Build a Better Mouse Trap

I’ve probably posted something like this before, but it bears repeating. Pursuant to my recent post on who reads my blog and why, I often think about what makes a blog worth bookmarking. Let’s go through the points together, shall we?

1. Updated regularly. And by regularly, I mean once or twice a week. Even I don’t update daily, but I try to get something out once every few days. A lot of leeway is given depending on the type of posts. See below.

2. Content! Some blogs I visit because they are written by people who have a very specific area of interest. John Kricfalusi’s blog is redolent with dark secrets of animation, but if it started to become a journal of what he had for dinner last night, I wouldn’t be interested. Then again, some people can write about dinner and make it entertaining. Most people can’t, and even the blogs I subscribe to have entries I skip over if it’s just about food, or similar things that may be personal to them but no one else. Blogging about meals is like reading about liver conditions—if it’s not mine, why is it trying to monopolize my precious attention span? The same thing goes with photos, especially of vacations, pets, and children. Of course, one person’s dinner report is another person’s cartoon news, so to each his own.

2.b Links. There are websites like and that collect links to other interesting stuff going on throughout the wide world of web. You can try to one-up them, but you will fail, so why try? Unless it’s some twisted zen thing. Blogs that just post link after link – especially without any setup—are a pet peeve of mine.* If you absolutely must post a link to something, tell me where you’re taking me and why. If there’s popups and ads or a subscription necessary, warn me. Personalize it for me, or at least include it as a footnote to a real post with some actual meat to it.

3. Degrees of Separation. Some blogs have such fantastic content that it doesn’t matter who is writing them, really. I visit Cartoon Brew but I don’t know a damn thing about the author, apart from the fact that he publishes a magazine of the same name. On the other hand, I know that some blogs are frequented in part due to vanity, i.e. “I wonder if my name comes up this week?” My mom obviously doesn’t care about Spaceship Zero or the World Wildlife Federation of Justice. She just comes here to see what my hair looks like this month and if I’m ever going to have a relationship that lasts more than 2 years.

4. Presentation. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or a professional editor to make a presentable blog. Blogger and WordPress and other sites have perfectly decent pre-made layouts, and they work. And they’re simple. I am not interested in graphics, I read blogs for information, not to admire the bells, whistles and flash. Take note, myspace users. That said, sometimes photos and artwork really spice up an otherwise mundane blog (see 3), and in truth I do visit some blogs that are essentially just updated art galleries (see 2), but generally if your occupation is not artist, don’t get carried away. If you must design your own site, here’s some free advice: don’t make your header so fat that I have to scroll down just to read the second sentence of your brand new entry. And by Cthulhu’s greasy beard, no frames please. PS – spellcheck.

* That said, here’s a good one: As seen on Pharyngula,

Wal-Mart has a policy in place to protect its customers from the obscenity and wickedness that writers put into books, yet they still have a few books on the shelves that are terribly indecent—one must assume that their censors are simply too busy to have read them to determine the unpleasantness of their content. In order to help them become more consistent, I urge everyone to sign the petition asking that one of these unsavory texts be removed immediately

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