There is a blogger etiquette? Sally shares her top tips…
I am not a big believer in rules around blogging.
I don’t think there is a way that anyone “should” blog – one of the upsides of living in a democracy is that we all have our own opinions, and the right to express them as we choose.
But I do think there’s such a thing as manners. And that in a virtual community like blogging, where it is so dreadfully easy to misconstrue tone and meaning, good manners are perhaps more important than ever.
So allow me, for a moment, to put on my Emily Post costume, and share what I think are the basics of blogging good manners. Would you add anything to this list?
- Don’t pinch. We all work hard on our blogs. It’s bad enough when a spam blog copies your content for their blog, but it feels even worse if it’s someone you know. Generally our writing is as distinctive as our speaking voice, so it’s easy to recognise when someone has taken your words and presented them as your own. I tend to look on this as a sort of stealing – it’s taking someone else’s hard work and thoughts and creativity rather than using your own. Often it’s unintentional, but do be wary of crossing the line from “influenced by” to “copied from”.
- Reply to comments. If someone takes the time to read your post, and then type a response to it, then I tell myself the very least I can do to reply to it. I might not always have time to do it right away, but I do try my best. Oh, and if you’re visiting a blog, it’s probably best not to over-promote your own content. It’s a bit like going to a party and constantly saying how much better the party at YOUR house is.
- Don’t use Twitter to have obviously private conversations. Of course you’re entitled to talk to whomever you choose about whatever you please on Twitter, but… when I see people having a secret conversation about “well, you know THAT THING” or “OOH, yes, I’m so pleased about our SECRET MEETING” it always strikes me as grown-ups doing the equivalent of little kids whispering behind their hands in the playground. Why not just use DM or email?
- Be generous with your credit. I’ve often said here and elsewhere that there’s no copyright on an idea. Just because I happened to come up with an idea of dressing my child up as a chicken doesn’t mean there’s any reason why you shouldn’t dress your child up as a chicken and blog about it. In fact, now I think about it, you should definitely do that. But my point is this: when someone inspires you, saying, “I got this great idea from THIS BLOG” and linking to it won’t lose you any credibility, or traffic – and maybe giving that credit means you’ll make a new friend and ally, which is never a bad thing. This applies to more than just blog posts – it’s about pictures, topics, design… all sorts!
- Say thanks once in a while. In my experience, more experienced bloggers are the BEST source of advice. I’ve had the most brilliant tips and inspiration from all sorts of people. And I hope I’ve never forgotten to let those people know I appreciated their help. But I’m amazed by how many people email me, asking for quite detailed advice or contacts, which I send off happily, only to never hear back. A thank you takes moments and can mean a lot, so I’m trying very hard to make myself better in that regard.
Be honest. If someone paid you to include a link in your post, or provided you with a review sample, then don’t hide it from your readers. Respect them enough to be truthful.
What would you add to our list?
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Sally Whittle is founder of the Tots100, Foodies100, Trips100 and the MAD Blog Awards. When she’s not working, she can be found blogging at Who’s the Mummy, or having fun with her daughter, Flea.