A blog is a minestrone, served up with Parmesan cheese

I should, of course, have called this Ten Top Tips for Blogging, or Ten Golden Blogging Rules.

Except there aren’t any. One person’s view of the correct way to blog isn’t another’s.

But as I have read a plethora of blogging tips recently, plus the latest new whizzy WordPress simplistic idea – Zero to Hero – ie how to write a great blog in 30 days, I thought it was time for my two penn’orth.

I’ll start with Z to H. It’s left me somewhat open-mouthed. Kindergarten doesn’t begin to describe it. I know I spend a disproportionate amount of time slagging off WordPress (not that I’m on my own), but if you can’t work out how to publish a blog without being wrapped in cotton wool all the way through it, you shouldn’t even be considering it. How difficult is it to write text and hit publish?

Apart from anything else, today’s young people, who seem to be amongst the newer bloggers who say, ‘Gee thanks what an awesome post, that helps me so much,’ have grown up with computers.

I didn’t have computers at school, university or my first newspaper job. In the civil service the only privileged person with a computer was the secretary in our press office. Although we did have one at home as my technologically-challenged partner likes to be ahead of the game, even if I do have to sort out all the gadgets he buys.

People in their 70s and 60s write very good blogs, and even us younger ones in our 50s can manage to set one up without all this molly-coddling and hand-holding. I was hoping for some seriously advanced tips about something I had missed, and so far I am deeply disappointed with being told to write an about page and try out a few different themes. How would I have managed to do that all on my own I wonder? No, far too difficult.

Enough of the sark and onto the minestrone.

Ingredients:

1) Theme, appearance, whatever

Content is king or every picture paints a thousand words? The age-old argument about whether text or imagery is more important. I speak from personal experience here as it was quite a battleground in journalism between photographers and reporters about whose work was more important.

And that’s before you even get into graphic design for other publications, eg leaflets, posters, reports.

First things first. Having said the above, and given my bias for text, – layout, appearance, design are critical. If it is unattractive it won’t draw people in. Simple as that.

Now, it is a basic rule in graphic design and publishing that you actually do need to KISS (keep it simple stupid). Busy, busy, busy pages of anything whether in print or on screen do not draw people in.

We had a director once who decided to play at desk top publishing in the days when people were just starting to fiddle with fonts. Every line (more or less) was in a different font. If he printed off a report or newsletter, everything was in five colours, lots of capitals and underlining. If I got migraines, his work would have induced one.

I haven’t changed my blog style on roughseas for years, the one on wordpress is virtually the same as the one I had on blogger (more flexibility to fiddle on blogger at the time so I customised it nicely). At the end of the day, although a personal blog, roughseas is also a news blog, news about Spain, about Gib, and anything else that strikes me, so I want the text to look clean and clear.

For that reason, the only thing on the sidebar is archives, and that’s purely a selfish convenience for me for when I want to look something up, as I can usually remember roughly when it was. Otherwise, everything else is consigned to pages. So, no widgets, no awards, no images, no links, no nada. Plus, I did read elsewhere that the more you have on the sidebar, the slower the loading time. Slow loading time irritates the hell out of me, and I can’t be the only one.

A good contrast with roughseas though is my dogblog, where I have gone for a customised background with endless images of the dog’s face. Reason? it’s much more a photo-orientated blog (the nearest I’ll get to a photoblog!) and Pippa is a very photogenic dog with his kohl-rimmed eyes and gentle expression.

So appearances, in blogging as in life, do matter. They draw in the reader – but they won’t keep them.

2) Content

Same question. Content is king or every picture paints a thousand words? Well, if you have a photographic blog, you will be more interested in photos. And while I do follow a few photo blogs, endless photos of flowers/trees/birds/bridges/buildings/raindrops/cute brats etc without any text just do nothing for me.

I appreciate others may enjoy working out which camera took which shot with which lens on what exposure and focal length and any filters and …. zzz I’m falling asleep already. The ones I do follow include text of some sort, sometimes a story, sometimes an explanation, sometimes just amusing and witty text. Otherwise I would be looking at yet another flea/seagull/mountain/building. Branding and niche-marketing are somewhat too managerial terms to use for blogging, but why does your photo look any better than anyone else’s? A little text helps to explain it, or make the post stand out.

I use photos/vids as props to break up the text and also to illustrate it when relevant. And while there are a lot of Spanish blogs, there aren’t a lot of Gib ones, so a few photos of Gib don’t go amiss. Living here means I can also post more photos than monkeys (OK so I post a few of those because I like them), the cable car, the top of the Rock, and Ye Typical Olde English Pubbe.

Content is up to you. Some people prefer to write single-themed blogs. I don’t, because I find them insufferably boring to read, so I certainly can’t write them. I like blogs that diversify. But the down side to that is you won’t build up a specific following in one field, eg cookery, photography, travel, books, are the ones that come to mind immediately.

Many tipsters recommending sticking to one topic in the main, or having separate blogs if you want to diversify. I’ll write about that more under ‘Style’. Although it may not seem like it, I actually do have a set of parameters for roughseas. It’s basically what goes on locally, nationally, internationally, that has/can have some effect on me, and my perception of that.

Then there is the whole length debate. Just ignore it. A good long interesting post is far better than a short boring one that goes along the lines of:

“Meh, I got up. I made coffee. My hair needed washing. I texted my BBF.”

FFS Keep that sort of post to Twitter. Or better still, to yourself.

But the main thing is, write what you want on your blog because you don’t need rules set by someone else. Of course all the people who read my blogs do that anyway πŸ˜€

3) Style

This is equally as important as the above two. If you have a good writing style, you can make pretty much anything interesting. There are no difficult rules here, write because you want to, about something you are interested in. Use active verbs more than passive ones, and DO keep your paragraphs short. Because this last one ties in with appearance too. A slab of grey text is the most off-putting way of presenting writing in the world.

If you need a long par for something, follow it with a shorter one. Like this.

Putting something of yourself in a post helps. You don’t need to give out your vital statistics, life history, loves and hates, but a little personal feeling livens up a post.

4) Intros

Should be short and interesting. One of our journalism rules was 12 words was a minimum and 24/30 a max for the first sentence.

And if you are telling a story of any sort, the five Ws, is always worth remembering. Who, What, Where, When and Why. You can add H on for How if it is relevant. There is far more flexibility in personal blogs because you don’t need to worry about accuracy, but from the reader’s perspective, try not to leave too many gaps.

5) Photos within posts

Do try and caption them if possible. It’s a pain because it takes longer, but it can actually add something to the post. Especially if it’s a witty one. I shall break from the norm here of my endless WP criticism and say I am pleased with the way one can add a partial gallery or even two or more to a blog post. It’s a neat way of putting a few photos together rather than making a post top heavy on photos.

Which leads me onto, don’t post too many photos. Ploughing through 20 or 30 is hard work, and so is a gallery with so many in too. If you have a lot of photos, the same rule applies as for text. Break up your photos with text, and think about either using a couple of galleries for one post, or making an individual collage. pix&kardz is the expert on collages.

6) When and how often to publish

I am sure there is an optimum time to get max viewings but I really can’t be bothered with that. I write in the morning because that suits me. Mostly the other people up at that time of day are Australians, Kiwis, and early Brit birds. Or a few late North Americans.

There is much advice given about publish every Sunday and every Wednesday. Or every day. Or once a month. Or whatever you do, keep it regular, as your readers like to know when to expect you to publish. I doubt it makes the slightest bit of difference. I am not so egotistical to think that people who read my blog will wake up on Tuesday morning and think, ‘Oh roughseas is posting on Clouds today, must dash to the computer to read it at exactly 12 noon.’

The only thing I will do, (which I have also read is not a good idea, but I don’t give a shit), is explain to people if I will not be around for a couple of weeks or more. When you have regular readers, I think it is courteous to explain that you won’t be posting for a while.

