Saturday, April 30, 2005

Jorn Barger: Blog Quality and Ethics

We all need to write better post titles (headlines)... Posted by Hello

I'm sending out emails, asking some of the most successful and popular bloggers a simple question:

"What do you think is the most pressing ethical or quality issue for blogs?"

Here's #3 in this series titled "Blog Quality and Ethics".

Robot Wisdom

Bloggers need to get better at rewriting the headlines/blurbs so that
readers can make an informed decision about clicking a link, or not.

A good blurb shouldn't tease, it should summarise, and it should warn
about 'gotchas' like java/ popups/ multipage presentations, etc.

[STEVEN STREIGHT responds...]

This is similar to what both Cory Doctorow and Doc Searls told me recently.

I'm glad that Jorn brought up this extremely important Quality issue.

Actually, Jorn goes beyond the simple but profoundly vital idea of writing information-rich post titles ("headlines", "blurbs", "post descriptors")...

...he also mentions the polite act of notifying readers of any unusual or unexpected event that occurs when a link is clicked/selected.

(I always say "click/selected" because Jakob Nielsen taught me, er, taught us all, that users may be blind, or otherwise differently-abled, and thus, may be using assistive technology devices, rather than a keyboard or mouse to navigate the web.)

I hate it when a link is an undocumented PDF file, or an unannounced separate pop-up window, or an unanticipated joy ride to an external site.

The art of micro-content writing is rarely practiced correctly by any blogger.

Micro-content means small portions of text, like headlines, forum topic titles, email subject lines, tool tip text, blog titles, blog descriptions, article blurbs, and many other "tiny text" applications, including blog post titles.

Your blog post title has to somehow make a reader think:

"Good Lord, I wonder what this is all about?!"


"I had better drop or stop what I'm doing, and take a look at this."


"Who the heck does he think he is to say that? I'm going to read the post to see what's going on."


"Wow! I've always wondered about this. Maybe I'll finally find a good, easy to understand explanation here."


"Great! I really need to know about this, this is a problem I'm having right now, and this seems like it might contain the solution I need."


Thanks, Jorn, for this astute reply to my little email micro-survey question.

Jorn is one of the First Bloggers, I believe he is the #8 Major Blogger in the History of the Universe (according to Meatball Wiki), right after:

(1.) Tim Berners-Lee ("What's New" page at info [dot]cern[dot]ch: January 1992)

(2.) Marc Andreessen ("What's New": June 1993)

(3.) Justin Hall ("Links from the Underground": January 1994)

(4.) Carolyn Burke ("Online Diary": January 1995)

(5.) Michael Sippey ("Stating the Obvious": August 1995)

(6.) Dave Winer ("Scripting News": April 1997)

(7.) Rob Malda ("SlashDot": September 1997)

(8.) Jorn Barger("Robot Wisdom": December 1998).

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