Mutual scratching


Today’s prompt was “What makes a blog great? What makes you follow a blog or Like a post?” And in my opinion, in this day and age when ‘backscratching’ has become quite a formidable phenomenon in the blogging world, this is quite a relevant topic to discuss and this prompt provides me with an opportunity to air my views on the same.

For somebody like me who has been blogging quite actively for the last year or so (although I am a ‘veteran’ in the sense that I started blogging in 2004 well before blogging aggregators such as Blogadda, Indiblogger or blogging cliques such as Indiblogeshwaris came into vogue), the entire concept of ‘backscratching’ is amusing to say the least.

Just to make things clear, by backscratching I am referring to instances where I read the blogs of all the people who follow my blog and leave comments on the posts and in turn follow these blogs and leave comments on the posts on these blogs. This exercise is something that is done irrespective of whether I actually like the other blog, the posts there or not, and such non-judgmental following of blogs and commenting is what I term ‘backscratching’.

While I must confess to having indulged in this in the recent past when I was forced to do so when I was part of a blogging group (due to the rules of engagement in this group), the fact remains that this entire process got so irritating, time-consuming and ultimately pointless that I ended up discontinuing the same and as a result being kicked out of the group.

Today I have reached a stage in life, or a ‘place’ with my writing / blogging that I write for myself and my own consumption. Honestly, I don’t have an ‘intended audience’ in mind when I pen down my posts and write purely for the joy of the entire process of writing by itself. In such a situation, I simply don’t have the time, necessity or the inclination to indulge in the pointless exercise of following as many blogs as I can, read the posts and leave behind my comments on each and every post.

But I digress, and let me get down to addressing the actual prompt which asks me for my reasons for following a blog and liking the posts there.

To me, the main thing that makes me want to follow a blog and comment on the posts there remains content, style and the vibes that the blog and the posts there send off to me. First and foremost, the content dealt with in the blog and the way it is dealt with must resonate with me, my values, my thoughts and in general must be stuff that I like to read about. If somebody were to ask me for a clear-cut list of all the things that I like to read about, I will not be able to provide the same, but suffice to say that most of my reading revolves around non-controversial topics, personal rants and fiction in general. And it therefore follows that these are the type of blogs that I follow and the kind of posts that I like and comment upon.

Having said this, I do have my favorite bloggers / writers who I have followed over the past year and will continue to do so, even if they churn out posts and content which don’t necessarily strike a chord in me. It goes without saying that every writer hits a ‘block’ once in a while and tends to pen down posts which are not in line with their earlier posts. Or it could also be the case that the writer has evolved both as a person and as a writer and has moved on to writing posts in a genre that I don’t necessarily enjoy. In such cases, I tend to stop reading such blogs and stop following them regularly. After all, I am sure that nobody misses one tiny reader and his comments on posts so much that they will go back to writing what I enjoy reading, will they?

In a similar vein, I have noticed that my blog also has its own share of regular readers and commenters and based on the content, quality and frequency of comments on my posts it is a safe assumption that these are readers who currently enjoy what I write, who resonate well with the thoughts that I present there and provide their genuine feedback and thoughts in the form of comments on the posts themselves. To these readers, here’s my heartfelt gratitude and thanks. When I started off blogging all those years ago, little did I imagine that there would be more than a handful of people who would actually go on to read and even enjoy what I have to write on this blog.


This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the objective is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.



44 thoughts on “Mutual scratching

  1. This is so true, Jairam. All of social media – not just blogging – is built on an implicit backscratching agreement. You like my status update, I will like yours. You comment on mine, I will comment on yours. You didn’t wish me on my birthday, so I won’t wish you on yours etc. Surprisingly enough (or not), people do keep track of who’s following/liking/reading and who isn’t. I suppose this is not dissimilar to the offline equivalent of ‘they didn’t invite us to their wedding, so let’s not invite them to ours’.

    As for the second part of your post, it has become difficult for a blogger to keep engaging his readers on a regular basis and at the same time build new readers. The only way out, I think, is not to try and be everything to everybody and write deeply within one topic. That way, whatever following you do have will be loyal. I myself am just starting out, so this is just a theoretical assumption 🙂

    • @Sharath, I find it surprising that people actually have time to figure out who is following their blogs, commenting on their posts and reciprocate accordingly.

      As for the second part, it is only recently that I kind of figured out that I cannot cater to every reader of mine and have therefore started writing for the sheer joy of writing, especially on topics that I have a liking for. And I am sure that as long as I am loyal to my tastes in reading and writing, readers will follow.

  2. Very very true.. after a point following some blogs just as an obligation becomes a waste of time. Only in the last few weeks I realized that rather than trying to please every potential reader, I should just focus on what makes me happy about writing and put that up. Completely agree with your comment above, its exactly how I feel 🙂

    Btw on a lighter note, I couldnt help but chuckle at this reference “blogging cliques such as Indiblogeshwaris” 😛 😛

    • @Seeta, am glad you figured that one out so soon, it took me dog years to try and figure that one out myself.

      As for blogging cliques, I still find it hard to believe that such groups exist purely on the basis of mutual backscratching 😉

      • IB does not have anything to do with backscratching.. wondering how that notion got created… it is more of a sisterhood, in fact other than the blogs I would follow anyways, there is no blog that I follow of members there.. there is no link dropping, nothing.. so makes me wonder why you feel so?

      • @Seeta, as I mentioned in my reply to Rachna, this was based on ‘hearsay evidence’ from a member (or maybe a former member, I don’t know) about this. Once again I repeat don’t ‘sue me’ if I have wrongly represented the group in my post 🙂

  3. Jairam, Since your post is about what blogging means to you, it was interesting reading your views. There is really no right or wrong when it comes to something as personal as blogging. Different people are in it for different reasons. I also read blogs for the same reason as yours. The content should appeal to me in terms of topics and presentations. But, I’ve noticed that if I dislike a blogger, I slowly stop reading them. Like you, blogging has also been about meeting some wonderful people for me. And there are blogs I read who do not comment or read mine. At the same time, I believe it is important for bloggers to reply to comments on their blogs. And I do try to hop over to a person’s blog who has commented on mine. But I will only visit again if their content holds my attentions. There are time constraints too which may make all of us skip over good content sometimes. After all blogging is just a part of our life, not the entire life itself :).

    And seriously I am intrigued about your mention of Indiblogeshwaris here. It is a group meant for women bloggers where no one drops links and is more of a sisterhood. No one is forced to read anyone else like many other FB groups. Since you are not a member and can never be, I wonder why have you mentioned it here albeit in a negative vein.

    • @Rachna, it wasn’t intended to be mentioned in a ‘negative vein’ per se but more as an example based on what I had heard from some members (I don’t know if they still are members) of the group, that’s all.

      Like you mentioned, there isn’t any way that I could ever get to be a member of the group, and therefore, my opinion was purely based on ‘hearsay evidence’ only. So don’t sue me for that 😀

      • As a mature writer and a blogger I enjoy reading, I am a bit disappointed with that, Jairam. Why would you use hearsay as a basis of forming opinions and sharing them publicly on your blog? Apparently this member is jilted or has issues of her own that made her opinion coloured. That she managed to colour the opinions of a mature individual like you about something that hardly concerns you is really very surprising. No, I am not going to sue you for it :). But I hope this has made you wiser about who and what to believe.

      • @Rachna, it sure has, no two ways about that 🙂 In any case, the truth is that I don’t even know who the members of IB are and who are not 🙂

  4. Ha ha ha. Thanks Jairam, Had a hearty laugh 🙂 I went through a phase in the recent past when I wanted to quit blogging. One of the reasons is the one that you have mentioned. I comment rarely only if I like the post enough. I Used to take part in various prompts but then quit because I found that I was supposed to comment and promote other posts which was difficult for me.Being a stay at home mom without any help leaves me with very limited time and there are my own pursuits. I don not have time for back scratching or following threads in social networks. I have quit from all ‘groups’. So the result is that I now write when I feel like, comment only if I like and this arrangement suits me just fine.

    • @Bhagyashree, good for you, and I am more than sure that it is only now that you truly enjoy the process of writing, reading and commenting, given that you do it only on topics that really interest you, don’t they 🙂

  5. I agree. Backscratching is so very amusing. Like you I prefer to write for myself and read only the blogs I truly want to read.
    But Jairam, seriously I didn’t know you were masquerading as a woman in your spare time! How else would you have so much inside information about Indiblogeshwaris – a group meant solely for women! A group where incidentally, sharing of blog links is not allowed so back scratching doesn’t really come in the picture.
    If you are writing this based on hearsay, it really doesn’t befit a blogger of your caliber to mention names so blatantly based on mere hearsay. Now does it?

    • @Ruchira, no, it does not and lesson learnt, no more putting up opinions in my posts based on ‘hearsay evidence’ going forward 🙂 And based on the volume and the quality of comments on this particular post, it does seem like the members of IB well and truly stand up for each other and the group quite vocally, don’t they 😀

  6. Perfect and straight from the heart! And Jai, you know that we all have the same views on this. Write for yourself and like-minded people will continue to read. Why waste time in building false readership? 🙂

  7. Clap clap ! For a well written post and focusing on whats really important. The whole blogging networks especially the promotion bit, start become self defeating and one fine day, one realizes the sheer amount of time it all takes. I have toyed with the idea of dissociating myself from the blogging networks, but haven’t taken the step yet. Currently I use it as a single POC for checking posts from all the bloggers I like irrespective of whether they like mine or not. And I am quite ruthless in removing people, if their writing doesn’t resonate with me.

  8. I am commenting here as one of the admins of Indiblogeshwaris. It is sad that you have mentioned our group in a condescending manner which is not at all true. As you mentioned yourself….saying something just based on hearsay is gross error on your part. It hurts the sentiments of the members of the group. You are just projecting an opinion of a said disgruntled member who by speaking about the group, has trivialized the members of the group. She has broken the trust of the members too. Of course you are privy to some information otherwise you would not have taken the name of the group blatantly. I wonder why the actions of agroup of women bloggers is of so much interest to you ?

    • @janaki, first up, let me apologize for having mentioned the IB group based on ‘hearsay evidence’.

      And just for the record, the actions of this specific group of women bloggers is NOT of any interest to me and I used the name of the group just to prove a point, which in any case has been proven wrong by more than a few members in the comments section here 🙂

      No hard feelings.

  9. Interesting post Mahabore…I started my blog as a record for my daughter mainly. Then I moved to other topics which are qualified as pretty boring by most standards, like my daily travel struggle or my life in Bombay…I started writing, and still write only for myself…I do go to other blogs and comment, blogs which I like reading..but I am not a part of any group..mainly because I dont have the patience to follow rules 🙂

  10. you seem to have ruffled a lot of feathers Jai! 😉
    but jokes apart – I get what you are trying to say. I blog for myself too. I don’t care about stats. I write for myself first.. but nowadays, fiction is written with an audience in mind. (you just have to read some of my old stuff to realize this! :D)
    I think it was only when Sid pointed out the number of hits I’ve had on the blog that I paid attention to it!!
    Regarding back scratching – I still do this and as a result I was lucky enough to make my share of awesome friends.. I mean, if I hadn’t come by your blog because you were on mine commenting – we wouldn’t have become friends!! 😀
    Sometimes, I don’t mind and yes, sometimes it gets tedious. But, I’m an optimistic and weird person – I keep hoping that the next round of returning comments will lead me to discover yet another fabulous blog!
    Blogging groups exist in plenty and so does dirty politics which is surprising since the internet is a vast place!
    And as everyone else has mentioned (:P ) our blogeshwaris grp is a sisterhood. It’s unfortunate that someone mislead you. but hey – hugs!! We all get mislead either on purpose or by accident at some point and now you know! 🙂
    Don’t feel too bad.. we are kind of loyal to the group as well!! 😛 😉
    and loyal to you too! (at least I am! ) HUGS!!

    the comment is a post by itself!! ok.. I’m stopping now! Whew!

    • @pixie, yes, I also got all my blogging friends like you, Sid and a whole lot of others, in fact, all my current readers through backscratching only, but then it was not the shameless kind where I went ahead and said ‘awesome post’ to everything they wrote. It was honest comments, and authentic engagement with their blogs and posts that got them to follow my blog itself.

      And yes, I seem to have ruffled more than quite a few feathers, but then lesson learnt, no harm done, and going forward no more opinions based on ‘hearsay evidence’. And here’s hugs back to you as well for being such a good loyal friend as well 😀

      • I know what you mean.. I was just telling an old friend that you know when people are “faking” their comments because after a post or two it kind of gets repetitive!! 😉
        Shameless back scratching for the only reason to promote one’s blog is just sad.

      • @pixie, and that precisely is the kind of backscratching that I abhor and have talked about in this particular post 🙂 Just making things crystal clear, that’s all 😉

  11. Jairam – here to echo the IB member comments here…’s really not okay for IB members to talk about IB outside of the group….its blasphemy to do so in a negative vein. I’m curious who this person is, coz if she really does not like IB, who is forcing her to be a part of it?

    About your post – always write for yourself. People come and go, and will mostly forget your words/writing, but your blog is first for you, and it is here to stay.

    • @shachi, well, if only all of us bloggers realized that end of day we blog only for ourselves, this entire phenomenon of backscratching wouldn’t exist, would it 🙂

      Thanks for reading the post itself and leaving behind your comment 🙂

  12. Quite an interesting perspective on the prompt. Mirrors my thoughts on backscratching. I find it so annoying that people drop on their followers’ blogs, like the first two posts or comment something like ‘nice blog’ just to ensure that they are reciprocating the appreciation. The worst you can do to a writer is indulge in such sort of liking/following/commenting without engaging with their content.
    A brilliant write up 🙂

    • @Palak, long time no see, and yes, I completely echo your thoughts on commenting without even reading or understanding the post, let alone appreciating it, just so that the other person comes to your blog and leaves behind a comment on your post 🙂

  13. I guess these are phases of blogging. I started blogging in 2005, almost the same time you started. I have stopped joining any blogging group for the same reason. I want to read and comment on blogs/posts that I like, without any compulsion and same goes for what I write on my blog. Most of the stuff on my blog is written without any audience in mind.

    • @Avade Kedavra, so true, at least for me these have the various phases of evolving as a blogger since 2004. For now I write because I want to write, and if people read it and like it, so be it 😀

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