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On Blogging

Not too long ago, I got a “like” on one of my posts from a blogger I hadn’t run across before. Out of curiosity, I jumped over to her blog to see what she liked to write about. Turns out she’s a Christian. Which is fine — I certainly have many Christian friends, and several of them even “like” my posts from time to time. But I understand why they do it. With this person, I didn’t get it.

I still don’t know what caused her to hit the “like” button, but I’ve started to get suspicious of that kind of thing. I’ve noticed that there are number of people who seem to blog simply to see how many followers they can attract. I’ve been amazed at how many followers some blogs get, especially since many of them are pretty new. How do they get such high readership? And then, I’ll often see that their posts have almost no comments on them. What’s up with that?

I assume that many of them scour the internet for blogs that they can follow, whether they blog on similar topics or not, just hoping that they’ll be followed in return. But what does this really accomplish? Does it really get quality readers? I’m not so sure…

And while I’d love to have thousands of followers, I’m much happier having actual dialog on my blog. I’ve never gone out looking for readers. The people who have come here have usually found me in WordPress or Google searches, or I’ve made an actually substantive comment on their blog, and they’ve come over here in response. This has made the growth of my blog a very slow process, but it feels more genuine to me. I’ve gotten this audience for the right reasons.

I was glad to read two other blog posts in the last two days that kind of echo what I’m driving at here. My friend Nila wrote this post about the merits of having something worthwhile to say, rather than focusing on a writing schedule. And someone in the comments section of that post linked to this article on “slow blogging.” In other words, thinking about what you want to say before you rush to say it. It’s refreshing (to me) to see that not everyone is being swept away by all the meta reasons to have a blog, but are still interested in conversation.

76 thoughts on “On Blogging”

  1. I too have had “likes” and “follows” from individuals that are totally puzzling. Their blogs have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of mine.

    I do agree that some are just looking for more activity because in reading many of the comments on their “About” page, I see many people “thanking” them for following.

    The blog-o-sphere is a weird world.

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  2. I am the same Nate, and I’ve also noticed I get follows from random bloggers who look like they are just trying to build a crowd. I’d say maybe about 30% of my follows are that.

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  3. It is both odd and fascinating to see some of the likes and follows that occur (for me too).

    I don’t know if you are like this with your posts, but I’ll get an idea and start a post (just the germ of an idea usually) with the intent to finish it one day. Oy. I think I have 20 such unfinished posts!

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  4. Oh, I’d hate to think that you would think I am commenting, liking, or otherwise engaging with you on your blog *simply* because I wanted you to follow me (which I do, you know, want you to follow me 😉 ), but even if you do, that’s okay. Because it is true.

    I do want a readership and if I have to entice you to do that by engaging with you, then I will.

    But at the same time, I’m a blog reader, too, as well as a blog writer. There are many places I visit on the web that may seem, to some, rather unrelated and random. But I have a lot of interests. I’m a fire ecologist working as a GIS specialist who happens to write speculative fiction in my spare time and I also like taking pictures and I’m an atheist Mexican American married to a New Zealander. Oh, and I’ve always wanted to go to the moon. I may ‘like’ a post on someone’s blog because I liked a picture they used. Or a quote they included, or maybe even because of something they wrote. But rest assured, if I hit that button it was because I appreciated something on their blog post.

    Yes, I agree that there are many (way too many) bloggers that are just doing the ‘like’ thing to get folks to ‘like’ their pages in return, but also consider they may actually be ‘liking’ those posts because they do. 🙂

    And I do love your blog, Nathan. I came to realize my atheism from a very different place and I find it fascinating to read of your view point having been so involved with the Christian community. A little scary, but very illuminating. So, thanks for maintaining your blog.

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  5. Thanks Nila! And please know that I didn’t have you in mind with this post! We’ve been commenting on one another’s blogs way too long for me to think that about you! I agree — there are a number of different things I’m interested in, and I’ll sometimes like a post for all kinds of reasons. In fact, I recently “liked” one of unkleE’s posts, even though I disagreed with his main point. I just appreciated the way he came to his conclusion, even though we come to different conclusions about that particular topic.

    Honestly, the person that made me think about this the other day may have genuinely liked my post too… but I know I have run across some of these “traffic junkies” before, and it made me think of it.

