Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Blogging standards

There has been a recurrent discussion about whether bloggers are journalists, and thus should be held to journalistic standards. That discussion has been frequently derailed by pointing out the obvious differences between a blog and a newspaper. You can't confuse this blog with the Washington Post, thus blogging and journalism are totally different, thus journalistic standards don't apply. The disadvantage of that approach is that blogs come across as "less than" journalism, and bloggers as wannabe journalists who failed to live up to the journalistic standards of independence, truthfullness, accuracy, and fairness. I think a more helpful approach would be to say that the methods, purpose, and resources of a blog are fundamentally different from that of a newspaper; and from that to conclude that blogging has its own standards, instead of being held accountable to the standards of a different medium. In this post I would like to explore what those blogging standards should me in my personal opinion, and in how far they are similar or different to journalistic standards. Warning: This is going to be long!

To thus develop blogging standards from journalistic standards, we first need to look at how the role of a blog is different from that of a newspaper. A newspaper, as the name says, is there mainly to report news. The principle concern, and the reason that journalistic standards exist, is that the facts have to be accurate and truthful. The worry is that a newspaper writes something that isn't true, either because the journalist was too lazy to check the facts, or because he deliberately writes something untrue, to either advance his own agenda, or the agenda of somebody he is beholden to.

A blog is fundamentally different, because they are not media to report facts, but outlets of opinions. Reader don't come to let's say a game blog because they want to know facts about when a game is released, or what the retail price is; they come to read an opinion about whether the game is any good. By definition for opinions there is no absolute truth, an opinion can't be right or wrong (although the arguments supporting an opinion can be). To get back to the game example, even for a game most people consider bad, there are always some people who like that game. And their opinion is just as valid as the opinion of those who hate that game.

In view of these fundamental differences, let's have a look at what I would consider good blogging standards, starting with accuracy and truthfulness: As I would not expect readers to use a blog as their one and only source of facts, I do not consider fact-checking as essential for a blogger as for a journalist. In most cases bloggers don't even have the same means and resources to check facts: A journalist can for example call a company to check facts and get their side of a story, but a blogger simply wouldn't get an answer if he tried that. I wouldn't even consider it necessary for bloggers to always be truthful. Sometimes writing for example "fake news" can be a good style tool to get a point across. Persiflage often contains deliberately exaggerated untruths.

In many cases the facts are simply unknown, or there are only approximate numbers available. But on a blog the validity of the arguments does often not depend on having exact numbers. It is a cheap trick of trolls and people who disagree with a blogger's opinion to pretend that exact numbers matter, and declaring an opinion for "wrong", because it is impossible to get the real numbers. Just look at the eternal discussion about MMORPG subscription numbers, you'll find many examples there. But facts are simply not the main purpose of a blog, and are therefore not an important part of blogging standards.

The next blogging standard I would like to talk about is being "fair and balanced", which is linked to being independent and not beholden to a company or other special interest group. As already the classic media fall way short of this, I don't think it is reasonable to demand balanced reporting from a blogger. Blogs are about opinions, and to write a good opinion one has to take sides. A completely balanced opinion ends up not being one at all, is bland, and doesn't inspire a lively discussion. Although only a fool never changes his mind, bloggers tend to be associated with their repeated stance on similar issues. Thus readers know how to interpret a one-sided opinion in light of the previous form of the blogger. Good bloggers tend to at least cite possible counterarguments, or to admit both good and bad points in a product they review, but that is more a sign of the quality of the blog than of ethical standards for blogging. Claiming that a successful game is the worst game ever and has no redeeming features at all just doesn't sound believable, and ends up coming across as an insult to many readers. Much better to admit what a game does right to explain it's success, and then criticize it's weak points, if you want reasonable people to listen to you.

The dangers of a lack of independence of bloggers are often exaggerated. It isn't as if companies had huge budgets to bribe bloggers. The recent argument that some game bloggers dream of working for a game company one day and would therefore be biased towards writing only nice things about those is completely spurious. In the few cases where bloggers actually became developers, they didn't get there by saying nice things about games, but by criticizing games harshly, but precisely. Just look up Lum the Mad if you don't believe me. Opinions on blogs tend to be far more honest than those on commercial sites and print media, which live from the advertising money paid by the companies whose games they review. Bloggers might receive freebies, like free product to review. I believe the best ethical blogging standard here to be to require bloggers to disclose the fact that they received those freebies. Readers then have to decide themselves how far lets say a free game would be likely to influence the opinion of a blogger. This stance on blogging standards is shared by US law (which presumably (IANAL) applies if your blog is readable in the USA, not only if you live there).

