Blogging FAQ, Part 3: Building a community

Welcome to part 3, the final (yay!) part of my compiling and know-it-all-ingly answering of some really common WoW blogging questions.

If you can’t find your question here, check out part 1 and part 2 for the earlier installments of this scarily long WoW blogging FAQ.

Questions on how to get comments and how to build a good relationship with readers are those that seem to come up the most (since, for most of us, interacting with readers is what makes blogging so addictive), so they’re getting their own dedicated post.

I also feel the need to mention that while most Laws of Blogging are pretty universal, I’m writing with a focus on the WoW blogging community. Each blogging circle has a culture of its own and our local customs might not necessarily be applicable to the blogging world at large.


1- How do I get people to leave comments on my blog?

I think this question is hands down the most asked at Blog Azeroth.

Put as simply as possible, readers generally comment for two reasons:

- You’re mistaken.
– They have an opinion about your topic.

Oh, you’ll get other kinds of commentators: friends or guildies dropping by to say hi, passerbys thanking you for a guide you wrote. But the majority of the time, comments will be correcting or adding a point to a post or they’ll be reacting to a topic that got their brain hamster running.

Some topics will almost invariably attract a lot of attention: sexism, “is it ok to be an asshole?”, WoW news (as long as you’re one of the first to post about it). Some other topics are just harder to come up with a response to. If you really want to get a feel for how “discussable” different types of topics are, read a lot of blogs and pay attention to what kind of posts draw your hand to the “leave a comment” section.

As well, if you want comments, leave comments on other blogs, especially other blogs who are just starting out. An excellent (or controversial…) comment on a blog with a lot of readers might draw some attention to your work, but curious passerbys usually won’t stick around and chat.

Bloggers who are starting off just like you, however, will typically return the favor. And you’ll build a network of blogging friends. Networks of blogging friends are good to have.

2- How do I plug my blog while commenting on other sites?

This question is usually worded like this: “Bloggers say that they don’t like when commenters post links to their blogs, but then how am I supposed to advertise my blog by leaving comments if I can’t link to my blog?

The good news is, pretty much every commenting system has a URL field you can use when inputting your identity. So you don’t have to link back to your blog! The commenting system does it for you. Some self-hosted blogs even have an addon that adds a link to your most recent post in your comment.

What irks bloggers (and makes them say things like “don’t post links to your blog“) are empty comments that don’t contribute anything to the post or to the after-post discussion. (Personally, I don’t give a s…, but a lot bloggers value a tidy and productive comment section.)

And it’s ok that bloggers don’t like empty comments, because empty comments don’t produce much traffic anyway. Leave smart, or witty, or thought-provoking, or helpful comments. Leave good comments. You want readers to think: “Man, this person is so totally awesome, I wonder what their blog is like“.

3- How do I handle trolls?

A lot of new or low profile bloggers have nightmares of waking up to their blog looking like the WoW forums. Until you become accustomed to internet hostility, that publish button anxiety can completely eat you up inside.

I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath and relax: the presence of trolls on WoW blogs is greatly exaggerated. Unless you take a job at WoW Insider or are particularly controversial or dramatic, your blog turning into a Youtube comment section is highly unlikely. (If you want an example of someone’s personal experience, in almost 2 years of blogging, after 2 major /gquits and a handful of spicy topics, I’ve received very little hostility and I’ve never been trolled per say.)

But what if it does happen?

- Remember that you’re not alone! The WoW Blogging community is extremely supportive. If you receive comments that upset you, most of your fellow bloggers will be quick to reassure you and build your ego right back up. If you’re shy and don’t know who to speak to, any of the moderators at Blog Azeroth will be happy to lend you a shoulder.

- Don’t feed trolls! When someone’s fishing for a reaction, don’t give it to them. Unfortunately, deleting comments is a form troll feeding, but if your readers tend to react to trolls, you don’t have much of a choice.

- Never answer a comment while angry or upset. You can be conveniently afk until you decide on the best way to respond. (I actually rarely answer any comment, nice or nasty, until I’ve had time to marinate it.)

- If someone rudely points out a mistake, ignore their tone, correct the mistake and thank them for their contribution. (You can even give them credit in your post if you want.)

- If someone disagrees aggressively (but not trollishly) about something, ignoring their tone and answering with something like “I know there are a few schools of thought out there. Can you elaborate?/What would you suggest?” is very disarming, especially for class or fight strategy disagreements.

- Learn to banter. A silly comment deserves a silly answer. Humour is a powerful self-preservation tool and facilitates building relationships with your readers. It also shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously. People who take themselves too seriously are like giant target signs for drama.

Most blog clients let you choose between levels of privacy and security. If you don’t like random strangers gawking at your work, you can make your posts private or visible to only certain people. If comments make you uneasy, you can set your options to moderate them all. Otherwise you can set your blog to require that comments from new people be moderated, while allowing comments from returning people to go through. You can also request that commenters enter a name and email address, which works as a good deterrent for lazy jerks.

Conclusion and Thank Yous

By some great miracle, I’ve reached the end of this stretched-out-beyond-belief Blogging FAQ. If you want to read more about blogging, part 1 has a few links to guides written by number of seasoned members of our community. Blog Azeroth is another resource that I can’t plug enough. If you want to ask questions, discuss topic ideas, advertise your work, get some feedback or just meet other bloggers, Blog Azeroth is the place to be!

