Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My lurking caveat

The following exchange was based on my sidebar Caveat, below and to the right. I've had a couple people reference it recently, so I decided to discuss it directly. Most recently, it was positively brought to bear by a professional lurker, Ann (not her name), who sent me an email today. If you readers have something to add, feel free to comment.

Because Cricket cannot comprehend the lurker mentality, please note that people who visit, according to StatCounter, over 20,50,100 times, people who spend 3 hours looking through 80 pages of posts, and people who subscribe via Bloglines but do not pipe up are considered by the resident insect to be just plain rude, at the risk of said insect seeming brazen, harsh, ungrateful, or ill-willed herself. Consider it her blogging pet peeve. She chUrps it unappealing that folks come here to read, gawk, waste time, or gather information for their own blogs while they should be kindly acknowledging Cricket somehow for entertaining and informing them or for helping them to pass the day. She likens it to a conversation with opinions welcomed and support optional. At least say "hello." Sheesh!

Hi Cricket,
I read your caveat and am writing to offer you some insight. I lurk. I lurk a lot. I always lurk. Reason is - I don't have anything interesting to add. I'm not clever, funny, or even knowledgeable about any particular thing. I'm just a lost and lonely soul searching for somewhere to belong. I could be wrong but I'm thinking perhaps a lot of lurkers are in the same boat with me. So please don't assume we're all just being rude.

email response...
Thanks for your message. I appreciate you de-lurking very much.

In all honesty, I do not agree with a comment needing to be interesting or to add somehow to a discussion (my comments sections never overflow enough to begin their own discussions anyway). Funny or clever isn't necessary, either. Simple support does wonders - ie, you're a funny lady, I like your style of mothering, you have a great kid, what a shitty day, sorry that happened, I can relate, etc. These aren't particularly interesting (perhaps you set the bar too high for yourself), but they show that you're listening and that you care about another human being.

I think it is very important for one person to demonstrate that for another, particularly a person who is lonely (aren't we all somehow?) and has the real need to reach out, despite the fear.

I also think that if I break some of your loneliness or isolation or make you laugh or give you warm fuzzies, it is only polite that you offer me positive feedback in return. We don't 'owe' each other in a sense of 'have to' but I do believe we 'owe' each other in a sense of 'what's right.'

Besides, you intending to be rude or not does not have to parallel what I feel about the situation. I am putting myself in a vulnerable position by writing, inviting scrutiny or whatever else comes along. It does not mean that I am less lost or lonely than you. However, when somebody comes on your front porch and peers in the window, they ought to say hello somehow.

Further, if you are truly looking for a place to fit, you need to try to make room for yourself at the table. I don't know to invite you unless I know you're there. And you don't know how well you might fit (as my life amazingly isn't summed up in alll these posts! we might have something big in common) until I know you a bit. That's why it is easier to have comments from fellow bloggers - I know them, their circumstances, their history, their current travails, and I know when not to feel oversensitive about a comment, b/c I know their senses of humor. If I didn't, honey, Orange and Ron, the bitches, would have been in hot water by now. (Ha!)

I hope this message makes sense more than a quick, cutesy caveat. From your email, I have to guess that they set the bar too high for themselves out of fear of not saying the right thing. Or, on the flip side, knowledge that they're pissed at me and will say the 'wrong' thing.

See, comments from strangers out of the blue are not helpful. Within a virtual relationship, stray comments happen and sometimes they are helpful, but the relationship is necessary first. See, she read me for hours and felt she knew me. I know nothing of her. Nothing. And she expects me somehow to heed her advice? And for me to discuss it with her in a place she doesn't check again?

I write this to let you know the value it gives you as a repeat reader and commenter, someone with a blogging relationship with me. You hold water then. However, lurkers with stray/hurtful/seemingly constructive comments do not hold water as such, but repeat commenters with blogs who say off the wall things sometimes through humor still hold water regardless.

The relationship is what matters. That's why lurking is bad to me. The relationship is completely one-sided.

I will probably use this as a post. I won't use your name or email address. I've had several silly comments about my caveat (I only did that 2 or 3 months ago after the 8 hr/day person - who still lurks), so this is a good opportunity to explain it. Plus, I want to reach the reader who left the critical comment and never saw my response.

Thanks again for writing. See, it really helped me a lot to sort my ideas.


Anonymous said...

Wow..that was interesting. I am bad at commenting, I have over 150 blogs on my bloglines so I only comment when I really have something to add. I've read your caveat a few times but now I understand where you are coming from.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh "hello" already! hahaha

You have one hell of a statcounter there! I only use sitemeter, hence, my ignorance.

chris said...

Well, then hello as well.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this could be one reason? I tried several times to leave a comment yesterday, but it kept telling me that I had copied the word verification wrong. I checked over & over. So I finally just sent you an email.
This morning I was thinking - maybe it's because I am using a Mozilla brower? Sometimes it acts up on certain sites.
So I tried again today - same problem. Then I decided to try a IE browser. If that doesn't work, I guess it's just me! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Cricket, you make some very good points here. My relationship with blogging has been a very slowly evolving one, and I have a lot of self-isolation, hyper-privacy issues to overcome. Took me a long time to get beyond just reading to commenting, but commenting led almost immediately to blogging myself, which I find has been an incredible experience. In my life, I have constantly fallen into the pitfall of believing that I was helping my friends and family by being the non-critical listening voice. But just listening (for me this is often, literally, a passive listening, with maybe a "huh" or a "yeah" thrown in) is often not enough, I have been painfully slow to realize. Thanks for helping to explain.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog a couple of weeks ago but hadn't read your caveat until today so I'm delurking and "making room for myself at the table" like cubbiegirl, I have a lot of blogs on my bloglines, so I don't really comment often, usually only when I really have something to add. I'll try and get over my shyness and comment often.

