This isn’t another Mr. Grumpy Goes Blogging entry — this is a call out to all the sane minds of the world as we witness the decline of blogging before our eyes. Have you noticed over the last couple of months the writing quality of newer blogs is awful?

Is this a new phenomenon or have most blogs always been a horrible read peppered with bad grammar, atrocious spelling, poor sentence structure and a lack of a clearly structured argument augmented with verifiable facts and creative logic?

I realize 70,000 new blogs a day begs a certain inbred lack of quality and content, but the blogs I am trying to read are illegible. If you can recommend a few new blogs promoting a fine writing effort with fresh posts and comments published every day, please let me know where I can find them. If you want to identify one of “The Awful Blogs” for us to visit, we’d love to mark the record on that front, too!

26 Comments

  1. For the last year I have been the proud owner of one of those Awful Blogs. My blog is just a place for me to jot down half finished ideas and to vent rage, I have never claimed that my blog was anything else.
    Licensing new bloggers, would be wrong bacause there are already many thousands of bad blogs, and a lot of the new blogs are created by old hands trying to move into other niches. Maybe a system of independent grading would work better so for example you could choose to only read blogs rated x by whatever rating sevice you trust, that way awful blogs could continue to be waste of webspace without ever offending your eyes.

  2. Hi Mark!
    Nice to see you back!
    I guess you don’t agree with me that we blog to influence people:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/06/23/why-do-you-blog/
    I am surprised you feel your blog is Awful!
    Do you think it is possible to delete all blogs, certify them in an online blogging course and then only let those people start blogs who can prove they can read and write?
    I would propose you be the sole arbitrator of all New Blogs Licensing for The Americas and the Pacific Rim if you are interested.

  3. Many of the blogs I encounter via BlogExplosion are indeed atrocious, either in design, content or both. The bar to creating a new blog is very low, the emergence of free easy to use blogging tools like Blogger has been the death knell for readability. In merely seconds one can have a cookie-cutter blog live and begin filling it with illegible content. WordPress/MT driven blogs require a bit more knowledge and work to get running. I think that one of the best developments in well-written, highly readable blogs is communities like 9 rules , which strive to identify the best content in various categories. It is frustrating trying to promote one’s blog via BlogExplosion or other traffic exchange communities and being subjected to so many poorly designed blogs.

  4. Hi Jonathan!
    I agree surfing on some of the Blog exchanges can be excruciating as you wait for the next blog to load.
    Perhaps we should only allow new blogs that use the standalone versions of WordPress and Movable Type?
    :mrgreen:
    9rules is a fine community and we’ll hope they are the wave of the future and not the spot of the moment.

  5. First why do I blog, now looking back it was a year ago I started to blog in earnest was it to influence people? Maybe, but like every other time I had started a blog it was as a result of the media telling me that everyone was blogging (back in 1999 it was the computer magazines, in 2004 it was the mainstream press) and I had a desire to be part of the in-crowed, the fact that I could influence people by my blogging only came to me after I had seen my blog influencing people.
    As to why I don’t rank my blog, I think that comes down to the fact that I know just how it is written, I know that most of my posts are just the thoughts that are in my head when I sit down at my computer, I’m also aware that I have a category of post on my blog that exists as a result of me wanting to recorded via Wap the thoughts that occur to me during my day at work, I know that occasionally I will think something so Important that I will go into university and use a word processor to write it so it is readable and may even influence people but I also know that this is a unusual event and that normally my blog posts are typed as I lie in bed (in a tiny room, in a student house I don’t have much choice as to where I work). Also my writing style leaves a lot to be desired, as a debater who as represented my university internationally I know the need for logical arguments to be put forward in the correct manner however I also know that in the last week I have walked out of debates without adding anything too them and looking at my past blog posts I see them as the same, maybe offering some new insights but never bothering to delve deep into my thoughts, and never bringing anything new to the debate.
    Whilst the position of sole arbitrator of all New Blogs Licensing for The Americas and the Pacific Rim sounds nice I must refrain, as I believe licensing is unpractical and world be a disservice to everyone, what is not unpractical, and indeed is likely to come about in the next few months is blog directories that can regularly and randomly check the content of the blogs they list to ensure they meet the required standards for that directory, and so if you were to whish to only read blogs of a certain standard you would only look at certain blog directories (of course you would risk missing out on some of the best blogs because of something as simple as the difference between en-US and en-UK but nothing is perfect).

