Do you have an irritating blog?
Tough question to start off with but it's also a very important question. While most of us are out there trying to do our best to come up with unique content, there are a lot of folks telling you to do this or that to drive readers to your blog, to get visitors to sign up for your newsletters, and to get people buying your products. All fine and good, but you're probably irking more people than you're pleasing; do you care?
I read a lot of blogs. In my blog reader (I use Feedreader, which is free), I'm subscribed to around 150 sites; 140 of them are blogs. In addition to those blogs I see a lot of other blogs based on recommendations from people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It's a good thing I'm a speed reader, otherwise I'd probably never get through any of them, let alone write the multiple blogs I have of my own and that I write for other people.
Whereas I find some good things to read, because there are some very good writers out there, most of what I come across irritates me; might as well tell the truth. If it irritates me enough I write about it on my blog; it's actually something that gives me a lot of inspiration. I'm one of those people that never does anything that irritates me because I figure if I'm irritated then probably the majority of people are also irritated by it, but don't say anything.
See, in general people are polite and nice. None of us wants to directly hurt someone else's feelings unless they absolutely deserve it. I'm not someone who just agrees with someone because they say something. If most of it is good but there's something I don't like, I'll have my say, then move on.
Yet the problem persists. The big time money bloggers will tell you stuff that just gets on my nerves because you do it. Then someone will give you some great information that you'll ignore it for whatever reason; maybe it's boring, maybe it's too much work, etc. Some of it is pretty simple stuff that I know you were taught in school; if you weren't paying attention then, you're failing now. And if that's the case, then you're irritating blog annoys me and many other people.
What am I talking about? Let's look at my top 5 irritants:
1. Pop-ups – the easiest way to prove you have an irritating blog.
I've written about this multiple times on my blog; I hate them. I don't know who actually started this mess, but the first time I read it was on Problogger about two and a half years ago. Darren Rowse, the owner of the blog, was saying how he did an experiment with some popup software to see if he could increase the subscribers to his blog and his newsletter. Then John Chow wrote about it, and suddenly everyone and his grandmother was doing it.
The thing is it's irritating as all get out. Supposedly some of the software is supposed to remember a visitor and never pop up again but that doesn't work. Sometimes the sucker pops up immediately, and other times it pops up while you're in the middle of reading the article. A few pop up just as you leave a comment. No matter when it pops up I hate it, it's irritating, and I won't subscribe to anything you do. I used to say I wasn't ever visiting that blog again but because of bit.ly links you're not always sure where you're going when someone recommends a post to read.
(yes, that's how it's spelled; the one with an “e” is an actor from Frasier).
Where did you learn to write like that? Most of the time people don't ask that question because they like the way you write, and that's a shame. Everyone isn't perfect; I get that. However, I see more people that write worse than they talk, and that's a shame. I like to think I'm one of the few people I know who writes much better than I speak; that's a shame as well but at least in writing I'm not bad.
There are some lessons people need to remember when they start writing blog posts; I would have said need to “learn” but I don't think there's a teacher out there that would have taught most people some of the horrible techniques I see. Folks, there are 3 different spellings of this word: there, they're, their. They have different meanings as well; learn them. There are words that aren't plural that you put an “s” after; stop doing that. There's this thing called “punctuation”; how many people remember how to use semicolons? For that matter a question mark is only supposed to be used if you're asking a question, though I've met a lot of people from whom every sentence sounds like a question. Poor grammar and punctuation will land you in the irritating blog category for sure.
Oh man, do I even want to get into this one? Look, there are typos that abound; I get that. There's also this thing called “spell checker” that every browser has that highlights misspelled words in some fashion; mine has this squiggly red line that alerts me that I've typed something incorrectly. I say it that way because I'm a good speller; finished 7th twice as a kid in spelling bees (missed “rhubarb” and “raspberry”; I'd only seen both words on the Beverly Hillbillies). Therefore, if I misspell a word I know it's a typo and that another word exists, or that my spell check doesn't know that word and I add it to the dictionary.
