Sunday, December 06, 2009

MBS Spanko Brunch #203


As we plunge into another holiday season, we are greeted with both joys and frustrations. The warm support of friends and family is particularly valuable now.

In this spirit, I began thinking about a discussion on Indy's excellent new blog. The point was made that new visitors often perceive our community as being closed and cliquish. I've heard this remark before and I always find it unsettling. I want to do all I can to help newcomers feel comfortable. But clearly more is needed.

What can bloggers and readers do to make our community feel welcoming to first time readers?

More than ever, I hope to hear from our new friends this week. Everyone is invited to leave a comment below. You can even be totally anonymous if you prefer. Once everybody has spoken, I will post an edited summary of our conversation.

23 comments :

Hermione said...

The best way to seem less of an exclusive community is to invite readers to participate and leave their responses. These brunches are an excellent example. My Guess the Implement series is another. Welcome new commenters when they leave a message, and make them feel special. Tell your readers frequently that you encourage their comments. Refer to those comments in subsequent posts if it seems appropriate.

Something to watch for is how you reply to comments. Someone may have said something to ruffle your feathers - intentionally or accidentally - but it's wise not to react. A short, non-committal reply is preferable to an outraged or sarcastic response that may result in no more comments from that reader. Remember, many readers get followup emails of all comments that appear on a blog after they comment - even the ones that have been deleted. Always play the gracious host or hostess; you never know who's reading.

Some readers fear exposure, even if they comment anonymously. That's a shame but it's a fact. Some blogs have gadgets that display where the current reader is located. They're scary, even though they're often inaccurate. A reader trying to protect her identity would be even less likely to leave a comment with one of those on a blog.

A friendly, welcoming tone in posts is always helpful. Nobody can be cheerful all the time, but posts should remind the readers that they are part of an inclusive, warm and very special community.

Indy said...

I like Hermione's suggestions very much, and I'd echo the one about flagging your location. For those of us who don't live in large metropolitan areas, seeing the name of your hometown along the right margin is unsettling. In fact, there are several really lovely blogs I don't visit for that reason alone.

As for those wishing to find their way into the scene, I'd suggest leaving a relatively substantive comment-- even a couple sentences. That will draw the attention of the blogger and make it easier for him or her to respond personally, even if you make the comment anonymously. I think I was "Loyal Lurker II" the first time I commented here, and it made a big difference to me that Bonnie responded so warmly.

Elle said...

My personal experience has been the exact opposite; I have found this community to be kind, open, and very supportive. It seems that newbie spankees, especially, are driven to understand this compulsion when they first embrace it whole hog, and people that have been in the lifestyle for awhile are wonderful about giving advice, reassuring, etc.

As far as my blog goes, I value EVERONE's comments!! and I really try to reply to each and every one. I know that's not always possible when you are dealing with a bunch, but I'm still at the advantage of having few readers and can keep it more personal. Howver, I've seen blogs that have many, many readers still maintain that personal touch. (Thanks, Bonnie and Hermione.)

For me, I just try to be as honest as I can. No one knows how I really am; why would I shield myself? I can tell exactly what I feel as I figure it out.

I think Hermione's point about having interactive stuff is a good one. I don't always have time to participate, but it is an inviting way to get people involved. Asking questions works, too.

Thanks, guys!!

cookie said...

My personal experience has also been like Elles. I find the community in a whole to be a very friendly and welcoming place.
I think that people are just so diverse that it is almost impossible for everyone to feel the same way though.
I have gotten negative comments and things though but really it doesn't compare to the many nice and helpful comments from the majority. So I would never say that the community is closed and cliquish. There are however some people that are just like that. And I wish I knew how to avoid that but it really isnt in our control I believe. We can just be one of the many warm and welcoming ones like Bonnie and Hermione. Both were very kind and welcoming when I first joined the community a few years ago. There are alot more of the friendly welcoming type though from what I have seen.
I do hate though that some people even a small number can really make it seem like we are like that by their actions and that they can make a person feel like they dont belong. That's wrong to me and I would hope that I would never come across that way as I do not feel that anyone deserves to be made to feel that way ever.
I agree alot with Hermione and the others about some of the things that they said. And i am one of the bloggers with that gadget that tells where the readers are from. I just never thought about it the way that they said. But now that I think about it and it has been brought up then I can see their point and will be removing my gadget afterwards. I don't want to scare away any would be reader or commenter.

