« Define "great." | Main | The Holy Glimmers of Good-byes »
Wednesday
Jun172009

The Quids and Quos of Blogging

Once upon a time, before I knew anything at all about blogging, I found this blog and fell in love. Here was a woman just like me—only taller, a much better photographer, possessed of half the number of children, and British. I wanted to be her friend. Craved her approval. Wished I could meet her.

I read through her entire archives, treating myself to a month’s worth at a time as a reward for chores well done, but didn’t dare comment for ages. She received well over 80 comments per post; she was famous! Surely there was no way she’d notice me. One day, though, I gave in. I agonized over each word: was my comment pithy? Non-groveling? Grammatically pristine? I eventually hit “Submit” and got on with my life.

The next day, I received a gracious reply from her via email. I was over the moon. After that, I grew more daring in commenting. I also started my own blog and tried to be as much like Jane as I possibly could.

As I started blogging myself, I found I wanted to read more than one blog. I started cruising aggregator sites, and I eventually developed another blogcrush. Here was a woman just like me—only funnier, more pragmatic, possessed of an adopted child from China, and unapologetically herself.

As I read through her entire archives a few posts at a time, I learned something new. Pezmama readily admitted to not enjoying reading books, especially fiction. Whaaaa?  That she could write such outrageously honest things about herself and retain her avid readership was a revelation to me. I resolved to be more like her—I mean, more like myself.

Pez has moved on beyond Planet Blog, and indeed from the internet in general, but our friendship has progressed. We write actual letters to one another with pens and paper, if you can imagine that.

After meeting Pezmama, I blogged along, finding my voice and developing lovely friendships along the way. I attended a couple of online blog carnivals and generally felt I’d discovered everything this strange new world had to offer.

One day, however, I had my bloggy socks knocked off yet again. Here was a woman just like me—only younger, with greener eyes, possessed of the most objectively beautiful children mankind has ever produced, and popular.

I couldn’t parcel out reading the archives this time; I binged on them the way I do a new Stephen King novel. Brillig had only been blogging for roughly the same amount of time I had, but she had far more readers (and for good reason: her every post is pure genius).

And I’d gotten to the point in my bloggy career at which, when it came to comments, I craved not only quality, but also quantity. I resolved that Brillig must not only become my friend, she must also teach me all the secrets to her huge readership and become my Blog Guru. Brillig the Blogguru? Brilluru? It sounds like something from H. P. Lovecraft….

Anyway: Feedcrack. I coined the word when I was getting to know Brillig and many of her cool fans; I probably should have pulled a Pat Riley and trademarked the term back then. Comments, input, interactive readership: whatever you call it, if you blog, you want feedcrack.

Non-bloggers don’t understand this. How comments are the currency of Planet Blog, to paraphrase the brilliant Charrette. How once you have put yourself out there in the ether, it’s very difficult not to wonder (obsess over, fixate upon, check fifty times per day) what others think of what you have expressed.

One day I was instant messaging back and forth with my Guru on the subject of feedcrack and its "quid pro quo" nature. Quid pro quo: an equal exchange. You read me, and I read you. Like the Mosaic Law.

I admitted to my Guru that I read three or four blogs unrequitedly: I left daily comments, but got almost none in return. Granted, these were hugely popular sites; there’s probably no physical way their authors could reciprocate all the comments they were receiving.

“Ditch ‘em,” the Guru commanded.

“But they’re so articulate,” I whined. “They inspire me.  They write the kind of posts I want to write.”

“If they don’t show their appreciation, you need to break up with them. Give your love where it will be valued. I promise: they won’t miss you, and I’m pretty sure you’ll end up not missing them, either.”

I obeyed. I always obey my Guru, even when she starts waxing eloquent on arcane topics like site meters and pingbacks. I nod intelligently (though I know she cannot see me) and do my best to follow her counsel.  And I've found that she's always right.

I’ve wrestled with the need for feedcrack. At times I’ve taken blogcations and have contemplated giving up the pastime altogether. I don’t like feeling dependent on anything other than my faith and my family. I’ve found, though, that if I work hard to keep my life in balance, feedcrack’s hold on me lessens to a very manageable degree.

