The Better blogger focuses on what his or her readers needs to know and avoids saying more about the subject than they have to. It’s important to provide background but where less important information can be left out that’s the better way to go.
Brevity is an important goal in online writing. Longer posts can be intimidating. Many visitors will only scan long posts at best. The theory is that online readers have relatively short attention spans. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general I think it is good advice to think small. Keep it simple and clear. And when it comes to editing: when it doubt, cut it out.
GUIDELINES FOR ETHICAL BLOGGING
Over the years four basic guidelines for ethical blogging have been recognized.
Point 1 – Be well informed about your subject
Blogging is, by definition, a self-directed process. There are usually no deadlines, other than those you assign yourself and no one telling you what to do. You are on your own and free to write off the top of your head about matters that are well known to you.
However, it’s also important to recognize that bloggers have an obligation to themselves and to their readers to explore and research topics as fully as possible prior to writing and publishing.
- Investigate the background;
- Get the whole story;
- Learn about both sides of the issue;
- Seek out competing points of view;
- Read what the experts have to say;
- Get the facts straight.
As a professional writer and blogger, it’s important to keep a stash of resources and links to save time. Every blogger has their own unique list of resources and sources they call upon. These are just a few of mine.
Point 2 – Be honest
Beware of the temptation to distort truth for your own purposes. Responsible bloggers comprehend copyright and fair use limitations and what to do about copyright. They do not falsify facts, do not present a few facts as the whole story, do not present tentative findings as firm conclusions. They do not plagiarize and or present the ideas of others as their own.
Point 3 – Use sound evidence
You need evidence to explain and support your ideas. When using evidence, be sure not to take quotations out of context, not to juggle numbers or statistics, and not to present unusual cases as representative examples. Use sources of information that are objective and qualified and link to them appropriately.
Links to your sources are important for at least four reasons: Verifiability, Acknowledgment, Examples, Context.
- Verifiability. Links to your sources allow me to verify whether or not your story is true. For this to work, though, they should point to hard news sources, not just another blog.
- Acknowledgment. Sources permit you to acknowledge where you got your ideas and information from in the first place. These can include not only hard news sources, but also any blog or other source that sparked you to think about the topic. If the information is not generally known, though, include additional sources to satisfy the verifiability requirement. I sometimes handle acknowledgments with a hat tip.
- Examples. Sources can help provide you with the kinds of examples you need to support your arguments. Since the internet is a hypertext environment, sources can also help you to pack more information into a post without providing loads of background details.
- Context. Sources help locate your ideas within their broader context. By providing links to that context, you help your reader to understand how your ideas relate to other opinions and discussions on the internet, and on your own blog. In the process you provide additional value to your reader, giving her one more reason to return.
Take the time to examine and carefully select anchor text when you link. Search engines are designed to provide highly relevant search results and this is where properly selected anchor text comes into play. Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page. Use appropriate key words (search terms) as anchor text.
Anchor text can be used in:
- Links on your home or main page – *important spot*
- External links – links from other sites
- Internal links – links on your pages
- Navigation maps
Point 4 – Employ valid reasoning
Avoid such fallacies as making hasty generalizations, asserting causal connections where none exist, using invalid analogies, and pandering to passion or prejudice.
A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply “arguments” which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true.