The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here We Go Again!

            Yes, I know its been done many times by many bloggers and you may even be one of them.  I know I've covered the topic of following more than once and now I'm going to do it one more time.  I just want to clarify where I stand on the issue.

            On Monday I alluded to a fine post by Jeffrey Beesler on the topic of following as in doing something because others were doing it.   The comments on this older post of Jeffrey's reopened and I noticed this comment from Michele Gregory of Beautiful Chaos:

i'm a crowd follower too, but am trying to change that. i'm cheating at this - doing all my posts ahead of time, and i know i can't get to every blog. i can barely get to the blogs i follow now. on top of that, it feels fake to follow a blogger just to get a blogger to follow me. i should probably do a post about that. or maybe not.   (I've added the underlining to emphasize my topic for today.)
         I asked Michele if I could quote her in this post.  She responded with this clarification:  
 no problem. it's the topic that i think of most when i hit the follower button. i want to be genuine in all my interactions with people and though i follow because i think a blogger has said something that resonates with me (as in i don't just hit the button to get someone to my blog), i know my chances of getting back to that blog to comment or read is iffy at best. i have a few i always read no matter what, some that interest me sometimes, and others i wonder if i should stop following because now i'm not interested and my time is limited.



on the other side, i've met some really great bloggers because i followed them or they followed me - you, Kristie Cook, Lisa Yarde, Alex Cavanaugh and others. i might have missed those friendships if i hadn't followed their blogs. i don't think there are any easy answers. and i do want people to follow me because i try to be encouraging, etc. it's not so much about promoting my books as it is to give readers a lift. i know that i have to follow and comment to get people to come so they'll read those posts.


not sure if any of that makes sense, but there you go. and you can quote this response too if you'd like.


           What Michele's said does make sense and I want to thank Michele for allowing me to quote her because she expresses concerns that many of us think about.   In the list below I want to try to clarify my personal opinion, philosophy, rule, or whatever you'd call it concerning the multiple definitions of "following"

1.     I want to have a large "following", that is number of followers to my blog.  With this comes the understanding that not all of the followers will always be readers.  The numbers are mostly for show, but also for that possibility that a non-regular reader might occasionally come back to check out what's happening on my blog.   A large following looks good to most people (including agents or any professionals wanting to see something about my platform).

2.     I believe in the reciprocation of the follow.  Whenever I can I will follow back anyone who follows my blog.   It always helps if when someone follows my blog, they let me know in a comment so it is obvious to me.   Silently following me does not guarantee a follow back.   I want to be told.

3.     There is no limit for me as to the number of blogs I will follow, but no matter if I'm following 200 or 20,000 blogs, I will not be "following" the majority of these in the sense of reading them on a regular basis.  I will prioritize according to the commenters on my blog first, and then the ones that happen to catch my interest.

4.   If the follow has to do with reciprocation then I don't think there is anything fake about it.  I believe it is a ritualistic blog act that is often found associated with blogfests and "follow days".   When most of us hit the follow button I think we know that there is no guarantee of a close, lasting, on-going relationship.  It can develop, but it is something that relies on mutual interests and goals.

5.   I will unfollow only if a blogger is rude, crude, or is in such extreme opposition to my values that it might hurt my reputation if anyone knew I was following that blog.   That has happened very few times.

6.   I tend to be wary of those bloggers who invite me to follow their blogs as though they are in some way so special that they never have to visit or follow anyone else's blogs.  Unless the content of that blog is so utterly amazing that I am compelled to stay, I will unfollow them eventually if I have happened to follow from their original invitation.  Those bloggers do strike me as fake and not at all interested in any mutually beneficial relationships.

7.  I only hit the follower button if I feel that there might be a possibility of some future blogging relationship, even if it seems remote at the time.  There have been blogs that I have followed that initially seemed of little interest to me, but there was something there that spoke to the future.  The act of following may amount to nothing in the long run or it might eventually blossom into something special in the future.  It's like a business adding people to a mailing list.  Not everyone will become a customer, but maybe someday they will.


            Those are some of my rules about following.  The main thing is to distinguish between the ceremonial ritual of following as in collecting numbers of little portraits, the building of an actual list of potential blogs to visit, and the literal act of following as in reading blog posts.   I wish Blogger had come up with a different term than "followers".

           On Monday I passed 700 followers and currently the sign-ups for A to Z are most certainly destined to go past the 600 mark.  That's a lot of blogs that neither you nor I will ever be able to visit on a daily basis.  I don't think anyone has been fooled into thinking otherwise.   Just like the local library has more books than I'll ever be able to read in a lifetime--but it's nice to know that they're all available just in case there happens to be one I'm looking for.

            Have fun blogging.   And enjoy the treasure hunt.
            What are your blogging rules?   Are there any of mine that are still unclear or that you disagree with?

**********       

97 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. It's made me feel better to know that there are bloggers out there who feel like I do. I also follow bloggers who have similar opinions, interests or fascinating takes on life. I'd like to read all their posts but of course I can't and I love your analogy re libraries full of books.

    It's great to get a new follower. It's the first thing I check when I log on every morning but the number of followers I have won't make a difference to what I blog or why I blog, it's just nice to know they're there.

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  2. Damn right :) I've had similar conundrums with a large bloglist and little time to read/comment on everyone's posts. I ocassionally go through and filter 'blogs I follow because I care about the posts' and 'blogs I follow out of politeness because they follow me'.

    I try my best to comment on the blogs of those who comment on mine, like you do. I also follow the blogs of people who follow me for a time, to get a feel of their blogstyle and what they do. Sometimes I stay, sometimes not.

    I agree that having a large follow base is a good thing, but not if it means having to follow people who's personality and blog topics couldn't be further from your interests.

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  3. Excellent. Your rules of following are identical to mine. Once I follow, I put in an effort to comment frequently. If it turns into a one-sided commenting relationship, I don't feel bad when I stop commenting.

    Looking forward to April, even though I'm still wrapping my head around the continuity of my posts. Happy Wednesday! :o)

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  4. Well said and I'm with Rosalind! I've been pondering a post (rant) on this topic.

