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Monday, October 17, 2011

Clean Up on Aisle Seven

I spent part of the weekend deleting blogs from my reader. Being a bit on the anal-retentive side, it was not unlike surgery. As each new blog post popped up, I examined its history for content.

• Did the blogger brag too much? I don't know about you, but I get a little tired of authors who carry on about all the beautiful things they've bought with their book money. It's like meeting someone at a party and she keeps pushing the Hope diamond under your nose. I just don't care. Good for you if you can afford these things, but if you brag too often it comes off as conceit, and it boots you off my guest list.

• What's the promo to actual content ratio? I expect authors to promote their work. This ain't grandpa's publishing anymore. Everyone has to toot their own horn. But when every other post is "buy my book" it turns into spam.

• How many excerpts (published or unpublished) do they post? I'm not a big fan of excerpts. Aside from the obvious pitfall of someone stealing from you (like I reported in this post), it's generally not too interesting out of context. Now that could be me. I like a little background to center me in the scene before someone tosses out an excerpt.

The other thing that turns me off about excerpts is that it makes me feel obligated to compliment it. A blogger should never make the reader feel put upon or uncomfortable. You don't invite people over and expect them to gush over your kids, do you? (This could be why people with children never invite me to their homes anymore.)

Note: Despite my dislike of excerpts, I adore reading first paragraphs/hooks from a book. I just do. Often times it's enough to get me to buy.

• Blogs that tweet. I have had a few blogs on my feed that post tweet feeds. Talk about being out of context. On what world do you think people are going to care about a one-sided twitter conversation?

• Is the blog a one-trick-pony? You know the ones. They talk about the same thing over and over again. Most of the time this is a new author. S/he is so excited about his new book, that's all they can talk about. I usually cut them some slack, but if they can't find something new to say after three months, I say adios.

• Depressing blogs. All of us go through rough patches. But we have to remember that the internet is not our diary. Who knows who reads our posts? Worse yet, they can't be deleted. Not even if you physically remove them. I know this because a friend of mine went on an ugly rage about something. She deleted the post but it's still on Google Reader. The same with RSS feeds. It NEVER goes away.

Whether you're published or not, you become a public figure when you post anything online.

When I go through particularly hard times, I stay offline. No one should have to put up with my bad mood--except Greg. It's in his contract.

Have you ever deleted a blog off your feeds? What makes you stop reading them?


Clarissa Draper said...

Because I have over 700, I have deleted ones before. For me, I delete the ones that post multiple times per day. I hope you didn't delete my blog. If you did, I would love to know what you didn't like about my blog so I can improve.

Maria Zannini said...

Clarissa: I love your blog! I used to especially love that little series you did on poisons. (I'm not sure what that says about me.) LOL.

I checked how many subscriptions I had just now and nearly croaked. 886 blogs on my reader. I must have deleted at least 30 yesterday. Obviously, I have more work to do.

Renee Miller said...

I've deleted blogs before, and I have to do so again very soon. I'm with you on the content. If it's all "buy my book" all the time, it's gone. I don't mind excerpts, periodically or on another page. I think the readers should have the option to read the excerpts. So put it in the side bar and if they want to read, great. If not, they can ignore it.

I think I may be guilty of a few things that turn you off. I know I'm guilty of turning many people off...but I don't worry too much about it. It's not that I don't care. Okay, except for friends, I really don't care. If my blog isn't a person's cup of tea, they shouldn't subscribe to it.

What annoys me is when someone follows a blog and expects said blogger to follow theirs in return. This is particularly irritating when it's clear that they have zero interest in what you're writing about. My "follower" list fluctuates because I seem to get a lot of those. Stop it. You hear!

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: OMG! Yours is one of my very favorite blogs. Your rants are hilarious. (And when I read your tweets, I have to make sure I'm not drinking anything expensive.)

I don't recall you doing anything from my 'naughty' list.

***off to PT. I'll answer everyone else when I get back.

Darke Conteur said...

I just did some housecleaning as well. My interests have changed in the last six months. There are things I'm no longer concerned with, and blogs related to that interest were removed. I have blogs of friends that I don't comment on. They were starting off and needed some support. I'd feel guilty if I deleted them.

