Traffic Transactions

I am not a serial liker.

When a friend says or writes something very interesting, I like it. I do. This post is specifically about WordPress and generally about everything else. Very few of my posts are a call to action. I tend not to seek opinions. For some reason, many folks have started liking posts on this blog and seldom, on some of my other blogs. Perhaps someone somewhere is promoting this blog. I do not know who; I do not know how. People unknown to me are liking posts and following the blog.

Without any disrespect, I don’t care for the likes.

Likes are akin to a wave of the hand from far across the grassy knoll. You can acknowledge them, wave back, but there is no engagement. There is warmth in the waving, which cools down to a neutral nothingness as it travels across the grass. Comments, I take seriously, even if the comments themselves are not serious. Serious comments, I take them very seriously. I am glad that serious comments on my blog have helped shaped my thinking. Notwithstanding the nature, quality and content of comments on this blog, I have always replied to comments. Not so much for likes.

Highway Congestion

I understand where WordPress is coming from. Once upon a time it was a superb blogging platform. Now it is steering the way and telling us what we should write about. Blogging prompts, etc. That they are promoting the platform is abundantly clear. When the year ends, they can publish statistics, without publishing quality. I dislike advice on writing. I know a passionate librarian who laments that hardly anyone looks at a bookshelf she curated. Writing. I don’t want beginning, middle, end advice. Structured advice on blogging and writing is counter-intuitive. Are we to become a crowd of a common voice or are we to become individuals with personal expressions? Yes, the prompts and such may well motivate us, but if we need prompts, we aren’t writers. I’ve succumbed to prompts, a couple of times, no doubt about that (but only 3 or 4 times in 900-odd posts).

The good written word was murdered when stats and likes took over. In recent days, WordPress changed the interface of the platform so that we have focus on stats and such. Something that I am hugely upset about. Yet, I will never hold it against them. They have a commercial purpose of promoting their platform. And that’s a good reason as any. As writers, we have to see through.

The real prompt of writing has to be your own, however. When, what, and how much, you want to write, has to be your own decision. If you are not doing that, then your blog is a slave. If likes and follows are to become a measure of the quality of our writing, then we have lost the plot, before we wrote the first word. If what we write… [here’s an unfinished sentence for you]

And while writers will decide what they write, slave they must be, to none.

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33 thoughts on “Traffic Transactions

  1. I don’t fully agree. I think likes are a way to let you know that we came, we read and we enjoyed. So many times a post does not help start conversations. Some times one doesn’t know how to react or put into words the emotions, thoughts a post might have invoked. But they want to acknowledge that the post was read/looked at.

    As for WordPress- I have only very recently started looking at their daily posts. I am not sure if you are referring to Blogging 101 or daily posts.I think they are fun. A challenge. Something to push that creativity. Not all of us are blessed with the gift of creativity, or expression.

    Sounds like a rant. I am not ranting. I completely respect your opinion and choice. But I don’t want to be judged for the choices I make as a blogger, that is all I am saying.

    Like

  2. I agree with this post. Completely. Somehow comments feel sincere to me. “Likes” are too convenient. Some people compulsively hit that like button – I blame Facebook. When someone leaves a comment it feels that he/she made an effort of logging in, thinking about the post, typing, editing, rewording.. posting.. So many transactions. Comments win over likes Anyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thank ye, SA. Comments vs. Likes was only one part of rant. 🙂 Our roles are writers and readers; all of it is getting redefined, in some way or the other. Perhaps folks like you and me are just resisting? 🙂 Point to ponder.

      Like

  3. I dared to press the like button, but only because I read and like this post. Have to say, I do agree with what you have said. Although I am happy for people to press the like button, It doesn’t tell me if they actually read the post or not. I prefer comments. My blog thrives on comments. Without them I would probably gradually stop writing posts and just read instead. Something I all ready don’t do enough of, if I’m honest.

    I have been blogging for 10 months, so I have no idea what WordPress was like before that, but I believe you when you state that it is now driven by statistics (something I foolishly allowed myself to become obsessed with, for a while). Now I only really care about answering comments. Unfortunately, the so called ‘power bloggers’, are attempting to dominate the platform by clicking “follow” and “like” on any new post or blogger, as they appear in the reader. Thats great for them and I don’t begrudge them there obsessions. However, this behaviour becomes contagious and infects new or copy cat bloggers, and then all that matters are the numbers. Followers, like and reblogs.

    I never use writing prompts. I never take blog advice. I write and post whatever I want to. Thats the way it should be. Thankfully, there are bloggers, like yourself, capable of writing a post like this and putting the honesty of the written word as the main concern.

    Great post, Atul. Much respect.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Given my rants about the “like” many people assume that I hate likes! (That’s a weird phrasal combination for you!) I don’t hate them, I don’t even dislike them. I do wonder how they should be interpreted. When an obviously commercial blog likes it, I know that action has got nothing to do with the post. I do like comments, but as a friend above noted, my posts do not ask of the reader to express. And I am happy with the amount and volume of comments I get. I always reply to every comment, so the current volume and frequency works, for me.

      Again, writing prompts are not bad as such, I worry about the sameness that may pervade. of course everyone will write differently and will be unique as such, but I can’t ward of the feeling that someone is trying to lead the tribe, without the tribe asking of it.

      WordPress has been an amazing blogging platform. In recent times they have been doing too many things, too fast. Especially with the feature set. I find myself spending more time getting re-used to the platform than writing. They are of course a business and have a need to promote their platform and enable generation of content. And I don’t begrudge them that.

      This comment is perhaps a good example of a subscription to the old school, and of getting old. And I don’t begrudge myself that. I like where I stand.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Looking for Writers | alfreds almanac
  5. I agree with you Atul. Anyone can like anything, even without reading or checking the post. Someone who comments, takes the time to tell you their opinion, good or bad, but at least you know that the person read what your wrote. Anyway, I would keep writing even if nobody reads, just because I like it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • DO, I think the preference for comments over likes is global. And the reasons are common. A comment is a huge validation of your content and it gives the author a very specific sense of being read.

      And while comments are good, it has no bearing on whether we should start, stop, slow down, or speed up writing. We should just write. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. With you on much of this. The obsession with the assumed need to generate an audience and the rotation crops of umpteen bland tips are indeed counter-intuitive.

    That said, I’m beginning to get a real kick out of interaction with some fellow bloggers. I’m usually reticent about participating in exerciese; I’m not much of a joiner-in, but I occasionally enjoy latching on to the odd prompt from another blogger. It is possible to do this without compromising writing ideals or having to uncurl my lip at attempts to homogenise subscribers. The best finds have accidentally come from letting my guard down. I’m probably with you overall though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “rotation crops of umpteen bland tips” – loved it! 😀

      Welcome to Gaizabonts, TOTB!

      I completely agree with you, interaction with your audience is immensely enjoyable. It gives so much more context than a simple like. I’ve forged many good friendships over the years – just because of blogging. I’ve posted quite a few times on this blog, as a prompt, but never because it was “designed” as a prompt. The post is written so wonderfully, that it prompts you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Having been sent here by Paul (alfredsalmanac), I have to say I enjoyed your post, but only partially agree. I’ve never even seen a prompt, to be honest. I wouldn’t use it anyway. I believe what WordPress is doing in that and other respects is making blogging less intimidating, especially to newer bloggers, and they want to make the creation of blogs and posts simpler. Lots of people aren’t writers or creative thinkers, but want to blog for whatever reason. I think that’swho’s targeted with those features.

    As far as the “likes”…There’s no way to know if a person who “likes” your post has actually read it. That’s the part that annoys me. What truly annoys me is if I only get a “like” from a person whose blog I follow and comment on regularly. I take the time out to engage and also let the blogger know what they wrote is worth commenting on. I spend an inordinate amount of time doing it, though, and am trying to work out a way for that to stop. Things like that will help me decide whose blogs to pull back on, etc. What I do prefer is comments, as do all of us. We want our words to be heard and without comments, we question if what we take the time to write about is of value or simple a waste of time. I know I’m sick of wasting my time on futile things.

    I DO, however, really LIKE “likes” for comments. This allows someone to say they “like” what someone has said, whether they comment on it or not, and often times it IS the response. That’s what I like about it the best—when you can “like” a comment because no more response is needed than that.

    Overall, the stats are about trying to help you see if what you’re doing is effective in the ways you want, but it’s not quite as accurate as it should be ’cause stats don’t reflect many things that matter. Anyway, it’s always a good topic! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Way before WordPress introduced likes, people used to comment with “Wow” or “Super” or “loved it.” Those days, I used to respond with a thank you to each of these comments. In a way , WordPress helped these kind of people with the “like” feature, and converting that interaction into a one-way transaction between the blogger and the audience.

      Welcome to Gaizabonts, WriterSideUp!

      Look at the transaction that brought you here. The comment has become that much more valuable, because Paul enabled this transaction. That’s the kind of value, that a like does not convey.

      The like on the comments is useful, I agree, because it is a followup on an existing conversation. The like can be a good activity “within” the conversation; it, unfortunately, never starts the conversation.

      The thing I like about WordPress is that while they have added loads of features in the past years, they have (a) never switched off old features and (b) they have always given a “switch” for new features. If you don’t like it, you can always turn it off. (Note to self) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’re on WordPress much longer than I am. Though I’d set up a blog several years back, I never used it, then set up my two over two years ago, but didn’t launch ’til this past September. I’m not familiar with things before that, but am pretty happy/comfortable with WordPress so far 🙂 And yes, there’s nothing like actual comments!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh! I know the feeling. I have setup *way* too many blogs. And while I try to do justice at all places, it is really difficult. WordPress is a beautiful platform that has evolved sensibly, over the years. I am completely in love with them.

