It never fails. As soon as I write a post teasing some hapless nerd or geek, they show up in the comments… usually to demonstrate that they’re a much better sport than I’ll ever be. Which is fine. Great White Sport… this ain’t.
Here’s what I said about Rory Root:
…the pleasantly-plump, nerdy, hairy and mildly-sarcastic proprietor of Comic Relief. Rory has been pretty high-profile in the comic book world for a long time… I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the inspiration (even subliminally) for the Simpsons [Comic Book Guy] character.
Unfazed, Rory showed up in the Great White Snark comments to respond:
Nah,when I first met Matt long, long ago I was quite a bit thinner and beardless. And I generally avoid ponytails, just at conventions were it can get just a bit warm on the floor.
That’s the nice thing about operating in the geek (and sometimes nerd) culture. Most folks are so damn affable. Go to a comic book convention and you’ll see what I mean. Say “hi” to just about anyone and they’ll be willing to strike up a conversation. Everyone’s just happy to be around kindred spirits and, well, all of those objects of geek obsession.
Overly-ardent fanboys and furries, on the other hand, are a different matter. (Just check out what happened in the comments after I posted about the furry competitors of the San Jose Super-Con costume contest. Someone’s drunk on the Jesus juice, methinks.) Handle with care. Or better yet, don’t handle at all… I think whatever it is they’ve got, it might be contagious. And not even the CDC has a vaccine for that sort of thing.
If you’re the sort of person that enjoys putting two and two together, you perhaps have realized that there are several benefits to attracting a geek mini-celebrity to your blog. First, it increases your stature in the geek community. You are the company that you keep, after all. And your improved “brand” subsequently improves the perception of your blog. Second, you’re increasing your readership… at least by one person: the geek mini-celeb. More likely, you’ll also attract readers from his or her blog. Finally, as you know, any sort of interesting conversation in the comments section of your blog generally makes it a more attractive place for readers and potential readers to visit.
I’ve never consciously set out to solicit a reaction from a particular person on my blog. The reactions I’ve gotten from geek mini-celebrities have been a happy, unintended benefit of going through an exercise that I have retroactively identified and will elucidate here.
1) Set realistic goals. Don’t bother with actual celebrities. No amount of baiting will bring a real celebrity to your blog, so don’t even try. It will reek of desperation and a lack of a healthy grasp on reality. Believe me… if it could be done, Kristen Bell and I would already be BFF.
Real celebrities don’t need you… they need Jay Leno, who gives them access to millions of consumers. Your blog has access to seventeen of your friends and family. Do the math.
Set your expectations a bit lower. It’s always a safe bet to shoot for people who want to promote themselves or their business on any available platform, especially if the platform is relevant to their industry. All sorts of (non-super-famous) artists and other content creators, as well as small business proprietors, are happy to have a conversation about their work.
If you manage to snag someone who is enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame thanks to a news story or other event, that works out even better for the visibility of your own profile. Take Rose, the Star Wars wedding lady, who got a bit of geek and mainstream news coverage in June. Here’s what I said:
I think it’s beautiful when two souls of similar heart and mind come together in marriage. Even when it’s two devastatingly-nerdy souls.
Here’s how she responded in the GWS comments:
I really like this write up! Seriously, thanks for noticing. We had no idea this would get “national” attention, and find it quite humerous. We just went out to do what we wanted and knew our family and friends would enjoy. Besides, if we didn’t want to be noticed at all, would we really have done it? Thanks again, and fun blog!
What did I tell you? So damn affable.
2) Link to their personal blog or site. People keep track of links and trackbacks to their sites. It’s a fact exhaustively proven by rhesus monkeys in medical laboratories all over Canada. The question is whether your intended target will pay attention to your link to their site, which brings us to the final step…
3) Tease them a little. Light teasing is a common form of flirtation, and it’s no different when you’re courting someone to visit your blog. Don’t be a jerk (unless you’re doing it ironically, which is a trick best left to the professionals)… jerks get blown off. Instead, entice them into a good-natured, back and forth dialogue.
Ruth, the Star Wars cake lady, got quite a bit of attention for her Death Star cake when it was profiled on BoingBoing. Here’s what I said about her efforts:
I won’t reprint the pictures here, but follow the link and see if you can come up with a better description than this: Large, pre-historic ball of turd with a dent in the side.
Dick. Anyway, here was her comment, regarding my Mom’s Max Rebo cake:
Heh. I’m the Death Star cake creator. I’m totally not a cake artisan, although I have to add that the Death Star is about the least crafty one I’ve done. The Max Rebo is awesome, but Greedo would have been way cool. I’m thinking about doing a Millenium Falcon in August.
A caveat about teasing. If (well… when) I’ve employed hyperbole in describing an intended target, it’s been for the sake of getting a laugh or to entertain. (At least, I think I was being entertaining… ahem.) Being abusive just for the sake of being abusive isn’t the right approach. (Unless you’re speaking abusively of religious fundamentalists, in which case you’re in good company around here. Welcome.) Getting in a “flame” war might create drama, but ultimately all you’re left with is the ashes. (Bam! Check out that metaphor.) You don’t engage readers by getting into a fight… they might stick around for the spectacle, but then you’re just some painfully unoriginal tool who’s better at getting into pointless pissing contests than creating interesting content. (Cough. Bill O’Reilly. Cough.)
And there ends the paragraph most-riddled-with-side-thoughts that I’ve ever written.