Sep 14, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Ranting of an insomniac
What makes you follow a blog? For me it is the content, the writing, the pictures, the recipes and most of all the "it" factor. If the blogger speaks to me on a personal level, doesn't talk down to me and is passionate about what he or she is writing, I follow them to the last post. I have met some wonderful bloggers who are funny and kind and generous. I have asked for help and have been given support and encouragement and good advice by them. I have befriended them on FB and exchanged emails with a few.
I have also been stumped to read bad copy (read language), improper use of words, shameless self promotion and rude comments all over the blogosphere. I credit the first two to ignorance and let go but the latter two leave me  speechless (obviously not now). Without wanting to sound rude or offensive or arrogant here's a word of advice for those who wanna have 100 followers in a matter of few months: If you are good, people will follow you eventually. Don't go on a blog and ask them to come over and visit yours unless your posts are related. Most likely people will remove your comment from their post or just ignore it. If you still have the urge to solicit, be polite and say something nice about the post you are leaving your comment on and then tell them to come visit you.
And no matter what you do, for heaven's sake do not announce on your blog that you are a better writer or cook than Tarla Dalal. If you can hold a candle to TD let your readers tell you that and believe me they will. Do not brag what your guests said about your cooking. They are guests and have to praise you, whether it was worth the praise or they were being polite, you'll never know.
On the same note, if your recipe is adapted from TD, please give her credit. This goes not only for TD but for all those hardworking bloggers out there typing and composing there posts in the middle of the night.
Which brings me to my next point. For those of you who love to cut, copy and paste from other blogs and pass it off as yours, please don't. In plain speak, it is stealing and it is the worst thing you can do to some one's hard work. If you wrote your own posts and took the trouble of taking photos, editing and captioning them, you would realize how much time and effort goes into the process. Once you are exposed for the fraud you are, no one will visit your blog. It takes just one email to start the chain reaction to brand your blog scarlet. Try being original and I promise you people will try to copy you. Till then, stop and think before you click the copy button. Thank you.
Now I would like to direct everyone's attention to a great blog -- Amit Varma's India Uncut. His views of Indian current events -- politics, sports, culture -- are an interesting read. He has a huge following and millions of people log in everyday to read his posts. In this article -- Blogging Tips from a Jaded Veteran -- he writes a few commonsense guideline for writing a great blog -- keep it crisp, do not talk down to your readers, enjoy the process, respect your reader's time and DON'T COPY.
According to Varma, all the advice he gives for writing a great blog stems from one rule of thumb -- "Respect your reader's time." Here are a few of the points he covers under those rules:
Keep it Crisp
Don't Show Off
Ask yourself why you are writing your blog
Who are you writing for
Be regular but don't force yourself (I love this one)
Use Proper English
Don't Clutter Your Page
Do it only if it is fun (Gotta love that too)
Don't treat the reader like a fool

At the risk of talking down to my readers I will now sign off with the advice : Enjoy and Learn from the above mentioned article.
This post goes to Sra of When my soup comes alive. She is celebrating her third anniversary and has decided to host the unique event The Write Taste. Sra, you are a sister of my heart and I am glad I found your blog.


  1. WOW ! Each word you have written is so so true dear. Well said :)

  2. Hi Jaya, I've sent you two mails - please check.

    It's always 'nice' to read a rant! Because it gives us something to say. Bad language, grammar, spelling, careless writing - in my experience, the teachers are to blame. I don't think anybody under 35, let's say 30, knows 'good English' anymore, whether they come from a city or a small town. I know, because I deal with many, many people, smart, fashionable, yuppie kinds who cannot speak in English, they can only speak jargon and slang and profanity. The more Fs you put in a sentence, the cooler you are! The teachers themselves don't know much, so how can the students be any better? Even professional, career writers make such mistakes - what can you expect of ordinary people?
    Many people also treat blogs as a means of self-expression, and why should language hold them back? It's another thing that a well-rounded blog with competent logic, language and other elements (such as photos) is more attractive than one not so well written, but there would be many people who would hurl charges of elitism/snobbery at the view that the language has to be good. I have, indeed, read at least one argument to that effect - that blogs have a right to be badly written, so to say. I myself like a few blogs that aren't consummately excellent - but that's because there's so much life behind the posts that errors stop being a big deal after a while. Or because you've forged a friendship with that blogger - just the way you'd overlook all this about friends in real life.
    As for comments, well, you've seen all the views on A & N's blog - not much to add. But I have wondered about myself - let's say someone I like a lot and am used to hasn't been commenting in my blog for a while - would it be cheap to ask her why I haven't seen her around for a while? I haven't done it but definitely, I've wondered about some people who fell quiet in my blog. And I don't mind it if these category of blogger friends ask me the same question.
    Now you have to let me into the secret - who claimed they were better than Tarla Dalal? ;)

  3. liked ur advice abt the whole situation, seriously it gets tormenting when people plainly copy forwards or pictures and when u actually ask them about the content they boldly show off it to be theirs!!

    neways, thnks for the pointers...this post is a definite must read for many!!