I’d also like to thank Windsoar, Erinia, Rhii, Rades for their question suggestions as well as everyone who commented bits of wisdom for the different FAQ parts. To everyone reading this, make sure you scan through the comments for the wealth of good advice they contain. And of course, I’ve got to thank the crew at Blog Azeroth, who is my #1 provider of blogging questions and blogging answers.

I know I say it over and over, but the WoW blogging community is a great one to be a part of, whether you want to share your knowledge of the game with the universe or whether you just want to talk to some people about WoW. Blogging’s a fantastic way of perfecting your writing skills (which, I’ve discovered, really comes in handy in the offline world too), of perfecting your gaming skills and to meet like minded people. And contrarily to popular belief, it’s not scary and you don’t have to be a top player or professional writer to have a good time.

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18 Comments on “Blogging FAQ, Part 3: Building a community”

  1. Sarriss Says:

    Awesome guide. As one of the newer community members, Blog Azeroth and the blogs such as yours that I have been following for some time provide a wealth of guidance and valuable info resources. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Eccentrica Says:

    Thank you so much for putting this quide together. It’s a great resource, and your work is appreciated.

    Cheers,

    E

  3. Kallixta Says:

    Thank you so much for putting these three columns together. You’ve a wonderful balance between informative and entertaining.

    I appreciate your comments about leaving comments.

    Hm, something funny about how that sentance came out. I think I’ll try to move on to my point.

    What I was going to talk about was about reading comments on others blogs. In a sense it isn’t just a discussion between the blogger and the commenter, but there are all the other readers. Readers can see the difference in a self-serving comment and those that offer a real discussion. So commenting isn’t just feedback, but part of joining the blogging community, right?

    • Ophelie Says:

      For sure. Tossing comments back and forth is a way of socializing among fellow bloggers, just like Twitter (and in the WoW community, Twitter is far more of a socializing tool than a pure advertising tool). You’re trading opinions, random thoughts and words of support.

      When it comes to interactions between fellow readers, it does happens but not to the same extent as a lot of newer bloggers (including myself when I was new) imagine. The blog format is just not conducive to that sort of interaction. Forums work because you have the first post, which can be written by anyone, describing the topic, then everyone pitches in on the same page, with quote buttons to help. On a forum, the “first post” is always done by the same person (the blogger) and everyone always answers to the same person (again the blogger). The end result is that you can get some interaction between readers (usually in cases of mistakes or of really controversial statements) but it’s not as fancy as interactions between forum posters.

  4. Rebecca Says:

    This is an absolutely fantastic resource. You’ve hit so much about blogging right on the nail.

    I’ve put the resource in our small but select blogging/writing links category =)

  5. Tamek Says:

    Thanks for this guide, I have just recently started my own blog and this has been something I have looked to frequently while making it. Hopefully with some of this advice my blog will pick up soon!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Looks like your blog is coming along really nicely! It takes awhile to find your voice and build a network so keep up the good work and the rest will come!

  6. Calli Says:

    I’ve had one troll in almost three years of blogging. It’s not much, and he wasn’t a very good troll, but he’s MY troll and I’m proud of him! Getting a troll’s like rite of passage for a blogger, you know you’ve made it when you start getting trolled! :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      I totally see it as a rite of passage too. When I came across a blog post about me, written by a stranger, and how I was a fail, horrible, terribad paladin, I cheered: Fame at last!

  7. Lument Says:

    Great tips! Advice along these lines has helped me tremendously as I am still warming up to blogging. I’ve always read 100+ blogs but taking the plunge to write myself felt daunting. Sometimes support in the community feels afar but when received it is very exciting. As ever, thank you for your friendliness and encouragement :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Anytime!

      Do you use Twitter? I can’t remember… A lot of the socializing between bloggers takes place there. It’s like a giant public MSN messenger. (I’m not on all that often, I find Twitter kind of annoying, but if you want to chat with other bloggers, that’s the go-to place) Blog Azeroth also has a chatroom with a good reputation (the general chat forums has instructions of how to use it), but I don’t know if it’s still active.

      • Lument Says:

        Yar, I use twitter (@officerchat). Have Twittelator on my iPhone and primarily use it from there. For the most part I enjoy Twitter but I’m still not sure of how much my blogging is about me or about the subject (guild leadership). There is the approach of it being very personal and then there is the method of it being a resource. Blogs can of course be a combination of the two to varying degrees. I tend to be more favored toward ‘resource’ than ‘personal’ for my actual blogs which doesn’t really translate well to Twitter. Still figuring out how I can use Twitter as a personal medium while the blog being a resource medium.

        Does that make sense? Thoughts?

        • Ophelie Says:

          How you use Twitter is up to you. I’ve seen some bloggers have separate accounts for their blog and for their chitchat. My totally unprofessional and biased opinion is that using the same account for your chitchat and post advertising is a lot better for publicity. Just jump into conversations, Tweet about cool sites you find, share some reflections on life and the game.

  8. Chase Says:

    Very well done, great tips and loads of info. My blog gets some traffic but never any comments, I am hope that the tips here generate some comments and some banter. Thanks!!!


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