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My Blog-Editing Philosophy

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It has been suggested that I should consider altering the opening line from my recent post about a poetry reading I attended:

?Attending poetry readings seems like one of the great fringe benefits of my job, except that occasions such as last evening?s are free and open to the public at large.?

The implication was that my use of the word ?except? could be read as elitist ? i.e., the poetry readings would seem like a fringe benefit, ?except? that I have to mingle with the public at large.? Of course, while I can see how that might be inferred, that thought was the farthest thing from my mind. I?m sure my mom would have a good laugh at the thought that I could even feign ?elitism.?

So it gives me a good opportunity to iterate, or reiterate, my philosophy on the retroactive editing of posts.


I labor over every word I write ? within my time constraints, of course. Inevitably, I will sometimes fail in how I articulate myself.? In general, though, I want to let my words stand on their own even when they?re imperfect.

If I make a minor edit such as a capital letter or a punctuation mark, I will almost always do so without notification. But if I make a substantive change like the one discussed above, I will ?shine a spotlight? on it, usually in an addendum to the original post. In my mind, it cuts against the open and honest nature of the blogosphere not to do so.

I will often wish in retrospect that I had made different word choices, kind of like that witty retort you think of just seconds too late. But such is the immediate and personal nature of the medium.

That said, anytime a reader wants use the comments section to draw my attention to my gaffes, I?m happy to own up to them publicly, in the spirit of transparency.

Comments (32)

  1. I think you’re being even more fair than the situation requires. On a blog, there’s always going to be someone to object to a particular wording. Unless it’s drawing complaints from many readers, I wouldn’t take it too hard.

  2. I don’t think your transparency theory is working. We can all see right through you. πŸ˜‰

    Actually I just wanted to comment as an affirmation regarding web updates. I’ve noticed and read many different ways of doing it. It’s your blog. You can do it however you want. I think if you feel like you should tell others about it, then do that. If you don’t think anyone will care, then don’t tell em. Err… don’t tell them. πŸ˜‰

  3. Concur with Toby. Note that one reason I’m heartin’ WordPress is the editor builds in the “lined-out” font attribute, so I can easily “cross out” something I’ve written and place any updated text next to it. But really, don’t lose any sleep over how you decide to handle changes… and know your decision may change over time.

    Also, you write, “But such is the immediate and personal nature of the medium.” No, such is writing without an editor. I love the online writing environment, but it does a poor job of protecting me from myself, such as when I wrote on a statewide librarians’ discussion list that a committee was the “incubus” for a good idea. Ouch.

    Find your comfort zone with editing after the fact, and don’t let yourself get trolled into shame over a tweak here or there. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people *like* you.

  4. It takes me a terribly long time when writing up reviews of various websites and weblogs. I am always afraid that I will come across in a way that I did not intend. It is good to know that I am not the only one who feels this way, even if the fear is unfounded.

  5. Well, I welcome this blog. I actually heard about it through another government blog, and I am all too thrilled to read your posts. Thanks for opening up to a new generation.

  6. I think this days blogging has become some kind of an art and like everything else there will always be two opposing groups. I personally like -some kind of personal touch into every post and it reflects the character of that blogger. I am a net journeyman and likes to visit lots of blogs and get the feel of each blog.

    I certainly like your writing tha contacins a personal element. πŸ˜€

  7. It’s hard to predict which perspective a given reader may have when reading a post online or even an article in print. Therefore it is difficult to appease everyone because we all have different interpretations of the exact same words much like your post suggests. I wouldn’t have viewed it as “elitist” in the least, but who knows where someone else’s head is when they read certain things?

  8. That is a great methodology for you to use in this blog. I’m happy to see your etiquette and blogging ethics are in line with most of the blogosphere. Transparency in blogging is extremely important otherwise you are just deceiving your readers which defeats the purpose of you having a blog.

