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.