Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blogging - Project Runway Style

Remember on the third season of Project Runway where Laura accused Jeffrey of using outside help to finish his collection? This is his reaction face. "Who, moi?" Her point was not that he didn't design the clothes himself. Or that he lacked the talent to turn out the collection. The point was that she didn't think Jeffrey followed the rules that everyone else had to live by. And so the producers audited his receipts to double check. Am I the only one thinking he could have just used his own money to pay for help? And not turned in a receipt. Duh. Maybe I am woefully ignorant but Jeffrey breaking the rules still seemed like a possibility to me. And then he won. Doesn't it always happen like that?

Apparently sometimes it does in the blogging world too. About three months ago I started reading a blog that I was very impressed with. The more I read the more I wanted my blog to be like hers and began imitating some of the concepts. This blogger seemed to be everything I wanted to be: family friendly, great content, good writing, consistent posting, and a large readership (to the point she is actually making some money with advertising). But of course you don't get to a place like this without help. The only way to get readers is for them to find your blog, which means somewhere out there someone is linking to you. Of course, once you get a new reader to visit, it's up to you to hook them with your fabulous content - and that's how you establish loyal readers.

But let's talk about readers finding your blog. It's pretty much always because someone has linked to you. Either on their blogroll, or in a post, or the big one - through a carnival. I love blog carnivals. They are a great way to find topic-consistent posts from different blogs, all in one place. They are also a great way to publicize your blog. I participate in several carnivals regularly and get a lot of visits from the host-blogs. But these carnivals usually have rules. Generally you need to link back to the blog hosting the carnival. Seems fair, right? They link to you - you link to them. Often there are other rules like using the address of your specific post, rather than your main page, and not hosting your own carnival in the same post.
My friend Jane and I have discussed this other blog a lot, including her large growth in the last couple of years, and her great how-to posts on blogging, which Jane calls metablogging. (I'm not sure what this term really means, but Jane's the smart one of our group.) (I'm the girly one.) We have wondered over her non-participation in carnivals, and how she comes up with ideas for posts, and how she manages to look so professional yet approachable at the same time.

And then it happened. I realized our esteemed blogger does participate in several major blog carnivals, the kind with rules specifically stated and stuff. And she isn't following them. Jane and I (mostly her) spent an entire day checking archives, reading old posts, clicking links, and calling each other every five minutes to report the latest detail of this drama. Which is admittedly probably only in our own minds. The drama I mean. The details are real. This very experienced blogger has been linking up to carnivals for years, and in the beginning would follow all the rules, including linking back to the carnival page. But I guess she decided she didn't want to link back anymore, because she stopped. And when Jane wrote several polite and inquiring e-mails, she got responses back saying that the blogger in question stopped participating in the carnivals regularly, so wasn't linking back. But lo and behold, that's pretty easy to check. Do you think missing two carnivals in six months is "not regularly?" And since the blog carnival hosters generally get advertising money according to how many page views and readers they have, I'd say this kind of behavior is not only unethical, but kind of like stealing. And then she lied about it. To my friend Jane. She just can't get away with behavior like that. So I'm angry. And sad. And seriously disillusioned and cynical. My blogging hero has fallen. Even when a blogger has amazing design and great content, if there is a question about them following the rules, it just ruins everything.

This blogger seems just like Jeffrey from Project Runway to me. Undeniably talented, but possibly employing a few shady tactics, and still winning the game.


Jane @ What About Mom? said...


So, I agree with you that it would be sad to stop reading her altogether, because I don't want to miss out on the great posts (the blogging about blogging) that are so instructive. And, somehow, I feel like she is, in general, an honest person, so those posts would still be credible.

Which makes it even more puzzling as to why someone would all "inconsistencies" on something so trivial.

Aaron said...

Blogging is true, bloggers are not.

Aaron said...

This sort of issue touches the whole blogging community. An Information Security blogger I read posted about it at (http://securosis.com/2008/07/02/defining-blog-content-theft/)