Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recap: MBS Sunday Brunch for Jan 24

Our question of the week dealt with self-censorship on blogs and in comments. here are your responses.

Todd and Suzy: We both ~try~ to keep things positive. If we're bluntly honest, there are sometimes posts that touch on topics that we're not comfortable with. When that happens, we usually leave no comment at all, which is a type of self-censoring. Or if we do comment, we go out of our way to be gentle in expressing a question or concern. As bloggers ourselves, we realize how much of yourself you put out there, and we don't want to be negative towards someone doing that.

Basically, if we can't say something nice, we don't say anything at all. Otherwise though, we're pretty open and straightforward.

Texringer: Todd and Suzy said it well. The old Southern advice of "if you can't say anything nice..." holds up still.

Sometimes, when something I read really touches a nerve, though, I feel like I need to say something. And then I do sort of self-censor, trying not to come across mean or rude.

Prefectdt: Firstly I would like to thank Mr. Humphries for coming up with such a pertinent question.

I have many rules and guidelines that are used when writing a blog post. There is no way that they could all be explored here, so I will just highlight two of the main ones that are followed on my blog.
  1. Pictures of genitalia. These are not banned on my blog and if human parts are just part of the image, that is fine by me. But I try to avoid pictures that are obviously concentrating on genitalia rather than the play or the marks. This is not a holier than thou stance and if others want to post such images, I am OK with that, but I am a non-sex player and I want my blog to reflect that I am viewing our kink from the play side of things rather than the sexual side.

  2. When another party is involved in a recollection of actual play, I will not publish that post unless I have the express permission of that party to do so. Whenever possible, I e-mail a draft of the post to the other party first, for their approval, before making the post public. Even after the post has been published, I will (and have, on several occasions) remove the post from the blog, if the other party no longer feels comfortable with it.

As for commenting, it is important to remember that when saying anything jokey or sarcastic, it is impossible for a reader to hear your tone of voice or see your facial when viewing the comment. Smiley faces and things like "LOL" are useful tools in helping to communicate that this is not to be taken too seriously.

BabyMan: Self-censorship is a prominent characteristic of my mental makeup. It is prompted by personal barriers that I have set for myself. It is further refined in most real life situations because of pre-conceived notions of what others might think is proper, particularly for a minister. I'm okay with that and generally stay true to it. As a result, it carries over into most of my blog posts. I like that.

Funny, I was just telling a group last week how I would love the preach a profanity-laced sermon. They said it would freak them out.

But blog anonymity also has its benefits. Ever now and then, I can break through the self-censorship barrier I set for myself and, without the "refining" barriers of others, say something that is profoundly real and true in an really wild and crazy way. I like that.

BTW, when commenting on a post, it's "nice or nothing."

R Humphries: My question resulted from a couple of recent comments/criticisms that I have received from readers. The first comment related to the use of three words or phrases in my books and the stories I publish on my blog, specifically ‘beating,’ ‘thrashing’ and ‘public flogging.’ When I first started writing my saga, I constructed a style of writing that combines the vernacular of 1930’s books and comics set in British public (private) schools with modern language, slang and idioms. These phrases were used routinely in the books that influenced my chosen writing style and I must admit that until it was pointed out to me, I never really considered the darker overtones and connotations they might have.

I discussed this subject extensively with My Beloved Jojo and we concluded that as I had developed a particular style, it should be obvious to the reader that the context in which the phrases are used relates to controlled corporal punishment and has nothing whatsoever to do with the use of physical or abusive violence. So I decided to keep them in the books.

The second comment was a complaint that in my stories the characters occasionally use swear words. As a writer, I try to create characters with some depth of personality and some degree of reality including their speech patterns. I don’t use profanities extensively and I find it quite natural that the characters should occasionally resort to cussing.

Obviously, as a writer, I do not want to offend or ostracize my audience. At the same time, I feel that if I incorporated these comments/criticisms, it would radically alter the flavor of my stories and the essence of the characters. I would be interested to hear comments or opinions from the guests at this wide and quite diverse forum.

Indy: In my still limited experience as a blogger, the main way I censor myself is to avoid topics that are too revealing of my vanilla life.

I've exercised similar care in comment sections for years now, occasionally writing the blogger if I wanted to continue the discussion privately – usually to explain why a particular opinion might seem surprisingly strong. Quite a few lovely friendships have started that way, and that's beginning to happen with my own blog, too.

In most other ways, I censor myself very little on my own blog. My style of blogging isn't designed to pull in a large audience, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I hope none of my friends feel bad if they're utterly uninterested in most of my posts!

If someone features prominently in a post, I, like Prefectdt, ask permission before going public. That's a matter of simple courtesy. Similarly, while I'm not afraid to make controversial statements, I try pretty hard to do so respectfully. I welcome disagreement, but greatly value civility.

