October 28, 2012

Common blogging mistakes: the topic re-visited

A blog is a diary, fine; but a blog is also a public space [except for private blogs] on the www. In the latter sense, blogs are a form of media, like newspapers. Therefore, blogs are expected to maintain minimum standards in terms of web ethics, design, content and updation.

We have numerous posts on how IndianTopBlogs scrutinises blogs for putting them in directories and ranks them as ‘Platinum Blogs’, so we won’t repeat the process here. We have also a number of posts on various quality aspects; in fact our ‘blogging tips’ section is full of tips on maintaining quality in different aspects of blogging. 

In this post, we give a list of practices / features that spoil the quality of a blog,  and we add to that our experience with Indian blogs that we've checked for the last nearly two years of blog ranking, reviews, showcase, etc.  

Major blogging mistakes

  • Poor navigability
  • Too many - and useless - widgets
  • Too long pages
  • Pages wider than about 1200 pixels
  • Blog’s top portion [=opening screen] full of links, advertisements and other stuff that is not the core content of the blog
  • No effort towards making the blog appealing [Does not apply to individual blogs on standard platforms provided by newspapers, community blogging platforms, etc.]
  • Experimentation that has badly hurt the blog’s looks, readability, navigation, etc
  • Too long lists of any type such as label list, blogroll, latest posts and popular posts
  • Not caring for checking entries in lists for their current status, and thus having lists with dead / sleeping  entries
  • Not having a link for comments or having a link that is difficult to find
  • Not responding to comments
  • Blogger fighting with commenters about critical comments
  • Copy-and-paste content presented as original analysis [Copy-and-paste is accepted within limits for critiquing or for illustration of a point  or as a listing.]
  • Many spelling mistakes; in the case of Hindi, too many matra problems
  • Writing long passages in Roman script when writing in a language that does not use Roman script
  • Too long paragraphs
  • Content that makes the website / blog slow [e.g. big photos and heavy video]
  • Unreadable text due to colour, font, size and contrast issues
  • Widgets bleeding out of columns; columns overlapping
  • Pop-ups [unless they carry a very important notice] and self-playing music [unless very much relevant to the theme, e.g. on a music or movie site]
  • Promotion of obscurantist thoughts
  • Inappropriate content [as defined by us in a post on selction criteria for blog directory updation]
  • Too much commercial content
  • Biased product reviews, that too without disclosure
  • Too many, too flashy advertisements; advertisements seeking unusual, unreasonable favours
  • Static websites and archival content sites in the garb of blogs
  • Not updating the blog for a long time [For ITB listings, not writing for two consecutive months in a span of a year  and being quiet for any three full months amounts to too infrequent blogging.]
  • Giving links that do not open
  • Too much bragging; I, I, I… and again I
  • Too many promotional badges or too many certificates from run-of-the-mill certifiers

 Relatively minor blogging issues

  • Not showing archives of old posts
  • Not giving contact email on the blog or keeping it too much hidden
  • Not using graphics and text-variation to break monotony of long text matter

Why do we like or dislike some aspects

During directory compilation and ranking of blogs, we do consider some other aspects. We reproduce them below as they might help bloggers analyse their blogs from some new angles.
  •  Too narrow a subject of the blog. It makes regular posting difficult as you will run out of matter and original thoughts. On the other hand, appropriately ‘niche’ subjects lend themselves to detailed analysis and also focused monetization. So, choosing subject with care helps, unless yours is a personal / all-encompassing blog.
  •  ITB has no issues with blogs that are not very popular. If they maintain quality, they rank higher than very popular blogs of poorer quality. Quality should rank higher than quantity, no?
  • We don’t give weightage to the number of comments received. However, we have problem when a blogger doesn’t acknowledge comments even once in many months. If you can’t respond to each and every comment, respond to them collectively.
  • ITB does not go by others’ ranking of blogs. Not to speak of certifications and accolades by other directories and critics, we are not swayed by Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, dmoz listing etc. At the same time, we advise that you submit your blog to dmoz, a free directory of good websites.
  • We don’t care whether a blog is over 5 years old or is there for only a year. [However, just to see that the blog is stable over a  reasonable period, we shortlist blogs that are at least six months old.] Many search engines do feel that your blog / website has a higher standing if it is running for a long time.
  • ITB doesn't hold very frequent blogs in higher esteem than those less frequent. So, a blog that comes out with 1-2 quality posts every month is better in our eyes than (i) a blog that updates once a day with copy-pasted content, (ii) a blog with mostly auto-updated content, and (iii) a blog that updated 30 times three months back and is not updating any more.
You may also like to visit these posts on IndianTopBlogs and of course all blogging tips if you have more time:
5 things most Indian bloggers tend to ignore
Ignore these 5 blogging basics at your peril
10 deadly flaws in blog posts: blogger's sins!
Review your website or blog yourself in a few minutes!