Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blogging question

Blogspert Jakob Nielsen has written a list of the 10 most common blog design problems (thanks to Dave Munger for posting on this). I'm curious what you folks think about his Don't #8: "Mixing Topics": If you publish on many different topics, you're less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They're unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic). I'd rather not think of my loyal readers as a "low-value demographic" but I'm definitely guilty of this sin. Question: should I relegate political posts (like the one below) to a separate blog, or do you think Nielsen's Don't #8 is hooey? My suspicion: those of you who read me for the humor skip over the politics. I doubt the political posts hurt the blog overall. What do you think? D.

10 Comments:

Blogger Stephen said...

I think that Nielsen's rule number 8 is probably on the money, at least as far as I am concerned. I only have a small readership, but it's a loyal one - returning visitors consistently outnumber one-offs, and, last time I checked, about 40% of visits were from returnees with 10 or more visits. I stick almost entirely to writing about the three Rs: Reading; Writing; and the Regency. I don't do politics at all, not because I don't have political opinions - I most definitely do - but I don't think that my readers (particularly the 50% from outside the UK) care about them.

As to your blog - I don't find the politics as off-putting as some of the stuff about sex (writing humour is hard, writing well about sex is hard, combining the two is very hard indeed, and near misses can be a bit of a chore to read), but that is because I largely share your perspective on US politics (my self-denying ordinance on politics only applies to Wenlock itself, not my comments on other people's blogs). If I were a conservative with a sense of humour I probably would walk away because of the politics.

But it all depends what you want your blog to be for. Mine is, to a reasonable extent, a showcase for my writing, so I don't want to confuse people with extraneous matters. Yours is, I think, more of a showcase for your whole self, so other considerations apply.

Isn't the whole point of blogging that you make your own rules?

11/05/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jona said...

I'm happy enough to just watch and see where your thoughts end up - in fact it's interesting to see what bothers or amuses you day to day, and the variation of your entries provides the glimse.

Do what you do, it's all good :o)

11/05/2005 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I think rules about blogging are, frankly, utter fucking bullshit.

I read people whom I find interesting. If I don't find em interesting, I don't read. Trying to play to what a "high value audience" finds interesting is an exercise in wankery.

For whatever reason - not the politics, not the humor, not the spiders for damn sure - I tend to be interested enough in what you have to say and how you say it to come back for more. The end.

11/05/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

You and I don't agree on a number of things, but you're funny and smart and I like the fact that you can write seriously about cancer and then about paper-shredding farts.

Write what you want.

11/05/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Thanks, folks. So far I'm siding with Beth on this one. Besides, what diff does it make what traffic I get? It's not like I'm selling advertisement. I've made many good friends through blogging, and that's what keeps me going.

11/05/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous PBW said...

Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules. Write what the hell you want.

Your stuff about politics never bugs me, and I am the least political person I know (as in, I will run screaming out of the room the minute someone turns redstate or bluestate on me.) I will cop to having skimmed it, but only because I'd rather read about writing and doc and spider stuff during my ten minute blog rounds.

11/05/2005 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

I think Stephen is right with his comment But it all depends what you want your blog to be for.

If you are thinking of this as a spot to "advertise" your published work and things of that nature, then I can see how politics would be off-putting to some people. For example, I've found my loyalty and/or enjoyment of some author's work has been reduced once I found out their politics aren't my politics. It's certainly not rational, but people aren't usually rational, are they?

Nothing you've written about since I started checking in here has offended me and generally speaking I'd say write whatever you want, only make it a conscious choice to include politics and to hell with potentially turning some people away if that's what you want to do.

11/05/2005 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

That's weird. I posted a reply a moment ago and it vanished.

What I wanted to say: the political stuff, eh, that's just me getting stuff off my chest. I don't expect my regular pals to read those posts -- if you do, great, but those are more for my benefit (think 'letting off steam') than yours.

Thanks again, everyone, for your support.

11/05/2005 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Darla said...

Bah. Rule 8 is hooey. I stop by for the humor & variety... and the humorous variety. It's always an adventure to see what you're going to come up with next.

11/06/2005 02:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Candy said...

I'm with Beth: I find bloggers I like, and I stick with them and will read whatever they write. I don't generally frequent blogs that stick to just one topic because I find the topic soooo incredibly fascinating. I will confess to skimming some of the more detailed political stuff, but fart stories and stories about mysteries bubblings on your hairy hackey sack? Love 'em. (I was about to say "I eat 'em up with a spoon" but stopped myself because it sounded really damn disturbing, even coming from me.)

11/07/2005 02:30:00 PM  

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