We Keep Screwing Up to Give You Something to Write About

Filed as Features on March 17, 2009 11:07 pm

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Driving home last night, I was listening to On the Media radio show on NPR. They were reading their Letters section with corrections to some of their past stories.

After they’d reported on the most recent corrections, they summarized that section of the show by saying:

We’ll do our part to keep screwing up to give you something to write about.

I’m sure they heard my laughter all the way to their studios.

Honestly, I can’t say when I’ve heard a better description of blogging.

Think about it.

Someone screws up. It gets blogged about.

Someone screws up on their blog, you comment and you might even blog about it.

You screw up on your blog, they will tell you. Or someone might blog about your screw up.

Screw ups start conversations. They give people something to write about.

John Dvorak has no problem with a mistake or two in a post spelling, using it as an excuse for interaction. “Feedback is feedback.”

I’m not advocating screwing up in order to get comments or attention. What I am saying is think before you leap up in defense of that blog post you just wrote, whether to stand up for the message you wanted to convey or the misspelled word or grammar gaf.

If what you said incites them to write something down in response, shouldn’t you take a moment to honor that. To recognize the effort that they made to say something. To start a dialog?

On The Media tracks news stories on journalists and the media. They understand that things get messed up in the reporting. Not all of the facts are consistently and thoroughly checked, and sometimes you have to go with what you have, even if you try your best to verify all truths.

So what do you do when you mess up? Admit you did and understand that the big picture is that someone noticed. When they notice, you know they are paying attention.

The Magic of the Comment

Remember when you started your first blog? The wait for a comment was painful. For most, that first comment was spam. In a twisted way, even that was welcome. Blogs are supposed to be about interaction, right? Until the interaction gets rolling, it’s a very dry desert for sharing.

When someone tells you that there is toilet paper attached to your shoe, or you have food in your teeth, aren’t you grateful? Embarrassed, yes. Frustrated by not knowing how long it’s been there, but so thankful that someone told you so you can take action to fix things. When someone pays attention enough to tell you that you misspelled a word or messed up a link, it’s a step in the right direction for some form of exchange. Be grateful.

We experts in blogging often talk about how important it is to give people linkable content, blog posts worth linking to. When you screw up, that’s another motivation for people to link to you.

So screw up well. :D

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  1. By Martin posted on March 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm
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    I do recall someone telling me ‘you spelled something wrong’ when they read my blog, they didn’t comment about the spelling mistake, but did tell me about it privately, since it was published with the mistake, the RSS feed had the wrong spelling.

    I checked my comments today and there was a trackback for one of my blog posts flagged as spam, turns out it was in a foreign language, and after running a translation on it (and the authors website) I approved the comment because it did relate to my post. My blog is relatively new, so I was a bit surprised.

    I’ve been updating and adding a few things to my blog, and have several posts in the works, my blog is about my job search, my networking activities and social media. So if I screw up, I will be mindful of any feedback I get.

    Reply

  2. By redwall_hp posted on March 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm
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    Not a misspelled word in sight. I even ran it through a spell checker… ;)

    Reply

  3. By Rarst posted on March 18, 2009 at 1:07 am
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    I keep thinking I am not screwing up enough at my blog. I mean my feedback is disgustingly positive all the time. It’s fine but I also want to hear about things that are broken, that aren’t working, that can be improved.

    I’ve read somewhere that having people come to you blog to say that you suck is first sign of success, still not there… :)

    Reply

  4. By John (Human3rror) posted on March 18, 2009 at 4:44 am
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    one of the best descriptions ever. i’m blogging about it.

    ;)

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  5. By Aaron B. Hockley posted on March 18, 2009 at 8:24 am
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    Look at the Fail Blog: all screw ups, all the time. And funny as hell. :)

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