Etiquette for the Blogging Nation

With thanks to Jan and her last comment, she prompted me to post on something that I've been meaning to write about for quite some time: blog etiquette. Now, I don't consider myself an official on the subject, nor do I consider myself a professional blogger. I'm basically a new kid on the blog, having started this crazy thing in November of last year. I don't even consider myself in the same league as many bloggers who have been doing this for years and years, many of whom own such experience and knowledge of blogging that it would definitely put me to shame. But I do have my own unique experience to share, and with it, my own thoughts about blog etiquette, along with some links I've found on the subject.

First of all, blog etiquette is subjective. Every blog is different, as every blogger has their own approach to what they want to talk about. Thus, each blogger will have a different way of dealing with things. That being said, here's my two cents:

Garnering a bit of mediocre fame for the stunt I pulled in December, I found myself hit hard with a barrage of traffic which, in turn, brought out the ugly side of blogging. I wasn't used to it, and it freaked me out. The ugly side was spam blogging and hateful commentors who just wanted to say something stupid to get noticed. Well, they got noticed and I promptly deleted the comments before anyone had the chance to view them. (And I'm sorry if you happened to see some of the offensive comments I was late in deleting.)

About bloggers who posted comments solely for the sake of promoting their own blog or site: I've said this before many many times, and I'm sorry for having to say it here again -- the comments disrupted the flow of conversation. My blog is about art, animation and various cultural issues and my initial concept for the thing was to propagate discussion. I wanted people to respond to what I was talking about, whether they agreed with me or not. When things were getting pretty heavy on the POLAR EXPRESS comments, the conversational momentum would come to an abrupt halt when someone would randomly post, "Hey love your site. If you like art, then check out my site here...." Not only was it disruptive but downright rude, especially when their site had NOTHING to do with art.

Don't get me wrong -- I would love to support any blogger just as much as the next person. Just be mindful and courteous when posting your comments. Do it honestly and truthfully. To post a comment solely for the sake of promoting your own blog or site is selfish and others will take notice. Not the kind of exposure you want. Post something witty, thoughtful and poignant and you may have some new visitors coming to your site. Don't put all your eggs in one basket with this type of promotion, though. Be aware of the original post as well as the conversation that is going on. Respond accordingly as any intelligent person would and you will not have to worry about being booted off.

Anyway, I found a pretty good list about blog etiquette here. Warning: the dude has some pretty hard language, so be wary. What he has to say is pretty much right on, though. I like what he says in #4, about getting noticed. If a blog has inspired you, let the blogger know. I've done it. Many times, in fact. (Probably too many times.) The way I see it, there's a chance that maybe the blogger has not been told that what they're doing has struck a chord with someone out there. If you want to see more of what you liked, let them know.

More links on the subject: Cafe Mama has some good pointers on blog etiquette, as well as The Bloggers Disclaimer. Good stuff to check out.

About putting a link to someone on your blog without them knowing it -- I see no problem with that. It's free publicity as far as I'm concerned, and plus, if you do, the person being linked is bound to take notice if they have a stat counter and see visitors coming from your blog. Don't link someone expecting to be linked yourself. I couldn't possibly link every site that has The Ward-O-Matic linked because most of the sites do not fall into a particular catagory that I have listed. Also, I'm very lazy when it comes to updating my links and I'm afraid that I'd forget the good majority of them once I come around to fiddle with my template. (That sounded suggestive when it shouldn't have. Shame on you for thinking naughty.) I post links in my blogroll without letting the blogger know sometimes, just because I don't have the time to email everyone. If there is a particular blog that really struck me, I'll let the blogger know that I'm linking them, but I never expect them to reciprocate. I'm just letting them know that I dig them, and I'm linking them. End of story.

(Although I do have to say that if you find a little-known blog that no one seems to know about, be nice and ask the blogger first about linking them. They may be wanting little or no attention to their blog anyway and giving them sudden exposure may ruin their little world. Basically, be aware of the nature of the blogs you link.)

