Friday, January 14, 2005

Globs o' Blogs: The Hitchiker's Guide to the Whiny (or What Not To Do When Spanking That Ego Like a Naughty Monkey)

I'm taking a brief respite from the crazy working on Power99 stuff to write about a topic that has been on my mind for the past few days. Getting a blog is way too easy these days. Hell, in order to comment appropriately on my friends' Xanga and LiveJournal blogs, I've recently signed up for accounts there. (And now, all of a sudden, I have two new potential blog sites just waiting for me to upchuck my pithy thoughts into. Sufficed to say, they are going to remain blank.) Blogs are a forum for your opinions; they give credence to your unique thoughts and perspectives... so why not take advantage of that and actually put some effort into good blogging? So, here it is folks:'s Ultimate Guide to Bad Blogging, the do's, the don't's and the dear-God-why's of the blogosphere. 1) Don't settle for those free layouts. 99% of blogs nowadays look identical: it's all the same standard two or three column layout, usually differentiated from another only by text and solid background colour. There's usually no implementation of graphics, or even customization of the links and navbar. Well, why not use the layout of your blog to catch my attention, or maybe even communicate a little bit about yourself to me? 2) Don't rely solely on the post editors. The create post editors are stupid, as are all HTML editors -- they only know how to translate the most basic of text input into HTML. Take some time to learn some basic HTML tags, if only to properly format any images, links, or other multimedia content on your site. Then, modify the code it generates to fit what you actually want the post to look like. The most aggravating thing in the world is for someone with a nice looking blog screw it up because the owner doesn't know how to use it. 3) Legibility is your friend. Don't TyPe LiKe tHiS!!!!!11111, use all caps, or excessive bolding. Minimize your LOLs, STFUs and emoticons. Don't use giant, un-edited background images that suck up loading time and make it impossible to read your text on top of it. Don't go the route of the angsty, artsy Risley-ite and choose 'sombre yet elegant' pastel colours that don't create enough contrast to read effectively. 4) An end to ugly javascripts. So many of these Xanga sites I come across have this really terrible and pointless javascript effects, like comet words that chase the cursor or sixteen alert windows that welcome me to the blog before the page has even loaded. No one needs that, my friend, and on a practical level, that kind of java over-scripting can crash older computers and browsers. 5) Be realistic: find your niche. There's nothing sadder than a 'funny' blog that isn't funny, a 'political' blog written by a nitwit, or a 'Seinfeld' blog that isn't only pointless, but inane. There are some great funny/quirky blogs out there that are truly a joy to read because the blogger has a great and quirky style (check out minnesotaricecracker's Xanga site for an example). But don't try to do the 'funny Seinfeld' blog if you're just not that funny. Don't try to blog about serious stuff if you haven't had any action going on in your head since 1985. Pick a scope for your blog and stick with it -- you are who you are, and if you try to force yourself to be something else (re: frontin'), you'll just end up sounding like a complete dickwad, and in many cases, a drag to read. 6) Avoid the 'Seinfeld' blog entirely. I don't care about what you had for breakfast. I don't care about what time you went to bed or what you'll be doing in an hour. I don't need the update every time you take a big long, orgiastic shit. If you have nothing interesting to say, don't say it. It's cool that you're currently painting your toenails hot pink while watching the season finale of Friends, but why are you telling me? If you're going to do blogs on nothing, at least have some interesting twist on the whole thing (re: the Chicken Run post on Palaedorian's blog). If I were interested in minute-by-minute updates on your daily schedule, I'd stalk you. 7) Be concise. The unfortunate thing about the blog format is that it encourages shorter posts (otherwise, there's too much excessive scrolling to get from one post to the other). That means you should use an economy of language and try to get straight to your point. Although some topics require lengthy discussion, it's best to keep in mind how well your reader is going to be able to sift through your posts on your blog. Remember, blogs are about having a good argument to back up that stylish writing. 8) You are your own Perry White -- act like it. There are also too many people out there who sacrifice the good writing aspects, thinking that a good point can save the day. If you can't communicate your argument because you write at a grade two level, then you're not doing anything but wasting your time. Try to hone your writing skills using better style, diction, and overall literary structure. Also, keep in mind proper grammar and punctuation: there's no one to check that stuff but you. 9) Incest of the cyber-kind. Blogrings or blogrolls are great ways to indicate to your readers the kinds of blogs that you read. But it gets ridiculous when you have a ridiculously long blogroll of well over fifty other blogs (not everyone is worthy of a link). If I have to scroll three pages down just to view your blogroll from start to finish, it's time to trim it down just a tad. Also, trackbacks are great for referencing posts you enjoy, but it's really incestuous, not to mention shameless, irritating and a cop-out, to have a blogring full of people each trackbacking everyone else. 10) Be kind, rewind. If someone posts a comment on your page, or otherwise indicates that they read your blog regularly, be kind and return the favour. At least give them the common courtesy of checking out their site, and leaving them a message acknowledging receipt of their praise and/or comments. 11) Put an end to blogging cliches. Endless posts of nothing more than results you received from the thousands of online quizlets you've been taking are a waste of good server space. I don't give a shit about which Marvel superhero you are, where you fall in the political spectrum, or which anime bishounen would be your ideal Prince Charming. One or two that are fun, unique, or particularly telling? Okay. Twenty pages worth? Get a day job. Oh, and if I wanted a song lyric, I'd google it. I want to hear your thoughts, not the ejaculated spunk of some pop culture hack. 12) Take that dick out your throat and go vote. I am sick and tired of these overly-pretentious, pseudo-artsy, 'look-at-me-I'm-so-deep' blogs in which the blogger tries to sound like Daria, sitting in a French cafe, sipping a mocha and writing her dark, suicidal thoughts in a leather-bound notebook with a ballpoint pen. It's a language thing more than anything else (but there are some blog designs that practically scream intellectual elitist, northeastern liberal snob). Short sentences and forced tangents do not deep and philosophical make, they make you sound like a castrated Confucious. No one really speaks like this: "Today, I sat in the park. The moon glowed. It made me think of death. I wondered who I really am. Am I a good friend? When I was five, I hammered the faces in of all of my dolls. These thoughts bothered me. So I kept on sitting. Damn Karl for making me wait." Oi. Remove your head from your rectum and leave the self-absorbed prepubescent angst where it belongs: in middle school. This post was not intended to hurt the guilty. No blogs were harmed in the making of this guide.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eeeeeeeh! I got a shout out! I got a shout out!!! I love you Jen :)


1/15/2005 10:35:00 AM  
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