Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Calling Card

In more genteel days, there was a custom known as "Paying a call", wherein ladies of a certain social stature would travel around the town in the afternoons, stopping in to "call on" their various acquaintances. Calls had a very strict structure; jackets and gloves were left on, umbrella was not handed over to the butler. This signified the call would not last long, as a caller generally only stayed fifteen minutes or so. A lady would designate one day a week (sometimes two) when she was "At home" to receive her callers. (There are lots more calling customs, and they're pretty interesting, but I'm not going to describe them all, because that's not the point.)

Sometimes a lady would be at home, but not "at home". Sometimes a lady would be getting ready to go out of town. Sometimes a lady would genuinely have been called away.

In all of those cases, a card was left. A calling card. A small, business-card sized piece of card, on which was printed the lady's full name. (Actually, three cards were often left--two of the woman's, and one of her husband's. The lady's were for the lady and gentleman of the house, her husband's only for the gentleman.) Often, one corner of the card was bent down to convey a message--"I am leaving", "I have returned", etc.

But the cards were left. Because it was a way of building and maintaining a social network.

It was also a courtesy. If someone had a party, you called the next day, often just leaving a card (in fact, towards the end of the custom, many ladies simply hired someone to distribute their cards for them.) If someone did something nice for you, you left a card. If you were new in town, you waited patiently, hoping someone would call on you so you could pay them a return call and thus begin building up a network of friends.

We still have this custom online. Only instead of cards, we trade blog comments.

Which brings me to the point of my post today. When people take the time to comment on your blog, you should respond if possible. There are one or two blogs I've stopped reading because the blogger never acknowledges comments--and we're not talking about somebody like Miss Snark who gets dozens of comments, we're talking about someone just starting out in the blog world. When only one or two people are responding, you can answer them. And you should. Otherwise they start to feel used and ignored.

Also, if you've posted a link to your blog in your signature in a forum, and it specifically asks people to comment on your blog? If somebody does, you should comment back. You've asked them to begin network with you. You owe them something in return. Likewise, if you're asking people how to get people to comment on your blog, and someone explains to you about commenting back, and then comments...the link is right there. Click on it. Say hi to them. To refuse to do so is to rudely ignore your social obligations. It's to announce to everyone involved that you are a taker, not a giver.

I'm not talking about people like EE or Miss S, or any of the blogging agents I've come across and/or linked to. For many of them, to comment everyone back would not only take a huge amount of time, but might encourage relationships which may be rather awkward. Imagine having to reject someone whose blog you regularly visit. Do you keep commenting after? Maybe they hate you. It would be odd, so those people are excused.

But there is no excuse for most people to ask for other people's time, to read and comment on their blogs, and then not repay the visit. It's rude, and it makes me mad.

I may not comment on some people's blogs as often as they do on mine, but I do try. And of course some of you I consider friends to the point where we don't need to keep track of who's commenting where and when, right?

But in general...oooh it bugs me.


Bernita said...

So right, December.
And the drive-bys who ignore the subject of the post and just say "visit me."
Sort of like the type that button-holes your guests at a buffet and claim there's a much better party down the street.

crowwoman / rhian said...

Being a relative Blog-newbie, i thought maybe that was just a developing pet peeve for me. For the most part though, everyone i visit regularly tends to be pretty good about responding back to comments, even if it takes a few days because nonvirtual life steps in. What annoys me most are people who update their blog once a month or so. They tend to fall off my visit list, no matter how intriguing they are.

Bernita - yeah - what is up with that "visit me" thing. I've seen it on a couple of blogs lately; fortunately not on mine. I will sometimes offer a totally inane comment on a blog if i haven't commented in awhile and really have nothing to contribute but want the blogger to still feel the love. It's sad but i can't always be as witty or intelligent in comments as i'd like to be. I think there's a direct relationship to the amount of coffee consumed. ::waving to December::

Sam said...

Madame Samantha Winston
has the pleasure of reading your blog.
Please reciprocate and look at the little naked guy she has on her front page.
Too bad I can't get the writing to be engraved and nice and curly...

crowwoman / rhian said...

Perking right up... "Nekkid guy??!" Excuse me - i need ot run over to Sam's blog.

December Quinn said...

Wait, Rhian! Wait for me!

December Quinn said...

*Groan*. Pretty sneaky, Sam.

I hate those drive-bys, Bernita! So rude! And does anyone actually find blogs that way? Great analogy, though.

Yeah, Rhian, a blog that isn't updated regularly tends to fall of my list. I don't expect every day--I don't blog every day--but at least every couple of days, please!

December Quinn said...

I do wish we could change the fonts on our comments here, though, Sam, don't you?

crowwoman / rhian said...

I wish we could go back and fix typos once we hit publish. Sometimes i get overly excited and i am SO not the best typist in the world.

Ann(ie) said...

I try to make the rounds once a week to my regular commenters. I also add a link to my blogrolling if it's someone who comments on my site often. Reciprocation and all that.