Regarding mentioning a post or a quote from another site/blog, ALWAYS link the source! If you find something of interest from a certain informative blog, say Drawn!, please be nice and mention in your post where you found the item. It's a matter of respect, as I would do the same to anything that I've found via another blog. I'd want the original blogger to receive the credit that they deserve, you know?

About jacking images from other sites for your own posts: this is a no-no. If you want to post an image from someone's site to mention them (like we do consistantly on Drawn!), grab the image yourself and post it from your own image host. Do not use the image link from the original source's host because you're stealing their bandwidth! Drawn! has had some problems with this lately, and now Robot Johnny has fixed them.

Blogger things: Did you know that there is a Blogger Forum? Yes, you can go HERE and browse the various forums to check out what others think about the free blogging service. It's a great community of people who are more than willing to help out the potential newbie blogger. If you want to search for specific helpful hints, you'll have to register, but it's free and quick. I've been able to find out some great stuff about template tweaking, posting links, and such from these forums. Good people.

And thus, from the Blogger Forums, I found a great site for tips and tricks on blog design: Mandarin Design. They have everything you've always wanted to know about designing or redesigning your blog as well as tweaking your templates. Find out the differences between borders and margins, magazine layout and pull quotes, and learn how to do them all. They make it seem so easy. There's so much there to check out, you'll find yourself spending more time than you probably should. Enjoy.

That's about it for now. I hope this post helps in sorting out the certain issues that are brought up about blogging and how to handle them. It's all a matter of trying to get along with each other, you know? If there are any more issues that I've failed to mention, and you'd like for me to address, please feel free to post a comment to this post or just email me. I'm all ears.

And please, for the sake of bloggity-blogging, link me if you post about this! Heaven knows I need to pick up my site traffic.


  1. I feel you... It's so indicative of the times we live in that something like blogging--which is about building communities and open communication between people of like interests, can be corrupted by idiots trying to scam a buck... I've had to delete a couple of comments myself. At first, I sort of laughed but then I started to get mad. It's infuriating!

  2. thank you ward, for this great post - it is so nice of you to take the time to uncomplicate this wild west blogosphere to us newbies out here - and so well i might add. i'm going to definitely check out those links - i have so much to learn - but thanks to you it's making it a little easier.

  3. I couldn't agree more about comments that just say 'visit my blog'. I make a point of never following them. Also, I was interested to hear you consider the traffic you pass on to other blogs. It's not something I need worry about, with my small readership, but I agree it's important. It's related to what metascene said, about a handful of readers you respect vs. a thousand people following the crowds. An exclusive clientele has the advantage that I knnow they're great readers to refer on elsewhere!

  4. The post also prompted me to look through your links. Whatever the latest fashionable weblog is, everyone always links Dooce, don't they?! Cos she's just that good!

  5. A post on blogging etiquette with a link to ...oh no, what did I do wrong!
    Whew, thanks for the kind words.

    It's not easy to know what to do and when to do it. Actually, recently when someone mentioned my blog without a link I felt that we had become good enough cyberspace friends that they felt comfortable just blogging it without adding the link love that sometimes implies soliciting reciprocation? But I am the worst with blogging etiquette and in the social world outside of blogging.

  6. About the whole image-jacking thing:

    One day I discovered, via my referrer logs, that LiveJournal users were racking up a huge amount of hits on my server. I did some research and found that some unscrupulous LJer had jacked this image from my sister's web site (hosted on my server).

    So I renamed the original file and changed the reference to it on my sister's web site (so as not to disrupt its appearance here), then uploaded a replacement image for the LiveJournal thief.

    Here is the new image.

    Didn't do much good, but at least it made me feel better.

