on blogging awards

I’ve noticed that various blog award competitions are underway, and I have to admit that I haven’t paid close enough attention to understand how these awards are decided. However, I have been thinking about what kinds of criteria one might use to judge good and bad blogging.

During this conversation, I said that one of the key characteristics of a blog is that it is vulnerable to the textual intervention of others. If what you write online is not, then you’re not really writing a blog. You might be an amusing columnist using blog software, but you’re not a blogger. You might be a talented essayist using blog software, but you’re not a blogger. And while I am on this particular soapbox…

  • If you don’t allow comments and trackbacks, then you’re not a very good blogger. (Restating the above point.)
  • If you (like me) don’t interact much with the people who leave comments on your site, then you’re not a very good blogger.
  • If you (like me) don’t leave a great many comments on other people’s blogs, then you’re not a very good blogger.
  • If you don’t rely for rhetorical or stylistic punch now and then on the surprise waiting at the other end of an otherwise innocent looking hyperlink, then you’re not a very good blogger. Hypertext != print.

Being a good writer is not necessarily the same thing as being a good blogger, although the two categories are not mutually exlusive.

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10 thoughts on “on blogging awards

  1. I quit allowing trackbacks because of trackback spam. I am too lazy to install the blacklist.pl stuff – besides, sixapart should just include the darn thing as part of their code base.
    So, I guess I am a bad blogger.

  2. A few thoughts here, G. . . .
    I plan to keep my comments and trackbacks open (as long as the spam will let me, anyway) but I don’t see these–“the textual intervention of others”–as the dominant criteria for blogging. To me, blogging is much more about the creation of a persona; all bloggers do this to an extent, even when they blog under a true name (like I do). The persona is created in all kinds of mundane ways I suspect we’d agree on–style and tone, subject matter, decisions about what to include or not to include, etc. At the other end of the spectrum you have “fictional” blogs like Flight Risk, which I would argue simply literalize the role playing that all bloggers partake in. Blogging software itself facilitates the construction of a recognizable persona through standard features like its database back end (useful for sorting and searching entries), its data and time stamped organization, and peripherals such as blogrolls or bloglines (which situate the persona in a social network). Trackbacks and comments do this too of course, and they can be a powerful way of creating an identity for oneself online–but I don’t see them as essential to process, nor would I rush to privilege them more than other means. Take the case of Justin Hall, who I know you’ve followed for a long while–many would cite him as the “first” blogger, but he did it all without *any* formal software, and with no comments, etc. They are seductive, though, those comments: the endorphin rush that comes from the contact can become an end in itself, I suspect, at least before one becomes jaded from the attention (that hasn’t happened to me yet ;-). But blogging is about masks and windows, a flirtation with self and other sustained through the rhythms of update, update, update–which play into our insatiable appetite for the new, the novel . . . with a touch of the voyeur, to keep us honest.

  3. If we focus upon blogging as a verb it may encompass a range of periodic activities including entry writing, commenting, linking using track back and other mechanisms.
    To blog and to be a blogger are not the same.
    And you can guess the next step in such argumentation would be to suggest that value be ascribed to the action and not the being.

  4. Two thoughts:

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that if you don’t do these things you’re a “bad” blogger. Just that if we’re going to hand out awards for the action of blogging (nod to Francois), then we need to acknowledge that there’s a difference between “very good” or “excellent” (nod to BitchPhD) and the rest of us.
    2. Torill Mortensen has a related entry concerning what is and what isn’t blogging.
  5. Having a blog makes you no more a blogger than having a piano makes you pianist.
    Becoming a good blogger is a goal of mine, but I’m quite inexperienced in writing in a consistent tone that doesn’t make me sound like a pretentious tool. And I talk about myself too much.
    (I don’t consider myself a bad blogger, because I don’t consider myself a blogger yet)
    I think everyone should have a blog. It’s great to be able to set out your ideas in a way that forces you to structure them logically.

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