Back in 2007, when the Internet was young, a plucky and ambitious group of hellions going by the name "Cracked.com" launched a feature on their site called the Cracked Blog. There, an elite team of barely legal humorists posted their thoughts about themselves, the state of society and semi-popular television programming. It was, in every sense, marvelous -- every word a bolt of golden silk, hanging in an eternal summer breeze. But time passed, and the bloggers started getting worn out, tired with the hectic pace of updating multiple times a day. They began writing longer posts that appeared less frequently, eventually shape-shifting into a MILF-ish group whom we now call the Cracked Columnists. By late 2008, the Cracked Blog was dead, a loss which would soon rattle the world's economy to its core. But it turns out that despite Cracked's wholesale abandonment of the medium, blogging didn't die out at the same time. Since then, many different blogs have continued to thrive and evolve. There are blogs about video games and blogs about food, and even a blog where there are pictures of a cat saying things. This is all well and good, but unfortunately, not all blogs have achieved such lofty feats. Many, in truth, suck all sorts of balls. Below is a list of some of the worst examples of how the blog format has been misused.
You know what these are like. The first post (which still hasn't scrolled off the front page) says something like "Test" or "I Have A Blog!" The next three posts are a little less focused. And then nothing. It's a problem of access, or too much of a good thing. A blog is a place to say something, and even though they're freely available to anyone who can fog a mirror, this does not imply that all mirror-foggers have something to say.*
__ *These are not to be confused with people who do have something to say, but shouldn't, like computer programmers.
This is the type of blog that talks about all the exciting things that some company is doing, like, oh let's say Lenovo. Even if for some bizarre reason you are interested in what Lenovo is doing -- perhaps you're Lenovo's mother? - these blogs are still pretty useless. Crafted by junior public relations staff and read exclusively by the same junior public relations staff, reading one of these blogs is like paddling a beige canoe across a sea of banality. Think about it: If you wanted to find out anything about what a company was up to, would you first check its blog? Or search it on Google News?
Should any companies be reading this (hi, Monsanto) and wish to improve their own corporate blog, I do have one suggestion: Allow every employee in the company access to post anonymously to the blog. Although this might probably definitely ruin your company, it will be a hell of a great way to get a lot of that buzz you idiots seem to want so much.
One of the generally useful blog types out there are the Overzealous Nerd blogs, which is a term I've just invented which I'm pretty happy about. You know the blogs I'm talking about: They get all excitable about technologies and products. Thirty posts a day about the latest issues with tablet computers. That kind of nonsense.
No, my beef is with the blogs that are styled to look like the Overzealous Nerd Blog, but are actually veiled advertising blogs purpose-built to create false buzz for a specific product, a version of the marketing strategy called astroturfing. These are typically written by stealth marketers, which are normal human beings just like you and me, except they possess no eyes, living in a lightless world where joy dares not tread. Most of these blogs are pretty easy to smoke out -- a blog that's three weeks old with half the posts being glowing reviews of a new Chinese smartphone is always a little suspect. This makes them easy to ignore, just a nuisance when you're in the market for Chinese smartphones because of certain cheapness issues you might have.
This is a blog which seems to exist solely to reprint, quote or link to other people's content. You can find these blogs everywhere, but by their very nature, they prefer cropping up in the more heavily populated parts of the blogoverse.
This does not make you a reporter. This makes you a secretary; at most a pornographer, and even that takes good balance and a gentle touch.
There are a lot of varieties of parroting, three of which I've listed below: The Linker (or "Look at this other guy's useful content") Come on, guys. Use a link as a reference for your own discussion of something, not as the meat of the blog post itself. Sharing information is nice, but if these other blogs are so great, I'll soon just start hanging out there. (And bitching about their link posting habits most likely.) The Commentary (or "Here's a lengthy quote from someone else, plus most of a sentence from me explaining why I agree/disagree with it.") A variant of the linker, this one is popular amongst bloggers who feel a need to blog but don't have anything to say. If I'm hanging out at your blog, it's a safe bet that it's because you promised me unsavory pics of young starlets and/or I enjoy your writing. Please provide one or the other immediately. The Dissection (or "Here's a lengthy quote from someone else, broken up into individual points, and why I disagree with each point.") There's a special, tedious place in hell for anyone who makes this type of post. When read aloud, it's impossible to use anything other than a shrill, nasally voice. One trick about writing for the Internet is remembering how little most of your readers give a fuck about anything. At all times, they are a second away from every other site on the Internet, 75 percent of which have boobies. So don't try entertaining them with one side of a pedantic argument. Make your case, in all your own words, slap on a picture of some twins riding a Slip n' Slide and get out of the way.