Dave’s 9 Rules for Blogging

To join my exclusive blog network, you must first swear fealty to the 9 Rules. After all, without rules, there’d be no rules.

1. Whatever you do, don’t bore yourself.1 For example, by blogging about blogging. *yawn

2. Provide substantial original content now and then. That’s the only thing that keeps the endless conversation at the heart of the interactive web from devolving into empty, meaningless chatter. Well, that and catblogging.

3. Never pass over a great title for a blog post just because it might hurt its searchability. That’s fucking lame.

4. Don’t take any numerically based ranking systems seriously. Technorati barely even works half the time, and the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem is a travesty of true ecological relationships spawned by a Bushite blog portal.2 Besides, why should we let numbers run our lives? Rank yourself alphabetically instead. Does your blog title begin with a V? Get to the bottom of the list!

5. If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will. Why not email your friends individually and offer them $5 if they’ll read your blog for a week? If you’re a knitting blogger, be sure to work your URL into everything you knit.

6. Always remember, no matter how clever you may think you are, somebody named Ralph probably said it first.3

7. Blogging is more than just a soapbox or self-publishing outlet — it’s a way to connect with like-minded people. If you’re a food blogger, why not invite your favorite Central Pennsylvania-based literary blogger over for dinner sometime? He’s probably nowhere near as obnoxious in person.

8. Snark without humor means the trolls have won.

9. Post at least once, O.K.? No post, no blog! I’ve had it with you people.
__________

1 Boring everybody else is, of course, perfectly acceptable. In some situations, it may even confer a perverse kind of status in the blogging world. I name no names. [back]

2 Some of the best stuff on the internet appears on small sites with few incoming links and all too few readers. You’ll be lucky if you’re ever a fraction as good at photoblogging as Paula’s House of Toast, nonfiction as prairiemary, or poetry as Vivid. [back]

3 Ralph P. Lipswitch in Hoboken, for example, or CuttingRoomRalph33, on YouTube — or even Ralph W. Emerson. My favorite blogging-applicable Emerson quotes:

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

[back]

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

25 Comments


  1. Need a 10. Ignore all of these, but make it so good it won’t matter.

    I’m thinking of Whiskey River, whom I love.

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  2. That was my original #9, more or less, but I figured it was implicit in the intro and in the list as a whole.

    I’m thinking whiskeyriver might not care for that last Emerson quote. Then again, s/he might love it.

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  3. On the contrary! I can never have enough of looking at other people’s cats. Especially when there’s something snoring in the crawlspace under my floor, as there has been most of this evening. I can pretend it’s a cat purring, and feel all domestic and civilized. You know?

    This picture cracks me up. Ah, cats.

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  4. Especially like your #8–and the advice from Emerson about finishing the day and being done with it, which I’m about to take.

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  5. I do love these, and feel I am much in need of such guidance from so worthy a source, ( hyper- brown-nosing there in the interests of promoting myself ).
    I am resisting getting a site-meter out of what pride I still have left.

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  6. Part of me fears that this post was written for me, but that can’t be right, can it?

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  7. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to blog if you don’t own a cat or two or three.

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  8. Lucy – resist the temptation if you can. I have one, and it either depresses me because I have no traffic, or it turns me into a stalker cause I want to know WHO from Charlotte, North Carolina keeps reading my blog! Resist!

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  9. I like to think my weblog has something to bore everyone. (Kind-hearted people call me “ecclectic.”) Given the breadth of your interests, I was a little worried about you until I started reading all this chemistry. (Although I think you’d like the alchemy if you tried it.)

    I applaud #4, and add that there should be a penalty for using the word “blogosphere.” (I used to advocate severe physical sanctions for misusing “hopefully” and “thankfully,” but I’ve listened to so much cable news that I have become comfortably numb.)

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  10. Thanks for the comments, y’all. Of course, my peurile decision to take a cheap shot at the 9 Rules Network made this post a lot shorter than it otherwise might’ve been. I didn’t say anything about the folly of judging oneself by the number – as opposed to the quality – of comments, for example!

