Sunday, July 27, 2008

Will’s Pet Peeves – Five Bad Blogging Clichés

Will Here:

I read an awful lot of blogs; I think that’s no secret. Since I discovered the wonderful world of RSS feeds and Google Reader a few months ago, every time I click the little green button on my toolbar I get anywhere between 10 and 100 new entries to read from the over 100 different blogs I subscribe to.

In the sports card world I have well over a dozen different blog subscriptions, and as for my own blogs, I contribute to this one, and have two other of my own (one is just my generic online journal, the other is The Budget Sports Card Collector in which I try to focus on the cheap-end of the collecting spectrum. If you add up all the entries on all three blogs, I’ve written well over 400 articles in blog format over the last seven years. I don’t know if that makes me an expert blogger, but it does make me a bit savvier than the guy just starting out there. I'm posting this entry here instead of my own blogs because frankly Gellman gets more traffic than I do, and I want this to be read, digested and spat back out at me in disgust.

That said, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few blogging clichés out there in the blogosphere that need to be retired. No, this won’t be a retread of every other snarky “don’t do this” blog entry, because I’m just as guilty as others of spreading the bad syntax.

1. “Without further ado”, sometimes misspelled “adieu”. – This has to go, big time. It should not be used by bloggers at all, especially those who can’t spell “ado” properly. The phrase is actually one of the oldest clichés in the English language originating in the 1300’s! Time for a rest don’t you think? It’s tired and bad copy, and basically lazy. When you use this phrase it’s a signal that you’re done with the preliminaries and ready to get on with the meat of the post. Just get to it already.

2. For that matter, all phrases that are used to connote that the introduction is over and the heart of the post is coming should be excised immediately. Including my own use of “that said” which is sheer laziness. Thinking about it critically, I’m just saying “I know I said all that above that is the complete antithesis to my point, which I’m going to make anyway, so you can automatically discount my opinion because it means nothing to me as it is.”

3. Blog entries that consist of nothing but a “preview” of upcoming blog entries - Way to make your idea for one blog stretch into two or three. Are you that starved for content that you’ve decided to cannibalize your own ideas? Of course you are, because blogging on a regular basis is HARD. The problem is that blogging isn’t magazine writing, and most bloggers don’t stick to a specific schedule of blogging, they just throw up whatever entry they feel like posting that day. Advance notice of your upcoming features is not necessary.

4. Copying other blogs ideas – It’s a blog-eat-blog world out there, and I’m sure that all of us at one point or another are guilty of inadvertent theft of ideas. No, what I’m talking about here is when a meme that one blog creates gets disseminated down to other blogs and diluted, such as Gellman’s own Joe Collector idea. I know Gellman feels that it’s a form of flattery, and perhaps it is, but now he’s taking flack for creating a meme that has grown into something he didn’t intend it to mean in the first place. Then there’s the inevitable meme backlash, and the originator has to backtrack in the first place. While ideas are meant to be shared, they aren’t meant to be copied verbatim. If you like the idea, come up with your own offshoot.

5. Numbered Lists – Just like this one. One thing I learned in three years of high school journalism classes over 20 years ago is that readers have a short attention span, and anything in depth tends to go over their heads. There is no better way to keep your audience than by breaking down your ideas into short, bite-sized paragraphs and numbering them so that your audience doesn’t miss something. Of course, if we got rid of lists, then half of the blogosphere would immediately implode into a mass of starry matter that rivals a small black hole. Topless Robot would go out of business immediately.

Bonus - Any time you are self-referential, you’re being lazy (I’m lazy an awful lot, that’s why I know so much about being lazy). Speaking of lazy, run your blog entry through a spell checker before you post it please. I’m not asking for a professional edit job where you submit your writing to your editor first, but come on, if you are still confusing “your” and “you’re” or worse, “there”, “their” and “they’re” you need to stop blogging. NOW.

Did I miss something here? Yes, I probably did. But it’s Sunday morning, I’m watching kiddy TV shows to keep my toddler occupied while I write this entry. Back to Bunnytown and Zoob toys.


  1. I cant stand "of the day posts" it seems like every blog has a card of the day, a pack of the day, a something of the day and that is beyond annoying. I dont need that crap, give me something good.

    This happens on all blogs, not just card blogs. Thats why I outlawed them here.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you say here, although I too probably commit a lot of the crimes you speak of. The one thing that really gets to me is people not using spellchecker. It's the easiest thing to do. People don't realize how much their readers turn off to how much of an "expert" they are when they can't even check their own spelling.

  3. They're are a lot of bloggers out their who can't spell write. I'm glad your not one of them.