Thirteen Blog Cliches

I started out in early 2004 as a blog skeptic. But over the last four years, I've become a born-again believer. In that time, I've written almost a thousand blog entries, and I've read thousands upon thousands of blog entries. As a result, I've developed some rather strong opinions about what makes blogs work so well, and what makes blogs sometimes not work so well.

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

And yet it is still possible to follow all these guidelines and still be crap, as my blog illustrates.

… I would disgree with the lists being a cliche: It works because people, by nature, don’t like reading lots of text. Lists (done properly) add to the usability of the article.

I feel like writing a followup to this though. :slight_smile:

This post finally got me to write something in the “About me” section of my blog. All three of my readers will be so excited. :wink:

How about this one: writing a blog with close to 1000 entries and give your readers one way to browse them: sequentially. Thanks for the search box though!

Jeff, I’m glad you included Top (n) Lists… because that’s the first thing I thought of when I read the title! :slight_smile:

Great stuff! I am wondering about the “no comments” one though. I suppose there could be a blog that is there to express one’s thinking with no real reason to want any feedback.

I think I would like to turn the feature on/off on a post-by-post basis. For example, if I blog that California Microbreweries make the best Pale Ales, I may simply be stating a deeply held belief and do not want to read anyone else’s opinion.

If I blog that “I really like Pale Ales, particularly those from California. Does anyone out there have any favorites from other places (like Kona)?”, then yes, comments are welcome.

Then again, the fact that I am writing a comment may indicate that I really believe in them, but do not want the responsibility of reading or commenting on them…

While not cliches per se, I have a similar list of blog annoyances that match this pretty close except for one that you missed: no syndication feed. This is 2007 and the bulk (IMHO) of the blog readers hit you with their blog consolidator and not via a direct url browse. There are a couple of really good blogs out there that don’t syndicate and I totally space reading them…bummer for all of us.

Nice job…as usual.

Joseph-- Shhh! Ixnay on the logbay! the The less people that know about your blog, the better-- it’s where I steal all my best ideas from!

I think you are mostly right. Especially about the points 8-11. I disagree about Top(n) lists though. If you actually add some new content there, you might get something. You can explain a subject (or a few) in a clear way, while the list itself catches the eye. It’s a good trade-off. Naturally - it’s a matter of balance.

Great list, although I disagree with point #13 (A blog without comments is not a blog). Comments are nice, but not essential.

Disagree with #2, at least as stated. An image – even one completely orthogonal to the post’s topic – enhances the aesthetic of the page.

Guy Kawasaki, who is one of my top 10 favorite bloggers, inserts an image with every post. Sometimes they are arbitrary.

A somewhat related aside: Personally, I think the text column is too wide on your blog. I read this post in Outlook, and then read it again when I clicked through to comment. I think even more use of whitespace (i.e. don’t scale out to 1920 horizontal resolution!) would make an excellent blog even better.

Great List. I agree with most of these except for the tag cloud. I think the tag cloud is okay as long as you limit it to your more frequent tags.

Thanks for some great advice.


“your readers aren’t coming to your blog to read about you”

That depends on the blog, surely? It’s like saying Mr Book Author, people aren’t reading your book to read about you. They are if it’s an autobiography.

If you find your blog is becoming a diary, maybe you’re just going proper old-school, and expanding the term back to whence it came: web log.

Blogging’s just a medium. The message is up to you, and it’s the only thing people really care about.

#10 11 are exactly why I stopped reading blog by guys like Scoble Winer.

And #10 also applies to podcasting (podcasts about podcasting) and why I stopped listening to guys like Curry.


A good list, I know that I’m guilty of many of these myself at times. However, most of the people who read my blog are my friends, so it does include a fair bit of personal content. I really should start keeping two.

I found it funny that you mentioned the random image thing, something I think your blog is quite guilty of from time to time. I don’t really have time to dig up a lot of examples, but here’s a recent one:

I run a group blog covering local politics, and people in the comments section were so consistently awful that we’ve had to disable comments entirely. We tried moderation for a couple of months, but weeding through hundreds of illiterate, racist screeds each week just wore us out.

I run a group blog covering local politics… we’ve had to disable comments entirely

Eric, I’m amazed you were able to make comments work that long on a political blog. Political blogging is a far too dangerous hobby for me. I’d rather take up something safer, like juggling chainsaws.

Guy Kawasaki, who is one of my top 10 favorite bloggers, inserts an image with every post. Sometimes they are arbitrary.

I find GK smarmy and annoying (if he says “bull shiitake” one more time, I’m gonna throttle someone), but I have to disagree with you here. Of all the posts on his main page, almost all had relevant photos and/or illustrations. I was surprised too.

Lots of other bloggers suffer from the Random Images Inserted in Text problem, but I’m not going to name names.

I definitely agree about 10-11. I had to chop a few blogs from my feeds because I essentially got four stories throughout the day on the same events.

Metablogging is particularly annoying. That was one of the reasons why I stopped reading Robert Sc()ble (sorry, he’s a link whore, I’m not going to give him any more Google Juice than I have to.[scratch that, I’m not sorry]) He’d post an article about something, and then spend the next day putting up posts to the effect of “My post hasn’t shown up on any of the blog search engines yet…Oh, it just showed up on google…now it’s on Technorati…Techmeme just picked it up…ad nauseum”

“I find meta-blogging – blogging about blogging – incredibly boring”

Err… isn’t that what you’re doing now?