You want me to follow who? you?!

(please see the fully linked version at my blog: http://returntorural.blogspot.com

I went poking around Technorati this afternoon to Fave some people and the more I prodded the less I understood exactly what the whole thing is for. It's just a convergence of blogs, isn't it? Categorized and whatnot? Somehow keeping track of links? BlogHer is the same idea, isn't it? This is probably so simple it's going right over my head. My lack of understanding hasn't stopped me from having accounts at both. I'm supposing the basic idea is Community. That's ok with me but just as with real time community, I can only take it in small doses at a time. But not being a constant participator, it makes me just one of the crowd, not out there enough, not a Fave, not a favorite, never on the front page. Boo hoo. Maybe if I figure out what I'm doing here, I'll muster the interest to change all that. Just what is my theme anyway?

I set up my Following links in my Reader this afternoon. It's a Blogger doohickey that's supposed to show other folks on Blogger that I'm "Following" them. My logo picture might appear in a box if they choose to add the gadget to their page. I think Following basically means Reads Often. Or Cares a Little. It's a fan club of sorts. Who do I Follow? It's a mishmash, really. I think I like blogs best when I'm familiar with their content, been with them long enough to be able to follow the threads, been comfortable enough to leave comments and actually heard back, etc. There's got to be some humor there; I've tried reading deep philosophical blogs and couldn't stick with them, even if I share the philosophy. But what is it that catches me initially so I stick around long enough to get comfy? Here's some of what it takes to make a Follower of me:

1. Post frequently. It doesn't have to be everyday, but more often is better then less often. I'm flighty and ADD remember.

2. Keep it light. Find the humor in your experience, grievance, shock, story, etc. A post doesn't have to be overtly funny but don't try to bum me out. My natural mood idles at glum already. The "real-life-truly-sucks" sort of post is appropriate only occasionally. I get enough of that in my own head.

3. Acknowledge your audience. If you're a syndicated giant of a blog who doesn't have the time or interest to at least glance at who's reading you, I'm less likely to stick around or check in often. You don't need me. I'll stick with the little and medium-sized people, thank you. I'm not going to call anyone out on this. Everyone knows who these giant people are. They're successful by gum! Sure, I can scoff from afar but when my blog is covered in BlogHer ads, people are sending me stuff to review, I've had mediocre essays/books published, and I get 100+ comments per post, I guess I'll revise my view. That's not flip-flopping, that's growth. Hmmph!

4. Be green and open-minded. I don't want to quantify this too much lest I exclude anybody who could be awesome but if you're anti-green, anti-love, anti-choice, anti-diversity and pro-McCain, we might not get along beyond social niceties.

5. Speak personally. Tell your story, your experience. Stuff you think is just your everyday routine is interesting. Are you a Muslimah? Tell us about how you pin your hijab. Are you a (sustainable, humane, small scale) farmer? Tell us about tripping over Millie the sheep in the yard this morning. Are you going deaf? Tell us what life sounds like to you. Are you learning to crochet by your grandmother's side while she speaks in her native tongue and you understand every word? You are so lucky. Tell us about it.

6. Write well. Grammar and spelling don't need to be perfect but writing well shows you care that people are reading. You can write the way you speak and still write well. We should hear your voice. (Do you hear mine?)

7. Throw in a picture or two every once in a while. You don't have to be a pro to take interesting pictures. As an aside, if you'd like to see some loverly pictures of a loverly place taken by loverly people, click here.

8. Comment on comments. You needn't reply to every comment but if you start to see some reader's name repeatedly, they probably like you and you might do well to acknowledge them. If you're lucky enough to get a good number of visitors, just go in and reply to a few choice comments. It acknowledges that you at least know about and read the comments folks took the time to leave for you. In my experience, Mr. Kramer does this well. He even tweeted me Direct after reading parts of my archives. I think the reading was prompted by my comment to him which noted that I couldn't address his talking junk by its formal, biological name. Look out! I'm on my way up! and repressed!

9. Show some link love. If you read about something or someone on someone else's blog and then write about it (or something like it) on yours, make a link. Kimba linked to me just the other day and even if I didn't already feed off her blog daily (she's got 9 of these 10 down), a link gets my attention. Linkage makes community through shared interests. Amy and I share an interest in rabbits and green things. Pop Culture Librarian just cracks me the hell up. See? Linkage! I've found more good blogs through posts and blogrolls than I've ever found on Technorati, BlogHer, BlogSearch and the like.

10. Give away prizes (also applies to #3). This one's a little off but I love the idea of pay it forward mini-contests. I first heard of these at Alice's, and other folks like CrunchyChicken have held giveaways before. I think bossy's doing one now (not that she needs any link help from me). I personally have been hoarding the STUPIDEST glass cat figurine expressly because I'm sure that one of the four of you will think it's the coolest thing ever and do something silly to win it. I could be wrong but I found it so it's no big loss. Anyway, a challenge or giveaway gets my attention and gets me coming back to check in on your blog. Alice said she was going to do one a while back and yes indeed, I check back for it.

I suppose this is all sort of a moot point for folks I'm already Following but a good start for future folks who want me to Follow them all the way to giant (see #3). You might notice that these guidelines are also what I use when I post to my own blog because I think Following, if done right, is somehow eventually a 2 way street.

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