Jul 05 2007

Blog Karma and Blogging Benevolence (Part Four)

Published by at 7:57 pm under blogging,karma

(Note: This is part of a four part series – Please see Introduction and Parts Two and Three for context)

The Blog Itself

There are really two components of the blog itself that can affect your blog karma – the look, feel and operation of the blog, and the blog content. Of course, the impact on your blog karma depends on the type of blog you have. Most of these comments are applicable to semi-professional, professional, and business blogs, and not so relevant to personal, hobby blogs.

1. The look, feel and operation of the blog

First impressions – For the most part you have only a few seconds to make an impression on a visitor to your blog. Creating a bad impression can seriously erode your blog karma. Having a pop up or squeeze page is a big karma killer, as is an over abundance of flashy advertising. So too a poor blog design, slow loading time or poor taste images will not help.

Social proof – like it or not, a visitor to your blog will probably look for some form of social proof – validation that this is a worthwhile place to be. It’s hard when you first start out because it will take some time to build up an audience. Which is where you have to tread a fine line between validation and transparency.

For example, displaying a chicklet that shows how many readers you have is a fine example of transparency, and if large enough satisfies validation and will create good blog karma. But the contradiction is that displaying a tiny subscriber count probably won’t enhance your blog karma. I’m not sure what the magic number is, but Philip has an interesting discussion on this subscriber count debate.

In the absence of a chicklet, sidebar widgets that display avatars of people who have recently visited does satisfy “social proof” to an extent, and can increase your blog karma in certain situations, though there would probably be some niches in with these widgets might actually decrease your karma.

Anonymity – in some instances this is acceptable, such as a personal or entertainment type blog, but for the most part hiding behind a pseudonym would generally not enhance blogging karma for a semi/professional blog. Similarly a brief or non existent “about” page and an absence of contact details does not help.

Blogrolling – I’m all for having a blogroll, and sending links out to other bloggers. What creates a bad impression, for me at least, is automated blogrolling via blogroll exchange programs, whereby all participants display the same blogroll, irrespective of whether they actually read the blogs or not. Again, it depends on the nature of the blog, but it smacks of “gaming” to me. It’s a way to gain up to hundreds of links in one hit, thereby increasing Technorati rank, but I’d suggest its use diminishes overall blog karma.

Linking – while on the topic of “gaming”, what’s with the Alexa redirects? Linking to your blog using an Alexa redirect looks like this http://redirect.alexa.com or it can be disguised (don’t click on these links – I’m merely making a point!). So, if you can’t earn it legitimately, you trick others into doing it? BAD KARMA – reeks of desperation.

Folksonomy – when tagging on your blog, or tagging your blog or post somewhere else, don’t be tempted to use irrelevant tags. Tags are supposed to be useful and relevant, don’t abuse the privilege.

RSS Feeds – we’re all busy people, and when we subscribe to feeds it’s for the convenience of being able to read posts quickly in one spot. My belief is that by only supplying partial feeds and forcing your readers to visit your site to read a full post creates bad blog karma. It might improve your Alexa rank, but may well decrease your subscriber numbers in the process. (This is a pet peeve of mine)

2. Blog Content

At the end of the day, no matter what you say or do, without good content, you’re never going to have good blog karma. So what makes good content? Of course that’s subjective and highly reliant on your niche. But generally I’d say the following create bad blog karma:

  • “borrowing” ideas without crediting the source
  • reproducing more than a certain percentage of a post, even if you do credit the source
  • regurgitating content, with no fresh input
  • excessive use of emoticons 😉
  • sensationalising for linkbait purposes
    (these last three points were from Rob Humphreys – Blog Karma)
  • begrudged or gratuitous linking like this (I controlled the urge to be snarky)
  • forcing all links in new windows/tabs
  • not disclosing potential conflict of interests, paid advertising or paid reviews
  • sloppy grammar and spelling
  • excessive swearing

Tools to help maintain blog karma

Ben Martin suggests the following in his tips for new bloggers

  • read other blogs (particularly in your niche)
  • subscribe to comprehensive Google alerts

To which I’d add to also follow links via Technorati.


Well what started out as a post, turned into four – it really is a large subject area! Most of us break these “suggestions” from time to time, I guess the idea is to minimise our bad karma and focus on the good. Remember, I think it’s perfectly possible to have a very successful blog without following these suggestions, it all depends on how you want to be perceived in the blogosphere. Blog readers have to quickly discern if yours is worthwhile and worthy of their time. Do you want credibility and respect, or simply traffic and money? Are you a benevolent blogger?