And I can’t deny that my life has been dramatically enriched by my adventures in blogging. I have made treasured friends who live literally around the globe. (Hi, Ellen; hi Syar!)  I have formed valuable connections with peers and mentors in the world of writing. I have a rich resource of support that has borne me up through difficult times.  I hope I have been an influence for good.

So here I am again, with a pretty makeover and a fresh set of rules for a new start. I’ve been posting off and on for almost three years on a wide variety of topics as I’ve tried to figure out my blog identity. Mommyblogger? Foodie? Fantasy Writer? Grammar Authority? Essayist? Faith Promoter? We’ll see what survives the streamlining process; in the meantime, it looks like I'm here for the duration.

What about you? Have you had any blogcrushes? Do you follow anyone unrequitedly, or are you strictly a “quid pro quo” blogger? How do you handle your need for feedcrack? 

Tell me I’m not alone, people.

I’ve always been able to count on you for that.

 

Reader Comments (31)

Well, I appreciate your blogs and am happy to share whatever feedcrack I have to give.

I was just reading your blog the other day and thinking to myself, now here is a woman that is JUST like me... except that she is shorter, has children, is female, looks better in a dress... ah, er, uh, well we ARE the same religion...

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I love that our discovery of dear Brilly-poo was so much the same. Iread her entire blog in one sitting, that's how instantly enamoured I was. And I seem to recall doing the same when I found yours.

I used to follow many blogs because I enjoyed them, not because of reciprocation. But as I became closer with certain blogging friends those one sided relationships became stale and empty. While the writing was often funny or inspirational, I was better entertained and inspired by those I had come to call friends.

Feedcrack wise, I have good days and bad. I find myself shouting down my own ideas because they might not be popular, but I've learned to ignore that inner monologue and write whatever pops into my head. I'm more me that way, and I hate the squirmy feeling that comes with pretending. I often miss the "glory days", when I read a hundred blogs a day and received double the comments I do now, and about quadruple the visitors, but in the end it wasn't worth it. Life first. Blogging second. Always.

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I have about 15-20 blogs that I try to follow as religiously as I can. Of those, 6-8 are on my "must read" list simply because I either: a) was friends with them bb (before blogging), b) I have met them since starting this craziness and now can't NOT miss a post because I love them dearly, or c) I just love their content. Beyond that, last time I checked I had 97 subscriptions in my reader (including you, my dear- now that I "re-discovered" you) and anywhere from 12-30 other blogs bookmarked.

Whew.

Obviously, I can't read every post, every day. I like to think that I have a life here. But, I check in randomly whenever I can- I tend to check sporadically most days, then I devote a chunk of time one day each week to get caught up. I try to edit some out, but I love them all for different reasons, so I can't. Such is life.

When I started blogging, I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to make sure that I cultivated a following- I didn't see the point of writing anything if no one read it.

Be careful what you wish for, I guess. .
I got my following, and then some. At my "peak", I would have 800-1000 hits a day, and 30+ comments wasn't uncommon. I checked my sitemeter every day.

Now, I've been less into just having followers/readers for the sake of numbers- I don't care about the stats. Sure, I still want people to read & comment, but I don't feel like a loser if I only get a few comments these days. I don't read/comment at other blogs as often anymore, I don't expect anyone to feel like they have to read/comment on mine. I think I'm at a good place now. I check my stats MAYBE once a month, I don't stress if I can't post for a few days or a week. I started doing this because I liked it and it is fun- when it started being this big "thing" causing me stress, then it wasn't fun anymore. Now that I've found my happy place with blogging, all is good.

I met my biggest blogcrush, Gwen of "Everything I Like Causes Cancer" in March and we've been good friends ever since, despite living in different states. I still have many, many blogcrushes for many, many different reasons. I'm kind of a slut like that.

OK, I'll shut up now.
;)

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhiskeymarie

I think 5% of my blog reading/commenting is unrequited, but for those few, I go there to read because I genuinely enjoy being there. In general, though, it bothers me if people don't comment back. I feel like I'm being friendly and it seems rude not to return the favor, but I don't really get my knickers in a twist over it. I just move on. That's kind of a newer attitude, but it feels better than having hurt feelings. I'm finally shifting away from this overwhelming need to blog everyday. I do about half that, and interestingly enough, my posts are drifting away from funny-here's-my-brain-right-this-second stuff to more thoughtful posts, which wasn't the plan. But whatever. I'll go with it, I guess.

I'm glad I met you.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie J

I'm not much for quid pro quo but sometimes I find myself doing it. I definitely have blogcrushes (one I think is about to start, thanks to the reccommend for Brillig.) I have those I love and am dedicated to. It doesn't even always matter if they response (although I like it when they do) because I love their blogs. I think the blogosphere can be a beautiful place. A beautiful and addicting place.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterL.T. Elliot

Hrm...bloggy crushes. Meh, most of the blogs I follow are people who have, at least once or twice, come back to visit my blog. I do stick with a rare few that are massively popular, but, I dunno, those ones bore me a lot of the time so eventually they slide off my to-read list.
I do love Amalah and can't wait till she posts. I used to love Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper but that crush was crushed when I sent an email with some polite, well thought out comments on a story Crystal was writing and also admitting that I'd never commented before but that her blog was the reason I started blogging. She ignored me and I can't say I bother to read many of her posts anymore.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLilacspecs

Hmmm...I have to admit that I have had some bloggy crushes. I have also realized that there are just too many incredible bloggers out there to possibly keep track of all of them. Most of the blogs I read are the blogs of people I feel like I know somehow, even if I have not met some of them in real life.
Some blogs I do read and comment on because they read and comment on mine, but those are few, because I just don't get a lot of comments. That is okay with me right now. I don't blog the way I used to. I'm somewhat in a holding pattern and I know that the people that are commenting are loyal, so it's okay.
There are a few blogs I read just for the pleasure of reading them. However, I just don't comment on them. That way, if I get tired of that blog, I can stop reading it with no guilt, and I don't have to wonder if they like me or not, because they just don't know I exist at all!
There was one fairly popular blog that I kept up with for quite a while. She would even answer practically every comment via email, but it wasn't like a personal thing. It was a courtesy thing. Eventually I stopped reading, and I doubt she has missed me, as she has plenty of others following along.
It is lovely and wonderful when a blogger you love comments on your blog. Some of my favorite bloggers have quite a following though, and I don't expect them to comment on every one of my posts...I just like to have a bone thrown my direction once in a while.
Someday I think that blogging for me will go back to being about writing again, as it was when I first started. For now, I am kind of treading water, waiting for the right wave...
Thanks for this post. It's always nice to find out that bloggers you admire are real people who get bloggy crushes too!

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterheffalump

Hi Luisa! Sorry for my delayed response.

Oh man, do I ever have blog crushes. It's amazing how fast you can "fall for" people online. It's probably because you see so much more of what matters about them like their interests, and the way they write and their awesome quirks.

I count myself lucky that some of the really good friends I've made that I still keep in touch with were the ones I met online, through blogging some 3-4 years ago. It's insane! I've even met a few in RL.

Luckily, more and more people are into living the online life now so I get less people making fun of me and my "imaginary friends" (they are very real! And often much cooler than the average joes and janes I meet in reality). ;)

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSyar

Well, I don't have a blog. I debated about commenting because the questions you ask don't apply to me directly. You did touch on some of the reasons that I don't blog though. Aside from worrying that I couldn't be clever or interesting enough on a regular basis, I fear that blogging would be all consuming for me. I could easily spend entire days reading, commenting, posting and checking for reactions to my posts. I admire others who are able to participate in blogging and then carry on with their daily lives.

Hey, I found you at your new location! Yay!

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

When a blog post as long as this one holds my interest to the end, it says a lot about a blogger's writing skills. Research shows that most folks prefer short blasts, with a couple of relevant photos.

I used to feel slighted because I wasn't receiving feedcrack. And I used to have blog crushes, adding them to my feed reader as if they were my favorite Gertrude Jekyll. I think blogs are a type of memoir, written as fiction, nonfiction, magical realism, literary romance, classic literature, poetry, song, and all the other forms of unspoken human communication. I've yet to reveal the deeper parts of what I have to say, it's a very dark place that holds those words.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTC

I started blogging because of Brillig. I cannot lie. I hated every blog I ever read and thought the whole blogosphere was a bunch of narcissistic people posting pictures of themselves at 26 weeks pregnant and waxing eloquent about their shopping trips. And then I read Brillig. And suddenly I wanted in. I wanted to engage in her conversations. And I wanted to start my own. Then something wonderful happened: The lovely Kimberly (a perfect stranger at the time) left a comment on my very first post, and said she was going to giggle her way to bed, and come back in the morning. I loved her instantly! And I think my next blogcrush just might have been YOU. I remember you wrote some crazy post about how you wander around the house thinking of word forms, and your current obsession was words ending in -id. And I think I sent you quite a long list. And went back later in the day to add more. It seems like something unimportant, but I knew I'd found someone like-minded that day. (I had no idea just HOW like-minded...post after post I continue to discover that. And I've been coming back ever since. Requited or not.