I'm with you on all points for removal, and I'll add one--infrequent blog posts. One post once a week--okay, I'll even allow one ever two weeks, but anything less than that and it makes me wonder why this person started blogging in the first place. Being sick, or a family problem is one thing, but with this social media anxiety I've been seeing, people start blogs, then lose interest and I don't see anything from them in a long while.

K.T. Hanna said...

I've only really been a 'blogger' for a few months, so I've not really built up enough blogs that I have ones I need to unfollow.

That being said - there are a couple that irk me every time I come across them. Same theme to the posts, same examples... I'll give it a bit more though.

As a blogger I think it's difficult to know what to write about. A lot of the time lately I've found myself gravitating towards similar topics.

Overall though, I'm finding this blog following experience quite entertaining and enlightening :D

Stephany Simmons said...

I'm on board with all your reasons to delete.

Early on, after I finished writing my book, I found that I had quite a few book bloggers on my reader who didn't support indie authors. As much as I enjoyed them, they had to go. My little stand against the man keeping me down. lol

Renee Miller said...

No naughty list for me? Phew. Sometimes I think I get a bit too depressing, but if you say no, then I believe you.

PS: New rant building. Be ready.

Margo Benson said...

When I started blogging I added a gazillion blogs to my reader in the hope of increasing follower numbers. I guess this is normal for newbies as well as being a little immature!

I now group bloggers into easy lists, such as - friends, romance bods, other interesting blogs etc. Then I can read my favourites and 'mark as read' many others.

KarenG said...

I think it's fine to unfollow blogs, and your reasons jive very much with mine too. I'm also getting touchy about the many blogfests and contests that seem to be everywhere.

It always hurts just a bit when I lose a follower, because I would LOVE to just hit 1000 (which may never happen since my follower count has been seriously curtailed since I cut down my blogging time). But still, why do I want someone there if they can't relate to my posts or to me at all? So I need to get over that obsession with my follower count LOL.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is where I admit to not "following" via gadgets/widgets. I manually put blogs into my reader. I think one of the reasons is so I don't hurt someone's feelings. If the content is there I'm commenting and hopefully that means more than my picture on their sidebar.

I need to go through and clean out my reader, and I have no where near the number you do, because I'm skimming more than I'm reading. That project is going to have to wait until after the holidays though :)

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: The beauty of Google Reader is that even if the blogger posts infrequently, I still see it. But I agree, it doesn't do much to make him likable.

KT: I went through a crisis of blog faith a couple of years ago. I wasn't sure what to talk about and whether my topics would alienate the few readers I had. In the end, I decided to be myself. Always good advice.

Stephany: You hit a valid point. We should all be following people who resonate with us. Life is to short to just follow the crowd.

I have a pet peeve about certain mega-bloggers who treat their readers like minion, yet they have thousands of followers. I don't get it.

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: I never found you depressing at all. Quite the contrary, I like your keen observations and frank discussions. It's not your fault the system sucks.

Margo: I need to be better about listing people. I think that'll help the clutter.

Ref: follower list
I told a friend of mine once that the list is just numbers. It means nothing. I have lots of people who write or comment here and aren't followers.

KarenG: I hear you on the blogfests and memes. I know people mean well, but I don't want to be herded from one blogger to the next. Highlight one or two occasionally. Tell me something interesting so and so is doing. That will mean more to everyone all around.

Ref: follower list
I got stuck on that list when someone added themselves to GFC and it populated on my blog. I didn't even know what it was or how to get rid of it. One day it was just there. I don't worry about it too much anymore. I leave it up as a courtesy to others. If they follow me, I almost always follow back--if they have a valid link.

Raelyn: I don't use GFC to read blogs either. I use my reader. This way I can tell if I read them and keep them in my favorites if they're especially good.

LD Masterson said...

Well, one good thing about being unpubbed - very little self promotion going on at my blog. And I still haven't ventured into tweeting. I may have had a couple stretches where I got depressing (last October comes to mind), but hopefully not enough to turn people away.

On the flip side, I'm still trying to build a following, so I won't be deleting anyone for a long while.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I should send you some of mine. LOL. There are some blogs that aren't interesting, and others I adore. It all comes down to chemistry. In order to separate the good from the bad, I have to donate some time and try them out for a while.

But I'm always game for finding some great new voice that makes me glad I clicked on them.

L.G.Smith said...

