Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blogging is about communicating, sharing and marketing

I have just finished reading quite an interesting blog post, all about asking the right questions. It talks about using focused, situation-specific questions to get to the crux of the matter, rather than the usual big picture questions we tend to ask. I won't go into any more detail on that. You can read the post yourself if you're interested.

What I wanted to talk about was a comment posted in response to the article. The author relates the point he's trying to make back to a web project that he is working on, providing a link to the website in question. The project was funded by Xerox, for whom the author and developer works. There is a passing comment (but no link) to Xerox in the post. At the very end of the article, as a sidenote, he references a book he is writing, a chapter of which is based upon the same concept. He provides a link allowing readers to be notified when the book is published. This all seems fairly reasonable to me but one of the commenters took exception to this, saying:

You completely lost my respect when you mentioned your website.

I’ve noticed a trend in the last 6 months to a year where smart people write really smart articles, which I really enjoy reading, then make a really dumb mistake by tying what they’ve been talking about into their website / business / startup. It just seems really f**king lazy to me. You basically invalidate everything you’ve said previously by throwing in an advertisement for your website toward the end of your article. You (and I mean blog writers in general, I don’t mean to attack you directly) lull the reader into a sense of trust with your excellently written article (and yours is a very excellently written article, make no mistake) then drop an advertisement casually into the story, hoping readers will go to your website based solely on the quality of your writing only it now has had the opposite effect.

As I was reading, I had decided that I was going to bookmark this story and share it with my good friend (yes, I only have one. So what?) when I was finished with it, except now I won’t be bookmarking it and I won’t be sharing it with anyone. I certainly won’t be visiting your website, that’s for sure. Instead, I write this comment, in the vain hope that you will make a blog post about it and tell other bloggers so that you (again, all blog writers) will stop advertising your damn websites in your blogs.

Again, thank you for the article. It was enlightening and interesting, and I wish I could’ve enjoyed it more.

Frankly, I'm not surprised this fella has only one good friend. What a rude sod. I'm not sure what sort of a world he lives in but I thought this was the point of blogging. Experts freely share information that they find interesting/useful etc. but in turn they are advertising either themselves or their business. If I'm going to read a blog post I want to know a little bit about the author. "What makes him such an expert? What does he do? Oh! He wrote Trailmeme. Well, what's that then? Let's click on this link. Well, would you look at that. That is cool." Or, "hey! I liked that. What else has he written? Oh he's writing a whole book. That could be worth a read."

Some of the best things I've found on the internet have been stumbled across in this way. The blogging community survives by sharing, commenting, linking and it's a bit naive to think that everyone else is like me, typing away for the sake of it without much thought or care as to who is reading it or why I'm doing it. (And frankly, I only started doing this in order to advertise my professional services and expertise sometime in the future, should it become necessary.) Providing links between blogs and sites, talking about our work and advertising products we love is what blogging is all about.

What I do take exception to, however, is underhand or blatent advertising. Comments suggesting I sign up for online dating, which clearly has nothing to do with the article being commented on. Commercial links within posts just for the sake of it. Or false reviews of sites, products, services. That sort of thing gives blogging and the world of Web 2.0 a bad name and makes people mistrust what they read online.

Incidentally, I (not the commenter) asterisked out the f-word, which was a totally unnecessary addition. I think Mike, who provided no link back to his own website, has serious anger issues, expects way too much of the world and probably misses out on a lot of good things because of his negative attitude. Poor Mike.