Ten tips on blogging from the father of all blogs

Or from Jorn Barger, as the more nerdy ones amongst you will know him.

Jorn Barger coined the term “weblog” on December 17, 1997, i.e. ten years ago this week. His original aim was to log the world wide web as he surfed. At the time of writing, 11:30 am GMT on 18th December 2007, Technorati is tracking some 113M blogs and some 250M pieces of tagged social media.

Considering the lingo in blogging – vlogging, splogging, blog pimping etc – is growing as fast as the number of blogs, perhaps it is worth considering the top tips in blogging from Barger himself.

Original link on Wired can be found here. By his logic, I really should not bother saying anything about them (see #3 below) but since that particular tip is in my I-do-not-agree list, here is a small categorisation (Barger’s tips in bold followed by my thoughts in normal font).

I agree with some of the tips:

4. Being truly yourself is always hipper than suppressing a link just because it’s not trendy enough. Your readers need to get to know you.

This is, of course, the ideal situation. However there is a journey to get to that point of equilibrium. Some readers regularly take it upon themselves to attack other readers, or harp on random points complete with unnecessary profanities which only go to show they have not much to say. Some bloggers too take it upon themselves to ascribe motives to their readers and put them off. The negotiated balance is slow to establish itself during which time both parties may need to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

5. You can always improve on the author’s own page title, when describing a link. (At least make sure your description is full enough that readers will recognize any pages they’ve already visited, without having to visit them again.)

This is useful and sometimes may even lead to the original blogger changing her post title, as Penelope did in this case.

6. Always include some adjective describing your own reaction to the linked page (great, useful, imaginative, clever, etc.)

Sorry to use Penelope’s example again. But a few days ago, she wrote a great post on linking to other blogs which I mentioned on this blog as a good read.

7. Credit the source that led you to it, so your readers have the option of “moving upstream.”

Absolutely. But it is better to be aware that there are plenty of instances of bare-faced plagiarism in the blogosphere and remember you point them out on those blogs at your own peril. Be prepared for a torrent of random abuse and recrimination hurled your way!

8. Warn about “gotchas” — weird formatting, multipage stories, extra-long files, etc. Don’t camouflage the main link among unneeded (or poorly labeled) auxiliary links.

10. Re-post your favorite links from time to time, for people who missed them the first time.

This, I think, I must practise more often. Second outings help both the blogger, especially on otherwise busy or ‘off’ days, and the readers.

And I do not agree with the others:

1. A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So del.icio.us is actually better for blogging than blogger.com.)

I do think that is his original view, but from 10 years ago. Everything evolves and so should the tools and the ‘rules’.

2. You can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility.

3. If you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already.

This sounds like everything that had to be invented has been invented so we might as well just go home. Imagine if all scientists did go home one day…

All said and done, if it weren’t for pioneers like him, there would not be the blogosphere.

I wonder, however, what if after he invented the term, everybody went home and decided not to blog?

Happy Birthday, Blogs!