Why won’t that cool mom blogger email me back? Why is there such low traffic on my blog? What am I doing wrong?
You all wanted to know some basic blog standards, didn’t you? A little mini etiquette class here on my blog? There is a lot of ground to cover on the subject, including comment behavior, attribution of posts, blogrolls, formatting, revealing personal information, blog addiction, boundries and more.
Here are some tips in no particular order:
Punctuation & Grammar: I have to say this is #1 in my book. I don’t like reading blogs that don’t have good punctuation and grammar. I also don’t like it when a big monster post is all one paragraph. It’s difficult to read and a major turn off! It’s hard enough to get through a super long post that is pleasing to read and flows like a novel… so you should expect that anything less wouldn’t get much traffic. ‘Nuff said.
Blogrolls: Be as generous with trading blogrolls as you want others to be with you, but never complain about it or expect reciprocation. No blogger owes this “link” to you. No, not even if you've blogrolled them forever and sent them emails telling them how much you love them. You ask once, hope for a polite yes or no, and then you let it go. This goes along with giving comments and not getting them back from the blogs you read. It’s nothing personal. I have run into this a few times, but I just keep reading their blogs anyway. If they are good writers, have great content and give you a belly laugh now and then, they don’t need to comment on your blog or even visit your blog. They have given you favor enough. We certainly don’t expect J.K. Rowling to read something we’ve written even though we’ve read all her books, do we? You can be a fan, but your “idol” doesn’t have to reciprocate. Think of it that way.
Addiction: Pace yourself. Develop a list of blogs you especially like, but don't obsessively visit every single day (unless you have the extra “me” time). I have only a very tiny handful I visit every day – you know who you are. I otherwise have about 50 blogs I visit, but I try to visit no more than a few a day. I find that by lightly cruising through a few different blogs a day, I don’t abandon my family or my job. (I guess #1 blogging etiquette should be: Don’t let your non-internet life suffer. Make sure your family knows they are first, checking your comments/email/most-recent-cool-mom’s-blog should be later in your list of priorities.)
Referencing an article or post: Do not be shy about mentioning (and linking) one of your older posts when writing a new post. Nobody minds this. No sense in rewriting something you’ve already written about. As for mentioning other people’s work… if you are blogging about a specific post on someone else's blog or on a news site, you should ALWAYS include the link in the text of your post (could be an a permalink or a typed link). Linking to the appropriate permalink seems to be more commonly done, and is definitely more helpful to the reader, than linking to the "front page" of a blog. If a blogger's site is set up to create "trackback" links, the trackback link should be used (I think blogger does this automatically when you link to one certain post). That helps the original blogger know who's pointing to their post, as well as helping you increase your blog's visibility. There have been times I’ve clicked the link to an article, only stopped because the permalinks didn't work. If you want your readers to be linking to a cross reference, make sure you’ve tested it!
Referring to another blogger: When you want to mention a friend or other fellow blogger, it is courteous to add a hyperlink behind their name or the name of the blog. The link should be to the front page unless you are mentioning the name in the context of a specific post. And, again, make sure your links WORK!
Comments: Comment sections are fraught with opportunities for poor etiquette, and although many bloggers have disclaimers noting their right to remove the ones that are rude or not to their liking, most have no guidelines for proper behavior.
Generally, if you are commenting on other people's blogs frequently, it is respectful to allow comments on your own blog. Some very public figures in the blog world don't allow comments. This seems wise as comments might get out of hand with the huge number of readers. If you want to make comments on other blogs, and you don't have comments set up on your blog, you should offer your email address to your readers in your profile or side bar. Many smart bloggers have begun to use the anti-spider method for displaying email addresses, something like me [at] me [dot] com. An obvious signal - I don't want you to use my email address for spam.
(That said, you could put your email up on your side bar in this format anyway. If you don’t have your email address in your blog profile, this is a safer way to “make it public” so we can contact you and share personal experiences and give you further support that we wouldn't want everyone else seeing in your comments section.)
Also note that you can turn comments off on any (or all) of your published posts. I did this once on a “spiritual” post that I didn’t want any feedback on. Bloggers do this for a reason, so if you have a comment on a “comments closed” post, email it to the blogger or leave it alone, but don’t go to another post and leave a comment there concerning the “closed comment” post.
