What do you consider to be a “REAL” blog post?

I had an interesting conversation with my coworker, Kevin this morning. Kevin is a wizard web developer, who writes the code that powers Intel Software Network, and is always playing with cool new Ajax/javascript ways to do thing, sharing tips and tricks he’s learned, including code snippets. He’s recently gotten into Twitter (he’s @sourcecode over there – follow him if you’re a developer, web or otherwise – he’s super smart). And this morning, we had a conversation about how he could share code snippets that were larger than the 140 character limit on Twitter.

He showed me how he set up a new Google Document to contain the code snippet, then Shared that Google Doc to make it public, and included a shortened URL to the Google Doc in his Tweet. I asked him what (to me) was an obvious question, which led to an enlightening (again, to me) conversation.

The question I asked is “why don’t you just post stuff longer than 140 characters on your blog, and post a link in Twitter, instead of this convoluted Google Docs approach?” His answer (I’m paraphrasing – Kevin, please feel free to correct me):

“Code snippets and the like aren’t really blog posts, are they?”

I said of course they are – after all, it’s your blog, and you can post whatever the heck you want there, right? What’s going to happen? The blog police might come by and say “that’s an illegal blog post!” People might point and laugh? 😉 I was being silly to illustrate my point, but it was at about that point that it dawned on me. I’ve been living in the blogging world for so long that the assumption that “a blog post can be anything you want” is something I just take for granted.

So we chatted for a bit about it. Kevin said he felt that a blog post should be something longer, more robust, and containing more substantial content than “hey, here’s a cool code snippet”. I can see how he’d think that – most of the blog posts he said he reads are like that. Most of the blog posts on the Intel Software Network blog are like that. Heck, most of my blog posts on are like that, simply because I’ve been using Twitter as a low-pass noise filter for my blogging, so “smaller” stuff goes out via Twitter. But together we came up with some examples of shorter, less “substantial” blog posts that are just as valid as any other.

Kevin suggested that when I talk to people about blogging, and train new bloggers, that I make it a point to tell them that a blog post doesn’t have to meet a basic set of criteria for length, “quality” (whatever that means), etc. And I’m going to do it. It’s something I’ve always just taken for granted, but that conversation this morning made me a better blogger, a better teacher, and a better evangelist. Thanks, Kevin. :-)

Now it’s your turn. What criteria, explicit or subconscious, do you apply to your blog posts? What makes a “worthy” blog post in your mind? I’m thinking mostly of how this applies to your own blog and own writing, but if you apply similar criteria to stuff you read on other places, I’d like to hear about it to. Post a comment, or write something up on your own blog and link here, so I’ll see it.

If you’re like me, it might be an unexpectedly revealing bit of self-assessment. :-)

(Crossposted on the Intel Software Network blog.)


10 thoughts on “What do you consider to be a “REAL” blog post?

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  2. Ryan Paul says:

    For posting a snippet by itself, I’d use something like DZone or NoPaste so that I get syntax highlighting. I don’t think the Google Docs approach is a particularly good idea.

  3. I don’t consider things like Twitter update to be “blog posts” simply because they are way too short. Sure, they are content that you are creating, but they don’t provide as much information as a blog post should in my opinion. I usually try to keep my posts in the mid-range of 3-5 paragraphs simply because less wouldn’t really be that much to read and more is just talking too much, usually (there can be exceptions) Anyways, thats an interesting question, and I’m sure many people have different thoughts on it.

  4. A real blog post? I’m not too sure but I’d say that your “About” Post on this blog should give you a good indication of what a real post is not. :)

  5. Random thoughts:

    – It’s a bogus question. The criteria that I apply to my blog posts aren’t necessarily the criteria that should apply to your posts, or Kevin’s or anyone else.

    – I find it odd that he’s a rockstar developer who doesn’t read blogs with code snippets…

    – I just looked at his blog. What he posts there (excluding today’s code snippet) doesn’t jive at all with what he told you about blog posts being “something longer, more robust, and containing more substantial content”. Pictures of pasta? A photo of a beer?

    – I see he’s using Blogger. Maybe he’d like blogging more on a better platform?

    My posting style (I think) tends to mirror Josh… short thoughts go to Twitter, while more substantial pieces get more words on a blog.

  6. I don’t see that tweets cannot be blog material, they just have an immediacy that standard blogging cannot approach at this time (yes, yes, get an iPhone or WM5 device and data service and etc., then you can blog real-time, but we all need a life).

    What is a REAL blog entry? Length is not necessary (says the new blogger), but deeper consideration would tend to identify the blog post versus the tweet.

    I think they can easily co-exist, each playing their part in your life. For my blog, tweet subjects are too far ranging, the blog needs to remain focused. I am liking FriendFeed as a way to single source all my interests, but time will tell whether that turns out to be a good decision.

  7. I started off thinking every post had to be this substantial, well thought out assembly of text and photos (photoblog). I soon realized I had a bunch of stuff laying around, that I wanted to post, that didn’t fit that criteria. So I changed my criteria to include “whatever the heck I feel like posting” :)

  8. If you tweet a line of code at a time that would be interesting. Of course you need a tweetpiler. And the tweetpiler would have to have recursive tweet-ahead features and tinyURL branching.

    As to a Real Blog Entry, it has to ahve a typo. It must make you want to reread it because you scanned it while parsing all the other inputs to your brain. It must cause you to want type something somewhere back but it must also make you think about not replying. Most of all it must be a part of your brain. Reporting that the Iphone has a chess web app is not the real deal. Reporting that you play shredder chess while listening to your boss on the phone is. Pi for now!

  9. @Joe – touche! 😉

    @Aaron he’s an experience coder, but not (yet) an experienced blogger. So I cut him some slack. 😉

    @Mike good points. And they can definitely co-exist.

    @Geoff yeah, I think we all go through a transition like that at some point. We start out with pre-defined ideas about what we want our blog to be, and then relax, and just do it. :-)

    @exprexxo You’re hilarious. :-) I think your “Reporting that the Iphone has a chess web app is not the real deal. Reporting that you play shredder chess while listening to your boss on the phone is.” just about sums up MY current thinking about what makes a good blog post. Other sites are a lot better at reporting facts and news. I’d rather my blog posts contain more of my opinion and thoughts. My voice.

  10. To me a real blog post is anything that I find of value for myself and that I want to remember at a later date or anything that you think other might find useful.

    For code snippets, I haven’t posted a lot of them mainly cause I have been lazy about regularly posting to my blog. However, typically with code snippets there is additional information that goes along with them like what the problem you are solving is and an example of how to use the code, so it really does turn into more than just here is some code.

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