Behind the Blog: Why we’re “In the Middle”

The first in an occasional series of entries on Wesleying itself.

Life isn’t easy for the average Wesleying contributor. Serving up over 3,000 page views daily to students, professors, staff, Middletown residents, alumni, news organizations, and countless other groups across the nation and world, Wesleying is in a unique and sometimes difficult position. We influence campus and city opinion, keep students informed about the world around them (both within the bubble and beyond), and aim to keep posting a steady stream of interesting, informative, and fun content that reflects the best that we, the students of Wesleyan, have to offer.

And as you can imagine, that’s not always an easy task.

You, our readers, have always been vocal in your criticism of the parts of Wesleying with which you’ve taken issue. Our categorization of posts, the titles of our entries, our love affair with MGMT and fascination with LOLcats, and disagreeable content (to name just a few) have all caught complaints. And we take your concerns seriously. So in this, the first of an occasional series of entries detailing what makes Wesleying tick, I’m going to address one of the issues that has caused a fair bit of backlash at Wesleying: the heading “In the Middle” that I started using to denote entries pertaining specifically to Middletown.

Just like this entry, you’ve no doubt noticed that some entries on Wesleying start with a specific heading (“Behind the Blog”, for example). Now, I wasn’t one to think that such a thing would cause any consternation among our readers, but apparently some have taken issue with the heading “In the Middle”. For instance, one of the more reasoned commentators has said:

While I think it’s good to pay attention to Middletown events, I feel like giving them the special “in the middle” title does more to separate ourselves from the town rather than keep up involved. I think it should be posted as regular Wesleyan news

If you’re still reading, you are no doubt wondering why I use the heading “In the Middle” for Middletown events. Let the truth be heard:

Anonymous @ 1:15: While I respect your position, I think you’re entirely wrong. Things happening in Middletown are not “regular Wesleyan news” items; rather, they are something different: Middletown news items. I think it’s important to differentiate the two, for two important purposes.

First, the In the Middle heading serves immediately to identify the type of news being posted. It allows readers to easily identify important issues in Middletown, as opposed to the litany of YouTube videos, campus event notices, and opinion pieces (which are all, true, very valuable) that we otherwise post on Wesleying.

Second, this immediate identification and, yes, differentiation, is important precisely because student interest in Middletown is so sorely lacking. The heading points out in a very clear way that it’s not just Wesleyan we should be concerned about; that we are literally living “in the middle” between the bubble-life and the permanent residents of the City of Middletown. And as such, we are not only stakeholders in the politics of the city, but also have a responsibility to give back to the greater community of which we’re a part.

If you could prove that the heading on an article has the tangible effect of separating student opinion from supporting Middletown issues, then maybe we should talk. But judging by the dearth of students I saw at such an important meeting (on the Army’s plans), I don’t think it’s three words that are separating students from Middletown. While your claim might make an interesting theory, you need to bring it out of the realm of concept and actually prove it before I give it any weight.

I think the “In the Middle” heading is a valuable method of denoting news pertaining to specifically to Middletown. It’s a way of organizing information, just like how newspapers separate news into Local, World, Sports, Entertainment, and so forth. It’s organized, it’s straightforward, and it helps those interested in Middletown news find it more readily.

So what do you think? The heading’s not going anywhere, but I realize your thoughts on the heading aren’t, either. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, not just on this topic but on Wesleying in general.

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48 thoughts on “Behind the Blog: Why we’re “In the Middle”

  1. Katrina

    Anonymous 11:01 – I very purposefully avoided using the phrase “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Clearly, you misread what I said. Reread what I wrote – I never said that no one should disagree with what Justin wrote. Nor did I say that they should not voice their opinion if they did disagree. However, saying “You suck, this post sucks” (or anything along the same vein) is completely useless to the poster, because it does not address WHY the post might be objectionable. The only outcome of that kind of response is that the poster feels attacked, but does not have any method of recourse, because ze doesn’t know what ze did wrong.As for the response to my “If you don’t like it, don’t read it” comment. That was meant in the context of the above. If the post offends you SO MUCH (which I can’t really imagine for this post) that you are completely unable to even form a coherent response or criticism of it, then don’t read it. Or go take a breath of fresh air and come back with something more useful than “this is terrible. why are your posts always the worst ever?”

