I think it’s worth pointing something out before I launch into this post. This is a general post, not directed at any one blog or blogger. It has been written due to another recurrence of a problem which I have seen on several occasions since I started blogging. This is a post about avoiding problems and trying to ensure that harmony prevails in what can often be a very fraught and emotional environment – the adult blog.
I run an adult blog with Suze, my long-term partner. We agreed when we set up the site that everything that went into it, every image, every word must be approved by both of us. This is not too onerous as we are very like minded, and have similar terms of reference. We tend to write separately and then review each other’s work and suggest, usually minor, changes.
This is an ideal situation for cooperative blogging. A collaboration between two people who can communicate face-to-face. Should disagreements arise we discuss the issue and come to a compromise.
Where a blog has multiple authors, often separated by geography and culture, it is not so easy to resolve problems when they arise. A project may start with the best of intentions but tensions within and outside the blog and its members can lead to contributors feeling they can no longer continue to do so, or even be a part of the project.
As I said at the beginning this is based on my experience of eight cooperative writing projects (both adult and non-adult) that I have been involved in since we started blogging two years ago. The following is what I hope will be useful guidance to anyone wishing to start a blog with multiple contributors.Define your blog’s purpose
This isn’t as grand as it sounds. Even one line, if succinct will guide your contributors towards a cohesive, well-written and therefore readable blog that can be a source of pride for all involved. But don’t be scared to describe your vision of the project in detail, though more than a few paragraphs might be overkill, stifling creativity.Nominate administrators
I am involved in one project (non-adult) whose creator rather naively set every contributor up as an admin. About four months in, one of the contributors decided, for reasons unknown, to delete the blog without reference to the other contributors. So, while I would always advise at least two admins on any blog (in case of unforeseen circumstances, illness, vacations etc), chose your deputy admin carefully.Specify who can contribute
Are you going to allow anyone to contribute who asks to join, just those bloggers known to you, or a small group decided on at the beginning by you?Who owns the blog and its posts?
Make this plain from the start. Regardless of whether the posts relate to one another, or are stand-alone, it is vital to make it clear if the author retains copyright, or if the blog is the property of all, or nobody. Perhaps choose a licence of the Creative Commons variety. But make it plain.What happens when someone leaves the blog?
If someone leaves the blog they may request the removal of posts. For whatever reason they leave, make it plain at the outset if they can take their posts with them. This is obviously tied into the question of author ownership of content. Personally I feel that if an author feels that their association with a project is no longer appropriate then an admin should respect their wishes and remove the posts when requested, in most instances. This can be detrimental to other contributors, especially if the posts relate or cross-link. Stating your intentions in such circumstances at the outset will save heartache later.Get contributors to agree to your “rules”
Finally, get every contributor to agree to these terms by email. Send them a statement of intent based on the above and any other thoughts you have on the project. Get them to reply, stating explicitly that they agree to those tenets. An email may not be as binding as a signed agreement, but it will help should problems arise.
Don’t let any of the above put you off collaborative blogging, just take these points into consideration when embarking on such a venture.
And if anyone else has general suggestions, not related to specific blogs, please add them in the comments.