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What stops you reading a blog entry?

As you peruse your LJ Friends Page or work through the latest entries on blogs you follow with Google Reader or the like, have you noticed how some posts catch your eye more than others? Sure, a lot depends on things outside that blog writer’s control eg: the reader’s interest in the subject, how much time he/she has etc. Nevertheless, lately I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to come up with a generic template for a good blog post (by ‘good’ I mean gets lots of readers and comments).
Personally, for this sort of thing, I find it more helpful to first identify what doesn’t work, then go from there. With that in mind, if you’ve got a minute, I’d appreciate your feedback.
For the purposes of this poll, I’d like you to assume that the questions refer to a journal entry by someone whose blog you follow.

Poll #1713900 What stops you reading a blog entry?

From the following list, please select anything which would stop you reading someone else’s blog post.

The post’s title didn’t pull me in.
The title embarrassed or annoyed me.
I’d read too many other blog posts on that same topic elsewhere.
The subject of the entry didn’t interest me.
The subject interested me. I started reading, but lost interest partway through.
I didn’t like the tone of the post.
The post was written by a guest on that blog who was unknown to me.
The blogger ‘hid’ most of the entry beneath a cut without making it clear what it was about.
The blogger shared too much personal information.
The post contained the ‘f’ word (or worse).
The post was too long (if you select this option, please clarify in a comment).
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments.

Related post: What would lower your opinion of a fellow blogger?

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( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 5th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Really, the only thing that would keep me from reading a blog I follow is length. For me, personally--my flist is a long one, populated by bloggers who actually blog. If I don't check it twice a day, I inevitably have to go back several pages to catch up. So if an entry is more than about 500 words, I'll generally skim it unless I'm REALLY pulled in.

As far as lowering my opinion? If someone personally attacks another blogger, that would do it. I have no problem with people having different opinions and voicing them. When it becomes a personal attack, or flies off topic to become a rant--yeah, I'd probably skip over that person in the future.
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)
if an entry is more than about 500 words, I'll generally skim it unless I'm REALLY pulled in.

I'm the same. For a long time it bugged me that I couldn't get LJ-cut to work, but looking back, I think it was helpful because it made me keep an eye on the length of my posts. If it's more than about 750 words eg: an interview, I tend to split them into two parts.
(no subject) - asakiyume - Mar. 5th, 2011 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Mar. 5th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Mar. 5th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
To me, blog posts are inherently fairly quick reads. Something that goes on for more than two screens is just too long to read in the time I allot for following blogs. I appreciate folks who want to blog at length giving an intro and then using the "cut" option so I can decide if I want to read more or not.
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
I've nothing against a cut in principle, but I find I rarely bother to look beneath them. I don't know why.
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Mar. 5th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rowyn - Mar. 5th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Mar. 5th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Mar. 5th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
While I do agree that long blog posts can be a drain on one's time, I make an exception on my own blog for book reviews and author interviews.

Funny, though, when I read other articles online, the first thing I do is scroll down to see how long it is so I know what I'm in for. :-)
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Of course, I also read long posts that interest me no matter whose blog it is. If it pulls me in, I'll read it to the end.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 5th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Mar. 5th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I don't mind LJ cuts that don't reveal what the content's about, because I'll happily click on through (or not, if I'm busy), but I do feel that way about videos posted without comment. I really appreciate when a person adds a line explaining what the video is and how long it is.
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
I didn't think about videos, Thanks, Francesca :)
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
It's mainly long posts or posts with lots of links that turn me away.
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:38 pm (UTC)
Lol, so that's why you never drop by here on a Friday :P

By the way, congrats on approaching the finish line on No Dogs Allowed :)
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
More often than not, time stops me reading a blog entry! I usually scan everything in my friends' list, and only stop to read properly if I have the time for it. Fitting my writerly social networking in around my day job and actual writing is a big problem for me at the moment!
Mar. 5th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
Sounds perfectly sensible to me :)
Mar. 5th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
Length is the number one reason. If it's more than 500 words (I'll give a REALLY good topic 600-700) I will read to a certain point then stop.

And then if the tone is mean or cruel...I'm out. Sometimes I may finish reading it depending on the topic. But I will likely have a negative idea about that blogger from that point on.
Mar. 5th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
Another one with a 500-word limit. That seems to be the optimum post length for quite a few people.

Thanks for sharing, Tracy :)
(no subject) - rowyn - Mar. 5th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 5th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
I find sometimes, that it's the content that turns me away. It could start off as something that caught my attention, but somewhere along the line, lost my interest. Whether it be the blog turning into a personal rant (forewarning would be nice), or it gets bogged down with cumberson information on the topic--my eyes just skim right over.

Mar. 5th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
Too much detail can certainly send my eyes sliding off the page.
Mar. 5th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about long posts. If they're gatherings of information from across the Interwebz, I'm apt to keep reading Cynthia Leitich-Smith's blog is one example. She rounds up news across the kid-lit-o-verse, which is great, because then it's all in one place.