Now to the requited part. I don't blog tit-for-tat like some folks do. But I also rarely read (and never comment) on the hugely popular ones, like Pioneer Woman and CJane. And I don't go trolling for readers. I'm too darn sincere for that. (Sometimes this is a cruse.) I've found that I write because I love to write. And the feedcrack is wonderful. But it's the relationships that I value most. The big ones don't offer that. To quote MelanieJ, " I blog for the sisterhood." It wasn't my original intention, but that's why I stay. I love the exchange.

I have one other purpose in blogging, which is hugely attached to feedcrack. My plan was to serialize a novel, through a daily blog. I haven't done it yet. But I still plan to. And when I do, I think the feedcrack will become hugely important. But none of that will ever supplant what I've both created and discovered in the blogosphere over the past year.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

Oops. I forgot to close a parenthesis. And I meant Curse. Not cruse. :)

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

Feedcrack is one of the best words ever coined, btw.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

I read yours for a really really really long time without ever commenting, or commenting rarely because you were sooooo much smarter than me and really what could I say that was smart? Besides you had that wicked cool graphic of the books that I loved. I loved reading about your music and your thoughts on writing.

And for a while there I felt a NEED to comment everywhere and got my feelings hurt when comments weren't returned. But as my life gets busier and busier, I've had to train myself to let it go. If I can write a post, i do. If I can leave a comment, I do. And if I can't that is okay.

And I finally realized other people should have that same right. I bet their lives are busy too and if they leave a comment, I am glad to see them. If they don't . . . that's okay. I still struggle with remembering that I let it go, but it's been good for me.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjulie wright

It's fascinating to me how we all go through rounds about what our blogs mean to us.

Currently, I only follow 25-30 blogs and 1/2 of them are family or people I know. The other half are people who's blogs I love and with whom I love to interact. I need to be spoken to in the words that I read for me to stay. I think it's because my blog is intensely personal for me. It's the place I dump all the thoughts that the people around me sometimes don't want to hear. It is, like Melanie J. said, "Sisterhood". If someone comments on my blog that is new, I will go read their site. It may be arrogant of me, but if there is nothing but fluff on the site, if I am not stirred in some way, I will not go back.

I don't have time, at least in the blogging world, for only fluff and stuff. I enjoy fluff if there is depth to go with it though.

Gosh, I feel like I sound so prissy. Can't you just see my nose in the air? Sheesh.

My poor sense of humor--it gets lost in bloglandia. I need to figure out how to get that out more.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEowyn

Okay. "Feedcrack" was brilliant. It is so widely used now that I'd almost forgotten that it started with you, even though I remember that post very well. You really should have trademarked it. In fact, in the post where I used it a couple of weeks ago, I really should have linked to you. But I didn't. I will remedy this immediately.

Okay, and because this is totally a Brillig thing to do, I just googled "feedcrack" (the quote marks are important on this one) and the results are very interesting. For instance, I'd forgotten that Zerilda uses it to mean her comment section on every post. I'm certain she got it from you without even realizing she did.

Okay, apparently I could write an entire novel on the word "feedcrack" and never really get to what a wanted to say which is

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

This is, like, the nicest post EVER. I have NO idea why you like me so much, but it means the world to me that you do. I remember that day you showed up on my blog. There you were, pictured in my sidebar, and all of a sudden there were like a hundred comments from you, each one on a different post. I couldn't BELIEVE that someone would read all my posts in one sitting!

And what a wonderful, fulfilling, amazing friendship has developed since then. I'm so glad you link-hopped and came over to my bloggy that day.

