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Friday Link love rides again – Comments and inspiration

In link love his week you’ll find a focus on all things comment and inspiration related, specifically inspiration with a writng slant though you’ll probably find the advice useful regardless of what your creative poison is. I hope you’ll enjoy my picks for this week.

12 Vital Tips and Tools to Combat Comment Spam in WordPress

This is a comprehensive guide to managing spam on your WordPress blog. If like me you dread logging into your admin screen and wading through your spam section knee deep in viagra and nude celebrities then this is the post for you. It’s filled with great practical tips and tools that you can get started with straight away, written in plain english and very thorough while still being easy to read.


It Isn’t Enough…

A quick reminder, from Josh over at the world’s strongest librarian, about going big. It’s not enough to just excel in one area. We are all the sum of all our experiences this is a quick reminder that perhaps some of those things we’re proud of are really holding us back.

Free Speech in Online Communities: The Delusion of Entitlement

Steve Pavlina has a very enjoyable rant about those gentleman and ladies who believe freedom of speech is idiot insurance. You know the guys who show up in your blog or forum and think that they can have a go at everyone behind the cover of freedom of speech. Take some time and let Steve explain to you why right of admission needs to be reserved.


Why You Should Stop Waiting for Inspiration

An excellent post on Write to done about just getting stuck in. We all have those days where we just seem to have no fuel left in the tank. We just can’t get down to the work of writing. This is a nice reminder that if you want to be a writer all you need to do is write. Hit one key then the next, then the next …


Slaying Writer Dragons: Epic Skill #1, Mental Prowess

You will defeat the bunny. I stand under correction but this may be the first time in recorded blogging history that these words have been uttered in the blogosphere. Men with Pens have a look at how to reduce your mental clutter and increase the quality your down time and ways of using it to supercharge your writing.

Things I wish I knew and did when first started blogging

This post is by Robert Bravery a fellow South African. All the bloggers out there will tell you how painful those first few months of blogging are, not too mention how hard it is when once you’ve started it you hit that hump. This a great comprehensive look at the nuts and bolts of starting out as a blogger and keeping it ticking over once you’ve begun. A nice checklist for those starting out or those who may have lost there way.

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Lessons from Racists how to manage attacks via your comments section

As it happens I have an alter ego who writes at mydl, which is the geekronym for My digital life a South African digital lifestyle blogging site which I contribute to. The last week has been extremely emotionally charged with many of those problems that we South Africans tend to avoid bubbling to the surface.  For those not living within our lovely border , shame on you!! Ok now that I’ve got that out of my system essentially what’s happened is Canada has granted political asylum to Brandon Huntley, a South African national living in Canada illegally. See more in my post Canadians must not be very clever just ask Brandon Huntley

The Issues in a Nutshell

  • Brandon Huntley is a white South African
  • Brandon Huntley claims to have been the victim of violent crime at the hands of black criminals on seven occasions, but never reported any of these crimes to the South African police
  • The Canadian panel hears Brandon Huntley’s representations and finds:
  • Brandon Huntley is being persecuted in his home country because of his race
  • The government in South Africa is unable and unwilling to protect white South Africans like Brandon Huntley
  • Brandon Huntley would not be safe returning to South Africa because “ no matter where he went in South Africa he would stick out like a sore thumb”

For more on this see the link above to my post on mydl. What I’m here to discuss is the manner in which this story brought to the surface a number of issues which we as a country have just been to damn polite to discuss.

Racism is still rife in South Africa

I think the most important lesson I’ve learnt this week is that racism is still alive and kicking in South Africa. The large number of hateful and absurdly ignorant comments that flew back and forth this week really knocked the stuffing out of me until I realized, Brandon Huntley might just be the savior of our democracy. Brandon Huntley and he’s sneaky underhanded attempt to remain in Canada has started a dialog that should have begun 15 years ago. We need to release the pressure bubbling below the lid of political correctness and give space for expression of ideas we dislike and disapprove of. Brandon Huntley and his cheap trick which is now under judicial review in Canada has given a voice to racism and I’m actually happy to hear it.