But if the post is a wall of only loosely structured random ramblings, I'm going to skip right past it. I'm not naming any names in this regard.
Mar. 5th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
But if the post is a wall of only loosely structured random ramblings...

I know what you mean. I think it's a good idea to treat a blog post a bit like a short story ie: Once you finish drafting it, get the pruners out :)
Mar. 5th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
"Title didn't pull me in" could mean either subject of the post, or generic titles like "Friday five" or "Thursday musings" that don't tell me anything. If it's a blog where I don't read every post, I'm not going to click on it.

"Too long" varies. I might be interested in a few details on the subject, but not in a full chapter. Or I might just not have time. I often save long posts to read for later, but never come back to them.

"Something else" - if the post is badly written, I'll stop reading. (This doesn't usually happen on blogs I follow, but can happen on feeds that are amalgamations of several blogs.)

Videos, too, like someone said above. I don't click on videos if the blogger doesn't say what it is. Posts that are "This is awesome!" and a video annoy me.
Mar. 5th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
I may have been guilty of that video faux pas :)
(no subject) - dendrophilous - Mar. 8th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
I read pretty much everything on my friends list, with very few exceptions. The things that might make me skim an entry (not always, but sometimes):

* Strange formating: hard carriage returns at odd positions, for example, or lots of italics and/or boldface in a not-very-sensical fashion. Likewise, if I'm visiting a blogger's page via a link, and the style of the page makes it hard to read, (light green on dark green, or grey on black, or a busy background, etc.) I leave.
* I don't really like poetry and sometimes skip poems.
* Post was not written by the blogger (copy of an article, song lyrics, guest blogger, etc.)
* Interviews -- I don't really like these, in general, so unless it's an interview of someone I know and am interested in, I may skip it
* Post was "too long" = "more than fifteen hundred words" to me.
* Post is part of a larger work of fiction that I'm not following, either because the first installments didn't catch my interest, or because they're posted in chunks that I find "too long".

I despise cut tags, and turned them off on my friends page. They are vastly overused by people who are terrified of offending their readers by *gasp* expecting them to read what you've written. (Hint: if I am looking at your blog, then I want to read what you have written. Also, scrolling down occasionally is much less annoying than opening a new page every 15 seconds.) Or who've been terrorized by the handful of people who have an unfathomable adoration for cut-tags and think every post should have one, no matter how short. (IMNSHO, the only excuse for a cut-tag is if the post is ginormous -- say, 5000+ words -- or to hide an image wider than 900 pixels. And even with too-wide images, you should use the img size code to shrink the image while linking to the full-size one, instead of a cut-tag.)

Anyway, I am safe from cut-tags on my LJ friends list at least, so they only get the chance to annoy me when I'm browsing a blog directly.
Mar. 5th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point about interviews. Whenever I've had someone do both here, their guest post has always had more page hits than their interview.
Mar. 5th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
Regarding LJ cuts, I use them a lot, because I often write long entries. I know a lot of people scroll past them, but I figure better that than inflicting a really long entry (mostly of interest to me) on my friends-list.

The "mostly of interest to me" point may be worth a few words: I blog mostly for myself about stuff I'm interested in, often to work out ideas of my own. It doesn't bother me that these entries may not appeal to other people, I just try not to actively inflict them on my f'list. (Some of my longest entries are recaps of a TV show I really like, and those tend to reliably draw traffic. The posts where I ramble on like Led Zeppelin about topics of current interest to me draw less traffic, and that's okay.)

I guess at this stage of the game I know my blog is mostly of interest to me, so I continue to write that way. But it's worth keeping the purpose of the blog in mind: if someone aspires to have blogosphere success, they probably shouldn't write "what's in my mind right now" entries as I do.
Mar. 5th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think there's ever a 'right' way to blog, there's just what works for you and what doesn't.
(no subject) - coneycat - Mar. 6th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 5th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
Fair enough :)
Author Christine Hardy
Mar. 5th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
I usually have a very limited time to peruse blogs, and am in a huge hurry. If you don't a) make it clever, interesting, or at least pertinent in the first paragraph, I'm not going to waste my time. And b) if it's longer than 300-500 words, I will probably skim to the comments without reading the actual post. I tend to be more interested in live conversation via the comments than in someone's long-winded essay.

I generally try to make my own posts short, catchy, and audience engaging. Tehre are days I'm more verbose, but I know when I put those long posts up I'll probably get fewer responses and that it was more for my own gratification to say what I said. I usually end up going back and editing them, too.

Mar. 6th, 2011 09:52 am (UTC)
I know what you mean about comments. I always enjoy hearing other people's different thoughts on a blog post subject.
Mar. 5th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
I don't mind reading a long post if it's formatted right, that is paragraphs separated by some space, and it's a topic I care about.
Mar. 6th, 2011 09:53 am (UTC)
Absolutely. Plenty of white space is a must.
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