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Do's and Do NOTs of Blogging


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#1 SEOigloo

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 04:49 AM

Greetings All -
We finally got our blog up, thanks to the great help from folks here, most especially Joe Dolson.

Though I have been reading blogs for a long time, actually creating one is going to be a whole new adventure for me.

This makes me realize that so many people must be in the same boat, and it is the etiquette and basics of blogging that are going to be totally new to folks like me.

For example...can you simply quote anything you see anyplace else on the web? If so, how much of a quote can you take without being a plagerist? Obviously, you'd give a link to the source, but would another blog site ever get annoyed by you borrowing their posts for fodder for the imagination?

For example...if you write a review of a site/service/company, should you tell the provider about it?

For example...if I'd like to include something like Cre8asite's forum in my menu, should I ask permission?

And, most importantly...what is a slug???

For the experienced bloggers out there, I thought a thread listing major dos and do nots of blogging might help anyone coming here who is new to blogging. I look at SEOmoz's blog, and boy, do they have a great thing going on there. Blogs like that must have started with the very basics at some point, too, and it would be great if some of the veterans would share their 2 cents with newcomers on the art of blogging.
Kind Regards,
Miriam

#2 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 10:45 AM

Well, here goes:

DO:

Quote from other blogs and write about them. Keep in mind that, ideally, your post should be MOSTLY your own writing and thoughts - but a quote from any relevant source which you're discussing is perfectly acceptable, as long as it's cited. Never claim or even give the impression that you WROTE what you're quoting. Fair use and copyright is a tricky question. It always comes down to your own judgement - if you are looking at what you've quoted and thinking "Gosh, is that too much?", then you should shorten it. Only quote what's absolutely necessary for context - if people want to read the whole thing, they can follow your link to it. Most sites will be happy to have intelligent commentary on what they've written - that's one of the reasons people write blogs, afterall! However, there are always occasional problems.

Be considerate of anybody who complains. Coming back to the "occasional problems" question. Somebody might complain that you've copied their stuff, ask you to remove a quote or a post, etc. Consider their request carefully - unless you're really plagiarizing, you're not obligated in any way to do as they ask. However, if the post in question is offensive or a problem, it may be wise to do as they request anyhow. Never just "disappear" a post, however - make a follow up post explaining your actions and your reasoning.

Write reviews. It's great to write reviews - but, to be frank, you don't always want to draw a company's attention to them. Many companies track their online reputation - and they'll find what you've said. If it's a good review, great - otherwise, oh well. Don't write a really scathing review unless you have rock-solid reasoning behind it. Make certain all your points are justified.

Link to other sites. No, you don't need to ask for permission to link to a site. There are sites who have restrictive policies on linking - read Dont Link for more information. There's still some debate as to whether linking can violate copyright - however, in general sites WANT links (as long as they're associated with positive information, at any rate!) But don't be stingy with links - consider carefully whether the site you're linking to is worth linking to, but don't hesitate to link to any valuable resource.

Follow your comments One of the most annoying things can be blogs which are open to comments but whose authors never respond. Just be sure to pay attention to your comments - you don't necessarily have to respond to every single comment (and if your blog starts getting a lot of them, you won't be able to!), but at least make a point to thank your commenters.

Use strong spam protection in your comments. Self explanatory...

DON'T:

Copy others posts in totum. It's NEVER necessary or desirable to quote an entire post, barring the occasional post which is only one or two lines long. In that case, just rewrite the information yourself and link, anyway.

Attack other bloggers. Although the flame war is an age old online communication favorite, the person who starts it always loses. Just don't do it! Criticizing an article with a reasoned argument is GREAT - that's dialogue. Attacking somebody personally is a big no-no.

Pretend you're something you're not. Don't claim personal friendship with high-profile people just to get more publicity. Don't claim to have a huge background in biostatistics just because it sounds cool. Etc., etc. Present yourself honestly, and you'll have no reasons to worry.

