Commenting Like a Pro

Commenting on blogs adds a whole new dimension to blogging. As Barbara Nixon says, “Respond to others’ posts. Become a part of the blogosphere. Blogging should not be lonely.” Having the option to comment gives the reader a voice. It turns your writing into a conversation if the comments are thought out and go beyond the simple, “I agree,” or “That’s dumb.” As Kipp Bodnar notes, “Its true value lies in the opportunity to build long-term relationships. Leaving thoughtful blog comments can be one of the best ways to start a relationship with an influential blogger in your industry.” (Click here to read more of Kipp’s advice when it comes to commenting on blogs.)

Here are a few tips for writing blog comments:

  • You should be specific about what it is that you are responding to.
  • Elaborate on why you agree or disagree.
  • If you aren’t sure how you feel about a blog because you were confused by it, ask the author of the blog to try to explain what they are saying in a different way. This could even motivate them update their blog in order to clarify what they are saying.
  • Ask questions. Questions bring about new ideas which further conversation.
  • Proofread your comments before posting them. The comment section does not mean you have permission to slack off when it comes to grammar.

Often bloggers can be more bold than they would have the guts to be in person. It’s like they have a virtual safety forcefield. As a Christian, I believe what the Bible teaches and one thing that it teaches is that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. If this is true that our attitude/tone in comments, no matter how different the viewpoint, should be loving. When it comes to controversial issues and hotly debated cultural issues it is important to comment with grace and truth. Stand up for what you believe in, but do so in a manner worthy of saying you love God and all of his creation.

What are some of your favorite professional blogs to comment on?

Love and Trash

What do two used condoms, unwound rolls of VHS tape, and an endless amount of black and mild wrappers have in common? They were all items found on the streets of the blocks surrounding the Dream Center of Lakeland. To a white guy like me, who has lived in suburbia his whole life, these items are not the ordinary curbside debris. For the people in those neighborhoods, it’s just a part of the landscape; nevertheless, cleaning the streets doesn’t go unnoticed. As Pastor Mike put it, when the people in the area see a group of four or five white people they know they’re from the Dream Center. The Dream Center has sent people out time and time again to show that race, age, and financial well-being are all level at the ground of the cross. Serving others isn’t about pity; it’s about showing others that they are worth some of your time because they are deeply loved by God their creator.

Yesterday was a day for actions to speak. For me, it was a start to something good. For the Dream Center, it was the continuing of showing Christ’s love and bridging the gap from a person living life in whatever way they desire to a person living life in the way God desires. The service of a willing follower of Christ has the potential to produce discipleship in the life of a person they come in contact with. I pray that that is took place today when some 30 or so Southeastern Students and Dream Center volunteers went out in the mind of Christ to serve a few needs of the community.

Next Steps:

  • I will have to recruit, but more importantly pray for, a consistent team.
  • I will be more conversational with people that I encounter.

Smart Sentences

Letters become words and words become sentences. Being smart in how you write your sentences is key to successful digital writing. The way you construct your sentences will affect the way your reader responds to what they see.

In looking over the “Sentences” post of “Construct Clear, Compelling Copy” in the Yahoo Style Guide, I learned some key yet simple concepts. As Professor Nixon states in “Word Nerds Unite: 19 of William Safire’s Best Fumblerules of Grammar” it is important to “avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.” Run-on sentences are often a result of rambling which Ben Herrman lists as one of the don’ts of digital writing. Being concise is absolutely necessary for creating a clean compelling copy. If your word order makes sense and your grammar would be approved by Grammar Girl, then you are making it easier for the reader to process through what you are trying to communicate. Also, when sentences are short it is easier to scan through.

 

Constructing a clear sentence doesn’t stop there. There are more key concepts:

  • Do not have sentence ADD; focus your sentences. This means you don’t give more than 1 main point in a sentence.
  • Put the most important information at the beginning of a sentence. If someone is scanning it is where their eyes will first be drawn to.
  • If you list something, explain it in the same order you listed it.
  • Breaking up a subject and verb with a parenthetical statement in between can cause confusion.
I was surprised by one of the key concepts: try not to split infinitives or phrasal verbs that include an adverb (such as turn off or log on). This surprised me because when I talk I say, “Turn the lights off,” instead of saying, “Turn off the lights.” I see how in writing it can create a clearer copy. I was also surprised in finding out how using some negative wordings such as “Don’t forget,” “Unfortunately,” and “cannot” should be avoided. Positivity invites the reader in instead of pushing them away. I would’ve probably said something like, “Don’t forget to finish your blog before midnight, otherwise you cannot receive credit for it,” instead of saying, “It is important to remember to complete your blog before midnight in order to receive credit.”
One thing I would like to know is whether or not your last sentence in a paragraph should sum up key information like it should when writing an academic paper.
I hope to practice some of these key concepts and gain some readers as I write digitally throughout my life.

