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Pagan Perspectives

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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 19,210,057  

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Question of the Week: 87 - 12/1/2002

The Pagan Web 2002... Your likes? Dislikes?

No other spiritual paths have embraced the web as dramatically, quickly and extensively as the Pagan communities [Link] have done.

So here we are some 8 years later... What do you look for in a Pagan Web site? What brings you back? What are you tired of? What is missing? Do you believe that the noise to signal ratio is out of whack? Too much chatter? Too Little?

What changes have you observed? What trends have you noticed? What do you see for the future of the Pagan web?

NOTE: Mean spirited attacks against specific Pagan Web sites will be promptly removed.

 Reponses:   There are 50 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Books Are The Basis Dec 2nd. at 4:28:16 am EST

Hippie2u2 (Netherlands, Utrecht) Age: 26 - Email

Most of the time I do a search for sites afther reading a book I liked. I then have names to search on. Makes it all a lot more specific.

To find a very informative site is still hard. The most value is in plundering the favorite list of friends. So it's not always needed to find that needle in the haystack yourself.

What I Like Dec 2nd. at 8:11:18 am EST

Arial (London, UK) Age: 21 - Email

It's simple... I book sites that show an interest in the surfer. It's pretty obvious on most sites by what they speak on this main page.

Sites that want to sell sell sell are everywhere. I also agree that chatter sites are private clubs so mostly I just lurk.

I don't like preachy sites or ones that are ugly.

My Thoughts On The 'Pagan Web' Dec 2nd. at 8:27:29 am EST

Beth Laurel (London, UK) Age: 24 - Email

Over the past years, I've been a practicing pagan and a budding anthropologist. One of the things I've looked at through fieldwork is the roles the internet holds within a specific community. Some of these are on my like list. Similarly, some of the things that have come up in my conversations with those whom I was working with have popped up on my dislike list.

My Like List:
1. Community. The 'web,' and the internet as a whole, provides an amazing way to form a cohesive community. Many of us are spread out across countries in small pockets, where being what we are (countercultural) is not particularly welcome. Defining oneself as a witch always has its negative responders. The internet, and the web, have provided ways of screaming "I'm here" into the wilderness and getting a reply instead of an echo. It is our way of shouting back, "Me too." Friendships have been formed and broken based on some of the information posted on web sites, web logs (blogs), bulletien boards, and live journals. Real conversations have been held, lives and loves shared, and perhaps our lonelinesses alleviated for a short span of time.

2. Creativity - The web may give ideas to people as to how they might want to do things, but it often just gives them a jumping off point - a starting model to work with rather than starting from whole cloth. Rituals have been written based on someone's idea - in Iowa a coven found a website from Canada, based on the teaching of someone from the UK and modified a ritual they found there, to pass on to others. It's also one of the last great forums of the independent poets, authors, songsters and artists. For those whose subject is not considered socially acceptable, this is a wonderful outlet of talent and voice.

3. Communication - We (pagans, neo-pagans, druids, witches) are all part of a greater community to some degree - whether we like it or not. Sometimes there are nasty things being said - calling one another "tree huggers" or "crystal wavers" or "pretentious" - and that saddens me. I do, however, understand that when people feel they are in a position of weakness, it often seems wise to strike out at those around you. However, one of the very things I like about the 'net - and mostly the web - is it allows us to get a better glimpse of other traditions that we may never have been exposed to otherwise. Perhaps sometimes they can be comfusing, or even contradictory, but they are always enlightening and often lead to new paths of exploration.

4. Cohesiveness - one of the things that has amazed me about the new uses of the web are the abilities of a group that is seperated by distance to create a cohesive community and Tradition. Songs are shared, rites are compared, and community actions are planned. That astonishes me. If we could learn to tap this sort of community spirit, can you imagine what we could do?

Blessed Be,
Beth Laurel

Diversity Dec 2nd. at 11:33:54 am EST

Hearthstone (Michigan) Age: 40 - Email

I'm especially happy with the increasing number of sites which are not oriented toward Wicca or witchcraft. The web has been a great resource, albeit one of varying quality, for Wiccans and witches, and I'm very happy to see that it is becoming the same for pagans of other sorts. There are some excellent heathen and reconstructionist websites out there (and, of course, some not-so-great ones :)) and the number is growing. It's great that folks who are searching for a spiritual path or religion now have a wider information base to draw on.

