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Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Bloggers and Urinals

A postcard-sized notice appeared in the university toilets:

PLEASE DO NOT PUT CHEWING GUM IN THE URINALS
Next time I went, I took a pen, and, there being no one else around, added:
It makes it go hard and taste pissy.
I was a fifty-five year-old lecturer at the time.

I know! It was shameful. Cleaning the men’s urinals must rank amongst the most unpleasant jobs in the world. But what I am most ashamed about is that it was not entirely original. It echoes an item in Nigel Rees’s book Graffiti about cigarette ends becoming soggy and difficult to light. 

Yesterday’s post ended by recalling a similar incident from my student days when someone added a humorous comment to a humorous news sheet I had pinned to notice board. Who was the humourist in that case, me, or the person who made the undeniably funnier enhancement?

Which brings us to an issue that lies somewhere in between a simple dispute about terminology and a matter of deep philosophical importance of infinite significance to the future of humanity. What is a blogger?

Is a blogger only someone who posts blog posts, or can someone who comments but does not have a blog of their own also be considered a blogger?

It might not be as simple as it looks. It differs from writer and reader. What about blog writers whose posts consist of only a brief sentence or image but attract huge amounts of debate or comment? What about blog writers who do not allow comments? What if they allow only some comments? What if they never respond to comments or never comment on other blogs?

As for those who do comment, what if they make only brief or trivial remarks, or produce long erudite rejoinders that dwarf the original post and even take the subject off in a different direction?

This is something else I touched on yesterday. Rachel said that blog commentators without blogs were most definitely not bloggers. They are more like concert audiences or football spectators who could not in themselves (in that role) be considered to be musicians or footballers, even when their presence or participation alters the performances of the musicians and footballers on the stage and pitch, and even though the crowd is part of the football match experience.

I think there is more to it. When you go to a concert you don’t take your own instrument and play along, or at a football match you can’t run on to the pitch and help your team out (even though you know you could do better). But there are events at which large numbers of musicians play or sing together. Admittedly, it is not like singalong showing of ‘The Sound of Music’ where you dress up as Maria von Trapp (even the men), stand up, throw out your arms and join in with “The hills are alive …” as loud as you can. Cinemagoers are not film makers.

However, it seems to me that blog commentators are also a bit like members of facebook groups where the initial stimulus can be secondary to the responses. What, then, is a ‘facebooker’? Can you be a blogger on facebook?

If only life were simple. I feel truly in the urinals for arguing about it.

61 comments:

  1. I am afraid to tell you that the grafitti in women's toilets is far worse than anything you will have seen in men's urinals. As for blog comments I don't think there is any doubt or any dispute that the comments often and regularly become vastly superior to the actual blog post and good reading. However that still does not make those without blogs bloggers. It's all in a name and not really that important. There is no doubt that those who comment whether they have a blog or not are an important part of the blog world.

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    1. Examples please (but not while JayCee is eating her lunch). Perhaps I should have just said yesterday that some blog commentators are writers and left it at that.

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  2. I am a bit more simple minded (and did like The Simple Minds a lot in the 1980s); for me, a blogger is a person who blogs. Full stop. It does not matter how long the posts are, how frequently the blogger publishes new posts or what topics they cover.
    Someone who reads is... a reader. And someone who comments is a commenter. I can (and do) have all three roles; on my own blog, I am a blogger. On your blog, I am a reader and commenter. We are fellow bloggers, or, as I have seen mentioned at times in the blogosphere, neighbours in blogland.

    The comparison with a concert or football match is good and can be used to illustrate the thought, but it does not correspond completely; there are still differences.

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    1. I am making things too complicated, aren't I. It used to be my job.

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  3. I agree with Librarian. The roles of blogger, reader and commenter are all different but all essential to a "full blog experience."

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    1. Yep! Seems to be the majority view. I stand corrected.

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  4. Frankly, I am surprised that you have posed this question. In my book it appears obvious that people who create blogs and add posts regularly or indeed irregularly are bloggers. Those who only choose to visit blogs are blog visitors or blog supporters - people who like to visit blogs but are not themselves bloggers. That's it. The Oracle hath spoken.

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    1. Spoken like a true Hull City visitor.

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    2. Eyup we are one nil up against Real Madrid at halftime...oops - I mean Accrington Stanley.

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  5. I would say bloggers must write or post to a blog, while commenters read and comment. Not quite the same. As for blogging on Facebook, that's an interesting question. I suppose some people would even say that tweeting on Twitter is a form of blogging. I usually consider blogs to be long-form, though -- a place to exercise our writing muscles and seek a more sustained period of attention from our readers.

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    1. Thank you for acknowledging that it might not be straightforward. The facebook analogy is one I find quite tricky.

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  6. My dictionary gives the following definition under the word blogger:
    Someone who writes a blog (= a regular record of someone's ideas, opinions, or experiences that is put on the internet for other people to read).

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    1. PS: I could have done without reading about urinals whilst eating my lunch đŸ˜³

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    2. You should hear what I call them in less polite company. The majority viewpoint (me being in a minority of 1).

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  7. So many questions.......... so little time!

    I think Bloggers Blog, commenters comment.Sorted.

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  8. I'll go with JayCees dictionary definion. I also think we communicate across the internet with each other.

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    1. Internet communicators hasn't the same brevity.

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  9. Well, Sue seems to have hit it on the head.

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  10. Going with Sue's definition, adding we should all live in peace, though the occasional disagreement doesn't go amiss. Amen

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    1. We haven't been visited by they who should not be named yet.

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  11. As a blog reader and sometimes commenter, I must say I am very, very grateful to all of the bloggers who share their world with me. I learn so much and see so many things I would never see in my own life. I also enjoy my fellow commenters who often add to the blogs quite well. Thank you all!

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    1. It's incredible how easily we can read about other's experiences in other places all over the world, with pictures. And it's fantastic. This circle is a bit monocultural though. There's another big issue I've just taken the lid off.

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  12. I consider blog entries where blog readers share often personal and moving comments the most interesting
    Short, apparently inconsequential comments are often an “ hello, I’m here “ type of thing

    People who don’t blog but who monopolise other peoples blogs are somewhat lazy.

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    1. I like those, too. And humorous ones. Your nursing experiences are often very moving.

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  13. Like Humpty Dumpty, I suppose the word can mean whatever you want it to mean. Originally, of course, it primarily meant someone who writes blog posts, but it seems to have become stretched to include whoever is involved in the blogger 'experience' - whether they write blogs themselves, only comment, or even only regularly read blogs. So I suppose it could be argued that a blogger is anyone who regularly partakes in the blogger experience whatever their contribution.

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    1. I think that's the view I was moving towards but it doesn't seem to be a majority view. As mentioned, the facebook analogy poses a problem for that viewpoint.

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    2. Does it? Surely you have to be a member of Facebook in order to comment on it, although there are some FB groups that can be read by all.

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    3. I meant it poses a problem for the majority view in that, in fb groups, the community rather than the initial post are usually more prominent.

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  14. I think that to some extent it depends what you use blogger for. I am in my late eighties and fairly housebound at the moment. I try to blog every day to get a dialogue going - it is the nearest I can get to conversation during Covid - and for many years before I used it as a method of communicatin with people and keeping my hand in at writing. If I miss a day I really miss it.

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    1. If I'm still going in 15-20 years time I'll be pleased with myself. Writing blogs maintains verbal skills and comments are interaction - important things to keep going.

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  15. I was a blog reader and commenter for over five years before I became a blogger a year ago. I feel very close to both sides of this coin. During those years when I did not have my own blog I did not, in any way, consider myself to be a blogger. I did, however, come to know and feel the special friendships and sharing of the blog world. It was those feelings that led me to start my own blog. Before I did that I felt limited in my participation in the blog world. Whether blogger or reader and commenter I think we all have a special place in this world. A blog can be greatly improved by it's comments. My personal feeling is that to fully belong and share I needed to have my own blog so that I could share myself and my life as equally as other bloggers do the same.

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    1. Seems a good philosophy. I doubt I could have lasted as long as that before wanting to start my own blog, even though that means you don't have as much time to read other blogs, and there is some fascinating stuff out there.

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  16. If you mire down into your blog stats, you will discover you have a huge audience in comparison to those who comment.

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    1. Blog stats are a mystery to me. I know where to see them but sometimes they don't make sense. One day some weeks ago there were 6,000 page views.

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  17. I'm with the majority, a blogger is whoever has a blog. I'm disappointed when someone has commentated on my blog and I go to their site only to find that there is nothing there. I'm interested in image rather more than text and use my blog to make a visual diary.

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    1. Spoken as a true artist. You do seem to acknowledge, though, that commenting is an important aspect of blogging.