Blog Comments

Comment #1:

Dedicated to First-Year Student Me: Thriving in Your First Year at SEU by Barbara Nixon

Nick says:

“Spiritually – get connected to a local church body and go to chapel

Socially – try sitting at a table in Tuscana with people you do not know and get to know them over breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Academically – think ahead/ space out your workload

Overall, I would say the key words are balance and discipline. Know what you have to do and when it needs to be done by. At the same time, plan to take study breaks to do something fun and meet new people. Some good ways to do this are by playing on an intramural team, attending sports games, going to SBLC events, and seeing what others in your dorm are up to. Also, it is important to plan your time with God. Look for times that your schedule allows for you to find a quiet place to read your Bible and pray.”

Comment #2:

Writing for Digital Media by Ben Herrman

“These are some great insights! I like how you noted that your reading audience for digital writing can potentially be the world. It’s great to know that our writing can be responded to by people who come from many different world perspectives. This helps us have a global perspective while we are here in Lakeland. I completely agree with “Do not start arguments or fights on the internet.” I feel like this happens on social media sights a lot, and it is just so counterproductive to resolving any issue. On the other hand with blogging, I think it is important to intelligently respond when someone challenges something you believe in. It is important to do so with grace, humility, and maturity. This is why I think it is also great that you should be bold but should think before putting a thought out there for all to see.”

Comment #3:

Speak up. Sing out. Let Your Voice Be Heard.” by Mikelle Liette

“The upcoming 2012 election will be the first one in which I am eligible to vote. I have never been in to politics, but over the course of this next year I am sure I will be thrown into what’s going on. These were some good insights into what is currently going on. You can tell that you looked into what kind of candidates they are. Before reading this, I had heard these candidates names before, but I did not know what kind of candidates they are (with the exception of Mit Romney because he is a former governor of my home state). What are the political backgrounds/experiences of these candidates? Who is looking to be more qualified than the others.”

Comment #4:

Finally- A “Brand” Merger in Media” by Katye Hanlin

njtedeschi | October 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Great analogy to introduce people to the purpose of Storify, it kind of reminded me of when I took art in high school and was required to do a mixed media piece. You use all sorts of art materials to put together one picture for people to enjoy. It’s sort of the same way with a story on Storify. You pull out all sorts of elements, and sometimes even ones which you may not normally use, to share something valuable for the reader.

It’s great how Storify cuts out all the extra work in journalism like getting in contact with someone for an interview, having a photographer take pictures for you, or having someone film an aspect of your story. On top of that, it is all cited for you. I really like how you said it is still important to make sure what you are putting across to the reader of your story is credible. In addition to this, I think it’s important not to be sloppy in how we craft all the elements together. You did a great job capturing how valuable Storify is!”

Comment #5:

“Commentaire de blog? Oui! Oui!!” by Josh Nelson

“First off, I love your picture that you included in this post! Second off, this post has changed my life! In all seriousness, I really enjoy your style of writing here. You made four great, simple points. Point 3 is definitely an important one because, whether we admit it or not, there is always someone out there smarter and wiser than us.
I also like how you include a video at the end of all your posts. It shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously. It tops off all that your reader learns with a little fun.”

Comment #6:

TED Talk by Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” by Barbara Nixon

Nick says:

“I agree with what he was saying to a certain extent. I definitely think it’s important that the internet is able to inform us on what is going on throughout the world, both the good and the bad. I didn’t know that Google shows different results for each person. On the other hand, If we make a search specific, then we will be able to find anything. In the case of Facebook, I think it is convenient to have filters because it helps you to narrow down what you want to see. Eli said that his conservative friends were no longer coming up on his news feed, but the simple solution would be to just make a list of conservative friends so that they are only a click away.”

Comment #7:

Dull speech topic? Spice it up!” by Elizabeth Telg

njtedeschi

Thanks for sharing these great tips! Stories help people relate to you. I guess you could say they bring you down to the audiences level. I like how he notes that your story should compliment your topic. Random stories are fun but they are of no benefit if they don’t help the audience remember the points. I also appreciate the fifth point because it is very boring when someone just gets up, reads only their bullet points, and says nothing more.

