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Never Dedicate a Blog Post to Disagreeing with Someone

By: Guest | January 19, 2011 | 
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Editor’s note: I (Gini) asked Martyn Chamberlin to republish a blog post he wrote last week after I wrote about Chris Brogan’s bigger ear marketing advice. I’m a big believer in listening to all sides of a debate and opening our minds because, you never know, you might change your mind. At the very least, you’ll become more wise and understanding.

As humans, we love a good debate. We love to hash out stuff with others. We even love reading other people’s disagreements. It’s fun.

But you don’t want to dedicate a blog post to disagreeing with someone. In fact, it’s the worst blogging mistake you can EVER make. When you chose to publicly disagree with someone, you’re destroying your blog. No kidding.

Your subscribers don’t want to pop open their reader and read about why someone they’ve never heard of is so wrong. Who cares?

Yawn.

They unsubscribe.

But wait, don’t people love a good argument? Yeah. If it’s something they’re interested in. Where do you find good debates? Is it in Google Reader? or is it on Twitter and pingbacks and Google searches and word of mouth? You tell me.

The debate about Chris Brogan’s ear marketing strategy was really interesting. I engaged in comments and talked to Chris Brogan and Gini Dietrich about it on Twitter. Does that mean I’m going to subscribe to her blog? Nope. Next time she’ll be blasting away someone I’ve never heard of. I simply joined the conversation because I saw a tweet and it looked interesting.

What makes this mistake so easy to make

Maybe your subscribers won’t like an article, but you can sure find an audience that will. Here are some aggressive posts I’ve written over the months that attack various people/blogs/services. Sure, I found the audience I was looking for. Take a look at this.

  • 6 reasons you should quit Facebook like I did
  • What Chris Pearson doesn’t want you to know about Thesis
  • 4 reasons Fine Art Studio Online is bad (and a possible solution)
  • We artists don’t have time for this
  • I’ve made this mistake time and time again. You attack somebody? Of course you’ll get an audience. Of course people will start a lively conversation in comments. But not all visibility is good. In this case, it’s down right detrimental.

    And here’s the funny part. It’s always the small(er) blogs that do this. You’ll never see successful publishers doing this stuff. They’re smart enough to realize how bad it is.

    After the big flash and bang of the argument, everyone goes back to Twitter. By nightfall, you won’t notice anything. Maybe a few frustrated readers unsubscribed, that’s all. Oh, and you’ve made a few more enemies. Yeah.

    I will never, ever write another disagreement post again.

    Martyn Chamberlin is an artist who can’t resist writing about what’s going on in the tech world. He’s fascinated with how companies and individuals market themselves, using Web 2.0 as their distribution model. Check out his tech & marketing blog for more.

    65 comments
    Shonali
    Shonali

    I see people disagreeing ALL the time. Thank goodness, else this would be a very boring world. The point is, as @markwschaefer said, you don't have to be nasty about it. I don't think Gini was nasty at all in her original post, and I liked how she provided her own point of view without being didactic. I have seen other "big" bloggers do this, and it really turns me off them. That's what leads me to unsubscribe, not the disagreement per se.

    Folks often mistake disagreement with a point of view as a personal attack on themselves, and then they take off - to be clear, I am NOT referencing Gini's original post/subject matter here, it's more of an observation in general. I find that absolutely childish, not to mention egotistical and narcissistic. Time we all stopped living in cottonwool and grew up.

    JamesDBurrell2
    JamesDBurrell2

    I start by saying it seems there is little more to add to this discussion, but I'll try. First, I want to defend Gini's position - her's was a post to draw attention to the fact that Chris' strategy might not be the best use of time/ resources for other authors, business owners, etc, but she wasn't necessarily attacking Chris -- at least how I read it. Through the post, I assume (sorry Gini) she wanted to make readers aware of her concern -- the comments section was a different story.

    Never do I hope to use my blog as a platform for libelous, defamatory writing. Some would say I'm a pretty tolerant person, but I certainly have impassioned disagreements from time to time with many bloggers whom I profoundly respect. If I choose not to voice that disagreement, am I being honest and true to myself? To my readers?

    I teach elementary students part-time (along with a host of other creative revenue generating activities). I liken this situation (publicly disagreeing) to that job. Gini could have written a post that extolled "other" engagement tactics that provide higher ROI (time and money) and left Chris' post out of the equation. Give people a better alternative and often they'll take.

    But like with my kids, I can reason and provide plenty of suggestions how to "better behave" in certain situations, but quite frequently the most effective method of encouraging good behavior is to punish (timeout, no recess, talk with the parents) bad behavior. Now, I don't think Gini was necessarily "punishing" Chris, but as a responsible teacher (read: blogger) she had to set an example with him to the rest of the class (read: readers). In that aspect, I think she was abundantly successful.

