“Loves the fire but can’t stand the heat.” Famous last words spoken to me by an ex-girlfriend. Years later, the words linger; dancing around my sub-concious, jumping to the fore, like they did today.
What brought them up? A little experiment. Instead of moaning about bad blogs and sloppy writing, I decided to do something about it.
What did I do?
I started the #BlogPolice.
What is that?
It is a platform to call out bad writing on blogs, things like clichés, gratuitous adverbs, typos, redundancy, chunky writing and tense confusion.
Does that mean you are perfect?
No, it doesn’t. We found an omission on our blog and mentioned it too. There’s no perfect writer and no perfect blogpost. The aim is to encourage people to make an effort and to give people a sense of accountability.
Why do you want to do that? Does it work?
We want to do that because we care about writing and we care about writers. We left names out so no one would feel victimised or picked on. We added a #BlogAngels bit later on and talked about the good things we noticed as well.
The idea was culled from the Twitter typo-spotting tyrants, handles like: Grammar Police, Gbagaun Detector, Sharp Spotter etc. These handles were dedicated to spotting typographical errors on Twitter. Sometimes they were funny, sometimes, they were a pain in the neck. In any case, they made people read over their tweets and double check before they sent them. They made tweeters accountable.
The Blog Police was meant to do the same thing. It was meant to remind bloggers that people heed their ‘Please read and comment’ requests. It was to show that the effort they spent proof-reading, redrafting or rewriting a post was not wasted.
Alas, it failed.
Despite listing the offending sentences and phrases in anonymity, some people still decided to raid my direct messages with tirades. They went on to state that I should never mention their blogs again. Some unfollowed after that. Some had me blocked.
Normal events, except that these were the same people clamouring for names of offenders be affixed to their ‘blog crimes’. Some of them asked that offenders should be informed so they ‘learn from their mistakes’.
All the while, lying through their fingertips.
The #BlogPolice is defunct. It was a rewarding experiment. It made me read many things I don’t usually read. It taught me open-mindedness and patience.
It also made me notice the great work some people are doing on their blogs.
Most of all, it made me realise that people are often as two-faced as a cheap coin. They can smile with you in the sunshine and stick a dagger into your groin at night.
No wonder the Book says “Woe is he that trusts in a man.”
It raises questions though.
In the world today, every product or service gets reviewed. Some get nods and others get knocks. Sometimes the same product gets both nods and knocks. It doesn’t mean the producer is a bad person, it just means there is room for improvement.
It is great to hear rave reviews. People telling you how amazing you are is soothing. To get better, though, we have to listen to less than savoury stuff. We have to pay attention to issues raised and treat them if they are real or toss them if they are malicious.