Welcome to a blog. Drink this and mind your manners. (photo by Timo)
There’s been some talk online about this Lanka Citizen blog and why it should be tossed from Kottu. What the about page on Kottu basically says is that your RSS feed has to work. I disagree with the opinions of Lanka Citizen, but kottu-wise I won’t drop it unless it breaks the layout. On another front, people have been giving the UNP shit for moderating its comments. On both issues I think it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what blogging is. To sum it up, Kottu is public and blogs are personal. You can delete and moderate anything on your own blog, but no one has that right on Kottu.
Kottu is Public
As much as possible Kottu is automated. A cron job runs every hour to update the site, and Mahangu and I read it like everybody else. Tagging is still centralized (which really annoys me) but hopefully that’ll be public in 2.0. The only parts the admins control are adding and deleting blogs. In the scope of things, Vishnu is automated while there is still Brahma and Shiva require intermediaries. The main criteria for inclusion are listed on the about page:
# You are Sri Lankan, or cover Sri Lanka
# Your feed doesnâ€™t break Kottu – This is rare, only example is a really long blog title that cracks Internet Explorer.
# You write original content – There are many good sites that gather mainstream media articles. Kottu may link to these, but wonâ€™t syndicate.
# You play nice with others – thereâ€™s plenty of room for flames, but malicious attacks on other bloggers wonâ€™t go.
One other thing we should add is that niche technical blogs generally won’t be included because they don’t match the general audience. As the criteria exist, there are lot of blogs I really don’t like on Kottu. I think some are boring, and some circulate lies. If it was my personal blog I’d cut them in a second, but it’s not. I reserve the right to do whatever I want on my blog, but Kottu is public. I feel free to kick people out of my house, but I have no right to kick them out of, say, a park. Because Kottu is public, no private opinions affect its content. Of course I mean ideally. The whole thing is a hack from the code on up, so there are definitely gray areas. Lanka Citizen, however, is definitely in the clear.
Blogs are Personal
On my blog however, I’m free to delete, moderate and or completely close comments. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I, personally, don’t usually delete comments here, but that is not your right. If I want to kick you out of my house for looking at me funny that’s my business, and the same goes for blogs. Any person or corporation/group that chooses to setup a blog can do whatever they want with it. Morquendi and Sitting Nut have made a fuss about having comments moderated or closed, but that displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what a blog is. There are two sub-points which have come up, which I think need to be addressed.
*Comments Are A Personal Choice*
I’m not expert on blogs, but this is from the Wikipedia definition:
A blog or weblog (derived from web + log) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (normally, but not always, in reverse chronological order). Although most early blogs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of “blogging”.
Blogs range in scope from individual diaries to arms of political campaigns, media programs, and corporations. They range in scale from the writings of one occasional author (known as a blogger), to the collaboration of a large community of writers. *Many weblogs enable visitors to leave public comments, which can lead to a community of readers centered around the blog; others are non-interactive.*
Sitting Nut wrote a post calling for deletion of Lanka Citizen, in which he displayed the following misunderstanding:
now i have no objection to very frequent updates of one’s blog or expression of extreme political views in one’s blog. but the difference in lanka citizen blog is that it closes the comments for all posts from the start. when this happens it ceases to be a blog and becomes a propaganda website and imo should not be included in the ‘blogroll’.
We spoke via email and I think this point is clarified. Blogs don’t have to have comments at all. This blog operated for almost a year with like 1 comment a month. It’s a courtesy and it makes your blog more fun, but it is by no means a right or a requirement. I personally find it annoying when blogs don’t have comments enabled, but my personal opinion is about as relevant as my opinion of your interior decoration. If I’m a guest in your house I’ll pretty much drink my tea and shut the fuck up.
*Moderation Is A Personal Choice*
Morquendi is all pissed that the UNP blog moderates its comments, which makes no sense to me. It’s like writing a letter to the Daily Mirror and wondering why it isn’t published, or why its edited. Every letter-to-the-editor, radio call-in, and TV interview is moderated, and blogs are nothing new. Every political blog from Dean to Kerry was moderated and that’s their choice. Morquendi, however, has somehow lost his moorings to public/private reality and gotten hysterical:
The admin chose to remove this part [of my comment]. This is the level of critisism that the UNP website won’t tolerate. What does this say about their attitude towards the freedom of expression? Does anyone here think they should have removed this? Was this offensive? Was this abuse? Was this hatespeech? If the UNP were to come to power would their media people treat the entire media like this? Would this kind of control expand to cover the print and electronic media as well? Would people who are critical of the UNP be ‘deleted’?
The UNP just fell quite a few notches in my standing. What does the future hold for journalists and the free media if people such as those who run the UNP website were to manage the media in Sri Lanka?
If the UNP was going around DOS’ing critical websites I’d understand, but they’re not. All the UNP is doing is moderating the content on their personal blog, and they’re fully within their rights. You have no right to be published on any blog, no more than you can be published in the Daily Mirror. What’s cool about blogs, however, is that you have every right to start your own. The UNP won’t ‘manage’ media anymore than the UNP website ‘manages’ the Internet. The idea that the UNP can’t moderate the content on its own website is completely ludicrous, and against everything blogging is. I run every comment here through multiple filters. For example, you can’t say ‘casino’ or ‘viagra’ without getting moderated. I have also deleted comments I don’t like. Some of the biggest blogs like Andrew Sullivan and Dooce don’t allow comments at all. Those are personal blogs and they can do whatever they want. Every blogger has that right, and commenters are there at the leisure of the blogger. The system works out cause any commenter can start their own blog and spew as much as they want. I personally don’t like moderation, but again, my personal opinion is not relevant. If I’m a guest in your house I’ll pretty much drink my tea and try not to say fuck so much.
People seem to expect public spaces to censor and personal spaces to be completely open. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what blogs are. I can basically do whatever I want on my blog, and if you don’t like it you can start your own. It’s my personal blog and *I* have that right. Every roadside Johnny has exactly 0 rights on my blog, only what I feel like giving. It’s basically my house and I can kick you out for looking at me funny. Kottu, on the other hand is a public space, and everybody syndicated there does have the right to speak, regardless of mine or anyones opinion.