Bletiquette: Courteous Blogging 101

by Leah on October 21, 2010 · 24 comments

Not to go all Emily Post on you, but sometimes we just need a little reminder on the rules of good etiquette when blogging.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, it’s YOUR blog. Yes, you can do exactly what you want with it. But if you want to be a courteous blogger (as courteous as I’m sure you are in real life!) there are certain things you can do make sure your blogging is kind and fair. You need to learn blogging etiquette (or what I like to call “bletiquette”).

I think of bletiquette the same way I think of real-life etiquette: Blogging without courtesy won’t land you in jail or get you some sort of hefty fine, but it’s just not nice. Is cutting someone in line illegal? Of course not. But it’s rude, and you probably wouldn’t do it.

That leads me to Bletiquette Rule #1: Don’t do things in the blog world you wouldn’t do in the real world. This applies to mean comments or snarky remarks. If you’d say it to the blogger’s face, then feel free to say it in the comments. If you wouldn’t say it out loud in front of a group of people you don’t really know, don’t say it on your blog. It’s not worth it! And in the same way that if you didn’t like someone in the real world, you’d avoid them, if you don’t like a blog/blogger, don’t read it! Rachel wrote a really good post covering why you shouldn’t hate follow and Meredith echoed that sentiment this week on Hollaback.

Bletiquette Rule #2: Give credit where credit is due. C’mon, you guys, don’t be sea witches. Does it really hurt to throw in a link to where you got that recipe? Or contest concept? Or clever phrase for a certain type of burrito? Oh, so it IS a pain in the ass to link back? Well, guess what? PEOPLE WILL REALIZE YOU’RE COPYING! Really, your readers aren’t dumb. If you copy someone’s lingo, concepts, or voice, we’ll all figure it out. Links are your friends. And, hey, if you link to someone, they might be more likely to link to YOU in the future! Everybody wins. I wrote a whole post on copy-blogging vs. inspired blogging, so if you need more info, check it out.

Bletiquette Rule #3: When in doubt, ask! Can you use that fellow blogger’s photo of the same dish you made last night? ASK. Should you use the same unique format as that other blogger for a giveaway? JUST ASK. I’m guessing most of us don’t have a problem with any of that stuff, provided we’re asked and given credit (see Rule #2).

Bletiquette Rule #4: Keep asking! I thought this deserved its own rule because it’s pretty important. You need to ask before posting pictures of people on your blog! It’s just rude not to, and it’s actually unsafe to post pictures of minors without getting permission from a parent/guardian first. When I’m snapping pics of friends and family, I always make sure it’s cool if I put them on the blog before I actually do. And sometimes, they say no! (Exhibit A: my photo-shy boyfriend who made me blur his face out of pictures until he realized that looked even creepier). You have to be okay with people NOT being okay with being on your blog. Not everybody wants to be plastered all over the internet, and that’s OK.

Bletiquette Rule #5: DON’T BRAG. I know, I know, it’s your blog, you can do what you want, etc., etc. But if you don’t want to leave a bad taste in readers’ mouths, you’ll at least be cognizant of posting things on your blog that seem like excessive bragging. It’s going to differ from person to person, but one example might be posting your super-human pace after every run. It’s fab that you’re so quick, but being reminded of it might get a little tiresome for those of us who aren’t as speedy. You’ll have to use your discretion: What seems like bragging from some just seems like celebratory sharing from others. It’s all about your tone.

Bletiquette Rule #6: Don’t be your own worst critic. When you criticize how much you ate, how much weight you gained over the weekend, or how slow your last run was, be aware of the people who may have eaten more than you, gained more weight, or ran slower. And don’t even start with the “I blog for me” business. No, you don’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Sometimes, that stuff comes off as fishing for compliments, while other times, it just makes your readers feel bad about themselves. Either way, it’s unattractive, and honestly, not fun to read about. There are definitely ways to talk about your less-than-stellar moments in more productive, less critical ways.

What other bletiquette rules would you like to see become commonplace around the blogosphere? Let us know!

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Leah @ L4L October 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm

One of my big pet peeves is when people talk/brag/comment/complain about their hits/stats/popularity openly. I can understand quietly g-chatting or emailing other bloggers you are close with about it but to openly tweet (often) about how you need 500 more views TODAY to break last months goal? Com’on. Really? OR worse yet, “I changed my layout and my readership is down 32.4% this month. OMG Why?!” That one really gets me.

