Blogging and Social Media, if done well, are all about community. Unfortunately, like any real-world community, there are those stores you only shop in when you’re in a hurry, those streets you try to avoid and those people you politely wave to as you scoot by without stopping. I’ve always followed a set of unwritten rules when it comes to following bloggers, but I’ve never paid much attention to people that follow me. Until lately. I’ve discovered that I have to start treating WordPress like I do all those other places.
I’ve always paid attention to the comments that aren’t filtered out by the WordPress robots. Lately, I’ve been seeing a few that include links to the author’s own page or business. I delete those comments. Well, not always. If your comment goes along the line of: “a similar thing happened to me, I wrote about it here” then, yeah, I’ll probably look, especially if you’re a regular. That’s actually why I don’t make it hard to include links in a comment, I want your comments and links you feel are relevant.
Regardless of whether you’re a regular or not, I will click on the link. I can hear my Systems Administrator at work saying: “no, don’t click on the link, check it out in one of the hundreds of services made for checking content without going there.” I figure that Askimet already did that. However, if your link isn’t what you said it would be, the comment will be deleted. If it’s a porn site, or any other site that my malware detector doesn’t like, you’re blocked. Have a nice day, no second chances, buh-bye.
In fairness, the corollary to my rule is that I rarely add a link to my comments. If I do, it’s usually to a photo on my Flickr site or possibly to a blog post that I’ve written or seen that might answer a question you posed. I always try to explain why I am adding the link. Your blog is your place, it’s not about me. I believe that my comment should augment your content.
For many of us, other social streams extend and amplify the conversation happening in WordPress. Those places, are fraught with nogoodnicks. Over on Twitter, I have gotten way more suspicious of new followers over the past few years. If you follow me, I am going to review your timeline before following you back. If I like what I see, I will probably follow you. I may add you to a list or two. If I see a constant stream of tweets where you’re trying to sell something, I will simply walk on by.
If I do follow you, and the first thing you do is send me a Direct Message telling me about your product, service, blog, website or whatever, I will unfollow you. If you product gives me the willies, I’ll block you. If you seem nice, I might warn you, but that’s becoming a less and less likely outcome.
Lately, I’ve seen a disturbing trend on Flickr. People will find one of my photos, let’s say of a racecar, and mark it as a Favorite and then leave a comment. The comment will be a link to their racecar parts store. I block these people instantly. Buh-bye.
Actually, Flickr has the best blocking mechanism ever. Last week, a “woman” – I put that in quotes because it was a female-ish avatar – Fav’d and commented on over 20 of my woodworking photos. Each comment said “This is great!” and was followed by a link to her woodworking business. In one click, Flickr blocked her and deleted all her comments and favs. It’s like she never existed.
I don’t have much of a problem on Facebook. I’ve only ever connected to people there that I know in real life, or those that I know well enough in virtual life to hope to meet someday. Based on the near total lack of crap I see on Facebook, I’d say I’m a good judge of character.
I won’t bore you with another round of why LinkedIn has become a jungle of spammers and identity thieves. So far, in my attempt to switch to beBee, I am following fewer than a dozen people. I wish LinkedIn made it easier to ask people “why do you want to be in my network?” but that seems to be a feature I have to pay for. I make decisions based on where they say they work and what they say they do. The flaw in that approach is that very few people say they work for a criminal enterprise and that they steal identity information from LinkedIn for a living.