Friday, August 17, 2007

Blogging Laws I Like to Break, Part 3

Ok, I warned of less frequent posting ahead, and it starts next week. So I'm leaving you with one of my more controversial Blogging Law entries today, to make up for it. Don't forget to keep an eye on, a video project soon to be released by the Cavalier of fame.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of my Blogging Laws series if you wish.
9. You shall constantly remind us how superior you are to ESPN and other MSM. You shall also hint about how daring you are to "speak truth to power."
It's good to see the blogger backlash to the ESPN backlash starting. I too wonder if there is significant overlap between the ESPN linkers and the ESPN haters. While The Starting Five and Leave the Man Alone have been doing a great job covering issues related to Michael Vick, bloggers aren't linking to them. Instead they are linking to ESPN. I'm not seeing any type of conscious effort to escape ESPN; I'm just seeing a lot of armchair whining.

In the past few years, ESPN has shut down Page 3, hidden Page 2, and canceled the Playmakers series. They got rid of Mark Shapiro, who was responsible for the "Sports is Entertainment" push. Yet they still get flack for "not being sports enough" from bloggers. Those bloggers are the very ones who do soft posts that don't have much to do with sports. In other words, ESPN is their competition!

Really, are you going to believe "Wal-mart is evil" signs when they all have been made by the local store-owner? Agenda much?! Don't you think that if ESPN showed Will Leitch, the writers of The Big Lead, or nearly any professional blogger 200 G's a year to blog on Page 2, they'd leave in a heartbeat? I do. And it doesn't count if you speak truth to power and there's no possibility of a backlash. Look at the hits from the blogs that criticize ESPN; the most-visited posts come from their criticism. Bias much? Read more about my views on blogger hating here.

10. You shall randomly insert pictures of hot models/actresses/singers to improve the mediocrity of your text.
You know by now that I certainly don't disapprove of posting pictures of females in general. Let me clarify with three points.
* It's one thing to have a headshot of an attractive woman. It's another thing to post shots of the "90% of me is bare, except for 3 squares of cloth" variety. I do most of my Net surfing in public areas. Do you know how irritating it is to constantly have to resize/minimize the screen while reading a sports blog so you don't get the "MCBias, is that porn?!" comment from a coworker/librarian/parents/ladies? Somehow I don't think my squeaking "Um, no, it's sports!" is going to rescue me from an uncomfortable situation.
* If images of pretty girls that have nothing to do with sports are why you read sports blogs, um, well, you need lots of help. We're supposed to be sports bloggers. Yes, hot women may take up the 95% of our thoughts not devoted to sports blogging, ha, but we can compartmentalize this much, right?
* Additionally, how are we ever going to get any female readers if we're objectifying them left and right? That's precisely the reason I have soured on What legitimate comment can I leave to a post that objectifies men? "Um, I always thought Athlete X had cute hair too"?!
Aside: I've done my best to make this site as female-friendly as possible while still being true to what I like. I've intentionally recruited women to comment on this site, talked about women's issues, and attempted to befriend nearly every female sports blogger there is. Besides the obvious that I enjoyed doing those things in and of themselves (and making my fellow bloggers envious at times, heh), I did so because I know female traffic makes most sites. Women are more loyal readers in my limited experience, and also where women go, men follow. It's not just common sense to make your site more female-friendly, it helps the bottom-line too, in my opinion. We can't all live off white male readers in their 20's, ha.

11. You shall brag about your journalism or English-related degree as if it makes you more qualified to blog.
This may be the most controversial blog law that I criticize, because certainly my love affair with semicolons, "heh", and "?!" may have been hammered out of me had I majored in English. But it annoys me when someone mentions that they have such a degree with the hint that it makes their blog automatically better than those who are not similarly educated. For example, because I have some decent training in technology, I am able to add/find some content that I would bet journalists cannot. I am probably being overly sensitive about this, but it still does annoy me. I don't think bloggers are journalists. I have no idea what we are, but it's not journalists, I'm pretty sure.


  1. MCBias,

    Great post. The part about ESPN is funny, but all too truthful. Everywhere I go, it seems, someone is out there hating on ESPN, but there must be some eyeballs looking at .com or one of the networks to see what's really so bad about the "World Wide Leader."

