Saturday, 10 April 2010

Blogging Conflict: Learning the Hard Way

Everyone who YA blogs knows we have issues.

Much more is said than blogged or tweeted. There is a swirling mass of jealousy, hate and everything else in between laying just beneath the camaraderie. I am not saying it is all a lie but I blog because I enjoy it. If the bitching, sniping and snarking was the majority of the communications then there is no way in heck I would continue to blog. I was in high school once, I teach it now, I don't need to repeat old behaviours.

We have cliques.

We have grudges.

We have personal vendettas.

It is socialisation at its worst but if school, work and clubs aren't spared these things ... why should the blogosphere? As a female and as a teacher I've seen the toxic aspects of social groups from both inside and outside. It sucks either way. It immediately makes you doubt yourself, feel about 2 inches tall and then want to lash out, cry or both. It is sometimes easy to forget that people have feelings whether you fail to speak to them or communicate with them online. It's easier to remove someone's feelings from the equation when they are only a Blogger template or twitter username.

I have been guilty of behaviours that I have mentioned. It shames me that I haven't completely evolved from the insecure teen in high school. I still want to be liked and I still want to protect my friends. The only difference now is that I engage in the brouhaha much much less and when I do, I usually back out immediately. Cooler heads prevail. I try and be the voice of reason if possible. If it is not, then I remove myself from the situation. I just wish I wouldn't involve myself in the first place...but we all have things we need to work on and I have mine.

Here's some recommendations about staying out of the brouhaha:
  • Don't tweet about a conflict... It's easy to tweet something in the heat of the moment but it will ultimately come back to bite you on your glutus maximus. This is a mistake I continue to make...I tend to delete my vent as soon as I have clicked on the tweet button but I shouldn't bring it up in a public domain regardless. Our twitter accounts contain bloggers, authors and publishing people - even if you are the wronged party, you end up sounding petty if you tweet it.
  • If you don't have the cojones to leave a comment with your name attached, you really shouldn't post it.
  • Comments shouldn't need to be asterisked...use big words, people. Not their nasty, ribald cousins.
  • You are allowed to disagree with others. Give your two cents in a clear and concise fashion (without insults) and then back away. Engaging in an argument in the comment section of someone's post is poor form. Exacerbating a situation doesn't make anyone look classy...know when to shut your trap. I learnt this one just in time for the Wings review know the one :)
  • If you are going to it privately. (If you claim you never do this, I think you might be heaven sent.)
  • Copying or being "inspired" by another bloggers event will inevitably get you in trouble with the original blogger and that blogger's friends. It's not worth the grief and gets you a bad reputation with fellow bloggers. It's like learning your best friend's intended baby name and using it yourself...really poor form (and likely to become a toxic issue). If you haven't asked them if it is already know you are doing the wrong thing (unless of course you are genuinely unaware of the event in the first place).*
  • Never post someone's private correspondence with you on your blog unless you have their express permission. (I would apply this to comments as well, though it is debatable. The person who comments means for it to be in the comment section, not a post of its own.)
  • If you have a troll or a verbose objectionable commenter, swim through their offensive wording and see if there might be a grain of truth to the comment. Sometimes there is, sometimes there's not.
  • We fight over books, not friends/boys so it is slightly different from normal high school. Don't brag about your book haul or the ultimate "get". It's okay to be excited, just don't cross the line. If you are lucky enough to receive plentifully, make sure you fulfill your end of the bargain with the publicist/author. What bargain? In accepting review copies there is an understanding that you review it. You might not like it, finish it or have time for it thus not being able to review it - you then have the responsibility to tell the publisher this, review it accordingly or tell the publicist's you may need to be choosier in the titles received. It took me a long time to realise this but I am happier to have less review titles and reading what I want to read. Having a large IMM haul means you have an impressive post, not an impressive blog. Reviewing all the IMM copies makes your blog impressive. Not reviewing plentiful hauls is the quickest way to anger your blogging colleagues. If you want to have a life and get great books, be realistic in the number of review copies you accept. You can always say no, or cut back a little. Publicists won't blackball you for saying this, they appreciate the honesty.
  • A constructive criticism is different than a troll comment. On my PSnark survey last week a reader made a comment about how often I mention something. I won't say what is was as I've vowed to not do it anymore. I was initially hurt, offended and then angry. I quickly realised that they were right. Their scaling of my reviews and blog in general were very generous, they just had one criticism. It was something I had already thought to myself. Their comment (and my hurt) confirmed that it was something I needed to stop. Learn to recognise the difference to make your blog better - just don't tweet about it in between your meltdown and self-realisation :)
  • If you have a beef with another blogger, deal with it yourself. Don't rally the troops and spread discontent. Polite emails can and will do the trick. But remember, not discussing the problem with the other party won't make it go away.
The points I listed above are lessons I have learned the hard way...through being in the situations. I don't want to be a hypocrite so I've only mentioned things that I have made the mistake of doing once, several times or still. Perhaps you can learn faster than I do and then mentor me :)

*There is an extra clause here. If the blogger you've copied or been inspired by is one of the biggest blogs, like The Story Siren, you have no grounds for saying you weren't aware. Everyone knows that IMM or Books to Pine For are Kristi's events. If you were to start a Book Blogger Appreciation Week...I would say My Friend Amy's been doing that for years. There's obliviousness and then there's the truth.

So I ask you, what have you learnt about your conduct the hard way in the blogosphere?


brizmus said...

