Friday, February 29, 2008

Minding our manners as bloggers.

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 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!


A Lady said...

Nicely put. I second those thoughts. Of course, is it just as appropriate to give a call to discuss a blog? Or walk out of the room into another room where one's mother happens to be sitting to discuss her blog, rather than leave a comment? Hmmm. Any feedback is always good. Or at least amusing or enlightening.

Lovella ♥ said...

well said. . .i knew you would do the subject justice. I think that it is just really great to open up the forum and have others input.

Anonymous said...

Very well stated, Jill (and Laura and Lovella!).

These are all things that I do try to keep in mind as I write. Comments left at my blog are not moderated, but that is why my email address is right there on the front page...hopefully people will feel free to use it rather than publish sensitive information. (WordPress does allow me to have comments go into moderation first, but I've seen their spam filter eat some of those comments, and they never reappear!)

The only other thing I can think of to add would be related to #1. Lots of photos are available on the blogosphere. I generally wouldn't mind anyone borrowing one of mine as long as they (1) ask me first and (2) give me credit for the photo. Some photos are even copyrighted, depending on which photo-hosting service is used, or on the photographer.

If I think of anything else, I'll pass it along! Again, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thoughts from a non blogger friend. I sometimes feel like I'm peeking into someones personal life. I was encouraged to start a blog too but I just couldn't get into it for me and I also felt that for me I didn't want my whole life exposed to the world. Is it rude of me to read blogs I find interesting or just to peek in on my friends if I am a non blogger. Are blogs meant for 'bloggers' only to read? I occationally comment but not always. Maybe I am reading where I don't belong? Not my intention at all but maybe perceived that way? Maybe I am eves dropping on your friendships? Not sure, give me some councel on that. Someone I asked about this topic that also doesn't blog feels like blogs that are public are just for anyone to read, gleen from and enjoy. I had to agree with that as I have thoroughly enjoyed, been encouraged, and learned from blogs I have read. Some I just pass by. Kind of like a magazine I guess. But oh....I don't want to be a snoop! That would not look good on me. Advice please. Kathy

Willow said...

Thank you for posting this. I came over from Lovella's blog at her suggestion.

I too am wondering what to do with links of people who have stopped blogging. Is there a time frame to wait, should you post and ask if the blogger is coming back?

I agree about the tags. I don't have a lot of time to pass on awards, but I don't want to hurt feelings.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Kathy~I think you said it very well, blogs are public, just like a magazine article, available to be read by anyone who is interested. Non-bloggers are welcome, MORE than welcomed!
Not snoopy at all, if a blogger wants to keep something private they will, otherwise, they are putting their life out for view, and are OK with that.

An occasional comment is a nice way of showing appreciation for the entertainment you receive from the work of the blogger. No every post, just time to time if you read regularly is plenty.
Glad you read!

Heather L. said...

Lovella sent me over to read what you came up with -- terrific! My husband (a minister) has thought about doing one of his fireside chat evenings on blogs -- their purpose, and what or what NOT to put on a blog. They can be powerful tools, or can cause a lot of hurt.

Lovella ♥ said...

I think that Willow had a very good point about the blogging awards that neither of us thought to adress. I have never put them on my sidebar and I also have a hard time passing them on since my favorites will likely remain my favorites and that seems a bit like a little girl gang to me.

Kathy said...

I've broken a couple rules. Posting pictutres of people without asking. Taking a break without saying anything. I just do not like to leave a clue that I might be leaving town. But to say taking break - I'll think about that. The rules are great and well thought out. I mentioned also that I prefer people not to list my first and last name in their links - just Kathy or my blog title. I'm realizing more and more how public my blog is and I'm getting more OK with that.

L&D said...

Love this love it love it.

I soooooo agree. There is nothing I disagree with in this post. Lady, you and I are surely cut from the same cloth.

I posted a little more detailed response on Lovella's, but it's all along the same lines as your thoughts here.

Well done.

I think I might go and write a post about this soon too. And give Credit to you, Laura and Lovella. Naturally.


Julie said...

Good job, Jill !
I agree with your points, and think it was a great subject for you and Lovella and Laura to open for discussion!
I said my piece on Lovella's blog since her's was up first .. smile

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

This is an excellent post, Jill, and very helpful (wish I'd seen something like it when I first started blogging; I was sort of feeling my way in the dark then). I've left a longer comment at Lovella's. Everyone's comments have been so thoughtful and helpful too. It helps to get everyone's views on these things; the more the better because we all seem to have our own pet peeves or sensitive issues. Thank you and Lovell and Laura for your input.

Heather Anne said...

I really enjoyed this post - a lot of good things to keep in mind! Thank you for taking the time to write it out in such an enjoyable manner!

Islandsparrow said...

A really interesting discussion - thanks Jill!

I think Lovella's comments about the award giving being like "little girl" clubs is true - I'm a teacher and it reminds me very much of the stuff on the playground.

I've left my very loooong comment on Lovella's blog :)

Thanks again.

ellen b. said...

I appreciate you, Laura and Lovella posting these thoughts on blogging etiquette.

Marg said...

It's my first time reading your blog.
I came over from Lovella's blog. Thanks for the 10 tips. I will be short-listing them for myself and keep them posted close to my computer as a reminder.
I too have questioned many issues, but feel so much better now that you have openly discussed these points.
It's so important to stay true to who you are rather than trying to emulate or compete with others.

Vee said...

I'm here from Lovella's and have enjoyed the discussion you gals have been having. Lots of food for thought!

Marni said...

just letting you know i read your blogiquette. :) my only addition is this: when i read blogs,
i sometimes feel awkward about leaving a comment because its as i'm interrupting a conversation between people who know each other very well. [especially if there are people who comment regularly on each other's blogs] that's another schoolyard issue i guess.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill, After reading this wonderful post I leave with a wealth of golden nuggets. Many thanks

Melodie Davis said...

I'm a relative newcomer to blogging so this a great list or reminders and thoughts.