Lisa October 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

The bragging thing is such a turn off. I really don’t want to read how fantastic someone’s life is ALL THE TIME. Stop sugar-coating things and just be REAL.

Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers October 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm

giving credit where credit is due is a BIG one for me! i hate seeing people rip off other blogs… and YES it IS noticeable! people will not think you’re any less fabulous, creative and wonderful if you throw up a link giving credit to another blogger who inspired your post/recipe/workout, etc. great post, leah! :)

Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! October 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Great post about ‘bletiquette’! One additional thing that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable as a reader is when a blogger doesn’t respond to comments. I understand that it is completely impossible for a blogger to respond to every comment on every post. On the flip side, though, never responding to any comments–or only responding when the comments are critical of the blogger or controversial–makes me feel like the blogger doesn’t care about what his/her readings are saying. I’m not sure how bloggers with highly trafficked sites deal with this, but it makes me feel alienated as a reader when I never see any response to comments.
Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing!´s last post ..The nine- a lesson in mental toughness

sarah (the SHU box) October 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm

totally agree about the giving credit part (i’ve been on the receiving end of a much more popular blogger using some ideas of that were definitely mine without any credit, and it stung!), and defintiely a great point about the etiquette of asking people if it’s okay to plaster photos of them all over the internet! however, i start to wonder – you’re not supposed to brag, but not supposed to complain too much either — it’s hard to know what WOULD be okay to write about!

i suppose the point is that ALWAYS being sunny-side-up or ubernegative gets old, fast — and i definitely agree with that as well. but i do follow many runners who are WAAY faster than i will ever dream of being, yet i certainly don’t spite them for posting their stats daily! i guess it really all is in the tone, but i think we need to be careful of blaming others for what may really be OUR issues (ie, getting annoyed abuot a faster runner’s posted times due to jealousy, or hating a blogger who seems to have a perpetually sunny disposition just because that isn’t the way life is for you).
sarah (the SHU box)´s last post ..routines vs projects

Leah (Nutritionista) October 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm


I think with the bragging/complaining stuff, it totally depends on tone! I know that’s not super helpful, but tone can make SUCH a difference. I think the most important thing is to just be as genuine as you possibly can. I feel like readers can tell when bloggers are being genuine about their failures and successes versus when they take it to the extreme, which can be a huge turnoff.

Leah (Nutritionista) October 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm


I have no excuse to not respond to this comment, so I will! On my own blog, I’m really bad about replying to comments, and I need to do better. Since I’m on Tumblr, where most people “comment” by reblogging or “liking” the post, I don’t get a ton of actual comments. So that means I have no reason not to respond to almost every single one I get. Your comment made me go back and reply to comments I’ve gotten recently, so thanks for that! But I also wonder how the bloggers who get hundreds of comments handle it. I think it’s good if they can try to respond to the comments that seem to warrant some kind of response. The comments that are just something like, “that meal looks awesome!” probably don’t need a response, you know?
Leah (Nutritionista)´s last post ..What To Do And Not Do! When You Fall off the Wagon

FoodCents October 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I really enjoyed this, Leah – thank you for writing.

I think your rule regarding using people pics is SUPER important for bloggers to practice. Some people love having their pics. plastered on their blogs, which is fine – for it is THEIR blog. It does not mean, though, that your friends and family wish to have their pics. all over the place.

I always find it irksome when bloggers plead for votes, for some contest, time after time (mention it here & there, that is cool – but time & time again, no cool).

Kim October 21, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I have to agree with Leah @ L4L’s comment about the stats. Sure it’s nice to see the stats going up but to talk publicly about it on one’s blog I find somewhat tacky.

The commenting thing is tricky, I appreciate when bloggers respond to questions in comments, whether by commenting back or emailing, but when someone comments with just a statement, I don’t think it’s necessary.

Loved this post a lot. I think that a lot of ‘newbie’ bloggers wouldn’t necessarily know all of this etiquette so it’s great to put out there!

Leah @ L4L October 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I tend to agree with this as well. But some bloggers don’t respond in the comments section for others to see and rather choose to email their response which has happened for me a handful of times. That way it isn’t clogging up the comment section but they are still showing interest. So I generally choose to give bloggers the benefit of the doubt that they are following up with noteworthy comments.

Deva (Voracious Vorilee) October 22, 2010 at 12:57 am

I agree regarding photographs of others. I always ask when taking pictures, and never post pictures of anyone without first obtaining their permission.
Deva (Voracious Vorilee)´s last post ..Cold Hot

Cynthia October 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I think the credit thing is so very important! I have seen so many instances where people post recipes that they didn’t think of themselves. I know they come from other bloggers, but they don’t bother to give the credit or link to the recipe. I am always aware of that. I will link back to the original recipe and the only times I copy the recipe is if I make significant changes.