Not that I'm at all concerned that you'd get into these - but this is a decent start, I think, to a list of blogging etiquette. It all comes down to common sense, when you think about it.

And a "slug", in WordPress parlance, provides the link to your post. If you're using search engine friendly URLs, the "slug" is the truncated version of your post title: http://blog.com/my-little-post/. You can use the slug field to change the version of the post title used in wordpress. If you'd rather have that post accessible at http://blog.com/rules/, you just change the slug to "rules".

#3 bragadocchio

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 12:40 PM

Nice post, Joe.

Here are some other things to think about:

1. Two Sources are better than one.

If you are going to write about something that you think is newsworthy, and you've found a great source of information that backs up what you are writing about, see if you can find another source that collaborates it. This is something that a lot of journalists try to do when they write news stories, and it can make you and your readers more informed, and more credible if you try to do this.

2. Look for the best source

One of the reasons why I like writing about patents and patent applications is that they are primary sources - straight from the search engines or search related companies. If you are going to write about something that is a rumor, make sure that you identify it as a rumor.

3. Include opposing viewpoints

If you have an opinion on a subject that you are writing about, and there are others who may disagree, it doesn't hurt to mention those opposing viewpoints. As Joe notes, talk about the article or blog post or forum post, and not the poster. Intelligent criticism is good. Personal attacks can be ugly.

4. Provide some additional value in news type posts

News type posts are great. One of the things that I try to do with them is to see if I can add more in some manner. For instance, if I write about something I read in a newspaper article, and it mentions some organizations that may be involved but doesn't link to them, see if you can find links to their sites, and see if you can discover something from them on the same topic.

5. Some articles about blogging that I like:

10 Tips on Writing the Living Web

weblogs: a history and perspective

This site has a lot of good articles on blogging, too:

http://performancing.com/

#4 send2paul

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 02:14 PM

Miriam - hi :unsure:

Blogs - blimey! A totally underestimated form of interaction and traffic gatherer on the web. Here's a little tip I learnt whilst playing with my own personal blog over the last few years:

Think SEO in your your blog titles and keywords/phrases that you use.

Now I know that might seem very obvious - considering your business :) - but quite often "new bloggers", (particularly if it's a new blog attached to a business website), are sometimes overawed by the jiggery-pokery of it all. The blog is simply a constantly updated website, (as you know), and all SEO rules apply to it as well. The "copy" of a blog entry is as important as the copy on a static web page. (Okay - I'll shut up now, I'm sure you get my drift here :) ).

Also, (God forbid you run out of things to talk about!), but I have also used Google Alerts to keep me up-to-date on different subjects.

I like the blog. And yes - well done Joe as well :)

Paul

#5 SEOigloo

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:57 AM

Wow! What can I say back to this besides a big, California, "AWESOME!"

Joe - I can definitely see how common sense rules the day in blogging. It's very clear from your points. And, no, I would never attack someone personally (though it's tempting to slate myself as a biostatistician!) If there's one thing I feel gives a bad flavor to a blog/forum, it's a flame war. Has anyone been hanging around eBay lately? It's been simply insanse there for about a month due to the recent fee hikes...not just people cursing eBay, but people attacking each other. Very ugly. And it has brought the whole tone of their stores forum down to the atmosphere of a looting. Scary.

Thank you, Joe. I bet that post will help many, many people!

Bill - I will definitely follow the links you provided. Thank you very much. I can really understand how citing multiple sources would lend credibility to one's writing ( a bit like footnotes or a bibliography).

Paul - I do, indeed, get what you are saying! I'd have to say, my problem would lie more in the direction of not thinking in terms of keywords when I go to write out a birthday card for my aunt! Haha. Your advice is well taken. Thank you for responding!

I hope people will continue to keep it coming on this thread. It would seem that, though blogging has been around for a few years, we are not the only late bloomers.

