goals and tools
I. Blogocombat: when?
When you are made aware of something that's wrong, evil, stupid, or mediocre, it's blogocombat time.
When you see a comment posted to your blog, that is flaming or discrediting you, it's blogocombat time.
When you read a post at someone's blog, and it's full of lies, distortions, or malevolent deceptions, it's blogocombat time.
When some entity is using scams, malware, or fraud for harm, theft, or greed, it's blogocombat time.
When some entity tries to take over the internet, to more severely regulate and regiment it, it's blogocombat time.
I'm sure you can think of many other proper and fitting occasions for blog clobbering adventures.
II. Blogocombat: why?
Typical Goals of Blogocombat:
(1) Public apology from a guilty party.
(2) Product recall.
(5) Change a law.
(6) Enforce ethical behavior standards.
(7) Warn of dangers.
(8) Expose lies, villainy, and corruption.
(9) Provide solutions.
(10) Explain what is shrouded and distorted.
(11) Champion higher values and practices.
(12) Shame the unrepentant offenders.
(13) Teach others how to spot deceit and defend against malefactors.
(14) Show other bloggers how to effectively fight online battles.
III. Blogocombat: how?
Some Tools for Online Warfare
Do research, ask questions, explore the problems of the world, life, internet, whatever you're most interested in. Find a few problems you can get passionate about, and learn how they might be solved.
What are you curious about? What do you need to learn more about? RSS? HTML? Web services? Business blogging? World hunger? Racism? Web design? Find a fight and fight it.
Have conversations at other blogs, forums, discussion lists, bulletin boards, chat rooms on the topic.
Learn how to pose queries, write topic titles, deal with flamers, show appreciation to answer providers.
Also, try talking with other people in the real world, store clerks, next door neighbors, friends, family members, hair dressers, waitresses, cab drivers, police officers, postal employees, about your favored topic.
Try to determine new angles on the topic, some unique way to look at it, or to deal with it. Or perhaps provide some historical background. How many of my readers know the first blogoid object was Tim Berners-Lee's "What's New" page?
Watch how other, more clever and smart-mouthed people defend their ideas and statements. Notice what resources are quoted to back up claims. Look at how being too strident or too meek both put a person in a bad light. Learn how more experienced blogocombat veterans use firmness, fairness, and finality to get their point across, to ultimately win the debate.
Craft your own blog posts: what's wrong, how it got that way, whose fault it is, what can be done about it.
When you're not on the computer, stick your head into a book once in a while. No, not that kind of trash. I mean a classic novel, or heavy philosophy, or sacred texts, or anything well-written, but difficult to understand. Notice how carefully the great writers write. Note how they avoid using the same word more than once. Word selection is key.
Short paragraphs. Fast, breathless composing. Your readers are always in a hurry. Make it easy to read your brilliant stuff.
(5) Post comments.
Go to other blogs, especially those in the same general field as your topic, and post intelligent, relevant, enriched content comments.
You'll be adding value to that person's blog, and you'll be advancing your own ideas, or your own questions. As long as it's on topic, and not crazy sounding, there's a good chance people will visit your blog, just on the strength of that comment you deposited on that blog.
I advise against post promotion comments. In other words, don't post a brief comment, then say "I've written a post at my blog on this topic. Check it out at [URL web address]." That sounds like a spam comment, designed purely to drive traffic to a site.
Just write a really targeted, insightful, carefully composed, concise, brief comment. If what you say is smart, funny, or interesting, some readers of that other blog will try out your blog for a few visits.
If you go out on an Other Blog Comment Posting Campaign, be sure to have really good posts on your blog. Otherwise, when the visitors from other blogs arrive, they'll think you are of no value, and they'll resist ever returning to your blog.
(6) Respond to comments.
Reply quickly, nicely, and completely to all blog visitor comments, within reason. It's easy for me. But for those who get hundreds of comments per post, at least jump into that topic thread several times, to show you're paying attention to your readers.
Interact with your fans and followers. Letting comments pile up, when you could jump in there and join the conversation you yourself started, is seen as arrogant BS. Be polite to your readers, answer their questions, react to their complaints, consider their suggestions, provide solutions to their problems, show sensitivity to their opinions.
(7) RARELY: email other bloggers.
Never do this unless you have justifiable cause. If you learn of some horrible attack on the blogosphere, some dangerous product, a new virus threat, or some other super-urgent message about a vital issue, you might consider sending a very brief, to the point email to some bloggers you like.
Try to provide a link to Business Week, NY Times, CNET, C-SPAN, Book TV, Wired, Slashdot, WSJ, PC Magazine, or other reputable source.
Bloggers emailing each other is our "back channel" communication zone. But be very shy about doing this very often. Don't make a pest of yourself. Don't try to push your agenda. Just alert us about some hugely important news or information. Especially if it concerns the blogosphere in general.
When that other blogger politely replies, unless it's just "thanks", indicating the person is very busy, be sure to acknowledge their reply.
If the other blogger emails you a fairly detailed response, be sure to respond to their ideas and opinions, and if you disagree, either avoid the item, or be nice about your differing viewpoint, and don't harp on and on about it.
Be gracious, sober, informed, and short.
If background is needed, just give the links, not the supporting documentation itself. You rarely, if ever, need to send images or executables in an email.
Don't sound form letterish. Plug in a personal detail, what that blogger's last post dealt with, or a news item he or she was involved in recently.
Now...onward to Victory, vaspersians!
[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate