I’m a bit of a cynic; I brand my blog on the fact. And though much of that is actually tongue in cheek (it’s bound up with my sense of humour), I can’t deny I have high expectations of the people around me. I’m extraordinarily principled and hold my values dear, so it’s true: I do expect a lot of others – and myself too.
But though some would (and do on occasion!) argue that my standards are unrealistic and out of reach, I often struggle to accept that. Because usually it’s a simple case of consideration, manners and kindness; all traits which, after all, cost nothing.
Disclaimer: Before someone else reads this and calls me on it – I’m far from perfect. I’m described by many as blunt, and by my own mother as ‘cutting’ (harsh, no?). The truth in my mind is that I don’t suffer fools gladly (a personal flaw, perhaps). Equally – or even more so – I cannot abide rudeness or manipulation. Once these characteristics have been displayed then I hold my hands up: my own courtesy bows out, putting curtness firmly in the driver’s seat.
I often wonder whether society is generally (and genuinely) so very different – or is it just that I’m frank about it when others are more guarded?
With all that in mind, I wanted to bring blogger etiquette to the fore.
I’ve been on the receiving end of one or two of these recently, and I appreciate that some of the following points may be more obvious than others. So, by putting these unwritten rules into actual writing, my hope is to enlighten those yet to educate themselves in the enigmatic etiquette of the blogger…
1. Inspiration vs Out-Right Pinching
If it’s given you food for thought, say so and link back. How would you feel if someone took your idea, messed it up, and then tried to pass it off as original? I was pretty peeved – but thoroughly grateful and touched when the community closed ranks and put the blogger straight. (Thanks again Ladies.)
2. Contact Details
We all know how hard it is to get started and keep momentum – we’ve all been there and many of us are still fighting our way to the other side now.
Respect the consensus and share knowledge, but not contacts.
3. Retweets/Social Shares
Don’t ask – there are ways and means which are more subtle and better received: network; interact; retweet the people you’d like to retweet you; join links. It will come – and if it doesn’t, maybe you don’t deserve it yet… Keep going, you’ll get there. But don’t expect something for nothing.
4. Don’t Follow/Unfollow
If you’re playing the social media game, ie. follow lots of bloggers to increase your own stats – on achieving that coveted follow, don’t immediately unfollow. It’s not cool.
As a rule, bloggers (I’m looking at you, Donna) are incredibly generous with passing on the love. So show some back, and contribute when you have answers which would help others out. It’s about give and take.
6. Don’t Patronise
Don’t ask someone further ahead for help, and then question them. It’s just rude.
If you ask the community for advice and someone takes the time to help you, take the time to craft a response. It’s not difficult and takes approximately one second to write a simple ‘thank you’. (Incidentally, following some Scientific Research* conducted on my blog this week, it has been verified that ‘thank you’ is perceived as more sincere than ‘thanks’. Even worse is a simply ‘liking’ a comment – don’t be lazy.)
* May not be Scientific.
8. Unsolicited Advice
Don’t offer your help to bloggers who are way beyond where you are. It’s patronising; don’t do it.
With an added caveat (courtesy of my hubby telling me not to be a complete cretin myself):
Naturally, every day is a school day and we can all learn something from one another; I accept and appreciate that. Just be mindful of your respective positions and how you may come across. (Personally, I’m not convinced it was necessary to add this proviso – some may even consider it patronising. Which would be rather ironic…)
9. If You Have Something to Say – Say It
There’s nothing worse than wondering whether you’re being paranoid because of a cryptic comment on something you’ve written. If you have a point to make, then do so.
If it’s warranted then own it and be frank. If you’re afraid to be that straight forward, chances are you’re being plain b*tchy. Stop it.
10. Make Google Your Friend
We all understand and appreciate the difficulties associated with blogging, and we’re there to help each other out – gladly. We know the overwhelming dread when your site goes down; we know the feeling of being out of your depth, or being swamped, or not understanding the jargon. We also know how easy it is to ask for help with every little thing. But – remember we’re all short on time. Before you resort to asking the community, have a go at finding the answer for yourself.
It’s unbelievably empowering when you fix a confounding issue on your own.
I know I’ve inadvertently fallen foul of one or two of these myself when I was starting out. For the record, that’s (usually) forgivable: unlike in law, being oblivious is an excuse – up to a point.
That said, blatant rudeness or disregard for others is never acceptable, in any walk of life. (Unless reciprocal. Maybe.)
Essentially, getting yourself noticed in the community is important – and not necessarily easy. But you want to be damn sure that when it happens it’s for the right reasons. First impressions absolutely do count. So be nice; be decent; and that tired old cliché about doing unto others, etcetera.
Bottom line: ingratiate yourself – or be prepared to regret it.