Comment #8:

Citizen Journalism” by Melanie Shoults

njtedeschi

While I don’t want to be a journalist after graduating, I would love to be able to witness an unexpected event and report it to people like Janis Krums did. That’s what is so great about facebook and twitter. News can get out so fast with the capability of connecting to social media through a cellphone. I agree that a person needs to be careful of what they say. For example, if I saw an accident, I wouldn’t make up a story and say someone died, but I may post something and state the obvious, such as the fact that it is causing traffic.

Comment #9:

How to: Perfect Your Portfolio” by Rachel LaFlam

njtedeschi

November 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Great post! For us as students, half the work of putting a portfolio is getting out there and accomplishing things. I know for myself it can be difficult at times to identify varying strengths and skills, but I like how you mentioned the necessity for examples of varied but specific skills. An online portfolio is a great idea. Thanks for providing a check list as well!

Comment #10:

The Key to It All!” by Johnny Fernandez 

njtedeschi says:Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I pray that I don’t have to apply to a fast food restaurant after graduating college. These are some humbling yet encouraging words. It takes effort and work to keep pursuing what God has called us to. I think that if we put in the effort and are faithful in working hard to try to acquire something, God will be faithful to us and see to it that we end up in whatever job we need to be in, even when there’s that someone that outshines us. Thanks for the good tips and the reminder to keep pressing in and working hard!

Professional Blog Comment #1:

Third Tuesday is Back for Movember” by Joseph Thornley

October 13, 2011

“I love how such a simple fun thing can catch on so much for a good cause like this. It’s really amazing seeing the growth of it on those charts. Social media is a powerful tool in working to make a difference in this world. I saw a couple of my Facebook friends liked Movember, but I didn’t know it was something that raised money for such a good cause. Thanks for the information! If I was anywhere close Canada, I would check it out. Maybe it will spread to different places in the United States soon.”

Professional Blog Comment #2:

How to Get Started With Google+, Your Complete Guide” By 

October 14, 2011

“Thank you for the thorough guide! I’m all signed up to Google+. I’m looking forward to seeing how I like using it compared to Facebook. I think it’s interesting how with the latest Facebook changes lists were added. It does half of what circles do by letting you view certain people’s updates. You still cannot limit which friend see certain content. It will be interesting to see if Facebook goes in that direction. I’m also interested to see how much it catches on now that anyone can join without an invitation. Sparks looks like it will be a very useful tool on Google+.”

Professional Blog Comment #3:

12 irritating social media words and phrases” By Marjorie Clayman

“I have to agree with @jsexton on lol, very rarely does that person actually laugh out loud. How you wove #3 in with #2 almost made me lol. In regards to @kadeeirene thoughts on #3, if you are showcasing knowledge you do have, then it’s not faking it.”

Professional Blog Comment #4:

12 common mistakes on brands’ Facebook pages” by Justin Rondeau

“My brother opened up a gelateria/cafe this summer, and I tried to help him with utilizing some social media. I didn’t realize a lot of this. We would always try to post something every day and I never thought about how that could be bothersome to a fan. I guess it’s a good thing there were days we just didn’t get around to it. Sometimes it would be something significant like a special or a deal we had going, but all too often it wasn’t anything significant. We also connected Facebook to Twitter to make it easier on us–wrong move. Thanks for the great tips!
I would love to here what you think we should change or do differently. Here is the url:http://www.facebook.com/NudoGelateria

Professional Blog Comment #5:

25 annoying communication habits–of other people” by Susan Young

Kristen Wiig’s character Penelope on SNL is a great example of #15.
When it comes to face to face communication body language is key. Give eye contact. I have a mumbling problem at times, but it I’ve learned that it is important to put the effort in and make sure I am speaking clearly and periodically pause in order to allow others to interject with their thoughts.

Professional Blog Comment #6:

What Are Infographics and Why Are They Important?” by Daniel Adams

Nick Tedeschi October 24, 2011

This is a very informative article on infographics! I learned a lot from it. I thought your last point was a great one. If infographics do not have varifiable information, then they loose their meaning and just become a piece of art.
I love the examples too; the creativity in them is outstanding! What do most people use when designing infographics

Professional Blog Comment #7:

“Bloggers Have More of an Influence in 2011” by Deirdre Breakenridge

Those are some cool hobbies to have as a kid! I’m not really sure what category I fall under because I am currently blogging as a requirement for a writing for digital media class that I’m in. Being introduced to the blogosphere in the class these past few months has helped me to see the value of blogging. I definitely agree with you that blogs help to get an inside view, deeper perspective, and more insight on a subject or topic. One of my favorite aspects of blogs is that anyone can view content of whatever it is they are interested in from a professional and it’s completely free. I’ve learned a lot and I know that if I follow blogs I am interested in I will continue to learn more. I will probably even become a hobbyist blogger after I complete the class I am in. It will be interested to see how blogging continues to grow.

