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Using Humor on Your Blog to Bring About Change

HumorImage by Carf

A month ago today I got the news that AdSense was making changes to their referrals program that would (in my opinion) be unfair to publishers living outside of some parts of the world. My reaction to this news was one of anger and disappointment – my post that day reflected this with the closest thing I’ve written to a rant for a long time.

A week later I was still disappointed in the decision that AdSense had made and couldn’t see the sense in why they’d made it – I felt they’d made a mistake. My anger had dissipated a little but I still felt strongly about it. I felt my rant had fallen on deaf ears and was ready to give up and accept the decision.

But a small voice in my head told me that there must be a way to make my point and I set myself a task to come up with a post that would have more impact than an angry rant.

I decided to take my own advice and to brainstorm ideas for a post using Mind Mapping. Initially I thought I’d write an open letter to AdSense outlining my logical reasons for them to change their mind. But my ideas progressed….

I won’t take you through the full process that day but after 15 or so minutes of brainstorming I decided to write AdSense a love letter, to declare my love for them but also to share my ‘broken heart’.

The result was:

Dear AdSense, You Broke My Heart – An Open Letter to AdSense

My attempt with the letter was to do quite the opposite of my first angry rant. It was to attempt to use humor to highlight my points.

The impact was swift. I’m sure it wasn’t completely as a result from my letter but within hours of it going live I’d heard from two contacts at AdSense that it had been passed on to the team that makes these kinds of decisions. A couple of days later word came through that there were changes to the policy being pondered. Then I heard that they were about to be made public. I drafted a second Love Letter in response.

I share this story not to big note myself – while I know my letter was read and had some sort of impact I know that other bloggers had their say and fed back their thoughts to AdSense also. No, the reason I share this is because it taught me a great lesson about the power of humor.

What I realized is that my rant didn’t leave much room for a reaction from AdSense. When you communicate something in anger or aggression it makes it difficult for the party that you’re directing your message to react in any other way (this is something I learned in conflict resolution training). In many cases all a rant really does is get something off your chest – but it puts things on someone else’s chest which can lead to them either to escalate the conflict or ignore you.

However when you communicate the same points with humor it is less likely to put the other person on the back foot and it gives them room to react in a more constructive way. Humor can still be used to make a point – but it’s more subtle and less confronting.

I still do think that there’s a place for a rant – but I think in future I’ll consider pulling a humorous post out of the tool belt before I got for the rant option.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. You are my hero! I’m thinking to write a love letter to you this Valentine’s day.

  2. You are my hero!

  3. Arjewtino says:

    That clown looks insane, Darren, not humorous.

  4. I use sarcasm in my blog.. :D Does that count?? :)

  5. Joanna Young says:

    Darren, it also made for a great read, and showed us just how creative you can be (and we can learn to be) in your blogging.

    Joanna

  6. I just read nice article, you’re good in bringing out situation…

  7. Video Blog says:

    Everyone loves to laugh and a complaint is far more fun to read if humor is used instead of logic, but thats me.

  8. HC says:

    The post also showed the power of people working in a group! Collective action often has really powerful results…like all the stuff happening on PledgeBank.com and similar sites. Good for you, Darren!

  9. Wayne Liew says:

    I do think writing something from a humorous point of view is better than ranting as the satisfaction will be felt more when our words are heard.

    However, some went aboard with the use of humour and had turned their statements into personal attacks or sometimes seen as sarcastic in the eyes of others.

  10. Cheapest Man says:

    Man I really hate clowns.

    And yeah, I love when people add humor/sarcasm in their post. Makes it feel more ‘human’ to me.

  11. I’m sure lots of people wrote angry rants about the AdSense changes, but how many people wrote humorous love letters? It was a wonderful way to stand out.

  12. Pádraig says:

    Personally, I think humour is a fairly rare gift. Some people have it in abundance, while others would struggle to string together a joke.

    If you have the ability to make people laugh, use it.

  13. Greg says:

    A little humor never hurt anybody :)

  14. Tom Beaton says:

    Humour is very powerful as everyone loves to laugh and be amused. Because of this effect, people are more likely to drop their barriers and take on board what your saying. If you slide some well constructed points in with the humour, you are more likely to influence people whilst their barriers are down.

    Tom Beaton.

  15. Nik says:

    Nowadays, I deal with acute anger management crises by letting myself go and writing something that seems completely reasonable and justified by the situation, which is always intensely cathartic. However, I resist the temptation to get the bad guys immediately and save the rant as a draft.

    When I read the draft the next day, I’m relieved I didn’t hit the send/publish button. I delete the rant. I write something that helps people help me.

  16. Darren,

    The post was a little too funny. It was off-putting in the beginning but catchy to keep the reader interested. As the paragraphs progressed, it made it very clear what AdSense had meant to you as a source of revenue and what it could do for someone willing to work with it.

    In any other context that expalanation would have been too boring to read and I would have missed out on reading the AdSense details.

