Monday, January 31, 2011

Banal and self-serving? Yes, you bet!

“Pink Pigtail Inn needs to think up some better topics. […]. I am hoping WI can find better posts to link to in the future that aren't as banal and self-serving”
Those sweet lines dropped in a comment at WoW Insider this weekend. Lately they have shown the blogosphere more “love” than usual, speeding up the frequency of their Daily Quest column where they feature links to posts they’ve found interesting for whatever reason.

This time they decided to mention my post about how annoying the single-listing practice is from the point of view from a customer. I guess I would have been better off if they hadn’t.

Getting link love from WoW Insider is a double-edged sword. Many new bloggers crave for it; they think it would be the best thing ever to happen to their blog, to finally get the chance to reach a bigger audience. (Unfortunately the bump in the visitor statistics will be just a bump. It’s not the ICC buff we’re talking about here, rather a short burst of heroism/bloodlust).

But even as a veteran I can’t deny that I too secretly get a little bit flattered by the attention. I suspect that bloggers are a bit like actors – happy and terrified in equal proportions as we’re taking our place in the spotlight – left out, vulnerable, fragile and yet thrilled, empowered and confident.

The negatives about WI linkage is that you’re exposed to the views of a lot of people who never have read your blog before, who don’t know you and who are every so quickly to judge you and point fingers. Expect rotten tomatoes come flying in your direction. You’re dealing with a mob.

Shielding yourself
Wise bloggers know how to shield themselves from this. If they even take notice of the trolls, they give the trolls the laugh they deserve. And that’s the advice I’ve given too, over and over again over the years to fresh bloggers. If you get hurt, it’s only because you let them hurt you. There’s no need to! You can choose your own reactions.

But for all my gnomish wisdom and insights about how I SHOULD react, the comment above still slipped through my defence system. For a moment I lost my balance. And as I did so, stumbling on the stage, wondering where to put my feet, I looked at myself and wondered what this was all about. Why did I care?

And I found that this particular troll had managed to pick up and echo doubts my own doubts, doubts that I think most writers struggle with at some point. It happens that we ask those questions: “What’s the point in my blogging in the first place? What am I doing, standing on this soapbox, sharing my banal thoughts with the world, as if they were worth listening to? Who do I think I am?”

Long-time readers of PPI know that I normally try to remain positive, no matter what. However it happens that I occasionally slip and fall into more self-destructive patterns. And that’s why this post could break through my shield and get to me. It matched thoughts that I already carried myself.

Banal and proud
However, the slip was temporarily and I definitely won’t let this troll leave the inn with the last word. Because after a short moment of self-pity and soaking in my own butt hurt feelings, I popped heroism and manned up, growing to the double size if not more, ready for a fight.

So this guy thinks that PPI is banal and self-serving? Good for him. He's right. PPI probably is quite banal. And you know what? I’m not even ashamed of it! Why would I be?

Banalities are fine. People have made entire comedy shows going on for years about “nothing” and they were excellent. There are so many pretentious works of art in the world that crave desperately for a little bit of banality, which would make them matter and not just remain unreachable thought constructions. Gief more banality!

This week I’ll be celebrating three years as a blogger. During this time I’ve given my thoughts, experiences and views on WoW in over 600 posts. They’re probably not the kind of deep or world-changing posts that the commenter is looking for. But so what? I never claimed anything else; I’ve never reported in as a candidate for the Nobel Prize. I’m just an average – or sometimes even mediocre if I’m absolutely honest - player who runs an average blog where I ramble about my very ordinary life in Azeroth.

The guests that frequent PPI are accordingly kindly asked to leave their e-peens as well as steel toe shoes in the hallway. You see, I think that there are others like me in the community, players who long for a safe spot, somewhere where banality and mediocrity is not only accepted, but even embraced.

I want PPI to be a place in my mind where walk barefoot, where I don’t need to pretend that I’m any better or smarter than I really am. Where I’m just me. And if the WI readers don’t approve of their choice for linkage, it’s their problem, not mine.

As long as PPI remains open, it will always be a home for banalities. I promise.


Reala said...

As I read your post I was constructing my comment in my head, to do with your blog being YOUR blog and, like the rest of the inter-neds, if people don't like it they have a lovely little back button. That's what I figured when I started mine only recently.

It looks like you worked it out in the end though, so that leaves one thing left to say:

Happy Birthday PPI /cheer


Nils said...

Interesting. My point of view is this: My blog is not banal. It just too smart for you to understand. Yep, I am a bit arrogant. Not just in virtual life I get told. I even think I have reason to be - most of the time.