If classical journalistic standards don't apply to bloggers, that doesn't mean that blogs shouldn't be held to some standards. But as it is opinions, and not facts, that are at the heart of blogging, these standards have to do more with the ethics of exchanging opinions.

One important standard for blogging in my mind is that opinions should be supported by arguments. Saying "game X sucks" helps nobody, unless it is followed by arguments about which features of game X the blogger considers to be so bad.

Another important ethical standard for blogging is to mention where principal ideas come from, and where appropriate to link to them. That is not to demand the impossible task of citing every blog which ever talked about a similar subject; but if a blogger is inspired to write about a subject because he read about it on another blog, it is only proper to cite that source of inspiration. It is that interlinking which ultimately creates the blogosphere as a virtual space for the exchange of ideas and opinions.

Finally, and in somewhat of a combination of the previous two, are the ethical blogging standards on the discussion between blogs. It is because blogs are talking opinion rather than facts, and because different opinions on the same subject are valid, that a discussion evolves between blogs and creates a large whole than the sum of its parts. That is a wonderful thing, because it often allows readers to see different points of view, and from the various arguments form an opinion for himself. But that only works if the responding blogger makes the effort to actually argue his opinion, bringing forth his arguments for his different point of view, adding new ideas, and pointing out potential weaknesses of the arguments of the other blogger.

It is this blogging standard where the blogosphere still needs to make progress. Far too often a disagreeing blog posts main argument is that the other blogger is an "idiot" or "moron", with supporting arguments being other insults questioning the integrity of the other blogger. That is both unethical, and counterproductive. Such a response not only makes the writer look like a bad blogger, it also makes neutral readers more inclined to believe the other blogger, who made his point with arguments instead of insults. "You're an idiot" is short for "I don't agree with you, but I can't come up with a good counterargument". That not only makes for poor blogging, it also is an admission of intellectual poverty.

I think that more or less covers the main points. What do you think about blogging standards? What points would you add, and where do you agree or disagree with my blogging standards?
I try to be factually accurate and entertaining to at least myself. If I don't have readily available facts, I try to make that clear. I don't at all consider myself a journalist, but I don't think that means that I should ignore journalistic standards, just as people might all be better off following bits of the Hippocratic Oath such as "do no harm."
I mostly agree.

In some way everything I write is my opinon, of course.

But I wouldn't even say I blog about my opinion. I try to find interesting things. Smart things, if you so will. Things that are not obvious, but in my opnion interesting.

Things like that a game developer should not try to balance immersion/fun, but find game mechanics that allow immersion to be fun and thus make balancing unnecessary.
Or that fun is not in inherent property of an activity. Or that one of the most important things that determine how much fun a game is does not lie in the game itself. But in the way the player approaches it.

These may be my opinions, but that is not the reason it is interesting, I hope :).

In the end I blog to convince people of things that I believe to be true and important. Oh .. and for the fun of it ;)
Wow, You're such an idealist! But at least you try...

True, bloggers are not journalists. (Whether ethics in traditional Journalism still exists at all anymore, considering how deeply in bed with big business, and politicians, most journals are, is a separate question - or is it?)

Most bloggers have no credentials and have no formal training in Journalism (apparently neither do most journalists). So it's understandable that most don't adhere to any standards. Having standards would be desirable, but how would you enforce them?

My opinion is that we should let evolution run its course.

Blogging may just be a fad that will fade away after a few years, to be replaced by something else. In that case - who really cares? I really hope not though. I think Blogging serves as a very valuable foil to the established traditional journals.

If Blogging does continue to live on, then I believe that the strong blogs, those that at least try to adhere to some form of journalistic standard and credibility, will survive. The weak ones will die off as people eventually see them for what they are.

The weakness of the Internet, or maybe its strength, is that it is hard to force rules on its denizens. Trying to apply and enforce standards in Blogging simply won't work. We have no choice but to rely on the integrity of the bloggers themselves, and then let natural selection take care of the rest.

This blog is no danger. I believe most people reading this blog recognize that you are a intelligent man, that integrity and fairness are very important to you, and that you do hold yourself to to least some form of journalistic standard. Your standards shine through all the rhetoric of your commenters, and that will be the case in all good blogs. Blogs like this one are the ones that will survive.

