The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 November 2005

At least we don't have commandments

Well, okay, if you say so: The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging. Let's see how grievously I have transgressed:

  1. Using Free Blog Hosting Services
  2. Ignoring the Basic Principles of Good Web Site Design and Usability
  3. Being the Jack Of All Trades
  4. Not Posting Regularly
  5. Publishing Badly Written Posts
  6. Spamming and Stealing
  7. Failing to Establish a Personality

Hmmm. Whatever else one might say about DreamHost, they certainly aren't free, so I should be safe on #1.

I have a feeling #2 is going to venture into Jakob Nielsen territory. Here are the Things To Do:

  • Pleasant color combination — i.e., no neon or flashy color
  • Clean layout with plenty of white space
  • Logical navigation system with clearly marked section and subsections
  • Prominent and scannable titles and group labels — i.e., users should be able to quickly read through the headings to understand the content of the page
  • Fast load time — i.e., 5 seconds or less. Any longer and you risk losing your visitor

Well, I have no white space: it conflicts with my "pleasant color combination." On the other hand, this layout is not too far from clean, though it's far from standards-compliant. And if anyone understands all the category names, it's someone other than myself.

As for Jackness (#3), well:

The better thing to do is focus one subject and be the master at it. Start with the subject that you find most interesting and write a few short posts expressing your thought or commenting on something you've read. As your expertise grow, do some research and write longer articles to establish your authority on the subject.

If you are multi-talented and have many things to blog about, create one blog for each subject.

Oddly, the things at which I am the acknowledged master tend not to be things I blog about.

On the question of regularity (#4), this is post #5509 since Movable Type was installed (about twenty, mostly test posts, were deleted), so I'd say I probably produce enough material.

There are a few posts among those five thousand and odd I consider to be, um, constructed not particularly well (#5), but this is one of those eye-of-the-beholder deals. (Nominations for Worst. Post. Ever. are being accepted anyway.)

For the most part, anything I steal I link back to (#6), and I endeavor never to spam.

Then there's #7. "Failing to establish a personality" is a real-world consideration; it is obviously inapplicable to blogdom. (Let's see if anyone believes that.)

On the whole, I think that while I am not likely to burn in hell, I will probably roast for three hours at 350 degrees. And by January, I may think that's an improvement over the weather.

(Stolen Obtained from Fistful of Fortnights.)

Posted at 6:05 PM to Blogorrhea

Hmm...commandments...what a great idea! :-)

Posted by: Pinyo at 6:35 PM on 24 November 2005

I rather enjoy your blog's design. Nice gradient in the background, and the whitespace is appropriately placed. Pretty damn good "for a man." Okay, now I'll seriously get my ass kicked, but it won't be the first time today! In some ways, I'd like to use fluid columns as well, but I do you say....control issues.

Happy Thanksgiving;-)

Posted by: Sadie at 7:06 PM on 24 November 2005

Actually, my gender is less of an issue here than my total lack of artistic talent. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:10 PM on 24 November 2005

Everything that is wrong with the state of blogging today can be wrapped up in this phrase early on in the linked post: "For those of us that take blogging a little more seriously..." By the way, it's kind of hard to take seriously the admonitions of someone who has one of those page-rank scripts on their site that takes forever to load...

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 7:19 PM on 24 November 2005

#1 is permissible for newbies - but I have a hard time taking seriously any blogger who uses BlogSpot after, say, 4 or 5 months.

Posted by: david at 8:49 PM on 24 November 2005

I thought that "Sins" post was a little prissy. And your blog is very well-designed (better than mine). But hey, I use Blogger (which he sniffs at). Does that make me an animal?

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 11:02 PM on 24 November 2005

"Prissy" doesn't begin to describe it, Snitch. People who write rules for other people to follow in their leisure-time pursuits...well, perhaps I should get off the subject before I accidentally become one of them.

And Charles, don't worry about the jack-of-all-trades bit. You have the best possible company in that particular crime: your Curmudgeon. Besides, geniuses get to make up their own rules.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 6:24 AM on 25 November 2005

Interesting. Mano-a-mano, I think your blog is okey-dokey. I hate pain, and I keep coming by daily to partake of the morsels you spread, so it must not be too bad.

Recently I received a critique from a highly respected long-time blogger. First comment was related to #3 - I tend to cover the waterfront, the back alleys and the wide-open countryside. Jackness rating .997. Like you, my realworld knowledge would make boring blog fodder - who wants to read about my excellent 4-hour adventure sniffing out a crossed pair in a CAT5 cable?

But the major criticism was that nothing of me and who I really am comes through in my writing. I s'pose that would be #7 and I have no freaking clue how to do that if it ain't already happening. I have worked diligently to develop an image as that-online-smartass-who-once-in-a-blue-moon-writes-something-worth-reading. Maybe the community college has a night course in developing your online personality. Yeah, as long as it doesn't conflict with my decoupage class I'm good to go...

Posted by: Winston at 6:53 AM on 25 November 2005

Oh dear, I have violated all of these rules at one time or another; some of them I still violate. Does this mean I'm going to blogger hell?

Posted by: akaky at 8:41 AM on 25 November 2005

"I have a hard time taking seriously any blogger who uses BlogSpot after, say, 4 or 5 months."

Oh, really? And that's just one of the many fine blogs by people who, for one reason or another, choose to take advantage of a free (and now working pretty good) service, but that doesn't mean they are "not serious" about what they write. I'm thinking of going back to Blogspot myself, at least part time. Hosting services other than Blogspot do experience downtimes, as I can attest.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 12:03 PM on 25 November 2005

Among the absolutely terrific bloggers who still use the free, and not all that bad, BlogSpot service are:

The AnarchAngel
Bad Hair Blog
Four Right Wing Wackos
Geek With A .45
North Western Winds
The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots From A Drive-By Mind.
The Smallest Minority
The Middle Ground
Yet Another Weird SF Fan
Belmont Club.

Not to mention that Eternity Road, written by your humble Curmudgeon, was first instantiated there. So it's a little wholesale to dismiss a blog simply because its proprietor has chosen to remain with a free service.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 1:20 PM on 25 November 2005

Besides which, the new comment system at Blogspot has given us such wonderfully cromulent words as "fizulwam" to brighten our days.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:01 PM on 25 November 2005

Funny, I only recognize one deadly sin of blogging: Telling other people how/what/where/when/why to blog.

And I try very hard, therefore, not to cast the first stone...

Posted by: McGehee at 3:20 PM on 25 November 2005

"And I try very hard, therefore, not to cast the first stone..."

Me too. Although I will stick around to toss in the last one.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 10:56 PM on 25 November 2005

"Everybody must get stones." (After R. Zimmerman)

Posted by: CGHill at 10:57 PM on 25 November 2005

"Everybody must get stones." (After R. Zimmerman)

Getting 'em is easy. Passing 'em...?

Posted by: McGehee at 4:21 PM on 26 November 2005

McGehee, ouch, don't go there, to painful to contemplate. Other than that I remember that some of the blogs I visit are still on blogspot or another one of the free services. Maybe he was equating that to not being very passionate about blogging.

Posted by: anomdragon at 8:19 AM on 28 November 2005