Posted by: Brenda Kula | July 28, 2008

Thoughts On Blogging Do’s & Don’ts

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Today I’m devoting my post to thoughts on what I like and don’t like to read in blogs. I’ve seen this thoroughly analyzed in other blog posts, opening up dialogue for a forum of sorts. Everybody has an opinion. This is where you can put it. I’m up for any and all comments on this debatable topic.

The following is what I personally like or don’t like when it comes to blogging and reading blogs. And it is what others have conveyed to me through individual email correspondence, and that I happen to agree with. I hope no one is offended. I am not an expert on these matters. I am simply listing personal viewpoints. Nothing more, nothing less.

1. I suppose the thing that bothers me the most, and other bloggers have written complaining to me about the most is: getting bloggers to disable those little letters and numbers that appear in order to comment.

I read a lot of blogs, folks. And you want readers to find it easy to comment. Trying to read all those slanted, makes-you-feel-dizzy line of squiggles is, to me anyway, unnecessary. I’ve never utilized them, and I’ve never had any problem with folks writing nasty comments. (And after all, you can always delete comments if you feel the need to do so.)

I feel like I’m going to go blind trying to get that line written correctly in order for my comment to be accepted. If you don’t get it right, you have to start all over again. Other bloggers have flat told me that they’re going to stop commenting on blogs where they have to do this.

If you’ve encountered problems, and this is why you have this option enabled, I’d like to hear about it. If not, please, let’s assume the world is a nice place and let them go…

2. I welcome any and all comments. I find it courteous to either email the person who made the comment, if they’re new to me. Or if they too have a blog, I go over and visit. Get to know them. Just common sense there. Lurking is up to you. If you want to read and not comment, it’s a free world.

3. Religion and politics have their place. But in my humble opinion, it isn’t in blog entries. Unless, of course, that is part of what your blog topic is actually about. I try to keep my ideology on these subjects in my comments to what someone else has written. I feel like "the door is open" if they’re already writing about it. Thus, I am welcome to come in and voice my viewpoint.

Now, if you’re reading and writing in the United States, you know we have a fundamental right to our choice of religion. But the other side of that coin is, we have the right to not have religion. Thus, your take on religion isn’t necessarily my take. And there are lots of different religious formats as well. So, not to step on anyone’s toes, but I’d rather see it left out altogether. If you want to write about it, say so in your subject matter. And then if I choose not to read it, I’m forewarned. Otherwise, let’s leave it at the church of our choice. Or not.

4. There are always a few narcissistic bloggers who lap up the attention, but don’t pay it forward. In other words, I will read blogs for a time. But if that blogger doesn’t ever email or come over and visit mine, eventually I stop reading theirs. Simple etiquette. No one is so good they can have their cake and eat it too. This blogging world is give-and-take. And if a blog has hundreds of comments every time they post, I know that it is not an issue for them. But for most of us who don’t have that problem… We share and share alike just as we hopefully were taught as children.

5. Children and pets are cute. Even mates, in moderation. Everything is cute in moderation. My children are grown, so I don’t tend to lean toward reading blogs pertaining to the raising and daily life of children. Just depends upon where you are in life. So that usually isn’t even an issue for me. You choose what you want to read.

But I personally like variety. I want to read about your life, as well as your garden or decorating or crafts, etc. Your ups and downs. Not just the fact that you’re the happiest of human beings. (If you have that secret, please share it and it will spread across the internet like wildfire.) I am happy for you if you have the most wonderful husband and family in the world.

But come on. Life isn’t always that way. So when that’s all I read about, I know I’m not getting the whole picture. Now if that’s all you’re comfortable with sharing, fine. We will catch on quick. And make our own decisions.

6. Do you have to have a photo? Well, no. Not for me to read it. I usually post a photo, because I just like to. If you have a real story that engages me, it doesn’t matter what image is at the top. I will read it anyway because you can write fluid sentences that mesmerize me.

7. How often should you comment? That’s up to you. It depends on your schedule. I happen to have a pretty flexible one, fortunately, so I can visit blogs and comment pretty often. But I certainly understand that this is not the case with most folks. Of course once you fall off the radar, you tend to get lost in the mix. I consider blog reading and commenting virtually my main social structure, as I’m a homebody. I like to keep up with my buddies. Depends on your nature.

