Thoughtful ThursdayAlthough the weather around here doesn’t feel like July, it is indeed July. This means it’s time for another batch of Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of June). Hooray for everyone!

Rounding out a full half-year membership is Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?. Wow.

Not only did Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy join the Intelligentsia for a consecutive fifth time, but she gave birth this month and still managed to submit a comment in a timely manner. Special prize for Ernessa: honorary Intelligentsia membership for baby Betty.

Next we have four-timer Kristen from Dragondreamer’s Lair.

Three-peaters include Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose and Beautiful Mess from Life induces thoughts, mostly random.

Returning for a second time is Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat.

Our new Intelligentia member, all the way from France, is Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV. She’s currently more than 41 weeks pregnant, and hopefully will go into labor any minute. Good luck!

Thoughtful ThursdayThis week’s Thoughtful Thursday theme is something that Wiseguy raised this week. It’s also a topic that Lollipop Goldstein and I discussed last week when we met in person, and which I’ve thought about many times in the past year.

Deal breakers.

Specifically, deal breakers when it comes to reading blogs.

Wiseguy talked about the frustration that can come from commenting regularly on someone’s blog yet never hearing back from them via comment or email. After a while, she gives up and stops reading, as do many others who are accustomed to the give-and-take that our community encourages. In most blog circles, someone who didn’t return a blog comment would be the norm, but in the ALI community, reciprocal communication is the default.

(Side note: It’s a default that I don’t always manage, for reasons that I describe in Wiseguy’s comment section. I’m a very good commenter in some ways, but not so good in others. So, sorry if I don’t comment on your blog as much as you wish I did. And, sorry if I comment on your blog more than you wish I did!)

Lollipop and I talked about… actually I won’t tell you, because I didn’t ask her if I could. She can comment if she likes.

I have my own (fairly long) list of deal breakers. Some apply when I read a blog for the first time, such as through ICLW, Lost and Found, or a link from another blog, and are enough to keep me from coming back. My tolerance for each of these waxes and wanes:

  • Poor writing. I have mentioned a few times what a stickler I am for precision in language. I am also a member of the grammar police… and the spelling police… and the coherence police… It requires mental effort for me to get past errors and glean the real message. My mental effort is in short supply these days. I also tend to make the (sometimes but not always untrue) assumption that the quality of the writing corresponds to the quality of the thoughts. You’re/your? It’s/its? Extraneous apostrophe in a plural noun? One instance I can tolerate, but repeated errors (especially in the blog name!) and I run screaming in the other direction.
  • Misinformation. Say something cockamamie (“Going on vacation cures infertility”), and I’m gone. This doesn’t happen that often in the ALI blogosphere.
  • Nothing but cycle updates. I actually have really appreciated such blogs when I’ve been dealing with my own cycle and am filling the sleepless nights trying to find out how early post-transfer people have gotten positive pregnancy tests, but when reading in real time, I prefer blogs that sometimes address bigger picture issues, even if they also include cycle updates. On that note…
  • Uninteresting content. I don’t think that anybody sticks around for boring content, but what’s interesting to one person isn’t interesting to another. We all have our preferences. At this point I happen to find the emotions around infertility quite fascinating, but details about breastfeeding quite boring. I’m sure that will change in a few months.
  • Different places in life. Related to the last point, some people are in a very different place than I am. That’s fine, but it makes me less likely to read their blog. In your mid-20s and starting to think you might be infertile? I was there once too, but that was 7 years ago, and the veterans tend to resonate more for me now. Raising twin teenagers? Not there yet, but I’ll be back to your archives in 15 years. Someone who’s in quite a different life space has to be a great writer for me to read their blog regularly. Conversely, those who are in a very similar life space are easy to revisit. I currently read just about every pregnant-with-twins blog I can find. I won’t seek that category out forever, but for now, those are my peeps.
  • Stuff that is hard to look at. This depends on where I’m at. Prior to my getting pregnant, belly shots, pregnancy tickers, and sometimes photos of kids were hard to look at. This is why I do not post belly shots or pregnancy tickers on this blog, even though people have asked. I don’t mind them now, and actually enjoy the progressive belly shots sometimes, but this blog is infertility-themed above all else.
  • Very different values systems. Some people espouse beliefs that I just can’t get behind, and which I don’t really want to read about. Nothing personal. I’m actually pretty non-judgmental, but certain things push my buttons. For example, a heavy focus on Christianity is one that tends to turn me off, even though I know it draws many other readers in. I don’t object to people’s religious beliefs or expressions, of course, but it’s not something that I happen to want to read about very often (so says the blogger with a dozen religion-themed posts in her archives).

Then there are the deal breakers that cause me to stop reading blogs that I’ve followed regularly. The bar is set much higher for these — once you’re on my Reader list, it’s pretty hard to get yourself off. Including my Clicker duties, I have over 100 blogs on my Reader. Aside from the Clicker blogs, my blogroll is a pretty static list.

  • Nonstop negativity. Some negativity is fine, but too much gets to be… too much. Unless it’s funny.
  • Statements or beliefs that go against everything I believe. Recently I stopped reading a blog that I’d followed for over a year — longer than I’ve been blogging myself. It bothered me a lot to do this, because I’ve developed an attachment to the blogger and her family, but I couldn’t bear to keep reading. After hundreds of posts (including some that I didn’t agree with, but for which I respected her beliefs), she came out with a deal breaker. It wasn’t even the main point of the post, and I doubt that she imagined that it would bother anyone. She said that she’s a fan of someone whose beliefs are so damaging, so counter to everything that I know in my heart and in my head, that I feared she might start to enact those teachings and do something horrible. It’s only a matter of time, really, if she truly follows what that person preaches. Sorry if I’m being obtuse — I can go into it in a different post if people are desperate to know. It happens to overlap with one of my professional areas of expertise, and I try to keep my work far away from my blog. I will say that if one of my real-life friends were a fan of that person, I would try hard to convince them in the other direction. If I were unsuccessful, I would probably stop being friends with them — it’s that much of a deal breaker. Satan worshipper? Drug dealer? Someone who kills animals for a living? Not deal breakers! In fact, I have a friend who does kill animals for a living, and another who used to be a drug dealer. As I said, I’m not that judgmental, except when it comes to certain beliefs. Or grammar.

What are your deal breakers? What keeps you from going back to a blog? What makes you abandon a blog you’ve been following?