Blog Etiquette with wine me, dine me

Good afternoon, class!

It’s that time again– yes, like other local bloggers I feel the need to have a short informational session about how to properly interact in the blogosphere, both as a commenter and as a blogger.

1. Copyright infringement isn’t cool. I, for one, spend a ton of my free time writing, taking photographs, reading about food, learning about food, eating food– you get the idea. I’m also a professional writer and my words are my livelihood: Don’t steal them. If you’re quoting me, link back. It’s generally not recommended to quote the whole post (confusion can arise, trust me). If you want to use a picture, respect Creative Commons and attribute (Flickr makes this very easy) or, if you’re going to be super-polite, ask for permission. That is always appreciated, nothing brightens another blogger’s day like someone emailing them and saying, “Wow, I loved your picture of such-and-such! Can I use it on my blog?” Remember when you learned how to write a research paper in high school? Cite your sources! And as far as pictures go, I’m a big believer that food blogs can be effective without pictures (the writers of Restaurants and Reservations do a great job at it, for example). There are some things that just don’t photograph well (grits, refried beans, anything at The Quarter Bistro because the light is red) , occasionally I leave the house without charging the battery, sometimes I’m just silly and forget– and if you’re writing food reviews, unless it’s a stock photo from the restaurant’s website, you shouldn’t use other people’s food photos to document your experience.

2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Thumper’s mom was right. I’ve been seeing some really mean commenters on other local blogs lately. There’s a big difference, in my mind, between snarky and mean. Disagree all you want– blogs are all about opinion, and I will definitely not always agree with you– but leave the ad hominem attacks for Gawker.

3. On that note, don’t post just to pimp your blog. We all want traffic, we all want readers, but get your readers because you’re interesting and have something to say, not by simply posting “I really love your blog!” or “Look what I wrote about that same subject on MY blog!” without any real commentary on what’s written.

4. Just because you link to me doesn’t mean I will link to you. I’m blatantly stealing this one from Kate, and it’s true. Every blog I link to is one I read on a regular basis, one with content that is compelling and well-written, pertinent, signficant or maybe even funny (I mean, I don’t think about food ALL the time. Just most of the time.). There are actually a ton of blogs I read that I don’t link to here, as I only want to give you, the reader, a limited view into my world. You come to me to read about food, not about my politics or my fashion sense, right? However if you think there’s a blog out there I *should* read, feel free to email me a suggestion. I’m always glad to hear it!

4. If you get your food for free, know the owner, date the waiter, whatever– disclose it! Maybe it’s because I’m reading Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, but I think it’s important to disclose anything that might make you have better service or food than a regular diner. Polly Campbell can’t really give an unbiased review of Boca (they know her there, she knows they know her, and she always has a spectacular meal– she’s admitted as such, which is admirable). I can’t give you an unbiased review of Seny (anymore), because Chef Travis knows me and his maître d’ knows me (and read this blog, apparently). I’ve gotten several meals for free as a member of the press (gotta love new media, right?) and have made sure to disclose it. Also, in these cases, I refuse to overlook problems just because it was free or at a reduced charge. That’s just not ethical, and I don’t want to be a blogger who can be bought (and if I could, it would cost way more than a free meal. Seriously.).

That’s all I can come up with for now. On my other (to-be-started) blog I intend on writing something about the Art of Adding Friends on Twitter– but that’s more appropriate for my professional blog. I guess what we all need is to remember that people, even on the internet, need to have their time and their talents respected. It fosters a sense of community, lends some authenticity, and makes the wide world of food blogs (and the ‘net in general) a fun place to be.

Have anything to add?