Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Idle Thoughts on Blogging

I am still on semi hiatus so I'm just going to ramble a bit instead of doing a whole post.
Once in a while I break out of my newshutch aggregator and go take a look at the rest of the Kenyan blogs in the blogosphere.

This may not please many but things aren't what they used to be. I remember at one time I spent a whole day on the aggregator and had to work like a mule to make up for that lost time and this used to happen often. But now since quite a few old timers stopped blogging and for some other reason, if I look at the feed, it's only for a few minutes.

I am in no way whatsoever saying that the new blogs are not any good, au contraire quite a few are and they know themseleves because I constantly comment on their new posts. I think that part of the problem is that when many people start their blogs they don't have an idea where their blog is going. Of course it's your blog and you can write it anyway you want to but if you want to get readers it has to follow a formula that makes it readable.

First things first, your blog has to be original. Piggy backing someone's writing style and catch phrases only works for so long but if I want to read someone who writes like M, I will go read M and not your blog. I think that is a major part of the problem because too many blogs read the same and this is why interest is waning on the parts of many. We all have a unique writing style and opinions and it is best to stick to that and not other peoples'.

Second, if you are going to write a "serious" blog, you know the ones that have commentaries and all do it well. Be informed, conscise and to the point. This is because opinions abound across the whole internet and to be honest unless it is about an issue I need more information on I look towards the most informed and authoritative source or just make my opinion. Plus write and interact with your readers in a way that will make them want to come back to your blog and learn more and not like a sanctimonious know it all.

Third, if you are going to write a "technical" blog follow the first two sentences of the previous paragraph. Furthermore if you want to pull in readers write in a way that is understandable to lay men. I think some of the financial blogs in the Kenyan blogsphere would get alot more readers if they gave a link of commonly used terms and their definitions. Many assume that since someone is on their blog they know the meanings of all those terms which isn't the case as I do know many Kenyans do not know the inner workings of the stock market.

Fourth, if you are going to write a personal blog don't make it a journal (unless that was your intention). No one wants to know what you had for breakfast everyday, how long you spent in traffic unless something unique happened during that time. If people can predict what is on your blog, they will stop visiting it. But on the other hand (this is my own opinion) you can be as open as you want to be on your blog but I believe in staying within certain limits. It is fine to say that you got laid over the weekend, but when you go into every single detail your blog just turns into cheap porn (which may be your intention) . With the way many bloggers meet personally, would you want the first thing bloggers to think when they see you be your explicit sexcapades? When you are more than that? Matters of an explicit nature tend to blur out everything else. But then again that is just my own opinion feel free to bare as much as you want of yourself but know that the information is in public domain and may fall into the wrong hands, and may result in some interesting opinions of you.

Fifth, if you are writing an "activism" blog make sure at the end of the day it leads to some change. There are many activist blogs but in most cases they hardly lead to any action on the ground. Why? Because most of them reach out to the wrong audience. If you are trying to reach an International audience then a well publicised blog can work wonders. But on the other hand if you are trying to reach people in Kenya ie everyday joes about the importance of voting than a blog isn't the best way to go round about it. This is because we all know how poor internet access is in Kenya for most, so a newspaper or radio would be a better way to go. To be honest most activist Kenyan blogs are either preaching to the choir or talking to an empty room.
Make the right connections and seek out the right audience and this won't be the case.

Anyway I think this post is getting too long, so let me leave it at this. At the end of the day blogging should be fun (unless it's your job), it doesnt matter how often or how long your posts are but as long as you enjoy it, say what you want to say and fulfil your goals blog on!


modoathii said...

true dat. true dat. blogging, as crazy as it may sound, to me is like writing a book. a bestseller.

mocha said...

i was about to shout FAO FAO...but I can see modoathii has beat me to it.

Off to soma!

mocha said...

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Nice post Aco!

egm said...

Good points Aco. Just one quibble: fun and job are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Udi said...

Yenyewe i miss the blogs of last year and early this year. Maybe blogging like everything else has fikad its climax point.

dangerously_shy said...

“Piggy backing someone's writing style and catch phrases only works for so long”

Mwehe!he! I laugh at such manenos. Really I do.

Quintessence said...

maybe i didn't quite understand this post but with all due respect, aren't our respective blogs our personal views and experiences and world views/opinions...aren't we therefore awarded freedom of expression and liberties to write as we please...we all can't and in my opinion shld'nt articulate matters in the same capacity, afterall we are uniquely blog allows me to self express w/o seemingly conforming or being put in a box...i don't think there's a wrong or right way of expressing self...i personally read loads of blogs and comment on those that i can relate to or that strike an interest in me and yes some of them provoke my mind and serve as inspiration, does that make me a copy cat...i stand corrected!

