The Best Practices for Unitarian Universalist Blogging report, originally published in August of 2008, is being updated and bloggers who promote Unitarian Universalism are being surveyed. We are being asked to post the questions and our answers to our blogs...so here goes.
1. Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog?
Well, that's a really good question. The main reason I blog is that I believe that all ministers should be blogging, offering our opinions, feelings, and insights in this important venue for modern seekers. For me, it is a form of Unitarian Universalist evangelism -- a chance for people to connect to our movement in one more way beyond the Sunday morning worship service or the weeknight committee/program meeting.
My goals are many: to continue my process of reflection and discernment as I prepare to enter into fellowship with other ministers; to interact with others in a public forum on relevant issues; and to let my muse run wild on occasion.
2. Who is your intended audience?
Anyone interested in the free and responsible search for truth and meaning; anyone who wants to sit across the table from me and share a pizza.
3. Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization?
The muse kennel and pizzatorium is all me. I will certainly refer to my congregation on occasion, and post sermons, but my blog is my side of this virtual conversation.
4. How frequently do you post?
Not nearly often enough! I am one of the world's worst journalists. And, I guess that I feel that the only time I want to blog is when I really have something important to say. Needless to say, I don't "get" Twitter.
5. What is the tone of your blog?
I suppose the tone is essentially professional with an important touch of the personal. I really just go where my muse takes me in regards to tone.
6. What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct?
I filter comments (most of which are spam anyway) and will not post comments that are snarky or combative to the point of killing dialogue. As for me, anything I post is fair game and I assume is public. If I feel unsafe posting it, then I simply won't.
7. What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality?
I generally don't name people I discuss, but my stories are mostly about me anyway. I would endeavor never to discuss someone else in a way that they could be identified without asking their permission first. But, generally, if I do mention someone else, it is to praise them or give them props for helping me in some way.
8. How do you respond to comments and email from readers?
I will always post and respond to comments and emails that are respectful and that contribute to the ongoing dialogue. Sarcastic and excessively argumentative (those that in my opinion shut down discourse) comments are generally ignored.
9. What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience?
Inertia is the biggest problem and I am my own worst critic. If I don't feel particularly qualified to comment on a topic, or feel that my opinion is not all that unique, then I tend to not post. I suppose that I just need to grant myself the permission to let others make that call.
10. What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience?
I feel the most reward when I can give voice to an idea or experience that would not likely have been expressed via other avenues open to me. I guess I feel that if my posts affect just one other person in some way, then the effort is worthwhile.
11. What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started?
Stop worrying about it and let your muse off its leash! You will never please anyone, and you can never please anyone unless you give yourself the chance. So, just run off that diving board and cannonball into the pool!
12. How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series?
I don't. I'll admit to a twinge of pride when The World mentions my blog in its weekly summary. But, my blog simply is what it is. It is successful if I let it be what it is.
I believe that my best series was the one I did on my trip to New Orleans.
13. What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging?
Hmmm, nothing that I can think of.
14. What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.)
I set up my blog to automatically post to my Facebook account. I tell people about my blog on various web pages and other avenues.
15. Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have?
I honestly have never even looked at that to figure it out.
16. Do you track site traffic? How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)?
No, I think I would only find that depressing! And, I'm way too obsessive-compulsive, so I would waste too much time analyzing numbers. Frankly, I am always pleasantly surprised when I find that anyone has spent any of their valuable time reading my ramblings.
17. Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers?
Not really, although I use UUA resources for lots of other things. I'm not really sure how the UUA could contribute to my blogging. One possible idea might be for someone to come up with a weekly suggestion on a topic for UU bloggers to address. Then the posts could be assembled, or even summarized in some way. Such a resource might be really useful to somebody researching that topic.
18. Please write any additional comments or suggestions.
Peter Bowden is the man, and has been enormously helpful to me on a number of occasions regarding all things technical. And, if you read me blog, then please write/comment and let me know what you like, don't like, want to see more of, whatever!