The Blog: FAQ

How does the blog work?

There are two ways you will need to participate on the blog: posting questions for your classmates to answer (blog posts) and responding to questions others have posted (blog responses).  You will be getting specific details about how and when to make your required blog posts.  You can post blog responses anytime. 

The ground rules for posting blog responses are:

  • You can respond to any posts that are designated “For Credit."
  • To respond to a “For Credit” blog post, click on the “0 Responses” (if will have a number other than zero if others have already responded) button at the bottom of the blog post and typing in the window that opens up.You are NOT expected to respond to all blog posts.
  • No more than three blog responses in any given week will get credit. Each blog week begins on Saturday at midnight and ends the following Saturday at midnight. Blog responses posted after a stated deadline will not get credit.
  • Blog responses are graded weekly; each response is generally worth up to 3 points (sometimes more, sometimes less—the post will specify if this is the case). Generally, posts will get one point if they are intelligible and accurate and two points if they are insightful and supported (where relevant) with evidence.
  • Posts only get a third point if they push the boundaries of the conversation: challenge a previous response, take issue with the question, make unexpected connections to other course readings, and the like. The blog is available to the public, so I encourage you to use a pseudonym (I myself go by “KW” on the blog, so it won’t turn up in Google searches of my name). Just let me know by e-mail what your pseudonym is so you can get credit for your responses.
  • New posts are generally available a few hours after class ends and at the beginning of each blogging week. >I try to have at least one post available for responses at any given time, and often there are more.
  • It’s a good idea to bookmark the blog in your web browser, subscribe to it if you use a web reader, and check the site two or three times a week, preferably right before you do the reading for class.
  • The following are acceptable in blog posts and responses and will not be penalized: imiable disagreement, rhetorically effective profanity, thoughtful rebuttals, well-intentioned errors, and irony.
  • Anything unkind, offensive, or uncollegial will be deleted and receive zero credit.

Some weeks there are a lot of questions.  Do I have to answer every one?

No!  You can respond to as many blog posts as you want, but I stop tallying your blog points after the third substantive response in a single week.

What do you mean by "substantive response"?

I don't score responses that briefly correct an error the writer made in an earlier post, offer wry asides, ask nuts-and-bolts questions about the course requirements, or say things like "Wow, great answer!" Those are all fine things to do on the blog!  But I assume that such responses are offered in a spirit of friendliness and collegiality and not intended to take the place of a response that engages more thoroughly and insightfully with the question.

Why am I not getting full credit for any of my posts?  I answer the question and make (if I do say so myself) fairly intelligent observations--but I only ever get 2 points, not 3.

My goal in grading the posts this way is to increase the quality of the blog conversation and make it a more valuable learning tool, a place where you can learn from each other and practice the thinking skills you'll be using in your papers.

Posts that respond to the question without repeating someone else's ideas (and without egregious spelling, punctuation, grammar errors) get 2 points.  Offering an accurate answer, supplying further support for an idea that's been raised, extending someone's observation into a different dimension of the text, sharing your experience in response to one of the questions about your writing or learning process: all those kinds of things are the vital work of the blog and warrant 2 points.

Posts get a third point when they take some intellectual risks and push the conversation in new directions: offering well-reasoned disagreement with a line of interpretation that is getting developed,  taking issue with the question being asked, identifying and questioning ideas that are being taken for granted in the ongoing discussion.  Those kinds of posts take some courage and big-picture insight; they also open up productive directions for other classmates to pursue when a particular question seems to be tapped out.  For those reasons, posts that take those risks get 3 points rather than the standard 2.

How do I find my blog scores?

They are posted on Compass, usually on Sunday for the week past.  Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out a way to specify which particular post got which score (for those who post more than once in a week).  Generally, I start with the oldest responses and work my way through to the newer ones, but the sequence of second and third posts can get blurry.   Please feel free to come talk to me if you want to know more about the specific scoring of your posts for a specific week.

I'm pretty sure I made good responses to two different questions last week, but my Compass grades say I only posted once.   Was one of my answers a lot stupider than I thought?

No.  My blog grading procedures are not foolproof, and I sometimes accidentally omit a grade.  It's a good idea to check your Compass scores regularly, to make sure they reflect your work.  Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me if it looks like I've made a mistake--I'd much rather locate the problem and correct it than not, even if it's just a couple of points.

I'm confused: the syllabus says that the blog is worth 60 points (out of 350 total for the course), but I've been making three blog posts a week, and I've already got close to 60 blog points.  Can you explain how this works?

The 60 points listed on the syllabus functions as a number to aim towards to meet the blogging expectations for this course.  Points that you earn for blogging in excess of 60 will go towards your points for the course as a whole.  It would be therefore theoretically possible for someone to complete the course with, say, 300 points instead of 350.

That scenario is unlikely.  I tend to grade the written assignments (the papers, the midterm) fairly stringently.  I set high standards because I know you all can meet them (and learn more and become better writers and thinkers in the process).  But I don't want those expectations to feel punitive--or for anyone to come out of the course feeling like their GPA took an unwarranted hit, just because they happened to sign up for this course and not another one.  So using the blog as a source of extra credit points helps me to preserve those standards while giving you another way to earn the grade you want (and get more practice thinking and writing about the course material).

I sort of ignored the blog requirement at the start of the semester,  and now it's midterms and most of my classmates have a lot more blog points than I do.  What should I do?

Start blogging!  It's never too late.  

I’ve been able to post responses to the blog without registering with Blogger. Just fine. What happens if I don’t accept the invitation I got to become a blog author?

If you have not registered to be a blog author by responding to the invitation you received, you will not be able ot make original posts to the blog (as opposed to responding to someone else’s post) if Blogger recognizes you as an author. Since assigned blog posts are one of the course requirements, you will need to be a blog author in order to complete all the work for the course.

I have a question, but I don't see it here.  What should I do?

You can e-mail me, ask in class, or catch me at office hours any time to ask for further clarification about the blog.