What have I missed here? What do you think makes for good and bad blog karma?

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Blog Karma and Blogging Benevolence (Part Four)”

  1. Leighon 05 Jul 2007 at 9:34 pm

    WOW Meg, these posts are amazing! It will take a few days to digest them.

    Great work :)

  2. Snoskredon 05 Jul 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Great articles, I’ll link to them as must reads on my weekly wrap up this week.

    One thing to note re the blogrolling and link exchanges etc. If they are using javascript or Iframes, web spiders don’t count them. Therefore it does nothing for Technorati or any other ranks at all. From what you’ve said here, perhaps this is not a widely known thing.

    So the one I display on my site for blogging chicks didn’t do anything for me rank wise. If it did, I’d be like a 700 or something on Technorati, because there’s over 800 blogs in blogging chicks. I only get a very occasional hit from it. It’s more about being a part of the community overall and supporting what it stands for. I have been annoyed lately because it’s been slowing my page load down when blogrolling is down – and that seems to be somewhat more often than usual lately.

    I’m not sure that one can judge anything on the blogroll front, unless you highlight the widget and look at the source code. The majority of them are powered by blogrolling, which is not counted by the spiders.

    With our Australian Blog Community – the links DO count towards technorati etc. I read all the blogs on the community regularly, I get a lot out of reading their posts and I greatly enjoy it. Therefore I have no issue giving a link back to them and them gaining from that as far as ranks etc goes.

    I have also made all the Australian Blog Community blogs favorites on technorati, and I’m currently in the process of stumbling them all. 😉 That’s because I appreciate those guys enough to take the time. I don’t expect anything back, sure that would be nice, but I think the most important thing when it comes to blog karma is – if you are generous with your comments, your thoughts, your support, you’ll get it back. 😉


  3. Megon 05 Jul 2007 at 10:00 pm

    @ Leigh – thanks. It’s only fair, as they took a few days to put together :)

    @ Snos – thanks. Golly, I hope you didn’t think that blogrolling comment was directed at you. I know you are very involved in the Aussie Blogs community (I see your “footprints” all over the place)! And I agree some blogrolls don’t count towards links. It’s only that I see a lot on Technorati because of the Top 100 blogs – I guess I’m looking a bit more closely at some of the links exchanges which stand out a mile. I noticed you’d faved my blog on Technorati & returned the compliment – thanks.

    I like to think you’re right – “what goes around comes around” and all. I noticed today that you had a post on karma (in general) too. My heart skipped when I saw the title, having had this series of posts well on their way to being finished. Then I realised it had nothing to do with blogging (a good read by the way)!

  4. Rohiton 06 Jul 2007 at 12:07 am

    Another great expansion, Meg. I commented on post #2 as well … thanks for taking this conversation and bringing the topic to an even wider group of bloggers and blog readers!

  5. Benon 06 Jul 2007 at 3:58 am

    Thanks for the link, Meg. What a really awesome collection of blog karma tips!

    In part two, you mention comment feeds. FYI, and for your readers: I use http://co.mments.com to track comments on other peoples’ blogs. You can only use it on a post-by-post basis — in other words, I couldn’t set up a comment feed to cover all posts on your blog — so after I leave this comment, I’ll click a little bookmarklet, and any future comments on this post will get picked up by co.mments.com and dumped into my RSS reader.

    This might earn me some bad karma, but for some of the blogs I follow, I simply can’t afford the time needed to keep up with all the comments. However, I do want to follow conversations in which I’ve participated. That’s why I find co.mments.com so useful. It lets me decide which comment threads I want to follow.

    This whole blog karma thing is actually pretty simple: Just act like a decent human being and you’ll have no problems.


  6. Megon 06 Jul 2007 at 9:59 am

    Rohit – thanks for starting the conversation :)

    Ben – you’re welcome. That’s a great tip about co.mments – I have seen it mentioned, but thought it was a plugin for your own blog! Very handy for blogs that haven’t installed a “subscribe to comments” plugin.

    Thanks for your comments.

