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January 20, 2015


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John Wright

This is a great post, and I'm excited we have the chance to talk about it. For me, the biggest problem with blogging is usually the bloggers, especially the narcissism--as you allude to above. I think two things in particular would make blogging for more palatable to a lot of people:

1. Stop linking to other blog posts of the blogger. This is terribly annoying. For example "As I've argued elsewhere (link) and per a debate that I had with X (link, link), I recently argued in the Los Angeles times (link) that [whatever]". Nobody's clicking on that crap. And there's just no meaningful information here; it's all self-promotion.

2. Similarly, all the first person. In above, for example, the first person appears a mind-blowing two dozen times. Seriously the whole post is about the poster, instead of some more perspective-neutral theme (e.g., blogging). Instead of such stuff as "I'm pleased to be hanging out... I hope, etc.", the whole post could be simply reframed in terms of "let's talk about blogging.... what are good practices? bad practices? why? [etc.]". The whole personal indulgence can be easily whitewashed and presented neutrally.

3. I know I said two, but here's a third: length. And I think the length really travels with the narcissism insofar as some bloggers think most readers will wade through 1000 word post. No, readers won't. People didn't read above in much detail, they read the first paragraph, then started skimming when they saw the whole length. Probably didn't even finish.

So I just wish bloggers would think through what they're putting out, focusing more on content and readership than themselves. Again, thank you for opening this thread for some--hopefully lively and critical!--discussion.

brandy karl

So glad to see this post (and read every word). It's fantastic to see a concrete personal example refuting the oft-touted common wisdom of never presenting anything but polished final papers in public (before tenure). If we can't enage in academic discourse as part of the academy, I'm not sure of the point.

Former Editor

I think I disagree with every single thing John Wright just posted, except the welcome and the thanks for starting a discussion on an interesting topic. While I don't have strong opinions on (2), I fully disagree with (1) and (3).

Regarding (1), links are good, even if they are to the bloggers own earlier work. If a reader doesn't like them, they are free to ignore them and a little blue text really isn't all the obtrusive. I, however, have followed many a link in one blog post to an interesting discussion that occurred far enough back in time that I would probably never have seen it otherwise.

Regarding (3), long is only bad if the length is the result of fluff, padding, or poor editing/organization on the part of the blogger. In that way, a long blog post is like any other piece of writing; it's only too long if the author has nothing to say or is saying something poorly. That said, I do not think bloggers should aim for brevity when they believe topic merits a detailed discussion. I'll happily skim down a dozen obviously meandering posts for the occasional lengthy goldmine.

Michael Risch

Brandy - Thanks - though I have to admit that I thought some of the unpolished posts were polished...

John - Thanks (I think?) for commenting. I hadn't intended this post to be a best practices post, but your comment makes me think such a post would be a good idea - maybe in the next post. That said, to respond to your comments:

1. Unclear what bothers you - a link AFTER the text, the highlighted text, or the self promotion? A link after the text would be annoying, but I'm with Former Editor that a highlighted text is easily skipped and self promotion is what it is.

2. My intro said: "I'll just discuss some of my own experiences, which may be interesting or useful to others deciding whether to spend time doing it." Based on this, it should have been pretty clear that it was going to be about my story and about whether to blog at all (as opposed to best practices), and that me, my, and I would appear quite a bit. If that's your pet peeve and you don't like it when bloggers blog about their own experiences, you probably shouldn't have kept reading -- it's not like I made a secret about what I was doing. I posted another blog entry today (I'd include a link, but that would violate your first comment) in which there were a few "I's" to describe my thoughts on a paper but it was mostly about other work. I'll include this issue in the next post, because there were more "I's" than I remembered typing in that other post. (Sorry, to rephrase: the next post will include this issue...)

3. This post is 800 words, which is my usual target. If you thought it was over 1000 and way too long (unclear from your comment), it probably means you just thought it was boring and contained little interesting information. That's OK, but call it for what it is.

Bruce Boyden

You could probably say about blog posts about what ad agencies say about ads -- if it doesn't make sense to you (too long, too detailed, too many links), you're not in the target demographic.

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