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The Amazing Aplomb of Bloggers

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
Have you ever heard the descriptive phrase, butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth? This rather vivid statement has been around since the Middle Ages, and it basically means that the person in question is so cool, so collected, so perfectly complacent that nothing can rile them.
I think this illustration perfectly describes so many of the bloggers whose writing I read every week, and this post is my bit of commentary on the strange situation that has been created in the blogosphere by the combination of an outspoken public and writers who bend over backwards not to turn their comments fields into battlefields.
It takes time to write a blog post. I’d estimate that I spend between 20 minutes and an hour on each post I write here at the SEOigloo Blog. I have to get facts straight, find links I want to include, deliberate the best way to state things, run spellcheck….you get the picture. And, because I know that every post represents an investment of the author’s time, I sit in the empathy seat when I watch the feedback get hostile on my favorite bloggers’ blogs. Make the slightest error, and you are likely to end up dead meat:
Sample blog comment from a cantankerous reader
Hey, pukenose! Matt Cutts gave his presentation on Thursday, not Friday, and it was at 12:30, not 1:30 like you so stupidly wrote. You’ve completely misinterpreted what he said, too. When he said that Google was removing the phrase “100% algorithmic” from some of it webmaster guidelines, this was NOT the first time he said this publicly. He mentioned it on June 2, 2007 in a letter to his mother in paragraph 2, line 4. But, I guess you’re just too busy spouting off on your fancy blog to have paid attention to that, huh? Why bother to open your mouth if you’re going to say such idiotic things? I think you’re purposely skewing the facts just to create a controversy here, so that people will rush over and read what you said, but what you are saying is worthless. That’s a cheap tactic, employed by lame, desperate people like you and I wish bloggers like you would just shut up. – JoetheManiac
Sample Reply from Dazzlingly Diplomatic Blogger
Dear JoetheManiac- Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my blog. I really value that. Thank you for correcting me about the foolish mistakes I made regarding the time and date of Matt’s presentation. Boy, do I have egg on my face! I covered so many presentations that day, I guess I got a little mixed up, but you’ve sure helped me to clear up that error on my part. I also really must have been asleep at the wheel to miss that previous reference to the 100% algorithmic thing. I feel really foolish about that, and it was just wonderful of you to point out my mistake. It’s smart readers like you who are helping to make my blog a little better every day, in every way, and you have my undying gratitude for your kindness in calling attention to my faults and shortcomings. I sure will try to do better, and hope you will keep stopping by my blog as your feedback is highly valued by me. Thanks for being such a swell guy.
The above is a fictitious set of comment and response, but I’m betting you’ve seen situations exactly like this in your own perusal of blogs. How do they pull this off? I always wonder. How does the blogger exercise such stunning self control that they don’t snap back with something like this:
Hey pukenose yourself! Get a life, man. What’s wrong with you that you’re coming to my blog and insulting me because I made some minute error in a date? Duh! Do you really not have anything better to do? Were you born in a barn or something? Don’t you have any manners at all? Geez! Take a hike!
And yet, despite the abundant opportunities, I almost never see bloggers who are under attack coming back in this way to their readers. I KNOW they must want to. When they initially read snide, needly comments like this, they probably utter mental curse words that I won’t give examples of here. And yet, between that moment of annoyance and the first letter they type in their reply, they really rein it in and, short of sending the nasty reader flowers, actually THANK the blighter for their belligerent string of confrontational corrections.
I think it’s the delay that must facilitate this.
If a conversation like this were to take place live, I’m afraid noses might get socked. But, the pause allowed to the author to collect himself before having to respond means he can ask himself if it will really be worth it to tell the commenter off, to further create a hostile environment, to potentially lose readers over this. An unwritten law seems to have developed in the blogosphere that if you make an error of any kind, you’ve got to take it like a man (or a mouse?) when you are corrected, no matter how uncouthly the correction may be presented.
Is it worth it?
Everyone feels like a dope when they make a mistake in public. It takes a lot of poise when, with flushed cheeks and gulping throat, you face up to the snickering public and even apologize for your faux pas. I suppose, in the end, it may be better to try to save a situation by overcoming your embarrassment and humbly admitting to your error rather than prolonging the uncomfortable situation by defending yourself or hurling an insult back. Duke Ellington was a firm believer in rising above all unpleasantness, and this was part of his unique aura of suave, self-confident style. It’s probably just not worth it to argue with people whose joy in life seems to come from drawing loud attention to others’ mistakes.
On the other hand…
I have to say, I find it fairly repugnant that the risk of opening your mouth on a blog appears to be that any old dummy can come by and ‘put you in your place’ for having the audacity to think you, of all people, should be allowed to speak up. It’s a situation peculiar to the Internet that results from the anonymity the on-line world provides to unpleasant people. If they behaved this way in public, people would shun them, or at the very least, give them funny looks.
I’ve yet to find myself in this situation. This blog isn’t popular like the big ones, and my readers are all mannerly people, but to the highly visible bloggers fielding comments from crackpots, my heart goes out to you. I don’t know how you do it.