Be a Better Blog Commenter

Say something relevant to the post itself. Come up with a comment more interesting than “I agree” or “Me too”. It’s not that tough to stretch out a thought beyond two words. Why do you agree with the post? What was your own experience? Most blog comments are on the short side. Find a bit more to say and make yours longer to stand out. A longer comment also gives the feeling you are interested in the post and the blogger and able to string together ideas yourself. Others are more likely to click on the link to your blog if you seem to be someone who can write and write well.

A blog post looking for advice or answers is a great time to get noticed. If you know of a resource, have an opinion, or experience that would help leave that in comments. Give a link to the resource if it is online, even if it is your own site. However, if it is your own site make that clear. That way the blog owner and readers will know you aren’t just spamming your URL, it’s posted for a valid reason.

On the other side of giving information, ask a question yourself. What would you like to know more about? What detail or information might have been left out of the post? Think of a real question, not fluff just to leave a comment.

Be supportive and uplifting and sincere. Everyone is glad to have a comment that spreads good cheer and brightens their day. You can’t smile at others through your comment but you can send a smile in text. If you can’t be uplifting don’t be a wet blanket and do not be obnoxious. That should not even need to be said.

Write with personality, passion and humour. Don’t leave a bland comment that could have been written by half a million other bloggers. Come up with something uniquely you. Maybe a different turn of phrase. How about a funny anecdote. Maybe part of a quote relevant to the post if you really just don’t have a personality of your own. (But I know you do!)

Don’t post a comment at all if you really have nothing to say or if you are posting just to create controversy. A flame war may get you traffic and it will get you noticed but is that really how you want to be known? Besides, that kind of attention is short lived. No one really wants to watch a flame war except the two people in the middle who can’t seem to let go.

Last of all, proofread your comments before you click to post them. Spelling errors are one thing but typos just look klutzy. You can try to avoid them or just not bother and give the impression that you don’t care. Also, don’t leave a comment that is a solid block of text. It is easier to read a long comment if it is broken up into individual thoughts/ ideas.

Happy commenting. Let me know if you have other great commenting ideas.

Meanwhile consider using CoComment. Your comments from other blogs are posted to your own blog in a widget. Nice way to show that you actually do make comments and give links to the blogs you read.

It is never too late for the 31 Day Comment Challenge which utilizes CoComment too. Started in 2008 but all the activities for each of the 31 days are up on the site so you can step in any time and challenge yourself.

The Secret is in the Sauce –  “…a group of women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments”.

You can join up IComLeavWe every month.

Also found The Weekend Comment Challenge on Sited and Blogged. Not sure when it starts or ends but I like the idea.

Mom Blog Comment Club is looking for more members.

Sports Writing Becomes You

I’m not a sports minded person but I have a friend who will always tell me the game scores, who is playing and I usually don’t remember enough to know which city each team is from. She still tells me about them anyway. I don’t mind, even if I’m not intensely interested, it matters to her after all. Traditionally, women are not sports writers and way back they weren’t traditionally sports players either. Things are changing and for women who are interested in sports, writing about them could be a career choice.

Anyone can print the final score of a hockey game (Vancouver 3, Colorado 1) but it takes detail and creative language to win sports readers.

From SNN Newsroom: Sports Writing.

On Sports – Tips and suggestions for covering sports.

Writing World has a good article about getting into sports writing online. It’s a little dated but a start even still.

About.com: Writing the Short Game Story. – Writing a sports story in 500 words or less.

Sports Writing and Editing is being kept updated but needs readers to push for more content.

There is a forum for Sports Journalists.

Wikipedia has a few more resources.

Geeky Baldisms writes about bad sports writing.

Organize Grrl Zine Workshops

Have you ever wanted to create your own small publication, in print? Whether you think of them as fanzines, zines or ezines (which are not in print) the ideas for holding a zine workshop are great for getting together with a group and trying to create something of your own on paper.