          And Cheers to Comments! 😀

          >

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post as well as the comments. It made me look at it from both perspectives. While I enjoy likes myself:) we have been diminished by the desire for the public approval of others. Having something go “viral” is the holy grail in this new world. To write for the joy of writing is liberating. I have a a blog called Love Letters to My Dog. No one has liked it or even seen it, probably, but my writing comforts me, (he just died:). Cheers to all and keep writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your pet. For the first time in my life, I have a dog nearing end of life that I’ve owned that entire time. It is worrisome to me and I don’t think I want another one due to that :/ And now I am worried that someone will put me down so I don’t suffer too! (odd thought that came to me earlier this week) “Oh, lets put Mom down before she gets too sick and in pain to move around and can’t enjoy life any more.” 0_0 (hopefully that’s a decade or two away at least!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • OH I am so sorry…my dog started having seizures almost two years ago..he was a toy poodle and older so they thought he had a brain tumor……lots of crazy things happened…he was starving from the drugs and ate 3/4 of a chicken…cost me a fortune! but was worth it…then he got pneumonia..he was in an oxygen tank…was getting better…and then one day he woke up with very bad neurological symptoms…I had to put him down that day. It was between Xmas and New years and I was alone. I swore I’d never get another dog..but I was so lonely and sad…couldn’t sleep for 48 hours….went to the rescue to “foster” a crazy looking hairless dog….she is at my feet. She is heart worm positive and has had two small seizures since I got her….she’s not going anywhere…she is not Alvin…but she needs me and I love her! It’s funny when you have a dog it’s whole life..they become part of you…I miss him so much in the way that I would miss a person. The goofy little things he’d do. But that last 16 months was so precious and we had the best time. So try to just enjoy your dog, each day is a blessing. (oh..and I have a son…I think the same thing…not sure about leaving him in charge of my health care decisions…I might nod off and he’ll pull the plug….LOL) thanks for responding http://www.loveletterstomydog.weebly.com in case you want to read it…it’s hard to write cause it’s still raw…but I”ll write more
        All the best!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Welcome to Gaizabonts, TruthSeeker! I completely agree with you @ To write for the joy of writing is liberating. It does seem that we have to often pull back to the “basics” – the approval and attention should always be a side-effect not a primary purpose of writing. Else, it is never your writing; it is influenced writing. 🙂

      I am sorry to hear about the death; I know the feeling.

      Like

  9. When there were less blogs to read because there were less bloggers (wayyyy back when I started five years ago), there weren’t even likes available. I wrote and no one except friends even read what I wrote usually, and I only knew because they would E-mail or mention it on the phone. I moved to WP because it was more user friendly than the previous place I tried to blog (don’t think it is around anymore either). But now that there are millions upon millions of us sharing our opinions, woes, fears, struggles and triumphs, it becomes difficult to read all of the ones that have come to even ‘feel’ like friendships in a way, plus the ones you’ve actually truly gotten to know, and then the newcomers that you wish to encourage. Then try to write stuff for your own blog, and then actually live your life too! I need 48 hours in a day already 😀 So the likes are to me “Hai, stopped by but gotta fly!” kinds of things. The only likes I truly dislike are people that just “like” everything based on a tag and can’t possibly have any connection to something I wrote. This usually happens if I tag something with ‘beauty’; suddenly I get lots of likes from people doing make-up stuff. LOL!

    I think we either write because we’re compelled to write, or we write for other ephemeral or recognition reasons that we may not even know or understand about ourselves. I’ve not read hardly any blogs lately because I’m off my arse and doing stuff in addition to working and interacting with family. It is difficult to live, and to write about living, at the same time – at least for moi!

    But keep up the rants, they are always good reads 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The first paragraph of your comments is aligned *perfectly* with what I feel about likes. I just mentioned the days, when likes weren’t available. (Five years before you started! 🙂 ) Perfectly said and so well said! 👍

      When writers find their own voice and manner, the writing is beautiful. I love reading from folks who write like that. And whether I want to or not, the rants will keep coming. There has to be catharsis! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ten years! Congrats. Mine are all hand-written before then 🙂 I just read a piece in the New Yorker, with a follow up discussion on HN, about the number of friendships one can manage. It discusses whether the advent of common internet usage (particularly social media) will change those numbers. This line of thought in your writing meshes well with that, because I think the energies are similar when it comes to ‘likes’ versus ‘comments’. There is so much visual data to absorb and process these days. I think our brains and emotions still have hard stops. I know mine does, hah!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nice article, seems like. If you have the link, do share.

          It seems we overestimate ourselves for the quantity *and* the quality of relationships. And it’s not just visual data (though, I know what you mean, on a recent vacation, all of us experienced “visual fatigue”) there’s just so much to process, we aren’t “chewing our food 32 times” as was taught, once upon a time.

          Thank ye, for the congratulations. And, yes, I sometimes ‘take a leaf’ out of the written word, and post it here. 🙂

          Like

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