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elisa freschi

That's AMAZING, Marcus (and all the others)!
May I suggest a post about "the secret of my blog's success"? It would be nice to have more co-operative enterprises and a glance on how they can become successful might help, I think.

Chike Jeffers

Happy birthday to a very good place to be.

Marcus Arvan

Thanks! Elisa, I'm not sure I have any secrets, though. I guess, after having gone through grad school and a few early years as a prof, I thought people might like a place to help out and support one another!

elisa freschi

OK, I'll then write down some of the questions whose answers I would be interesting to know/some of the topics I would be interested to discuss:
1. Had you invited people to contribute before starting to advertise the blog? In other words, could you count on a group already before the first post?
2. Where did you advertise the blog?
3. How many people did you invite, and how ("write whenever you want and whatever you want, even if you have written it already somewhere else, comment only if you feel like" or did you put some restrictions)?
4. Did you ever have refute someone volunteering as a contributor?
5. How did you manage to keep harmony among contributors? Did you ever have to discuss with someone who wanted to lead the blog in a direction you did not approve?
6. Which academic feed-back do you receive? (I am thinking at the discussion raised when we discussed about women and blogging and Helen de Cruz noted that one should not have blogging as one's hobby in the cv)

Marcus Arvan

Hi Elisa: thanks for your questions. Here are my answers:

(1) I think I invited maybe 5 or so people to join before advertising the blog.

(2) I was lucky to be a contributor at several blogs (Brains, Experimental Philosophy, and Public Reason), and so advertised the Cocoon's launch there. I think this contributed a great deal to the blog's early success.

(3) To date, I haven't sent out all that many unsolicited invites. I don't have a firm number, but I would put it around 15-20. I have never placed any restrictions on what people may write about. I have always encouraged people to write about whatever they want, provided their posts conform to the blog's mission.

(4) I have only turned down a couple of requests to join -- both from people outside of the discipline, and one who very clearly was just out to promote his own website.

(5) I've never had a problem keeping harmony among contributors. The only person I've ever had to upbraid for leading the blog in a particular direction is *me*. In trying to write about provocative things (about metaphysics, etc.), I have on occasion written posts that pushed the boundaries of a safe and supportive atmosphere. When others have brought this to my attention, I've tried my best to steer things back in the right direction. It's sometimes difficult to know what people might find unsupportive, and it's a learning process. I try to err on the side of caution, but do not always succeed. Thus, I redouble my efforts to be more careful.

(7) I have only received positive feedback from people in the discipline, but have no idea what people may or may not think behind the scenes. Sometimes I do suspect that blogging can be hazardous -- especially when one blogs on controversial topics -- but I prefer not to live in fear.

Hope this answers your questions! I'm happy to answer any more you might have.


elisa freschi

Thank you, Marcus! Here are my additional questions:
1. How do you define an "early career philosopher"? Within 5 years since the end of the PhD? With no full tenure? Each boundary seems to entail the problem that one is excluding interesting people…
(In a similar case, i.e., the Coffee Break Conferences I have been organising with colleagues since 2009, we decided to welcome every one who was ready to challenge herself, thus all who are "young in spirit").

2. Do you have a policy about cross-posting?

3. Did you ever have issues with similar blogs (The Smoker immediately comes to my mind) or blogs you were contributing to? Did you discuss your project with them beforehand?

Thanks again!

Marcus Arvan

Elisa: thanks for the follow-up. Here are my replies:

1. As the blog's mission states, the blog is open to all. Its aim is to be a safe haven for early career philosophers, but those who are more advanced in the discipline are encouraged to contribute to the blog, so far as their contributions pertain to the target audience.

2. I have no policy about cross posting. What's posted here must merely be consistent with the blog's mission, and it is not my place to regulate what people do elsewhere.

3. I have never had issues with other blogs -- all of my experiences with them have been positive -- and I did not consult them beforehand. In my opinion, as long as one is not plagiarizing someone else's ideas, no one has a moral claim to monopolize a given topic or audience. I am all for fair competition, and don't consider there to be any moral reasons to check with anyone on whether they are happy for there to be another blog in the universe. As for the Smoker, that is a very different blog. Its self-described mission is to provide a forum to bitch about the profession. This is not the Cocoon's mission. Also, the Smoker does not pretend to be a safe and supportive forum for anyone. The Cocoon explicitly aims to be safe and supportive. I read the Smoker, and think there is a place for what they do. I have linked to their posts have they have linked to ours. By my lights, the two blogs compliment each other more than anything else.

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