Blogcritics is a unique gestalt of writers, readers, and commenters and today, as we mark the receipt of our 500,000th comment, we celebrate a fabulous landmark of interactivity, real social networking if you like. The core of the Blogcritics culture is obviously made up of the almost 2,000 registered writers who have posted over 62,000 diverse articles here but there is also a large and growing band of unregistered regulars who post comments with a frequency, style, and wit that leaves me wondering why they don't have a blog of their own.
Blogcritics comes out of the blogging milieu and having a dialogue, crude or sophisticated, is as natural as breathing. We are not the mainstream media but something far newer, braver, and more aspirational. That requires courage, honesty, and a willingness to tolerate the views of people with whom one may not necessarily agree, rather like modern democracy itself. As with all opinions boldly stated, others also like to offer their views. That can be considered a type of participatory democracy in action and, through the dialectic process, a greater understanding can be gained by all.
Blogcritics is all about writing, a skill that is becoming ever more challenged in our fast-paced soundbite world. Unlike most other destinations, virtual or actual, Blogcritics even has its own "writer's academy", where talented but technically challenged pipsqueaks are polished and pointed in the right direction. One of the other distinguishing things about BC, something that makes it very different from old school mainstream media, is that we're all available, contactable, and interactive. We have some great writers and personalities here, both on the editorial side and the vital wider writer community; it's great, thrilling actually, to see them actually interact, through the comments, with our readers. The articles posted on Blogcritics, although complete in themselves, are like the opening remarks in a conversation; sometimes formal, often irreverent, rarely dull.
If you want to shoot the schnizzle about your favourite new band, game, TV show, sport or movie or get seriously political over the hot button issues of the day, THIS is the place to come.
"The comments are what make Blogcritics a community." – Eric Berlin, Executive Producer
"Have I said recently how I see comments as the heart or psyche of BC? No? Well, I see the comments as…" – Christopher Rose, Comments Editor
"I take comments moderately seriously." – Dave Nalle, Politics Editor
I suspect some people round here thought I got the short end of the stick when I accepted the role of Blogcritics' Comments Editor but to my way of thinking I got the better end of the deal. The comments are the heart of BC, a wild, after-the-storm river; wide, deep and dark, glistening with fabulous flotsam and jetsam. I love the way that everybody at Blogcritics is held instantly accountable for their words. Writers, commenters, and editors alike are paraded, praised or pelted with tomatoes as the issues of the day are picked over in thoughtful detail. Great articles can attract equally great derision, praise or worst fate of all, be ignored.
I'm always impressed by the depth of passionate feelings and ideas seething through the silicon circuits of Blogcritics, the rich heady blood in our virtual veins if you like. The two sections of Blogcritics that attract the most heated and passionate debate are undoubtedly those normally unlikely bedfellows Music and Politics; in these sections particularly, every exotic strand of human thought is to be found pulsing through the comment stream, from the deranged to the noble.
Banter, poetry, and sexual deviation are not found on every page of Blogcritics but are typical of the twists and turns that any thread can take. Many of the star comments on BC are written by people who've been on the site a while and often the comments can be as detailed and passionate as the posts that spawned them. Other times a casual visitor, drawn in by a particular work, leaves a nicely put comment to mark their visit.
I am always disappointed when the moment comes that I have to edit or delete comments; the way that is handled is kept under constant review. I've done a lot of editing and even deleting of comments when people have gone too far but I still haven't banned anybody at all. I prefer to try other approaches first and so far it's worked out okay although that doesn't mean I wouldn't ban someone if I was left with no other choice.
All in all, Blogcritics is a wonderful space to be in and I look forward to us reaching the one million comments mark in due course. As the physical barriers that separate people become increasingly irrelevant, conversations in spaces such as this may help us bridge some of the ideological and cultural barriers that separate us as well. I think that's a pretty good reason for keeping on.
Blogcritics – the website that talks back!