Reuben, the Lurker

It’s a little bit awkward to read personal blogs authored by people you don’t really know, isn’t it? Like if you work with someone, but the extent of your dialogue is “hey, do you have a project number for this?” Then you learn they have a blog. You drop it in your Google Reader and now you’re looking at photos from his/her honeymoon, the out of control Halloween Party they hosted, or even the ubiquitous ‘naked kids in the tub’ photos. This is fine because blogs are inherently public space (unless they’re private, of course…) and nobody should put anything on their blog unless they want people to see it (a lesson I learned the hard way… which resulted in purging several years worth of posts in one fell swoop and then regretting it and wishing I could retrieve the lost text…), but it’s still a little strange to read about what your co-workers are up to on the weekends when it’s not something you talk about in person.

Does that mean you should stop reading it? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s inherently different than overhearing a loud-mouthed co-worker recount their weekend in the lunch room. I don’t think it’s inherently different than watching the slide show screensaver your coworker has on their work computer as you walk by. Or listening to half of a conversation someone is having on the cell phone in a public place.

I guess I’m making a confession.

Yes, dear readers, I am the awkward Lurker who reads all your blogs without letting you know, never commenting, content to read quietly — until I stumble across something that transforms me into the dreaded Troll, posting controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages with the intention of provoking other users. I admit I’ve made that mistake as well, and I like to think I’m beyond my trolling days. I know my blog has lurkers (which is fine – lurk away – and tell your friends to lurk as well). And I’ve had a troll or two (but not too many – turns out, if you never say anything useful, nobody cares…).

But I’d like to extend a welcome to anyone lurking here. I appreciate you reading my words, even if you don’t feel moved enough to comment. Feel free to make yourselves known… or not… it’s up to you. If you keep a blog, I’d appreciate it if you let me know, because I’d like to read it. I’m not promising to comment, or even read regularly (my Google Reader is already overstuffed), but I’d still like to know. And I know you’d appreciate an extra reader as well – or you wouldn’t be blogging in the first place, right?

13 comments to Reuben, the Lurker

  • Anonymous

    Yes. I admit it. I am an anonymous lurker.

  • I enjoy your blog and especially this post as it has made be rethink my own approach a bit. Maybe people lurk because they aren't interested in participating and I shouldn't be trying to yank their opinions out.

    I'm going to spend some time mulling over this to see what I can do to improve the experience of my site for those that. Are just content enough to participate passively.

    Thanks for another great post 🙂

  • ooh, anonymous… not even fair. Ha! admitting you're lurking but not revealing your identity. so mysterious….

    ok, welcome anyway.

  • I do a good amount of lurking myself, although there is only so much you can do! Sometimes there are too many posts on Google Reader so I have to go in and delete the less interesting blogs I've been lurking.

  • Jo

    Is this Lurkers Anonymous (no pun intended–or maybe it was intended, but I don't want to admit it because it's lame)?

    I confess that I'm somewhat of a lurker on your blog, Reuben. Even when you don't post, I like to look at your "things I'm reading" list.

    But I guess by posting this comment I've relinquished my status as lurker. Darn!

  • Erica M

    Hi, Reuben. I forget if I found you through Twitter or a link elsewhere or what. I'm pretty new to your blog.

  • Bill, Darcey, Jo, Erica. Thanks for reading. Please continue Lurking.

  • I also lurk a bit here and there… I think most people do. I do try, however, to comment on people's blogs that I actually read regularly just to acknowledge I was there. Thanks for the post and making us all think.

  • You should know that lurking is a finable offense in many localities. Minneapolis included. I had a friend who got nailed for it. Now that you have outed yourself, you have increased the odds of that happening for you. Big mistake…maybe you want to get caught, so the suffering will end?

  • spiderleggreen, welcome. Please don't tell anyone about my lurking. BTW, I put your blog in my reader, so if I don't comment, I'm lurking.

  • Thanks, I myself, will neither confirm nor deny that I'm lurking. Until you get that lurk detector(Lurk Alert is the best)you'll just have to wonder.

  • Tara

    Lately it's been a novelty (and procrastination technique) for me to follow comment trails or to just keep clicking "next blog" from one I've been reading.
    It's a bit like… non-committal lurking? Snapshots instead of feature films.

  • Monique

    I lurk too. . .

    Am I'm a double jerk because I make my own blog private.

    Well, except for my piss-em-off blog: