Monday, May 28, 2007

Blogger 101: Questions and Answers



I'd been reading blogs long before I knew what they were called. I watched a TV show called What Not to Wear, on BBC, and read they were broadcasting it in the USA. I went online and found links to the show, followed by comments by fans. As I read the comments it seemed as if I'd stumbled onto a bunch of employees and friends of the show emailing each other about a particular episode. I felt like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation, but it was fun, so I kept going back to the site and followed along for months. I was a wannabe blogger but didn't know it.

I wanted to comment, but I didn't think I could be part of the group. I wasn't invited, I didn't know how to get my cool name, and they'd wonder why I was reading their private email. They all seemed to know each other. It was extremely entertaining. I've since learned that I was a lurker.

As an experienced blogger now, I love lurkers. My site meter indicates I sometimes have 600 people read my blog and yet I get only 5 or 6 comments. I'd love to know more about my lurkers, why they come, do they come back, are they afraid of crashing the party, or getting tons of spam or getting their identity stolen by joining in with comments. Those were some of my fears as I learned about blogging.

Many people read blogs like you'd read a magazine: just for entertainment, not for interaction. I think it's all totally fine. I now comment on several blogs, and I lurk on more, and it's very fun either way.

Before I really got set up I started hearing about my space and pornography sites, and stalkers and stings as dirty old men followed 13 year girls to the mall, because of their sites. The word blog had made it's way into my vocabulary, but it seemed scary. If you blogged, I thought, you were opening yourself up to child-abuse, the sex trade, or at the very least spammers. I wasn't sure what spammers were, but it sounded like something to avoid. I've realized I can't walk through life scared, though. Fear is not a positive emotion. Hope is.

I haven't been stalked, spammed or kidnapped in the 8 months I've been blogging, and I love the blogging friends I've made and the info that's available to me. For free! It's a fabulous hobby. I was almost ready. I was getting the blogger lingo and I started dipping in my toe.

I discovered other sites where everyone was talking about politics instead of fashion, and I loved hiding in the corner listening in. There seemed to be new people arriving, introducing themselves to the others and I realized they weren't necessarily family or work friends all emailing each other, they were strangers connecting through these sites. I began to feel I'd be welcome.

This is the woman who brought me into the Blogosphere.
About that time my sons and others were talking about blogs. I realized I was lurking on actual blogs, that bloggers were glad I was lurking, and would be happy to have me comment. "Would it be like crashing their family reunion?" I asked. Then our son's new girlfriend said, "You ought to read mine." So that night I went to Anna's blog InBetween the Lines, and I loved it! I loved her! I clicked on all her blog roll friends and read them all. I loved her dad, her brother-in-law, her sisters, her friends. I loved how they interacted, what they talked about, and I could see why Pete was attracted to this beautiful author.

I found I couldn't comment unless I had a blog of my own (which isn't true on my own blog. Comment away!) so I got my daughter to set me up. It turned out to be easy-peasy. Over the next few days I learned to look up blogs by googling blog topics. I read some that appealed, and then visited their blogrolls, and found more I liked and added them to my favorites. After I started posting, I went to a few of my favorites, commented on their posts and invited them to visit mine. I now have a list too long to leave a comment every time, but I often want them to know I was there.

The Blog World had welcomed me with open arms. There are people of different backgrounds, cultures, ages, experiences, that fascinate me. People like me, with similar interests, and those with totally different life styles and expertise anxious to share through their blogs. It is like a giant university where you can skip around and pick and choose any subject that strikes a chord and join that discussion, or at least listen in.


So this all brings me to
BLOG ETIQUETTE

I keep asking people, "What's the Blog Etiquette?" and nobody knows. I want a few suggestions. For instance:
  1. Is it rude to visit without leaving a comment?
  2. If someone leaves a comment, should you visit them and say thanks for commenting?
  3. I have enjoyed posts where I never leave a comment, and then wonder if I'm partly responsible for keeping that post alive. Is it like a store with no customers will have to shut down?
  4. Has anyone had bad experiences using real names?
  5. Are there blogger stalkers who try to track you down?
  6. Is a comment supposed to be short and sweet or can it turn into a post itself?
  7. Is it polite to suggest a favorite blog when you're commenting on someone else's post?
  8. I don't read blogs where crude language flies fast and furiously, or where lack of respect is shown. How do you keep comments from becoming that way?
  9. How long do you keep checking a latent blog, before you give up on it.
  10. I never want my blogging to turn into a chore. It's totally fun right now. But I can start feeling responsible to my imagined readership. How does that work? Can you take a break? Will people stop reading your blog?
  11. Posts are so different that we can all find what we're interested in. Are there topics people are especially drawn to?
  12. What are pet peeves of blogs?
  13. How do you choose the ones you read regularly?
  14. What's the etiquette on adding someone to your blog roll? Should you let them know?
  15. If you're added to someone's are you supposed to add them? Is it an insult if you don't?
  16. If you laugh at your own blog, and no one reads it, is it really funny?
  17. Do you write for yourself or for your readers?
  18. Would you keep writing with no comments?
  19. Some people are worried about getting comments from strangers and feel invaded. How can you tell who not to invade?
  20. Do you need permission to quote from someone's blog?
  21. If you're not getting any money for it, can you use artwork and images from books on a blog?
  22. How many blogs do you regularly follow?

You can add any questions or comments you have. Just respond to what you want to; there's no mark down for answering just 2 or 3 questions. I am anxious to hear how you feel about this topic! Lurkers welcome. Just post a comment as anonymous and we'll never know.
Help me compile a little list of manners that seem to be evolving naturally. I like the learn as we're inventing this and think it's fun to see what happens. But if there are some rules I'm breaking, I don't want to offend any of my new cyber neighbors. Email this post to others if you want to, so we can get several responses. Thanks!

12 comments:

Cynthia Samuels said...

I keep asking people, "What's the Blog Etiquette?" and nobody knows. I want a few suggestions. For instance:
1. Is it rude to visit without leaving a comment? A: No. NOT always leaving comments is the only way to stay blog-current (or as blog-current as possible.) Commenting all the time takes much too long.
2. If someone leaves a comment, should you visit them and say thanks for commenting? A. It’s a nice thing to do and helps all of us grow.
3. I have enjoyed posts where I never leave a comment, and then wonder if I'm partly responsible for keeping that post alive. Is it like a store with no customers will have to shut down? A. I think it depends on the blogger. You sound like me; writing because you want to write. Your audience is far larger than mine but I just keep chugging along for the sake of the writing and hope for the best… whatever the best is.)
4. Has anyone had bad experiences using real names? A. Not me.
5. Are there blogger stalkers who try to track you down? A. Not so far.
6. Is a comment supposed to be short and sweet or can it turn into a post itself? A. I’ve loved both; shorter is probably better unless you’re feeling profound but lots of posts ARE profound….
7. Is it polite to suggest a favorite blog when you're commenting on someone else's post? A. Absolutely – if it’s relevant.
8. I don't read blogs where crude language flies fast and furiously, or where lack of respect is shown. How do you keep comments from becoming that way? A. Hasn’t happened yet; I DID pull one that was spammy though.
9. How long do you keep checking a latent blog, before you give up on it? A. Don’t know.
10. I never want my blogging to turn into a chore. It's totally fun right now. But I can start feeling responsible to my imagined readership. How does that work? Can you take a break? Will people stop reading your blog? A. Ask Mocha Momma. She's done it.
11. Posts are so different that we can all find what we're interested in. Are there topics people are especially drawn to? N/A
12. What are pet peeves of blogs? N/A
13. How do you choose the ones you read regularly? A. Chemistry and style.
14. What's the etiquette on adding someone to your blog roll? Should you let them know? A. If you want to. They'd probably love to know.
15. If you're added to someone's are you supposed to add them? Is it an insult if you don't? A. Hard question. I think we have to have credibility and that means not recommending anything we don’t think worthy. At the same time I have links to blogs that don’t link to me (I’m not even sure they KNOW I link to them) and wish they would. It has to be up to the blogger though or it’s not a recommendation, just a quid pro quo.
16. If you laugh at your own blog, and no one reads it, is it really funny? A. Ha.
17. Do you write for yourself or for your readers? A. I write what I myself want to tell my readers. So it’s kind of both.
18. Would you keep writing with no comments? A. Yes.
19. Some people are worried about getting comments from strangers and feel invaded. How can you tell who not to invade? A. I think new people commenting is exciting. That’s how I found your blog.
20. Do you need permission to quote from someone's blog? A. I don’t think so…as long as it’s attributed.
21. If you're not getting any money for it, can you use artwork and images from books on a blog? A. Attributed – I think so. I always link to the book’s site or Amazon when I do this.
22. How many blogs do you regularly follow? A. 20ish but I read lots of others every day too.