    But thanks for the kind words about my blog! I really enjoy yours too, even though I don’t always comment.

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  6. Slow it down even more by choosing the option that closes you off to Search Engines.

    Now, if I am going to have to think before I wrote I might have to quit. :p

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  7. I’ve been amazed at how many followers some blogs get, especially since many of them are pretty new.

    That’s perhaps a marketing campaign in action.

    (Yes, I’m sometimes cynical).

    I see a similar pattern of likes and following. I usually do check the blog of the follower/liker. And sometimes I even add it to my RSS feed. But at other times, the blog turns out to be so far removed from my interests that I am left wondering.

    I’m pretty sure some of it is marketing. There are probably some “likebots” and “followbots” out there attempting to drum up interest.

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  8. I have watched this blog go from 274, BK (before Kathy) to 319 as we speak – that ain’t bad! It would be nice if more than a handful commented, but you have to figure that some might be here just to learn and feel they don’t know enough (yet) to say anything. I cut my commenting teeth on Think Atheist, where there were always a dozen or more topics all going at the same time, so it was just a matter of finding one I knew something about, and jumping in – it was easier than with just the one topic at a time.

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  9. This girl you mentioned that you followed – it wouldn’t be TruthTangible by any chance, would it? Because if it was, she’s sincere. TruthTangible was formerly chialphagirl, whose blog Ark got me kicked off of about this time last year. And I was the good one —

    Here’s what she had to say today: “I think I will let Arch stay until he causes his own offense this time. I may have judged him too harshly by the company he keeps. 🙂” – I don’t have to tell you who she meant by THAT!

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  10. I was going to like and leave, but I guess that is like dinning and dashing. I share your sentiment: I would rather an active commenting community of 30 people, than a following of 300 people who say nothing. It really comes down to the reason why we blog – I like to share and sharpen my ideas. No sharpening happens when no one comments. I guess there are other reasons for blogging, but I really think in this ‘critical belief’ area of the blogosphere, we blog to be challenged.

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  11. @sulfen — thanks! I didn’t know that, but it makes total sense.

    @arch — no, it wasn’t her. I do remember chialphagirl, though. Glad to know she’s still out there.

    @Rafols — thanks for the comment! I agree with you. While I enjoy getting my thoughts down, it’s really the ensuing conversations that interest me. And yes, this blog is proof that engaging with people on these issues can eventually lead to change.

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  12. On WordPress, I find that people will “Follow” your blog for similar reasons.

    I blog for several reasons, but it has never been for numbers — I could care less. But I do like commentors — but I only enjoy certain types of commentors. I am picky about the friends I keep and who I invite to my house too. Likewise, I value commentors the same — I don’t seek to have a large number of commentors just for the number sake.

    If commentors contribute no interesting thoughts or just want to hear themselves talk, like f2f people, I ignore them. Or worse, I discourage them from returning by being frank.

    Recently, I have very pleasant things distracting me and thus no desire to keep cranking out content. So I am doing a “Poetry Sunday” series to hold things in place until I am inspired to spend time generating stuff. I enjoy that a great deal. I since I write since I enjoy writing, that is fine.

    I enjoy your writing style, Nate, so I still subscribe to your posts. Debating the Bible has long ago became a big yawn for me, but I realize that for Christians who doubt, this sort of blog is highly valuable. Keep up the good work and the great writing.

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  13. I ask myself the same question most of the time. Lately there have been many followers to my site and most of them it is impossible to understand why they followed

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  14. I’m picky about who I follow. If I follow it is because something has resonated with me. And I love reading the comments. Being new and not great at jumping in I’ve held off from commenting (anywhere) mostly because I’m intimidated. But slowly getting over that.
    I’d love to eventually post something that causes conversation but until then I’m happy to have a slow following and get a feel for this my safe alternate universe. 🙂

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  15. New name, new attitude – as chialphagirl, she let Ark intimidate her, as Truth, she laid down the law and said take it or leave it. As Ark himself admitted, she’s wearing “Terminator” shades now!

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  16. I think was an overreaction.” – Oh, I agree completely, but she was young, fragile, and new to the give and take of religious blogging, and Ark — well, was Ark.

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