When I get non-constructive comments on my blog I delete them - forever. That means you don't even see that there has been a comment. It is just gone. My blog is my playround. You read it for your own pleasure.

Mmh. I actually wrote about that before :)

Redbeard said...

Of course blogs are banal and self serving; they have to be since they are labors of love. Besides, I don't think I'd rather have the PPI any other way.

I'm kind of grateful that we haven't been featured on WI, even though I cheer on those bloggers I know who have. I'd rather get a slow build-up in readership as I work on a voice. You'd think that having a regular blog for a couple of years and being part of Parallel Context for over a year would give me a unique voice, but I find that I'm constantly working to get better. Maybe I'll never get to the point where I feel I'm ready for prime time, but at least I'm learning more about writing the longer I do this.

But for all my gnomish wisdom and insights

Um, aren't gnomes known for NOT having wisdom and insight? ;-)

Saga said...

I personally find posts about people's opinions and thoughts the best ones. I suppose that people who are only looking for pure information may disagree, but then a blog isn't necessarily the best forum for them anyway.

Sure, there are blogs out there with lots of really good information - but that doesn't mean they can't also have random thoughts and rants. Or blogs who only have thoughts and rants.

I know as a reader I enjoy the thoughts and rants the most, while the information is just a little side perk. I read blogs from resto druids for example, but I don't even play one - so it's obviously not for the class advice!

Also, congratulations on hitting 3 years - that's really impressive! :)

Redbeard said...

Oh, and happy birthday to PPI!

Charles said...

One of the things I love about PPI is that you can write about all sorts of little things (and plenty of big things) in a way that I (for example) can't. I love reading about the little things - life is comprised almost entirely of them, after all.

Which is not to say you're average or mediocre, Larísa, at least not in any negative way. You're special precisely because you can connect to the ordinary and the normal and do it in such a positive and thoughtful way. Thank you! And grats on the upcoming 3 year mark :)

SpiritusRex said...

I don't find your writings to be banal and self-serving at all. In fact, the reason I come here is, well besides the free elven wine on Fridays, that you offer a personal insight into the vast game we all play. The "personality" is why I spend my time at the Inn - I come here to hear your opinions on the various goings-on in and about Azeroth. I don't necessarily agree with them all, but I still like to consider them - if nothing else to make my arguments that much stronger! ;p

Gratz on the Inn being open for business for 3 years! I hope it continues to be personally rewarding to keep it open for many more.

Kurnak said...

We have a funny joke here in Spain about a man who has scars in his face and when questioned by a friend he tries to give all kin of explanations (i fell from my bike, I fell in the middle of the roses...) and everytime the friend dismounts the explanation (you don't have a bike, you don't even have a garden...) So the injured man ends the conversation with the truth: "the cat is mine and I fuck him as I like". So th joke is funny but it also teaches a lesson: my own life is just my business and not yours, even if I'm in a public space.
The same we apply to situations where we are questioned and the issue is private. This is your blog. You do what you want with it. Sharing your thoughts is not an open door for anyone to come by and stomp on them. of course who doesn't like or at least stands critizism shouldn't write a blog open for everyone to comment. And you did it right. For every single troll out there there're dozens of people who like your posts, no matter how banal may be. A banal story or some lines about your own characters can be great stories when written right. And that's something you've proven on these three years (congratulations btw!) more than enough.
I raise my mug for the PPI and for you! Cheers!

Rhii said...

I saw that comment and fumed a little on your behalf.

Then I decided that if he thinks it's so silly to take issue with a simple auction house trend, how much MORE silly is it for him to take issue with you posting about it? Obviously if the AH trend itself is too little to waste time on, your post ought to be so far beneath his notice that he never even reads it, right? :P

Trolls betray themselves by making an issue out of things they yell should never be an issue. It makes me laugh. Glad you could laugh it off too.

Utakata said...

Hey...but I did add "Loves Larísa. :)" underneath that post. <3

Grainger said...

PPI is one of the few blogs I read with regularity. It's comfortable and casual. You don't feel like you need to pass an iLevel to be part of the discussion and I don't have to be ashamed of my dps while here.

I'm glad the Inn is here and wouldn't change a thing. Keep doing whatever it is *you* want to do, not one poster who isn't happy.

Klepsacovic said...

A blog is self-serving? What a surprise!

spinksville said...

Larisa, what about all those commenters who agreed with you? :)

Zelmaru said...

