An appeal from this blog’s author and proprietor

An appeal from this blog’s author and proprietor April 5, 2022


Mantegna's St. Sebastian
A 1457 painting of the martyred Saint Sebastian, by Andreas Mantegna
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)




Until just a few weeks ago, I didn’t know that my blog posts can be (and often are) ranked on a one-to-five-star system that’s built into the platform.  When people post comments here, they’re invited and provided an opportunity to choose a rating.  (Whether they can do so with every comment on a post or merely once per post, I don’t yet know.)  But I simply hadn’t noticed.  And, even when it was called to my attention, I still didn’t pay it any mind, thinking it of no particular importance.


I was wrong.


Blogs with higher ratings rise among search results.  And, obviously, blogs with lower ratings drop among such results.  By giving this blog, or any blog, a low rating, one thus makes it less likely that people who are searching for information or for discussions of certain topics will see it.


So I’ve now belatedly recognized that there are people out there who have been methodically rating my blog entries at the lowest possible score, day in and day out, thus attempting to make my blog essentially invisible to internet searches.  (Or, very possibly, it’s one or two rather obsessive and dedicated people who are doing it repeatedly under different aliases.)


I had recently noticed that I’ve been receiving ten or fifteen comments a day — invariably a sentence or less in length, and invariably personally insulting and sometimes even obscene — from people who undoubtedly realize that they’ve already long been “shadow banned” and that, accordingly, their comments cannot be publicly seen and can in no way influence conversations here.  I thought that they were merely impotently spiteful.  But now I realize that they’re posting such comments in order to enable themselves to vote the ranking of my blog down.


It’s effectively an effort to silence me.


It’s not the first such effort, of course.


For instance, similar people — probably, indeed, the same people or person — flooded audience response sites when the Witnesses film first appeared, in order to drive its audience rating down.  In many cases, it was manifestly obvious that they hadn’t actually seen it, or else that they were lying about it.  (They would vote it down, for example, because it didn’t mention plural marriage — although it demonstrably and undeniably did — or because it didn’t mention the failure of the Kirtland Bank — although it demonstrably and undeniably did — or even, in one case, because it suppressed the fact that Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer fell away from the Church, which was a major part of the film’s overall plot.)  And the same thing has happened to me for the better part of two decades on various other public fora, as well.  I’m no longer surprised by such antics.


But I should have realized that the same thing was going on with this blog.  I apologize for my slowness to pick up on it.


So I’m going to invite readers of this blog to rate my blog entries on the one-to-five-star system that’s built into the platform of this blog.  I will, of course, welcome five-star ratings, but I really want to encourage readers to give honest ratings, whether they like what I do or they don’t.


Of course, I have to admit that it seems really odd and perverse for people to hang around who genuinely dislike everything I post, invariably giving me the lowest possible rating, dozens and dozens of times in a row.  If they really don’t like what I write, wouldn’t the most reasonable and appropriate response be to simply stop frequenting this blog?  There are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of blogs and websites to which I pay no attention for the simple and sufficient reason that they don’t interest me.


I confess that I’m going to be voting my own posts up every time, in a simple attempt to blunt the effect of the obsessive haters out there a bit.  To dilute the impact of what seems, candidly, to be a rather grim and monomaniacal campaign to suppress my voice.   And, anyway, it should be pretty obvious that I sincerely do approve of what I post here.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t post it.


I encourage everybody who reads here — even people who may disagree with what I write, if they believe in fairness and in permitting others to speak — to offer their own ratings.  It’s the principle of the thing, really.


Doing so is painlessly easy.  And Sam LeFevre, a very valued reader here, helpfully tells of something else that readers can do:  “Another tool is to click the heart, making it a favorite. I would encourage readers to do that as well.”


My request may, of course, not achieve its aim of giving a fair ranking to my blog.  I’ve already received anonymous messages today vowing that I’m going to lose a “ratings war,” and I notice that the usual suspects over at the Peterson Obsession Board (whence I expect that many of the low rankings originate, as well as the daily anonymous comments that I’ve mentioned, to say nothing of the several personally abusive anonymous emails that I receive every day) are making merry about my low ratings and how fully justified they are.


Here, too, on this blog, at least two new arrivals have shown up to comment for the first time (and, coincidentally, I’m sure) to give me low ratings.  One of their complaints, pioneered here by our own Lance the Atheist, is to say that I deserve low ratings because so many of my blog posts consist of quotations from other writers.   And perhaps I do.


But the fact that my blog posts often consist of quotations from other writers is by deliberate design, and I’ve explicitly explained what I’m doing and why.  I’ll do so again, very briefly:


Originality isn’t my principal goal on this blog. If I have anything original to say — and, of course, I may not — some of it, at least, will appear elsewhere. But I’ll likely announce it here, at a minimum.


I’ve expressly and repeatedly explained that one of the functions that this blog serves in my daily writing (which extends considerably beyond this blog) is to share notes that I’ve drawn from my reading.  I read a great deal, and I take notes from what I read for potential use in eventual writing projects.


I do substantial writing each and every day.  In the wake of my retirement on 1 July 2021, I set a personal goal of writing at least 300,000 published or publishable words per year, and I’m happy to report that I’ve been consistently ahead of that pace every week since 1 January 2022.  As a matter of fact, though, I don’t count entries on this blog toward my daily writing goals, even when those entries entirely of my own creation.


But I do share thoughts here, and elements of autobiography, and reactions to events and movies and plays and articles and books and concerts and other such things, and notices of new articles and upcoming events, and, fairly frequently, selections from what I’ve read. If people are interested in what I post here, that’s great. If they’re not, that’s fine as well. They probably shouldn’t waste their time reading what I post.  If, however, they really do somehow take perverse pleasure in showing up here every day to post insulting private comments and to vote me down, I certainly can’t stop them.  If nasty and vindictive individuals want to spend a substantial part of each day venting their hatred and hostility, they’re entirely free to do so.  But I would like to hear from better people, too.  It’s only fair.



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