So, you want to be read?

“Sam Ruby”: and “Mark Pilgrim”: share their thoughts on what makes a weblog, and there is also a “Wiki page”: on the subject. I’ll try to share my thoughts on what makes me actually _read_ a blog regularily.

h3. RSS
A weblog without RSS is for me hardly a weblog at all. If you want me to read your writings, I need to be notified when you have written.
h3. Individual entry archiving
For me, permalinks aren’t enough: If I want to read one of your entries, I want to read _one_. I do not want to download 47 entries that I’m not interested in, or have already read.
h3. Minimize idle talk
Yes, a blog is personal, and one is entitled to write whatever one wants there, but writing when you really have nothing to say increases the chance of people missing the interesting entries because they simply disappear in the noise.
It’s better to write something sensible once a week than posting daily about your rat’s droppings.
h3. Dumb down & clean up
Do you really _need_ to tell your visitors what the weather is like where you live? Have you considered which Movable Type plugins you really _need_? Does all that Javascript really serve a purpose? Do you need 300 links and two sidebars on your main index?
Not everyone can be a designer or a programmer, and if you suspect you’re neither, the best way to get attention is not to pretend to be one. Keep the design and programming effort minimal, and concentrate on the writing instead.
h3. Participate I
If you read other weblogs that have comment systems, do not be afraid to leave comments in these blogs. Of the last 10 RSS feeds I subscribed to, I discovered 7 of them via comments on other blogs. However, beware: Only add a comment if you actually feel you add to the original blog entry by posting: It’s the same as with your own blog: Minimize idle talk.
h3. Participate II
When you link to other people’s blog entries, send them a TrackBack if they can receive one. If your blogging tool does not support sending trackbacks, “Simpletracks”: from “Adam Kalsey”: will do the job nicely.
h3. Let others participate
If your publishing tool allows for it, let readers leave comments and TrackBacks. If they are allowed to participate, they will _feel_ more at home, and read you more often.
Even if your weblog system doesn’t support comments by default, like “Blogger”: you can probably add some remotely hosted comment service, like the ones “listed here”:
h3. Ping baby, ping!
At the very least, let your blog ping “”: and “”: as many aggregate services discover your blog by using these services. If you have written your own blogging tool, “add support”:
h3. Roundup
There are probably more ways of being read and noticed, but this is generally what I notice with a blog, and these are the main elements I consider, conciously or inconciously before I become a regular reader of a blog. And yes, the list is in a somewhat prioritized order.

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  1. I like the advice given in 7 Habits of an AntiBlogger:
    * Think before posting
    * Write for tomorrow
    * Google is a means not an end
    * Traffic isn’t everything
    * Write clean, valid markup
    * Add value, not links
    * Memes don’t need your help

  2. So, you want to be read?

    This is a very nice writeup by Arve Bersvendsen on how to be read, and how to make a good weblog. What he writes I…

  3. chris

     /  2003-06-18

    What does RSS have to do with weblogging? As far as I’m concerned, nothing. It’s just another feature fluff that pollute google (yes, I have actually had rss feeds as results on google). Whatever happened to XHTML being the ultimate “write once” language that should be available to every single user agent? Or was that just another lie from the W3C to get everyone to move away from HTML and force XML onto us? It’s not my fault that news readers can’t understand my XHTML.

  4. First: I have also seen RSS pollution on Google, and as long as Google doesn’t provide a means of either referencing to the actual HTML version of the entry, as instructed by the RSS data, or convert the search results into something humanly readable, they shouldn’t be there.
    The vision of XHTML as a truly omnipotent “write once”-language should be considered dead and buried: The tools you have to create for content syndication and aggregation becomes infinetly complex if one should parse and extract information from a language as freeform as XHTML is. There might be significantly different meanings to h1, h2 and h3 in two different documents, or even in two different weblogs. In one weblog a h2 could represent the current date, while any h3s are titles to individual entrys. In other weblogs, like this one, h2 represents the title of an entry, and h3 are headings for subchapters of that entry.
    RSS exists as a simple real-world solution add-on that provides a uniform way of referencing a weblog entry, or even an article in an online newspaper. This enables the real world to write tools for acquiring, and understanding these data, whether they are displayed on a custom crafted HTML page, or read in a typical aggregator like “nntp//rss”:
    RSS also provides useful metadata: Where is this entry from, who writes it, where is a permanent URL for an alternate (HTML) version. You can add media inline, and have it waiting in your inbox when you read it, without any form of delay.
    And: RSS saves bandwith, both for you, as the author, and me as the consumer. It is compact, and built for a special purpose, and is free from any layout you may choose to use.
    An aggregator that can make intelligent guesses on these conditions based on the current HTML versions we have, is, at the moment, purely hypothetical, and RSS is practical a way of providing us with replacements for purely hypothetical software.

  5. Weblog Advice

    Virtuelvis: So, you want to be read? Some good advice. I especially agree with the one called “Dumb down and clean up”. I always become disturbed when too much is going on inside a weblog, but I do understand the appeal and enthusiasm that such “experi…