Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blogs and Forums - A Big Difference

Webopedia, which bills itself as the number one online encyclopedia dedicated to computer technology, may be able to help us here in Plainfield sort out the confusion over what a blog is. Click here for the definition. At present, we have about a dozen blogs, each reflecting the viewpoint of a blogger, be it about city news, parental involvement, trees, historic preservation and community activism, an historic district or a potpourri of thoughts and memories by an 88-year-old Plainfielder.

But Plainfielders also take part in online forums, such as the ones set up by the Star-Ledger for residents of each hometown or county. These are open discussions, almost always with anonymous comments using nicknames. They tend to be fractious and gossipy, though sometimes factually informative. (At least one Plainfield blog is based on rumors and hearsay, which may be part of the confusion.)

Online forums tend to full of what Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III calls "noise," provocative comments that don't advance the discussion, but merely prolong it. Tonight a couple of us bloggers beseeched Dr. Gallon not to call forums "blogs," but to distinguish the work of one person blogging from the cacophony of voices in an online forum.

A person as busy as Dr. Gallon need not spend time every day checking out the Plainfield forum on nj.com, but one fast look might make the difference between a blog and an online forum quite evident.

Webopedia notes that "blog" is a shortened version of "web log," a journal by one person, often with daily postings. In the case of Plaintalker, putting together a post often means attending a meeting, taking notes, doing research at City Hall and writing something that informs the residents on issues related to the taxes they pay or the decisions of their elected officials. On the other hand, anyone can flip off on a forum with smart remarks and insinuations.

PEPTalk blogger Renata Hernandez and I both urged Dr. Gallon tonight to investigate the difference. And may all other readers please not tarnish bloggers by associating them with the worst behavior of online forum users.

--Bernice Paglia

3 Comments:

Anonymous Renata said...

Simply said my Dear -- "Right-on"
or should I say...Bloggadocious!

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when some "bloggers" openly participate in the forums, then use what is said on those forums to turn up the noise on their own blog, then the line between the two get blurred.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the previous poster is right, but perhaps is not.

The best remedy to stop gossip, a seemingly favorite past time of Plainfield, is to talk openly about it and about the issues that provoke the gossip.

People might get uncomfortable by this tactic's boldness to call things as they are, but so far, the results that have been obtained are far greater than the morbid satisfaction that some anonymous silent witness might get by reading how people like to tarnish any and all that has to do with Plainfield. Issues don't go away just because they are not talked about.

If you ask me, the forum is actually quite disgusting, which is a sad thing since it's one more window into Plainfield.

Openness and transparency is something that Plainfield is much in need of, but to those who have lived without them, both look quite scary.

Funny how many people say they love Plainfield, but how few actually stand up to defend it.

MP

7:06 PM  

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