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2000 Florida Butterfly Ballot

Do you remember the 2000 U. S. presidential election? In Florida, many ballots were punched incorrectly resulting in what was deemed as “hanging chads”. It was quite controversial as a huge number of votes weren’t being counted. Several recounts were performed and the situation ended with many disgruntled people.

As I was reviewing the A.S.K. – Liz Strauss – How Do You Inspire Your Readers To Join Your Community article, a comment written by Theresa Zagnoli said, in part:

I would however find it insulting if a writer responded individually to others, but not to myself.

This reminded me of a problem that occasionally happens in a blog’s comment section. Your comment doesn’t get answered.

Your comment gets left “hanging”.

Today’s Lesson

I see a few scenarios as to why this happens,

1) You’re “late for the party”. Late for the party meaning you’re one of the last ones to comment on a post, and the blog authors misses your comment.

2) Your comment ended up in your spam folder. Even though it gets fished out, the author gets busy and forgets to answer the despammed comment.

3) The author gets so many comments, they accidentally miss yours in the group.

4) You comment on an old post, and again, the author overlooks your reply.

As blog authors, we want our commenters to know their words are important to us. Missing those random comments could result in lost readers.

As much as I try to catch every comment, I know I’ve probably missed a few. For those commenters whose comments I’ve missed answering, I truly apologize.

Today’s Assignment

How do you ensure that you catch every comment?

What do you do when you miss one? Do you answer it, or leave it hanging?

Have you ever left a comment on another blog, not to have it answered?

If so, how did it make you feel?

Photo Credit: Rory Finneren’s photostream

The interview with Lorelle (of Lorelle on WordPress) continues.

Thus far, we’ve covered staying motivated, errors bloggers make, and if good content is good enough.

Today Lorelle will be sharing her view on a problem new bloggers may not have (yet), but it’s a scenerio that can strike at anytime.

4) You’ve been blogging for many years, and have also written the book, Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging. How do you find fresh content without rehashing old subjects? Or, is rehashing old subjects a good way to give new birth to older posts?

Rehashing is such a harsh word. 😀 With time, everyone is redundant, and sometimes topics need to be revisited, so revisiting them in new ways puts a fresh light on things. For instance, I’ve written a lot about copyright protections and content theft. I still don’t get that people think stealing is bad, and plagiarism is really wrong in the offline world but think nothing of it in the virtual world. I don’t know “if it’s on the Internet, it’s free” mythology got started, but it’s got to stop, especially when it comes to content theft. After a while, you would think there isn’t much anyone can say new on the subject, then along comes someone like who throws some new logs on the fire and once again I learn that there is even more that can be said on the subject. I encourage him and he encourages me, and we’ve built an amazing friendship in the process.

Here’s another perspective. Orson Scott Card created one of his most powerful characters, Andrew Wiggin in Ender’s Game. He went on to write numerous sequels to follow one of the world’s most popular and award winning books. Years later, he wrote Ender’s Shadow, telling the same story of Ender but from a different perspective, the point of view of one of the other characters, Bean. That started a new series of sequels. Just when you think that Card had broken all the rules as he described so well in Ender’s Game, he did it again and started a new series for the twentieth anniversary of the first book, part of the Enderverse (“Ender Stories”) series, again rehashing the original from totally new perspectives.

Orson Scott Card has influenced several generations and new audiences by writing about the same story, over and over. Imagine the market potential! How many ways can he come up with to tell the same story? Who knows. I learn so much from what Orson Scott Card writes and publishes, I think most of his books should be required reading, no matter what your business or writing genre.

Another expert at finding new ways of making old subjects interesting is . Her new ebook, The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog — The Insider’s Guide to the Conversation That’s Changing How Business Works, is a life changing book on blogging and social networking for me and a lot of other bloggers and companies working on the web trying to get our heads around the quickly changing market. You asked if content was still king and I told you that a successful blog is about conversation – Liz writes all about how to write for the conversation in a way that is an eye-opener on the subject – even for those of us who call ourselves experts.

