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Do you really want a popular blog?

© April 2008 Anthony Lawrence

OK, raise your hands: how many of you bloggers out there want a popular blog? Ayup, I know: you beg for Diggs and Sphinns, ask your friends to Stumble your post.. you'd love to be able to brag that you had to move to another host because the traffic was just getting overwhelming..

Do you really want that?

Maybe you do. After all, there are bennies attached: fame, maybe even money.. what's not to like?

Well, there is a dark side, and I see it every time one of my utterings gains a bit of web traction and a few thousand people show up to read it. There's no nice way to say it, so I'll just blurt it out..

Stupid people

Before you get all PC on me, hear me out. Some people are smarter than others. You know that. If you have a hundred friends, a few of them are obviously a lot sharper than the rest of your bunch and a few obviously are not. It doesn't mean they aren't nice people, it doesn't mean you don't like them, it just means that they aren't quite as quick on the uptake as the rest.

They are the ones who sometimes say some pretty dumb things, right? Maybe a little embarrassing sometimes? Yeah, you know what I mean.

So what happens when one of your posts catches fire and a bunch of people you've never seen before coming flying in to read it? Well, obviously some of those people are smarter than others. And some are not.

The dumb ones leave dumb comments.

Wait, I know what you are going to say. Yes, it's true that the smart ones leave smart comments, so it sort of balances off, doesn't it? Well, not for me, no. You see, the crowd who visits and comments here regularly already is smart. Their comments are sharp, enjoyable, sometimes pretty darn funny. I enjoy those people. But when a boatload of new folks stop in and a few of them drop off inane and truly dumb comments, it feels almost like uninvited guests at a party. Who wants these jerks? I don't.

The most recent example was this Linux post. It got picked up by a few of the big Linux sites and the hits came pouring in. Most of the comments were fine.. but a few were.. well, less than intelligent.

It bugs me. It's not the criticism - I don't care about that. It's the repetition of what someone else already said, the careless reading, the foolish misunderstandings.. I just don't suffer fools easily, sorry.

A Modicum of Success

Really. That's all I want. I don't want to be super popular, read by millions. I know some people can handle that: they'd bask in the adulation and ignore the stupidity that comes with it. Not me. It would constantly tick me off and I'd be miserable.

If you are like me (and I know a lot of you are), the old "be careful what you wish for" warning comes to mind. Yes, we all want success, we all want to be popular..

But just a little bit, right? Not so much that the dumb ones find us..

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Blog popularity has a dark side


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Tue Apr 29 19:23:27 2008: 4154   TonyLawrence

Aww, c'mon: is nobody going to take me to task over this?

Even I think it's a bit elitist - and I'm really surprised that no one has come out and said so.

Just the same, I'm only "keepin' it real" - being honest: it annoys me when I get "dumb" comments. I've even cut off comments on certain pages when it gets completely out of hand.. that Linux post was nothing compared to some other pages..

But anyway: nobody wants to say that I'm an elitist jerk? Nobody? Really, there's no way I could actually disagree with you..

Or is that a lot of you feel the same way but are too polite to say so? C'mon, we allow anonymous comments - nobody will ever know who you are! :-)

Mon May 12 14:10:11 2008: 4190   anonymousnewreader

Okay. I'll bite. But.... I'm gonna be anonymous as now I am quaking in fear that I might leave one of those dumb comments as a new visitor to your site, rather than the smart witty comments you praise your regular visitors for leaving.

Yes, high traffic results in high stupidity.... BUT my big issue is ads. Ads on blogs. (Such as the ones you have). I feel that mostly idiots click on ads, and I always question why a blogger thinks their readership is composed of idiots who click on the damn things. Of course, everybody wants to make money - but I like to think the people reading my blog aren't the numbnuts who actually click on ads.....

Of course, I do not mean to disrespect YOU as a blogger with ads, one day if my readership goes over the 20 per day I might be inclined to put them on too, but.... I find them offputting and insulting to a readership I like to pretend is intellligent...

um, other than insulting your marketing choices - you've got some good stuff here!

Mon May 12 15:21:43 2008: 4191   Friar

I hear ya. I'm pretty happy right now with my Blog. I'm visited by a small group of select friends who are all quite intelligent. I'm meeting great people and I'm having a lot of fun.

But even with this small number, I'm surprised at how much time it takes to answer comments and then leave comments on everyone else's blog. I want to acknowledge everyone and return the favor, but there are only so many hours in a day.

It's especially difficult for those of us who aren't full-time writers, who have to also work 40 hours a week at our cubicle jobs.

If it gets to a certain point where it's not sustainable, I might have to bail out. But in the meantime, I'm glad to continue and see where this takes me.

Tue May 13 11:41:21 2008: 4192   TonyLawrence

Ahh, the ads thing again.

A couple of things you may not realize as a new visitor here.

First, because this is mostly a technical blog, often the ads really are very relevant to the readers. Sometimes even I want to click on one (I can't do that: I have to extract the final link and paste that manually).

Secondly, if you are a regular reader, you won't see those big middle of the page interruptions - those don't show up until new material pushes the post down the stack.

But finally, as Friar noted in his comment: this is a lot of work. It's not just responding to comments, it's writing the posts, and in the case of tech articles, researching them. It takes time, and I'm going to get paid for that time one way or another. Ads are a simple way to do that.

Tue Jan 20 21:06:58 2009: 5192   anonymous

Ok, I'll bite too. You've hit a sore spot. Anyone who mentions the term "popularity" is probably elitist. I hate the entire concept. Your good reader who revealed their insecurity is on the right track...but it's worse than that. The entire effort to be popular is really a waste of time. Who, where, has the time to spend talking down anyone else instead of looking for a better option? I'm so tired of techie one-minute wonders pouncing on one stupid comment and using it to justify their sorry life of parsing java, c, or worse, some archaic assembly language. I'm so tired of empty politicians working on their "popularity" or "image" to meet the ever rising expectations of the media soused world. How about letting people fumble? How about just not worrying about fat, out-of-fashion clothing, and less-than-bleached teeth?

The real truth is that every single person has something to offer, and the only true losers are those limbaughesque folks who haven't realized it. You can plate a room in gold and pretend that you are popular... or you can find a couple of real friends, make a kind blog, and stop worring about who isn't cool. Or smart.

there, I feel better!

Tue Jan 20 21:13:29 2009: 5194   TonyLawrence

Sure, that's true.

Far too much effort is expended over popularity,

Tue Jan 20 22:43:51 2009: 5204   Friar

You know what comments I really hate or the long rambling ones like this where some nutbar insults you and gets downright abusive and just continues on in one long sentence because he's either drunk or stoned or just too damned illiterate to grasp the concept of punctuation yeah those are the stupid comments I really could do without.

Tue Jan 20 22:48:06 2009: 5205   TonyLawrence

Not abusive enough. Clean it up and resubmit.


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