Having subscribed and unsubscribed to several different blogs over the last few months and using different feed readers (Google Reader, Internet Explorer 7 RSS Reader, Thunderbird, intraVnews, etc.) and tools like Yahoo Pipes, I thought I would take a stab at the kind of blogs that I don’t really like. Here is some bad behavior – though not in any particular order of dislike.
- Lack of Conversations and Community: A good blog encourages conversations between the author and the readers. A blog that doesn’t allow comments makes it a monologue. A blog with moderated comments or one that only accepts comments from logged-in users is a little better, but it still makes it difficult to establish a community. Because I only have 24 hours a day, I can only participate in a limited number of sites. The more logins and passwords I have to create and remember, the greater the burden – it is not really worth my while to do that.
Another situation is where the author gets into arguments with the commenters on the site and even writes blog posts on the commenters. This has been happening a few times recently on Robert Scoble’s blog. My feeling is that an author should be grateful for all the readers he or she has and improve using their comments. Getting into fights with abusive commenters only brings one down to their level.
- Lack of Full RSS feeds: I really don’t understand why people would put up blogs with poor syndication capabilities. A blog without a feed is nothing more than a static website. In terms of search engine optimization, it plays poorly with regard to blog search engines like Google Blogsearch or Technorati. A partial RSS feed may seem like a cunning way to get the subscribers to visit the website often (thus boosting the page views), but it can backfire very quickly.Sometimes the partial feed has little content to help me understand what the author was trying to say and doesn’t excite me enough to make me visit the site. Also, I just tune out the person after sometime and cancel my subscription. The truth is – there are other ways to get people visit your blog site like providing links to other interesting content on the blog. As an author, I must do something that appeals to you enough to make you visit my site.
- Inaccuracy: A good blog must always strive, within reason, to research an issue and explore all aspects of it. Sometimes time constraints may not make this feasible. But if the author decides to use generalizations without backing them up with facts, it lowers the value of the blog. Furthermore, if the author hasn’t been forthcoming about the limited research done, he or she can be easily exposed.A form of this problem happens when the author has a conflict of interest, such as being employed at or affiliated with a company or product that is being reviewed. Wrong facts can also occur if the blogger has a beef with or personal agenda against the company or product. And I don’t even want to get started on blogs that support hate and prejudice based on race, language, geographic region, color, gender, caste, etc.
- Lack of Originality: Sometimes I like it when a blogger points me to a useful website or interesting YouTube video. But when the blog is just about links and contains nothing from the author’s brain, I wonder why I bother to read that person. I read blogs to learn something from that author – something entertaining, refreshing, surprising – whatever, but it should be something new and original at least most of the time.I sometimes run across blogs that display content from other sites without any attribution to the original author or website. It is actually pretty easy to figure out if the content has been stolen. The writing will be quite different from the author’s regular style and a quick search on Google is enough to confirm the suspicion. I am not really sure why people do this – is it ignorance of copyright rules or do they think they can get away with it?
- Poor Content: Frequently, a blog author really tries hard. They have frequent posts. They have a good web design. But the content and writing just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps it is because I am not the target audience, but sometimes I see sites on technology and management where the content doesn’t appeal to me.There is no one particular cause. Sometimes it is the frequent use of clichés and catch-phrases. At other times, it is lack of language appropriate for the blog content – like using out-of-place slang and colloquialisms. That is the low end of the spectrum. On the other side, we have very erudite academic posts that need to be labored through to understand the point they are trying to make.
So what constitutes good blogging behavior? I would say it is about writing content that has meaning. Write with good flow and language. Write from your heart and what you believe in. Be humble. Be honest. Converse with your audience. Open up. People like me will rush in to hang onto every word you say.