What we think matters in a blog

Today, we had a most interesting discussion about what mattered most in a blog and why and tried to work around with the following questions through a discussion and by looking at a bunch of our blogs and the OCU blogs.

  • What matters the most in a blog?
  • What matters the least?
  • What kinds of visual rhetoric choices do you make and how can that be evaluated?
  • Grammar counts–“correctness”?
  • Should there be a check list of features you need to have in order for it to be a good blog, an “A” blog?
  • What is blog greatness?

The first thing we talked about (and that I wrote on the board–old school style with dry erase markers!) was the “visual decisions” that writers make, or in other words, visual rhetoric.

A moment at the board...

It was amazing how we worked through the above questions and noted down all the things that we could think of that seemed to matter in a very immediate sense (actually things we could see). Many of the things we noted were part of our reading in the Web Writing Style Guide by Writing Spaces.

So. We started with visual decisions and started listing under that:

  • The theme of the blog
  • Background/text
  • Set-up of sidebar (recent posts first or archive first or Tweets or what?)
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Pictures/images
  • Titles
  • Tag lines

We also talked about overall organization–did it please the eye or make sense to the mind? Was the spacing right–too much “white” space or too little? How can we tell? One person may prefer something over another one. We all agreed there should be a “balance” between text and image or space, so that it’s easy for the reader. Cohesion in design mattered as well–too many wacky colors or different fonts might make most of us a bit nuts. And we all said that overall organization mattered (I’m inferring here that we meant blog posts vs. pages and how easy it is to use the blog space as a reader–how easy it is to navigate–how it “feels”).

All the while we noted that the blog is a conversation between reader and writer that can be interactive but there are some things missing, even if it’s terribly exciting with lots of images and links…

But wait… we realized that no one had really mentioned the actual writing. Whoa. And woe.

I added that at the top along with something we all said mattered: voice.

We have all been reading each others’ blogs with our voices–because we have heard each other talk so much and are in class together. But how are we perceiving the voices in the blogs of our partner students at OCU–whom we’ve never met? And gulp–how are they perceiving our voices? Are we too formal, too flip?

And then it hit us that we really have an audience, and we needed to step up our game–readers are counting on us. Our blogs are the only way our readers will know us–what does that really mean?

We don’t have a finished idea of how to grade blogs yet, but I think we’re making some great progress as we continue to formulate and form and grow what it is that we are doing as writers online in this space at this time for ourselves and our partners at OCU.

As usual–great class, great chat, great thinking. Man, I love my job.

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One thought on “What we think matters in a blog

  1. This is wonderful–and really funny because our class ended taking a nearly opposite tack: we discussed visual communication within the blogs but focused our rubric note-taking on the verbal content and grading. Take a look at our first round of notes:
    http://amandajeanie.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/potential-grading-rubric/

    One reason we may have been more verbally oriented is because we anchored our discussion to the AUM blogs–especially the writing styles of the authors. I love the way our classes are complementing one another! By the way, one of the things we agreed might be helpful is to include in the rubric a distinction between an A and an A minus–perhaps create an intermediate category–since this writing is worth such a big chunk of the course grade.

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