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.
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.