Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why I Like Your Blog

I hope this post doesn't ruffle any feathers, but I just felt like speaking out a bit.  In light of the recent plagiarism controversy about which I am completely appalled, I would like to address what was actually plagiarized.  It was a series of blogging 'dos and don'ts', etc. which I have always taken issue with.  Some of the don'ts are always "don't have too large of a header," don't have auto-play music," etc., etc. and blah, blah, blah...  Here is a copy of the comment I left on the Beautifully Invisible blog regarding what went on, but also addressing the issue I'm talking about above:

I am so sorry that this happened to you all.  Plagiarism is not to be tolerated and by no means is it ever accidental, except in some extreme cases.  I have steered clear of said plagiarist's blog ever since I first started my book blog in 2009 because, back then she did a series of posts about the no-nos of blogging.  I just have to say, who's to say what is right and wrong in blogging.  I have a large header and auto play music on my blog.  It has not caused me any harm to have it designed this way.  In fact, I have almost 600 Google Friend Connect followers and over 700 feedburner subscribers.  I get compliments regularly about my blog design and my music.  What I'm trying to say is that no post should be plagiarized by no means, but what are these types of posts trying to accomplish?  A slew of blogging automatons who all have the same blog design.  I'm sorry, but I would much rather be the odd color in the crayon box.  

Now I realize that I have gone off topic here, but I just get so tired of hearing these "guidelines."  Back in 2009, in the first few months of starting my blog, I decided to steer clear of said plagiarist's blog for just this reason.  A series of blogging no-nos posted on her blog.  For a new blogger, especially someone like me who has always marched to the beat of her own drum, this made me feel very inadequate and that my blog was crap.  But you know what?  I had continual visitors paying me compliments on the design and the music.  Yes, I'm sure there are some who hate it, but ultimately, I started my blog for personal reasons and to please myself.  There were never advance plans of gaining a following and everything else that has happened in almost three years of blogging.  What a pleasant surprise it was to discover that those things do happen and it's quite nicely the icing on the cake, but I still blog mostly for myself.  I'm the one who does all the work and I'm not being paid to do it.  If I'm not being true to myself, what's the point?  So, what I'm trying to say is...

These are the things that will keep me coming back to your blog

  • Have any damn size header you want.  Make your whole blog a header or don't have one at all, for all I care.  I'm there to read your content and if I have to scroll down a bit to get to it, well, boo hoo, my poor down-button finger (not).
  • Have some cool music playing.  There is such a thing as a pause button if I don't like it (do make the player visible for that reason or have a note at the top telling it's location), but I probably won't pause it.  
  • I don't care if you have loads of stuff in your sidebar(s).  Are blog readers so easily distracted by what's going on in the sidebar?  Sorry if you are, but I'm not. 
  • Design it to your liking.  Again, I'm there to read your content, not for your blog design.  If it's pretty, all the better, but it's not a deal breaker if it is not.  If someone comes to your blog to read your content, but leaves because of the design...well, maybe you don't want them reading your blog anyway.
  • For those of you who have a more plain and organized blog, I like you too. ;O)
There you have it.  Again, I hope I don't upset too many people with this post, but after almost three years of feeling this way, I just finally had to say something.

To read more about the plagiarism controversy, visit this POST.

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  1. Michelle,
    You crack me up and I agree with you so much! And like you I march to the beat of my own drum. Blogging for me is a way to express myself, I'm 31 with 5 little children and I want to blog for me and when people comment or follow its great. But blog design is all on taste when you stop caring how many followers you have then you are blogging for the right reasons. Don't get me wrong I like writing to my followers but the numbers don't matter at a certain point. I love all your blogs but mostly Castle Macabre that one is dark just like me! But your style is your style. Well said LOVE IT!

  2. Thank you, Krista! A girl after my own heart. =O)

  3. I suspect there will be fallout from the events of this week for a while yet (perhaps everywhere but on the plagiarists blog ironically!)

    Good on you for having your say. Personally I prefer no music, but you know what....I can always stop it, or just have my speakers turned off until I know that I actually want to listen to something. It's certainly not a deal breaker for me!

