24 comments on “I Don’t Want to Be a Cheerleader

  1. I have myriad and complicated feelings on this since one of the hugest gripes we get for Dewey’s is when the cheerleaders don’t comment as much as people want. On the flip side, you feel awkward that you’re “an assignment.” I can tell you from my own experience cheerleading that I rarely feel like it’s obligatory or forced. I’m happy do it. Not everyone is, which is probably why we consistently have 50 cheerleaders for 500 readers or 800 readers. From my POV as an organizer of this event it’s a catch-22. That’s also why we made the decision to let people decide this time around IF they wanted to be cheered for at all! That was a solution we’d never thought about before, but each of us values something different in these events. For some it’s solitude, for others it’s community, and a bunch of other values beyond these.

    I think ultimately any formalized cheerleading will go to the wayside, but right now there are just too many people who expect it, and mostly on their blogs. The “we’re all one big team who cheer for each other” atmosphere seems to be growing in the most organic way on Twitter.

    Great, thoughtful post, Charleen!

    • It really is a different dynamic on Twitter. I liked the separate sign-up thing, because I knew I’d be more active on Twitter during the day than my blog… but I didn’t even think about not signing up for cheering at all, especially since the community IS one of the things I love most about events like this. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I need official cheerleading.

      Thanks for commenting, Andi! It’s nice to see some of the thought that goes on behind the scenes.

  2. I’ve never signed up for cheerleading – mostly because I don’t have the time I think, but I can see your point. It is nice to get a comment from a cheerleader, but it’s not a big impact to how I carry through the event. I agree too that sticking to a smaller group of bloggers is much more manageable and enjoyable because you can feel more involved with them. Quality over quantity is true!

    But I also think for myself that it’s ok to leave a quick, kind of generic comment sometimes on a person’s blog – at least if you engage with the blog on a regular basis – even if you don’t really connect with what the person wrote about, it’s nice for the blogger to know that someone has read it. So you shouldn’t feel bad about that! :)

    • I definitely think about comments differently on blogs I’m visiting for the first time vs those I only visit occasionally vs those I visit all the time. When I already have a good relationship with a blogger, I’m less likely to worry about leaving a quick comment without much substance, just to let them know I was there. But for new blogs (and in an event like this, I’m visiting a lot of new blogs) I do try to put a little more thought into it.

  3. I agree 100% on not wanting to be a cheerleader and that I would feel awkward if I were someone’s cheering assignment. I’ve never done a read-a-thon, but hearing about this most recent one is making me want to join future events (seriously considering the next Bout of Books). I had NO idea these events had official cheerleaders though — and it seems a very strange concept to me. As a usual non-participant in any form, I always like to comment and encourage the bloggers I already follow when they post their updates, but it’s because I’m interested in what they’re reading and I regularly comment on their posts anyway. I don’t stop commenting just because I’m not also participating. And I never for a second considered this “cheerleading,” but I guess it kind of was? Food for thought, anyways! If there is the option of opting out of being cheered for, I would definitely choose that as a participant.

    • I know Dewey’s and Armchair BEA have cheerleaders. Bout of Books (which you should totally join in!) has “experts” which I think serve a similar function. On the one hand it’s nice to sort of spread the love, especially among newer bloggers who join in something like this hoping to meet new people. I know, I was there once! But I just don’t know that organized cheerleading is the best way.

  4. Ok yes, I know exactly what you mean. If you can’t find something to say you just can’t find something to say and then everything will be forced and icky and do they really want that?

  5. For me… there were quite a few people in Dewey through the LATE night that helped me continue. I knew that if they were still up and wanting to cheer for me then by God I could read that damn book.

    • Yeah, I can see that. If I were pushing to stay up the whole time, a support system in those crucial hours would be a big help.

  6. I really liked reading your thoughts on cheerleading since I am chairing the Commenting Committee for Armchair BEA this year and I did last year. I definitely want to take what you said into account as we continue to strategize for this year.

    One problem we had last year was that there were not nearly enough cheerleaders for the hundreds of blogs and the cheerleaders were overwhelmed. Because, sadly, commenting is just not occurring organically on most blogs. I am trying to find ways to improve upon the “cheering”, but, like Andi says, the complaints are from cheerleaders “there are too many blogs to cheer for” and from participants “no one comments on my blogs”. Yet, these people who want comments are not commenting and cheering themselves. Those who get comments are not returning comments. Therein lies the problem itself. No one wants to do the very thing they are wanting everyone else to do.

    The community really needs to bring back some of its humble beginnings where we did just band together and encourage one another. It’s one of the reasons I started the Discussion Group, so we’d feel more like a community and less like we are all out there on our own. The response on Twitter during the Readathon was fantastic. I felt like a part of the community and I want to see more of that for sure. I don’t cheer or comment because I feel forced to, I cheer because I am a believer that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable player. When we build each other up, we can go a lot farther.

    • I like your thought about returning to the “humble beginnings,” Becca — I cannot even believe there was one person, let alone a lot of people who COMPLAINED that no one/not enough people were commenting on their blog. Then again, I don’t really pay attention to stats and pageviews and those sorts of things. I love getting comments (who doesn’t?), but I would never in a million years complain that I was not getting enough, especially on something like this, but that’s just my two cents… Reading yours and others’ comments here though really makes me appreciate how much time and effort is put into these events behind the scenes. These events should be about the reading and the community and I know you guys work really hard to make that happen. But no one should be complaining that others are not doing for them what they do not want to do for others. I bet plenty of people join JUST to read a lot and knock some books off their TBR pile and therefore don’t get into the social side as much, and I think the people who really want comments should try to understand that side of it too.

    • “Because, sadly, commenting is just not occurring organically on most blogs.”

      This is the biggest thing, for me. How to get the commenting more natural, and get everyone involved? Because having guaranteed comments and making sure no one gets missed is great, especially for new bloggers… but when the event is over, most of those comments go away. But when the conversations do occur organically, I think they’re more likely to be genuine relationships (the little seeds of one, anyway) that will last beyond the event itself… and those are the connections I want to make.

      Thanks for the insider perspective, Becca!

  7. Hello, like Becca I am also on the BEA committee. I am based in the UK and I can tell you how I feel about BEA from my perspective.

    I have never been to a BEA, but over the years have taken part in the armchair version. I enjoyed it, sharing my thoughts to the questions and meeting other bloggers. Last year I particpated more fully. Wrote two blog posts each day to the themed questions, tweeted them and visited other participants and was visited. All from my armchair!

    Coming from the UK, we don’t (or we didn’t when I was at school, and college) have cheerleaders. The image it produces here are short skirts, athletic figures waving those pom poms about. Nope alien to me! What we do have though is a band of people who sit on the sidelines and encourage others and participate. Of course it is more fun to comment and cheer from the sidelines during the event, but those blogs I didn’t get round to during the event I visited afterwards and some I still read.

    For me, it is about taking part, being part of something that gave me a lot of fun. Taking about books for a week is wonderful and I have happy memories from my childhood of reading and being read to. A lifelong gift from my late Mum.

    I would say, cast your thoughts beyond that cheerleader image & label and remember a visit to a blog, sharing the URL, tweeting and simply being part of something supports BEA the participants. It brings together a community that is diverse of book lovers the globe over.

    Hope to see you during Armchair BEA!

    • And that’s exactly my point… I do all those things. And I love doing them. But I do them on my own, because I want to. I think signing up to do it “officially” would take away some of the joy and turn it into a chore. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I’m fine with not being cheered on. If people want to stop by and comment because they’re interested in my post, great. If it’s an obligation, I’m fine either way–I’ll appreciate the comment, but I don’t want someone to feel forced to do so. Not having cheerleader comments on my blog won’t break my heart. Promise.

    As far as being a cheerleader, it’s not something I would ever sign up for, either. I join the readathons to read, not be on the internet constantly. The first readathon I joined I found myself spending WAY too much time doing mini-challenges and gabbing with people on Twitter, and not enough time reading. And it’s hard to balance that because once you get on the internet, you get SUCKED IN (not you, specifically, but the global “you”). So now I just read, update my blog every three hours, and hop on Twitter for a few minutes while I’m updating to see what everyone else is up to.

    • For me, I love that social side of it. I didn’t do any challenges, but I spent a lot of time on Twitter and thus didn’t get as much reading done as I could have… but I’m fine with that. It’s all part of the experience for me. If I want to have a day of all reading, I can do that on my own any time. The camaraderie is half the fun.

      • See, I can’t do that on my own time–I need a real excuse to ignore everyone in the house and not cook a meal. No time outs for me unless I have a good reason. Heh.

  9. I cheered for the first time this Readathon and I loved it. I couldn’t put aside a the time to be a reader, so it allowed me an opportunity to participate in the event while still having the majority of my Saturday to do other things. Not every single blog I visited is necessarily one I’ll be frequenting, but it was fun for me to see some things beyond my little corner of the blogosphere. I also like rhymes, puns, nicknames, and all the sorts of silliness cheerleading encourages. The only thing I did not love was all the word verification. CAPTCHA is my nemesis!

    • I didn’t realize how many cheerleaders were ONLY cheering and not reading. That is a great way to get involved if you can’t sign up to read. (And yes, word verification… you know, I’ve seen some that aren’t so bad – like the kind that use actual WORDS – but the version Blogger uses is just terrible!)

  10. I’m quite happy to be a cheerleader. What’s wrong with people volunteering their time to cheer other people on? It’s not a “job” for me to do to comment on other people’s blogs. It’s something I volunteered my time to do because it’s a way to acknowledge people. if I didn’t genuinely want to support the people participating in an event, I wouldn’t volunteer. I feel like it is a bit rude to think that someone’s comment isn’t as valid because it comes from a person that’s “supposed” to do it.

    • There’s nothing wrong with it! If it’s something you enjoy, that’s great! I love hopping around to blogs and commenting… I just prefer to do it on my own. Then I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down when I need to walk away or do things at my own pace.

  11. I’ve never signed up for a readathon or to be a cheerleader, but I enjoyed reading through this discussion and understand what you mean. I don’t feel guilty for not signing up; I feel more as though I’m missing out on the fun. I tend to beat myself up if I don’t come up with a substantive comment, but probably for an event like a readathon, the emphasis is on quantity over quality!

    • Read-a-thons are so much fun, and as for the cheering, well… like I said, I like to do the same sort of things that cheerleaders do anyway, just without the pressure. I do often leave less-quality comments, but I draw the line at something like, “Great post! Good luck!” So if I honestly can’t come up with anything more to say, I just don’t.

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