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Doug Rocks-Macqueen’s Blogging Carnival continues, and this month’s question concerns the Good, Bad and Ugly aspects of Archaeological Blogging.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: most of us here are not actually archaeologists, just ordinary people with a strong interest in the pre-Roman heritage of Britain. Why do we do it? See our response to last month’s question.  So, what about this month’s question(s)?

The Good

From our perspective, the Heritage Journal gives our team an opportunity to comment on topical items. We have the freedom to say what others may not – there are no career implications for us. It’s an outlet to rail against some of the injustices we perceive to be failing our heritage. But it’s also a chance to build relationships, discuss common concerns with like-minded people (that’s one of the main reasons we set up Heritage Action in the first place), and more importantly, to learn. Learn more about why others think the way they do – and sometimes why we think the way we do!

The Bad

I think Kelly M’s carnival entry for this month sums up many of the main downsides, but for me, the following are particularly stressful:

  • Time – Speaking personally, I’m often teeming with ideas for blog posts – I have a Trello board full of potential blog posts. What I don’t have is the time to see them through. We are a small team here at the Journal, and several of us hold down full time jobs away from the blog – my own commute (50% walking, 50% train) is too noisy/short to be able to get anything worthwhile done. We could always do with more people writing posts, but where to find them? Then there’s the research neccessary to make sure what we’re writing isn’t total tosh (what Kelly calls the Impostor Syndrome). More time needed there too!

Imposter Syndrome – I’m probably one of the few bloggers taking part in the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival who isn’t an archaeologist so occasionally I feel like I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory and that I have no business writing about a subject that I’m not really qualified to comment on.

  • Writer’s Block – the actual process of writing. Having an idea is all well and good, but turning that idea into an article that makes sense and is something people will want to read is an art in itself. We try to publish one article a day, but occasionally skip a day if the well is dry.
  • Reader worry – Are people actually reading the stuff we produce? What can we do to increase our reach? How much will improving the quality of our content increase the time pressures? And to a lesser extent, how well are we doing compared to other sites? Hit statistics are one of those ephemeral things that no-one really trusts or talks about.

And the Ugly

No contest on this one. It’s a hole that to an extent we’ve dug for ourselves (pun intended) with our stance on the erosion of the archaeological resource by metal detectorists. In a word, Thugwits. In two words, Thugwits and Trolls. Suffice to say that in the past, due to personal details of our members’ addresses and phone numbers having been posted on detectorist’s forums, our members have been subjected to verbal abuse and physical threats, to the extent that the police have had to become involved on more than one occasion.

The carnival topic this month could also be used to describe the feedback we receive from our reader base and social networks:

The Good – agreeing with what we say, or providing a contrary viewpoint in a logical and civilised discussion.
The Bad – not responding to requests for feedback or assistance at all.
The Ugly – the aforementioned Trolls and Thugwits.

To read other blogs participating in the carnival, search Twitter for the hashtag #blogarch.


December 2013

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