I'm not going to be like one of those youth camp leaders who opens with 'the rules are, there are no rules.' Because here, on this blog, there are rules.
The truth is this: I only read a handful of blogs I actually like. I don't pretend to like other bloggers, their blogs etc in order to network up. On other people's blogs: I don't leave a comment on a post I haven't read. And I never expect a comment in return, although it would be nice, it's unreasonable to expect that. I post because I like the blog, the person, the content, the photography or something else entirely and I let the person know. They may well not feel the same about me or my blog. No biggie.
I used to let this bother me, when I first started out, because it's like high school. You are nice to everyone and wonder why the big kids are still stealing your sandwiches - or something like that. But now there are blogs that I follow whose authors -gasp- never comment on my posts, don't follow me back and (as far as I know) probably never read the inconsequential blog, written by the 5'5 Scottish girl who writes about life. And, again, that would be lovely but that is not life.
Not everyone is dazzled by your charismatic on-line presence and there's only a few readers that actually care to visit a handful of times a week and then even fewer who will comment. That's the truth.
I've recently taken on a 366 Project and find I am getting comments every day. This could be for a number of reasons, but I like to think it's because someone genuinely wanted to say hi and check in. Whatever the reasons - I'm happy with that. I'm happy some people have taken time of out their day to say hi, to leave a comment and I've made commenting even easier than ever before to make it a pleasant experience (because I can't count the times where I've given up typing in a series of letters in order for my comment to be verified on other blogs.)
I'm known for being plain speaking and I am not sure I've put that across here. I wanted this blog to be something that it is not today and that's okay, too, because I am learning. And I still have time to develop and change things.
When I started this blog in 2010 I started off doing huge posts. I would just write by ear - in other words whatever came into my head was committed into a post. Then I started planning out posts in my head until the point where I started to then edit the things I said...and slowly, but surely, it strangled what I had to say and I found myself self-censoring the truth of what I needed and wanted to say.
And this lead me to thinking that I should probably put down some ground rules, in order that we can all stay true to ourselves and that I don't just believe you're using me for your own networking gain (because I really cannot stand that!):
1. Don't 'follow me' unless you really want to read beyond the one post you read and thought was great. When you come to my blog, please read around (you can skim-read!) and if you decide you like the look of things, then feel free to follow me. If you do follow me after one great post and then realise you only liked that one post, don't feel you can't un-follow me.
I realise that this all sounds like blog suicide, but there is a genuine reason I am asking you to do this. I love my readership, I honestly do. I started this blog with the intention of not having much of a following or readership (and I know everyone says this, but for me it's true.) I thought my main readership would be family...and that's the opposite case. About 4 of my family members check in to read my blog regularly (that I know of) so instead of tailoring posts that would only be interesting to my family, I tailor the post to fit the interests of my readership.
If you're not in that circle, I wouldn't want to think you were and then write a post for you to realise you're not remotely interested in what I have to say - makes sense now, right? I'm trying to keep it interesting for those who do read my blog and the more time I spend on those who don't well the less I have on those who do. And it's that simple.
2. Don't just comment because I left you a comment. That makes things awkward. And if you are here to do that...then don't just find the first post on the page and comment on that. Find a post (from the archives or from the left hand side) that grabs you, read it and comment. I took the time out to read your post, so you can offer the same courtesy to me I am sure. If you don't like that, that's fine, you don't have to comment and I would probably prefer you didn't.
3. Obvious and never had a problem with it before but thought I'd mention it anyway: be nice. And like Thumper was taught to say; 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.'
4. Tell me about YOU. Whenever there is a post that invites you to talk about yourself, I want you to do it. Make yourself anonymous if you must. I want to know about my readership.
5. If you like me, tell a friend. If you read a few of my posts and decide you like me - why not share my blog around? I do this all the time with my most loved blogs and I will probably be highly honoured the day I see someone openly doing this with me.
6. Social networking: I have a Facebook page here for the blog and I honestly haven't regretted making one. Best decision ever because the feedback can be instant, it seems more personal and I love getting to know people. And I also find that if you don't have a blog account, you can easily hook up through Facebook. I'm also on Twitter as MamaChaser but I'm forewarning you here that it's mostly me babbling about UK politics...so you might not enjoy that.
7. DO NOT and I repeat: DO NOT put a link to your website/blog in your comment (some people copy and paste theirs in.) This looks tacky to me and makes me cringe. I used to do this in the early days of blogging all to realise it doesn't matter because if people want too, they will click on my name and read my blog.
When someone copies and pastes their link in I see it straight away as a networking tool and I switch off completely. You can be discrete about networking, if that's your game, and copying and pasting reeks of desperation - you tell me you don't think your blog is good enough on it's own merit, that people won't find you interesting enough to check you out and that you have to force them to look at you. Not cool. However, it's forgiven if you don't know too much about blogging - like I said, been there and done that. But please don't do that. I don't like it. If I like the sound of you, I will check you out on my own time.
8. If for some reason I'm doing some kind of blog jumping thing (which I avoid like the plague unless it holds any interest to me) don't just leave me a comment that says 'Oh hi, I'm from the Freaky Friday blog hop' (I made up the Freaky Friday thing.)
Please give me a comment of substance and if you can't do that, don't comment. It wastes my time and yours. And I don't like it. It screams desperate networking. And I will never look at your blog if you do this. I will also not publish your comment.
9. Quality, not quantity. It's an old age saying but it's also the way I look at commenting. Sometimes I want to wax lyrical on someone's post, sometimes I want to say three words. It's okay. As long as the comment is relevant, somewhat interesting and isn't just a networking scam then I don't care about the length of the comment. It's the fact you took some time and effort to first of all read one of my posts and secondly that you used some intelligence to put together a comment rather than just brain fart one out because you felt you had too.
10. Enjoy what you read. Life is too short to waste on a blog you don't like. The same rule applies here. If you don't like it, don't read it. And if you do enjoy it, please keep on enjoying it.