Professional Blog Comment #8:

Thank you for the helpful tips Heather! It sounds very stressful. I agree with Rochelle. It sounds like a lot of it has to do with people’s laziness and selfish motives, especially when you talked about how people gave you info on their product but didn’t incorporate it into the context of best practices for a launch on Facebook.

Professional Blog Comment #9:

Who Are You Teaching Today?” by Shonali Burke

Great post; you’re passion for what you do is very evident! I especially appreciate this as a student. That course you are teaching sounds very interesting. I am currently involved with a non-profit and I hope to be working for one once I graduate. My girl friend’s dream is to do PR and vision advancement for non-profits when she graduates. Is there any content online that you could refer me to that covers some of what you teach in that course?

Professional Blog Comment #10:

How Content Motivates Behavior” by Lisa Gerber

NJTedeschi

This is a great topic to write about when you have nothing to write about haha. I would add to it that even if only half the people who participate end up donating, awareness is still being raised with more participants. When awareness is raised, then more people will end up donating. To my knowledge women can’t participate in Movember, but when suddenly their husband wakes up with a mustache after a few days, they start to think about it more and even talk about it with others who could then get involved or donate. I definitely agree that it is important to get creative and fun while not loosing the seriousness of the content.

Top 10 Tips for New SEU Students

In the first Monday night chapel at Southeastern new students listened as Greg listed the top 10 things students should not do, such as not hide in the trunk when returning to campus past curfew. While Greg’s list delivered some great advice, here are some more tips for Southeastern freshman and transfers:

  1. Set aside some quiet time in your schedule. Conversation takes place in the class room among your peers and professors, but it should also take place with you and God. Our lives are filled with noise and business and it is important to not lose sight of the value of silence. These are critical years in a person’s life; therefore, it is important to give yourself the opportunity to have God speak to you through His word and by His Spirit.
  2. Find a church to be involved in. This will help you to grow spiritually and will bring you into accountability with a body of believers. Most importantly of all committing to one church will challenge you to live out your faith in a very practical way–by serving.
  3. “When you meet people for the first time and they say their names, repeat them back. Then use their names in greeting the next time you see them, and if you’ve forgotten them, ask. Remembering and using someone’s name makes him or her feel memorable and, as a result, more open to meeting up with you again.” (Taken from Kristen Lemaster’s post on Fastweb titled “13 Ways to Not Be Awkward in College.” There are definitely some other tips worth looking at in her post.)
  4. When you hear or read “free food” on a Sunday night, don’t hesitate. There are several groups in Lakeland that do Bible studies and give out a free dinner for Southeastern Students. These groups will help you prevent blowing all your Fire funds in the first half of the semester. One group is The Hub. The Hub meets at the Dream Center of Lakeland, and they pick up between Esperanza and Aventura at 5pm. Send a message to The Dream Center on Facebook to confirm a ride.
  5. Get involved in a club, intramural team, or the Department of Spiritual Formation (DSF). Being involved will help you to befriend others and grow closer to people. It will also help you to grow your leadership skills.
  6. Verbally participate in class. Your classes go by quicker and are more interesting by participating in discussions.
  7. Seek help from your professors when you need it. Your professors are here to help you. If you don’t understand instructions for an assignment or a specific topic, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be aware of office hours listed on the class syllabus. (Idea taken from Taylor Flumerfelt.)
  8. Consider all your options for buying books before you go to the SEU bookstore. Search the Steelman Library online database to see if the book is available in the library. Buying used on sites likeAmazon will save you lots of money.
  9. Study/work for at least 2 hours a day, and designate one day a week to be yourSabbath day. If you have 12 or more credits, you are considered a full-time student. Full-time jobs are considered to be jobs in which someone works at least 40 hours. If you take 15 credits and do 2 hours of work a day with one day a week off, that totals to 27 hours, which should be sufficient for getting assignments and reading done on time. Doing so will help you to stay on task and earn better grades. Earning better grades will increase your chances at receiving more financial aid and receiving a good job upon graduation. Setting aside a sabbath day should be for relaxing and giving more time to God. In doing so you will feel refreshed and God will honor you  for your faithfulness to His commandment.
  10. Find someone to keep you accountable. It can be a professor, RA, RD, friend,or pastor. It is important to have someone you can be open and honest with about what is going on in your life. It should be someone who’s spiritual life intimidates you and who will challenge you to stay disciplined. At the same time, it should be someone who will not judge you, will show you grace, and will show you love. As you seek God’s call on your life, Satan will tempt you and try to pull you away from it. This is why it is so important to have someone who will be there to help you stay on track.

