Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blog Etiquette

When I was a senior in high school, I received a copy of Emily Post's Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. Now for a young man who'd scarcely been outside the city limits of Decatur, Texas, this was an introduction to a complex world. I mean, I knew how to eat the fried catfish special at R. J. Terrell's Cafe without getting catsup on my shirt. But this talked about fingerbowls, and place settings with several versions of knife, fork, and spoon. It spent a whole chapter telling me what to wear when the invitation said "formal" as opposed to "semiformal." Fortunately, the more I read, the more I discovered that the world of etiquette wasn't as complex as all that. Matter of fact, I'd been taught one of the basic principles early in my life: don't draw attention to yourself and be considerate of others.

Lately, as I've read various web-logs (I hate the term "blog"--sounds like something out of a '50's science-fiction movie) I've been disappointed that there are folks out there who apparently still don't get it. On more than one occasion I've seen comments posted that result in a protracted dialogue between two commenters, with no consideration of the blog owner or the original material that they posted. I've seen people adding a comment that is so blatantly an advertisement for their own site, service, book, or accomplishment that I think they should pay the site owner for advertising space. Occasionally, someone will write a comment that is so long and complex it sounds more like a sermon than a sidebar. I have seen situations in which the host answered a comment, and that turned into a prolonged back-and-forth--which is why I almost never answer in the comment section. However, those of you who have left comments here know that, if I can locate your email address, I'll usually respond directly to you. I think that's nicer. Emily Post would probably agree.

I need to make it clear that these examples don't come from my personal experience, but from the twenty or more sites that I visit regularly. Lest you think that some of you good people who visit Random Jottings have been guilty of this, think again. I have the nicest, most polite, most caring visitors in the entire internet universe. And for this, I am extremely grateful.

Keep coming back. On Wednesday, I'll have an interview with DiAnn Mills, and everyone who leaves a comment between now and next weekend will be eligible for a drawing to receive a copy of her forthcoming book, Awaken My Heart. I look forward to your comments...really.


Deb said...

Agree that some people who post seem to leave courtesy behind. I know one author whose name you'd recognize, that every post, every interaction is all about themselves. I've met this author, and it's as true in person as it is in anonymity. I no longer correspond with this one or acknowledge in any way. As far as commenting, I'd rather leave the door open for civil discussion--even disputation on occasion.

Timothy Fish said...

While I agree with you to some extent, I believe that all comments, even those that are open discussion, lengthy or self promoting, help the site as long as they are directed toward the subject at hand. Comments that digress from the subject are much less beneficial, but people who comment provide free content for the website. It is hard to put a value on that.

Anonymous said...

Mum's the word.

Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks for the comments, none of which fall into the categories about which I was ranting. I appreciate them.