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Gone Blogging!

Today I’m Guest Blogger over at Mel’s Madness. Go and visit, comment and let Mel know how much you appreciate her. You’re reading, she’s a teacher, do the math. Mel is gracious enough to host a local writer’s workshop that I have been known to frequent (if you abuse the term ‘frequent’). I told her I’d ask all 18 of you to go and visit. Consider yourself asked.

Next week, I’m guesting at Letters To People Who Won’t Read Them. With a title like that, you know that snark is around the corner. It just begs to be read! I’ll have more info on that later.

I’m having a great deal of fun doing these guest posts. What would really be fun is for you to Guest Blog here! If you’re a blogger, writer, or just have something to say, check out the “Be Our Guest” link up top. I’d love to host you!

Spring Cleaning – Categories

Public Domain as fear 2 perspectiveTomorrow I will be the Guest Blogger at Mel’s Madness. That’s the first bit of spring cleaning that needed doing. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Mel’s place is non-fiction and, as I’m sure my family will tell you, I like to make stuff up. Tomorrow’s offering is a (mostly) auto-biographical piece, in keeping with Mel’s blog. It is, quite frankly, a stretch for me. Anyhoo, head over tomorrow and give it a gander.

Yes, I know the image looks more like holding on than letting go, but it has two things going for it. When you start the cleaning process, things do get tossed and decisions have to be made, otherwise you are just shuffling stuff. And second, it’s a free image.

I have been taking (forever with) the April Platform Challenge. One of the areas that wasn’t specifically covered was how to handle tags or, as Blogger calls them, categories. I’ve been going hog wild with them and there’s an issue with that; it makes it hard to have a coherent search.

Around day 20, the challenge was to create an editorial calendar. You know, what are you going to be doing when. This forces you, as the blogger, to determine your scope, what areas you are willing (or have time) to cover. I came up with 18. At last count, I had 61 categories and not all of my new topics overlapped my old categories. You see the problem?

I toyed with the idea of using a noun-verb approach. For example, I would have a “Review” category and a “Books,” “Movies,” “Podcasts,” and “Blogs” categories. If I had a book review, I would choose the “Books” and the “Review” categories, etc. I think that approach might work well for some blogs. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I’m leaning towards a straight “Review” category for now. I feel I can always add the others in later, if the situation warrants it.

Yeah, I know it’s an administrative thing and I shouldn’t get wrapped around the axle about it, but like all Spring Cleaning, it’ll look better when I’m done.  Sometime, in the next week or so, look for the new categories to be in place; unless I get distract by something shiny.

Oh, and I have another Guest Blogger appearance scheduled next week at Letters To People Who Won’t Read Them. I’ll have more info on that later. If you’re a blogger, check out the “Be Our Guest” link up top. I’d love to host you here.

The Liebster Blog Award

First off, many thanks to Mel and Sopphey for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award. I’m glad they could see something in that whole, soul bearing rant. Other people can express their feelings very well. When I try, it tends to sound like a mosquito with a bullhorn; whiny, loud and out for blood. Overall, I’ve tried to adhere to a “Never Complain, Never Explain” lifestyle. It didn’t work all that well when I was younger and when I had daughters, that effort went completely out the window.

The Liebster is a pay-it-forward kind of award, meaning that once you receive the award, you pass it on to others. The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person that gave you the award in a post on your own site
  2. Nominate up to five blogs with less than 200 followers
  3. Let the nominees know they’ve won by leaving a comment on one of their posts
  4. Add the Liebster image above so all your readers know that you are generally awesome

I’m cribbing this directly from Sopphey’s site:

*Note: There is no general committee that bestows this award. It’s just a recognition from one blogger to another for how awesome they are. Kinda like a really big Internet hug!

My ma-nom-ma-nees are (in no particular order):

Do you know of some great blogs that have, shall we say, a limited readership? Let me know about them! Post links to the circulation-impaired in the comment section below.

What are you still doing here? Shoo! The post is over! Go read the ma-nom-ma-nees blogs!

Trolling or How Using the Word "Spamming" Almost Got Me There

image If you’ve been involved with social media for any length of time, or with forums or UseNet groups, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t Feed the Troll.” In it’s most general sense, it can mean “don’t engage with an obnoxious individual.” Seems simple enough on the surface and it’s a rule that I haven’t had an issue with, until recently.

