Have you ever wondered as you read a blog or wrote your own blog if you were doing it right?
By that I mean do you wonder if there are some rules of etiquette out there that your should be aware of, but aren't?
From time to time my friend and fellow blogger Lovella and I have discussed how we feel about certain things we have read. We have occasionally been a little hurt, or surprised, or extremely pleased with what we saw posted on other blogs. From time to time we ask each other if what we were thinking of doing on our blog would be appropriate, or how we could best handle a tricky subject.
We would run ideas and reactions by each other, trying to decide if we were over reacting, or reacting in a reasonable way to various things that happened in the course of blogging. Little by little we came up with an informal "code" or set of preferences that we thought were reasonable.
This morning I finally decided to jot down a list of suggestions or "Blogger Etiquette". After I had written my suggestions, I ran them by my Generation X blogger daughter Laura for her input; and then I gave Lovella a call and asked for her insights as well.
I figured two middle aged ladies, one in Canada, from a small town semi-rural area, one in America, from a major city, and a twenty something nurse would make for a good starting point for an informal survey of Blogger Manners.
So here is our "Ten Suggestions for Bloggers"
Feel free to comment after you read them. We all would love to hear what you think!
1. Give Credit.
If you read a blog about something, and it makes you think, and then you write your own post on the topic, credit the blog that got you thinking with a link back.
Write something along the lines of "Susie was writing about horrible hair cuts the other day (link to that specific post) and it made me think about the horrible hair cut I got just before my senior prom. Or "Lovella made a chocolate cake the other day, I want to talk about how I made her cake but changed it up a bit."
If you saw several blogs about a topic, for example favorite Christmas ornaments, say something like "A lot of bloggers have been posting about Christmas ornaments. I thought I'd share about mine as well."
Also don't try to copy exactly another blogger's layout. Be inspired by other bloggers, then add your own spin. Give credit if another blogger gave you the idea.
2. Respect privacy
If you know where the blogger lives, yet they have never mentioned where that is, do not say the name of the town in your comments. Ditto any other personal information that you many have, for example, don't ask how their child's divorce is going or job loss etc, etc....
If the blogger has not mentioned it on their blog, then they probably would prefer you not to mention in the comments or on your own blog either.
Do not attempt to find out where the blogger lives, their address or phone number. If you do wish to contact them or send them something, use a "DO NOT POST" message to them in their comments. If they want you to have the information, fine; if they don't, respect that and do not seek to learn specifics.
Don't post pictures of people without their permission. Try not to post children's faces that are caught in crowd shots.
3. Use DO NOT POST options as needed.
This goes for asking permission to use a picture, add the blog to your list of links, or make personal comments that should remain private. If you have never used this option, first make sure the comments are MODERATED, then put DO NOT POST at the top of your comment.
4. Do not use your blog to say anything that you would not want to be spoken about in a public space.
Think carefully about what you say about a friend or family member, your job, place of worship and so forth. When in doubt, ask permission before you post that "funny" story about your friend or child.
Be aware that even if you delete a post after it has been published, it can be found online again. Trust me...I know. If you regret what you've written, delete it anyway. Few people know how to find a deleted post.
5. If you are going on vacation or taking a break, just say you are taking a break and will be back soon.
Readers wonder if bloggers are OK if they suddenly stop posting. Naturally there are concerns about letting people know you are gone away. Saying "taking a break" is not the same as announcing that no one will be home for awhile. (I/we would welcome thoughts about how to handle this.)
It is OK to begin posting again, and let your regular readers know by commenting on their blogs by saying something like "I'm back in blogdom and enjoyed your post today."
6. Ask for and give helpful feedback.
If you change your font, and you wonder if it is easy to read, ask. If pictures go missing on a post, let the blogger know that you were sad that some of the pictures were missing (say which ones if you can...usually the person who posted sees the pictures still on their computer.)
If you stop by and read a post, leave a comment! It can be quite simple, like a calling card: "Enjoyed this!" is fine. It is like saying "hi" when you see your neighbor instead of just peeking secretly in their window from time to time!
7. Give a heads up warning when needed.
This suggestion was from Nurse Laura, who frequently posts medical stuff that may make some people queasy. I tend to warn folks before they scroll down that there will be a snake photo, or a story that involves body fluids. Ewww...hate to read about diaper contents while I am sipping my morning coffee! Laura also puts a warning on her posts if she is going to rant.
If you link to something with music or lots of pop ups, you might do a heads up warning on that as well, or if you are planning on starting to have music on your posts.
8. Don't expect comments back from a comment.
Some people are good having a dialog in their comment section. It is nice, but shouldn't be expected. Consider a comment to be akin to a thank you note; and don't expect a thank you note for a thank you note!
Just because you "tagged" a blogger does not obligate the blogger to participate. Nothing personal...you are free to ask, we are free to decline.
9. Links are at the blogger's discretion.
It is nice to ask permission, or at least inform a blogger that you have linked to them. Do not judge a blogger by their links; they are not responsible for each opinion expressed in their links blogs. (I/we would appreciate input on how to drop a link. We had a big discussion about this and it was much too long to include here!)
10. Be aware that saying a post was long is like saying "you talk too much."
I confess, this is a pet peeve of mine. If you like a loooonnggg post, say you appreciate the in depth discussion. If you don't feel up to plowing through 42 pages, just skim or pass by. What is long and uninteresting to one person is way too brief to someone else.
And finally, the GOLDEN RULE:
Remember each blogger should write for their own personal enjoyment. If people read what you write, that is great, but in the end, be true to yourself, write what you want to write about, while allowing yourself to grow.
Laura, Lovella and I all welcome your feedback on this post. L & L said I should just write it and they would live with how I posted it. (Brave...very brave.)
Let the discussions begin!