Hope you never change. (If you do, I'll just stop coming here).
A blog is a personal diary made public via the web. That's all.
Where does creative blogging fit in the mix? Does blogging always have to be about opinion and professionalism? Is there a market for pure fiction blogging?
Sorry for the double-post but I also meant to add that a Blog is no more and no less than what we used to call a "Homepage". We never had this kind of angst about those and we don#t need it about Blogs.
I don't think there is any way to resolve the issue that "anyone can make a blog and say what they want" also means "those things can be lies."

We thought the Internet would bring the "Information Age," but I think it has brought about the MIS-information age. Sadly, blogs have been one of the biggest parts of that.

Of course, I don't think mainstream media can really pretend they are so far above right now. Typical news coverage here consists of essentially "some people say the world is flat, others say it is round. Let's see what people are saying on Twitter about that."
Standards is all abouts the details, and the devils what be lurkin' in 'em. Me, I cain't be bothered fer ta keep track of the details.
I dont consider blogging to be "media", and as such I look to it for opinions.

However, I do require those opinions to be backed by substance and substantiative information as it relates to the topic and content of the post.

Game design and theory is a fascinating subject to me, and blogging has brought about a major shift in how developers glean feedback from its own playerbase.

I'm of the opinion that the cream will always rise to the top, and the individuals behind the blogs are what drives the content and continued readability of a particular blog.

Some have a clue when it comes to spurring on topic discussions, while others dont.

This blog does.
The standards you discussed sound very reasonable. I do agree that blogs work best when focused on opinion, with a supporting arguement. If anything, the masses on the interet support this too, as the content that gets the most attention tends to be the stuff that chooses a side or makes a statement.

I keep track of a few blogs covering everything from my industry through to my hobbies, and I even write two of my own. The content blogs create can vary a lot, from company PR via offical blogs, to opinion, arguement, personal stuff and guides. Because they can vary so much, and even the stuff I write myself covers stuff like coffee, apps, games and internet marketing, I only really hold one rule to cover it all. Never write anything you would not be happy to defend to someone you actually respect. That pretty much sums up the approach I take.
I think you hit the nail on the head, though there are quite a few bloggers out there who won't ever conform to standards even remotely like those you listed.

You gave me an idea for a post of my own so I linked back to you from it over at, thanks for the inspiration!
Totally agree with what Bhagpuss said. A blog is just a Home Page 2.0, nothing more nothing less. Keep it simple.
That wasn't the question. Don't you think that even a "homepage 2.0" needs some standards?
I think we all agree that "independence, truthfullness, accuracy, and fairness" are good things.

Since there is no feasable way to control or enforce such standards, it is a moot, point, though.
Not really. Imho it would be taking blogging too seriously. Adherence to certain rules and regulations or standards should not be an issue or even a yardstick in the blogosphere. That just seems to go completely against the spirit of a blog, freedom of expression and all that. Of course this is just how i see my blogging activities. If you want to impose certain standards on your blog thats fine. Actually i do like your policy of complete disclosure on received goodies from gaming companies.
That would mean: Since there is no feasable way to control or enforce our ideas on how games should be made better, the whole of game blogging is moot.
That would mean: Since there is no feasable way to control or enforce our ideas on how games should be made better, the whole of game blogging is moot.

I wanted to avoid having a discussion on the comments section again, but since you ask :)

What do you mean when you say "way to control or enforce our ideas on how games should be made better" ? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Just like WoW, I think you need to take the bloggosphere for what it is and not for what it is not ;).

Gaming blogs I read, usually do not try to inform. Thats what news are for. Most blogs I read try to convince. And they try to build credibility to be better able to convince us.

But in the end a blog can be almost anything. You could easily make a blog 'for the masses' with one nude girl every day if you wanted.

By the way, while gaming blogs usually try to convince, I do not read them to be convinced. I read them, because I enjoy understanding things. When somebody tries to convince you he often goes to extraordinary lengths to to come up with good arguments. These arguments can be interesting in themselves.

Often other blogs are simply inspiration, not only for my blog, but for my very personal enjoyment.
I think you need to take the bloggosphere for what it is and not for what it is not

Sorry, but your whole blog is about complaining what MMORPGs are not. My point is that if we can wish for our games to be better, and for players in games to behave better, we can also wish for bloggers to behave better. If we just accept the games, the players, and the bloggers for what they are, there would be absolutely nothing to blog about.
I think my blog is about what MMORPGs could be. But well. I think all arguments are on the table.
I'm seriously getting a bit lost and confused with you lately, Tobold. This is not meant to be a personal attack, but I kind of feel that you're switching places from time to time.

Here, you're talking about blogging standard, but in November, you wrote 2 entries that had parts that (somewhat) contradicted what you wrote today.
Wolfshead proclaims that he has found a revolutionary new game which is far more intelligent and superior to dumbed down World of Warcraft: Zynga's Farmville/Frontierville. When not so long ago he was complaining about the Zyngafication of the MMO industry. How much did Zynga pay the man?

Here, you clearly made either sarcastic remarks to Wolfshead or simply personal attack. But in today's entry you mentioned how insults are unethical and counter-productive. Yet, you did it yourself too and didn't hold your own standard.
This blog would be useless to me if I didn't have the right to say whatever I want here.

This can be translated to other bloggers having the right to say whatever they want on their blog too. So why the need of a blogging standard if you're a believer of you can write whatever you want in your own blog? Wouldn't a blogging standard simply restrict what you should/not write?

Again, this is not meant to be a personal attack to you, but I'm merely confused about your own idea. Sometimes I can see you being very goody-goody, but sometimes you can be baddy-baddy. Normally I wouldn't have such problem with such thing, but it's a bit difficult to ignore lately when your goody side can sometimes sound a bit preachy. No offense intended, just mere curiousity and confusion from my end.
"we first need to look at how the role of a blog is different from that of a newspaper"

There is no fixed role to a blog. A blog's function is to spread information (text, image, links) to whomever it may concern. So it is all in the hands of the author to set a certain mood and standart for his/her blog and its in the hand of the reader to agree with it. Or not.

A scientist might use a blog to publish scientific results. They better be accurate then, or his blog isn't worth a lot. Some teenage girl might write poems or sentences as "today's a wonderful day, i shall go out and pick some flowers". Its not her job to entertain you, teach you, be truthful (might as well be a dreadful day, who knows). Which blogging standart should she be held accountable for?

So what i am saying is, the author sets up his own rules and it is up to the reader to accept them or not. If i stumble across a blogpost, where the author claims to provide facts but doesn't post any outside sources, i know not to trust him. Its all up to the audience.

All sort of written rules and codes can be avoided anyways, if you try hard enough (journalist: "well, i didn't know my source, who was just fired by company X held a grudge against them and when i wrote they are a pack of filthy bastards i thought i was telling the truth!")
But in today's entry you mentioned how insults are unethical and counter-productive.

They are. But nobody is perfect. The fact that you needed to scroll 3 months back on my blog to find one snarky remark which could be interpreted as being an insult makes me think I'm not doing that badly.

Just like journalistic standards, blogging standards can't be enforced. The same thing is true for all other ethical or religious belief systems. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be any. And whether you stick to some standards while blogging *does* have consequences, in the loyalty and quality of the readership you attract.
How about;

If you are being paid to write your blog, in any form, then you should adhere to standards. If you are receiving compensation then you are a professional journalist and should act like one.

If you are not being paid, and your blog is a truly personal reflection of your thoughts presented to the world via the internet (is that a blog's real intention?), then you can say anything you want to.
Tobold I believe you have an overly idealistic view of newspapers and journalism.

Journalistic ideals that you mention are very rare.

Newspapers and other news media outlets are very biased in general and tend to spin the news to suit their political and moral leanings. Need I mention Fox news and media coverage in the USA?

Being British I’m able to understand the leanings of the British news media a little stronger than any other nations news media.

Newspapers tend to have a political slant one way or another and reliably stay that way.

---Right Wing: The Times, The Sun. The Express, The Daily Mail
---Left Wing: Traditionally – The Guardian, but more centre these days and not sure if they will stay that way.
---Centre Left: The Independent

All the above tend to exploit the news to suit their demographic audience. It is slanted one way or another, every single day.

You’ll also find that people will religiously stick to one newspaper for this reason, it’s political, social and moral slant. And will also use it to reinforce their view of the world via the papers editorial and opinion sections.

Murdoch owns a large section of the British press – The Time and The Sun amongst countless local newspapers. I fairly sure these two are respectively the largest selling Broadsheet and Tabloid papers in the UK. Murdoch, via his papers, has no qualms about telling the British people how they should vote, and express a confidence in one party or another (to suit his own ends) in a sublime style of journalism as well as very openly and brashly.

