Why we blog

There’s been a lot of crap going down in the blogosphere lately about why bloggers blog, what we get out of it, who should be allowed to comment and how, and everything else you can possibly think of (go here for a summary)

Apparently this all stemmed from a post over at the Nature Network. Since I have a blog over there, you’d think I would know about it, but I sure don’t! I had to rely on links on other posts to figure out what has happened.

In any case, to have everyone kiss and make up, Steffi Suhr (from the NN) asks the following:

What made you start blogging?
Initially, I started a blog when I moved to London (Ontario) to start my PhD. It was more for family and friends to keep up with the goings-on in my life. It lasted a few months, but quietly died. A year or so later, I had started a new one (this one), but wasn’t really sure what my direction was going to be. I attended a conference where the women all got together for lunch. At that meeting, they discussed their blog, and it hit me that I should talk about my life as a female PhD student in astronomy. Of course, it has evolved over time, but that is still the driving force behind this blog.

Is a sense of community an important part of blogging for you, or do you prefer blogging ‘solo’?
This is an odd question – I like to blog (write) on my own. Even on my Nature Network blog, I don’t feel like I’m partnering with the other bloggers. It’s more like each blog stands on its own. However, I do like the sense of community I get from regularly reading other blogs, and having people regularly comment on my blog.

Are there blogs you never look at? If yes, why (be nice and don’t name names)?
Of course! There is not enough time in the day to read every single blog out there that is applicable to me (not just science, but TTC, decorating, knitting, swimming, fashion, etc. etc.). When I first started reading blogs I made a huge list, and now have pruned it down to the blogs I really love to read regularly (i.e., every new post). I do add blogs from time to time, but not too many.

Who are you blogging for/who are you talking to?
I blog for my offline family and friends, and for my science & TTC network of online friends. I do take into consideration the likes and dislikes of these groups when I think about topics to write about.

Do you think you may be getting people exposed to some science through your blog who otherwise wouldn’t be?
I think on this blog, yes. Mostly because not all of my readers are scientists. So, I think those people wouldn’t necessarily read about that kind of stuff if it wasn’t on this blog. However, I don’t write about science a ton on this blog – more about my experiences with my jobs and such.

Do you think any non-blogger cares about any of the above things?
I doubt it! I’m sure my non-blogger friends are thinking why the hell are there “feuds” going on between bloggers! LOL

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Comments on: "Why we blog" (9)

  1. Ha ha,I love your last bit. I was trying to explain to my GF the NN/SB feud that's going on and she looked at me like it was almost alarming that there were that many grumpy/angry/disgruntled geeks out there…

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  2. TTC = trying to conceive

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  3. So, riddle me this. During all of this discussion over different blogging styles it came out that the NN bloggers have no access to their stats. I know this shocked me and I think any “other” blogger who read that was surprised. To me, this explained a LOT about the mindset of the vocal NN bloggers who only have a blog there. I say that because their understanding of their readership is entirely through comments and as has been discussed ad nauseum, commenting at NN is seen as “mildly” exclusionary. Without anon or pseud comments, there is a tendency toward insularity, but more importantly from the blogger's perspective, an enormous misrepresentation of the audience.

    That was a long-winded preamble to ask you whether you feel there is a difference (beyond just straight content) in how you approach each blog? Here you know your audience far better because you have access to the site stats. There, you only know who comments. Do you feel like that affects how you blog in each place.

    Perhaps your experience with your personal blog informs your perspective enough that there is no effect of recognizing less than 5% of your audience, but for someone who only has ever had a NN blog I can't see how that would not be a factor in the way in which they blog.

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  4. Hi PLS – thanks for your comment!

    In all honesty, I don't really look at my stats for this blog all that much. I'll take a look at how many hits I get, but that's about it. But, I think it would be good for NN blogs to have stats pages. It's good to know something about your readers!

    Right from the beginning, my intention with my NN blog was for it to be more science-y, and this one remain more personal. That being said, I have gone through an identity crisis with my NN blog, because I wasn't sure that my informal, more personal style “fit in” with the rest of the NN blogs (see this post where I talk about that a bit).

    But, I realize that there's no point in having a blog unless I can be me and blog about stuff that I want/like.

    So, even though the topics tend to be different, I think the style of the language is the same.

    I'm thinking of adding my email address to the end of each of my NN posts, so that non-NN people can email me their comment and I can post it for them under whatever name they want. Do you think this will help?

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  5. I don't know whether your email will help in terms of the comments you get. Again, a high activation barrier for commenting will mean fewer people joining in, but it can't hurt. However, the work around basically flies in the face of the reason that NN does their commenting the way they do – so that individuals are held accountable in the public sense for everything they say in the comments. I'll be curious how your solution is received at NN.

    But back to my question, by even knowing the number of hits you get here you at least have some idea of the interest in certain posts, the total number of people reading and how representative your comments are in relation to the total readership, no? It's a black box at NN. To take your example, you don't know how well your style fits in. Fair enough, but you would get a feel for that if you saw X number of hits in the first week (new blog!) and the 1/2X two weeks later and 1/4X a month later, etc. That would be an indication that the general NN readership isn't digging what you're selling. You could decide to react or not, but you would have data to inform that decision. In the absence of data you are left to gauge from the biased audience of regular commenters who are already a skewed set.

    If, for instance, you wanted to use the NN blog as an outreach tool, how do you know if you are successfully reaching non-nature-reading-types? How do you figure out if outside groups are linking to your blog or if the link is getting passed around important target organizations?

    I may not be getting at things that are important to you as a blogger, but there are many science blogs that this information is important for. For bloggers with a specific target audience, the information would be crucial to understand whether one's goals are being met. I just find it odd that NN doesn't even consider it, and fascinating that their bloggers don't seem to care who is reading and where their traffic comes from.

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  6. BTW, these comments are not meant as an attack, I'm just really curious about the differences.

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  7. I completely agree that having blog stats is helpful. From what I hear, NN is working on it, but I don't really know what that means. I haven't been a member of the NN long enough to know the ins and outs of the group.

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  8. And I realized I didn't respond to the other part of your comment. I do tend to change what I'm blogging about due to the number of comments I receive (on both blogs). For instance, I used to do a mail-bag feature on my NN blog, but they never got very many comments, so I stopped writing them. However, I very much not try to change the tone of style of my writing, no matter what the topic.

    I guess I assume that the number of comments I receive is proportional to the general interest of my readers. So, if I get 5 comments, then only some of my readers are interested, but if I get 30 then many are interested. However, that is very hard to gauge on the NN, since we have no blog stats to verify that.

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