A posting of mine, on a popular social media site, got a comment that caused me to have a visceral reaction and I came within keystrokes of violating Wheaton’s Law. I don’t feel great about. As a matter of fact, I felt a little sick. First, that I allowed this individual to have such control and second, because I know better; I really do. You probably need a little more context.

Like my profile says, I’m an amateur author. That means I write, but I don’t get paid. And like many amateur authors, I like to meet with peers and trade information, discuss approaches, celebrate victories and be envious of others’ success. You know, normal stuff. To facilitate this, I joined a writer’s group/circle/list at a major social networking site. Things were going along great. There was (and is) a lot of support and encouragement and a genuine sense of community, virtual though it may be. And then, I posted.

I subscribe to a few RSS feeds for writers. Three particular articles on this fateful day caught my eye and I decided I would share them individually with my online writer community. I posted them in under a minute and playfully added in the final post that I was “done spamming for today.” That was my first mistake, assuming that my humor translated. As it turns out, not so much.

This individual responded:

“Paul Ellis, a small suggestion, but an important one. As a writer, you should care about your word choices used not just in your writing but in these [REDACTED] posts. If you use the term “spamming” to refer to the actions you take with this [REDACTED], you are shooting yourself in the foot. If you believe you are adding value to this discussion, choose your words more carefully.”

My initial reaction just about took the top of my head off. “A small suggestion?” Hardly. There are too many passive-aggressive imperatives for this is be a small, single anything, let alone a suggestion. According to the poster, I’m not actually a writer because I used a word this individual didn’t care for. Consequently, my posts have no value. Seriously? What you came away with from my three posts was the word ”spamming?”

It took longer than I cared to admit, but I finally calmed down. I was close to violating several very important rules:

  1. When possible, assume positive intent.
  2. You are not as funny (charming, engaging, etc.) as you think you are.
  3. Don’t take it personally.
  4. Never, ever post anything when you are angry.
  5. Do not engage. It will not end well.

Assuming positive intent turned out to be almost impossible. Spamming is apparently a hot-button word for this individual and clearly they believed they were in the “right,” especially since they called me out publically in the group/circle/list like that. If the intent was to express concern, couldn’t that have been handled privately, in an email? (Yes, mine’s widely available.) That way, a private dialogue could have occurred. The word choice is a bit worrying as well; “you should care … If you believe,” the implication being that I either don’t care, I’m not really a writer, or both. This wasn’t about my word choice; it was about this individual being “right.”

My sense of humor is like coffee, an acquired taste. Some people don’t like it; others can take it or leave it; some others love it. I’m not going to please everyone. It would be like forcing my kids to like eating turnip greens. I may get them to eat it, but I can’t make them like it. In addition, humor is highly subjective and doesn’t readily translate in the e-medium. I knew all of this, but posted the “spamming” comment anyway. I have no one to blame for that except myself.

I didn’t realize how personally I was taking my role as a writer until this opinion-poised-as-fact crossed into view. Never underestimate the power of a visceral reaction. If I come away with nothing else from this experience, I now understand writing is very personal to me. I will need to grow a thicker skin and not over-react.

I was incredibly angry. That alone kept me from responding. I had a whole host of snarky comments ready to rip and tear, but my rational mind finally stopped me. Nothing good can come from this. Which leads nicely to the my next observation.

Do not engage. Let’s assume that I did rip and tear into the aforementioned individual. What would have happened? This individual “knew” they were in the right, therefore I *must* be in the wrong. There would be no rational discussion about this. It would have escalated. It might have poisoned the environment in the group/circle/list. And, I would have been the bully. I would have been the troll. After all, this individual was only trying to “help.”

Sometimes, it’s just not fair. It’s a hard lesson to re-learn. After all, I thought I knew it already. But, my pride was stung and I got all wound up about something I cannot change.

It’s not the solution every time, but sometimes it’s better to just walk away.

Next Steps – #MNINB Day 30

I did it! I finally made it to the end! The focus of the April Platform Challenge is to create Social Sphere in order to promote … what? I believe the big drawback of this challenge is the creation of a network without a stated purpose. Make no mistake, this is a fantastic way to create a social platform, I highly recommend it. But, I also think that you need to have a purpose for the building, whether it’s a blog, a book, a podcast, or what have you; otherwise, it’s just an academic exercise.

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