Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blogging needs to change: it'll be totally worth it!

Getting a second opinion
I write blog posts.  Sometimes I make mistakes.  The most important ones are quickly pointed out in comments and fixed but others are never noticed (not important I guess).  Still, it bothers me!  So, before I hit the "Publish" button in Blogger, I have started to email a draft of the blog post to 2-3 experts in the field to get their comments first. They usually write back after 4-8 weeks and a few of their comments are really interesting, so it's totally worth it!  They haven't found any mistakes so far, but they often ask me to add a few paragraphs tangential to the blog post topic.  A few have even pointed out that the topics of some of my blog posts are not really in line with most of the posts on my blogs and have encouraged me to try to publish elsewhere.  I never would have thought of that!

Of course, once I make changes I send the draft back for their opinion, so there goes another 4-8 weeks - but it's totally worth it.  If you noticed that I now post on topics that are a but bit out of date, now you know why.

An unbiased decision?
I found that I don't always follow the suggestions from the feedback and is that really fair?  As an author I am hardly unbiased!  So I started sending the feedback together with my thoughts on it to another expert and left the decision on what to change in his/her capable hands.  Some of these people helpfully pointed out that it wasn't really fair that I picked the experts providing feedback, so they took on the task as well.  Admittedly, this adds a bit more time to the process - these people have other things to do after all - but it's totally worth it.  Also, these "decision makers" don't always feel I should publish my blog posts, so you've probably noticed a drop in the number of posts lately.

A professional look
Many of the mistakes in my blog posts that go largely uncommented are grammer and spelling mistakes.  I know no one cares, but they bother me!  Also, I feel my posts could do with help in the layout department.  So I've started consulting an English major and a graphic designers at every step of the process.  For example, I make sure a graphic designer comments on the general layout and quality of the figures even before the paper is looked at by experts and before I know whether I'll even get the blog post published!  Also, I have someone reformat the entire blog post just before publication to give it that profession feel.  Admittedly, quite a few mistakes creep in during that process - and I don't always catch them all - but it is totally worth it!  Normally, I would ask you to alert me to these mistakes in the comment section - but my graphic designer has removed that section so send me and email!

A sustainable model?
So far all these people are doing all this in their spare time as a favor to me and I don't really see how to continue like this.  Especially the graphic designer and English major are starting to make noises about getting paid.  I ^am really surprised that there isn't some kind of nifty startup with a sensible business model that could take all this off my hands. I would gladly give up copyright so maybe they could sell it somehow? I'm not a business major but I feel this could be totally worth it!

Also, I put a lot of effort into my blog (now more than ever!) and I am a bit worried about the long-term stability of both Blogger and the internet in general.  So I have started printing out my blog posts!  This means shorter blog posts with fewer, if any, color figures but the sense of safety this gives me is totally worth it!

Will this catch on?
So far this is just me doing these things - but I am personally convinced that they are important for the future of blogging.  So convinced in fact that I would love to introduce some kind of legislation that would require everyone to do this.  Alas I have found that legislation = money :(, so until someone finds some kind of business model that meshes with all my ideas this will be but a dream.

But it would be totally worth it!


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