Monday, March 30, 2020

Priceless Advice

We're still a couple of days from the end of March but Blapril has already started. This is Prep Week according to Bel's primer, when "those of us in the community who have been through this process a few times or at least feel like we have figured out this blogging thing ... help those of you who are new to the process to get started with some advice posts".

Only, this year I'm wondering how many Blaprilers are new to the process. In the past, for the New Blogger Initiative and Blaugust, I've ended up adding a bunch of newcomers to the blog roll but, checking the Discord list this morning, I only see a couple of self-confessed newbies: Magi Was Taken at Indiecator and Solarayo from Ace Asunder. And Magi is already on the blog list from last year!

There are about half a dozen others I don't know/haven't already added so they've gone on. Whether any of them need any advice, let alone any advice they're likely to get from me, I very much doubt but that's never stopped me before.

Speaking of blog rolls, that's one topic that comes up every year as Wordpress users express their traditional envy over the one and only aspect of Blogger they consider worth mentioning, namely the self-sorting, auto-updating roll-call. Equally predictably, every year I ponder the length of my own tail as it stretches downwards into the darkness, wondering whether I ought to give it a trim.

I never do. There are currently two hundred and seventeen entries in my blog roll. Eighty-three haven't posted anything for a year or more. Winner of the Long Time Dead Award is In The Mind whose most recent post dates back seven years to January 2013.

Like most blogs, however, it's still there. That's something to remember. Once you put this stuff up, particularly if you use a free hosting option, it's going to be there for a while. Okay, we all speculate sometimes about whether the folks at Google will up and pull the plug on Blogger one day, as they have with so many other projects, products and services, but until that happens your words, wise or foolish, are here to stay.

It's something to think about. Social media leaves a fingerprint. We all like a rant but, maybe, just take a breath before you hit Publish.

And that might just be a new piece of advice from me. Maybe it's the mood of the times spurring me on to caution, because it does seem to go against something I often recommend would-be bloggers should do, namely comment freely on other people's blogs.

I think that's good advice, obviously, or I wouldn't be handing it out, but there are comments and comments. When people consider blogging, one of the worries they have is often what kind of comments they might get. For most bloggers that quickly turns into a worry about whether they'll get any comments at all. This isn't YouTube or Reddit. At least in this part of the blogging woods, comments aren't guaranteed but intentionally nasty comments are extremely rare.

I would never discourage anyone from leaving a comment if they think they have something to say. It absolutely doesn't need to be original, witty or insightful. Obviously those are nice to get but a simple "Good post!" is always welcome. (Some smart alec is going to comment "Good Post!" at the end of this piece, now. I guarantee it. Except now I've called attention to it, maybe they won't. Oh, the post-modern suspense...).

On the other hand you don't really have to comment on every post you read. I mean, I know it sometimes seems like I do that but even I excercise some restraint. Occasionally.

Why, only last week I deleted three comments rather than send them! They weren't offensive. I just realized as I read them back that I was saying things I didn't really need to say about stuff I didn't really care about. I mean, I like to tease Tobold as much as the next person but it's not actually my job to correct everything he says that doesn't make sense.

Now, that last paragraph is a good example. It's supposed to be lighthearted but it's borderline rude. Maybe I ought to have re-written it slightly. How would it be if I said "I like to tease Tobold as much as the next person but it's not actually my job to correct everything he says when I think it doesn't make sense." 

Does adding the "I think" qualify things sufficiently to shunt the sentiment from finger-wagging to self-deprecation? I'd say it probably does but it's a judgment call. It's definitely not as funny, though. Is the offence worth the joke?

Those are the kind of calls you have to make every time you post, I guess. I already made another, when I deleted a line from that same paragraph, referring back to the old rivalry between Tobold and another well-known blogging name, SynCaine. It wasn't very amusing when I read it back and who even remembers the rivalry anyway? Then again, shared memories are the kind of things that re-inforce a sense of community and that's a pretty important part of this whole blogging game.

I self-edit a lot. I just don't usually do it out loud. Often you can tell, though, because I make it into a feature.

When I did my recent music post I thought quite a lot about some of the videos I embedded.  It's not a matter of musical taste. I'm not bothered about posting music that's not to my readers' tastes because a) I have no real idea what those tastes might be and b) it's my blog and the more it reflects my tastes, the better.

No, it was more the nature of a couple of the videos. And the lyrics. Tempest Le Mans and Easter, specifically, as must be obvious if you read the post, even if you didn't watch the videos or listen to the songs. In the end I worked my apprehension into a supposedly humorous tone and used the songs I wanted to use. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't, but I can live with it.

Conversely, while I was trawling for possibles for that post I watched a couple of things I would have quite liked to have put up but that, on reflection, I wasn't one hundred per cent convinced I wanted to be associated with. There's being clever and there's being too clever for your own good. I chose to leave them out and I'm happy enough with that decision, too.

I self-edit a lot when I'm choosing titles for the posts. Not, usually, because what I have in mind is offensive but because there are only so many rock dinosaurs you can wheel out before you start sounding like an out-of-touch uncle. There's something of a quota system in place here although clearly it doesn't apply to everyone, given the number of posts named for Lana del Rey or Lloyd Cole.

Getting back to the advice, since that's the theme, I guess what I'm saying is always be yourself but be sure you're being the self you want to be. Authenticity is a currency. Be careful how you spend it.

I know it often looks like it, but I don't just throw these things together, you know.

Images borrowed from The Internet. Not, obviously, The Internet. If you hold the copyright and you'd like not to have your work borrowed, just say the word.


  1. I've tried to post "Good post!" a couple of time but the moderation seems to be keeping my out when trying to comment with the name/url option, so I guess you get the last laugh this time.

    1. Hehe! The other thing about commenting is how difficult it can be. Blogger accounts generally have no issues commenting on other Blogger blogs but cross-commenting from different blogging ecosystems is fraught with problems. Askimet, the spam blocker WP users often employ, hates me. Once I get flagged by it I can't post on any blog that uses it. I got caught there last week until Belghast freed me.

  2. There is definitely an engagement threshold for me that dictates to some extent where I comment and where I do not. If a blogger never responds to comments... and I can be that way at times, but I make an effort not to be... I stop commenting eventually. I also don't necessarily want to wrestle with other bloggers over details. And I tend to leave things alone if I don't think I can add something to the conversation, though maybe I ought to if I agree or have a positive reaction. Also, I tend to over think this sort of thing.

    1. Heh! And sod's law dictates that this is the comment of yours that I fail to notice for several days after you posted it! Usually I check older posts for new activity for a week or two but Blogger has annoyingly changed the way it reports these thjings and I haven't acclimatized yet.

      I have a policy of replying to every comment once, except very short ones (as in the recent cat post) but I, too, try to avoid coming back repeatedly. If I feel the need to do that it probably merits a whole new post. And people who almost never answer comments do irk me a bit, too.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide