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What *not* to write (and why) June 8, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, networking, writing/editing/blogging.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The nature of blogs is such that commentary and dialog can occur. Most of the time, such conversations are good, even when there is criticism. Criticism can, in its best form, generate further conversation whether with the post originator or among other commenters. It can also provide food for thought and in some cases a perspective shift, or at the very least a “hmm, hadn’t thought of it that way before,” even if one is unyielding on their stance or opinion.

Here’s where it gets murky.

Anyone who’s on the ‘net regularly, has experienced the scenario of misreading, misinterpreting, misconstruing and a whole bunch of other “misses” from e-mail and on forums, bulletin boards and blogs. It can be hard to read tone of voice, and sometimes the wrong tone of voice is conveyed. In most cases, people can clear up any misses with a simple question rather than with a rapid-fire counter attack.

And then, there are people who just like to stir the pot.

Pot-stirrers appear to be perfect, and steadfast in their ways and opinions. (At least, that’s been my experience with pot-stirrers.) Recently at colleague’s blog, there was much pot-stirring. (In an effort to not add fuel to the fire, I’m not creating a link, but anyone who knows where I frequent and who has been there as well this weekend, knows what I’m talking about.) Curious about who Ms. Perfect Pot-Stirrer was, I clicked on her name, which of course, took me to her Web site. Ironically, for all the talk about quality and compensation for writers/bloggers, I was kind of baffled by Ms. Perfect Pot-Stirrer’s credibility. Let’s just say, that I found many grammatical and spelling errors on the site, and leave it at that. I hope that in the work she presents to editors and prospective employers in need of writers, that her submissions and queries are more polished. If not, just who is hiring her? (Which is my question, as an editor. As an editor too, after all of the negativity that she spewed forth, it might make me wonder whether this is a person that I’d really want to work with were the opportunity to arise.)

There’s nothing wrong with sharing one’s opinion, but we must all (especially writers) be very careful about how we present ourselves when floating around the blogosphere. You never know if that agent or publisher you’re “dying to land” or the editor of “your dream publication” is also out there, participating, listening, watching and “reading deeply into” (as one editor at Bitch magazine recently put it) your posts and comments.

I am by no means paranoid, just in case anyone was wondering. But the more I blog, the more I find that for writers, blogging can have the “MySpace Effect.” I know that I wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see random picts on MySpace (No. None exist.) By the same token, I wouldn’t want my writing (that is neither submission nor query) to have the same potential ill-effect. (And if you don’t believe me about the “MySpace Effect,” as I’ve called it, listen to my May 28 interview with Michael Fertik on the Cyber Savvy Show at PIVTR, where he spells it out pretty clearly.)

‘Tis food for thought, no?

Copyright © 2008, Erika-Marie S. Geiss



1. Kelly @ Pass the Torch - June 26, 2008

I completely agree. This may not be an issue for bloggers with pseudonyms (who are sometimes the pot-stirrers!), but for those of us who use our real name in blogging and commenting, it’s important we consider what we want to be “out there” in the blogosphere.

I’ve had only a few nasty comments in the 2 years I’ve been blogging, and I think they were more from misunderstanding. It helped me to realize that when I write a controversial post, it better be a long one, with lots of details – otherwise, the meaning might get lost.

Great post.

2. emsgeiss - June 26, 2008

Thanks Kelly for your comment. It’s true that explanation/detail can go a long way, especially since it’s sometime hard to convey the right emotion/sentiment behind the text (short of using all caps and smiles-LOL). I agree with you too about pot-stirrers remaining anonymous…it’s almost as if it gives them permission to say/do things they wouldn’t in-person. Then again, maybe that’s just who they are and says a whole lot more about them than about anyone else.

3. Dr. Paul - June 28, 2008

I heard recently that blogging and podcasting are to todays world what the printing press was in its day. It is still new enough that we haven’t come up with all of the ethics and standards. I had a great interview with Michael Fertik as well, specifically as it relates to protecting our children’s reputation (which will affect the parents as well) Here’s the URL if you’d like to listen in.


4. Erika - June 29, 2008

Dr. Paul,
It’s true about there not being standards yet…probably part of why the AP was all bent out of shape about bloggers citing them and linking to them, even when most bloggers were doing so within the realm of what we tend to think are acceptable reference methods. (Note, I’m not talking about the nasty scrapers and sploggers out there.) Will definitely listen to your interview with Michael. He’s a gem!
Thanks for visiting!

5. Sarah - July 1, 2008

It’s definitely true that the remoteness of the computer screen can turn the kindliest of us into vile snarly ogres. I have heard of several instances of gross online behavior coming back to bite someone IRL. I always make the effort to check myself before posting or commenting, imagining people with different beliefs reading what I wrote and picturing what they would think of it. My blog I keep under my own name is written especially carefully!

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