Respect for the authentic conversation: comments, links and all that jazz

Transparency’s been on my mind recently with all this focus on authenticity.  (Although they’re not the same there’s definitely a transparency strand to authenticity – being clear and open about who you are and what you’re about.)

It’s been a reminder to me to tidy up some of my own blogging policies so you can be clear what to expect when you come here to read, comment or link back to me.

Some other things have been prompting me to sort out in my mind how I was going to deal with certain things.  There was Phil at Thought Sparks prompting us to think about our Code of Ethics.

There’s been the question of whether to post the full set of links to some of the lists of blogs that this site (and its sister site Coaching Wizardry) have appeared on recently.

And then there was a challenge from Liz Strauss to match the blogging promise made by Joe Hauckes.  This is what he said:

•    I will be sure to comment on other Blogs if I can add to the conversation.
•    I will respond to comments on my own Blog.
•    I will acknowledge any links to my Blog with a comment on the linker’s Blog.
•    I will continue to link to other Blogs that are pertinent to a posts content.
•    I will once again be a part of the Blogging Community.
•    That is my promise to the Community as a whole, in part, and individually.

All of which is telling me it’s time to set out my approach to comments, links and all that jazz.  It’s based on the principle of respect: for my readers; for your words here (and on your own sites);  for my site, my words (and my self); and for the shared space that we use to communicate and connect.

So here it is.

1. The comments that you leave here are precious to me.  That means I will:

  • Respond to all the comments on this blog
  • Respond personally (by e-mail) when you leave a comment for the first time – to say hello
  • Highlight some of the words, ideas, comments and conversations that you make through the comment box, in posts and in writing elsewhere*.   I will always credit these back to you and link to your site if you have one.
  • Contact regular commenters from time to time to let them know about things that are happening on the site

* For example I’m thinking of compiling an e-book on authentic writing at the end of this month – and it will be so much more interesting if I can include your words and ideas as well as my own…

2. The shared space that we are creating here is also precious to me.  That means I will:

  • Delete any comments that are upsetting or insulting to my readers or to me
  • Delete comments that are only written to provide a link to another site and do not add to the conversation in any way
  • Delete comments that come from a list of keywords rather than someone with a name
  • Delete sp*m comments

3. I respect the attention that you give me as a reader.  That means I will:

  • Point you towards lots of other sites that I think will be interesting and valuable to you
  • Only link to sites that I think are relevant and of interest, and that I have visited and explored a little
  • Decline invitations to publish links (like those on lists of sites where I’m included) – unless I’ve visited them all and know they’re good quality and relevant

4. I respect the words of other authors and bloggers.  That means I will:

  • Provide the link and source material for any material that I quote here

5. I respect the shared space that is this thing called the blogosphere. That means I will:

  • Invest time in reading, commenting and conversing around the words of other writers, bloggers, friends and conversationalists
  • Do my best to add to the conversation – including saying things like thanks, hello, I enjoyed that.  (Sometimes the most powerful words can leave us a little lost as to what to say.  It’s okay, honestly, just to say thanks, that was great, interesting, challenging… whatever.  Sometimes that’s more authentic than waiting to think of the smart or witty thing to say)
  • Leave a comment to say hello and thank you when someone links out to me (except for links that come from the repeat publication of lists)

What I’ve got here is a statement of what I currently do.  There may well be other things that I’ve not included because I haven’t thought of them yet…!  Please let me know if there are other things that it would be useful for me to cover here or that I can learn from your own practice.

You can read more on blogging Code of Ethics at Thought Sparks.
If you’d like to join the blogging promise link back to Joe’s post, tag it ‘Joe’s promise’ and then tell us what you do…


    • September 18, 2007


    What a commitment you are vowing to make. I feel honored as a reader and commenter.

    What a neat idea about an e-book. Good luck!

    I think it’s so exciting to watch ideas grow. I am also finding myself a bit jealous that I can’t be at home and on my computer more.

    Someday again soon.. :)

    Sylvia C.

  1. Hi Sylvia, it’s lovely to hear from you. Thanks for your feedback and encouragement :-)

    I’m not sure you should be wishing to spend more time at your PC. Anyway that would spoil my mental picture of you daydreaming around farmers’ markets and scribbling into your moleskin in a cafe somewhere…

    Best wishes as always


    • September 19, 2007


    This is a great policy and similar to my philosophy except for a couple of things.

    I do not automatically send an e-mail to a first-time commenter. However, I always respond in comments and also respond in e-mail to answer a question or let the commenter know if a particular comment struck a chord with me.

    However, one thing I had not thought of: “Decline invitations to publish links (like those on lists of sites where I’m included) – unless I’ve visited them all and know they’re good quality and relevant.”

    I do not participate in viral link trains and similar schemes.

    However, I recently posted the Outstanding Personal Development Blogger list without checking out every site. That list has grown to over 500 sites now, and while I’m checking them out as I have time, obviously I won’t get through the list any time soon.

