Sunday, September 30, 2007

Essay on blogs - what is a good blog?

I had an interesting discussion over on Sheep Thrills, prompted by something jp asked. With permission, I'm repeating it here, with a few edits to improve readability.

--- In Sheep Thrills, jp wrote:
> Ruth wrote that blogs are often "me, me, me!" places. Ruth, isn't that
> part of the purpose of a blog? What, in your opinion, makes for a good
> blog? And how should it differ from other forums for expression such as
> mailing lists, forums, and the comment sections of other people's blogs?
>--jp, boring and pedantic blogger

Ooo-- good question. Up to now, I've only been asking "Why are they popular and I'm not?" (what can I say, parts of me are still in the seventh grade.)

I think there are several kinds of blogs. There are the Yarn Harlot kinds, with hundreds of followers. (I almost want to call them sycophants... ever see the comments, where someone comments *just* to be first? and how many comments are actually more than "oh how cool"?)

The best ones are eye candy and updated often. That's one absolute. (Marcy, you listening? I'm talking about you!) And there are some that are eye candy, but not updated often enough. (oh, Erin...) Artsy photos at strange angles? Cool!

There's one (non-Thriller, non-fiber) eye candy blog by an author who lists her books -- right above the "ad-free zone" button she's made available for anyone to take, as long as they keep her copyright on it.

I was seduced for awhile by the prospect of making money with the blog... (psst - I heard that YH gets *paid* to watch tv shows!! and even more if she plugs them on her blog! [ed - this has since been stated as a falsehood] ) Then I took a lot of time to surf through Etsy, and lots of blogs that link to each other to the point of being incestuous. I saw lots with the ads on the sidebar, some good, lots more mediocre, lots making me go -- huh? They were kinda sleazy, and after a while, I felt sleazy reading them.

No, I didn't take notes, and I'm not gonna go all knitflame on 'em. Yes, I've been tempted!! suffice it to say that there's lots of Pluckyfluff out there, along with plushies and softies, amigurumi and zakka. Think Japanese craft books, super-sweet done sloppy and overpriced. Google "blog zakka" (without quotes) and surf a few-- remember that the good/popular ones are going to come up first. Skip to about page 3.

I think the majority are like mine, written primarily for myself but as if I'm talking to a friend, with a very few loyal friends (in comparison to YH), and some content that people access once in a while with Google.

The best answer to jp's question? Different bloggers appeal to different readers. Write to be true to yourself, even if that changes over time. jp, knowing you -- post LOTS of doily pictures. In progress, UFOs, even the flubs. Inspire us!

(end of post to Sheep Thrills)

Please realize I'm just cogitating on this all - I truly hope I don't come across as a know-it-all, or trashing anybody, or passing judgement. This is a good way for me to articulate what's right for *me*, and define it better.

Reading back now, I realize I didn't address the question of "how should it differ from other forums for expression such as mailing lists, forums, and the comment sections of other people's blogs?"

How should blogs differ from mailing lists? Well, there's definitely the eye-candy angle. In that respect, blogs are more evolved than mailing lists. Think of it as similar to the way radio dramas were replaced by television -- and then radio evolved to being something people primarily listen to in the car.

I don't see the same kind of discussions on blogs that I do on good lists. Sure, there are flame wars, but on mailing lists you can't censor what other people get to say (or not).

hmmm- I just realized that knitflame hasn't had a troll visit in quite a while.

Forums? I don't have enough experience in forums to even know how they truly work, so I'm not going to say.

It will be interesting to see how Ravelry changes the complexion of interaction between fiber people. I'm keeping track of my progress on a spreadsheet (I'm only 22,198 on the list...) but if they keep progressing like they have the past few days, I'll be in by the end of the week!

I'll let you know how it goes...


At 5:52 AM , Blogger Lola said...

I'm not really sure just where my blog fits in. I don't update it often enough, and I don't have a lot of commenters, so I have no idea what kind of people are reading my blog but I do know they're out there (I have Mint ( and I check my website statistics often). I'm a heavy commenter as I try to leave feedback, but it's hard for me to judge whether I'm on the right track or not with my blog.

At 5:53 AM , Blogger Lola said...

Wrong URL - it's actually

At 8:18 AM , Blogger Marie said...

But ARE popular. People comment to your posts on "lists". Blogs, well, I read enough of them and few blogs have oodles of comments. Just write about what you're doing, or whatever you want to write about. I read your blog, obviously, but rarely comment. It's no reflection on your entry. Kind of like reading the newspaper. You read it daily but don't write a letter to the Editor every day. Poor analogy, but will do. It's Monday.

At 8:24 AM , Blogger Ruth said...

Lola, if it works for you- it's all good. Believe me, I still have the fits of self-doubt! Must have something to do with the hormonal surges or something. Yeah, that's the ticket.

At 8:29 AM , Blogger Ruth said...

Marie - really? whoa. whooda thunk. (blinking)

You know- I think I'm going to pretend I'm NOT popular. Kinda like being invisible. I like it better that way- no pressure.

Except, of course, for what I put on myself!! LOL


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