Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blogland etiquette and a promise

Updated: check this link out. Rachel says it so much better than I do.

First, I should say that I'm not saying this in response to any one incident- anyone who knows me in real life can testify that I've held these views for a long time.

Blogland etiquette has been a subject of interest recently. It seems that, all too frequently, I see bloggers responding to "critical" comment,s or- frankly- anything other than a simpering, "way to go", by playing the victim, and all of their friends jump in to support them, or to take down the "troll."

I'm not talking about rudeness, or meanness. I've seen some horrific comments left on people's blogs, and "trolls" are not some fantasy creature. Reading someone's blog even though they irk the crap out of you, so that you can leave them offensive and nasty comments is never OK. I don't think the fact that a blogger has put his or herself out there is reason enough to abuse them, or treat them with anything other than respect.

But, at the same time, sometimes bloggers, like all people, do things that are wrong. And readers have a right to their own opinion on those things. Bloggers have a lot to gain from attracting as many internet "friends" as possible, and letting them into their lives. When readers come back to a blog again and again, it's because they feel like the blogger's friend, or they wish they were the blogger's friend, and the blogger has succeeded as a personal/exercise/food blogger by cultivating that artificial friendship.

If you want someone's compliments on your race reports, you have to accept their constructive criticism, their frustration and their disappointment, unless it is expressed in a rude or hateful way. If your decisions affect the people who have invested emotionally and financially in you, expect them to hold opinions on those decisions and to react to them. The old adage "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is helpful, but it has its limitations.

The problem is that if anyone who says anything negative is turned into a "troll", the blog is going to become less and less realistic, and more and more of a fairy tale. Commenters start lying, rather than risking the wrath of the blog world.

My favourite example of this is the food blogger who recently complained about the lack of hummus and falafel at a local Greek restaurant. I don't think any commenter had the guts to point out that hummus and falafel, while delicious, are not Greek! Now, this blogger is not an example of someone who overreacts to criticism- in fact, I've seen her handle it with real class - the example is just there to illustrate the nervousness commenters seem to feel about saying anything remotely controversial.

Maybe this is easier for me to say- I've never been a famous blogger and I never will be. I'll probably never get an offensive comment (*unless too many people read here and assume I'm bagging one of their own*), and I've never had anything other than friendly, well-meaning advice, from my few friends and readers. I have no doubt that I'd be hurt if I did get told off. I'd be hurt if a real life friend told me I was behaving badly, too!

But guys, dear readers of mine, I'll tell you now that you can feel free to tell me to pull my head in when I need it, offer me advice, disagree with any rant or rave I publish, or correct any misguided advice I give. If you're a walker and it upsets you when I complain about clogged race starts? Go ahead and tell me. Maybe I'll learn something. If you're a swimmer with an explanation for the lane hog behaviour I hate- I'd love to know how to understand things better. If you think I'm training too hard/too easy, too long/too short or too slow/too fast. In fact, if you want to tell me to stop bitching about my weight until I'm willing to stop laying off the beer and the curly fries would help me drop the kilos- go for it. But don't call me a fat, moany, knowitall b*tch. Say it nicely, say it with respect, and I hereby undertake to respect you right back.

Who's with me?


Britt said...

Hahah! So true. I'm in the camp of being positive, because that's how I try to be in real life. People harass me for being too "yay! Good job!" but hey, you can't please everyone right? ;)
I think it's perfectly fine to disagree but doing so in a polite manner is always the way to go.

Mike said...

You did ask ... You're totally overtraining. You're taking this multi-sport lifestyle way too seriously. Ease back! Your bike rides are too long and too hard. Go for some easy rides at the weekend. Enjoy the scenery. Forget trying to run fast. Just plod along and enjoy the view. Forget about swim training. You're fast enough ... and as for brick workouts, forget them. Way overrated. Don't even think about losing weight. You might actually want to put a few kilos on. You deserve those curly fries and beer. I think you'll be fine at the Rotorua HI with little or no training.

See you on the run ;)

Would have written more feedback but I have to get out there and train my @r$e off for Rotorua ;)

Running Kiwi said...

Ha ha ... I came over particularly to comment, I followed your link from my blog and read lots about you, especially our marathon reports, and then went to do something else and thought I better get back and write a thank you for your advice the other day ... and darn it, I get to comment on a commenting title LOL

I promise not to be rude - but, thanks for the nice comments lately - it's nice to "meet" you :)

ActiveEggplant said...

Well said!

mouse said...

seriously, thank you for posting this. You eloquently said everything I've been thinking regarding the blogging community for the past several years. This is largely why I have no interest in posting anymore -- I feel like the community that you could go to for advice and critical feedback has become all about embracing the "you can do it! YAY!" mentality, and that lost its value to me long ago. If I wanted to be a part of something that is basically a big popularity contest and is all about blowing sunshine up people's asses, I'd go back to high school.

It's nice to hear there are still people out there who still opinions other than their own. It shows you really do want to improve!

E-Speed said...

LOL at Mike's reply. I think you are great, and I admire your efforts to be the best athlete you can be while enjoying the finer things like curly fries and beer in real life :)

I do agree though, things tend to get taken personally on the internet and out of context, so I think people are nervous to "criticize" whether it is constructive or not sometimes.

Johanna B said...

I'm with you. I'm new to the fitness lifestyle and wish my readers would offer constructive criticism and ideas. I, for one, would welcome. Thanks for your post.

Rachel Harris said...

Great stuff Kate, and I'm with Mouse - I'm really tired of the "You're gonna kick butt" mentality (when more often than not, the person concerned is a middle to back of the packer!).

I rarely blog, or comment on others' blogs now. If I offer constructive advice, I'm sure I'm seen as a smart arse know-all, or someone that isn't being "supportive". My tongue is becoming nicely ulcerated from all the biting. :-)

Kate said...

Britt- I love your positivity, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it- it's only when people feel they can't say anything else that I have any problem with it.


RK- Thanks :) Sorry for all the sudden comments!

Mouse- exactly!

E-speed- Good point about things being taken out of context. I can definitely see why people want to err on the safe side.

Johanna B- nice to meet you, and welcome :)

Rach-I love your comments- don't stop :)

Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

What a well reasoned post :) Thankyou for sharing.