Tuesday, 31 May 2016

How Not to Be a Dick: Blogger Edition

Welcome to the first instalment in my "How Not to Be a Dick" series. I'll be doing a few of these, but today's is about responsible blogging. Enjoy!

Yeah, this picture is pretty much irrelevant. I'm writing in it, what more do you want?
For most of us, blogging is a hobby. We do it because we want to share about products we love and hate, to talk about moments that mean something to us, or to discuss causes close to our hearts. We find our little place in this community which comes with a readership, supporters and, for some of us, detractors.

I try to stay encouraging as far as I can, and I am always open for discussion and debate. However, today I saw a post about veganism that was so terrible that I couldn't find anything positive to say about it. As well as being poorly researched (i.e. barely researched at all) and misleadingly-worded, it was just really badly written. Not only that, but when challenged on this, the original author was defensive and played the victim online, rather than engaging in a discussion or allowing people to educate her on her dangerous levels of ignorance. To add insult to injury, she's deleting comments on the original post by more informed individuals attempting to set the record straight.

I can't sit this girl down and tell her to stop being so wilfully irresponsible, but what I can do is try and turn it into a more general learning opportunity. So, without further ado, here are some tips for being a responsible blogger.

Don't State Opinions as Facts

Having an opinion is fine. After all, putting opinions in writing for mass consumption is basically the definition of blogging, right? However there a world of difference between fact and opinion. I thought this was obvious, but I've seen numerous instances of people making inaccurate statements (i.e. flat-out lying) and defending their bullshit as "a matter of opinion". In case you need a lesson, here's the difference:

I think that the way slaughterhouses operate is acceptable.

Opinion masquerading as a fact: 
I believe that 90% of slaughter houses are killing humanely.

According to HSA information, 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption. EU guidelines dictate the minimum measures that should be taken to avoid unnecessary suffering, however whether there is any way to humanely slaughter an animal is a matter of opinion.

If you're unsure whether you're voicing an opinion, stating a fact or spouting shit, take a look and see whether you're making claims that you can substantiate. If there are studies, reports or other reliable resources you can use to back you up, then cite them. If not, make sure it's clear that what you're saying is genuinely an expression of opinion and not a poorly-worded, unreliable pseudo-fact.

Be Discerning

Some bloggers thrive on drama. Some people just like attention. Fine, you crack on with flapping your fingers at the keyboard until someone throws you a cookie. However, if you don't want people thinking you're a moron and a dickhead, then be honest with yourself and have a think about why you want to put out a post before you click the "publish" button. Is it informative? Is it balanced? Is it accurate? If you can't tick all these boxes maybe it's time to look at it again. If you can't find a way to rewrite it that fulfils those rather generous criteria then the delete button is your best buddy.

Ignorance Isn't Bliss, It's Just Ignorance

If you have the wherewithal to set up a blog and social media, we can assume that you're able to read. This means that you are also able to research. With this in mind, I am allowed to call you out if you haven't bothered to look into a topic you're discussing. Unless you're already an expert in the subject, have the decency to read up on the thing. You never know; what you discover might surprise you. 

You can bury your head in the sand if you so choose, but be aware that people who do know a lot about the subject you've chosen to discuss will point out the holes in your argument. 

Be Receptive

When you put a blog out there, you do it to be read. It's completely delusional to believe that everyone who reads it will be congratulatory/complimentary/in agreement. When you create content it is for consumption, and the consumer is just as entitled to hold an opinion as you are. The only way you can hope to avoid the "haters" is by writing well, having popular opinions and crossing your fingers that those who disagree with you don't see it. If however, you write like a toddler, tell bald-faced lies and have shit opinions then you're basically throwing a manure grenade at the internet.

It's all well and good to drop the blogging equivalent of a stink bomb, but you can't then wonder why everything suddenly smells bad. If you throw horseshit at the internet, the internet is going to throw shit right back at you.

If, however, someone approaches you with a metaphorical can of Oust, you should probably let 'em spray you. Even if you don't love the scent they've chosen, it's got to smell better than the hot guano you just littered about the place like an angry hippopotamus.