Cheer up. When I got linked, one troll called me a pearl-clutching drama whore. Tourists flocked to my blog to tell me I had a tenuous grasp on reality, was hypersensitive, and had no right to my opinions. Best thing to do when linked is to turn comment moderation on for a few days and let it all roll off your back.

TheGrumpyElf said...

I pass by from time to time to read PPI as yours is one of the blogs I enjoy.

As for the self serving comment I can't help but laugh. I don't know about you but I know for me personally blogging is all about being self serving. I'd take that as a compliment.

Congrats on 3 years blogging and long live PPI.

Larísa said...

@Reala: Thanks!

@Nils: You've always been way more cocky and self confident than I am. That's the spirit! For my own part I'm more reluctant to delete negative comments. If they're really, really trollish I might. But it's really a last resort.

: Now what are you suggesting about gnomes? I must have heard wrong. And yes, I think not being linked by WI is quite OK.

@Saga: Thanks! And yes, there is something about resto druids isn't there? I admittedly have an alt one, but I read those blogs long before that. Trees just happen to be naturally gifted with blogging skills it seems.

@Charles: Thank you for all kind words! And yes, I share your love for small things. If I could wish for anything it would be the ability to identify and write about even smaller things than I do.

@Kurnak: But what about the animal rights?! Anyway: thank you very much and cheers!

@Rhii: Aye. It feels good to know that some people in the blogosphere were fuming on my behalf though.

@Utakta: I noticed! And it was very much appreciated.

: Thank you! I'll do my best to maintain it and stick to my blogging soul.

: yep, that troll had quite some insight, didn't he?

: Oh, but you know how bloggers read selectively. We tend to jump on the haters and forgetting about those who support us. Unfortunately.

@Zelmaru: I had some comments incoming the same day, everyone giving me the brilliant advice to use an addon. Sometimes you may wonder if they even read the post before commenting on it. It was actually far worse when I was linked last summer to a controversial post about a guildie having a conflict with a GM. I don't remember how I handle it now; I don't think it went as far to as that I had to moderate comments.

Elkf: Thank you! And I'll do as you suggest and take that as a compliment too. I'm not just banal, but also self-serving. Could it really be any better?

Azurae said...


Perdissa said...

I enjoy coming here, and don't really give a shit what others think.

So happy birthday PPI. :)

waterminty said...

If it helps, I was one of the (apparently many) WI readers who downrated that particular comment. I went back and looked, and the comment was gray-ed out, so I wasn't the only one miffed by the comment! :)

Of course, I loved your post -- the single stacking has been driving me insane, too. While I realize an addon can "fix" it, I've been trying to reduce the amount of addons I use and really don't want to add another one. :(

B.J. Keeton said...

Don't let them get to you. I used to post a lot on Gameriot before really finding my audience with my own domain, and I got a LOT of negative feedback there. I was too uppity, too banal, and I was often criticized because I used a semicolon and polysyllabic vocabulary.

And you know what? Those guys aren't who I was writing for.

A blog is, at least partly, self-serving. I mean, we all write these columns without any real indication that anyone out there gives a damn about what we have to say. And does that stop us? Not even a little.

Keep it up, Larisa. I've always enjoyed you self-serving banality, and I'm sure that will continue well past this three-year mark. Congratulations, and I hope that the next few years allow you to indulge yourself as much as these previous 3 have.


Archangel said...

"...People have made entire comedy shows going on for years about “nothing” and they were excellent..."

Ha ha. Loved it. One of my favorite shows. And despite what many would think, George Constanza is a genius.

Larisa, I have your blog on my reader for a long time now, and love every bits of your banalities. /hug.

Larísa said...

@Azurae: hugs back!

: So you're not ashamed of being a consumer of banalities? Cheers!

: Thank you for your support! Yeah, that comment was close to black after a while. Can't deny that it pleased me a bit to see it.

@B.J. Keeton: Thank you for your encouragement! I guess I've been pretty well protected, since I've had a place of my own for such a long time, never engaging myself into forums and such. So when those trolls show up I'm not always prepared to parry their attacks. But indeed - self-serving is a part of what constitutes a blog. So using it as an insult is rather pointless.

To be honest I doubt that I'll keep blogging solely about WoW for several more years to come. Eventually I'll have to move on to something else, if nothing else when I stop playing at some point. Perhaps my blog will change accordingly or perhaps - more likely - I'll shut it down or and make something different to use as an outlet for my urge to rant about banalities. We'll see what happens when the day comes.

: I thought the reference wasn't too hard to spot. :)

hugs back!

Keeva said...

