Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Personal Blogging Rules

I've already expounded on "Dino's Blogging Rules," which I consider to be pretty basic, general rules that most other bloggers would do well to follow. Here, though, I'd like to briefly discuss my own personal blogging rules.

First, I'd like to define the processes of how I make a "rule" for myself.

I learned a lot when I was unwillingly thrust into the dating pool about eight years ago. Things that most people learned in their teens and twenties, I was floundering around figuring out for myself in my forties. It wasn't fun, but it was instructional. I started out with as few constraints on my dates as possible. Am I really so shallow as to refuse to date someone who smokes, or someone who isn't Jewish? I asked myself. Not wanting to answer, "Yes," I'd go out with just about anyone. Once, that is. And I learned the hard way that I really didn't like kissing a smoker. And that not having to explain all about Purim or Passover was more comfortable than I had realized it was going to be. So in essence, I discovered my rules by breaking them, and realizing that I didn't like the results.

My other model for "rule-making" came from residency training. The second and third years of Family Practice training involve rotating through the offices of various specialists. in addition to increasing clinic responsibilities for your own patients. (Despite Sid's dim view of it, FP training makes you an expert in outpatient medicine and office practice.) I spent lots of time with lots of different doctors in lots of offices. In addition to learning orthopedics and neurology and pediatrics and everything else, I got to see how they treated patients (as in how they talked to them -- or not; how they scheduled them and saw them on time -- or not) and how they ran their offices. I was able to form opinions on what I liked and what I didn't like; what worked and what didn't work. So that when I opened my own office I designed my systems with an eye towards what I called "patient-centered care" that bears a striking resemblance to what's now being called "customer service."

At any rate, I've read enough blogs to get a sense of what I like and what I don't. These are the kinds of things that I've been trying to incorporate into my "personal blogging rules" (although I also reserve the right to bend or break them as I wish.) So here they are:
  1. No commercials
  2. Comment rarely
  3. Blogging about blogging is boring
  4. It's more about the writing than the readers

To elaborate:
  • No Commercials
Although I have a couple of self-published books available elsewhere on the internet, I prefer not to trumpet them front and center (or top and right, as would be the case on this template.) This is only partially because I'm enjoying my anonymity, but mainly because I prefer to avoid any form of commercialization. I'm even toying with the idea of removing the "Blogger" logo from my sidebar. I know when I see another blog peppered with ads and sponsors, it renders the content potentially just a tad suspect to me. (Note emphasis.) For what it's worth, I prefer not to have even the hint of intellectual dishonesty possibly inferred by commercial content.

  • Comment rarely (on my own blog, that is)
This is a rule I got from Miss Snark. Granted she's at the thousand-hit-a-day mark now, but I've been following her almost from the beginning. Even then, she didn't get involved in the discussions that blossomed in her comment trails except to insert a short, snarky comeback from time to time. When there was a particularly interesting comment or exchange, she'd pull it up into its own post and comment on it there for everyone to see. I liked that, and so I try to emulate it. The way I (and Miss Snark) see it, it's all fodder for the blog.

  • Blogging about blogging is boring
This is one rule I've already bent and regretted with regard to the sitemeter. As soon as I got it I began getting all impressed with myself; checking it multiple times a day, noticing spikes when I got mentioned somewhere else, and so on. I quickly got bored. Likewise I began noticing that other people's posts about their hit counts and "blogiversaries" were boring; at least compared to all the other really cool things they had to say. It struck me as meaningless navel-gazing that I didn't find very interesting. So I decided not to talk about it; at least not on the blog. I admit I brag about my blog to my family and (some of) my patients; then again, I talk about my patients and my family -- and all kinds of other things -- on the blog, so I guess it all evens out.

  • It's more about the writing than the readers
This is the real reason for this post. I don't want the kind folks who nominated me (and may vote for me) for Best New Medical Weblog to think I don't appreciate their esteem. I am truly flattered. But I'm not doing this for the awards. The acclaim and recognition are very nice, but I know myself well enough to be aware that the quest for these things could easily overwhelm my original blogging intentions. And I don't think I'd like myself very much if that happened to me. I write/blog because I want to. I'm thrilled to have my opinions respected -- even when they're disagreed with -- but just getting my words out there has to be enough for me. I'm content with my small circle of readers. If it expands, wonderful. If not, fine. It's very important to me not to get all caught up in my blogging wonderfulness.