From GrrlZines and GZAGG originally:

Forming and organizing the group and workshops:

+ Find other like-minded zinesters in your city (via word-of-mouth, the library, co-ops, zines at book and record stores, music venues, and the Internet). It is best if you have enough members so that you can rotate in providing workshops (we like to have at least 2-3 at each workshop)

+Organize your workshop tools. We always bring: A typewriter, scissors (more than one pair), glue sticks, pens (ball point and sharpie), blank paper, a stapler (a saddle stapler is best), and a scrap box with a variety of newspapers, magazines, clip art, rub-on letters, decorative paper, string, and other bits that can be used in making a zine. You can ask for donations, or “borrow” stuff from work.

+ Identify organizations interested in zine workshops such as youth, women’s and LGBT centers, feminist organizations, high schools, girls clubs, festivals, bookstores etc.

+ Present your idea about doing a zine workshop at the selected venue. Asking your friends is often a good way to get started. Ask if the venue can provide some compensation or contribution of materials, and if it can provide a photocopy machine or free copies.

+ When arranging for a space for the workshop make sure it has enough tables and chairs, and that it allows cut and paste activities.

+ Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We usually allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the workshop itself and another hour for copying and stapling the workshop zine.

+ If the workshop is open to the public (and not only for a specific group), make flyers and distribute them widely in the community and among your friends. Make use of activist email lists and website in your community too. You should probably keep the number of participants under 20.

The workshop itself:

+ First we introduce ourselves and our zines. Next we talk about the definition of a zine, zine history, the current “zine scene,” our experience making and distributing zines, and the basics of how to make and distribute zines. We always have resource guides available (a zine itself) that repeat this material.

+ Most of our workshops consist of making a zine in which each participant contributes one page. We make digest-sized zines, which are letter-size paper folded in two (so that each page is 4.25” wide by 5.5” tall). We suggest you have them draw a border approximately one-half inch around their page as a guide, so that their work doesn’t get cut off when copied.

+ Be sure to point out that color can be tricky when making black-and-white copies (red becomes black, for example), and encourage image-making that will copy well. Discourage pages with a majority of solid black as this tends to create paper jams when copied.

+ Then it’s DIY time! It’s important to allot the majority of the time for them to work on their page. It can take some folks a while to get comfortable, and some do multiple versions. While they’re working on their pages, the organizers can make a cover, an ad a page for your group (and for any upcoming events – a good way to balance out the number of pages if you need to) and a contributors page. Have them sign the contributor’s page when they turn in their page, and allow them to identify themselves as they wish, but do suggest email addresses if they wish to keep in contact with your or other workshop participants.

+ Assemble the master copy of the zine as pages are submitted to demonstrate how this is done. They will give you a half-sheet of paper, which you will then glue onto a creased full sheet of paper. Do consider the order of pages when you do this, and try to juxtapose contributions in an interesting manner.

+ Before the workshop ends ask the participants to sign up for a mailing list if they want to be informed about future events. Consider using this mailing list to elicit feedback on the workshop too.

+ Remember that you may not have a copy machine immediately available, in which case you will need to make arrangements for getting the zines to the workshop participants. If your workshop is part of a conference or festival, try to schedule it early in the day so that you can arrange a pick-up point for them later. You may need to provide envelopes for mailing, in which case it’s a good idea to ask for postage costs from either the participant or the organization sponsoring the workshop. Sometimes it works out for participants to go with you to make copies, in which case they can learn about copy techniques and get their zines right away.

+ When copying a zine with lots of images, select the ‘photo’ button on the copy machine for best quality of gray tones.

+ To staple the zine it’s easiest to use a saddle stapler (one designed to reach in to the center of paper). If you need to use a regular stapler: make a pile of newspaper, open the zine face down on top of it, open the stapler and staple down through the zine’s spine, then manually fold down the ends of the staples.

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go – is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California. Since 2002 we have been facilitating workshops in community venues and college campuses in our region. We focus on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works.

What’s So Special About You?

Do you have a moral obligation to help another person?

You’re waiting at the bus stop. It’s a cold wintery day and the bus is likely running late again. There are three people in the bus shelter, not you as they were already all crowded in there when you arrived and none of them moved enough for you to get in. So you’re not feeling especially freindly towards any of them.

One of the women just keels over, falling to the floor of the bus shelter. The others inside there look down at her but just ignore her. Are you obligated to step in there and help her?