Acolyte said...

@ modoathii
Blogging is a continous work
@ mocha
I agree completely!
@ udi
The blogosphere just isnt what it used to be.
@ D shy
I think it is pathetic, I dont even read such anymore!
@ Quintessence
In many ways you have just repeated what I have just said. At no time did I say that ppl have to blog a certain way, but if they want to achieve a certain goal that is when they have to.
There is a fine line between being inspired by a blog and copying its' style and catch phrases. Inspiration leads to new creations while copying leads to vague imitations with no appeal whatsoever.

Princess said...

Like Quintessence mentioned, our blogs are a reflection of our experiences.I respectfully disagree on the fact that we should follow a certain formula. When I decided to blog I did not do it to please anyone and I did not come up with a major strategy on what topics I would write about..I basically just write whatever moves me at the particular point in time. If people find me boring that is their prerogative..if they never re-visit my blog, that is also their prerogative. The number of comments will never make me change what I write about. I think that there are certain phrases such as "LMAO" etc that we all use when we comment and also there are certain phrases we use because we are Kenyan and we use those phrases when we comunicate with each other so those do not fall into the copying category. This is just my mere opinion not a criticism.

Acolyte said...

@ Princess
You seem to have not noticed the crux of the post, which was my opinion on my many blogs on the feed aren't very interesting to me.Also you seem to have missed this statement, "Of course it's your blog and you can write it anyway you want to but if you want to get readers it has to follow a formula that makes it readable."
LMAO is not a phrase, it is an acronym. What I had in mind when I was talking about catch phrases is like Movie Buff's "Good Times" or the many catch phrases that Milo had on his blog which are so characteristic so much so when we used his style on our collabo post with Nick people thought Milo had a hand in it.
Plus dont you think we end up having a more vibrant blogging community if we have blogs that people enjoy reading as oppossed to people who blog for themselves? Which is not wrong in itself but why join a blogging community in that case?
Not that I disagree with you completely, you are entitled to your own beliefs and opinions are regards the issue.

Princess said...

You are right..LMAO is an acronym. When I say I write for myself I mean that I don't spend hours thinking of whether the topic will interest every single KBW member..I just write. Some people relate to my blog and some don't which is true in everyday experience..some people either relate to you or they don't. I am not criticizing your post..I am merely saying that to say that the recent members blogs aren't as good as the old ones and then offer suggestions on how to improve them goes against the purpose of having a blog. This is not something that is done in order to receive a grade or review is simply a person's thoughts on whatever they choose to write about.

Acolyte said...

@ princess
Let me make some things clear. Not all the blogs of yesteryear were spectacular but also not all the new blogs are not worth reading (a point that I stated in the post).
I do agree there is a fine line between writing for yourself and writing for the crowd and that is the point at which best blogs land on.
If part of the blogging experience is to become a better blogger then I think information on making one's blog better does not go against the purpose of blogging.
I mean if you do analysis of current affairs on your blog and don't do it right that doesnt mean that you are keeping the spirit of blogging. It just means that you are a poor news analyst with a blog.
Blogging for bloggings sake is just fine and dandy but at the end of the day don't you think it would be even better if you could express yourself in a far better manner than when you started?

Princess said...

For the sake of harmony I will respectfully agree to disagree on this issue.

Shiroh said...

Acolyte you couldn't have said better.

My take;

1. Forwards do rounds more than you think, i have read most of the forwards which are sent around. Infact i have!
Don't blog a forward please. Thats why are they are called forwards; do that on your email.
Unless it has a relation to what you are about to post ofcourse

2. it takes time to build an audience or for somebody to notice your blog. Don't give up.

3. Grammar, spelling mistakes, one prose piece are a no no no in blogging

Shiroh said...

But also i think why you don't find some new bloggers interesting is

Look at it this way; the old bloggers started bloggin at the same time.

The things the new bloggers are writing now is past you...but then you could have enjoyed. In 6 months their writings will be different and you will prob enjoy reading them more

Jadekitten said...

Aco, a lot of what you raise is valid but I would like you to consider the ff:

- A lot of the people who just started blogging (incl me) are still trying to 'find their way' so to speak. I'm sure no one deliberately sets out to 'plagiarise' another's writings....

