Saturday, April 30, 2005

John Moore: Blog Quality and Ethics

john moore and w. somerset maugham Posted by Hello

Blog credibility, business blog professionalism, personal blogging standards, blogging best practices, blogger ethics, the moral dimension of blogs...

...this is what I'm after in my post series on "Blog Quality and Ethics".

I am sending email micro-surveys to the most popular, successful, and influential bloggers currently active in the bloatosphere.

Here's #4 in the series, my good friend...

Brand Autopsy

re: What issue is more pressing for blogs, ethics or quality?

For individual/group/non-corporate blogs, quality is more of an issue.

It's not that these blogs are quality blogs. It's just that there is so much quantity that it is eroding some of the quality.

For corporations, ethics is more of an issue.

Corporate blogs will find their space if they are truthful and respectful of the audience. In other words, corporate blogs shouldn't shill a one-sided brand ego perspective.

[STEVEN STREIGHT responds...]

True dat. Sing it brother.

Corporate blogs need to be entirely open to criticism, complaints, challenges, and questions from readers. And they need to display 100% ethical virtue and moral leadership.

Personal blogs do indeed suffer, many of them, with a few glaring exceptions, from a horrendous lack of quality in thinking, writing, and design.

Who the hell do I think I am to proclaim such a confrontational and cynical sentiment?

I'm a widely recognized and accomplished Blogologist, that's who. And a leper guru.

John, may I insert a choice quote from author W. Somerset Maughm, plug it in right here?

[QUOTE by W. Somerset Maugham]

"The professional writer is one who makes writing the main business of his life; therefore, unless he has some fortune, it must also be his means of livelihood; but whether he is paid by a sinecure [any position that provides easy money with little effort] in the customs, by a benefice [a religious, government, educational, or other institutional grant whereby one may live and work], or by royalties is of no consequence.

No one would dream of denying this in any practical matter and it would be a great fool who employed an amateur plumber to repair a leak in a pipe.

In music, sculpture, and painting the amateur is rightly regarded with disdain. It is understood that to compose a piece of music, or to carve a statue, a long apprenticeship and a cognizance of technique are needed.

But because everyone learns to write well enough to put on paper in some sort of fashion what he wants to say, it is supposed that anyone can write a book [STREIGHT: or "a blog"].

It is asserted that everyone has it in him to write one book [STREIGHT: "a blog"].

It may be so, but if by this is meant that everyone has it in him to write one good book, the assertion is false.

The writer needs as complete a training as the practitioner of any other of the arts and the techniques of writing yields to none of them in its difficulty.


As a rule the amateur is rhetorical. He has an inordinate liking for picturesque words and high-flown phrases. At the back of his mind are all manner of literary tags and he brings them in under the impression that they look workmanlike.

He cannot say a thing directly; he muffles it up in a pariphrase [sic]. He uses two words when one will do; he never learns the art to blot.

He does not know where to begin nor when to stop. He is the slave of every idea that enters his head, so that he wanders from his subject with every fancy that strikes him.

I should say the three essentials of writing are lucidity, euphony, and simplicity; and their importance is according to the order in which I have placed them.

It is good that the reader should know exactly what you say and it is good that your words should fall pleasantly on the ear; a simple vocabulary is very desirable, but it is well to be prepared to sacrifice it if your meaning is not clear and you may without reproach choose an elaborate word rather than a plain one, if its sound, in its place, is more delightful.


It is only by practice that the writer learns to stick to his point, which is the first and best rule of composition, and it is again only by practice that he learns how to present his theme with order, balance, and succinctness.

To do this, writing must be not only the main, but the only occupation of his life."


--W. Somerset Maugham, Don Fernando (Sun Dial Press, Inc., New York, 1938) pages 92 to 95.

No comments: