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On Being a Good Community Member

crazy-kitten I like this picture of a kitten (by eva101 via flickr) because the cat has crazy eyes, and this post is all about feeling a little crazy and overwhelmed.

Since last Monday I’ve been filling in for our online reporter at work, which has involved going into work at 5:00 a.m. and writing a lot of short news stories to post online. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t realized how much spending that much time writing stories at a computer was going to impact my life outside work.

It’s not that I’ve neglected my blog over the last week — I just checked and found that I posted five of the last seven days with pretty good content all of those days. What I’ve neglected to do is be a good member of the book blogging community.

For example, I haven’t really responded to comments on my blog in a timely way, and I haven’t made any effort to read or comment on other blogs. I’ve also been out of touch on Twitter, and haven’t kept up with BIP #12 posts at all. I’ve just been too tired to do some of the things I love about blogging.

At first I was feeling really bad about this. I mean, I never wanted my blog to be a place where I just spewed stuff out on the internet and then never bothered to interact with the people who deemed it interesting enough to read. I think it’s selfish to continually post to my blog, then not make the effort to respond or engage with all the great things other people are posting.  I felt, and still feel, guilty about that.

But I also decided I need to give myself a break.  Rather than continuing to feel guilty, I’m going to forgive myself for neglecting my role as a member of the community for the lase seven days and just try to do better. I’m going to do a “Mark All As Read” for the million posts I am behind and then try my best to keep up from now on.

My first commitment is going to be to respond to comments on my blog more efficiently. The second is going to make book blogs a top priority in my reader rather than saving them for last, because by the time I get to them I’m always tired. And my third is to make sure I’m better with the BIP and making sure people feel good about that.

I’m curious though, what do you think makes a good member of a community (the book blogging community, or another community)? To be a good, community-oriented book blogger, what should one aspire to do? Which bloggers do you think are great examples of good community members?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nicole @ Books and Bards June 30, 2009, 5:42 pm

    I was a journalist for seven years, so I know how demanding (and exhausting) that perpetually hungry copy beast can be. You should absolutely forgive yourself for letting things slide and not being able to get to everything.

    Personally, I don’t think commenting on other people’s blogs is the only, or even the best, way to be a good community member. I think equally important, if not more so, is using your own blog as a vehicle to participate, or even be a leader, in the book blogging community. Taking part in other people’s challenges, giving nods to other people’s good work, and most especially spearheading community participation efforts such as the BIP, are excellent ways of helping other bloggers to succeed.

    So you are doing great! Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t spread yourself so thin you burn out.

  • bermudaonion June 30, 2009, 6:31 pm

    You’re a great member of the book blogging community. There are times for all of us when things in our real life have to take priority over our virtual lives and this sounds like it was one of those times for you. I think being a good member of the community means reading and commenting on other blogs, chatting on Twitter, participating in challenges, etc. Of course, you don’t need to do all of those things. Everyone has different commitments in their real lives so everyone has a different amount of time to commit to the online community.

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy July 1, 2009, 12:11 am

    I think in any community there are times when you are able to give more and times when you need to just take. The very fact that you are conscious of wanting to be a good community member means you are one to me!

  • Jodie July 1, 2009, 4:44 am

    I always think I’m a terrible community member because I quite often read blogs through bloglines and forget to click in and comment before I move on to the next blog! I absolutely suck at engaging on Twitter. I’m trying to be better.

    I agree, you’re a fab community member – you started BIP for goodness sake and you keep us going when we fall behind. I think you’re doing great and congratulations on getting into a different area at work.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) July 1, 2009, 5:27 am

    Don’t worry about it! We can’t do everything all the time. To fall behind for one week isn’t a crime. You’ve been a fantastic member of the blogging community for the last six months of the year, so one week is nothing! (I’m sure you have been for longer than that too – but I only discovered you when you started the BIP)

    I think Dewey was the prime example of the perfect community builder. She hosted all sorts of events that resulted in book bloggers working together and getting to know one another. Sometimes we do just concentrate on our own blogs, but it is often more important to build those bridges.

    You do a great job with the BIP – keep up the good work!

  • Nicole July 1, 2009, 7:15 am

    Just keep doing what you’re doing. Yu are a great member of the community.

    I think all of the things mentioned are important and some weeks I am better at certain things than others because most the time it’s tough to juggle and come out on top of the time gain. More than anything else I try to comment and return visits to blogs and do everything else I as I have a minute.

  • rebeccareid July 1, 2009, 7:34 am

    I agree that Dewey was a good example of community: and she only subscribed to a few blogs. But she reached out through those who came to her blog and she encouraged us to reach out to each other.

    Just do what you can. It’s not supposed to be overwhelming. We all understand.

  • Suey July 1, 2009, 11:07 am

    We all have off weeks… or months… maybe even years! So don’t stress about it. You are great with the community thing.

    And to answer your question, I think to be a good community blogger, that it’s important to remember that it’s more about the friends you make than it is about the numbers and stats.

  • Fyrefly July 2, 2009, 11:27 am

    I agree with everyone else: give yourself a break! Everyone gets swamped, everyone gets behind, everyone doesn’t comment as much as they’d like to, and no one takes it as a personal insult when another member of the community drops out of sight for a while. “Kim hasn’t commented on my blog all week! She must hate me!”

    Do what you can as long as you’re having fun – when it becomes a stressor instead of a stress relief to be blogging, that’s when you’re doing it wrong. 🙂

  • Jeanne July 3, 2009, 10:29 am

    I’m glad to read all these comments and see what people think. My goals for being part of the community are already lower than everyone else’s here, but I figure you do what you can (for me, that means trying to get to the blogs I like to read most about once a week and the others about once a month).

    Yes, I miss out on a lot of timely issues. Sometime I dip in to Twitter, but most of the time, I just can’t keep up. When we’re talking about fiction, though, the convention is to use present tense, because it’s always going on when we open the book. And similarly, most of what we say about fiction doesn’t go out of date too fast.