Are you in my “reader community?”
Some bloggers use sidebar widgets that show the avatars (or pictures) of recent visitors to the blog, along with the reader’s name and a link to the reader’s account (see picture). These are reader communities, and I’m not a big fan.
I did use one of these services on Purplecar.net about a year ago, but I took the widget down. 2 things about it disturbed me:
1. Not enough readers. Only a few early adopters had registered at the one particular service to be in my community. I stared at the same faces for weeks because the registered readers in my community came and went, and anonymous/unregistered users either didn’t show up in the timeline or a random blank icon showed up with the word “YOU!” and “JOIN MY COMMUNITY.” Which leads me to reason 2.
2. Privacy. What if the people in my reader community don’t want to be seen in the timeline as a recent visitors? Am I really going to make them go to the service’s site, log out, then come back to PurpleCar? Am I going to make them subscribe to PurpleCar via RSS? Why would I want an unregistered surfer feel just the tiniest bit unwelcome? Why would I make roadblocks like these for readers? Let them come and read in peace. If they want me to know they were reading, they can leave a comment or email me.
I can’t help but have a sinking feeling when I see reader community widgets on my daily travels on the ‘net. Now they have community member counts at the bottom of the widget. It screams “popularity contest.” I can just picture the conversation between two social media friends:
MediaSnacker:”Oh did you see PurpleCar’s post? I know you did, the one about auto DMs?”
Employee: “What? You know I don’t have time to read blogs. Come on. I thought you didn’t like her blog anyway.”
MediaSnacker:”Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t be caught dead reading that drivel, I just called to tease you. You’re still reading it!”
Employee: “And how would you know? Did you hack my history?”
MediaSnacker: “No, I saw your icon on the reader community as a recent visitor. BUSTED!”
Employee: “No, YOU’RE busted. My avatar was last clocked there months ago. You must have been there TODAY.”
While I’m a big fan of share-your-bookshelf type sites, I don’t share everything I read. The public library is supposed to protect your borrow list, so I feel like I should protect my readers. Let them read in peace. Your reading material is sacred. Seriously. Drama aside, reading is a private endeavor. I respect that. I won’t expose my readers. They can *ahem* expose themselves.
What do you think? Do you use reader community widgets? Why? What do you think of them? Do you know of any pros? Please expose yourself by commenting.