Being a Responsible Blogger

With regular readers comes responsibility.

This morning, I noted that the feed for this blog has exceeded 100 subscribers. The 100 mark is a milestone for any blogger, and it’s no different for me — even though I’ve been at it for some time now.

I’ve been blogging for over three years and my blog doesn’t exactly follow all of the “rules” of blogging. I’m talking about the “stick to one topic” rule and “blog multiple times a day” rule. People say rules are meant to be broken, but that’s not why I break these rules. I just blog the way I want to blog and don’t really pay attention to the rules.

My Original Blog as a Separate Entity

My blog started out as a separate entity from my personal Web site, a way to share whatever I was thinking about or doing with people who might be interested. It was a personal journal, slightly filtered for the public. It was a way for me to record my life so I’d have something to look back on in the distant future. I didn’t care if anyone read it and was often surprised when someone I knew commented about something I’d written in my blog.

Back in those days, my blog wasn’t something I worked hard at; the entries just came out of me, like one-sided conversations with friends. Perhaps it has something to do with my solitary work habits — many people gather around the “water cooler” at work to trade stories about their weekends or opinions about world affairs. There’s no water cooler in my office and no co-workers to chat with. My blog may have been my outlet for all these pent-up stories.

Blog + Site = ?

A little over a year ago, I combined my blog with my personal Web site. I did it to make my life a little easier. I’d already decided to use WordPress as my Web site building tool. Why not just make my personal blog part of the site?

My Web site has been around in one form or another since 1994. I built it to experiment with Web publishing and soon expanded it to provide a sort of online résumé and support for my books. Support for my books often meant additional tips and longer articles about some of the software I’ve written about. This is fresh content of interest to people who use that software, even if they don’t buy or read my corresponding books. Since writing this content is relatively easy for me, I have no problem offering it free to anyone who wants it (as long as they don’t steal it and pass it off as their own; see my © page).

One of the great things about blogging software is that it automatically displays the newest content on the Home page and archives older content by category and date. In the old days, I’d have to manually create new pages for every article I wanted to put on my Web site and then add links to them. It was time consuming, to say the least. Sometimes too time consuming to share even the quickest little tip with visitors. So I didn’t publish very many articles. But the time-consuming, hand-coding aspect of my site is gone, and it takes just minutes to put any content online, whether it’s a link to an interesting podcast I just listened to about iPod microphones or a multi-part series of articles explaining how to use WordPress as a content management system.

What’s odd about the merging of the two sites is that my personal blog entries now commingle on the Home page with my book support entries. So these 100+ subscribers are seeing (and possibly reading) all kinds of stuff coming out of my head. (Now that’s a scary thought!)

My Responsibility

As my blog/site audience grows, my responsibility to provide good content for readers also grows.

The way I see it, when only a half-dozen people read my blog regularly, it was okay to bore them with stories about my horse eating corn cob stuff out of the bottom of my bird’s cage or rants about the quality of “news” coverage. Now, with over 100 regular readers, I need to think more about what would interest my audience and concentrate on producing the articles they want to read. (You can help me by voting on this poll.)

And that’s when blogging becomes work. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does take more effort on my part.

And it may push me far from the original purpose of my blog: a journal of my life. That’s something to think about, too.

The Other Blogs

I just want to take a moment here to comment on some of the other blogs I’ve seen out there. The vast majority of them are a complete waste of bandwidth. Some exist to echo the sentiments of others and show very little original thought. Others are complete blather, written in a style that makes me mourn for the failure of our educational system. Like chat room comments. Ugh. I don’t see why people waste their time writing this crap and really can’t see why people waste their time reading it.

But there is a small percentage of blogs that provide good, informative, or at least interesting content, written in a way that’s easy to read and understand. Those are the blogs that serious bloggers should be reading and learning from. Those are the blogs we should try to emulate, not by simply copying or linking to content, but by adding our own original material to the blogoshere.

That’s my goal and my responsibility as a blogger. If you’re a blogger, is it yours, too?

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