How do you use blog content?

Do you write a blog, have you ever thought about it? I think people fall into one of a few categories when it comes to blogs, especially blogs with technical content.

  1. Writing articles furiously – daily, twice daily and reading dozens of others.
  2. Writing the odd piece of content and read plenty of others’ output.
  3. Started a blog once and its fizzled out but reading lots.
  4. Thought about starting a blog someday but never got around to it, hopping into the occasional blog when a link or a Tweet takes them there.
  5. Never thought about writing one but often catching content from them when Google (or other preferred search engine) finds content related to their search.

Now I am not saying that either of these is right or wrong, nor am I saying that anyone should feel any compulsion to be in any particular category. What I would say is that you as a blog reader have the power to move blog writers from one category to another.

How, you might ask? How do I have any power over a blog writer? It is very simple – feedback. If you give feedback then the blog writer knows that they are reaching an audience, if there is no response then they we are simply writing down our thoughts for what could amount to nothing more than a feeble amount of exercise and a few more key stokes towards the onset of RSI.

Most blogs have a mechanism to alert the writer when there are comments, and personally speaking, if an email is received saying there has been a response to a blog article then there is a rush of enthusiasm, a moment of excitement that someone is actually reading and considering the text that was submitted and made available for the whole world to read. I am relatively new to this blog game and could be in some extended honeymoon period as I have also recently been incorporated into the Simple Talk ‘stable’. I can understand that once you get to the “Dizzy Heights of Ozar” (www.brentozar.com) then getting comments and feedback might not be such a pleasure and may even be rather more of a chore but that, I guess, is the price of fame. For us mere mortals starting out blogging, getting feedback (or even at the moment for me, simply the hope of getting feedback) is what keeps it going. The hope that you will pick a topic that hasn’t been done recently by Brad McGehee, Grant FritcheyPaul Randall, Thomas LaRock or any one of the dozen of rock star bloggers listed here or others from SQLServerPedia and so on, and then do it well enough to be found, reviewed, or <shudder> (re)tweeted to bring more visitors is what we are striving for, along with the fact that the content we might produce is something that will be of benefit to others.

There is only so much point to typing content that no-one is reading and putting it on a blog. You may as well just write it in a diary. A technical blog is not like, say, a blog covering photography techniques where the way to frame and take a picture stands true whether it was written last week, last year or last century – technical content goes sour, quite quickly. There isn’t much call for articles about yesterdays technology unless its something that still applies to current versions too, so some content written no more than 2 years ago isn’t worth having now. The combination of a piece of content that you know is going to not last long and the fact that no-one reads it is a strong force against writing anything else. Getting feedback counters that despair and gives a value to writing something new.

I would say that any feedback is good but there are obviously comments that are just so negative or otherwise badly phrased that they would hasten the demise of a blog but, in general most feedback will encourage a writer. It may not be a comment that supports or agrees with the main theme of a post but if it generates discussion or opens up a previously unexplored viewpoint it is contributing to the blog and is therefore encouraging to the writer.

Even if you only say “thank you” before you leave a blog, having taken a section of script to use for yourself or having been given a few links to some content that has widened your knowledge it will be so welcome to the blog owner.

Isn’t it also the decent thing to do, acknowledging that you have benefited from another’s efforts?

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