There has been a thing recently about a new online community. I'm feeling bad for Mel, because she's feeling hurt, but otherwise I don't feel that strongly about it. Then it struck me: maybe there needs to be a post from someone who doesn't feel too strongly about it. Isn't this exactly the type of viewpoint that usually gets left out of discussions?  

Here are the facts as I understand them:

  • there is a parenting-after-infertility blogroll
  • it is relatively small and active, at least at the present time
  • plans are to structure it not just as a blogroll, but as a whole separate community, duplicating some of the community activities that Mel currently runs (such as ICLW) in what, if we take my mother's view, is possibly the greatest form of flattery. (I had a sister who used to copy me a lot.)
  • I haven't actually visited PAIL and I don't know who runs it, what their plans and intentions are

  • Mel's parenting-after-infertility space on her blogroll is a bit too intimidatingly large for some people, and a bit too frustratingly full of dead links. This new space (PAIL) is smaller and fresher - for now.
  • People won't be surprised - in the bad kind of way - to find bloggers who have reached The Parenting Side of infertility when they are feeling sad and childless.
  • Mel could pass over some of her work in maintaining the blogroll to someone else.

Comments and questions three:

Mel's space was once small and fresh, too, but she has followed a philosophy of inclusion, even of now-abandoned blogs. There are good arguments in favour of this: we all want to hug and love each other, also, archives can be useful. If people are going to PAIL for the smallness and the freshness and if PAIL want to continue to satisfy this want, they will have to run their blogroll according to a different philosophy: one of limiting their roll to a relatively closed group of active bloggers.

Is there something wrong with Mel's philosophy? No. Gosh no. We think she does a wonderful job. We really do want to love and hug each other, and we really do find the archives of dead blogs useful. Also, the blogroll could be re-organised to provide easier navigation and flagging of active vs inactive blogs - I mean, we all know Mel is just sitting around waiting for someone to hand an extra task to her, she has so little to do /sarcasm - but it could be done. Practical ideas are probably even welcome.

Is there something wrong with PAIL's philosophy? Well here's the thing. I don't object to another community per se. There are plenty of other infertility communities out there (here's another site, created by one of our own) and people already join the one they think fits best. Some people join many, just to spread the word around, and why not? Maybe there's a limit to how big a community can get before it fragments, and maybe that's ok, because it's not about hating each other, it's about how many different people and groups you can know - or at least know of - before the part of your brain that deals with personal connections heats up under the workload and melts out through your ears. That's fine (the having a limit, not the brain melting). But.

If they're planning to do Mel's current job, they are not going to satisfy a lot of people who have just joined them for their freshness and smallness, because they're going to get big and a lot of links are going to become inactive, because people who face infertility mostly become parents sooner or later, one way or another (although not all of them keep blogging). And yes, maybe this problem could be fixed with some good organisation, much in the same way as Mel's blogroll could be fixed up with some re-organisation, thus preserving the blogroll as it is, which would be great even if it kind of defeats the purpose of jumping ship for the smaller, fresher blogroll. But if a reorganisation doesn't work, will we need another spin-off sooner or later? Because if so, all these spin-offs are going to start making me dizzy. The parenting-after-infertility category is going to get smeared across the blogosphere, and we will all be lost. LOST!

1. How is PAIL planning to maintain their blogroll? Are they planning to cull inactive blogs? Are they planning to limit their size (and if so, how?)

Here's another question. Will the existence of this community put pressure on those parenting after infertility to move out of Mel's space? There has been a comment to say that ICLW seems to work best for the childless. I don't know if this is true. If it is, it may be more about the activity level of those just starting out in blogland (more likely to be non-parents) vs older bloggers (more likely to be parents) or, alternatively, the activity level of parents vs non-parents. If there is some such reason that has nothing to do with the active avoidance, by childless bloggers, of parenting blogs in activities like ICLW, then I'm not sure how these activities are going to gain a foothold at PAIL. Perhaps people are going to feel their enthusiasm for blogging refreshed by the joining of a new community. Or perhaps what is really going on is not so much active avoidance by the childless, but self-censoring by the childfull - which I can understand. It seems funny that people are going to be embarrassed about having gained parenthood on Mel's site, being, as she is, a parent herself, and one who talks about her children from time to time, but I can believe it to be true. Perhaps some members feel they should lay low in the community after becoming parents, and remove themselves from community activities out of politeness, even though they would prefer to participate. If so, this is probably because they felt uncomfortable with parents (although presumably not with Mel? or they were tolerating Mel because either she or her community are too awesome not to?) before they became parents which puts some credence behind the idea of active avoidance by the childless (ie a little of both might therefore be true). Or maybe they were ok with it and childless members are pretty much all ok with it but those who are parents just imagine others not to be ok which is just silly, but people can be silly sometimes, so it's possible. Did I lose you?

2. If you do not have children (or have been blogging since before you had children), how do (did) you feel about those parenting after infertility participating in community events? If you are parenting after infertility, how do you feel about participating in community events now? Does it make a difference to you to have a parenting-after-infertility-specific event, or not?

Of course, the "surprise" element could be easily removed by flagging parenting blogs - another extra task I'm sure Mel would be grateful for /sarcasm - but it could be done.

General comment: It seems to me that most large communities have spin-off communities sooner or later, like little bits of space debris. Some continue on their own path, possibly in an intricate dance around the parent, but most of them hurtle completely out of the orbit of the original community, fragmenting and dissipating as they go, leaving the original community largely unbothered - it probably picks up a few asteroids here and there to balance out the inevitable losses anyway, even if it is a bit more of a shock to lose a big rock than a few bits of dust here and there. (I hope I didn't offend anyone by referring to them as "dust". All good metaphors get insulting if you carry them too far - although for Mel, being important enough to cause spin-offs could be seen as flattery indeed.) Anyway, the original body probably keeps some of the fragments in the end, especially in this sort of situation where the... atoms... can exist in two places at once, like some sort of quantum thingo. (Wow. I should have built my metaphor around something I studied in greater depth and more recently than high school. Or dropped it earlier, possibly before I insulted people by referring to them as dust.) I know Mel doesn't want wasted effort (especially on her part), but I'm not sure a speedy handover of the parenting section of the blogroll is wise at this point, for this reason alone.

3. What do you think?

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