Thursday, June 21, 2007

Feeling the Need to Post

I've looked far and wide over the past two mornings for something to write about, and both times I've come up with nothing. My feeling is that if I can't write something fresh and substantive, I'm better off not writing anything at all.

But, yet, there's still this nagging feeling I have during the stretches where I haven't posted anything for two or more days. I feel as though I'm doing my voice a disservice by not saying anything, even if I don't feel I have anything worthwhile to say.

Part of this is driven by an article I read by one of the MyDD writers -- I think it was Chris Bowers -- just as I was starting this blog. Among the points Bowers suggested for generating and maintaining readership was the need for continued and consistent blogging. If you have stretches where you don't say anything, people will stop coming back to your blog.

I can see where this is very true on the national scene, particularly a few years ago, which is when I think Bowers (or whoever it was) wrote that article. There are literally hundreds of national blogs to choose between and you need a very large number of readers in order to be considered successful. Plus, there's usually something newsworthy happening every day on the national scene, and readers are going to be turning to their favorite blogs for commentary. If that commentary isn't there, they'll learn to start turning elsewhere.

But with the advent of blog readers, like Bloglines, I'm not so sure that's as much of an issue anymore. I have roughly 70 political blogs on my Bloglines -- about 25 national and the rest local -- and I simply read the posts as they pop up. If someone didn't have anything to say for three, four, or five days, I probably wouldn't even notice.

In addition, the local blogosphere is different than the national scene in the sense that it's just flat out smaller in terms of blogs, readers, and -- perhaps most importantly -- significant news stories that are deserving of commentary.

And I get the vast majority of my hits from WisOpinion, typically when one of my posts is featured there, and most of the rest come from LeftyBlogs. Even if I take a few days off, I can get my readership back up pretty quickly by landing a link on WisOpinion and LeftyBlogs.

In spite of knowing all of this, the feeling that I need to post something still persists on days like today.

What do all of you think? As a reader, do you prefer it when a blog only says something when the blogger has something fresh and substantive to say, or is it more important to you that bloggers are consistently demonstrating they have a pulse by getting something out there just about every day?

And, if you're a blogger, do you feel a similar pressure to get something out there and, if so, does it bother you if that something really doesn't say all that much?

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5 Comments:

Blogger James Wigderson said...

Speaking as a blogger who is taking an extended vacation and wondering what kind of traffic I'll have after I've been gone a few weeks, I understand the desire to "feed the beast" and blog everyday. But to every blogger just starting out that I've ever given advice I've told them to only blog when they have something interesting and unique to write. You don't have to comment on every issue that comes up and it gets pretty boring to read, "This is interesting" followed by a link and maybe a comment that's occurred to every other local blogger.

But it depends on why you blog. Do you blog because you love to write, or do you blog because you have some sort of mission? If you're of a partisan hack bent then boring, repetitive writing acting as a news service for your readers might be the way to go.

If you're not in a writing mood, go to everyone else's blog and comment. It helps drive up your traffic and you might find something interesting to blog about.

June 21, 2007  
Blogger Daniel Cody said...

As a reader, I often find that I can immediately recognize posts on weblogs that I read which are written "just to post", and I don't care for it to be honest.

As a writer, I often find myself in the same spot as you Seth. Other times I feel like I have a lot to say but either can't find the right words or the time to post something worthwhile on my own weblog.

On the other hand, there have been many times where you can get into a groove and have an easy time posting multiple times a day. Just like anyone else who publishes content, it's and ebb and flow.

Personally I've always enjoyed reading your website for the kind of in-depth commentary that isn't found everywhere.

I think everyone needs to worry less about page hits and the number of readers we all have or the number of ads being served on your website. It's always been one of things I've hated about some in the blogging community since I've been part of it (going on seven years now myself). You're either doing it because you care about the issues and want to get your opinion out there, or you're doing it to get page views and need whatever it is you get out of knowing that more people read your blog than blog X.

That's a somewhat simplified version, condensed for space ;)

But once again, keep up the good work.

June 21, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

James,

I like your idea about commenting on other blogs during those "down" days. Commenting elsewhere is something I should do more. On days when I get a post out of my own, I typically don't have the time. But that usually isn't the case on the days I don't post something (unless, of course, I didn't post anything because of a lack of time).

