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Decluttering My Online Life

Posted by on Jan 12, 2011
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I haven’t talked all that much on this blog about decluttering things, but I have talked about it on my business blog. Every once in awhile we should all take some time to clear our “space” of things that aren’t working for us anymore.


by Karl Sinfield

The first time, in 2006, I said it was time to take the clutter out of my life. At that time I cleaned out a lot of material from my office, then decided it was time to go through all the emails I had accumulated up to that point, which was about 11 years worth, and eliminate any that weren’t beneficial anymore. I also went through about 4 years of business cards then as well; I’d kept every business card I’d ever been given, and that can really accumulate a lot.

The second time, in 2008, I wrote about addressing your clutter, but in that case it was concerning the fact that you know you have to do something because it’s not working, and instead you just let it keep going on and on until you find out you have a major mess on your hands. At this point you might just have to kill everything and start all over again; what a waste of time that is.

This time around, since I write about blogging here more than anything else, I’m talking about blogging declutter. Last year around this time I wrote about clearing away irritations and I figure it’s time to do that sort of thing again. Most of you haven’t been treated to this pdf file I’m linking to that’s called 1001 Tolerations, so I’m sharing it with you. No, some aspects of blogging aren’t on the list, but I think they might be if it were written today. I love blogging; I love visiting other blogs, and I love commenting. I know many of you do as well. But we put up with stuff that impedes our joy and wastes our time. Hey, early in the new year is as good a time as any to set something up so I’m not being irked anymore; who’s with me on this one?

So here we go, my short list (well, short for me) of things I’m going to do and not going to put up with anymore unless I really like you already; you’ll know who you are later on, obviously.

1. I will not subscribe to anymore Blogspot blogs. I might not even look at any more new blogs from that site. Even those where the only account I have with them will be missing me. As I wrote in another post, my business email isn’t appropriate as my only venue for leaving comments on those blogs, so why go there and find out and then have to leave, right?

2. I will not subscribe to anymore WordPress.com blogs. This ties in with my post on why I might not comment on your blog. Almost every one of them sends you an email asking if you want to subscribe to comments; I already checked the box so that should be obvious. Why put myself through that decision anymore.

3. If your blog has something that pops up while I’m either trying to read or write a comment asking me if I want to subscribe to your newsletter or whatever else, I’m gone and not coming back. I don’t care if it comes up immediately or 30 seconds later. I don’t care if it’s been said to increase subscribers to newsletters for those of you who are doing marketing. I’m done; it’s irking me, and really came to light two weeks ago when I was trying to write a comment and in the middle of it that stupid box came up and wouldn’t let me continue until I clicked it off. Nope, I’m done.

4. If I’m trying to visit your blog and suddenly I’m redirected to something telling me I have to turn off my adblocking software to view your comments, I’m done permanently. That tells me you’re more interested in making money than in engaging with people, and frankly, I go to the store when I want to buy something. I will not be forced into it. This seems to be a new thing, by the way, and I’m not having it.


by Kenneth MacLeod

5. I’m not subscribing to anymore Disqus, Intense Debate, or other blogs of that sort. I had actually continued subscribing to those blogs because some of them have pretty good content, but I like commenting, and I’m not signing up, and I don’t want to get those stupid emails; done.

6. I’m not subscribing to any more blogs that won’t show my gravatar because I haven’t signed up for their service. This seems to be the way with many Typepad blogs, and frankly, though this is minor, I can live with it. I went through the time to add my image through Gravatar, and by golly if you don’t care then I don’t care to visit again (I know, I said it, “by golly”).

7. If I notice you’ve never responded to a single comment I’ve made, I’m dropping your blog from my reader and moving on. That probably means you’re not looking at comments anyway, so you won’t miss me, and I won’t miss your blog either.

8. I’m not subscribing to any more blogs that moderate comments. I’m sorry you’re worried about too much spam because you don’t have the time to run your blog properly, but I’m not the one. What happens is that you never know if your post was seen or commented on until suddenly you’re deluged all at once with tons of comments that are just now being approved by the blog writer. Nope, don’t need that in my stream; I like real time comments and the like. It might be minor, but it’s irritating me, and I need to keep my irritation level down.

9. Of course if you don’t accept comments I’m not coming back. Having said that, I’ve been to some blogs where a person wants to write something really personal or controversial, and doesn’t want comments on that post. I’m not overly crazy about that idea, but I actually understand it and kind of respect it at the same time so that doesn’t count. But some folks don’t accept comments at all; that’s not interaction, that’s sitting through a lecture.

10. If you don’t always agree with me and love me and tell me how great I am, I’m never visiting your blog. Okay, this one’s a lie to see if you’re paying attention, and to satisfy my little OCD bit because I just had to have a 10th point to write, and I couldn’t think of anything else bothering me. Actually, the number 9 is one of my favorite numbers, but for a list post it just wasn’t going to work for my mental state. Sorry about that. :-)

Now, does this mean I may not pop in from time to time? No, I wouldn’t say that. After all, I mentioned in yesterday’s post talking about CommentLuv that I like scanning through comments on other blogs that have it to see if there are topics that match things I’m interested in. So I might end up there, but whether or not I leave a comment is my prerogative. However, I probably won’t; if I like it enough, I would probably just write a blog post and link back to it. So, you’ll get a trackback that you can come here to see what I had to say.

Yeah, that’s a whole lot of fussing, which is why I threw in another image to break things up. What are you tolerating, other than long posts every once in awhile from someone like me, that you need to declutter from?

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44 Comments »

Mitch, I agree 100%, I love you, and you are sooooooo great!

I hope you don’t have too much trouble on my blog because I really appreciate your comments and the time you take to leave them. I love hearing what you have to say.

:-)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thank you Susan. The only problem I have with your blog is that it keeps making me think about staying healthy when I want to just eat whatever I want to eat and sit around and get fat! lol

Radu Tyrsina Reply:

Now, that’s a little too harsh :) With the pop ups : I really see no big deal if your pop up appears just once. Even more, if the blog’s offering great content, is it that bothering, that 1-2 seconds for your life? :)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Radu, have you ever heard the expression “you only get one chance to make a first impression”? That’s kind of the way I envision pop-ups. Personally I know that I don’t want to assault (yeah, harsh term, but it’s the one that’s coming to me right now) someone with a direct sales message right off the bat, whether it’s to buy a product or subscribe to a newsletter. And I don’t do things to others that I hate having done to me. I’d rather people see my content first, decide if they trust me or not, and then if they decide to buy something (not the thrust of this blog, by the way) then it’s all good. But at least they have the opportunity to meet me first.

January 12th, 2011 | 9:48 AM

Hi Mitch,

Just what I’ve been thinking about myself. You’re spot on, Mitch!

Love the how you keep it real.

Take care,

Evelyn

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Evelyn; I try to be honest without hurting feelings. Declutter; the buzzword of 2011!

January 12th, 2011 | 10:08 AM

I agree with almost everything apart Disqus. While I once used it and moved on to CommentLuv – as you know – I don’t see a problem in participating to discussions taking place there. It doesn’t bother me, and I have some great blogs on my list making use of it – like Suzanne Vara’s one at Kherize5 – so yeah, I’ll be “tolerant” and keep being a CommentLuv evangelist anyway ;)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

I’m glad it works out for you, Gabriele. Then again, you probably created an account on the site so it works for you; I’m not apt to do it any time soon, or future for that matter. I’m sure it has a place for some; just not for me.

January 12th, 2011 | 11:20 AM

What puzzles me about most of your list is, don’t the bloggers who are doing those things find them annoying, too? Number 7, for example. Being ignored after leaving a comment probably feels the same to pretty much everyone. So why would anyone think their blog is worth that kind of treatment?

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Charles, you’d think so wouldn’t you? Truth be told, many people who don’t respond to comments don’t visit a lot of blogs either. So they’re missing out on how to build visibility and the like. I’ve read blogs where the people who use pop-ups admit they don’t like them either, but say that it increases their subscribers so they do it anyway. Go figure.

January 12th, 2011 | 5:45 PM

Decluttering is good – I like Decluttering.
De-irking is a great idea.
That is quite a list, but I can not disagree with, dispute or disparage even one point. I was wrestling with a couple of them earlier this evening myself. #10 had me worried for a moment, though :-)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Yeah, that #10 was a lark. However, it proves that you read it. lol

January 12th, 2011 | 8:14 PM
Dr Natura:

I also like to add:

1) Don’t visit any forums that don’t add immediate value to you.
2) remove online friends from facebook, twitter, and IM’s that you never talk to.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Those aren’t bad, Henley. Course, that would have thrown my number off, and when I wrote the post I just wasn’t in the mood to not equal out. That’s the thing with my little bit of OCD; it comes and goes.

January 12th, 2011 | 8:20 PM
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing:

Huh. I’ve never thought of it before, but I’ve never subscribed to anything but a WP blog…..dot org that is. -)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

And there you go; see, you’ve already decluttered. lol

January 12th, 2011 | 9:23 PM
Patricia:

Hi Mitch

As you know I visit your blog most every day. Missed yesterday so that must have meant I was super busy lol With a GP and also my own post last night, got rather busy and called it a day at 1am.

So I’m playing catchup today but yes I always read all the post unless it is irrelevant to me and then I would have bounced off and not left a comment anyway. I do comment on 2 Disqus blogs but they belong to friends who write quality content. Took me awhile to go there.

However, that is an exception to the rule and mostly if I see they are Disqus I leave.

If there is no interaction on the blog I won’t hang around either. And as for those popups….ugh!!!

Patricia Perth Australia

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Glad to see you agree, Pat. There are always special circumstances when I’ll possibly read and comment on something I’m not crazy about, but it’s rare. And it’s going to become even more rare.

I knew you’d be around eventually; it’s what we do. lol

January 13th, 2011 | 12:56 AM
Jessica Sieghart:

That’s quite a list! I find it more than irksome when I want to leave a comment on a blog and can’t without signing up for something that I know I’ll never use again. I used to do it, but stopped that long ago. I don’t know why so many people on Blogger make it so difficult to comment. You can leave them open and people can anything to comment. I had my blog with Blogger for a few years and I never had a problem with spam over there. I can’t stand those pop up ads to subscribe to a blog. They don’t seem to work right, either. On one blog I’ve been following along time, the darn thing keeps popping up all the time even though I did subscribe. It drives me crazy and I can’t go to his blog on anything other than my computer because it’s too hard to navigate around that thing. Love #10 ;) That should be mandatory on everyone’s blogs! LOL

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Jessica; had a lot of fun with #10. lol Obviously you saw the frustration I was putting forth, something most of us have to deal with from time to time. Even with this declaration I know I’m going to come upon these things here and there; it’s almost unavoidable. But that’ll be a one and done; peace will be what I’m shooting for this year in my mind.

January 13th, 2011 | 7:43 AM
Val:

I’m with you on a few things, and not others.

I’m with you on the pop ups though I’ve not, so far, experienced them coming up when I leave a comment. The ones that drive me to distraction are those that come up the second I get onto a website or blog. I would be with you on #4 if I had ever experienced this. In my opinion if something tells me to turn off my adblocker then it’s not a site that I want to trust anyway.

I’m mostly with you on bloggers who never respond to comments, to me it is rude. Though I think that they probably do read the comments, they just don’t see fit (for whatever reason) to respond. With some, though, particularly personal bloggers, I think it’s a form of shyness or insecurity – they don’t know how to respond or they don’t know what to say. Should one take them to task for social ineptitude?

I don’t give a damn whether blogs show my gravatar or not. Yes, it can be irksome but if someone’s writing good blog posts that I find enjoyable in some way, then not having my gravatar show up is not going to stop me going there.

I do read a few blogs that don’t accept comments but they aren’t generally personal blogs. For instance, I read a psychology blog that does that. And yes, it is a ‘lecture’ so I don’t treat it like a blog.

I also don’t like disqus or intense debate, but it won’t stop me reading blogs that use them if the blogger him/herself is interesting to read. As for commenting on them, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

As for the rest…
So, basically, you’re punishing the thousands of bloggers who blog on blogspot because you believe that commenting there won’t do your business reputation any good; you’re punishing the thousands of bloggers who blog on wordpress.com because wp.com sends you unnecessary emails, regardless of the fact that the people who blog on wp.com have absolutely no control over external site notifications. (We can choose to show a check-box for people to subscribe, but they don’t have to check it). And you’re punishing the thousands of bloggers who choose to moderate comments because you think they’re worried about spam and don’t have the time to run their blogs properly. As I’ve said before, there are many many reasons that people choose to moderate comments and it’s not all about spam. Sometimes people have security issues (real life/real world security issues) and no, I’m not just talking about me. How about the person who has been cyberstalked? Or the person who has suffered identity theft from something someone’s put in an unmoderated comment? Or worse, how about the person who has had their family targetted by racists or religious extremists, or the person who has been raped and doesn’t want their attacker to find them? I know bloggers who fit all those categories (and not just personal bloggers, either, some are on your fave blogging host, namely wordpress.org). Should they be unsafe and have unmoderated comments?

The world is a big, complicated place, Mitch. You’re exluding so many people ‘just’ to feel less irritable. Well, fine, but excuse me if I show some solidarity with some of those you’re rejecting.

I’m outta here.

January 13th, 2011 | 9:57 AM
Sunny:

How do you feel about tumbl.r that has been stripped of it’s comments (unless you install Disqus)?

Also, as per the commenter before…I am fairly new to the blogging business and I am curious as to how someone’s identity gets stolen from unmoderated comments? Also, if someone doesn’t want to be found out of fear of personal safety…wouldn’t it make sense to not put out anything to find? How would unmoderated comments put them in jeopardy of being found?

Could someone advise me?

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Hi Sunny. I really don’t know tumbl.r all that well, if you remember from our conversation at the book club, what, almost 2 months ago? So I can’t respond to that one.

I’ll own up to not understanding the comment about identities being stolen from unmoderated comments, so I’ll answer it in a different way. Some folks want to blog because it gives them an outlet to release whatever they’re feeling at the time. They might decide to share their writings with a select group of people, just because. However, since you can’t really hide a blog, even one that’s not being promoted, it’s possible that your friend or whomever else knows you could write a response that reveals things about you that you don’t want the world to know about. That’s one reason someone might moderate comments; it’s not the most common reason people moderate them, but it’s still a reason. So, by moderating comments, you can either deny a comment entirely or edit it so protect your privacy from something that someone else said.

Did that help any?

January 13th, 2011 | 10:45 AM
Dean Saliba:

I agree with this, I want to come to a blog and comment. If you put obsticles in my way then I won’t be back. That is why I like commenting here. :)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Dean, and this blog will always be easy to comment on, even if, at some point, I decide to add the GASP plugin and make people check the little box to prove they’re not autobot spammers. I did that on my other two blogs and it’s drastically reduced the spam, and if I add it then I’d be able to open up all my posts to comments again instead of just the ones in the last 180 days. I’m still working on that thought, though.

January 13th, 2011 | 11:17 AM

I have no idea why people use disqus, and there are so many blogs with it! I think you hit pretty much every annoying commenting roadblock and why I also don’t comment on the majority of blogs.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan. There’s just so much out there to get through, and I’m someone who actually visits lots of blogs because I like absorbing information. So if I have to slow down even a little bit I’m irked. I’d rather not be irked; I might not be pleasant when I’m irked. ;-)

January 13th, 2011 | 3:33 PM
Rebeccah @ barcode software:

Thanks for your short list about decluttering your online life. I know that many of us of course have standards to follow especially when we talk about our wn personal life, whether it is online or not. Through reading your post I agree with you but some of them wasn’t also. It was your opinion and I appreciate it, the only important thing about our online life is that we learned, experienced and share it to others in order to be more productive and interactive. Many thanks for sharing this!

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Rebeccah, and you’re right, our online life does encompass all those things you mentioned, and more.

January 14th, 2011 | 3:59 AM

I agree with every one of them Mitch and I was amused at number 10. I was on my daughters laptop the other day because the wife was hogging the computer and I happened upon a blogspot blog and it would only allow me to comment with my google account. Well I don’t remember those things, as it comes up automatically with my main computer, so I left. Makes you wonder why people bother doesn’t it?

As for those pop ups, they are so annoying. Apparently people have them set up so that it loads your page first before appearing. This is supposed to be a good thing as it loads your content first. The problem is your reading the post and then all of a sudden it pops up and ruins your reading experience. I may have to join you on this stance.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Sire, I can understand why some people will start out that way, and I can also understand why some people wouldn’t want to add any extra costs to what they do. But as I also understand it some of those things can be changed so that they don’t encumber those of us who just want to stop by, read, and comment. I was having the conversation a couple of days ago with two people who use pop-ups about them. Both said they had all sorts of subscribers to their newsletters, and I asked if they knew how many people had visited and decided never to come back because of it. Kind of like the survey you did with Disqus.

Sire Reply:

Those people don’t care about the service they supply, it’s all about building their list. Problem is I’m not sure if you can consider the people who subscribe in that manner to be ‘quality’ subscribers. As far as I’, concerned they’re only after numbers.

As you know I just started a list and I’m not using those tactics and I never will. It’s slowly growing and I’m pretty sure as long as I keep posting quality articles they’ll stick with me.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

And that’s greatly appreciated by someone like me. Course, you never did respond to my question on what’s making those article things pop up when you get near the bottom of your page, and why you can’t close them even though there’s an X in the upper right corner.

Sire Reply:

I’m pretty sure I did respond, but just in case, it’s a plugin that’s supposed to mimic the New York Time site. It pops out once you’ve scrolled down the required distance displaying the next article in the same category. It’s purpose is to reduce the bounce rate.

As to why it doesn’t disappear when you click the x, I have no bloody idea. It works fine when I do it. I wonder if anyone else is having a problem with it?

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

It might be a question to ask; I don’t ever remember your writing about it. I have noticed it on some news sites, but hadn’t paid attention to which ones. Actually, as I think about it, I think MSNBC has it. I’ll admit that will be a plugin I won’t be adding.

Sire Reply:

That’s cool, it’s probably not for everyone. I notice on some sites it covers the post and I find that annoying. I’ve configured it to appear after the post and because of my blog setup it doesn’t obstruct any of the post so I think it shouldn’t piss any one off to any great extent.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Most people probably won’t end up going that far down; you know me, though, I like to be thorough. ;-)

January 16th, 2011 | 4:29 PM

De-cluttering is always good, Mitch. As I am new in this community building effort, I am still pretty much feeling my way around. So, I am still visiting and commenting on blogs that moderate comments, use Disqus or what not.

But, I can understand where you are at and will still love you, visit and comment on your blog, even if I will never see a comment from you on mine. :D The #10 on your list kind of threw me for a while, but knowing you, I didn’t believe it for one moment. :D

– Wes –

– Wes -

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Wes. I do check out your posts, as you know, but they’re not in my area of expertise. Hey, I think I even commented once! You know, I don’t foist my opinions around here and expect everyone to do things my way. If I strike a chord and someone says “yeah, he’s right”, then that’s okay, and if not, that’s okay also. That’s what having an opinion and freedom of choice is all about.

January 18th, 2011 | 1:51 AM

Hi Mitch,

Decluttering is as personal as perfume. Even when we use the same bottle, the result reflects our unique chemistry.
I sprinkled some of that Eau de Disqus, along with a splash of Pop-up Domination. Ya know? It just doesn’t smell that bad. I wouldn’t buy it, mind you, but some of my good friends wear that gunk so I tolerate it :)

Same with WordPress.com and Blogger.com. I would have never met Ileane if I didn’t visit Blogger.com. That’s not entirely true, as we actually met in a forum. I’m just sayin’ …

In fact, I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out how to make the conversation work for me within the constraints of the WordPress.com system. It didn’t pan out, but I learned something, anyway: I prefer email notifications, after all. Despite my blog post about “Spam is Your Fault”, it turns out that WordPress.com notifications are just as efficient as those from self-hosted WordPress blogs. Granted, having to constantly reconfirm on my friends’ blogs is a bit annoying. So is having to take off my shoes when I visit. (True story, I have a friend who makes us walk around in our stockinged feet.)

You asked us to mention what we tolerate that we need to declutter from. My main toleration is reciprocal following on Twitter. I did an experiment on another Twitter account and learned that automated following was bad. Yet, self-inflicted reciprocity amounts to the same thing. Why do I keep following someone when my TweetDeck is configured to hide all columns except three that I specifically want to track? That benefits neither party, but I tolerate it because the drama of unfollowing a lot of people is not worth my time – especially when it is so easy to filter them out via hidden TweetDeck columns.

I’ve already pruned my feed reader, but new subscriptions keep making their way in :) My tolerance is high because, again, I have an “Everything Else” folder to dump them into.

Finally, Gmail gadgets. This is drop-dead easy to declutter because the interface in the labs lets you turn them off. However, I sometimes tolerate them out of laziness.

Cheers,

Mitch

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Great comments here, Mitch. Early on, I did meet a lot of nice people on all these other platforms. But you know, when you’re actually working the network, visiting tons of blogs and leaving what I hope are legitimate comments that add a little something to the mix, having to stop and sign in here and there just takes a lot of time. And if I know I’m not going to get responses, or I’m going to get every single response at once, or I have to duplicate something… man, that’s an annoyance I just don’t need on a consistent basis. But as I said, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen occasionally; I just do my work arounds for those people who I really care about, pop in and out of something that becomes really compelling, but won’t add it to my reader. I can live with that.

January 18th, 2011 | 3:23 AM

Hi Mitch,

I am with you on tip 8. Isn’t that why you start a blog in the first place to be heard.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

That’s what I’ve always felt Peter. To be heard & to share.

July 1st, 2011 | 2:25 AM