I also think that people who are so negative all the time about how much they weight and how they can’t lose weight is kind of a turn off. I understand that it’s hard to lose weight and I have been known to post about how I am discouraged as well. But when it is post after post or when the blogger is just focused on the number on the scale, it can be such a turn off for me.

Nic October 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Hi gals, you’ve had some great posts of late about blogging etiquette. This website is a great resource to keep myself in check and to try to blog responsiblity. Thank you and have a great weekend!

MelissaNibbles October 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I agree with Cynthia about people being negative all the time about their weight. I know it’s a struggle and people can relate, but if the blogger is putting herself down every post and calling herself names, I have to stop reading because it’s just not enjoyable.

Mrs/Dr T October 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Totally agree with all of it! The trash talk about other bloggers bothers me the most…reminds me of those horrible political ads where one politician is slamming the other, back and forth all night on my TV! Makes everyone look bad. It’s okay to disagree with another blogger or have an opinion that might be neutral or negative to what someone else is saying. But taking the high road and respectfully disagreeing with a thoughtful explanation is constructive and probably a lot more interesting to readers.
Mrs/Dr T´s last post ..The 7 Habits of Highly Fit or Sort of Fit People

Retta @ RunRettaRun October 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I couldn’t agree more! Great point, Gavi.

Joanna B October 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm

This is a great post, I like rule numbers 3 and 4. As I am fairly new to the blogging world it’s great to read these tips, as common sense as they may seem it’s great to hear it from another person.

I work in the advertising and standard practice is to get a signed model release fora all photos, do any of you bloggers follow that procedure? Or is that not necessary for blogs, just a verbal consent is fine? Any feedback is welcome.

Nancy October 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

PERFECT blog etiquette. I’m definitely blogging (and linking you) about this.

Thanks for the tips – and I totally just found your blog today some how. Definitely a subscribe-worthy blog!

Leah (Nutritionista) October 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Joanna, I don’t think most bloggers get signed release forms, but if you really want to cover your bases, it’s not a bad idea!

Rachael October 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I’ve been meaning to come back and comment on this post now that my internet is back up and running & I’m not viewing things on my tiny phone (moving day … drat.) so here I am!

I was so so so completely worried about this post when I first saw the title. I was worried you were going to bash cussing and other dirty things on blogs. I, for one, am I filthy little sailor on my blog and I know one of these days I’m going to get a few people pissed off.

Curious, how do other bloggers/readers feel about cussing? I’ve seen a few posts on it before on other forums but not this one (I don’t think …) can we look into the issue further?
Rachael´s last post ..Project Tasteless- Naked Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) November 1, 2010 at 3:52 am

A friend sent me this link..Omg FABULOUS post!

I am frequently copied with my recipe, people copy/paste the entire thing on their site, they use my photos, they don’t ask, and it’s NOT Ok! And then, in order to not look like a complete bitch, I have no idea how to tell them that they committed a serious faux paus. Some are newbies and not sure, others know what they’re doing.

I also just recently had pictures of me, stolen from my blog, and posted on a website used to sell detox/green products. No one from the company has emailed me back meanwhile they are using my image to sell product. Not cool.

People leave me SNARKY and outright disgusting, hateful, rude, hurtful, etc comments on a near daily basis. I dont get this. Just dont read it.

So pretty much everything you just mentioned, happens to me…lots. I love this post!!


Nubie Blogger Nicole January 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Searching a little about posting pics on blogs I came across this page. I just recently started my 1st blog. It’s basically my dating journal for 2011…The good, the bad & the ugly kind of things. I thought about just writing a journal, but all my girlfriends suggested me to blog it so they could all read about it too. I have had some pretty funny dating stories in the past. & it’s not like I don’t share about most of it anyway. My blog is very anonymous with names changed & place names not mentioned. It is open to the public & I have a very select few of girlfriends that even know about my blog. Well, recently my friends have asked me to post pictures of each of the guys I go out with. So my question is is this okay to do? Thanks Leah & whoever else that so chooses to respond!

Courteous Blogger February 12, 2011 at 6:31 am

Nice rules! I like it…. 😀
Courteous Blogger´s last post ..Los Angeles Lakers VS Boston Celtics NBA

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