Friday, October 17, 2014

Blogging Pet Peeves

Flickr Credit: Vox Efx
I am not a perfect blogger. Obviously. And in fact, all the bloggers I know are imperfect bloggers. We’re all under the same umbrella of “we won’t always get this right,” and that’s okay with me.

That sentence is ironic, by the way, because I’m about to tell you 15 things that explicitly contradict it.

So sue me.

My Top 15 Blogging Pet Peeves

1. bad grammar :: I can handle the occasional typo, because I make the occasional typo. If I need to pull up Urban Dictionary because of their incessant abbreviations, or they have mistakenly assumed that 23 is the best number of exclamation points to use, I wash my hands of that nonsense. Ew.

Heather’s Thought—always use Spell Check before posting something, and reread the thing before you post the thing. I insist. Feel free to read published materials to see correct grammar in action, too.

2. poor blog design :: not everyone is a talented blog designer, and I understand that from personal experience. There are still a few rules: I need to be able to read the words and click the links and not squint the entire time I am on the blog. Don’t go crazy with colors, either—our eyes will thank you for it.

Heather’s Thought—use a standard, easy-to-read font in the blog post. Calibri, Times New Roman, Verdana, whatever. If you want a fancy font, use it for the post titles or your signature. My other thoughts: don’t use yellow text, have a nice banner or title at the top, and don’t clutter your gadgets bar.

3. optical illusions :: this technically falls under blog design, but it bothers me especially. I don’t want to get seasick while I’m reading a blog post—I long for a simple, pleasant background that does not trick my eyes into seeing movement.

Heather’s Thought—don’t use optical illusions as backgrounds. Period.

4. self-promo comments :: I, like many other bloggers, encourage you to share your blog with me so I can check it out. What annoys me is a commenter who says “Great post!” and then writes a novel about how meaningful it would be if I followed them.

Heather’s Thought—just like Thumper, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you’re so desperate for followers, wait for them to say something you care about and respond with a meaningful comment, and then you may extend a short invitation.

5. centered alignment :: some people can pull off posts with a centered alignment. If I centered my lists, that would not work—and whether they know it or not it doesn’t work for a lot of other people, either.

Heather’s Thought—there are some people who suggest this as an improvement to your blog. You decide, but know that sometimes this alignment is distracting, and that I, for one, have never seen a professional blog do this. Be careful you don’t detract from your ethos.

6. long paragraphs :: long paragraphs are hard to read. Even when I’m writing blog posts, I start to panic if my chunk of words goes beyond four lines (especially for lists!).

Heather’s Thought—remember that shorter writing is often better writing, and lots of space makes our eyes happy. You don’t have to stick to my four-line rule (heck, I don’t always stick to my four-line rule), but I know that I have left blogs because they write long paragraph after long paragraph, instead of easy, readable chunks.

7. CAPTCHA boxes :: I don’t like them. Some people have spam problems, and I understand. But because I am not a robot, I really do want to comment and I really don’t want to type in your silly CAPTCHA box.

Heather’s Thought—if you are comfortable doing so, remove the CAPTCHA requirement. On Blogger, you can do this under “Settings” and “Posts and comments.” Tell them NO, you do not want word verification.

8. the blog stops :: I know that sometimes you have to disappear. But I do not like it when you disappear, and I like it less when you disappear without telling me.

Heather’s Thought—I honestly don’t feel entitled to your life’s sob story. That’s yours, not mine. If you have to go, write two sentences: “I can’t post for a while. Thanks for staying with me until I can come back!” I want to know if you’re gonna come back, and that’s all. The end. All done.

9. failure to acknowledge the audience :: as a commenter, I like to know that the author knows I exist. When that doesn’t happen, I am both mad and sad, and that is very, very bad.

Heather’s Thought—all Dr. Seuss references aside, keep your readers in mind. Respond to their comments, look at their blogs, and address their concerns. It feels good, at least when the reader is me.

10. no pictures :: a visual may not be worth a thousand words, but it certainly catches the eye whether it’s a picture or a video.

Heather’s Thought—Flickr is easy to use and filled with Creative Commons pictures perfect for blogging. There are plenty of other sites that have pictures, too—just remember that you had better be dang interesting if you consistently do not use visuals.

11. cluttered page lists :: my own church is guilty of this one. When I read the bar with pages I can visit, I do not want to see more than like, six, max. Don’t go crazy, my friends—too many pages can look not only ugly, but like you really have no idea what you’re doing.

