|Blog Snobbery 101
By Ara Pehlivanian
If your blog has even one regular reader, you too can be a blog snob. A blog snob is a super-important blogger who knows it and makes sure the rest of the world does too. A blog snob doesn’t come out and say “Hey, look at me! I’m super-important!” No, blog snobs simply exude importance through their actions.
In the past you had to start a movement, invent a useful web-tool, come up with a catchy web-cliché or be published in order to achieve blog snobbery. Well not anymore! The following are tried and true methods that will guarantee blog snobbery to anyone who puts them into practice.
Be inaccessible. No silly, this doesn’t mean writing inaccessible markup, it means being literally inaccessible as a person. If you can’t be reached, you must be important, and that’s what this is all about–driving home your importance.
Contact forms exist for one reason and one reason only. They are for fan mail. This is how it works, fans come to your site seeking to shower you with their love and praise. You, as a successful blog snob must make sure that this process goes off without a hitch. In order to do this, the following is the proper way to set up a “contact form”:
1. Make sure everyone visiting your blog can easily see the link to your contact form
2. Remember that including the sender’s e-mail address is optional
3. Hard code the subject line of your contact form to read “Fan Mail”
4. Direct all incoming mail from your contact form to the e-mail account you check most frequently (work or personal it doesn’t matter as long as you get it as soon as it comes in)
5. Be sure your stats software can track this page so that you can correlate the number of e-mails you’ve received with the number of visitors to the page. You may want to adjust the form to encourage 100% conversion
In the event that you receive an overwhelming amount of fan-mail (and you will) don’t panic. Just remember these simple rules:
1. It’s fan-mail, you’re not supposed to reply to fan mail, feel free to delete them once you’ve read them
2. Rather than delete them, you may want to keep them in a folder marked “fan mail” so that you can go back and read them over and over again–an ego can’t be stroked enough you know
3. Should you decide to save them, you may also print them out and use them as either wallpaper or toilet paper (whatever your preference)
The bottom line is, it’s fan mail and purely for your edification. Whether the sender is asking for a reply or not, it really doesn’t matter. Everyone knows that the only purpose of a contact form is to stroke your ego. If they don’t, they’ll learn.
The requisite delay
In the off chance you decide to actually respond to a piece of fan-mail just remember: hitting that reply button inside of a week is a big no-no. You must wait at least a week, preferably a month before replying. The longer you keep’em waiting (and guessing, because some of your fans actually want a reply–go figure), the more it adds to your aura of importance. After all, you’re so busy you couldn’t possibly have time for the people who read your blog (and make you the important person that you are) so go ahead, make’em wait!
Keep it short and impersonal
When replying to fan-mail always remember to keep your responses short and impersonal. You don’t want to create any lasting relationships with any of these freaks… uhm, people. Short, impersonal replies get the point across that you’re incredibly busy (and incredibly important). It also communicates that even a short response is a privilege reserved for a select few of your choosing.
Also remember that there’s no such thing as a back-and-forth e-mail conversation. Your initial response is where it ends. Should the fan not get the point from the tone of your reply and try to keep some sort of conversation going, nothing works better than to simply ignore them.
(Going through the trouble of stating on your contact form that you’re busy and can’t reply to all of your mail, setting up an FAQ, or simply turning off your contact form altogether are a waste of time. Likewise, replying in a courteous manner explaining that though you think the subject at hand is quite intriguing, you aren’t able to spend much time on it is also a waste of your time. Groupies don’t deserve that kind of respect.)
Are you as important as me?
An e-mail from you is a gift and gifts aren’t free. Don’t reply to anyone who isn’t going to add to your notoriety or your aura of importance in some way. Thus when considering e-mail, the following rule should apply: only reply to people whose names rhyme with eldman, olzschlag, eyer, elik or ottke. In other words, people who are as important or more important than you.
Once a year, around the holidays. If you’re really feeling generous, reply to a nobody. It’ll make you feel good about yourself and who doesn’t like that?