Thus to argue that bloggers are free to express an opinion where a journalist can’t is not correct. Journalism, alas, for the most part is all about opinion. I would also suggest that the British press are hardly fair and balanced in anything.

I also don’t believe this is singularly a British disease… but that of most of the world’s journalism. Not all… but most.
GG said: "Tobold I believe you have an overly idealistic view of newspapers and journalism.

Journalistic ideals that you mention are very rare."
Too bad for them then. We shouldn't ignore standards just because others don't either. Let the biased 'journalists' spew their crap, but don't sink to their level.
They are. But nobody is perfect.

I agree that nobody is perfect, but I think that creates a lot of ifs when used as an excuse. You have blogging standard but indirectly you're also saying that it's okay to be unethical, be counter-productive, and break that standard if it's only done once in a while because nobody is perfect.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm starting to question whether you actually believe your own beliefs or not. When you wrote that censor entry, I was under the impression that you really believe that blogger should be allowed to write whatever they want on their blog. You wrote quite a big entry to talk about it, and provide supporting ideas and all that. But now you wrote an even bigger entry talking about how there should be blogging standard which would mean that bloggers can no longer write whatever they want because they need to follow the standard.

To me, it felt that you wrote the "I can write whatever I want on my blog" more as a defense mechanism when critisized about what you wrote, rather than your actual belief. But I might be wrong in understanding your intention.

The same thing is true for all other ethical or religious belief systems. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be any.

How do you propose to have a religious belief systems standard at all though? Scientology is as different as one can be as a religion compared to the more traditional religion such as Christianity or Islam, etc. To try having a standard between such different systems is basically impossible. To me, the same goes with blogging. It's impossible to have a standard because anyone can make their own blog.

And whether you stick to some standards while blogging *does* have consequences, in the loyalty and quality of the readership you attract.

How do you define the quality of readership? Let's say you're a good game blogger, so you have loyal readers, but what's the quality of your readers? Let's say another person is a blogger who doesn't have standards, they blogged about porn, they still get loyal readers, does that mean that the quality of their readers is lower than yours?
See, I didn't get that feeling at all.

Some folks just know how to play a True Neutral. It's not about balance, as such. It's about having your OWN (sometimes seemingly impossibly-complicated) set of rules for a code of conduct and following them with some measure of integrity, factoring in the fallibility of humanity. Ask anyone who believes that the true way to achieve their weight goals is by dieting, but occasionally they cave to their baser instincts and devour a big mac. The fact that they behaved contrary to their belief doesn't mean they believe it any less. It means they caved in a moment of weakness. And as Tobold said, if you have to hunt pretty high and low to find examples of those moments, then they're probably doing a pretty good job of following their beliefs.

Additionally, you can complicate these rules/beliefs further by prioritizing. It's all about where you draw your line.

Example: Charity. Believe it's a good thing?
Would you kill someone for your morning coffee? Probably not. Except if you have that coffee, you kind of are, through inaction. For the price of your morning coffee, you can directly save lives in a small village in Bangladesh by helping build a well and provide chickens that give them eggs and clean water. Most folks don't see that as their responsibility, because that's where they drew their line. Inaction doesn't count.

Some people DO see charity as their responsibility, because their line is drawn in a different place to others. But why did they choose to draw it there? Why only donate $30-60 a month? Why not forego alcohol as well? Or gas money, when they could ride a bike to work. Or skip cable TV or internet costs and save even MORE lives. At some point, did someone who gives to charity sit down and decide, "I'm OK with sacrificing X level of comfort to save Y number of lives?" They still drew a line somewhere.

A lot of what we believe to be our 'ethical standards' are influenced heavily by mercurial emotion, such as throwing a few bucks to a homeless person one day, but ducking their head and avoiding eye-contact another day.

Having standards doesn't mean universally deciding to always give a predefined amount. It can be as simple as finding it abhorrent to berate them and tell them to get a job, no matter how grumpy you are.
Just a point I didn't cover when pointing out a perspective to Smartypants...

On the original topic, I think some folks are getting derailed by mistaking the concept of 'standards' as a set of clear, defined rules as opposed to a direction of congruent evolution.

