Thursday, 5 May 2011

So what's the score with all those lazy blog posts?

You might have noticed that during March and April nearly everything I blogged was a "lazy blog post" You might have wondered why. Well, I wasn't just being lazy - there was a reason. Let me explain.

I read a fair few blogs. Don't get me wrong, I don't fritter away my days constantly refreshing feeds in my RSS reader of choice, no no. But I do subscribe to a number of feeds and check them regularly. Now some of these blogs are very good - come on, why would I be reading them otherwise? But sometimes, almost inevitably, you come across a blog that is not so hot. And the more blogs I read, the more patterns I see, and the more I realise that there are certain blog tropes that strike me as, first and foremost, just plain lazy and, secondly, seem destined to turn me off from reading the blog in the future. So I tried to highlight a few of these lazy blog post types over the last two months, specifically:

  • The "humourous" photo - the vast majority of hilarious photos on the Internet are, it seems to me, not actually that funny, and those that might be are typically more of the "a ha ha" type than rib-shattering. The blogger might as well just write I'VE TAKEN A PHOTO OF A CAT DOING SOMETHING SILLY AND MY MUM LIKES IT!
  • The embedded video without context - we've all done it: embed some YouTube content when we're short of blogging ideas. But come on people, at least add some context, some opinion, maybe some original ideas to the post too. It's just a thought but why else should I be reading your post? I mean, if I just want to watch videos I'll go straight to the source, thanks.
  • The redirecting link - now I don't have a problem with blog posts that exist purely to draw attention to something else - another website, a Twitter feed of note, a please-sponsor-me page. But COME ON - tell me why it's worth clicking! Express your thoughts on the website/Twitter feed/please-sponsor-me page. And do so in a way that makes me want to read to the end of the sentence. Don't just say it's really good. Tell me why it's good, what makes it worth clicking the link.
  • Whimsy - well-written whimsy can be okay sometimes, imbuing a kind of collective, misty-eyed nostalgia. That's alright. I don't mind a bit of that now and again, and I suspect you don't either. But the sort of whimsy that trades exclusively in "things aren't what they used to be and I feel so old" probably isn't that well-written. I don't want to sound like a snob or anything, I'm just saying, that's all.
  • The old chestnut - most often typified by the embedded video without context. If your blog consists of nothing but old TV and film clips that I have seen a dozen or more times before, I'm going to get tired, however KWALITY or KRAZY those clips might be. And I won't be alone.
  • Bandwagoneering - the number one crime in the interminable chart of lazy blog post crimes is Zeitgeist-chasing, or simply blogging about something because it's in the news and you want to get a few extra hits. Have you got something new, original or insightful to say about the Royal Wedding? No? Then leave the subject well alone. Something incisive, searing or inventive to say about the Obama/Osama grudge match? No? Then why are you regurgitating banalities about it and calling it a blog post?

Don't get me wrong, I may sound a bit preachy but I'm not so wholesome - this is my 256th blog post here, and I've fallen into all the traps mentioned above at times. We all have, I'm sure - no-one's perfect, and sometimes we simply don't have time to craft the perfect post, especially those of us who do this as a hobby rather than as a form of employment. But I try to keep the lazy blog posts to a minimum. The blogs I read regularly do too.

I'll stop sounding like a crazy ranting fool now.


  1. I feel somewhat cheered that, of all the crimes I'm guilty of as a blogger (and there are many), I don't feel I've been responsible for too many of the ones you list here.

  2. Thanks for the plug, though I'm not convinced my blog is read by anyone apart from yourself and a few web-trawling robots. Are you still planning to move this blog to a new host or has that been put on ice?

  3. Rol - very true, and that's why I read your blog. Mark - I had started the arduous process of moving old posts over to a new home on Blogger, and had done 2005, 2006, 2007 and most of 2008. Every now and then I have a burst of activity and cut'n'paste another few months of old posts, but basically I'm still undecided on the move. For now, plus ça change...