Still, I hesitate to pick on people for misspelling because it's so prominent so I'm going to pick on you for one type of misspelling. If you're going to talk about someone or something specific, look it up and spell it properly. Heck, don't spell it at all; copy and paste the sucker into your post. You don't know how to spell Saddam Hussein; copy and paste. You don't know how to spell Mississippi; copy and paste. You don't know how to spell Ghadafi… well, I'll give you a pass on that one because I've seen his name spelled 10 different ways. My point is that there are some words where, if you're going to talk about something specific, at least learn how to spell it. And if you think I'm being elitist, for awhile I was misspelling Akismet as “Askimet” because I thought that's what I was seeing; did that for a couple of years before someone pointed it out to me. But one word out of thousands; I learned and have never made the mistake again.
4. Comment hurdles.
Anyone who knows me knows this is one of my biggest gripes. If you make it hard for me to comment on your blog I'm not going to waste my time because you've irritated me before I've even thought about reading your content. As a matter of fact, if it's not as easy as just putting in my name, email address and link to my blog (okay, I don't mind the Twitter thing being there) I'm probably not even going to read your comment unless I already know you and like you.
Here's the thing. If you're using WordPress as your software a combination of a few plugins are all you need to make comments go smoothly, reduce spam drastically, and protect your blog overall. I'm not going to get into what each of these things do but I'm going to recommend you use these and get away from moderation, captcha, making people log in (nope, not doing it), or any other thing you've put on your blog that's irritating me and a lot of people (dare I mention Disqus? Oh yeah, I just did):
B. Growmap Anti-spambot
C. Limit Login Attempts
D. WordPress Firewall
E. WordPress Thread Comment
F. Subscribe To Comments
Those last two aren't needed for all blogs; it depends on how modern your theme is as to whether you need them or not. The new WordPress software can handle what those two plugins do if your theme is modern; if not, they're great.
5. What's the purpose of a blog in general?
In my opinion there only 3 reasons to write a blog; everything everyone does should fit into one of these categories:
On the first point, if you're going to write something to educate someone on a topic, be complete with it. I see so many people writing tutorial posts and making assumptions that everyone knows much of what you're talking about already. True, some stuff makes sense, but often there are terms that many people don't know, and there are technological tricks that some people without a lot of skills are afraid to try, especially if you didn't explain why it needs to be done.
I'm someone that does a lot of research because I have things that I try to change (such as trying to get that stupid Win 7 operating system to open the photo editing program I want it to instead of that idiotic Windows Photo Viewer program, which you can't edit images from), and when I can't find the detail on how to get it fixed and why I'm doing it I get irritated.
On the second point, if you want to keep people interested in what you have to say you're going to have to entertain them in some fashion. I don't mean telling jokes or necessarily being funny; I mean adding some personality to what you're writing. Give a little something of yourself when you can. Sometimes it's not appropriate for the type of post you might be writing but most of the time it's what helps you make a connection with someone else.
On the third point I'm betting some people think I'm rehashing my first point, but I'm not. If you're basically writing exactly what someone else has written at least give them some props with a link back to their original content. If you've read something that gives you an idea for a blog post, link back to them, whether you agree with their position or not. If you bring up a topic that you know most people aren't familiar with (for instance, if I start talking about “string theory” and my belief in multiple dimensions) link to some information about it so that anyone who cares can at least see what you're talking about. It never takes away from your own words to give credit to others when it's deserved, or to give information to help people understand your references. True, you want people to ask questions and talk to you about things, but if they're talking to you about your terminology and not what you're writing about you've lost them.
What do YOU think makes for an irritating blog?
I think I've said enough here. I thank Ileane for the opportunity to vent somewhere else other than my own blog. If I've said anything here that irritates you, let me know; if you agree, let me know. If you have anything to add, let everyone know. I thank you for your time, and hope this post didn't make this an irritating blog.