Monday, 24 September 2007

Edit your blog with pride.

Readers of Private Eye will have noticed the odd cartoon sniping at the blogosphere for its poor quality and lack of editorial attention. It is a reputation well deserved.

It is a sad case of affairs because nothing undermines the movement more than sloppy editing and careless posting. We live in an age of spell checkers and an age where blogger software does just about everything short of writing the post itself. So why do we suffer so?

We have learned over time that a well illustrated blog and well presented blog can be the difference between a readable blog and one that gets bookmarked for later, never to be seen again. There are a few exceptions who have essential content but they are few.

So here is the list of our top pet hates. Avoiding them will keep you in our good books:

Distorted images.

Placing an image in a post is easy. It can and does go wrong but blogger's image placement tool has so few options that barely five minutes of experimentation will set you up for life. If it really is beyond you to size your image properly then just delete it and don't bother. A squashed image will add nothing to your blog and make you look a bit of a prat.

Lack of Paragraphs.

There's a button on your keyboard that puts in line returns just like the old type writers. It will not take an extra sugar in your coffee to press it once in a while. If I see a cut and paste blog with no line spaces I will not read it. You could well have produced the most insightful post the internet has ever seen but give your readers a break now and then.

Long URL's and non clickable links.

We hate them. They look rubbish, people won't copy and paste them into their browsers, and anyone with less than a three second internet attention span (which is everyone at Umbrella Blog) will move on. Making them clickable makes your blog look good and it's a sure sign the blogger in question cares about their work. See this little tutorial. Easy innit? Blogger is now so simple the only reason for not doing it is idleness.

Short and pointless posts.

Ok so not everyone feels like writing War and Peace every time they sit at the PC. But we include the first paragraph of a blog post on our main page summary. Kinda sucks if readers find they went all the way to your blog just for another three lines. We like to see a mix of long and short. Variety in both content and length and images really does make a blog.

Ultra long posts.

There's really no point. The point of blogs is they are a quick digest of news and opinion. If you have a post which takes up three feet of blog space you will find no-one actually finishes reading it. If it really is worth posting then break it up into separate posts and publish them over a few days. Serialize your own work.

Pictures of pets in the sidebar.

No-one wants to see or hear from your moggy unless it has something more intelligent to say than you. Which is why we make an exception for Hector (don't ask).
Essentially, your blog is a reflection of you. If you have not spared any attention to detail to presentation, why should readers think you have done the same in your words?

To some of our members and members to come we ask you edit your blog with pride. We are trying to push the medium of blogging right in the noses of the MSM and if you look bad, we look bad and you will slip quietly off our radar. It's easy and we're here to support you so no excuses peeps.

These lessons we have learned first hand and we're saving you a great deal of energy and time by telling you this now. We want to be a flagship for quality blogging. We know you have it in you so let's see it.

Update: This is how it's done. Some quality work from The Huntsman.