  4. Thanks Faiza and Rush.

    Sra, you are absolutely right about the reason behind bad language. What gets my goat is when these people go on to write involved sentences using words they do not know the meaning of and then claim they didn't think they could write but are proud they found out they can. News flash: Stringing words together do not make a sentence.
    As I mentioned in my post earlier I do like blogs which are passionate about what they write and to that extent I do not care if there are grammatical or language errors. I take exception when the blog lacks content and language.
    As far as good bloggers going quiet on my blog is concerned I too have wondered sometimes when I don't hear from them. I don't think it is cheap to ask them but I guess the "snob" in me would hold me back. Nah, I am just kidding. I just reason maybe my post did not interest them or they simply missed it due to any no of reason. Even if I had to ask them, I would rather do it in a private email rather than on a public forum.
    As to the TD secret it is coming your way in the mail. :)

  5. Oh this is the food blog! :) I'm glad I found your other blog too.

    May I say I empathise with almost everything you've mentioned here? Bad grammar and spelling gets my goat. Especially because there are softwares/programs that you can 'automatically' use to check on your mistakes.

  6. Hi Jaya, badly written copy makes me mad too, and I put part of that down to the journalist in me. It's true that many bloggers out there don't care much about taking the time to craft a beautiful sentence-- it tells me they don't take pride in their work in which case why should anyone else go to the trouble to read it?
    Enjoyed your post.

  7. Hi Dear! Read your post and I am still pondering over it.
    Honestly, I do not like somebody not using the language correctly but then not every one is not well inforned about it. And blogging is just about one's expression, so I just digest it.I am trying to relate your arguments with my feelings.
    Personally I feel I am not a great writer, as a matter of fact I still can't believe after 52 posts that I could scribble so much, But I write, what comes from my heart. I could be making grammatical errors or spelling errors or may be some other kind, but that's my expression and I like it and I am happy if some one else also likes it. I think the same applies to other bloggers too.
    I am surely curious to know about TD thing.
    When it comes to asking people about visiting their blog. I do ask people politely if I see that they have not visited since a long time, who otherwise were a regular and I am comfortable asking them. I do not ask every one.
    Like I am gonna ask you dear, it's been long that I heard from you:)
    When I was a new blogger I had invited lot of people whose blogs I read, to visit mine. But that was to make my presence known. Today i do not have to do that gladly, But I do not hesitate to ask dear friends like you, whose opinion and words mean a lot to me.
    Do mail me about the TD thing.

  8. Hi Pari,
    It is nice to hear from you after a long time. I apologize if my post struck a chord with you. It was not intended at any one in particular but was a comment on the trend I see all over the blogosphere.
    I do not claim to be a great writer or well informed for that matter. And I do agree that blogging is about one's expression. But is it too much to ask someone to do a spell check before one uploads a document or to recheck the meaning of a word.
    However, if you think it is ok to make grammatical errors in the process of writing your post, then more power to you.
    I, as of now, do not possess the confidence to do it. As someone with a decade of journalist experience I am used to checking and rechecking my copy before I upload it. And even then I am not always entirely happy with it.
    It is admirable to see the initiative and networking skills you possess to make your presence known. That is not my forte and I admire you for it. My contention was with people leaving rude remarks, demanding they be visited since they had done their due visiting others. It is not always possible for everyone to visit all the visitors who come to their blog and it is possible that sometimes some posts do not draw a comment. It is also possible that some one is busy with other things in life.
    I hope this explains a lot of what I meant to say in my post and came across in a totally different light (see, I am not able to express myself properly all the time). :)
    Let me reiterate once again that this was not a personal attack and a general comment on the ongoing trend in the blogosphere. I like your blog for all the interesting recipes you post and I do try to visit as often as I can.

  9. Ah! I relate to so many things you have said in this post and the comments too, especially Sra's!

  10. I am not adding much here:).. but have to say that I loved reading it!!!

    I have come to a point where i am really running short of time to comment or even visit, but i do not comment for give & take sake:-) & don't comment only if i don't get time...

  11. I generally agree with your thoughts Jaya. Rude comments, self promotion, telling people to follow their blogs, and also sending incessant emails about events to unknown people are absolutely baseless and I detest such things. Such things and copying contents from other blogs are put off and have inhibitations visiting their blogs.

    But then I do not have different opinion about writing syle, grammatical mistakes etc. Not everybody has a knack for it and neither have the ability to collect and present their thoughts. I just let that go and look for recipes and if that will suit our taste buds.

    The things that attract me to other blogs are their pictures, content, specific recipes and writing style and as you said a knack for connecting to readers.

  12. i am late for this post but i read the part two , A&N's post n now i am commenting here..
    i have been thinking about writing all this comments and follow business on my blog too but i am so stuck with my own life ( at this point may i tell you that i am a full time nurse-maid to my ailing daughter , checkout homelone )...i agree with everything n would have been more stingy if i would have written it the same time i think language should be given as much importance as it is to communicate the things right...i find myself very incomplete in this field actually.

    sometimes i am away from a blog i like but when i go there i read all the previous posts and comment what i like .....comments on each post seems such a nonsense , esp. when they are those aah..oohh...wonderful...unique ...comments....

    people boast about the followers list n that is such a great put off....i met recently with a British journalist who is a wonderful blogger herself ....she asked me how some people get 100s of comments on each post.....i felt very awkward to explain her that ( more so because i see the Indian bloggers only in that scenario)...another one present there asked me how many comments i get.....i had to tell that i get a couple of genuine comments for some of my posts...:)
    how i wanted to communicate to everybody that i do not write for getting comments.....even my photographs are not good ( clicked with my cell phone cam)n the pics are not even watermarked.....but i have made it clear many a times that writing about the simple day to day food brings a different kind of energy ( or enthusiasm ) for me....i agree about respecting your readers time n maintaining quality of your posts...writing about the things i believe in regarding food n nutrition..

    also i find one this very frustrating....just praise is not good comments....some discussion like how ghee is not that bad as it is portrayed ...or coarse grains may be good in some way....i rarely get such discussion inducing comments about nutrition on my healthfood blog......

    anyway i am so happy that people from other cultures , people who are professionally into nutrition and really interested people like me also come to my blog n that is the real encouragement for me.....otherwise it is so very difficult for me to write ..

    thankyou for this post n i must tell you that i do not need to follow you in the list to come to you regularly....may be i am late but i'll tell you for sure ...everything i feel about what you write..

  13. ha ha ...i made some grammatical mistakes here too...have to check everything before posting....i promise i'll make it a habit...:)

  14. That was an interesting read, Jaya. I think I'm a bit of a grammar snob.
    There's nothing that puts me off more than a badly/poorly written post- and I don't even have a background in journalism like you or Vaishali.;-) Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes are a turn off for me and put me off the blog itself in some cases. Not everyone has flair for writing. I just wish that some people out there who "write" (for lack of a better word) would understand that! There is no need for putting down every single thought that goes through your head on your blog (especially when the blog is one that is primarily about food), if you're unable to express what you'd like to coherently or correctly. I, for one, am usually at a loss for words and am not very expressive (as far as writing something for my blog goes) most of the time. I'm aware of my limitations, so my posts usually just have a 2-3-sentence introduction/preface (which by the way I proofread at least 10 times) before I jot down the recipe. There are so many bloggers who obviously can't tell the difference between "its" and "it's” or even between “your” and “you’re”, and use these words interchangeably- now that’s something I consider pretty BASIC!! And these are the people who go on to write long stories. It makes me so mad!

    I also second what Vaishali said.

  15. TBC - 'its' no longer basic. For someone with a background, let me tell you with all the its, it's, your and you're smothering me, even I'm beginning to get pretty confused - will be thankful if I leave this world with all the apostrophes in place. But heck, why should life and death be ruled by those, as long as you're getting a raise?

  16. Hi Jaya,
    I read this post bit late. I agree with almost everything you have written but for me blogging is all about experiment. I did start out as a Marathi blogger and then ventured into English. And I do make some mistakes mainly due to late night writing and some because English is not my first language.

    I always wonder when people have 100+ followers and get 50+ comments, what is so special about recipe/post to get so many comments.

    I have also realized that there are few snobbish bloggers who like to live in their own world.

    I have to admit, I have found really good friends in blogger world and that I think is an achievement ;)

  17. Hi Jaya,
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog (via Vaishali's site) It was fun reading this blog. Methinks the best advice that you have listed is: "Do it only if it is fun."
    I've often wondered if I would do well with a blogsite, and only lately realised that writing is akin to letting out something caged within. One writes because one has to. And if its no fun, then well... its not much use.
    I like your space, am afraid am going to be a regular here!



Thank you for visiting my space. I miss my former editors, so any form of criticism/ appreciation is welcome. :)

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