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  18. My interest in blogs predates my own blog by several years. I needed to understand the definition of a blog and a blogger. I learned a blog is a biographical log, a blogger is one who produces a biographical log. Therefore a blogger has a blog and one who comments only is not a blogger but a commentor.

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    1. I've often said mine is not really a proper blog in the sense of being a contemporary "web log", i.e. a diary, because most of my posts are essays. I'm an essayer.

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  19. There are many distinct varieties of people in the blogger-commenter-reader universe. Specifically, one can be a B, C, R, BC, BR, CR, or BRC. If you order the three choices by personal preference there can also be BCR, CB, CRB, CBR, RB, RC, RBC, RCB, There is also “not B, not C, not R” possibility in theory. I trust you followed all of that. I think I remember your saying you used to be a programmer.

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    1. I've been many things in my time, Bob, including writing programs (and programmes for that matter). I'll get it all coded up in Python and you can beta test the "What Kind Of Bogger Are You" app.

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    2. There are also the categories of the trolls and the stalkers who stalk and troll bloggers around blogland. There is a further category of lurkers who follow blogs but don't comment but do sometimes come out of the woodwork and own up to being lurkers who enjoy reading. This latter category are usually pleasant people but shy of joining in.

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    3. We'd better ask Bob for a new program spec.

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    4. If to the B, C, and R choices we add Rachel’s T (trolls), S (stalkers), and L (lurkers), the permutations are mind-boggling. To unravel the resulting ball of yarn or separate the strands of spaghetti or untangle the can of worms (pick your favorite analogy) requires a knowledge of binary, octal, hexadecimal, and possibly bi-quinary (the Russian model) to flowchart, let alone beta test. Plus I thought Python was a snake.

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    5. I have been, and am on, the receiving end of all categories mentioned and, believe me, they are easily identifiable, although I concede that the permutations may be mind-boggling.

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    6. Occasionally I tick the 'notify me' box and am astonished and appalled at the 'unhelpful' comments some bloggers have to put up with and delete.

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    7. I just read my comment again and in case it is not clear, I am saying that I am currently on the receiving end of all these kinds of comments.

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    8. And have been so for a number of years.

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  20. Well there's nothing left for me to say really. As far as the definition goes I'm with the majority. However I think that you threw a tiny spanner into the works by your comment "I've often said mine is not really a proper blog in the sense of being a contemporary "web log", i.e. a diary, because most of my posts are essays. I'm an essayer." Really speaking few of the blogs that I follow are diaries - mine certainly isn't now although it started off that way. I think you're a blogger whose content is mainly essays (if you want to be an essayist).

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    1. Different kinds of bloggers and different kinds of commentators. It would be a sad world if we were all the same (as the saying goes).

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  21. Speaking as a reader and commenter only (no blog), I don't consider myself a blogger. While I comment fairly regularly, I don't comment all the time on the blogs I visit--sometime due to limited time, sometimes because I might not agree with a post and refuse to leave a negative comment, and sometimes because I simply don't have anything to add to the conversation. However, I do try not to leave trivial comments (though probably guilty of it on occasion).

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    1. I appreciate your visits and comments. I'm the same in that I don't comment on every blog I read, especially like you when I have nothing to add. I wish Blogger had the WordPress facility where you can click 'Like' to let the writer know you've visited. Blogger does support 'Like' boxes but it just counts them up anonymously rather than leaving your icon.

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    2. I am glad that Blogger does not have "like". I think it is belittling. Leave it on facebook where it belongs.

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    3. It's heavily used by WordPress bloggers.

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    4. Yes I aware. I prefer a hello and someone touching base even if they have nothing to say. The thought of anonymous likes makes me shudder. This circle of bloggers you found is one where conversation is important.

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    5. I don't like anonymous likes either, but they're not anonymous on WordPress. You can even Like comments and responses to comments, which lets people know you've seen what they said.
      Yes this is (mostly) a very friendly blogging circle. more enjoyable than in my first five years here when I made and received few comments.

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  22. Fascinating thoughts there! I know of many bloggers who write regularly but despair that they receive few or no comments, and yet they keep on doing it. Surely a blogger blogs because they enjoy it and that is the main thing.

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    1. True. I blogged for several years with just the occasional comment. It was only once I started following and commenting regularly on other people's blogs that I found I was getting more comments myself. It takes time, which is probably why some bloggers disable comments completely, to focus on writing rather than reading and discussing things.

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I welcome comments and usually respond the same day (unless it looks like you are trying to advertise something).