The Blogging Ecosystem

The beautiful thing about blogging is that people can self-publish their work, and they own it, flaws and all. It generally rises and falls in the internet ecosystem on its own merits. Patheos attempted to give certain blogs an evolutionary advantage… but now they want to genetically modify them as well. That crosses a line for me.

I would rather maintain my independence and potentially have a smaller audience than sign a contract which compromises that independence. Generally speaking, I don’t swear online (though I do tend to swear quite a lot in person), but I don’t want a contract telling me only to use “mild profanity”. Not sure what the actual fuck (see what I did there?) “mild profanity” includes or excludes, but I’m disinclined to be contractually bound over it.

I don’t want to criticise any of the people who stayed at Patheos, but the corporate links between the parent company, BN Media, and Affinity4, and the ACLJ, an organisation which stands for everything I am opposed to, are just too close.

In a public post on Facebook, John Halstead writes:

More info on the connection between Patheos and the American Center for Law and Justice: Jeremy McGee is President and COO of Patheos. McGee is also on the Board of Affinity4. Both Patheos and Affinity4 are BN Media brands. Guess who else is on the Board of Affinity4? Jay Sekulow. Who is Jay Sekulow? Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice! The ACLJ promotes conservative Christian laws in Africa, including support for a bill in Uganda that would have implemented the death penalty for homosexuals!

No thank you!

I was also very concerned about the editing clause, and the clause about moving content around.

I was especially cheesed off last year when they reposted one of my articles on the main page of Patheos, and altered the title, thereby altering the entire sense of the blogpost.

Here’s what happened:

In [a] post on cultural appropriation (Cultural Appropriation has nothing to do with “Race”), I made the point that the issue is about culture, not genetics and not “race”. People are part of a culture if they have been brought up in and immersed in that culture – it has nothing to do with their genetic background. Völkisch racists want you to believe that only people who are descended from Northern Europeans can worship Northern European gods, so they have taken the discourse around cultural appropriation and twisted it to their own ends.

However, when the Patheos editors shared the post on the main page … they changed the title to “Cultural Appropriation and accusations of racism”. I wasn’t sure how they got to that title from the content of the post, but in the post, I was trying to deconstruct the notion of “race” as a biological or genetic characteristic, and to point out that people shouldn’t culturally appropriate, not because they are a different “race”, but because they are from a different culture. And cultural appropriation can be distinguished from cultural fusion (a respectful blending of cultural forms) by the power differential between the appropriating culture and the appropriated one.

In both posts, I was making the point that cultural appropriation IS a form of racism – and that point was almost entirely erased by their change to the title.

And that is why I was super-uncomfortable with the clause about moving blogposts around from one site to another “at the editors’ discretion”.

I wonder if the above (fairly mild) criticism would count as “disparaging Patheos” under the new contract?

Creating a truly independent network of Pagan blogs

I am glad to see that there are already Pagan-owned sites stepping into the breach: Spiral Nature, Witches and Pagans, and a new project, Pagan Bloggers.

If there are to be blog aggregators or multi-blog hosting sites, they need to be independently-owned, collective, and egalitarian. I (and many others) are just not comfortable with the corporate world being able to control our content, especially if that corporate world is too closely linked with the evangelical Christian right.

Image by Maklay62. Public Domain.

Image by Maklay62. Public Domain.

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6 thoughts on “The Blogging Ecosystem

  1. It’s good to see your work in a new space! It was heartening to see so many writers make the difficult transition in order to maintain their autonomy and freedom of expression.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The problem with the blogging ecosystem is dilution. We probably would have never crossed paths if not for Patheos, and my life would be that much poorer as a result. I would love to see a new site step into the breach that Patheos opened up, where a group of quality bloggers published their material together. If we end up with a dozen sites, quality is diluted and each audience will be smaller than one large site. We need a non-profit Pagan-run site that is not agenda specific.

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    • Yes I would like to see such a site, and I hope that Pagan Bloggers will be it. However they require a certain number of posts in the first year, and I am not sure I could commit to that.

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  3. I was raised a Christian, and still use Christian cuss words. I wonder if the prohibition on profanity in the contract at Patheos Pagan would apply if writers used the names of Pagan gods in vain? (Just stirring the pot.)

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