Nov 16 2010

Hello Cruel World or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blogs

(10 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

How exhausting is blogging?  That’s the $64,000 question for some as following a discouraging election, they seek solace in drifting away or, even, posting a GBCW diary.  As a follow-up to this wonderful series — Welcome New Users — by LaughingPlanet and smileycreek, I add my voice addressing not just newbies on this (and other) blogs but, also, a bunch of oldies.

JekyllnHyde’s Tip #1: and take a look at your computer keyboard first!

hat tip – Web Strategy

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What happens at blogs when most of us are fast asleep?  As Fantine (Ruthie Henshall) sang in Les Miserables, do “the tigers come at night” and wreak havoc across this blog?  Well, sometimes they do.

At any given time, there are many people either contemplating doing so or writing diaries here.  Dozens more are posting comments ranging from insightful to funny to forgettable. Perhaps a large number are lurking in the shadows thinking to themselves, “I should be actively participating myself if I can think of something — anything — to add to the various discussions going on here.”

As I mentioned in this comment yesterday, the direction your blogging takes is determined by several factors, many of which are under your control.  As indicated in the above graphic, your blogging career can take an exciting new turn or, if you let it overwhelm you, recede into the depths of despair.

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1. Blogging Stage #1: Stepping Gingerly Into the Fray

hat tip – Traffic Generation Cafe

Like the band who has been gigging for years before making a record, new bloggers — at least the ones who have done a little planning — generally have an albums’ worth of really good topics to toss out.  Those initial posts generate a little reaction, particularly if the blogger does his homework, identifies the established bloggers who are amenable to new voices and cultivates them.

Excitement is high during this stage and expectations are intact and rising.


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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #2: If you are a newbie, don’t be shy to express yourself.  Jump on in, the water’s just fine.  Just remember this unwritten code of conduct on this blog which, out of modesty, the party apparatchiks neglected to mention in the FAQ’s over at the Great Orange Satan

The Blogging Hierarchy

1. Anyone with a User ID (UID) of three digits of less is either an Overlord or Overlord-in-Waiting.  A few are even legends in their own minds!  

2. Users with UID’s over three digits are all Proles.  

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2. Blogging Stage #2: Great Expectations

At this point, the new blogger is certain that before long he and all those guys and gals he reads about will soon be yukking it up in cross-blog conversations like old college buddies. But like college, this stage doesn’t last forever.

One of two things will happen.  Once in a blue moon, the blogger will catch lightning in a bottle, get swept up by the blogging elite, and become a recognized name in the blogosphere. Much more often, the blogger will hit a plateau and the growth of his still new blog will slow or flatline.  He’s not the new guy any longer, his album’s worth of posts are getting a little stale, and the lizard-like blogosphere has been distracted by all the other flies buzzing around.


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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #3: Whether you get good or bad feedback, don’t get too high or too low. You’re never as good a blogger as you may think you are.  Or, as bad as others say you are.  

Working Daze

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3. Blogging Stage #3: Frustration or Focus?

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Once the honeymoon is over, the blogging work that seemed so new and interesting at first starts to feel hard and frustrating.  And very, very inefficient.  The blogger can’t figure out how to generate enough traction to achieve the organic growth that is an absolute requirement to maintain a popular blog.  He writes thoughtful posts on hot topics, links like crazy to other bloggers and waits. And waits.  He gets a few links here and there, but the small return on the huge effort is profoundly discouraging.  The blogging elite doesn’t notice him and many of the other new bloggers are too busy fighting for attention to engage in any meaningful conversation…

At this point, the blogger begins looking for a new angle to kick-start and accelerate the growth process.  Perhaps he crafts alliances with other similarly situated bloggers, which, like any attempt to change the status quo, only works as long as it has critical mass.


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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #4: Never stop writing.  Try writing different kinds of diaries and sooner or later, you will find your passion and subject of interest.  If you aren’t successful on your own, volunteer to write one of the group diaries such as IGNT, Black Kos, Top Comments, Overnight News Digest, or the Pootie diaries.  It does take a village to make these community/group diaries successful.    

Frank & Ernest

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4. Blogging Stage #4: Fame or Alienation?

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After the blogger’s capacity for frustration is exceeded, he does an about face and, instead of seeking inclusion in the conversations, he rejects the entire process completely.  At this point, the tailspin towards abandonment has begun.  The blogger’s mental image of the blogosphere as unicorns and butterflies in a field of wildflowers is replaced with an equally distorted image of a dark and wicked place, full of conspiracies and evil doers.  The benefit of the doubt is cast aside in favor of broad condemnation.


