I’ve been poking around the directories at BlogExplosion.com in the last few days, looking for new stuff to add to my RSS reader. I’ve found some really top notch stuff there, but after looking through probably a couple hundred blogs or so I’m also struck by how many of them are really terrible, too. I’d never claim that my site is the best of the best, but at least it’s not quite at the bottom of the distribution, either.
As a kind of public service, I’ve compiled a list of ten things that will make me stop reading your blog. Immediately. As soon as I encounter them. First impressions are often accurate, and these are the things that jumped out at me in my skimming:
1. The phrase “Random Thoughts”
Especially if used in the title of your blog or even the description. It doesn’t make you sound whimsical, at this point it makes you sound cliche. I don’t want to hear random thoughts, I want to hear well formed, well communicated ones that are either interesting or entertaining. The chances of these occurring randomly are, statistically speaking, poor.
2. Referring to yourself as “a bitch”
I know snark is the new black as far as blogs go, but coming right out and claiming to be bitchy in your blog name or “about” section is about as convincing as that kid in grade school who tried too hard to be cool. And about as embarrassing. (I make an exception for Bitch, Ph.D., because the Ph.D. balances things out. But that one’s taken, folks.) Snark can be good, snark can be great, but you’re better off showing than telling.
3. A picture of your cat
Look, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m not interested in your cat unless it’s doing something cool like knocking over a toddler. So leave out the blurry snapshots of Miss Muffins snoozing on top of your computer monitor.
4. Using the term “Lefties”
Or “righties” or “fundies” or any other catch-all, derogatory phrase that exhibits about as much mental flexibility as found in your average bigot. Lumping anyone different from you into broad categories and then hand-picking opportunities to blather about how wrong they are isn’t exactly making a contribution to the blogosphere, the internet, or the world in general.
5. An apology for not posting enough
Hey, you don’t owe me anything and if you want to quit blogging for any period of time, I’ll get over it. Seriously. And assuming you have a feed, my RSS reader will cheerfully tell me when you start again. And if you don’t have a RSS feed, I’m not reading you in the first place. Besides, in the time it took you to apologize and go through all the usual (read: uninteresting) reasons why you haven’t been posting you could have, you know, made an actual post.
6. Pretty much anything animated
Anything. If you insist on blog flair such as buttons, widgets, and other assorted crap, then at least keep it static so I can actually read your blog without being distracted by something out of the corner of my intense gaze. I don’t care if it’s a graphic increasing awareness of love cancer in baby puppies. If it animates, I’m going for the “close window” button.
7. Anything that makes noise or music without my clicking it
Stick to MySpace with this kind of nonsense, please.
8. Just posting some funny image or cartoon from another source
Ha ha, yes that widely distributed picture of a confused looking dog in a sweater is quite funny, especially with the witty caption beneath it that prescribes human thoughts and feelings to the aforementioned dog. Ha ha. Now stop it. Make your own content.
9. Repeated begging for me to vote for you in some kind of online poll
On basic principle. I’m looking at you, 2006 Weblog Awards nominees.
10. Mass manufactured drama
I know, I know. The comments beast must be feed and it hungers for drama. But if you have to resort to moaning about how HARD your life is because your grocery bag ripped while unloading the minivan or the contractors are taking an extra day to remodel your new kitchen, you’ll have to excuse me if I roll my eyes and move on. But being the professional character actor you’ve become, I’m sure it won’t bother you.
So, that’s my list. Did I miss anything?