Okay, I have to make myself unpopular. That’s not advisable for someone who joined the community only two days ago. In nearly all human communities, newcomers are expected to keep our heads down and our mouths shut until we have served an apprenticeship and absorbed the folkways and morays of the community enough to fit in. But I’ve been the shit-disturber and boat-rocker everywhere I’ve gone, and that will never change, so why fight it? Here’s where I rock the boat called WordPress, and I have to admit I’m not the least bit apologetic or even regretful about it.
I discovered WordPress about a week after I decided to become a full-time, pure diarist, meaning someone whose entire writing output is diaries. Previously, I had been writing short stories and novels. I got the idea two days ago to make my new diary entries public, in case other people wanted to read them, so I started this diary blog. So far, I’ve kept at my usual pace of about 3,000 words’ worth of diary entries per day, so that this will be the seventh blog post I’ve made since extremely early Friday morning. People have been noticing, so that I’ve gotten more than 25 likes for my posts and 13 followers so far, which ain’t half-bad for a blog that hasn’t even been indexed by Google yet.
Of course, I’ve been reading other people’s WordPress blogs as well. I’ve also made a habit of following their blogs and posting a comment whenever I’ve had something to say. My comments have been substantive and intended to make a positive contribution to the other person’s blog. But I’ve noticed something interesting. The vast majority of comments on the vast majority of blogs say something like: “Thanks for following my blog. I’m following yours in reciprocity.” It’s as if WordPress blogs are not truly being read by readers, but just reciprocally liked and followed by other bloggers who are too busy talking to bother listening. The impression I get is of a kind of Babelite echo chamber and closed universe where there is a multitude of sellers but no buyers at all.
Someone who is familiar with these kinds of environments has privately explained certain things to me. He told me that the blogs attracting true readers are usually on personal websites, and WordPress blogs are usually used to do networking and build up contacts who can drive traffic to the personal website and increase search engine ratings. The suggestion is that WordPress blogs are not about what you write in your blog, but only about driving up the number of hits you get so that Google puts you higher toward the first page of search results. That disheartens me. I put my heart and life into my posts, and having people ignore what I say because they’re not visiting my blog in order to read it, but only to get reciprocal likes and follows, is a major downer.
But I’ve also noticed popular blogs on WordPress that get large amounts of comments, and those are the blogs true readers have noticed. The comments to those blogs are often the same kinds of substantive comments I tend to make on other people’s blogs. That gives me heart that it’s possible to escape the closed universe of WordPress and make true readers aware that my blog exists, so that they will have an opportunity to decide whether to read it. So I’ll continue on my merry boat-roacking way, disturbing everyone’s pu pu by endorsing only the blogs I feel personal affinity with, making substantive comments only when I have something to say, and in general being a reader rather than just a mutual exploiter in the great collective endeavor of worshipping Google rankings. See you on _your_ blog, but please think about whether you really find value in mine, and endorse it only if you do, speaking only when you have something to say.