10 things that make tech blogs unreadable

Sometimes I feel like my posting is too positive (this is supposed to be cynical blog according to tagline) and bit of ranting should be added to the mix. I am not that arrogant to claim universal truth on what makes tech blogs unreadable but I have clear personal opinion formed. So I will share my list and then we shall compare notes , ok? :)

In no particular order.

1. Dark background and tiny font

It looks geek and if design is good one I might like it. It will give me that warm pleasant feeling of seeing something beautiful and after that I will close it and never return. It’s obviously not intended to be read and I won’t cheapen my impression by visiting repeatedly.

2. No/bad screenshots

It may be generalization but if something looks like crap it most probably is. I’d better get that valuable information from post rather than wasting my time downloading, installing and then seeing it.

3. Apple

Know what I think about Apple? I don’t think about Apple. Because:

  1. I live half globe far from only country where its products sell well;
  2. and it doesn’t produce anything I am remotely interested in.

So if over 30% of blog is about Apple all the time it should’ve saved world bunch of time by getting Apple-something.us domain.

4. All fluff, no value

There are two types of tech posts:

  1. useful;
  2. funny.

I know latter do really well for social traffic. If blog has only those I won’t interfere on that intimate relationship with Digg and will go look for useful ones elsewhere.

5. Hype

Information that gmail got skins for interface may be incredibly useful for someone who hadn’t seen that valuable stuff fifty times already. Sin of reposting hype can be softened with adding personal opinion. Unfortunately blogs that rely on hype don’t have personal opinions.

6. Vacations (marriages, work issues, etc)

I completely understand that blog wasn’t updated for three months because of very important issues. And sincerely thankful that I was reminded to unsubscribe.

7. Bad choice of RSS form

  • Cryptic title without content is not something I will click.
  • Twenty titles with hundred images and dozen videos on top is the other extreme case.

8. Bad comment policy

If my perfectly valid comment poofs because of crappy antispam setup – I am out. I don’t believe that tech blog failing to get antispam right can produce valuable qualified posts.

By the way If I leave fifty words comment I expect an answer. Hundred words without answer and I will make that disinterest mutual.

9. Too intrusive ads

Giant flash ad that is coded poorly enough to make my CPU load spike is not monetizing. It’s reader repellent.

10. Following the formula

Doing what all A-listers do. Hiring a team, producing average number of daily posts on average topics with average design and below average attention to readers. A-listers are better at that so I’ll just read them instead.

I feel that my cynical balance is restored. Have hate to add? :)

Chain reaction 10 more annoying aspects of tech blogs at gHacks

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18 Comments

  • Hah, hate is awesome :D I totally agree with you, while I probably actually do 1-2 myself :)

    I REALLY hate thy hype thing. When Chrome came out I can understand 1 post on it, but lifehacker had like 30 in 3 days. Chrome SUCKS. that sounds very wrong, and indeed it is going to be a good browser, but compared to Firefox it’s nowhere (I do believe it’ll catch up though).

  • I hate tech blog that still use JPEG for screenshots :p

  • @MK

    Totally, using badly compressed JPEG for software screenshots loks really bad. My blog is almost completely PNG. Reminds me that I really have to finish screenshoting series of post. :)

  • @MK,@rarst
    I totally agree with you we have to go for quality of images than opting for size of images ,I use PNG images fro screen shots.PNG images appear much more in clarity than JPEG.

  • @venkat

    Yep, JPEG was developed for photo. It’s really bad for small details and straight lines. By the way PNG can be compressed pretty well, takes some advanced tricks (I reaaaally need to finish screenshoting series – keep thinking I need to reference post I hadn’t posted yet).

    Thanks or your visit and comment btw. :)

  • Thanks for the tips, Rarst.

    I’ve just gotten started into the tech blogging thing a year ago just as a hobby. I had thought that the spam was a good thing, believe it or not–perhaps it would help in google search rankings? Anyhow I have since deleted all the spam on my blog and will be posting future photos in .png format.

    I’d like to hear your comments about my website:
    http://www.patricksoon.blogspot.com

  • @Patrick

    Just started? This blog is under half year so you are actually more experienced in tech blogging than me. :)

    Spam is definitely bad. It pollutes page with irrelevant text and links that may be considered harmful by search engines.

    My post on image formats for screenshots btw:
    https://www.rarst.net/software/screenshoting-image-format/

    I had taken quick (sleepy morning) look at your blog. It’s nice but I think looks kinda generic being on free Blogger service. Self-hosted solutions are more trouble but also much more customizable.

    If you are looking for in-depth opinions I highly recommend submitting your blog to Reader Blog Critique:
    http://www.bloggingtips.com/reader-blog-critique/
    http://www.bloggingtips.com/category/reader-blog-critique/

    I am both active contributor there and participated with this blog as well, it’s awesome project:
    http://www.bloggingtips.com/2008/10/01/reader-blog-critique-rarstnet/
    https://www.rarst.net/web/blog-critique-results/

  • Thank you for the tips, Rarst. Not to plug my blog again, but I should’ve put a link to my most-trafficked article. Perhaps you may even find it somewhat useful?:

    I will be looking into those links you posted!

  • @Patrick

    Link was broken and my comments are for relevant links, not trafficked ones, ok? :)

  • @Brad

    I am so bored with posts that start with “I am sorry that I wasn’t posting lately becuase…”. If you are going to do it shut up and write, if not then who cares. :)

  • Extremely excellent article. I’ve tried myself updating my blog more than I should but I’ve been busy for things I can’t really stop. But since I’ve managed to rely heavily on placing lots of programming tutorials, they’ve managed to keep my blog busy behind the scenes. =]

  • @Diego

    Glad you liked it. :) Just don’t post how busy you are, hehe.

  • @Rarst

    I haven’t been “extremely” busy but it happens. I recently re-designed my club’s website http://shpeatucr.org and have been thinking about switching my theme over…I’m the one holding the trophy to the right of the main page. =]

    I’m also looking forward on hearing from Google soon…I might get an internship! I’m supposed to hear from a recruiter by the 5th of January. I’m also a ninja coder, if you haven’t seen on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Technical-University-Recruiting-Careers/b/ref=amb_link_5763692_6?ie=UTF8&node=239379011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-4&pf_rd_r=1JMQTMBM7DBSARKM24AG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=465323071&pf_rd_i=203348011 =D

    So yes, I’ve apparently been the “right” type of busy! =D

  • “but I have clear
    personal opinion
    formed”

    Which is why we appreciate you !

    Nobody likes mushy neutral commentary. Opinionated commentators
    are just fine …as long as their opinions are not too, too far
    from my own ! Sorry, but ~that’s~ how it works.

    Try to be everything to everybody and you’ll end up being nothing
    to nobody !

    “When Chrome came
    out I can understand
    1 post on it, but
    lifehacker had like
    30 in 3 days”

    Lifehacker is stuck on Google (Chrome and Wave), Firefox, open
    source, and Apple (Mac and iPhone).

    You ain’t into those things, and there isn’t a whole lot in
    Lifehacker for you. Regular garden-variety PC users feel like
    orphans on Lifehacker !

    Personally, I find Lifehacker faddish and oriented to Yuppie
    narcissistic upper-class kids rather than technology geeks.
    ( “Personality Factor”, again ! ) People who buy electronics
    for fad and a fashion statement / status symbol more than
    utility.

    The DataRat

    .

  • @DataRat

    Collectively Lifehacker does cater to mainstream. But that doesn’t reduce amount of hard work (and big money) that goes into that blog.

    I had issues following all of it because of volume/content and switched to “Top” posts feed. Much more manageable and truly good stuff most of the time.

  • […] Good old Rarst posted another interesting article today about 10 things that make tech blogs unreadable. He has become quite the little ranter over at his Rarst stronghold but I have to admit that he has […]

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