Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rules to Blog By

Whether the original Trainwrecks site was harmless or evil (which I do NOT, NOT, NOT want to discuss—I’m very bored of that topic), it served one useful purpose for me: it gave me rules to blog by. Until its demise, I was a little afraid to check my “came from” stats, waiting for the day that the telltale “trainwrecks.net” would appear. So I scoured their site, looking for blog behaviors that were most likely to trigger a trainwreck pile-on. Some things weren’t too hard to avoid; I’m not about to run off with someone else’s spouse and brag about it, my pets are all neutered, and I’m not running any financial scams. Other things I wasn’t about to stop doing even if I was risking a trainwrecking; I wasn’t going to wean my toddler just because some people think extended nursing is disgusting, and I won’t say that my husband is anything but outrageously wonderful, because it’s the truth—but there were a few things that I thought might be good for me to keep in mind. Here are my Rules to Blog By:*
  1. Welcome dissent. Introducing a controversial topic without expecting readers to have some ideas that differ from my own would be foolish, and would deprive me of opportunities to have my own viewpoint evolve. This relates to the next rule:
  2. Never delete comments (unless they are dangerous—i.e., could reveal my identity, or consist of hate speech). Having dissenting comments deleted really ticks people off. (I haven’t yet been tempted to delete a comment I didn’t like, but I think I need to keep this rule in mind just in case.)
  3. Do not insult readers. If someone misunderstands me, I will err on the side of assuming that I phrased something poorly rather than that the person is stupid.
  4. Do not complain about something over and over, yet reject all suggestions for improving the situation. I admit this is occasionally hard to resist.
  5. Do not post pictures of your kids—unless they’re really, really cute. Obviously, I wrestle with this one.
  6. Do not brag about something under the pretense of complaining about it. For example, I should not say “The problem with having a child who is toilet-trained early is that they yell embarrassing things in public restrooms like ‘No touching the poop, Mama!’” If I’m going to brag about my child being toilet trained, I should just say “My kid poops on the potty, and that rocks.” Except that would violate the next rule, which is
  7. No talking about poop—unless you are funny enough to pull it off. Which I’m not. This last statement may look like a violation of the next rule, but it’s not.
  8. Don’t put yourself down in the hopes of having readers disagree with you. So please do not argue with me: I am not funny enough to tell a worthwhile poop story. If I am looking for validation, I will ask for it; if I get insults instead, I will remember my final rule:
  9. Don’t take it personally. A good rule to follow in life as well as in blogging, and hard in both worlds.
*Please note that I am NOT saying that all of these things are necessarily wrong, nor that everyone should follow my rules; these are simply the things that I might be tempted by and want to avoid.

23 comments:

Old MD Girl said...

I don't know..... I've bitched about medical school on my blog, to have readers comment with things like, "Get over it," and, "Well if you're complaining now, then just WAIT until it actually gets hard," and I happily delete them. My rationale is that their comments are not "dissent" but active attacks.

And it's my blog and I can do what I want. I have it mostly so my friends can see what I'm up to. And so people can see that 29 is not too old to start medical school.

Sam said...

I violate the poop rule at least once a week. I'm under the delusion that I'm funny with my poop stories. My readers tend to comment in a poopy manner, so I don't think they're upset. And posting pictures of my kid? Well I feel like old md girl above, it's my blog and blah blah. I've only deleted one comment, and it was from a real life "friend". It was sexually inappropriate and made me nauseous and YUCK. Lastly, (and long-windedly) I agree that there should be "blog rules". Just like the common sense "life rules" where we treat people kindly and respectfully. Because everyone does that, right?

DoctorMama said...

Yeah, these are just the ways I would rather not invoke the wrath of readers; by no means do I think that anyone has to follow suit, nor do these things necessarily inflame me personally. I know several bloggers who can tell an excellent poop story, and no one should have to leave up comments they don't want on their own blog. And there are certainly ways I piss people off that other people avoid.

Orange said...

Yes, there are those who excel in the poop story.

I mainly delete spam comments. But the other day, I deleted a comment on an old post from over a year ago. The reason? The commenter (anonymous, of course) attacked you. (You, of all people! I know!) It added nothing to the discourse, the discourse pretty much ended in 2005 anyway, and I'm sure it was an angry Googler rather than a regular reader, so I care not a whit about ticking them off.

ozma said...

Good rules! I pretty much follow all of them. Maybe it's weird but I welcome the fact I have few readers. So I have some odd rules (1) Write pretty much what I want without worrying about being entertaining--I am primarily entertaining myself. (2) Protect my anonymity at all costs--this does involve self-censorship. (3) Don't worry about whether people to continue to link--so that the thing is freeing for me and I don't have to feel bad when being de-linked for not posting. I need time to do my other work. That goes along with your don't take it personally thing.

So basically, my rules are all about--don't worry if your blog sucks because you've got bigger things to worry about. Not trainwreck rules, exactly but I think my weirdness in general is sort of immune to trainwrecks.

margalit said...

This is a brilliant post. Although I may not agree with every point, I think you're absolutely going in the right direction. I wish, I wish more than just about anything having to do with blogging, that certain 'star bloggers' would follow these rules. The ones that say "if you don't agree with me you are not only wrong, but bad and terrible and must be banned". That makes me totally sick. Nothing worse than a blogger than only allows sycophants that say "you rock!" in their comments.