  4. Fantastic post. :-) I've always been put off by many blogger dos and don'ts too.

  5. Thank God for bloggers who march to the beat of their own drum! Because you're right, if we were all the same how freaking boring would our community be? And honestly, designing and running your blog by the opinions of one or two self proclaimed blogger leader is a bit... unbookish. How many of our favorite characters are just mousey little sycophants? I've followed your blog for a long time because I like your content, not because your header is huge (but lovely!) or because you play music (I usually have my computer on mute anyway). I like your blog because I get reviews and opinions I don't get everywhere else. ;)

  6. Well said! I follow a few different blogs with large headers, but they are gorgeous and I never gave it a second thought. And if I open several blogs at once, I just turn most of the music off until I visit that particular blog (so there aren't several songs playing at once). I'm a big girl and can scroll down or pause a player as needed! I love that not all blogs look the same, as how boring would that be? :)

  7. I am standing up and clapping my hands. Well said Michelle. All Bloggers should create and march to their own drum. I know I do and I appreciate reading a unique creative blog not a cookie cutter. I love your blog! Keep up the good work.

  8. "I'm sorry, but I would much rather be the odd color in the crayon box."

    Frinkin', Stinkin' Love It! (LOLOL)

    BTW, I see you have a Tumblr account. I am seriously thinking about joining. Been looking for an outlet that isn't as demanding as blogging, FB or Twitter.

  9. I hate dos and don'ts. My only rules with my blogging are...don't let it turn into work for you.

    I always like coming to your blog, because you like some of the same music I do. I do freelance music reviewing, and I find I dont get to listen to my favorites anymore, so its always refreshing to hear something I love.

    Plus anyone that loves cats is always ok in my book. I have 11 and I feed 2 to 5 cats that always show up on my porch :)

  10. I freaking love this post...when I frst started I tried to follow blogger rules but I hated them...I hate all memes...and challenges and readathons and whatever's... Love reading unique blogs like yours!!!

  11. I do agree with you Michelle...if we all had the same design and content what would be the point?? I also started in 2009 and learned as I went and I also avoided the do's and don't of the correct way to have a blog. I only paid attention to it if it helped me with something that I needed help with.
    Just keep marching to that beat Michelle...I will always follow...

  12. I agree, Michelle. Bloggers telling other people what to do really tends to get my back up. The whole point of blogging is that there aren't a lot of rules (except, you know, the whole don't-steal-other-people's-content thing... oh, irony). Live and let live is what I say.

  13. +JMJ+

    I don't really mind "Dos and Don'ts" because I know there are people who really want them--but I've only rarely been one of them. =)

    A couple of years ago, I complained on a "blog improvement" forum that a reader had come out of lurking to request that I change the palette I had chosen for my blog because it made it hard for her to read my posts. It seemed to me that she was wrong to make such a request and I wondered who else agreed with me. The most memorable reply, however, came from someone told me I was being disingenuous: it was excellent feedback, he said, and my resistance to it could be taken as proof that I didn't actually care about making my blog "better."

    He had a point, of course: I was on that "blog improvement" forum. (I keep writing in quotation marks because it's my own term and probably not how the forum would describe itself.) But your post, Michelle, helps me see more clearly why I didn't like having to tailor my blog to that reader's preferences. Like you, I'm blogging for my personal pleasure, and my blog design is part of that. For me, it's already "better." =)

  14. Hear, hear! I'm all about doing what you want on your own blog. I'm not sure how long I would have kept blogging if no one was reading but I long ago lost interest in doing things on my blog just to increase traffic. What's the point unless you're trying to make money?

  15. I have to admit that I have been totally in the dark about whatever has materialized over the week - that is what being in end of the semester mode with a research project will do to you. I will have to check out this controversy. However, on topic, I'm not the biggest fan of do and don't lists but I have found them helpful from time to time when trying to figure out if I want to do something or not. However, the decision to do or not to do something is entirely up to me. At the end of the day you make your blog the way you want it. I think it is perfectly ok for people to make a suggestion regarding readability or something like that, and maybe I will make a change because I realize that the color scheme or format might be hard to read. However, it is again, your own decision. Great post.

  16. Luckily, I didn't read any of those guideline posts when I was starting out, but my experience was just as good as you say yours was. I'm not saying there is not some good advice out there, because there is, and I've followed some later on, but I agree with you - the most important is the content. I mostly read posts in Google reader, so I do not often see the design, anyway. Also, your blog should be the way you like it. So, 'Hear, hear!' to your bottom line: be yourself!