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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #5: Internet fame is a double-edged sword.  The more popular you become on a blog, the larger the target on your back.  If you ever get to be in that position, remember you didn’t do it alone.  Many, many others are responsible for your success through their feedback and constructive suggestions.  Be humble and never, ever consider it beneath yourself to answer any criticism directed at you, however pointed it might be. Fame can be temporary and fleeting.  You are only as good as your last blog posting.  So, it might behoove you to never rest on your laurels.

Frank & Ernest

Grand Avenue

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5. Blogging Stage #5: Fatigue and Abandonment

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I don’t have an easy solution to reduce the rate of blog attrition.  I do what I can by trying to find and highlight blogs from the blogosphere’s mostly invisible middle earth.  I don’t know if that will make a difference or not.  I hope so, but I am not immune to discouragement.

What I do know is that all legitimate bloggers, regardless of our motivation for blogging, have a vested interest in nurturing the blogosphere and encouraging the creation and continued existence of legitimate blogs by people we don’t know yet who have a lot to say, a lot to share, and a lot to teach us.


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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #6: Prussian military leader Carl Von Clausewitz may have referred to blogging as the continuation of war by other means. He was wrong, too.  Blogging can sometimes be a very aggravating experience for all it takes is a few disruptive people to test our patience and diminish our capacity for further blogging.  Before you decide to write a GBCW diary, ask yourself if it would be better to take some time off to re-energize yourself.  Many of us have done that periodically, only to return refreshed and ready to contribute again.  Besides, quitting permanently is only reserved for some Governors of Alaska!

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6. In Conclusion…

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JekyllnHyde’s Tip #7: I certainly don’t hold the patent nor have a monopoly on civilized blogging but, even so, here are a few suggested of blogging

  • Do remember there is a live human being at the other end of the blog exchange.  One who is sensitive, has emotions, and may not react well to constant criticism.  Some of us often lose sight of that fact.
  • Don’t belittle or disparage anyone in your comments nor hold personal grudges.  Even if you had an unpleasant exchange, try to forget it by the next day.  Move on.
  • Do have a high level of tolerance for dissenting view points.  You aren’t the repository of all knowledge and wisdom.
  • Don’t expect others to support your blogging efforts if you don’t bother to reciprocate.
  • Do try to visit all kinds of diaries and, in particular, support the community diaries.  It will strengthen your ties with others.
  • Don’t express the first thought that crosses your mind, particularly when responding to an inflammatory posting.  Take a deep breath before you do.  Sometimes, just as in real life, reticence is a desirable trait.
  • Do rely upon humor to diffuse a thorny situation and gently disarm someone.  Even if you disagree with them, walk away after the second or third exchange.  Beyond that point, the conversation will usually deteriorate.  Simply learn to walk away and don’t insist upon having the last word. And, don’t worry if you’re on the losing end of an argument.  In professional baseball, for example, the best hitters fail seven out of ten times and still have a chance to make it to the Hall of Fame.
  • Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t say to a person’s face.  This approach will help you restrain yourself.
  • Do recommend generously.  Others also put in a great deal of effort in writing diaries and comments.  It isn’t all about you.
  • Don’t ever Hide Rate anyone unless their behavior is very disruptive or egregious such as someone making racist, bigoted, or homophobic comments.  HR-ing isn’t about making you feel all-powerful.

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A Note About the Diary Poll

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As Forrest Gump might have said, “Blogging is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

That said, I leave you with a few quotes about life as a blogger

  • A blog is a personal diary.  A daily pulpit.  A collaborative space.  A political soapbox.  A breaking-news outlet.  A collection of links.  Your own private thoughts.  Memos to the world.
  • Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant.
  • The heart and soul of blogging is the individual and/or the group of individuals opining on the fly and responding post-haste to one and all.
  • The ease and appeal of blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world.
  • Blogs are whatever we make them.  Defining ‘blog’ is a fool’s errand.

Remember to take the diary poll and

Choose One Lobster to Represent Neil Gorsuch on the All Dog Supreme Court

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  1. JekyllnHyde

    … this ultimate survival guide to blogging.

    JekyllnHyde’s #8: consider this final piece of advice — always, always take pride in your blogging but never take yourself too seriously.    

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    Tips and the like here.  Thanks.  

  2. ek hornbeck

    As I recall there is another blogger who’s more closely associated with Welcome New Users.

  3. TMC

    The “Lou Grant” to my “Mrs Pinchon”


  4. JekyllnHyde

    Been out to dinner lately?

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