The past few months have been tumultuous times at RedState. Beginning with a emotional and sometimes divisive Presidential Primary, then moving to RS 3.0, constant server errors, Drudge visibility (more traffic, more errors), and an increase of new bloggers (along with more mobies and trolls), I've seen the quality of work here degrade and the respect we've usually shown often go out the window. Leon mentioned this yesterday in one of the guest blogs.
I haven't been around nearly as long as many here, but it's been long enough to realize that we could be much better than we are now. RedState has always been a place where Republican and Conservative views can be discussed in a respectful way whether we agreed with each other or not. This is a rarity in the online world where foul language and outrageous accusations and ad homenim attacks rule the day.
Although I've been here for only a little more than a year (and a lurker for a few months longer), I've been involved in the online community for about thirteen years. I've seen the best and the worst from others and from myself. So I'd like to make a few suggestions that will hopefully improve things around here, and get us back on track with the business of helping elect John McCain and Republican and Conservative members of our government from the local level all the way up.
Think quality. The purpose of writing an online blog is to convince others to see things from your point of view. This is true whether your source information comes from a recent news article, or is more philosophical in nature. Think about what you're going to write, then after you've written it, re-read it. Ask yourself if you were reading this as written by someone else whether it would cause you to think and consider your current opinion on the matter.
Don't just throw up a link to an article and ask "hey, what do you think?" I already know what I think, I want to know what you think. Do your research. Provide good links. Give credit when you use someone else's thoughts or ideas. This will reduce the number of blogs, but will considerably increase the quality of them. Look for an Open Thread if you only have a quick link or a heads up for others to see. The Directors and Contributors could help here by making more regular open threads available.
Look before you write. I've been guilty of this myself from time to time. Search back a day or so to see if someone's already written a blog on the topic you're interested in. You may find that instead of writing a new article that adding a comment to the existing one will suffice to inject your point-of-view. I'm not saying there can't be more than one blog on a particular topic, because sometimes you'll have a completely different take on the matter.
If you do write another blog, and you find out it's very similar to one that's already been written, update your blog and give a link to the other person's work. I always try to do this at the top of my blog so people immediately see there's someone else's worthy work out there too. I'd like to ask that the Contributors also consider this when putting up their work on the Front Page. FP blogs automatically get more visibility, which sometimes causes other good work to be completely missed.
Light is always better than heat. If you're writing a blog or a comment on a heated subject or hot-button issue, stop and consider whether what you have to say illuminates or just adds fuel to the fire. I'm not saying we shouldn't have good heated discussions here, sometimes the best discussions are the ones where we disagree the most (e.g. the financial discussions of late). I just ask that you consider the golden rule. Ask yourself if you'd be offended by what you're writing if someone else wrote it directed at you.
Take personal satisfaction in your work. Everyone likes to think that the work they put up is the best. I know I do :-) Sometimes your blog will get a lot of attention (and recommendations). Sometimes it won't. Often, the blogs you don't consider the best will get a lot of attention, and the ones you think are the best may seem to be completely ignored.
I've found that the best written blogs seem to get the least number of comments. If you've truly done thorough and quality work, others may read it and really have nothing else to add. At the end of the day, you should be your own worst critic. That will help you to improve your work, and when you do it will be recognized.
I ask that everyone please take this as it was intended. What I've written here is directed at me as much as anyone else. I know that we can do better, because we have done better. Now that the distractions of primary knife fights and software upgrades are behind us, let's get back to the business of making RedState the envy of every online community. A place where people can come and be challenged, while always being shown the respect they deserve.