  6. I’m always fearful that I’ll produce a bad blog post, so I always try to use dictionary.com to check my spelling and to make sure I’m using the right word for the situation. I always attempt to follow the rules of grammar. I make lots of mistakes, so I have to be very careful to always re-read before I hit the “post” button.
    Content is the key to producing a great blog. It is always sad to see abandoned blogs or blogs that only have the occassional post. It’s the worst when someone starts off strong, then fades away over time.
    It’s hard to produce new content every day, but I always strive to put something thoughtful in my blog daily. If I have writer’s block, I always turn to another well written blog, like this one, to become inspired in some way. Urban Semiotic has inspired many good ideas for posts.
    The key to writing a great blog is to read a lot. Many people don’t do that and it shows.
    I always try to influence society in some way. Maybe my purpose to the make people smile every so often.
    I hope that my blogging influences someone and makes a difference in his or her life. My material isn’t as hard hitting as some of the political or “idea” blogs out there, but I always want to humanize my subjects, give them some depth, and occassionally show the downside our society’s pursuit of feminine perfection like I did with my Ms. Alexis and Halima post from yesterday.
    I need to go update my blog, since I haven’t done so yet, lest I become one of the many who fails to post something on a daily basis.

  7. Mark!
    It’s quite fine to see your back again today!
    I have always enjoyed reading your blog. It has an innocent charm and I find you funny and refreshing.
    You make some excellent points on blogging and while we are disappointed you are turning down the high-paying Arbiter of New Blogs position for the Americas and the Pacific Rim, we are delighted you are keeping your sanity and current blogging style intact.

  8. Chris —
    I appreciate the insight into how you plan your blog and your entries and I certainly feel the same pressures here in my posts that you feel over thar on your blog in your posts.
    Spelling is important. I write my posts and comments in Word and let it try to catch all my silly errors and then I cut and paste into WordPress when I’m ready to publish. Typos always seem to slip through, though.
    Content is king and the king is already hungry for creative new material! It can be tiring at times, but as long as we are able to inspire each other then we might make it to the next day’s post. I am thrilled to hear this blog helps you a bit — it makes the long nights thinking up post topics worthwhile!
    Yes, reading is important and you have to read everything — all points-of-view — in order to sharpen what you think. You can’t read in only one vein or you will bleed out only one color of thought.
    I like it that you try to affect society. That is an important and honorable goal. Smiling is good, too! 😀
    I just read your posts — I am still surprised at your blog! It is such a different side of you than you expose here — uh… you know what I mean… 😉 … and your style there surprises me when I read your comments here. That’s the sign of a great mind and a wonderful writing style. You can bounce between lots of different ideas and be important in all of them.

  9. Thanks for the compliments David!
    And, thanks for the inspiration your blog provides. Even if it doesn’t show directly, I always gain some insight and ideas into how I should be writing my blog.
    I’ll always remember the post about needing passion when writing a blog. It’s something that always guides me as I write. Your post saved me many months of trying to figure out one of the major keys to blogging.

  10. Part of the problem, David, is Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. Blogs are no exception to that rule, and indeed are evidence of its truth. In fact, when it comes to blogs, Sturgeon may prove unduly optimistic.
    The other part is that writing in general has deteriorated. Blogs offer opportunity for an ever-increasing number of awful writers to expose their poorly developed skills and half-baked opinions to a larger audience.
    How do we fix that?
    1) Raise the bar by setting a lofty example. Challenge others to do what you do, and show them how to do it better.
    2) Patronize — and publicize — blogs that offer worthwhile content. Let bad blogs wither and die from lack of traffic.