Anonymous said...

As a medium time lurker (about 2 years) and new commenter (maybe 6 months here and as yet no where else, I still want to be anonymous and it's easiest on the brunches) I have to say I haven't found the community to be closed or cliquish. I will say that occasionally it seems like many bloggers (particularly those that blog about party experiences) know eachother and therefore refer to one another which nicknames which can be confusing- I think I'm still mixing people up with other people in accounts- but it isn't off putting. I find MBS to be particularly welcoming to new folks and I very much appreciate it. I have one question (which is somewhat related, but now quite) and that is: Can I use the "name/URL" option below without entering a website? I'm feeling like I'm almost ready to have a name on my comments (perhaps not today, though!) but have no blog or website to attach to it...

Anonymous said...

This is something I feel strongly about. Spanking is an integral part of who I am. I think that's true for many of us. When I found MBS, I thought I'd gone to heaven. I probably came "out" to people posting on this site too forcefully, a reaction to being repressed with this side of my sexuality for so long, and due to the fact that I am very shy in real life. On the one hand, I felt honored when Bonnie ran one of my short stories here years ago (about pooling and co-mingling punishment implements early in a relationship). On the other hand, I foolishly felt crushed when busy Bonnie lost track of an e-mail I sent and didn't reply. What I'm saying is that some of us wear our hearts on our sleeves when it comes to this fetish. So, we all ought to hear one another, not judge, just share. I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish, but life is better that way. Our individual experiences can enrich one another. I so love reading what people post here.
Jean Marie

PK said...

I will agree with everyone here. When I found MBS I too realized I had found a heaven of like minded people. I was instantly welcomed in the entire community. People shared their experiences and seemed interested in mine and many were just wonderful in answering my question both about spanking and on how to begin my own blog.

Like Elle I answer every comment I get. If someone takes the time to read what I've written and then commented on it I want to acknowledge and thank them.

Bonnie you do so much for young blogs by letting us know that they are out there. I don't go exploring on my own much anymore but I try to check out the ones you mention. But now that I real so many and still like to write and comment myself I look on these new blogs to see if the author answers their comments. If they don't I usually won’t leave one myself. I limit myself to those bloggers that want to talk.

I try, through Fantasy Friday, to give a place where everyone is welcomed and to give anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a place to try it out and see how it feels. I am thrilled that two of my readers – Kaylynn (Externally Motivated Wife) and Florida Dom (Florida Dom’s Corner) – have started their own blogs after wetting their feet there.

I sure hope every feels as welcomed here as I did when I came!

PK

slowsong said...

As a lurker, I first of all look for someone who writes in a way so that I can empathise with them. So I look for someone who links spanking to real life in what I see as a genuine way, and someone who talks about feelings as much as actions. This may take a time! Then there is the matter of security - what is safe and what is not. Here you need a bit of computer knowledge, so a few simple lessons might help. Good luck with this blog - it is a real treasure!

Curtis said...

I think the most important thing is what you, Bonnie, create -- a welcoming space and support. I think those entering the scene need to feel that there is no single right way to enjoy -- that the scene probably contains almost as many varieties of what individuals desire and need as there are individuals and that each individual's views and feelings need to be taken seriously. But I also think it helps one joining initially to feel that out of self-realization and fulfillment comes joy. And to the extent that blogs such as this, local munches and communication through individual give-and-take on the Internet provide a means of emotional and, perhaps later, physical connection, they serve to make the newbie comfortable in their own skin and optimistic about their prospects for fulfillment.

ronnie said...

My experience was totally the opposite. I found the community to be friendly, warm, helpful and very welcoming.

I fully agree with others here and Hermione has a good point about gadgets that diplay where the current reader is located. I must admit I tend to pop back out when I visit blogs who have these gadgets and not leave a comment.

