Friday, July 13, 2007

Bloggolalia: Blogging Laws I Love to Break, Part 1

Sports blogging has its own unwritten rules, like any community. But there are some commandments that I think bloggers should break early and often. Here's some laws of blogging I most like to break, and why. Oh yes, there will be a sequel, bank on that.

Law 1. You shall not say anything bad about posts from other sports bloggers, else the circle of mutual back-patting/ego-stroking will be broken. Where do I start with this? I forgot that the sports bloggosphere was ruled by a dictator and that dissent was punishable by death. Or you would think so, for all the fear and anger people display when anyone criticizes their blog or their favorite writer. And I always love the robotic nature of comments to blogs that just take one side of an issue: "Master Blogger has decided to choose Side A instead of Side B! Let us all agree with Master Blogger!" Disgusting.

And just because someone criticizes your blog doesn't mean they hate you. I met at least one of my best friends in blogging because they criticized my blog, or vice versa. Do you want to be a better blogger? Or do you want people to prop up your sagging ego? I guest-posted at The Starting Five, and Jordi took issue with the points I made. You know what? He was mostly right, and I'm glad he called me out. Otherwise, dumber readers might not ever figure out that what I was arguing might be flawed.

Law 2. You shall link to other blogs as often as possible and beg bigger blogs to link to you, so you can increase your hits. Let me be honest. When my small-blog pals link to me, I appreciate it. But it means, what, 10 more hits in my sitemeter? Same when I link to them; I do it every so often to show respect, but the two readers I bring them isn't going to make a big difference.
And when my big-blog pals link to me, sure, it means I get 800-1000 hits for the day (thanks to TheBigLead). But it means I get about ONE comment, because people who come here from a big blog already have tons of other blogs to read. Or, it means I get uninformed trolls (such as when I ran the Gilbert Arenas article and the Washington Post blog linked to it). Please, let go of your link fixation; you don't need the "gold star" from Deadspin as badly as you think you do.

Law 3. Your main goal shall be to increase hit count.
Covered here. I don't want many readers, I want good readers, people who look at more than one post when they visit and have something insightful to say.

Law 4. You are a marvelous, insightful blogger, and commenters should be fans. You shall not lower yourself by speaking to the commenters in the comment section or asking them for their opinions. Commenters are my main customers, so to speak. I'm not going to let them run my site, but I do want to know what they think. They can go anywhere they want, and they should know I want them here. Sports bloggers need to stop looking to some media outlet for validation (see Law 2) and start realizing that you first need to form a consistent core of commenters. Notice I didn't say fans (see Law 1), I said commenters. Look at how much the Nation of Islam Sportsblog has done with commenters; I'd rather read the comment section than the posts lately. (Um, hope that doesn't make me less righteous, NOIS.)

Law 5. You shall show people how up to date you are by posting only about today's news, even if you have nothing to add to the story. As I read more and more sports blogs, it gets to the point that I can only read one blog about a current event. Writers make similar jokes, have similar biased takes, and often don't have anything to say. Why? Because they're all reading the same AP copy or watching the same video to make their post! Not everything you post has to have happened today. I'd rather write a funny post on something that happened ten years ago than a boring post on today's events.

So, was this post inspirational enough to get you to break Law 1?


  1. Very nice post (doesn't break Law 1). Stop Mike Lupica caught a ton of backlash from Deadspin readers because of what he said about Will's linking trends. He was right though. That's why I enjoy reading his, and your, blogs. You guys say things that are correct, even if they will ruffle feathers.

    As for the rest, I think I've covered it before in your comments section but....having a few quality commenters is more important to me than having 10,000 people on my site per day. That's just me though. Nice job, once again.

  2. You know at first I was worried you might take my comments on TSF the wrong way. Glad you didn't.

    Personally, I've received harsh criticism before in blogging and in other writing; it's how you improve. At first of course you have an attachment to your work, as any artist would. And to see it critiqued is a bit of an shock. But I was told once the only pieces of writing that are beyond contextual criticism are religious texts, Mien Kampf, and the Federalist Papers. Anything else is fair game.

    In my opinion, different sites take criticism differently. TSF, for example, promotes discussion, and of course, you better bring facts and solid analysis. Deadspin, not so much. As a matter of fact, if you bring a wee bit of analysis you better have a dick joke in there. In the middle, I think, is TBL. Commentors have free reign there to approach commenting however they want.

    And if you get linked from any of those sites those are the readers you are bringing in to read your post. For example, using my previous 3 sites, if you get linked to by Deadspin, responding to the snarky comments isn't necessary. TBL, maybe, depends on the comment. And if someone critiques you from TSF, you better be able to back up your opinion.

    That's what I think makes the blogosphere so fun. And that's why I'll comment pretty much anywhere I have the time throughout the day.

  3. Great stuff. I thought I'd throw in my own justifications for why I follow two of these laws.

    Law 1: Since I'm a an English teacher, one of my blog gimmicks is to examine sportswriting closely. The tag is called "bad sportswriting," but that's too vague, since I'm not just ranting against the points a sportswriter makes, but doing a close reading and criticizing the actual WRITING (like word choice, sentence structure, use of cliches, etc.).

    I decided early on that I could not do this to bloggers. It would be a jerk move to go around and pick apart the writing quality and grammar of a bunch of people writing on the internet for fun and no money. However, sportswriters are paid to write, so I decided their writing is open to whatever critiques my professorly mind desires.

    I'm all for debate and argument if I disagree with a blogger's point--that's what comments sections are for. But every blogger has to make a decision about how much criticism to bring to other bloggers, and in what form.

    Law 2: I link to other blogs for three reasons:
    1: I find something interesting and would like my readers to check it out, because they might find it interesting too.
    2: It's an easy way to provide more content.
    3: Sometimes other bloggers write about something I'd like to address, but don't have the material for an entire post (this is one reason I can avoid Law 5--I can make my point in one sentence in a links post rather than an entire new post).

    I welcome these analytical examinations of the blogosphere itself.

  4. Great post, and a topic I obviously have some strong opinions on myself. I was in the process of writing a post on a similar topic, so I will probably break Law 2 and give you a link since it kinda relates.

    On to what you've brought up: I agree that each blog has different goals, and that not everyone should be going for huge traffic numbers, even though that seems to be the case. I think a lot of bloggers got into this thinking they could make a name for themselves easily (inspired no doubt by the success of guys like Captain Caveman, who went from being a Deadspin reader to commenter to blogger to "guy making a good living doing this"), without realizing that it ain't that easy. It's good to be on top of the bubble, but not so much in the middle.

    You made some really good points in your post. I would rather have a blog with people engaging each other and myself in real dialogue, like a Free Darko or TSF. Great work, MC Bias.

  5. Great comments, I have to say. I guess the haters are on vacation this weekend, ha. I should explain another reason for my allergy to links. I'm a relatively new blogger, and most people who read me seem to run their own blogs or read lots of other blogs already. So most things I think are interesting, everyone else has already read anyway. Linking just shows (proves? :-p) how out of touch I am, ha. But I am trying to do it every so often.

  6. Dilemma: I agree with most of this... and yet I feel I shouldn't after reading the rules. Now what?

  7. Actually, I was on vacation, hater.

    No, seriously, good post. That's so funny you wrote about writing on a topic when it's timely. I have an unpopular opinion on Mike Nifong and I had been dying to express myself. I had to wait to do it in a "timely" fashion by tying it to something more current. Luckily, people's passion for the topic was still high. :)

  8. Nice post. If I was only so smart!