Which brings me onto ….

7) Comments, follows, likes or hits?

It’s pretty obvious that I go for comments and regular readers. I enjoy receiving comments and the discussions that follow, which often go well off the original subject.

I don’t want a blog that receives 100 comments, saying great post, thanks for that. Or similar nothing. I would prefer far less comments but that come from people who have read my posts, and consider they have something to add to the discussion.

Likes would be ok if you couldn’t just click on them from Reader without even reading the post, so it makes it pretty meaningless apart from people who take the time to comment and like as well. But then, where’s the value? I did turn off likes on roughseas to see how many people clicked on like without reading. I rarely look at hits. Olive pate remains my most popular post in terms of hits and has a total of eight comments.

I have no idea how many followers I have, again, it’s not really a valid statistic for your blog, more about someone else’s self-promotion unless it is someone who genuinely reads your blog.

If you want a discussion-type blog however, you need to invest the time and effort in replying to your readers in the same way they have responded to your post. A trite thank you if someone has written a long comment is rude, IMO.

One of the blogging tips posts I read this week, said, don’t bother replying to all comments unless you need to, ie only reply if you have something to say or to answer a question.

I totally disagree with that. I think it is plain courtesy to reply. I do get annoyed if I comment on blogs and people don’t reply. I think it’s about acknowledging that someone has taken the time to read and comment, and I can’t think of a few words of thanks? I think I can, and will continue to do so. Ironically the reference above was taken from a section called ‘engage your audience.’ One easy way to disengage your audience is by ignoring them. I should also add that he had more than 300 comments on his post though πŸ˜€

8) Comment baits

I’ve only come across this phrase recently, but it might as well be called begging for comments. It drives me up the wall. It’s the ‘do ask a question at the end of your post because people will be more likely to comment’ syndrome. Will they? It makes me more likely NOT to comment. If I want to I will, otherwise I won’t. A question makes zilch difference to me.

It’s a bit like writing a post about Paris. I then write at the bottom:
Have you been to Paris?
What did you like about it?
Did you visit the Eiffel Tower?
Did you go up it?
Did you get vertigo?
Did you enjoy the food?
Do you think French women dress well?
Do you speak French?
Do you prefer Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame?
Did you take a bateau mouche?

Honestly. I can work out what to reply about Paris on my own without some idiotic set of dumb prompts.

With which ….

9) Prompts and challenges

Just aaaaagh. Please, people, if you revolve your blog around these you should not, I repeat NOT, be blogging.

10) Reciprocity

Spend as much time visiting other blogs as you do on writing your own. One of the reasons I don’t publish every day, is so that I can make time to visit other blogs. The other reason is because I don’t want to inundate readers with too many posts.

Blogging is a fine balance. The trick is to find the balancing act that works for you. Not what someone tells you to do. Although I would appreciate you all keeping your paragraphs short.

There endeth the ten top tips/golden rules/whatever. I may manage another five another day. But ten is more than enough for now.

Method:

Do what you want with the ingredients and hit publish.

Conclusion – the proof of the minestrone is in the eating?

And what WP should really be doing is teaching people how to write. Zero to Hero is

“Created by a team of top blogging experts (i.e., us) based on years of scientific research (i.e., writing blogs), “

I am sure that is tongue in cheek, but while the team may be great at coding and programming, they do not have the best blogs out there. At all. By any stretch of the imagination.

Why the title for this post of that terrible song by 10cc? Which I misremembered as Life is a Macaroni, so had to look it up to discover it was minestrone.

Obviously because blogging is a mix, of whatever you want, a bit like minestrone.

But more to the point because I wanted to get in a rant about Parmesan cheese. I am sick to death of seeing restaurants, particularly Italian ones obviously, describing meals with Parmesan as suitable for vegetarians. Parmesan is NOT vegetarian:

There are some cheeses which are always made using animal rennet, for example, Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano). In order to be called β€˜Parmesan’ this has to be produced according to traditional methods which use calf rennet. The regulations for its production state the following ingredients; cows milk, salt and calf rennet. The milk comes from cows reared in the defined geographical area and the use of the term parmesan as a product description is limited by European Union labelling law to being region specific. Other cheeses which are always made using animal rennet include Grana Padano and Gorgonzola. You can get β€˜parmesan style hard cheese’, and variations of others which are suitable for vegetarians.

Link about Parmesan

Meals including cheese are not suitable for vegetarians unless the cheese concerned has not been made with animal rennet.
Please, if you are catering for vegetarians, and want to offer cheese, do make sure it is vegetarian. A label on the pack, or a quick search on the internet should help. Don’t rely on shop staff who may not have a clue what vegetarian cheese is – believe me, I didn’t when I sold cheese for years.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in blogging, gibraltar, journalism, vegetarian, wordpress, WPlongform, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to A blog is a minestrone, served up with Parmesan cheese

  1. Andrew says:

    Hmmm. I don’t think I score very highly on the blogometer. I haven’t seen H2Z. I must check it out for entertainment value. Is the title 10CC?

    Like

    • Hey, it’s my blogometer. No more no less.

      Here is your free personal scoring:

      1 Appearance – good

      2 Content – you get a pass on your text to support your pix as it is interesting, witty and thoughtful

      3 Style – as above

      4 Intros – fine, your style is pretty succinct anyway, so you don’t go about long-winded or boring intros

      5 Photos, you don’t usually post a lot so when they are the main subject they don’t need a caption. A bit like me, you vary when you are posting a handful

      6 Publishing, normally predictable esp with BAD. I do tend to look for one a day from you as they are usually short and an easy and good read, so it is puzzling when you have occasionally dropped off the end

      7 Comments – unpredictable. Some people ALWAYS get a reply, others rarely.

      8 Comment bait aka silly questions. I haven’t noticed any. Or at least none that have got up my nose. Possibly a few rhetorical ones.

      9 Prompts/challenges – I think something from individual bloggers at a personal level is fine, I think you posted a few pix for someone, some American? Otherwise you appear to have sufficient brain cells remaining to be able to think about what to write on your own initiative

      10 Reciprocity – I can’t comment on what blogs you visit so that one’s up to you to answer.

      There you go. I don’t think you did too badly.

      HtoZ is not even entertaining. It is mind-numbingly moronic.

      Yes, it is 10cc. Very well answered, although rather gives away the fact you didn’t read the post thoroughly Ha. Bottom of the class as I did mention 10cc.

      Like

  2. pinkagendist says:

    Prompts and challenges are infurriating. I also can’t stand the write-by-numbers people. They don’t write to communicate, only to “practice” writing. WordPress should have a banner on their homepage saying if you’re still practicing writing by the time you’re thirty maybe you should try drawing stickmen instead.

    Like

    • For some the prompts and challenges obviously work. I will do the weekly photo challenge from time to time, if I can think of an angle that is sufficiently not what is intended. What really gets up my nose is blogs that are nothing but prompts and challenges. Have these people no imagination? sense of identity? or are they just lemmings? Perhaps we live in a lemming society.

      Your American English comes out there with practice πŸ˜€ But I agree. These people are adults. They must have left school or university or somewhere. Why can’t they write? And in any case, the trite shite that WP churns out for how to write the perfect blog is NOT teaching people how to write. Not something you can learn in 30 days anyway.

      The trouble is that people who can write and work out how to publish blog posts hardly need the infantile A to Z. The ones who do need it shouldn’t be blogging.

      I really struggle to find interesting blogs to read. I certainly wouldn’t be looking at any participating in a ‘how to blog in 30 days’ challenge. Interestingly one blogger I know, who has been blogging longer than me, is doing it. I have no idea why.

      Like

  3. mpwilson says:

    It’s definitely interesting that WP has felt a need to hand-hold new bloggers these days. I remember when I started my blog over 5 years ago, I just had to look around and see what things did and how they worked.. and then go back every so often to see what they’ve changed and see if they worked for me. I guess I’m saying the newer generation of bloggers who use Z2H just don’t seem that interested in learning the tools they’ll be using than being handed a dummy guide.

    Anyway.. great post (couldn’t resist lol). I too have noticed several of these ‘Top Tips for Blogging’ posts lately. Let’s be honest – there isn’t just one way to blog or to manage it, and sometimes it’s all to personal taste. For instance, I’ve been told my theme is too dark and the font is too small – but because I enjoy the layout of it I’ve kept the theme, despite not being able to modify those things.

    Like

    • I think it is ridiculous. Blogging is not difficult and I have used a few platforms, although mainly blogger for years (didn’t like WP at the time) and now solely WP. I don’t remember wasting my time on tutorials, it’s pretty easy to work your way through the obvious. On blogger I did get into html and css but that was to faff around with the design, which you could do. No chance of doing that on WP which is one of the down sides.

      What I don’t understand about Z to H is the older bloggers, who have been blogging for years who are also doing it. I assume it is the idea of refreshing their blog or some such similar. I tell you, I couldn’t do it, I would fall asleep with the inanity of it! But I take the view that I don’t need to learn every single thing I can do with WP, I need to know what I want to do and how to do it. But that’s more about being focused. I don’t need to know about how to link to Instagram or PInterest because I don’t use them and don’t intend to. Blogging is my main/only social media outlet and I am happy with how it works for now.

      Not that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but old dogs don’t want to be reminded of the ones they already know.

      Thank you πŸ˜€ I churn out blogging tips from time to time in the hopes that someone somewhere who is vaguely interested might actually read them. Most of my regular readers are well old hands at blogging and know just as much as me. Maybe not about writing but that’s a different issue.

      There is an issue about white text on black, although I don’t know why in a way as I spent years in a newsroom writing copy in white text on a black screen πŸ˜€ But yes, it is harder to read than black on white. OK for photoblogs to create impact, but as soon as you start adding text it gets hard to read. One of my friends changed from a white on black to black on white and I have to say it is easier.

      As for font size, another simplistic instruction, enlarge the screen. I’ve got a Mac so it’s Apple key and plus. No idea what it is on horrible windows. I did enlarge it to look at yours. It probably applies more for older people too. You don’t need to change your font, we can do that ourselves. Or should be able to.

      Thank you for the visit and the comment. I’ll have a browse around yours when I’ve finished replying to comments on here (as per my rules!!)

      Like

  4. Good stuff!
    I just knew that you were going to hate zero to hero – crass and insulting but makes sense to them because these are the sort of posts they want – the ones that go to FP. They don’t want blogs like ours or those of the people we follow.
    I think the reason for writing here or through any other medium is simple – we want people to read what we say or else what is the point of going to the trouble?
    I absolutely agree with your position on replying to comments – very important!
    What about scheduling posts? You didn’t mention that. Depends on the talent of the writer I suppose. Do you think posts need to be spontaneous? I schedule all of mine so that I can review them before they publish and I don’t have to take a break when I am away or busy playing golf.
    Can’t end without mentioning WP Top Posts again – this really makes me laugh –
    “Top Posts
    The most popular WordPress.com posts are ranked here according to a special formula”
    Thanks for a good read!

    Like

    • Ta. I’m too predictable aren’t I? πŸ˜€

      Actually I think I looked at the first Z to H and didn’t bother with the rest until I came to write this post.

      Some of the blogs I follow have been FPd. I know because they proudly display their little badge. Do they have extra followers or comments for that moment of glory? Of course not.

      But yes, WP won’t like naughty rebellious Brits. Not sure I’ve seen a Brit blog FP’d.

      I’ll be honest, I write because I have spent my life writing and getting paid for it, and I can’t manage without it. Someone reading and commenting is a bonus. I did have a couple of other blogs years ago over on blogger, one was a fiction blog with an invited readership, really written for a couple of people, and the other was private with very limited invitations.

      I think replying to comments is a biggie. I think visiting back is next, but I am well racked off if I write something and don’t even get a fucking reply. How far up themselves are people? Because that is so not the way to get return visits.

      The nearest I got to scheduling was writing about how often to publish. I think it is neat if you are that sort of person. I’m not. Nor do I play golf πŸ˜‰ But to be serious, my preferred style is for spontaneity, although I’m often thinking a post through days before I might post. If I’m away there’s nowt, that’s why I said I’ll leave a sticky or whatever. [Groans. H to Z will be telling us about stickies next]. The only problem with scheduling if you are away is that it takes a while to respond. It’s a good feature though, if it suits your style. Does yours, not mine. No problem either way.

      I’ve not looked at the ‘Top Posts’ since your last link. It was too dire for words. Given that WP loves American blogs, why were the majority of those not in English. Just whacky. Still, gives us a laugh.

      Like

  5. davidprosser says:

    A series of excellent posts fr those new to blogging as well as the old hands. I apologise that my blog wouldn’t be your cup of tea but we can’t all be the same. I do try to break the style up occasionally when something specific in the news has offended me as with the Pastor who decided young children who stood in a homosexual way(pardon??) should be smacked or the bullying to suicide of gay teens and I do like to interview other authors to give my readers a break from my usual wittering. Other than that the blog remains effectively the same old diary of my week with a leaning towards entertainment I hope.
    I very much agree with you that if people take the time to comment it’s just courtesy to reply. You wouldn’t ignore someone mid-conversation so why would you on the blog?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Like

    • To be honest David, it is extremely basic. Or maybe not basic, basic (sounds like an old computer programme) but to me, what people should be thinking about when setting up/writing/designing their blogs.

      It’s a mix of what we want to produce, and what makes it easy for people to read/look at.

      Most of the people reading this are my age or older, so I’m certainly not telling anything anyone they don’t know. The only difference is that I do come from a background in print/journalism/design/writing, so I’ve actually got some theory behind me. For what that’s worth πŸ˜€

      I have read your blog a few times (well, I follow it so I must do!), I think I got it from EllaDee. Can’t remember if I’ve commented. Wasn’t it on the one about Richards? That was interesting. I may have read some earlier ones but not commented, maybe about your wife?

      Your diary style is your own. That’s the whole point of this post, sure there are rules, and advice, but up to each of us to break them and choose to do what we want. Writing and design are very subjective, which is part of what nags me about WP, they seem to think everything should fit into the same neat little box and all be packaged the same. And then, where is the individuality?

      I’ve obv missed those two posts. How does one stand in a homosexual way? And who would go round analysing peoples’ stance and allocating sexuality? Off the wall. Smack the Pastor say I.

      I probably might ignore someone mid-conversation if they were boring the socks off me, but fortunately I can be more discriminatory with blog commenters and reading their blogs πŸ™‚

      Like

  6. Thank you for writing this post.
    Got lectured when I commented on a certain blog that I didn’t do WP Challenges. I was polite. I was responding to the blogger’s question “Do you participate in challenges?” Apparently they did not want to hear “While challenges may work for some people, I prefer not to be given assignments.”
    (I did not say challenges often are so juvenile – below even what a dull witted elementary teacher might present to little ones. The suggestions are too simple minded and formulaic. Resulting in groups of boring posts.)
    Got lectured on how this was a slow activity time and WP depended on activity to generate income from ads. Which I do understand, but…the question was asked and I answered honestly
    Challenges also seem to encourage poor writing. I hate bland “activity generating questions” at the bottom – creative ones, maybe…only if clever and well done.
    I dislike the “visit other blogs and comment” which results in one or 2 word bland responses that can be be written without even reading the post.
    I question why anyone would think this is a good comment to leave “Hey, loved this. Let’s follow each other!”
    If someone bothers to write a real comment, the blogger should respond – and “thank you, blogger’s name inserted here)” is worse than nothing. (remember when WP started halting comment responses that were too similar and told you to write something different?..a bit arrogant there?)
    Remember when WP cautioned linking to too many people would encourage spam and hackers?
    This whole challenge thing is frustrating – some fairly good bloggers have started doing this new one – and their blogs are no longer interesting reads. Formulas are dull.
    Blogs should show personality, individuality to maintain readers.
    Not sure who they think this latest “challenge’ if targeted for. As you say, many have grown up with computers, others quickly adopted the tool, and the young kids are back in school (maybe they should have held this until school was out)
    Oh, WP needs lots of activity.
    I like to read and get hints sometimes, but I didn’t follow WP’s suggestions for success very well – not a focused blog – “too much variety confuses readers”
    Blogging is just for fun. Outgrew homework long ago…and formulas. All I can say is just write.
    Sorry…WP says leave short comments (“if you have a lot to say, why not write a post about it on your own blog?”)
    Loved your post. Great blogging suggestions for anyone.