    Ah yes, the three words that continue make me feel all dirty: "Follow me back." Every time someone writes that on my blog I want to take a shower and immediately bury the post and swear off 'hopping.'

    To make new blogger friends is fantastic, and I'm discovering is my favorite part of blogging. There are some hops/fests/etc. which are great for connecting. However, I like to "connect" with bloggers, not "collect" heads.

    Still would love/LOVE to do A-Z - and have met some really fun and interesting bloggers in this circle and look forward to reading more. Alas, goofing off in rural Southern Italy during next month with no guaranteed internet access (or sobriety, although if you've seen my blog you know that's not a requirement) is not conducive to a commitment during that period. Or a successful period of properly goofing off.

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  5. I always feel a certain amount of guilt for not following people back again, but I can't see the point in following a blog I know I'll never read.

    Because, for the blogs I do follow, I check their newest posts on my Blogger dashboard every single day, and I try to comment as much as I possibly can.

    I've gained a lot of inspiration and support from the blogs I follow and from my followers who comment on my blog. And I can only hope they gain some inspiration from reading my blog too.

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  6. Excellent post, Lee. Blogging should be fun, not a chore. I wouldn't want to feel saddled with guilt every morning because I didn't get to read every single blog, I wouldn't want someone to feel the same way about my blog - obligated - and I don't think it's a good thing to fall into the trap of measuring self-worth by number of followers.

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  7. Totally agree, Arlee! If people follow and leave me a comment to say hello then I will follow back - I'm not the quickest at the moment due to squeezy time restraints but will get around to it at unexpected moments (midnight, 7am, the dot of time called lunch-hour). All your points are fab - and it is a lovely treasure hunt, isn't it? :)

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  8. I am delighted to be a point to even HAVE this conversation. Last year my goal was to have 50 followers by my 50th birthday (Dec. 31). I was so happy to meet that goal. And then something wonderful happened - it started to grow, I did a few blog hops, joined the A to Z Challenge - and suddenly I'm at 120 followers! I also keep track of my google readers, which changes regularly with no rhyme or reason. I follow people because I want to affirm them - to know someone found them. I especially like to follow people who have only a handful of followers - I know how much it meant to me. I never expect all my followers to read me all the time. I leave that up to them. I find the blogging community (in general) to be one of grace. The door is open, come when you can.

    Thanks for this post.

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  9. I was surprised to find so many people had guilt issues about following or un-following.

    If I lose a follower overnight I'm not going to cry about it but on the other hand I'm very excited when I find I have 1 or 2 new followers.

    I like to respond to comments that I get but there is no guarantee that people will come back to read them.

    I do love your mailing list example.

    Great post!

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  10. This is a very good and needed post. You covered issues that we have all dealt with from the start of blogging. I started last June and currently have 81 followers and as a rule only 6 to 10 comment on my blogs. That doesn't bother me nor does it bother me that I can skim over blogs that no longer interest me because there isn't enough time in the day to read and comment on all that come through my in-box. There are some relationships that I have that I will always treasure and look forward to seeing their posts for me to read and enjoy. I have gotten over the guilt trip that bothered me in the beginning. Now I just have fun and hope I encourage others and create a smile from time to time. Thanks for letting me comment and have a super day.
    Odie

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  11. Thank you for your post... one might say that I'm still at the beginning of my blogging adventure (blogging since October 2010), and I must say that I do feel guilty when I want to unfollow someone. It's really hard for me at the moment. But, thanks to your post I might look at it more freely, and make it more fun! :)

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  12. If I click the button "To Follow" I do my utmost to follow that person/persons. Some people click on follow and I never ever get a comment or in some cases they haven't got a blog I can contact them.
    I looked at the latest figure for the entries for A to Z and was astounded 588???????

    Have a good day
    Yvonne,

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  13. Excellent, Lee. Your post is being quite therapeutic to a lot of us who struggle sometimes with "blogging guilt" :-)

    You have outlined rules that make sense, and I totally agree with them.

    By the way, when is the sign-up deadline for the A to Z? I am still deciding on an idea I had yesterday. IF I signed up, my challenge would be a 50-word story per post. Anyway, still thinkin' ... :-))

    Doris

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  14. Excellent post! I think a lot of bloggers struggle with this issue. I will generally follow someone if they follow me. Like you, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll read every single post or comment on every one. There are certain blogs that I read every day, even if I don't always comment. My goal was never to have a lot of followers, but I'm appreciative of the ones I do have. Kat

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  15. I use FeedDemon to keep track of my blog lists (since I'm not on blogspot) and the thing I love about it is that I can divide people into lists. Although I want to visit everyone who I run into, it's overwhelming in terms of time. But what I do is keep a list I call A+Visitors -- the people who visit me are always the people I visit first.

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  16. I think this may be the most comments I have ever woke up to find waiting and it's heartening to see that I haven't totally turned anyone off with what I've had to say here. I am going to try to address each comment, but if it becomes overwhelming I'm sure you'll understand if my comments start becoming more incorporating and generic.

    Lee

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  17. Lee, I'm with you on this one. I try to at least skim the list of blogs I follow every couple days but I'm embarrassed to admit I'm relieved to find the ones with no new posts so I can skip by with a clear conscience. I always give top priority to those who comment on mine for obvious reasons.

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  18. Rosalind -- I think it's the philosophy of why most of us write. We want people to buy our books and read them---which of these two is most important? I guess it depends on the writer, but I would rather have more buyers since I think that leaves me with having the most potential readers.

    Jamie -- I do "follow" many blogs that are far from my interests and personality and chances are I may never read them, but if they "follow" my blog then I'll keep them just in case for the future.

    Seams Inspired -- That's right. One sided relationships get kind of boring.

    Valerie -- This is a topic that is always worth reviving now and then because I think it's often misunderstood and there are many points of view. Go ahead and join A to Z and see how you manage.

    Angeline -- I can accept "following back" as a ritualistic rite of reciprocation with the knowledge I may never read the blog. It doesn't hurt me (not in any way that I can think of) to have those blogs sitting in my Google Reader. I appreciate my followers as well and respect those I follow--when I lose respect that's when I'll unfollow.