    I heartily second Gina Marie’s statement about site statistics. Unless you have vitually no insecuries at all (like my dad – he only looks at the stats for his Peaceful Societies site on the last day of every month!), I’d advise only using a stat tracker for a few months, to learn something about typical readership patterns, and then getting rid of it for your psychological health.

    patry – Thanks. I’d say #1, #6 and #8 are my only real valuable contributions to the blogging discourse. (Boy, doesn’t that sound affected!)

    Lucy – I’m fascinated by how quickly you went from self-effacing, reluctant blogger to cheerful self-promoter. Way to go! I can still remember the way I was six or seven years ago, when I first started participating in discussions on widely read listserves. It took all the courage I could summon to post, and my heart would pound the next day when I looked for replies. Now, I’m so callous, it’s hard to believe I’m the same person.

    pablo – Nope. Sorry!

    Karen – I don’t own any cats, but there is a nine-lived barn cat whose presence I’ve very reluctantly decided to tolerate. Does that count?

    Gina – Don’t worry, it’s probably just somebdy in a maximum security prison with nothing better to do. :)

    Rebecca – I like to think my weblog has something to bore everyone. That seems like a pretty healthy way of looking at things, actually. The worst sin in my book is taking yourself too seriously (meaning, more seriously than circumstances warrant).

    I’ll stop using “blogosphere” when someone comes up with a better word. As for “hopefully” and “thankfully,” I follow the crowd unapologetically. Linguistic prescriptivism is a slippery slope leading straight to the language fascism of the French or Spanish Academies or the American Ornithological Union. No thanks!

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  11. Dave…thanks for all of the helpful hints! I particularly liked #5 about offering $5 for reading the blog for a week. I have decided to modify that somewhat. I plan to offer a plate of macaroni and gravy. Please let me know what you think. I have one of those Site Meter things on my blog. At least half of the people who find my blog have searched “How to Eat Pho”. I have always liked the Emerson hobgoblin quote…..I use to use with my kids when they accused me of being a hypocrite.

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  12. Yeah! It’s a little pithier than Whitman’s “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I embrace multitudes.”

    “Minds are like beds, they should be changed regularly” — there’s another one. Or Blake’s “A set opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind,” which is great except for the shakey biology. Blake never was much of a naturalist.

    Macaroni and gravy? Around here, people eat gravy over waffles with chicken. Not much pho, though, ‘far’s I know.

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  13. if i invite you over for a meal will you show up? no!

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  14. q.r. – Start a food blog, and I might.

    Fred – And gravy from chicken?

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  15. Groucho Marx: “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”.

    I was about to join your 9 rules network but now I see it was a joke? I didn’t really study all the rules carefully, just seemed like it would be fun to join.

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  16. Oh, yeah, I forgot about that Groucho quote! Exactly.

    I might actually start a blog network at some point, if someone else doesn’t do what I have in mind first. But right now I’m too busy with blog-related projects to even consider adding something else.

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  17. Nice analysis of blogging psychology! I agree with your view of titles; half the fun of writing a new post for me is coming up with a title which doesn’t quite make evident what the subject really is!

    I sympathize with Gina Marie; I have some regular readers who have never commented — these are daily readers, and I see their IP addresses in my Apache web-server log files. One reader, a science teacher who teaches in a nearby small town, had been reading my blog for over a year without commenting. A couple of months ago she broke her silence and has been commenting daily ever since.

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  18. A couple of months ago she broke her silence and has been commenting daily ever since.
    Yeah, it’s funny the way that works, isn’t it? And I’m glad you agree with me about blog titles. However, I can understand why a blog that is primarily information-oriented would want to take SEO into consideration to a much greater extent than us dilettantes.

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  19. What perfect timing. My mother promises to teach me how to knit.

    Oh, I liked the new snow shots, despite having quite enough snow already…

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  20. If everyone would spell my blog name correctly goddammit, with a 3 not a t, I’d be at the top of every list. Never mind that people insist on calling it 3rd (or third) house party when it’s been 3rd house journal for at least a year.

    I enjoyed the comments here as much as the post. Love the quotes. If only I could remember them when needed. But then I’m not given to quotations, either.

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  21. Ha! I always knew that’s why you chose that name.

    Some people are really really slow about editing their linkrolls, I have no idea why.

    I was thinking of changing “Via Negativa” to “1st Thought.” Whaddya think?

    Reply

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