Blogging Etiquette. That is certainly a topic that I would never have thought I’d be writing about even 5 years ago…I’m tempted to write about texting and cell phone use etiquette, but that’s a story for another time and perhaps just a personal pet peeve. LOL.
I love the term etiquette. It elevates the occasional ramblings of my mind, which I type up frequently in the hopes that other people will enjoy reading them, to a higher form of communication. It gives credence and power to the words written on a blog. And it reinforces what so many have lost: proper behavior. I’ve always been a very “proper” person, so this comes quite naturally to me. And what it all really boils down to is one word: respect.
Blogs have taken over the world really as a form of reliable or unreliable information. They are reducing the need for printed newspapers and putting trained writers and journalists out of a job. Meanwhile many new writers are arising on the screen in a new form of a common dream to be the next great, undiscovered author. You can say anything on the internet and someone might read it. A lot of someones might read it and book deals can be made or movies (Julie and Julia anyone?). There are some pretty lofty things that can happen as the result of having a blog…which makes it all the more important to learn some tips for how to have a successful blog. I’m not entirely sure that I qualify as any sort of authority on this and I’m sure that the idea of what a successful blog actually is can be wildly debated. Regardless, I offer my humble opinion as an option on how maintain a blog.
As I said before, it all comes down to the idea of respect. If you are respectful of people and kind in your words, there should not be problems. (caveat: there are always going to be crazy people out there with a chip on their shoulder…sometimes it really is their problem though). I personally believe that a blog should mainly contain original content written and created by the author. I realize that there are some blogs out whose entire purpose is to consolidate other people’s ideas and put them in one place, but that’s a different breed all together. If you don’t have enough original ideas to share on your own, then you might want to consider whether you should be keeping a blog in the first place.
There are personal blogs, where people use the internet as a way of communicating with friends and family all over the world. Here people use their family’s name, have massive amounts of pictures of their family and children especially, and discuss things like family vacations and birthdays. This is all very private information. I would highly suggest anyone who has a blog like this to make the settings invitation only and non searchable. No one needs to know the details of your family’s life who does not know your family. There are far too many crazy people out there! (Which reminds me, I need to change my facebook settings as well) Even with a private blog, it is always, I repeat, always important to ask permission particularly before posting pictures of someone else’s children or them. I really wish people did this on facebook as well. No one likes a bad picture of themself out there for all to see and some people just feel that you can’t be too careful. Regardless, you need to Respect their wishes…and that means finding out what they are.
Blogs about hobbies are a bit different. These are intentionally left public because the author is generally trying to gain a large readership. They don’t want to limit who can see their blog because they want to reach a large unknown audience. Yes, there is personal risk involved, but usually that is outweighed by the goals of the author. Plus you can be completely anonymous if you so choose….although I personally believe the best blogs are the ones where people share something of themselves.
Again, a blog about hobbies should, I believe, be made up of mainly original content by the author. If you are constantly blogging about other people’s work, then you might ask what you have to offer. And on the topic of blogging about someone else’s work, here’s where things can get tricky. Remember that idea of respect? Well it is hugely important when talking about someone else publicly. If you would like to use someone else’s work on your blog it is very important to get their permission first, give credit to them in your blog, and always link back to their blog so your readers can go and see the inspiration from its original source. Most people will have no problems with this as it increases awareness of their work and their blog. But you may run across someone who does and you need to respect their wishes. (Note: when I contact the artist to use the images in this post, I was thanked gratefully and told that most people do not ask!)
If you have a successful blog, you will probably have some comments. No, not all comments are useful and some could be truly offensive. But this is where your power as the blog author comes in and you can delete something that is really wrong. But I would only do this sparingly…people will stop commenting if they feel that the comments are being guarded so as to put a spin on the tone of the blog.
In general, people are quite nice and encouraging. It took me a while to figure this out, but it’s important to let your readers know that you are actually reading what they write to you. I’m much more likely to leave a comment on the blog when I know that the author will engage me in a private dialogue about the content. I’m much LESS likely to leave a comment on a blog with 500 comments already. Unless it’s for a giveaway.
I personally try to reply to anyone who comments on my blog (unless it’s a giveaway…because that would be exhausting!). Not everyone has an email linked to their comment and so I don’t respond to those. If they want to remain anonymous, then I let them do so. Otherwise, I want to let people know that I have read what they said and I appreciate that they have taken the time to both visit my blog and then to comment. Lately, I’ve also taken to answering some comments both publicly and privately because I think the question is a good one and needs a public answer. That is when I will comment in my own comment section. I’m working on getting my comments to look different so that it will be easy to see what is a comment back from me.
And trust me, when all else fails, just go back to that golden rule: When you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You really can’t go wrong with that. Kill them with kindness is another favorite of mine.