By Will Someone Feed The Cat and Dennis Knight
There’s no shortage of posts describing Open Salon - from virtuous praise to vile reprimand. This is not one of them. This is a combined effort from two borderline personalities attempting to share some ways you can survive and thrive here at Open Salon.
1. Leave Open Salon Better Than You Found It
Dennis: Open Salon will never be greater than the members make it. This group of amazingly talented people could potentially blow the doors off the artistic world. And that should be our aim. Swing for the fences everytime you click the “Publish” button.
Remember to spell check your piece. Look it over for grammar too. Read it out loud to yourself to hear how it sounds. Never settle for less than you’re capable of putting out. Seek to make that the rule. Not the exception.
Sometimes we just want to have fun. That’s normal and good. But our consistent goal should be to offer this place the best we have.
Cat: And before you think we're getting all crabby teacher on you, consider this: the easier it is to read, the more - and more likely - people will read. We only need a small excuse to pass over something; don't make easily fixable things that reason.
Dennis: Make the same attempt when it comes to leaving comments. Read each post like you’d want your post to be read and leave a comment like you’d want to receive. Simple huh? Not so much. It takes time and heart.
Cat: Plugging a link into your comment is effectively asking a reader to navigate away from the blog they are on. That's kinda rude, don't you think? There are exceptions; but not many.
2. Posting Wisely
Dennis: Post a couple times a week and you’ll make it easier on your fans to comment regularly. Post every day and your readers will have a hard time keeping up with you. (Translation: They’ll drop like flies.)
Fight the temptation to post compulsively. Lots of good stuff gets buried when you post every day or several times a day. And very few will go through your previous posts to find the gems.
Learn to say more with less. The co-author is laughing at me. But she and others have helped me learn to whittle my posts down to readable chunks. Long posts can discourage some readers. You may get comments like, “Great!” and “Good job!” but you’ll never know for sure if that was code for, “Geez louise this is long!”
Cat: Again, it's not a hard and fast 'rule'. It's a suggestion; some posts need and deserve more elbow room; many don't. Many messages are best distilled to their essence for the biggest effect. What is your essence?
Dennis: Use paragraph breaks. That means hitting the return key now and then. Remember we live in the era of the sound bite. If you feel you must write at length at least give people brief rest stops to park and ponder on the road to wherever.
3. Figure Out Why You’re Here
Dennis: Open Salon’s stated purpose is to be a publishing platform for “writers, photographers and artists of any stripe.” It’s actually evolved into a very different creature.
Open Salon is a mixture of book store, newspaper, television, YouTube, art gallery, and every kind of unmoderated chat room you ever or never encountered.
You need to determine why you’re here. Once you do that, navigating the beautiful vistas as well as the mine fields becomes much easier.
If you’re here to be creative you’ll find an audience. You’ll acquire fans if you’re good and even if you’re not (an excellent example of this being the two authors of this post - ladies first).
If you enjoy civil debate on the issues of the day there are blogs where discussions like that take place.
If you’re here to cyber fight and live out your issues online there will always be several folks more than willing to engage you.
Focus on why you’re here and encourage those who are doing the same. Ignore the pests and embrace the rest. It will make your tenure much easier.
Cat: In a world of no censure and no rules, create some for yourself. Vow not to make others feel badly about themselves, and not to allow bullies to engage you. Your biggest weapon is actually silence, not your words. Where you use your currency in OS - your comments and ratings - indicates what you will pay to read.
4. How To Find The Good Stuff
Dennis: Open Salon states that, “Outstanding posts are given an Editor's Pick tag by staff editors. The best of these posts are highlighted on Open Salon's homepage...”
The Editors use the words, “outstanding” and “the best” as subjectively as their own tastes. What they consider great you may not. This proves to be the case sometimes. A lot of the time. Most of the time. All the time. Depending on who you ask.