    I didn’t have a problem posting that list because the criteria is that people added to the list recommend bloggers to the list because their blogs are outstanding in some area of personal development. I realize people may have differences of opinion as to what makes an outstanding personal development blog. In fact, I was surprised to be added to the list because I don’t consider my blog a personal development blog. However, among the elements included in the description of personal development by the originator of the list are motivation and inspiration, which I certainly strive for in my blog.

    Now you’ve got me thinking. Would you not participate in such a list?

    I see your point - and I’m very careful that all the links I personally recommend in posts or in my blogroll have been checked out by me. But I don’t see a problem with posting a list of recommendations by other people when I make it clear I’m not making a personal recommendation but the blogs have been recommended on the basis of quality - not just a viral train when anyone can jump on the train.

    • September 19, 2007

    Hi Joanna, your post led me to reflect on how much my thinking has been enriched by conversations with other bloggers. The perspective I’ve gained and the knowledge I’ve acquired through conversations has helped me do more for my clients, day in and day out. I’ve always believed that two heads are better than one, but before I started blogging, I never imagined how far and how deep you could go with collaboration.

  2. Hi Lillie

    Thanks for your comments - and indeed your early help to me in formulating my first version of a comment policy.

    The question about the links list is a really tricky one, and it was the list you’re talking about (the personal development list) that got me thinking harder about this and was part of the stimulus to set out this statement of what I do.

    My coaching wizardry site was nominated for inclusion in the list. I did add my own five recommendations, point my readers to the place where they could find the list if they wanted to look through it - but I didn’t publish the list.

    This was as you say because I hadn’t had the chance to look through all the sites myself - nor did I want to spend the time doing so.

    I was then ‘challenged’ to publish the list of links - and if anything this made me even clearer in my views that it was my choice as to who I would link to, that I needed to have some criteria for doing that - and publishing links to hundreds of other sites just because one person had included my name on the list wasn’t sufficient.

    I wouldn’t say other people were or are wrong to publish such lists, and indeed you could argue that it’s the generous and grateful thing to do. It just didn’t feel right to me.

    I’d be interested to know what others think?


  3. Hi Brad, it’s amazing isn’t it?

    I’d never thought of it like that before I started blogging - but now I definitely think of this shared space as somewhere I go to learn, to stretch, to develop, to collaborate…


    • September 20, 2007

    I would have decided against publishing the list if someone challenged me and said or implied I was obligated to do so.

    I want to know what others think and why they do or don’t do something - which is why I’m so interested in your thinking about the personal development list. However, I do not take well being told what I should do or not do.

    I’ve been added or asked to join several viral link trains, and I never participate in those. I’m just not comfortable with the idea of passing on a list that anyone can add themselves to - and those kinds of lists often attract blogs I wouldn’t personally recommend. I only participate in memes or group writing projects if that fit my vision for my blog. I would not appreciate someone telling me I’m obligated to respond just because someone else chose me.

    I listed the personal development list because I thought it could be a worthwhile resource for my readers to check out on their own. The blogs I recognized were ones I was proud to be associated with, but I can’t possibly recommend them all because I haven’t visited them all. While I chose to include the list on my blog, I respect your reasons for not doing so and certainly don’t think anyone has the right to challenge you on your decision.

  4. Lillie - “I want to know what others think and why they do or don’t do something”

    This is a great attitude and approach to life!

    On the link list, you are right that the challenge and sense of obligation did change things, and probably pushed me further into the corner of not publishing. (In a further twist the person who ‘challenged’ people on the list has now publicly apologised to everyone for getting carried away with their enthusiasm for the exercise…)

    But in some ways I was grateful for the challenge because it helped me to crystallise my thoughts. I am happy to add suggestions to a worthwhile endeavour like this, and I’m happy to highlight the fact that the resource exists with a link to the ‘full list’.

    But why does that promotion need to include publishing all the links - unless the objective is to generate link love, rather than to provide a resource for readers?

    I fear I may be sounding and being curmudgeonly… but that is where I’ve got to for now.


    • September 24, 2007

    Hey Joanna,
    You went into a lot more detail than I with your promise. I hope I can keep up with all the new friends I have made through this idea. :-)
    All the best and keep on writing and commenting!
    Thanks for the link too. ;-)

  5. Hi Joe, thanks for stopping by.

    I’d been pulling together various strands for a while and meaning to put them together in a post, then your promise and Liz’s challenge gave me a good reason to publish it.

    I guess you’ll be busy following up your links just now!!

    I’m sure you’ll make some new friends and readers as you go though


    • October 7, 2008

    Wow… I have been struggling with how to deal with comments and such on my blog (just starting out) and this is a great post about how to respect each others words in this blogosphere.

  6. Hi Pam, I’m glad you found it helpful. The conversations in comment boxes are probably the most important, rewarding and satisfying part of blogging but it’s easier to make it work if you’re clear about what you’ll accept (and won’t), how you’ll reply, how easy you can make it for others.. and so on.

    Good luck with your blog


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