    Li -- Number of followers should not be a measurement of self-worth by any means, but it can be a measurement of interest level of visitors(those who stay to follow), my level of blogging activity, and other impressions one might get if just looking at my blog from an objective professional point of view.

    Jayne -- Yes, I agree that time constraints certainly interfere with what we can do, but when we have the time it's fun to dig for buried treasures.

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  19. My main blogging rules are that it should be fun, it should benefit reader and writer, and it shouldn't interfere with my regular writing time.

    I love meeting new people and making new friends. You never know which blogger may turn into a friend either. I love it.

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  20. I've only been blogging a little more than a month, so I appreciate reading the perspective of someone who has been doing this awhile.

    Thanks

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  21. That's a great list of guidelines to blog and follow by! My rules are pretty much the same :)

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  22. My rules are much like yours, Arlee. I like #7 very much. I follow a blog, not knowing what the relationship will be, but there's a chance it may grow in the future. Or not. And I always comment on those that comment at my place.

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  23. Great post!

    I never follow/subscribe unless I am ask to but that is the riskiest thing because I somehow lost interest. I feel like you only want me for stats which is not so me. One of the reason I blog is to connect -- as Seams said, to have "a 2-sided commenting relationship."

    I may not follow but I ensure that I check the blogs and sincerely comment at least once a week (frequency depends on their posting sched) of those who commented on my posts.

    There are cases that my heart want to connect with my first time commenter but no matter how much I shake my mind I can't understand their blog posts or it's too far from my interest. I have to politely advise that no matter how much I want to build a relationship as blog friend (cultivated via comments) I just can't.

    For the actual comments it is best to comment sincerely. For me it need not be long so "Great post!" is okay for me but if it's "Great post!" all the time then I'll suspect a computerized robot is hired to comment!

    Glad to stumble upon A to Z challenge and it excites me so much!

    Great post! How would you know if this is sincere? Well, I guess this is the longest comment that I made on blogland!

    Have a fantastic day! :)

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  24. Hi Lee .. I agree with you - and we simply cannot do it all .. I love having new followers and would prefer if they left me a comment - just saying hi, and where they'd come from - because that can often help the connection.

    Also I hope I've followed everyone back .. and I comment too ..

    I just do what I can with commenting and keeping up .. and following new readers, by adding them to my reader ..

    A - Z will be fun .. and the trick I think is to be light in approach - and everyone understands .. we're all in it together.

    Cheers - Hilary

    PS Doris (Hold my Hand:a Social Worker's blog) - I hope you do the Challenge your stories would be fun .. and a lesson to be learnt from ...

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  25. My rules are simple for following (and while yes, I hope that following will be reciprocated, I don't think that I expect it):
    1. Does the blog interest me?
    2. Can I learn something from the blog? (I am a Stamper/cardmaker, so this is a big one)
    3. Is there something that might be blogged about on this blog that I might not want to miss?

    Kim
    The Lunch Box

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  26. I guess it is a bit ironic that I am here to say HI. I am your newest follower on a post about following.

    I agree with alot of what you said. I am new to blogging and hope to get a "following" and a "readership". I have a few blogs that I always read and who always read mine, but I do follow some blogs simply because they followed me.

    I try to browse through my Google reader daily if a title catches my eye on a blog I don't normally read I click it. Otherwise I don't.

    I expect my "followers" and/ or "readers" are mostly the same. I don't have any grand allusions that anyone is sitting anxiously by their computer waiting for me to hit publish. I like to follow people who are "real". Who aren't afraid to say what they think. Just as you have done in this post.

    I too am that way which is probably why I have so few followers lol. I am still also searching for my "niche" and trying to get my bloggy legs on.

    I just joined the A-Z challenge and I look forward to reading your blog and participating in the challenge.

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  27. a great post and great comments. it's nice to see i'm not alone. now i wonder if i really need to cover this subject since so many others here have said what i wanted to say more succinctly than i could have said it.

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  28. Sheila -- I made similar goals in my early months of blogging. I think as many of us gain more followers our eyes start opening more about the value and excitement of having more followers. I don't see a downside to having lot of followers if it is kept in proper perspective. I'm similar to you about blogs with a few followers: If the blog looks like it might have potential I will follow because I know what it was like when I was first starting out. My favorite thing is when I become the very first follower.

    Heather -- I always try to respond to comments even though I know many of the responses may not be read. I'm responding to the ones who will read them and since I don't know who they are I guess I need to try to respond to all of them.

    Odie -- We only can do as much as we are able to do. It would be nice to be SuperBlogger, but most of us can't.

    BZ -- I can't say that I ever have felt guilty for unfollowing someone because if I did this they deserved it. Fortunately this has not happened often.

    Yvonne -- I think the disconnect between the blogger and some of the followers is just the nature of the game so I don't think about it much anymore. The Challenge is growing like crazy of late and a lot of this can be attributed to your efforts. Thank you!

    Doris -- I hope every one who is participating will sign up before April 1, but I know from last year a few will jump in later. My understanding from Jen Daiker, who is maintainig the Linky list, she has the list open til the end of April. I hope anyone on the is list is in for the entire run.

    Kat -- Sounds like you and I are on the same page with this.

    India -- My understanding is that Google Reader has a similar filing system. I haven't investigated it yet, but it does seem like a useful idea.

    Linda -- I'm the same as you. It's a relief sometimes if there is no post. And I do appreciate more the bloggers who post fewer days per week. For the first year I posted daily, but that was more a personal challenge than anything else. Now that I've cut back to mostly 3 days per week I think my blog has improved, especially from the standpoint of getting more comments per post.

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  29. I try to keep up to date with as many blogs as I can..the ones who I am following even if they don´t follow mine...it´s all part of the fun.
    As far as it goes for who I follow...if someone follows me..I will follow back..(preferably someone who runs a blog in my main ara of interest but I´m open to a lot of stuff) it´s polite IMHO, unless of course they have a well weird blog...ie with porn content or odd politics and they will get the boot from my follower list anyway.
    I agree with all your points...if someone comments...I look at what they have been upto, If someone invites me to follow..I will look but only follow if they have something that really interests me.
    Good post Arlee
    Cheers
    Paul

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  30. great post and like you i try to always visit the blogs of those you visit me then those that interest me the most then if i have time i scan through others to see what is up with them. i read as many as possible but i don't always comment as sometimes i have no clue what to say.