Whippersnapper said...

I'm glad you wrote that you don't delete comments, because I left one the other day and when it wasn't there the next day... (!)

Obviously I goofed.

What I had written was, "You normally write so sensibly! I was disappointed with this!" was an incredibly stupid, not to mention rude comment. There are ways to express your disapproval with someone's blog, I guess (I certainly have better things to do with MY time) but that's not one of them. Good lord, it sounded like she was lecturing a six-year-old child. "Naughty DoctorMama, we expect better from you!!"

You are a good woman. Personally, I WOULD have deleted it. People like that turn me off blogging.

punchberry said...

It is impressive that you have thought all of this out in such detail.

I follow some of these rules, but not all of them. I cannot imagine resolving to never delete comments. I once deleted one that just had too much personal info; my blog is not anonymous, so in some ways, it needs even more censoring. Other than that, my policy is to only accept "dissent" on topics I brought up. If a comment is off topic and critical, it gets deleted.

Menita said...

Man. Poop is such a large part of our lives these days. Am stumped about what else I could blog about. Stumped. And pooped.

emjaybee said...

Hmm. I don't get enough commenters that it's really an issue; they're all mostly friends or spammers, with an occasional de-lurker. Guess that means I can post cute kid pics and talk about poop all I want; who's to know?

I hate rules for things, as a general rule. Makes me want to do the opposite.

DoctorMama said...

Orange—Now I want to know what it said. On second thought, probably better not to know.

ozma—“don't worry if your blog sucks because you've got bigger things to worry about”—excellent advice.

margalit—if they were smart, they’d leave in a few slightly negative comments to throw people off. When I see a long line of nothing but “you are the most talented writer in the whole world and I pee my pants every time I read you!” I get a little suspicious.

Whippersnapper—too funny, that you thought I might have deleted a comment defending me! Deleting supportive comments only—that would rise to a whole new level of masochism.

punchberry—ah, but I have not resolved to never delete comments, simply to not delete them solely because they disagree with me or insult me, even if it stings a bit. If something could “out” me, or is really ugly, I certainly reserve the right to remove it.

Menita—but see, you can write about poop charmingly.

emjaybee—“I hate rules for things, as a general rule. Makes me want to do the opposite”—even if they’re your OWN rules? I bet you have some unspoken rules that you follow for your own blog. I bet every good blogger does.

E. said...

I can't help but write about poop. I just think poop is funny. I'm puerile that way, but it brings me joy.

Good rules, though. I think the "don't post pics of your kids" is a very good one, even though I do it every once in awhile and so do most of the bloggers I love. But I do try to limit the frequency, and so your rule works (esp. b/c it has the "really cute" loophole).

Larki said...

Words to live by.

And here's hoping the new, early-bird boss and the non-assisting assistant don't between them manage to grind you down. Sounds like just the kind of water-torture-by-administration (drip, drip, drip) which would grind one down in February. Here's to March.

laughing mommy said...

First of all I love your blog. I always feel like I'm learning something when I read it.

Second, why #5? Why not post pictures of your kids? I've been asking everyone who will stand still if I'm endangering my kids by posting pictures of them and I get the same response every time "maybe, maybe not"...

I started my blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends and share pictures and stories about my kids. But I don't want them to make my kids unsafe...

Thoughts?

JamieLynn said...

As a newbie to the blogging world I appreciate your rules... I can't talk about poop... I do find it funny when funny people do... but I am not one of those... and hey, some things should remain private in my world!!!!!

amusing said...

See -- 7 am meetings are one of the things I worry about when I started "real" work. I can't drop the kids at school until 7:30 -- so if I actually needed to leave my house at 6 to be at a 7 am meeting, then what the hell would I do? (I've been having this month of jack in the box freaking out about what's going to happen after graduation....this is one of the things that pops the mommy.)

How are you supposed to do it?

KC said...

First time here, and loving your blog!

I like these rules in general, but like many, am concerned abou the no poop blogging part. Very, very concerned.

"Poopy" is in my tag line and I'm sticking to it.

M said...

I like the wild west attitude of blogging. Anything goes!

PS I found your blog by googling "lefty loosey righty tighty" (diaper tabs in the back, you must be smoking crack.)

ha, ha....good one. (-:

bryan torre said...

but what is your stance on pee?
i find pee really funny at times...

Mignon said...

My personal rule is "No Pets."

I'd never delete a comment for the exact reason you list. It's like poking a bee hive.

I only read the Trainwreck site once, and I know you didn't want to discuss it, but I thought it served as a very valuable trash recepticle. Now although vitriolic people are cruising the www instead of locked up arguing about the financial particulars of rock-star bloggers.

Mignon said...

That last sentence made sense never.

Snickollet said...

These are excellent rules, although I violate #4 a lot lately. And #5.

Moose said...

I like google reader, as it allows me to put a handy little star next to things I like. It's the internet equivalent of post-its. Which brings me to my next point: I like your blog and this post is getting a star. Now I feel like a second grade teacher. So I am shutting up now. (But, thanks. : )