I have for some time told people that one way that my blog was different was because I was focused on offering a high signal-to-noise ratio. I told them that they could subscribe to my blog safely, as I’d not inundate them with anything but the highest quality posts.

At first, this meant that I’d not post unless I had something significant to add to the topic. No simple pointers to interesting ideas, no simple rephrasing, or simple agreement – I had to add value.

For some time I think I succeeded – I received a lot of praise for my posts on social networking, on internet security, on FOAF, on the Dunbar number, and on my tool EditThisPagePHP. However, I’ve found that for each post my standards were growing higher. My most recent posts took significantly more time to write, and I believe were much more like articles then they are like the typical blog post.

I haven’t posted now for a couple of months, and I realized this week that part of the problem is that I’ve become intimidated by my own standard. For every new post to meet the quality of some of my best posts is too difficult.

So I’m lowering my standards somewhat – I will be posting some more small, pithy topics, rather then my longer rants. However, I do hope to continue to offer a good signal-to-noise ratio, and still add value.


I love your long posts, Chris. They are definitely authoritative and well thought out. But, I’d also like to know what you are thinking more often, so blog away.

Peter Caputa 2004-07-23T14:11:12-07:00

Another advantage of posting shorter, less developed thoughts is that you can involve your audience in exploring your ideas. It becomes a discussion with the community.

Greg Linden 2004-07-23T14:36:59-07:00

URL: When my RSS tagged your blog as having something new, my first thought was, “I haven’t read anything by Chris in a while, let’s see what he’s got”. I am not disappointed that it was this announcement. Looking forward to reading more of your insights.

Scott Moore 2004-07-23T14:37:03-07:00

URL: I found the same thing when I started an email newsletter for my Stanford lab in 1998 or so. At first I thought the newsletter would contain unpolished ideas and simple pointers. But as time went on, I got pickier. I eventually starting writing 8 or 10 articles and then pre-testing those articles on willing readers in order to select the final 5 or 6 articles for the issue. As you can imagine, it took longer and longer to do each issue, making it harder to get them out the door. So now my lab is doing a blog. I’m hoping we can keep it fast and loose. But there is pressure from readers, even if it’s just one person. For example, last month we deleted one of our posted article, and one reader wrote us with nasty things to say, as if we had violated some unwritten rule of blog culture.

BJ Fogg 2004-07-23T16:29:49-07:00

You may want to check out Barry Schwartz’ commencement address to Swarthmore this year which talks about the idea of wanting “the best” vs. “good enough”. http://www.swarthmore.edu/news/commencement/2004/schwartz.html Not all of it applies to your situation, but it is, I believe, powerful and important stuff he’s talking about.

Ken Schafer 2004-07-24T20:47:01-07:00

URL: First of all, let me point out that I just found your blog today, and I was really impressed by the quality of your comments. Having searched for good social networking articles for a while, I think that I found much more than I ever antecipated. As for your ‘confession’, well, I understand it - I never posted anything before on a blog, because I was always afraid that I could not post good content. But in a world where any 15-seconds-of-fame celebrity can discuss the latest controversy with the same authority as a Ph.D on the topic, I think that I can lower my standards a little bit too. As for yourself, don’t worry - your standards are already very, very high, lowering them a little bit will do no harm. In this muddy world, better to have a few rough gems than no gems at all.

Carlos Ribeiro 2004-07-26T20:22:23-07:00

The Blog thought police don’t notice if you intersperse long, creative posts and tiny, copycat bits of fluff. Do both. Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds,” or something like that.

Jay Cross 2004-07-31T19:50:07-07:00

When I first started paying serious attention to blogs I thought they were blogging for themselves, and their subscribers were interested in what they had to say, entertained, or a friend/family member. I started my blog as a test to see if I liked it compared to old-fashioned HTML, which I’d done for a few years already. I found out I loved blogging. If I read something that moved me, or heard some news on the tv, or something special happened to me, I’d tell my blog. Most times, it was news reports, or internet stuff that I blogged about. If I wished I had someone around to tell, then it went in. Sometimes I post a book, like this comment, while others might be just a few lines, with a link. I’ve been getting about one comment a month recently (I’ve been blogging for 13 months); over half the time it’s from people I’ve never heard of, but are very interested in whatever topic I posted about. I still get excited if someone comments LOL; I got a new one today that brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful. A few months after I started blogging, I noticed that some bloggers seemed to ‘blog for an audience’. Well, if they had an average of 10+ comments on most posts, I’d consider that a large enough audience to consider writing ‘for’. But me, I don’t think I’d care for writing ‘for an audience’. But what really made me giggle is that some bloggers seemed to write for a large audiance as their main goal, even if there weren’t many comments at all. I’d wonder if they wanted something to make themselves feel special, bragging rights in RL, or just plain lonely. Next I noticed many of the more popular posts instructed people on ‘how to blog’, promote blogs, ect Ok, well maybe more people than I thought wanted a huge honking audience LOL. I’ve noticed a recent trend to ‘market blogs’, so I guess that might be some bloggers goal, unless they’re just trying to offset bandwidth costs. My favorite types of posts were when someone had important knowledge to share like ‘blogging journalism’, discovery, or specialized instruction like nanotechnology or server software. I also enjoy reviews of products, software, or services, whether they’re good or bad reviews. Pets and food rate high too LOL Have fun with your blog, be passionate about your topics (that’s why I subbed to you when you were looking into Orkut so closely), and I’ll certainly enjoy your posts, short AND long.

Sherri 2004-08-09T04:19:16-07:00

Life With Alacrity

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