When Tobold talks about holding the blogosphere 'accountable' to a set of different standards, I think of being held accountable not in terms of juries and sub-sections of codes of conduct as pertains to behaviour or ISO 9000 standards with clearly-defined certification requirements...

I interpret it as being held accountable in the way that society has always held others accountable who don't obey the unwritten social mores of the time: Clucking of tongues and finger-wagging, social censure in disapproval.
Smartypants, all regular readers of this blog know that Tobold is a bit inconsistent. When in the past he was pushed back too much with good arguments (and sometimes bad ones), he would retreat to 'this is my blog, I can say what I want'. Or 'I wanted to say XY in the first place'. See the EVE Online debates ;).

Now, this time this way is barred even for him, so he had to admit that he isn't perfect. Which, in that magnitude, I saw the very first time. Usually Tobold goes in the offensive.

Look, Tobold would be the first to tell you that there is no way for you to know that there is only one Tobold or that Tobold uses only one pseudonym, so take those comments with a grain of salt.

What this blog excels at is starting smart discussion. Also, the English is usually very worth reading.

The fact that they behaved contrary to their belief doesn't mean they believe it any less. It means they caved in a moment of weakness. And as Tobold said, if you have to hunt pretty high and low to find examples of those moments, then they're probably doing a pretty good job of following their beliefs.

I'll try to explain to make the contradiction clear to you. If possible and in case you haven't, please go to the URL of the entries in November that I linked before and have a read too to help understand more of what happened. That'll help understanding what the following is about.

Entry 1: Tobold insulting Wolfshead
Entry 2: Tobold writing about he can write whatever he wants in his blog. A blog will lose its purpose if the blogger can't write what they want.
Entry 3: Tobold writing about the need for blogging standard. This will limit the freedom of what people can write in their blog.

Entry 2 and Entry 3 clearly contradicted one another because they are mutually exclusive.

If you allow Entry 2 to be true, that means Tobold was okay to write Entry 1, but not okay to write Entry 3.

If you allow Entry 3 to be true, that means Tobold was not okay to write Entry 1, but the reason why he wrote Entry 2 was to justify him writing Entry 1.

So the question to me is what is his real belief?

I don't buy the caving in moment of weakness answer because of the existance of Entry 2. It was written to justify his Entry 1, and thus, I (at that time) believed that it was his belief that people are allowed to write whatever they want in their blog. But clearly now from Entry 3, this doesn't seem to be the case. This leads to confusion to me. Why is this important? I'll elaborate a bit more later on.

It's about having your OWN (sometimes seemingly impossibly-complicated) set of rules for a code of conduct and following them with some measure of integrity, factoring in the fallibility of humanity.

I agree with this, which is why personally for me, I'd say people can write whatever they want in their own blog. Thus, no need to have the so-called "blogging standard" because it's all nothing more than out own set of rules that only ourselves understand and might not even make sense to other people. This will mean that everyone has different personalized standard. Thus, not exactly a "blogging standard" anymore.

I first read Tobold's blog because it was talking about games and I have interest in games. The blog entries he wrote were all interesting and they had good points that he raised. I really enjoyed reading his blog and decided to regularly go to his blog and read what he wrote.

What troubled me is his flip-flop stance at times. I fully understand that nobody is perfect and that people can sometimes do things that they don't really normally would do (I do that too myself). That's fine, and I can understand to that Tobold might've done such thing himself. However, I find it very troubling when Tobold started writing about philosophy, morality, ethics, etc when I can't see clearly what his own set of belief is. To me, if you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.

Why is this important to me? Let me elaborate it to you, Cam, and also Tobold (and other readers too if they bother). As the reader, I'd like to know what the writer is thinking. As the writer, Tobold allows me to know what he's thinking (in form of his blog entries). But after the contradiction, I get confused. What is it that he's thinking? If he can changes mind so easily and being inconsistent, what exactly is the point of me reading his blog? Today's entry can be pointless by next week. A very strong entry today can be overwritten by an even stronger contradicting entry next month. Who knows?

It's even more troubling because a belief is such a fundamental thing to a person. Once again, I agree with Cam above that humans have their own set of rules that aren't necessarily logical (in his example, giving coins to beggar one day but avoiding eye-contact the next day). That's a good point. BUT, in Tobold's case, I feel that he's trying to justify himself and trying to make things logical. Thus his belief #1 has strong reasoning behind it and sounds logical. Then he contradicted himself and has belief #2 which also has strong reasoning behind it and also sounds logical. Is there any value in his reasoning anymore? What's the point of trying to justify things if they're just contradictory?

