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Ten stupid blog tricks

© January 2008 Anthony Lawrence

People who live in brick houses shouldn't run with blindfolds on, but I'm going to go out on a limb and criticize some of my blogging brethren.. I hope my flame proof suit is back from the cleaners.. here are ten things I hate to see in a blog:

The me-too post

A-List blogger writes about something in your niche. You post "xyz wrote about wombats at [link]. I agree!".

What's the point? Surely you must have something more than that to say? Isn't there some original thought you can add to that so I have a reason to read your blog? Trust me, if I'm following Wombats, I already saw that post - I don't need to know that you agree with it.

Pointless Pointing

Even worse than that is when you leave off "I agree!". Now we really have absolute trash. Possibly there is someone in the world interested enough in you and you alone to care that you agree - maybe your mom? But here you left even that out, so you need to look up at the big red sign: Nobody Cares.

Now ok, if the link is a bit esoteric or hard to find, maybe this is acceptable - provided that you don't do too much of it. But if this is all your blog is - zero original content, no value added, why should I read it?


Somewhere in the world, somebody will put this post in an iframe or just yank out the text and post it as their own.. Some do it out of stupidity - they don't understand copyright - and some do it because they are lazy and immoral. Either way, I hate it. And if you steal enough from me to make it worth my while, you will be hearing from my lawyer - really.

But aside from that, if anyone wants to read my stuff, why on earth would they come to you to do it? What are you thinking?

Entrance or Doorway pages

The only people who need such things are porn sites. Bloggers don't, and normal businesses don't. "Click Here to Enter" is much more apt to send me elsewhere. Even worse: ad pages before entering. Maybe PayPal can get away with that, but trust me, you can't. I will NOT be clicking.

Sound and Fury

So here it is, 4:30 AM. I got up early 'cause I'm an old fart and that's what old farts do. The wife is still sleeping. I'm catching up with my email, sipping my juice, listening to the birds come awake.. and here's a link to something I might like to read at your site. Click..

Holy mackerel!! I scramble for the volume control. Your site isn't Apple Records, why on earth would you think it needs music? It doesn't need those stupid Flash graphics either unless you are doing something Tres Cool (and if you were, why would a grumpy old fart like me be visiting?).


Yeah, I know: Lincoln couldn't spell either. But Lincoln didn't have spell check and you do. Now yes, we all forget, and spell check won't help with misusing "loose" for "lose" (knots can be loose, and you might lose your boat if they are), so I'll forgive a bit of it. It can even help with search engines, because some other bad speller may mangle the word the same way you did, but if you do too much of it, well, I'm off to read somebody who cares more about me.

Cares about me? Yes: my time is valuable. I can read very, very fast, but misspelled words slow me down, Fast readers recognize patterns of words, even patterns of sentences - you slow me down when you "spel" badly. You'll slow me down if your writing is particularly awkward too, but I'm more forgiving of that, particularly if it's techy stuff. But don't strain my patience too much!

Artificially Segmented Posts

Oh, you've seen 'em: some of the the big tech sites do this. An article just like this is broken into ten segments so they can get ten times the advertising per reader. They can get away with it because they are Peacocks. You and I are not: we should only segment when the post is so long that it is painful to load.

Excessive Tagging

I stopped using Technorati tags a while back, but when I did use them, there would usually be just one or two tags per post like this.

But some of you.. just because you SOMETIMES write about SEO or whatever, you tag every single post with all the tags you could ever use. That's not helpful and it's darn annoying, because when I go fishing in Technorati, I don't want to find mislabeled posts - but I do, regularly.

Maybe it's technically not your fault. Maybe you use some brain-dead blogging software that does this without your consent. Well, it IS your fault: get better software.

Teeny Fonts

Ok, you're still in your thirties so you can read microscopic type. I'll be sixty next month and I can't. Remember, we baby boomers have the numbers and the money: do you really want to make us squint and get cranky?


The archetype is "I'm sorry I haven't posted anything here since.."

Well, sometimes it's all right to do that. If you've been on a regular posting schedule for years and you just got back from two weeks well deserved vacation, it's fine to apologize. But in general, I don't want to excitedly click on your RSS to yet again savor your wonderful prose and find that. So I won't say don't ever do this, but you surely need to think carefully about it.

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Thu Jan 3 19:39:31 2008: 3379   Jeff

What's that you say? "It doesn't need those Stupid Flash graphics either"

You mean like half of the Ads on this site. I would say you just lost a reader. I've no respect for your ramblings anymore.


Thu Jan 3 19:49:05 2008: 3380   TonyLawrence

Jeff, advertising pays the bills here. There are numerous ways you can block 90% of the ads so you don't ever see them - I've even posted about those browser add-ons here.

Also, you can read through RSS and see NONE of the ads or you can use the "Printer-friendly" page also.


I knew when I wrote this post that someone would complain about ads.. LISTEN UP: It's dead easy to block all ads. For one thing, if you are running Firefox, install the "No-Script" plugin.. it lets you specify what Javascript you allow on a site-by-site basis: that blocks 99% of ads!

Or read through RSS: pure text. Oh, you miss a few things now and then if I have been careless with graphics links, but most of the time you miss nothing - maybe a little formatting.

Or read at (link) there are only a few ads there..

Or read with Lynx :-)

Ads are here to stay. And it's not just because they pay the bills: because most are contextual, they often provide information about products you might want to know about - they aren't "junk".

But - if we've lost Jeff as a reader, so be it. That's everyone's choice - vote with your feet. But tell me this: where can you go today that is not filled with ads?

Thu Jan 3 20:11:55 2008: 3381   TonyLawrence

But you know what, Jeff?

You gave me an idea. I'm going to write some code that keeps most ads off "new" pages - until the page is "old", it won't have ads.

That ought to make both of us happy, ok?

Thu Jan 3 20:23:03 2008: 3382   TonyLawrence

There: the code is in place. If the article is still in RSS, you won't see any ads (well, except for the little text links in the sidebar).

That's your reward for being a frequent reader. Once the post falls out of RSS, the ads appear. How's that?

Fri Jan 4 03:27:45 2008: 3383   Jeff

Ads? I got no problem with making some jack. It's just that's it's really hard to read text when things are flickering all over the page.

I like your technical writing. Sometimes it's hard to read.


Fri Jan 4 03:33:53 2008: 3384   TonyLawrence

Jeff: tell me what's making it hard and I will do whatever I can to fix it..

Does clearing the ads on new posts help?

Fri Jan 4 14:22:07 2008: 3385   BigDumbDinosaur

Ok, you're still in your thirties so you can read microscopic type. I'll be sixty next month and I can't. Remember, we baby boomers have the numbers and the money: do you really want to make us squint and get cranky?

Tiny type: my number one peeve. I don't look at sites where I have to squint. Ditto for the obnoxious music.

Fri Jan 4 15:24:55 2008: 3386   Jeff

Dude, it's not the ads. It's the flickering ads. You slammed some guy about unnecessary flash and as I'm reading it I keep getting distracted by you're own FLASH ADs. Kinda makes things hard to read.

People who live in glass houses. blah blah blah

I see the non-interactive Internet as a combination of print and TV media not a melding. When I read, I read. When I watch, I watch.


Fri Jan 4 15:29:28 2008: 3387   TonyLawrence

OK - well, I still think I'll leave the ads off new pages.. I kind of like that..

Flash ads on other pages.. I'll have to think about that. It might mean giving up too much.


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If Linux can skate by the patent and copyright issues, its growth in the corporate world will continue no matter what business dislikes about the GPL. (Tony Lawrence)

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