  7. All excellent info, well-put!

    For the most part I think it's not maliciousness but just ignorance that leads people to do Bad Internet Things(that and youth-extreme youth, which isn't one of my excuses); in the past I have linked to images without the slightest idea that I was "stealing bandwidth" or anything bad...I just felt super-proud that I'd figured out the code for linking. Once people are informed, they'll cease & desist-which is why posts like yours are important to do once in a while.
    And yes, those "interruptions"-aargh! It's a minor miracle that any kind of sensible discourse can happen on the net, sigh.
    Then there was the time that some jerk stole not only the entire contents of my tribute site to Ernie Kovacs(currently down for remodeling, but up for almost 10 years)-but claimed MY beautifully-written biographic essay as HIS(this was a Columbia student's "project"-the nerve!)! Talk about hitting the celiling...it really IS too much, when you've takent he trouble to scan an image and it winds up illustrating something on a commercial site-the very same crummy scan I did in '95!

  8. Wow, Ward...Much appreciation for your thoughts on blogging etiquette and the links to other sites about the same. I'm certainly going back to check them out. And I, too, was unaware per the linking and bandwidth issue. I haven't done that myself, but now I know not to.

    And, yeah, the stupid temptation was there to 'disrupt the flow' of this discourse and comment, "Nice site! Come see mine!" (It's late; I'm scarfing caffein; so sorry). It's tatamount to the spam and junk mail we too often get elsewhere. Being relatively new to the world of blogging, I've been more a lurker than poster, but, wanting to participate more (and like-wise other's feeling comfortable in participating on my blog) I've been taking the 'leave a comment' plunge. Your posting has helped me be more aware of how to play nice and be a good blogger.

    Thanks again for taking the time to pull all your thoughts and the site links together for us.

  9. Mwahaha. I have absorbed your information... Thank you for it!

  10. I looked for information regarding blog ettiquette and came across your post. Of most interest was image jacking. I too have had to deal with it so often I really would like to find a way to stop it and you mentioned that Robot Johnny was able to fix Drawn's problems with it. Is this something you could share. I went to his site but did not find any posts about it. Thank you in advance. Maggie

  11. Great post with lots of great information. I'm still new to the whole blog thing. What confuses me is the etiquette behind commenting and responding to those comments. Since blogging is my second job/hobby, keeping up with the comments is nearly impossible. I'd love to find an article on the best way to handle that.

  12. Hey Ward,

    Excellent post. I completely agree with the piece. I just started my own blog over at Thisisnotadiet.org which has nothing to do with your site but as I'm going live in about 4 days, I'm glad I stumbled upon this post. Hmm... lots to think about huh?

    P.S. the Polar Express post was classic and again, spot on. I'm a designer and was training to go into animation at one time so I scratch my head when I see some of the stuff coming out of some of these animations studios.



  13. Glad I found you. I'm going to have to post on this I have a link dropper my first one. I've been initiated. I guess they don't know their own blogs are reachable through clicking on the highlighted name?

  14. This was a great post. I had read that metascene list a while back and lost the bookmark to it, so happy to find it again. I think what you say has much relevance and you cleared up the image issue for me as well (I figured logically that you couldn't just borrow an image but wasn't sure why people were doing it anyway).

  15. I started blogging only one month ago. I have been in the etiquette business for over 20 years and I was thrilled to read your article. I must admit that the very first comment I received was a Spam. I am learning quickly! Thank you for all the links, most helpful.

  16. Hi. I am VERY new to this and apparently have been sheltered from the harsher side of life. Thanks for letting me know I'm not along in my shock value. It remind me of when I walked out of the theatre after 15 minutes of Tropic Thunder. :) I really appreciate your value of etiquette!

  17. I thought this was a great post. I am not new to blogging but I have been out of it for a while. I had googled 'How to increase blog hits' and some of the advise it lists is to leave lots of comments on other 'like' blogs. I think this is where people have gone nuts 'spamming' in comments and where some of the confusion lies.
    Thanks for the post - it was clear and I feel better prepared.