My advice is: Don’t depend on the Cover and editors picks as the only way of determining what you read. Try the following things as well:
a. Select writers you enjoy as “favorites.” Then you can click through your favorites each day to see if they posted anything new.
b. On the top of the Cover page there are 4 white tabs. They read:
• Editor Picks
• Most Recent
(without my fancy bullets of course).
By all means look over the Cover, and scan the Editor Picks, but also click on that 4th tab marked “Most Recent.”
On any given day there will be new posts every few minutes. You’ll eventually get pretty good at spotting new authors and things that look interesting to you. You’ll also get a feel for how fast this place moves and why we suggest you try to write shorter articles and post less often.
Cat: The feeds also remind you of why your titles are important. Give them some thought. Provocative will give you initial clicks, but clever or interesting will serve you better. Dig through your high school concepts: alliteration, analogies, similies, puns, questions. Stand out in a postive way. If you've written a piece you're serious about, ask a good titler for help.
c. Dennis: On the left hand side of every person’s blog page is a column titled: “My Recent Comments.”
Sometimes you can find gold by clicking on one of your favorites’ comments and discovering a post they liked.
You may also wind up in the middle of a “blog party” which can be great fun and a way to meet new members.
Cat: If you're new, jump in and introduce yourself. Play. There are many, many kind people in OS; hang out in friendly territory as you find your way around, and you'll also note another thing: if someone has been hurt, reparations can be made. Apologies help heal.
Dennis: You might also tumble right into the middle of a flame war in which case I advise you to tumble right back out.
The point is, unless you uncondtionally love the Editor’s picks you can always find ways to discover great writers, artists and blogs on your own. And did ya notice we made that as simple as “a b c”?
5. Finally - Have Fun & Don’t Lose Heart
Dennis: People get discouraged here. Often. Sometimes they leave. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they lather, rinse, and repeat. This is referred to as “flouncing.” It’s not my favorite word.
It’s easy to get discouraged when writing your heart out and feeling overlooked. You may be tempted to think this is like high school. That there are “cliques.” Don’t. That’s the easy way out. You lose all perspective when you surrender to that. OS is a huge place. Write, create, and cultivate friendships. You’ll find your niche. But it may take time.
Cat: Create a post asking for direction, if you need to. Ask where the music junkies are hanging out, the poets, the fiction talent, the bakers - we love to be asked, and we love to show off. But mostly, leave your avatar stamp all over as you read, and become recognizable. OS is about give and take.
Dennis: Remember you are online. Finding even one person who really is who they say they are is a gift. Be careful not to trust too much to anyone too soon. The anonymity of the internet allows people to behave badly. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know someone before you agree to pay his or her college tuition.
• Post Script
Cat: Posts like this one, a service call if you will, have been done, and done well, many times in the past. Our only goal in providing yet another one is a nod to the many, many new faces who cross the threshold each day. If you have unanswered questions, please ask around. (What’s a meta post? What’s monkey fingered mean? What the hell is with all the pirates?). Questions on meanings can be asked at the source, or using a pm to someone who seems kind-ish. Gossip is best left unsaid, so don’t ask us about that.
Dennis: What Cat said. (How’s that for brief?)
Disclaimer: This article is intended for the sole use of the 9 interested readers at Open Salon and is not intended for: actual paid professional writers and/or artists, lawyers, children under the age of 50, Mariah Carey fans, people who write with Jumbo Size hexagonal pencils on grade triple “Z” paper, people currently undergoing therapy for failed online romances, people living in mom’s basement, people who collect Star Wars/Star Trek/Star Gate figurines, blogbots, employees of Open Salon, Real Salon, BEEG Salon, Salon.com or any other kind of salon be it hair, nail, massage, pet grooming, or Christian Science Monitor Reading Rooms etc., Canadians with an axe to grind, Americans with “we’re best” issues, or anyone with more than a third grade education.
All characters mentioned in this piece are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to people living or dead or inbetween is purely coincidental.
By reading this post you agree to surrender all rights to your personal creative work, your spouse, children, homes, automobiles, savings, checking account, investments, and self-esteem.