This is wrong on so many levels

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

As Matt Mullenweg said recently in comments about another post, this is wrong on so many levels.

Both Biz Stone and Robert Scoble have a ‘How to Win the Blogging Game’ entries, except their posts are titled, Promoting your Blog and How will your blog get discovered. There is much in what both write that I can agree with; but there is an underlying implication with both writings that the act of having our participation discovered is more important than the act of participating, itself.

Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

I do agree that webloggers can help themselves be discovered by pinging the recently updated services such as Pingomatic or or Technorati. Unless you’re writing for a closed audience, and aren’t interested in new readers, you’re going to want to ping when you post. Same can be said for making your site search engine friendly, though many of us are taking a closer look at the viability of this.

I also agree that comments are a wonderful calling card for other webloggers. I think that almost all of the people I read now I met at one time or another through links in other weblogs or through comments: in my weblog or other weblogs. I still think this, and links to specific posts, are great ways of connecting with new people.

I also see the benefit of putting your weblog on your business cards or email signature, or attaching it as part of your profile – if you want the extra visits (not everyone does). And of course, providing interesting material is always helpful if you want readers.

But Scoble talks about linking to other weblogs just to get them to notice you, and that reminds me of the kids we all knew back when we were young who would bring candy in so that the other classmates would be friends with them. And I also think this is much of a reason why many of the top webloggers are in the A-lists – because they have buzz and people want in on that buzz, not necessarily because anyone is that interested in what the person is saying.

He follows this with a suggestion to ‘hang out with’ the bloggers you want to connect with, such as Glenn Reynolds, or the gang that ended up at FooCamp. Leave aside that geographically, webloggers live in cities other than Boston, San Francisco, LA, Seattle, New York, London, and Tennessee, all this will do is give even more ego gratification to those in the upper echelons of weblogging. Bluntly, he’s advocating groupie behavior.

Wanting to meet people who you’ve come to know over time on weblogs is not only natural and healthy, it can be an exciting prospect–think about meeting people for the first time when you’ve read their writing for years.. And wanting to spend time with someone you admire or are interested in is a great way to grow personally and intellectually; isn’t this the main reason why we weblog? But wanting to ‘hang out’ with someone specifically to get your weblog noticed? Sad stuff. Very sad stuff.

I am more ambivalent about Scoble’s suggestion to do things for people and they’ll remember you. I happen to think it can be very satisfying doing things for others, but to do so primarily because you want to get more buzz for yourself or your weblog–well, all I can say is there is a fine line between whoring and marketing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with marketing your site, your abilities, or something you believe in; I don’t do it enough, myself. But marketing should be peripheral when you’re ‘doing things for others’.

I remember conferences and going to this bash or that put on by a company. This was expected and accepted as such – none of us believed that the invitations and gifts were personal. But to do something, personally, for others, personally, purely for marketing purposes can lead to mixed messages and confusion about the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing. There’s few things I can stand less than a person who is acclaimed a ‘hero’ for helping others, when the only reason they did their ‘good deed’ is to add to their own status.

Someone bringing martinis for a group of people in a biz-tech environment can be seen as indulging in friendly marketing without any confusion about motives. But taking a weblogger out to lunch just to chat, or exchanging books or gifts, or even dating a person–that’s personal. If you do this just because you’re trying to get hits and buzz, that’s cheap. And pretty sleazy too.

As for pitching your site or a post to others–that’s a tough call. Sometimes we want something we believe in to have a wider audience than we have ourselves, and I can’t help thinking this can be a good thing. But pitching something just to get links: see above.

Biz Stone had some of the same suggestions as Scoble, but he also gets into type of weblog posts and following memes.

Like Scoble’s suggestion on doing things for others, I am ambivalent about Stone’s suggestion to follow the memes that circulate throughout weblogging. On the one hand, they can be a lot of fun and a great way to connect with others. He mentioned the Friday Five, but I’ll also add the Carnival of the Cats, which has been nothing but fun when I’ve participated with it recently. The Ecotone projects that people participate in also seems to provide a very positive kernel to some very interesting writing, as well as a way of finding great new folks to read.

But in each of these cases, the people participating are doing so based less on hits and more on interest. The interest is in the topic of the meme, not the fact that it is a meme. I think that someone participating just to get noticed is going to come across phony – as if they’ve studied weblogging as a genre and are now applying the ‘Ten rules to become an A-Lister in 6 months or less’.

As for style of weblog writing, Stone wrote:

Keep your posts and paragraphs short. Note the brevity of the aforementioned Kottke post. People will come back daily to read your fresh new work but spare them the one thousand word diatribes. Strive for succinct posts that pump pertinent new information into the blogosphere and move on. Keep it short and sweet so visitors can pop in, read up, and click on. Think of you[r] blog as a cumulative effect. This doesn’t mean you should never practice some long form writing now and then, it’s just something to keep in mind.

This is wrong on oh so many levels. (I love this phrase, and I’m not even sucking up to Matt. Honest.)

You, who ever you are, do what you want; but if you’re only here to be the next Kottke, or Scoble, or Stone, quit now. You’ll never get to their position aping their behavior or their rules; you’ll just end up miserable because you’re not writing the way you want, and for the joy of the act. Fuck me, too many sheep in this environment. How can your ‘ba-ah-ahh’ be heard when you’re surrounding by people bleating the same thing?

Someone let in the wolves – it’s feeding time.

Of course, you have to take what I write with a grain of salt. Domestic, refined, mined salt. I’m not as popular as Robert Scoble or Biz Stone, so one can assume that their suggestions work, while my ‘long form diatribe’ won’t do you a bit of good if all you want is to be known.

Or as a friend (someone who I actually like and respect as a person, regardless of how many hits he could send me) says: do what you want, anyway, because we’re all just making this stuff up.

Use of surnames does not imply lack of friendly feeling towards those who have been referenced in this weblog entry. Just a quirkly thing I feel like doing today.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email