  2. Katrina

    Anonymous 11:01 – I very purposefully avoided using the phrase “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Clearly, you misread what I said. Reread what I wrote – I never said that no one should disagree with what Justin wrote. Nor did I say that they should not voice their opinion if they did disagree. However, saying “You suck, this post sucks” (or anything along the same vein) is completely useless to the poster, because it does not address WHY the post might be objectionable. The only outcome of that kind of response is that the poster feels attacked, but does not have any method of recourse, because ze doesn’t know what ze did wrong.

    As for the response to my “If you don’t like it, don’t read it” comment. That was meant in the context of the above. If the post offends you SO MUCH (which I can’t really imagine for this post) that you are completely unable to even form a coherent response or criticism of it, then don’t read it. Or go take a breath of fresh air and come back with something more useful than “this is terrible. why are your posts always the worst ever?”

  3. Anonymous

    i like the “in the middle” title. as soon as i see it i know what i’m in for and can decide whether i want to read it or not. not to read too much into it, but it’s also a very fitting title as i think university students are somewhat caught in the middle of living on a campus and acknowledging and participating in what’s around it.i would agree that this post is a bit self-important. it might actually do more harm than good in terms of quieting criticism. it seems that some commenters approach this blog as their voices through other people’s words instead of what it really is: the voices of contributors. what we readers can hope for is that they say things we want to hear but we cannot expect them to say what we want to say. that is not their responsibility.

  4. Anonymous

    i like the “in the middle” title. as soon as i see it i know what i’m in for and can decide whether i want to read it or not.
    not to read too much into it, but it’s also a very fitting title as i think university students are somewhat caught in the middle of living on a campus and acknowledging and participating in what’s around it.
    i would agree that this post is a bit self-important. it might actually do more harm than good in terms of quieting criticism. it seems that some commenters approach this blog as their voices through other people’s words instead of what it really is: the voices of contributors. what we readers can hope for is that they say things we want to hear but we cannot expect them to say what we want to say. that is not their responsibility.

  5. Anonymous

    On a related but tangential note, I just want to say that bloggers are people, too. Yes, we’re out in the public sphere and need to develop thick skins– and yes, non-personal and constructive criticism is essential to the health of a blog. But we have feelings, and it sucks to get attacked when we put ourselves out there to try and help the community. So I would say that the kind of comments I myself have received and have seen Justin receive– along the lines of “go kill yourself” or “you’re pathetic” etc– DO run along the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule. It’s the reason why I’m not signing this comment, anyway. I’m not in the mood to get called names.

  6. Anonymous

    On a related but tangential note, I just want to say that bloggers are people, too. Yes, we’re out in the public sphere and need to develop thick skins– and yes, non-personal and constructive criticism is essential to the health of a blog. But we have feelings, and it sucks to get attacked when we put ourselves out there to try and help the community. So I would say that the kind of comments I myself have received and have seen Justin receive– along the lines of “go kill yourself” or “you’re pathetic” etc– DO run along the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule. It’s the reason why I’m not signing this comment, anyway. I’m not in the mood to get called names.

  7. Anonymous

    Katrina: It is okay to say that you don’t like something. Criticism need not be constructive. The “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” mentality is a good for doormats, but not people.Justin: It seems the point of this post was to illustrate that you value the input of your readers. So for you to refer to katrina’s “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” attitude as “a breath of fresh air” is a little off-putting.Speaking of reader input, here’s mine:I think there is a lot going on in Middletown that Wesleyan students ought to be aware of. So continue posting about it. Whether the series has a title or not, and what that title is, is irrelevant to me.While this post was worthwhile, I do not think there is enough going on “behind the blog” for a series to be of interest to anyone but a select few.

  8. Anonymous

    Katrina: It is okay to say that you don’t like something. Criticism need not be constructive. The “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” mentality is a good for doormats, but not people.

    Justin: It seems the point of this post was to illustrate that you value the input of your readers. So for you to refer to katrina’s “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” attitude as “a breath of fresh air” is a little off-putting.

    Speaking of reader input, here’s mine:

    I think there is a lot going on in Middletown that Wesleyan students ought to be aware of. So continue posting about it. Whether the series has a title or not, and what that title is, is irrelevant to me.

    While this post was worthwhile, I do not think there is enough going on “behind the blog” for a series to be of interest to anyone but a select few.

