Blog FAQ


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 45 points (out of 350 total for the course), but I've been making two or three blog posts a week, and I've already got close to 20 blog points.  Can you explain how this works?

The 45 points listed on the syllabus functions as a number to aim towards in order to figuring out whether or not you are meeting the blogging expectations for this course.  Points that you earn for blogging in excess of 40 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, 400 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.  

Once I've accepted the invitation I received to become a blog author, can I post a question, even when it isn't my turn to give a presentation?

Absolutely!  I'll count such superogatory questions towards your blogging score.

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.