BLOGGING – RACE OR STAMPEDE?

The Webster dictionary describes the word ‘Stampede’ as: “A sudden panicked rush of a number of horses, cattle, or other animals“. Lately, however, the description has also come to include people, eg, “There was a stampede at the temple on the hill. When reports last came in, 23 people had died and two were in critical state in the hospital.” The four key words are: sudden, panic, rush, animals. Why, oh why, do bloggers indulge in it? Where is the panic? Why the rush? Who are the animals? What is the suddenness, haste, hurry? Where is the race?


Courtesy: sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com

When I retired from the Navy in end Feb 2010, I picked up a job on the civvie-street and discovered that people are steeped in, what is known as, corporate culture. They work, and work, and then – just to break the monotony – work some more. Your status and actual power that you command is often meausred in terms of how late you work in the nights in the office. Since I am in the Energy business, I find it rather ironical that we should ourselves be dissipating so much of energy to save the world or India from an energy crisis. So, whilst in the Navy, I worked five-day weeks, on the civvie-street I had no choice but to work six-days-in-seven like the rest of the corporate guys and gals and then spend the sabbath day with the family. This would really make mind dull, I thought to myself. The question that came to me was how to keep body and soul together in this mad race? And then I saw a little light across the tunnel of my mind: write, it said; let creative energies flow. It would rejuvenate those little brain cells that are dying due to old age and inactivity. A blog was thought by me as the equivalent of sudoku; it would give me enormous joy to do it at a leisurely pace without having to beat the world record in speed.

Strange are the ways of the bloggers, though. Little did I realise that I would get out of one race and get into another. Race is at least something orgainised with everyone hurrying in one direction. Blogging scene, I soon realised, is like a stampede and that’s how I started with Webster’s.

What went wrong? Well, how can you pinpoint what goes wrong in a stampede? However, I shall try to do a small analysis. Here goes:

Initially when I wrote a few of the cognoscenti read it and either called me or mailed me about the quality or lack thereof of my writing. One sabbath day, when I had a little time to myself, I started wondering what other blogs looked like. I typed out the word ‘blog‘ on google search and landed up with 10,560,000,000 results. I realised that if I had to go through these it is quite possible that my great grand children would have come to the end of the search. So, I tried to become narrow-minded and typed ‘Indian Blogs’. This produced 286,000,000 results. As I scrolled down, I came across something called indiblogger. I clicked on the link. Looking back, I am reminded of the second standard boy of a primary school who accidentally presses an innocuous looking red button during his school’s visit to a nuclear reactor. Just like him, I din’t know I had started something I would find it difficult to control. Indiblogger url is http://www.indiblogger.in/. Why ‘in’ I asked myself at that time? Now I know the answer: it is ‘in’ because there is no way out.

Indiblogger has Indian bloggers vying with each other to obtain popularity through a simple, scientifically proved tenet that can be expressed as: ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’. There are bloggers and fans, or writers and readers – all cyclic, all within a loop. In short, when A writes a blog, B is a reader and when B writes, A is the reader. This is a very fine arrangement since otherwise blogging is like an Indian regional political party, say, Akali Dal in Punjab; to start with there was one combined Akali Dal with one leader on top. Then, a suppressed potential leader thought of splitting the party into two, with the faction loyal to him having his name’s first letter as a suffix to the original party name, eg, Akali Dal (S). This fissionable process continued until they landed up with more parties and leaders than partymen. Fortunately, Indian bloggers have potentially as many readers as writers.

Indibloggers also remind you of two rabbits being chased by foxes; after running some distance the he-rabbit turned to the she rabbit, “Should we keep running or should we just stop for a while and try to outnumber them?” Indian bloggers are in a stampede to outnumber the others in number of posts, votes and comments. This process is simplified by indiblogger by giving you an indirank dependent upon MozRank. which “represents a link popularity score. It reflects the importance of any given web page on the Internet. Pages earn MozRank by the number and quality of other pages that link to them. The higher the quality of the incoming links, the higher the MozRank.” Then there is Alexa Rank, which brings out the global ranking of your site in comparison to other sites based on its popularity. Then there is ‘External Juice Passing marks’. Then there is frequency of posting to judge whether you are a rabbit or a fox. In case you are like me, enjoying writing at leisurely pace, indiblogger is more likely to tell you that “your blog is starting to appear neglected”. All this for a simple hobby of writing for pleasure? Hardly, sirs and ma’ams; writing and reading for pleasure is for the nincompoops. Indibloggers behave like drivers in India; the idea is to somehow be ahead of the driver adjacent to you. Now, at this juncture if someone were to ask the indibloggers or the drivers as to where are they headed, you are likely to receive he response, “Why should we worry about that? I started at a ranking of A; and now, after three years, I am at 2A. I must be getting somewhere.” Philosophically and culturally we are Indians; for us the journey is more important than the destination.

The result of the stampede is that bloggers ‘promote‘ other blogs and ‘comment’ and ‘vote’ as if it is a contest or election. The idea is to offer a tit for tat. It is not rare to find fellow-bloggers commenting on your blog without reading it at all and – this is a must – leaving the url of their own article in the comment to enable you to scratch their back too.

