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我的博客经 - 南桥的日志 - 网易博客


Advice for New Bloggers

I started to blog in 2004, while I was a graduate student at Syracuse University.   In the decade that followed, my blog has fetched over 20 million page views.    The exposure also brought invitations to write columns and articles for various newspapers and magazines, including China Daily, Southern Metro Daily, as well as the Chinese sites of New York Times, Financial Times and Holland Online.   I also published three collections of essays based largely on blog posts.   Vanity aside, I am saying these to take the stigma off blogging, which used to be perceived as verbal doodles produced in mama’s basements by guys who do not have a job or life.  Blogging opens doors for me.   It gets me to engage with people whom I wouldn't be able to reach.  I also enjoy the educational aspects of such experience.   Without a terminal degree under my belt, I have not been able to teach in a college.   Blogging is my way to teach my favorite things to a broad audience in an informal way.

When you start to blog, do not sweat the small stuff, the “techniques” such as the proper length, the frequency of publishing, or the timing  for publishing drafts.   With the multitude of blogging vendors out there, there is no point detailing the mechanics of a particular one.   However, having some good writing habits makes a difference.  There I would make a few recommendations:

  • "Pet" your topics.   The Internet does not always reward the desire to succeed, but it rewards passion and effort you invest in a topic.  My son, who watches many Minecraft videos on Youtube, once commented that those who want to be famous in Youtube remain anonymous.   Those devoted to their craft become famous because they get increasingly better at what they do.   Similarly, in blogging, narrow focus on readership leads to myopia, with which you may write to please the crowd, a bad place to start for new bloggers.  Instead, keep cultivating your passion and expertise related to your topics.   Make sure you do not write about things you feel only lukewarm about.   Be ambitions.  You may be able to use blogging to make some positive changes.
  • Do your research homework.  When starting, you do not have to be an expert at every aspect of the topic you are writing about.  That’s where research comes in.  You may sometimes hear advice for you to write what you are familiar with.  Truth of the matter is, all good writers are researchers who turn the unfamiliar familiar.  Bloggers have to be avid learners.   In the past decade, I have written about such topics as textbook adoption policies, K12 reading programs, or what cognitive science has to say about reading fiction.   I am not exactly familiar with all of these topics at the beginning. I choose to write about them because I see something missing in the debate on these topics in the Chinese blogsphere.  I want to research international practices for benchmarking.  For your blogging to be useful, do your homework.  You may not start as an expert, but make sure you end as one after you finish writing about a topic.
  • Don't rant.  Help find a solution.  Quite a number of bloggers take to blogging to vent on a topic or life in general.   This may have some therapeutic effect when you are frustrated with the state of things, but you will not get a lot of mileage out of rants.  John Cheever wrote a short story about a middle-class couple whose new radio picks up sounds from neighbors.    Hearing their neighbors’ miscellaneous miseries eventually destroyed the fine equilibrium in this couple’s own marriage.   Sooner or later, people leave bloggers who define themselves by useless negativity.   Constructive suggestions or solutions will go farther.  People seek you out not to hear what you are against, but what you can help them solve.  
  • Provoke views, not the viewers.  I enjoy a good debate in the comments section if commenters can contribute to a civil, mutually beneficial dialogue.  Readers can help me to revise my otherwise erroneous ideas,  see blind spots in the reasoning process, resolve my conflicting views or fix my typos, grammar and other such embarrassments.   I like to get people to think, using my blog post as a start, not as an end in itself.  I draw energy and wisdom from the feedback loop.    I engage with people who disagree with me in an agreeable way.   Censoring opposite views hurts credibility for bloggers.   However, watch out for personal attack or belittling sarcasm or other obnoxious cyber behaviors.   Unless I want to create a “teachable moment” for other readers, I do not spend much time fighting with vicious bullies.  I do not allow them to hurt my feelings.   I reserve the right to remove such comments.  Life is too short for unpleasant, futile and time-wasting fights on the Internet, or anywhere else.
  • Keep writing.  The greatest trick for success in blogging is to keep doing it.   I do this almost everyday.   I sometimes get praises for my perseverance and hard work, which is only partially true, as I enjoy writing in the first place.  Blogging give me the same pleasure others derive from quilting, gardening, woodcutting or watching football.   However, I do have my writer’s blocks once in a while.  On such days, I write shorter pieces to keep myself in the habit of writing.  It is my experience that the more you write, the more you can write. 