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  31. Carol -- I need to revise my blogging rules to be more like yours, but the rules for following that I've expressed here will probably stay the same.

    LG -- In my early blogging days what the more experienced had to say really helped me--in fact that's still the case.

    Jess -- My rules are logical to me though I know many see this differently.

    Lynn -- Like in our everyday contacts, you never know how a relationship will develop as time goes by or whose assistance you may need later. So far I've been pretty good about responding to every comment, but if I ever got to the level of comments that some bloggers get I may not be able to maintain this.

    Bended Spoon -- Sometimes I am so flummoxed by a post I'm not sure what to say. I try to leave at least something to let the blogger know I visited. Thanks for that long comment--I feel flattered.

    Hilary -- If people have commented to me that they've become a follower sometimes I don't notice that they've done so.

    Kim -- I think those simple rules are excellent, although I would say that sometimes a blogger does grow and posts improve over time so you can't always lock in first impressions.

    Dafeenah--I think you have a good grasp on blogging. The problem that I also perceive with many of us is not making the distinction between "followers" and "readers" which is the way I've looked at things from the outset. I'm glad you've made this distinction.

    Michelle -- I say go ahead and do it. You will probably reach some readers who have not read this. It's a topic that bears frequent examination. I think the main thing is to clarify followers vs readers and the ceremonial act of following for show as opposed to the actual physical act of following blog posts. Go for it, Michelle!

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  32. Paul -- Thanks. Looks like we're in agreement.

    becca -- Part of the fun for me is trying to come up with something to say when I don't know what to say. It may comes across as flippant at times, but at least it's an acknowledgement that I was there.

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  33. Hey, Lee!

    Two things I wanted to tell you
    1) I did notice you were nearing your goal of the 600 mark and wanted to CONGRATULATE YOU in meeting your goal! Yea for you (and your co-partners!)

    2) I agree with your follow method. Numbers are nice and great for "marketing" purposes. I think you may have already read my about page- (or you can go see that the next time your on my page) I want sincere people to build "friendships" with and marketing is fine, but when it becomes ALL about self-promotion...you have to build up a rapore with me before I'm going to sing your praises and basically advertise you for free. That's huge here in Orange County and it drives me crazy. I can design your blog, your button, I can photograph your event, I can market your product. STOP, just tell me about your family! (and listen to me, not just try to plug you!) Trust me, if I'm your buddy, I'm going to send people your way, promise!

    3)May I make a humble suggestion for the next A-Z challenge? Now that you have huge numbers signing up, it would so much easier if there were categories. I don't know if you CAN set it up this way? The other day, I started with 1-200. Many people are aspiring writers, which is great, but sometimes I just want to find the "humor" blog or "daily life" blog. I'm not an aspiring writer, and so, although writing tips are very useful...you get where I'm going with this. Then, when I feel like a little "fiction" or "poetry," I know where to read.
    Thank you for considering this.

    4) MOST OF ALL- since you follow so many people and it's challenging, I'm so honored you stop in and comment from time to time in my little world! There are so many terrific blogs out there, so Yea for me! :)

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com

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  34. I do feel obligated to follow those who follow me. I won't necessarily read their blog more than a couple of times (or even once) if it is on a topic I have no interest in.

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  35. I'd rather have a few followers who do actually follow i.e. return regularly and leave comments, then a whole heap of 'faces' who, I suspect, may click the follow link but then never return.
    Regarding my own 'following' I check the latest updates on my dashrboard page and return to a blog if the current topic on that blog interests me.

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  36. Sandi -- I see the follower thing more like a customer / business type of relationship. Maybe instead of followers they should be called something like clients. I have an obligation to provide something, but I need to care about my clients, be interested in them as people, and listen when they speak. Your suggestion about the categories hit me after we had passed 200 sign-ups. The huge list is too much to adequately absorb. It's too difficult to find exactly the types of blogs one would be most interested in finding. But it's a grab bag right now and it could be rewarding in that you might find somebody you really like who might have been in a category you might not have chosen. The approach will certainly have to be reconsidered for next year.

    Marjorie -- I consider it blog etiquette to reciprocate when someone follows me even if I don't read their blog regularly.

    Paula -- Many others agree with your philosophy on this. I just think a lot of "faces" means greater odds of increased numbers of readers since all of those faces represent potential readers. After I've got their face in place it's up to me to try to find a way to keep them coming back.

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  37. Lee, great post~ I'm good for awhile, then a family curve ball arrives. I am thrown off course...my daily blog post, take a spin and before I know it. I feel behind...
    Life gets in the way. I do the best I can, when time permits. I will try to make the circle, but a deadline or my life will zap my routine. It is just the course I am on now, till my children are older. I will try to comment on all my comments and go visit those that took time out of their lives to comment on my blog. We have much to learn 'n share with each other. When I get behind, I am sad, wondering what I am missing. My family makes fun of me...but no one knows till they blog, how it really is~ :-D

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  38. I had a hard time when I first got into blogging getting over the number of followers I had. For a long time I had less than 15, but I knew the 15 personally. They knew me and my family, and I knew they were reading to stay updated with us. I hated having such a low number that sometimes I would let it bother me. Lately, I don't care so much about the number, my blog is for me! If anyone else wants to read what I have to say, then that is great too! I want my blog to expand and grow, but I have also come to terms that it won't be over night.
    I also had a problem following every blog I went too. Now over 1/2 of the blogs I follow I don't have any interest in. I would feel rude, un-following, so I feel stuck.
    I love getting and giving comments. It lets the author know you are listening!!

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  39. You hit the nail on the head. My sentiments exactly with everything you mentioned.

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  40. I try to follow people back if they follow me (although I'm behind at the moment!). If someone leaves me a comment, I always visit their blog. Those are my blogging rules! :)

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  41. well Lee...:)

    i told myself that i wasn't ever going to get involved with another challenge again BUT...here we go again. also decided to use my "a to z" blog for it as well. the only problem i have with this is that i elect to keep the "follow me" gizmo off my blog. between now and the official start of the challenge i've put a poll on the blog whether or not to have or allow comments. i've already put your a to z gizmo on the blog. if you can accept all this, i'm definitely up to the challenge although i'm out of town from the 6th to the 13th. got enough written already to throw into pre-posts.

