Are You Getting Truth From Pop Blogs?

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This page is a comment i wrote after reading this article: 〈The Day I Was Flamed At My Blog (And 7 Steps To Handle Flames With Grace)〉 (2010-04-09), By Celestine Chua. Source (the following is slightly edited and expanded.)

In the past month, i did research into the whole SEO and online blogging scene. I'm a person with academic background. One thing i realized, is that all these blog sites, basically their primary focus is making money. Even though many are honest, valuable (such as problogger which i learned a lot from), but there is certain inherent conflict with real truth. Let me explain a bit.

For example, there are blogs dedicated to writing. If you look at these tips, for example some of the most common are: write concisely, use simple words and avoid big words, try to itemize your points. Now, if you look at pop magazines, e.g. women's mags, typical their headlines is:10 ways to lose weight. 8 secrets of guys you need to know. etc.

In a way, you can see, that these tips about writing, isn't really the real thing. Put it this way, would professional writers (e.g. world class fiction writers, poets, recognized journalists, professors of letters), advise the same type of writing tips as these blogs? likewise, the type of tips given by blogs usually don't really appear in pro circles, e.g. The Elements of Style aka Strunk & White.

In a similar way, with topics regarding how to deal with comments … academically it is about criticism. The issue of criticism, its nature, value, style, or dealing with it e.g. acceptance level, effects, is a old topic. A common problem from personal blogs to politics.

The blog approach, which is pretty much exemplified in this blog post. It is very valuable for the typical goals of bloggers. However, if you expand the point of view a bit, to what degree you accept negative comments and how you deal with it, and the effect to what is truth in your blog's topic, isn't 100% compatible with the typical advice in blogs.

In a way, after reading much about all these blogs in the past month, one feels that the world of internet has become all these nice 10 ways to xyz, 5 tips you must know. Some other blogs from for example professors, you don't see this, and typically, they have readership maybe 10 subscribers. LOL.

Thinking about this, you can see that in printed periodicals, there are types that cater to mass audience, such as women's magazines, men's mags (Maxim, Muscles), Popular Psychology, Popular Mechanics, PC Magazine, gaming mags, hot cars mags, etc. These mag's writing style, title style, seem to be in sync with online commercial blogs. They are that way, i presume because after decades of experiment, that's the style that sells. However, there are also higher class commercial magazines, such as Scientific American, Time Mag, New Yorker, Forbes, in which the writing style is very different. They use a lot highbrow words, and they don't have “n Life's Secrets” type of titles. Though, these are also mags where making money is their primary goal. So, as a blogger, i think one can also learn from them, depending on your subject area and audience. (possibly already lots of these blogs exist just much less common, or these type of bloggers haven't caught on with online monetizing yet.)

Me, have always tend to be the type who leave critical comments, typically ostensibly offensive with 4-letter words. Apart from the 4-letter words, my reason is, to grow truth, negative comments is far more important than positive ones. If you look at a typical blog, vast majority of comments are like “thank you”, “great tip”, "i agree". They are of little substance. There are 2 perspectives in valuing feedback. ① with respect to how it grows your community. ② with respect to the density, quality, of info of that feedback. For commercial bloggers, 1 is good, but if you really intend to seek “truth”, 2 can be considered.

Here's some rant i wrote about criticism Criticism versus Constructive Criticism. It was written in the programer community. (where rudeness is far more common)

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