Yes, in all the movies everyone rushes to do the right thing. In reality it’s cold and you’re the coldest of all the people standing at the stop. You’re tired, your purse is new and you really don’t want to put it down in the snow. One of those other women is likely to walk off with it if you give them half a chace.

Really, why should YOU have to do it?

Tell the World Who you Are

Well behaved women rarely make history.

I know we are intended to think of the above as a reason to take risks, challenge ourselves and look outside our comfort zones. But, behaving badly can also mean acting like a slut, being mean and nasty and other sorts of negative things. Yet, some of those negative things can get you into the history books too. I guess the quote is really about pulling out all the stops and going for it.

But that backfires on women. There is still a double standard.

Still, we should not keep our head in the sand, live in our tidy constructions and feel safe. There is a real thrill with taking a risk, trying a wild ride and doing something you really want to do but had to let go of your fear just to try.

We are all afraid of something, of how others will see us and of what we might lose in the process. But, wouldn’t it be worse if you never dared at all? Don’t just jump in with both feet but don’t let that keep you from jumping at all.

Jump on something this week. Something you don’t think you dare to do cause it’s just not something others would think you should do. Don’t let them dictate to you too far.

“The world will tell you who you are, until you tell the world.”

Soap Opera Babies

On a soap opera the characters who are men can have children pop up from out of the woodwork, it makes it easy for the writers to introduce new, young characters into the storyline and have them already connected to the existing characters. Good strategy.

Women don’t have it that easy. We know when we have had a child, kind of hard to forget being pregnant all those months and then going through labour.

If you were a writer on a soap opera what kind of strategies could you come up with to bring in a new character and claim the Mother is a female character who knows nothing about having a baby who could be that age at this time. How would a writer get around that?

The Great Tea Party Festival

It’s the Great Tea Party Festival! You dress up in something light and frilly and bring out your prettiest china to serve the tea and dainty little cakes. The table is set with a lace tablecloth, flowery cloth napkins, your best china (with a floral pattern of course) and there are roses in a vase as your centrepiece. It’s beautiful, like something out of a Victorian fashion magazine.

Your friends and their daughters come over and everyone has a great time at the Great Tea Party Festival. After the clean up you are free to go out and walk down Main Street with everyone else for the Great Tea Party Festival Parade. All the women (and some of the men) parade down the street wearing their tea party dresses. A few men are all dressed up in old fashioned suits with hats and gloves and they join the parade too.

It all ends just as the light is fading into evening and everyone gathers at the Community Centre for a little socializing and a bake sale.

What kind of tea did you serve at your Great Tea Party Festival?

Soaping Up for the Little Green Men

The aliens have landed. They want you to create a new ad campaign for a new soap they invented. Supposedly it will make an Earth woman’s skin very soft, remove unwanted body hair and it’s anti-aging. The only drawback is that you have to spend a week completely naked in order for the first use of the soap to sink in. After that first week you just use as you usually would, like touch ups.

The aliens, being little green men after all, insist that every woman who uses their soap spends that week of being naked in a big compound they have set up where they can keep an eye on all the women, in case of any side effects… yeah, right. (What they really hope to get out of this is a lot of little green babies. Everyone knows aliens are easy and want to take over the world).

What kind of ad do you come up with to sell the alien soap? You can’t skip over the whole week naked at the compound detail and showing pictures of the little green men won’t help to sell it either. Green just isn’t everyone’s colour… and those weird scales and twitching eyes don’t help much.

We all Know Boys Have Cooties…

As we all know, boys have cooties (kooties, not sure on the official spelling). It’s not their fault, it just happens that when they reach a certain age boys stop being cute and sweet and just get cootified. No girl in her right mind would want to kiss one of them.

The strange thing is, no one has actually seen a cootie. I’ve asked around and none of the girls and women seem to have found a cootie on any boy. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there. My Great Grandmother told me boys have cooties and she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

So draw a cootie. Whatever your level of illustrating skill you can come up with some theory of what a cootie looks like.

This will be a big help to those girls and women who still want to kiss boys, at risk of getting cooties themselves.

Note to the boys: Most of us still like you, even though you do have cooties.