Question: What Makes an Excellent Blog?
In my opinion, there is no such thing as an excellent blog. In fact, it is my contention that labelling any single blog as excellent (or at the opposite end, terrible) is disingenuous at best, and dishonest at worst. A blog, at its most basic level, is simply “a value-neutral medium or media format for publishing online” (Carroll pg 138). So defined, the qualification of that medium with either positive or negative descriptors appears to completely miss the point of its existence. If a blog is value-neutral, how can we declare one blog better than another? Wouldn’t a blog be “excellent” by default, awarded that distinction merely by existing as a forum for digital sharing? I believe it would, especially considering that “organic material and compositions move through particular stages with a goal in mind, but the process takes precedence over the product” (Rorabaugh, 2012).
With that last quote in mind, I think it is fair to say that a blog exists, for better or for worse, to channel the public desires of its author. Blogs have no prescribed elements and no rigid form. Hell, they don’t even have the same audience in mind. Therefore, how can one genuinely assign words such as “excellent” without substituting their own preferences in place of objective reading? Just think about it: If you have no interest in the law, are you going to look at SCOTUSBlog as an excellent read, its technical merits notwithstanding? If you hate fluff pieces about the human condition, are you really going to think of Humans of New York as an excellent blog, even with the awareness of its reach and influence? My guess is, probably not.
With this in mind, I would like to suggest an alternative question: What makes an enjoyable blog? This question acknowledges the subjectivity of its nature and of the reader, and as such, is much fairer in nature. I therefore offer my own personal list of qualities that I look for in determining which blogs I want to frequent, but I hope (and expect) that you might not feel the same way.
5 Keys to an Enjoyable Blog:
- It has to not be written by me. By this point, I’m sure you as the reader would agree.
- It has to have a purpose. While a blog is technically adequate by virtue of its function as an author’s ideological repository, I concur with Morris in that such writing “has no value” to the wider world “except as it is made useful” (Morris, 2012).
- It has to be unique, or as Carrol calls it, “authentic” (Carroll, 163). I only want to read something on your blog if it’s a thought, or at least a tone, that I haven’t come across elsewhere. Otherwise, why get bogged down in repetition?
- It should “carve out a niche” (Carroll, 163). It should be targeted and specific with a clear point of view. Otherwise, I’m liable to get confused by muddled messaging instead of blown away by your vision.
- It should be bold. Nothing is more boring to me than when an author plays it too safe. Take risks, share an unpopular opinion, and take solace in the fact that your blog will still most likely find an audience. If it doesn’t, oh well, your blog is still excellent because you took the time and effort to go for it!