Happy New Year

2005 is all but over, and as I was browsing sites via Blog Explosion I decided this would be a good time to sum up my pet peeves about blogs and bloggers, and to resolve to not commit these blogging sins in 2006. So here, in no particular order – things that (will) make me hate your blog:

Layout that doesn’t adjust to the browser window: If you’re using a pre-packaged setup that provides a decent sized, centered column of text, not a big deal. But a 3″ column shoved against the left of the screen and/or a header image that pretty much eats up the entire opening view looks like ass, and there’s nothing to encourage the reader to scroll down looking for intelligible text. A decently coded website will use up all or most of the space provided – take the time to learn.

Auto-loading media: Do I even need to explain this? Back when it was new and unique to play music in the background of your site for visitors, this was all the rage. These days, people have music, video, noisy flash, and a variety of toys designed to be attention-getting. Please, folks… provide a link. If others are interested, let them click it, don’t foist it on your audience.

Thinly disguised advertisement sites: Sites that claim to be blogs (they’re listed in the blog directories and the blog-browsing services), but in fact have little or no content beyond advertisements. These are little better than spam in the mailbox, and a waste of everyone’s time.

Popup advertisements: Even using Firefox and an effective popup blocker plugin, sometimes these get through. It’s been years since these were identified as maliscious, annoying vermin, and yet people still occasionally use them. Who are they trying to impress?

Begging for dollars: Jimmy Swaggart playing to a more refined audience? These are no more effective than your typical pyramid scheme, and depending on the effort put into the begging, a huge put-off. If your writing is worth paying for, apply for a job with your local newspaper…

Unreadable text: Whether it’s the font, text size, color scheme, or the background image – if the site is hard to read, folks won’t bother.

Long loading delays: A good number of the readers here are using a service like Blog Explosion or Blog Clicker to visit blogs. These services require 20 or 30 seconds per visit to gain a credit. If a site hasn’t even loaded in that time, the visitor is not likely to hang out and wait for the content. Learn to arrange content such that those things that take a long time to load are loaded last. Get that content on the screen in readable format ASAP, and your visitors will actually get a chance to read it.

Restricted commenting: Bloggers, in general, love comments. If you have a commenting system in place, make it available! Requiring registration to some obscure service is nonsense. If you want to moderate comments, do so (or implement a “CAPTCHA” system) – but don’t make it impossible for your readers to leave comments without jumping through hoops.

Blog “awards”: In a nutshell, who cares? What makes you an authority? The last thing I need is some petty in-duh-vidual’s opinion of someone else’s efforts. Notice the blogs I’ve named here in this post? Right, I haven’t. I do comment or email the site operator if I have a compliment or criticism, but it’s a rare case where I’ll come back to my own blog for the express purpose of slamming someone else’s blog.

I’m sure there’re more – but these are the big ones I’ve thought of this evening. Many of these are relatively uncommon lately, but all still exist to some extent. I read a lot of blogs, and comment often (or try to), but when a blog is simply too much trouble to look at, I see no point in giving it any of my valuable time.

For the second part of my blog resolution, I’m going to clear off my “do not view” lists – it’s been awhile since I’ve added to it, and I think it’s time to see if they’ve cleaned up their act. Chances are some will make it back onto my list, but I have hope!

Happy New Year!


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