Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Remedial Blogging for Old Media 101

Instapundit notes:

TOM HUMPHREY has gotten some bad information:
After all, bloggers, I am instructed, do not have to follow those ironclad rules of attribution, fact-checking, logic and such that burden the daily production of stuff to print by traditionally ink-stained wretches. You can just babble like a talk show radio guy.

Here is my response (which I also left on his comments section):

Very good, Tom. I am glad to see that you are seeking "instruction" to remedy your obvious ignorance of the nature and etiquette of the blogosphere. However, a few more remedial lessons may be in order:

1. Don't use the passive voice. Say, "X instructs me" not "I am instructed". The latter formulation violates one of those "ironclad rules of attribution" that you should have learned from your days among the ink-stained wretches. Also, the passive voice sounds weak, stuffy, effete, French ... you get the picture.

2. I applaud you on enabling the comments section on this blog. I actually only browsed to this site to see if you had, since you seem unaware of the way that fact checking works out here. But even those blogs who do not enable comments, such as my own humble effort, can be fact-checked through the use of links. I found your post through Instapundit but evidently James Lileks has also linked to you. By now you probably have several hundred links, as the sampling of comments above should indicate.

3. You have handled the little gaffe about this being a "web-only blog" adequately, but it is traditional to do this kind of error correction in the text of the blog itself rather than in a side-bar. I realize there are aesthetic considerations here, and styles vary on this matter, but it makes it much easier for people to find. And admitting your mistakes forthrightly makes you seem more intelligent (if you caught the error yourself) or more honest (if you didn't).

One final note about self-deprecating humor: lots of bloggers use it and it can be a helpful device in spicing up a post. But, like all humor, you need to be make sure that it is actually funny. Repeating the joke that this is only a blog so the normal standards don't apply isn't all that clever. It sounds too much like you are making excuses. This is more an art than a science, though, so I can't really offer instruction on this point. But a careful review of some of the comments above might give you a clue as to how it is done.

UPDATE: Brian at MementoMoron has preserved the comments on this post, just in case ... you know ... an accident should happen.

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