Saturday, September 27, 2008

Avoiding Blogging Stereotypes

I haven't been blogging for all that long (about 5 months), but I'm glad to finally feel like I'm getting the hang of a lot of things. I've received all sorts of good advice from friends along the way, as well as learning from posts I've read. I started blogging just to keep up with family and possibly friends, and blogging has turned into a really important part of my life. This post is meant to be an audience participation thing, because I really want to hear what you guys think.

First I'll start with how I came to feel the way I do about blogging. I'd like to quote some friends in purple (hope they don't mind! about the quoting or the purple.) As I was reading through this again I realized that these guys are both professors of history, teaching me about blogging!:
" Until I tried it, I always thought blogging was a little self-indulgent. Now, I'm glad to indulge!" I hadn't even thought of this!! It has explained to me why some people shy away from blogging, including reading blogs. I think it also partially explains why I feel so apologetic about what I write. But it stopped me from being bothered with all the "this blog is about ME" everywhere. I realized people were making fun of themselves (I really did think that people were serious and were just vain like that. Weird. Especially for someone as sarcastic as I am...)
I've. . . heard about something called "blog guilt" and "blog anxiety," where people spend tons of time on their blogs, or people who don't spent a lot of time feel guilty, or people who obsess over the comments. I just think, we already have enough to worry about, why worry about such a trivial thing? " This might not sound very profound, but it came early on when I was still very excited about getting comments. It's totally impacted how I see things.

I've also read a large number of posts about blogging (the heavily plagiarized one by Sue comes immediately to mind) or at least people mentioning here and there on their blogs about blogging/comments, that have had me picking and choosing what I want my blogging experience to be. AND what I don't want it to be.

Soon after I started blogging, I learned that I loved it when people posted regularly. I decided that I would try to post thrice a week. I shoot for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sometimes, when we're gone on a weekend, I might schedule the post so that it is published while I'm out. Sometimes this might cause almost an entire post to be in microscopic type because blogger is weird and it wasn't showing up like that on the preview before we left (sorry about that one, y'all).
I still post thrice a week, although I'm beginning to think that this is more than is necessary. I do it because I want to keep myself disciplined and doing something regularly. I realize this a little wrong, since you should just post when you have something to say. I do that too, though, I just wait to publish until the right day!
I have also spent a great deal of time apologizing for how long or boring/pointless my posts are and that I'm not trying to make things interesting around here. I am trying not to do this as much, but I am still constantly surprised that people are reading this blog. I also realize that hopefully, people just won't read if they think it's boring so apologizing for it is almost as pointless as some of my posts are.

It used to be that when I visited a new blog I would sometimes take note of how many comments they had on their posts, and kind of determine their popularity based on that. I would rarely leave a comment if there were already 15+ comments on that post, as I assumed that that person probably wouldn't even notice if I did or not.

I'm not going to lie and say I don't care about comments. It would be like saying I hate getting email from people I like. I don't. I love it. I just try not to let the number concern me too much. I will say that I was shocked the first time I saw that I had 17 comments. I was thinking, wait!! Am I one of them!?! But I know I'm not. I don't have 60 people subscribed to my blog. In reality I think at least half of the people that read my blog also comment! Sometimes more. Why are people so nice like that to me? Not sure, but I love it. I'll gush a bit about you guys in my
next post.

So now I realize that I think you can probably get a LOT of comments before you stop caring to read them all. I still don't comment on blogs like The Pioneer Woman though. I mean really. Do people think she reads the 300th comment about how their kid also goes streaking through the house naked, or how Wow! I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, too!!? (okay, I sorta made this up. I rarely visit her site, although I love it. Especially Cooking and I just peeked on there and saw TEN THOUSAND comments left on a giveaway post). I mean I'm glad people DO leave comments and they should. I just don't. Even on giveaways.

Since we're talking about avoiding things today, let me say that I try not to have pet peeves in blogging, because I want to like everyone and have us all be different and beautiful in our own ways. There is ONE thing that I don't quite get, though. I remember one time I was reading a blog I'd never read before and the post was a very intense, heart-wrenching one about her son's behavior disorder and how it affected their family. It really affected me as I read it and I was overflowing with a desire to know how to help her (she was asking for advice). There was just one comment before me and it was something like, "How funny that we bumped into each other at the store! Love your new purse." or something completely off topic like that. I was like, "Huh!?!" So I don't like comments that are completely off topic. Especially when the subject matter of the post is very personal or at least interesting (that hasn't really happened here, but I see it a lot on other blogs). I know that not everyone has the email address to contact their friend, but at least comment on the post first, then say your other thing. Just my opinion.

