Friday, August 18, 2006

Help Wanted, Pt. 2

I've been asked to assemble a how-to for activists interested in blogging. The technical stuff is easy enough, but I've found that understanding the more, folkways and taboos of the blogosphere has been nearly as important. I've started a list of do's and don'ts, but I would like to tap the collective wisdom of the community. What unwritten rules of the 'sphere do you think newbies need to know? For that matter, what rules do benefit the blogosphere?

My list so far:

  • Enable comments
  • Embed links to your sources whenever possible.
  • If you get an idea for a topic from another blog, acknowledge that with a link to the blog.
  • If you make a mistake, correct it on the blog. If a commentor points out an error, you should nonetheless make the correction on the blog itself.
  • If you correct an error, make it clear you have done so. For example, strikeout the erroneous information and note that the post is corrected in the body or (better) the title.
  • Blogroll those who blogroll you.


staff said...

My quick list.

1. Blog rolling is useless - dont waste your time negotiating to get on them - it drives no traffic. blog roll what interests you - it's not a trading scheme

2. Quantity drives traffic more than quality

3. Quality is important to success

4. Dont post massively long screeds - no one reads them

5. video and pics people like a lot

6. if you think blogging is easy - reflect on that after 6 months - if you're still blogging

7. no one reads blogs - do it for yourself and no one else

8. There's no easy way to become popular other than 2 and 3

9 get a comfy chair and jammies

10. be original

Lee Hartsfeld said...

I agree about massively long screeds, but long essays are fine, in general--so long as they are well-written. A lengthy essay doesn't seem so lengthy if it's entertaining. Not too long ago, two of my longer essays (and one audio file) were picked up by BoingBoing and linked across the Internet. My site enjoyed 150,000 hits within a few days.

Yet, the conventional wisdom is "Keep it brief." Don't believe it.

There's also the standard advice of sticking to a single theme from post to post, which is just as unwise.

More than anything, I try to write my entries to/for the broadest possible audience, taking care to avoid any exclusive or "insider" tone. If readers feel they're being snubbed, they won't check back. People will be as generous to you as you are in return, and only as.


Anonymous said...

*** If you're writing kinda long, break the text up with pithy subheads.
*** Your readers might not have seen an earlier post or blog post to which your blog is referring. Put things in context -- but you don't have to be Wikipedia either.
*** Remember that many of your readers care little about blogging itself. Try not to get too caught up in posts about the blogging process, blog battlles etc. They're boring.
*** Agree that pics, artwork, graphics add a great dimension;

Yellow Dog Sammy said...

Agree with much of the foregoing, think it's also important to say something about writing in a calm state of mind, or at least not posting until you've calmed down. Angry, snarky, hostile posts go oft awry.

redhorse said...

Aside from what we discussed today, here's what I'm thinking, and these are merely my thoughts:

1. It doesn't hurt to blogroll those who've done that for you, it's merely courtesy if you choose to roll that way. (I'm more prickly about my roll than you.) Whatever policy you employ, though, keep it consistent.

2. Have to agree that quantity drives traffic. My traffic respects that the more I do, the more eyes I reach. Probably nothing more than the effect of covering more topics, and increased number of topics gives a better chance of finding interest.

3. Longer thought pieces are more difficult. I'm come to find that when I do them, they'd better be tight, or no one seems to care. At least that's what comments reflect, but otherwise, that's hard to measure.

4. Pics are visual stimulii, good for breaking up the monotony.

5. Respect your voice, don't try to mimic others.

6. Link and give credit where it's due.

7. I've started to employ headers that tell a reader immediately what the post concerns, a la YDS. For instance, OH 3, CT SEN, VA SEN, OH 18 Special, etc, followed by a more traditional header. This allows me to be both precise and pithy.

8. Depending upon the scope and purpose of a blog, don't limit post topics. Does anyone care about my racing posts? probably not, but one's coming tonight. In some manner, that's the "blog for yourself" notion.

That appears plenty long for now.