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  42. Great post, Arlee. I agree with everything you have said. I too follow the same sentiments like you. Congrats on the 700 followers ( I prefer to call them Writing friends) mark. Its a huge achievement. :)

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  43. My blog is vey specifically about writing so I'll happily follow anyone who is interested in that too. I don't expect anyone to comment but it's always great when they do. I'll comment (i.e. ramble) on any post that's writing related.

    I want to visit as many A-Z entrants a possible as I'd like to hook up with more active writers, but 600 is a lot of blogs to cover. Initially I think I'll go with blog titles that sound like they're about writing, but after that it's going to get tricky.

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  44. Lee-

    I did not read all of the comments, but I scanned and saw a few that echoed your thoughts on reciprocal following.

    Does that mean people are offended if you do not follow theirs?

    I find that if I follow too many, the index on my dashboard becomes unmanageable, and I read far less than when I keep that list to a minimum (20 or so), and let comments (on my blog or others) and other things (blogfests) drive my reading pattern.

    So if I have not reciprocated, no offense is meant, and I still stop by your blogs.

    Larry

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  45. ARLEE BOID ~
    I have stated my ideas and my policy about "Following" so many times in the past that I am not going to repeat all of it again.

    However, I will add something that I may have never publicly said before:

    Another reason that I don't "Follow" a whole lot of blogs and why a person choosing to "Follow" one of my two blogs is not guaranteed that I will reciprocate, is because I am genuinely interested in the blogs that I am currently Following. I found in the past that if I'm Following too many blogs, the new entries begin dog-piling on my Blogger Dashboard and there were times when I missed a blogger's entry that I would have truly liked to have read simply because it was quickly buried on my Dashboard by the latest entries of other bloggers.

    I sure don't want to miss something that one of my better friends posted simply because there was an avalanche of postings from bloggers I am merely semi-interested in that came crashing down upon the notification that a good friend had written something new.

    I am also unlikely to "Follow" a blogger who posts more than one blog bit a day for similar reasons. Even if I am genuinely interested in a blogger's writing, if he or she is posting TOO OFTEN and cluttering up my Dashboard, I will cease Following that blogger, but add a link to their blog in my sidebar and just check in on it occasionally - when I think to do so.

    How much blogging do I consider to be "TOO MUCH" blogging? 7 days a week is too often but I might tolerate it on my Dashboard IF I really like the person and think their stuffs is generally excellent. Anyone who frequently posts more than one blog bit per day will be quickly "Un-Followed" and instead linked in my sidebar under "Other Stuffs To Check Out".

    So, too many blogs being "Followed" is a burden on my Dashboard and causes me to sometimes accidentally overlook the blogs I'm MOST interested in "Following". For me, there are multiple reasons not to go overboard on the "Following" thang.

    I say, "Let's keep it real".

    ~ Stephen

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  46. I strongly agree with everything you said. I feel guilty when I don't have time to comment and read all the blogs I want to...it's not always a matter of skimming over the blogs I'm not interested in. I also sometimes read a blog a few days after it posts and wonder if it's worth leaving a comment when there are already 42 other comments before me! ;) I often wonder if the author will even notice another comment at that point...kudos to you for all the personal responses and thanks for a great post!

    Carla

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  47. @Stephen T
    You might condsider adding a Blog List gadget to your blog. You can select which blogs to put on it, so your dashboard blogroll will show everyone you're following, but the gadget on your blog will show the specific ones you're most interested in.

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  48. Arlee,

    Like many, I reciprocate as long as someone follows me. I also return visits as long as someone takes the time to comment on my post, knowing they don't have to do what they've done. The last thing I want to do is take people for granted.

    I know that I won't be reading everyday, but the blogger dashboard helps me decide which posts I read each day.

    Doing the crusade and now going into your challenge has helped me make new and interesting connections - not to mention the fact that I'm learning all sorts of things through the looking at how other writers do their thing.

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  49. Ella-- I've run into this same thing. If somebody doesn't blog they don't really understand what it's all about. They think we're just playing around or something like that. Well, maybe we are, but serious blogging can entail some serious work.

    Tiffani-- I started out much the same as you. I wouldn't unfollow anyone unless you have absolutely no interest in their blog and they aren't following you or commenting on your blog. My feelings are that if there's no relationship on their part you might as well sever it from your side.

    PK -- I like it when people agree with me :)

    Talli -- Those are some reasonable rules.

    Bud -- I know that your goals in blogging are different than many others including my own and I certainly respect that. But like a guestbook at a wedding or a funeral at least you know who paid their respects even if you don't see them again. I do think you should enable comments since I find it frustrating when I want to say something or ask a question and their is no way to do it. I voted on your poll.

    Rachna -- Thanks. I like "Writing Friends" better than "Followers".

    Mooderino -- Don't forget to keep an open mind though. Most people who don't have writing blogs are still writing so I guess that makes them writers right? (sounds like a tongue twister) I've found some pretty cool ideas and good writing on non-writing blogs.

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  50. okay...Lee:)
    comments have been enabled and the poll has been removed.

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  51. Larry -- I hope no one is offended, but I just consider it etiquette of sorts to a certain circle of bloggers. It doesn't really affect me that much how many blogs I follow because like you said I usually base most of my visiting on who has visited me and left a comment or comments I have seen elsewhere that intrigued me enough to pay that blogger a visit. We all blog differently.

    StMc -- Ditto for what I just said to Larry. I don't worry about cluttering up my dashboard and reader because I rarely use those and when I have I have often rediscovered blogs that I had forgotten about that have something interesting posted. I mostly go with the blog roll on my sidebar and the criteria I mentioned above.
    I agree that bloggers that post more than once a day can get rather annoying and excessive and for the most part daily blogging is even too much in many cases. So did my daily blogging annoy you when I used to do it?
    Ceremonial "Following" is just something that some of us like and attach some sort of meaning to and that's keeping it real for those of us who do--kind of like football teams playing for the hell of it and not keeping score and teams that are part of a league and keeping score and having rankings and all that.

