Don't Be a Commodity Blogger

Jakob Nielsen's "Write Articles, Not Blog Postings" is highly critical of so-called commodity bloggers. As you might imagine, it wasn't received well by the blog community. Robert Scoble's stereotypical reaction was perhaps the worst of the bunch. In a legendary display of narcisissm, Robert assumes the article is directed squarely at him, when it clearly wasn't. He then treats it as a personal attack, which it clearly isn't. He piles on with retaliatory personal attacks of his own, which was totally unnecessary.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Good point!

IExample: his site icon is RED ON YELLOW, for crap’s sake./I

wow! that’s insightful. If you (and everyone else making similar comments, endlessly, whenever jakob neilsen comes up) really knew anything about web design, you’d realize that usability is not always synonymous with aesthetics.

the man is an asshole, but he never claimed to be a color scheme expert.

“use it to write whatever you want to read.”

Yes, I often ingest large amounts of mescaline and whiskey and write blog posts. When I awaken from my stupor, I find that I have new, original, value-added content fresh for my reading enjoyment!

The most interesting thing in this entire blog post is how you specifically stated that you aren’t a fan of Chris Pirillo… right before you recommended his article.

errrr who cares about blog bitch fights?

He’s not saying anything that Strunk and White didn’t say a long time ago :

Jeff, i think he is pretty much right about the web needing proper content rather than rants. You, yourself admit at the end that one should put the self in something they write, pretty much the same thing. As far as statistics and mathematical are concerned, who cares about them? The essence of Jakob’s article is to differentiate “proper” content from “useless” rants, much like Scoble (who, well, admits it by saying the article is all about him). Your content, mostly is original helpful stuff. So is Joel Spolsky’s. Where as scoble is more intrested in telling people how many people he knows, how many new ones he meets in a day, how much he’s obsessed with iPhone and facebook, and how many subscription he reads in a day on google reader. (Heck whatelse is his business anyway?). And i can safely say that if you rank coding horror, joelonsoftware and scobliezer, scoble probabbly would be least loved since the content really is not that original. Just a simple observation.
I follow MSDN blogs through their OPML and well there are 100s of blogs there. The best ones are the most intresting ones, more thorough ones,more consistent ones. They are the most read ones as well.
It really sucked when i first saw and couldnt really find an RSS button on it. I think jackob has some personal grudges with that… hehe. Otherwise, he has one of the best contents on web on usability as well. I, and i think a lot of regular readers now a days dont like going through sites as much as they like going through RSS feeds through an aggregator.
So for me it really just comes down to the quality of the content and how it is provided to the masses. If scoble spends atleast 10more minutes on his posts then the blogosphere’s dustbin would be much cleaner everyday. No offense to scoble, but people dont like to keep blogposts. They dont like to refer people to blogposts. they like to refer people to articles that move and touch. Articles that help. And if you realize that post by scoble where he says jackob is saying everything about him is also an immature post like a lot of his posts. He has potential, he has links, he needs to work more on how to express himself and use the right words at the right moment. world needs well-thought ideas no matter how crude.

“I just don’t understand people who visit a blog and think that they can tell the blog owner what to say.”

I asked him politely and said please, that is hardly “telling him what to do”. I, like most others I assume, come here because I want to read a specific type of article; the type of article I have come to expect from this blog over the past year that I have been reading it. If Jeff decides to turn it into a meta-blog or a blog about dutch tulips, that is of course, as you pointed out, his good right.

However, this would lead to me not reading his blog anymore. I know he doesn’t want that - he blogs so other people read it, not because he feels like training his finger muscles (at least I can reasonably assume that). Clearly, if something happens that makes me and others like me stop reading his blog, he would want to know about it, so he can either make sure not to do it again, or conscientiously decide to alienate those people.

Think of it this way: If you had a restaurant and a new dish you served was bad, would you rather want people to complain or people to leave and never come back ?

Complaining is one of the pillars that progress is built upon.

Why do some people think it’s their business what I post on my blog? Why this odd need to kowtow at the altar of so-called “experts?”

(You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at Jakob Neilson’s blog that he’s a “usability guru.” Reading it makes my eyes hurt. Example: his site icon is RED ON YELLOW, for crap’s sake. Man oughta take his own advice–I’m just sayin’.)

I’ve run a personal website for the last seven years, all that time I’ve updated the front page weekly with ‘news’.

What is the different between a blog and a series of articles/news postings? I’ve always thought that the ‘blog’ just emerged because of tools that made it easier to maintain an personal online news reel.

Blog is short for web log, in which case, I think it’s a pretty broad ticket to post whatever you want :slight_smile:

Re: “errrr who cares about blog bitch fights?”

Agreed. And I’d add, why the need to babysit those blogs?

As for the page count argument, it’s bunk. ran an interesting little article (somewhat) related to this not long ago.

Having read Nielson’s article, I walked away from it with a shrug. Everyone’s got an opinion. But the truth is, I don’t blog to make money, and I don’t blog to draw a massive entourage of adoring fans. I blog because I enjoy it, because I constantly think about software development, and if I don’t write this stuff down, I’ll go stark raving nuts. If someone happens to read it, great. If they don’t, they don’t.

If my articles happen to be code, or links to other sites, so be it. If they happen to be commentary on other articles I read, that’s what they are. If they happen to be my own personal ramblings about what I’m thinking at the time, well, the reader just has to endure my insanity until they reach the end of the posting (or they avoid such rubbish by clicking the Back button).

The link Chris provides does give me pause for alarm, though. I mean, at some level, it’s nice to know that someone is reading your posts. I tend to get wordy (as you can see here). At this rate, I’m doomed to have a perpetual readership numbering somewhere in the single digits.

Hi Jeff,

To me reading a blog is like meeting a person. It is not entirely about rants or information it is more about how you convey your views. Some rants are interesting reads… look at how popular Bidget Jone’s diary was. If you are an interesting person you will write an interesting blog. And I love Coding Horror. I came across it by accident but now I read it religiously :slight_smile:

So… if I stop reading CodingHorror, I will no longer be a low value demographic? Maybe I should take up golf or join a volunteer fire department to increase my value. :wink:

Scoble is such a pant-load.

Who does he think he is, anyway? The article was clearly written about me! ;-

I hope this doesn’t sound too obsequious but the reason I like your blog is that it has personality. You established your authorial credentials long ago. Your blog now is no different from a syndicated column in a newspaper, except that there is the added benefit of immediate feedback, links and an occasional debate. If yours were a pay/per read site, I’d pony up.

The problem with (Jakob’s) the article is it tells people nothing (new). Many experts say that the semi-personal/professional web sites (blogs in particular) clog the web. It has been my own experience that good material naturally bubbles to the top. I fail to see how marginal blogs are any different than marginal semi-personal/professional sites except for immediate feedback via postings. Regarding reactions: they are directly proportional to the value of the respective site owners. In my own case, I had none, because I fail to see Jakob’s article as being relevant - of course - that doesn’t stop me from posting here :slight_smile:

Seen “Ratatouille” yet?

“Like my book says, ‘Anyone Can Cook!’”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean anyone SHOULD…”

Nice post.

Uh…I don’t think Scoble literally meant that he thought Nielsen’s post was about him specifically. I read it as “Nielsen says don’t do the types of things I do, and yet I’m damn successful doing them”.