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August 04, 2007

Two More Rules And Then To Bed

Again, sorry to be draining the fun out of this.

First of all: Read my previous posts about the rules of blogging -- the first open-blog announcement post, then the one on blogging eitquette.

Some seem to be totally blowing those off and just doing whatever they want. I sort of wrote those for a reason. Read them, please. If people keep blowing off fairly clear statements like "tuck almost all of your post into the extended entry box," I'll just ask you not to post anymore.

Please remember a post is not a comment. A comment can be a fairly throwaway thing. A post has a big headline and says to a reader READ ME. Please do not just take what would be at any other time minor comments and slap a headline on them to make them a post. There has to be something important in post. It's not just a chance to give a shout-out.

Second: I didn't make this clear, but I was hoping not for a novelty sort of stunt -- with lots of people just posting to say they posted -- but for the readers to actually take over the blog and run it like a sort of real blog. Not necessarily the blog I'd write, but a blog that has the usual stuff found in blogs -- links, analysis, etc. Not just "wacky" posts and stuff to underscore this is an experiment or stunt, but readers actually becoming, err "real bloggers" (how stupid did that sound?) for the weekend.

That's I guess something I should have mentioned. Sorry that I didn't make it clear. Please do not do the wacky and crazy posts. There are some blogs that do that sort of thing; no one reads them. And seriously, the joke of posting "Hey, check it out, I'm posting" will quickly wear thin. How quickly? Before the first time. That quickly.


Try to avoid first-post syndrome. Most blogs have a first post that is either headlined "Test" or "First Post." Everyone wants to put up their first post immediately, even if it's just "First Post-- did this work?" to see how things work.

That's not a problem, because most bloggers do it only once and besides no one's reading a blog's "First Post" anyway except the writer. But keep in mind there are already 10 or more Open Bloggers, and who knows, there may be 50 by tomorrow, and if many are basically doing "First Post" type posts, that's not going to be fun for readers. It'll be like a radio station which has fifteen minutes of caller shout-outs and then three minutes of song.

So assume you've already got that "First Post" fever out of the way. If you have to do it, put it in Draft and don't publish. Go right to the second post, where the novelty of posting is gone and now you're on to actually posting the stuff you really want to write about.

I know everyone here has interesting stuff to say, because I see it in my mailbox and in the comments. But posting about posting itself ("Hey-- I'm blogging!") isn't interesting. The novelty of noting the novelty of blogging will quickly become not such a novelty if 20 people in a row note the novelty of it.

Finally, humor.

A frequent advisory I've put out to guest bloggers is "Don't feel the need to be funny." I think people think this is a funny sort of blog and thus only funny sort of posts are fit for posting. Not true. Humor is only a secondary attraction. People are here to see news, links to interesting blogs, links to funny stuff about people having sex with road signs, and interesting analysis. The humor stuff is appreciated, and works as a "button" (just a bit of snark after the actual news), but it's not the primary attraction.

So don't be afraid to just write a straight news link or a serious analysis. You don't have to be "on" just because you're blogging here. Hell, half of my posts don't have any humor in them (and a quarter of the posts that have humor have, at best, a lame and obvious hack-joke I just tossed in because I figured I had to say something).

Be very wary of posting a post that only contains humor. Humor stuck at the end of a news post? Good. Humor alone? Well... it depends on how funny it actually is. Unless it's hellafunny, it's probably not a good idea to try to just do a purely humorous post. Sneak the joke into a post about politics or something.

It should also be noted that few things are more embarrassing that a joke that doesn't fly, and when a post only consists of a joke, you don't even have the news- content to hide behind.

So really, don't assume posts have to be funny. They don't. They don't even have to try. A post that links an under-noted but important bit of news or provides some interesting analysis iis going to please readers more than any joke.

Am I too cranky? Am I too critical?

I don't mean to be. I'm just trying to warn people about how these things go wrong. I'd sort of like this experiment to succeed, not just because it's a fun idea, but because, well, I'd like to take weekends in the future off. Like next week-- headed to Cape Cod. Nothing would please me more than knowing the blog's in the hands of guest bloggers who are on their game.

All I'm trying to do is quickly tell everyone the dumb rules of blogging I've learned these last... four years? However long. Of course you guys don't know them all. You haven't been blogging every day for four years. I'm just trying to let you know what you would find out yourself if you had a few weeks at this.

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posted by Ace at 03:34 AM

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