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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I've been online since 1971 and I like to smoothe the way for everyone else. Among other things I co-founded Sympatico, the world's first easy-to-use Internet service (and Canada's largest).

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Blogging infrequently is a feature, not a bug

Common advice to new bloggers is to post at least once a day. I gather that this is to establish the blog as worthwhile reading.

To which I say: hogwash and codswollop. That’s oldthink.

In the old days, web pages were supposed to be updated frequently so that when people visited they would see new content: if they saw no change they’d stop bothering to come back. But now that subscriptions are well established, people have new blog entries delivered to them, either through a feed reader if they use one (I use Google Reader) or via email. The reason to post daily is gone.

Instead, there is now an advantage to posting less often: in this age of information overload, less is more. I subscribe to over 200 blogs and I can’t possibly keep up with them all. But I can keep up with those that don’t have too much volume, and those are the ones I tend to make sure I read.

Other people who read many blogs can keep up with everything (I’ve never figured out how), but I don’t think they’re typical of the general population. Over time they will become less and less representative of blog-readers.

Back to “less is more”. Because my time is limited, I’d rather have quality than quantity. And anything filler-like lowers my interest. If your blog is about a particular topic, I don’t want to see too much that’s extraneous. That includes your personal life (unless of course that is the actual topic of your blog). I don’t have time to waste reading about what music you’re listening to right now, or that you’ll have to drive into the city today. Well, not too often: the occasional self-disclosure can help the reader feel connected to you, but too much is just vanity.

So (a) I don’t want blog entries to be padded with a lot of irrelevant stuff, and (b) I don’t want entries to be written just to meet a “publication schedule”. Post when you have something to say, and not when you don’t. Your quality will be higher as a result, and I believe more of your readers will stick with you (rather than unsubscribing to reduce their overload). And neither of us will waste our precious time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My need for structure dictates a preference for regular updates. Mind you, I suppose it depends on the nature of the blog itself; regular updates for the personal ones, irregular for the non-personal (which is structure in itself, isn't it? Old habits die hard).

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 10:35:00 a.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you Rohan - I'd rather have quality over quantity. Feeds let me subscribe to folks and I know right away when they've posted something - so the idea of a schedule seems very artificial.

For example, Paul Graham only does a few essays a year - each one is brilliant. I don't want daily posts from Paul but I sure as heck want to read everything he has to say when he wants to say it.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 1:22:00 p.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Rohan - I've noticed recently there's been a handful of blogs that I read that have gone way downhill just because the author is clearly trying to post daily (or even more frequently) in the quest to actually make some money at blogging. :/

Posting for the sake of posting is never good. I decided a few months ago just to post when something struck me as worthwhile. That's ended up being 1 a week some weeks and 3 a day at other times. But it seems to work.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 2:00:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Rohan Jayasekera said...

Christina, Ken and Ryan, thanks for your comments!

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 3:39:00 p.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must confess that I write in my blog every day as a writing exercise. I guess I'm part of the problem. :-)

More seriously - a thought that struck me after reading your entry was this: I suspect that different people want different things out of the whole blogging experience.

People who are looking for information or carefully reasoned analysis, and don't have time to waste, prefer topic-oriented blogs that stick to the point.

My approach to blog reading appears to be different from yours. At the moment, I'm only reading blogs that are being updated by people I know. And I don't use a feed to keep me posted on updates. So I actually prefer the meandering personal stuff. To each their own, I suppose!

In the future, I suspect that the problem of information overload will just get worse, since there are so many of us who have opinions and an itch to put them up on the web.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 4:27:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Rohan Jayasekera said...

Dave, I think that your blog-reading preferences and mine are actually quite similar. We read personal stuff if it's from people we know, while for blogs by other people we are far pickier. You don't read them at all (for now), while I want them to largely stay on topic and to post only when they have something good.

And I suspect that at some point you'll start subscribing to blogs (whether by feed or by email), so that you don't have to keep checking websites.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 5:41:00 p.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're probably right: if I start reading more blogs, I'll have to look into a subscription service. There's just too much out there.

I agree with you that I would be more willing to read personal stuff if it was written by somebody I know. I guess this means that bloggers have to decide whether they want to write for their friends or for strangers.

Me, I write for myself (and because I want the attention, I suppose :-)).

By the way, my latest entry is kind of a followup to your article about the Internet and work - the Globe had an article today about expected talent shortages due to retiring baby boomers, and I'm wondering whether this means that things will be easier or harder for knowledge workers in the future.

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 6:04:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Rohan Jayasekera said...

NOTE: Apparently my recent migration to the new version of Blogger lost some information. (So much for Blogger/Google's beta testing.) The “anonymous” comments above were originally signed, by Ryan Coleman and (twice) Dave Till respectively.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 3:00:00 p.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Jakob Nielsen has been reading your blog. He has the same opinion and an interesting angle on it:
Write Articles, Not Blog Postings

Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 1:06:00 p.m. EDT  

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