Friday, July 08, 2005

How to Be Controversial Without Really Trying

How to be controversial without really trying is easy.

Finding topics to write posts about is easy.

Having a benevolent confrontational blog is easy.

How To Be Controversial
in a Hopefully Nice Way

In your own blog, question and criticize

certain aspects of your blog or personality.

Ask your readers for advice.

Ask for their honest reaction.

Blunt feedback is infinitely better

than overly diplomatic hesitations.

Visit some blogs you like,
or that are reputed to be
"hot blogs to visit",

and I'm sure you'll find
something to react to, and fast.

My policy is this:

if I feel I wish to post

a critique or even harsh comment

at a blog, I always try

to immediately post a nicer,

warmer, friendlier comment

on some other post at that blog.

We don't want to make enemies

just for the sake of "confrontation"

or "debate" or "superiority".

Actually, I secretly wish

more flamers and detractors

would voice their opinions

on my blogs, via comments,

or via emails to me,

rather than just

get angry

and go


Not that I maniacally seek debate,

heated arguments, or bantering

back and forth about trivial

topics or (ugh) politics.

Just to enact the self-correcting

nature of the blogosphere.

As my friend Yvonne DiVita said,

we keep each other on our toes,

sharpen each other's blades.

I have complex relationships
with other bloggers.

I like many personal and

business/marketing bloggers,

but I express my questions

and concerns about

certain ideas

they may

write about,

or that come out

in an interview

with another blogger.


Let me provide a real,

actual recent example

to illustrate my point.

This excerpt, from

Yvonne DiVita's

Lipsticking blog.

"Smart Man Online: Tris Hussey"


Lip-sticking: Give us a moment to catch our breath! that you're a writer, and a good one, we might add...give our readers some insight into what makes for good blog writing. How does one become a "professional blogger"?

Tris: Jeez, Jane, you know how to make a guy blush. Thank you.

Good blog writing is totally about honestly and truth.

Write from the heart. Don't worry about the details of writing, believe me, those will come, just pour it out.

Say what you feel, stir up controversy, and have fun.

Most of all, practice. Just practice, and not only writing, but reading too. Read a lot. Anything and everything. My blogging starts to get a little stale when I'm not reading enough.

You know professional blogging usually, right now, is happening by accident.

I started pro blogging long after I started blogging. I realized that lots of people don't like to write and are intimidated by it.

So if I can make it easier by starting off their blog with my content, maybe sparking some ideas in the process, cool.

Oh yeah, getting paid to do all this is pretty freakin' cool too!

Lip-sticking: We concentrate our writing on marketing to women who shop online...what's your expertise in marketing, especially as it relates to the Internet, and/or blogs? How do you feel about blogs with advertising?

Tris: I've been an Internet marketer from nearly the beginning, at least the past 8 years.

When I worked for Glaxo women were the primary targets of our marketing and advertising. [Because] Women make most of the health decisions in the family. So, I spent a lot of time thinking about and listening to women and their concerns about family and health.

The frustration of not being able to get boyfriend or husband to visit a doctor when he needed to. Having to shoulder the burden of responsibility of learning about all the medications, the options, etc. So I like to think I have some insight to women online.

Toby [Bloomberg, of Diva Marketing blog] says I'm the Sensitive New Age Guy blogger.

Now, blogs and advertising. Well, I can't give too much away, but I think blog writers and owners don't have great and effective options today for earning real money on their blogs. Qumana is going to change this. [ooohhh...insider information! hope this won't get us in trouble!]

Lip-sticking: Speaking of advertising...which is meant to spark sales, of course -- do you shop online? What's the BEST advice you can give to companies that SELL online...and tell us the WORST online sales experience you've ever had.

Tris: Do I shop online?

Does a bear ... Yes all the time.

I live on an Island so I can't just hop over to the electronics superstore or office supply on a whim. I can get core things here, but I buy my office supplies, computer hardware and all kinds of other goodies online.



[my comment posted at blog]

I have two questions:

(1) How can a ghost blog [blog in which a paid writer composes the blog post text for a client] be upholding the core values of blogging, especially honesty, authenticity, passion, transparency?

To write a blog for a client? No, never, in my opinion. I feel you can write some sample posts, but only to show the client, then tell the client to do their own thing, in their own voice, about what they are wise and passionate about.

This reminds me of writing love poems or letters for a client. Pretend passion and false identity don't do the blogosphere any good, and customers may be able to sense the chicanery.

(2) What do we tell clients, as we rave about online shopping, about how the ecommerce, ebanking, etc. companies are *not* protecting their sensitive information?

Identity theft is the crime equivalent of the blog: fastest rising and most perfect in all history.

I advise people to never conduct any financial transaction online.

Your information will be instantly subjected to unprudently high risk of misuse, could swiftly be in the hands of cyber bandits.