    Like

    • Oh, I couldn’t resist a swipe at Zero to Hero, combined with reading a few tips here and there. There aren’t that many tips to give unless you are trying to make a fortune out of your blog, in which case I have no idea what to offer as advice, or I would be making a fortune out of mine.

      Well, I think your reply was pretty polite. Mine wouldn’t have been as polite as the one you didn’t give. Boring posts is spot on, because that is exactly what happens. When I sporadically join the WP photo challenge, I do it if I can find something off-beat to post about, so for example the challenge ‘One’ was meant to be one boat, one shoe, one banana, one something or other that stood out in a photo. So I went with ‘Only one’ ie I’m an only child. http://wp.me/p2c8OG-nJ

      So unless I can give it a twist, I rarely bother. What gets up my nose are ‘bridges’ ‘boats’ ‘windows’ ‘black and white’ etc etc challenges. Where is the challenge in that?

      I didn’t realise it was a slow activity time until someone else mentioned it. I would have thought summer was slower.

      I hate the questions too. I did sort of ask a question on the last post on roughseas, but it was in with the text and directed at you and other Texans, but it was more a plea for advice than a stupid moronic question.

      Ooops, I knew Snowy wanted to go out. Too late.OK, back again.

      You always leave a good reply (and good comments) as do pretty most of the people who write on my blogs. It’s appreciated. ‘Thank you ……’ is on a par with the ones who write ‘Thank you to everyone above who wrote a comment.’ Great, so I’m lumped in with 30 other people, well not again.

      I wasn’t on WP when they halted comments. Just as well, I would have gone ballistic. And I don’t remember the linking thing either. But I’ve got a fairly select group of blogs I follow and those who follow me now, it’s a manageable size, and now and again an interesting new one comes up. Otherwise I do NOT want 100 ‘great post’ comments on my blog to reply to.

      As I said above to mpwilson, I have no idea why experienced bloggers are playing at this. Looking for more readers? Surely the readers to look for are the established ones who have been here more than a year, let alone a few weeks?

      Well, at some point someone liked your blog as you have a FP badge. No idea which post it was for though! Irrelevant to me as I read your blog because I like it. Especially when Molly and The German appear. However, it is focused in terms of style, is it not? Focus doesn’t need to be about subject to me. I write about loads of things on here, but that’s because this is my ‘opinion’ (ated?) blog. So there’s my focus.

      I have no problem with long comments. WP also says don’t link back to your own blog so where is the point in writing a blog post if you can’t link back to it? Stupid. I sent a comment today and did a linkback mainly because it was easier than trying to write a far too long comment. But there is a difference between a post of 1000-2000 words and a long comment WP goes for the trite superficial soundbite. Some of us don’t. We can all co-exist. I think.

      Thank you.

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      • blogging arena should be rather like soup or stew – something for everyone and you can chew on what you like – and spit out what your don’t. Formulas and uniformity would be the death of it all I would think.
        No one expects a person to wear the same outfit everyday – too dull. So various topics work quite well – unless you are trying to sell something idea or product I suppose.
        They were also miffed when I inquired about this being a slow activity time…there are other time periods that seem worse – everyone is back now from holiday/dieting/reflecting/planning/new themes….what do I know. I just write. They hustle for money (using our writing as bait/product…so there is some benefit on both sides.)

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        • Yes, I had the words going around in my head, and then thought they were appropriate for this post. And of course you can spice up your blog with whatever you want. I do look for something different, something with personality, a blog that says something in whatever way. Doesn’t need to be profound or about how to attain world peace and solve starvation, just something that makes me think ‘ that was worth a read’ rather than ‘tick, they met that challenge/prompt today’.

          ssssh. I regularly wear the same clothes. When I bought my first set of jodhpurs and loved them, Partner said – just buy some more. They seem to have a few pulls and snicks in them now. Perhaps Snowy likes them too. Especially to drag around the floor. You can never have too many toys it seems.

          Of course I am now burning up with curiosity about the site you commented on. Must have a hunt around ….

          I didn’t realise there were ads on mine until I hit on it one day without being logged in. The price of popularity. But most of the blogs I see don’t have ads.

          So long as I get a free blog, and it suits me, I just live with the rest of the circus, and occasionally poke the odd fun shot. I’m not always horrible. I did write a relatively nice comment on The DP about cropping (one of my few photo fixations, I love a good crop) and got a very nice reply. Horses for courses. And now I must trot into the shower and bake some potato bread. Having taken out the wretch Snowy whose main achievement was barking at a monkey.

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          • Did you notice today there’s a WP suggestion post about titles which mentions “lists”? Last year “Lists” was a top ten please-do-it suggestion. Flexibility as things change, things change. gotta chuckle (are people really taking these things as certain truths do you think?
            Still, titles are really really important…should rework the current post’s…too many serious grim interpretations. It’s plants people – lighten up. (giggles before sighs)

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          • I didn’t notice the list post, but there was one about prompts! Something made me wonder if they had read our exchange πŸ˜€ and some of the other comments on here. I left a comment and actually received a reply, which did refer to prompts being to help people who used blogs as a writing exercise. Don’t they reach writing at school any more? Possibly not. (Wonders what they do teach at school?probably not Latin these days. Or history. Or calculus, Or anything difficult).

            I’m going to have to look for the listy thing. I think people are taking everything they read on the internet as laid down in tablets of stone. Gone are the days of questioning and individuality.

            You are too hard on yourself. It takes a while to work out your style, so not everyone always gets it. I knew it was plants ‘cos you had commented on them over on mine so it fell into place. Must grow a comment over there, but it was late when I read and I was half asleep. I knew I’d finally ‘got it’ when you wrote a post about a gator coming ashore. It was ages ago, but it was probably my favourite post. I’d worked out the end and just enjoyed the ride. It was fun.

            Oh. It’s time to play with squeaky toy and soft ball and create a Podenco scene of destruction. Busy busy.

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          • Doggy playtime with friends – a moment’s peace. Started to go with “Plant Zombies” but that would have been too easy…prefer puzzles and surprises.
            There’s also a big thing about bloggers interviewing other bloggers now. Getting a bit tiresome – I read blogs because I like what that blogger is/says/does/writes…an occasional intro/tribute to another blogger is fine, but missing some of the normal postings.
            Afraid we’ve grown a group who can’t start up their own motors by having teachers use scripted lessons with lots of repetition and cued responses. (There was research, but no one wanted to point out it benefitted only certain groups – does mean lots of money for edu publishers, though – I was there. I know) Nothing wrong with creative writing prompts, but many of these are such dribble – wouldn’t pass them out to elementary kids….and look at the quality of writing produced…oh, well, any writing is better than none. Constant writing is the only hope of improving ..a dim hope of an improved vocabulary, too.

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          • We could have done with doggy playtime with friends earlier. Someone next door was knocking out and drilling for an hour or so after 6pm. Snowy thought they were unsocial hours on a Friday and clearly barked his point.