The dynamics of the race or the stampede are such that it is sacrilege to question it. It is like telling a driver who cuts lanes that it won’t help. For 37 years I was in the Navy and I had to make peace with ranks and promotions. Indiblogger has brought it home to me that others care about these even more than we did. And, most indibloggers are more at sea than we were.



Courtesy: magical-marketing.com

Many blogs actually appear like the social media such as facebook. The blog post is as small as the status on facebook, followed by dozens of comments by friends and back-scratching hopefuls, as if repeating the words of the popular song from the 1973 Hindi movie:
A: Mujhe kuchh kehna hai (I have something to say).
B: Mujhe bhi kuchh kehna hai (I too have something to say)


Carry on fellow indibloggers; some of the rewards of the blogging are reaching me too:


© 2012 – 2013, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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25 Comments

  1. After reading this, I know that you do not like this back scratching, but still I want to say that this is an awesome post. I also have similar view, when I see some post on the homepage of Indiblogger with 100s of likes, but actually there are full of not-so-good description or pictures. There are some selected people who always sustained at the homepage of Indiblogger, irrespective of content in the post. Only Indiblogger knows why?

    1. I am a ‘fauji’ and taught to shoot straight from the hip; I think we should individually and collectively do something about it: promote good and wholesome writing and not because of ‘other’ considerations.

  2. Interesting post, but one thing I need to acknowledge is that sites like Indiblogger definitely help you to stumble upon blogs that you might end up liking…Also it helps you to improve the readership of your own blog. And there are other things like being followed and receiving comments that tell you about who all have actually read what you have written. Like everything has some disadvantages, this one too does. You might end up getting votes from people who have not actually read what you have written. But thats ok in the big picture of things is my take on it 🙂 Btw i enjoy Sudoku too 🙂

    1. Thanks. At least we are discussing pros and cons. I must also acknowledge the fact that I discovered some great blogs through indiblogger. I think eventually the focus has to shift from ‘promoting’ etc to actual contents.

    1. Thank you Amit. I too agree with Jaishree and have already acknowledged that. I love reading your poems and if it hadn’t been for indiblogger, I won’t have even known you. But, my point about making it unnecessarily into a contest, election, voting, promoting etc still stays.

      We Indians are very good at (best?) at multiplication and following a ‘formula’; be it films, songs, fashion, imitating the West, or anything that succeeds. Have you ever stopped to count the number of reality shows that we have on the TV? I had hoped I wouldn’t have it in blogging but, alas, I found it as much here as anywhere else.

  3. Bulls Eye ! Bingo ! ….. any logical blogger who may not be a good writer can easily catch up and climb the ladder of popularity through IndiBlogger’s platform and trust me you are so very right,some posts are praised just for the heck of it.But the way u mentioned …u scratch my back and I yours ….. is going on mostly on the platform. While I agree with u almost completely on whatever you mentioned, I also wish to mention , I just decided to read the low ranking bloggers(like myself) on IndiVine and thats how ended up reading an amazing post ! So not all is bad ! This is the only post I have read so far with all my patience intact and you make so much sense ! Very Very Very nice post! At last, thanks to IndiBlogger’s platform and my brains to search from below , I am really getting to read real people who are writing from themselves !

    1. Thank you. Allow me to mention that I discovered some great blogs not because of their popularily (only the short, easily read ones are popular)but, by wading through many blogs. There are many lines from poems and articles that I googled and came to know these are plagiarised without even giving credit to the original writer. Anyway, thanks for providing the silver lining.

    1. No; it was rather easy to do it. I picked it from clip art and added the blurbs. I liked your cartoons on your blog. I can think of an idea but can’t draw. I have done blurbs on actual pics and clip art.

  4. I was smiling through out while reading this.

    I confess I am guilty , by adding your post to my blog :-)(Pattu’s Terrace Garden).
    I did that to make sure my blog friends , had a chance to read your wonderful post.

    I request to be excused.

    Totally agree with what you said. But I do not promote what I do not alike.

    1. A few years back I directed and acted in a Mahesh Dattani play ’30 Days in September’ for a navy audience. The play was about incest. I played the bad guy (sigh).

      Last year I encountered Mahesh Dattani on the facebook and now we are friends. I told him that I was afraid that even though I did the play for purely private audience, I must have violated copyright provisions. He said I owed him a drink and it came out that he drinks only pomegranate juice.

      Guess what, Pattu? I too don’t drink. However, if you are ever in Mumbai and want to treat me to lemonade you are most welcome and “excused”.

  5. On the dot,Ravi Sir. I used to write earlier as ‘Salted seadog’ for Sulekha,but stopped writing for the very same reason mentioned by you. Now am halfway thru a novel.
    Regards,
    Ravi

  6. All that one want in a blog …………. Content with substance and that too original , a spontenous product.
    The write up contains a good deal of tactices used by bloggers

    1. Thank you Jaswant. I don’t seek any cheap popularity and still more than 500 people visit my blog everyday. You would have noticed total absence of advertisements on my blog.

      1. That is nice. Your writings are rich in substance and, so far I have gone through I noticed are based on facts n in most of which you yourself is the no 1 or 2 character. But when you put these in words it seems coming from a Impartial Onlooker. A perfect detached mission.