  9. Bex

    agreed, there was definitely some worthwhile stuff in the post. middletown is a point of controversy for students – let’s not deny it. and while wes students may have an aura of involvement, there’s so much going on within the larger community that no one here’s aware of… and students here could seriously learn a lot from some residents. it’s a clever tag. call attention to the contention…although i’d say ditch the behind the blog title

  10. Bex

    agreed, there was definitely some worthwhile stuff in the post.

    middletown is a point of controversy for students – let’s not deny it. and while wes students may have an aura of involvement, there’s so much going on within the larger community that no one here’s aware of… and students here could seriously learn a lot from some residents.

    it’s a clever tag. call attention to the contention…

    although i’d say ditch the behind the blog title

  11. Justin

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Katrina and the poster of the comment prior to this one. It’s nice to see some good thinking out there.

  12. Justin

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Katrina and the poster of the comment prior to this one. It’s nice to see some good thinking out there.

  13. Anonymous

    shut up, you’re all assholes. Seriously is there a reason why you jump all over justin’s posts? make your own wesleying accounts and put yourself out there, I’m sure it will work out fine…..

  14. Anonymous

    shut up, you’re all assholes. Seriously is there a reason why you jump all over justin’s posts? make your own wesleying accounts and put yourself out there, I’m sure it will work out fine…..

  15. Katrina

    To Justin – I think this post was worthwhile, and I think having a “Behind the Blog” series (even if it is infrequent) is good to deal with posts which elicit a great deal of replies.To those complaining about the post – such as anon10:37 and anon9:40 as well as many others – the tags as well as the titles of these posts make it very easy for you to skip the ones you are not interested in reading. If it really bothers you so much to read these posts, go to a different blog. Go outside. Do your homework. Go to a party. If you’re not going to give constructive criticism, but only things along the lines of “you suck,” don’t bother saying anything at all.

  16. Katrina

    To Justin – I think this post was worthwhile, and I think having a “Behind the Blog” series (even if it is infrequent) is good to deal with posts which elicit a great deal of replies.

    To those complaining about the post – such as anon10:37 and anon9:40 as well as many others – the tags as well as the titles of these posts make it very easy for you to skip the ones you are not interested in reading. If it really bothers you so much to read these posts, go to a different blog. Go outside. Do your homework. Go to a party. If you’re not going to give constructive criticism, but only things along the lines of “you suck,” don’t bother saying anything at all.

  17. Anonymous

    “The first in an occasional series”? God, I hope not.This is by far the most frivolous post ever. You’re “serving up 3,000 pageviews”, and your choice of content is a response to a half dozen anonymous commentors, regarding something utterly trivial.Post about things people actually care about, please.

  18. Anonymous

    “The first in an occasional series”? God, I hope not.

    This is by far the most frivolous post ever. You’re “serving up 3,000 pageviews”, and your choice of content is a response to a half dozen anonymous commentors, regarding something utterly trivial.

    Post about things people actually care about, please.

  19. Anonymous

    What happened to concise, clever writing and visually pleasing posts? And keeping the spacing of posts consistent? Ugh, just post what you need to say without employing contrived post series and long tags. You’re not the NY Times writing occasional articles on race in America; you’re a blogger trying to explain a title you’ve used a lot.

  20. Anonymous

    What happened to concise, clever writing and visually pleasing posts? And keeping the spacing of posts consistent? Ugh, just post what you need to say without employing contrived post series and long tags. You’re not the NY Times writing occasional articles on race in America; you’re a blogger trying to explain a title you’ve used a lot.

  21. Anonymous

    I’m with Sam on just a Middletown: blah blah blah. “In the Middle” is colloquializing it in a way that strikes me as, even though I don’t think you intend it to be this way, condescending. As one of the few people I know that finds a lot more enjoyment leaving Wesleyan for the rest of Connecticut and feels pretty comfortable in the area, the idea of calling it “the Middle” is like giving the awkward kid a silly nickname.

  22. Anonymous

    I’m with Sam on just a Middletown: blah blah blah. “In the Middle” is colloquializing it in a way that strikes me as, even though I don’t think you intend it to be this way, condescending. As one of the few people I know that finds a lot more enjoyment leaving Wesleyan for the rest of Connecticut and feels pretty comfortable in the area, the idea of calling it “the Middle” is like giving the awkward kid a silly nickname.

  23. Anonymous

    If you’re going to have a tag/title for the Middletown stuff, at least make it something that isn’t so unbareably corny.

