How do you write a good blog post?
If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that we have had a fair few changes in both website design and scheduled contributors here.
Amidst theses exciting changes, there has also been a renewed attention on the hit-rate of the site—and I guess, that has given me some pressure: I don’t really know how to write good popular posts.
How do you write a good blog post?
Or rather, what is a good blog post?
Although not unrelated to the changes on this blog, this thought actually began as I started thinking about the various hostile political arguments we have had in the UK after our recent General Election (which I wrote about two weeks ago). I briefly engaged with some of the post-ecletion disputes—I was hoping to get people to stop demonising and upsetting the Conservative votes but ended up upsetting people myself. Eventually I withdrew from that, and thought:
What good does this bring about?
It certainly seems to bring out the worst in friendships and worst of our characters flaws.
What is a good blog post (or Tweet/Facebook status) then?
Is it simply to win arguments? Score some ‘likes’ or ‘favourites’?
Or is it supposed to somehow edify us? Bring out the good of our characters?
Is a ‘Christian’ way to ‘good’ blogging?
- Would the ‘good Christian’ blog be one that has the most hits or visitors, one that receives the most attention generates the most reaction?
- Or, would the ‘good Christian’ blog be one that is boldest in its confession or upright opposition against ‘secular’ or ‘worldly’ worldviews? A blog that—put crudely—would be so ‘outright Christian’ (if that’s possible) that doesn’t care about how the modern liberal would respond?
What I have in mind here is a somewhat standard picture of modern ethics: Position 1 would be something like a consequentialist ethics – that the outcome or effect of the blog post is what matters, whereas position 2 would be something more like a radical Kantian or deontological stance, where the intention of the blog matters more than the consequence — it is about saying the ‘right thing’.
In addition to these two positions, perhaps we may add a third one which may seem more abstract – one of virtue ethics.
Contrary to the two listed views above, the blog post then would not be one which aimed at provoking ‘likes’ or reactions (as in position 1), or indeed one which is solely aimed at ‘honest’ (often provocative) confessions (as in position 2). Rather, one that helps us, both the readers and the writer, become better Christians —and indeed better persons, better characters.
Perhaps the notion of ‘the good’ (rather than ‘the right’) is what we might want to take into consideration when we read things on the Internet, or indeed when we are tempted to post or comment on sensitive issues. And the ‘good’ is often not the same as the ‘right’: By saying the ‘right’ thing may not be ‘good’ for our character or witness.
Of course, this is easier said then done. But then, one may say, this is precisely where the virtues come in. This is not to say we ought to do a consequentialist calculation of the readership’s utility before we post (this would be something like position 1). Instead, perhaps patience and discernment, rather than boldness or correctness (or self-righteousness) is what is often missed in the blogosphere.
Readers are after all persons, and perhaps the virtuality of the Internet makes bloggers forget that. Perhaps much discernment is needed on what ‘good’ blogs (and social media etc) can bring about for the character formation of both authors and readers. Not about whether we can win an argument but rather whether it makes the readers better persons.