- As Shiro sed, the older bloggers DID start blogging at the same time. That commonality pro'lly promoted the interest you had in each others' blogs. At some point in your 'era', blogging waned, for various reasons, this loss of cohesion is what makes you feel uh, disinterested?

I started blogging seriously only a couple of months ago. Previously, I used to watch from the sidelines, observing drama et al from the said 'old timers'. Somehow, I felt no urge whatsoever to join that furor/foray. Now, however, I feel a certain camaraderie with the peeps I interact with on my blog.

- I see where Q and P are coming from. Your blog is your blog, and I think it's really up to you to decide whether you want it to be a journal, vent forum, informative etc.

After all, if I'm blogging, I should know how what I put on my blog portrays me and if that is the kind of image I want to be responsible for.

egm said...

Given the thoughts people have put forth on this issue, I think the number one thing a person needs to determine when they set out to blog is the reason d'etre for its existence. Once this is done, then how you write will flow from that, whether you waht to follow a particular pre-existing formula or whether you want to just do your own thing in your own way.

Vagabond said...

You know, I think everyone is saying the same thing! But, that everyone's blog is their space, is true; that it helps readers a lot if your content is interesting is also true but then whether it is interesting or confusing, melodramatic, grammatically sound/unsound really depends on its owner, and whatever ends up on the blog, is up to the owner, not the audience…unless of course, the blogger’s motivation to write is to play up to an ‘audience’, in that case, the audience determines what direction your blog takes….and that everyone has their unique way of writing is also true...take for instance, a blogger like POTASH...his is mostly intellectual content and as such, demands that you actually read, think, process, read again and somewhere in there, hopefully, understand…so you can’t skim through his posts….but other bloggers are more user friendly, they make you laugh, or they write about things that you can relate to and on and on….the blogs I read all the time, are interesting, and different, and even if some posts hold no appeal to me, I appreciate that it’s not written with me (the audience) in mind, so I can enjoy what I enjoy, wrinkle my nose at what is distasteful to me, and crack my brain at what takes me back to days of ‘Floating in Chemistry class’.

Acolyte said...

@ Princess
And let it be so.
@ shiroh
I agree if you cant come up with something it is better to leave your blog blank then post a forward.
Patience is key, that I agree.
Now you have put your foot in your mouth with this, The things the new bloggers are writing now is past you
I am not a geriatric at all and there is nothing these bloggers are writing that I am that disconnected about.
Like I said there are some great new blogs out there and I read them all the time and there are some old time blogs that suck that I never read. But I do agree that when some blogs come into their own I will enjoy reading them more.
@ jadekitten
I think there is a big difference with inspiration, aping and plagiarism.
If you ever look at my earlier posts you will notice that I didnt have many comments, I blogged for a whole year before joining KBW so communality isnt an issue as such.
I do agree that you can make your blog whatever you want but that is the diff between a blog and good blog. In a good blog the writer can keep his/her individual opinion but still be of interest to their readers; don't you agree?
@ egm
I agree 200%!
@ vagabond
I agree with what you have said. I think people can or rather should say what they want to say however they want to say it but that at the end of the day doesn't make their blog readable, it just makes it their blog.

A said...

Mhhh.. yesterday I had a conversation with Wole Soyinka where I asked him the question everyone asks me... who do you have in mind when you write?

He said to me: "I came to an early conclusion that I am not a lunatic, there must be people or at least one person out there who can understand what I write."

That best expresses the philosophy of my blog. i do not blog for pedestrian minds and I hate audiences, really. Yet the reason why I am doing key note addresses on the efficacy of blogs is because of that blog right there that speaks to a certain literary audience.

Personally, I disregard KBW because I cannot relate to 90 % of the blogs, but that doesn't mean they do not have their audiences and support groups, no? There are just not my style.

A said...

Well, whatever issues blogger might have with me, I will insist on taking credit for the above comment.


kadinya said...

well, this debate is heated and i can't think of much more to add other than i'll admit that some certain phrases such as "LMAO" etc that we all use when we comment, as Princess puts it, are greek to me. is it an acronym coined in kenya or by our brothers and sisters in the diaspora? and before i start using it, (coz i translate that it is like an exclamation), would someone please tell me what it means? and also why some people say "ROFTLAMAO" and others say "ROTFLAMAO?" and is it RTFL an acronym of ROTFLAMAO which in itself is another acronym? someone please throw some light. jameni, i must sound like i'm out of this world here but honesty is the best policy, saves many from embarassment.

§anaa said...


Mambo gani hii tena? I know there is freedom of speech and all, but aco. i think there is a thin line between being expressive and simply offensive. (pardon me if i don't match the comments and commentor properly ) someone has written that everyone is saying the same thing.