I don't follow nearly as many people as you do. I've always wondered how people keep up with six hundred or eight hundred followers/blogs. Crazy.

The only time I ever take someone off my reader is if after months of following them they never followed back or made an effort to connect, even after I've left comments. I usually unfollow those people.

Shelley Munro said...

Funnily enough I've just done a blog reader cleanup. I read most of my email and blog feeds on my iPad now. There's a nifty app for iPad called Flipboard. It integrates twitter, Facebook and google reader into one place. The format is like reading a magazine, and it's much quicker to read and comment on the blogs that interest me. I can't recommend it highly enough!

I'm in awe of those who are following 700 odd blogs!

I'm not a fan of excerpts either, Maria. I don't mind reading blurbs, but would rather follow a link if a book interests me.

Tracy Jo said...

Maria, I haven't deleted any blogs off my reader list because I am still so new to this. There are a few I should because I have stopped by their blogs and I just don't connect with them. This was a very informative post for a fairly new blogger. Thank you!

Maria Zannini said...

LG: I skim a lot of blogs. Many of them have to do with my other interests and don't require careful scrutiny unless it's a subject I like.

Shelley: Woman, do you ever sleep? It must be o'dark-thirty in the morning where you are. LOL.

Ref: ipad app
Ooh. Sounds neat. I will have to let hubby know. The meanie still won't let me steal his iPad.

Tracy Jo: It's all chemistry. There are some bloggers (nice people, I'm sure) but what they blog about simply doesn't interest me. You can't love everyone.

Rula Sinara said...

I've never deleted a post, but I have skipped blogging days when it just wasn't in me. We all need personal days off now and then.

So true about watching out for what you post.

Angela Brown said...

Inactivity baby. If you are no longer blogging, then you are no longer on my blogger roll. I don't mean one or two weeks of chilling out. That's fine. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I may be apt to have days of inactivity. But if the last time you posted was when Amy Whinehouse was still alive, then I can take the hint, really.

Also, I've visited a few blogs where there are more outside advertisements than content in the posts themselve. Probably going to nix those as well.

jackie b central texas said...

Maria agree totally with not being online when in a "mood", hopefully my filler posts have depressed no one as my little brain is still mush these days and blogging holds little appeal as of yet. My feeling has been if I have nothing positive to say than say nothing or leave a cute animal picture or book cover up to share with my followers until something good comes up that can write about.

Hoping you are doing well with PT and hoping also that you are not overdoing it either.

Blogs on my reader no longer exist as I had all the ones that I truly visit on a regular basis sent to my email, my reader has been taken off my computer bookmarks and have not looked at the 800 or so blogs on it in about a year now.

I no longer "unfollow" blogs, just do not visit them unless get their email feed and they have something that catches my interest in a book post.

Angelina Rain said...

Yikes, I'm the depressive blogger! Lately, I admit most of my blog posts have been downers. Time to have a drink and cheer up. Hope you didn't delete me.

I go through all my blogs every once in a while. If the blogger never posts, why keep them? If the blogger only posts about the same thing over and over and over, why keep them?

Sarah McCabe said...

Wow. And I was feeling overwhelmed by my measly 200+ blogs.

I have periodically removed blogs. Aside from the reasons you mention and inactivity, sometimes I do it when there really just isn't anything about the blog that interests me. I usually give blogs a few months, but if you haven't posted anything that captured my interest by then, I'm not really interested in artificially inflating your follower numbers.

Dru said...

I recently did a cleaning, getting rid of those who blog infrequently, and those who I lost interest in.

Carrie Butler said...

I've yet to delete a blog, but now that the seed has been planted... *grins*

Congratulations on reaching 300 followers! :)

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: Days off are important. I don't think you should post just to take up bandwidth. I like my time off. It gives me a chance to think of new topics.

Angela: I hadn't thought of the ads. You're right though. They are annoying. I mostly see them on the homesteading blogs I follow.

Jackie: I don't know how you did it. You LOST your entire home and nearly everything you owned, yet you managed more blog posts than me. And I know, even when things were really bad, you kept a cheerful front.

Angelina: Not depressing. Real life. You give so much of yourself on your blog that is upbeat, and fun, and proactive. And you keep going even when the tide is against you. You are an inspiration.