Posted by: steven streight aka vaspers the grate
| July 8, 2005 12:02 PM


[EDIT UPDATE: My bigger concern with "ghost blogs" or so-called "pro blogging" (blogging *for clients* (not_self) as a profession, blog writing for hire, pretend passion-in-written-manifestation-for-sale)...

when the reader of a ghost blog

interacts with the "blogger"

the reader is interacting NOT

with the "blogger" (real representative

of the client organization)...

the reader IS interacting with

someone else, unknown to the reader.

This is non-malevolent deception,

but deception all the same,

plus: consumers and customers

are tired of intermediaries,

paid and prompted spokespeople,

insincere posturing and

the stark absence of the CEO,

the staff, the company

once they become a customer.

If the real personages of the company

do not make a genuine and personally present

appearance in the company blog...

...why expect any further authenticity,

transparency, or honesty in any other

aspect or level of the client organization?

Online users are far more intelligent

and way more skeptical than we seem to think.

It's time we wised up

and became true to our

highest principles

of ethical and

effective blogging.

[end of sermonette]

Are you a confrontational, controversial

blogger or blog commenter?

Can we be too nice and too diplomatic?

Should we be reserved in our praise

of blogger friends...or just gush

all over each other?

What do clients and potential customers

think when they see us bickering over

inessential points...or trying too hard

to flatter and inflate each other?

vaspersthegrate [at] yahoo [dot] com Posted by Hello

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Chris Ritke said...

I just interviewed Nicole in Luebeck Germany for the podcast who's got a great title for one of her blogs: Cruel To Be Kind. In the interview she explained what that means... and it's pretty much exactly what you are talking about!

It doesn't only apply to blogs - it applies to business and life in general...

steven edward streight said...

I talk about a lot in any given post, and too many things in this post, so, consequently...

...I hopelessly lost.

Vapser's head is spinning around.

I'll check out that link. It reminds me of Carrie's "Vice into Virtue" post, but I have my own thoughts on the fourfold path.

Thanks for the comment.

Will check out Nicole's blog and the podcast when it's up.

Good. One of our mighty blogospheric menfolk showed up and shoed up.


Chris Ritke said...

It's up at 49media - she's a very nice, knowledgeable and interesting lady. Very much involved in the European blogging scene! Also Check out her podcast

steven edward streight said...

I went to two of her blogs, the Cruel to be Kind and Blog Praxis.

I posted a couple of comments.

Oddly enough, she's friends, it seems, with Tris Hussey, whose interview comments I debate against, and who I have little respect for in general, having run into the man months ago, and found him to be...disappointing and unprofessional.

Oh well.

Nicole seems okay though.

Will listen to podcast soon.

Thanks for the curious link.

Tris Hussey said...

Actually, in my case, when I write for clients I write for the blogs as if they were my own, so I respond to comments and engage in dialog. Ghost-writing, I agree, is a dreadful thing for blogs. Syndicated or professional blogging can help people in companies who want to blog, get the knack of it.

Nicole is a great and dedicated blogger. I quite like her work.

steven edward streight said...

What then, really, is "professional" or "syndicated blogging" and how does it differ from ghost blogging, pretending to be the client?

There may be some legitimate and effective kind of pro blogging, but I have not been able to identify what that might be.

Helping a client to blog is one thing. To pretend to use a product (like a "buzz agent", paid word of mouther), or pretend to be the company insider, this doesn't seem right to me.

What I hear from blog readers, in various internet news venues, is that they are afraid that businesses will hire people to blog for them, so it's like offshore outsourcing of customer service, it sucks, it is not genuine interaction with the actual company.

This is not to be encouraged, at least as far as my beliefs are concerned.

It may be legal, but I don't see how that makes it beneficial to client, consumers, or the blogosphere in general.

But I could be not seeing some piece of the puzzle.

steven edward streight said...

Tris: I respect you a lot more now, because you came to a hostile environment (this post) and contributed a comment.


Tris Hussey said...

Thank you Steven. Ah, I think I see, what is needed here. See I don't ever pretend to be the client, or to use their product or anything. Let's say you're a WiFi hardware vendor, you've just started a blog. All your employees are kinda skitish about writing. So, you hire me to contribute interesting articles about WiFi in the news and such. I wouldn't be saying ... hey these are great PC Cards you should buy one. I would be saying things like "Intel has announced that a mobile WiMAX chipset is almost ready, so should laptop owners upgrade right away?"

What I do is to help get a blog going by building an audience and readership based on news about the topic area, and help coach the employees to blog for themselves and to talk about the products.

Make sense?

I'm also paid to be, in a sense, a journalist who writes in blog format (for example or ) I have years of expertise in these areas (pharma and biotech) so my insight is valued.

steven edward streight said...

From what you tell me, Tris, I see no problem. In fact, I can now see that this approach is highly beneficial to the blogosphere and to consumers.

Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me.

Perhaps in upcoming interviews and other material, you can emphasize the difference as you have successfully done here.