Alright, I get it. This whole online diary, web logging thing isn’t a fad. It’s not going away anytime soon. Fine, I can deal with that. But, if everyone and their damn mama is going to jump onto (into?) the internet and start blogging their way to media punditry, then we’re all going to have to agree upon some basic ground rules. And here they are (no, we will not be discussing them)*:
Understand the purpose of a blog. Blog’s don’t really exist for you the author. They exist for us, the readers. They exist for our entertainment. If you’re looking for a place to work out your demons, make damn sure first that they’re interesting demons. If you want to record the daily going-ons in your life, then the daily going-ons in your life better regularly involve circuses and orgies, because frankly, it’s boring to read about your trip to the store or how your kid caught the flu. If your life (like just about everyone’s) is boring or your demons (like just about everyone’s) are run of the mill, then keep a private diary, don’t post it up for the world to see. I understand that midnight journeys to the Laundromat, or constantly feeling like you’re just not good enough seem novel enough to when you experience them personally, but for everyone else they’re just ordinary.
Don’t start a blog until you’re at least 21. This one is directed at the legions of teenagers out there: No one cares. I know, I know, you all have real problems and high school’s a bitch and your parents are screwing you up and why the hell hasn’t Bobby asked you to the big dance yet and for what it’s worth, yes, I think it sucks that ‘Gator sold you a dime that’s mostly stems. But the hard truth is that with the exception of childbirth and death (your own, not your bestfriend4eva’s), nothing that happens between the ages of 13-19 is really matters. Your teenage years are really just a long, crappy hazing period, the pay-off for which is your own apartment and as much sex as your rapidly deteriorating body can get. We’ve all been through it and no one’s much interested in helping bear your burdens. So just chill out, watch some TV, don’t take the hunting rifle for show & tell and wait until you’re out of your teenage years and no longer dwelling on them before you get a blog.
Don’t post entries more than frequently than twice a week. If you post to frequently, everyone reading your blog is going to begin assuming that if you have so much free time, then you probably aren’t living enough to justify so many posts. Keep it reasonable. The blog exists for your life, not the other way around.
Post an entry at least once every 10 days. Again, your blog exists for other people, not for you. If people begin to read your blog with some regularity, they’re going to expect you to update it regularly, and frankly, it’s sort of your duty to do so.
Don’t post your own poetry. Okay, first things first, poetry is nothing more than lazy prose that doesn’t fill up a full page. About one quarter of one tenth of one percent of it (.025%) of it is at all worth reading, and I’m sorry to say this, but the stuff you write is squarely within the 99.975% that is time wasting at best, and funny only in how ludicrous it is. Save it for the memory chest Witman.
Don’t quote song lyrics. And especially don’t transcribe an entire song. First of all, lyrics are worse than poetry and the power and feeling and all that other semi-mystical Rock N Roll can save our souls crap pop mythology that set your toes a-tapping when you heard it in your car doesn’t translate to the written (or typed) page without the accompanying back beat.
Post pictures at your own risk. It’s perfectly acceptable to upload photos to your blog, but before you do please consider the consequence. Namely, people will masturbate to the pictures you post. It doesn’t matter if it’s a picture of you, your children, your pet, car or appliances. Now, if you’re down with people pleasuring themselves to your .gifs and your .pdfs, well that’s cool. If not though, please save the photos for boring slide shows at family reunions.
Realize that you’re not a poli sci professor. It’s fine to post entries about politics. It’s even fine to take a firm, adamant stand. But when reading the notes left, or responding to those notes, do so in all humility. Please realize that when you talk about politics, it’s pretty much a given that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Most likely all you’re doing is rehashing points made by a personality who’s paid to be entertaining, not accurate (this applies to everyone and everything from Rush Limbaugh and Noam Chomsey to The American Spectator and Harpers). Besides, if everything you said was Gospel truth, don’t you think there’d be a lot less arguing, just in general?
Respond to every note. It’s just polite. Especially when it’s a note left by someone new. It doesn’t have to be much (although it should contain something, just posting and leaving your diary name is lazy), just a little something to let the person know that you’ve read their note and considered it.
Keep the body of your diary description simple. This is the first thing that people will see when they come across your diary/journal/log for the first time. Think of it as your front door. You want it to look inviting and interesting, not trashy, tacky and decorated as if by a mental patient. It’s great that you know HTML and can change the shape of the pointer, make moving images, flashing banners, and pop-ups saying “hello” to people every single God damn time they access your description page, but don’t.
There is exactly one piece of information your diary description page needs to include, and that is where we can find your entries. Most of the time, a simple listing of the entries placed on either the left or right side of the will suffice. If you want, you can also add a brief description of why you’ve decided to keep and maintain a blog, but this shouldn’t be more than 300 words long. Also, don’t try and get fancy with the description. Just be honest and personal about it. Trying to make yourself sound like a Shakespearean character (“This blog is a record of my loves, my hurts, my pains, my successes, my failures. I live, I love, I cry, I laugh, I make mistakes. I am human”) just makes you sound like a grade A nincompoop.
Don’t use music. I know you think it personalizes your diary when a song starts playing as soon as someone enters your little corner of cyberspace, but really it’s just annoying. It’s like living in an apartment building, and turning the volume on your boom box up to ‘11’, because of course you have the best musical taste in the complex.
Your first entry should be personal. It doesn’t have to be anything deep, but your first entry should contain enough biographical information that your reader is able to understand where you are coming from and the context in which you will post the rest of your entries. Again, be brief but complete.
Alright, that’s about all of them. Now, I admit to having broken just about all of these, and for that I feel bad (not a whole lot of bad, just enough that you can see it if you look deep into my misty eyes). And I know a lot of you have broken them, so let’s just all call everything up to now a practice run, okay? Fresh slates for everyone. I’m so generous like that.
Oh, one more thing. I’m sure a lot of you have read this and thought, “yeah, but rules are meant to be broken.” That’s true, they are. But the only people who can successfully break a rule and make the infraction work are people who have proven that they first mastered the rule. Whoa, deep.
*Disclaimer: These rules aren’t for everyone. If you maintain a blog just so your friends and family can keep track of you, then feel free to do whatever you like. These rules really only matter if you’re one of those people who blog for notes or are trying to make new friends. If your blog is insular and really only meant for a few specific people, then feel free to disregard all of the above.
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