Yesterday I did something I’d, unbelievably, not done before. Every now and then, I churn out something I’d quite like as many people as possible to read, and generate a bit of discussion on, so I go a bit beyond the usual methods of bookmarking on Digg and del.icio.us, and flagging it up on Facebook and Twitter .
Yesterday’s piece at Soccerlens on Ebbsfleet was one of those.
I’d put a fair bit of time, research, effort, and thought into discussing where the Kent club go as they prepare for their first full season under the ownership of MyFC, and wanted it to be seen beyond the regular readers, so I took the step of registering for the Ebbsfleet forums and posting a link to it.
So what, many of you will probably respond. You should have done that ages ago. Well, probably. But have you ever spent time on football forums. They can be a terrifying place if you’re not prepared and newcomers flogging their wares tend to get a pretty short shrift. The last thing I wanted to do was to get my audience in a bad mood before they’d even had a chance to read my incoherent ramblings.
I wonder if debutant CiF posters get the same feeling of trepidation when they post their maiden thoughts online?
But I’m glad I did. I don’t know the stats for the article, but it get a fair hearing on the forum and some interesting feedback and discussion surrounding it. There were points raised I’d not thought of and a couple of points that set me straight. In fact engaging in the forum discussion and comments after the article were one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time (although that’s probably an indication that I should get out more).
Now, had I got a less positive reception, would I have felt the same? I don’t know. But I would have still engaged, regardless.
It’s why I’ve always got respect for journalists, such as Roy Greenslade, who are prepared to get involved in the comments to their pieces. It enhances the conversation, and usually earns a respect from the commentators involved. It’s one thing to let off steam behind the keyboard to an article you disagree with. It’s another thing to then have to respond when the journalist takes on board your points and is willing to debate.
I honestly believe the majority of reporters need to be prepared to engage with bloggers and commentators who critique their work (without spending days Googling the internet for negative comments) and occasionally swallowing their pride when one of their pieces gets ripped apart. There’ll be a lot more respect afterwards for joining in the conversation.
 It’s worth pointing out I don’t even do these every time. It largely depends on what I’ve written and where it is. I’m not fond of doing the online equivalent of leaping up and down and waiving my work around in the hope that somebody will pat me on my head and tell me how good I am. Partly because I’m never convinced what I do is actually ever, well, any good.