Review of “Cleaning Your Copy”

This week’s News University’s course was “Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style, and More.” This course was very thorough and helped me review quite a bit of grammar rules. Last semester I took English Composition II, and I was required to read Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. While some of what was covered in the book was review for me, Grammar Girl offered many creative tips to help people better remember grammar rules that can sometimes be quite tedious. This News U course refreshed much of what was covered in Grammar Girl’s book, but also covered some things I do not remember being in the book.

What I learned:

  • I’m better at post-tests than pre-tests.
  • It is important to pay attention to location when using modifiers.
  • There is not a substitute for his or her, and them is not a substitute for he or she.
  • Who and whom refer to people, while that and which refer to animals or things.
  • Whom is to be used when a person is an object.
  • The abbreviations Ave., Blvd., and St. should only be used with a numbered address. “Southeastern University is located on Longfellow Blvd.” is an incorrect sentence.
  • Compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address should be abbreviated.
  • Ages used as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun need hyphens. For example, “My 32-year-old professor, Barbara Nixon, makes learning about writing for digital media interesting and fun.”
  • The states Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah are never abbreviated in copy, and you should keep a list for the ones that are.
  • Spell out numbers less than 10 in distances.
  • Colons are used between two sentences that present contrasting ideas and between two clauses when the second thought adds to the first. You are to capitalize the first word after a colon if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.
  • Use farther for a literal distance. Use further for time or degree.
What surprised me:
  • For singular common nouns ending in s, add ‘s unless the next word begins with s. I thought you just always were supposed to only add the apostrophe.
  • Adding an s to afterward determines whether you use the correct word or not. Using afterward is the same as using toward.
  • It’s not all right to use alright.
This News U course covered everything that I would have ever wondered about grammar. Anything and everything that I have struggled with when it comes to grammar was reviewed.
Questions for the reader:
  • What do you struggle most with when it comes to grammar?
  • What do you want to know more about after reading through the News U course?
  • What works for you when it comes to cleaning your copy? How many times do you proofread?

Go Green, Read NYTimes Blog

When thinking of mainstream media The New York Times was one of the first names that came to mind. Interestingly enough, I have never read The New York Times. In all honesty, apart from browsing the ads in the Sunday paper, I’ve only picked up a newspaper on a few occasions.

While newspaper is the first thing that comes to mind with The New York Times, there is a very convenient and interesting way to gain information from their writers–following up on their blog.

For this Topic of the Week (TOW) the requirement was to read at least a dozen posts. The New York Times blog is broken up into 11 main categories and any where from 3 to 9 subcategories in each. This leaves the reader with a plethora of options when it comes to what one is interested in reading. There’s even a Formula One blog under the sports section.

The blog posts I chose to read came from the following blogs: The Lede, At War, Bits, Arts Beat, Lens, Scientist at Work, Well, The Choice, The Learning Network, The Moment, Diner’s Journal, and Off the Dribble. In reaching through these blogs I came across diverse topics, styles of writing, and plenty of multimedia being incorporated. Videos and photos were incorporated into several. In the blog post I read about technology and education under The Learning Network blog, several professional opinions were given in a paragraph with a minute or so audio recording of each person giving their insight on the matter.

The blog that stuck out the most to me was Lens. Lens is a very unique blog because it uses visuals as a means of journalism. The blog post I viewed was a slideshow of 19 heart-breaking photos which depicted global violence against women. While some images were very graphic, it is a very unique form of journalism through blogging. The horrors of these photos and their short captions certainly stick.

The NYTimes blog gives you the opportunity to share any post that you enjoy through social media.

The New York Times blog does a great job incorporating social media. They have made it so that you can follow a subcategory on twitter with the exception of a few sports subcategories and a couple of columnists. This allows those who have a twitter account to easily find a post that you are interested by reading a tweet on your feed that you read often, rather than adding another website to your repertoire of favorites/bookmarks. It also gives those who frequently use twitter a chance to be one of the first people to chime in on the comments section.

In addition to this, at the end of blog posts the reader is given an option to share the post. So, say I am reading a post from the Motherlode (a blog about “adventures in parenting”), which hopefully I am not considering I am a 20 year old guy who is not yet married, and I really enjoy one of the posts, therefore I now want others to really enjoy this post. For me, Facebook is a great way to make this possible because people are always checking the news feed to see what other people are up to. With the share button, I can do so. The share button has five other options besides Facebook including LinkedIn and Myspace (which is apparently still being used by people).

This blog could be beneficial to students because it makes following blogs so easy and has some great multimedia aspects. One of the tag-lines for the New York Times is “where conversation begins” and with their blog they have achieved that.