As for the quid-pro-quo thang, I used to be really into that. I returned every single comment I got. I left hundreds and hundreds of comments all over the blogosphere. I tried my hand at the really popular bloggers, like Suburban Turmoil, and nearly died the day she actually left a comment on my site. And then, I kinda got mad at myself that I was SO HONORED that she'd stooped to comment on my bloggidy blog. What a bunch of nonsense. So I dumped her, along with everyone else who got millions of comments and never answered them (or OCCASIONALLY answered them, and expected me to fall dead from their amazing charity).

Alas, there have been times where I was the one getting millions of comments, and where I was the one frustrating people because I couldn't get to all of their blogs all of the time. It got really overwhelming, so I kinda dumped EVERYONE. Haha. Except you. And Kimberly. And Charrette. And Eowyn. And a handful of others too, I suppose. Even so, they (and you) can all tell you that I'm super irregular even with those sites.

When blogging became a chore, I had to pull WAYYYY back.

Now, when I suddenly have forty comments on a post, I wonder WHY people come and WHY they comment, since I'm obviously not commenting on theirs. Not because i don't want to, but because I simply CAN'T read and comment on everything in Bloglandia. (For the record, Bloglandia was a term that I coined. And if you google it, I don't even show up on the first page. Sigh.) It blows my mind that people keep coming back, even when I don't reciprocate. But, hey. I ain't complaining. (However, if I were THEIR blog-guru, I would tell them to dump me. But PLEASE don't tell them to dump me! I love them! So much!)

So, this leads me to this: while nowadays I rarely break into the 50-comment realm anymore, on the rare occasion that I do, I can assure you that EVERY comment matters to me. People say to me all the time, "this is comment #38, so you'll probably never read it, but..." That is absolutely NOT true! I read every single comment. I ponder every single comment. They matter a great deal to me.

Okay, last one, I swear.

I just have to add ONE more thing. Something I hear all the time, even from close friends of mine, is, "I don't ever want to comment on your blog because everyone is so smart and funny and I don't feel like I have anything to add." My jaw drops when I hear this. I can't believe that people feel embarrassed or inadequate for my comment section. SERIOUSLY??? We're just people, having a conversation. I never think, "wow, that person isn't smart enough to comment here." HAHAHA! Leave a comment! It's not a competition! I love EVERY SINGLE COMMENT, whether it's one that makes me laugh until I cry or it's one that says, "I don't really know what to say, but I just wanted you to know I was here."

Oh. Mygosh. Ending this now. Sorry about the long-winded-ness. Sheesh. I've probably scared all your readers away now...

I just came across your blog because of a comment left on Motley Vision and I think that I may have just started a tiny little blog crush on you :) I really enjoyed reading this post. The feedcrack comment is classic! I love to get comments as well, but I don't really expect more than 2 or 3 because my audience is mainly my extended family because my post generally center around my kids and pictures of them (which means you really don't need to reciprocate on this comment, I really don't expect it).

There are quite a few blogs that I follow mainly because of the ideas presented and the ensuing discussion among the readers. Many times I go to certain blogs because I enjoy reading the comments just as much as I enjoy reading the actual post.

Now I'm off to read some of your archives. I'm absolutely postive that I'm in for treat!

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatheryn

Luisa:

Great post. I've responded here.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I often check in to see what you're up to, Luisa, but rarely comment. Since you're craving the feedcrack, I just thought I'd say hi today, and let you know how much I enjoy your writing, your personality, and the way you live your life.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I've had you blog up all day trying to come up with something to add here, but it fails me. You and everyone else have pretty much said it all. The only other element for me is that my blog is someone of a different animal--while it IS a place where I develop and cherish friendships, that's not its entire purpose, and it all began because good writers have blogs to promote their stuff.

I hate promotion. But I love the bloggy world.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

Oh, yes. I have several crushes. I love from afar, unrequited. But I still read them because I like it. It's like Regency romance novels for me. It's so much fun to read, but it won't really do anything for me.

But I love the conversations I can have with people who comment. I love knowing what turns you on, what turns you off, how I can make my writing better. So, it's a little of both for me.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVirtualSprite

This is so funny--I've been meaning to read Novembrance again and give back some of that feedcrack and you've moved over here! And someone was just giving me a squarespace tutorial today! So the planets are aligning. How do you like squarespace? You've definitely been able to make your blog very much your own visually--very you, and great.

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdriana

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>