June 28, 2008

On Blogging

I've been blogging since October of 2005 (almost three years) which isn't as old as some blogs but is long enough to establish it as more than one of those "on a whim, I'll create a blog that will last for about three posts and then turn into internet waste" blogs. I've learned a lot about the internet since starting blogging, things I don't think other people have noticed. I'd like to share some things with everybody, advice that's not necessarily meant to criticize but to inform and educate. You may realize you do some of these things, either believe my words or not, but know that I spend enough time on the internet to know what generally accepted practice is.

1) People will read what you write on the internet. If you want to hide it from specific people, DON'T PUT IT ON THE INTERNET!

Example: Look what I found: Click

I don't know who these people are, what this website is for, or why there is AN ENTIRE THREAD DEVOTED TO ME! People out there read things you write, never assume otherwise.

2) It's annoying as hell if you switch your blog every 2 weeks. Pick a host, pick a name, and write a blog! Don't rename, move, and "start all over again" every two weeks, it defeats the entire purpose.

3) Simplicity is elegant. Loading the sidebar with 8 million things that you know nobody is ever going to see all of is just a waste of space. Put a couple of things on the sidebar and then leave it.

4) Scheduled posts rarely work out. That's not to say that they're bad, I love knowing when I can expect new blog entries, but it's just very hard to keep to a rigid schedule.

5) If you upload videos to YouTube, don't be surprised if nobody likes the videos you think they will but instead the lamest videos you upload become wildly popular. It doesn't matter how much you promote certain ones on your blog. The internet is weird that way.

Example: Here's a video I made on my camera during a fire alarm at my school. It shows a kid getting led off by a cop in the distance for pulling the fire alarm. All in all, a relatively dumb video. 9,000 hits, 40 comments, and a five star rating. What!?

Here's another, a video of a video encoding issue my iPod touch had when I first got it. Almost 20,000 views, 127 comments, and a 3.5 star rating. WHAT!?

6) You will lose every ounce of internet credibility conceivable if you ever post a link to any kind of "Which ____________ are you? Take this quiz to find out!" Don't do it. Ever.

7) You cannot force your blog to be popular, nor will it immediately be popular. I went MONTHS without a single comment and very few readers. Over time you work your way up in Google's index, people find it more while searching, they'll show friends, and eventually readers just happen. Write because you enjoy writing, not because you expect readers.

8) Commenting on your own blog entries is REALLY REALLY ANNOYING! Seriously, this bugs me almost more than anything else. The only reason I write in the comments of my MIT blog at all is because I have to. If I had it my way I'd answer all questions in entries or via e-mail if people left their e-mail address for me. Those comments are for readers, not for writers.

9) Long gaps in blog entries (weeks or months) are the best way in the world to lose readers. Seriously, nobody will read your blog if you don't update frequently, it just isn't worth their time. Every 2 or 3 days is optimal.

10) Don't let people tell you what to blog. Ever. It's your blog, blog what you want, that's why the internet exists. If they want something out for people to read, let them post it. Your blog got the way it is because you made it, not because you let other people run it.


Charlemagne said...

congrats on the internet thread! i found a japanese site once with my picture in the forum. I to this day have no idea what it was talking about, although it reminds me of that episode of the simpsons where homer see's his head on a japanese show and it turns out it's a company logo merging a lightbulb with fish.

Jasmine said...

Thanks for the advice. I'll try to follow it.

Noelle said...

This is pretty good stuff

I find that entire thread devoted to you on that site rather creepy.

Dimitris said...

one question. why you publish your last name?it might be dangerous.

Cristen said...

Good tips, thanks. :)
The thread about you is weird and hilarious.

Paul said...

I like #10. :)

I somewhat disagree with #8, though. One of the reasons I like blogging so much is because it's a two-way street: sure, the blogger has priority - after all, they're the ones who write the actual entries - but being able to respond to comments directly is a huge advantage to the medium. In my humble opinion. :)

Also, re #6: agreed, but does anyone really do those sorts of memes anymore? They were fun when they started. You know, back when Livejournal was all the rage.

Anonymous said...

#1 is kind of a no-brainer that I don't get how a lot of people miss.

I disagree with #2 on principle. If you feel a blog has served its purpose, if you don't want to blog on Myspace forever, if you decide to switch servers (or switch back), it's perfectly fine to move blogs. Otherwise, people would be reading my 13-year-old, "LEIK HAI!" blogs, which I'd rather keep on my computer with my other old blogs =P. Granted, two weeks is annoying - my moves were always months apart.

I also disagree with #8 - it's an easy way to reply to a person's question and let everyone else know what's going on in case they were wondering/going to ask the same things/applies to them.

And #10 I partially agree with. With your own personal blog, yeah, you should definitely write what you want to write. It's your blog. But if you're a hired blogger, like an admissions blogger, I see no problem with, say, taking a request from a prefrosh. I once asked Anthony to write about family/friends aspects of going to college, and he ended up writing, "Making the Switch: Chapter 2."

I find #2, #3, #6, and #8 to be slightly at odds with #10, being that you're encouraging people not to listen to other people with their blogs, but are then telling them things not to do.

Truman said...

I totally agree with #10. And thanks again for tossing me that Lego Fruit Snacks article.

new age scheherazade said...

#8 is a bit off, really -because people like to know their comments were appreciated or understood, and their questions answered. but i agree with the rest. i'm guilty of long gaps between posts, though, but laziness is incurable, or so i've heard.
your blog is consistently fun. sucks to that weird thread.

Anonymous said...