            Featuring other bloggers, or guest posting is meant to build up readership. Does it? No idea. I did post on someone else’s blog years ago, but it wasn’t the same sort of set up, the only rights I didn’t have were admin (fair enough) and I could post what I wanted. It was a good relationship.

            i’ll do links to other bloggers and mention some newer ones or different ones from time to time, if someone wanted to guest blog, I’d be happy, but otherwise I have more than enough to write about. As do Pippa and Snowy.

            It took me a long time to learn that you should think for yourself, and not always rely on teacher to tell you what to learn like an automoton. So the sooner everyone learns that lesson the better is all I can add.

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  7. That’s a useful list–funny I have seen other lists but most of the others were obviously written by the same people who think baking soda is good for reducing odour in the fridge (cleaning the damn thing regularly is a much better idea. BTW I learned how useless baking soda is in that regard from a former student, who investigated its efficacy for a science project. She discovered that activated charcoal does work well, though.).
    You left out one of your own bits of good advice that, frankly, I soon need to take to heart and follow up on. I learned this from YOU (and will act on it some time this year): Make your blog about something. I Follow two of yours and know generally what to expect on either. These days I’m all over the place and need to deal with it, I’ll probably move the eLearning stuff to its own space as it’s not really of interest to those who visit my place regularly.
    I also fail miserably–lately–at not captioning my pictures. I do reference the images from the body text (pretty sure none are just for eye candy) but could do much better.

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    • I don’t know whether it is useful or not. It is probably what I tend to use, mostly. I think it’s as good advice as any other that I see out there.

      I’ve heard about baking soda too, atlhough I tend to use warm water and washing up liquid when I clean the fridge which is not very often. It doesn’t usually smell though. Vinegar and lemon are also meant to be good cleaners but I’m not sure about those either. Vinegar is good on my hair though.

      Well, I did touch on what to write under style and content. I referred to single themes and one topic blogs, and under style, I said if you have good style you can make anything interesting. If you read Philosopher Mouse’s comment, you might want to check out her blog too. Consistent (and unique) style but a variety of topics.

      As for yours, I wouldn’t read an elearning blog per se, but I do read the posts on yours (I know, I am behind!!) What about doing both? A specific elearning blog and a few posts on Starfish that may be of more general interest?

      Like you, some people follow more than one of my blogs. My blog content is neatly defined in my head. Whether or not it appears logical to anyone else is another matter. I suppose on the follow-up post if it happens I could give them as examples.

      In terms of the two you follow, roughseas is broadly about life in Gib and Spain as it says on the tagline thing. I try and keep it fairly moderate. I don’t think you had found me a couple of years ago, but here is one of the posts where I started to get a bit more vocal (?!) over on roughseas… http://wp.me/p1XwsS-P5

      Blurring the lines somewhat between Clouds and roughseas, but it was too much of a news item so it belonged on roughseas. With all the problems with Spain, roughseas has probably become a bit harder in style, but Clouds remains the general sort of opinion blog – about – whatever.

      So you don’t need to publish consistent material about ‘one topic’. A definitive style can be as good. While I might set out general guidance on the grounds that why shouldn’t I? My advice is probably better than some of the tosh that is out there – I don’t think anything should be prescriptive or set in cast iron.

      I do the same as you with the pix. If I think I have said enough in the main copy, I’ll skip it. It is really slack for me though. I should make more of an effort, as I always groan at captionless photos. Even my own. A caption looks so much more polished.

      A good example is Pippa’s last post. Scroll down to the last gallery, read the text above and note that I didn’t caption three of the pix because I thought it was obvious, but still I think it doesn’t look right. On the two previous galleries on that post, all the photos were captioned; http://wp.me/213PD

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  8. Andrew says:

    I did not pick up the 10CC mention. Guilty. I speed read. Is it true I don’t reply to all the comments? Well I try to. Sometimes I think of something, get distracted, intend to come back to it later but then the world has moved on. Or maybe it’s a reciprocity thing. No idea. Perhaps I have blind spots or blackouts. Some days time just runs away. The spirit is willing even if the flesh is weak.

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    • Haha. I speed read too. Flipping annoying when Partner can recite something from a James Bond book he read years ago and I can’t remember the same detail I read the day before.

      You probably missed it because you had already made the association. So why would you read what you already knew? I nearly wrote about their previous incarnation as Hotlegs, but decided that was enough of 10cc who I never liked anyway. http://wp.me/p1XwsS-8a

      I’ve missed a few comments. Sometimes I reply to them months later πŸ˜€

      Time runs away ever more quickly these days. Just as everything is as weak as my tea.

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  9. Vicky says:

    I’ve never bothered looking at WP tips, and from what you’ve said, I don’t think I’ve missed much.
    You’ve made some excellent points though, which I agree make for a good or bad blog.

    The two main points that stick out for me are about paragraphs and photographs.

    There’s nothing more off putting than a page full of text without breaks. Perhaps a form of dyslexia, I’m not sure, but I find all the words run into each other and my brain is unable to take anything in.
    The same thing happens if the text is on a busy background too.

    Secondly photographs. Even though I like photo blogs, photo after photo, all similar with no info is just as boring.

    In general single themed blogs are OK initially. If I find one on an interesting subject, I will follow for a while, but then I find myself getting bored as there’s only so many times I can comment on the same subject.

    Initially I started my blog to record my retirement, a bit like a diary I guess.
    If folk want to read it, great, if not, well I’m not out to gain readers or awards etc, so basically it doesn’t really matter.

    My second blog was started out of curiosity of the theme DuoTone. I have used it mainly for the Weekly Photo Challenge (when a theme grabs my interest) and any other odd piccies that don’t fall into my main blog.

    Minestrone soup? 😯 I was put off that in the 70’s after a bout of car sickness on a long car journey to Cornwall.

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    • They do have quite a few guides as well that are probably ok if you need them, but I’m sure most people are able to fiddle around and work things out. The tips on the DP are so basic though it is unbelievable. I’m surprised the photography tips don’t say point camera at subject and press clicky button.

      The list is really what I think makes for a good blog. Doesn’t mean I follow my own advice or that anyone else has to. I’ve got a handful of specifics, that I might add in a later post.

      I don’t think it’s dyslexia at all, it might be, but it is a basic principle of readability in journalism that you keep your pars short. Don’t forget newspapers are in it for the money, so you want people to keep reading and keep buying. Magazines tend to be different, but they are often monthly. You’ll get longer pars and often smaller fonts, mags tend to be very design orientated, but they also use a lot of white space, cross heads, and (colour) pix. You can tell I did a mag design course can’t you? πŸ˜€ It was really good, great guy running the course (died a while back, I was quite sad to read that). We were doing a page layout exercise one day and I was really pleased when he said I’d made a good job of it. I’d gone for clean, simple and white space – prob my newspaper background coming out to make it readable.

      Backgrounds are difficult too I think. I mentioned someone’s new design recentlly, it was doing my head in. The background around the main blog was almost like tiy black and white gingham, really distracting – and the new typeface for the header was unclear too, so she changed the background! which made me feel guilty for pointing it out. On the same theme, do you find Pippa’s distracting with all the multiple pix of him? I obv like it, but he’s my dog and I’m happy to see loads of pix of his big eyes. I’ve seen another blog with a similar layout and found it ok, but it can look busy, so I can change it to something more bland – probably a cream background.

      There are prob three types of photoblogs. Ones that aren’t really, they just have good photos (I’d probably include yours in that) but they aren’t pretentious, ones that include the same or similar pix all the time, some of which have interesting text, some of which don’t, and then the ones that go over the top with arty shots either in setting something up or post-processing.

      I agree there’s only so much you can say, or you end up falling into the ‘supah photo dahling’ syndrome that is so meaningless.

      Of course yours doesn’t actually read like a retirement blog. It’s sort of part UK travel, lots of scenery, a few dog shots, and some other bits and pieces thrown in whether it’s a Landy repair, or a meal, or a bedroom revamp so it makes for a good mix. My fave sort of blog if I’m honest – plus the clever vids.

