April 25, 2018

Why I Am Not Moving Atheist Revolution to Patheos

I'll Awyays Be a Wild Thing - RIP Maurice SendakSome of my favorite atheist bloggers are on Patheos, so when I was recently invited to move Atheist Revolution to Patheos, I had to give it serious consideration. In the end, I decided it was not for me.

The money would have been nice, and I suspect that the move would have brought an increase in blog traffic. That would have been nice too. Unfortunately, there were a few things I could not get past. I recognize that these are my issues, and I do not fault anyone who is on Patheos or planning to move there for making a different decision.

Since I have been asked about it, I thought I'd attempt to spell out a few of the reasons for my decision to stay put. This is not an exhaustive list but is intended to convey the sort of things I considered when making the decision. It was not an easy decision, but I think it was the right one for me at this time.

First, I was not sure I wanted to support the company behind Patheos. Beliefnet bought Patheos in 2016. They described themselves as "the leading lifestyle site dedicated to faith and inspiration" in the press release announcing the acquisition. Although they noted that Patheos would remain separate from Beliefnet, they also suggested that "the joining of the two websites under one umbrella will open up further opportunities to foster the faith and spirituality discussion in a real and honest way." Although I wouldn't make too much of that, BN Media, which now owns Beliefnet and Patheos, appears to have close ties to conservative Christian groups. Not surprisingly, this was cause for concern for at least some of the non-Christian bloggers on Patheos. And if this reporting is accurate, such concerns were well-placed.

In fairness, I have not heard anything negative about Patheos from the atheist bloggers who are there. Perhaps the pagan bloggers mentioned in the links above were singled-out for some reason. Perhaps the entire story was bogus. I'm not sure, but I'd be lying if I said that the thought of entering into a business relationship with a company that appears to have ties to several conservative Christian organizations was something I found appealing. Yes, they'd be sharing ad revenue with me, but ultimately, I'd be making them money that they might be spending to promote conservative Christianity.

Second, I was not interested in agreeing to some of the terms to which I'd have to agree to move to Patheos. I read the Patheos Terms of Use and some of the other information they make available for those thinking about writing for them. I won't bore you with the details other than to say there were many parts I found objectionable. A couple examples include the commitment to write "at least three columns a week" and the notion that any content I wrote while on Patheos or would relocate to Patheos would be theirs to use while I was there and perhaps afterward. I think I could have lived with the idea of them being able to use content created while I was there, but the possibility that their use would not cease the second I terminated my relationship with them was a deal-breaker. From the language I saw, it did not seem like they were willing to guarantee this. I was also not thrilled with the prospect of them gaining the rights to content I've already written just because it would be moved there to maintain continuity.

Third, I was not enthusiastic about attempting to learn WordPress right now, losing all control over the nature and content of the ads that would run on my blog or what other blogs I'd be promoting, and attempting to navigate what would be involved in continuing to blog anonymously. While it looks like anonymous blogging is something Patheos permits, it does not appear to be common. Combined with some of the previously mentioned issues around shared ownership of content, this suggested it was not for me.

Finally, there were some things that have next to nothing to do with Patheos that were on my mind. Chief among them is the fact that I'm not sure how much longer I plan to keep blogging. The more I thought about everything that would be involved in moving to Patheos and making a go of it there, the more I realized that it would involve making a commitment to continuing to write Atheist Revolution for the foreseeable future. For it to work, I'd be ramping up my investment of time and energy in Atheist Revolution. I'm not sure I want to do that. In fact, I'm fairly sure I don't want to do that.

I appreciated the offer to move to Patheos, but these are the main reasons I declined. For now, I plan to keep doing what I'm doing right here. I'm not sure how much longer I'll do so, but I suppose that's always been the case. I never would have believed I'd be at this as long as I have been, so I won't pretend to know the future.