Thursday, June 02, 2005

Netiquette

What do you think is appropriate behaviour for bloggers emailing others asking them to read (and perhaps respond to) a post of theirs? I would propose the following guidelines:

1) You should have some reason to think your post will be of interest to the specific recipient, e.g. perhaps they regularly post on related topics.

2) The recipient should be on your blogroll. It's rude and unreasonable to ask for recognition from those you aren't prepared to recognize yourself.

3) Relatedly, your inviting email should be specific to the recipient, addressing them (and/or their blog) by name.

Would you agree? Any other suggestions?

I bring this up because I just received an email which violates all three of these basic guidelines. Well, I guess musings on totalitarian "bio-states" could fit into political philosophy, broadly construed, so perhaps I could grant him #1.

But as for the others: the email begins, "Hi, I've read your posts for some months now and I enjoy them. say, I'd be interrested to know what you think about my..." Nowhere is there any indication that the fellow even knows my name or that of my blog. My site is not linked anywhere on his page, let alone the "blogs I read" section of it. Moreover, my referrer logs indicate that I just received a single visit from his site around the time of the email, which suggests to me - given the lack of links mentioned above - that he randomly chanced upon my blog by hitting the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger navbar. [Update: my mistake -- see comments for details.]

Granted, that's just speculation. For all I know he might be a loyal reader. But by breaking the guidelines mentioned above, one loses credibility. One's emailed invitation then seems about as enticing as an invitation to MAKE MONEY FAST with penis-enlarging weight-loss pills. And we all know how much those emails are appreciated. So please -- don't do it.

That's not to say all blog invites are bad. Not at all. I've even sent a couple myself before, though always in accordance with the guidelines mentioned above. Most of them still got no reply, which is fair enough -- when asking a favour of strangers, one has no right to expectations.

Though that now raises the question: since I've gone and written a reply (of sorts) anyway, should I respond to the invitation and let the guy know? Or, given the negative tone of this post, would that just be rude?

7 comments:

  1. I don't think the recipient needs to be on the blogroll when it's relevant. I did a bit of emailing to gauge interest for the philosophy essay competition (which I promise is still coming) for example.

    I think you usually know when you're out of order in emailing another blog. The issue probably arises when you have a tremendously large blog and the volume of such email becomes a problem.

    If I can find a specific post of relevance, I will sometimes comment rather than send email.

    Cheers,
    -MP

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  2. I think commenting is probably the web 'norm', though newbies who are desperate to attract the attention of another blogger could be excused for sending an e-mail surely?

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  3. in fact blogger.com recommends for newbies to email posts-- check it out on their website.

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  4. Yes, like I said, email is fine if done appropriately (hence the discussion of guidelines to determine what is or isn't appropriate).

    For the record, a closer examination of the blog in question reveals a hidden second sidebar (I had to scroll across to see it, which is why I missed it earlier) containing a list of links which includes my blog. So my cynical speculations were indeed misplaced. My apologies to the author.

    Still, the general issue is interesting enough to warrant discussion, so I'm still curious to hear what different guidelines others would propose (or whether they agree with my suggestions).

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  5. It might be useful to liken such an email to other kinds of requests, e.g., in-person requests to volunteer for something or a phone call inviting you to some event. For example, if you don't want to volunteer or go to the event, you can ignore the communication (if it's of the mass communication type) or politely decline (if the request is more personal). There's no obligation to explain why you aren't available, can't participate, etc. There's probably instances where there's no obligation to respond to unsolicited requests, but it's perhaps erring on the side of politeness to at least respond to the more personal requests.

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  6. Of course that would equate the act of asking for some attention to a blog or specific article with the person who rings up as your eating dinner to sell you a 'no obligation' real estate quote...

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  7. The person who sends you what you suspect is a mass communication is similar to the person who calls you during dinner from a call list.

    The person who particularly emails you asking for your attention to their blog/article is more like the more personal requests I mentioned.

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