    Carla -- I'm often a late visitor to blogs, especially being on the west coast, but I still leave a comment even if many procede mine. Most of the bloggers still read them I think.

    JL--It doesn't hurt to be polite and I think it pays off well in the end. I learned many things from other bloggers and I enjoy these relationships.

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  52. Bud-- I think that's a good thing. Oh, and I added you to my reader like you suggested.

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  53. Oh, thank you for posting this. I have been having a hard time deciding on this following thing. I started this as an outlet and have become an addict.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  54. BOID ~
    >>.....So did my daily blogging annoy you when I used to do it?

    No, it did NOT annoy me. But, to be honest, I thought it was too much bloggin'. I don't think ANYONE on this planet has that much worthwhile stuffs to say.

    If Jesus was blogging 7 days a week, I'd certainly "Follow" and read His daily posts, but He's about the only person I can think of who could keep me reading 365 posts per year. No one else is THAT wise or interesting, and that sure as heck includes me!

    And I would NEVER want someone Following my blogs just because I'm Following theirs. I really DON'T want any "courtesy" or "politeness" Followers. And that's what I mean by "keeping it real", but I know full well that I am in a minuscule minority in this regard, however, that's OK.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  55. Hey Lee,
    I do keep an open mind and will follow anyone who follows me, but in terms of who I decide to follow as I stumble around the blogosphee, i tend to choose like-minded souls, and hopefully our mustual interest will get them to follow me back.
    regards,
    mood

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  56. My rules are similar to yours. I'll 'follow' a new blog I run across and like and consider it worthy of revisiting. It's a nice gesture, a compliment to the blog host, even if it does NOT mean I'll be visiting often. But also when I check my Blogger or WP profile page I see the list of blogs I've followed, and it prompts me to revisit some of those blogs I might have forgotten about. Usually I am pleasantly surprised when I return that the posting IS still good. Two or three revisits with equal results and I wind up being a regular.

    Works for me.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  57. Meh. I have 2 followers and I follow 3. The 3 I follow are blogs I read whenever they are updated, so I havent had to worry about this. But I do understand what you're saying and I feel the same way for the most part.
    <3 Have a great day!

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  58. Jules --As ongoing as this topic is I guess it's frequently on the minds of a lot of bloggers.

    StMc -- As I have stated before, my daily blogging was based on a personal challenge to myself. I was not particularly aiming to impart any wisdom although I hoped to entertain and sometimes entertain. I would compare it to those guys who work out at Muscle Beach--they're doing it to improve their bodies and they know damn well that people are watching them do it. In the end all participating parties got something that they wanted out of it and I'm not going to say anything is wrong with any of it.

    Mooderino -- For the most part so do I, although I have followed some people I disagreed very much with merely to have the other side of the story. Just as long as they don't offend me.

    Mary -- Thank you.

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  59. Mercy -- I don't know how long you've been blogging but I'm sure that will change as time goes on.

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  60. I think this post was necessary and I also share Michele's concern. "Fake following" is part of the reason why I've been hesitant to follow others, besides being busy. But this weekend hopefully I'll change that!

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  61. i love both of Stephen's responses. i think i miss some of my friends' posts for this same reason. wish there was a way to divide the list into two parts - the ones i really want to read and the ones i'll read if i have a lot of time. is there a way to do this? if there is, someone let me know.

    and if Jesus blogged, what would he say? or would he be too occupied with living that he wouldn't have time for a blog?

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  62. Marvin -- your comment went into the spam can--Blogger's been doing that to some of my comments lately.
    I like the way you've expressed it--it is a nice gesture, it doesn't mean it's a lifelong commitment or anything. And you can always go back sometimes for a visit.

    Michelle in a Shell --I don't really like thinking of a "fake following" as much as I'd call it a ceremonial gesture of blog etiquette. I'd say click the follow button for just about every new blog you visit (unless you strongly dislike the blog) if you want to have a larger blog following of your own. If you don't care about the following, don't follow any blogs but I would also want to reflect on why you blog and what your blogging goals are.

    Michelle G --I always like Stephen McCarthy's indepth answers as well since he's the one who got me started in blogging, although he and I have been in continual disagreement on this topic. However, I presume his goals in blogging are different than mine and I can certainly respect that.
    I have heard (and it makes sense) that Google Reader gives you the option of dividing blogs that you follow into folders. I don't know if that is reflected in the dashboard window. Maybe I'll investigate this one day, but since I rarely use either it's not of much significance to me.

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  63. whoa! Congrats on the 700th follower, Lee! When's the celebration party?

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  64. Lee, I'm so with you and can't thank you enough for blogging about what most of us struggle with. Each of the blogs I follow enlarges my horizon, enriches my depth of knowledge and I'm appreciative for that. I can't get to every blog every day, of course, but I do try to visit whenever possible. We can only do the best we can.

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  65. #2, 3 and 4 are important to me -- particularly the bit where you said that you'd follow but not necessarily "follow" furture posts. When we gain so many followers we start to get picky :)

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  66. Thanks so much for this post. It's informative and very useful for a newbie like myself. :)I'd sure like to have 700+ followers like you, but I wouldn't know what to do with all of them either. This post has the answers.

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  67. Good topic, Lee!

    I don't follow anyone unless I intend to go back to that blog on a regular basis - because I find it interesting. I don't always get to all the blogs I'd like to - this really bothers me. I feel I should visit everyone once a week - but I'm finding that is impossible. I THINK I'm managing to hit everyone at least every 2nd week, but not always. With a full time job and needing to have time for my family and writing, it is HARD! So I'm now being very careful about new blogs I follow - but there are SO many good ones!

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  68. Dezmond -- Well, if you'll notice I quietly announced the 700 at the bottom of the page. Maybe now when I reach 1000 I'll announce it big, but now party for now.

    Kittie -- You've said my motto: "Do the best you can." AFter a while you can only do so much.

    Lynda -- After a certain number of followers I guess you have to get picky in that you just can't visit every one (see previous response).

