Lichen symbiosis: successful for hundreds of millions of years
Able to colonize bare rock and live with little water, the lichen is a “symbiont,” a single organism composed of a fungus and an alga. The alga is a plant that makes food using sunlight, and the fungus surrounds and protects the alga, which shares its food. The symbiotic relationship is so successful that multiple species of lichen have evolved over time.
Advice to the beginning blogger: be like a lichen.
Other blogs have readers. You don’t. Write an article that links to another blog and when you can, leave comments on other blogs notifying readers that your site has related content. The result? Both blogs prosper. For example, check out this great article on Site Sketch 101 which not only lists 15 great WordPress plug-ins, but also lists incoming links from other sites. Search engines look for links back to your blog when considering its potential value to readers.
I wrote an article How to Add a Paragraph Break in WordPress using the Tiny MCE Advanced plug-in to make WP work just like an old fashioned typewriter. I linked the article to the site where I originally learned about the plug-in and then left a message there. My article sent traffic to that site, which began sending traffic to my site. Symbiosis! Readers win because they get more information on the topic before they download and activate the Tiny MCE Advanced plug-in.
A symbiotic relationship that benefits both organisms is known as mutualism. Most fungi, however, don’t benefit and even harm the plants on which they live; they are parasites. Some biologists think that lichens are an example of commensalism, in which the fungus benefits but the algae doesn’t, or even parasitism. Empty comments such as “I really liked your article” clutter the discussion and offer a potential benefit only to the commenter, who is hoping another reader will click on them. So when you leave a meaningless comment, you are acting something like an ordinary fungus.
Spammer robots leave such parasitic comments. When I first began blogging I fell for the ploy, was flattered by the attention, and proudly left the comments up. Then I noticed the kind words were flooding in without counting as visitors and the comments were repeating themselves. Once I got over my embarrassment, and following advice on the phenomenon, I did not erase them and instead marked the “sweet nothings” as spam. The parasitism stopped.
Rather than emulating a spam comment program, it’s better to form a “lichen” with other blogs using meaningful comments and links. Check out Mindfuels a site of Harrison Li one of my oldest blogger friends.