When you have an online journal, you’re the CEO, Editor-in-chief and majority shareholder of MYBLOG.com. You have 100% control over what you post.
If you ask me, having total control over content is one of the best things about blogging. Of course, it’s also one of the worst, especially when you’re just getting started. After all, how do you know you’re doing the right thing? What if you upset people without meaning too?
With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to include something on the dos and don’ts of blogging etiquette in the workshop notes I use on my presentations about blogging.
As always, these are just my opinions which, like spouses and children, should be ignored or embraced at the individual’s discretion.
BLOGGING ETIQUETTE: Some Dos and Don'ts
Don't Cut & paste someone else’s post into your own blog
If you see a post you want to share with your readers, by all means link to it, but please don’t copy someone else’s journal entry into a post on your own blog (even if you do give credit to the original author in your introductory paragraph).
Aside from being more than a little unsporting, it’s a breach of copyright, and though you’re unlikely to get sued over it, posting other people’s work on your blog without permission won’t make you any friends either, no matter how much you feel they ought to be flattered.
Do give credit where due
If you come across a post via someone else's blog and decide to link to it yourself. Give credit to the one who sent you there as well as the person who wrote the actual post.
Do Respond to all commenters whenever possible
My old gran used to say, ‘There’s always room at the table for Mr. Manners'*. If someone leaves a (non-spam) comment on your blog, you don’t have to reply, but just like in real life, ignoring someone can come across as rudeness, even if it’s unintentional.
*Actually what she really used to say was: ‘Sit up straight before I nail your shoulders to the back of that chair’ but it meant the same thing.
Don’t post spam comments on other people's blogs
Other folks may disagree, but I’d say blogging-type spam comes in two different forms. First (and most obvious), there’s the comment containing a link to one or more websites, all of them totally unrelated to the subject of the post. These usually come from troll programs which scour the internet, posting automatic spam links in people’s blogs, presumably in the hope that a tiny percentage of them generate traffic or business.
The other kind of spam comment is the one I’m talking about. It usually goes something along the lines of ‘Great post. You and your readers should check out my blog [LINK INSERTED], it has similar posts on there.’
This kind of thing makes it look as if you’re only there to divert readers to your own blog.
Developing a readership for a blog can take some time, but if you post genuine comments on other people’s journals, sooner or later, most of those folks will check out yours. After that, it’s a matter of whether they find your blog posts interesting or not.
Don’t use foul language on someone else’s blog
Swear as much as you like on your own blog – though personally, I tend to skim over posts containing foul language – but I recommend you avoid using swearwords in comments on someone else’s journal. You never know who’s reading that post and who you might offend.
Don’t start flame wars and pointless arguments
Some folks enjoy starting arguments and/or throwing their weight around online. They make antagonistic posts or comments, designed to elicit an angry response or (as they see it) put someone in his/her place. Other people make equally vitriolic posts and comments under the guise of feeling passionate about a subject.Either way, it doesn’t matter.
Trying to start or host a balanced, reasoned discussion is one thing, but if you make posts and comments which read like your intention is to annoy people with the opposing view, you risk losing the goodwill of your readers, even those who share your basic beliefs.
How about you?
What would you add to a list of blogging etiquette dos and don’ts?