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Do You Get to The Point or Ramble to the Point In Your Blog?

Blog writing tips and articlesI wish this was one of those “of course” questions, but do you edit your posts? Lately I’ve run into a rash of bloggers I know aren’t editing their work.

This isn’t a matter of a minor misspelling but piss poor writing practices. I wish I could excuse it with “well, it’s a personal blog” but I can’t even do that.

I’m finding poorly written, obviously not proofed and edited, technical and educational blog posts.

This is how not to provide technical how to information:

I decided one day that I wanted to figure out how to save a web page to my computer’s hard drive so I could look at it any time I wanted to. Don’t you ever want to do that? Well, I did so I started hunting around the web to see if I could figure out how to save a web page to my computer.

I hunted here and there and found some help but I thought I’d go to the source to get the real help I needed. But that didn’t work, so I hunted some more and read Sally Suzie Whosit’s blog on browsers which told me that I should check my browser’s Help system. Who would of thought that would be helpful? Duh!

So I hit the Help button from the menu and hunted around, trying different keywords until I found “Save File” as the right combination. Who knew! That told me that I could save a web page to my computer by going to the menu bar, you know the bar at the top of the screen which says things like File and Edit and View and so on. I looked under File and there it was: Save As. So I saved it but I didn’t know what to save it as. That took me back to Google to do some more searching…

Are you bored yet? The right way to deliver this information should be:

You can save a web page to your hard drive for future reference through your browser’s menu, File > Save As. It will save automatically as a web page. Save the file in a place where you will be able to find it for reference later.

Honestly, no matter how hard the search was for you to find the information in order to share it with your readers, your readers want to know:

  • Why is this important?
  • How to do it.
  • Tips on doing it better.

I’ve written technical how to articles that took me months of research and study before bringing it to you. Did I share that information with you? No. Did you need to know how hard the subject was to research? No. Did I tell you about how I had a viral infection for two weeks, followed by a sinus infection that almost put me in the hospital, so I could barely think but I still kept blogging because that’s the kind of blogger I am? Of course not.

While you might care, you really don’t. You want the information I have to offer now so you can get back to your own blogging and life problems.

What does your readers want to know from you?

They want to know how to do it, whatever it is you offer. They want to know your insights, expertise, tips, techniques, and tricks on what you specialize in. They want to know how and why they should do it, and how to do it better now that they’ve learned from you. For the most part, they want you to get to the point.

Do you?

If you want to share the information on how you researched and wrote the story, share it later in the post, leaving the instructions at the top of the post, or put it in another post as another lesson on blogging and blog writing. Please, give us the information we need and don’t bore us with how hard it was for you to find it or about how much your personal and work life was disrupted in order to bring us your blog post.

Edit your blog posts to keep the information pertinent and concise. You can use fun and social word choices, but don’t ramble on with useless information. It wastes your time and it definitely wastes your reader’s time.

Don’t ramble to your point but get to it. You’ll make your readers a lot happier.

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11 Comments

  1. Posted June 23, 2007 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Aha…the reason WHY I can’t be a technical blog. I ramble. I’m a little better now, but I’ll still go around the moon before I get to the point. Great way to tell stories if the style is right. Poor way to be technical.

  2. Posted June 23, 2007 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t this depend more on the point of the post? I mean, if the point of your example was to give us how to save a webpage then I see your point. But If the point of the post was to tell us how much of a pain to find the information when she had the answer all along I don’t see the problem.

  3. Posted June 23, 2007 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    I actually agree a bit with Chris here, it depends on what the point of the post is. You should be allowed to ramble like that if you want to tell how hard it was to find an answer for a question.

    But I have to say that it is sometimes annoying to find these posts when you’re searching for the exact same thing as the post author write about.

    And of course I have to admit that I do from time to time post these totally pointless posts myself, or start in the wrong end. I mean; would that post be better if it started with “This is how you to this” and then had all the rambles about how hard it was to search for it?

  4. Posted June 23, 2007 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I’m in agreement with Chris and Kristin. I see your point, certainly – but it really depends on what you’re trying to get across. It also depends on your goals as a blogger. Some people just like to blog for themselves, and if someone finds it interesting, great. If not… well, that’s cool, too.

