So, last week, I just finished reading a really good, moving post on Open Salon.
It was well written, deep, had something important and lasting to say, verisimilitude, if you will, and was emotional to read. Very touching. Very fulfilling. In fact, there are a lot of really good posts on OS. I am really impressed with the writing abilities of many of the contributors on OS. However, I really do not know how people have the time to read very many of them, and that is a shame. I know I do not have enough time to read all of the wonderful articles, so sometimes I rely upon the “Editor’s Picks” and those that are highly rated.
As I finished that really strong post last week, I moved my cursor up to the “rate” button in order to give it a little thumbs up, and I was the first to do that. In fact, after several days, I noticed that I was the only one to rate it or comment on it. Again, I understand given the vast amounts of posts on OS that we cannot all read every good post.
But then I scanned a few other posts, and I have been pretty shocked at what posts receive a lot of ratings and comments on OS and what posts do not. I started to read one highly-rated post that began with “it’s” as in “it chased it’s ball.” Now, I know we all make grammatical errors, but in the first line? And that mistake was not the only one. There were numerous errors, yet it still received a lot more thumbs up than the better written post I had read earlier in the week. Maybe content was stronger. Maybe the contributor just did a better job of bringing in readers.
Then, I found several other posts that were basically about a sentence or two in length. Many had nothing important to say. One tried to give me dating advice, but I seriously doubt that the writer had had a date in the past two decades. Another tried to be clever but was really just irritating. Still, those posts seemed to have high ratings and comments. One comment simply said: “You are an idiot,” but many others seemed to praise the poorly written piece.
I read Thomas Rogers’s post about growing a readership. It makes a lot of sense. I would certainly encourage anyone wanting to branch out to read it. Now, I understand that a lot of writers have a lot of friends, families, and co-workers who visit and rate their blogs. They are also very social, Internet-wise, and are able to “sell” their blogs well. They do a great job with embedded content or with luring in readers with enticing headings that deal with Lohan or Tiger or some other topic that is relevant to the moment.
Personally, I decided to start a blog not to get a lot of readers or to get a lot of positive responses. In fact, I really do not care if anyone reads my posts. I started blogging recently for two reasons: 1) to push myself to write, and 2) to use writing as therapy since becoming a man of a certain age. Since I am a writer, having earned an MFA in creative writing, having had a career as a published writer, and being a teacher of writing, I have felt pretty miserable lately because I have not been able to write. I feel like an alcoholic without a beer in his hand. Since I do not feel like I have the time right now to start working on a new novel, I decided to blog just to keep myself in practice. Also, since I have reached a certain age, anxiety has increased, so I thought writing about some of my feelings and perspectives could help me come to terms with my little attacks. So, I did not set out to get a lot of readers, but as I read the blogs of others, I am a bit disappointed that those that I think are truly worthy of being read and being rated are not. Instead, there are a lot of blogs that are about nothing, about what someone’s cat did today, about some weird, extreme political ideology, or about some asinine personal list. I know that there is a place for that. I do not want to censor anyone, and I know that we all seek different articles on the web, so I want everything to be available, but I am not sure we have to encourage it as we do.
And the Salon editors are not any better. Last week or so, I saw an “Editor’s Pick,” and the title pulled me in, but when I clicked on it and read it, I wanted my ten minutes back. The article was mere drivel, and I hated the Salon editors for tempting me. I trusted them, and they let me down. And I felt angry at myself for being fooled by the title.
So many of Salon readers are well read and educated, so we should encourage well- written and thought-provoking articles. There is nothing wrong with reading a silly article every now and then – in fact, I think we all need to cleanse our minds with some silliness -- but I think we should try to support the best written articles as well. We all complain about crap on television, yet we often find ourselves watching some horrible reality television show. Generally, my wife walks into the room when I am scanning through the channels, and I have momentarily stopped on something that is horrible. I am mesmerized, like I am passing a horrible car accident. She awakens me with a, “What are you watching?” and I lie by saying, “Nothing. Just surfing.” We all do that, I am sure, but we do not have to give that horrible show a thumbs up.
Again, I don’t want to judge. If that is what we like, fine, but I just think we should also encourage more blogs that are well-written and thought-provoking, whether we agree with the point or not, whether it relates to our lives or not. I know I have made a point of trying to respond to any article that is witty and well written whether it fits my taste or not.
When you read an article, at least go up to the thumb and rate it if you feel as if you have not wasted your time, if you feel that it is a worthy article.
Try to encourage something more than the blog of a friend or the inanity of some troll.
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