Lessons on Managing comment flaming

For me everyday on mydl is a learning experience and never more so than this week past. Some of the best lessons which I think apply to any kind comment flaming on blogs or in normal social :

  • Shut up, the more distasteful the comment the more closely you should listen, when you start listening you open the door for understanding always remember discussions via comments are public affairs
  • Ask questions, make sure you understand the other persons point of view once they’ve stated it
  • Be respectful, anyone can shout and scream and use profanity, when you do it you take away from your credibility and alienate your audience
  • I mention this seperately because well it happens a lot don’t call people names :) Once you’ve called someone idiotic it’s unlikely they’re going to listen you again no matter how compelling your argument.
  • Pause, try not to reply while your emotions are running high take some time and reply when you’re calm
  • Do reply thoroughly citing references where possible
  • Do acknowledge when people with differing opinons to you make compelling arguments
  • Don’t be afraid to quit while you’re ahead or even if you’re behind, some arguments simply become childish mud slinging matches. Don’t let your ego rule you, remember why the discussion started and if the discussion has become trivial walk away, continuing will only take away from your brand.
  • Over and above all that forget about winnng! It’s not a game state your case and move on.

Some very tasty comment discussions and lots of lessons on how not to handle comments:


Writing content? Add value to your reader add value to your community

I’m not in the business of writing about writing content but I came across a very interesting article written by one of my many many blog readers this evening, If you want more traffic for your blog, you have to give more traffic. This was really enjoyable post which reminded me again, as I slog away behind my laptop that I’m not in this on my own, every time I hit a key I’m paying my dues in one of the toughest and fastest growing communities on earth. Neat hey?


So what are you on about?

My blogging started with me skulking around blogs I enjoyed, like The Simple Dollar, Problogger, Zen habits and Lifehacker. Looking back at these blogs now I realize how much the “voice” of each blogger when writing content contributed to the type of community that turned up day after day to interact with the content. Over and above this these guys were and are authorities in their niche. It helps I suppose that these are all professional bloggers, able to spend their time “researching.” With an advantage like this how screwed are the rest of us writing content? What chance do we have against full time web trawlers in their niche? Surprisingly we have an excellent chance they’re just giving all their knowledge away. They're happy to add to the value of your blog.

Don’t leave anything on the table

A-list bloggers have figured out the trick to this blogging game there’s one rule. Yes only one, no neat bulleted list or catchy system for success just one rule. Add value. Add value to your reader. Add value to your community. A-list bloggers leave nothing on the table. They’ll tell you everything they know if you’ll listen.

Spend time finding questions

This might seem dumb, what value are questions? Now imagine writing a post where more than 50% of your readers sign up to your RSS feed or E-mail updates. Sound impossible?  Not really, if you know what questions your readers are asking to end up on your site then you’re well on your way. Answers are easy to find.   No matter how knowledgeable you may be, until your content asks and answers specific and relevant questions you’re going to struggle to become an authority as your readers trawl through your unrelated content (or more likely give up and look elsewhere)

Get by with a little help from your friends

Now to neatly come back full circle to that post that started it all. Blogging is about synergy not SEO or advertising. Blogging is a dialogue. Build a following, send them to sources of information that will be useful to them, add value and they’ll be your friends forever. Build a relationship with bloggers in your niche and you’ll save yourself a heap of pain trying to reinvent the wheel.

  • You’ll have someone to have a laugh with when the frustration of this blog game becomes a bit too much.
  • A sounding board when your ideas wander out into unchartered territory.
  • A marketing department(following included) when you add value.
  • Some friendly competition to push you out of your comfort zone
  • Some role models in the form of sites that have been there and done that
  • An inexhaustible supply of reader questions

The key to all of this though is sincerity. Just like in real life, people can only be manipulated so much. If you want true synergy you need to give without motive. Give because you can. You’ll get screwed over now and then. Even if you make one great blogging acquaintance out of every 100 interactions you make, you’re probably doing something right.

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