Blogging – as a filter for community

friend filter

I’ve known that blogging was a way of making friends for a long time. What I didn’t know was the mechanism by which it happened. Now I do, and Renard Moreau is the blogger who triggered my little epiphany.

Quite simply, Renard asked ‘Have you been following too many blogs?’ But the question goes deeper than mere follows, it asks how many blogs any one person can reasonably interact with instead of just following.

Now I know that I have only about 500 – 600? followers all up, including both my blog and FB-Twit, yet even with such a relatively small number, I struggle to visit a 10th of those people in a month!

A friend of mine [who shall remain nameless] works his butt off every day, answering emails, replying to comments and tweets, and generally interacting with the hundreds of people he follows.  But what of the people with tens of thousands of followers? Surely it’s not possible to interact with all of them? Yet how do we choose who we do interact with?

The answer, I believe, is that we unconsciously filter out 99.99% of the people we meet – either face to face or online – on the basis of ‘interest’.

For example, I’m interested in a fairly eclectic range of things, so that diversity is reflected in my posts. They dangle in the www, offering a certain type of ‘bait’ to the metaphorical fish that pass by. Those that like a particular type of bait will come to nibble. Those that don’t will ignore it, and me. Thus we have our first visitors.

But what makes those visitors come again?

I used to think the process was all down to luck, but now I think we are all subconsciously looking for others like ourselves, so when we bump into someone who may be like ourselves we stick around to find out. How we find out goes something like this:

– I stumble on a post I like, and follow the blogger who wrote it. If I really like that post I’ll comment. This is first contact.

– If that blogger keeps publishing posts that grab my attention, I’ll start to look out for their name. This is acquaintance.

– If that blogger stops publishing posts that grab my attention, the thin connection between us will fade away.

– If that blogger interacts with me in some positive way the connection between us will strengthen.

– If we discover that we have other interests in common, we may become regulars on each others blogs. Whilst we’re there, we may meet yet more bloggers who are similar to ourselves.

– In time, we discover that we have a small community going on. At the heart of that community are the friends we visit all the time. These are the bloggers we help without a moment’s thought. These are the bloggers we miss when they stop coming. These are our friends.

Radiating out from this core are

– the friends of friends who may become good friends in the future,

– regulars who may become good friends,

– acquaintances who may become regulars,

– and ‘blow ins’ who stumble in by accident and leave by design.

And that explains the odd graphic at the top of this post. We bump into each other almost by chance but stick through shared interests.

Apologies if this process was already crystal clear to everyone else. It all seems so obvious now, yet I really didn’t put it all together until about an hour ago.



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

23 responses to “Blogging – as a filter for community

  • Colin

    Interesting post this that make me ask myself questions. Which is good, neh?

    I’m so uneven in my blogging: some posts get a lot of traffic, other posts get none at all. For some reasons, for instance, people in India is very interested in a post I have about E M Forster.

    What I suspect is that people there are writing school reports, and searching Google for things about it. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the traffic.

    I’ll have to think some about this post of yours though.


    • Colin

      I want to edit my own reply, haha. I rephrased a line in there, and now there’s a ‘people is’ in there. Ugh. 😀


    • acflory

      lol – I think we all experience that confusion about our blogs. Somehow it’s never the posts we think people will like that they do like. -shrug- But there is a random element in there as well. When you think of all the possible variables it’s mind blowing – day, mood, hormones, sleep… And yet, there are patterns. 🙂


  • Candy Korman

    Nice way to sum it all up. This is the social part of social media!


    • acflory

      Yeah. It’s weird how you can know something, and yet not know it until someone else triggers a slightly different way of ‘seeing’. Definitely my idea of being social. 🙂


  • Kathryn Chastain Treat

    Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    I follow many blogs (probably more than I can keep up with). There are those that draw me in and who I have definitely made a connection with.


  • Kathryn Chastain Treat

    I also find that while I follow several (okay quite a few) there are some that resonate with me, these are the ones I interact with and look forward to future posts.

    Great way of wording this.


  • Honie Briggs

    Dear Meeks,

    Well said. I haven’t ever felt like interaction was a chore. I do it when I can and am so very happy when bloggers I follow reciprocate. I consider everyone who enjoys my posts a great treasure.

    Not a tumble weed,


  • Carrie Rubin

    Blogging–just like real life–is about interacting. If we interact with others, they’ll usually interact with us. If we stop visiting their blogs, they’ll likely stop visiting ours. But I hear you–it’s a challenge to keep up, and there comes a point where we really can’t follow too many new bloggers or we won’t get anything else done! But it’s a great way–especially for introverts–to meet like-minded souls.


  • pinkagendist

    Exactly; it’s just like real life. Sometimes people connect, sometimes people don’t 🙂 And even when/if that happens, it can change. I’m incredibly comfortable (and happy) with my ‘circle’.


    • acflory

      -grin- I think you’re a bit more gregarious than moi coz I know I could never meet this many great people in RL. And you’re right about change, although I hope the circles don’t change too much! -hugs-


  • davidprosser

    That’s clarified nicely. I never thought to put it inn those terms. I suspect I know that person you mention who feels an obligation to ‘Do unto others’ but there is a very small and very close group who are the ones who mean something to him/her including one particularly warped individual from the antipodes.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


  • EllaDee

    I think the answer is when you stop having fun and the blogging community becomes a chore or worse, it’s time to have a good hard think.
    I value the little WordPress community I find myself part of, and I know I’m richer for the interactions but my approach is fluid.
    In both the virtual and real worlds it’s easy to fall into the mindset of creating our own obligations. But we all live pretty much in similar circumstances, and empathise if someone gets busy elsewhere, goes on holidays, doesn’t have anything to say.
    Since joining blog world almost 3! years ago I’ve too been facscinated by the how-did-it-happen phenomena of meeting like-minds. I love the way you’ve described the process, and the diagram… is that a Pac-Man I see 🙂


    • acflory

      ‘creating our own obligations’ – oh my yes. I’ve had to cut back on my socializing this year and I can tell you it’s made me feel quite guilty. And yet I wouldn’t feel that guilt unless I cared so I’m trying hard to balance all the needs and loves of my life.
      And how did Pac-Man sneak in there? Totally subconscious, I swear.:D


  • chrisjames282

    Nice one, Meeks. I think you’ve articulated what’s been going around in my head for some time. What I do know is that I’d like to interact with a lot more people, but just don’t have the time. I could spend all my spare time social networking OR writing, but not both *sigh*
    Sending you wishes for a drizzly summer with a few nice sunny days but but not so many you start worrying 🙂


    • acflory

      Yup, it’s a constant trade-off, one thing for another. Like you, I suspect, I prioritize physical world needs as #1 and then try to keep as many other balls in the air as I can. Damn hard at times though. 🙂

      And thanks for the kind words. Just watched a great program on bushfires so I’m praying for nice gentle weather too.


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