In the end, the contradiction and inconsistency caused me to be unsure on whether I should continue reading Tobold's blog or not. Maybe there really are more than one person writing as Tobold and that's the reason of the contradiction. Who knows. But alas, if I do stop reading your blog, Tobold, I want to part ways nicely and thank you for the wonderful read for quite some time (I think I've been reading your blog for almost a year or so). Nothing personal against you. It's not you, it's me. =D
Congrats Smartypants,

You just found out that people aren't robots. ;)
"I don't think it is reasonable to demand balanced reporting from a blogger. Blogs are about opinions, and to write a good opinion one has to take sides. "

I agree... and disagree. I think to write a blog posting well, whether it encourages discussion or not, it has to be something you have thought about to some extent. For that reason, the blogger has likely taken a side even if they don't realize it themselves. As to whether it encourages discussion? That isn't going to be decided by the "side" you take unless you know your audience well enough to deliberately post something you know they won't agree with. Like that all dps are selfish maybe? :P

"It is a cheap trick of trolls and people who disagree with a blogger's opinion to pretend that exact numbers matter, and declaring an opinion for 'wrong'"

Honestly, this is my peeve in gaming blogs and even forums currently. If someone doesn't agree with you and brings up anything that refutes your question/blog/opinion, they are labeled a "troll". The fact of the matter is there are a variety of people in this world. To some of these people, the exact numbers WILL matter and to some they won't. Just because someone thinks differently or considers these facts in forming their opinions doesn't make them a "troll". To me, this is the same as your statement below of calling others "idiots".

With that I think it is also a bloggers right to screen comments. I have see a lot of complaints about bloggers that do this, but that is totally within their rights for their blog. Even your local newspaper reserves the right to publish some letters to the editor and not others.

Do I think homepage 2.0 needs standards? That is totally up to the designer. If I find their homepage 2.0 to be visually annoying, then I choose to not go back. Same with blogs, newspapers, or any other media.
"There has been a recurrent discussion about whether bloggers are journalists, and thus should be held to journalistic standards. "

Don't see why you should lower your standards.
@Smartypants: Are you member of any church or religion? Have you ever "sinned"? Did the fact that you "sinned" meant you either got kicked out of your church, or abandoned religion?

People contradict themselves all the time. Just check Nils' comments in this and the previous thread. In here he says that blogging standards are moot, because they can't be enforced; while in the thread before he argues the exact opposite, that "Just because WoW cannot be a 'perfectly consistent virtual world' doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to push in that direction.".

I think that pushing in the right direction is what standards and blogging is about. Because if you measure blogs by actual, provable results, where we either visibly changed the behavior of the players, or got our ideas implemented by the developers, we should all stop blogging right now.
Mmh. You are probably right, Tobold. That was inconsistent by me.

I guess the explanation is that I have a blog about MMORPGs and even though I don't think that I can have much effect on any game, it's the very prupose of the blog to promote ideas.

If I had a blog about journalistic standards I might still consider them a moot point. But I certainly didn't consider it a moot point to blog about them. :)
To be honest I view most blogs as just a "thought of the day" type post on forums. Blogs, at least in the implementation aspect, feel more like a forum than a news article to me.

Personally though, if I did have to somehow compare standards of professional journalism to blogging, I would say they fall under the same rules as an editorial. The facts should be accurate, but you opinion is what you make of it based on those facts. The major difference is there is no on ensuring your facts are accurate other than your readers. Thus if your blog is just “preaching to the choir” no one will challenge any falsehoods you present. However that isn’t an issue since your sheeply followers won’t care until someone tries to cite you somewhere else.
Tobold, you are definitely on the right track as far as I'm concerned with what this type of blog should be. Generally speaking, as long as you don't pander to your audience (I don't think you do) or let game developers influence your opinion (same) you are an excellent read. As a chiefly WoW with occasionally dabbling into other games player you are a great example of the type of blog I like to read.
Great article. The future of journalism seems to be headed in the direction of purely online media. The line between blogging and journalistic writing is becoming more and more vague, as the two intertwine.

I really enjoyed this interview with ABC reporter, Brian Ross. In it, he talks a lot about his opinion on the differences between blogs and journalistic articles, and how each benefits readers. Check it out here, if you are interested:
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