I hope I make everyone feel welcome and I value every comment made. If a new commenter has visited, acknowledge them, make them feel welcome. Always reply to comments even if you don't have time to reply to each one a simple thank you, appreciate your visit.

Bonnie your Brunches and your "in with the New" posts are great at making everybody feel welcome.

Love.
Ronnie
xx

R Humphries said...

Hi guys … Our blogs come in a wide variety of flavors. Many are highly personalized accounts of individuals (and couples) adventures in the spanking world; others like mine are outlets for experimental writing. By their nature, the latter are probably more accessible and attract more comments and discussion. Nonetheless, whatever the theme I think we should consider all our readers as guests and treat them with courtesy. If a guest takes the time to leave a comment we should respond in an appropriate and timely manner. Over the span of 175 posts I have only ever received one comment that I refused to approve or respond to. It was sent anonymously and made some lascivious and unoriginal comments about my wife; I was not prepared to enter into an extended conversation so I just ignored it.

Without question Bonnie’s MBS brunches and her regular introduction of new blogs is a tremendous service to the community. On the slightly broader subject of blogging courtesy if you find a blog you particularly like (especially newer blogs) drop them a quick note wishing them luck and to offer encouragement and add them to your blog-roll. If someone takes the time to feature your site always acknowledge them.

Personally, with the exception of that one rather rude comment, I have always found the guests and bloggers who make up the community very warm and open … Cheers … RH

SPANKEDHORTIC said...

I think the majority of blogs are already as open and welcoming as is possible. I would especially site the BDSM blogs that I frequent, I am definitely not part of their clique and yet the BDSMers always seem happy to have a Spanko visit and both sets are usually very welcoming to
newcomers.

It may be worth considering if this "closed and cliquish" image may stem from our natural tendency to close ranks and keep our mouths shut, when we feel under threat (It does tend to be our usual reaction). This could be misinterpreted as being a little rejecting of people that we may not be sure about.

Prefectdt

LDD-4-Me said...

I suppose being new creates a feeling of being overwhelmed no matter what the aspect of life. Just like first learning to read after sweating through the “Dick and Jane” reader feeling proud and then seeing War and Peace sitting on an end table.

Regarding the Spanking Blogger Community perhaps the best things we can do to help new bloggers feel welcome would be to put the word out that we’re happy to link to them and follow their blogs if they contact us. Putting a link to our own stories of how we first got involved and encouraging them to do the same. Perhaps if we all create a set of links to “Anniversary Blogs” where we go back and look at our comments and feelings “After Six Months”, “After One Year”, etc..

For me I must say the ‘Spanking Community’ as I’ve know it never seemed closed and cliquish, if anything the opposite but I can imagine for many it could. When I first started I spent a lot of time on forums like “Spanking Classics” and there are always a lot of new people there so I never felt alone. Then again having never been to a ‘play party’ or weekend event of any kind maybe I’ve just never been exposed to the ‘spanking ceiling’.

Comparatively when exploring these things and looking at BDSM aspects there certainly are those who do make it intimidating simply by belittling anyone without decades of experience with comment like “No time for newbies or wannabes”.

Love4her said...

Visitors to a blog come with a great variance in expectations and experiences. They will be curious, excited and elated to see others share their kink. At the same time they may be offended by some that take that kink far beyond what they feel is appropriate. They may worry about what others my see on their computer history or favorites list and limit excursions to some sites.

Also, blogs mature with the bloger. They easily progress to a level not comfortable for one new to a particular kink. I think a bloger can do all in their power with steps like setting limits for topics, removing abusive comments and in general being cordial and inviting to take this into account. Ultimately where the visitor is in their spanking (or other kink) journey will determine their comfort level with a particular blog, those commenting and their own participation. . If they fit the milieu of the blog they will be more likely to revisit and become a contributor where possible.

An excellent blog, like Bonnie’s, becomes a resource one will return to for the sites own information and links to other sites. It is non-threatening and even if found by a vanilla spouse would not be offensive to one with a slightly open mind.

Daisychain said...

I would be interested to know which blogs are supposedly "closed and cliquish"....I have never yet come across one that is!
I would think most people who blog, do so to gain readership and support and friendship, and/or to give the same!
This is just one big supportive family, and everyone welcomes new members of the family!!!
Great question, Bonnie! xxxxxxxxx

Daisychain said...

