What part of "blog" does the Globe not understand?

I've ranted about this before, but I am going to do it again: STOP CALLING THE GLOBE'S WESTWORD/WEST UPDATES A BLOG!

Reporters posting news articles and random news tidbits, without any real opinions or mechanism to comment, is not blogging. It's just typical MSM one-way reporting, albeit in an online-only medium.

And Ralph Ranalli, if you are reading this message, I am sorry to be so harsh, but the last time you left a comment on Borderline it was the summertime and you said comments would be enabled ASAP. If it's not going to happen, and the site will merely continue to report news rather than other things like freeform opinion, then please remove the word "blog" from this part of the Globe website. 'Cause it ain't a blog.

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Blogger Ralph Ranalli said...

Hello. Ralph Ranalli again.

Believe me, I'm just as frustrated as you are about the comments issue. But the real problem here is that you're just wrong.

Look it up: the generally-accepted definition of a blog or web log is this: an online journal comprised of links, postings and other elements in reverse chronological order. While some sources said that the ability for readers to post comments was a feature of "many" blogs, none of the definitions I could find had reader interactivity as a defining characteristic of a blog.

Therefore, Globe West Updates is clearly a "blog" according to the generally-accepted definition and we will continue to use the term, even as we push the Globe and Boston.com to add comments as soon as possible.

Now, can't we all move on to topics that are a little more interesting?

Ralph Ranalli
Manager, Globe West Updates

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does it bug you so much? Why be so nitpicky? It's better than an anonymous blog written by someone who deletes the comments that he/she doesn't like. You criticize everything around you, yet if someone criticizes you, you have such an inability to handle it that you delete the comments?

Time to move on, man. Does this keep you awake at night?

And Ralph is right: you are simply WRONG. A blog is a term that can be used loosely.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Borderline said...

Ralph: You mention the "generally-accepted definition" of a blog. Accepted by whom? Big Media?

I followed up your challenge to look it up. So I did. And the generally accepted definition I found supports what I have been saying all along. When I used Google to define "blogs" almost all the results stress personal thoughts and perspectives, comments, etc. as opposed to publishing news bits.

So Ralph, and your anonymous booster, you're WRONG. The Globe blog is not a blog. If you want to have a blog, it's not hard: Simply turn down the news, crank up the personality, get comments, and get a clue.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Borderline said...

Anonymous commenter: You said I deleted comments. What are you talking about? I have published every comment that has been made to this thread, including highly critical ones such as your's and the Boston Globe's. In my blogroll, I even link to bloggers that have been critical of Borderline. It's all about encouraing local blog discussion in Newton and Waltham.

Perhaps you are refering to approving comments. Yes, like most other blogs these days, Borderline doesn't allow instant comments, they have to go through the moderation queue. The reason I do this is to prevent comment spam, which got out of control about a year ago.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a different anonymous commenter, but I know that certain comments I have submitted, critical of your stance to REMAIN anonymous, have not been approved.

The blog world continues to evolve, as does the definition. In fact, Heather Green of BusinessWeek had a tough time describing a blog to her non-technical family specifically BECAUSE the definition isn't so crisp.

Note that now BusinessWeek allows comments on ALL of its online articles. Does this make the full online publication a blog?

8:26 PM  
Blogger Borderline said...

Dear Second Anonymous Commenter,

I'll talk about the comments and then the difference between articles and blogs.

I have published comments that criticize me for being anonymous, and responded to them in the comments thread. The most recent example is at this blog entry about Joe Publius. I remember it happening once before as well, but can't find the post.

Bottom line is, if someone posts a comment, and it makes it to the queue (i.e., the Blogger engine doesn't misfire while you are submitting it, and the notification performs right), and it's not spam or spam-like, it gets published. Sometimes that doesn't happen right away -- I don't check the queue every day, sometimes a week may go by and users may assume that I ignored it. But it will make it eventually, even the critical ones (of which there have been a lot lately).

There was also the embarrassing incident at the beginning of last year when I turned on comment moderation (to kill spam) without realizing where the queue was. Months went by before I realized why it was so quiet! But I moderated the entire backlog (probably a few dozen comments). If yours was in the queue at that time, I apologize for the long delay, but it did get published.

Also, if you did publish a comment before I turned on moderation, and it appeared in a post that had a lot of comment spam, there is a chance that it did get deleted accidentally. This would have been in a few posts in 2005 and early 2006, when some posts literally had dozens of spam comments and there was no easy way to easily delete them -- this was before I had comment moderation activated, and I was (and still am) on dial-up. On those posts probably a few real comments got deleted with the bogus ones. If yours was one of those, I apologize, but it was not because I didn't like your comment.

Lastly, one exception to my comments policy which I fortunately haven't had to exercise for more than one post are comments containing hate, libel, obscenity, etc. They may not be spam, but I won't approve those on Borderline if they show up.

Regarding your question about what is a blog. I referenced a bunch of definitions above, but I'll return to the Globe's West Updates example, because despite what the paper claims, it is not a blog. It is a collection of news articles and briefs that are published online. The authors are reporting news. There is none of their voice or opinion or thoughts, which are critical for a good blog. And there is no community connection either, despite a few links every now and then to other blogs. There needs to be a way to interact with the community, which is why the Globe needs to activate comments.

Why does the Globe insist on calling it a blog? Part of it probably is they really want to have a blog so they claim some online credibility. Part of it also is they may be using a blogging software tool for instant publishing -- but that does not make it a blog. It's just a way to publish news faster. Consider this: If the Boston Globe starts to publish all of their articles using some fast software, will that make them "blogs"? Of course not. So why do they call this news at this West Updates page a blog? Simply because they use some blogging software tool and publish in reverse chronological order?

One last thing: It's easy for the Globe to call something they're doing a blog, even if it's not, because a lot of their print and online readers won't know the difference. It's only the cranky purists like Borderline that protest, and are criticized because of it.

10:21 PM  

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