When it comes to making comments on other blogs, I'm more careful. It isn't always exactly self-censorship, because it doesn't occur to me to write something discouraging or overly negative, especially not when I don't "know" the blogger well. Basically, it's say something supportive or move on to the next blog,

I also try to keep my comments in line with the tone of the blog on which I'm commenting. For example, I'm quite aware that I enjoy discussions – some might say arguments – much more than the average woman. I try to hold that in check unless a know a blogger – and the community surrounding the blog – pretty well. Or if someone else starts it and I can't hold back. :-) On blogs like MBS that serve such a valuable function in bringing the entire community together, it wouldn't feel appropriate to sow dissent.

Luna: As a blogger, I do censor the content on my blog, but not a lot. My blog is a personal reflection place for me. It's somewhere I can work out how things are going, how I'm feeling and where I am headed. It can be raw and emotional sometimes. I don't tend to share a lot of pictures and those I do are approved by Master. I'm not secretive as to who I am and there is a picture of me in the header as well as avatar I use everywhere. We are active in the public scene and have no fear of discovery.

I don't detail out playtime any more, but I like to casually mention it and my feelings about it after it happens. Appropriateness has nothing to do with it for me since it has been my personal space for years. What isn't appropriate is with holding anything I need to get out.

As a commenter, I don't leave comments unless I have something valuable to add. I'm not known to leave one sentence "I like that!" remarks. If that's all I feel about the post then I will read it and move on. I like to provide my opinion in positive or quizzical ways. This may get the person thinking about their post some more. I think that comes from my desire to help people learn more about who they are.

Burl Apsack: Nice or Nothing says it all for me.

Poppy: I try not to talk about real life as in the day-to-day stuff that we all do. Everyone gets fed up with bad traffic or the washing up or whatever. I find I don't want to read that somewhere (unless someone can make it funny or a learning experience). I try to be positive. If I am very sad, I might say so, but I will post as soon as I can afterward to say something upbeat. I always presume my readers are clever and do not need a lecture. And nothing ever, ever to do with children because somehow it could end up being misconstrued and yuck.

When I comment, I am polite and that is it. I have learned that if I think something is very wrong, just not to comment on it. It doesn't help anyone and I am not in charge of the internet.

And I don't swear because someone (mentioning no names) would be most strict about it. I have no problem with swearing in a story as long as it was in line with the story. I have had to take someone's blog off my site (in the update bits) as he kept using really bad swear words in the headings of posts and it just made me feel a bit tense. So I suppose that was me censoring my blog a bit. I did not say anything to the blogger. He is a clever man and knows he was using swear words and it is none of my business if those are the words he wants to use.

I think most internet censorship should be self-censorship. If you do not like what you read, then you need to click on. Obviously, the exception to that would be the involvement of unwilling people and I won't go on about that as I am sure we are all in agreement.

Katia: With my own blog, I am not censored. When leaving a comment, like most, I try to be positive.

Keagen: Todd and Suzy said it well straight from the beginning. Be nice or be quiet. In both posting and commenting, I try to be sensitive to all viewpoints, even if I don't exactly understand it myself. I'm not afraid to be clear on what I think, though.

I do actively avoid sexual overtones on my blog. I don't like pictures that are erotic in nature, I don't like stories with sex, and I can't stand distasteful language involving parts of the body, or spanking, or TTWD. People deserve respect, and that includes ideas involving the human body.

I'm not afraid to touch normally "taboo" subjects, but I try to careful when I'm doing so.

I censor day-to-day life, quite a bit. I tell things like they are, but no one wants to hear about the wreck over on the interstate and how long it took me to get home, unless it is pertinent information. I use my blog to share ideas, stances, where I am in life, and lessons learned. It's blunt, honest, open, and me.

Hermione: As others have already said, I try to make my comments positive and to keep them brief. If I feel I must express an opinion that is an opposing point of view, I do so in a respectful and tactful way. I prefer to be cautious. More than once, a comment of mine has been used as fodder for a subsequent post and I'd prefer that to be a good experience rather than an uncomfortable one for me.

Like Indy, I tailor my comments to the individual blog. On ones where I have established a friendship with the blogger, I will be a bit more casual and playful than on a blog where I am not as well known.

Like Prefectdt, I have clear guidelines for posts. My posts are, for the most part, intended to be light-hearted and to reflect in some way on TTWD. Only rarely do I address off-topic or serious subjects. I restrict details of my personal life to those related to spanking, and I reveal them in an upbeat way. Into every life some rain must fall, but I won't inflict those thunderstorms on my readers. It goes without saying that I carefully exclude details that might reveal my identity.

I also dislike explicit sexual material – either in words or pictures – and rarely include either. I'd rather leave details to the reader's imagination.

As a reader, I tend to gravitate toward blogs with which I can identify in some way. While I prefer those blogs that are most like my own, I enjoy a wide variety of blogs written from many different perspectives. I tend to stay away from those with too much violence or sexual explicitness.