This is such a hard one for me. Before I really got into blogging, my blog lists, famiLee (maiden name there) and friends, were all the bloggers I knew. As I started reading more and more blogs, I started thinking about a "friends I've never met" list. Still, I find I want to have 7 different categories for people I met in different ways or people who are huge (blog huge, not physically huge, that would be a really rude way to classify blogs! People who weigh under 130 lbs., 130-150, 150-170 etc.), people who found me and now we're friends, people who I found and now we're friends etc. etc. I just feel like there's a story behind each blog and I hate just lumping everyone into a huge blog roll.

My solution? You've probably already noticed. I just don't have a blog roll of people I've never met. I think I'll let my "followers" (which unfortunately feels slightly like a popularity contest I don't want to be in, but I love to see all your faces-or other scenic pictures, or blue, shadowy, faceless silhouettes, in my side bar) kind of be like my blog roll. Also, on my profile I have a list of the blogs I'm following, including those that aren't on blogger and therefore cannot be in my followers list. I think that will be my blog roll for now. I feel totally honored to be on some of your blog rolls. Really. Thanks a lot, guys.

Now! would you please tell me about some things you don't love about the world of blogs? Something that bugs you (even if I or my readers do it (like when someone doesn't reciprocate putting you on their blog list or something). We all know we love each other and we're OPEN, right?) or something that you are trying to steer clear of? I'll have an upcoming post on embracing blogging stereotypes and you can share what you love there, but for now, lets keep it negative.
*Oh, and will you also vote on my poll? Thanks, man!


Thora said...

I don't like how often people on blogs where a lot of people comment who don't know each other in real life attack each other or each other's decisions. I've seen this on group Mormon blogs (like Segullah). Although I like the posts themselves, the comments end up leaving me so upset that I've stopped reading any blogs that engender these kind of discussions.

I think that if we were all sitting in a room together we all wouldn't be so caustic. Not that our base feelings would change, but that we'd be a lot more polite and nice about what others thought.

Kazzy said...

I also am not thrilled with off-topic comments. If someone has written something important and you are going to log in to comment, I think it should be an acknowledgment of the post. I have a dozen blogs I follow and find that they are written by people I would be very interested in meeting. I am not just looking to be entertained, but to have my time looking at the monitor be worth something. Thanks for your post.

Erin said...

I don't feel like I am very blog savvy. I didn't realize that you posted regularly until you mentioned in a post that "thursday's post will be about ___ and Saturday's will be about ____". I like that I know when to check you blog now. But I don't think that I would have the discipline to be regular about it.

Heather of the EO said...

I agree on so many of these things. I also have a hard time commenting on blogs with a zillion comments. I have a feeling all the comments ARE read though. Out of respect? hopefully? If I ever had 300 comments, I think that's how I'd feel. I would want to see what people took the time to say. But that's never going to happen, so I won't worry myself.
I do worry about narcissism. Blogging can get really self focused and I too work on not taking it all too seriously.

What I do take seriously is the friendship it creates. I'm crazy about all you lovely women I've been blessed with "meeting." Even if I never see you in real life, I will care about you and pray for you when you need it. I love that.

Now, um. This is really funny timing, but I um...sort of tagged you on my post today. hope that's not one of the things you hate...

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm with you on the not commenting if they already have a ton of comments. I usually think it's rude to read and not comment (it's kind of like eavesdropping) but does TAMN really need 300 comments?

Oh and my blog should go in the under 130lbs. category. Thanks.

Jill said...

I don't always comment if there's already a ton of comments. It mostly depends on what the post is about. I try to read through all the previous comments first, just to make sure that I'm not copying anyone else.
I'll "ditto" what Heather said about the friendships I've made through my blog. I've even been able to meet some of my "blog buddies" in person.
I now know some incredible women that I wouldn't have ever "met" without my blog.

KC said...

I found myself nodding along with everything in your post. I just think that people should be able to do what they want with their blogs. I've never really been concerned with popularity either--perhaps that's why I continue with my blog even though I get ver few comments!

Melanie J said...

I think this is really thoughtful and I appreciate you and this post. Since I've only been blogging for about three months, I'm trying to find my feet too. I started a blog because that's what I was told you should do as an aspiring writer, to develop your voice or build an audience. It's turned into something different. It has become way too much about validation for me and I hate that dependency. Your comment on my blog the other day about disliking "Comment gimmes" really got me thinking. I don't like it either, so why was I doing it? I truly want people to speak if they feel moved to by laughter or empathy, but how am I having a real experience with people if I'm forcing them to engage with me? And now, as usual, I've turned this all in to being about me. So here's an answer to your questions. I like blog rolls because reading the rolls of people I like leads me to more people I like (which is how I found you). I love when you can feel truth and authenticity drip out of someone's post. I like when people share their trials because it makes me feel less alone and also able to help others by including them in my prayers, although I pretty much never tell them that I do that. I also agree about off topic comments, which I might be guilty of in this very comment. It also kind of throws me if someone is more "slice of life" and suddenly there's a recipe hanging out on their blog. And I think it's kind of cool when people comment in their own comment trail on other people's comments. It's fun to know what they're thinking. Even though I never do that. I still like it when other people do.