  17. Love this! I don't follow the do and don't lists either. I remember when I first started blogging in '09 being worried about what others thought of my design and why my #'s weren't as big as others. Then I realized the point of my blog was to let my book nerd flag fly in public and that it didn't really matter to me at all whether I was the popular kid or not. I love having followers and see that # getting bigger but I am not going to change what works for me or require people to follow me for giveaways etc. to make that happen. The best advice I think for new bloggers is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. If you build it, they will come! :)

  18. While I don't dig music, I do respect your spirit and commitment to do what speaks to your soul.

    You're so right. Being yourself is what counts and what people want to see and read.

  19. Ha! I love your blog Michelle! :)

    The thing is, if a blog is really like a virtual diary, shouldn't it be "you"?

    And even if your blog is for book reviews, this is like your living room online. It should be a part of who you are... (Hence my blog is SO purple! LOL)

    Conforming is highly overrated... :)


    Lisa :)

  20. Gosh there sure are a lot of blogs that started in 2009 :-)

    Well you know my stance on the subject so good for you!

  21. I appreciate everyone stopping by and commenting. It would seem so far that we all agree that being ourselves is key. What a great group of blogging friends I have! *hugs* to you all. =O)

  22. *STANDING OVATION AND LOUD WHISTLING* You tell 'em, Michelle! I get so irritated with the "you should/shouldn't" comments, no matter what they pertain to. If someone doesn't like music, they don't need to use it on their blog. Whatever. And when I visit your site, I don't say, "Ah, hell, my scroll wheel finger is too tired to scroll through her header. Forget it." Hahaha! You know what it is--people just like to worry about everybody but themselves.

  23. Just to let you know, Michelle - I've bought a couple of songs from iTunes just because I heard them on your blog first.

  24. Just wanted to add my two cents.
    I love the top of your blog (the header?) and love your music!
    As my father used to say "That's why they make chocolate, vanilla,and strawberry". Keep up the good work!

  25. I am laughing and I really dont have to say anything here because it looks like everyone else has said what I would have....

    Nicely said!

  26. While I'm not personally a fan of music/large headers (I find they take longer to load) I do appreciate your desire to march to the beat of your own drum!

    Radiant Shadows

  27. A individual's blog should reflect who they are as a person. Personally, I don't like to overload things on my blog, like I do in my life, but that's me.

  28. Do you have any idea of how many people are in theapy because somebody took it upon themselves to tell them how they should be when they weren't that way. Nobody has the right to dictate to others, especially in a situation where creativity is the idea. Say no more Michelle, the rest of the world is with you. I know nothing about the plagiarist issues, and don't care to know about them. I can tell you without looking any further, that I would never follow a blogger like that. I stopped trying to please everyone a long time ago. Be true to yourself, as the saying goes... So, I innocently came over here looking for Cat Thursday ... life is full of surprises :).

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  29. I actually visited you several times before I ever commented on one of your posts. (I think we met when I joined one of your readalongs.) Yes, your header is big -- but it screams: this blog is about LITERATURE and HISTORY! I actually didn't know your blog played music at first, because my volume is habitually down on my computer. When I realized you did, I scrolled through the whole playlist for a listen, and it was like a "sound" version of your personality. Like the header -- only in a different medium. And I came back just to pick out a song for a listen while doing other things, now and then.

    Your dislike for lists that define how one should blog reminds me of my own dislike for quick-hit lists about how to write. These sorts of posts are not helpful, I think -- not when they only repeat what someone else has said, offering (in my humble opinion) lukewarm advice backed by no soul and correlated to nothing. I would much rather see people offer their own personal experience with blogs/writing than offer up potions for the perfect book or novel, as if they actually have experience enough to speak with authority. These posts are detrimental to creativity, confidence, and originality -- and in my opinion are nothing more than an attempt to gain followers and hits by a post format that has proven successful at other blogs -- the how-to format.

    I'm not suggesting that all people who write about how to blog and how to write are hurting readers with borrowed advice. Only that I understand your frustration.

    Keep being Michelle! :-)

  30. I agree with you, I go to blogs for the content! Now, I may not like all of the things that you or some other bloggers like in terms of blog design, but it's not my blog after all, right? :-)

    I suppose people who offer such advice are trying to be helpful, and sometimes it is, but sometimes I also find it to be a bit pretentious.

    Thanks for speaking up for bloggers who do what they want to when it comes to their blogs :-)

  31. We are kindred souls. I am also the "odd color in the crayon box". Every now and again I get down on myself because I'm not following the "rules" that the big blogs say must be obeyed and I've got to cut that out! I love this post. Thank you for saying what has crossed my mind numerous times when seeing those types of posts.

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