  24. Anonymous

    If you’re going to have a tag/title for the Middletown stuff, at least make it something that isn’t so unbareably corny.

  25. Justin

    Xiaoxi,Points taken on all counts. On your first, I’d have to agree with Alissa’s response. I don’t think an explanation of our blogging practices, when they come up for debate, harms anyone. In fact, I think clarifying our means only makes things more understandable to all our readers.I don’t like useless tags, either. I appreciate regular content, too, and thanks for your compliments on my graphics.In regards to your final point, with respect, I think I do many things that are very useful for this blog. And at last count there are 39 Wesleying contributors who might be doing “something more useful,” like digging up old posts. And I think you’re on that list. It seems to me that you may be expecting a much higher standard from me than the others on that list.

  26. Justin

    Xiaoxi,

    Points taken on all counts. On your first, I’d have to agree with Alissa’s response. I don’t think an explanation of our blogging practices, when they come up for debate, harms anyone. In fact, I think clarifying our means only makes things more understandable to all our readers.

    I don’t like useless tags, either. I appreciate regular content, too, and thanks for your compliments on my graphics.

    In regards to your final point, with respect, I think I do many things that are very useful for this blog. And at last count there are 39 Wesleying contributors who might be doing “something more useful,” like digging up old posts. And I think you’re on that list. It seems to me that you may be expecting a much higher standard from me than the others on that list.

  27. Justin

    Sam, I agree with everything you said. Every post that is tagged “In the Middle” was also tagged “Middletown” since the moment they were originally posted.

  28. Justin

    Sam, I agree with everything you said. Every post that is tagged “In the Middle” was also tagged “Middletown” since the moment they were originally posted.

  29. Sam

    The reason tags are there are to provide ways for searches to identify blog posts. While overly specific tags are useless, descriptive ones can provide people with better search results when they’re looking for one post or a specific group of posts. That said, I’d have to say that having intuitive rather than clever tags (say ‘middletown’ instead of ‘in the middle’) is much more useful in general. While regular readers of the blog might know to search for posts denoted by ‘in the middle’, others very well might not. Of course, as long as descriptive tags are there anyway it certainly doesn’t hurt to add a few for fun.

  30. Sam

    The reason tags are there are to provide ways for searches to identify blog posts. While overly specific tags are useless, descriptive ones can provide people with better search results when they’re looking for one post or a specific group of posts.

    That said, I’d have to say that having intuitive rather than clever tags (say ‘middletown’ instead of ‘in the middle’) is much more useful in general. While regular readers of the blog might know to search for posts denoted by ‘in the middle’, others very well might not.

    Of course, as long as descriptive tags are there anyway it certainly doesn’t hurt to add a few for fun.

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  33. Anonymous

    way to go justin, u’ve managed to post another blog that lacks n e worth or value entirely. really bud, give it a break.

  34. Anonymous

    way to go justin, u’ve managed to post another blog that lacks n e worth or value entirely. really bud, give it a break.

  35. Alissa

    While I agree with you, Xiaoxi, that metablogging can seem a little bit self-important, I also believe that Wesleying bloggers should have recourse to publically defend our choices in terms of blogging. This is a very public sphere, and bloggers are subject to a lot of criticism both here and elsewhere. It’s only fair that in putting our necks on the line to create this resource we have the chance to express the reasons behind our choices as well.

  36. Alissa

    While I agree with you, Xiaoxi, that metablogging can seem a little bit self-important, I also believe that Wesleying bloggers should have recourse to publically defend our choices in terms of blogging. This is a very public sphere, and bloggers are subject to a lot of criticism both here and elsewhere. It’s only fair that in putting our necks on the line to create this resource we have the chance to express the reasons behind our choices as well.

  37. Xiaoxi

    I don’t like metablogging (blogging about blogging). We’re just not that good yet. I don’t like useless tags. They’re just not in good judgment. or taste.I do like regular content.I do like your graphics. If you will continue this metablogging business maybe you can do something more useful, like dig up old posts that are especially helpful and link to them (the dorm guide comes to mind).

  38. Xiaoxi

    I don’t like metablogging (blogging about blogging). We’re just not that good yet.

    I don’t like useless tags. They’re just not in good judgment. or taste.

    I do like regular content.

    I do like your graphics.

    If you will continue this metablogging business maybe you can do something more useful, like dig up old posts that are especially helpful and link to them (the dorm guide comes to mind).

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