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Point and Counterpoint in Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make

Articles about blogging tipsIn an interesting “debate” or rather “continuation of the conversation”, two bloggers take on the concept of the 7 Blogging Beginner Mistakes and how to avoid them.

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.

14 Comments

  1. Posted October 20, 2007 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for covering our debate Lorelle and yes you’re very much right when putting original content into the blogging mistakes basket. I can’t believe I didn’t cover that; silly me I guess. Content is king after all and most users will overlook any other mistakes you make if you provide them with constant, original and remarkable content. Regards, Tibi.

  2. Posted October 20, 2007 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    I totally agree that it is very frustrating when you want to comment on a post but have to jump through hoops to do so. I just don’t bother if I have to sign up or anything like that.

    David

  3. Posted October 20, 2007 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    one of the best things I’ve ever done is consciously decide to avoid “current issues”. Almost all of my blog posts are from ideas that have been marinating for weeks instead of a “joe said this” post.

    I use delicious/stumbleupon for sharing links…

  4. Posted October 20, 2007 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    If all your doing is sharing links and blockquotes, give Tumblr a try. It’s great for that.

  5. syahidali
    Posted October 20, 2007 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    agreed with engtech. tumblr is awesome.

  6. Posted October 20, 2007 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I have just read “7 Blogging Beginner Mistakes And How to Avoid Them”…. This is nice article.. however, I don’t agreed for two facts below..

    >>Not blogging on self-hosted blogs.

    I don’t agree with this fact… Why should we spend a few bucks for our blog at the time when we don’t know about blogging?? I think it is very okay for beginners to use wordpress.. maybe.. when the blog is three or four months old, they should buy domain upgrade..

    >>5. Stats show off

    I dont think it is mistake… I believe that everybody loves their stats and they wanna show it to everybody ….

  7. Posted October 20, 2007 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree and disagree with many of their points, without a doubt. They used me as an example of a “successful” non-self-hosted site which is in the counterpoint argument, which you should also have read.

    As for stats, personally, while everyone loves their stats and wants to show them off, the point is that only a few stats influence readers. Let’s put readers first and stop cluttering our sites with stuff we want that offers little or no value to readers.

    I had a friend a long time ago who told me repeatedly that he didn’t care what he looked like or how he looked. I told him that was fine for him, but the rest of us had to look at him and we didn’t like what we were seeing. Bathing regularly would be a step in the right direction, as well as wearing clothes not covered with two weeks of lunch. Not big deals, and certainly of no interest to him, but the rest of us who had to be near him cared – a lot (holding our noses).

    I look at blog clutter like stats the same way. :D

  8. Posted October 21, 2007 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    I hate blogs that have comments turned off or that must first moderate the comment before it appears. What is the blogger afraid of? That someone will say something snarky about them? I just don’t get it.

  9. Posted October 21, 2007 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your reply. Lorelle..

    Yeah. Your site is the example of “successful” non-self hosted blog..

    >>Not big deals, and certainly of no interest to him, but the rest of us who had to be near him cared – a lot (holding our noses).

    If we have some sidebars like Meta (Site Admin, Logout) or SPAM BLOCKED in our blog then we can say that those sidebars are no value for readers.. but why stats? stats can make the readers impressed about our blog.. they may probably guess whether a particular blog is worth to read or not… i understand that it is not 100% accurate but they at least can guess whether our blog is well-visited or not.. :)

    Just my opinion, :) Thanks..

  10. Posted October 21, 2007 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Rick: I’ve written about the issue of having comments on or off on blogs and there are some blogs that don’t need comments. It’s the blogger’s choice. Some may want them, and some may not. But the ones that do want them, and then put up obstacles in the commenter’s way to comment, those people aren’t afraid of the comments, they want to control comment spam, and that’s not the right method. I’m with you on that.

    Michael: There is a lot of clutter on blogs that can go, including the meta links and such, but blog stats are known fakes so reader don’t take them seriously. And if you do…a blog is worth its weight in honors if the content meets your needs. Stats mean little to serious readers if your blogs meets their needs.

    They are great gimmicks though, but totally unnecessary. I’m proof.

    The ONLY reason the Akismet stats are shown on my blog, and they’ve only been there for a short time, is because Matt Mullenweg asked me to display them. It’s not enough I write tons of articles promoting the snot out of Akismet, which I adore, he wants a mini-ad, too. :D

  11. Posted October 21, 2007 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated by blogs that require you to register. I have to remember enough passwords as it is. I don’t want to learn one more. It especially annoys me when it’s a self-hosted blog. At least with the blogger ones, I’ve finally just given in and resolved myself to getting a sign-on just to leave comments.

    The other thing that bothers me is the people who delete my comments; I can only suppose they do this because they didn’t like what I had to say when I don’t agree with them. Apparently not everyone wants real dialog on their blog. I don’t believe I’m rude or overly insulting.

  12. Posted October 21, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Just came to your blog from wpdesigner site. Nice found for me. Seems to be an interesting blog Lerelle. You got a new subscribed reader.

  13. Posted October 21, 2007 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    J. Lynne: Indeed, I’ve given up on all password requiring registration comments. As for the issue of deleting your comments, take care in being too presumptive. Comments often do not appear because of many reasons. They could have been caught by spam filters, a common thing, and then not caught as a false positive. If it is important for your comment to appear, and it doesn’t, why not contact the blogger to let them know. It’s hard work going through comment spam to find the good ones, so some are often missed.

    Regretfully, some comments are caught by moderation and bloggers don’t pay attention. WordPress blogs lists moderated comments in their Comments panel, but some don’t. They have to visit that specific panel to see what’s being held back. Laziness or forgetfulness can be the reason.

    There are also many bugs in some versions of WordPress, WordPress Plugins and other blogging programs, especially those which use CAPTCHAs and other torture tests that can cause comments to be lost. It happens. Even to me.

    None of these are justification or excuses, just facts on the ground. Still, a blogger has a right to control comments on their blog, and commenters have a right to leave the best “quality” comments they can that continue the conversation. I wrote about this in How NOT to Comment on Comments.

    I will never do or say anything that will take away a bloggers right to control comments, which are content, on their blogs. I will however, continue to work to educate commenters to not waste a blogger or reader’s time with “Thank you for this interesting point” or “Seems interesting. I’ve now subscribed to your blog.” Sorry, Reztar, but that’s the truth. While these may seen compliments, such comments do not continue the conversation and are often seen as ways to get link juice and attention rather than truly entering into the spirit of the dialog.

    But thank you just the same. :D

  14. Posted October 22, 2007 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    I think that all blogs must have a comments. Cuz I have my opinion for some problems.


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