Late last week, I took some heat in the comment section of a post that I meant to be a rather lighthearted way to slide into the weekend. Some readers took that as an opportunity to let me know how much I’ve disappointed them, saying that they used to think that I was interesting, but now I’m a whiney crybaby.
A couple commenters seemed to complain that I am classified in the Evangelical Portal at Patheos. I asked to be categorized there — as well as in the Progressive Portal — and these commenters insinuated that I did so only to increase my traffic. I can state, for the record, that being included in the Evangelical Portal has not increased my traffic.
(I can also state plainly that, despite what those commenters say, I have just as many grievances against mainline/progressive Christianity as I do against evangelicalism.)
Timothy Dalrymple is the editor of the Evangelical Portal at Patheos, and he’s got an intriguing post up about blogging controversies. He interviews some others from his camp, and he quotes the traffic from some bloggers in his stable whom you and I can both guess the identities of. Tim ends — as is an evangelical’s wont — with a list of prescriptions. I’m not much of one for lists of prescriptions, but I think Tim’s are pretty good.
But I also have some other thoughts about his post, and about blogging controversies:
Controversy brings traffic. There’s simply no doubt about that, and I think my friend Rachel Held Evans is being a tad bit disingenuous in her post about this. True, I’ve grown my traffic by posting regularly — twice per weekday, and once or twice on the weekend. But when I blog about Mark Driscoll or Rob Bell or gay marriage, my traffic doubles. I can spend an hour writing a thoughtful, theological post and it will get one-tenth the traffic of a one paragraph rant about John Piper with a link.
Referrals bring traffic. My biggest traffic on a single post came in my thoughts on Rob Bell, because it was linked to by Christianity Today (thanks, CT. Love ya!). I’ve never been linked to by Andrew Sullivan or The Huffington Post or any huge site. Tim has and Rachel has, and there are big traffic spikes as a result.
Conversation brings traffic. Scot McKnight has built his traffic as a result of regularity, yes. And he occasionally wades into controversies, but usually only after some time has passed. What it’s clear that Scot does is read every comment. Scot is very active in his comment section and, as a result, has developed a very committed (and large) community of readers — readers who go back many times per day to read the latest comments by Scot and others.
Ambulance-chasing is tiring. Even as I watched Rachel get hundreds of comments about the Piper-masculinity-mess and Matthew Paul Turner rack it up on the Driscoll-excommunication-fiasco, I decided to sit both of those out. I felt myself getting tired of controversy-after-controversy. I couldn’t keep up, and I didn’t know that I had anything interesting or new to add to the
conversation controversy. I will, of course, jump into the hot waters in the future, but I needed to take a couple off.
Finally this: Tim’s post takes numerous swipes and Brian McLaren, calling him “no longer clearly Christian” and “terribly misleading theologically.” Tim is way off the mark here, and I have to wonder if he’s even read the book to which he’s referring.