      DT is a bit like that. It’s not a perfect blog format but waiting to see what colour it chooses is a bit like waiting to open your Christmas presents πŸ˜€

      I like minestrone. Just not when 10cc sing about it.

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  10. Oops! I’ll just back off from blogging!

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    • Haha πŸ˜€ Hey, Reb, you’ve been blogging for long enough (like most people who read this blog) not to need tips. If you are referring to Z to H for example, I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why experienced bloggers like you need prompts or challenges. I guess you like it, but the truth is, you don’t actually ‘need’ it. You blog quite happily without external stimuli.

      I guess my real point is that for new bloggers, getting into (as said above by one commenter) formula style blogging isn’t a good idea. To me, we should blog about what motivates us, and if we don’t feel like blogging for one day or more – so what?

      But the title says it all, a blog is a minestrone. We put in whatever we choose, we all have different ingredients. This is just my recipe, that even I don’t follow all the time πŸ˜€

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      • There are days I feel like writing, but can’t come up with a topic. In the future, I won’t even tell I used a prompt.

        With regards to the z2h: I signed up to [maybe] give a bit of an over-haul to my blog, also because I’ve moved so many times. Moreover, I think it’s fun to meet new people, and many are so enthusiastic in the beginning.

        Blogging is really straightforward; ‘Write and hit Publish’, but I find there are quite a few features inside of the WP dashboard, that sometimes aren’t all that obvious. For example; All comments are set to ‘moderate’ by default until the commenter has one, previously approved comment. Or, how deep do you want your comments threads to go?! Stuff like that … I expect them to get to that part some time soon.

        Every now and then I’m even able to put in my 2Β’ worth of knowledge in the forum they have. Rarely, though! There are other people who seem to have made it their mission in life *grin*.

        I like the Friday photo challenge … I think that’s fun. Many people seem to think the same.

        The visual impression of my blog is important to me. I’m extremely picky, when it comes to colours and fonts. I agree very much about that an image here and there breaks up an otherwise, perhaps tedious, reading. I also find it harder to keep up the attention, when reading off a screen, as opposed to a book or paper … but that could be just me.

        I might go back to blogging, or crawl back underneath some rock because I’ve never learnt how to write πŸ˜‰

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        • And therein lies the difference. If I feel like writing, I can always find a topic. Sometimes I have a topic and don’t feel like writing. Got to remember though, that I was paid to write, simple as that. Paid to write about history/archaeology, paid to write as a journalist and to write stories sometimes about nothing. Paid to write for the health service, business plans, board papers, annual reports, you name it.

          Actually I think it is interesting if you do say you used a prompt to see how you used it. A bit like the photo challenge, which is ok sometimes, I just don’t do it all the time.

          Not sure your blog needs an overhaul, I think the people who have stuck with you like it for what it is. The trouble with newer bloggers is that some will start off and then drop off the end. I’m not sure I have time for that.

          Well, I think the dashboard is just about checking everything out. It’s like being a nosy person or a dog and sticking your nose under every single stone to see what is underneath. I’ve got comment threads set varyingly on each blog, but you can always counter-act that by hitting reply from the orange thing, or hitting a reply button further up the strand. So that’s a bit superfluous in a way.

          I think I’ve got moderate for one on a couple of blogs but I think roughseas and Pippa’s are both open. Again, you just find your way around.

          I used to visit the forum. I lost interest when they closed a couple of off-topic forums that I found the most interesting. Haven’t been there for ages now. I do sound off on the Daily Post and the blog now and again. Occasionally I say something nice.

          Visual impression is critical. As I recall, yours have always been clear and clean. And, it’s not just you. I have two ebooks to read from people who have kindly sent me free versions – and I go for hard copy to curl up on the sofa with every time. I am so not an ebook reader.

          I think I have read worse writing. You aren’t even writing in your birth language! If only I could write Spanish as well. OjalΓ‘.

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  11. So I was just extremely naughty on the comments section of your post on Gib! My only apology is that I was summoned to make coffee unexpectedly. I should have waited for a more tranquil moment, but pressed before thinking…..rather like WP making a choice for FP.

    I did find your points useful…and I think I will now move the blog roll to a page to unclutter the sidebar….though any other suggestions would be welcome given that – coming from a professional background – they will be couched in English rather than gibberspeak and will be worth having.
    I must have a think about using photographs better as well…I suspect I have panicked at the word pixel and closed my mind to the whole question.

    As to WP, I do look at their tips, etc., because I am aware that I don’t have much by way of computing or layout skills…but I find the continual banal ‘challenges’ just too much. Would it be too much to ask the WP people to look up ‘challenge’ in a dictionary?
    Mark you there are some bloggers in respect of whom it would give me great pleasure to slap them in the face with my glove and challenge them to write something interesting.
    One in particular. There always has to be a pet bugbear.
    I had had no idea of slow times and WP needing to whip up trade for the advertising statistics but it explains a great deal.

    There is no particular focus to my blog…it just wanders along very much as I now do myself…and I enjoy the comments section immensely, just as I enjoy others’ blogs with lively comments sections.
    I’ve commented on a couple of blogs lately…both by American women in Paris.
    Neither has replied……I think my profile is too lowly in terms of social and blogging status…..which is a pity as they raised points which were – to me – interesting.
    I used to read another, which was talking about America’s attitude to Americans abroad….but after one snooty ‘thank you for your contribution’ I took it off my list.

    Thinking again about challenges…..is there such a thing as a list of the tags or whatever that attract advertising to WP?
    If so it would be lovely to do a post using them in a subversive manner.

    Such fun, even if it would result in being drummed out of the WP brownie pack.

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    • I wouldn’t worry. A short comment means a short reply. I often read and go back. A bit like I did with your last post, which I read at night and went back to the following morning. I just have to reassemble the fading brain cells to remember to go back.

      Your sidebar is pretty similar to mine, apart from the blogroll. It serves no purpose on WP unlike the blogger one where you get updated about new posts all the time. That was a really good feature which I do miss. I need to move/update Pippa’s blogroll as his is still on the sidebar. I did a follow widget yesterday as someone complained they couldn’t find it. Why they need a widget for follow by email is beyond me, but apparently people like having a full inbox of email notifications.

      Your blog, quick summary? You don’t have long pars so that is always a big plus in my view. Like me, you write long posts but the style and short pars make them eminently readable (just discovered I’ve missed a couple of posts as I looked up your blog before I replied to this). Cross heads – journalese for sub heads – do break up text, although I often forget. I think they look better in bold than italic. WP has a number of text options for headers that I ignore. No point making life complicated.

      I also use the text version when I am writing rather than visual as it means I can use HTML.

      Pix are good, although I rarely use them on here. I use my pix very much to illustrate the text, because my blogs are text-based. Photoblogs build their text around their pix. A few more pix on yours would be good. I mean, how many of us have even been to Costa Rica, let alone live there? Easy start, animal pix of course, garden pix, buildings. They don’t need to be David Bailey quality, just something that illustrates the point. A good mobile works well enough, but I seem to remember you don’t have a smartphone, so in that case a reasonable digital camera will do it. I’ll write a tiny bit about pix next time from the perspective of a non-photographer. Don’t worry about pixels. Just pix.

      I don’t think WP tips are helpful. They are coming at it from the wrong angle. They tell people what they know, and not what people need to know. Big difference.

      Interesting blogs? Not easy to find.

      But there is a focus to your blog, as there is to roughseas. It’s about your life. What more focus do you need?

      I don’t know any Americans in Paris. But I’ve commented on a blogger who lives not far from me in Spain, and not once has she visited mine. Stuck up cow. I wrote about that a while back, I’ll see if I can find the post. She did reply when I commented but why am I bothering to soothe her precious ego when she ignores mine. Anyway, I’ve lived in Spain longer than she has, ner ner etc.