Lisa said...

Okay, Melanie, so I'll comment on comments for you!

Heather and Jill-- you guys are just SO upbeat that you couldn't keep it negative like I asked!! We'll be talking about meeting people through blogging on the next post!

Also, I think the Pioneer woman DOES read all those comments. Right after I posted this someone from Pioneer Woman Admin checked out my blog. So at least someone cares who's talking about her. She seems like an awesome person.

Melanie - I know exactly how you feel. That's why I was glad I read Sue's post so early on and thought it sounded like people were really obsessive. Then I started getting the comment bug and that person who I quote really helped me realize that I don't want to be like that. I DO have a problem with checking my sitemeter. That'll be in my next post, too.

Alison - I laughed out loud at your requested category! I mean, not at the category. I don't mean I think you're fat, I just mean I love that closing line of you comment! :)

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Lisa, I'm really glad you are posting about this. Like you I just started a few months ago (May this year) after my SILs persuaded me. I was at first really snotty about it, thinking exactly what someone said that it's pretty self-indulgent. Like anyone really cares that much about what I think about anything. But we live away from everyone in the family and it seemed like a great idea to stay connected and informed about one another. It was all a family thing at first. Then a stranger visited leaving a comment and then another and it totally freaked me out. But soon I realized that's what a lot of people do and so I started to blog surf, too. Then I started to leave comments. And I started to have fun with it. It's just one thing after another. I'm still a big rookie, so I'm still learning the blogging culture and etiquette and the technology. I have a blog roll because there are really good bloggers I want to keep up with even if they don't reciprocate. I mean I read books and I don't expect authors to add me as their friend. But I admit I love it when people reciprocate my admiration:-) So maybe I'll re-evaluate my blog roll :-)
I don't add to my own comment thread but it sounds like a good idea to do, but do people come back to check what other said about their comment? I don't know how that works and that's the only reason I don't comment on comments. I think I'm now at the stage where I blog becasue of the feeling of community. Your blog is one of my favorites because I love your writing style (and no, I don't mind if your posts are long because I enjoy them!) and you seem like an interesting person and someone I can be friends with if we lived close to each other. And I think that's my main motivation for blogging right now, building a community. Finding people who expand me with their thoughts and experiences. I visit all sorts of blogs. Some people even though they are not the literary types and not great writers just seem so nice, kind and uplifting. I like to visit them too and build blog friendships with them. So I guess maybe that's why I like comments. The possibility of friendships. I'm finding out though that blogging is time consuming so I'm taking a tip from you ---have regularly scheduled blog time. Between my job, my family, church, real life friends, etc, I'm already so pressed for time. So I guess that's what bugs me the most, the pressure to keep up with posting. I feel like if I don't post then I'll lose all my bloggy friends. Weird, ha?

McEwens said...

Lisa.. I agree! I dont ever leave Sue a comment, hers are up in the high 80s if not over 100. I thought, wow, will she even read these! BUT 10 THOUSAND! WOW!

I never thought about blogging about being self indulgent. I think after reading this I will get rid of my blog roll... and the following thing, it is great for google reader, but I wish the number wasnt there...

NOW for off topic... LOL
Did it warm up?

Me plus 3 Hecks said...

I think comments are groovy.

I also get a little irked at completely random comments--except when they are on my own blog and I understand them. Then I'm just glad to have a friend checking in!

You know what I think though, which you didn't ask? I think a very sneaky way to get comments is to ask questions of your readership at the end of your post. :) I mean, shouldn't your post stand on it's own merit--either eliciting response or not, without tricky prompts? :)

Jen said...

I can't stand when people post political bashing stuff - from either side. I don't mind if it's a proclaimed politically minded individual, but when someone you read all the time suddenly comes out and slams your views (or slams the views of the other side as if no one who reads their blog could possibly disagree) it leaves me bugged. If they want to be positive about what they think fine, but leave the bashing out.

I'm done now. Thanks for the opportunity to get that off my chest.

Becky said...

"...but for now, lets keep it negative." Cool, I've got permission! :)

One of the things I dislike about blogging is that it's impossible to pick up on the "tone of voice,"
if you know what I mean. For example, a friend of mine made a comment on her blog that made me feel a little guilty, even though she was just joking around. I wrote this HUGE comment about my guilt and my reasoning and justification and on and on. She had to reel me back in and tell me she was just being silly.

I know this part isn't negative, but I like that you choose specific days to blog. I need to be better about that - sometimes other, more important things get neglected because I'm on the computer too often.

David Sibert said...

I don't think that I hate anything about blogging, I am still fresh with this. Blogging for me is to keep my parents and myself happy. Think of it. Memories. This site is going to be around a long time I reckon. SO, it is cool to see the pictures and posts when you first start off. I do however hate that people are able to type what they want on your blog. I have a friend who had another friend write swears all over her comment page. She was so upset.

Kimberly said...

Great post, Lisa! Love how you put all that into words so well.

I've been doing this for two years now and I've cycled through so many different mixed up feelings. I've done the guilt. I've done the reading blogs I don't really like just because they read mine. I've pouted and felt my confidence plummet over an abysmal comment count and had it soar over a huge one. I've posted multiple times a day, once a day, every other day. I've done memes and awards then ignored them. I've had all sorts of blog rolls...

What it comes down to I think is what you want to get out of the experience. What matters to you? Keeping my objectives in mind (friendship, improved writing skills, and being uplifting and inspiring to other women) really helps me focus my time so I don't get upset over trivialities.

Susan said...

huh. I thought it was to just sort of post pictures of something your kids did and maybe say a bit about what it was, if you feel like it. :)

Your blog is the only "popular blog" I read (sorry Anne, if you're reading this, but it's true...) I love reading both your posts and then all the comments, you've got some fun followers. But I'm the original fan man!! (Okay, I looked up your first comment ever and it was Anne, but I was next, I swear! AND I take credit for being the first person to start bugging you to start. :) ) (For me it's not about popularity, it's all about the famousness!

Susan said...

I was so excited to do my first HTML in a comment that I forgot to close my parentheses. So I'll do it now, with HTML: )!

Emiline said...

Interesting stuff. I've thought about a lot of these things, but I've never written about them.

I added you to my blogroll a while back. I'm not so good with updating it.

I don't know if I should get into "following" people. My blogroll is crazy as it is!

Good post.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

First time here and thorougly enjoyed your post; I'll be back. As a new blogger I appreciated the link, I think I'm at the beginning of the cycle.

Before I started a blog, I mostly read news and political blogs. The comment threads were very interactive, with the host always a par of the conversation.

The only negative experiences, so far for me, have been not bookmarking when I go blogsurfing. There are blogs I found that I wanted to go back to and couldn't. The other is that I put a site meter on this weekend and checked it, like five times a day over the weekend. Your post helped me laugh at myself.

by AnnieValentine said...

This is so bad to say, but I don't have time to read blogs. I mean, I wish I could sit at my computer all day and browse and laugh and cry and comment, but you know me, I post every day and when I'm done, my time is up.

I also hate the blogging (reading them, again) has taken up the spare time I used to use to work on my manuscripts and queries. That stinks so much.

Great post, BTW.

Elizabeth said...

If you wrote this a year ago, I would have had a list of all the things that drove me nuts about blogs! Now that I don't blog hop as much (thank you google reader) I find that I enjoy blogging much more, and I figure I can be just as annoying as the person who is annoying me, so I probably shouldn't get too worked up. :) So, I really can't think of anything at the moment, and I have been thinking about this for days now to have something to contribute. Oh well, maybe next time!

Jen said...

Warning: This comment has nothing to do with this post.

Lisa - You're up!!! Come and see!!!

charrette said...

I could swear I already left a comment on this post. Maybe it disappeared.

There is very little I dislike about the blogging world, but here's my short list:

1. Off-topic comments.
2. People (like me) who don't list their email address in their profile. (Determined to change that) :)
3. Typing n those obnoxious mystery letters when leaving a comment. (Thank you for not requiring that)
4. Pressure. (To visit so many blogs a day, to post every so often, etc.) Even though I totally enjoy all those things, I don't like feeling like I HAVE to.
5. Lurkers. (I wish they'd all speak up)
6. Comment counting. (I wish it didn't matter so much HOW MANY and we could focus on HOW WONDERFUL that someone thought enough to respond.)

Of course those are all outweighed by the benefits, which are huge!

MelancholySmile said...

I hate not knowing what is expected of me. Blog etiquette, I guess. If someone leaves a comment on my blog, do I leave one on theirs? Do I email them? If someone has me in a blog roll, do I put them on mine? Oh, the blasted blog roll! Right now, it only has the blogs I read when I first started out. Now, I read so many more blogs, but don't know where to start with adding people. It feels silly- like a popularity contest, or an 'in' list. Same with the 'followers' feature. So for now, I do nothing and hope I'm not offending anyone!