Blogs Are Public Documents – Bloggers and Commenters Beware

Filed as Editorial, Features, Guides on March 17, 2008 7:47 pm

you think you’re so smart - graphic copyright Lorelle VanFossenAmber of Lamb and Frog is covering Monday Mayhem, specifically the mayhem that erupts when a commenter cross the lines.

I’m not sure how many of these commenters have ever written anything for public consumption other than their inane comments. A blog? A magazine article? Anything that you actually got paid for? Do you know anything about writing at all? Let me fill you in…

Blogs are public documents. The best bloggers with the most popular blogs know this. They choose and edit the material they post to reflect their blog’s message or style. That doesn’t mean that the content can’t be personal, it just means that it rarely reflects the entirety of the blogger’s existence. Why? Because even if your daily life is freakishly entertaining (what…now you’re Paris Hilton?) hearing nothing but unedited lists of exploits day after day makes for boring reading in short order.

She cites some recent blog posts by friends who are frustrated with stupid and ignorant commenters, including:

  • A commenter who complained that the blogger “complained all the time” on her personal blog.
  • A blogger who enjoys responding to idiot psycho-analyzing commenters.
  • A blogger who thinks it’s appropriate to respond to thoughtless commenters.

Amber spoke the truth. Blogs are public documents. If you put it out there, you open yourself to complements, criticism, and condemnation.

Here are some more truths you need to know about blogging:

  • It’s your blog. Blog what you want.
  • Want traffic, blog for traffic, but don’t expect to turn them into readers.
  • Want readers, blog for the readers. Readers return.
  • Writing well pays off better than not.
  • Blog consciously.
  • Don’t surprise readers. Blog consistently.
  • If you open the door to comments, be prepared for comments.
  • Blog comments are content. You control them.
  • Blog comments are content. Comments are mini-resumes that speak for their author.
  • Expect insults.
  • Expect nasty commenters.
  • Expect spam and splogs.
  • Expect inconsiderate and thoughtless commenters.
  • Expect nasty, inconsiderate, and thoughtless fellow bloggers.
  • Expect unexpected, random acts of kindness.
  • Expect fans to feel like they are your friends.
  • Expect a support group and network to form in and around your blog.
  • As a blog reader, you are not judge and jury. You are the audience.
  • As a blog writer and publisher, you are the entertainment. It’s your stage. Use it wisely and well.

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  1. By Rupert posted on March 17, 2008 at 9:41 pm
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    At least it isn’t like having Youtube comments, some of them I expect but some just make my brain wobble with incomprehension.

    I think that some Bloggers would kill for comments good or bad, and I have a lovely book at home called “Literary Mayhem”, before there were “Flame Wars” the great writers of our time wrote heated letters to each other, cross-referenced each other in their work, good or bad, and I think we are all the better off for it.

    Rups

    Reply

  2. By Richard Butler posted on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 am
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    I just want to add information about comments. A blogger really need to control the comments portion because many will post for spamming purposes.

    It is good that every comments are moderated because as said in the article, it is also a content which people normally spend time reading.

    Reply

  3. By SimpleBrowser posted on March 18, 2008 at 12:38 am
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    Blog posts means, blog comments. And blog comments means a little bit of spam comments. You are right, we must control the comments, specially the spams!

    My blog is not a popular one. Then also, I am getting lots of spam comments, solely targeted to advertise their links. I simple delete them. Insults are also a part of blogging. We must ignore them and should continue blogging with our own style. Thanks.

    Reply

  4. By Barbara Ling (aka Owlbert) posted on March 18, 2008 at 2:51 am
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    My motto is, sing your own song and let the chips fall where they might be. Not everyone appreciates opera or Barry Manilow or hard rock or whatever…but you’ll always be able to make your *targeted audience* happy if you write for them primarily.

    I agree with:

    As a blog writer and publisher, you are the entertainment. It’s your stage. Use it wisely and well.

    So very true.

    Best wishes,

    Barbara

    Reply

  5. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on March 18, 2008 at 8:33 am
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    Words to the wise indeed for both bloggers and commenters. Just to clarify, all the bloggers I mentioned in my original post are professionals who fully understand the consequences of their writing and expect a certain amount of comment trash. They control for spam and don’t have a problem with negative comments when they’re funny, well-written/well thought-out, or constructive. My main “Monday Mayhem” was commenters who think that, because they read a “personal” blog (one that is designed to provide entertainment for the audience and a certain amount of release for the author…rather than information) they think they are the author’s friend and/or therapist.

    Reply

  6. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 18, 2008 at 9:34 am
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    @SimpleBrowser:

    From the point of view of a blog reader, thank you for keeping your blog clean of spam. But please, if you are using an anti-comment spam Plugin, which you should like Akismet, do not delete them but mark them as spam so the database will learn from your comment spam and protect my blog from the same. I’m sure that’s what you do, but I like reminding people that we have to work together to stop comment spam.

    Reply

  7. By allie posted on March 18, 2008 at 7:08 pm
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    Great post!
    i agree with you

    Its true with all blogs. We should not expect that

    Reply

  8. By Jeremy Steele posted on March 18, 2008 at 8:48 pm
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    And if the negative comments get out of hand just disable them (maybe do trackbacks only). Despite the common myth, I personally doubt disabling comments would kill a blog.

    Reply

  9. By Jessica Doyle posted on March 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm
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    I finally after two years have implemented a comment policy taking back control of the comments on my blog after a few mangled attempts at warning commenters that this is indeed my home and to respect it.

    Nice Lorelle :)

    Reply

  10. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 19, 2008 at 9:36 am
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    @Jeremy Steele:

    Disabling comments on a per post basis does not hurt a blog. Disabling comments for the entire blog may hurt the blog depending upon the blog. Not all blogs need comments. Some require them.

    However, if your blog has comments and requires moderation before releasing, CAPTCHAs, or other question torture tests that get in the way of your readers and their comments, you will lose. And lose big.

    It has been proven repeatedly that testing or moderation does not work consistently and prevents comments. The best choice are non-intrusive tools like Akismet that restrict comment spam tremendously while not interfering with blog interaction.

    So, we kill off the nasty comments and spam comments that do get through as comment spammers continue to work overtime to bypass comment filters as part of our morning blog routine. I just killed six comment spam on my blog this morning. Akismet caught 253. I’d rather deal with six than 259, wouldn’t you?

    Reply

  11. By Angela Booth posted on March 19, 2008 at 11:59 pm
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    So true: “Blogs are public documents.”

    I admire bloggers who leave their comments open, but I’m not brave enough to do it.

    Reply

  12. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 20, 2008 at 4:06 pm
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    @Angela Booth:

    If you have a good quality comment spam protection tool, why not? You can edit or delete any comments you don’t like. I’ve had open comments for years. Rarely do I ever get a comment that doesn’t match my content’s quality and subject. I’m fast with the delete button, though. :D

    Don’t fear it. Embrace it. You’ll find you spend less time overmanaging your blog.

    Reply

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