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Inside Blogging: The email edition

Many people mistake weblog writers for paid mass media columnists. They mistake weblogs for daily newspapers. There's really no other way to explain the mail I get. Why haven't you been covering the torture scandal? Are you avoiding the issue? Are you embarassed? Are you trying to cover it up? Do you not deem it as worthy as Ted Rall's comic? Real email. Verbatim. Here's the thing: I have no obligation to cover everything in the news. I am not Newsday or the Daily News. I have no business model of fair and balanced coverage. Should I skip the days events and write about badgers and bananas, you really have no right to complain. If you pay for delivery of the Daily News every day and you feel as if they have not been complete in their war coverage, by all means - write them and tell them. Complain about their bad grammar or poor choice of headlines or biased editorials. They may even listen, because they depend on you to keep in business. I don't. If you choose to skip over this blog, I don't lose any money. I lose a hit, but hits aren't cash and your decision to not read here does not really weigh heavily upon my mind. I have no board meetings or story meetings. I have no staff. I have no one to answer to but myself. Therefore, I write whatever the hell I want. It's not just me. I see it as I glance over other weblogs. You've seen the posts: Blogger A has ignored the latest Bush controversy! Blogger B is ignoring John Kery's past! That must mean something, right? Lack of coverage means you condone whatever it is your not covering! Right. Sure. Well, to set the record straight (even though I already wrote a lengthy post on this a while back), I am really not in favor of torture. There, I said it. That should take care of about three emails I received last night. Speaking of emails, here's another bad side effect to being a popular blogger: the "link this" email. Sometimes it's a blog post, sometimes it's a news story. Now, I do appreciate every link sent me. I use them often. And sometimes, I don't. It's either something I don't feel like writing about, something I don't agree with, or maybe a supposedly funny post that's really not at all that funny. Sometimes I just don't have the time or space to blog all the links I get. If I did, I would no longer be writing what I wanted to - this site would become nothing more than a link dump similar to Fark. I don't want to appear ungrateful. I have a pretty large readership and I'm thankful for that. I'd say that 90% of the people who send me links or stories are understanding; they say things like if you have the time to look at this or something similar. Most of the are bloggers themselves and understand the time/space constraints running a weblog while working, etc. But there are those people who take great offense when you don't link what they ask you to. They email it again. And again. Maybe a fourth time, with a slightly angry note asking why I didn't think their blog post/link was worthy. I answer them - I make every attempt to answer every email that has a personal note attached to it (the ones with just a link, I don't think the people are expecting response, it's more like a check this out email) - and explain the reason why I haven't or won't link it. Or I just thank for taking the time to email me. It's usually met with the email equivalent of a cold, stony stare. As for the covering the news obligations; people who read weblogs tend to read a lot of them in one day. So if Bloggers A-D are covering the torture story and doing a comprehensive, intellegent job of it, there's no need for me to employ redundancy. This weblog is for my enjoyment as much as it is for yours. But I cannot possibly write about every single thing every single emailer has asked me to. Not unless I quit my job, ditch my family and hold off on eating and peeing for days at a time. It's the curse and the blessing of having 6,000 readers a day. Prepare for 6,000 emails a week. There are bloggers with far bigger numbers than I; how they handle their email, I don't know. Everyone has their own way of dealing with these things. I feel guilty when I don't blog what you want me to. I feel bad when a blogger sends me a link to something they wrote and for whatever reason I don't want to link to it. As someone who, for months and months had no more than ten readers a day, I feel a certain obligation to help newer/lesser read bloggers out. I wouldn't be where I'm at now if people didn't do that for me. So I do what I can, but I don't want to sacrifice my own blogging time - or m principles - in order to accomplish that. People assume I am a heavy conservative. I am not. So if you send me a 500 word essay on why gay marriage is a bad thing and ask me to please post it on ASV, I'm going to have to pass. It's not that I don't think your view should be heard. But I'm not a corporate owned newspaper that sort of owes it to the public to be fair. I don't get paid for this; quite the opposite, I pay monthly and yearly fees to other companies so I can maintain this place. Which means that I am under no obligiation to offer up your point of view to my readers. I'm sure you wouldn't invite a convict into your house to talk to your children about the glamour of being a bank robber, just so they have that point of view as well as yours. And while we are at it - and I think I speak for many, many bloggers when I say this - the quickest way to get me to not link to your site is to send me an email with the header Link Me, and a body that reads something like "I linked you, so now you link me." Also, sending me an email that says "You're an idiot, I hate you, you are a worthless liar. Oh, here's something I wrote that you should quote on your weblog" - well, that's just going to get you nowhere, buddy. Except the trash bin. And while I have your attention, let me say something about comments. This is good: Hey, I wrote something on this subject as well (include link to your post). This is bad: I know you're talking about clowns here, but I wrote a post about iguanas, here it is, everyone come read it. This is good: I disagree with you and here's why (with a link to your post). This is bad: (Just a link to your post, using the words "you are a fucking asshole") This is good: Here is an excerpt from my post, in which I disagree with you (short excerpt, with link) This is bad: [Excerpt sixteen paragraphs from your post, with twenty-six links back to your website] This is good: Here's what Jonah Goldberg said about this (follow with short excerpt, linked back to Jonah's article) This is bad: Here's another opinion (copy and paste Goldberg's entire article, with no link) This is good: I found your post very funny and amusing. Here's my take on it (with link). This is bad: If you think this is funny, you should see what I wrote. It's just rude, man. Ok, I'm done. Just some things I needed to get off my chest. Thank you.

