Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Would you be controversial just to get your blog read?

Photo credit: asifthebes
This has been bugging me for a few days. I may rant occasionally on Twitter but I do not like conflict and confrontation. Classically a middle-born child, I was always the peacemaker for family arguments when I was small. I'd do anything to stop arguments and restore calm. Yes, I do fall out with people, mostly the children (actually, make that mostly Monkey. Sigh) but it doesn't last and I will always try to make peace. I hate unresolved rows - especially going to bed on an argument.

As a blogger, that attitude has stayed with me. I don't like judging other parents or their choices and I wouldn't criticise any particular person directly (or indirectly by hinting) via this blog. I worry about mentioning people in my family in case they find and read this back. I've even delayed mentioning my husband in blog posts, and featured him in photographs, in case he is offended or I upset him, however unintentionally and asked his permission before hitting publish.

Some might say - and probably do - that the lack of personal information or a willingness to be outspoken in my posts makes this blog a bit anodyne, the bland words a stark contrast to the colourful background. But that is how it is going to be, for this blog is me and I can't change that. Yes, I edit real life for my blog (it's even duller), but the basis of it all is me and my personality. I give honest opinions when I review things - and one review caused quite a stir - but I was quite concerned about publishing that.

Flicking through some stuff via Google the other day, I came across a number of posts containing tips for bloggers with a recurring theme. To get your blog read, be controversial (or be funny, and I can't do that properly either). It got me thinking - do people deliberately pick controversial topics just so people read their blog, even if they are haters? It would seem they do.

Personally, I couldn't do it. Some of my views may be controversial to someone somewhere. Occasionally, if the need arose, I might express those views in a post and someone tackled me on it, and that would be bad enough. I couldn't write a deliberately controversial post and know that I was probably going to be subjected to vitriol and rhetoric from those with an opposite view. Not just so that my blog got read - I'd have to feel pretty passionate about the subject.

I just don't get the concept of doing it that way. I like to start a discussion with my readers and welcome comments, good or bad.  I'd rather not start a row, and dread every Disqus email arriving in my inbox in case it contains abuse. The Internet is an easy place to be a bully. People say things they wouldn't say to your face. Controversy could easily turn to abuse and you'd have to be a peculiar type of thick-skinned not to let that bother you.

Forgive me, then, if this particular little corner of the Internet stays vaguely fluffy and yes, probably a bit anodyne. I'll get myself fewer readers as a result but I'll take that any time over the possibility of upsetting others and having to take abuse from them.

Could you do it?

If you have written controversial content for your blog to widen your readership, I'd be interested to read your thoughts on why you did it and how it worked out for you. Do you need a lot of controversial content on your blog to increase your audience? Can blogs with great content but avoid controversy ever become top blogs? I would be really interested to know. 
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