How to be a Really Good Reader of Blogs

Last Friday, I shared with you some things I really enjoy about many of the blogs that I read.

In response to some comments on that post, this week I'm going to share with you some things I love about the folks who read this blog, whether they have a blog themselves or not. And also the things I try to do to be a good reader of the blogs I love.

I can't speak for all bloggers, of course, but I'd wager that we'd all like most of this stuff.

So, thank you very much if you ever do any of the following things . . .

Introduce Yourself

I have gotten a flurry of emails recently that begin with something like, "I read your blog and I feel like I know so much about you, so I wanted to introduce myself." Then they go on to worry that this is weird.

it's a rug!
It's not weird. It's great. I would love to hear from you. In the comments, on Facebook, or in a good old fashioned e-mail, whatever.

My favorite part about blogging is the community. I love knowing that we are not alone out there as we try to raise faithful children. And also feed them. And educate them. And sometimes grab a moment with a cup of tea and a good book and nary a toddler in sight.

When I first started this blog, I emailed a handful of bloggers to introduce myself. And it turned out that almost every single one was an actual real person who responded to my email.

Comment and Agree with Me

I like it when you agree with me.

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It's lovely when you comment to say that something I wrote was funny or helpful or well-punctuated.

Blogs are written by actual human beings after all. Human beings like feedback. I was just looking at one of my posts from this time last year and it has three comments. One from my Dad and two from my Mom. (Aren't they the sweetest?) But I really love how people I'm not even related to comment on my posts now. See above.

Especially for folks writing new blogs, and niche blogs, nice comments really, really make our days. The internet has a reputation for so much negativity, but I think our little corner of it is pretty swell.

I really make an effort now to make sure that the bloggers I read know that I appreciate what they are doing. How? By leaving nice comments.

Comment and Disagree with Me

I also like it when you disagree with me.

Having a blog is an excellent way to grow in understanding. I like reading blogs that inspire thoughtful discussion, and I strive to write a blog that inspires thoughtful discussion.

Please don't be afraid to disagree with one of my posts. Leave a comment or write a blog post of your own in response, and link to it in the comments of my post. (Bonus points if you use the html cheat sheet above the comment box to make your link clickable.) You just might change my mind.

Some of my closest blogging relationships have come from my writing a post that disagreed with one of theirs. (Hi Bonnie! Hi Jen!) or when they wrote posts to refute one of mine. (Hi Haley! Hi Amelia!)

The keys to disagreeing on blogs are the same as they are for disagreeing face to face: general pleasantness and assuming the best of others.

As I said above, bloggers are real human beings with real human feelings. And so are blog readers, of course. That's a whole lot of feelings that could veer off at any moment.

When I read a post on someone else's blog, or a comment on my own, I try to imagine that person standing in front of me saying it with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. It's almost impossible to get offended when I do that.

And when I comment on someone's blog, I often use emoticons to express in what spirit I'd like the comment to be read. :0) means I'm happy, ;0) means I'm joking, +;0) means I'm joking on Ash Wednesday.

Yes, I feel like a teeny-bopper using emoticons. But I do think they can help avoid hurt feelings where none are intended. And let me just say, for the record, if I have ever hurt your feelings or offended you in a post or a comment, it was totally unintended. (And I'm sorry :0)

Respond to Other People's Comments

More non-related-to-me commenters has meant a great increase in the total number of comments on this blog. Which is great.

But it also means it's hard for me to respond to every comment in a timely manner, what with people in this house wanting to eat and learn math and stuff like that.

So, I appreciate it when I come back to find that someone has already answered a question a commenter asked. I also think it feels like more of a community when ya'll talk amongst yourselves and it's not just my teeny tiny face next to every other comment.

Be You in Your Comments

Speaking of teeny tiny faces, do YOU have one in the comments? I really love to be able to connect a comment to a real person, with a name, and a face.

I have disabled anonymous comments on my blog not because I want to make the process difficult in any way, but because anonymous comments seem less kind because there's no name or face to go along with them. (Also, sometimes they just ARE really, really unkind.)

I prefer to have your actual name attached to your comment, first or last, or first and last, rather than your blog address or a nickname. I also prefer a tiny picture of YOUR face to go along with your comment. Not your kids, not your dog, not a meme you think is funny. YOUR face, so I know who I'm talking to. I think that's swell.

I understand that some folks are not comfortable with that. If that's the case, it would be lovely if you could at least personally choose an image to represent you. Colleen from Martin Family Moments uses a tiny Madonna of the Streets as her icon. Even though it's not a photo of her face, when I see it, I know immediately that it's her, and I think, "Yay! Colleen commented. I know her!" (Because I'm smooth like that.)

Maybe this is just me, since I tend to file things visually, but I think it's also great if your icon photo is the same one throughout your social media.

And here's where I acknowledge that this is a big pain in the rear. I have set up a blogger account and profile, and a google+ account and profile, and a disqus account and profile, and a wordpress account and profile, and a facebook account and profile, all with the same name and photo. The bad news is that setting them all up is time consuming. The good news is that now, no matter where I comment, people know it's ME. Also, my computer saves all the passwords, so once it's set up, it's pretty automatic.

Click on the links in the above paragraph for more information on how to get a photo attached on each of the platforms.

Let Me Reply to You

This is huge. If you ask me a question in the comments, I will absolutely respond to it.

But most of the time, I'd say at least 75% of the time, I have to just reply in the comments and hope you check back because your commenting profile is not linked to an email address.

If that's intentional, no problem. But I have this feeling that most people comment on a blog and then wonder why they never get a response.

This is a good tutorial on how to check your blogger account to make sure your email address is enabled.

It's more complicated if you have your google+ account linked to your blogger account. I ended up just disabling the link because it wasn't adding anything to my blogging experience. But this tutorial says you CAN have both.

Read My Blog at All

"Hey!" you may be thinking. "Hey!" (because you're kind of redundant), "None of these things apply to me. I am offended!"

Please do not be offended. (See number three.) I'm awfully grateful you're here.

You are welcome to lurk (aka just read the blog and not subscribe, or follow, or comment, or interact) for as long as you like.

Before I had my own blog, I was a long time lurker on the two blogs I knew existed.

I am okay with that.

But if at any time you'd like to join the conversation here in the comments, or on the Facebook page, or via email, or if you see me at a conference or at Mass or in the airport, please know that I will be very happy to make your acquaintance.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!