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Comments

>>I know you're talking about clowns here, but I wrote a post about iguanas, here it is, everyone come read it.<<

OK ok ok... I get it: no more essays on iguanas.

Or plagiariazed comments containing entire articles about iguanas.

Well, there goes my gameplan for today. Damnit.

We iguana addicts are only partially responsible for our actions, until we get to the 7th step.

So there.

Sigh. Mock me, go ahead.

I'm going to leave iguana spam in all your comments.

I don't post about iguanas. I'm all about the Dirty Mushrooms.

I'm so very sorry.

There's a reason I only glance at about thirty percent of your posts, you're writing about something that, for whatever reason, doesn't interest me.
If that percentage was seventy percent I'd still visit daily.
You owe me nothing. You do owe yourself. You owe yourself to maintain your integrity that shows in your writing. You owe yourself the maintainance of the passion that shows through your writing. Could you maintain those if you wrote about everything any random person wanted you to cover? Doubt it.
You have given me a lot, information I would otherwise miss, a point of view different from my own and, often, a good belly laugh on a bad day. Thanks.

Sheesh! You big-time bloogers are so picky!

No incoherent ranting profanity-laced e-mails. Be Topical! No learned posts on iguanas! Be polite! No excessive linking!

All these rules. I just can't take it. I just want to live! Why won't you let me live!

Pardon me for hijacking the post, but if there is a graphics person out there, I also have a small project that I need some help with. It's a clean sheet sorta thing, which makes my weak Photoshop skillz useless. Like Michele, I can pay a little. I'm guessing that there's a good bit of money making potential out there in blogland for a decent graphic artist, especially if it turns into a t-shirt/swag opportunity.

Please excuse Skillzy. He is under the deluded impression that he can hijack my comments so he can hire away some great graphic designer who he will then hire to stick a Yankee uniform on Lenore.

Bastard.

I think a simple "This is not a newspaper, magazine, or 24-hour news channel; this is a personal blog" would suffice.

I've been meaning to point out that you're not writing nearly enough about iguanas. I would link to all of my really good posts about bananas but I really don't write about bananas all that often. Or even iguanas--I thought that was your department and you're falling down on the job. How will I know what to think about the Iguana Situation if you don't post on it?

