Is it OK to be a Passive Blogger?

First of all…my sincerest apologies to those that subscribe to this blog via email.  You received my post yesterday with many uses of the word “cemetery” spelled as “cemetary”.  Then, later on, my friend @pbeens let me know that I’d screwed up using the dreaded “it’s” instead of “its”.  Gasp.  This is all so bad.  I’m convinced that the “it’s” problem comes from reading it so much online that it becomes engrained.  I normally don’t make that mistake but, when I do, catch it on the proofread cycle.  It just slipped through the gaps yesterday.  How embarrassing.

Let me tell you how I blog.  I used to just write and post.  Using that pattern, posts could appear at any hour of the day or evening.

In a desire to be more consistent, I started scheduling the posts for 5 in the morning.  My logic was that it was a little less annoying for those who don’t care that I’ve “Just Blogged…” and that it was ready for those who do some reading in the morning before go to work.  It turns out to be the very best decision that I ever made.  It gives me the flexibility to blog when the mood hits and to be able to start a number of posts and file them away until I feel like I can finish them.  Sometimes, I’ll use Popplet as a graphic organizer in the pre-writing, other times, I’ll just add a bunch of bullet points and then flesh them out when finalizing my writing, other times, I’ll go a screen capture of something that’s of interest and then write around it when the mood and availability hits, and yet other times I’ll just sit down and write from beginning to end while the thoughts were in my mind.

That’s what happened yesterday.

Now, depending upon where I am (rec room, home office, patio, Tim Horton’s, …) I might write in the WordPress editor online, with LiveWriter, with OmmWriter, with Qumana, with ScribeFire, or with the WordPress iPad application.  The bottom line is that it could be written entirely online, entirely offline, or a hybrid of the two.  Each have their own advantages but the WordPress online editor has a wonderful set of writing tools.  I brought the post into the editor and used Google Chrome’s search to find and correct all the “cemetary” mistakes.  It was later that I fixed Peter’s catch.  I certainly appreciate the writing helper and feedback from readers like Peter.

As I brought the post into the editor, the writing helper looked like an English student’s worst nightmare!


Could there be more wrong with it!  The red underlines are spelling mistakes (that I would certainly have caught had I used the WordPress editor from the beginning) but the green underlines are messages that I’m writing in the passive voice.


As I sit back and reflect on this apparently butchered attempt of a post, that really has me thinking.  One entire flagged sentence appears below.


Even as I look at it now, I can’t think of any other way I could have written the sentence!

For a long time now, when I use the WordPress writing helper, I get flagged for using the passive voice.  I know that, in school, English was my poorest subject.  Am I continuing as a blogger?

I’ve thought about this quite often.  In my mind, I rationalize it this way.  There are times when I post very aggressively when I’m positive that I’m right and want to convince my audience.  Most of my posts though, are designed to get people thinking and perhaps challenge me with opposing viewpoints.  Using that logic, I typically glance at these suggestions when I see them and usually ignore them.

But should I?

I know that there are many readers of this blog that use blogging as a writing form in the classroom.  What are your thoughts about the passive voice?  Is it something to be  ignored when blogging?  Or, is it a red flag that all bloggers (especially me) should be  addressing at all costs?

I thought that yesterday’s post about cemetaries, er cemeteries was one of my most inspired and interesting posts in a long time.  The WordPress writing helper thinks otherwise.  I’ve illustrated just a couple of things that were flagged.  In fact, the entire post was riddled with suggestions.  What say you?  Do I need help?

What I Learned Yesterday…

…and how I fixed it.

I was just about to go out and have a coffee with a friend.  I had the computer on and took a quick look at my mentions and noticed this.


I clicked the link and sure enough, WordPress returned

Maybe there is something to do with this after all.

I clicked on the Archives link above and, sure enough, there was a gap where that post should be.  Now I’m starting to freak.  That was one of my more popular recent posts.  No problem, I thought, I’ll have a backup of it on a computer somewhere.

1)  I went looking – Qumana, LiveWriter, ScribeFire, WordPress for iPad, … no luck. I can’t remember what tool that I used to create the post.  Rats.

2)  In the process, I learned that the ScribeFire backup appears to be the index from the WordPress blog.

OK, now I’m starting to feel a little more than freaked – I’m on the verge of panic.  I don’t have a local backup and poking around on WordPress was fruitless.

3)  I know…I’ll try the Wayback Machine.

Crap.  If I wanted something from 2008, I would be in luck.

What to do?  What to do?  Then, I thought…what would Google do?  Heck, they’d cache it.

So, I take a guess at what the URL would have been (fortunately, the original Twitter message made reference to it).  So, I do a Google Search for the post.  As I wade my way through the results that a lot of others had retweeted and were similarly broken, I found a link that would have gone to the original site.  Hover over the chevrons to the right and a preview of the page pops up.    Bingo!

4)  There’s a link to the cached version.  I click on the link, Google provides a warning that this may not be perfect, but I know it is.  I never post anything until it’s written and proofread locally.

5)  I open a new tab in my browser, go back to the cached version of the post, highlight it, and copy it.  I flip to the new tab and paste the contents.  It’s like this never happened!  I figure that I should give thanks to Google for saving my bacon, post it, and let @stevestoneky know that it’s there.

If I hurry, I can still get into Windsor and have my coffee.

As I’m sitting in stalled traffic on Howard Avenue feeling pretty smug about what I’d done, I realize that I actually hadn’t solved the entire problem.  With the original post, some folks had favourited it and others had retweeted and services like Zite had made reference to the original URL.

How do I fix that?  It was posted on August 6.  It’s now August 17.

6)  It turns out that’s just a hiccup.  I don’t normally get up and blog at 5 in the morning but that’s when my posts appear.  There is a feature in WordPress that lets you schedule a post to appear at that time.  I’ve never tried to post to the past though!  With crossed fingers (and it’s difficult to type that way), I set the time and date.  In effect, I’m rolling back the clock.

And, it works.  I check the link in the Twitter message identifying the problem and sure enough, it links directly to the post.  I check the archives and it’s all in place.

I’m no longer freaking or panicking.  I’m happy that I restored the damage.  In the process, I learned a great deal as numbered throughout this post.  I hope that I never have to do this again.  I’m telling the story just in case it helps anyone else out who has the same thing happen to them.

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