encounter the little offenses every day so why not explore the bigger issues?

    Jemi -- I too am a middle ground sort of guy which is probably what lures me to examine controversial topics. I like to look at both sides of an issue and draw my conclusions from the analysis.

    Laura -- I hope you will join in as I do hope to encourage civil, thoughtful discussion on issues.


  8. I've noticed that I don't like too much brain stimulus these days because our brains are being raped and violated by politicians and other evil big shoots of the modern world on a daily basis and I think I lose my energy there.... But that is only me, I think that lots of people like controversy more than bread and cake... If you'd air a man being killed live in primetime TV most of the world would watch it even though it would be beyond sick and controversial....

  9. I like things that get me to think or leave me awe-strucked. However, I stay away from politics because I don't like politicians in general and believe people are capable of doing the right thing except for a select few. That's what jails are for.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  10. I think it is time to discuss in detail the national bacon shortage. What are we to do?

  11. You have to have a bit of controversary once in a while. I present the issue as unbiased as I can then let readers comment.

    And stimulating topics always work for me.

  12. Your mission statement also says you'll "strive for cohesion and clarity." Doing that and introducing controversy seems a bit out of sinc.

    First, I want to thank you for the great compliment! I'm very pleased that you appreciated my Hijacked Blog Bit so much.

    [Just think how controversial my guest spot would have been, however, if you hadn't baited and switched me from the one I was originally intending to submit. Ha!-Ha! You tamed my Hijacked Blog Bit from A-list controversial to merely B-list controversial. But that's OK.]

    I remember your old Thursday Debate blog forum and I miss it. I know it generated less comments because so many people are disinclined to "mix it up" (unlike Yours Truly). But I'd guess that you probably got more comments from me on Thursdays than you did on other days. Lose some, win some, eh?

    One time you expressed an opinion of your own on a Thursday Debate post that was xtremely controversial even by MY standards. I couldn't believe you'd said what you did, and like many of your other readers, I had to submit a dissenting comment. That was good stuffs!

    Yeah, bring back 'Controversy In The Morning' and I might be able to reduce my coffee intake by a couple cups. I'd rather wake up by controversy than caffeine anyway.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  14. Great post, and your blog is supposed to allow your creative opinion. Do we need more political commentators? Well if you think so that's fine too.

  15. I watch American politics but don't consider them that different from Canadian politics. Intelligence is one commodity that is often lacking when discussing politics. Passion takes over. And most of us have our opinions.

    Now, Andrew's post and discussion of writerly habits is more to my liking.

  16. I'll be looking forward to sampling your "savory stew!" It's great that you're always trying new things! Julie

  17. Dezmond -- You make a sad but true point. I think some of our controversy fatigue may stem from not being informed with the truth and fed what the media and those in charge want us to believe.

    Shelly -- I hope you stick with me here. The root ideas that turn into politics are something we all need to think about. If others start doing all the thinking for us, it might not be for our benefit.

    PTM -- The bacon shortage is actually an intriguing issue. I was reading some theories behind it just the other day. I have a few of my own.

    Stephen Tremp -- I my past presentations of controversy I'd either pick a more disagreeable side to defend or try to air the topic showing both sides. I hope to continue the same way in order to fuel discussion.

    Richard -- Striving does not always mean succeeding. If I can be as cohesive as within the context of my own writing and presentation, then perhaps I can bring more clarity to the table. Introducing controversy is not intended to divide, but to create more understanding. I don't want people to fight about the issues--just think about them and maybe draw the best conclusions.

    StMc-- I dedicate my return to debate to you D-fens Dogg.

    Desert -- You may not get too much political commentary here, but you'll get a few opinionated thoughts.

    DG -- I don't plan to keep the controversy confined to politically oriented topics, but it may start out that way due to the season. Many controversies become part of the political scene and I like to explore the whys of that as well.


  18. Julie -- Sometimes I get easily bored. I also like meaty comments and controversy has a way of letting us know where the beef is. Don't worry though--the controversy posts will not all be "beef" stew.