    While my blog doesn't get quite the readership of The Big Lead or Deadspin, I recently made a post asking what was good about the ESPN empire and can't even get a response. Certainly ESPN has some good qualities or no one would watch at all.

  2. In fairness to the Ladies, they are trying to diversify. They started the recipe series. They did the hot blogger contest, in which you participated. And they're friendly as hell. They do the blog network thing well. And every blogger is entitled to write about what they are passionate about. Ease up! (But it's all good since you complimented my blog. :))

    The point you made about maintaining female readers is very interesting. Very interesting. I do have several female readers and, in fact, they are loyal. I think this is one of the big pitfalls of MSM. It's hard to grow a sports audience these days and a natural source of growth would be women. They stock the NFL shop with pink jerseys, but I think it would be more effective to cultivate loyalty by substantially including women in the proceedings (eg., letting Pam Oliver anchor the pre-game show).

  3. I respect the Ladies themselves. I just think that by posting pictures of men, they may be depriving themselves of male comments. It's certainly true for me. Now maybe that's a good thing for them; I don't know what their end goal is.

    And uh-oh, it looks like someone finally caught onto my scheme! Note the title of the post; I'm going against the grain and talking about rules that I'm breaking. Thus, I get to act like a rebel instead of an uptight authoritarian blog ombudsman :-p clever of me, eh? I just noticed that the other day and laughed.

  4. I just think that by posting pictures of men, they may be depriving themselves of male comments.

    Not sure how we could make this any clearer (the pink's not doing it?), but...we're kinda into letting our girly flag fly over there. Pictures of hot athletes are our raison d'etre, man. They ain't going anywhere, no matter how far we branch out. This is the spot we staked out, and we're quite pleased with how it's all turned out. Your implication that attracting male readers concerns us is pretty laughable.

    (NB: As usual, it's MCBias and I can't tell where he comes down on the deadpan line; it's 7:30 AM here and if I've stumbled into satire I'll just show myself out, thanks.)

  5. Great post as always, MCBias. I especially like the point about the loyalty of female readers, and how it draws male readers. I have probably as many female readers as male readers (thanks to working in an office that is more than 70% female employees), yet very few, if any, comment. That's because they don't really "know about sports", in their words. I should try to encourage them to comment more... maybe it'll draw even more guys to the website!

    Along those lines, the thing with the Ladies is that they are inherently going to attract male readers just because it is a sports website of women bloggers who are responsive to their readers. Their success is (not to take anything away from their success - I'm very happy for them) more indictive of what's wrong with guys than anything else. It's like this - here's another rule for you: Anytime a female makes a comment on Deadspin, a male must respond to it, no matter how insignificant the original comment or the response.

    I'm embarassed by the males that swoon everytime a female on the internet bats their e-eyelashes more than I am by the Ladies writing a fluff piece about Aaron Rowand or something....

  6. Holly, the reason I call them "Blogging Laws" is because most people would agree with the laws, not me, ha. So I'm not surprised you disagree. I just think that by posting sexy pictures of any gender, sites may make some readers uncomfortable or bore them. I said up front I would try to be controversial. Now, if you don't care about those potentially lost readers because you're gaining so many other readers that love the pictures, and that's your end goal, then fine. Certainly I can't change anyone's opinion by force; I'm just stating MY own views here.

  7. Oh, and Holly, I'll follow up with e-mail later.

    SML...the Ladies/Males thing on the Internet just looks worse for sports blogging because there are so few females. So any female who likes sports and posts is worth 10 of us, ha. It's sad, but true. I've tried to befriend those females so that when they take over the SportsBlog universe, they'll kill me last :-p but my smart mouth keeps getting in the way of my chances for immunity.

  8. Why do I post pics of hot women???? To get guys to read what's there. I usually, only attach them to my 'Links...' articles as an attention getter for my readers. So, in essence, it's helping out those that i'm trying to link to, like yourself, more than it's helping me.

    Also, there is a reason why I don't put up pics of the lady bloggers I spotlight on my blog, it should be their work that gets the attention, not their looks.

