Whether you blog, write, or code, internet publishing is a minefield that all too often blows off a metaphorical limb.  I started blogging almost two and a half years ago (not at this location, obviously) and I have gleaned some tips that I now share with you, dear readers.  I have made almost all of the mistakes I list below, and I hope that it will prevent you from having to make them yourselves.

  1. Determine whether you want to use your real name or an alias and stick to it.  Consistency is key, people.
  2. Learn who the giants in your particular field are.  Learn from them, but engage with them only with caution.  (Relatively) famous people are usually also very busy people, and them being busy can feel like a painful snub when no slight was intended.
  3. Expect people to pan you.  Don’t get bent out of shape about it.  Internet publishing is meant to enable you, the individual, to produce whatever content you like and make it available to like-minded people.  If someone doesn’t like it, odds are they aren’t of a like mind, and therefore are not worth including in your product assessments.
  4. Don’t be down on yourself (especially publicly).  It just comes across as attention-grabbing if you actually think your stuff is the best thing since prepackaged hummus.  If you really think your skills are terrible, no amount of external validation will really help turn things around.  And if you are just generally depressed about things for long periods of time and believe that you are no good at anything at all and will never succeed, ever, then for heaven’s sake see a psychologist, take a vacation, and make yourself better (I recommend the vacation from personal experience).
  5. Put feelers out and meet or talk with people who do what you do.  Don’t expect them to love you or your work right away, and definitely don’t deliver manifestos about why they should.  By politely introducing yourself you will find nice, supportive, good people with whom you can share the joy of whatever it is you do.
  6. Last, DO NOT EVER sound off about how other people in your field are just plain wrong and do not have any idea what they are doing.  NEVER enter into ideological battles over the internet.  I have done this.  I regret this.  You can learn a lot of important lessons from it, but it’s better just to take this one on faith.  Be respectful to others, be willing to admit mistakes, but also stand up for what you believe and you will not go wrong.

Now, if I could just email this to myself a few years ago, I could create a causal loop and make gigantic tears in the fabric of reality…