  7. Danaon 06 Jul 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks for all this info. The comment about blogrolls surprised me. I have joined a few because they represented things I am very interested in and it is such a convenient way for me to find new blogs that probably share similar interests to me. And obviously this is just me, but when I land on a page I have never been on before, a quick perusal of their blogrolls gives me a snapshot of who they are and what they are interested in. Even if it is just for the links…I know how they lean politically, what social issues are important to them and possibly their religious affiliation.

    And G’day down there. Australia is a beautiful country. I only got to spend a month there, but I took one of your countrymen for a husband!

  8. Megon 06 Jul 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Dana – my comment about blogrolls does seem to be a bit controversial – and maybe I’m way off with my call.

    On the one hand, it does show a great sense of community spirit (and benevolence), but on the other they can be used to generate lots of links in Technorati, which could affect the price of pay per review type posts, and position on “top lists”. It all depends on how the blogroll has been implemented (and coded).

    I agree, you can learn a lot about a person’s interests from their blogrolls.

    I hope you that you get back to Australia for a visit.

  9. Danaon 06 Jul 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Of course, my blog is just a hobby, so I don’t take the ranking and all that all that seriously. I have the same feeling you express when I land on a site that is dominated by blogrolls and they don’t appear to have any traffic to go with the ranking. I was browsing stats for higher ranked blogs once upon a time out of curiosity and was surprised at the number of blogs which were ranked very high due to blogrolls who had comparably little traffic…less than me even. I would have thought that google searches alone would have brought in more visitors.

  10. Megon 06 Jul 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Hi Dana

    Yes, that is precisely my point – a high ranking with what seems to be a lack of traffic – it just doesn’t seem to add up!

  11. Von 07 Jul 2007 at 4:05 am

    The RSS ‘partial feeds’ thing is what interests me the most in this post. (hey, I rhyme)…

    I believe I chose that option somewhere along the line. WordPress RSS is kind of confusing to me and it would take me a while to work out how to change it, if I were to do so…. but I would prefer that people actually visit my blog than only read from a distant source. If people don’t like it – well, there’s not much I can do about that, I suppose…

    Other than that, great post. Right on.

  12. Snoskredon 07 Jul 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Meg – can you shoot me a link or few to these blogs you mention? I’ll take a look to see if it’s because of the linking.

    A lot of things can affect page rank. It’s possible these guys might be using other techniques to get high up in the rankings with apparently not much traffic.

    I didn’t take it personally, no. I didn’t know about the blogrolling etc not counting until I asked Sephy if we could use blogrolling to keep the community links list updated and he said well you could, but it wouldn’t be worth it because the spiders ignore them. So I figured maybe others didn’t know about it also. 😉

    I did think for a second – is what we’re doing with the aussie blogs community links list a bad thing? But it was only for a second. I know it’s not. :)

    Ben – OMG thank you so much! I was about to go looking for something like this.. 😉 Legendary!

    Dana – we have a great selection.. :) Of men, that is.. :)

    Like Dana I can tell a lot about a blog by the blogs it links to, and I often find great new blogs by clicking on the blogsrolls of people whose blogs I enjoy reading.

  13. Megon 07 Jul 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Vanessa (glad you’re feeling better)

    Maybe it’s just me & that I subscribe to too many feeds 😉 I just like it all there in front of me – and I don’t like being forced to actually click through. If I like what I read, I’ll invariable go there to follow the conversation anyway, but I like to be given the choice. But again, maybe it’s just me.

    (BTW if you ever DO want to go to full feed you go to Options, Reading and scroll down to “Syndication feeds” & choose full text. At any time you can cut off a full post by using the “more” tag when you’re writing a new post).

    Hi Snos

    I get that list to you – might have to do a bit of digging.

  14. Benon 08 Jul 2007 at 5:49 am

    @Snoskred: You’re welcome. Been using it for over a year, and I love it!

  15. ladynadaon 08 Jul 2007 at 3:09 pm

    you have an error in the syntax of your SU button, it needs to be
    and then your link

    you have something like /url/

    I will SU it anyways!

    It is so refreshing to see someone advocate ethics in blogging and social networks. I was tempted this weekend by sites like the one that will send your url to 16 social networks, in the background, when you post a new message! yikes!

    I thank God for strengthening my conscience.

  16. Megon 08 Jul 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Nada

    Many thanks for your visit, comments and letting me know about the broken SU button. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts, and resisted the temptation :)

  17. Blogging Karma will take you a long wayon 19 Jul 2007 at 10:19 am

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