I had already been blogging for more than two years when I first heard about Blogiquette*.
[*Psssst, that's the Etiquette of Blogging]
Replying to comments. Following back. Leaving meaningful comments on others' blogs. Visiting commenters' blogs and leaving reciprocal comments.
Oops, I thought, I haven't been doing any of that.
I'd better improve my blog-manners!
Of course it didn't help that I had a good ole Blogger blog with a rubbishy comment system which makes replying to comments a near-impossible mission.*
I tried replying to comments in the post so it looks (to other readers) like I've replied... but the person who commented may never know (unless they come back to check, which is unlikely).
I tried hunting down the person's blog and leaving a comment there (probably what they were after).
While I'm there, I might as well "follow" and hope they "follow back". Time consuming. Tedious.
I tried replying the manual way - reply by email. Oops they don't have their email address visible in their profile. My polite reply just went to No-reply@Blogger. Never mind, at least I tried, right?
I spent the next months being super duper good at Blogiquette, replying to comments as best I could, and being a Really Nice-Mannered Blogger.
At one point I got fed up with Blogger's antiquated comment system so thought I'd try installing another option... then watched my hard-won comments dry up like a granny's knickers in summer.
Obviously that was too much work for my readers, having to sign in every time, so I flagged that idea and returned reluctantly into the loveless arms of Blogger comments.
Meanwhile, as I spent hours of each day trying to build my blog by being a polite blogger, I watched enviously as SouleMama and Pioneer Woman get hundreds of comments which I'll bet they don't reply to.
One Day, I told myself. One day you will be a mega-blogger too and have strangers by the hundreds leaving you amazing personal comments (in the hopes of standing out from the crowd) that nobody expects you to reply to. Your blog will be a household name and people will follow you just to read you. They won't expect you to follow back. Or heaven forbid actually read and comment on their blogs.
At the same time my laundry pile rivals Mt Everest, dust bunnies are planning a revolution in my hallway and my children have started referring to me as "the computer lady".
Sound familiar at all?
Something has got to give.
I am coming across more and more bloggers who have lost their blogging mojo as the pressure gets to them.
Blogging has become one more thing on the To Do list, one more obligation, instead of the joyous creative community-spirited endeavor it was in the beginning.
So their blogs lie dormant, abandoned. Lovely blogs, funny blogs.
It's all become just too difficult.
Do you know what I'm talking about?
Are you there right now?
Or are you a new blogger... still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, enthusiastically replying to every comment and following back every blogger who follows you, whether you love their blog or not???
Whatever, wherever you are, lets take the pressure off, shall we?
Blogiquette is a great and noble concept. I'm all for manners.
But we have actual Real Lives. All of us. Families and responsibilities that tug us away from the computer, much as we would love to spend hours being polite to virtual strangers.
So what do we do?
We re-evaluate. We figure out how much blogging time we get. Hmmmm. Not as much as we'd like.
We'd better Prioritise.
What comes first? Writing content for our own blog, surely? And reading those blogs which truly inspire us, make us laugh - the ones we will read whether the author ever comments on our blogs or not.
We can also make time to read the blogs of those bloggers we've built meaningful friendships with.
If we have a spare minute we might check out a few newbies... and leave an encouraging, meaningful comment.
But not every day.
We reply to the comments where someone asks us a question, and to the comments that made our day, or intrigued us. If we have time we hop over and check out those bloggers (who knows, they could become our new favourite?)... and we leave it at that.
Then we walk away from the computer.
Conquer the Laundry mountain. Fight back against the Dust Bunny Revolution.
Reintroduce ourselves to our children.
And live our actual Real Lives. Without which we will have nothing to say.
What do you reckon, girls? Ready for some guilt free blogging?
*NOTE: The Blogger Commenting System has recently been upgraded to allow "threaded conversations" but they don't actually send an email reply to the commenter. I have now been using Intense Debate comment system for over a year; it works very similar to the Wordpress threaded comments (and has ComLuv)... but I still don't reply to every comment. Unless you ask me a question. Or make my day.