You need to check out my serial that's being updated on the 23rd, DQ. I added a line just for you:

. Feet planted in battle stance, Santos curled his fingers twice in a come-on gesture and then wrapped both hands about the haft of his axe.

December Quinn said...

I agree, Rhian. We can edit posts but not comments, and that sucks. Especially since I am prone to saying stupid things sometimes!

Annie, I just sighed with happiness. Seriously. I have to read that now.

bunnygirl said...

I've found bloglines to be terrific for those blogs that aren't updated regularly, but that often have content that interests me. Put someone on your bloglines and you never have to wonder when/if their next post will be up. The only problem is that sometimes bloglines drops a blog and I've got so many that it might take me awhile to figure out who's missing. At those times, I wish people would comment more often on my blog, to jog my memory.

But I hear you on the comments thing, December. I might not comment on every post someone makes because I don't always have something to say. But I try to comment at least every now and then, because if they're good enough to be on my bloglines, something about them interested me, and it's not that hard to pop in and say hello now and then.

It's sure easier than in the days of calling cards, when you had to dress up and show up on certain days at certain times! Online, no one knows you're leaving comments with messy hair and wearing nothing but slippers and a bathrobe.

Oops. Giving myself away here...

Anonymous said...

I gotta admit, though I completely forget how I found your blog, the reason I keep coming back is the welcome and reply I got. It's exactly why I always reply to the few brave souls who read and comment on mine. Which I apparently need to update more often.

December Quinn said...

What's a blogline, bunnygirl? And I confess I'm never sure which of your blogs to reply to--I guess the triathlon one (still totally impressed)?

Yes, it is nice not to have to get all dressed and one, isn't it? I'm dressed but my hair is sticking up and out at crazy angles.

December Quinn said...

Yes, Jenn, you do.

Anonymous said...


kis said...

Yeah, what bugs me when I see it on other people's turf (being blogless myself), is shameless advertising for stuff. There was one time (not recently) where everywhere I went had this bizarre non-comment with multiple exclamation marks and a link, and when I went there, the guy was trying to sell his (self-published?) book. Not just rude, but blatantly self-serving.

And I must say, December, one of the reasons I come here before EE, Snarky and Agent Kristin these days is the warm atmosphere. Part of that is your replying to comments.

December Quinn said...

That's terrible kis. I've seen those stupid ads as well, and I just wonder if they really think that's going to work? "Gee, this guy spammed a friend of mine's blog, but the book looks good so I'll buy it." "Gee, I'm so glad this guy spammed my friend, now I can buy his book!" Groan.


I'm just always amazed people actually care what I think...

bunnygirl said...

December, you can go here:

and set up all your blogs to view on a single page. You can see at a glance which have been updated and which have not. You can also mark posts that maybe you don't have time to read or respond to right now, but that you want to come back to later. It's been a sanity-saver for me, because there are so many interesting blogs and people out there, but not everyone blogs daily.

Feel free to reply on any of my blogs. My triathlon one is the "main" one where I post bunny pics and write about what's going on with me. If you post comments on the fiction blog, I'm set up for "Diana" to respond to those. And I'll be making improvements to the writing blog, posting more current stuff and maybe focusing more on my thoughts and processes now that I'm about to have more time on my hands.

littlebirdblue said...

People who post fewer than 3-4 times per week are risking my increasingly less enthusisastic following of their blogs*.

People who don't respond after I leave three or four comments over a period of time on different posts are just...I'm not sure. Why are they posting if they don't want comments? Does interaction interfere with their exhibitionism trip? Am I interrupting some of their...uhmmm, special super-secret alone time, if you know what I mean?

Exposition without reciprocation is either masochism, elitism, or masturbation. Or some not-so-intriguing combination of those things.


*except Ms. Seeley deBorn. She's fabu.

Anonymous said...

**blushing horribly**
I'm being pimped!!

December Quinn said...

Thanks, Bunnygirl! I've been hearing about Bloglines in a few places lately, I really should go check them out.

And now I know which blog to respond on, that's good too. :-) I'd love to see more on the writing blog as well, I'm always interested in people's thoughts there.

December Quinn said...

I totally agree, lbl. As I said, I know there are a few people who don't reply to every post, and I don't expect them to (Miss S, EE, etc.) Jenny Rappaport does respond to comments, which puts her higher on my list of favorites, but in general I don't expect a lot of agents etc. to personally respond.

But just a general blogger? When people take the time to read your post and say something back, you should respond to them. Make them feel welcome (you do want to welcome them, don't you?) Let them know how much you appreciate them reading. If you don't, and you don't care if they comment...turn comments off. It's not hard. Or set your blog to private so only your particular buddies can read and comment.

Just ignoring comments is, imo, akin to ignoring people saying hello to you at a party.

December Quinn said...

We are pimping Miss Seeley DeBorn...has everyone stopped by her blog to read about Mr. Yummy?

Isabella Snow said...

I agree it's rude as fuck not to reply to comments. If you have time to blog, you have time to reply to the comments. It's not like you have to make it a dissertation, ffs.

