Thirteen Blog Cliches

I’m only in disagreement regarding the diary issue. A blog is a blog is a blog. You’re only as obligated to your audience as you feel you are. The beauty of the blog is that it’s a passive medium. You can express your feelings, opinions, tribulations and it’s up to the reader to take the of reading it.

To rule out an entire genre of weblog as a cliche just because it doesn’t interest you is going a bit overboard.

I agree with everything but #3. There are various reasons for not providing your real name. In an age in which and similar sites (stalkerati springs to mind) provide everybody and their dog (potential employers, customers, landlords, whoever) with the ability to gather a rather comprehensible profile on everyone, it sounds like a good idea to me to keep a low profile (no pun intended). After all, the internet does not forget anything, and who can tell what their personal circumstances will be ten years down the road?

I’ve already broken at least two of my own rules with this very post. How clich.

Rules were made to be broken. (Doh! Yet another cliche in response to a cliche!)

I’ll second the two previous anonymous comments - anonymity can be desirable for many different reasons.

Also, if you discount what is said solely because the author is anonymous, I have to question your ability to think for yourself. If something is written and well supported, it should stand on its own regardless of authorship. On the other hand, just because somebody you trust in relation to certain topics posts something about another topic, doesn’t mean you should trust it solely because of authorship.

An “About Me” page doesn’t have to contain a name and I don’t think that’s what Jeff was getting at. The purpose of it is to outline your motivations and hobbies, maybe what you do for a living, that sort of thing. It’s to give enough background information on the person to really appreciate what they are writing. Whilst a name is nice, it doesn’t really add to that depth in any meaningful way and so isn’t needed.

As for writing Top(n) lists, one related problem is that everyone then seems to refer to them by their number. Surprisingly enough guys I’ve not memorised the list (yet :S) and so am having to jump back and forth. A simple “I agree with the one about meta-blogging” rather than “I agree with 10” takes you a small amount of time and saves everyone else a lot.

"This Ain’t Your Diary"
I completely and utterly disagree with this point. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. In fact, I feel that if you really want to build a “loyal” readership, you should include some details about your life and inject some of your personality into your blog posts. Otherwise, you’re just writing magazine articles.

Unless you really are boring. Then you should steal quotes from “The Big Lebowski” and “Animal House” to spice up your posts.

And could you call this the “Top 13 blog clichs”?

I feel that if you really want to build a “loyal” readership, you should include some details about your life and inject some of your personality into your blog posts. Otherwise, you’re just writing magazine articles.

Isn’t this what I said? Search for the term “cult of personality”.

My own blog pet peeves:

  • No search, or search that doesn’t work well if at all. Solution: Use a Google search box that searches your site.

  • Difficult or impossible to page back forth. Once a post is off the front page, you can’t find it.

  • Posts with no date. Because sometimes you want to know if an article is 5 years old or 1 day old.

I think there is a SEO rationale for some of the things you point out, such as the calendar widget.

@Stephane Rodriguez:
Doing something simply for an “SEO rationale” isn’t explicitly on the list for the same reason that drive-by downloads aren’t.

Anyone who makes a bollocks of their page’s UI to place higher in Google deserves whatever’s coming to them.

It probably won’t come as a surprise, then, that I agree totally with Jeff “The Last Cowboy” Atwood about tag clouds. I’m glad someone finally pointed it out.

“That’s what comments and trackbacks are for. Use them.”

Sorry, Jeff, I couldn’t find a trackback URL for this post, so I’ll just provide the link here:

Jeff, great points.

I agree with all of them except lists maybe. I find that they are a very nice way to make the content scannable.

Regarding meta-blogging, I think that this niche will somehow merge with web-design and web-development.

Blogs are merging with websites after all, they are no long the online diary of 17 year old girls that want to share how the ballet class went, as you pointed out.

Hmmm… I recognize that calendar snapshot from somewhere… Isn’t it from one Mr. Hanselman’s blog?

“This Ain’t Your Diary.” ?? Well, pardon me, but maybe it is. Although no one may want to read a blog that someone is using as a diary, I don’t agree with your suggestion that using a blog as a diary is a bad thing. No one wants to read my paper journal but that’s okay, because I don’t write it for anyone else. Yes, I know, a blog is public so it would seem that someone writing one expects some others to read it but not necessarily. Which brings me to that calendar widget…

Maybe, it’s not there for the reader. If an author uses the blog as a diary, the calendar may be a useful tool. It is a quick and easy visual reference to determine when posts were made.

Other than that, I agree with your list…even though it IS a list. :

OK, my opinion now.

There are two types of bloggers: the first is the journalist type of blogger, who writes concise pieces of information and lets his/her users know what’s new on his niche. These people are organized, have an About Me page, a calendar, and a moderate blogroll.

The second type is the blogger, the simple blogger. There are two types of the simple blogger. Money-oriented blogger and information-oriented blogger. What do you want to do with your blog? Earn money like everyone is doing, or just write information, useful information, and thus, good content?

I agree with you regarding these cliches. The tag cloud will go away, will fade with time. It’s a Web 2.0 feature, overutilized.

Oops! #10. You fail it!

Some good tips here. Some that had already bored the crap out of me, and some that made me think. The list thing… Yes, long lists with questions are fun to answer, but to read? I don’t read them, so why would my readers want that? (And shamely enough, a list is my latest content!)

I have always assumed that “blogroll” was the product of an English mind, coupled with a suitably scatalogical sense of humour. (Not uncommon over here).

You see, “bog” is a colloquial term for “toilet”. So “bogroll” is a roll of toilet paper. A sprinkling of pun powder later…

Which puts the thing firmly in its place, I’d say.

I highly disagree with your comment about tag clouds. I think it’s an easy way for a new reader to grasp what topics the blog is covering. You can say whatever you want in the “About Me” section, for instance, write that you are interested in C++ and philosophy, but your tag cloud might show that the biggest topic is lolcatz. What to believe? I will conclude that you have a higher opinion of yourself. Tag cloud show what are your results, and what you ultimately produce and interested in. For me, it’s the best invention in user interfaces for a while. Information Architects have also adopted it.