A few minutes ago I followed a trackback to a lovely blog post about one of my blog posts. It was quite complementary and made some good points. I was in the middle of composing a reply when I glanced over to the sidebar and saw the listing of the most recent blog posts featuring what were clearly pay-per-post or sponsored post titles. Ick!
That was my first response. Ick. Yuk. Oooey gooey, as one of my nephews would say.
We’ve talked about a lot of different design detail clutter and distractions in the ongoing series, “WTF Blog Design Clutter“, but we haven’t addressed the issue of perception when it comes to inspiring blog comments and conversation.
It’s true that a lot of people comment on blogs for link bait and Google juice. While that may be true, what is unsaid about the importance of a blog comment is probably the most important consideration when it comes to commenting on blogs: Association by commenting.
A blog comment says you want to participate in the conversation. It says you are interested in the topic. It says you are supportive of the blogger. It says you are who you say you are. It says that the link in your comment form takes the reader to your blog, which should speak well of you and match the quality of the blog you are commenting on. It says you want to be a valuable contributor to the blogosphere and the world of communication. Right?
No? Well, maybe it should.
Your Comment is Your Clutter on Their Blog. It Better Speak Well of You – and Them
When I leave a comment, it’s a mini resume. It’s a small representative of me, of what I stand for, what I believe in, and, in many cases, what I blog about. It points to me, exposed for all the world (and search engines) to see. It better speak well of me.
Therefore, by association, if I comment on a blog doing something or covering a topic I’m not in favor of, or on a blog stuffed with ads or comment spam – by leaving a comment am I encouraging them? Would someone seeing my comment on such a blog associate me with such practices? Will their poor content and bad blog decisions rub off on me and my reputation?
If the blogger is a hate monger, blogging dark and negative stuff, it’s easy to judge them and distance yourself from associating with them. “I’d never comment there!” is easy to say, but things get a little grayer when the line slips and slides in the sand of judgment.
If the blogger does the occasional pay-per-post, that’s not the end of the world. That person may be a great person, and be totally sincere in their blog writing on sponsored posts.
The first appears cut and dried. No matter how many wonderful things they may write about you and your blog, you may not want to participate on theirs when they are the opposite of what you believe. It gets more complicated when what they blog about, and what the put on their blog isn’t right for you, though it may be right for you. Some people’s clutter is another person’s art.
It’s something to consider.
Judging How We Judge Others
We are often judged by our friends, the relationships around us. I learned early on that much of who you are is determined by who you hang out with. Your friends’ behavior, attitude, fashion sense, and reputation say much about the choices you make.
At one of my first high school reunions, a fellow student told me I’d changed since high school. “I used to think that you were one of ‘those’ kids.” “Those” kids, by her definition, were the “popular” kids, the ones who got all the attention and fame.
I was stunned. The kids I hung out with were the outcasts and loners, the chess club, computer geeks, and the band. Yet, when she remembers me singing in the choir, messing with the band, and involved in the acting club. Around me were the “stars” of the school, so she assumed that these were my friends and judged me accordingly. So did many others, I learned when I started asking around, inquiring with others which groups they thought they belonged to in high school.
It was amazing to see how many perceived others belonging to a specific group by association rather than reality. That perception can carry more weight than the truth influences the public and professional decisions I make.
By leaving a comment on a blog that I would not normally condone or support, by association I fear my reputation. Do you? Does the message your comment sends mean that much to you?
Tomorrow, I want to look at some of the ways we judge other bloggers, and our desire to comment or not on a blog. Where do you draw the line when it comes to commenting, linking, or trackbacking?