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Sarah Britten

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Do bloggers have to like their readers?

Should bloggers like their readers? This is something that has worried me a little – not a lot, you understand; there are so many other, more important things worth developing an ulcer over – ever since I started blogging.

Since the advantage of blogging over other forms of writing is its interactivity, the comments facility is central to a good blog, and one that in many ways provides its raison d’etre. So what does a blogger do about his or her readers? What if the comments on one’s blog end up defining and positioning one’s writing by default?

Writing a blog on South African insults was always going to be a tricky proposition. I knew this was always a risk, that I would end up being some kind of poster girl for the type of person who writes letters to the Citizen signed “Candida Pax”, but it really came home to me on an interview on Weekend Live, when I was asked why targeted the ANC and whether I was a member of the DA. I was so appalled I changed the subject.

Reading over the comments on The South African Insult, it would appear that most of my readers, at the least the ones who feel moved to respond in writing, veer toward the conservative end of the spectrum (and that’s putting it delicately). As John Robbie of 702 might say, there’s nothing wrong with that, though there are those comments which I find racist, even offensive (collecting insults, it should be noted, does not inure one to their effect). I resist the temptation to edit or remove any genuine comment because to do so would be hypocritical, and hope that readers will be able to separate my quotes and the comments on them from me personally.

Make no mistake, I am very grateful to and appreciative of my readers, even if there are points on which we disagree vehemently. But when there’s no balance, it’s a little worrying. I’d love a comment from the odd liberal or black nationalist. Just to even things out a little.


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    April 10th, 2008 @09:31 #

    I'd demur from the labels "liberal" or "black nationalist" (!), but I can assure you that things always even out. Jack Handey says so:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    April 10th, 2008 @09:45 #

    As I book-writer I find blogging an uncomfortable performance. I like the consideration I need to put into my words, and the urbane gap between writer and reader, the commensurate consideration of any response I may get. When you read a novel, you are entitled to make your meaning of it completely, but perhaps interactive blogs are about debate and consensus, forging a shared meaning of the material and that's why everyone (including the blogger) needs to come across so opinionated; staking out their little territory in the debate.

    That's on more debate-oriented sites like your others, Sarah. It's a little more moot on Book SA (much to Ben's chagrin, I imagine). I like to read a good post and appreciate it, and often the better the post is the less there is to say about it. It's unsettling, as a blogger, to get no response, but the writer should just assume it's because she's stunned her audience into silent contemplation. Which is a power of good writing that is found very rarely in any other form of media.

    (Which doesn't address your question in the least, of course. But I know you like me anyway. Don't you? Ah, come on...)

  • Sven
    April 10th, 2008 @10:54 #

    Relations between me and my readers on my previous blog eventually grew so hostile I had to close it down. I found that people visited my blog only when I said something they really disagreed with and wanted to argue about. Once the whole thing had devolved into a state of more or less permanent antipathy I simply shut down and moved to a month later without leaving behind a forwarding address.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    April 10th, 2008 @11:30 #

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