Everything in moderation
Moderate your comments and arbitrarily approve and delete them as you see fit. It’s your blog and only what you have to say really matters so go nuts with the comments! It’s open season! This gives you an incredible sense of power and sends the message home to your devotees that they’re unimportant and can easily be crushed like bugs. In fact, only your friends’ comments are worthy of a response. Everyone else is just there to give you praise (and add to your blog’s importance by contributing to your comment count).
Nothing’s for free
You know how when a groupie enters a comment they’re asked for a web address so that their name can be linked to their site? Be sure to modify your template so as to include the rel="nofollow" attribute in those links. Just because they leave a comment doesn’t mean you have to contribute to their pagerank. Freeloaders.
The sound of silence
Of course that’s if you decide to allow any comments on your posts to begin with. Why would you want to sully your pristine pages with the mindless drivel you’ll end up getting anyway? That, and it’s so much easier to speak your mind and not have to deal with countering points of view when you can easily shut everyone up by unchecking the “allow comments” box.
2. The all important clique
There’s nothing like a little name dropping to remind people of your importance. It’s really easy to do. At any given moment in any given blog post just randomly say something like “I was just chatting with [insert name of web celebrity] about …” or “I’m sitting here at the airport with [insert name of web celebrity]” or “My close personal friend [insert name of web celebrity]” or “I’ve been corresponding with [insert name of web celebrity]” (this last one is even more effective if you never reply to your fan-mail). This sort of thing will not only boost your aura of importance but it will also send a message to all of your peon blog-fans that you’re important and they’re not.
In the spirit of name dropping, form an exclusionary club, group, network or any combination, derivation or variation thereof. Preferably with close personal friends or better yet blog celebrities that none of your readers could ever possibly hope to correspond with. Your groupies will be in sheer awe of your ability to rub shoulders with the “upper crust” of their blogroll. To enforce this, proof read each others’ books and beta test each others’ pet projects, all the while blogging about it so that your fans get the picture of how cool you are and how much they aren’t.
Then, after you’ve rubbed your super-secret, ultra awesome “my friends got a beta invite and you didn’t” project in everyone’s face for a while, launch it and expect your neglected fanbase to drop everything and flock to it like the mindless lemmings that they are. After all, that’s what they’re there for right?
3. Your voice to their adoring ears
Re-invent the wheel
Come up with some brand-spanking-new name for something that’s been around since the early 90s. Then build an entire universe around it by going on and on about how revolutionary your idea is. Believe me, people will buy into it. (The dot com bubble should be proof enough of people’s unchecked gullibility.) And the more you yammer, the more they’ll flock to you. You may even get some VC money out of it! The beauty is that nowhere in this entire process are you actually required to do any real work. Just ranting on and on about it gives the illusion that you must know what you’re talking about.
When you’ve achieved critical mass and the real professionals start to weigh in, just come up with more nonsensical terminology you can pepper your rants with. This will add to the confusion and keep them spinning their wheels long enough for you to solidify your fan-base. (Simply ignoring them works too.) Once that’s done, just declare the market for your genius idea saturated and “invent” something else.
Snobby knows best
Now that you have a following, preach it brother! Branch out! It isn’t just about technology anymore. No sir, it’s time to preach your entire ethos. Don’t be afraid about going against the grain either. This will make you cool and “on the bleeding edge”. For example, if you only believe in working five minutes out of every hour, preach it! If you don’t believe in code review, preach it! If you hold low-level languages and the planning process in contempt, preach it! If your rantings are radical enough then the odds are that most people won’t have a decent enough point of reference to argue with you and they’ll just give up and get rolled into your ever growing fan base. Either that or they’ll know something’s up and they’ll oppose you. That’s when you label them “haters” and make them pariahs, effectively taking away their web-importance. Good on you!
(Remember: People’s willingness to oppose you is inversely proportional to your web-importance. The more important you are, the less opposition you’ll get.)
If you’ve read this and thought “hey, I do some of that” then you’re already well on your way to being a blog snob. Good for you!