This page is for a series of essays on the criteria for what makes “a good blog”. Our Membership page goes into much of it, Frank has written some things on it, still we haven’t entirely nailed it. This page tries to nail it.
Any member is welcome to do an essay which will appear on this page or else just comment in comments, if less than essay length.
This page is also open to the public to read. Essays are posted latest at the top, original at the bottom.
Essay 1: James Higham: Aug 10th
1. We start with Frank’s and our mission statement on whom we like:
And I think that one thing that I like in a blog is someone with a distinct personality and history. The more I know about a blogger, the more they become real people. I think that to the extent they’re real people, who are saying what they think (rather than what they think they ought to think), such bloggers are more influential than paid columnists in newspapers – a bit like the comments under a blog are also frequently more real and informative than the blog itself.
2. Then Come our official criteria, cleaned up a bit by Sackerson, starting with: the blog/site has been online for what is judged to have been a reasonable period.
3. The writer is active, posting new material from time to time.
4. The material is well-written.
5. The blog/site has some variety of subject and content, or if on a single issue shows authoritative depth of understanding.
6. The writer is willing to engage with others in comment and debate, conducted in a civil manner.
7. The writer conducts his blog in the spirit of ‘netiquette’ and not in a way actionable in civil or criminal law.
Opacity/Transparency and the lecturing blog
I like to explore new blogs suggested by members and put in my tuppence-halfpenny and one thing I’m finding is opacity on many blogs, something termed poor navigation earlier but it’s more – it’s either a carelessness or a deliberate move not to show who you are, which comes back to Frank’s screed again at the top. We like to “know” the person.
This does not mean real name and address, for example Dioclese is fine. And further, if you go to that blog:
… first thing you see [at the time of writing this] is a post about going on holiday. It’s a personal statement, it shows there’s a human behind that blog.
Then go to the About:
… and you get as much backgrounding to the author as you’d need.
Next go to the comments on posts – they’re instructive about the blogger, then go to the blogroll – you know a blogger by the company he keeps on that blogroll.
Then step back and just look at the layout, the craftsmanship if you like, and if that’s high, the navigation is also good. And that includes a means of contact.
This is where so many blogs stop being looked at by me at least – if they not only do not provide a means of contact without too much scrolling and clicking but then go and put Follow ostentatiously.
In other words, they might be saying, “I don’t wish to hear from you but do wish you to drink in my wisdom and if you press Follow and Subscribe, you can have my wisdom to your email” – always one way, never reciprocal.
To me, that is a crucial point – whether the blogger is there to lecture us or whether there is a two-way dialogue.
Some might point out that the comments thread provides the feedback. Not entirely. That could still be a sock puppet or one of a myriad blogs from the same source, always one-way.
For me, and I’m but one member, that puts the blog out of consideration.
Sidebar – a practical consideration
It’s completely up to the blogger how he/she runs his/her site but by the same token, it’s up to us whether we accept what’s on offer but sometimes there’s no space to run the Scriblerus badge. It would stick out like a sore thumb, no?
We also come back to what we think is regular or not. Something put up last in March might not be.
Our criteria do not stipulate X amount of traffic but we do want to see evidence of interaction with at least a few regulars. Most blogs in our area get a trickle of 1 to 5 comments on most posts, sometimes in the 30s, occasionally hitting 100. The big bloggers regularly get in the hundreds.
This is an iffy criterion in that it’s not the numbers at issue – it’s whether there is living interaction – see Frank’s comment at the top again.
What we’re looking for is a blog which is a “living organism” in itself – it has a history, achievements, ailments, foibles, views, everything which is human.