    In closing, Martyn, I applaud and respect you for having the courage to post this. Just like Gini, you felt the desire to voice your opinion. I may not agree with you whole heartedly, but I understand and accept much your argument. Thanks and take care.

    antwizzel
    antwizzel

    While I think that the points Martyn makes are valid I disagree. The whole bloggosphere is based on a few things.. one of them being varying opinions. The point is not to attack the other person, the point is to question their opinions. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's done in a professional manner. Referencing the person in such a post is important for the context. At the end of the day, how would we learn if we all agreed on everything?

    timepass
    timepass

    Nice post Martyn, the point you make is valid. It is definitely not worth calling someone out on a blogpost to state why your point of view is right (or the other person's view is wrong). The freedom of the internet also allows us as readers to choose and figure out what works and what does not. A blogger can share their point of view and their facts without targetting anyone and still make an impact. Thanks for this post.

    aurelius_Tjin
    aurelius_Tjin

    I'd say, that i'd rather compose a blog stating an opposite oppinion but not attacking somebody else's blog, if you attacked somebody's blog, you draw attention to it. Instead write a well crafted blog and draw readers to your side.

    JayDolan
    JayDolan

    I cannot agree with this.

    There's a difference between attacking someone and discussing what you find wrong with their ideas. I could write, "Jay wrote the dumbest blog post saying you shouldn't write a post about disagreeing with someone." That's an attack. I can also write, "Jay's blog post seems to stifle the creation of ideas and opinions." That's a disagreement.

    I've made a whole blogging career disagreeing, and being a squeaky wheel has it's uses. The trick is not to focus on where we disagree, but rather where we do agree, and building better ideas from those areas.

    JonHearty
    JonHearty

    When I saw the title to this post in my e-mail, the first person I thought of was @ginidietrich and the first thought that came to my mind is, "What blog is this on? It can't be @spinsucks !" But it was, which is really an interesting and important point. This is not only an amazing example of how a blog is really a conversation, but also a look into how that conversation can affect things. Thanks, Gini, for having Martin guest-write, and thanks, Martin, for a great post!

    YourEdgeOnline
    YourEdgeOnline

    Confused by the whole home schooled, Christian, adolescent artist giving blog advice thing...

    DavidSpinks
    DavidSpinks

    Of course you shouldn't attack the person... you should attack the idea.

    Referencing the person/post is important for context.

    RichBurghgraef
    RichBurghgraef

    I think the big thing here is what, exactly is being disagreed with; is it the person or the idea? Professional disagreement of an idea or opinion is good debate and quite frankly, in those sitations I always learn something even if I do continue to disagree. I'm a Taurus (or at least I think I am, still not sure what's going on with the Zodiac) so I tend to be a bit stubborn in my opinion. I also try very hard not to open my mouth unless I feel somewhat strongly about what is gong to come out of it.

    Personal attacks and unprofessional disagreement just takes things off topic and lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and, quite frankly, a ton of garbage.

    Keep the good, lively debate going strong!

    lesmckeown
    lesmckeown

    Hi Martyn!

    I have zero interest in the actual topic (I ignore anything that tells me I'm 'doing something wrong' on social media) - but I am intrigued to understand your logic: How is it wrong for Ms Dietrich to write a blog post diagreeing with Mr Brogan, but it is OK for you to write a blog post disagreeing with Ms Dietrich?

    Just wonderin'.

    jamiemorgancda
    jamiemorgancda

    I think the point you are trying to get across is a valid one, but I also think that there are cases where a person should post a blog disagreeing with someone.

    What if the information they talked about is just flat out wrong and the post you write explains to your audience why and backs it up with facts? Or, maybe it is to start a debate that could be informative to your readers.

    I never advocate attacking someone personally or just mentioning a big name blogger to get attention, but I don't think that disagreeing and being brave enough to put it out there for everyone to see is wrong.

    JGoldsborough
    JGoldsborough

    Not sure I agree. It's all about how you disagree, right? If you just disagree to disagree and you're an A-hole about it, then I'm with you. But if you can disagree constructively and share another well-thought-out side of the story, I think that's fine.

    Controversy can bring readers and publcity. But if your blog is crap, they'll just leave after the comment and not return. I guess I'm saying in the end, your blog has to stand on its own two feet. But if disagreeing isn't stepping out of your normal style and you can do so constructively, have at it.

    Katjaib
    Katjaib

    So this is a post disagreeing with how Gini handled her disagreement with Chris's advice? Very funny. And hats off to Gini for being so gracious.

    As you just pointed out, debate is healthy for stimulating ideas. Variety among points of view makes life interesting and helps us learn from each other. And as for the "Rules", you've inspired a couple of posts of my own: "Don't blog on an empty stomach" and "Why wearing red socks makes you a better writer." Coming soon....

    markwschaefer
    markwschaefer

    Completely disagree. How's that for starting an argument on a blog? : )

    Look, you can disagree but that doesn't mean you have to be nasty about it. You can be nice, nurturing and professional and still have a lively debate. People disagree with me all the time in very public ways. I love it. I thrive on it. It helps me grow as a person and as a professional.

    The blogger I disagree with most consistently is Mitch Joel. We go at each other all the time in blog posts and podcasts. And through our disagreement we have become close friends because we respect and celebrate our diversity. We make each other better though our differences. That is the beauty of the social web Martyn.

