When you first start out on the blogging road – your online role immediately shifts. You go from being a one time consumer of content to being a creator of content that other people read.
This shift in role brings with it associated responsibilities to both your readers and other members of the online community. Essentially, when you start out the learning process of what is acceptable and what isn’t comes as a result of other people, and in essence the web polices itself to a certain degree.
I’ve decided to examine what I think is beginners guide to blogging (and in parts) online etiquette, from what I’ve known for a while, and from what I’ve learned from others.
There aren’t really many rules when it comes to writing itself, on the web, pretty much anything goes. But there are some things that are kind frowned upon.
Mentioning a few other large bloggers, with existing traffic, then slagging them off, is not going to win you respect, or help you gain authority and trust Its a cheap shot, commonly used by newbie bloggers – not cool.
Copy – Paste
If you are going to reference something another blogger writes, for flip sake just link to it. Pingbacks are heaven. Copy pasting other blogger’s articles are hell. It’s for this reason, I always make sure that I have at least one internal link in every article I write. If some other content pilfermonkey comes along and takes it; well at least I’ve got embedded links useful for SEO purposes.
There are loads of places online to find free images, but if you decide to use Flickr images (even if they are licensed under creative commons) – you should give attribution, and /or ask the photographer for permission.
Commenting plays a critical role in the direction of your blog. You can choose to close comments and have a one way conversation with your readers (Seth Godin being a good case study), or choose to open it up and allow community driven content to drive forward your site. I’m in favour of the latter, and most bloggers won’t have as much authority as Seth did (he was already a successful author) when he dried up the comment stream. In other words, I’d advise unless you are somebody, enable comments to help drive a sense of community, and improve the conversational flow of your site.
Comment Spam on your blog is a sure fire way to lose readership – people hate clicking on links that have nothing to do with the subject matter of your site, and lead them to sites of dubious content. In addition some spammers attempt to divert traffic away from your site to theirs in order to profit or gain from yours. This becomes more and more apparent as your site gets bigger, attracting more and more spambots, and automated scripts.
However identifying what is spam and what isn’t is sometimes difficult for the newbie, as there are many tricks of the trade to convince bloggers to part with some of their traffic. I’ve always been of the opinion that spam will only be eradicated by educating people to not react to it, hopefully this goes a little way to educating site owners when spam is spam.
Pingback and scrape spam
In order to drive traffic to a site, some spammers will automate pingbacks, which to you looks like they are referencing your content. In reality, if you check the site, it will have very little content on its page, and more often than not a small scrape of some of your content. As a basic rule of thumb, if the site doesn’t elaborate on your content, or add to the conversation, don’t feel compelled to approve the pingback. Also take a look around the site giving you a mention. Does it have traffic already? You can get a good feel for the amount of traffic a site receives quite easily. Are the articles worth reading in your opinion? Would you be happy with your readers visiting it? This can help identify the unscrupulous pretty quickly.
Pingback and delete spam
Some sites have a nasty habit of giving you a pingback when a piece of content on your site goes viral. They then surf the wave of traffic on the back of yours, then swiftly remove. Harder to detect, short of keeping an eye on your inbound links, but the same applies to pingback spam – if a site looks like it is just setup to garner traffic just for Adsense, be wary of approving the linkback.
How you moderate your comments sets the tone for your blog. If you don’t want to approve a comment, you aren’t obliged. There’s enough negativity in the world without putting up with some ass who thinks they know better. I take great joy in pressing the delete button after someone writes a rant about how I’ve “missed this or that” in an article.
However. There’s a big caveat. Don’t under any circumstance think that you can control the conversation. A blog comment which gets muted on your blog, may turn up somewhere else in a more negative light. Sometimes you have to make the call as to whether you need to defend your position on your own site, or extinguish flames elsewhere.
My sister recently asked me what way she should respond to comments. Is it good practise to address everyone that comments in one response? Or write individual comments addressed at each one?
My response to this was that, firstly if you are receiving comments on your site, that is great. It shows a level of participation that is the exception rather than the norm. Its fine to respond to everyone you want in one comment if they are coming in thick and fast. Easiest way to do this is just use the ‘@’ symbol to direct your response at a particular visitor, followed by a new line to talk to the next person in the conversation.
Obviously alot of this is just common sense netiquette. but ingratiating with others within the web community as quickly as possible, and following a few basic rules can help your site take off that bit faster.
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Filed in: Blogging
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