GeekMommyProf started a blog about a month ago, which burst onto the scene in a hurry. Most blogs (including this one) toil in obscurity for a while, eventually gain some steam and get enough readers coming back to get talked about a bit here and there. In the process of earning your blog chops, you make mistakes and write some stupid shit, but no really notices because, again, there are like 6 people who read it. But GMP started off with an uncharacteristically large readership for an independent blog when she hit the ground running and so when she made a mistake people noticed.
At her one month mark, she has written a post in which she suggests that the response from Isis and others to one of her early posts has left her a bit disillusioned with blogging. Specifically, she would prefer if disagreements over content were handled more discretely, rather than on a big stage. GMP suggests that her mistake was an opportunity for a "teaching moment", whereby anyone who read what she wrote and found it offensive could have contacted her by email to explain their position and she would have rewritten the post.
Fair enough, no one likes to be de-panted in front of a large audience, nor does anyone appreciate hordes of angry commenters (weel, maybe some people do). But, if your intent as a blogger is to reach a broad audience, even if mainly for the interaction between your writing and that of the commenters, occasionally you are going to step in shit. This is the nature of the beast and it is a good idea to know this going in, or at least come to this realization rather quickly once people start to read what you write. The internet is a big place and even if you have a regular group of readers who you are comfortable with, there is nothing keeping the world from reading what you write and interpreting it based on their own experiences, not your's.
If a reader gets offended by something you write, it is in your best interest to have them contact you off-blog, but not theirs, and probably not the reader's. As much as it sucks to be called out, what is important to remember is that just because something doesn't look like a teaching moment in your shoes doesn't mean that others aren't learning something. Less than 10% of people that read most blogs take the time to comment even on a good day, IME. Hell, there are many blogs that I read that I rarely comment on, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in the the discussion or learning something from it. Even (especially?) a feisty discussion about topics that people are passionate about gives both those watching and those participating a window into the different experiences and backgrounds that the combatants come from and how that colors their views. You can agree or disagree, but the point is it makes people think about the fact that their own view is not necessarily right or the only view out there. Don't underestimate how important this is.
So, despite the contention of many that the "civil bloggosphere" is their preferred pasture in which to graze, I would argue that far more is learned in places where the discussion roams to where some get uncomfortable. Sometimes as bloggers we make mistakes in our writing and sometimes we have to defend or apologize. But a combination of a thick skin and a willingness to learn from even the heated discussions that occur will end up serving most bloggers and readers very well.