That figure of speech got away from me a bit there... Basically, if you blog then people have a right to respond. Listen to what they have to say, be respectful and be kind. Don't be an arsehole, or people will tell you that you're an arsehole, and nobody likes to be told that they're an arsehole.

Have Grace In Defeat

Believe it or not, I haven't always been a particularly well-rounded or open-minded human. I would even go so far as to say in my younger days I was actually a racist bigot. I wasn't a nice person. 

I have a long way to go, and I know damn well I don't get it right 100% of the time, but one of the most important steps to becoming a better person was to learn how to admit when I'm wrong, and to grow from it. You can't do that if  you respond to criticism or discussion by being a petulant child. If someone has an opposing view to you, you should have a listen and ask questions (politely!) You might still disagree with them at the end of it, but at least nobody can accuse you of being an immature ignoramus. 

Be Honest

Integrity is pretty crucial to blogging, and forgetting about it can alienate your readers. Whether it's "forgetting" to declare a sponsorship, endorsing an irrelevant product just for the cash or just making shit up, you will piss people off. We're all guilty of stretching the truth a tad to make a story more interesting or impressive, or maybe omitting unflattering details. What's a different matter is full-on lying.

Only make claims you can back up if challenged, and don't resort to name calling and aggression if you get caught in a lie. Don't contradict yourself on your own blog/social media just to attract attention. Don't be the Donald Trump of blogging.


If you don't want anyone to ever criticise, argue or find fault in your blog then make it private. If, however, you want to make a worthwhile and responsible contribution to this ever-growing pool of content then try not to be a twat. 


  1. YES ELENA. This is perfect. Especially doing the research before you try and claim that cows are taking over the world.. xx

    Kimberley // thecolourchronicles.com


      As opposed to the horsepocalypse, which would be neigh. (See what I did there?)

  2. Yaaaaas! I definitely try to take all of this into consideration with every post I make that could be potentially sensitive! If I feel like I can't explain myself properly I don't post it, and I think there needs to be a bit more of that going around. I welcome all mature, polite and civil counter-comments on my posts, it's how you learn and grow. Great post!

    Tore | www.atinymew.com xo

    1. Thank you my love! I've got a drafts folder full of abandoned posts that I started and realised halfway through writing were basically just be being a douchebag, we're all guilty of it. <3

  3. This is the PERFECT response to that vegan post! You've explained so clearly what was wrong with it, I couldn't have put it better myself! Thank you x

    1. Not gonna lie, I was initially going to write a post ripping all of her garbage "opinions" to shreds but ultimately that seemed like a waste of time, given that anyone with a pulse can see that it's total trash... x

  4. FAB U LOUS.

    Fii | little miss fii | uk fashion & lifestyle

  5. yes to all of this.

    Just. Yes.

    Great response. You've put into words what I'm guessing majority of what people were thinking.


  6. Love this post so much.
    Great points and I love the ending; "..try not to be a twat" hahaha
    Sarah xxx

  7. Great post! Definitely relates to a few I've come across.

    I completely agree with all of it. It's so easy to research things before putting them in a post.
    I have pretty opinionated posts, but I know when I press publish that I'm opening them up for debate, and will take the response. It's good to learn from others and see their perspectives.
    Tina X www.teaisfortina.co.uk

  8. Great post Elena. I think the internet is wonderful, but sadly it's allowed a lot of opinions and viewpoints to be stated as hard evidence when they aren't, and has caused upset time and again, and I've seen this on a multitude of subjects online, so I'm always very cautious with what I read and take in online, but it's not always easy! Discussion and debate can be great to open up to new ideas and ways of thinking so it's off-putting when comments are disabled or deleted if there is an opposing idea. Really interesting post! - Tasha

  9. fantastic!! I'd wager the post in question was written by someone whose name begins with B and ends with ekahhhhhhhhh lol. I've literally just sat on this train and read your homepage from top to bottom and I'm so glad I did! xx


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