  9. I think your transparency method will work definatly. Looking forward to reading more on this this blog

  10. I think this is very much important for a blogger. πŸ™‚

  11. This is very interesting and I would never have thought of that comment as elitist. To me it means that because it is open to the public it is not a perk of the job. Makes me feel better (maybe) about how things can be misinterpreted. And being new to blogs, I presumed they were not edited after being posted. Great post.

  12. “open and honest nature” I really loved those words. I can understand those are not mere words for you. They must hold a deep meaning for you and us too. Very few people cares about them though. So if somebody like you talk about them, feels so good at heart. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Transparency is the key for blogger as it build trust among your readers.

  14. Totally agreed with Abraham, transparency is always required. BTW i like the information.

  15. There is no perfection. I like that you can go back and look at something. Then determine wording it a different way or doing it a different way might have been better. Learning is something we can all do more of.

  16. It’s same with me Matt, no different story. I do have a blog and I do receive lots of suggestions and feedback. But I take in only those which are appropriate. [It’s hard to define what is appropriate and what isn’t though].

  17. It’s no big deal. People misunderstand and jump to conclusions. It’s good of you to clear things up for the public. I like how the Internet gives people their own space wherein they can express themselves freely. However, doing so makes one’s words at the mercy of public scrutiny. There are just such instances wherein a bunch of people will see things differently from how you intended them to. I applaud your efforts to enlighten us about this misuderstanding, and by the way, I believe you when you say that you’re not an elitist.

  18. Ahh, the question beckons over and over again, ‘shall I fix the blog… or shall I leave it be…’ It is a good question. My take on it is to fix it! and fix it again… Be it a grammatical mistake or a problem of interpretation, I think you can’t go wrong by fixing it. Funny thing, a good friend of mine in his own blog tackled this very question!

  19. This is great infromation for bloggers. Thank you for sharing.

  20. I agree with John. This is great for bloggers. From what I have seen this is a popular question as it allows people a chance to write a quick blurb and leave their signature behind. Thank You.

  21. Very few people are honest in giving feedback. You have to choose it wisely. It’s same with my blog.

  22. I agree, transparency is paramount, and I respect this blog for opening up to the people.

  23. I love the open communication around here, it’s not something I am used to from a government entity!

  24. This just goes to show how much our tone of voice, gestures and facial expressions play into our communication. While the written word is extremely powerful, nothing will ever be able to replace human interaction for understanding what a person is truly trying to say.

  25. it’s obvios that we just can not gowith a straight answer looking for the transparency.

  26. Remember that the comment is the conversation – where ideas are flushed out and debated. I think the comment section is the most valuable part of the blog culture.

  27. Damn, that sound’s so easy if you think about it.

  28. I’ve been looking around blogs.loc.gov and really am impressed by the awesome content material here. I work the nightshift at my job and it really gets boring. I have been coming right here for the previous couple nights and reading. I just wanted to let you know that I have been enjoying what I’ve seen and I look forward to reading more.

  29. Oh Wow, your (words/thoughts) articulate -pretty much- what I have struggled with. My personal hand written ideas (although often stray from topic, that is, if I had one to begin with) often say what I want but with affections to be inclusive of many, that is a more cumulative array of concepts — much like every tree and every forest described all at once and one at a time — simultaneously. It is not just to articulate but what can be articulated is possible; alltogetherness individually.
    So, it took my 5 years to be ‘brave’ / ‘strong’ / ‘willing’ to publish – but yet, it is done… Now I seek the challenge (within self) to check responses and then address them (if I so choose) or if rated PG-17 just let it be posted as a stand-alone (inlieu of blocking). Not altogether sure yet what I will decided, ut I know it when and if the occasion presents itself.
    Maybe blog about the decisions and reasoning behind responses. And y reasoning that does not preclude the response of null…
    This may help others when hate storms/fake support/etc… responses generated misleading conclusions about said subject/writer/medium of expressions among our homo-sapien-sapien species.

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