HELP!! Am I the only one who can't get into Hermione's blog?

When I try, it begins to open, then a loud noise is made as a warning message comes up saying Internet Explorer is unable to open this file, operation aborted!
Never mind unable to leave a comment, I can't even read her posts!
xxxxxxx

Ann said...

I'll start my reply by saying...I lurk more than I comment. Largely due to the fact that although I have a great interest in TTWD, I have a small amount of experience to draw on. But those times when I have delurked and commented...I've felt very welcomed by most (95% or more) of the spanking blogs I've posted on.

There was one occurance that made me stop commenting for several months however. I disagreed with the blogger. Maybe that is against an unwritten rule that I was unaware of, but I felt I did so in a very mature, sensative, and humble manner (I started my comment with "I think I'll have to disagree with ______. In my opinion..." ) There were several people who then posted after me saying I was completely wrong for posting my thoughts since I didn't wholeheartedly agree with the blogger. And the blogger never really chimed in again. So I was never sure if I had offended or not. It did make me less sure of commenting and I did feel like an outsider to the blogger's clique, like his friends had the right to post there, but I didn't.

I feel so much better about how my comments will be accepted when I do occasionally comment here, on Hermoines blog or on Dr. Ken's blog...and the three of you have all made me feel extremely welcome. Thank you. :)

Radha said...

While mostly everyone that I visited through MBS has been warm and welcoming, I have had some experiences that have left me hesitant to comment much. There were times where I did not get responses to comments that I left while others got lengthy ones. It made me feel like my words were not welcome.

Because of my experience, when a new commenter shows up on my blog, I make a point to say thank you and try to engage in a warm way.

With much love and respect for you, Bonnie, and all those who come and comment here - thanks for all the good times!
Radha

Anonymous said...

I am for the most part a lurker. I will preface this with saying I have never been treated badly and most bloggers are very gracious at answering comments. I think the fear derives from our own insecurities. We all have fears relating to TTWD. I know at times I am reluctant to share too much in a comment while it seems others share so much and talk with such ease, like they are talking to friends, that us lurkers get the wrong impression. As for a solution, When bloggers answer the comments personally and address the writer it goes a long way to making us feel a part of the community. I do feel that most bloggers do. And of course open forums such as this that draw us in. Great Question Bonnie.


C

allystepsforward said...

Bonnie, I love this question, it's a great topic to put out there and be aware of... I was new not so long ago. For me it felt weird to try and jump into a group that appears to know each other very well. I know that responses to my comments were the most encouraging and I felt more a part of the group by starting my own blog. Since then I have always found the community warm and open. I would encourage anyone new to be persistant with their comments and not be discourgaged.
Oh, and Daisy, you are not the only, I'm having problems viewing Hermione's blog too. Not sure why.
Ally

Dr. Ken said...

First off--thank you, Ann, for the kind words.

I've never found the blogs or the community to closed or cliquish. My experiences with spanking groups, such as Crimson Moon in Chicago, the Texas All-State Party (to name a few) has been that the people there as very warm and friendly. It may seem different to a newbie just because they as yet have not developed those relationships with the people they are coming in contact with.

All we can do is continue to be open and inviting, encourage comments and participation and respond when people do so. Let everyone know that they are valued members of the Spanko Society.

Dr. Ken

Fantasia Lillith said...

Comment on their blog and don't bring up your own fetish, but focus on what is important to them. It's strange, but it works for me. when a person leaves a really smart and well thought out comment it makes me realise that - we all have a fetish or a something and it's no "big deal" that it's not the same.

Blogs are about conversation - engage and others will engage.

lil sam said...

Hello everyone,
After reading the comment about making first timers feel welcome, I just had to post.
I remember well my first few days, and all the wonderful people I met. I was never judged or put down. I was always encourage to follow my heart,and to be me, to talk with my new friends,This is the most supportive and frienliest community I have ever had the pleasue of being a part of. I am very thankful that my search lead me here. If I can help in anyway, please do contact me
Hugs to all
Lil Sam

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