Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why Blog?

Ravious over at KT has an interesting post up about what motivates readers to unsubscribe from a blog. An interesting take, but I tend to look at it a bit differently.

What motivates someone to READ a blog?
I’ve never named a blogger I don’t like reading because I think that’s generally just bad form and impolite. That said, I’ll make an exception today because I think it provides some excellent context. So... I can’t stand Cuppycake. Prominent blogger, has a big readership, even ‘works’ in the industry now after cashing in on the blogging fame. I hold nothing against her personally, just absolutely can’t stand what she writes on her blog.

Now a big part of that is because her opinions are often the polar opposite of my opinion. If Syncaine is the opposite of Tobold, then Cuppycake is the opposite of me. Don’t believe me? Some recent entries:
  • Dun dun dun! SPARKLEPONY is mine!
  • Despite what you think, Farmville is a game!
Even in areas where we agree, we don’t really agree on the same points even if we reach the same conclusion. I tell you, if I were more unscrupulous, I could easily start an anti-Cuppy campaign that would rival Syncaine’s ongoing “war” with Tobold. But, as I said, that’s bad form and this is the only time I’m going to bring it up.

I learned long ago that the best way to win any argument is to understand the point of view of your opponent. If you can understand WHY they think that way, you are very well armed to counter their arguments and strengthen your own. So I actually like to read opinions that are contrary to mine. Particularly if they are well articulated and sensible.

BUT – I can’t stand reading Cuppy’s blog. Why? I think the problem is that her opinion is too different from mine. No amount of discussion would ever get us to agree. I don’t agree with Beau Turkey all that often either, but at least I feel I can have a discussion with him and he’ll be able to concede the point of view.

And I think that sums up why I read a blog. Because it raises topics that are interesting and warrant discussion. If I don’t feel like I can engage in that discussion, then I don’t want to read that blog. If a blog starts going way off-topic from the discussion I’m interested in, I don’t want to read it. If they fiercely moderate even reasonable comments they don’t like, I don’t want to read that blog.

In short, it’s about the discussion.

If a blogger blogs in a forest and no one was there to read it, was it really a blog?
By Ravious' definition, a blog "dies" when it starts to lose readers. Certainly in the context of blog popularity it dies, but a blog without any readers still provides the blogger a writing outlet.

Would I continue to write if I knew no one would ever read it regularly? I don't know. My most often linked to article to date (by far) was one that I wrote a LOOONG time ago about the Ethics of MMO Addiction. I actually started blogging as an outlet for continuing the discussions that I was participating in on blogs. I’m not only open to discussion, it’s what motivates me to write.

That’s why, for myself, I tend to blog about gaming related things that either really interest me or really irritate me. I've been a bit time constrained over the past couple of weeks, so I have about a dozen different "pending" blog entries to write (mostly about things that are irritating me).

I took a pretty significant break from blogging in 2009. I'm going to blame Wrath on that one. In retrospect, I think I just stopped blogging in 2009 because Wrath was neither boring and irritating nor interesting and exciting. I guess I can best describe that as a phase of mediocre contentment which wasn't positively or negatively inspiring enough to write about.


Carson 63000 said...

"If a blogger blogs in a forest and no one was there to read it, was it really a blog?"

I hope so, because I'm pretty sure hardly anyone reads my blog. Except for my scathing post about Alganon's beta which Tobold and Lum linked to. :-)

sid67 said...

:) That was a bit tounge-and-cheek. Blogging isn't entirely about discussion. That's just how I started and what I find keeps me blogging.

When I first started blogging, the whole reason was because I was finding that some of my "comments" on other blogs were too long-winded for that format.

I found it easier to link my main point in the comment and write a more robust post on my blog. I was happy (and still am) if the only person who read it was the original poster.

jm said...

It forces you to think. And I agree about the part that you can't read blogs that are ferocious about the comments... you've got to have open-ness about other viewpoints. But for me, it's important to blog so that the comments help you energize your ideas... and maybe even change them.

Stabs said...

I originally came to blogging from forums. I used to post and read a lot on various gaming forums. The problem is over time the signal:noise ratio got worse and worse. Nothing sucks more than typing out a long thoughtful essay, posting it on, say, the WoW forums and getting one response saying TLDR.

Then I found Tobold via Elitist Jerks and decided I liked this style of communication and this community of gamers more than I liked the more combative forum discussions.

Stabs said...

Carson: "I hope so, because I'm pretty sure hardly anyone reads my blog."

Blogging audiences seem to be very connected to posting frequently. Most of the popular bloggers (Tobold, Spinks, Larissa) post daily.

I don't actually know if this is for any good reason in these days of RSS. I can see if you clicked a bookmark to a site where there was still nothing new you'd be a bit miffed.

But that's why your audience is small.

Klepsacovic said...

I'm in the same boat as Stabs: I started blogging to get out of the spam and trolling of the forums. Maybe the real question is why we were writing in the first place.