For the past week, this blog has been a hot-spot of high-tension, strong words, and angry argument... and I am no less guilty than the others who participated. I shared a very controversial idea — one that I knew would be controversial, but in which I strongly believe — and as any rational person would expect, much argument ensued.
A small, but very loud, group of people conducted a war of attrition, trying to silence my opinion by surrounding it with a cacophony of theirs, and in the process, what truly got drowned out was the fact that the overwhelming majority of my readers comment rarely, or never, but they are my true audience and the value they get from this site was being dragged down in service of an argument between a few big egos and hot tempers.
Well, that's over.
Winning or losing an argument is a result that quickly slips from memory, but winning or losing readers has a more profound effect. I put a great deal of time and energy into this blog for just one purpose: to help people learn languages. Anything and everything else that happens here must always be less important than that one goal.
Things change quickly
When you first start a new blog, you have a few luxuries, based on the simple fact that you have few readers. You can afford the naive virtue of "freedom of speech" and "no censorship", for example.
But as the audience grows, you learn that people don't always do the things that make the most sense. People will subscribe to blogs that they don't even agree with. They'll waste hours or days arguing with people who they don't even know and who they'll likely never meet. They'll say things they don't mean, assume things that aren't reasonable, and in the process they'll ruin the experience for everyone else.
This year seems to have gone by very quickly. It doesn't feel like it's been very long. That's probably why I wasn't really prepared for the changes that come from an ever-growing audience. But I learn quickly, and I don't like repeating mistakes.
With that said, I have a few small announcements:
- First, commenting has been disabled on all posts for this past week. The argument is over.
- In conjunction with that, the majority of comments have been deleted. I considered deleting them all, but decided to keep a few, which contained helpful information.
- I am no longer fooling myself with delusions of free speech. I will not hesitate to censor comments in the future.
- A handful of people abused the comments here for the specific purpose of antagonizing and perpetuating the argument. Those people have been blocked and will no longer be allowed to comment here. And I will be much quicker to block people in the future. Those people wanted an argument and I took their bait — that won't happen again.
- I will not stop writing controversial posts — it's important to challenge the status quo — but when I do, I will most likely publish them with commenting disabled.
- And finally, this is my blog. If you don't like what I say or how I do things, don't read it. Go start your own blog and show me you're better. But this one is mine.
I understand that there is room in the world for disagreement, and I also appreciate discussing differences of opinion, when it is done in an intelligent and mature manner. Disagreement is still welcome here, but if you want to have a debate, my Skype link if right there on the side of this page... let's disagree in a forum where we both get to talk, rather than writing out one-sided diatribes at each other and forcing other people to sit through them.
I have never hidden my contact information. I'm easy to find, and you'll find I'm pretty easy to get along with, too. I hope that my blog can continue to grow with the need for me to take down that contact information that I share so freely with everyone.
In summary, I will close with the one thing I have yet to come right out and say: to all my readers who did not enjoy the past few days, I apologize. I hope I haven't lost any of you, and I can promise that there is still plenty more good content to come!
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.