    Nutschell -- Thank you for that kind word. I hope I have been of help here.

    Jemi -- I reached the point of following so many that now I mostly visit the squeaky wheels and the elephants in the living room. Hmmm -- that's not a very nice way of putting it, but maybe you understand what I'm saying.

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  69. Wow! I guess we've all been thinking about this. As a very wet-behind-the-ears blogger, Lee, I appreciate the food for thought that your post and everyone's comments provide. I may be back to read this another time or two, as I figure out what my follow policy is.

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  70. You pretty much covered everything that I feel about following Arlee. I I try to comment on everyone's posts that I follow. It can be daunting! But I feel it is only polite and I do sometimes have to apologize if I haven't visited someone.
    We do have lives to live after all!
    I am glad that you posted this Arlee, I know now that I am not alone on this issue.
    Love Di ♥

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  71. Lee, your philosophy is VERY sane to me, possibly because it is so similar to my own. Typically, I press follow as a 'thank you' for a comment or follow (though have been known to miss them when it's crazy) or as part of blogfests or referrals from other blogs to say 'hey, looks great'. I only 'unfollow' for the value stuff you mention (though my turn-off values probably are not yours, for the most part). I try to hit my blog ROLL regularly--those are the people for whom reciprocity has been established. I don't have enough organization to do it another way...

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  72. Lee, I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

    My own feelings are somewhat different in that I don't automatically follow everyone who follows me until they give me a reason not to. There are a lot of blogs out there that just don't apply to me or my life. I don't follow everyone. But I DO visit everyone who follows me. Not on as regular a basis as I should, but I do.

    And when I participate in a hop or a challenge, I make it my own personal challenge to visit and comment on every single participant at least once. If there are 600 bloggers joining in the A to Z challenge, then I'm going to do my best to visit all 600. And along the way, I have no doubt I'll find some new friends and new blogs to follow.

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  73. Fan. Tas. Tick! The ONLY thing we differ a little bit on is....the more followers I get, the more it kinda scares me. I think to myself 'how in the world am I gonna get around to visit them all?'

    Great, great post!

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  74. I follow blogs that are of genuine interest to me and who I will read on a regular basis. I bookmark the blogs I'd like to read, but don't always have time for - like saving them for a rainy day. And while, I may not follow a blog, I'll usually leave a comment when I'm there.

    I thought comments were better than followers. I'd much rather hear from 1 to 2 readers on every post than have 20 followers and no comments on any posts. Right now I have 5 followers, but I've conversed with each one. Connecting is more important to me than following. Or course, since my followers are so few, perhaps I shouldn't even be speaking on this subject.

    By the way, thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog! I know Ralph was such a stimulating post ;) Seriously, I appreciate it!

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  75. New to the blogging world, I try to follow whoever follows me, but I do actually follow. Of course at the moment I only have a SMALL number.... okay, it's 19.. and some of those are friends. However, I am learning through your A-Z it's a big blogging world and I'm excited to see what others are doing. My blog started to promote the release of my first novel, but it's becoming such fun. I just hit the 200 follower mark on my facebook autho fan page so congrats to you on your following!

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  76. I agree with your rules and think that they are very realistic. It's very hard to follow a large number of blogs and there are only so many hours in a day, so we just have to do the best that we can. Happy Spring!

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  77. Interesting take on followers... I'm not sure if I'm "different" because I'm an RPG blogger, but I do read blogs I "follow". I use Google Reader, and it will import the blogs which you choose to "follow", so at the very least, I skim posts for those blogs, possibly read thoroughly, and maybe click through to comment. It's marginally easier to add blogs to my Reader than it is to click the RSS feed button.

    This means that I don't click "follow" super often, although I do have a pretty large list of blogs to read now. The issue for me, then, is: do I want the blogger to know I read the blog regularly? If so, I click "follow". If I don't plan on commenting that often, or I'm not sure how long I will follow the blog, I add the feed instead.

    When Blogger tells me I have new followers, I do check their profiles to see if they are bloggers, then check the blogs to see if I want to reciprocate. Again, it's based on whether I think I'll be reading them regularly.

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  78. I'm not sure I've thought about it as clearly as you have, but I like your rules, and I certainly don't disagree with them.

    I'm similar in that I don't always notice when people have followed me, but if they leave a comment or signal they're around, I'll head over to check out their blogs as well.

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  79. Well that´s probably the biggest amount of responses i have ever seen on a blog thread...you´ve hit a nail on the head here
    Cheers
    Paul

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  80. Hello Lee. I too have written about this subject before where I said I was looking for friendship not numbers and was quite satified to stay with just a few followers but followers just seem to add themselves to my following by them selves, strange isn't it? However I do find it difficult to read posts from all the blogs that I follow, simply a matter of available time but I do get arround to them as often as I can. There are however some blogs that I go to every time, yours among others and I find that even though I don't leave comments every time I have built up a relationship with them. Good post, God bless, Geoff.

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  81. Initially, I followed others to be polite. Now that my book is out, I have less time to read blogs and keep up with everyone. I will probably be more selective, however, I will still follow someone if they follow me. I give myself permission to either comment on their post or not to. If someone comments on my post, I absolutely will go to their blog and comment on theirs.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

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  82. Great post! I do try to follow anyone who follows my blog, and as a general rule, I do think people should follow back. I understand not every follower will read much of what I post, but that follow is a nice encouragement to keep at it.

    Thanks for organizing the A-Z challenge. I've already followed a couple of the blogs listed, and I intend to check out a good number and add some more to my list.

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  83. This post is marvelous. Really. I've gone back and forth about the following issue, especially when it seems like I'll never be able to make it around to all the blogs I follow.

    This is how I see it: you follow because you're interested. Even if it's only a momentary interest, it's a compliment to the blog author. I go through my blog roll once in a while and read as many posts as I can get to in a day. A lot of times they are blogs of people I haven't read in months and more often than not, they'll comment back. It's nice to reconnect.

    Do I feel bad when I can't get to all of them? Yes. But I'm working on that :D

    Cheers!

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  84. Jim's Girl-- When establishing a policy for following I would first decide why I am blogging and what my goals are.

