In my post Mr. Grumpy Goes Blogging I set out a few suggestions to help people build better blogs.  Today, Mr. Grumpy Returns to share some additional suggestions. A few of these ideas come from readers of the original article who wanted to add their own nuggets of advice for creating great blogs by avoiding common pitfalls. 

Clocks
Why do we need to know the time on your website? So many cool sites have these giant clocks that, when you mouse over them expecting some kind of fun interaction, we get a giant Ad instead. Once you’ve been burned by one clock, you ignore the rest of them with an evil eye and a hard heart.

Pink
There’s a lot of pink out there! Pink belongs at home on baby blankets and not online because it makes our eyes bleed. A little pink is okay. An entire site in Hot Pink gets quickly clicked away.

Spam Comment
A lot of people love to “Spam” a blog with their website addresses embedded in their messages. Either moderate your comments or delete those Spam comments forever so we don’t have to read them.

A-Hole Comments
People who love to pick stupid fights in your comments bog up your blog. Don’t argue with idiots in your comments area because they are not worth your time. Just let them swing in the wind without a response or, better yet, delete the comments so we don’t have to wade through their vile spittle to find the sweet you. A blog is not a democracy; a blog is your Kingdom!

Flashing Things
You are not the Vegas Strip. You are not Times Square. PLEASE KEEP THE FLASHING TO YOURSELF! Flashing lights and flashing animation quickly tires the eye. If you insist on having animation that flashes at us, please limit it to a few flashes and then let it return to the natural state of being “off.” Our eyes thank you.

ALL CAPS
ALL CAPS IS YELLING IN EMAIL AND IT IS YELLING ON YOUR BLOG! OUR EYES ARE TRAINED TO RECOGNIZE WORD SHAPES BASED ON THE CHARACTERS IN THE WORDS SO WHEN YOU GIVE ALL THE WORDS THE SAME, CAPPED, SHAPE WE DON’T WANT TO READ ANY LONGER! SAVE THE YELLING FOR A FEW WORDS WHEN YOU REALLY WANT TO BE EFFECTIVE!

Dark Sites
You have a “Dark Site” if your blog’s main color is really dark or completely “Black.” Black, as a color, is hard to render on a wide variety of screens across the world. So what might look really cool to you on a Black background will likely either appear too dark to see or too grey to comprehend for the other 99% of the eyes peeping your site. I know you want to be different and daring and scary and Goth — but there’s a reason all the major mainstream websites stick with a white background — readability. We grew up reading black print on white paper and the Web — and your blog in particular — are built to be an extension of hardcopy so make it easy to read because you would not be blogging unless you wanted to be read.

Counters
We don’t care how many visitors you have had or have online or where you fall in species advancement. It gets old after the first few click-throughs. Unless your intention is to have us to leave what we were doing with you to do it somewhere else, get rid of the temptation to click off.

Deep Linking
Don’t put information farther away than one click on your site. If we have to drill-down through categories and areas and sponsors and Things That Flash and and and… to find what you promised to tell us one page one we will leave your site in tears from tearing out our hair.

What Am I?
We do not care what kind of… Coffee you are, Cartoon you are, Cloud Formation you are, Insect Larvae you are, Cabbage Patch Kid you are, Pop Tart you are, Steroid Baseball Player you are, Assassinated President you are…

PMS Updates
We don’t want to know how much you’re bleeding or why you can’t fit into your favorite pants today or that your Midol stash has run out. Please save us from the bloody details and allow us just a little bit of dignity while we visit by keeping us out of what’s happening between your thighs.

Husbands
We know you love your husband but dedicating an entire blog to him just because you think he’s the best-ever hubby bores us. Now if you’re there to rib him a bit and rough him up a lot, we enjoy that kid of schadenfreude — better him than us — but the idolizing and pedestal placing isn’t effective. Are there “Wife Idolizing Blogs” out there? If there are, let me know, because I have yet to see one.

Mommy Blogs
I love a well-written and witty Mommy Blog but a lot of people wrote me to beg you to share more of your life online than just talking about your kids. They want to know about your wishes and your dreams — BUT NOT YOUR PMS! — beyond the diapers you change and the dinner you’ll be cooking later. They want to welcome the woman behind the mommy. That’s it for now! Mr. Grumpy is out there… reading you… and taking notes… 🙂

43 Comments

  1. I would like to comment on 2 particular criticisms.
    Firstly, about ‘bad grammar’. Many people who write in English, myself included, learned English as a second language. Naturally, especially in a public blog, I do my best to express myself as well as I can, but I am always conscious about my grammatical awkwardness. I do not mean to offend anyone, but I do realise that many who stumble upon my blog may very well dismiss it because of bad grammar. This said, I know for a fact that my grammar is better than many of English speaking North American undergraduate students – I used to tutor them.
    Secondly – “mommy blogs”. For some writers blogs are vehicles of communicating with a large audience, but for others they are only (only?) to record their daily events and the life of their children. Many blogs that you stumble upon are intended only to be read by close friends who are far away, or grandparents.
    I started my blog because many things I do as a mother are controversial in the mainstream North America. Blogs like mine normalise such practices as co-sleeping, breastfeeding beyond infancy, unschooling, discipline without punishment and so on.
    Reading a well written, well presented blog is always a pleasure — I greatly enjoy yours.