I think this is going around, at the moment.

chewy said...

Your indignation at being described as "Banal and self serving" reminded me of Arthur Dent's indignation at the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy's entry for the earth - "Harmless".

But Wow Insider isn't THHGTTG, it's not even a pamphlet to the bloggers galaxy it's just a blog trying to sound authoritative.

Banal is a very badly chosen adjective to describe your writings, it doesn't give any real insight into your blogs, it's merely dismissive and as such offers little or nothing to the reader. As I used to tell my children when they were smaller and squabbling, "Just because your brother says that about you doesn't make it true".

I would be inclined to link that post in your about page - "As featured in Wow Insider" because as Oscar Wilde said there's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about.

Syrien said...

Someone called PPI banal? This makes me want to quote the "I do not think that means what you think it means" meme.

According to banal means "devoid of freshness or originality". Which is about as far from PPI as one can get. You have a very distinct voice as a writer, Larísa. And it's lovely to boot :) I get why you take the "so what if it is banal" route when dealing with a troll, but.. PPI is NOT banal. Since I liked your comparision with actors (writing is art, so there!), I'd like to counter the troll with a favourite quote:

‎"We have the right, and the obligation, to tell old stories in our own ways, because they are our stories." - Neil Gaiman

PPI - retelling the old stories from WoW and making them ours, for three years now. And with beer benefits! Congratulations and /cheer!

(Deleted a double post, sorry bout that - must have been the blood red ale going to my head)

lonomonkey said...

I lost count of how many people have challenged my faculty to add 1 and 1 together. The second you say something they don't like they start spewing profanities.

Every time that happen I send them a mail offering them to open a blog for themselves where they can denounce me at will.. No one has taken the offer so far.

Doone said...

You go Larisa. I haven't been publicly blogging until just a few months ago, so I dont even have the following you do. That said, I dont really care; its the kind of thing that develops with time. And if your readers enjoy PPI who cares what someone at WoW Insider says? Especially a commenter at WoW Insider of the worst places for "information" in the community. Brown-nosers.

Red Skies said...

You go Larisa. I haven't been publicly blogging until just a few months ago, so I dont even have the following you do. That said, I dont really care; its the kind of thing that develops with time. And if your readers enjoy PPI who cares what someone at WoW Insider says? Especially a commenter at WoW Insider of the worst places for "information" in the community. Brown-nosers.

Anne Stickney said...

I wouldn't link you if I didn't love what you write. ;) Ignore the useless comments, take in the useful ones, and as always, keep writing -- I like reading your work.

Peashooter said...

Your post has some very special timing for me, as I actually got linked by WI that same afternoon.
So far, I've been lucky to avoid the trolls, but when they surface I hope to remember your advice and take the same approach.
Ultimately, we each blog for ourselves and when others enjoy it too, that's a bonus.
Long live the PPI

redcow said...

I really like this post! I recently wrote about the fact that a blogger gets to decide her own content, regardless of what readers might want to read. (It was for a more serious topic, but I think it still applies here!) Banal isn't a very good word to describe your content, if anything I'd use the term "human interest story" - it's not stats or math or lists or guides. It's just one person's thoughts and opinions about stuff that happens, and it's insightful enough that many people (as evidenced by your regular commenters) enjoy reading it. It sounds like that WI commenter needs to get a blog and start creating the content they want to read. :) said...

Homely, comfortable, putting my slippers on and curling up to read.. yes.. banal.. no.

I remember back when they did the class blog list and (my blog being missed) someone suggested Armaggedon's Coming!.

One commenter was outraged that a blog such as mine spewing incredible filth (I was very angry about something Blizzard was doing at the time and relaxed my tongue somewhat over 2 or 3 posts).

Lovely supportive readers started marking down his comment, which outraged him even more. I joined in the fray, but rather than challenging his comments I enquired where they had come from.

Sure enough, he had read back the 2-3 posts, and was very angry with what he read. When I pointed out the other 700+ posts which were completely different in nature he calmed down

Readers of WI are not generally readers of WoW Blogs. They do believe it to be a source of truth and many of the writers are good writers, but they too have to deal with the great unwashed majority that have dragged themselves away from trade chat momentarily to take pot-shots at a stationary target.

WoW Blog readers are a different sort, not necessary more intelligent, nor more "hard code", just different with a desire to gain different "feel" for WoW through a variety of different writers.

We talk about niches... you have yours by your fireside, with many loyal customers at your bar. We are here because we like the quiet, homely inn and not so much the Doof-Doof and flashing lights of the techno barn that is WI.