Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Why I Read Blogs

In a post titled “Why Blog, Anyway, Mark makes a really good point:

And what about the audience? Readers who don’t blog may not be aware of how much bloggers want readers. Part (I suspect a very big part for most) of it’s an ego thing, like people on soapboxes at the town square with listeners gathered around. We all want the biggest crowd of listeners. If I realized I had no readers, I’d stop writing. I may be eccentric, but I’m not one of those street corner preachers reading from the Bible even when no one’s there to listen.

It occurs to me that why I blog may be of interest (to me), the more interesting, less navel gazing question is why I read. And so I thought I’d flip around the “why I blog,” and discuss what I read, why, and what causes me to unsubscribe to a feed.

I read using both Safari and Netnewswire Lite, which is a great reader. Kudos to Brent for making a free version.

I started talking about what I read, but I realize that what I read is, well, what interests me, and that’s often reflected here. There’s a lot on security, on liberty, some economists and some businesspeople, some designers, a bunch of friends, some influential folks. I read what interests me, and I’m more liberal about subscribing than unsubscribing.

But why do I unsubscribe? I’ll exclude events, like the Ukranian election drama which I followed closely, and then dropped most of the blogs covering it, as they stopped being regularly interesting to me.

The first, cardinal sin is not posting often enough. I don’t care how well you cook, or if you’re the last practitioner of an ancient religion, if you don’t give me a reason to come back, I’m going to stop coming back. There may be good left in you, but I have to see it, not just feel it.

The second is not having an RSS feed. I’m very mixed on this, but there’s only so many blogs I can read out of Safari, and Netnewswire gives me a better interface for skimming. At the same time, I appreciate the visual cues and mnemonics as to whose blog I’m reading that individualized blog skins provide. But you’re much more likely to be dropped if you have no RSS feed.

The third thing I hate is blogs that are repetitive, either internally or externally. If all you ever talk about is Choicepoint, I’m going to stop reading. I mean, how much is there to say? If all you ever do is post pointers to other people’s posts without adding anything, why should I read that?

The final thing that gets to me is consistent disrespect for “the other side.” The other side is not stupid. With small, rare exceptions, the other side is not evil. The odds are very good that the people you like to demonize are smart, passionate, and oriented differently than you. If you consistently fail to acknowledge that, if you consistently replace the other side with strawmen, I’m going to fail to read you.

I suppose asking my readers why they read doesn’t help me understand those folks who don’t read. If you got this far, I’m clearly doing something you consider right, and I’d like to say thank you for your attention.

One comment on "Why I Read Blogs"

  • Jim Horning says:

    That resonates with me. The main point where we differ is that I no longer find time for any blogs that don’t publish RSS feeds. That also means that I don’t have to consciously drop blogs that are added to only rarely.
    Please, keep on blogging…
    Jim H.

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