One part of blogging that often gets talked about is “transparency and authenticity”. While I fully support these ideals, I think there is an aspect of blogging that does not get much coverage, and that is respect.
Since one of my friends got attacked pretty shamelessly by a couple of sites for some pretty innocent remarks, I have been wondering what it was that troubled me so much. I came to the conclusion that they showed her no respect. Banter is fine but they crossed a pretty serious line in my view. The fact they were online seemed to strip the conversation of the mutual respect that would be present had the discussion been face to face.
We see it all the time, cross blog conflicts, name-calling and airing of laundry, snarky attack posts, horrible and infantile Digg comments …
It seems in the search of traffic and revenue, it is easy to overlook respect as being important. But if we think about it, respect is vital. Respect for your audience, after all without them your blog is not worth much, respect for other bloggers (snarkiness only gets you so far), and self respect (not taking $2 a post freelancing gigs for example).
We all know respect is earned. I would argue you should respect your audience in return for visiting, but why should they pay you any respect? I think we are back to “transparency and authenticity”, but a large part will be how you behave. Are you attacking unnecessarily? Do you cause offense as a traffic generation tactic? Do you do your best to provide value?
Just like in any field, bloggers have to earn a good reputation. While many people will be impressed by photographs of over sized cheques, huge RSS counts or massive visitor numbers, in the end if you do not have the goods to back these up, inevitably the illusion will fade. Far better to be authentic from the start then all the other things support rather than risk your brand as a whole.
I can’t say I have this fully figured out so I would welcome your feedback. Do you think people online, and bloggers especially, treat each other with respect that they would face to face?