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Sometimes I think about the role honesty has to play in the maintenance of a blog. Whenever someone posts a comment on a blog — or even makes themselves known to a blog owner — they are relying on that person’s goodwill not to misrepresent, alter, or fabricate their words. There is nothing to stop the blog owner from doing so — aside, I suppose, from the bad reputation that would result from being caught, or their own personal values.

Only once have I edited a comment on this blog, and all I edited was the URL. Someone had posted two comments — a first, with an incorrect URL, and a second whose entire purpose was to point out the incorrect URL in the first. I changed the URL and deleted the extra comment — and mentioned what I’d done in my reply comment. Full disclosure is a good thing, especially when editing and/or deleting what other people have said!

Aside from that, never. The thought of altering people’s words doesn’t sit well with me. People should be free to say what they like, more or less, and I wouldn’t interfere with that unless absolutely necessary. But, you know, I could if I wanted to. Easily. It’s just my personal values holding me back.

But then there are other ways in which I suppose I have been dishonest in my blog owning. Before the WordPress-forced reboot back in April, I was going through a process in which I systematically deleted or retracted from public view the entries I deemed to be embarrassing. While I was irritated at losing all my good entries in April, too, it was kind of a relief that I was saved the trouble of continuing to eliminate the bad ones.

In this incarnation, I’ve tried to avoid posting anything I would later deem to be embarrassing and have to eliminate. I haven’t been totally successful — there have been two occasions on which I’ve posted something I later retracted from public view. On the first, I retracted the entry after two hours — you would only have seen it if you were subscribed to the feed, basically! The other one was left up five days. It was up very recently — only a couple of weeks ago — and I’m sure several people read it. Two people commented on it, as well, so they at least had read it! But once my temper had cooled and things had been mostly resolved, reading that entry was embarrassing. I retracted it, despite the comments.

Admittedly, it’s a bit dishonest to just remove an entry without mentioning that you’ve done it. I thought about editing it (that is, writing a new entry in its place), but that felt even more dishonest — then I’d be left with two comments that were posted in response to a different entry, appearing as though they were in response to that one. I considered retracting the old entry and posting a new one in its place, but that would have taken time, and I never got around to it. Instead, I just retracted the old entry.

And look, there I’ve gone rambling on about relatively inconsequential things. I haven’t even touched the more morally dubious practices, such as pay per post, hidden links in themes, and so on.

The blogosphere is, by nature, untrustworthy. It’s not transparent, one has to rely on owners’ goodwill not to do the wrong thing. That’s not to say it’s bad, of course — I love reading blogs, and I’m sure readers of this blog love reading blogs. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s informative. The untrustworthiness of the blogosphere is just something I’ve thought about a couple of times, and is something I think does provide food for thought. How important is it that blog owners “do the right thing”?

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2 Comments

  1. I’ll admit that I’ve removed comments in the past, but as they were abusive comments from an ex, I don’t exactly feel remorseful!

  2. I agree with you. I deleted someone’s comment once because she was trying to defend herself to an anonymously written entry that I wrote where she had nothing to defend. If I do edit my posts, I leave the post in tact and add an edit at the bottom to explain or clarify what I was saying. Well, and to correct typos.


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