I doubt that it will surprise you to learn that it’s pretty easy to offend people here on the blogosphere, and that much like the real world, however any given person likes to do things is normally the way that person believes things objectively, fundamentally ought to be done.
Take this post for example – Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?
It’s by Erica Johnson, and about a thousand other bloggers have clicked like, which means her views on comment etiquette are pretty widespread. And since she’s an editorial producer for WordPress, it would be awfully hard to argue with her, and I wouldn’t want to. As far as I’m concerned, if that’s what a WordPress editorial producer says comment etiquette is all about, then okeedokee. That’s comment etiquette.
But the thing is, I’m not really into etiquette.
For example, depending on the kind of restaurant I’m in, you are probably going to find my elbows on the table. That’s bad etiquette, but I don’t really care because that’s how I’m comfortable and I’m usually not there to impress anybody. So if you were to, for example, tap me on the shoulder at Red Lobster and remind me of table etiquette, I would probably bite you and growl until you left.
Sitting there in Red Lobster, my policy is you worry about your elbows and I’ll worry about mine. And that part’s key – I don’t care even a little, tiny bit what you do with your elbows.
Take for example Erica’s second point, that you should never include a link to your own blog when you comment. Certainly I knew that a lot of people didn’t like it – apparently it’s considered spam – but I have absolutely no problem with it here.
If you are out there, and you’d like to comment and say practically nothing except “Hey, I blogged about the same thing,” and then drop your link in there, I’m all for it. As a matter of fact, I’m not even really concerned about whether nor not it’s actually about the same thing.
It’s not like there’s a finite amount of space, and it’s not like you’re selling something. As long as it’s just a blog post from a real, live blogger, then go, my friend.
Sometimes I even locate the link myself and then go into edit comment mode, and put it in there for you. I want you to post your link. Seriously. Go ahead.
Because if you go over to Erica’s (fine, awesome, well-written, Tom doesn’t want any trouble with you, sister) post, you’ll find several hundred comments in which most people say something like, “Wow, couldn’t agree more, I hate link droppers.”
And again, I don’t know what to say except I don’t.
Because then much more troubling, Erica goes on to tell us that a more effective way to get people to visit your blog is to NOT drop the link. To instead work on building a new relationship with the blogger, by engaging their blog or topic in a positive way.
And then all the commenters agree with that, too – no doubt you can get someone to visit your blog that way. Many of them actually say out loud, “I love how it’s like You Visit My Blog And I’ll Visit Yours.”
And you know what? I don’t love that.
Maybe I’m cynical, or maybe I’m idealistic, but I want people to come and read my blog because of my writing, and not because of any perceived obligation they feel, after I commented on theirs. I know that sometimes when people start commenting on my blog a few times, and then I comment on theirs, sometimes I can feel their sense of obligation.
And really, blogosphere, maybe I’m just the opposite of uptight about it, but please – I won’t get mad at you or judge you or anything. Just come by and read when you feel like it. Comment when you have something to say. But don’t feel like you have to be here and say something nice, just because I commented on your blog.
I’m trying to attract readers with my content. It’s hard to relax and read a post if you’re worried about thinking of something to say in exchange for whatever I said on yours.
I’m not looking to build Page Hit Trade Agreements. Sometimes I go off on a flurry of Other Blog Commentary, sometimes I get busy in the real world and it’s all I can do to keep my blog posts up and reply to the comments that are here. Sometimes I can’t even do that.
It’s okay, fellow bloggers – at least around here it is. You will never get the high hat or even a guilt trip from me about it, and if I’ve ever been around and commented on your blog, I’m probably coming back, unless I’m not. Future Tom is a rolling stone, you know?
As for dropping links on other people’s blogs – I’ve definitely done that. I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes I’ve got a specific post that I just really believe is relevant, and I know that Erica pointed out that just clicking my name will get you to my blog.
But I have over three hundred posts over here. Clicking my name won’t get you to the one I’m talking about.
And besides – every blogger gets to decide whether or not to post a comment. In fact you can even edit them. You could go in, clip off my link, and post the comment without it, if you’re really that convinced that links are bad.
Here’s the thing – every single one of us is blogging because we want other people to read what we write. Following Erica’s sound and popular advice seems to me tantamount to pretending otherwise. To actually, in many cases, posture as if you care about a blog post when you really don’t – all in order to trick people into clicking your blog.
I’d prefer everyone be straight with me and drop links, as opposed to showing up every day intentionally trying to create an obligation in my mind that I should show up on yours and do the same. I can assure you, there’s only one blog I’m going to be visiting every single day and it’s this one.
And by the same token, as I said – I really don’t want anyone feeling that way toward me. I don’t want to go around gladhanding other bloggers in order to get them to reciprocate. I don’t want gladhanded, so why would I?
I’d prefer you read my posts and then honestly ask yourself if you’d like to read more. If you would, there will always be more for you to read. If you don’t really care for it, hey – go in peace, Fellow Blogger. There’s plenty of room for both of us.
Erica and I, I’m sure, would get along fabulously, and I’m certainly not here to knock her, but I can’t help tell everyone – most of her rules do not apply here.
Stay on topic? Eh. No restrictions. You can talk about bunny rabbits down there in my comment boxes if you want to, no problem.
Be nice? Well, to some extent. If I’m being a jerk (frequently) you’re welcome to be a jerk right back, but it’s hard to win an argument against someone who can edit your comments. Heh. Just kidding. But really, you don’t have to be nice and I don’t have to publish your comment, so we can get along on that one, too.
Keep it brief? No way – knock yourself out. I thnk if I recall, John Moonlord (who just recently resurfaced, to great celebration and fanfare) used to drop blog post-sized comments on my LOST stuff. Have at it. Just don’t get offended if you get a short answer – I have tomorrow’s post to work on.
And then that leads me to what I really wanted to post about, which is some other bloggers I’ve been reading who I think you ought to check out. They are listed here and keep in mind – just because you don’t have to follow Erica’s rules here doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow them elsewhere. Telling them Future Tom said it was okay probably isn’t going to do you any good.
Babblesbybex: This is a blog in the more traditional sense. It’s a log on the web – she simply tells you what she did that day. That might be boring if she wasn’t a talented writer who is traveling the world, but she’s both. She’s in China right now (I think). Click on that, go. Scoot.
Momsomniac: A fellow adoptive parent who frequently can’t sleep, Momsomniac blogs about both of those things. Also faith and family and what it means when you don’t eat her cooking (it means you don’t love her, so eat what she puts in front of you, all right?)
Aquatom: That’s right, he’s either a colleague or an archenemy of Future Tom, perhaps some sort of evil (or good) Mirror Universe Twin. He even lives in Aquatom Mansion, but as you know, most bloggers have several mansions. You want to keep your eye on this guy.
The Canada Cheese Man: If you don’t like cheese then I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave. The Canada Cheese man devotes each post to a different kind of gourmet Super Cheese. I didn’t know anyone had it in them, blogging about cheese all the time. But is it worth it – well he says yes, and so do I. Sometimes I lick the screen – sorry to have to tell you that. Get over there.
The Magnificent Minimalist: The Magnificent Minimalist is both of those things. She uses few words and usually single frame, cartoon-like drawings to get her point across, every single day. Words are too cumbersome to describe the Minimalist; you must look upon her mighty works for yourself. Click. Click. Click.
Until tomorrow, blogosphere. Erica, if you’re here, please feel free to holler at me or drop a link or talk about zombie movies, or pretty much whatever you like. Make yourself at home.
Earlier: There Is No Wrong Way To Facebook
Then later: The Accidental Spammer