Please understand that nothing I have said above is to be construed as an adverse judgement of any other blog or blogger.

I do not think less of others who choose different rules for themselves. Heaven knows cyperspace is big enough for all of us. I am well aware that others feel very differently about things like awards and sitemeters and hit counts, and that's fine. "Live and let live" is an axiom just as applicable to the virtual world as to the real one. But I did want to explain myself a bit more clearly, and to express my appreciation to my new blog friends for enhancing my life by validating my small contribution to theirs.


At Mon Dec 18, 08:59:00 AM, Blogger Big Lebowski Store said...

It's definitely about the writing. When my hate mail began to balance the love letters, I knew I was doing something right.



At Mon Dec 18, 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Pieces of Mind said...

My rules seem to be similar to yours. :)

In my other life I am used to writing something and sending it out into the ether without any expectation of feedback. So I learned early to focus on the writing and the story-telling rather than on a mostly invisible audience.

I like getting a sense of how people view their blogs and what they hope to accomplish. So it's OK by me if you blog about it from time to time. ;)

Congrats on your nomination, BTW!

At Mon Dec 18, 08:22:00 PM, Blogger Medblog Addict said...

I admit I haven’t had time to read Miss Snark yet, so this is just my inexperience talking. But I thought responding to your commenters was good blog manners, i.e., acknowledging your readers’ existence and thanking them for taking the time to stop by and comment.

At Mon Dec 18, 08:58:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

1) I totally agree FP residency trains you well for office medicine. Never said otherwise. Would emphasize "office."

2) I choose not to have "commercial ads" on my site, but do have my book featured prominently (on the right, with pictures and links.) In fact, I started the blog as a way to promote the book. Found out, soon, that blogging for its own sake was enjoyable and rewarding (our occasional repartee notwithstanding. Or included.) so I blog now without regard for my book. I remain, however, proud of my book, and like it when people tell me they like it. So I continue the notice of it, and hope people notice.

3) I quite agree there's not much point in blogging about blogging; although I think there are blogs devoted to blogging, which is a different story...

4) I comment on comments when I'm asked a question, or when I think good points are made. I don't recall arguing with people; I like that other opinions from mine show up. I deleted one comment because it was abusive not to me but to another commenter; and I deleted the same guy twice who posted a link to his bogus pharmacy site. I think your (and miss snark's, evidently) idea that good comments deserve their own post and response is a good one, which I ought to consider...

4) You're absolutely right that it's about the writing; and in your implication that getting wrapped up in the peripheral stuff -- the counters, the links, the rankings -- is debilitating. Still, I can't quite stop myself, to my personal shame. I haven't yet mentioned my nominations on my blog, and I hope I won't. But knowing me....

At Tue Dec 19, 02:47:00 PM, Blogger Richard A Schoor MD FACS said...

Good stuff. Right as usual. And I also agree with Sid, regarding his book.
Keep it up. You have become the Kate Turabian of blogging.

At Tue Dec 19, 03:42:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

(After googling Kate Turabian)

Thank you.

I think.

And I understand completely where Sid's coming from (even though he can't count. What comes after "4" Sid? Hint: something different.) My book is hidden -- in plain sight -- on my blog.

At Thu Dec 21, 01:23:00 AM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...


At Fri Dec 22, 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had bad experiences in hospitals when I was a small child as the result of polio virus infection, and thankfully have been exceptionally healthy as an adult, never needing a hospital except to give birth which is very different from being 'sick'. But this year, as an old woman, I broke my hip, in the leg that caused the childhood hospitalizations. I had a terrific surgeon, the guy on call when I showed up in emergency. The hospital staff also were the best. But when I came home I realized I'd been basically terrified the entire time in hospital, and that it was because of buried feelings. So, I went online and found doctors' blogs. Don't know why but have been reading them almost obsessively. What I've realized, first, is that I really did have an exceptionally good surgeon, good man. Then, I began to see docs as people with all the hopes and fears as the rest of us, and as individuals very committed, most of you, to good care of your patients. And also struggling with uncertainty since medicine is, of course, art and science, evolving science. I just want to say thanks to all of you who blog. I'm thinking I might some day look out for a primary physician. So far, don't need one, but the eighties look a good time to start having one on hand. God bless you all.


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