Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The state of blogging discussion (Rant Rant Ranty Rant)

So... I like perfume. I want to talk about perfume. And there are bazillions of great blogs and forums for talking about perfume. Problem solved.

I like writing. I want to talk about writing. And there are bazillions of places to do that, too.

Cooking? Yep.

Sewing? Yep.

Blogging?

Nope.

Oh, there are plenty of places that talk about blogging. It may be the most overdiscussed meta-subject on the net. But they're not mostly talking about blogging, in the sense of talking about the process of finding an interest and talking about it with the world. Instead, they're talking about how to cash in on blogging. About seach engine optimization and pay per click and readership statistics and bounce rates and conversion rates and article spinning and backlinks and autoblogging and pagerank.

Bleah.

(And, no, I have no problem with people earning some money from their blogging. I just don't find the process the least bit interesting to talk about.)

And as if that weren't bad enough, many of the participants in blogging forums are only pretending to talk about these things, because all they really want is to get a link to their blog attached to their pretend-I-said-something-and-I'll-pretend-you-did forum posts. The actual discussion gets drowned in the spam and the pretend discussion.

I'm ranting this rant today because one blogging forum where I have traditionally participated seems to have finally, irrecoverably, been eaten by the backlink spammers. I hope that it can recover, and I admire the admins who are trying to beat back the tide, but I really don't think it's going to make it. And another group, one with a very promising premise, no longer seems to have a functioning forum at all--the site that this group trustingly set themselves up on apparently decided that they had better things to do than keep the forums going. So I don't know of even one place to discuss blogging. (Well, there's still #blogchat on Twitter, which while certainly not focused on nonprofit blogging does still have some good discussion. But the Twitter format has severe limitations.)

So what's the problem? Is it that there are simply not enough people who want to discuss the not-entirely-about-profit aspects of blogging? I suppose that there is a sort of weird double-layered aspect about wanting to express yourself about the way in which you express yourself. But if that were true, then surely there wouldn't be any forums about writing? And there are tons of forums about writing.

I think that blogging is a fascinating subject. Surely there's something to say about the phenomenon whereby ordinary folks can publish their thoughts and opinions and knowledge to the world. About the effects on individuals, on society. About... oh, there's got to be something to say there, if there were only places to say it. Just the recent flurry about perfume blogging, about the conflict between the "authority" bloggers and the non-authority bloggers, produced some really interesting posts, and some discussions that I'd like to see go on and on--in a forum.

I believe that there's plenty of potential discussion. So my conclusion is that any discussion of blogging attracts bloggers desperate for backlinks, and is near-instantly spammed out of existence. So is there any way to avoid this, short of setting up a discussion site that doesn't allow any backlinks whatsoever and hiring an army of hand moderators? Is there some quiet well-hidden forum that has already solved this problem? Or is there any way to make one that works? Please?

Rant rant gnashy rant.

Image: By Hannibal Poenaru. Wikimedia Commons.

10 comments:

Melody206 said...

I suspect that most people start a blog for the wrong reasons. Most people don't start a blog for the love of a topic, but rather they start a blog because they do really think they'll make money, or at least they think they'll get a bunch of attention maybe. It's that old adage which has something to do with a cart and a horse.

And I have to confess to you that after 18 months of a completely non-monetized blog (you know my blog) I finally put up a single ad on it! We'll see how that goes.

I like your rant. As to the mods, we are overwhelmed and sometimes as disappointed as you are about the SEO/ white hat/money conversations.

Joan said...

Where's the debate about perfume authority? I want to assert my right to type!

Vanessa said...

Here is something I read lately and found very interesting, which is about the advertising side (sorry!), but also about guest blogging and the whole "creation of content for free" aspect. See, I couldn't find anything about your precise topic either!
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/business/media/14carr.html?_r=1

ChickenFreak said...

Yo, Melody! I think that most people start blogs for the right reasons, but those people aren't the ones that aggressively descend on the blogging forums. :) It's the ones who want to MAKE BIG MONEY ON THE INTERNET NOW that do the descending, and destroy the forums.

Yeah, you have an ad, but you're not going to now suddenly confine all of your conversation to that ad, I'm sure. :)

I know that the mods are doing their best, I just fear that there are just too many invaders.

ChickenFreak said...

Hey, Joan! Embarassingly, I can't remember any of the blogs that it was on. I remember starting to create a post with links to all the posts, but apparently I didn't, because I can't find it. :) Anybody else remember?

ChickenFreak said...

Howdy, Vanessa! It's an interesting article, and the question of whether it's Wrong for companies to make money from people's unpaid content is interesting. I'm inclined to think that it's not Wrong, but, well, it's an interesting debate.

Laura Ginn said...

Have you thought about setting your own forum up and hiring somewhat scary moderators. There is one forum that I post on that moderates every comment a user makes until they are over a certain post number - and it's not low either. This certainly cuts down the spam as most spammers cannot be bothered to write 50 say good non spamming posts... it does get annoying for us non spammers though!

Christine said...

I actually thought that your rant was going to end up with you deciding that you would have to just create the forum that you want to see. I was kinda disappointed that you didn't. I have a couple of ads on my food blog, none on my garden blog, the entire earnings of which have been between 100 and 150 dollars. In seven years! I started my first blog for purely non-commercial reasons, ditto the second. I hate seo, track-backs, etc., and would find a forum just about blogging to be very refreshing. I would even give up my ads for it. :)

ChickenFreak said...

Yo, Laura! I have, but after several past experiences with forums and MUSHes and MUDs, I've concluded that I just don't have what it takes to create a community that has the critical mass needed to survive. It's possible that "what it takes" is partly the patience to wait out many failures and try again, but whatever it is, I don't have it. :)

ChickenFreak said...

Hey, Christine! Yeah, I did think about that - it appears to be very easy to create a forum on Delphi, for example - but I think I just don't have the patience and dedication to create a forum. I'll think the possibility over, though...

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