Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bletiquette

Every month, I write 100 web content articles. My deadline is the 25th of every month. I hate having a deadline hanging over my head, so my normal work mode is to slave at my computer double-time so I can hand in my invoice early. This time I earned four free days--more really--since I have yet to receive my May writing assignments.

I experience a marvelous sense of freedom each time I manage this feat, but rather than rest on my self-congratulatory laurels, I cast about for something else to do. I don't know how to not be busy. It makes me feel guilty to be unproductive. So I get to work on my blog which lies in sad neglect most days of the month.

Yesterday, I worked on a blog entry for hours. At last I decided it was ready enough to publish. Maybe I embedded too many graphics and it looked a bit messy, but I made a point--a heartfelt one--and I was satisfied. I published the blog and then waited in a state of expectant tension for the comments to come in.

I got one comment from a faithful friend who never neglects to weigh in, always with a great deal of valued insight--I suppose he knows how much a writer appreciates feedback--but a big zero from everyone else. I told myself that with the time difference, maybe it was too early to expect much. I went to bed thinking that perhaps in the morning, I would find my in-box flooded with notifications of comments on my blog.

But no. Not a one.

Folks, the writer's ego is fragile. A bruised psyche means we may retreat into a corner to lick our wounds and stop producing words. But encouragement has the opposite effect and makes the words flow from our brains to our fingertips to your screen.

I try to encourage my friends who enter the blogging world by leaving comments and then feel a bit sad if they don't respond in kind. I have decided that just as there exists a code of etiquette for the internet we call, "Netiquette," there needs to be blog etiquette or, "Bletiquette," too. Here's my version of Bletiquette:

1) If a friend takes the time to blog and lets you know of a new entry, take the time to comment. A lack of response is hurtful. Even a simple phrase like, "This was well-written!" can make a blogger's day.

2) Quid Pro Quo--if you comment on a blogger's blog and the blogger doesn't return the favor, you are off the hook and need not comment on their thoughts in future.

3) Be polite. I had a total stranger comment, "good grief - this is the most ignorant thing I've heard in a long while."

4) If you are the blogger who receives the hurtful comment, give a thoughtful response. The writer who called me ignorant had a point as I discovered when I looked into the matter. I apologized and she confessed she'd been a bit rude and apologized in kind. She appreciated that I took the time to research and retract my stance.

5) Always attribute quotes and where appropriate, seek permission before naming names. Do those people a favor by linking their names to their websites or blogs to give them a bit of publicity.

6) If you leave a comment, sign your name or otherwise identify yourself. We want to know who you are!


13 comments:

  1. Well said, V. We newbiews can always use a little more schooling regarding the blogosphere!

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  2. I think you make many good points. My one comment is that comments should not be obligatory...whereas proper etiquette is, by definition, something expected. I view comments on my blog as a gift. They have been used to comfort me, to challenge me, to inform me.

    I do my best to respond in kind...on my blog, where the discussion has been started. While I also try to visit other people's blogs and comment, I would find making it a requirement simply something that goes against the freedom of why we blog.

    Blogging is not as formal as other forms of writing. It is supposed to free you to share your thoughts...adding rules that require me to go to your blog because you liked something on mine and made a comment would be just too restrictive and would ultimately damage the blogging experience.

    That's my opinion...and meant in a positive way.

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  3. Good point, Paula. Thanks for your comments!

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  4. Welcome to the blogosphere (a little late). Dealing with hurtful comments is one of the hardest things for a new blogger to deal with. Now I embrace those critical comments. They force me to look carefully at how I expressed myself, and "toughened me up" in all areas of my life.

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  5. I can imagine how hard you must work I with a website and and infrequent newsletter, I know what you mean. I also learned not to wait for comment. The problem is time: it seems to be at a premium for all of us. I SHOULD be translating right NOW.
    Don't take it personally. It doesn't mean your writing wasn't outstanding, even full of wisdom and geniocity in print! Keep up the good work. You never know what good thing you might be doing for someone and what new thoughts you may instill -- but Someone does.
    Thanks for the blog.
    Ruth
    Maale Adumim

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  6. Thank you, Ruth. I took a look at the website. Looks like you're doing good work over there. I'm going to add the site to my favorite links roster on this blog.

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  7. You want to see comments...when my son was in Gaza (actually near it would be more accurate), my blog was mentioned in the London Guardian and the NY Times. Hits went to 12,000 a day...comments went to the gutter. Not really - some were amazing...I posted those. Others were horrid. I created a post called "Comments on Comments" (http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/2009/01/comments-on-comments.html) - the last comment nearly killed me...but I'm glad I didn't just put it through; that I responded to it. Yeah, those are the nasty ones...but there were so many others. The thing is...you really need to view them as gifts and not obligations.

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  8. I do indeed see comments as gifts. But I also think that writers need to encourage each other. If I take the trouble to comment on a friend's new blog, I think it would be thoughtful for him or her to respond in kind. There is always something one can say to lend some encouragement.

    To me, etiquette is about being kind and considerate and being kind and considerate is an obligation.

    I don't think we disagree, Paula: Netiquette is not a requirement, neither is Bletiquette. It's just common sense and consideration.

    As for those hateful comments--OMG!! I had a son near Gaza at that time, too. That must have felt like a knife going through you. I am proud of you for responding in a meaningful way!

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  9. Hannah, thank you for your kind welcome. I will keep your words in mind. I sometimes think people have no idea that there are real people behind blogs or they would never write such terrible things.

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  10. For me, one of the nice things about blogging is that I can comment when I have something to say and don't feel obliged to say something to keep the conversation going.

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  11. Miriam, in general this is true. If you are just surfing the net and reading blogs, or the blog belongs to someone you don't know, sure--no obligation--they'll never know the difference.

    But if a friend or writer acquaintance informs you he/she has a new blog and you make an effort to leave an insightful and/or welcoming comment, you would hope they would be as considerate in return.

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  12. Miriam and Paula, if you take a look at this:http://judeanrose.blogspot.com/2009/11/etiquette-nominative.html maybe you'll begin to understand that the voice of my mother and Emily Post are finding expression through me. I can't help but channel these two voices. I have done so my whole life.

    It's like wedding invitations--it's ingrained in me: if someone didn't invite you to their child's wedding, you don't invite them to your child's wedding (or bar mitzvah or whatever event you have in mind).

    The reason? No reason was ever given to me, but based on the unspoken social code handed down to me, I imagine that If you issued such a person an invitation it would look like you're sucking up to them. It would be one-sided and awkward. It would tend to obligate THEM to invite you in return the next time they hold an event, so you're kind of foisting your presence on them.

    So, if I make the effort to write a comment after a friend announces a new blog on Facebook or by email, and my own blog goes unremarked, I don't feel like we've connected as we should. The relationship is one-sided. She invited me in, I commented, but she did not extend the same courtesy to me. Therefore, it seems wrong that I would continue to comment on HER blog.

    Reading this over, you may decide I sound petty, but in fact, what I'm trying to do is to level the playing field and be balanced. I don't want to foist my comments on my friend when my opinions (as expressed on my blog) seem to be of little concern to her. I'm being polite. I'm allowing my friends to set the parameters of the relationship.

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