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Are You Burning Blog Bridges?

Snark, criticism, attack-bait, poking wasps nests, call it what you want, while it might be an effective “link bait” strategy, it’s not one I would recommend. This is the path to the dark side.

First let’s look at why someone might be tempted to use this tactic.

  • It’s quick and easy
  • It works
  • Takes little imagination
  • Makes you stand out
  • Builds a following
  • Do it a lot and people fear who you might target next

While it is quick and easy, doesn’t take much thought and gets instant results (bad news travels faster than good, and it is very hard to resist responding to attacks and jibes) the attention gained is fleeting. The only reputation you build is not a nice one. You might enjoy being feared, and some people gravitate towards such characters and cheer them on, it’s not a way to build trust and contacts you can rely on.

So it is “quicker, easier, more seductive” but not necessarily more effective than any other tactic.

I know some of you will be thinking “I’m not here to make friends, this isn’t a popularity contest”. Fair enough, it’s not how I would play it but it’s your blog. Ethics and popularity aside, are there any rational or technical reasons why you should avoid this tactic? Aaron at SEO Book has some ideas

If what you are doing costs you significant credibility and support from within your community you are not going to rank well if the algorithms become more community oriented, plus when people search for you they won’t find others saying nice things about you, which makes it hard to charge a premium for your products and services.

For me it comes down to taking joy from others bad news. Our German friends have a name for it; Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is a German word meaning ‘pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.’ It is sometimes used as a loanword in English and other languages.

Rarely will people remember being laughed at favourably. People have long memories and they do talk. A lot of people also remember how others have been treated. Is the short-term traffic boost and 15 minutes of attention enough reward to compensate for the loss of reputation?

“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down”

This is called “social media” for good reason. Those with the social skills to match their writing skills will have more success than people who use their writing always on the attack.

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Comments

  1. I disagree. In my opinion, negative posting isn’t “quick and easy.” You have to spend time researching and picking your battles, making sure that you’re on the winning side, even more so than good news. Good news blends in, so if you write a positive sensationalist piece, it won’t be noticed as much.

    If you break from the pack and call someone or something out, you damn well better have well-defensible position (both in terms of general idea and every single support), because the pack will tear you to bits if you don’t.

    Quick and easy? Only if done badly.

  2. I disagree. In my opinion, negative posting isn’t “quick and easy.” You have to spend time researching and picking your battles, making sure that you’re on the winning side, even more so than good news. Good news blends in, so if you write a positive sensationalist piece, it won’t be noticed as much.

    If you break from the pack and call someone or something out, you damn well better have well-defensible position (both in terms of general idea and every single support), because the pack will tear you to bits if you don’t.

    Quick and easy? Only if done badly.

  3. I do think people are able to instinctively find negative stories more than positive ones. You are correct about defensible positions but how many negative stories have factually researched defensible positions? Very few in my experience, most are name-calling, laughing at unfortunate events, criticising easy targets etc. Just look at the celebrity blogs, photos of celebs looking less than perfect, poking fun at under or over weight models and film starts, etc etc.

  4. I do think people are able to instinctively find negative stories more than positive ones. You are correct about defensible positions but how many negative stories have factually researched defensible positions? Very few in my experience, most are name-calling, laughing at unfortunate events, criticising easy targets etc. Just look at the celebrity blogs, photos of celebs looking less than perfect, poking fun at under or over weight models and film starts, etc etc.

  5. You might be arguing against the human condition, here. 😀 Still, a good reminder for those of us whose mouths/fingers get us into trouble a little too often(NOT THAT I’M one of those people…)

    Snarky or otherwise smartass-y writing doesn’t necessarily have to come from a negative place, and I think it’s the negativity – as opposed to the personality and style of writing – that burns bridges.

  6. You might be arguing against the human condition, here. 😀 Still, a good reminder for those of us whose mouths/fingers get us into trouble a little too often(NOT THAT I’M one of those people…)

    Snarky or otherwise smartass-y writing doesn’t necessarily have to come from a negative place, and I think it’s the negativity – as opposed to the personality and style of writing – that burns bridges.

  7. Yes I think the intention behind the words is very important but it is so easy to get offended by what people say even when the intention to hurt is not there we have to be careful. I’ve made the mistake of being cheeky in email and have someone get in a huff *so* many times

  8. Yes I think the intention behind the words is very important but it is so easy to get offended by what people say even when the intention to hurt is not there we have to be careful. I’ve made the mistake of being cheeky in email and have someone get in a huff *so* many times

  9. Really solid post, Chris. But I have a bone to pick with you…

    Just kidding.

    This is a great point. For some reason we’re all pulled to negativity easier than positivity – most of the time. There’s got to be some inherent trait inside us as human beings that we lean toward ‘darkness.’ Certainly would be an interesting topic to explore further. Thanks for bring it up.

  10. Really solid post, Chris. But I have a bone to pick with you…

    Just kidding.

    This is a great point. For some reason we’re all pulled to negativity easier than positivity – most of the time. There’s got to be some inherent trait inside us as human beings that we lean toward ‘darkness.’ Certainly would be an interesting topic to explore further. Thanks for bring it up.

  11. Chris – I know EXACTLY what you mean. Point taken.

  12. Chris – I know EXACTLY what you mean. Point taken.