Saturday, August 17, 2013
Blogging Etiquette: A Lesson in Humility
Today I learned my first lesson of blogging etiquette.
I was overly excited about finding something online and unintentionally "flooded" that site with my comments, all with links to my blog. Only after I wrote several that I realized what an awful way it was to promote my blog. I quickly looked for delete buttons to cancel my comments but it was not available and I couldn't undo what I've done. If I could turn back time, I would, but it's too late. I then apologized to the owner and I'm thankful that she was gracious and forgiving (If you are reading, thank you for your grace). What a lesson in humility for me.
I'd skimmed through some articles online about blogging etiquette before I started blogging, but I didn't realize the importance of it until today. One thing that saddens me the most is the fact that my manner did not reflect my faith as a Christian. Although what I wrote was purely informational, the way I did it could come across as offensive. The reality is that in everything we do, whether it's intentional or not, the way we do it and the image it portrays reflects our faith. And as hard as it is to write about this post and admitting my mistake publicly, I'm glad it happens early enough in my blogging journey, so I can avoid the same mistake and improve for the better in the future. Sure, blogging is not always daisies and sunshine, maybe this is one way God uses to refine me. I thank Him for allowing me to write for His glory, even though I have to do it imperfectly.
This is a summary of blogging etiquette that I learned today through this experience and reading. It serves as a reminder for a beginner blogger like me and hope it's useful for others too.
Blogging Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts
1. Comments. Write comments that are appropriate to the post. Be nice. If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all. Constructive feedback is fine, but attacking individuals is not.
2. Photos/Images. Essentially all photos are owned by the original photographers. You are violating the copyrights of the owners unless you get permission to use the photos from them. When I started blogging, I used some photos from Google Images, until I came across this article that it doesn't matter whether you link back to the original source or put a disclaimer on your blog, you can get sued for using other people's photos, even though the chance is slim. So currently I only use my own (or my husband's) photos, with the exception for a few, where I get permission from the owners (whom I know).
3. Copyright Laws. Give credit where credit is due. If you use snippets from other sites, put a source linking to the original article. No one wants to be accused of plagiarizing other people's work. Bloggers are bound by copyright laws when they publish something on the internet. When you cite your sources, it not only help you stay out of legal trouble, it helps your search engine results.
4. Self-Promotion. The internet is a great way to promote your site, but generally people do not like self-promoters. Promoting your site through commenting on other people's sites is fine to a certain extend, where appropriate/relevant, but you don't want to over-do it (whether intentionally or not), or your reputation may be damaged. A lesson I learned today. Instead, focus on growing your blog by writing original, rich contents and overtime it will grow organically as more readers find useful and relevant information as they search online.
5. Reply to Comments. That said, take the time to reply to comments that your readers wrote on your blog, no matter how big your blog is. It's because of all those people that your blog grows and it shows that you appreciate them.
6. Honesty. As your blog grows, advertisers may ask you to review their products in exchange of free samples. Don't feel obligated to write good reviews just because you received free samples, instead give honest feedback and if so happens that they are not all rosy, contact the advertiser privately about your reviews (maybe because of this they can improve their products/services) before you post it. So it is a win-win. Additionally, having a contact page where people can connect with you is a great way to show your readers that you are approachable and trustworthy. A site that doesn't provide any info on the owner may come across as suspicious and insecure.
Do you have any blogging advice you can share?