July 24, 2008

Using The Blog To Build A Community

Two events took place this evening that made me spend a few minutes engaged in more serious thought about blogging. The first was a conversation that I had with a friend about why I blog, and what purpose Facebook serves.

The second event was Leora's post The Blog Challenge. Upon reading it and the comments more carefully I decided that it was time to consider a few things;
1) What do I consider the most important elements of a blog to be.
2) Does my own blog meet the standards that I look for in other blogs?
3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of my blog?
Here is a bare bones list of what I want to see in a blog in order of importance:
1) Compelling content.
2) Community of readers that add to the blog.
3) A design/template that makes it easy to read and to interact.
Content is king. I don't care how cool your template is, if you don't have compelling content it won't hold my interest. And while it is always nice to have a ton of comments they can help and hurt you.

Many people rightly see their blog as a virtual living room in their home. If you have a home in which the guests are rude/obnoxious to others you'll find it very difficult to attract and keep other guests.

So I suppose that what I am really saying is that a successful blogger uses their blog to build a community in which dialogue about various topics take place.

If I take a critical look at my blog I think that it is fair to say that I haven't done as good a job building the community here as I could. Some of that is because I have a habit of producing an enormous amount of content. When posts keep getting pushed down the page you hinder the ability of the community to respond and engage you and each other on various topics.

In addition I could do a better job of responding to comments in a more timely fashion. That raises a side issue of sorts. If you generate enough comments it starts to become difficult to respond to those on your own blog and to leave comments on other blogs.

This has been a challenge for me for a while. If you take the time to read and comment on my blog than I try to extend the same courtesy to you. The trick lately is that I find myself jammed for time. It is hard to respond here and go to your blogs to reply.

I suppose that you can attribute this as a leading cause of why I am sometimes slow to respond to comments here. One day someone may pay me handsomely to blog or I may win the lottery and find time to do what I want on my schedule and things will change.

If the meantime I encourage you all to continue to leave comments and I'll do my best to reply in a timely fashion.


Brian said...

I don't comment like I should, but I am a long time reader of yours.

I agree....blogging is a way to build a community and I have made many wonderful friends over the years.

Baila said...

I think responding to comments is key. I don't do it as much as I would like. Leora is really good at this and it's one of the reasons I keep going back to her.

Leora said...

@Baila--thank you! I always like hearing from you. Sort of like hearing from a long lost friend whom I've never actually met.

Suggestion to Jack...you do post a lot at once. Maybe if you post one big, discussion-like post and leave it the top post for a day or two the commenters get a chance to talk to each other? I've seen this on other blogs. Then again, it may not fit into your style.

Thanks for mentioning my blog challenge post. If you go back a few posts of the blog challenge, you'll find one in Swedish, and then it's hard to trace it backwards.

Ezzie said...

Responding to comments and commenting on others. I've faltered somewhat at the former, and certainly at the latter, but time constraints play a large role. The too much content is an issue I struggle with as well.

Child Ish Behavior said...

A blog is a way for a person to express themselves. If you don't want to comment or don't want to respond to comments then you are entitled. It is your blog; everything else is secondary. But hey, thats just my opinion, the rest of you can continue to feel guilty about not commenting and responding ot comments.

Jack said...

Hi Brian,

You're one of the originals. I have enjoyed and appreciated your blog. I miss the roundups.


I find that responding to comments is easy. The hard part for me is trying to make sure that I provide a more detailed response


It is a good suggestion. Sometimes I find it easy to let things ride for a while. The hard part is that I usually find so many things to write about it is difficult to just hold on to them.


See what happens when you have a job, kids, wife, etc... ;)


All depends on what you want. If you are interested in developing a community and regular readers it usually takes a bit of interaction to make it happen.

Leora said...

Response to your responses: they are getting longer. Is this the more mature Jack? Or is it just the same ole Jack, using longer sentences?

Like the community-building idea. You know you can leave a post at top and just put others underneath, by changing the time the post is published. So some top post could get more coverage that way, but the others could still be put up.

Jack said...

Is this the more mature Jack? Or is it just the same ole Jack, using longer sentences?

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel. ;)

You know you can leave a post at top and just put others underneath, by changing the time the post is published.

It is a good idea. I have done it from time to time, but haven't in a while. I suppose that it is time to try it out again.