  11. I blog every night, usually sometime shortly after midnight. I type everything out in OpenOffice first, because my spelling is absolutely atrocious, and this helps me try to fine tune my grammar and sentence structure before copy pasting it into an actual post. I don’t believe my posts are that of any revolutionary thinker, but I like to hope that people enjoy reading my blog and that it brings some kind of pleasure to them. The thing I find hard is actually getting constructive criticism on my blog. People are keen to say “love your layout” or “good writing”, but that doesn’t actually help me better my writing or layout. I have yet to have anyone tell me I suck, but that too wouldn’t be very useful for bettering my blog. If anyone has advice on things to read or ways to better my blog then I’d love to hear them so I don’t end up being placed on the list of awful blogs 🙂

  12. I don’t update often enough on my blog, and one of the reasons for that is because I’m already editing websites all day in my day job, so getting home to post to my blog means more time in front of a PC screen. I think that it’s important if I want to go further that more regular posting would help my (very small) audience come back more regularly because I’d be more varied in my content. For the moment I just do it when I can without forcing myself.
    I’ve read a lot of bad blogs, some mediocre blogs, and a few excellent blogs. Those that are good will, by natural selection, rise to the top. Others still have their right to exist to amuse the blogger, his immediate friends and family, and let them feel that they’re adding their voice to the noise.
    For example, a lot of people play musical instruments or sing at karaoke and occasionally impose themselves on an unwilling audience (rather like BlogExplosion traffic which is biased towards those bloggers who care more about hits to their server than writing good content). Great musicians really do inspire people though. Writing isn’t any different, and at least with the wonder that is blog, they can perhaps find an alternative channel than dead tree publishing to find their audience, however big or small that audience is.
    -Fruey

  13. SwanShadow —
    Thanks for the confirmation that blogs are getting more awful! I am realizing now you take a daring attack because so many blogs are awful!
    😀
    Point One you mention is excellent but how will they learn to be better bloggers just by watching? I think they need to go offline and hone their writing and coding skills in private where people are paid to fight through the pain of their prose to get it all fixed.
    Point Two is much more doable, though it is hard to only go to good blogs when you’re surfing around trying to find new voices and new styles to inspire you and all you find are The Awful.

  14. fruey —
    You make some fine points and I agree with you. Blogging, however, doesn’t take much of an investment beyond time and want and that’s how it is different than Karaoke or playing a musical instrument.
    If you want to sing Karaoke you need some kind of technical setup and the right music and probably some sort of visible audience.
    Playing a musical instrument requires the acquisition of an instrument and few people would perform in public without at least a lesson or two to learn how to manipulate the instrument to make a pleasant sound.
    Starting a blog is too easy and since there’s no common methodology for training new bloggers we, the eager end user, get riddled with bullets from the minds of The Awful and it can’t help but make us a little more awful against our better wishes.

  15. I’ve been thinking about this a little more, and it reminds me of my pet hate of a lot of supposed web designers. The believe that because they can use a free service and automated template system that it makes them a designer. The amount of times I’ve seen people like this set up “business” sites makes me physically ill. They don’t realise that there is more to it than that. I once asked one of them about their order form, because it wasn’t secure, their reply was that they were knew to web design and didn’t know how to make it secure. When I pointed out that anyone would be able to collect the information in an unsecured form, and that considering they were asking for bank details and such, that this was actually very dangerous. They laughed at me and said it wasn’t their problem. Now, I may not be the best designer. I’ve only been building websites since 2000, and I’ve still got a long way to go with my degree. But I think at least I’m making the effort to learn and better myself. I think this is the same with blogs. It’s horrible the amount of blogs out there where they believe they can just be awful and that it’s fine, it’s something different for the ones who aren’t so good but at least they’re trying to better themselves and their writing. Maybe if there was some kind of course for bloggers then it would be easier for those who want to better themselves to do so.

  16. krome.obsession —
    I like your take on “Awful Designers” who take money for helping create “The Awful Blogs.” You are so right that templates and free blog hosting are a curse upon all our blogs.
    We write blogs to influence other people and that takes pre-dedication and preparation before “going live” on the web.
    Journal, diary and essay writing are all fine forms to help hone the blogger’s art. That training before the public expression of the self in print is important to honor.
    The artist’s impulse can be mortally damaged by insincere premature amateur efforts. New bloggers must first manage desire and thought in the proving grounds of the private effort.