Aco. your opinion is very different from princess, A etc.

What your doing is the proverbial "panya anauma kisha anapuliza" you throw in a ka diss then go ahead and say "but of course its your blog you can write whatever you please" Oxymoron statements if you ask me.

I have two questions for you:

1. Is anyone in the blogging world obligated to entertain you?
2. Where do you get off telling pple how to blog?

Blogging is like underwear! Its personal and personalised, if we all decided to follow some standard rules then individuality would lose its meaning.

"What do you care?" No one is writing an "Ode" to the other.

I will admit, i only request one thing of bloggers "use paragraphs!" you for a long time never used paragraphs and so i never troubled my sight. Further than that i am curious about people including you , i'd love to know what makes each an every blogger "them" and you can never know who a person really is if their blog is tailored to please you!

If you don't like the contents of a blog ..move on to the next.

Yaani its like going to Mc'D and telling them to change their entire menu so it can match wendy's .

Correct me if i'm wrong but not everyone writes for "people" personally i let my blog go public because someone at least one person if not two could learn a thing or two from me. If not they simply enjoy reading my pointless blogging.

Everyone is unique and so is their blog. If a person wants to write how much deeper their ass crack has extended why not?

Disclaimer: my thoughts are kidogo jumbled, am a bit tired but you understand what i mean. We can debate this further tomorrow..and oh, stop doing that thing your doing of " pretending to agree with all the comments because you don't your post claims otherwise. Stick with your original suggestions or were you just looking for a reaction?

I think your an articulate and intresting person, wacha hii siasa ndogo ndogo you seem to have a strong afinity for friction (?)

Good Day.

Acolyte said...

@ Sanaa
I had actually let this issue manage itself but I think I have to address some of what you have said.

How am I being offensive?First things first is that I have not called anyone out for having a less than up to standard blog. All I have done is given my view and some opinions on what makes a good blog esp in terms of formatting and context. Whether some people want to admit it or not, what makes a blog good reading is universal. Go look at all the blogs people love to read and you will see that there is so much in common they share in terms of the points that I have given.

Princess is free to disagree with me even though some of what we are saying is the same.

Fact is people have chosen to take offence at nothing. Most of my points are not about content hence me saying they can say what they want.
Answer to your questions.
1.No-one is obligated to entertain me. And I think I have actually said something to that effect.
2.Where I get off telling people how to blog? I would say formal training in communication and just out of cameredrie. Whether you like it or not there are things that make good blogs and bad blogs.I have noticed this and I am just giving people a heads up. My blog is far from perfect too but I attempt to follow those tips and make my blog better. Even if you are blogging for yourself wouldnt it be good to improve your skills over time? Or would you rather bloggers took pride in the way they blog even if they could improve? Plus if you are in a blogging community you become part of a give and take process. People read you blog and you read theirs, so it gets far more rewarding for you if you can express yourself in a far more concise manner.

I follow some of those rules and my blog still has it's own personalised feel.

Does following pointers like expressing your technical knowledge in a manner that makes it easier to understand make a a blog specially for me or just easier to read for all? The only point I would understand you taking umbrage at is the fourth point a regards journals other than that I don't see your objections to the other points at all.

Yaani its like going to Mc'D and telling them to change their entire menu so it can match wendy's.
I do hope you are talking about point number 4 becaue I am not talking about people's content in any other points.

I am not agreeing with most commentors for the sake of doing so but because they actually have something of substance to say. I dont have to bite everyone's head off and my post does not disagree with all of them just those who think it does.

I stand by this post and the opinions expressed in it completely. At the end of the day it is not what I have said but what people think I have said, hence the wide range of comments I have gotten as regards this post.

The main thing I have learnt for your and other people's reactions can be summed up by the saying, "everyone thinks their wife is the most beautiful woman in the universe."

Have a nice day!

Sister Toldja said...

This may be kinda lame, but I'd like to hear your expert opinion about my blog. I recently moved some of my favorite posts from my old blog to a new home and started writing everyday.

I crave criticism, because I really wish to become a better writer.

Kayliz said...

Aco, this is a real nice post. I feel that I cannot add anything to the great discussion, my point of view's been covered. I think blogging is personal and private.

Looking at the debate your post brought forth, I have to ask: aren't like 89% of all blog readers bloggers themselves?

Acolyte said...

@ kayliz
Thanks for dropping in, too bad most ppl wanted to chop my head off at the time I wrote this post!