I love how people find new ways of saying the same old thing. I dig deeply through the web to find articles on blogging and WordPress which say the same thing, but in a new way. It’s like sitting in a room with friends debating an issue. It’s a chance to hear all the different opinions and see the reactions and feedback. I read through the posts, check out the comments, and it’s like I’m at a party. I love it.

The web has opened up the world to millions of points of view, so it’s easy to get locked into a march on your blog, but open yourself up to new perspectives and watch your own shift and change.

And attend conferences and meetups. That will get your juices flowing and your head spinning every time. Meeting bloggers in person is one of the greatest joys of my life as they fuel me!

Today’s Assignment:

Short of using Hunter’s “Automatic Blog Post Rehasher”, where does your inspiration come from?

Are you often at a loss for creative ideas, or is your list long?

When you see other bloggers write on the same subjects you do, are you intimidated, or do they inspire you to do a better job?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

Thus far, Lorelle (of Lorelle on WordPress) has shared her views on how to stay motivated, and common mistakes bloggers make. We’re now moving onto a question that has often been controversial.

Let’s hear what Lorelle has to say on this one.

3) It’s written that content is King (or Queen) Do you think excellent content is still the determining factor for a great blog, or is content that’s just “good”, good enough?

One of the things that infuriates me about the United States election process is that mediocre is the best choice for candidates. Wouldn’t want to go for the best as they probably have a past. They are the best because of their past. They crashed and burned and walked out of the fire wiser. Unfortunately, we’ve become a nation of “good enough” and settlers – settling for half-assed, middle of the road, not-too-hot-not-too-cold Goldilocks mentality. And we settle for half-assed, middle of the road, boring blogging all the time.

If good enough is your best in blogging, and you can do no better, live with it. You are just another of the millions of bloggers babbling on, sharing your insights and opinions. If you can do better, ask yourself why you aren’t. Your answer might be that it is time to stop blogging. Or a kick in the blogging butt to do better.

If you are blogging your very best, celebrate. And let your readers and fans celebrate you, too. Content will always win, but the issue isn’t so much about good and bad writing. As to the real questions you are asking, if the best writers have the best blogs, the answer is no – and maybe.

First, you must define the difference between good writing and excellent writing, and then explore what that really means on the web.

I spent the past few years on a mission to read all the books by Terry Pratchett and , along with a few of my favorite other writers. I was so lost within the magic of their turns of phrases, the worlds they created that are so lifelike and real – when I finally turned to other authors collecting dust on the shelves, I was disappointed. Are they bad writers? No. Are they magical writers? No. Were they interesting books to read? Sure, but they left me wanting more.

The difference between a good writer and an awesome writer is a fine line. Did I hate the books? No. They just didn’t swirl me away into my imagination, letting their stories dance in my head as I worked all day long, eager to rush pack to their pages for the next step in the adventure – adventures I’d read before but wanted to relive. There’s a fine line between the two levels of writing quality, and many settle for the average, but once you’ve tasted the best of the bread, it’s hard to go back to white bread.

I think that you can be a good enough writer and have a very successful blog. I wish that more brilliant writers had more success with their blogs, but they don’t. For a variety of reasons, none of which has to do with the quality of writing.

Content rules, there is no doubt, but content well-written for the web is different from other writing styles. It must have keyword-rich content stuffed with search terms. It must have short, snappy phrases and paragraphs, and make its point in the first 200 words or the reader bounces away. It takes a lot of skill to turn that writing style into excellent quality writing, while still keeping the reader coming back for more.

But this is also not the point of your question. Popular bloggers inspire conversation, not writing. It isn’t about what they write as much as how it makes the reader think – and respond. It’s a different way of thinking – and writing. The most successful bloggers understand that content rules, but the conversation rules more. That’s the real answer.

Today’s Assignment

I’ve read this answer many times. Every time I read it, and then read Lorelle’s final words, I get the chills. To me, her answer is excellent content, and I’m wanting more.

What do you think? Is good, good enough?

Do we concentrate so much on the content, we’ve forgotten about the conversation?

Can we have both?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

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