WHAT MAKES A GOOD BLOG?

Just about a year ago I began to blog. So I thought this might be a good time to take stock. During the past year there have been 19,722 hits (366 on the biggest single day), 263 posts and 1,018 comments. It continues to puzzle me that the ratio of comments to hits never seems to exceed five per cent.

In terms of content, two major themes have emerged: politics and religion. Somewhat to my surprise the religious theme is stronger than the political one. But, even after a year, it is still difficult to predict what will provoke a response.

For example, what was the response to whether we should have a fall election? Zilch, zero, nada. And whether the United States is ready for its first woman president? The same, zilch. In the religious sphere I thought the question on the feminization of the Church would be weak. In fact, it was very strong. I thought the question on reform of the Catholic Church would be strong. It was relatively weak.

We have also done some international posts. Whether or not the McCanns killed their baby was very strong. On the other hand, the post on the monks revolt in Burma, despite being in the news for days, was very weak.

I must say thanks to the many bloggers who have commented on my site (as I try to comment on theirs). I still have problems with things like tags and links and getting the urls of sites I would like to include in my blogroll. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

My objective now is to build on what we have achieved in the past year. Blogland is a more and more exciting place to exchange and comment on ideas.

Do you have any suggestions about how to improve  the content of my blog?

Do you have any thought about improving the visibility of my blog?

Many thanks.

12 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    Neil, you have a good, unique blog. As I have said in the past, what makes your blog inviting is that you run it like a call-in show, which is unusual– at least in the Canadian blogosphere. Your titles are often questions, just like in call-in shows. You are also respectful of people who disagree with you, which is another inviting aspect. Mind you, the people who post are generally respectful, too.

    What makes a good blog? A person with something to say– in a reasonably intelligent fashion and esthetically pleasing way. By that I mean– being able to use the rules of grammar and punctuation in a fairly accurate and functional manner. Politics is not what makes a blog good or bad– there are good right-wing blogs and left-wing blogs and everything-in-between blogs.

    A good blog welcomes comments from a wide variety of views and doesn’t get defensive when they are expressed. Mind you, some commenters are just plain obnoxious, so they’ll get their knuckles rapped. I think the fact that you’re used to a wide variety of points of view makes you used to disagreement and dissent. It’s like water off a duck’s back (even if you find it a bit annoying).

    A good blog isn’t just about personal opinions (although that is important) but tries to bring facts to the fore– especially things that other people may not have known. You have a wealth of experience with big names– there’s something to tap into. There’s nothing like reading a blog that gives you the “inside track” on topics of discussion. I love reading things I never knew before. Personal experience can also be useful– letting the public know what kind of person you are. It isn’t essential, but it can help.

    A good blog isn’t usually preachy. Some people will always sound preachy to others. Or bitchy either. Constant whining is just a turn off. Especially from people too lazy to do anything about it.

    Personally, I think your blog is great. Some people might say a picture here and there might help. It can add a little something.

    As for visibility: the way to do that is to get on some blogrolls. You’re already included in Opinions Canada. You might consider http://www.nonpartisans.ca — I suspect you’re a non-partisan kind of guy. There are also blogrolls for the various parties.

    Keep commenting on other people’s blogs. It just alerts people to your blog.

  2. 2

    Suzanne:

    Many thanks for your thoughtful comment based on your own wide experience of blogoland and your encouragement. I frequently see your name quoted in other blogs so you have considerable influence. I often disagree with your views especially on sexual morality but you stick to them religiously and I respect you for that.
    Isn’t it funny. We have never met but I feel we have become friends.
    I will check out the site you recommend.
    Good luck in the Ontario election next week.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    You ask for suggestions to improve the site.
    I don’t. But let me tell you what I think works.
    We live in an age of 15-second sound bites and short attention spans. What works for “Neil McKenty Weblog” is that your initial comments are easily and quickly readable and you always ask us, your readers to address specific, pointed questions.
    Of course, I reserve unto myself the right to give a long-winded response…

  4. 4

    Tony:

    What I have noticed about your responses is, not that they are long-winded, but that they are well-informed. Many thanks.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    “Good” is so subjective as to be almost undefinable, whether it applies to blogs or art. As in: “I don’t know much, but I know what I like.”