As for what I look for in general?
- A web design that's easy to read (no tiny print or impossible purple-on-black text), without too many slow-loading images, and I must admit that I do find it distracting if there are too many mispellings or typos, or if the grammar is terrible (you don't have to be an English major, but a spellchecker and a bit of proofreading can go a long way :)).
- Content is important, particularly original content; if I've seen it somewhere else before, I won't be back. And, of course, outright plagiarism is beyond the pale.
- Frequent updates are nice if it's a site for which timely information is important.
- I enjoy sites which are, to some extent, interactive (thus my fondness for this section of The Witches' Voice, and for the message boards at Beliefnet) but only if it's done well. Not every site needs a message board!
- Finally, I like sites that offer something unique--information on an aspect of Paganism that hasn't been covered elsewhere, a new angle on a known topic, etc.

Opinion Dec 2nd. at 1:46:58 pm EST

Danielle & James (Tx) Age: 21 - Email

Well, there are too many "fluffy" sites out there that profess the most unorthodox of things. I.e: Pagans HARM NONE. Wiccans were burned in the inquisition, blah blah. But where there are "unfluffy" sites, the "fluffs" all go and sign up their guestbook with "you're not a real pagan" junk. So the pagan web, in my opinion, is trash.

I Love Sites That Respect Others. Dec 2nd. at 3:22:20 pm EST

Argon (Ringe NH) Age: 26 - Email

Preachy sites are the ones that I spend little to zero time at... They only attrack those that think like them, yet they critcize all that don't think like them. Borrrrrrrrring.

Mostly I like web sites that are alive and fresh. If I site goes stale and doesn' update itself at least weekly, I never ever go back. MOST of the Pagan web is like this and never updates. Sad but truth.

Hey Dec 2nd. at 7:48:58 pm EST

Dawn (Iowa) Age: 19 - Email

Well you can't bitch to much about the so-called fluffys. Truth is truth. People where killed for their beliefs but its not like we are the only religon that it has happend to: Puritans, Quakers, Witnesses, Jews...the list goes on. So why bitch about something that is passed. Learn know move on. Hopefully history won't reapet itself. The only thing I get a kick out of is the black wearing Jewlry covered look at me I am a witch attitude. If that is your personality fine. But don't do it just because thats what you think Wiccans are.

Likes/Dislikes Dec 2nd. at 9:17:23 pm EST

Lilac (Alberta, Canada) Age: 14 - Email

Some of the things I like about the Pagan web is that there's a lot more information out there. Through the WWW, pagans are begining to have a voice to speak to the public, and amoungst ourselves we have raised many interesting perspectives and new ideas.

Of course, the cons are the fluffy sites. 'Over a million pagans were burned. Ain't that sad? So, anyway, the love spells...' Also the amount of general misinformation that you have to wade through. But over all, I like how the Pagan web is progressing, personally.

My Solution Dec 3rd. at 1:35:20 am EST

Beige Allen (Phoenix Arizona USA) Age: 34 - Email - Web

Like so many others surfing the net, I was dissappointed with the lack of quality informative sites for pagans of various paths. I too was tired of the sites that started strong and then were just left as a monument of what they could have been, as well as the number of sites created it seemed by teens who treated their new found path as just another trend to chime off about for 3 days until the next great thing came along.

Many of the more informative sites seemed to be buried in a sea of witchy chesse and we all know what too much cheese can do to the digestive tract.

Using sites like Witchvox, Imbas, and several others I decided to try and create my own. Maybe there was something in the creation of a site that encouraged the sloppy sites to outweigh the good ones. If you want to know how well I did, check out my site.

Okay enough of what seems like a shameless plug on to some of the issues I found in creating a site that can lead to the proliferation of "bad pagan sites".

1. Number of fluffies. Nuff said about that.

2. Time involved in maintaining a top quality site. I spend 40 hours a day just in research and writing for mine, I can only guess how long the folks here at Witchvox spend on their efforts. In addition, since the site does not pay the bills, I have to have an alternative source of funding. It would be nice for any webmaster if they got 25 cents per page view but unless there is some sort of side venture tied in, the odds of that are nil.

3. Cost involved in running a site. Most people think about the cost of a site as just the cost of the domain name and the space you need, some even know about having to pay for bandwidth. But as anyone who runs a site can tell you there is more involved than just that. With mine for example there are research costs, travel expenses, office supplies, and a host of other concerns. When we wanted to get the word out through the local Pagan Pride Day festival, there was the cost for our booth, everything we had in it, the space itself. Yes we did sell items as well as pass along information for free, but of course we had to make back the money we spent.

4. Lack of commentary from those reading your site. You can only put up so many forms and so many guestbooks, if people do not respond, then the time is wasted. I even make suggestions to people that cannot think of anything to post of things they could post. Why is it most guesbooks are used as electronic slam books instead of the great networking tool they can be. I have encouraged people to post their pet causes, the news item that got them the most upset, a hug to anyone that needs one, or a request for aid (you never know what can happen from a few well placed words). And yet with all the hits we get daily and all the membership apps that people are filling in, there is almost no direct feedback. How do webmasters know what the websurfers want to see if they do not extend the effort to tell us.

