Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blog Rules? part 2

6. I will not respond personally to comments.
When I started blogging, I had two examples to guide me. The first was Susan's Sampler from blogspot. (Hi, Susie!) It's a charming blog, written by a friendly, outgoing person. She responds to comments with excitement and good humor.

The second example was HumanEvents.com, my default home page. This seems to be more of an editorial page than an objective news source. I could be wrong. Multiple writers contribute articles each day, and scores (sometimes thousands in Ann Coulter's or Phyllis Shlafly's case) of people comment on the articles. Some of the comments are downright mean or meaningless, but they get to stay because, in theory, they are a real person's reactions to the article. The writers of Human Events do not respond to comments, but the commenters respond to each other, sometimes with vehemence.

These were my examples. Do I follow the friendly, outgoing manner of Susan, or the business-like, tough-skin manner of Human Events?

Perhaps it was a mistake (shocking!), but I chose Human Events. For practical reasons, if I ever garner thousands of comments, I will not have time to respond personally to every comment. Should I set a precedent of doing so and later break it? Would that not seem ruder than not responding at all?

As a nerd, I am not always familiar with standard social obligations. I often walk outside social norms without regret or awareness. Plus, me adding comments seemed to artificially boost the comment count, and that felt like cheating.

Over the last two weeks, I started following a few other blogs. I'm learning that in this venue, specifically the blogspot participants, responding to comments seems to be the more socially acceptable form. It makes the blog more personal and encourages reader participation.

I must admit, my ego is such I want comments. I want to know other people are reading this and finding it useful or interesting or even stupid, if that's really what they think. I'm so egotistical, I've opened this blog up to allow Anonymous comments. A bit of a risk, yes, but I don't want to restrict access just yet. I do appreciate those who add a name to their comment. Knowing who you are allows me to know how much weight to give your comment.

So, while I started with Rule 6 as stated above, I will modify it for now into I may not always respond personally to comments. Some comments do not appear to need replies. Some comments may spark ideas for posts like Allison Bottke and Branding, and thus I will respond in that way. Do know that I read, consider and appreciate every comment, whether I respond personally or not. This kind of reader participation offers a huge benefit to a writer. I can learn in a timely fashion whether I am communicating well through the written word to people who may not know me personally.

Remember, this is a beginning blogger's search to find meaning in the experience. I started with the goal of making this blog meaningful to me. Oddly, I find I also want it to be meaningful to others.

One other, slightly off-topic thing. If I post in the morning, it is because I do not expect to have time to write on my book in the evening. If I post in the evening, you can be certain I am writing Elementals (my current work in progress) soon after. My goal is to have a completed first draft manuscript by the end of September. I am almost there. You'll be reading about that later.

I've officially broken Rule 3 now. Well, they're my rules. I guess I can break them if I want.

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