    I like your blog. But if you pressed me about the why of it, I’m afraid I couldn’t answer. It simply appeals to me.

    The most important thing about your blog is that it must appeal to you. I have seen long-running blogs that get zero comments. I have seen blogs that do not allow comments at all. And we’ve all seen the ones that are virtual small cities. They all have one thing in common: the blogger himself likes the blog. Why else would we subject ourselves to the vagaries of the internet, connectivity, spam, trolls, lawsuits, personality disputations, bugs, bad code, and dying hard drives?

    Your analysis of your hits and comments is interesting. If I might suggest a rule-of-thumb for future…

    If the topic is already being battered and bandied in the media, avoid it. Anyone who wants to jump on it will go to the much bigger blogs — those with comments that regularly run in the hundreds. Fall election and woman president are such topics.

    However, if you can find an interesting, less-explored aspect of the topic, run with it. In the midst of an anti-feminist media atmosphere, the topic of feminizing the church drew a few comments, because nobody else is doing that side of it.

    Topics that polarize the emotions tend to draw comments, too. There really is a middle ground in the pro-choice/anti-choice arena, but nobody can see it for the huge crowds that are lined up in each end zone.

    I don’t have any comment on how to improve the content of your blog, because I think you’re doing just fine. I can, however, help you with visibility. I’m putting you on my sidebar.

  6. 6

    Chimera:
    Thanks for your much appreciated and perceptive analysis of my blog. Your observation on a subject like feminizing the Church is very illuminating indeed. Thanks too for a new perch on your sidebar. Incidentally I do like my blog in the sense especially that I enjoy writing for it every morning.

  7. 7

    Hi Neil,
    As you know, I am a neophtye blogger myself so I don’t know how much I can contribute except to say that what I enjoy most about your blog and others that I have encountered is the “ear to the ground” kind of commentary that reveals what people are really thinking. So often I mean to write a letter to the editor or call into the radio but frankly have not felt confident to do so. Keep asking the “politically incorrect” questions, and people like me will eventually work up the courage to comment more freely about what we really think. Thank you!

  8. 8
    SUZANNE Says:

    Neil, I think that doing what everyone else is doing once in a while can help. I agree with Chimera that people who do what everyone else is doing won’t get noticed. But sometimes I highlight a popular topic and I get a lot of hits. I don’t do it on purpose, but I notice a lot of hits from my Sitemeter (do you have a counter with analysis?). I did a quickie post on that 17-pound baby that was born in Russia and I’ve been getting a LOT of hits.

  9. 9

    Brenda:

    I hope you will feel more and more comfortable commenting on this blog. We need you.

    Suzanne:

    Thanks for the advice from a seasoned blogger. I’ll follow your advice about the occasional popular topic. And I will be indulging myself more often with American presidential politics even if nobody comments. I have a running counter, not sure about a Sitemeter.

  10. 10
    jeremy Says:

    Let’s see if this one takes…

    Blog traffic is fickle and is based on ‘what’s hot’ at the moment. For those of us who deal with topical writing, traffic can seem sparse, which is why I rely on rss and feed stats to get my message out.

    Your blog is important because you ask hard questions that you would not necessarily find on other blogs, which makes this one unique. The ‘call in radio show’ format is really great because we have running discussion which is something my blog lacks. I’ve recently added Avanoo to my writing format and I cross post on both at the same time, and there is where I get more input and feedback.

    But I am sure, those of us who are regular daily readers bring you traffic and we generate traffic to you by interlink and blog roll.
    The Canadian Blog system is quite diverse and carries over a million blogs although the site is not up right now, they collect Canadian Blogs and we get listed nationally and internationally.

    I enjoy the “thinking blog writers” you are one of them.

    Jeremy

  11. 11

    Jeremy:

    Thanks for your positive and helpful suggestions. Indeed you are one of the regular daily readers that bring traffic. I enjoy dropping into your own blog. Thanks.

  12. 12
    Joanne Nicholls Says:

    Hi Neil

    I really like your blog. It has something for everyone. It does not give a play by play of your life but it shows what you are reading and what you have an interest and a background in. I like how you pose a questions that could be answered either way. There are days where what you put up I know nothing about and there are days where I would like to comment but don’t have the time.

    I have no idea how to change the exposure. That is beyond my technical expertise. But I would say keep doing what you are doing!


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