Saturday, October 21, 2006

Green blogs a-coming

I'm gradually filling up my excel spreadsheet full of marks for the mammoth task that is the "100 Best Green Blogs", so there's still time to get new entries in, either your own blog or ones you like (email me). If you don't know what I'm talking about, or don't know the 'rules', check here.

Dog blogsI'm finding the general marking system of ten areas marked out of ten very useful and it's clear that consistency across the board pays off. There are some blogs I rather like that have scored badly because they let themselves down in certain areas and others that I confess I never visit that score well, because they cover all the bases - and thereby deserve to do well.

I'm prepared for people to complain that I don't "like" their blog when the results come out, but I can assure you that although the system has a large element of subjectivity, a system it is and there will be no appeal process, it isn't personal (although of course there is always next year, when Iain Dale will be taking over the list, I think). However, if you want to improve your blog, if you write to me I will email back with my suggestions and thoughts on your blog, which will be my personal opinion but possibly of some interest. I'll try to include some simple steps you can take to make real improvements.

So far weakest areas overall seem to be:

  • If you use a blogger template please don't use Son of Moto. It's not a criticism if you do but around one in four green bloggers use this template and once you've seen the same template used just a few times it starts to wear. You don't need to go the whole hog and get a personalised design - as one of the beauties of blogging is that anyone can do it, no matter how poor their IT skills - but a bit more variety (and a little less reliance on unmitigated primary colours) would improve the green blogosphere as a whole.
  • Also on design I would like to say that just because you can do something does not mean that you should. Littering your blog template with hundreds of photos and logos doesn't necessarily make your blog look as pretty as each of these images are on their own. So far the more minimal designs have been the ones that have been most pleasing, to my eye at least.
  • Third point on design is, love your entries and attend to their needs. Once you've posted to your blog check it. A long essay is hard enough to read on the screen without an idiosyncratic approach to paragraph breaks, punctuation and font sizes. I'm not setting myself up as an expert or anything, but I do know what I find difficult to read. If you picked up a leaflet which had accidental paragraph breaks in the middle of sentances or irregular use of fonts or silly errors it would influence what you thought about the content of that leaflet. Likewise if I read a blog, it wont matter that the content is ground breaking if I find it too clumsy to actually read what it has to say. It does matter and is not just an issue of aestetics.
    A) Publish your post. B) Look at it. C) Correct the errors.
    It's surprising how few bloggers seem to do this when it's so easy and makes such a large difference.
  • Let's lighten up a bit. You don't need to be telling actual jokes, but a wry, personalised approach to climate change, council blunders or recycling makes the posts more readable and can help create a regular readership. Mind you, jokes don't hurt either.
  • Interaction between blogs is pretty weak at the moment and that's something some of us hope to be working on in the near future. Blogs that regularly link to other bloggers, comment on their comments and go and contribute to the discussion at those blogs begin to develop a community around themselves. It's only a minority of green bloggers that do this at the moment, let's see if we can't do something about this.

I hope that this exercise in creating a hierarchical and subjective list of bloggers, cough, will contribute to creating a network or community of green and progressive bloggers and also help focus minds on how we can all improve the blogs we have.


stroppybird said...

You make some good points about writing and designing blogs.

Daniel S. Ketelby said...

I hope that this exercise... will contribute to creating a network or community of green and progressive bloggers and also help focus minds on how we can all improve the blogs we have.

Sounds good... and best of luck with the database. Forward to an engaging and innovative green blogosphere!

Matt Sellwood said...

Oh dear. I haven't updated my blog for ages, its design is pants, I'm overly serious and my last post is about a funeral.

I'm screwed! Any chance of just leaving me out altogether...? :)


Jim Jay said...

No way! I've had enough trouble finding the green blogs i got!

I've not "marked" yours yet so if you made a post now it might make things slightly less humiliating :)