8. Grammar and paragraphs: My view on this; from the standpoint of majoring in journalism in college, but mostly from what I find easy to understand and read, is that you need paragraphs every once in awhile to rest the eye. I don’t like to read blogs where they never use capital letters either, because I never know when to pause and take a breath before I go on to the next sentence. Correct spelling is not mandatory, because we don’t want to be chained to our dictionaries or stop the flow of thoughts. I’m somewhat anal about it. This is not to say I don’t misspell words, use the incorrect usage, or make typos I don’t catch when previewing my post before I save it.

9. Profiles: what we write about ourselves in the sidebar as a form of you-getting-to-know-me. I want to know about you. If you want to add something about your husband or kids or pets, so be it. But mainly, I just want to know what makes you tick.

I lived through the seventies, of course, so feminism was part of the overall agenda. Write what "you’re" about. I’ll get to know the husband and kids and such through your posts.

10. How long should your post be? Doesn’t matter. Sometimes you can get the point across in a few sentences and a photo. Or you might have a long story to tell us that will be shortchanged if you make it too brief. You don’t want to lose readers by saying too much. Or lose the impact if you say too little.

11. Do you need to post every day? No, of course not. You write when you feel like writing, and tell us what you want to tell us when. But two or three times a week is "staying involved." If you post less often than that, let the readers know that this will probably be the case, and they won’t look for you more often. The fact of the matter is: if you don’t post often, you lose readers. I know I look forward to reading other blogs, and if you only crop up occasionally, I forget what you’re about. Human nature, once again.

12. Should you play music in the background? I don’t really care, because I keep my computer audio muted. That’s because I’ve been knocked out of my chair a few times by clicking on a blog and being blasted out by the music that catches me off guard. I have "read" that most people don’t want to hear music when reading about blog etiquette in magazines and such, but then that could not possibly include every one of you. If you want to use music, it’s up to you.

Now I’ll turn my volume back up if I know what’s coming and it looks interesting. And if I know it will add something to the story line you’re writing about. But then it goes back down. Just like with religion, we all have our own individual tastes in music.

As a final note, I just want to say that I have found the blogging community to be quite accepting and nurturing. Bloggers seem eager to offer help to their fellow man/woman, and are quite generous people. I have met some of the most creative, individualistic, thought-provoking characters through blogging that I’ve ever had the chance to meet. I have found true friends. Overall, I find it a nice place, with folks who have manners and do what they can to help make the world a better place.

So I’m openly soliciting any thoughts you have on what I’ve just written. Feel free to add your own likes and dislikes in your comments, and then folks can get a broad range of viewpoints.

I am fairly blunt, honest, and I care what readers want to read. I’m listening.

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Responses

  1. What great points! I agree with you on all of them, especially #1. 🙂 I know it’s a great anti-spam tool, but I switched to moderating comments, and have had to reject the odd one or two entries, but that’s it. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were words, like Stuart’s blog, for example. But I’m with you on the hard to read squiggles. 🙂

  2. AMEN!!
    Gee Brenda I think you have said it all!!! I don’t need to add another thing!
    I too hate the little slanted squiggles,and I hate music esp if it catches me unaware.I always turn my sound off until I have finished reading the blogs.I really hate having to listen to what other’s think is good music.
    The only blogs I tend not to return to only because it holds no interest for me are people who only talk about their kids and pets and their religion, ladies please there must be something else in your life.
    I have never rejected a comment yet.I wish everyone would comment its only polite, its like saying Hello.Takes 2 seconds and one line.
    Hummm guess I wrote more than one line Brenda…..and I think I did add more to yours.. LOL ….
    Well that’s my story and i am sticking to it!!
    Diane

  3. Well. . . as you know I don’t have a lot of time and that means I don’t read many blogs myself. I have just the odd few that I keep up with, so most of this stuff doesn’t bother me all that much.
    That said I must agree with people posting fairly regularly for me to keep a blog on my favorites list. ( Said the woman who’s doing very badly in that department this summer! :)LOL!)

