Self censorship and blogging

Originally written 16. December, 2002

It's been interesting watching Layne wrestle with her Policy of truth on her blog. Initially, she decided to self-censor a lot of stuff, but after more thought about it, she's going ahead and continuing to talk about what she wants to talk about. Good job. The pressure came both from a few emails and talks with family, plus a worry about what people might think.

It reminded me of Dave Winer's decision to shutter his discussion group back in September 2000 and make it permanent a few days later. Dave's decision to close down his discussion board was, as I understand it, due to people saying things on the boards that he felt he had to respond to. And the result was that he started worrying about what he was saying, and how he was saying it. Rather than censor himself, he decided to shut down the board. Or at least that's how I saw it from here.

I think self-censorship is something everyone who has a blog has to deal with at some point. There's a good story you can tell, but it'll upset a friend. Or it's embarassing enough that you feel uncomfortable telling it. Or it could bring a visit from some black helicopters (they're really very dark green, you know). Or for whatever reason, you wonder if you should say something that might make for an interesting post.

Here on Dave's Picks, I do some censoring myself. I seldom talk about ongoing relationships. I'll mention some of my friends in passing, but for the most part, when I do offer extended commentary, it's about what I'm thinking, and I'll leave out names and details that might make people uncomfortable. Part of it is that I don't want to hurt my friends inadvertantly. The other part is that I was raised that there are some things you just don't talk about.

I've said before that my rough guideline for what I'll say here is that it's about the same as what I would tell a stranger in a bar. There'll be things that may offend people. There will be some things I might think I should've kept quiet about. But there's always going to be a certain reserve, and there'll be times when I just stare into my beer and think.

It doesn't make for as compelling of a soap-opera as some blogs, but it's what works for me. I won't draw in tons of new readers with lurid tales of a wild weekend, but I also hopefully won't chase away any friends or family. And if I ever get upset enough with local government to run for office here in Minneapolis, I'd like to think that overall, this site will be a pretty accurate portrait, and I'd be happy to have people read it.

Update 29. January, 2003: And I just discovered I'd also touched on this back in October 2002.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:48:11.