  2. Ah, I’m not the first to post today! 🙂
    I know I’m guilty of the counter, and I do have where I fall in the TTLB ecosystem, but I think they’re fun.
    I do understand about the quizzes that tell you what type of (insert silly noun here) you are. I can understand it if you’re using it as a starting off point for a post, but when bloggers list one after another I feel like saying, “Enough already, just tell me about yourself. Don’t let a quiz do it!”
    One other thing that freaks me out is coming upon a blog that greets me with something along the lines of “Welcome! You are on ISP address 11.111.111.1.11 (or whatever) and you’re surfing on a Mac using OSX and (insert name of service provider).” I realize that site counters keep track of this, but I don’t have to have it posted up everytime I visit.

  3. Carler —
    I understand the counter and ecosystem are fun but just remember those are temptations to click away from you. Why else were they invented except to drive traffic away from your blog to their service instead?
    I agree with you on the IP ID things. They’re there to “freak you out” that people know who you are and where you’re coming from… they fast get tedious and a bit creepy.

  4. Hey anna —
    When you click on some counters you will be taken to a page away from the blog that has more detail like what is being read the most and what parts of the day get the most readers and that’s a big help to a BlogMaster but I feel that info should be kept private.

  5. David, what is compelling to me your blogging community (and anyone else’s for that matter) is that we can have a meaningful discussion with a circle of human beings from around the world. We set aside the barriers of age, cultural background, appearance, political belief, and be moved purely by the expression and content of thought. I worry that our society is very polarized. Democrats/Republicans, conservatives/liberals, Red Sox/Yankee fans– when we meet face to face all too often we let appearances or prejudgments supercede our ability to listen to each other. There is less of that in an online community.
    While I realize that I run the risk of stating the obvious, my point is that a blog is like a crossroads, allowing people of similar mind and probably diverse background to share ideas.

  6. Hi Jeff —
    What you suggest is quite fine but if you read a lot of blogs there is a great deal of narrow hate being expressed.
    It can be a chore to remain in the lively mix without casting too much bias on a blog.
    Sure, there are human preferences that are hardcoded within us, but to quietly share ideas and engage each other with thoughts is a fine start to an important dialogue as you so aptly suggest.

  7. I do not wish to criticize Mr. Grumpy. (An individual who would choose such a name does not seem especially receptive to criticism.) I am just happy that I have only violated a couple of your standards. As for the others, I find myself to be in agreement. Thanks for your observations and for a great blog.

  8. You don’t blog to be read?
    You only blog to increase the numbers on your counter? You can program a WebBot script to visit your site to raise your counter.
    Why write anything on your blog, then?
    Why not just have your visitor counter be your entire blog?
    Keeping people coming back and building a relationship with those you don’t know, but want to influence, is the point of blogging and when you send people away you tempt that covenant in the wrong way.

  9. Hi, David!
    Pink, red, and bright yellow are the worst colors you can use for a background. I’ve never had a problem with black backgrounds, as long as they use white (or light gray) text.
    When I first started blogging, I was guilty of tacking up a counter. Then, I realized that WordPress has a statistics plug-in. So, I chucked the free counter. It wasn’t much use anyway.
    I’m with you on the Husband, Mommy, and PMS blogs. No, I haven’t found any hubby blogs yet. But I’m sure they’re out there.

  10. Hey Deborah!
    I think light text on a dark background is really hard to read but I know a lot of people love creating Dark Sites.
    Grey, I think, is the worst color choice of all because it is a compromise between white and black which means it is no color at all. 🙂
    Blog and website newbies love all kinds of counters. I understand why. It makes them feel they are making a difference.
    A WordPress plug-in is a good way to go and so is a service like FeedBurner where you can chart specific trends in readership and bring back memorable numbers from a bunch of sophisticated angles.