    By the end of the post, it seemed like a good idea to wear your heart on your sleeve and simply tell the truth. It’s also great that you’re back. I hadn’t read the post about AdSense changing their policies again. Noticed the AdSense logo agian in your footer and was wondering why it was still there. Now it makes more sense.

    Good luck.

  17. Lid says:

    it does work – even for baby sites ;)

    We did the same thing with Automattic.

    After several hours of mucking about in forums, FAQs, WordPress Codex, Google et al, we got jack of getting conflicting answers to how to successfully redirect a WordPress.com blog so we could host it ourselves.

    While we love the software and intended to use it on our site, there was no easy way (that we could find) to do this.

    Finally, we posted a silly – but fun – letter that was titled “Open letter to Automattic”

    The next morning, our hero Matt came and told us what to do – he was the first commenter, but it sparked others into beginning a conversation, asking questions, looking for feedback etc., which was fantastic.

    Since then we’ve actually written a how to, but boy, it would be so nice if they just made it clearer in the FAQs – maybe it’s time for another letter…

  18. Nice. And. I think your real brilliance resides not so much in the humor itself but in the way you opted for taking a breath and heeding the small voice in your head (I think its location is actually your heart:) Oh that we all would do more of this…

  19. Caryn says:

    I’ve learned that lesson the difficult way–through experience. But it’s amazing how many people still haven’t learned it, and seem to think that the best way to make someone do what they want is to verbally attack them from the beginning. And you’re right–the most common responses to that are anger or, barring that, ignoring the attacker. Not the result that they wanted. So now I start off by being polite, then firm.

  20. Orfej says:

    Humor is good option for blog but sometimes irony or sarcasm can do a lot of bad things.Sometimes verbally attack can harm blog.But, jokes is my options and I like because I saw a lot of new plugins with jokes publishing.

  21. Hello Darren,

    You make your point be heard and in a strong way. And yes, I like the way that you make your points to be heard, maybe my using humor or other means as well.

    Best of luck to you.

  22. WOW, a way of blogging in such a way i had never even thought of before. yes i try to use humor, but in such a way that you have makes you a genius. I would never have thought of putting my points across in that sort of way and it has taught me to take a step back, and look at possible ways to approach a subject, rather than jumping in feet first.

    Thanks Darren. Your posts continue to amaze me.

  23. Chetan says:

    Haha Dear Adsense..

    Did Adsense deny your proposal? They would accept it this 14th for you atleast ;)

  24. Sangesh says:

    :)

    Sure, humor does help to get close to your reader.

  25. The picture of Darren with his good mates Larry and Serge is a nice touch. Don’t you just love Photoshop?

  26. Humour?

    What is this thing called humour?
    Does it have a smell?

    http://necrofiles.blogspot.com

    The AdSense changes had minimal changes on my blog. There are a few referal ads that I will never get paid for, but at least I found out about the changes here on ProBlogger soon enough to withdraw them.

  27. Anand says:

    Hi Darren,

    “In many cases all a rant really does is get something off your chest – but it puts things on someone else’s chest which can lead to them either to escalate the conflict or ignore you.”

    Loved this line.

    This line will save me from a lot of fights….Thanks for that.

    How about a post on Famous Quotes by Darren…..(If it is not already done)

  28. suresh says:

    You have truly represented the heart of all blogspot bloggers.

    Though the bucks we make from that specific restricted adds is small , the discrimination based on region is not acceptable.

    Thank you for the fight on behalf of bloggers.

  29. Black Zedd says:

    You’re absolutely right. The fact that corporate executives often whine about their jobs persuades me to take the subject on the humorous side. And satirical too…

    Reverse psychology anyone?

  30. Ades says:

    I think both (anger and humor) are two edges. I think normal constructive criticism will work best.

  31. Barbara says:

    Years ago I learned “you can draw more bees with honey, than you can with vinegar”, Your humor was the “honey”, ranting would have been the vinegar, and in the end, you are the hero.

  32. Mike Vizdos says:

    Hi,

    I think you are right on with using humor to help promote change. Over a year ago I started using this in my blog (as a weekly comic strip) in my niche and wow…. it has brought about some major changes in how we do what we do in our industry.

    Am I always correct? Nope.

    Is it funny all the time? Nope.

    Do I help people think? I hope so!

    - mike vizdos
    http://www.implementingscrum.com

  33. Eileen says:

    What you mean here is that “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.”

    Eileen
    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas
    elementaryteacher.wordpress.com

  34. Humor is hard. I respect someone who can make me laugh a lot more than someone who just talks at me.

  35. Herbert says:

    I have to say that I agree completely with what you say – and it definitely wouldn’t hurt to find more creative methods to outlet our feelings – whether it be anger or sadness.

    I’ve implemented what I’d consider your concept (as I learned it from this article) and would like to thank you for always using your newfound knowledge to help us bloggers.

    Keep up the great work.

  36. johnegood says:

    My Dad used to tell me that You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

    It’s an old lesson but one that we all need to learn over and over again. And then get reminded of.