  4. Thanks for covering the basics; I wish I had read some of those points when I first got started blogging.
    A lot of what you said is common sense, however, over the years (and years and years) I’ve come to realize everyone doesn’t have common sense, so sometimes you have to spell it out! Most of what you said, I agree with.
    I didn’t realize the script of jumbled letters (whatever they are called) that you have to type in order to comment could even be turned off; I hate it, too, but thought it was a necessary evil. Let’s see how long it takes me to figure our how to do turn mine off.
    You are very straightforward with you posts and comments, Brenda; that is one of the things I like most about your blog. There are lots of blogs out there, so if someone doesn’t like what you say, they can just go to a different blog. I think it’s an age thing, after a certain age (we are there), you are ready to just say what you mean, without apologizing to everyone and worrying if you are politically correct.
    What I like in a blog is one that makes me THINK. It doesn’t matter if I agree, or not, just as long as it is mentally stimulating, and
    thought provoking.

  5. Well after reading #2 I feel obliged to comment. #1 has just made me switche off the word verification on my blog: will let you know if it causes bucket-loads of spam! As for your third point, I’ve just been thinking about posting on this very subject, so you’ve saved me a little rant of my own. I completely agree with you.

    Thanks for posting this!

  6. Now if only I could edit the typo in my earlier comment, I’d have nothing to complain about 😉

  7. Wow…what a great post! As a newbie, I really am learning a lot from you.
    a) I need to do something about #1.
    b) Music doesn’t bother me that much because I can just turn it off.
    c) Politics and religions are off limits @ work… the same goes in blogging (I might comment here and there but that’s about it).
    d) Grammar – well, I’m Filipino…you will never find any fancy smanchy wordings from me ^_^ but I do pay attention about subjects, predicates, etc.

    You rock, Brenda! Ciao!

  8. Well, honey, you made some great points. I went straight away to post on my own site, to see if I had the squiggly letters, because that was the only way I knew to find out. I do!! Now, how do I get them to go away? I checked my control panel, and I do not ask for a password or anything. If you know what I need to do, please tell me.

    I keep my sound muted, too. I find it distracting, but I can turn it on when I want.

    xxxooo
    CA

  9. I like what you’ve written! I don’t like to verify my comment with letters or numbers, either. I don’t require commenters to do that on my blog and I’ve never had a problem with spam. Music I don’t really care about since I keep my sound muted (after the time I was nearly knocked off my chair by a rock-and-roll blast!)

    I do wonder sometimes why I don’t get many comments on my blog – are my posts boring or totally off somehow? It’s hard to tell when you’re so close to it! Maybe I need to have a standing invitation in the sidebar to leave comments (lol). I visit many other blogs and do make it a point to comment about half the time. Some of those blog writers have never visited me back – I can sort of tell because I have a site meter. But comments or not – I enjoy blogging and will continue indefinitely. I live in a town where I don’t know many people so I don’t get out much. Blogging is like visiting friends who are like-minded, and it does help me feel connected. And I also love the photography part – blogging gives me a reason to take photos!

    I’ve read other blogs asking about these same questions. It’s nice to read all the opinions!

  10. We all have our pros and cons to blogging.
    If I don’t like something about some ones blog, I just don’t go back or delete it from my fav’s. I play music on my blog, and I consider it my choice. And if someone doesn’t like it they have the option of turning it off if they like. It’s all about choices and freedom.
    Blogging is a wonderful way to get to know people you may never meet in person.
    We all have lives and we need to know a balance when we post. To much for some people may be not enough for another.

    I am glad I came to your site and read this.

    Glenda

  11. I agee with a lot of that. I have learned to mute before I start reading blogs. I don’t care for the long posts without paragraphs but I’m okay with it sometimes. A lot is okay if the subject is interesting to me. I don’t like professional sounding blogs. I like comments and I like to comment. And I like it when the commentors, comment to each other. Did you follow all that. LOL

  12. uuummm. Food for thought. I agree with most of what you said. Some I didn’t. I have the squiggles and will probably keep them. It is easier to never have spam than to get rid of it after you start getting it. Plus I personally don’t think it is that hard to copy the letters. But that’s just me. I try to visit everyone that comes to my blog. I have never rejected a comment and have never posted where my comment was rejected either. But I’m pretty new at this so maybe I’ll feel differently in a year or so. Your blog is sharp and easy to move about. I will be back!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  13. #4 is a pet peeve of mine…. I don’t understand those that NEVER …as you say so well “pay it forward”….I have the funny letters but can’t turn them off…opps…
    Thanks for your words of wisdom
    Linda

  14. Ugh! I HATE the squiggles too. Some people don’t like them because their eyes are aging. I just don’t like them. Period. So often what I spent a few minutes typing gets erased because I used the wrong letter. VERY frustrating! I try to visit evryone who comes to my blog too but sometimes it gets hard to stay caught up.

    I like to link my ‘regular’ visitors on my sidebar. Those ae the people I consider my blog buddies. Make it easie for me to keep in touch with them.

  15. Evening, Brenda! Girl, you know everything about blogging, don’t you? lol I agree with most everything you’ve said. My main pet peeve is those verification letters – I hate those things! If you’re like me I like to visit a blog type my comment and dash off to the next and those awful little letters just slow me down. If I mistype, it comes back and says I gotta do it again – usally I just go on. Now I really do try to comment to everyone who visits. Hate it when I visit and visit and the bloggers never comes to see me. Pst! It’s so nice to know someone who’s the smartest one! lol
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 🙂

  16. I do agree what you are saying, it comes always back to choice. I don’t mind the squiggles…but I really get cranky when I write my comment and the squiggles are wanted but don’t show up. I don’t know how to get them, I have tried different methods. Most of the time I give up, I can’t send my comment. Is there anybody experiencing the same?

  17. I agree with you 100% on #1!!! I’m really bad at leaving comments because that drives me crazy. Which brings up #2…I’m bad at replying to comments. Blogger is different than typepad…you can’t just reply back to the email…it shows up as a “noreply address” (unless they put their address in when they comment) so I would have to go to the commenter’s blog and look up their email address and then send it. That would be fine but I work full time and just don’t have the time to do that.
    #3…I agree 100% and then some! They are never discussed on my blog!
    #4…I hope I’m not that. If I am I don’t mean to be, again for me, it’s a matter of time. Blogging, working full time and a teenager I have to taxi around doesn’t leave me enough time to read all the blogs I would love to.

    Okay, that’s probably enough of my opinions!

    You have been so kind with your comments to me in the past, I’m really sorry I haven’t returned the kindness!

  18. THIS is why I like you Brenda. You are straight forward and tell it like it is. The minute I read your blog I knew that.

    I messed up with that squiggle thing in the beginning because I didn’t know better and I also had to moderate comments for a while because I had a stalker, but now I know to just delete them unless I’m on vacation and then it goes back to moderating.

    The religious stuff doesn’t bother me, but I can see how it would bother others. To each his own 😉

    The blogs where everything is happy all the time don’t bother me either. Reason being is that some just choose not to air their dirty laundry. Maybe their parents or in-laws read the blog and they don’t want them to know that hubby has been seeing the maid on the side or that last night they had a big ol’ fight.

    My grandfather always said that the couple you think is the happiest is the one that is the most miserable and I keep that in mind all the time.

    Oh and I play music because I like it on my blog. If people don’t like it they can turn it off. That’s why I have it near the top of the page. Plus I feel that my music goes with what I’m writing about as a theme. You won’t find Metallica on there, that’s for sure LOL

    Thank you for posting this. I’m off to bed, but I’ll be back tomorrow to read the other posts I’ve missed. It’s late!

    hugs,
    rue

  19. Well I think you summed it up quite nicely. (-:

  20. I am really loving blogging! And as a blog newbie, I need all the help I can get— I really appreciated your post—it was so interesting to see what readers like & don’t like. I had actually enabled the word verification because I honestly believed I would end up getting hundreds of “machine-generated” spam comments; it never bothered me when I had to do word verification on other’s blogs, so consequently didn’t realize how annoying it was to others; I have now disabled it & was really glad to have gotten clued in about this! Yeah! Thanks for the info, Brenda! You’re great! Patti

  21. Hi brenda, great post. When I came across the grammar part I though to myself, “Why has she not kicked me to the curb?” Glad you have not because I have enjoy our exchanges. I don’t tend to revisit bloggers who do not comment back. The comments are the really fun part.

  22. Brenda, I agree with most everything you said. I much prefer comment moderation to squiggles. I haven’t found the need for either. I’ve gotten a sporadic spam comment here and there. They’re far easier to simply delete than squiggles are for commenters to deal with. I’ve yet to receive a comment (other than spam comments,) that I’ve felt the need to delete.

    I’m not opposed to bloggers writing about religion or politics, but don’t care for those that involve judgement or criticism of views different from the author’s. I grew up in an inclusive, non-judgemental household. It’s one thing to passionate about one’s beliefs, and entirely another thing to disregard and disrespect the perfectly valid and passionately-held beliefs and views of others.

  23. This was a good blog, Brenda. I plan to go take the letter thingy off my blogs. I had them off initially, but I kept getting spammed 2-3 times a day from some lottso thing. I’ll just stick to deleting.

    You had some good viewpoints. I really liked the one about visiting those who visit you. (And I just said something to my hubby about commenting back.) It is the polite thing to do.

    Hope you have a good day.

  24. Well, leave it to you, Brenda, to be the Emily Post of the blog world. As I was reading your post, all I kept thinking was amen to that, so clearly you have hit on something here. I do have to say though, that I will occasionally use a word that does not exist…that is how new words come to be..don’t they? One other pet peeve you might or might not have, that I am guilty of is commenting on several posts in one comment, which I will do here. I loved, loved, loved your post on garden art. So whimsical. I went over that post several times. Your blog is still one of my favorites. Susan

  25. Great blog today Brenda! I’m kind of new to all this but you really nailed a lot of points that I’ve noticed too.

    Gretchen

  26. For the people with Blogger blogs who don’t know how to turn capchas (“squiggles”) on and off:

    On Blogger, go from the Dashboard page to Settings for the blog you want to change. Then click the Comments tab. Toward the bottom of that page, there’s a question “Show word verification for comments?” If you click yes, then you go to Squigglesville. If you click no, then it’s Spamtown.

    I don’t know how to change things with other types of blogs, but capchas seem to be mostly a Blogger thing anyway.

  27. I think I agree with just about all of your post. #9 doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I don’t usually read profiles. I like to just jump in. #1 I have been trying to figure out… how do you disable it on blogger? No computer savviness here.

  28. Thank You so much for coveringthis topic! Being (still) fairly new to blogging it is nice to know what people like and don’t like.
    I have been to several blogs and repeatedy leave comments with none returnd ad therefore I do not visit them anymore.
    I have been slacking in the frequent post department lately! I want to say I wil get better but I fear it is about to get worse!! I am really trying though!
    Again, thanks for this- it is very helpful! I adore that you are so straight forward!
    -Cinderella 🙂

  29. thinking of you.

  30. Brenda, I agree with all your comments about blogging. The only comment I have is really a question. Some Blogger account comment sections only have open id or Blogger sign ins and then others allow you to put in name and blog url. I do not like to use open id since your login is then visible. There are a few blogs I would like to comment on but can’t unless I use open id. I wish that could be changed.

    Jan
    Always Growing

  31. I must have been living under a rock instead of living on the boot. Blog do’s & dont’s? Where have I been? I thought the only important thing was remembering to dot your i’s and to cross your t’s!

    I’ve got over a hundred feed subscriptions and always looking for more. As far as commenting goes, I only comment if I can relate to the post in question.

    The word verification thing? Complete rubbish. Spam is just a nuisance, not a disease.

    The rest of what you wrote makes a lot of sense, but even if a blogger never visits my site after I’ve made a ton of comments, I will still continue to visit if their content is compelling. It’s like checking the online news to see what’s going on in the world.

    On the other hand, if a reader makes a lame comment just to let me know that he/she has been there, I’d rather they not say anything at all. I don’t LIVE on comments, I just appreciate them if they were made in earnest. (pssst! And one less comment to reply to).

    With that said….

    I LOVE YOUR DOGS!!! (obviously, the dog person that I am) 😉

  32. I just found your blog through a link on Diane’s blog. Really enjoyed reading this post and the comments. I think maybe I need a blog make-over.

    Your take on security letters was especially interesting. I find them annoying, too, but thought it was just part of the blog world.

  33. Brenda, I agree with you. I used to be a stealth blog reader and only occasionally comment until I started my own blog. Then like you said if you want people to visit your blog you need to comment on theirs.

    Ciao,
    Linda

  34. I know this post is pretty far down Brenda but I wanted to comment on it. EXCELLENT! I probably just yelled but I wanted to stress it! I especially dislike the word verification thing. I was at one site yesterday that the letters were so skewed I never did get to leave my comment. I left in frustration.
    In blogger you can set it to email you when a comment is left so that you can read it before it is posted to your blog. That way you can delete any spam you get and not put the other 99% wonderful bloggers through that verification mess. ~ Lynn


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