Walker Family said...

Hi Marty,
I've been a blog lurker of yours for a few weeks! I'm actually a long lost friend--Missy Bunting, now Walker. I love to see what your family is up to. Thanks for inviting me out of my lurking shadows--You are free to visit my blog as well--no need to comment if you're short on time, just happy to have people see what's going on with my family. I've never had a blog stalker, mostly just friends who are far away and want to keep up with us. I love that my family can stay in touch with us! We're at walkerhome.blogspot.com
If you don't mind, I'd also like to link to you from my blog. My extended family would love to see all your wonderful insights!

PI said...

Just popped in quickly. For relevant news about stalking read Jonny B's yesterday's post.
I love it when lurkers do leave a comment and I try to answer mine as far as possible. Keep the faith!

Stie said...

Great thoughts and questions...my only thing on using your full name is that your blog could contain A LOT of information that identity thieves could piece together. Like if you do a post on your birthday - they've got your date of birth. If you do a post about your mother - they could get your mother's maiden name...stuff like that. It seems innocent at first, but I always go back and double check to make sure I didn't put too much identifyable information in my posts.

marta said...

brilliant. i think you have researched this blogging thing to a great extent. i have wondered these things myself!

there are no rules, but so far everyone has been kind, generous and friendly! i think there is no obligation, but if you find yourself landing on the same blog again and again, you might as well speak up and make friends!

i did have one blogger email me to ask if she could use a photo i took and blog about it. i thought that was EXTRA nice. what goes around comes around!

i think number one etiquette should be: Be Genuine.

Kelly said...

I've often wondered about these same things. I always wonder if anyone is really out there reading my entries. I too have a stat counter... and sometimes I wonder how accurate it is, because it says I get lots of visitors, and yet so few comments. I don't think it's rude not to comment, but, if you read a particular persons blog often, a comment here and there would be nice... just letting them know someone is out there.

Betty said...

I have wondered the same things. Do you mind if I post your questions on my blog, and see what kind of answers we get? I tend to lurk a lot, because it is so time consuming to read, comment, then answer comments. But, I try to comment when I can.

mama jo said...

very interesting thoughts..because, i guess we have all wondered these same things...i thought stie's comments were good and would never have thought of those...i sort of think of blogging as a free for all..but a fun one...

Marty: said...

Betty,
If you want to use my questions, please do! I'd love to hear the responses you get.

Miggs said...

My blogging is mostly lurking. I have tons to say, but no time to say it.

Sarah said...

I stumbled across blogging by accident as well, and now im addicted! I'd love to know the answers to these questions you ask, it does all seem to center around being friendly, which is very refreshing! I love getting comments and it's great to know people are out there and interested in the same things as me. I love just clicking on links and discoverong new things, there's so many out there!

MissKris said...

It's Thursday evening as I read this, and I hope to get to answering your questions soon...I think this is a great topic. I'm going to answer them on my site, with a link to yours. I'll let you know as soon as I do it! Otherwise, my comment will be of even more epic proportions than usual, hahaha! I noticed one question was about short comments or long...welllllllllllll...we know in which category I belong, don't we? But honest...every now and then I can say it in a word or two - but not very often!!