On blogging networks

As many readers know, I run a group blog, The Asexual Agenda (TAA). Other readers might be aware that I’m on this blogging network called Freethought Blogs (FTB). Still other readers may be aware of other blogging networks like The Orbit, or Skepchick. Have you ever wondered how these blog networks are organized?

This is something that interests me, as a group blog admin. But perhaps nobody else is interested, because I hardly ever see anyone else talk about it. Or perhaps people don’t talk about it because the information is too sensitive. You don’t want to give away information that is potentially embarrassing to other people on the network. Many blogging networks may even have formal rules against disclosing certain information. I myself am limited in what I can say. But there’s some stuff that is public knowledge, at least in principle, so I’ll talk about that.

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10 years of blogging

As of today, I’ve been blogging for 10 years!  Yay!  Time for a retrospective.

I first started reading blogs around 2006, when I started college.  I was a fan of the Bad Astronomy website which had funny material debunking the claim that the moon landing was a hoax, and other skepticism-related stuff.  At some point I found that there was an associated blog called Bad Astronomy Blog.  From there I branched off to other blogs, including The Friendly Atheist, Memoirs of a Skepchick, Pharyngula, and the ScienceBlogs network.1 After reading these for a while, I decided to start my own skeptical/atheist blog.  I called my blog Skeptic’s Play because I was bad at coming up with names.

I came bursting out of the gate, writing original content once per day.  Obviously that wasn’t sustainable, but I think it goes to show that I always had a strong motivation to write, which is probably the most important determinant of long-term success in blogging.

However, it was immediately clear that I wasn’t cut out for skeptical blogging.  To be a good skeptical content creator, you either have to know stuff, research stuff, or else you have to not give a shit and just be entertaining.  I gave a shit, but didn’t give quite enough shit to spend significant amounts of time researching every bullshit claim.  I ended up writing about a lot of low-hanging fruit, like logical fallacies and elementary philosophizing.  I also wrote about physics, math puzzles, and atheism.

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Please don’t pick up the phone

I haven’t entirely been following this, but David Smalley wrote an article saying that petty disagreements were killing the atheist movement. PZ Myers disagreed, and it got hashed out in the Dogma Debate podcast. I have a lot of trouble listening to podcasts, so I mostly heard about it through Trav.

One of Smalley’s points is that we should resolve conflicts more amicably by “picking up the phone”.

Let’s pick up the phone and have conversations when we disagree. If you don’t have their phone number, send them a private message asking to get on Skype to talk it out.

PZ Myers argues that many of our conflicts are too substantial to be resolved over the phone.

My own reaction: calling my phone to talk about an internet disagreement would be hella aggressive. Sending me a private e-mail is also aggressive. I am astounded that people who want more civility sincerely advocate such nasty tactics.
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Please disagree with me

I started out as a skeptical blogger many years ago, and when I started identifying as ace I moved into ace blogging. Thus, I’ve had many occasions to notice cultural differences in the respective blogging communities. One observation is that atheists/skeptics tend to give voice only to disagreement, while aces give voice only to agreement.

This does not mean that atheists/skeptics only ever disagree with each other, while aces only ever agree with each other. Rather, both agreement and disagreement are present, but the two groups have different ideas about what is worth expressing.
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