It began with Puiu from the Lost Art of Blogging on 7 Blogging Beginner Mistakes And How to Avoid Them, which made some very good points, much of them well known and considered conservative and traditional, such as it’s “better” to have a self-hosted blog so you have the freedom to do what you will rather than a free blog with limits and restrictions.
One of my favorite points came with this definition of comments on blogs:
4. Commenting issues.
I just hate it when it’s just to complicated to comment on a particular post. Some people make the mistake of making the commenting process to complicated and time consuming, especially if they make the user to register an account. Some people make a even greater step backwards and turn off commenting all together. That cuts off reader interaction, one of the major principles a blog is built upon.
Been a whine of mine for a long time.
In part two of the debate, Tom Johnson of I’d Rather Be Writing plays devils advocate. You can tell that he believes much of what Puiu said, but pushes the concepts with examples of how the traditional concepts are often broken by those who do not follow conservative form and function, like my “free and limiting blog” that you are reading, in Counterpoints to 7 Blogging Beginner Mistakes.
On the topic of comments, Tom makes a good counterpoint:
Puiu says to allow comments, respond to comments, and comment on others posts. Turning off comments or requiring registration takes away from the basic interactive foundation of blogging. Yes of course commenting should be open and encouraged. But the more popular your blog gets, the harder it is to keep up with comments. Soon you’ll be spending as much time responding to comments as you spend writing new posts.
I believe that a blog can be successful with comments turned off, and that not all blogs need comments. But most do. It’s an important part of the definition of a blog. I agree with both of them that anything that gets in the way of commenting needs to be turned off and stopped immediately.
Both bring up very good points that beginner bloggers struggle with, as do many who have been blogging for a while but are now paying attention to how and what they are blogging. I’m sure you could add to their list easily.
An important point that both brush over but never fully address, which would be the eighth mistake on the list, a mistake that I’d put at the top, is the issue of original blog content.
Many blogs start off with enthusiastic blog posts, expressing the insights and perspectives of the blogger as they struggle to learn how this blogging thing works. The moment they discover how easy it is to copy and paste blockquotes and add a few words and hit Publish, their blog becomes an echo chamber, a mimeograph machine on the web. Sure, you add a few words but are you really adding to the conversation?
Coming up with new things to say is a burden that hits every blogger. “What can I write about that’s new today?” There is a sense of competition, too. “I have to write bigger and better than I did yesterday.” These things tangle up in the blogger’s head as they struggle to express themselves. Eventually the thought “Who cares what I write anyway?” comes drifting in and the enthusiasm for the blogging experience wanes.
Blockquoting the news and others fills in the gap while waiting for the enthusiasm to return. For some, it never does.
As part of my series on blog struggles, I hope to address all of these “mistakes” that happen for all bloggers and how to rediscover and reenergize your passion for blogging.
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.