Thank you again, fellows!
Miriam

#6 bwelford

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:38 AM

Great answers indeed, Joe and Bill.

I have only a comment on blogging that rarely seems to get mentioned. Blogging is great because you get many bangs for the buck. When you write a blog entry, you have not just created one web page. The content appears in several web pages. It's in the ongoing blog web page. It's in its single post web page. It's in the archive web page for the month. If you use categories, then it appears in the web page for each of the category pages created by the software.

.. and even though the same content appears multiple times you're not running any duplicate copies penalty. It doesn't get any better than that.

#7 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 10:08 AM

Has anyone been hanging around eBay lately? It's been simply insanse there for about a month due to the recent fee hikes...not just people cursing eBay, but people attacking each other. Very ugly. And it has brought the whole tone of their stores forum down to the atmosphere of a looting. Scary.


I haven't been around eBay, but I did read your blog post about it...sounds pretty awful. Your conclusion that eBay is essentially aiming to shut down their 'less-profitable' stores by force may well be right - but pretty awful.

#8 cre8pc

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 10:58 AM

And, then there's Blog Usability ;-)

A page in blogs that's commonly overlooked is the About Me page. It's often the most obvious difference between a true blog, and a spam blog.

You may find yourself coming across articles that say things like "Don't have long blogrolls" or "Don't put up a bunch of feed buttons". These are traditional blog elements. They help identify that site as a blog. I think you can be creative with blogs and its fun to let them become extensions of our selves.

#9 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 11:21 AM

That's a good point, Kim - there are two major issues of blog etiquette - what I talked about above was almost exclusively the etiquette of writing a blog. However, as Kim points out, there are also important issues to be considered in creating your blog. What permanent content you'll have on the page - what you'll say about yourself, what insights to your personality you'll provide, what other sources you'll link to.

The article that Kim is referring to is probably Top 10 Ways to Uglify Your Blog or Ten Things to Avoid When Designing Your Blog. In counter to these opinions, Kim herself wrote Am I A Blog Usability Design Puritan or Radical?. I also wrote a response, Uglifying a blog, or increasing usability?.

It's an interesting subject - the intersection of personality and usability against designed simplicity. Clarity, or clutter? If a blog is an insight to your mind, then, at least for myself, clutter may well be more appropriate!

(Granted, other's personalities may riff well with simplicity.)

#10 Chris Boggs

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 12:43 PM

Great guidance in here everyone. Thanks as usual.

One thing I would add is probably pretty obvious, but if you keep an eye on burstiness (thanks Bill for reminding me about the real name for that in another thread), you should most often blog about current hot topics. Sure, in my opinion, you can get away with an off-the-beaten-path subject once in a while, but in order to get and send that link love from and to other bloggers, you kinda need to be talking about the same subjects. Both Joe and Bill alluded to this but didn't really spell it out.

I am sure others will disagree, claiming that one of the best things is to be the first to blog about something, but hot topics will never cease to interest at least most readers. Of course, once a topic has been beaten to death, the opposite can be true. So stay current with the majority of your posts and you will do better, IMO.

#11 Halfdeck

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 02:59 AM

I'm too new to blogging to have a list of do's and don'ts, but here are a few of my pet peeves:

- Authority blog quoting syndrome - Reading SEVERAL 10 word posts about what Matt Cutts just posted two hours ago.
- Faceless blogging - Blogs where you never see the word "I."
- ICQ posts - Short posts that feel more like an instant message.
- 10 mile long posts.
- "Made for Linkbait" blogging - Top 100s, "PR Doesn't Matter Anymore" posts, overoptimized blog titles trying too hard to reel me in.
- Trigger finger posts - where a blogger just quotes someone else/hearsay because its news, instead of digging into the story and coming up with indisputable facts.
- Multiple bloggers/blog - imo there's no "we" in "blog."

