On blogging

I’ve been reading quite a bit about blogging — the blog as genre, how to attract readers to your blog, the “rules” of blogging. I stumbled across two things, only one of which I’ll discuss today: a scholarly article on blogs and diaries (I’ll save that one), and the forums on MetaxuCafe, a site for “litbloggers” (I joined recently, and you can see the link over on the left). In their forum on “Blogging issues and ideas,” they have a thread on the question, “What is normal activity for a blog?” The posts discuss how to get readers and how to get people to comment; one person recommended being controverial now and then, not too often, or you will get a reputation for having knee-jerk responses, but enough to get people reading. The group wisdom seems to be that you need a big, popular blog to link to you, and then your readership will skyrocket. But some people report slow but steady increases in readers.

Someone else mentioned the “three pillars of blog traffic: focus, short posts, and the pop/gossip/controversy factor.” This is the sort of thing that intrigues me. Blogs are so new, and there are already rules for them! But people are breaking those rules! I read lots of blogs with long posts, and, if the writing is good, I come back to them all the time. I like unfocused blogs that discuss anything and everything — as long as the writer is interesting.

We (writers, readers) craft rules of genre so fast, so that almost instantaneously we have some rules to break. Every blog has the blogroll, the links, the personal information (or noticeable avoidance of personal information), the archives. Before creating my own blog, you can bet I spent some time checking out what other people have done and thinking about what things I want to steal and what others I’d like to adapt. So far, I’ve shaped my blog based on the book blogs I’ve read and liked. So I’ll include the occasional book review, the posts on reading itself, the experience of buying books.

It’s fun to think about what the “blog genre” is, how the medium shapes it (those three pillars are perfect for the what we have come to expect from the internet), and how individual bloggers are contributing to the genre as a whole.

So, to follow one of the suggestions for attracting comments, I’ll end with a question: how much is a blog like or unlike a diary?

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