Anon: I try to convey ideas that help others in this sphere of intimate activity. It is isn't helpful, at least in theory, or looks like it will be harmful, I self-censor. Further, I try to make suggestions that enhance, and not detract from the bond between a couple. Anything else would not be responsible on my part. Similarly, if I am reading something that strikes me as out of line, I simply skip over it. That allows for freedom of speech on the part of an author. It allows allows me to exercise a very important part of free speech. The freedom to ignore things I feel should not have been written.

Love4her: I do not have a blog. I’ve thought about it, but doubt I have time. I do comment from time to time and, not being one to use profanity, the only real self-censorship I engage in is to try to keep my post on topic.

I have a myriad of fantasies and more than my share of fetishes. When posting comments, I try not to inject things I enjoy that may not be topical to the particular blog. After all, a “spanking site” is a spanking site, not a “spanking while being driven around by a midget while in the back seat naked except for wearing peanut butter on your nipples and licking your wife’s feet in heels” site. I have not found that one yet.

PK: I try to speak the same on on my site and in comments as I would when face-to-face with someone. Obviously, the subject matter is somewhat different. But basically I chose to be polite in what I post and in comments. The only censoring I do on my site, other than being polite myself, is that if anyone leaves a comment that is unkind to another (not about something I've written, but unkind to a third party) I will always remove it. I won't allow someone to use my site to hurt others.

Bonnie: I conduct myself pretty much the same on the blog as off. I strive to be positive and supportive. There are enough negative influences in this world without me adding to them. So, yes, there are some things I just don't say.

There are certain vulgar four letter words (no, not that one) that I find offensive. I don't use them and I would prefer that others not do so on my blog, especially when the usage is derogatory. I tend to think those words are for people who are not otherwise capable of expressing themselves.

At the same time, I believe that even overtly sexual content can be appropriate if it is presented artistically and with style. There are a few subjects I will not touch (children, non-consensual, extreme), but almost any other relevant topic is welcome here, so long as it is approached tastefully.

When commenting on other blogs, I imagine that I am visiting a friend's home. They set the tone and define what is acceptable. Like any good guest, I seek to stay within these bounds.

Jai: I'm going with the majority on this one, nice or nothing. If I read something that I don't like or find distasteful, then I don't comment on it, and I probably won't go back to that particular blog again for awhile.

I don't mention names. Some blogs are bad for that and it's a bit ridiculous. Blogs aren't for airing dirty laundry and slander. If I have an issue with someone in the scene, I rarely discuss it on my blog or if I do mention it, it is without naming names.

And, I actually think that a blog that is simply just spanking-themed can get a bit boring, so I discuss other issues. But I do always keep in mind that it is a blog set up to attract other spankos.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your insight. I hope you'll join us again next week!


Madea's Rage said...

Bonnie, thank you for having such a wonderful blog. It's really nice to see such a diverse group talk about this stuff in an open and constructive way.

I write D/s fanfiction. Primarily, my self censorship involves the maxim that 'actions have consequences'. I try to play that out in-story--for instance,characters frequently reference using BC if they're going to have sex.

I also try to show the CP between the characters as accurately as possible; they talk about things beforehand and the Dom is careful not to abuse his power--and when he does, there are consequences.

I won't show anything I haven't tried personally or that I perceive might be dangerous if done incorrectly--I descovered my fetish as a teenager, via fanfic, and I want the younger people reading to understand that there's way more to this than the CP itself.

Finally, I want my non-fetish readers to understand that D/s/BDSM/DD relationships involve real people--yeah, he spanks her, but they also cuddle, laugh, talk about problems like adults and just enjoy one another, so I try to balance the fetish elements with other things.

Thanks again,

Madea's Rage

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oatmeal girl said...

Oh, how I wish I had been aware of this question when you first proposed it! I see - always saw - my blog as a place to explore my submission and exercise my writing, and had always felt it to be a very personal refuge. Dealing with BDSM as it does, as exercised by two very intense people, it is likely more extreme than many of the blogs listed here, though more poetic than nasty. Or at least I like to think that is so.

But because of some horrified reactions to a particular fantasy and follow-up comments, I have been forced to censor what I write to protect my privacy and that of the man involved. I resent this, as my readers are visitors at my kinky literary salon, but it was a question of safety. I'm hoping that as time goes on I can take a few more risks in how much of my weird perspective I share. I think that is what people came for, at least to some extent, and it's a pity that I can't be true to my own vision and continue to use my own space to sort out my thoughts about the unexpected path I am following.

As for censoring comments, I have done this only rarely. The first time, I deleted a comment when I feared its effect on the man I loved. Unfortunately, it was too late to avert severe damage. I always eventually closed comments on my post exulting over the election of Barack Obama. My blog isn't a political one, but people knew I had worked on the campaign. It was a party I wanted to dance it, and it was rude for people to throw stink bombs.

I guess I should make an effort to check here regularly for brunch questions!

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