According to 

Pew Research

, non-internet users are now in the minority (15% of American adults).   Among the 85% of those who do use, many of whom read or write some kind of blogs or micro-blogs.     Blogging has simply become a mainstream method for the consumption and production of views and information.   It is an effective way for us to make sense of the world around us, and an avenue for us to express ourselves, and possibly make a difference along the way.   Happy blogging in 2014!


今天看到一个美国博客写的博客经营要领,发觉是隔靴搔痒,比如不要用Click here、引用他人博客之类,这些都是锦上添花,改变不了一个博客的本质。套用维基百科的说法,“不满意是吧?你自己来整。”所以我也以一个自从2004年开始的老一辈博客的身份,讲述一下经营好一个博客的心得。


第八、注意版面设计。版面没有必要弄得花里胡哨,但也不能乱七八糟。这涉及到字体的使用,标题和正文的对比,链接的设置,图片的使用,字体的统一等等。总而言之,不要进去了头都大。汪教授的博客就是这个问题,其版面之乱和我C盘的文件有得一拼。他从来不收拾,我修理过他多少次,他还得索得很,说就是不改,要气死我。想气死我没这么容易,我会一直将其当反面教材,直到他改掉,或者他自己气死 —— 哪个先到算哪个。(汪某至今不改,且把恶习传到了微博上。)








第二、心术要正。写博客不同的人是带着不同的目标来的,有的是老师,借用这个手段和学生分享内容。有的本来就是写手,写主编、导师等的命题作文写烦了,到这里透透气。这都是可以的,就怕是为了出名来写,遇到热门话题就往上凑。除非我觉得我有足够的力量,将一场争议止息,否则纯粹凑热闹没有意义。就是遇到热门话题,我实在是觉得有感而发了,才会去发言。另外,我想说的话,一定首先能说服我自己,我如果自己都不相信,那么我不会去说。我记得以前我们教会一个牧师说过一句很有意思的话:有的人有言可发,有的人就是要发言(Some people have something to say, others just want to say something)。希望我们尽量去做前者。

第一、尊重这个媒体。和很多朋友一样,我曾经觉得写博客是一件闹着玩的事,是一种休闲而已。由于考虑到博客是“不务正业”,我曾经多次准备将其停掉,但是很可惜,每次都失败,比戒烟还难。2005年,我在西弗吉尼亚工作,遇到了我们学校一个大众传媒教授Stephen Cooper, 和他做了一次访谈,他就专门研究博客如何成为一支平衡传统媒体的力量,和他的谈话改变了我对博客的认识,我开始意识到它可以是一个新兴媒体。就好比木匠爱好斧头,瓦匠爱好泥刀一样,我们也得热爱这个工具,把握它的禀性,得带着一种玩家的精神,来把它的力量发挥到极致。对于我来说,它就是一个媒体,是一个我擅长的媒体,换了别的媒体,我就不一定玩得转,比如微博,饭否、微博、Twitter什么的账号我全有,但是我就是玩不好,因为我更擅长长篇大论,140个字的限制对我的杀伤力极大。总而言之,既然是写博客,那么就好好写,不要马马虎虎,浪费托管方的空间和自己的时间。不写也挺好的,如果觉得写得很苦,为赋新词强说愁,那就要考虑是不是别写了。要写就好好写,因为世上大多值得做的事情,值得我们去做好。不值得做的事情,往往也不值得不冷不热地去做。

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