The Eight People You Meet in Blogging

A couple big unrelated Techmemes of this past weekend are actually two sides of the same coin.

First, there was the heavy discussion around Shyftr and the loss of a blogger’s comments. The comments exist elsewhere, and bloggers lose connection with their readers. Second, there were a lot of opinions about Andrew Baron’s sale of his Twitter account, and its 1500 subscribers. The blogger is not bemoaning the loss of connecting with his readers; indeed he’s actively encouraging it!

Here’s what these two stories made me ask: Just why are you blogging?

Blogging is a quite personal pursuit, and we all have our own reasons for doing it. Feeling a little ambitious, I sat down and came up with eight different reasons that people blog. The eight people you meet blogging. Here they are, and they are not mutually exclusive.

1. It’s a numbers game

There are a lot of ways to get readership. For some, increasing this number is the be-all, end-all. Blogging numbers are the point, not an outcome of some other reason. Case in point: Faisal Anwar. He writes about his efforts to maximize StumbleUpon traffic to his site. He figured out that funny pictures drive StumbleUpon positive reviews, leading to more StumbleUpon visits. So he loaded his blog posts with funny pictures, to the point of losing sight of his blog’s focus:

Unfortunately for me, I pumped in too much picture to my site almost every day until it became a humor site (that not my original intention).

2. One-way communication

Blogging is a forum for mass dissemination of information and opinion. Probably the best way to think of this type of blog is as a marketing vehicle. Yeah, some response back to you is OK. But that’s not the real purpose now, is it? The larger the number of followers, the harder it is to maintain connections with them.

Andrew Baron’s sale of his Twitter account…what do you think the purpose of his Twitter micro-blog was?

3. Provide valuable information to others

This is probably the most altruistic of blogs. The American Cancer Society maintains Dr. Len’s Cancer Blog. Consumer Reports maintains a safety blog. These blogs can be a bit freer and more opinionated about information, making them more engaging than just static articles.

4. Make money

A time-honored pursuit, making money. Ad money, to be specific. Engadget, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable. Check out their ads – they have a lot of them. Eric Berlin even notices that Mashable has a lot of ads. These blogs put a premium on speed, frequency and exclusives. And a good dollop of opinion sure to drive page views.

5. Establish your reputation

A perhaps overlooked aspect of blogs is that they can establish your reputation out in the world. Seth Godin asks Why bother having a resume? He argues that instead of a resume, you should have “a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up.”

A friend of mine at a law firm told me about a 3rd year associate who blogs. His intellectual property law blog is read by a number of industry folks, and some senior partners in New York have reached out to him with questions. Talk about establishing your reputation!

6. Influence your industry

Michael Arrington. Robert Scoble.

7. Learn by doing

This is why I started this blog. I’d been primarily at the lowest level of the Web 2.0 Jedi ranks. I then took a job working on enterprise 2.0 product marketing, and knew I had plenty to learn. So this blog is a two-fer. Blogging itself has been a tremendous experience that I really enjoy. And I blog about a lot of Web 2.0 topics. This has forced me to really grok these concepts.

8. Learn by connecting

The interactions on your blog posts can be incredibly valuable and rewarding. You learn so much about how others think. The loss of this connection robs the blogger of feedback about his or her thinking, and that of others. And thus loses an opportunity to grow. This last reason may have been the biggest one to fuel the Shyftr debate over the weekend.

What do you think? Fair assessment? Did I miss any other reasons?

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Bitchmeme Recap: What Happens on Shyftr, Stays on Shyftr

Background: Shyftr is a service that pulls the entire feed of a blog into its site, and lets users comment on the post within its site. The comments never make it back to the original blog. What happens on Shyftr, stays on Shyftr.

The spark: Louis Gray (who else?) wrote about Eric Berlin’s concern over the comments that had accrued on Shyftr, not his own site. A legitimate beef, and one that clearly generated some heat.

The bitchmeme: Some liked the idea of posts and comments being anywhere. Some didn’t. Some liked it. Some didn’t. Some…uh, well…you get the picture. I will note that Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests became the poster boy for anti-Shyftr sentiment.

The Scoble Factor: The preeminent blogger of our time, Robert Scoble, weighs in with the post, Era of blogger’s control is over. He’s gung-ho about Shyftr and all ways by which his content is distro’d. Now based on Scoble’s preferred use of social networks, this ain’t surprising. He sets up our man Tony Hung as the old-school thinker about controlling content.

Tony Hung: Comes out swinging against Shyftr. Says the aggregation of comments away from the originating blog is wrong. To make his point, Tony proceeds to single-handedly post a comment on every single blog that weighed in on the issue. Tony, that must have taken forever. Next time just put up a comment on one of those aggregator services…

The scorecard: On the question of whether Shyftr has stepped over the comment line or not…

  1. Eric Berlin = yes
  2. Louis Gray = no
  3. Robert Scoble = no
  4. Tony Hung = no
  5. Pauk Glazowski (Mashable) = no
  6. James Robertson (Smalltalk Tidbits) = no
  7. Mark Evans = no
  8. Mathew Ingram = yes
  9. Ross Dawson = yes
  10. Alexander van Elsa = no
  11. John McCrea = no
  12. Frederic (Last Podcast) = no
  13. Mia Dand = no

So that makes the vote…two + three…carry the one….

Shyftr sucks = 3

Shyftr is OK = 10

Denouement: Shyftr announces that it will no longer carry the full feed for any blog post that has conversations “outside the reader”. I think they’re saying no more full feeds? Frankly, it’s a little unclear to me what they’re saying, but I’m not active on Shyftr. Louis Gray gives his opinion on this change here. I’ll probably have to check Shyftr out in more depth sometime.

The final word: Dave Winer provides a helpful definition of “bitchmeme”:

A Bitchmeme is something that happens on weekends when new stories are in short supply so ideas that otherwise would be buried on Techmeme rise to the top. Usually they’re people complaining about something or other which is why they’re called Bitchmemes and not Happymemes or Sarcasticmemes.

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