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User-created greatness

August 10, 2010

Since it’s been a while, I figured it was time for an editorial. I’ve been thinking about writing on this subject a long time, so here goes.

For me, user-created content is one of the best things available on the internet. Blogs, fansites, forums and what have you. Personal insights into matters, thoughts and opinions – such as this one – on pretty much any subject you care to name. And as a reader you can comment, reply, take part in the discussion and be a part of a community. There are professionals, amateurs, dabblers, hobbyists, first-timers, last-timers, veterans, rookies…all sorts with different views and different things they bring to the table.

Most of my time (if you don’t include the endless idling on Facebook) on the internet is spent reading blogs and forums, learning new stuff, appreciating and commenting on the work of others, and of course subjecting my own output to similar scrutiny by other users. I can’t even begin to tell how much I’ve gleaned from all this. Countless links and discussions, an endless supply of information both useful and useless, both silly and serious.

As a blogger I’m trying my best to contribute. I aim to provide content that I would enjoy myself: reviews, inspiration, news and sometimes just a few bits and pieces to let people know that there’s an actual person writing this stuff.

Blogging is great fun. You get to give something to the mostly faceless mass of the community/communities you’re part of. The sheer thought of actually writing something interesting is probably what most bloggers dream of. For me, the best things I can hear are comments that tell me that my writings have been of use. Maybe someone has bought a book or seen a movie that I reviewed or used my painting tutorials. There are few things in the world that can beat that feeling of being useful. Isn’t that what most people want to feel like?

That brings me smoothly to commenting. People, if you read a blog post that you like, comment! You’ll be pretty much guaranteed to make a blogger’s day, especially if it’s a small blog. Who knows, your comment might be the one to save a blog sliding into oblivion or the one boosting a blogger to strive for even bigger and better things. The more I’ve blogged (this is post #82 since May 2009) the more I’ve learned to respect the work of others. Nowadays if I enjoy something that I see, I’m more than happy to let the creator know it. Every comment I receive on this site still makes me smile (apart from some crazy Swede calling me retarded, and even that makes me smile a bit nowadays), and there are some frequent commenters that I’m already viewing as friends even if I’ve never met them. If I’m not all wrong, I think I’ve replied to every single comment I’ve received.

It’s typical in posts like these to offer some tips on blogging, so who am I to differ. Here are mine:

If you are a blogger

  • Write when you feel like it. Some people will disagree with me on this, as they like doing their postings on a schedule. If you can do that, even better! My blogging depends a lot on my moods. I might write a blog once every three weeks, or three blogs in a week. Better to make a post you like writing, than force yourself to create something mediocre. Be mindful, though. The longer the hiatus, the harder it is to start again.
  • Elaborate. Instead of saying “I liked it”, tell the readers why. It’s not that much more work, but it’s that much more useful.
  • Don’t be afraid to provoke. It’s your blog, it’s your opinions. Don’t be an ass, though.
  • Reply when people comment, it’s polite.
  • Check your spelling. Noeone liks torreed txty writtn    liek dis evn IF IT contins an lut off inromation.
  • Check your layout. Two pages of text with no paragraph breaksislikereadingasentencewithnospacesorpunctuation Alltheinformationistherebutitsalotofworktowadethroughit. Pictures are fine too, as are appropriate uses of formatting. Don’t go overboard.
  • Don’t be afraid to advertise your blog a bit. Be careful though, it’s a thin line between providing people with news of interesting posts and spamming every message board every time you write something. Deliver the news to people you think might reasonably be interested. Surprisingly often people will thank you for pointing them to a new source of information.
  • Maybe most importantly: Write stuff that you would like to read. Chances are that other people will like it, too.

If you’re a reader

  • Comment, comment, comment. Bloggers want and need to know that what they write is read.
  • If you find a blog you like, subscribe to it. An RSS or Atom feed is a nifty internet thingy, that notifies you when a blog is updated. It saves you from constantly checking up on a blog and keeps you from forgetting that one blog where there was an interesting post a month back. Google Reader is a very easy online choice. A lot of blogs also provide you with email updates. It couldn’t be easier: just enter your email and the blog will send you a message whenever there’s something new available. Some blogs – this one for example – also provide a Facebook link. Just become a fan and you’re notified of updates in your feed.
  • Follow links in blogs, you might often stumble upon something you might not see otherwise. Like this video of an eldritch thunderstorm in Finland.
  • Check out the blogrolls on blogs. Bloggers will often point you in the direction of blogs and sites they like themselves. I recommend everything under the Other people header, there on the right.

That’s about it. Now go do your part.

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16 comments

  1. comment, comment, comment


    • Hahah 😀 Touché!


  2. You have asked for comment – my maybe a little diluted – as I agree with all that you have said. Very well done, and thank you for an interesting read.

    Tony
    http://dampfpanzerwagon.blogspot.com/


    • Thank you for the comment, Tony, and thanks for a nice blog as well!


  3. I have been playing with the idea of a blog for sometime, but I have been hesitant because I am unsure of my ability to update regularly. Reading this has helped ease my mind about scheduled posting. Thanks for the opinions.


    • Thanks for the comment, Paul. As Andrew excellently comments, below, blogging is for your fun as well. So no stress!


  4. I would also like to add:

    1) Remember a blog is for your fun as well. Do not get to hung up if you do not post awhile or swap from range / period as you like.

    2) On Blogger – try the next blog button who knows where you will end up 🙂

    3) Check out the ‘profesional’ blog rolls (e.g. http://blogs.tabletopgamingnews.com/ http://wargamesblogs.blogspot.com/ or http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/topics.mv?id=191 for example)

    I also read with interest your comment:
    ‘the endless idling’ – blogging can become the main way of taking part in this hobby of ours if you are not careful. Though no more hordes of unwashed late on the Friday…

    Andrew


    • Very good points!

      The endless idling part is indeed true. Luckily it can work the other way as well. For example I’ve noticed myself painting more and more, as I enjoy showing off my newest projects and how they’re progressing. It also helps with the “I’ve got a post all written, but I need to finish that model so I can post”-syndrome 😀


  5. Blogging about blogs – its what bloggers do best 🙂

    The call for more comments and more interaction between hobbyists is always important. Its just difficult to comment on the huge volume of daily postings.


    • You hit the nail on the head there. If you need to comment on a big bunch of posts, it can get tedious. I usually comment on posts that leave me thinking or make me look more into the subject, and on smaller blogs simply to encourage. Basically in my opinion, if the article is worth spending a few minutes on, it’s usually worth spending 30 seconds to type up “Thanks for the interesting post.” Everyone’s a winner!


  6. As a new blogger I appreciate your perspective on this. I have very much appreciated the replies I have received and have started up some very nice friendships by posting on others blogs. Blogging and commenting are the essence of “Web 2.0.” Without the interaction it is simply publishing. Nice work. Cheers!


    • Thanks for the compliments, I’m glad you liked the post. Checked out your blog as well, and it seems to be shaping up nicely!


  7. Good thoughts there. I’ve enjoyed posting on our club’s blog alot, and you neatly have summarized what makes blogging fun.

    Greetings from the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts!

    Dallas
    http://www.wpggamegeeks.blogspot.com


    • Thanks for the kind words, Dallas! Just subscribed to the FAC’s RSS feed, some lovely stuff there. Keep on posting!


  8. An excellent editorial, Mikko, that perfectly sums up my own feelings about the whole world of blogging. You’ve really hit the nail on the head with this one.


    • Thanks Bryan, glad you liked it. Great minds think alike, as they say!



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