Dan,

I'm with you -- and James echoed this, too -- on not caring for posts that are clearly up there to simply fill space. The only "here's a link" posts I enjoy are the ones that point out an obscure story, study, poll, etc., that most people probably wouldn't come across otherwise. Even then, though, I prefer analysis, but at least the obscure links with no analysis are better than those that simply point out a JS story without any analysis.

I also agree there's an ebb and flow with posting. This week I've been in the mood to write, I just can't find anything interesting to say. Other weeks, however, I just haven't been in the blogging mood (or, as Jay has gently put it, I'm blogstipated).

And we're definitely in agreement about setting readership -- at least in terms of quantity -- aside and focusing more on worthwhile commentary. As I've noted before, the local blogosphere would be a more productive and, ultimately, more significant place if the emphasis was on reflection rather than reaction.

June 21, 2007  
Blogger James Wigderson said...

I think, too, you have to keep in mind who your audience is. I'll trade five readers in the general public for one state legislator. Looking through my site stats, I like to see when the Journal Sentinel writers are taking a peek at the blogs, or members of city hall for that matter. Most of those people already know what the newspapers or talk radio said this morning.

June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was such a mania (at first) among the articles written about blogging - that it had to be done every day or multiple posts per day. Now, those who actually study blogging (sorry no time to cite a source)are saying that filler and "crap" posts are alienating and do more harm than good. A good blogger then is as fussy about the quality of posts as Ernest and Julio Gallo were about their wine :)

The other trend is supposed to be that the line between blog posts and personal emails becomes blurred somewhat. As relationships develop between bloggers the interactions become intrinsic to the posts themselves. This is best seen I think within the blog "life" of Owen of B&S.

On both of these counts - the "relational" and the quality aspects to "new" blogging, over-intentionality is counter-productive. By overintentionality I mean the extreme micromanagement that is inherent in the concept of echo chambers and blog content networks. A big trend now and sadly self-defeating, any blogger will sense this in their gut.
The idea of voluntary emotionally
SUPPORTIVE networks (a female might call this a form of friendship) is one thing, and would not involve sublimating your own views to that of the group but would encourage individual exploration of ideas. But this is "dangerous" because it cannot be controlled by the top. But is actually the true definition of grassroots. Grassroots is spontaneous and bottom-up. The way the word Grassroots is used these days is orwellian double-speak. Even the left has top-down forcible attitudes to the "grass".

Re: blogging - mass mind and group think is, as your reader above said - deadly dull to read. Instinctively we all know that. What blogger started blogging to EMULATE the homogeneity of the mass media? No one. We all started because we are sicked by that, and yet how many of us now think such behavior is The Answer? And yet

There is a rush now for forced unity and overcontrol. Essentially a fascist impulse. Fascist impulses work for the right because of the basic synchronicity with militarism and top-down control that draws the righties to the right in the first place.

Applying this mentality to the left because it "works" on the right is, a very male but tragically misguided impulse. The left will be doomed to be the weak brother of the right as long as the left acts in this kind of "me too" following manner.

Blog what you want, when you want, without looking over your shoulder at the other guys. Most of the opther guys are saps who are bewitched by power and will do anything it be near it. They are weak followers, not leaders.

If you don't obey your inner voice and write what is really in your heart, you're better off watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. Because NO one wants to read the kind of crap described above, (pulp generated by weak puppies), except the people who produce it. Besides, the trained professional media can to that sort of thing faster better and longer. The power of blogging came from the renegade qualities, which bloggers themselves are now working very very hard to kill. Actually IMHO - they already killed it. RIP, and all that. There's a real chance that blogging is dead already and some are still poking at the corpse. Therefore , those that remain are only providing "cover" for the bullshit propaganda bloggers. No time to explain that if you don't get it from that brief remark.

Okay, that's all I got. The Skipper is whacking Gilligan on the head and a big typhoon is coming, a monkey is whipping bananas at the Howells, and Ginger is wearing sparkly gown number 56,784... I got to go see what happens next.
Good Luck.

p.s.
Some day a MAN with a string of credentials, high status and a bank roll will say the kinds of things I just said and people actually hear the guy. The truest thing I have learned about blogging and life is - it doesn't matter WHAT is being said, it only matters WHO is saying it.

Human beings are crazy things, that's for sure.

June 21, 2007  

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