Sarah: Ref: artificial #s
I agree. I think I mentioned earlier that I have commenters who don't follow me, but they still come over and read me, and that's all I really want.

Dru: I should've done my cleaning long ago.

Carrie: Ref: 300
Holy crap! When did that happen?

Kaz Augustin said...

Great post, M. And I've now picked up new blogs to follow! Aaarrrgghhh!

I followed a blog by an author I adore. I've been reading her books for decades and when I discovered she had a blog, well I HAD TO read it, didn't I? The problem was, every post she wrote seemed mired in gloom. Cryptic comments and misery, post after post, several times a week. After a couple of months, I decided that it was all getting way too depressing (and incomprehensible) for me. Deleted from my reader. What a shame.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

oh man, i feel exactly the same way you do about novel excerpts. The only time i'll post them is if it's for a blogfest, and it's probably been 6-9 months since i've last done one of those.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Maria, when you posted this topic, I just knew I had to read the comments. I feel like such a slacker with my (comparatively) few blogs I follow -- I delated a lot recently due to changed interests (on my part) and blogs that just felt they were blaring at me -- no interaction just blasts of stuff. I prefer a conversational tone, one that encourages shy lurkers (yes, that is me -- Maria just makes me feel comfy enough to comment here) to post.

Krista D. Ball said...

I don't mine excerpts as long as they are easy to read with proper spacing and short.

Now, every so often folks do a first scene or first chapter. I did one - once. However, some people do significant ones often and I just cringe when they are in 8pt sans serif, single space, no indents. I can't read that.

Maria Zannini said...

Kaz: Why are the really depressing ones such good writers? LOL. I know what you mean. But on a day to day basis, I don't want to have to face a downer.

Sarah: I think I posted the first five lines of my first book and that was it. Haven't posted an excerpt since. That was three years ago.

Jenny: I've always said I get the BEST comments of any blogger I know. I really do. People bowl me over with some of the things they say. It enriches me. This is why I love to blog.

Krista: Oh, I know the ones you mean. LOL. I once had to give up a blog that was too hard to read--period. It was some curly font on a color that hurt my eyes.

Live Out Loud said...

I haven't really looked at mine lately. I keep up with my favorite blogs by memory, the ones that go direct to my e-mail, the ones I added to my favorite list in my web browser and the ones who comment on my blogs.

I'm one of those who is more interested in the comments than who's following me because the comments are the interactive bit.

Just like today when you commented on my post about Linda Masterson being at WPA and I found out we were in at least one class together - what a small world we live in!!!!!!

That comment was like gold, the connections online are priceless.

Maria Zannini said...

Live Out Loud: Definitely put Linda on your blog roll. She's a hoot.

I'm glad I was able to be the *splice* to your connection. :-)

Kit Courteney said...

*crosses fingers and hopes she's still there*

You are a girl after my own heart - I delete for the same reasons exactly.

The 2 that make me jump up and down in my seat are the depressing ones and the aggressive ones.

When I was fairly new to blogging I had a (seemingly) nice lady follow me and leave a few comments. I was on holiday at the time and came back to find about 5 comments from her.

Before I could even click on her little avatar to see who she was/what she was like as a blogger, I had an email from her saying she thought I was very rude for not following back instantly AND commenting.

This was red rag to a bull time for me and I sent a short message back - you can guess what I said.

Granted, that's not exactly 'deleting' as she was never on my list, but if I'd followed her and she insisted I comment - I'd have hit 'delete' with joy!

broken biro said...

I've been doing the same - it's self-preservation! Wasn't going to reply but worried you might knock me off your list if I don't! 8-(

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I think you said this a few posts ago, but I delete anyone off my feed who doesn't respond to comments. That really irks me.

Cate Masters said...

I tend to be a pack rat, but have deleted blogs that the author has abandoned (or updated links when they moved).
It's a tough line to walk between promotion and personal stuff. With the exception of my Dad's death, when I did a tribute to him, I don't put much personal out there beyond vague references. I can't see burdening readers with my problems either.
I try to keep up a flow of craft-related posts, mostly things that interest me and hopefully visitors.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I don't even know what a Google reader is and I blog. How sad is that? Probably why I don't follow that many in the first place. I just list the ones I follow on my blog, in order by the most recent posting. If a blog stays at the bottom for any length of time, I check to make sure it's still there.