  19. I think this shows that you are constantly "working" your blog to make sure it is fresh and stimulating. Nothing wrong with that.

  20. Controversial topics won't scare me away but I may remain mum, depending on the topic.

  21. I did watch the debate last week and plan to watch the others when they come.

    I'm glad you are doing this, I will drop in and comment because I trust your site.


  22. From time to time I do enjoy the mental stimulation of controversial issues. Sometimes I respond to the issue, depending on subject matter.

  23. WooHoo!
    Bring it on! I'm pretty sure you know I'm rarely worried about "tossing out" my opinion. As Briane Pagel would say, "my opinions are righter than yours!" :P
    Unless, you know, they agree with mine, and mine are probably still righter.
    heh heh

  24. Glad to see you are back at your blog.

  25. It doesn't appear that you have any intention of doing the job of a talking bobble-head, then I'd have to say I would not be scared away. I have a tendency to play devil's advocate.

  26. Liza -- Always working the blog so it won't get stale.

    Tami -- Just feel free to jump in whenever you have something to say.

    Sheila-- I'm glad to have gained your trust and I appreciate your saying so.

    Paula -- I welcome your opinions.

    Andrew -- I'm sure I can count on you to keep the action going.

    Gregg -- Glad to be back. Hope I can maintain the output. I'm impressed that you keep turning out regular posts and so many with depth and quality.

    Angela -- You never know what side I might be taking. I too like to toss the bubblegum in the gears to gum up the works.


  27. Controversial issues will never scare me from this blog: probably invite me more to it!

  28. Sounds like you've got some interesting plans. It is good to have a healthy, respectful debate sometimes. I'm sure you will keep it interesting and tasteful. Good luck and take care!

  29. Lee, I've been meaning to ask you: has somebody hijacked your tweeter? You've been leaving some really amusing tweets there :) Today you tweeted about graduating to tequila in Mexico :)) Is it really you?

  30. I avoid politics and other controversial topics on my own blog in an effort to keep the focus on writing and the writing life. However, I'll be following your blog with interest to see what happens here.

  31. Ghadeer -- I don't want to scare anyone off.

    Lena -- I hope the exchange always remains in respectful.

    Dezmond - I had to go back to look at my tweets since I've been retweeting a lot of things through Triberr. The tequila one was an RT for someone else's post, but the ones with no links like the ones about "wiener" and the "dry cleaner" were my attempts at humor. So far I think we can say all tweets with my name are still coming from my account.

    Patricia -- I know most bloggers refrain from getting overly controversial and I'll be taking baby steps so I do go too far too quickly. I go as far as my readers feel comfortable and if it seems to start having a negative impact I might back off of some topics. We'll see.


  32. I avoid politics and discussions of religion on my blog or other blogs.

  33. Hi Lee,
    Keep doing what you're doing and controversial that stimulates debate, for and against, is a great way to bring further awareness and understanding of each other.
    Over here, in lil' ol' Britain, we were subjected to that Presidential 'debate'. It was on from 2 until 3:30 in the morning. It was a great cure for insomnia.
    All the best and take good care.

  34. Hi Lee - it's interesting reading other takes on life ... I have my own ideas and probably don't get that drawn in. But I try and comment appropriately .. though occasionally American ways are different to the English ones ... so I blink and move on!!

    Life is too full of sound bites, and people don't stop and think a bit more ...

    Everyone seems interested and that's great ...

    Cheers for now - Hilary

  35. Haha, well, I'm gonna have to be careful then. I tend to be a bit argumentative. Could be a lot of fun though. I'm in!

  36. Susan -- I hope you'll check out some of the posts as I don't intend to get overly specific about religion or politics unless the readers lead me in that direction. I'm more interested in the mechanics of how things work or not.

    Gary -- You phrased my intentions well. I want to seek awareness and understanding and avoid contention unless it seems like the appropriate direction to take.

    Hilary -- I hope we do some thinking on my posts, even if it's 30 second blogthink.

    Nancy - Please jump into the frays. It's more fun when we get a rousing discussion going.



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