It makes me so sad that things like this go on in the blogging world. :-( Because really, when it comes down to it, book bloggers ARE nice people. Much nicer than, say, people that blog about vinyl (vinyl bloggers can be MEAN!).
In any case, I have been too afraid to try to start any memes or events for fear that some other blogger I have never heard of has already done the same thing and will find out and get mad at me. And I just don't want to have to deal with that.
But it's ridiculous that I should be worried about that.
It's not supposed to be a competition, and *I* know that I would never purposefully copy or steal anything from anyone.
Anyhow, thanks for this lovely post, and I'm hoping to keep staying out of this whole world of blogging conflict for as long as possible.

Robby said...

Being in high school, sometimes I really think that blogging is just like it. You're right- there are cliques and some people are welcomed and others are shunned. I will admit that, if I find my way to someone's blog and they have hundreds more followers than me, or their In My Mailbox post covers half of their front page, I feel so discouraged.
But then there will be one positive comment on one of my reviews and I remember why I do this.
Adele, I really appreciate your honesty. I love this posts, and the fact that you will write about anything and everything. Somebody has to. I'm glad it's you.

Adele said...

Audrey - most people are really nice but I think some blogger's insensitivity or selfishness can make any blogger lose their cool. Most of the time we are a happy bunch but book hoarding and concept stealing are real sore points.

Robby - I think of the blogosphere like a cafeteria and we all have our areas. It's sad. Thanks for your kind words Robby, I appreciate that. Positive comments really do make everything worth it! Cheers.

the story siren said...
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the story siren said...
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Miscellaneous-Mum said...

How timely was this post. I literally had it up on my Google Reader when a message came through twitter saying that I look like a "dumb slut" with my new haircut.

Yeah, not nice.

There's so much to love about the online world, but sometimes I just wish people stopped to think, even for a few seconds, about the waves of consequence that things can take on.

I know my comment doesn't have much to do with book blogging, but perhaps I just needed to cry on your shoulder for a moment :)

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

Luckily so far I haven't had to learn so much the hard way in the book blogosphere but that might be due to my being a relatively new blogger.

I try as best as I can to be nice and polite and I don't steel. That being said when I think about it I might have complained o really hard I guess I have whined on my blog/Twitter on a few occations. I will not do it again :)

I love your insightful posts, Adele!

Holly said...

I'm still yet to see any of the bitchiness that gets talked about by many bloggers and I've had my blog for quite a few months now.

Weirdmage said...

I've yet to start my book blog. I'm going to, and I've been planning to since before I started "researching" the blogosphere.
But the "High School Attitude" among (thank God only a few) of the bloggers have made me delay starting my own blog.

My experience is that 95% of book bloggers are nice and approchable people, unfortunately the other 5% are making enough noice to be a "vocal minority".

I've perhaps been lucky in that I've followed bloggers on Twitter that I'm sure will support me.
-They follow me for me book love now, and I'm sure they will not shun me when I start blogging.

I think this is a good post, and an important one.
I hope everyone remembers that at one time they were beginners at book blogging, and treat any serious newcomer with the respect they deserve.

Anonymous said...

You find yourself doing the behind the scenes work, forming a community but before you know it, things aren't quite so pleasant. I think you to communicate offline, but I like it when the offline group takes in a variety of opinions. That's when we really grow!
I've also learned that it is so easy to misunderstand what someone writes! I don't always read online with the greatest care, and I've had others tell me they don't, either. Also, without the visual clues and tone of voice (which is so clear in my mind!!) you may not get the same meaning when you read me.
I guess we just have to take care.

Anonymous said...

People will be people, my blog is relatively new and I know very little about those issues you describe in the blogosphere, yet all I can say is that professional life is very much a great extension of high school (we improve over university years just to fall into bad habits when we start working, this is how I feel anyway).
Most of those points you make are so universally true (don't twit about conflict...twitter accounts contain colleagues)and this is a great post!

April (BooksandWine) said...

Yeah, I bitch on twitter all the time. Not about blogging though, more about things in my life off-line i.e. complaining about the weather, driving, etc.

I'm pretty sure you didn't mean that type of bitching.

I think this post is definitely so true to blogging and something which totally needs to be read. The drama sucks, but I guess when there's large groups of people doing something it is bound to happen.

That stated, I think you handle yourself with class which is an enviable trait.

I love that you mention if you get a review book, review it. How true. There's some bloggers where I consistently see them get ARCs but see no reviews. They aren't called Advanced Contest Copies, but Advanced Review Copies. Thank you thank you thank you for coming out and saying that.

It's true that you won't like everyone in the blogosphere, but there's no need to spread hate.

Unknown said...

I've managed to step back from certain bloggers who created drama and tried to stay true to myself. I may not have the most popular blog and I definitely don't do any IMMs, WOWs, Vlogs, etc. I did do them, but then realized it was cause for dissension, I stopped.

I did blast a fellow blogger on twitter and it was more because I was pissed, hurt and couldn't believe that someone would get so upset by my content on my blog. Who cares what I write or who I thank?

Ah, anyhoo, yeah, I agree with you. It is very cliquey and high schoolish at times.

Anonymous said...

excellent post. every blogger, new or old, would be smart to read this and take it all to heart.

thanks for the honesty!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I've been fortunate (and small enough) that I haven't had to learn any of these things the hard way! Thanks for listing them so I don't have to :)

Oh, I did kind of "copy" a few bloggers for a weekly feature, but I was kindly corrected and now I link to theirs :)