If my list gets too long, I tend to delete those from the bottom first!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I deleted a blog because the author vented her rage at something or other. It went on for days so I left.
I like helping out new bloggers and usually give them a break to find their niche.

Maria Zannini said...

Kit: After that spider story, you have me waiting with bated breath for the next installment. LOL!

Ref: rude commenter
That's unbelievably rude. If people follow, they follow. I don't expect anything--except common courtesy.

Broken Biro: Self-preservation is exactly right. PS..I wouldn't delete you. I'm too afraid. ;-)

Barbara: I follow a few people who don't respond to my comments, but only because we email each other, so we get our comments in that way. But I'm like you. If they ignore me, I walk away.

Cate: I like to read how other people live and see the stuff they see everyday. I think it's important to post about tragic events too, so that if you're not visible for the next few days, people understand and won't expect you to pop around.

Stacy, child. Where have you been? Google reader posts every blog you follow in one spot. Some people like RSS feeds, but I get way too much mail and my email is sometimes cantankerous. But Google reader is usually reliable. I can save posts for when I can read them.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I forgot to add the angry blogger on my list, but you're right. You can be angry without being obnoxious.

Mel Corbett said...

I think it's time for me to do a similar cull of the blogs I read. I marked all as read before I went to bed and by the time I woke up already had 32 new posts - usually when I go through in the morning, the next morning it's over a hundred. I don't have time for all that.

Thanks for the inspiration to cull my list. THough Stacy might have created her system out of ignorance of a blog agregator, it might be the key to prevent me from subscribing to too many.

Isis Rushdan said...

*Cringe* I hope you didn't cut me. If you did, please let me know why. I don't think I'll ever post one of my own excerpts. Like you, something gets lost. Posting a first chapter (once I've sold) on my website, not blog, is a possibility.

I had an author on the other day who wanted to post an excerpt. As a host, I felt like I couldn't say no, but I did ask for a shorter excerpt. From the comments, some people really liked it, so I learned it does come down to personal taste.

Before I delete my twitter feed (you made excellent points) I'll ask Kristen Lamb. I'm taking a blogging class from her right now. I added as a new widget to try out, but I'd like to see if Kristen thinks it's a good idea and if so, why.

Lots of excellent points, btw!

Maria Zannini said...

Mel: Culling every so often is cathartic. There's no point in littering your feeds with blogs you won't read. It takes too much time to scroll.

Isis: The only people I'm culling are those who haven't motivated me to click on their blogs for months.

Ref: twitter
Kristen is a smart lady, but bear in mind that she's a BIG fan of Twitter. As a reader, I simply have no interest in one-sided conversations.

I reply to a lot of tweets. If I posted those, it would leave my readers left out.

For me, it all comes down to what makes my readers feel welcome. If they make the effort to visit me, I want to repay them with useful and/or interesting content.

julie fedderson said...

I think you have to do this--if you spread too thin, then you really can't be as supportive to the ones that really catch your eye. I wish I had time to follow more, but I find myself drawn to the same ones over and over, so it seems to all work out.

Nadja Notariani said...

I really appreciated this post. I have quite a few blogs that I follow. The problem is that many of these bloggers never come by. I've been thinking of deleting them from my list, but didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
Now I see that this is a perfectly acceptable practice. I have a question about what 'reader' you are using rather than GFC. Is it through email? I'd love a simpler way to see what my favorites are posting without having to go through that monsterous list!

Maria Zannini said...

Julie: I reached a point where I felt the drain of too many blogs. Something had to give.

Nadja: Google Reader is an aggregator that feeds RSS and Atom blog feeds into one. Just Google 'google reader' and it'll walk you through the steps.

I can't live without it.

Marianne Arkins said...

I am SO late to the party (what's new?), but had to chime in:

The biggest thing that turns me off is a political rant. I have exceptionally strong political opinions (that I pretty much keep to myself on my blog or facebook page), so when I see an author going on and on about something political (and it can be for either side) I get a little crazy.

I'm not a fan of tirades in general, though.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I forgot about the political tirades. I must have gotten rid of all the politics-spewing blogs so it didn't come up on my radar.

But I agree. Politics don't belong on an author blog.

Sarah Allen said...

Fantastic things for us bloggers to keep in mind. We need to make sure we're really relating to readers, not just pushing product.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)