The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Articles vs. Short Posts

This has been a day for blogging-related posts, but I couldn’t resist. Especially since I couldn’t help responding to this bit of advice from Atrios earlier this year, after reviving the blogroll purge discussion, from his post entitled “Why Your Blog Sucks.”

If you’re a thoughtful writer who tends to write longer essays then you’re at a disadvantage. On the other hand, Glenn Greenwald provides a pretty good model of how to make this work: generally one post per day, followed by a couple of updates, and some participation in his comments section. Oh, and truly excellent, original, and important content.

My response?

I could probably generate 10 or more posts a day if most of them consisted of one word, maybe one sentence, a link, and a blockquote. But that’s hardly what I’d call “original content.” (“Excellence” and “importance” are subjective, I think, and depend entirely on the audience you’re writing for.) Besides, that’s not writing. That’s aggregating, and there are already plenty of aggregators out there.

It’s also just the way my mind works, in a kind of perpetual “associative mode.” I can’t think of just one thing at a time. That is, I can’t think of one thing without also thinking of how it relates to something else. How it plays out in my blogging is that I read something, and immediatly think about how it relates to something I read before and/or posted earlier. Once that happens, leaving out those other threads feels like an incomplete picture to me. So I end up with longer posts that link all over the place, or series of posts.

I was surprised, and somewhat vindicated to hear from readers who stated the read this blog precisely because of just those kinds of posts. Kinda like Tony.

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One of my favourite blogs is The Republic Of T. It is not a Deaf blog,but is certainly one of the best I read. Apart from the fact that his articles are well thought out and written,with plenty of research and links, there is a sense of social justice and inclusion in what he writes and how he writes.This is one blogger well worth putting on your Reading Lists.

And I will be eternally grateful for Tony’s post, which lead me to this article from Jakob Nielsen, “Write Articles, Not Blog Posting.”

Blog postings will always be commodity content: there’s a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else’s work. Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they’re definitely easy to write. But they don’t build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you’re searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant.

…It might take you only an hour to write a blog posting on some current controversy, but a thousand other people can do that as well (in fact, they’ll sometimes do it better, as shown above). And customers don’t want to pay for such a tiny increment of knowledge. Sure, sometimes a single paragraph holds the idea that can increase a site’s conversion rate so much that a reader should have paid a million dollars to read it. But they don’t know that in advance, so they won’t pay.

In contrast, in-depth content that takes much longer to create is beyond the abilities of the lesser experts. A thousand monkeys writing for 1,000 hours doesn’t add up to Shakespeare. They’ll actually create a thousand low-to-medium-quality postings that aren’t integrated and that don’t give readers a comprehensive understanding of the topic — even if those readers suffer through all 1,000 blogs.

My experience has been that there’s a definite audience for longer, in-depth posts that require more research. And breaking them up into a series of posts helps like “The Myth of a Bush Recovery parts one, two and three; “The Queer Thing About School Shooters” parts one, two and three; How To Create a School Shooter; or Who’s It OK To Hate?.

If there’s an advantage to offering in-depth writing, I’m glad to hear it, and even gladder to hear about developments that might increase that advantage.

3 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t mind your longer posts, if you didn’t have only a partial site feed. :)

  2. I like long thoughtful posts. Keep doing it. Thanks.

  3. Mate, Terence, Mate

    Keep blogging! Write as many words as you want. It’s manna from heaven for some of us.

    But more important, I like your style, because you write as a black man, you don’t deny your identity, and you try to incorporate all aspects of your identity, upbringing, culture without denying anybody theirs.

    Know what I mean?

    That’s why I find your blog so wonderful. It’s like rejoicing in our individulaity and still we can join to make ocmmunity, without losing it.

    That’s what I wanna do with my blog -as a Deaf, Gay, Arab, Australian to try and encapsulate all those aspects of me into a three dimensional person.

    Entertainment and education is a balancing act, but one well worth purusing.

    thumbs up!

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