DD said...

We've only been recently introduced and I have always tried to leave a comment...when I thought I could add something to the mix; but admittedly, I've also been a lurker when I just didn't know "how" to respond.

I have similar thoughts to comments left by "anonymous-email" or no-reply emails. When I check my email account and someone posts a comment, I like to respond personally to each one if I can. However, nothing is more frustrating then someone asking a question-even if hypothetical-that I can instantly reply to. I'm too lazy to create a new email (if I recognize the poster's name), copy and paste the original body of the email and respond (even though it's not like I got thousands sitting in my inbox like some).

In some ways, I think statcounter is a curse I wish I had never added to my blog. Other times, tho, it brings me some comfort that people are checking in on me regularly...even if they don't post.

April said...

*waves hello*

Hi Cricket!

Ron Southern said...

Am i the bitch or is there another Ron? Well, I always called myself bitchy, so it'd be no surprise that you would! I sometimes check out many new blogs at once or even multiple times without commenting. Even though I'm loose-tongued and big-mouthed, I sometimes have nothing to say. Even so, if I drop a comment on an unfamiliar blog, I often get no response; not everyone is as voluble or as sweet as you! So, think about some of your lurkers as being non-evil. In a different world, I might be one of them!

Ron Southern said...

Instead of the charming fellow I am!

Anonymous said...

Hi from a perpetual lurker. I stop by here because I appreciate your humor, your writing, and your honesty in dealing with the ups and downs of your life. I tend to wait until I think I have something useful to add before I comment, and so I don't usually. I'll try to say hi with more regularity. OK? And thanks for being there, Cricket.

Donna said...

I tend to take on new blogs one at a time, so I can read some archives and get to know the person a little better, its like starting a new friendship. The first time I always send a Hello message, telling them how I found them, etc. I have a ritual of going through my links to other blogs, I don't use bloglines, that depersonalizes it too much for me. Having said all that, its hard for me to comment on someone's IVF cycle posts because I've never been there and never will be, and sometimes its just too hard. Its a delicate balance.

Cricket said...

Thanks for your responses, especially those of you delurking. I didn't want it to come off that I'm desperate for comments. I wanted my philosophy to come through, how I look at what I see as the cooperative nature of blogging.

I certainly don't comment on every post of my 140+ Bloglines subscriptions. Impossible. Instead, I have a goal of commenting every week or two (depending on how often someone blogs), nothing written in stone for exact frequency.

(That said, my Bloglines subscriptions are public, so people know I subscribe and read daily. That suffices when I'm busy or distressed.)

I always try to comment on the momentous or difficult, even if I can't relate directly - I have no hope of ever having IVF, but I still comment somehow that I hope the 2 wk wait is quick and successful.

In turn, people might not ever have a 15yo step-daughter-ish Princess Bitch to tip toe around parenting, but I would still hope it would cull some sympathy and understanding. It's called empathy, feeling for someone in an experience you probably don't have. I have a lot, maybe too much.

For power bloggers, I rarely comment b/c mine would be among the daily 200, but if they're interested they would see me as receiving their feed.

In other words, as a giver to the core, I dole out comments where I think they would be most meaningful. I also realize that IVF posts get a lot of comments and some power blogger's shitty day posts get lots of comments, but around here, off beat posts like this get comments, not the shitty days I really need the support - usually zero those days. Maybe I articulate the crap too well, but if some situation takes your breath away and you don't know what to say (or in my case, my angry spew turns your stomach), a simple 'that sucks' or 'I hope things get better' means a lot. It wouldn't take much time and I wouldn't feel like I was writing into a void in which the number ticker still ticked with no fruit coming.

BTW, Ron, you are a funny, charming guy (yeah, I was giving you a bitch, too, you moody, vocal thing) and I appreciate you mixing it up around here sometimes. I am so glad you are healthy enough again to be funny again.

Orange said...

Who, me? A bitch? Bite your tongue, bug!

I think a lot of people set the bar too high for themselves and feel they're not clever enough to leave a comment. Which is better than being an asshole who comments assholishly, true, but it's unfortunate that some people are afraid to use and develop their voices. Not me. I'll comment anywhere I like the blogger or the commenters, or where the subject matter grabs me. And I also write two blogs, so there's no shutting me up.

Anonymous said...

I'm an occasional lurker....Hi! I read a bunch of blogs and I remember when I first starting reading the more well-known blogs I felt intimidated by the existing relationships. It seemed like everyone knew each other and I didn't know how to "fit-in". Now I comment much more frequently so maybe a lot of your lurkers are people new to the blogging world. I do sometimes wonder how it is that a few people comment often enough that they become "regulars". Do bloggers really notice the repeat commenters???

Anonymous said...

Hello Cricket. I enjoy your blog very much, only comment occasionally though, when I feel I can contribute to the topic at hand. Will try to throw some more empathy your way. Carry on, please.

Cricket said...

I am stuck away from my computer, but I did want to say that I remember commenters. I have a cheat sheet to help me remember you, too - I originally did this out of a fear of trolls. Those with blogs, I do my best to visit them and add them to my Bloglines.

Unfortunately, my cable modem was out this morning. My post for today is ready to go, but I don't want to do it from here.... unless this wait extends even further........

Cricket said...

Yeah, I saw you come by this morning, my chicken anon bcc lurker from Verizon. Do you not have more to add? Or do you only stick your head up to blast me, then duck away again? I don't understand your motivation.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cricket!

I discovered your blog today. I am blog ignorant, but as you request, I say *hello*! I too am a bug and a bug lover. Studied them in college! I haven't the time to read the archives tonight, but maybe in the future. You know I need something like blogging, to unclog the thoughts from my head.