Appropriate comments, of course, depend on the blog and the poster. An obvious overall guideline is to take your cue from the blog author, and other "guests." If you are on a personal blog obviously kept for a small audience of family & friends, it might be appropriate to post comments in the same tone as the posting… it would be entirely inappropriate to disagree harshly with their viewpoints (i.e. "Why are you freaking out about missing a pre-natal pill?!?! Are you kidding me?"). Generally, if a blog is personal, and you are intruding, keep your comments friendly and supportive. They aren't asking for your “wiser” viewpoint. On the other hand, political blogs or other blogs where a small group of people maintain a fast and fierce dialogue about current events would be a great place to voice your disagreement (with respect, of course), especially if you have a new, informed viewpoint.
The #2 rule about appropriate comments is to always make your comments applicable and unique. If a few people have already posted saying what you're about to say, please refrain (especially if your comment is nothing more than, "Good times!"). In addition, even if you have something REALLY great to tell everyone, don't tell them on a comment forum unless it is applicable to the discussion at hand. Even if you are visiting your best friend's blog, you don't want to leave a comment advertising your literary accomplishment on a post about your friend's latest issue with their toddler. Wait until your friend posts about the new book she's reading, or about how much she loves you (or email her). If you're visiting a stranger's blog, the rule should be even more strict; wait until you see a post about all the up-and-coming writers from your neck of the woods (or email that blogger).
Hiatus: If you are on a blog drought, let us know about it. Just a one sentence post. Even if you are only gone a week, we worry about you. Even if we’ve never met you in person, we care. It’s doesn’t have to relay what you are up to, you may not want to share that. Just do like you would at a corporate office… send an email out to the whole team telling them you’ll be gone so we don’t have to wonder. Most bloggers have figured out bloglines.com or Google Reader, so when you finally post again, we won’t miss a beat to comment and say welcome back… but for those that aren’t as blog savvy yet, don’t make them waste their time checking back every day.
And lastly… 2 things…
Boundries: It’s a given we all care about each other, maybe some more than others. We may not have met in person (or maybe we’ve been aquaintances/friends/what-have-you in person)… Remember that our blogs are public, but that does not mean we are best friends because you stumbled upon us and we seem to have a lot in common. So if you send a personal email to a fellow blogger and they don’t respond, don’t take it, well, personal, but DO take it as a sign. Especially when this happens time and time again. I am the type of person that loves most people and have found so many inspiring bloggers that I would love to strike up real life friendships, but it’s not always reciprocated and that’s okay. I took it personally the first few times this happened to me, but I’ve learned that I can still be an avid reader and not be best buds with the author. Mommy blogging is not on-line mommy dating.
Personal information: We all have different levels of security on our blogs. I don’t mind calling my son and husband by their real names on my blog. I never use our last name. I never refer to our town. I never refer to my blogger friends with their real names if that does not follow suit with their blog’s level of security. There are some very protective mom bloggers out there who have given everyone in their families nicknames and/or don’t refer to even the state they live in and/or don’t even post photos of their children’s faces. No matter what level of security you use, we need to be respectful of how fellow bloggers protect their identities. NEVER divulge personal information that you may know about another blogger, a) on your blog, b) in that blogger’s comments section, c) at a blogger meet up, or d) over email without that blogger’s permission. What we post on our blogs is what we want the "public" to have access to, nothing more.
In short: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Blogging is supposed to be fun. So if you don’t stick to the above “rules” you may not be punished for it… these are just some things I have picked up along the way. I know what I prefer… and if this benefits you, great!
Thanks for reading this super long post. I hope the grammar and spacing was to your fancy… ;)
Please email me any ideas you have and I will include them in an updated posting - ihartpartly [at] hotmail [dot] com
(I will be adding this post to my sidebar for constant reference, feel free to do the same.)
DISCLAIMER: Please don't take offense to my observations... I am not pin pointing anyone... I read all kinds of blogs, but most bloggers follow these "rules" because a lot of this stuff makes sense and seems silly to be posting about.