CommunityPam's House Blend

ConvergeSouth 2006 wrap

It was a wonderful event; as it is with most conferences, you wish you could clone yourself so that you could attend all the sessions.

To back up a bit, I arrived in Greensboro on Friday and stayed with the gracious conference co-organizer Sue Polinsky and her husband David. Sue, Ben Hwang, along with Greensboro journalist and blogger Ed Cone (and I’m sure “a cast of thousands”) did a great job pulling the event off.

Also bunking in at Chez Polinsky Friday night were tech blogger guru Robert Scoble and his equally charming blogger spouse Maryam, who were session leaders at ConvergeSouth. Last night at the Aycock BBQ, hosted by the Hoggards, Robert and Maryam received the key to the city. Unfortunately the Scobles received a different kind of surprise from their airline as it lost their luggage. Sue’s husband David was on the horn most of the night trying to locate the missing bags.

At the BBQ I had a nice long chat with U.S. Congressman Brad Miller (D-13th district), who is running for re-election against the unhinged self-loathing black homobigot Vernon Robinson.

Brad is one of the handful of pols who “gets it” about blogs; he’s posted diaries at DKos.

Alas, I cannot vote for Miller to spite freakshow Robinson; my congressman is very decent David Price. I also spoke at length with gay rights activist Matt Hill Comer, who was responsible for that fabulous DADT protest and Right to Serve sit-in at the Greensboro Army Recruiting Center that resulted in arrests (pic).

FYI, it was flipping freezing out there at the BBQ once the sun went down. It bottomed out at 30 degrees last night.

We headed back to Sue’s place for a lot of good blog conversation with the Scobles, and Maryam worked on her presentation for today, waiting up for their bags, which the airline finally said would be delivered by midnight. They arrived around 1:30 AM.

Conference co-founder (and hard-working sleepyhead this AM) Ben Hwang stopped by to pick us up Saturday AM around 8AM, and Maryam and Robert were just rousing, so they got dressed in a flash and we headed over to NC A&T;, which hosted the event (and provided excellent facilities). Saw Anton Zuiker, Bora (Coturnix), and spent time with ae of Arse Poetica, who earned her Westboro battle scars with us when the Phelps hate machine came to Durham.

The opening session featured a talk and discussion about blogs and community building with Elizabeth Edwards, who is an entertaining speaker. She’s been involved with internet community for years, certainly much longer than her husband, former Senator and presidential and VP candidate John Edwards.

Back to Brad Miller for a moment, before I forget this little bombshell — one of the founders of the conservative RedState blog/community, Mike Krempasky, during the Edwards session today actually endorsed Democrat Miller. Here’s what he said (h/t Anglico and Southern Dem of BlueNC):

One thing that I’ve certainly never done is endorse a Democrat. Ever. I am actually quite willing to say this when it comes to politics that we should (a little fuzzy) all just step back a little bit. If there’s an uglier time in Washington than right now, I don’t know. But Brad Miller ought to be re-elected.

That should tell you how unhinged Vernon Robinson is when the right abandons him. Buh bye, Vermin.


The Scoble’s presentation was “10 Ways to a Killer Blog,” which actually turned into 15 useful suggestions. I wholeheartedly agree with them, and chimed in during the talk.

No. 1: Blog because you want to.
No. 2: Read other blogs.
No. 3: Pick a niche you can own (be different).
No. 4: Link to other blogs.
No. 5: Admit mistakes.
No. 6: Write good headlines.
No. 7: Use other media.
No. 8: Have a voice.
No. 9: Get outside the blogosphere.
No. 10: Market yourself.
No. 11: Write well.
No. 12: Expose yourself.
No. 13: Help other people blog.
No. 14. Engage with commenters
No. 15: Keep your integrity

Xarker has a good live blog of this session if you want to see what folks were saying.

Jim Rosenberg (aka Mr. Sun) led an excellent discussion, The Big Bang II: Learning to Love Chaos, which covered some of the challenges of blogging and how to work with your “community.” A significant chunk was devoted to dealing with trolls and combative commenters — and the options open to bloggers to managing them. There’s no hard and fast rule on what one chooses to do about people who come to purposely inflame, engage in repetitive, unproductive bloviating, or insulting fellow commenters. Some feel that completely open discussion, arguing and written comment combat is A-OK, others have no comments at all, because they don’t want to deal with managing or moderating. Take a look at some of the strategies:

1. Welcome
2. Ignore
3. Moderate
4. Limit
5. Rate
6. Mark
7. Warn
8. Ban

Jim asked me about how I deal with trolls, and what kind of comments I find worhy of deletiony. As you all know, I’m probably more tolerant of a wide range of commenting on the Blend that some of you out there (based on emails I’ve received asking for a particular person to be banned), but I won’t tolerate personal attacks on other commenters, and I’ve only banned a couple for repetitive, draining commentary that didn’t add to the debate. We’re a pretty civil community here. I tend to warn via email before banning, when possible. I’ve tried #2, ignoring, but it seems reader threshold for ignoring is pretty low, lol.

I’ll also point you to one Wikipedia entry that he linked
to in his presentation. It won’t be hard to identify the verbal fallacies of some of our former trolls on the Blend.

I was a slacker and didn’t take many pictures, but it looks like Sue and Matt already have a bunch up.

Read other entries about ConvergeSouth via Technorati.

This evening there were blogger dinners held in downtown Greensboro, but I had to get home to the doggies.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding