Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 18, 2011
On the last day of May I wrote a long guest post for Ileane of Basic Blog Tips called 5 Ways Your Blog Might Be Irritating People. For whatever reason it turned out to be pretty popular, probably because Ileane has a larger audience than myself. The funny thing is that almost everyone focused only on one thing I mentioned on that blog, that being popups that we seem to encounter more and more each day. Hopefully some of the folks that have popups read that and will eliminate them, although I noticed no one supported popups, which means those people that didn’t comment were probably the ones with popups. lol
Near the end of that article I said that I had more things to address, but decided to stop because that article was getting way too long. I’m going to add 5 more things here, but I hope not to make it as long as the guest post. By the way, that guest post was proof of what people say in that if you’re going to write a guest post, you need to give it as much attention as you would a post of your own. And here we go.
1. Test your comment system. You know, I visit lots of blogs, and I leave a lot of comments. I don’t receive close to as many comments on my comment. Most of the time I had figured that the writers just aren’t interested in replying to whatever I’ve had to say, but then I noticed on some return trips that indeed they had responded, but I never received any notification.
That’s just irksome. With each new blog I’ve created the first thing I did after writing my first post was to pull up another browser and do a test comment to see if I received notification of it. Then I’d comment on the comment to see if the commenter was going to receive a notice from me. Obviously many people aren’t doing that because they don’t know people aren’t receiving their comments. I hate to say it but some of you that comment here often don’t have your answers to comments showing up via email. I’m not going to call anyone out here, but I will encourage you to test your system. You could ask people, but if they’re not getting your email responses then it’s a useless effort.
2. Pick a comment system then leave it alone. Some folks are consistently changing their comment systems. I understand doing a quick test of a system, but I don’t think you’re actually testing it but adding it then leaving it alone for awhile to see what happens.
Here’s the thing. Y’all know I’ve mentioned that there are some blog types I’m just not subscribing to, and it’s because of the commenting system employed. A few I’ll just grin and bear it, but if I don’t already know you well trust me, I’m not subscribing because I’m probably not commenting.
Thing is, every once in awhile I get roped in because the commenting system is one way, and suddenly it’s changed to something I don’t like such as Disqus or Intense Debate or something else of that ilk. If I unsubscribe because I don’t like those and then you realize you don’t like it after awhile and change it back, I’m probably never going to notice and neither are other people that don’t like it. Of course some of you don’t have to worry about me unsubscribing if I already like you, but I may not comment all that often. 😉
As Sire discovered in his post asking people about Disqus, nearly 50% of responders said they wouldn’t comment on a blog with it, but around 50% of those who said they would indicated they’d do it only if they knew and liked the person that wrote the blog. I’m just sharing…
3. Don’t have stuff start playing when I arrive at your blog. Man, I hate when I visit blogs or websites and suddenly I hear music or some video starts or some person walks into the picture and starts talking to me or the main blog page is flash instead of the article I came to see. When people click on your link, they have an expectation of what they’re going to see. If you shock people with something else, most of the time they’re not going to like it. Think about why MySpace is failing; we hate the anarchy. Of course this could go back to popups again, but we’ve already talked about those on Ileane’s blog.
4. Toolbars; slow down already! I hate toolbars with a passion.
Having said that, let’s talk about why I don’t like them. I don’t like them because they get in the way. I have my print enlarged on my computer so I can read things easier; I can read smaller print but I have this big ol’ widescreen 22″ monitor so why would I make myself struggle?
The thing is that the larger I make my screen to read, the larger the toolbars get, and suddenly they’re blocking stuff and irritating me to no end. Whether they’re at the top or the bottom I don’t like them. I especially don’t like the ones on the side because as I enlarge the screen, suddenly the printed article is covered up, and for me to read things I have to shrink the screen.
I get it; you read an article saying that adding toolbars helps people promote you better. Personally, I much rather the advertising, which in general I don’t have a problem with to tell you the truth because at least it stays in its place. If I have interruptions in reading your content then I’m not going to read it and I’m not going to comment on it.
Now, even if I don’t like it I might still comment on it, but I’m going to ask you folks that have stuff like toolbars or other things popping in from time to time to test your blog by enlarging everything (Ctrl-scroll your middle mouse button to shrink or enlarge) to see if those things start blocking your content. If they do, decide if you really want to keep messing with your visitors like that just to encourage one or two of them to retweet your stuff.
5. Believe in yourself. Okay, this last one is more of an opinion than something that irks me, but I figured I’d comment on it anyway; those other 4 plus 5 are enough for ranting. I was reading a post on Brankica’s blog earlier today (she’s changed her commenting system so I won’t be writing a comment there, but here will suffice) asking if bloggers are self centered. She was ranting because some guy on Facebook wrote something where he said that he could write anything better than any of the guest posters he’s ever had on his blog. She didn’t like it one bit.
I’m going the other way, but only slightly. If I didn’t believe I could write my blog better than anyone else I wouldn’t write it. I expect everyone that writes their blog believes they can write their blog better than anyone else; I certainly hope so. At a certain point I’d hope that I not only knew myself well enough but started to learn the style that suits both myself and visitors.
A guest blogger won’t have that kind of knowledge. They’re not emotionally invested in my blog as much, so they shouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean that what they write isn’t good; many guest posts are excellent. What it means is that its excellence can’t top anything you write on your own blog, just as any guest post you write for someone else’s blog will never top their excellence on that blog.
People really need to believe in themselves and what they stand for and what they represent. They need to be able to put it out there with all the confidence and boldness they have. They can be funny, serious, educational, ranting, whatever… they just have to be sure of themselves, say what they want to say, and they’ll have an audience that will love them… okay, will like them a lot. lol
And that’s that; I’m done. This isn’t as long as the post on Ileane’s blog, and I’m betting y’all are happy about that. Still, I’m sure you’ll have something to comment on as well, so let’s get to it, being assured that when I respond to your comment, you’ll know it. 😉
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 21, 2010
It seems to me that there’s enough information online and people talking about this subject that other folks might start listening to it in some fashion. Alas, it’s not the case, so I’m here to be the guy to bring it up, popular or not. It’s probably going to come across as a harsh post, and that’s not its intention. Sometimes I just have to be real; this is one of those times.
I comment on a lot of blogs; I visit a heck of a lot more. It still surprises me that so many people have set things up that discourage many of us from commenting on your blog. I mean, it’s not hard; it’s not rocket science. All that’s needed is a thought about where your blog is, how your blog is set up, and what you’re hoping to get out of your blog. Making it easy for people to comment on your blog, no matter what; is that too much to hope for?
Okay, some of that might not be fair, but then I haven’t gotten into any details yet. I guess that’s where I should start, so we can get a discussion going.
1. If you’re moderating comments, you’re getting on my nerve. Moderated comments tells me that you care more about spam than about thanking people for wanting to comment on your blog. If it worries you so much, then put up a disclaimer up front that you’re moderating comments and I won’t waste my time. But then, if you did that I, and maybe a lot of people people, won’t comment on your blog. That’s somewhat disingenuous, isn’t it? The other thing about writing a comment on a blog that moderates comments is that suddenly you’re getting bombarded with a bunch of comments all at once in email, and if the owner of the blog isn’t putting any names in, you have no idea which response is to you, if there’s one to you at all. I hate that, but it leads to point #2.
2. If you’re not responding to my comments, you’re getting on my nerve. I didn’t just stop by and write “good post” and move on. It might not have been the theory of relativity but I at least gave you a response that showed you I read what you had to say. Now, do I expect a response all the time? Actually yes I do, but if you miss one or two I won’t mind. But if you seem to exhibit a pattern of not responding to my comments, I probably will stop coming, and I don’t want any complaints about it, whether you visit me or not. Goodness, I’m as busy as the next person, and if I’m responding to almost every comment I deserve knowing that you appreciated my taking the time out to respond back to you.
3. Are you still using Disqus, or one of those other services? Haven’t you realized yet that you’re losing comments? Obviously you didn’t see Sire’s poll, which is still ongoing by the way. I mean, 45% of people said they wouldn’t leave a comment on one of these blogs; are you really getting enough comments that losing 45% of potential visitors is okay for you? And, by the way, if you read the post, you’ll see that some of the people who said they’d still leave a comment overwhelmingly said they didn’t like it, and didn’t do it on all blogs that run this service, but most of them. So, add at least another 25% to the mix and then ask why you don’t have lots of comments. By the way, you’re a dying breed; so many people lately have jumped on the CommentLuv bandwagon and found other ways to block spam and they’re starting to thrive. One guy told me his comments jumped threefold; how’s about that!
4. Are you verifying that people are receiving your responses back to them? This one’s dicey because of you folks running free blogs on WordPress.com. It doesn’t give you the ability to set things up so you can make sure people are seeing that you’ve responded to them, and that’s a shame. Since I’m someone who won’t subscribe or login to receive comments when I get that email (after all, I already checked the box on your blog that asked if I wanted to subscribe to comments), I’ll only revisit blogs of those of you I happen to like; you know who you are if you’ve seen my comments on your blog. If you’re answering a lot of people and rarely hear back from them, this could be an issue for you. But I’m not the guy who can tell you to spend your money on self hosting and a domain name; spend your money your way. However, I am the guy to tell you that it’s the way to go if you get serious about blogging.
5. Some of you know I don’t like Blogger/Blogspot blogs. I don’t like them because you have to create a login name to comment so that you’ll get responses back. I have one for my business name, and I’m still trying to figure out how that happened, but not for any of my other blogs or websites, including this one. Some blogs I want to comment on aren’t appropriate for my business account, and thus I’ll either skip it or comment using the email for this blog, but of course Blogger won’t let you put in an email, and thus you never know if you got a response or not. This fact impeded a lot of blogs I wanted to check out when we had that network meme a week or so back. On this one, same answer I gave to the previous point; I can’t tell you what to do, but if you’re serious about blogging, think about it.
That’s it; that’s my rant. I’ve actually ranted on all these things in the past, as you can see from some of the links, but I guess it’s been awhile. People forget, and thus I figured I’d bring it up again. If you don’t really care, then that’s fine; if you do, well, at least think about it.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 16, 2010
A few days ago I went in what I consider a minor rant about Ning and how it didn’t seem to be all that active or engaging. Dennis wrote a comment asking if I was disappointed in Ning or its “lousy” (yeah, he used a different word) members.
It got me to thinking more about things I’ve mentioned here and read elsewhere as it regards Facebook and Ryze and Twitter and LinkedIn and even blogs. The common thread with all of these things and with things in general is that there are a lot more people hanging out around the fringe, aka lurking, than there are participating.
It’s an interesting phenomena that deserves to be looked at in a few different ways. Let’s start with this question; why? I personally think it’s been indoctrinated into most people throughout history; it’s almost our instinct to kind of watch and take things in rather than to actually get into things. This doesn’t mean if you’re not forced or encouraged to participate you won’t; in the rough and tumble caveman days, it took a group of hunters to bring down prey sometimes. What it means is that you might not have been a participant in making the plans. These groups usually had one or two members who did the planning and lead the assault, and everyone else just came along to help out; after all, they wanted to eat also.
That happened in history, and it happens now. Most meetings you go to will have a few people who do most of the talking, while everyone else is pretty much just there. Unless something is talked about that specifically draws them out, most people will stay silent, barely paying attention, until the meeting is over so they can go back to their normal jobs and feel like they participated in some fashion. But it’s not participation just being somewhere; it’s lurking.
There’s nothing wrong with lurking, and if you’re a lurker on this blog I appreciate having you here. However, I have to ask if there’s much productivity going on if you’re lurking without participating? Last week I talked about going to a goal setting retreat. There were 5 of us that participated; I probably talked at least 35% of the time. I didn’t go out to be a dominant person in the room. What I did want to make sure of is that I got my money’s worth, even though it was free. In other words, if I was going to commit 4 hours of my time to something when I could have been using that time doing something else, I was going to make sure I wasn’t just sitting there not trying to become a better person. After all, I do have goals to reach, and not a really clear direction on how to get to all of them sometimes, and any assistance I can get I’ll take.
I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t really like sitting back and letting someone else kind of control what I’m going to be doing or how I might participate in something. I don’t belong to a lot of groups in the “real” world, but I do belong to some. I’m on the board of an organization called Arise, which works with disabled people to help bring them a better quality of life as well as give them equal opportunities to do what everyone else does. But I’m not just on the board; I’m the head of the finance committee, heading into year 3. And, when the entire board gets together, I always make sure I get my opinion out, waiting my turn of course, because I want people to know where I stand. Shrinking violet; not me!
I’m also on the board of an organization called the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York, a group geared towards addressing the issues that independent consultant’s face. I run their website and write the monthly newsletter and help put the meetings together. I believe that I’ve been instrumental in helping to change the focus of many of our meetings to get closer to what our stated mission is, making sure I give my opinion on things once again.
And finally, I’m the president of an organization called Mid York Medical Accounts Management, though I just took back the presidency. I’ve been on the board for 12 years or so, and this will be my 3rd go round as president. I also created the template page (I’ll be gifting them their own website one of these days), and I’ve written the newsletter for those same 12 years as well. As president, I either get the speakers for our meetings or help get them, and try to make sure that all aspects of the organization are taken care of in some fashion.
Lurker? Me? No way! At least most of the time. For instance, I’m a member of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, as I live in a town called Liverpool. It has a lot of members, and I’m not on the board, nor have I ever tried. Because of this, I find that there are a lot of events I don’t go to because they don’t interest me. I’m not happy with their website; it should have been revamped 3 years ago, and they’re going through a revamp right now that’s taken almost a year, and little change has been made so far. I’m not crazy about the format of the newsletter. In other words, I have gripes, but because I’m not an active member of the board, basically I’m at the whim of those people who are on the board. In essence, I’m kind of a lurker with this group, and thus I don’t really enjoy it as much as I probably should; I certainly need to be working harder on using it for my own local business purposes.
When I’m a lurker, I’m not a happy guy. I need to participate in something in some fashion, otherwise I might end up going away. That’s why I participate by writing this blog and looking for other blogs to participate on. That’s why I hate things that get in the way of my participating on blogs, such as Disqus and Intense Debate and Blogger and any other blogs that want me to sign up to play the game (and there’s starting to be more of these things). I’d rather drop most of them and get on with participating in places that engage me and welcome me in better.
Why do I vote? Because I believe if one doesn’t vote then they have no right to complain about anything. It’s also a bit more personal for me; people died so I would have the right to vote, and I’m going to honor what they gave up, whether anyone else cares or not. I’m not a total participant when it comes to politics, but I’m not a lurker either. I at least know what’s going on, and make informed voting choices when I can (although some of these local elections for small office; how the heck are we supposed to know who these people are most of the time when even the newspapers don’t tell us who they are? A different rant for another time).
Okay, time to close; this is turning into War and Peace. I ask you this question; why do you believe more people lurk rather than participate? What makes you participate if that’s what you do? And how do you see whichever action is the norm for you making your life either better or worse? Inquiring minds want to know.