  11. I’m happy to say the only thing I think I’m guilty of is the big old clock! I like it because it IS big and I can keep better track of what I am doing. Also people elsewhere know what time it is where I am in comparison to where they are. I like to know the time difference between me and those blogs that I read. Now the weather widgets that tell the blog writer’s current conditions is a little weird to me.
    I’ll have to consider your take on the clock … and your reasons. Mine does have a big ad when your mouse hovers over it so perhaps I will delete it.
    I don’t like dark blogs or flashy widgets, bad grammar and lots of cursing. Mommy blogs bore me to tears … probably because, though I AM a mommy, my kids are in their 30’s! Blogs that are cluttered drive me crazy. And the ones that have so many html and java extras that they hang up and don’t want to load drive me away forever.
    And finally I much prefer a blog with REAL content … not just links to OTHER blogs with other links to yet OTHER blogs … with MAYBE some real content SOMEWHERE along the way. As for political blogs … yes they ARE sometimes way to mean and angry.
    I like what you have to say!

  12. Heya K.D. — It’s great to have you here! 🙂
    Mama — Oh, I agree the clocks are beautiful. That’s why I was so disappointed the first time I saw one on the web and found out it “was only” an Advertising device. I felt a little cheated, but that’s the way of the web. 🙂

  13. Hi, David!
    The WP statistics plug-in has helped me determine what readers are interested in. I’ve signed up for Feedburner, but haven’t relied on their statistics.
    Grey is one of the blandest colors in the spectrum, yes. 😉 It’s good for sidebars and headers.
    Mama Mouse–
    I’m with you on those Mommy blogs. Been there, done that. Who cares. The pics are cute, though.

  14. You forgot those crappily designed blogs with HUUUUGE anime pictures all over the place and lots of sparkles. They usually have a javascript pop-up with drivel such as “hi u *heart* my blog!!1111” or “i het u!!!” and all of the font is done in pink or some neon colour. Very prevalent on blogspot sites.
    Yes, I’m pretty grumpy. Nice site. 🙂

  15. I completely agree with your suggestions — I write a blog but I don’t actually read very many because it involves wading through so much tiresome, self-indulgent claptrap.

  16. Excellent list! I have to take exception to *some* of the memes out there, but maybe because I’m guilty …
    Ms. Grumpy over here would like to add the following:
    Self-indulgent emotional outburts
    Call me callous, call me mean, but I don’t care if your boy/girlfriend dumped you, no one understands you, the world sucks, you think about ending it all. In particular, I REALLY don’t think the world needs to be exposed to your poetry.

  17. While I do agree with most of your points, who is this mysterious “we” you refer to? *grins* I always wonder why some argue a point, and bring in a collective with them. 😉 I’m guilty of this, myself. Just picking on ya this fine Sunday morning. 😀 Randomed in through blogexplosion.com, whee!
    Hmm, I wonder how you feel about links such as “this is a list of blogs that I read.” It’s certainly not my way of saying, “these people write like me, I think you’d enjoy them too.” It’s purely a self-referential thing. ;P

  18. Hi Ginger!
    Mr. Grumpy always uses the “Royal We” when he writes in order to bolster every position falsely or collectively. 🙂
    I like Blog Lists. I think they help get you connected and exposed beyond your blog. They serve an important role in the life of your blog.

  19. I have to agree with all of your suggestions. I have a counter so I can see where my traffic is coming from because I never heard of Feedburner; will have to look into that. Since I’m neopolitan ice cream, I’m flexible like that. 🙂
    Great post, Mr. Grumpy.

  20. Hi Paula!
    You make me laugh! 🙂
    Give FeedBurner a try. There’s a free version and a really cheap paid version. I choose to pay because that’s how you can really drill-down to see what’s happening with your blog.

  21. I’m in basic agreement. I like your blog a lot. I have a counter to see certain people who visit my blog…my boyfriend’s ex stalks me. I guess in the long run though it doesn’t do me any good to know she visits or not.
    Now to figure out how to change my blog to wordpress.

  22. Aww.. I left another comment after the one above. Looks like it didn’t get through. [Caution: Rant ahead!]
    Splendid list of ‘how to make your blog really private’, Mr Grumpy. I would like to add teeny-weeny font sizes to the list. Having to squint to read what one has wrote will only drive me away, however interesting the entries may have been.
    Then there are those blogs with mystery meat navigation. So far, I only see these in blogs using templates from blogskins.com. Attractive they are, but not when you expect me to click on every ‘flower’ on the main page just to find the ‘flower’ to your posts. Then there’re those unreasonably small ‘x’s used as navigation links, which might as well be ‘Click here to exit this blog’. Whoever designed them needs to learn about usability.
    Dark backgrounds are okay for me. I’ve even had a dark background on my site (not blog) previously. Even so, some bloggers don’t seem to realise how hard it is to read when they use dark FONTS! Have they ever read their own blogs??
    [End of Rant!]