    The only way you can differentiate yourself on this crowded blogosphere is to be yourself and follow your own heart and path. If all you do is say yes to everything, this is what your blog is going to sound like to me right before I unsubscribe: "mooo, mooo, moo."

    I regret you've had bad experiences but would encourage you to stay true to yourself. You don;t have to "find" your audience if you follow your heart. Your audience will find you.

    MaureenB2B
    MaureenB2B

    @Martyn Chamberlin @ginidietrich @lesmckeown Martyn - your embarrassed graciousness becomes you. I'm quite certain that Gini and Les join me in having done some cringe-worthy things early on in our careers. It just wasn't posted to a global communications system back then. I'm not sure that, when I screwed up early on, I took it as well as you're doing.

    Great humility lesson for us all: it's not the falling down that defines you, it's the getting back up and trying again, eh?

    Glad to know you.

    Martyn Chamberlin
    Martyn Chamberlin

    @ginidietrich @MaureenB2B @lesmckeown What, I can't write another disagreement post again? I disagree with that! I've just gotten good 'n started. :)

    Gini, it takes a special kind of person to be as nice as you've been to me. I'm embarrassed.

    MaureenB2B
    MaureenB2B

    @lesmckeown Amen. Bravo to both @ginidietrich and Martyn for making this politely public. But I'm with you, Les. This feels a lot Sarah Palin protesting the politicization of the Tucson shooter and then saying she thinks (I paraphrase) that the shooter was "apolitical or left-leaning."

    Howie Goldfarb
    Howie Goldfarb

    @ginidietrich @Shonali @jennalanger I would connect my twitter account so people can tweet I was talked about since everyone talks behind my back about me anyway. FB is an island. I try to isolate it so when the time comes and we all jump to something else it becomes one of those 'did it really exist' thoughts.

    jennalanger
    jennalanger moderator

    @Shonali @HowieG Have you been looking at our secret master plan documents? Big things will be coming... :)

    jennalanger
    jennalanger moderator

    @HowieG @Martyn Chamberlin @Katjaib I do no such thing ;)

    You also get more points for connecting both your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I think Howie tracks all the Livefyre blogs so he can leave his mark and get more points. Eventually we'll send him that pencil he's aiming for.

    Howie Goldfarb
    Howie Goldfarb

    @Martyn Chamberlin @Katjaib To answer Kat its via bribes and intimidation. Also seems a lot of the blogs I read are using Livefyre because @jennalanger bribes people to do so. (See Bribes work!)
    To answer Martyn when someone clicks the little thumbs up you get a Livefyre point. I think they can be redeemed one day for big ticket items like pencils (30,000 points) and rulers (45,000 points)

    Katjaib
    Katjaib

    @HowieG How on earth did you get 179 points? Are you in Solitary?

    Howie Goldfarb
    Howie Goldfarb

    @Griddy @ginidietrich @Katjaib Its red underwear that is a no-no. At least per the United Bank of Switzerlands 44 Page Dress Code. I think red sox are ok unless you play baseball. Then its bad.

    Griddy
    Griddy

    @ginidietrich @Katjaib Ooops, sorry I forgot...Hi ladies :). I have so much to say about Mark's comment below (good positive stuff and how and I why I agree) - but I'm scared to write an entire post (Uhhh...I mean a longer comment than my usual long comments).

    Griddy
    Griddy

    @Katjaib Why was I not told about the red sox earlier? I mean heck, I'll wear both the team and the actual toe warmers if they get me to write better (than I already do).

    ginidietrich
    ginidietrich moderator

    @Katjaib Do red socks really make you a better writer? What about in the summertime? Still works?

    jonbuscall
    jonbuscall

    @markwschaefer @Martyn Chamberlin
    I'm afraid to say I agree with you disagreeing like that! :)

    Having grown up in academia before I jumped ship to start my own company every single day was full of disagreements and arguments. And that's the thing I miss most about being a full-time academic.

    I always try and focus on the topic, rather than the person but it's difficult sometimes. Hey, we're all human.

    But as far as blogging and disagreements go, it is always going to be difficult to critique something without someone taking it the wrong way.

    We have no paralinguistic info to counter what the written word says so I always try and be more careful when writing. But bottom line: I go for the jugular when disagreeing face-to-face because, hey, I can smile and vary the tone of what I'm saying.

    Howie Goldfarb
    Howie Goldfarb

    @markwschaefer well I must say I love Jaffe and Joel but they agree way too much! I agree with the tactfulness and respect even when you disagree. I can get pretty aggro when people are out of their minds and have no support for their side. But if you bring ammo and state a case well enough nothing wrong with a draw.

    I actually find your responses to my occasional disagreements with you on your blog humorous. You ask for more! LOL

    Martyn Chamberlin
    Martyn Chamberlin

    @markwschaefer Mark I love you. I hear you all the time on Mitch's podcast. You've got such a crisp voice. And yes, it's fun hearing you disagree with him. Tell Mitch I said hi.

    Truth be told, I've reformed a bit as of writing that post. Reformed to nonconformity.