By here I mean the interwebs.
I was out roaming the interwebs a little earlier this week, considering blogging hospitality. One of my goals with STILL GROWING has been to build relationships so that this piece of the interwebs fosters support, love, empathy, friendship, etc…
Some blogs are AMAZING at this. They get bunches of comments on every post – and not just comments, but encouragements between blogger and reader as well as reader and other readers.
Then there are those other kinds of blogs. They’re the ones with a completely silent readership. I came across one last week that only had one comment on a home page featuring 7 posts (and, sadly, that one comment was actually a pingback the blogger had made on his own post). After I noticed this, I thought I’d take some time to study that blog and what kept readers from commenting.
I came up with several thoughts:
Not everything is about us, dear bloggers. I get that we’re an egocentric bunch, but oughtn’t we to at least make an attempt to include others?
The widgets on a sidebar should NOT go like this… Follow Me!, Subscribe, What I’m doing (Twitter Feed), My Top Posts, Follow me on Twitter, Books I’m Reading, Music I’m listening to, Books I will read, Follow me on Twitter, Subscribe to my blog, (RIDICULOUS #) hits since yesterday…
Now, I’m not saying that I’m super at this, but shouldn’t some of the things on the sidebar be about the reader? Even that About Me widget can be a little about the reader… see how I offered you Hot Cheetos? 🙂 Of course I want people to subscribe and therefore made it easy to do that, but I’m also rather irate at WordPress for changing the subscribe widget so it counts followers… it seems like I’m saying, “Look at me! I’m a leader! I have followers!” It seems like it’s not so much about making it easy to subscribe as it is about making it easy to see how popular I am.
Other widgets that aren’t selfish (yes, I am about to list the ones I chose for STILL GROWING; I chose them for a reason): Anything that makes people smile (pictures, jokes, online pets)… archives, calendars, search boxes and tag/category clouds that help readers navigate the blog... Blogrolls that help readers find more to read… Reader Comments that help readers find each other’s opinions and that show off their avatars.
It’s okay for bloggers to include stuff about themselves in the sidebar, but I find it really offensive when a blogger has multiple places to follow him on Twitter, but no blogroll to credit other bloggers.
The Self-Pings and Links
It’s fine to refer readers to posts that give them context for current content. It’s even fine when bloggers gush about a few of their previous posts and re-publish them later. It’s actually helpful when bloggers do that because I don’t feel the need to go back through the archives and read EVERYthing they’ve ever posted… I know the good stuff will eventually be re-posted. What’s not okay is constantly linking and pinging back to yourself and pointing out which of your posts that month got the most traffic. If the blog has 10+ admins who post daily – sure, tell us which ones were popular. But if you are blogging all by your lonesome dove, you don’t need to tell me which posts were popular. I’ll figure it out by looking at which ones your readers liked and commented on the most… or I’ll read or skim the posts myself.
I don’t have a great feel for what should be done with a title, but I do know that it repels me when a title is something to the effect of MY THOUGHTS, MY RANTINGS, MY… MY…. MY… We’re just a short ‘n’-sound away from those birds on NEMO. It doesn’t bother me when bloggers title their blogs after themselves (like with their names), but there’s something about declaring MY (whatever) that makes me want to punch YOUR (whatever).
Comment Moderation Settings
Remember all those settings you made decisions about when you set up your blog? I’m not talking about the decisions you made about appearance, like the theme and widgets.
Here’s what I’m talking about on WordPress:
Before a comment appears
- An administrator must always approve the comment
- Comment author must have a previously approved comment
You can select either of those bubbles or none at all.
It makes me really angry when bloggers bubble that first one. That’s right, angry. At least it didn’t cost me $5000 in therapy to learn to say that (Richard Gere reference).
I know. It’s not my blog. People should do whatever they want to do with their own piece of the interwebs.
But I just want to ask those bloggers who bubble the first one, “Why are you even here?”
It seems to me that the point of a blog is to connect with other human beings. Therefore, human beings should be able post their thoughts on blogs (remember that trolls are not human beings… so moderate the heck out of trolls).
To those bloggers who bubble the first option, I say, why should I read what you write when you are unwilling to read what others have to say.
If we were in real life rather than the interwebs…
Can you imagine it?
Blogger gives 5-minute speech about his thoughts on life, the universe, and everything.
A thoughtful sort of fellow listens patiently, then says, “That’s interesting. I think…” but he’s cut short by the blogger who insists he whisper his thoughts before speaking them at normal volume, in case they aren’t suitable for public consumption.
Without pause, the thoughtful fellow pokes the blogger in the eye, elbows him in the gut, sounds his barbaric YAWP from the rooftops of the world, and walks away.
And why not?
The thoughtful fellow was under the impression that social networking is about being social.