Sunday, November 26, 2006

How much is a good blog?

Something that I enjoy in sociology (and of sociologists) is creating theories for everyday things.

As a great example, Notre Dame sociologist Dan Myers posted a wonderful definition of what constitutes a power ballad in rock music.

In getting this blog going, I've been thinking of how often I should post, and what the trade-off is between quality and quantity.

How often should one post to keep readers' interest? If it's once a month, the blog will feel stale. If it's once an hour, there will always be new material, the writer has to quit their job, family, etc... to keep it going. (Though some people manage multiple daily posts and appear to have an otherwise normal life; e.g., Scot McKnight). I think that there is a threshold effect of about once every day or two--enough so that most people checking it will find new material each time. Much less than that might signal waning interest by the writer, much more is more often than most people check blogs.

As for quality versus quantity--I could post frequently, but what about when I don't have anything to say? Is it better to have new, not very good material or to just not write anything? One way to think about this is to ask whether blog readers add or average the quality of postings in evaluating a blog? If adding, two good posts + one not so good post is slightly better, certainly not worse, than just two good posts. With averaging, two good posts + one not so good post is worse than just two good posts. I'm guessing that readers mainly average (once the above mentioned quantity-threshold effect is reached). To illustrate, I was reading a blog that had some lively posts, and then a post in which the writer spoke of going to a movie with the family and thinking it was okay but that another one was better. I had QWERTY embossed backwards on my forehead from having fallen asleep while reading that post, and I don't think that I've checked back since--not as a punishment, but more from having redefined the blog from that post.



Andre said...

Sarcasm is a big help in making a blog "lively." Being honest without being mundane is also a large factor in discerning the "livelihood" of the blog. And as to which is the way to weigh a blog, I use the average method, however I sometimes weigh some posts heavier than others (The heavier weighting is on posts with a topic I am interested in). That is, ten average posts on a subject on which I am neutral would weigh roughly the same as one good post on a subject that I have interest in. In a similar manner, one bad post on a subject I am neutral to is better than a bad post on a subject that I am interested in. I would say that on neutral subjects, three bad posts are as bad as one bad post on a topic I am interested in. However, it is not the same for good posts on neutral subjects... About two good posts on neutral subjects are equal to one good post on an interesting topic.
This might be too complicated and is perhaps a bit Math heavy, but hey, I am studying Math and it seems to work for me.

Scot McKnight said...

Blog as often as you want ... but regularity and diversity are the most important features.

I also believe that you have to learn to ask good questions that generate conversation, and let that conversation take place without commenting back all the time.

Knumb said...

If you have to ask... ;)

Just kidding

Once every day or two minimum, no limit on the top side, IMHO.

/mashes the f5 key

Dan Myers said...

Who am I to give any advice on this--you've been blogging longer than I have--today marks my ten-day anniversary of actually deciding to do it!

But from reading others, I lose interest real fast if I click on someone's more than a couple of times and there is nothing new to read. That suggests something close to a daily frequency. Which I'm trying to do. I think it is probably most critical to be just be consistent with it in order to build up some kind of readership.

At the same time, it's nice if it is interesting too. I find it amusing to hit the "next blog" link and see what's randomly out there--but I lose my motivation pretty quickly for most people's rants. I know that some of my blog will probably only be interesting to my family and closer friends out there. So, if I post something like that (see my idiotic Lord of the Rings post), I also try to put up something that others will find interesting.

Last thing, which I am violating right now, is probably to keep it reasonably short. Of course, my power ballads piece was way, way too long--but darn it, I had some passion about that issue!

Markus Watson said...

Brain... hurts... Too... much... thinking....

Just found your blog, Bradley. I like it!! I'll be checking back. And hopefully the balance of the frequency and interestingness (is that a word?!) of your posts will be just right, thereby beckoning me to continue to read your blog on a regular basis!

brewright said...


I like what you say about being honest without being mundane. I've noticed that on good blogs people speak of things that perhaps those around them don't even know... like telling your secrets to a stranger on the bus.

I'm going to have to think about your math about averaging... looks like an interaction effect between # of posts * quality of posts?


brewright said...


I like what you said about learning to ask questions, and I think I'll pay more attention to your blog and others that have a lot of discussion to see how it's done.

brewright said...

That's interesting what you say about length, Dan. I think that I am prone to longer blog posts than average, so this is something to think about for me. I think that I like longer posts myself, as long as they have some sort of structure/ are readable. Maybe more variation with longer posts? Can be really good or really bad?


brewright said...

For those of you haven't read Scot McKnight's blog, it's a tour-de-force in prompting discussion.

In a post today, he asks: My questions today: How might we “empower” women in order that they may not be seen as the “weaker” vessel in a redemptive sense?

He gives some thoughts and which launch a discussion that as of now has produced 50 comments, and it's a real discussion, with the comments feeding off of each other and developing themes.

Now, in part Scot asks good questions, and in part he seems to have his readers trained to discuss (which, I suppose is the sign of a good teacher), for he gets many comments for posts that do not explicitly ask questions.

Having said that, moving blog posts from here's my statement to let's talk about it is a skill I would like to develop.