Saturday, July 12, 2008

Valedictorians, Class Clowns, and Bloggers

Jonathan Morrow at Copyblogger has an excellent post up exploring one of the great mysteries of blogging--why throwaway posts often draw a better response than carefully crafted essays.

He offers two key insights:
  • Class clowns get more attention than valedictorians
  • Most casual blog traffic is driven by the desire for diversion
All too true...I doubt that people are reading posts like "I Hate San Francisco" and "Geek Girls Are Easy" looking for in-depth philosophy.

Alas, I'm afraid I have too much of the valedictorian in me to change my style, so I'll have to content myself with being an acquired taste of the overly educated.

Here's the key passage from Morrow:

"People read blogs for lots of reasons. They might want to stay connected to a particular person, learn a valuable skill (like copywriting), or keep up with the news. But I’d argue there’s another reason that we as a community are hesitant to admit:

Blogs are a diversion.

Much like how we pay attention to the class clown to avoid boredom, blogs allow us to procrastinate, avoiding all of the other stuff we’re supposed to be doing. If you don’t believe me, look at the number of people who read blogs at work. Aren’t they supposed to be working?

But they’re not. They’re tired of working and feel like they deserve a break, even if it’s only for a few seconds while they catch up on a few blog posts. Besides, they might even learn something.

That still counts as being productive, doesn’t it?

Or so the thinking goes.
If you look at it carefully, it’s really not so different than school. People need a diversion, and we’re the ones that supply it to them."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to work on my next post, "Make Love Like Batman: The 5 Steps To Guarantee Getting Laid Every Night".


Alex said...

I think another problem is that people gauge the attention a post is getting by the number of reader comments. Obviously that isn't a good metric - shorter posts are easier and less intimidating to respond to.

If I read a long well written post, I either agree or disagree (to some part or the whole). If I agree I probably won't say anything, and there it is unlikely I'll spent the time on a well written rebuttal, opting to say nothing at all instead.

Taisha said...

I agree that blogs are a diversion, but I disagree that everyone searches for the most mindless diversion possible. Since many people claim to work at jobs and with people they hate, I think that they also go online to read topics of which they are passionate as well as interact with people they like. It's the same thing with TV - a diversion but are you watching "I Love New York" or "The Big Bang Theory"? The problem with being invisible online, as Alex said, has a lot to do with having readers take action - whether it is leaving a comment or submitting it to a social networking site. I find that most people opt to forward only mindless stuff, perhaps fearful of drawing the ire of others or revealing their true depth. :-)