What cheek. A newbie, in this case someone who’s been here less than a fortnight, publishing an article related to PlanetPOV’s standing and progress, as a new site. It is a post from the heart, some observations of mine about this extraordinary place called Planet. And it was prompted by Ad Lib’s ‘2010–A Planet Odyssey’ published 31 December ’09, an article in which he gave us some impressive stats on how this site , brand spanking new, is faring among its competitors.
Even though I’ve only been at Planet a little over 10 days and subsequently have contributed virtually nothing to this place, I felt a sense of pride in reading these stats, pride in being invited here by two fine posters (who, for all I know, may already be regretting their decision to invite me!), pride in simply being here, on a site that has had such success in such a short period of time.
The good stats do not surprise me, for at Planet I’ve seen some great topics written by some great writers, all this topped off by some great responses, three elements that are essential to gaining, and holding, the attention of those visiting the site. Look at this stat from Ad Lib’s piece:
Average Visitor’s Time on Site on Dec 30:
Similar Sites: 2:23 .
(At this point you might want to read or re-read Ad Lib’s stats, you will be able to glean, from doing so, that holding a visitor’s attention about 10 times longer than other sites have been doing, is not PlanetPOV’s only virtue. )
Great writing, for me, is writing done with as much courage and honesty as one can muster, writing that provokes thought (ideally, deep thought) in others, even in those who have never been much on mulling over the difficult political (or quasi-political, or even the only-just-barely political) concept. And I’ve seen that kind of writing here.
It is in being honest and brave in expressing our thoughts, arguments, priorities and political positions, this no matter how much heat we may take for doing so, that we have the best chance of provoking thought in others…thought that , granted, may end up forgotten in some diary in an old drawer, or, instead, end up changing the world. Or something inbetween.
To have the opportunity, as we have here, to say something that will get someone thinking about some important issue, is lovely. Half the world is in chaos and some, though not all, of the reason for that, is sloppy thinking, even lack of thinking, on the part of those running that half of the world. And who knows, for sure, who might be reading sites like this one?
Imagine if something you wrote had such an impact on a visitor here that it changed his perspective on something. Imagine if that visitor had power and influence. Is it too conceited for belief for us to think that something like that might happen? That something written here at PlanetPOV might end up changing some small corner of the world? I don’t see why it would be, not when you consider the power of words on human beings.
Of course, if you are going to be honest and courageous in your writing, you must have the freedom to do that. Here at Planet we’ve got that kind of freedom; it would be a crying shame not to take advantage of it. (I know I do.) Given some of the sites some of us have been frequenting, and still on occasion frequent, where our every word is moderated, the freedom we have here to express ourselves, is heady. Who knew?
That doesn’t mean we can run amok. Editors exist, in part, to see that we don’t, and I don’t envy the editors here. Why not? Because I’ve seen how strong some of the opinions are here and the depth of passion that exists. One of the driving considerations at this place is providing an arena of total freedom of expression. And yet there is that line between total freedom of expression and abuse of that total freedom of expression, and the editors here will sometimes have to knock us back a bit if we get too rambunctuous. E.g. giving some troll or other what for, which, as Ad Lib says, will only serve to encourage him. Or just mouthing off (one of my fortes) in some post or other, in a thoughtless way that does no one any good and may even do damage. The task of the editors here will be easy when we are obviously on the right side of the line, and easy when we are obviously on the wrong side of the line. It’s when we are right on the line that things get sticky for them. They have to decide whether to let us bark, or, instead, muzzle us…and in a place that values freedom of expression as much as Planet seems to, it must be heartbreaking for any editor to ever have to get the muzzle out.
(A troll got in here the other day and I was amazed. What amazed me is not that any got in, but that only one got in. I am used to trolls arrving in herds. Planet must be doing something right.)
In closing I want to say that one of the best things I’ve seen about Planet, is real respect among members for other members, even in situations where the disagreement over some issue or other, is intense, perhaps even explosive. Head-to-head, eye-to-eye disagreements, here at Planet, do not seem to result in the kinds of verbal bloodbaths you see on other sites. Here I see thoughtful, rigorous, sometimes even fiery debate, minus the nast. Quelle relief, that’s the way it ought to be!
All in all, and for what the opinion of a brand new member may be worth, I think Planet is, among its competitors, pretty much the bee’s knees. Congrats to its founders, and contributors too, for making it that…and for making me feel at home here. I am honored.