December Quinn said...

Lol but tell us what you really think, Isabella! A wonderfully succinct comment.

And it's true. If someone takes the time to read your post and reply, you can at least say something. Sometimes I feel like an idiot because the only responses I have to comments are stuff like, "Exactly what I think"...but at least it's something, right? At least I've acknowledged the comment.

I think when I was sick was the only time I didn't reply to comments..and even then I did a general "Thanks everyone" in my next post. I still feel kinda guilty about that, though.

Isabella Snow said...

Well, the only exception I make for this (ie, blogs I still comment on even though its not acknowledged) is those bloggers who instead make the effort to comment on my own blog.

They are at least telling me they give a fig about me!

And let's face it, I'm a needy, sensitive, soul. ;)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of which I have been meaning to say thank you for loving my excerpt I put up on valentine's day. You have no clue what a mood booster it was for me. Apparently V-day is the day to start fights according to my hubby's actions. I got so lost up in mental turmoil I forgot to thanks you (THANK YOU!)

I had a comment from a person on my live journal where he said "Great post, but I'm cutting you from my friends because you don't read my blog." I didn't know who the poo he was. That comment was the first I'd seen of his. Should I be doing friends checks to make sure I read everyone who reads me?

Wait, ignore that question, I have a better one I need help with. Really, I need help. I wrote a story on request for an anthology where all the stories are based in Harlan County KY. Now I've not been to Harlan, but I have been to other country areas, so I called on those for some help. I like my story, but when I put it up on a private board for some friends to look at the one woman who actually lived in Harlan Co. came down on my pretty had because my character's last name wasn't a typical Harlan Co. last name (It is Deans instead of Dean.) and I gave the little gas station store the name of the one near my mother-in-law's house out in the country, but again, not Harlan. Now I know that creativity is a bonus in fiction, but she is pressuring me to change it so that I am accurate. I'm wondering what the point is. I do not want someone from the area that may happen to have the name of my character to read it and become insulted. Yes, I know this is unlikely, but so is someone tossing out all enjoyment of my story over an s on the end of a name, correct? So do I give in to her bullying and change it, or do I stand my ground and say those two little things (which don't matter to the plot, at all) stay?

December Quinn said...

True, Isabella. If they at least read and comment back, that's a point in their favor. Although a respons eot comments and comments on your blog are ideal.

December Quinn said...

No need to thank me, Michele, it was a really cool excerpt!

I do hate that on lj especially. People link to a blog here without saying anything (which, I love getting the links but it makes me feel guilty when I discover it), but on lj it's so easy just to add someone. That's pretty odd, though, just to friend somebody and then get huffy because they never friended you when you never commented. I almost never check my user info on lj to see who my friends are. BTW, "...didn't know who the poo he was" made me laugh.

I say change "Dean/s" to something unrelated, and tell the woman you don't want to make anyone in the town think the story is about them (you're so vain...). Seriously. You could get sued for that shit if somebody wanted to, and she should understand that.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Thank you! I was griping on this very subject to a few friends the other day.

December Quinn said...

It is most irritating, isn't it Susan? or is it Susan Helene? Or WestofMars?

I love your icon.

Thanks for stopping by to say hi!

crowwoman / rhian said...

uh-oh. ummm - you have a link on my blog December...don't feel guilty though if you hadn't noticed it. BTW - this whole blog thread was terrific. you rock. And congrats on your new sale - i gave it a plug in my personal la-la land.

December Quinn said...

Aaaw! I actually noticed it about an hour and a half ago, but got sitracted by the sale and the hubs and the crying baby, so I'm addint you now, and popping over to look at my shiny new link!

I love it when people link. I just feel guilty-bad when they don't tell me, because if I don't reciprocate within, like, three hours I feel like a shit.

December Quinn said...

Sheesh, look at those typos. december is half drowning sorrows, half celebrating, and getting 100% buzzed.

Scary Monster said...

Hello Ms. Quinn. Me be the Scary Monster. Me was directed to come and pay a visit here by little birdblue after she had read one of me recent posts that seemed to be on a similar theme.

The focusof me post was more about the different ways that folks return the compliment of a comment and the interaction that occurs within the arena of commentary as opposed to the post itself.

Me finds your stance on the matter to be one of etiquitte rather than method and me would like to applaud your gracious attitude. Far too many people, both online and off, forget that common courtesy be the building blocks of a cultured society.

Pardon Me if Me has taken up more time and space than me normally would on a comment.
Scary Monster.

December Quinn said...

Welcome, Scary Monster!

Take as much space as you need. I love long comments (and as you can see, I tend to take up a lot of writing space myself. brevity may be the soul of wit, but I haven't really mastered it yet.)

It is sad how people ignore common courtesy these days, isn't it? And yet the idea of "respect" has become exaggerated at the same time. I think there's a correlation there, don't you?

Looking forward to reading your post on the subject! (although as I'm heading off to bed, it will probably wait until tomorrow.)