pen and sepia ink, 10" x 6.5"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
(see end for more info.)
This post deals with all the other aspects about which conventions and preferences have developed over time. I'm also linking to this post in my 'for your information' section in the right hand column.
Blogging principles and courtesies
Here are some suggestions as to some of the general principles and courtesies which make blogging a more enjoyable and less irritating experience for most artists.
- ALWAYS Think before you blog. Always. This isn't a private journal - we're all reading it - and it's probably going to be around for a very long time! Remember that even if you delete your blog or a post that there are ways of retrieving previously published material. Bloggers tend to be both author and Editor which means that it's generally a good idea to develop the habit of reflection and take a little more time between writing and publishing.
- ALWAYS Think before you comment. Many people find blogs for the first time because they follow comments back to their author and that person's blog. You're therefor representing your own blog and blogging practice while visiting and commenting on other blogs.
- Think about who the blog author is and what sort of tone they set on their blog and aim to fit in with this.
- Always stick to the topic. Long rambling comments which are completely irrelevant to the post don't get published on this blog - and my guess is others also do likewise.
- If you want to be controversial and/or very much disagree then it's probably better to be more explicit about a topic on your own blog and then reference the post you saw and disagreed with. You can always then comment that you have a different perspective and have continued the debate on your own blog and provide a link.
- ALWAYS Link to your sources and correctly attribute your references. This means if you read something on another blog or newspaper or journal first then always attribute that as the named source and give them a link. My only exception to this are things that are getting coverage across a range of sources at the same time because they are current "news" and the subject (eg an art gallery) probably issued a press release in the first place! In which case, link to the originating source even if you read it first in (say) a newspaper. You can always reference other good coverage of an event or item as well.
- ALWAYS Correct errors after the event. For example: last week I realised I've been spelling somebody's name incorrectly from time to time and went through all my posts to correct every instance. Remember people read your posts for some time afterwards and might reference them elsewhere as 'this is how it's spelt/this is a fact/etc.'. Also remember that if you correct in a separate post then the correction might be separated from the original if this is accessed via a search engine.
- NEVER spam. Spam comments appear completely random and include links to sites of no relevance to the blog and post in question. Don't post a comment on any old blog you come across and ask them to visit yours. However, so as not to frighten everybody off, I think it's OK to leave a link to a post on your blog if it's relevant to the topic of the blog post you are commenting on. What many people don't realise is that links left in comments on Blogger blogs are not indexed by Google in any case. Blogger codes them automatically as 'nofollow' to reduce spam which means they make no difference to your page-ranking in Google!
- NEVER copy most or all of somebody else's blog post in full. This is called 'plagiarism' in polite society and 'stealing' when people aren't being quite so restrained.
- Nobody is impressed with people who copy content in this way. It's what spam blogs do all the time. You risk having your blog eliminated from Google's index.
- If a post you find is interesting then say so on your blog and provide a link and give the author and their blog the credit AND the traffic they deserve. 'Fair use' provisions only provide for short extracts from text.
- Never ever do as one person did and copy one of my sketches simply to provide decoration or illustration for her blog post. Illustrated blogs are emphatically not an image resource!
- NEVER ignore a request to remove any content you have copied. Even if you believe that yours is a 'fair use' within the terms of copyright law and guidelines, it's almost certainly best to remove first and then discuss the situation in a calm fashion.
- NEVER ask somebody to link to your blog. If they want to link to you they will. Don't put people on the spot and/or make them indicate that they don't want to. Enough said?
- NEVER attack a person on your blog. When I say don't attack I mean don't name call and/or otherwise say things which are not true or are defamatory.
- The Internet is not the equivalent of some sort or 'wild west' in legal terms - the rules of libel apply to everything you write. This is not the same as expressing an opinion where you indicate and evidence the reasons behind your views. I also happen to think internet corporations (Google, eBay, Microsoft etc.) are in a different category to people and you'll come across a few rants about 'the powers that be' from time to time across the blogosphere. However evidencing the views you express is always a very sound rule.
- If you are the victim of an attack then don't respond - attacks are often perpetrated by attention-seekers. Ignore them.
- NEVER ever publish while under the influence of any alcohol or narcotic. I'm not saying don't write - I'm just suggesting it's a really, really good idea to wait until you wake up and/or are stone cold sober again before you publish your rant/rhyming couplets/analysis of what is wrong with the art world/whatever etc. In fact it's generally a good idea to take time out to reflect on your draft about anything controversial even if you have signed the pledge!
- NEVER assume debate is welcome. While comments, suggestions and discussion may be very welcome, not every blog wants to be the venue for the expression of extreme and/or controversial views. See my comments policy for why this one blog doesn't court arguments or controversy.
- Remember cultural perspectives vary. We may say or hear things in ways which don't 'fit' with the culture of the person listening or writing. If you feel offended for any reason, chances are that this is a cultural or style issue. For example, the English are often criticised for being more direct than others in the English-speaking world. If you feel offended remember you don't have to read a blog and it takes all sorts to make a world.
- We all make mistakes from time to time. The important thing is to remember that errors are made mainly because of ignorance and sometimes because of plain stupidity and that we are all capable of making mistakes from time to time. The only people I am critical of are those who should know better and/or are just plain lazy! If you are the victim of somebody else's mistake I suggest you let them know to avoid repetition. If you are the person who has committed a mistake then it's a jolly good idea to say you're sorry as soon as you recognise what has happened.
- Seek permission first before quoting more than a few lines or including images from other blogs.
- Check a blog and its author before you comment for the first time. Hit and run commenting can lead to you looking silly. If you've never visited a blog before and want to comment, then I suggest you take a look round and look at the evidence that the blog presents. Checking out the blogger's profile is equivalent of 'introductions'
- Reciprocal comments / e-mails are nice but not required. Remember we all have lives to lead and not everybody has time to reciprocate comments left on their blogs or e-mails that they are sent. That said it's nice if you do if you have the time.
- Not everybody wants a critical comment on their artwork
- people generally like to receive support for what they are doing - encourage where possible and acknowledge progress
- Have a mind to what you're saying if commenting on artwork which is displayed 'for sale' - don't harm the chances of a sale.
- Remember also that if all your work is for sale it's unlikely you'll ever get constructive feedback! By the same token don't ask for honest feedback and then feel hurt if people provide it.
- If people are pondering process, then it's probably OK to make a suggestion - but I suggest that you get to know the person first. Try and see if they are asking for constructive criticism. When commenting in public it's good practice always to find something good to say as a minimum - or say nothing. You can always comment in a more direct way using e-mail if you feel that might be well received.
- Warn people if something you post might offend them. My personal view is that it's generally better to be OTT in this area.
- Don't whine. Or if you must, try to make sure you don't do it too often. Whining only loses you visitors. Have a whining pact with a friend instead - and do it in private!
- Alterations after publication: The area where I find it most difficult to define 'good practice' comes in the area of alterations after publication.
- I often find I need to correct grammar and spelling immediately after publication because of errors and omissions which I missed in the incredibly tiny drafting window provided by Blogger.
- I also find I sometimes look back and realise I should have said something differently either because it's capable of misinterpration or creates the wrong impression.
- My rule is to get amendments done within the hour and before the first comment. If I amend a blog post at a later date I generally provide a note like this [12th February - revised to include.....] unless it's something really minor like a spelling mistake I'd not spotted (and thanks to all those who point these out to me from time to time).
- Also if I amend if after the first comment I leave a note in the comments as well.
I hope you've found this interesting -it's certainly helped me review my own practices. If you're interested in the subject of Blog Netiquette then you'll find some links below which provide other perspectives on this topic. I'd be very interested to know about any other notes of this sort targeted at and for artists.
I reserve the right to update and amend these notes periodically - including the links section. Do please comment and suggest any improvements you can think of.
[Updated 13th February for some grammar and double negatives I missed yesterday!]
About the drawing
Polly is my Abyssinian cat. This is an initial study for a candidate for a work I'll be submitting to the SOFA exhibition in September. The aim this year is to try and get one or two works completed so that they can be considered for inclusion in the exhibition catalogue. I prefer to draw a study before I start and then I can work out how the pose works. It also means that I can save the pen and ink freehand drawing and try out different treatments in order to create a plan for the final work. I can now work with this particular image either as a print-out or as a digital file.
Blogging for Artists
- Blogging for Artists - Resources for Artists
- Cafe Mama - Blog Etiquette
- The Weblog Handbook - The Etiquette and Ethics of Blogs