      Comments depend very much on the style of the blogger. People are obviously comfortable writing longer ones on mine, and expect a similar reply. Luckily I can type quickly. People also expect discussion, and will sometimes comment on someone’s else’s comment (as happens on yours). The style – which is why I think it is so important – is very much set by the individual blogger, and their subsequent replies to comments and that’s what *should* create a good and friendly atmosphere. The down side is that it can end up appearing cliquey. qv one of my commenters who finally admitted that it took her a while to dip her toes in the water of roughseas.

      I’m not up on tags and advertising and all that. It will be governed by SEOs (no, not senior executive officers), and I don’t bother my non-pretty head with such clever new-fangled things. It would indeed be fun, but I spend enough time baiting WP as it is. You would probably end up on their black list like me. Although they have adopted a new strategy in replying to my comments on DP at the moment πŸ˜€

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      • Thank you for that…then yes, the blogroll goes to pages and I will take the camera out with me more often and not worry so much about the quality of the pics. I’ll look forward to the post on pix!
        Coming from years of reading Law Reports long paragraphs did not worry me in the least when I started to blog and it was only when a kind commenter – Mark, of View from the Bikeshed – put me wise that I broke them up…and saw the difference immediately.

        I had not thought about the ‘cliquey’ element of comments but that is a possibility. A few bloggers I follow put up a ‘don’t feel obliged to comment but I do like to hear from you’ thingy on their comments heading.
        Off hand I can’t find a formula for that which I’d like to use, but will give it thought.

        As to blacklists, if i’m not on one I start to feel excluded….

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        • I’m not sure what value a blogroll is, I think maybe a few people have visited blogs from my blogroll pages. If you look at mine, I tried to give an idea what the blog was about and each time I found a few more, I made a new page because a long list of names is of no interest at all. The other option would have been to have done a page ‘blogs I visit’ and then a subset of pages with the actual lists on. But I didn’t. I don’t delete them if someone seems to have stopped blogging – sometimes they return.

          As for pix, it really will be just a few basic comments from the perspective of design and usage, not how to take a photo and divide it up into thirds and etc etc Probably one of my favourite blogs for use of photos is Vicky’s. Here are a couple of examples of different posts.
          http://wp.me/p2cyyS-UX
          http://wp.me/p2cyyS-RY
          Although Vicky actually does know a lot about photography, she doesn’t stick it in your face, but uses the pix to illustrate her story, or uses the text to amplify her photos which ever way you look at it. I think she has a good balance, plus she varies it, sometimes she uses quite a few pix, or adds a slideshow/gallery, sometimes she just uses a couple.

          I very nearly read law. I was so used to ploughing through Elizabethan acts for history A level, that I doubt long pars would have been a problem at all. But now, I really struggle, I just yawned thinking about it! I’ll have a look at the bikeshed. I wouldn’t dream of offering unsolicited advice (I saw someone do that recently although the person concerned seemed quite pleased), so at least a post on here from time to time gives people the opportunity to ask something or comment.

          I did write about the time I got accused of trolling back in 2012: http://wp.me/p22GQH-ko where not only did the blog owner send me an email, all his fans had a go at me on his site. He was doing a blatant self-promotion thing under the guise of pretending to help others gain publicity for their blogs, and I made the mistake of saying so πŸ˜€ It’s the second part of the post on Clouds, and, if you read the first comment (from Pink) you will see that he also saw the whole exchange. But to me, it was a great example of cliquey behaviour, which was one of the reasons I wrote about it.

          I’ve got one on roughseas that says ‘thanks for visiting …. and if you comment a bigger thanks.’ I’m bascially saying the same thing I suspect. I had to look yours up, I think if you are going to comment, then you probably don’t even read the prompt line. But a please or a thanks looks polite to me. You could do an interim personalised one while you think of a brilliant witty entertaining one.

          Is that a reverse Groucho Marx syndrome? I think you will have to wait a while for the blacklist status, Andrew Petcher and I reckon we are vying for top spots with our endless criticism of WP.

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          • I like a blogroll…it gives some open doors to finding an interesting blog – if not the one on question then one on their own blogroll.
            I’ll look at Vicky’s blog re pics and think about how best to use them.

            Mark doesn’t blog so often these days, but I always enjoy reading what he writes and thought it kind of him to give me the tip. Taken in the spirit in which it was given as opposed to whatever trolling is.
            When I wrote just about France I used to get a few people with terminally twisted knickers…but put it down to an overdose of croissants….

            As to law it was always the only thing I wanted to do (send for the trick cyclists) and I enjoy its language….and also the language of the seventeenth century generally.
            There was a collection of pamphlets from that period at the university library which used regularly to distract me from what I was supposed to be doing.
            But that was in the days when a lawyer was supposed to have a background of general culture as opposed to these days having a background of knowing how to use a calculator.
            I am disappointed with my lowly ranking on the black list scene…normally I don’t have to do anything to be listed….it comes naturally.

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          • Perhaps I am just disappointed that a lot of my readers don’t visit the blogs on my blog roll. A couple did and comment regularly on one or two, so that is a virtuous feather in my virtual cap. I do visit very diverse blogs though, and the more opinionated the better … I did try to think of other blogs with pic examples, but none came to mind as obviously as Vic’s. I I can think of others, I’ll let you know. I could give you examples of ones that don’t use them well, but I don’t want to do that in public πŸ˜€ When I get around to writing the next blogging post I’ll try and remember to quote a couple of examples of blogs that use photos differently to the norm.

            I’ve read a couple of French blogs. Seem like your Americans in Paris, rather up themselves. But no different to the snooty ex-pats who live in Spain and never comment on my blog. Tant pis. For them.

            I thought law was interesting. I had an English teacher who started giving me extra work to look at problems from a legal perspective (??) when I was in sixth form, but history and arch won out. I ended up sitting in the library at university reading archaeology journals in German (my German is on the level of Wo ist der Bahnhof? and eine Bier) which I don’t think helped my degree one bit, but I enjoyed it.

            I just piss people off naturally. It’s not even an acquired talent. Innate.

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  12. jennypellett says:

    Found all this very interesting, especially coming from a veteran blogger such as yourself! When I began my blog I had no idea what I was doing but it seemed quite easy to manoeuvre around the WP dashboard – even for me with my limited IT skills and I have never once resorted to the Help pages on WP other than to complain when my comments were going straight to everyone’s spam box for some unfathomable reason. They eventually blamed it on our IP address.
    I absolutely agree that a sparse, clean page makes for easier reading – learnt all that in my corporate PR days. I don’t bother lingering on blogs with an overload of adverts or clutter on the side bar. Having said that, I quite like to have little thumbnail pictures of my regular commenters on show – just to add a bit of colour – and we know how important that is to me! I can see the sense in having a regular posting slot – if only to impose a deadline for one’s own discipline. Again, I don’t always stick to one – depends what I’ve got to say. Which brings me onto my last point: to multi-blog or not. Your explanation of your various blogs makes perfect sense and I wonder if I could diversify in the same way. To be honest, I think the answer at the moment is no – I don’t have the time, but I can see the value in separating say, my travel posts from the everyday rants and mish mash. I’m not sure I’d create two separate followings, though. Hmm… food for thought. On that note – it’s off to the supermarket for me…

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    • Veteran? Well, getting on a bit. Some people have been blogging longer than me but I think I’m somewhere around the seven year mark, plus a few different bog platforms (or whatever they are called, maybe hosts? who cares?)

      Isn’t that the point? It isn’t difficult to work your way around. Just hit every button and find out what it does πŸ˜€

      I had a ? for WP too, ie why wouldn’t my land rover blog import. I got all the basic obvious answers and it was never resolved so I had to import each post by hand. Bloody pain, especially with the photos. Pippa’s imported ok, but lost all his comments, and he was a real comment king. Back in my blogger days, he got more than I get even now on roughseas.

