Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spotlight on... Building community


This is the first in what I hope is a multi-part series revolving around building community within our blogs and with other bloggers - inspired in large part by Amanda @ On a Book Bender's mission to promote blogger interaction with her blog. To see an excellent example of this, check out any post in her Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge Feature. Amanda does an outstanding job at highlighting interesting posts of fellow bloggers and getting people involved in the community on the whole. And I'm not just saying that because we're freakish internet twinsies. I promise!
Building Community

Let's start at the beginning... What is community? According to Dictionary.com, community is defined as "a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists."

That's pretty accurate but it's also pretty dry. A group of people sharing common interests. Yeah, that's us. However, I don't quite think that encapsulates the spirit of community that we readers and book bloggers share. It doesn't give us the sense that when one of us falters another will step in with some well-timed advice or a shoulder to cry on. It doesn't showcase the generosity and appreciation we have for one another. It doesn't highlight the way we come together as a group to support one another in our times of need.

How do we foster this spirit of community with other bloggers and readers to make this community (used in the dry sense, here) stand out?

There are so many ways to reach out - leave a comment on a blog post, interact on Twitter or Facebook, pass a link for a favorite post around, just saying HI when you see one of your favorite bloggers having a bad day. Not all of them work for everybody. Some are more effective than others in certain situations. In the end, there is no right or wrong way to interact. Personally, I'm a chronic tweeter. I love chatting with people and smothering them with huggles or sending them dirty pictures of half-naked men when they're feeling down. I like how fast paced it is and I like how I can get instant gratification. I would hazard a guess that I interact more on Twitter than I do anywhere else, my blog included.

Today let's celebrate the blogs - and the people behind them - that do an awesome job of creating the spirit of community that we book bloggers are known for. Shout it out! Tell us who they are! What is it about these blogs and people that make their community worth being a part of?  How can we use their examples to work on building a better community as a whole?



28 comments:

  1. I think you've hit the reason pretty much right on within your post - it's BECAUSE we're so supportive that we have this community not the other way around. I mean, really, confession time; sometimes I think my blogging and internet friends are better than my IRL friends! I certainly turn to twitter before I turn to my phone to text/call someone. And I think that's what makes this community so great. I've never met you, Amanda, or most of the rest of my blogging friends, but I feel like you guys are some of the greatest people I've ever known. We're all here for the same reasons, we all have common interests, sure, but really, it's that we all care about each other.

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    1. I'll confess that I turn to my Twitter and blogging friends before my RL friends, too. It's so nice to be able to go all fangirly about a favorite book and have someone *understand* how we feel.

      The book blogging community is really kinda awesome.

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  2. For me, there are certain blogs (and people) that find myself coming back to. There's usually a combination of reasons why I like them. Let me see if I can make a list of the reasons.

    1. They respond to all comments on their blog. I dislike commenting on blogs that only respond to certain comments, because I feel like it's a contest to write a comment good enough to respond to.
    2. All comments are viewed as good and an effort is put into understanding where I am coming from in commenting. I've been on blogs where the blogger's response makes me feel like I'm getting a condescending pat on the end, and places where I feel there is a right or wrong way to be commenting.
    3. Those bloggers make an effort to comment on your blog. They don't have to comment on every post, of course, but just enough to know that they are reading.
    4. They are accessible. You can email them, tweet with them - whatever - and they are always around to talk to you.
    5. They are supportive. You know you can count on them for ANYTHING, not just something book blogging related.
    6. They pay it forward (and/or are generous). People like Felicia, Missie, and Jess are bloggers I've always modeled myself after in this respect. They have all been so generous to me, and I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

    I think that's a good enough list for now.

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    1. 1. Yes! I like knowing that what I'm saying means something to the person I'm saying it to. Although, I will admit that before Blogger gave us threaded comments, I was *really* bad about replying to comments here. But that was more about the way the comments were set up than anything.
      2. *pats you on the end*
      3. That's probably the one BIG thing I'm actively working on about myself. Commenting more on other people's blogs. I know how good I feel when I get a comment, I need to make sure I'm giving others the same courtesy.
      4. Tweet me!
      5. Amanda, I am here for you!
      6. And the book blogging community is so generous as a whole. It's really awesome how SO many people are willing to give so much of themselves. *huggles everyone everywhere*

      *huggles you especially*

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    2. I have a tendency to comment on a select few blogs regularly (like yours) and have a habit of intending to comment (open the post from Google reader) and then deciding I have nothing beyond, "Great post!" and don't. I want to comment on people's blogs, but I also want the comments to mean something.

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    3. Okay. I do that ALL THE TIME. It makes me feel better that you do the same. I always think "What is wrong with me that I can't get a comment down when I've already gone through the trouble of opening the post???"

      I think I talk to myself a lot. *is perplexed by this*

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    4. As one of my high school teachers said: it's okay to talk to yourself. It's even okay to ask yourself questions. But when you start asking yourself, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" that you're in trouble.

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    5. Lol! Fair enough. I'll just ignore myself when I can't figure out what I'm saying.

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    6. I *heart* you! Missie is my blogging idol--she is the most caring person in the world :) Both her and Tara were really my first "real interactions" in blogging and I have loved them since!

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  3. Pat on the end? Pat on the HEAD.

    I haven't had enough coffee yet to type properly.

