House Rules: Civility and the Blog
January 22, 2013 8 Comments
by Tony Harrington
- Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.
- Polite remarks used in formal conversation.
A recent comment-battle has unfortunately spurred the writing of this article. Contrary to the opinion of one very angry reader, this entry like all others, has not been copied and pasted from other sources; it has been written specifically and exclusively for this blog.
With that said, I find myself in the precarious position of defending what I do here. After some introspective processing I came to the conclusion that what I say here matters. Granted, a blog about the paranormal is not everyone’s cup of tea, it serves no purpose to a majority of people surfing the web.
But to approximately 200 people per day it serves as a place where they can stop by and perhaps read an entry or two regarding things they may have personally experienced.
Unfortunately, I may have inadvertently done a disservice to some by not being completely transparent with regard to how the blog is operated. With that said, I will do my best to explain the history of this blog and what goes into the upkeep and operation.
1) The blog is not intended as the official website of The Spirit Seekers. That site is located at www.thespiritseekers.org. That site is maintained and operated by our founders Angela and Alan Lowe. The blog was born as a sort of online newsletter.
Back in the day, SSI maintained a paper newsletter that they used to educate the public about paranormal activity and events within the area. They had book reviews, psychic advice, and other features. After a while, the newsletter became obsolete as maintaining one became too time-consuming as well as milling content became a laborious task.
When I joined the group several years ago I wanted to re-launch the newsletter but shortly after the first and second issue I realized that no one outside of the group would see it because we had no way to distribute the newsletter.
We contemplated an e-newsletter that we could mail out to a mailing list, but that was costly and time-consuming and we still had to put the thing together in some type of newsletter format.
The idea of running a blog was born, and the focus would be on all things paranormal, not particularly SSI exclusive. Yes, we would focus on our investigations, but the blog would be free-flowing and allow for op/ed pieces, product reviews, local happenings, focus on groups around the world, and it would be linked to our twitter account so that the twitterverse would be alerted when a new entry was posted.
2) The ideas and opinions expressed in the entries do not necessarily reflect those of Angie or Alan Lowe or the Spirit Seekers for that matter. Angie and Alan have been gracious enough to allow me to work autonomously and for the most part infuse the blog with my own personal flair and flourish. This I do in abundance, yet in those moments where I post my own opinions that do not conform to the views of the organization, I am clear to point this out within the differing article.
3) I write every article myself. There have been a few instances where we have had a guest writer who has had a book or merchandise to promote. Because I am a writer I fully respect talented individuals who want to spend their time providing me with original content for the blog. It saves me from having to research subjects upon which to write. Those instances are few and far between. With that being said, I have to unfortunately defend the content that I have brought to the blog. That’s right; I have been accused of copying and pasting content. This is insulting and a deliberate personal attack by certain misinformed parties. Nothing on the blog that I have written has been copied and pasted. There have been times where I quoted someone else and in those instances I have clearly defined the sources from which the quoted material stems.
4) I do not make money from maintaining this blog. The time I put into it is voluntary and is indicative of my love for the field. There is a surprising lack of advertisements on the blog because I actually pay to maintain it. WordPress.com, the site at which I host the blog will occasionally put their own advertising on the blog to offset costs associated with running WordPress.com, but I do not see a cent of that money. I could have ad-support removed if I paid WordPress additional monies on top of what I already pay, but I feel I spend enough with them by paying for media space and more.
I have allowed companies and other authors with books to sell to contribute articles and graciously rewarded them with a link to their site to send interested readers their way. Conversely, I have had sites offer me the same thing in return. I personally have declined because any content I write is going on my blog. I mean, if I am going to go through the effort of researching and composing a piece, then I am going to reap the benefits of having done so.
Again, in the instances outlined above, never have I made cent.
5) I censor responses. There, I said it. But to be honest, almost every moderated blog and forum does. The censorship is not to detract from the implied intent of the person replying to a post, it is to protect the integrity of the blog. As I said before, I maintain all facets of the blog. I spend a lot of time writing articles and other content for it and I will not allow it to come under attack, nor do I allow anyone associated with the blog, the organization, or other people replying to a post to become the victim of an ad hominem attack.
Ad hominem attacks occur when someone with a conflicting viewpoint attacks someone personally instead of attacking the idea with which they disagree.
Person A: I think guns should be outlawed.
Person B: You are an F-ing idiot. (Ad hominem)
People should be able to respond to posts here or, contribute content without coming under attack. Again, it is fine to disagree with someone but if you attack them your comment will be deleted.
Additionally, I will censor a comment that does not pertain to the article. This is considered SPAM. Typically, if someone tries to link to my article and post external links to sites that have nothing to do with the paranormal, then their posted comment will never see the light of day.
Not every response is censored. But as owner/administrator I feel it is my prerogative to do so when required.
4) I will not address any issues regarding the organization on the blog. If you feel you were wronged in any way, then reach out to Alan or Angie Lowe. Trying to contact them through the blog is futile as they typically are not active on the site.
With that said though, I want to address a few things about the SpiritSeekers as an organization
In the past there were dues that we (members) paid each year to cover the cost of running the organization. Primarily the cost of the mobile unit which has since expired. Since we are not supporting a mobile unit any longer, membership dues have been suspended. Also, the dues helped ferret out those who were looking to join the group for the wrong reasons.
We never withheld details about the dues. The fact that there were annual dues was clearly outlined on the website and here on the blog. The organization founders were more than willing to provide a breakdown of how the dues were spent.
SSI does not sell equipment online. We have in the past linked to online retailers specializing in ghost hunting merchandise and the organization did receive a small percentage of the proceeds. This helped offset the cost of maintaining the website, paying for supplies and other assorted items; however, we never manufactured or maintained any inventory personally.
SSI does not, has never, and never will charge anyone for an investigation. End of discussion.
SSI members have written books, done publicity appearances, spoken on the radio, appeared on television and spoken at conferences. We do this to keep the name in the public eye, otherwise, like any organization, we will fold. It is not uncommon, all organizations do it, and there is nothing unlawful or unethical about it. There is a reason that SSI is so highly regarded in the field, it is because we adhere to a code of ethics.
And speaking of the code of ethics, we all follow it, we all sign it, and we all agree with it. Evidence collected during an investigation becomes property of SSI founders and can be used in books, tv shows, and other media. We accepted the code of conduct when we joined knowing that this is the case. It is fairly disclosed and if you do not agree with this aspect of the organization then you have the option of not joining.
You, the readers of this blog, are awesome. I have had the opportunity to have engaging dialogue with people from all over the world. The opportunity to meet such colorful and passionate people would not have existed had I not started this. It is because you stop by every day and read what I have written that I keep doing it.
What I have included in this lengthy post is by no means all-encompassing. It is the best way though that I can plant the seeds of civility and reach a mass audience at once. Use your best judgment, treat each other with respect and compassion, and know that we are all here for one reason or another.
Whatever your reason, whatever your journey; be good to one another. We are all we have.