      Thank goodness for PR eh? Under-rated as a profession in my opinion. I moved onto general management for more money mainly because it racked me off that people earning more couldn’t do my job and I wanted to prove I could do theirs (I could and did).

      The free uncontrollable adverts are a pain, nothing we can do about that without going for the paid upgrade which I refuse to do. If I made money out of my blog, i would, but otherwise I accept it as the price I – don’t – pay.

      I don’t dislike the commenters piccies on the sidebar, I always look for ME! But endless pictures, awards, links, goodness what are just too much distraction, make your choice of what you want and just go for a few.

      Regular posting depends on individuals, I couldn’t do scheduled as it doesn’t fit me, but I do try and post two, sometimes three, times a week on roughseas, once or twice a week on Clouds, once a week on Pippas, and as and when on Everypic and Just Landies. I don’t have a shortage of material to write, just time to get it up and published, plus pix, sometimes videos, endless proof-reading, ….

      I started off with one blog, itchy feet at forty. I put a couple of Pippa posts on there, but soon decided a separate dogblog was better. And then when I wanted to write more opinionated outspoken pieces, Clouds was born. And the land rover and everypic blog followed suit. They are very neatly compartmentalised in my head even if it appears whacky to anyone else. If I put them all on one blog it would be a total mess. But I see nothing wrong with having a multi-topic blog about whatever. The styles of my blogs are slightly different, which I think is worth considering about having more than one blog. I could not for the life of me write a blogging tips post on roughseas. Doesn’t fit.

      I don’t so much have two separate followings, but I do have people who read/comment on the preferred blog/s of their choice, eg normally roughseas and clouds, sometimes just clouds, sometimes just roughseas. Dog people wander over to Pippa’s for a sniff. Suits me having more than one blog, because beneath the chaos, I like a little order. Of the blogs I read regularly, I can think of two with three, a few with two, and someone with nine! And people change them from time to time. As I’ve said, the only rules are the ones we set for ourselves.

      I had to go to the supermarket too 😦

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  13. jennypellett says:

    ‘…beneath the chaos, I like a little order.’ – that’s probably very telling. I thought I was fairly neat and tidy but my organisation pales in comparison. Note to self: sort out and back up your files. I bet you do that efficiently, too πŸ˜‰

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    • I’m the sort of person who used to have papers/books/reports on my desk two feet high. But they were organised – to me. I can still find pretty much most anything, including things Partner has lost, but I suspect that is just a reasonable memory of when I last saw whatever. I’m currently looking for a bit of paper that Ihaven’t seen, because he was given it when I was in Spain, so this is serious needle in haystack job, I have no visual image. Or like I mentioned in a comment above, I have the archives on the sidebar for me, because I can often remember when I wrote a certain post.

      I am not remotely neat and tidy. Only in my head. I wrote a post (of course) about how I neatly split up the blogs, with a little more background. I’ve probably written other posts since then too πŸ˜€ But this was one was six years ago (!) http://wp.me/p22GQH-i Interesting though, that I am still following that basic outline for each blog.

      Another one, would be I’m organised in a disorganised sort of way. It looks like disorganisation from the outside, but to me it’s not.

      But you will be pleased to hear that I am not remotely horribly efficient enough to back up my files. Too busy writing blog posts and commenting πŸ˜€ I really must do it too, oh, but so boring!!

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  14. “Then there is the whole length debate. Just ignore it. A good long interesting post is far better than a short boring one that goes along the lines of: ‘Meh, I got up. I made coffee. My hair needed washing. I texted my BBF.’

    “FFS Keep that sort of post to Twitter. Or better still, to yourself.”

    Which is why I essentially gave up on Facebook, or I would have have risked grinding my teeth to nubs. Are that many people really that self absorbed or addle-minded, or a combination of the two? One would think so from social media. The last thing the world needs is more bad writing.

    It reminds me of the advertisements that come out on shows that cater to young adults around election time, urging them to vote: My thought is, if these folks haven’t been paying the slightest attention to the world around them for two or four years, do we really want them in the polling booth helping decide our future?

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    • I resisted FB for a long time. I then got sucked in, and a lot of the bloggers I knew were on there as well. I’ve heard that people who used to visit forums spend more time on FB. It’s quite insidious.

      It *could* be entertaining. It *could* be informative. It was trite, vicious, and a waste of my time reading that X had a shower, coffee and was going out shopping. I ask you.

      I got a load of ridiculous pleas not to leave. Which I ignored and left. Not been back since, and this is two or three years ago. Let’s be honest, unless you use it to keep in touch with family and friends which is the usual excuse (but I would still ask why – don’t people have email or skype or telephones or whatever?) the people on B don’t give a rat’s arse about you or who you are. Here today and gone tomorrow. Or in my case, gone a few years ago. If people want to get in touch, they can contact me on my blogs.

      I don’t see why anyone needs to be reminded to vote. If you are that disinterested that you don’t know when the election is …. Me, I get annoyed when I don’t get a manifesto or whatever delivered. I want to know what the parties are saying, even if I don’t believe it or agree with it. Society is far too superficial 😦

      My partner (late 50s) works with younger people (well, obviously, most of them are younger than him). Those in their late 20s early 30s don’t vote. Just, why not? The choices may be poor, so you go for the least worst. But better than not voting.

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  15. restlessjo says:

    Really, at the end of all this, all I’m going to say is that I’m one of those sad people who’d love to be FP’d. It takes all kinds to make a world πŸ™‚

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  16. Karolyn Cooper says:

    I have been following some of the Hero to Zero steps, cherry-picking the ones that I thought would be useful. That brought me to prompts, and then to your blog, and I was pleased to read more sensible advice here. The latest daily prompt is perhaps the silliest one yet – have you seen it? Today is 26 January, so….use the number 26.

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    • No idea how you found my blog from prompts! I’ve glanced at Zero to Hero, but I suppose the name says it all, I’m not coming from zero so there’s not much point me wasting time on that when there are other things to read and learn about. But I do know other experienced bloggers who are taking part and obviously getting something out of it.

      I do find posting daily can be of-putting for readers, by which I mean I find it off-putting to see yet another post to read and comment on, and I don’t want to think like that. Plus, I have five more or less active blogs, and some people follow two or more of them. Doing a daily challenge so wouldn’t work for me or or them, nor would it fit with any of the themes (as in content) of my blogs.

      I think I did see it. The trouble is, if I wanted to write a post a day for a month, I could easily think of 31 topics, I don’t need spiritual guidance. I’m using today though for my post over on roughseas as it is Holocaust Day which gives me a good opportunity to write about the Jewish community in Gibraltar.

      Oh I had a quick skip over to your blog. It looks easy on the eye although I don’t like magazine formats, too busy for me, I don’t know where to look (old person syndrome), so I took the easy way out and followed which *should* mean that each new post will come up, thereby eliminating the need to navigate complicated pictures πŸ™‚

      And after all that, thanks for commenting and visiting. Life in central London and a place in County Down sounds a bit like living in Gib and having a finca in Spain ….

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      • Karolyn Cooper says:

        Thanks for the long reply! The trail from Z2H to you goes like this. Day 16 of Z2H suggests that bloggers use prompts, and includes a link to an earlier article about “making prompts your own”. When I read that earlier article, I found your comment from 9 January, and as that was a beacon of common sense, I clicked through to your blog.
        Now I know that there are monkeys and a cross-border life on your blogs as well as common sense, I will read some more.

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        • Now you are going to make me go back to find out what I wrote on 9 Jan! I got some class monkey photos yesterday, I really must post them before I forget πŸ˜€ (they will be over on roughseasinthemed). I don’t know about common sense, but I am opinionated. Luckily so are the majority of my readers/commenters so life moves along happily. Yes, I suppose I have a foot on both sides of the border.

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