Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blogging: Is There An Online Community

The creation of the internet has done such wonders for technology and communication. We may sometimes take this for granted and not even realize what we are a part of. Blogging is a new sensation that is taking us by storm. Bloggers are allowed to write freely and respond to others as they wish. You can find blogs that pertain to your interests, or you can even start your own as a personal diary/journal. I never heard any of my friends or any I knew for that matter to be a part of this online trend. According to the website Technorati, they have tracked over 75 million blogs and that number is only expected increase rapidly. Will this be the new sensation that takes over the internet? At the beginning of this semester I have been a part of this “blogosphere” but on a smaller scale. Now I have placed myself as a participant in this new online word I had never been a part of. The question that I attempt to answer is: Is there a real community within these blogs?

After a little searching I finally came to a decision of what blog I have decided to be a part of. I found a blog on the HBO series Entourage. After visiting the website, I noticed there is one blog posted each week about the episode that Sunday. I saw a great deal of interaction amongst the users on the website. They talked about the episode, why they though certain things happened, even what they thought was going to happen in future episodes. Before I even interacted with anyone I began to feel the “online community” Aaron Barlow refers to in Blogging America. I observed three episodes and the blogs about them. The first episode I observed had good conversation and insight on the characters. People were having friendly responses amongst each other. The reactions to the second episode threw me off guard. There was little to no interaction on a very controversial episode where I thought there would be more discussion. When I looked back at the blog in a few days, someone by the name “BJ” posted something negative about the episode. After all everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I looked for more posts from BJ to see if this was a constant trend, and unfortunately he was. Most of the posts he had were nothing of value, and he brags about the episodes most felt were not that great. When the next week came around I was hoping for better results. BJ once again posted two negative comments which took away the focus of the blog and centered the attention on him. Someone by the user name “Hernandez” posted something back to him, and I did as well.

The blogs of the past two weeks made me realize that there is in fact an online community which implemented through blogging. It proved the point that all bloggers are not “weirdo loners in their mothers’ suburban basements” (Barlow, p.37). The purpose of this blog was to unite people with the same interest to interact amongst each other. The prior blogs I was not a part of showed this community exists by exemplifying great relations between bloggers. BJ on the other hand was a disruptive force to this community. He seemed to be a “troller” which was identified by Kollock and Smith in an earlier reading. A troller is someone responds rudely or in an impolite manner attempting to get a rise out of someone. In this particular case he was trolling the blog. By doing so, he destroys the foundation of the blog and the community. People post less on the blogs because they do not want to be bothered with a person who is a nuisance. The quality of communication decreases and if that person is not removed it can potentially destroy the blog all together. A lot of bloggers do no write just to “babble,” but want to write something of relevance and intellect to stimulate good conversations amongst that community. Bloggers like BJ give the bad reputation to blogging; blogging anything they want without consideration to the other participants.

After my experience blogging I no longer would make the assumption that bloggers write anything just to have their voice heard. There are different forms of blogging, one is for personal use and the other is for public. The community that is formed helps to produce good communications and interactions based on a common interest. My question now is what you do with a person who disrupts the community, and has the potential to destroy everything that was created from it. The more BJ posted, the less others posted their reactions and feelings. This was unfortunate to see, because I was hoping for the quality interactions that were there before I joined this blog. I hoped the quality of interaction would have remained the same from when I first began looking at this website.


Barlow, A (2008). Blogging @merica: the new public sphere. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

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