5. Selling sites. I have nothing against someone trying to make a living, pagan does not mean chained to poverty. However I do think the sameness of the wares is a little disconcerting. Granted there isn't much you can creatively do to make incense different, but honestly there are too many sites out there that like to sell grandma's old bedspreads refashioned into cloaks. this is the one area that I cannot empathize with as in the shopping for my own budding enterprise I found a dragon's hoard of fine quality merchandise that has a high pagan appeal without the higher than Olympus pricetag.

KUDOS TO WITCHVOX Dec 3rd. at 4:27:15 am EST

Moon (NY) Age: 41 - Email

I love your site. It is the only one I go to on a daily basis. As for the rest, they are poorly constructed and all pretty much seem the same. They want your money. Bottom line. Most info sites suck and are done by amatures. You can't pass on info if you are one-sided or ill informed yourself. I surf around quite a bit and have seen nothing that compares in the least to Witchvox.

The Web We Weave Dec 3rd. at 8:28:32 am EST

Natalie Lincoln (Indiana) Age: 23 - Email - Web

In addition to being a Witch, I am a professional graphics designer, and have been a professional webdesigner for half of a decade now. I have watched the Pagan Web "grow up" in the last seven years, from small communities and chat rooms of technopagans scattered across the 'Net (and WitchVox with black backgrounds!) to the behemoth it has become. Truly, as the Internet grew, so grew the Pagan community.

There is much that I love about this growth. Not only is it exciting to see so many people coming "out of the broom closet" (even if only online) but also there is a plethora of information available to anyone with a little time, patience, and a webrowser. The Web has opened my eyes to new ways of looking at Paganism: Discordanism, Reconstructionalism, and Thelema, just to name a few. This is not the kind of information found in your mother's Llewellyn books! So much information is available that I can truly say that I learn something new EVERYDAY from the Pagan online community.

*ahem* However, for all that I love about the Web we are Weaving; there is much that I equally disdain. Plagiarism runs rampant on the Internet. Too often are graphics, content, and formatting swiped without permission, credit, or even a second thought! The Pagan Web is choking with spinning pentacles, purple flames, and dancing pixies created by an un-credited artist that serve no purpose and eat up load time. Many Pagan webdesigners seem to be cursed with poor judgment concerning background and text color contrast, along with an insatiable urge to add .midi files to all of their pages. They often list every award, banner exchange, webring, and colored ribbon cause en mass to the front page of their website. Disinformation is repeated ad nauseum, and, yes, fluffiness in content has become the plague of the modern Witch's website.

Call me an optimist, but I do think that we can do better. Pagan/Heathen/Witch/Occultists are some of the most creative, resourceful, intelligent people that I know. Certainly we can weave a Web that truly serves the community, and fully expresses our creative potential as a whole. I, personally, would love to see more websites devoted to the *actual* history of Modern Witchcraft (as in Triumph of the Moon), Reconstructionalism (Hellenic, Middle Eastern, and Egyptian are all promising looking subjects), Initiated Traditional Witchcraft, and the re-blending of Western Occult Ceremonial Magick Traditions with Witchcraft (this is the goal of my own personal site). I want to see credit given where credit is due for graphics, research material, bibliographies, the history of "traditional" and "public domain" works! I want to see new graphics, new rituals, new songs and chants and Sabbat celebrations! I want to see our Web grow to reflect our love, our humor, our creativity, and our humility.

The Pagan Webcrafter's Association is a great place to begin our work. If you are a Magickal Webmaster/designer please check out the link, and consider joining the mailing list. Link to More info related to this post -- HERE

The Pagan Web Dec 3rd. at 9:22:37 am EST

Sian (UK) Age: 30 - Email

There are a vast number of websites out there, many of which appear to be identical - plagiarism appears to be rampant!

It also seems that some of the website designers are trying to out do each other in being more 'witchier' than thou. Please could I ask that when you are designing a website, that you think about readability - not everyone is blessed with perfect vision and red fonts on a black background are not a great help!

I think the one thing that amazes me the most is that people are putting things out that are badly typed and badly spelt. I know that there are differences between UK and US spellings - but really! I mean, what image are we trying to portray here? To be honest, some of the websites that I've seen seem designed to say to the viewer (to coin an old fashioned British phrase) 'I'm as thick as a brick'. While I know we shouldn't pander to the prejudices of our detractors, giving them an easy target - "this person is obviously stupid and therefore easily led by evil occult beings/Satan" - is not the way to go.

Yours, in exasperation

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