On the way back from the library a couple of days ago, I was explaining to my daughter that there's something special about reading a book. It forms a link or bond between the reader and the author. She was just getting started with The Little Prince, and I explained that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author, actually was a pilot and really did crash a plane in the Sahara desert (as recounted in the opening pages of The Little Prince). His earlier book Wind, Sand, and Stars is one of my favorites.
Anyway, while blabbing about what it means to authors to have people actually read their books, my mind turned to blogging, which I didn't have in mind at first (honest). I haven't written any books (yet), but my site meter has counted 129,000 visits, with roughly half of those unique, based on what I've heard from other people who run blogs and on the fact that about half my visitors come in through Google searches. So I'm guessing I've got roughly 65,000 readers, people who have read part or all of at least one post. Wow. That got my attention, and eventually led me (out of a mixture of gratitude and curiosity) to put up my 1000 Comments post.
Frankly, it is quickly becoming the most interesting set of comments ever assembled here at DMI. I think it shows that there is more variety and diversity in the pool of readers than some might have guessed, although I've gotten enough feedback to suspect as much already. I think it offers a glimpse into the demographics of overall Bloggernacle readership, not just DMI. Given that a fair percentage of the readers are not LDS, it confirms my feeling that most of my blog posts should be written with the general reader in mind, not just the LDS reader, although that's not necessarily true of how other LDS blogs approach their posts. I generally use terms like "practicing Mormon" (which means the right thing to people unacquainted with LDS terminology) rather than "active Mormon," and try to work in explanations of other terms that don't click outside the LDS community (e.g., "sacrament meeting" or "Kolob").
There's something different about the tone and discussion at LDS blogs than I have seen in any other community of religious blogs (and I've sampled quite a few). The central role of comments on LDS blogs is one aspect. Another is the willingness to talk rather openly, even critically, about various LDS doctrines or historical events, not an approach I have observed in other religious blog communities (although Philocrites and the UU community could probably make a case). Well, they do talk critically about Mormonism, but I mean talking critically about one's own denomination and beliefs. This could reflect the fact that Mormons are pretty confident and secure in their own beliefs, whereas many Christians feel themselves on the defensive and are insecure in their beliefs (although I recognize that would be a controversial point with many non-LDS Christians).
A less controversial explanation is that it has something to do with the participatory mode of LDS Sunday meetings. We don't just attend a service, we frequently give the talks on the program. We don't just attend Sunday School, we offer comments and frequently teach the lessons. We don't just attend Priesthood Meeting, we offer irrelevant and off-topic comments and try to avoid being asked to teach next week's lesson. We don't just read the Bible (and our other LDS scriptures) on Sunday afternoon, we write in our journals too (well, we're supposed to). So I think what happens on Sunday explains some of the features of the Bloggernacle that I've noted above. Good features, ones that make it an open, friendly, and engaging online community.
... So if you haven't done so yet, click on over to 1000 Comments and carve your initials on the screen.