    Diana -- I think it is good to respond to everyone who leaves a comment, but sometimes--like on this post--there are so many comments that it can be difficult to do so.

    Hart -- Organization is a big key to it all, but time presents the biggest obstacle of all when it comes to visiting all of the blogs we follow.

    Karen -- With all of the blogs signed up for A to Z, visiting will definitely present a challenge to all of us.

    Words Crafter -- Visit one at time as time will allow is all I can suggest.

    Brianna -- I've always maintained that I prefer readers and commenters, but more followers increases your odds of having those.

    Sand Castles -- When I first started blogging it was the same way. I sent out emails and talked to friends and relatives to sign up on my blog. I even went so far as to print up business cards. In the end I found the most sure way to gain followers was to visit other blogs and follow them and cultivate those relationships. Non-bloggers for the most part do not understand blogging.

    Marguerite-- You and I have the same philosophy regarding time and doing what you can.

    Talysman-- I need to spend more time learning about the Google Reader to see if that would help make things go faster.

    Amie -- I don't see on your site where there's a way to follow and I don't get notified if you respond to my comments or not. I think I've mentioned this to you before.

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  85. Paul - Thanks! And believe me, I've seen longer comment threads.

    Geoff-- It goes back to the time issue and why you blog. You are looking for something different then certain other bloggers and that's fine.

    Nancy -- As I've said before, there comes a point where we have to become selective and as blog rolls grow, the more selective we become.

    Tim -- A to Z is a good way to follow other bloggers and to gain new followers since there is a commonality among us.

    Jen -- I like looking at hitting "follow" is a compliment. Marvin, the Old Silly, used that term as well. I agree that it is a nice blog gesture that if you appreciate what a blogger is doing, you leave a comment and follow their blog. It's a compliment not a commitment and you are laying a foundation for potential relationships in the future.

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  86. I have very similar rules. I tend to overlook the follower gadget (I love that to be renamed too) so I really need someone to post in the comments – that gets my attention.

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  87. Good post! I've been thinking about doing a post about this, for it is often on my mind. But perhaps I will just send them here instead! Thanks for being real; I agree, and I appreciate the honest perspective. :)

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  88. This was an interesting read, it has made me question why I follow/like followers.
    Any piece of writing that makes me think is good.

    John
    RJRDaydreamer

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  89. I totally agree with your rules. I always check out my reader to see what catches my fancy each day. I think I read a total of five a day (give or take). I try to make a strong effort to read the blogs of those who have commented on mine as a way of saying "Thanks for taking the time and putting in the effort to both read as well as comment on my post" But like you it has to be something that interested me as well as something that I feel maintains a form of respect for others. Even if they disagree with a view I have. I am glad to see I am not alone in this :)

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  90. I am like a blog hoarder- I'll follow anything that seems interesting or has some promise...then time goes by and I find that I have almost 1000 items in my Google Reader & it becomes obvious that I need to purge.

    Your rule about the non-commenting followers is interesting though b/c I think most blog readers in general read but don't comment (I even have a few family members who play it off like they don't read my blog, but my blog traffic stats show otherwise, which has always amazed me).

    Btw, since I'm a bit behind on commenting on YOUR blog, I wanted to thank you for the posts a few weeks back on writing press releaes and contacting newspapers. They were helpful.

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  91. Holly -- On the follower gadget so often any more when I click on a new follower it doesn't give me a blog. That's why I really prefer if a new follower lets me know they've done so with a comment on my post.

    Karen -- Your view and interpretation would certainly be good. I like to hear how different people express their views on the subject.

    John -- Actually this piece stimulated much more thought than I had expected so it must be on a lot of peoples' minds.

    K.D.-- I tend to like civil disagreement that stimulates discussion. It makes things more interesting.

    Lisa -- I'm still hoping that a few A to Zers put some of that press info to work. I'm hoping to see some articles. I think I may have a few that may show up, but I'm not sure I'll know for sure since they'll be scattered all over the country. Unfortunately I didn't have time to adequately devote time to the press issue, but I hope someone besides Nicki managed to get something.

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  92. When someone leaves an interesting comment on my blog, naturally, I go to theirs to see who they are, and most of the time, I follow them.

    The "follow" for me serves as a sort-of "book mark" so that I won't forget them. That way, I can go down my list and stop by occasionally to visit.

    As for people following me - it's nice. It's flattering. And, I appreciate the "follow," however, I'm okay if readers do not follow me for whatever reason. My "just over a hundred" followers have built slowly, and I'm fine with it.

    I think it's okay for everyone to determine their own rules for following or getting followers. Just don't get upset when others do things differently. Why?

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  93. Anita -- I would tend to agree with what you say. I will often see something really interesting and follow the blog so maybe I can go back someday to see what other interesting things they might have to say.

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  94. I lean quite a bit toward Michele's reasoning, but also agree with and see many of the points you've made. So now, I'm even more frazzled. Ha! I'm really just learning how to walk (and write) in Blogville. Sometimes I feel like I'm trespassing (especially when signing up for something 'big' like the A-Z Challenge). At other times I feel like I've always lived here in Blogville. I like my little neighborhood, my little playground, and my little like-minded friends. But something is telling me to be courageous, to move a bit beyond the fence, to explore...

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  95. Pebbles -- There is no one correct way to blog. We each just need to find where we want to go and go in our own way. And we can always change as we go. Your analogy works well. It's a big blogging world out there.

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  96. I'm still trying to decide whether to sign up for this adventure, I just found out about it today, March 31st. Honestly after looking around here for a while, I'm still not 100% what the guidelines are for the challenge. But as far as followers go...I only follow blogs because I actually want to read what they have to say.

    Frankly I don't have time to read stuff I'm not interested in. I work that same way in Facebook, I'm not one of those people collecgting friends so everyone can see how popular I am. I would think the same thing applies here, I'm in the challenge for ME and my experience and growth, not to collect followers. The number really means nothing, if I see you have 100 follwers that doesn't impress me, you could in reality have 1 person actually reading what you have to say.

    I don't know, the more I write about one's followers the more sophmoric this whole thing seems.

    I think I'll skip the challenge. But thank you anyway.

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Lee