Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Cool Catholic Blogger's Guide to Blogging Etiquette

In my travels around the Internet, I have noticed (though it pains me to admit it) some breaches here and there of blogging etiquette. It pains me even more both to notice and admit that sometimes I'm the one doing the breaching. Blogging courtesy rules are apt to be fluid and non-authoritarian, and the ones I'm proposing here are no exception; they're just things that I, personally, think are usually done, ought to be done, ought not to be done, or even ought never to be done. Someone's else's list of rules might be different, or include whole hosts of things I've never thought of or noticed.

Be that as it may, I think my little list of what is cool and what is not cool in the world of blogging--specifically Catholic blogging--is worth sharing. The great thing about blogging is that you're free to disagree, and to tell me about it in the comment boxes. :)

So, here we go:

Cool: Leaving comments for a blogger beneath a post you liked, or disliked, or reacted to in some way between those extremes.

Less cool: Forgetting to choose an alias for commenting, so that you become "Anonymous number 12 at 11:53 A.M." for the rest of the conversation.

Not cool: Trashing or insulting the blog host or other commenters, using obscene or abusive language, or using the comment box to dredge up old battles you've had with the host or other commenters.

Reasonably cool: Leaving the occasional off-topic comment out of necessity; example: "Hey Persephone, sorry to bug you, but what time is the virtual book club meeting this afternoon? Lost my link...:) :)"

Less cool, but totally forgivable: Leaving the occasional off-topic comment because you just really want to share; example: "I know this is OT but my toddler just clomped into the kitchen in Daddy's shoes and ordered his big sisters to clean their rooms. LOL!"

Really, really, really not cool: Leaving off-topic comments designed to drive traffic to your own blog; example: "Hi all! Lysistrata, just loved this post on the history of bristle-blocks. It reminds me somehow (strange, I know!) of the series of posts I wrote on the necessity of adopting the brand-new but arguably ancient custom of replacing all the drapes in one's home with liturgically accurate curtains for each liturgical season--see here, and here, and here. Comments are still open, ladies--hint, hint!;)"

Cool: Being inspired by a blogger's recipe, craft idea, or conversation starter, and using it in one's own blog post.

Not cool at all: Not bothering to mention where you first saw the idea, preferably with a link back to the original blog post by the creative author of the idea. This is especially not cool if you take credit for the idea as if you invented it.

Exceptions: If you really did independently come up with the idea, that's fine. It's also not necessary to give credit to someone for sharing an ancient custom or tradition (e.g., filling an Easter basket with candy). It is further not ordinarily necessary to credit someone who has posted a prayer; the prayer of St. Francis, for instance, belongs to St. Francis (and he'd say it really belongs to God), not to a blogger who posts it on his feast day (unless, of course, she posts it cleverly spelled out with her children's stuffed animal collection, complete with instructions on the paper pattern to lay out the toys and a guide to proper stuffed-animal species alignment for the most pleasing effect. And I'm pretty darned sure that's an original idea, so if anyone is actually crazy enough to do it, link back here!). :)

Cool: Deciding you no longer have the time, the inclination, the sanity etc. to read a particular blog.

Not cool: Making a big dramatic announcement about how you're leaving, and how disappointed you are with the blog, the blogger, the commenters, and anybody else who has ever been involved in the blog.

Cool: Letting one or two people whose email addresses you have know privately that you won't be around that particular virtual community for a while.

Not cool: Failing to send a similar email to the blog host or hostess if you have actually become acquainted in real life, either in person via a face-to-face meeting or by telephone conversations, real mail sent back and forth, and so on.

Especially not cool: Dropping a "blog friend" (e.g., someone you've actually met personally and/or shared phone conversations, emails and regular mail with) without a word of explanation. People moving on from friendships: normal. People not bothering to inform the friend: always uncool.

Cool: Sharing your excitement, on your own blog, about something you've accomplished, including writing a book, starting a small business, or founding an apostolate.

Still cool: mentioning these things from time to time, and linking to them.

Less cool: Sneaking in mentions of the book, the business, or the apostolate (with ultra-helpful links to where people can spend money either buying the book, purchasing the products of the small business, or donating to the apostolate) on a too-frequent basis.

Not cool at all: turning a personal blog into a 24/7 virtual billboard for the book, the business, or the apostolate. Nothing wrong with wanting to advertise in the sidebars or provide links to a separate book/business/apostolate blog you've set up, but not really nice to stop telling those cute stories about your triplets or sharing those marvelous mitten knitting patterns or comfort-food recipes to write post after post whose substance can be boiled down to "Buy My Stuff!"

Cool: Coming up with lists of ways to be a cool Catholic blogger.

Not cool: Pretending you've got the final word or know it all--which means I'll stop here, and let others add their Courteous Blogging Wisdom!

(But if you decide to do it on your own blog--I'd appreciate a link back to this post. I'm just sayin'.)


Lindsay said...

Any advice for how you let a blog "friend" know you are dropping them. "Yk, ever since you stopped posting about your triplets and started promoting your book nonstop, I can't stand reading here, so I'm moving on" feels really UNcool to me, but I'm at a loss for how one stays cool in this situation;).

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Lindsay, I think if you know the person well enough to need to send them a note, the generic sort of "Life is crazy! I'm having to cut way down on my Internet stuff--may not be around much!" explanation is always a possibility. For most of us, it's true, in that life is usually pretty crazy and many of us frequently try to cut down on our Internet use. And it is charitable, in that it doesn't involve, "By the way, you've been irritating the deleted out of me, and I've decided your blog is an occasion of sin..." which might just be the case. ;)

LarryD said...

That was cool, Erin.

I would add:

Cool - expressing gratitude to a fellow blogger who linked to one of your posts. A quick "thanks for the link!" in the combox would always be appreciated.

Red Cardigan said...

Larry--I agree! Especially when you can see that someone has linked via SiteMeter stats or some such thing.

Sometimes, though, it seems as though the "Links to this post" feature on Blogger doesn't work all that well, so if the link doesn't show up on SiteMeter a blogger may miss it. But definitely, if you can see someone has linked, a quick "Thank you!" is indicated.