    I’m kind of concerned about this whole push as of late towards “correct” blogging. When I first started blogging, the practice was a personal one, and there weren’t rules. You wrote what you wanted, how you wanted to. And that was fine.

    Lately, I’m coming across more and more posts that tell you how to blog “right” – and they make it sound like if you don’t do it that way, you’re blogging “wrongly.” I don’t know if this movement is tied into the whole “pro blogging” gig or what, but I’m growing increasingly tired of hearing it.

    Just my .02, and no offense meant, of course.

  5. BONGO MIRROR
    Posted June 23, 2007 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    You are completely correct for technical blogs.

    For personal blogs, I think the rambles are the point of the blog. While that may cost you readers, it seems to me those are readers that one doesn’t want.

    By the way, I think that this post could have been organized more as you describe organizing posts. You could have started with the bulleted points, been more succinct with the explanation and skipped the charming example altogether. If you wrote that way, I probably wouldn’t be reading your stuff and I certainly wouldn’t be leaving a comment here to say anything to you.

  6. Posted June 23, 2007 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Here’s my problem with that statement: You are your own worst editor. Either you’re far too vicious on yourself and end up obliterating what could have been a great post, or you’re too lenient and end up leaving major flaws like the technical article you presented.

    The best way is to get another blogger/editor/other person to loon and critique your work, as they won’t have the biases about it that you will have.

  7. Posted June 23, 2007 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    This is marvellous. I am quite verbose, but with technical matters I try to be as blunt and succinct as I can. It *is* really important to be short and sweet, yet powerful and well-supported in writing, especially on the SAT. I actually do make a point to revise posts — regardless of how old they are. By revision, I mean changing the sentence structure (e.g., a complex to a compound-complex), diction (e.g., removing trite words or phrases), and “cutting the fat” — removing sheer verbiage.

    I think if more high school English teachers read your blog, they’d actually approve of it and might *gasp* actually encourage it. It’s writing at its core; however, it’s not formal, so the standards are relaxed. Still, it *is* important to treat it as writing and an art that is *never* finished — because no writing is ever wrong, it’s just not finished. *smile*

  8. Posted June 23, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The whole point of the article is directed towards technical articles, not personal. You can ramble all you want, though you might increase readership if you didn’t, on a personal life story blog. But if you write a technical blog or blog post, get to the point.

    Josh: There is no right or wrong way to blog. Gees, blogging is still in its infancy and while a style of blog writing has developed, it is a long way from becoming set in stone.

    There are, however, some basic guidelines for technical articles and technical writing that turns your blog post from rambling to educational. You want to help people learn, not fill them in on how late you were to work and how you didn’t stop to take a shower or pee because you wanted to whip out this helpful post…we want the information directly related to the content, not your bathroom habits.

    J.T.: Editing is another issue. The moment we hit “Publish” on our blogs, we become publishers, responsible for our blog content. Bloggers need to learn how to edit before they hit publish, as finding others to critique and editor your work before you hit publish is rare.

    Some bloggers don’t want editors. But all bloggers should take a moment to proof and review and edit before hitting the button. After all, it’s their resume and reputation they are publishing. :D

    One of the reasons many bloggers start blogging, especially those who want to blog in English or another non-native language, is to improve their writing and communication skills. I’ll be writing more on the issue of blog writing, from every angle, over the next few months.

  9. Posted June 23, 2007 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Bloggers need to learn how to edit before they hit publish, as finding others to critique and editor your work before you hit publish is rare.

    My goodily gracious, Edgar, “preview”/”view” in a separate window is such a helpful @#$%^(*&^% for that

  10. Posted June 24, 2007 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    I tend to be verbose so I like your point about putting the technical information first then if I want to share with my readers how I got there to do so afterwards. Maybe put the tech info in a box to highlight it. I tend to write in long sentences too…I need to learn to shorten them down a bit.

    Thanks for the tip.

  11. Posted July 24, 2007 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    You probably wouldn’t know it with all my typos (I’m not a very strong typist) but I have a Master’s in English and have taught a couple composition courses at a community college in my life. One thing I would say is that this is the most unattractive feature in blogs I visit. If it goes on without a question to me or a thesis (point!) past 4 or 5 sentences, I usually don’t care to solve the mystery if you know what I mean. Fortunately, this is a good way to weed out the blogroll entries you find and don’t know if you should keep or not. That’s usually how I do it.


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