I've discovered that the best way to handle lotsa email comments is to

1) Create a new email account;
2) Create a group blog;
3) Saddl... umm, 'favor'... the newest member with the job of postmaster.

Not that ObWi gets a lot of email anyway.

I'm pretty pissed about the iguana thing. I mean do what you want to rude bloggers, but let's leave our green friends out of it.

I like your blog. You're a good writer, and I enjoy reading your opinions, although of course I don't agree. You're right up there with Mr. Lileks, in my book. (Don't worry, I don't agree with a thing he says, either.)

Iguana register a complaint about anti-reptile bias. (Granted, I'm still an amphibian, but still ... )

Immediately link to my 20,000-word refutation of Jonah Goldberg’s piece on iguanas, you fucking asshole idiot who I hate, it’s much funnier than anything you’ve ever written about clowns.

Please?

Wow, all this on just coffee!? Wait till they get home and start some serious drinking...

I get the feeling you're not going to read my 500 word essay on gay iguana marriage. Could you at least link to my Gay Iguana Marriage Blog at www.gayiguanamarriage.blogspot.com?

I think you just stole Andy Sullivan's next essay, dorkafork.

Wow. That was really long. I'm glad you felt like you could talk to us though. Makes me feel like I make a difference...

I linked you to a site you might already know about, but just in case... it's a great one I visit daily. It's funny and makes me laff!

signed...
iguanawannarollinthehaywithme

Realizing the importance of the Gay Iguana Marriage debate in our country today, a blog has been created to chronicle the important developments in the Gay Iguana Marriage story. Stop by and take a look! www.gayiguanamarriage.blogspot.com

Dangit, knew I should've set that blog up myself. Good work, John S.

See what you started how influential you are? Glad you're back, by the way.

Hee hee! I like how you quit blogging and stuff. That was awesome.

Dorkafork, if you'd like to co-blog, that's A-OK with me.

Ah...very refreshing post.

I'm a much smaller blogger than you, and even "I" have experienced some of this already. Someone even wrote in my comments once, "I'm taking you off my reading list." Well, hell, that's your prerogative. I'm not forcing anyone to type in my url.

Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is and hope that people get it.

Again, great post. I'd buy you a beer if you were near. (hey, that rhymed)

John S., I honestly don't think I'm committed enough to the cause of gay iguana marriage to join. And I've got my own blog. But it's a pretty neat name for a blog, or maybe a band. At least we know someone will be watching.

I don't have anything to add, and I'm not funny.

So, never mind.

I hate myself. Look, is that a gecko?

Iguanas are bad?

<sniff>

Iguanas? Bad? Of course not!

You just have to roast them properly.

Michele, when are you going to share your roast iguana recipes?

To all you iguana playa haters, I punish you with THIS

<insert maniacal laughter here>

Iguana tell all you people to stop with the stupid lizard jokes,but, hey, it ain't my blog.

N. O'Brain
Imperial Minister for Useless Information

[OT, but did you hear? Rachel is back. Mheh!]

32 comments and everyone of them fixated on iguanas? Did you not read the post?

Michele said, "things I needed to get off my chest."

Hawkins is working on another post, you can be assured.

Mine had nothing to do with Iguanas.

My poem for The Raving Atheist wasn't intended to be about iguanas, but I suppose it could be interpreted that way.

[How was that for proper linkiquette? Does that count? It seems cheap. Like begging. I feel all creepy and dirty now.]

I for one welcome our new marine reptile overlords.

We want equal time...

I came here from a Google search, expecting to read something about clowns, but now I see all you blog about is iguanas. That's just so wrong! If you don't post more about clowns, I will stop reading this blog!!!

you're human and you can only do what you can do....

Is it bad to suggest that you change the name of this blog to, "Badgers and Bananas"? Sure, it'll be confusing to have that title when the only thing you ever link to is the gay iguana marriage site, but we all need a bit of surrealism in our lives.

Iguanas - pfui! We * come with an escort, and we *never tell a soul.