Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 14, 2012
Writing for an audience of one

I recently wrote about my doubts about the New Blogger Initiative, and could have expressed myself clearer. To be absolutely clear, I approve of new people blogging, and it is great to give them support and advice. My doubts were on the part of the initiative where they talked about using the NBI to generate traffic for new blogs. My comment was that if you write a blog with the express purpose of generating the maximum amount of traffic, then there are probably hotter subjects around to blog about than MMORPGs.

Now personally I don't write to maximize traffic, even if that is often assumed. In fact I took measures over the last year which pretty much halved my traffic, writing less regularly and switching to even more niche subjects like pen & paper roleplaying games. Thus I would like to talk about a very different form of blogging: Writing for an audience of one. Yourself.

A blog makes an excellent public diary, as long as you limit yourself to writing about things you don't mind other people reading about. Thus the games you play makes for a good diary blog, your love life much less so. If you keep it up, like I did, you end up with a huge archive of what you thought at that point in time about some game or feature or other. You might be surprised to learn that your opinion might change over time, without you even noticing. Sometimes it is really funny to read your old blog entries and think "What? I thought THAT at the time?".

The main disadvantage of writing a blog for yourself is that other people will not only read it, but often also comment on what you wrote, as most bloggers by some sort of tradition feel they should let other people comment on their posts. Comments on the internet are not universally bad, but you must realize that they come in a huge variety: From thought-provoking and useful, to spam, to hateful rants. A rather innocent remark by you, of how you liked game A, but didn't care so much for game B, is likely to provoke some people into a rage. You'll get comments on how game A was designed for morons like you, while only the superior elite to which the commenter counts himself is able to appreciate the absolute superiority of game B. And many variations of that theme. Write what you did in a game, and somebody will tell you that you did it wrong.

Negative comments are almost exclusively due to the opinions you hold, and very rarely about the actual quality of your writing (even if sometimes they use an attack on your writing to attack your opinion). Personally I have found that blogging with strong comment moderation works best, trolls tend to disappear if you just delete their comments without responding. Writing without comments enabled can also work, but then you miss out on the good comments as well as the bad.

The important thing about blogging for an audience of one is that you shouldn't care whether people agree with your opinions. If you start to censor yourself so as not to provoke anybody, you just destroyed most of the value of your blog for yourself. There are enough sites out there where you can read what the opinion of the majority is, you do not need to feel compelled to echo what they say in a hope to please. Do not be afraid to say what you really think, even if the game you like is considered as trite, or the game you hate is the flavor of the month. Writing for an audience of one can be tough in public, but if you want your blog to have any value as an outlet for yourself, you need to *be* yourself. Don't care what others think, your opinions are as valuable as those of everybody else.

You'll always be writing for more than one as long as I'm around.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
As much as I had to consider leaving Markco's comment stand as excellent example on how you'll get insulted as a blogger, in the end I decided to rather make an example of the value of strong comment moderation out of it. :)

I would very much recommend to any blogger to simply delete posts that complain about your "factless post" which you "pulled out of your butt". I do.
When I spent the year writing on my blog I came to the conclusion I had to do it for me, not for any potential reader. After a time I found out I had a few readers but I enjoyed looking back on how I felt about games when they first came out, and as time went on.
Are you not smart enough to have a debate?

You seem delete happy ever since I started showing you up on your own blog.
The above has to be the laziest appeal to intellectual vanity I've ever seen.

Perhaps we'd get better taunts for $19.99.
Your point is pretty sound actually whether you support the initiative or not. If you go into blogging with the expectation that you're going to get 3 million unique hits and everyone is going to love you that just isn't likely. You're setting yourself up for defeat.

I'm notoriously bad for keeping traffic steady. I only blog when I have something to say or an agenda (yeah I'll admit it!).

When I have something to say my blog is just a place to get it off my chest. That is the purpose of it. If people read it, cool! If they respond, even better! Ultimately it is just for me. So absolutely, it comes down to what you really want to get out of the experience.

I also completely agree with the opinions changing. It is really neat and sometimes shameful to read some of the things I've posted in the past.
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