Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Most Important Comment I Ever Received On My Blog

Originally written as an answer to What is an article, post, debate, or video that persuaded you to change your mind about an important topic? on Quora, this post is not just about Blogging, but about Community-building and the heart of social media. 

When I began blogging at Okazu, I saw my role as "leader of the opposition"; the one woman writing about lesbian-themed Japanese comics in a world of commentary by not particularly open-minded young men who had one, quite personal, use for lesbian themes in media.

My points were very in-your-face and I tended to write as if I was a lone voice in a wilderness (which, in many ways, I was.)

Some years into blogging, I wrote a review which was contentious. In fact, I still receive hate mail from it. My original prologue included something like, "If you liked this, please slap yourself, hard, thank you." Ultimately, I rewrote the thing to be less harsh, but insisted (and still insist,) that it was one of the most mind-numbingly dull things I've ever watched. I have no idea what other people were watching when they say it was cute, sweet, romantic, etc. It was episode after episode of crushingly dull animation, plot, character and dialogue. That post received the most comments, the most exposure and, perhaps obviously, the most anger I had ever received up to that point. I've had many more popular posts since, and this one has fallen into deserved obscurity.

But.

After that review, I received a comment from a long-time reader about how I was writing as if my readers were the enemy.

That comment profoundly changed my approach to blogging and to the people who read my writing.

Hard as it was, I acknowledged that the comment was right. I was writing as if the audience was creepy losers and I was on the side of reason and justice. Based on that comment, I revamped not just my tone, but my whole approach to blogging.

I became the opinion leader, encouraged guest posts to give other points of view voice, began to acknowledge my own biases plainly, and set up a reward system for people who actively take part in helping me grow the audience. Instead of treating my readers like the enemy, I began treating them like part of the team - which they are. I thanked them when they corrected me, when they added information I did not have, when they brought up points that contravened my own. Ever since then, I have thanked and rewarded my readers, because without them, I'm talking to an empty room.

I'm a different writer and social media user because of that comment. And the entire community is a much, much better place for it.


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