Demanding compliance

The other day, “doug — off the record” had an article featured in Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.  It’s always a nice moment to know that someone actually reads the ramblings that fly from this keyboard.  In this case, the article made reference to a This Week in Ontario Edublogs post which had pointed to Brenda Sherry’s excellent letter to the premier.

One of the reasons why I do this regular Friday post (now around 317 times) is to share some of the excellent work of Ontario education bloggers and my thoughts about their posts.  As irony would have it, I use Downes’ format of commenting and placing them on my own blog.  I like the concept and have no intention of changing it any time soon.

In this note, Stephen shares a bit of his thoughts as generated by Brenda’s post.

Then, there’s the second paragraph which is directed at some of the things that I did in that post and, in fact, do regularly.  My initial reaction was that the comments were hurtful but that went away with time.  But, it did get me thinking.

p.s. and as a complete aside, I’ve been noticing how much language online is presented in the form of a command. I get this in email a lot (as in Facebook saying “you need to update your page listing” or LinkedIn “tell us whether so-and-so is a friend.” I saw some in Peterson’s post – that’s what made me think of it. “Show some blog loving to Gerry and check in,” he says in a tone that I perceive as demanding compliance. And “Make sure that you’re following these great bloggers on Twitter.” I wonder how much more we’re ordering each other about these days, and I wonder how much of that is influenced by commercial online discourse.

It was absolutely my intent to:

  • get people to visit Gerry Smith’s blog post.  If you recall, it was his very first post and I was hoping to help him get some readers
  • let people know the Twitter handle of all of the bloggers.  After all, not everyone uses RSS to follow blogs these days, but many bloggers let their Twitter followers know of a new post there.  (It can be done automatically a number of ways…I sure don’t do it manually at 5:00am before my first coffee.)  Hence, at least to me, it only makes sense to follow them

and I make no apologies for that.  But, am I doing it correctly?

I find that Downes’ perception that I’m demanding compliance interesting.  If only I had that kind of power!

I know that I’ve told my own children that it’s easy to find fault but that it’s much more difficult to suggest a solution to address that fault.  Unfortunately, there was no suggestion in the reply.

So, I’ll turn to you, reader.  Here are snippets from the original post.

It’s nice to get in on the ground floor of any initiative and this is the first blog post of (I hope) many from Gerry Smith.

Where do you stand?  Show some blog loving to Gerry and check in.


Make sure that you’re following these great bloggers on Twitter.

Please click through and read these blog posts and enjoy.

Be my editor for a day and share your thoughts via reply.

  • Did you feel ordered around when you read this?
  • Should I just drop the concept?
  • If no, what words would encourage people to get involved with these posts/bloggers without demanding compliance?

7 thoughts on “Demanding compliance

  1. Did not, have not, felt ordered around by any of your posts. On the other hand, I have been intrigued, shown snippets of great blogs, given pause to think, and often, been entertained by your posts. Don’t go changing!


  2. I agree with Ramona! I’ve found this language to be more encouraging than demanding, even as I read it in my head again now. I’m very curious to hear what others think.


    P.S. I find Peter’s comment interesting. If you’re “suggesting compliance,” then is the choice still up to us?


  3. I guess one of the common shortcomings of this format is that it is so difficult to determine tone. I am always careful, especially in my professional communications, to read my work and see if my tone could be misinterpreted. However, I am not always successful. It’s innevitable that people will occasionally read what we write differently than we intended. That’s ok. Happens to everyone. I wouldn’t change your written voice because if many people felt this way you probably would have heard about it from more of us. Unless you see an explosion of pent up feelings in the comment section of this post! Have a great rest of your day and thank you so much for what you write and what you do for Ontario bloggers!


  4. Doug, It’s been years since I first referred to you as “the godfather of Ontario EDUbloggers,” and I applaud you for your ability to never miss a day! If you are now +300 on TWIOE, then you are +300×7 daily consecutive posts in which you share and encourage (Ontario) educators. Now that you have added “What I learned this week,“ the multiplier is now x8. Also, that’s not counting your daily digest, which layers on a x2 multiplier. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the bulk of TWIOE has taken place since you “retired” ? LOL.

    I took a look at Stephen’s comments in the context of his blog, and suggest that his statement is a reflection-in-time on language he is encountering in general, and that your post merely evoked that reflection. Stephen is capturing his thoughts as they are provoked by his readings. Where I to ponder on what I might take away from Stephen’s reflection, it would be to pay closer attention to the language used when reading anything. As school children we all learned about the different types of sentences and their purposes, and so we should all be experts at critically reading an authors words.

    As a daily reader of your blog, I am conscious that you frequently “promote a call to action,” in your posts, and so your language and style regularly includes sentences in the imperative. You could water that down with extra syllables, “Please consider visiting Gerry’s blog,“ and take the edge off of things a little bit, but that could very well result in fewer folks clicking through.

    I applaud both of you for this — Stephen for his reflection, and you for sharing Stephen’s reflection and promoting this discourse.

    I will read just a little bit more carefully going forward as a result of this!



  5. I’m adding second comment so that I can briefly reply to the notion of compliance.

    Compliance is a thing these days, and I will confess that I have not read all that I could on the topic. Perhaps this will lead me into a little summer time reading today… (My iPad just told me I am over my daily limit for screen time, and it’s only 8 AM! Perhaps professional online reading needs to be excused from being considered as screen time? This is another issue.)

    I could undertake to explore the role of compliance within classrooms and traditional schooling, and its potentially detrimental effect on the development of individuality, creativity and a learners ability to self determine, but perhaps it would be more germane to cycle the concept back into Brenda Sherry’s original post to which Stephen’s attention was drawn.

    Brenda’s letter to Premier Ford reflects the thoughtful and confident sharing of opinion that offers a counter to the ham-fisted approach that too many politicians seem to be taking these days. We elect governments to undertake large issues for the benefit of society, and yet we each continue to have a responsibility to hold those politicians accountable for their actions. We require rules and understandings with which we as members of society (and schools) do comply on a regular basis — and yet we also require the freedom and independence as individuals to make decisions for the greater good.

    The actions of Elin Errson a couple days back brought to light the difficult challenge inherent in balancing these notions:

    Would that every member of society had the skills and wherewithal to engage with major issues.


  6. Hi Doug, I will politely disagree with your commenter. As a writer and former PR person I really like the short declarative call to action. As an intermediate teacher I like it for being engaging and inclusive and don’t find that syntax to be bossy at all. To me it says,”wow! I really like this and I think you will too!” In my teacher support role I use it often to provide clear instructions with no extra words to confuse.


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