  9. I'm amused at how many of you have fixated on 10 instead of 9 and 11. Sex sells, I guess; no wonder I have so many readers...oh, um, wait I don't have that many readers...err, to Jack's comment.

    Anyway, JC, your site is usually very female-friendly. But let's hypothetically suppose that someone happened to load your site when some authority figures were around. Suppose further that your site happened to have that picture of Marissa Miller in a bikini on top as the first post. And, hypothetically, let's further assume that that someone had to do a lot of coughing and nervously loud talking while loading a different web-site on a very slow connection and feeling like time had stopped. And hypothetically, um, let's suppose that MCBias happened to be the someone, and that the authority figure was his pastor. Um, wait, that last part wasn't hypothetical, it happened. You see now why I'm not quite as accepting of this blog law as I used to be? ha.

  10. That's funny and I actually have a story to go along with that. The day that pic was up I was meeting my gf's father for the first time. I guess before I got to her place she was showing him the site and bam! Marisa Miller right on the top of the page....I was like...90% of my readers are males!! He acted mad just to give me a hard time but he was cool with it.

  11. Let me talk a little about 11 then, because I might be guilty of this. Being an old english major, among other things, I would much rather write a well-written opinion post with my commas right and a few semi-colons, etc, then a quick 10 minute "Devil Rays 11, Yankees 2 (that's for SML), Kasmerr piched gud tonite. Jetr sux lik ESPN. Ha!"
    However, I hope this doesn't come off as pretentiousness. It's just I have a lot of pride in authorship. Ok, ok, I'll admit, I won writer of the year for my old college newspaper back in '02. I'm better than all of you. Eh.

  12. success with this post is complete, heh. Nearly all my faithful readers found some fault with this post. Phew. I was worried after how successful the first two were.

    Jordi, yes, you and your journo brethren and sisteren are better than us. I understand English majors need high self-esteem to make up for the lack of salary available to them :-p j/k, I only say that because I'm pretty sure you have a decent job.

    But 11. bothers me when bloggers are getting interviewed by journalists. I know, bloggers want to stress their journalism background to make bloggers look more legitimate to journalists. But when they do that, it comes across as if those of us without English degrees are less talented bloggers or less legitimate. And I'll fight that perception/argument any day.

  13. I don't have a journalism background...can I emphasis that?

  14. emphasize damnit, see there I go again...

  15. I don't have a English or Journalism degree. And I think you could argue that actually it is kinda embarassing if you are have a journalism degree and are blogging... about sports. I won't, because I don't care about blogger's college backgrounds too much, but I do agree with MC Bias that if you feel the need to pull degrees out to justify yourself as a blogger, you're probably gonna look foolish. Especially to someone who has an Ivy League grad degree.

    Also, I find very few people involved in sports writing - internet or MSM - to be true "journalists". Most aren't in the locker rooms anymore, and their "sources" are made-up; in other words, they are just bloggers with more "respectability" attached.

  16. MCBias,
    You totally hit the nail on the head. Most writers, English majors ,etc, have this needy vibe to them. They need to be read. And they have to justify paying thousands of dollars to be taught Shakepeare and other books you could read for free at the local library.
    Honestly, though, I would much rather read someone who advertises their profession as it deals with sports in the non-writing realm (i.e Sports law, sports finance, etc). If I want to truly learn from a blogger on something deep, I'll take a read there. Oh yeah, and read more Jack Cobra, of course.
    But as you once said about my favorite porn star, anyone with 40 bucks can be a published poet. And for some reason, thats what english majors clamor to be. Sad.

  17. Thanks again for busting the busters MC....

  18. Oh! Jack, I laughed when I saw the spelling mistake. Reminds me of when a guy was lecturing kids on how to spell on a forum board and told them they needed better "grammer", ha.

    SML, exactly. Fingers crossed, I'm going to get an advanced degree myself here in a few months. Thus, I have little respect for an undergrad English degree, by itself.

    Jordi, I think that's where the hot blogs are at too. There are already plenty of people with journalism degrees writing. I want to see sports law, sports finance, sports engineering, etc., just as you said. Great point!

    D-Wil, tws392000, etc., thanks for stopping by!