Distraction Free Blogging? I’d Pay For That!

Distraction Free Blogging

While I applaud the efforts made by the WordPress team to include a distraction free editor, it unfortunately does little (and cannot for technical reasons) to stop the myriad of distractions that occur on my desktop or laptop. The only real way to stop the flood of email notifications, IM’s, phone calls is to disconnect from the internet completely, turn off my phone and write my posts in an offline editor – none of which have feature parity with the WordPress platform.

When I look at my kindle e-reader I see a device perfectly setup for distraction free reading – all you have to do is silence your phone and go into another room, and I find myself wishing for a simple tablet like device that only allowed me write and save drafts to my WordPress site.

I’m thinking a 7 – 8 inch, tablet-like device with a foldout keyboard, can have a cheap low-resolution screen because it serves one purpose only, to push blog posts to my CMS via an API.

I’d buy one in a heart-beat.

Poor “Related” Links Ruin Posts

I was reading a great post by Ricky Gervais on Time Magazine’s site today about the difference between American and British humor, when it struck me just how intrusive their in post “related posts” are.

Ricky Gervais - Time MagazineIt was quite a long post and one thing I find is that, if I lose the flow of a post by being distracted, unless it’s an exceptional post or something I have a deep personal interest in, I end up clicking away and moving on to the next thing. I guess it’s fair to say that sometimes I suffer from the TL;DR’s!

At this stage of my internet life I am more than used to sites dropping related posts, out-takes, advertising and 7 other kids of distracting crap into the content of an article, but what made the 3 related posts in this articles so annoying was that they were placed right in the middle of the flow of each paragraph.

Normally you’d expect to see such things between paragraphs but these were slap back in the middle paragraph, right in the middle of the idea, in the middle of the point. The links served the purpose not of enticing  me to click through but to make me stop and go: “WTF? Hang on, I’ve lost that, I need to go back”.

Related posts and links to other articles are supposed to compliment and expand upon what you are reading not leave you exacerbated because you can’t follow the flow of the post you are attempting to read, let alone make it a colossal effort to give a shit about the inserted links muster the interest to click off for further reading.

To top matters off, Time.com has a “related topics” section at the bottom of every post which would have been far better suited to sticking those links in.

I understand that these links are dropped into articles in order to drive pageviews and lead the reader down a rabbits hole that is jam-packed with advertising laden pages, but at some point you have to stop and consider readability.

If the very mechanism you’re using to drive readers to other pages is causing them to scratch their heads in confusion and close the tab in their browser, then you have to ask yourself what the editor (and I assume there was an editor) was doing instead of checking that the post was actually readable, beyond just running it through a spellchecker?

You need to be wrong to be a blogger!

Never wrong On thing I can’t stand is a smug, condescending git who thinks he (or she) knows everything.

Unfortunately the internet is chock full of these assholes, who believe that their opinion is all that counts and will argue that to the death that the moon is actually the buttocks of the late, great John Candy, hanging from a coat hangar attached to the ISS, rather than face the possibility of being wrong.

While some people are simply born with this level on inbred self importance and delusional capacity to recreate reality at a whim in order to fuel their own ego,  (and I suppose they can’t be blamed for that, but I do wish we could put them down at birth) some of us join the ranks of those vomiting self righteous  and “infallible” verbal diarrhoea simply because we write for an audience other than ourselves.

I originally started blogging for myself but quickly turned to technology blogging as I got a sense of satisfaction from the idea that sharing my knowledge may help others.

Yet the more I’ve emailed back and forth with readers, trouble shot their issues, came up with solutions to problems and answered beginner level questions in the comments, the more I started to believe my own bullshit.

The more you blog, the more people read you and the more you slip into this thought process that people come to my site because “I know what I’m talking about.”, which inevitably leads to:

“How dare you say I’m wrong. You know nothing, I’ve been on the internet forever, been fixing computers since before your moms pimp went sweet on her and bought her an Atari 2600 for Christmas – I’m Paul O’Flaherty damn it! How dare you question me?”

Yep, we become full of our own crap and believe our own bullshit.

Even for those of us who don’t go to the extreme mentioned above, for those of us who manage to entertain the idea that we may be wrong after we’ve toiled diligently over our posts to create highly accurate articles full of impenetrable logic and unquestionable facts, it’s very, very important to be wrong.

If you are never wrong, in what you post then there is little reason for anybody to read your post. If you’re always 100% correct then the title should be enough for them. Why would they bother reading 500 words when 10 will do?

Not only that, but posts which are packed with airtight logic leave the reader with little if anything to think about. If your argument is perfect then why would they leave a comment? Writing the “perfect” post to present your situation discourages comments. If you’ve done your job then there is nothing left to say.

Most importantly, if you are never wrong, then your readers will never trust you. I wouldn’t trust anybody who doesn’t admit that they got it wrong and I believe most people have an innate predisposition to disliking people who are always right.

We just don’t like to think other people are better than us.

So here’s my two little titbits of advice for today:

  • Don’t make your posts perfect. Leave room for your readers to think, question and fill in the blanks.
  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong and most importantly don’t be afraid to admit it (and be gracious when you are).

After all, nobody likes a smart arse!