Excess Blog Flair

I recently happened upon Tom Raftery's blog. I'm sure Tom's a great guy, but what's up with all the visual noise on his blog?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/05/excess-blog-flair.html

Is it safe to conclude that the only person who does blogs right is you? :slight_smile:

Absolutely not!

But I do think everyone should take a long, hard look at their pages and remove any gratuitous buttons or images.

It’s a bitmap Strunk White:


“A good editor can take any piece of writing, and compress it to at least two thirds of its original size without losing any meaning.”

As someone who writes the code behind those little icons (the Newsgator ones - we call them “chiclets”), I’ve wondered about the efficacy as well.

It makes sense for the companies – free marketing. But I just never really got why anyone would put one on their site/blog/whatever.

Oh, and I have to take exception with your closing comment, “all of the content with none of the excess flair”. Most blog posts contain at best a fraction of the content. Many contain just a couple sentences, some just an image, some are a title and no description. Of course those are better than the ones that shove an entire HTML page, including CSS links, Javascript and tracking bugs into a post.

But I do appreciate you putting the entire post in there-- thanks Jeff!

I have always preferred “simple elegant” to “gaudy congested.” I try to convey that in my web design, but I honestly wonder how successful I really am.

I totally agree about RSS…it’s the only way to read blogs/sites! And I only recognized one of those little icons (del.icio.us). [shrug]

I’ve got a few of the chiclets on my sidebar. One reason I included them is because they also add the feed to specific web based RSS aggregators. If a potential reader is using a client-side RSS reader, they can usually just click on the big RSS icon and the client app will take care of see that there is a feed and subscribe to it automagically (at least this is what happens using NetNewsWire). if the user wants to add the feed to their My Yahoo page…there really isn’t any other way to do it other than a hyperlink. And a simple button that says “Add to My Yahoo” is probably easier than a set of instructions telling the user how to manually add the feed to their My Yahoo page.

All the icons are generated by the WordPress plugin I wrote, a href="http://push.cx/sociable"Sociable/a. I’ve actually a href="http://push.cx/2006/sociable-is-the-new-black"already written/a about how godawful it can look and why I’m OK with that. And I plan on adding a couple dozen more social bookmarking sites, because it just gets funnier and funnier to me the more sites there are.

OK, and your blog helpfully stripped my links. So:

The plugin is at: http://push.cx/sociable
The post I mentioned is at: http://push.cx/2006/sociable-is-the-new-black


Thanks for taking the time to critique my site. I appreciate it and always want to make my site better. To respond to your individual points…

  1. I tend to refrain from posting the full-text of entries on my index pages simply because I think it makes it harder to scan. It’s a delicate balance. I don’t do it for all posts. Perhaps I do it for too many. If a post has 2000 words, I don’t want it taking up 5 screens and a reader not seeing the next post if that content doesn’t interest them.

  2. I’ve struggled with what to do with the Cited Sites and Linked Cites stuff, and may nix it altogether. I’ll take your feedback under advisement. I know that it is low-value content, relatively speaking.

  3. The fact that you can only view 15 more entries is because Movable Type is a pain in the butt. I have to have a separate template to call the “next 15 entries,” offset from the entries on the main page. It’s not dynamic as in most CMS’s. I’m sure you understand my pain here.

  4. Monthly archives are all contained on one page. For example, all of March 2006’s entries are on one page: http://underscorebleach.net/jotsheet/2006/03/index

In that sense, I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Also, from that page you can move forward or backward a month.

One other thing I should mention w.r.t. #1 – I tend to assume that the most discriminating of readers – and you would fall into that category – are reading via RSS. I offer a full-text RSS feed, so you wouldn’t have to worry about how I break up the text.

WRT RSS being “all of the content with none of the excess flair”: after burning half the day reading your archives, I finally decided to add you to my RSS reader and get back to my list of chores.

I use a PHP-based reader (gregarius.net), and was amused to see “WTF” images everywhere in your feed… in this case, I’d have to say that the anti-linkjacking code makes your feed all the content with negative flair.

It’s trivially easy to just open the entry in a new tab, though, so don’t think this is a complaint. Just an amused comment… (=

You do want to express yourself don’t you?


Just because a blog is poluted by little bits of pixelized personality by proxy doesn’t have to be a bad thing. What is the writer is worried that they don’t have any of their own?

And I plan on adding a couple dozen more social bookmarking sites, because it just gets funnier and funnier to me the more sites there are.

LOL. Peter, you’re part of the problem-- with pride. I can totally respect that. :wink:

btw it’s Raftery not Rafery. (Thank God you didn’t say Raferty). Sorry, it’s my girlfriends surname (seems like a relation actualy, I must check that out).

And is it just me, or do you have a similar system to Toms, just a little more generous?

Hi Jeff!
I could nothing but agree with you. In fact, I’ve got a name for that behaviour, related to your post: “The NASCAR Syndrome”. I hope this trend fades very quickly. Regards.

I wasn’t aware of any of this stuff: all my blog reading comes through RSS and aggregators. I couldn’t go back to optimistic site opening.

why do NASCAR sponsors teams want their vehicles to look like NASCAR vehicles, when the visual tapestry causes each car to look the same and hides the identity of any individual brand?

  1. status quo (everyone else is doing it)
  2. prestige? (more logos == more self importance)

Love the blackletter captcha.

I suggest a user-interface solution. A single button which says “subscribe”, which, when clicked, opens up a small window containing all of the doodads and badges and whatnot. You give the users their choices, and you save r3al estate and ugliness.

Well, since you brought it up, I’ve always thought that having your blog’s comments open in a popup window is a completely retarded decision. I hated it for the first couple months I read you. I would always either maximize it or drag it to be bigger…thats a pain in the donkey.

Then I found that what I wanted was labeled “permalink” of all things o_0; When I click on it, I get to keep your webpage in a single window AND I get the comments.

You ought to relabel the links from “Permalink” and “Comments” to “Comments (normal)” and “Comments (popup window)”. Then, I think you will find that nobody ever clicks on popup window and you can just delete it :slight_smile:

Jeff, I love it when you put the smackdown on other blogs. But I must point out that what you are seeing is an expression of a key component of blogging.

Blogging is Pure Vanity [http://haacked.com/archive/2004/10/08/BloggingIsPureVanity.aspx]

I now realize I need to revise the article to include these so-called “chicklets”