#12 rmccarley

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 05:18 AM

Halfdeck - thanks those are very valueable insights. I do take exception to your last point though. A blog is a wrapper and people fill it but there is no reason more than one person can't post on a blog provided it is clear who is posting. Company blogs or blogers that share a common purpose should absolutely combine forces. Otherwise you end up with even more "me too" posts. And different personalities offer more experience and entertainment.

But that's MHO. :D

#13 Wit

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 06:13 AM

For the record - I think MFL* blog posts are awesome and many a time I wish I would have been creative and devious enough to come up with 'em. Definitely a "Do" in my view.

Unless this thread is about WH blogging, in which case: never mind I said that....



* made for linkbait

#14 rmccarley

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 06:27 AM

There are hat colors for blogging?!

#15 Wit

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 06:36 AM

Most definitely, yes.

Lotsa shades :P

#16 rmccarley

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 07:02 PM

Well those are SEO colors. I don't see how that effects blogging (except the content and promotion may be a bit different - but the blog is still the blog, right?).

#17 storyspinner

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 09:37 PM

Y'all have done such a great job of explaining great points! I even picked up something new.

I'd have to add - don't be afraid to promote your blog either!

Make sure you get Feedburner and use their feed animator, add it as a signature to your emails and in the forums you participate in. Tell your friends about it and your colleagues.

You never know what is going to catch someone's eye, that'll lead to a new subscriber. :P

#18 Wit

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 02:14 AM

@ RMC - I left out the blogs (I know of) that are often made up entirely of scraped and/or automated text and serve no other purpose than to drive traffic to people's sites or ads :) Check out the top ranking sites (= always blogs) for various SEO Contest keywords LOL.

#19 send2paul

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:00 AM

Just a thought...

Would owner's/operators of company website blogs consider it inappropriate to list their blogs in such places as Blogroll, Globe Of Blogs, Eatonweb etc etc?

I mean - does a company blog "belong" in standard blog directories? Virtually all of these places are free to join. Could it do it more harm than good?

Paul

#20 rmccarley

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:20 AM

Interesting question Paul but I think ignorance would make the decision not appropriateness*. Some poeple know that every link helps. It's just promotion. A company not taking advantage of these ways to attract readers (and yes, help their search engine refferals) is missing out.

* I think I made that word up! :)

#21 Ruud

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 11:43 AM

When I was a kid (I mean, one younger than I am now) I was subscribed to the Donald Duck. When I would come home for lunch on Monday it would be there. Later on, when I was a teen (I mean, more stubborn than I am now) I changed the subscription to Free Radio Magazine (heavily into pirate/illegal radio back then). It too appeared like clockwork.

Both these magazines became trusty companions, good friends.

Be my good friend. Be there for me. Make sure I know what I can expect from you. That means that I know when to expect a "call", a post, from you. Every hour/day/week/month. Don't give me 8 posts in a day and 3 weeks of nothing. Don't let me wonder if this blog or feed is dead. The day I think it might be I simply stop coming back.

It also means to be consistent. Those 42 posts on the use of PHP to program office coffee machines have got me to believe there is a theme here; if now you follow-up with 2 posts about your cat and why you disgree with your girl friend ... you've lost me.

#22 rmccarley

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 01:17 PM

I'm glad you mentioned that Ruud. Got me thinking...

#23 cre8pc

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 01:25 PM

Heh!

You and me both, Rand :)

When Did Blogging Become Like Sex?

#24 sanity

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 05:55 PM

Excellent post Ruud. As a new blogger myself I think one of the first things I'm learning is how often to post. You want to keep up a tempo but not innundate people with posts.

#25 pink.aquarian

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 10:30 PM

wow guys! thank you for all the nice posts. and thanks storyspinner, for mentioning feedburner. and for all bloggers who want to read more blogs (hehe), you might want to check out this site another community for bloggers. all the posts here enlightened me a lot. thank you.

:flowers: flowers for all of you. :)



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