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  4. I feel like I need to be profound to comment. ;) Let me think about it - but I love the fact that you're making us think. I also have to get over the fact that Amanda had a 'typo' in her comment. That NEVER happens. LOL!

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    1. *finger guns* I'm making the internet think! Woot!
      *pats Amanda on the end and laughs* I love her typos. They make me giggle.

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    2. I've been making a lot more typos lately. My brain is fatigued.

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    3. Occasionally I think I should go on a "I agree 100%!" and/or "I enjoyed this post" commenting rampage, because I think it's kind of sad when people think that bloggers only like thoughtful comments so they don't put anything. We like all comments, honest! Well, I do, anyway :)

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    4. I agree, Angelya. Comments don't have to be profound or overly thoughtful, though I think there's a line between "I'm just commenting because I want you to visit my site so I'm not putting much effort into this comment" and "I just wanted to write something to let you know that I read and enjoyed this post." In other words, I try my best to make my comment meaningful in some way, even if it's to, for example, accuse someone of wreaking havoc on my wishlist with their reviews. Which is basically the same as saying, "Great review!" but a little more "meaningful." If that makes sense.

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    5. I want to add something here but I think Amanda said what I want to say (and she probably said it better than I would have). I get tired of *myself* when I keep saying the same thing over and over again in comments so it's also a matter of keeping things fresh for me while still making it relevant to the post I'm commenting on.

      Does that make sense?

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    6. One thing I try to do is pick out ONE thing in the review to comment on, just to have something different to say, and so that it shows I've read the post.

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    7. That's why I like to say thing like CRAZY MONKEY BALLS, DAMMIT! at you and then follow it with a profound discourse on the pros and cons of why character A is not going to be allowed to eat crackers in my bed. Or something like that.

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  5. Our community is pretty awesome, but could be better. You & Amanda do a great job injecting awesome by keeping it about community & not becoming whores to the business.

    I think commenting is a great 1st step. I do a decent job at replying or going to check out what the commentor has going on on their site. I'm not perfect, but I strive to be. You guys do an amazing job at continuing the discussion in the comments. But there are many bloggers that never reciprocate in any way. Oh well, ... *keeps thoughts to self*

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    1. I'm great on replying to comments on my blog but I think I still need to actively work on commenting on other people's blogs. And it's not that I don't have things to say or I'm not reading the posts but I honestly get stage fright sometimes. And that's silly. I need to get over that.

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  6. I love this post because community is what I love most about the book blogging world. I think of people as my neighbors/friends and try to make an effort to get out to see them regularly.

    What makes me gravitate towards some neighbors more than others:

    1) People who make an effort to reach out to other bloggers either through twitter, commenting, or emails. I tend to like people who maintain friendships and don't think of themselves as an island (nicest way I could put that).

    2) People who make me laugh. Oh I may not read the same things they do but they make me laugh/smile daily. I love people who say things like Crazy Monkey Balls---yes that is staring me in the face as I write!

    3) People who have something to say, a place to stand, and an opinion to be heard BUT aren't open to outside ideas.

    4) All shifters--real or imagined (ok I might have made that one up)!

    I love our little group of craziness and wouldn't trade it for the world!

    ((( huggles))))

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    1. Are open to outside ideas----I so need to proofread! LOL

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    2. I'm working on finding things to talk about for other posts that revolve around creating community. Actually, I'm picking Amanda's brain and laughing maniacally at the goodness that falls out!

      1. Yes. It's about interacting, I think, and if people never *interact* then it makes it hard to have a relationship with them.

      2. Crazy Monkey Balls, Felicia. CRAZY MONKEY BALLS!

      3. Funny, this is one of the topics I'm toying with writing about. You and me, we're on the same wavelength! (PS: You're typo made me do a double take. Lol!)

      4. I'M WITH YOU!

      We have so much fun when the poop-nuggets aren't crashing the party, don't we?!?!?

      *huggles you back*

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    3. Kind of piggy backing off Felicia's first point: people who don't expect you to come to them for all your interaction. There's something important about stepping into someone else's place (e.g., their blog) to show that you care and are willing to meet them halfway.

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    4. It comes down to blogging being a two-way street. You *do* have to meet people halfway if you want to form relationships. Just like in real life.

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  7. Commenting is something I have to work at all the time. It's difficult for me. Sometimes I read and just go on to the next post and it boils down to not always knowing what to say! It's a personal goal that I now visit every person who comments on my blog. It is not something I've done in the past and I feel like a douche because of it. And I agree with you whole-heartedly. Blogging is a two-way street and it does parallel real life in that respect. I am not the best at staying in contact with real-life friends either! I must have some sort of social issue or communication issue, or maybe I just detest talking on the phone. :/

    I appreciate all the great bloggers who don't make it all about them and who are in this community because they want to interact with other likeminded folks and form lasting relationships. I have SO much to thank this community for in that department.

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    1. For me, commenting on my own blog is a breeze, commenting on others is on my To-Do list of things I MUST work on.

      Lol! I'm a social wreck in RL so I TOTALLY understand what you're saying. One of the nice things about blogging is that you can comment at 2AM and not have to worry about waking someone up with a phone call or anything. Also, you don't have to actually, you know, *talk* to anyone. (Yes, I have phone-fear. I'm just a phobic mess, aren't I?)

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