Heather’s Thought—if possible, try to condense tabs and use drop-down menus or alternate methods of getting to the pages necessary (if you have that many pages). Keep the top of the page clean and concise—that’s the first thing people see, and should know what is most important to you based on those links.

12. bad bios :: People want to be private, and I get that, but I do actually click on that link to stalk you. I don’t want to know the bare-bones details of your life, I want to know who you are. Don’t think I want to know every detail about you, either—I just want to get a little perspective.

Heather’s Thought—read lots and lots of bios. Find what you like. Imitate it. Find a way to express you in a way that suits you without drowning your audience in meaningless details or putting your bank account at risk.

13. no contact page :: I get it, I get it, I don’t have one on Wandering in a Blur either, but it’s actually useful to be able to talk to someone about something without mucking up their comments sections.

Heather’s Thought—there’s actually a contact gadget in Blogger, and it’s good if you can’t provide an email address. You can make a contact page like I did, or provide people with an email address. There’s lots of options.

14. self-promo posts :: obviously, writers want to share their book with the world, and that is good and right. However, there is still more to life than that book, but some people take a long time to remember this.

Heather’s Thought—if you’re going to promote, be sure to stop and write a post or two about something non-self-promo related every now and again. The rest of the world is still spinning, I promise.

15. not-useful gadgets :: there are many, many gadgets to be had, and sometimes I see them and I stare at them because they have nothing to do with the blog and they’re mostly taking up space because they look “cool.”

Heather’s Thought—select each gadget with care. Remember, your readers are about as important as you are, so keep in mind that they may not want a bunch of Darth Vader and Mother Teresa quotes distracting them on a blog about canned pet food. Think about what is valuable, not what is interesting.


That’s just scratching the surface. I offend some of these, and I see some of these on my blogging adventures. I suppose the overall point is this: sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the blog as a tool or a toy. When the blog is a toy, it’s easy to make mistakes and deck it out with crazy decorations because it’s just for fun.

When a blog is used and valued as a tool to express one’s thoughts, to participate in a community, and to present an online identity in a reasonable way… It changes everything. How you design, how you write, how you approach commenters and readers and trolls. You think about something bigger—and for once, bigger could actually be better.

Then again, that “quotes from Breaking Dawn” widget looks pretty snazzy!

What are some of your blogging pet peeves? How would you correct them?

8 comments :

  1. I removed my CAPTCHA box when people comment because when I have to fill them out on others blogs, it drives me mad! Also, bad bios and cluttered side bars.

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    1. I totally agree—especially on smaller and non-commercial blogs, automated spam isn't as much of a problem, anyway. :P But yes, yes, yes!

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  2. These are really really true! I LIKE THEM A LOT. I completely agree with no leaving self-promo comments (urghhh) or having epileptic blog designs. -_- I also hate it when bloggers ignore their commenters. Gah! It makes me feel really unloved, lol. I also like to "get to know" the blogger, so when they have no bio and no about page...I don't know. It's just odd. I feel really hard to connect to them at all. How are you supposed to be friends with someone you know zero about??
    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, especially with bio pages. I'm not asking for their social security number—but a couple details would be nice!

      Thanks for the return comment! I really enjoyed your post on blogging types! :)

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  3. This was both interesting and discouraging. I'm afraid my blog doesn't qualify though on occasion I obtain my English teaching wife to correct my horrendous grammatical habits....;)

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    1. Aw, I didn't mean for it to be discouraging! My biggest point was that most pet peeves are easily corrected, if you work at it. I suppose an English-teaching-wife is not a resource we're all accustomed to, so I imagine you benefit a little extra in that department. :)

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  4. Yes. Yes to SO MANY of these. Especially the no-contact page and the Captcha. I've had to viciously delete a few spam comments -- do people *really* think anon commenting works when they post a link to their website? -- but I'm so happy when I can comment without squinting at the screen.

    I don't really mind long sidebars, but I hate it when widgets vibrate. 'Nuff said.

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    1. I'm not alone! But yeah, spammers are sort of like the scum of a blogging community. *shakes head* Ew, I've never seen vibrating widgets, but already I'm getting a headache. The things people think are cool these days. :P

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Check it out, comments and stuff. I love to hear from readers, and I always respond to commenters! Here's the fun part—if you leave a link to your blog I'll show up and comment back. I have just one rule down here: Don't Be a Problem. This spans the entire umbrella of rudeness and crudeness, so I reiterate: Don't Be a Problem. Thanks for stopping by!