14 January 2009


While sourcing and posting the cover for Patricia Briggs' Hunting Ground, Kerry pointed out to me that it is considered good blog etiquette to say where you found said item and provide a link, thus allowing the reader to track through the links to the original source. And all of this has got me to thinking - what are the unspoken rules of good blog etiquette? What do I need to know while posting to ensure that I don't antagonise, insult or annoy anyone?



  1. Hmmmmm.... that's a hard question to answer - especially because, online, some people are determined to take offence if they disagree with you (and sometimes even when you don't) no matter how you say it, so sometimes, the only way to make 100% sure you don't antagonise, annoy or insult anyone is not to be online in the first place :-( :-( :-(.

    That being said, I personally try to carry the rules of good etiquette in real life over into the LJ blogosphere (and most of the times I've created problems for myself, it's been because I've ignored those rules)

    So, for example, when it comes to potentially negative stuff, I try to only talk about myself and my opinions; rather than telling other people's stories that I don't have a right to share (unless they've given me permission to do so, anyway)

    This is especially relevant when I'm having a conflict or disagreement with someone. I'm happy to say that there *is* a conflict and talk about my feelings and how it's affecting me - but I don't make it about right and wrong, or go into a list of the things I think they've done wrong - the place for that is in a private discussion between me and them - not in a public blog forum. Again, the times I've forgotten this, the universe (and sometimes the person in question) has justifiably bitchslapped me for it.

    On that note, complaining about someone in your public blog if you haven't already spoken to them directly about the problem (and in some circumstances, even if you have) is generally considered extremely poor form.

    Other than that? Ummmm... the only thing I can think of is that when I *do* mention other people in my blog, I try to do so via nicknames or screen-names - for most people, being identified online by their RL names is considered bad form and even an invasion of privacy.

    And, as you've mentioned, if you gank a picture or an idea or a quote from someone to post in your blog, it's good manners to attribute it (with or without a link - linking is better, but an unlinked attribution is better than nothing) rather than appear to be claiming it as your own.

    I guess the best thing to do is look at who's reading your blog and think about what would be good etiquette for you to do on the phone or in person to those people. Basically, if you wouldn't say or do it to them in RL, don't say or do it in a public blog (NB - all of these things assume we're talking about a public blog - to me, the rules are different when you're writing personal or offline posts that no-one else gets to see)...

    Although, there might be a whole load of other ideas out there than mine. Would you mind if I copied / linked to this question on my LJ? It might be really interesting to see what the various folks on my flist have to say?



  2. Ooops - forgot - there's one that's LJ-specific too, but I don't think there's a blogspot equivalent: "Use the damn LJ-cut!!!!!".

    Basically, LJ-cut is a script that allows you to put a long post inside a short link "container" that people have to click on to read the post. This is set up so that if you have a huge long post that someone doesn't necessarily want to read at the time, they can scroll past it quickly, rather than scrolling on and on and on till they finally reach the end.

    It can also be used to mask potentially objectionable material or images that a person may not want to see, or may not want to appear on their friends page when they're checking LJ at work - basically, it stops the material showing up on the friends page automatically, and requires a person to actively click on the link

    It's considered expected etiquette to use these cuts in many LJ communities.

    I did also consider listing good spelling, grammar and paragraphing as being good etiquette - and I can see why some people do see them this way - but ended up not including them. Basically, using the same grammar, spelling and paragraphing as the people you expect to be reading your blog means they have to work less hard to extract meaning from it... but in the end, it depends on who you're writing for - them or yourself...

  3. I try never to say something on the blog about someone that I wouldn't say to their face - that's a big one for me. If I don't like a book - I still try and say something positive and I NEVER trash an author over the book. If I'm referencing another blog, I link them. And this is just me - but I never start flame wars.

  4. It is indeed an interesting question, and I imagine it has varied answers, depending on each person's own experience.

    Mostly, remember that there are people behind those words in the screen, and behave accordingly.

    Attribution when borrowing/lifting stuff is always good--and it doesn't matter where you lift it from, online news source or lowly tiny blog, it's all the same.

    Like starfirenz I don't know whether the "content below the cut" is available in blogger, but if it is, it can be extremely helpful--from NSFW images or discussions, to simply streamline the look of the blog's main page.

    Other rules will present themselves to you, I'm sure, as you go along--and they'll be largely dependent on the final aim of your blogging. If it's mostly a personal growth tool, something relatively intimate, all I would be very cautious about would be to provide a bit too much personal information. After all, there is no telling who is lurking, is there?