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Are In-Depth Articles Better Than Blog Postings?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the think-before-you-speak dept.

The Internet 157

athloi writes to tell us usability expert Jakob Nielsen is stressing the importance of well-thought-out articles as opposed to off-the-cuff blog postings. "Blog postings will always be commodity content: there's a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else's comments. Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they're definitely easy to write. But they don't build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant."

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Balanced ecosystem (5, Interesting)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806443)

I think there's an argument to be made about supporting a balanced blog ecosystem.

Obviously if everybody posts short blurbs, it just doesn't work, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, if *everybody* posts long, well-thought-out articles, it'd be hard to find 1. What you're interested in, since often the shortposters serve the function of aggregating cool things, and 2. Where the 'blogosphere' action is. There'd be fewer conversations, and indeed, short posts are part of a conversation.

Luckily, there appears little danger of everybody posting well-thought-out articles.

Personally, I'm starting to reap the benefits of longer articles on my science/tech blog [blogspot.com] . Lots of repeat readers. But it's so hard to get exposure when you have fewer chances for 'hits'.

Searching the ecosystem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806529)

"Obviously if everybody posts short blurbs, it just doesn't work, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, if *everybody* posts long, well-thought-out articles, it'd be hard to find"

Thank God someone invented search engines.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (-1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806585)

I agree that there is room for both. That is why I have two blogs. My blog at the transition choices [transitionchoices.com] site is really for more more elaborate, in-depth articles. My blog at google's blogger site [blogspot.com] is for the more mundane reaction to today's news.

As you can plainly see, the transition choices [transitionchoices.com] blog site is more organized like a article publishing portal than a typical blog site. It has a three level navigation hierarchy, support for mini-sites, a rudimentary portal organization, an extensible search facility, and content syndication. All that and it's open source [sourceforge.net] too.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (4, Funny)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806639)

and thank GOD that somebody invented slashdot so that people could spam their blogs in the comments!!

Re:Balanced ecosystem (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806807)

Most of the postings in your "elaborate, in-depth" blog are shorter than the ones in your "mundane" blog. The primary difference seems to be that the ones in the "in-depth" blog use bigger words, don't seem to have as much relevance, and don't make as much sense. Also, the black text on a turquoise background really isn't working for me.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806931)

The articles for the in depth blog are made up of multiple sections. The left hand side navigation takes you to the different sections of each article. The secondary horizontal navigation takes you to the different articles. Although each page from the in depth [transitionchoices.com] blog is smaller than a blog entry from the mundane [blogspot.com] blog, if you added up all the section pages for any article, you would find that the articles from the transition choices site are larger than the entries from the blogspot site.

Thanks for the feedback on the colors. It's time to change them anyway.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808265)

Frankly the entire layout makes your in-depth blog look really, uhm, lame. I've got a lot of little comments that don't add up to a real point, but they may help you in the future:
  • I don't know why you've bothered to use AJAX for something as simple as website navigation. Why do I need a "Loading/Done" notification?
  • Search bar doesn't seem to work but why do you need a search bar in the first place?
  • Dividing the articles up like you do is annoying and doesn't convey that the sections are part of a single narrative.
  • Clickable things are not clearly defined, especially on the front page, where I had to move the mouse around a lot to discover that "(more)" was a link.
  • At least on my browser, the text is too big for the fixed-width nav bar. Taking it down two notches looks good.
  • A lot of the content is just plain rubbish, sorry. The commentary isn't particularly insightful and the writing is somewhere between bland and incoherent.
  • "I just read a blog entitled Top Ten Things Ten Years of Professional Development has Taught Me." That's exactly the sort of thing Nielsen says not to do.
Sorry if that sounds harsh. I just started with one little thing that bothered me and it blossomed into a bunch of things. I didn't feel like it would help you if I tried to pull punches.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (5, Interesting)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807157)

"if *everybody* posts long, well-thought-out articles, it'd be hard to find 1."

Well, yeah, but that just means you have a lot of well-thought-out articles. It's hard to find a downside to that. More research is always better.

Blogs, on the other hand, are streams of consciousness. I don't see an "ecosystem" at work so much as just a bunch of people offering their opinions. It's like calling Bill O'Reilly a "verbal blogger".

My point is, there is a lot of value is well-thought-out articles. There is significantly less in offering opinion about the news.

Re:Balanced ecosystem (2, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808403)

Or 500,000 people all linking to the same original article and offering that as "content".

Are in depth articles better than blog postings? (5, Funny)

cornjchob (514035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806451)

Yes.

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806513)

wtf noob, I so dissagree

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806593)

Me too!

Anonymous Coward wrote:
> wtf noob, I so dissagree
>
> cornjchob wrote:
>> Yes.

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806517)

No

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806577)

Yes

No

My in depth analysis would be: possibily but not necessarily.

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (5, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806703)

Too long, didn't read

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (4, Funny)

Run4yourlives (716310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806879)

He said: maybe

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (1)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807983)

Heh.

GAH (3, Funny)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807019)

A short comment on a full article talking about how full articles are better than short comments on full articles...
I CANT TAKE IT!! ITS TOO META!!

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (5, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807875)

Are in depth articles better than blog postings?

Are books better than book reviews?

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808389)

Are books better than book reviews?

Are apples better than oranges?

Re:Are in depth articles better than blog postings (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808561)

Are books better than book reviews?

Are PowerPoint presentations better than detailed reports?

It depends upon the attention span and desire for entertainment of the reader.

On another note, one of the minor reasons I stopped blogging years ago was that I realized I was tempted to break up stories into multiple posts just to increase traffic. It is was getting to be one fact per blog post -- completely incoherent.

I've been complaining about this for a while (4, Interesting)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806461)

I complain to colleagues about this urban web-sprawl quite a bit, especially in relation to Microsoft. I used to have three sources of information: TechNet, MSDN, and the Knowledge Base. Now you have to look at product blogs, official product blogs, product feature blogs, and so on. It has become almost impossible to find information. While searching for information on Server 2003 SP2 versus Small Business Server 2003, I finally came across a newsgroup post which linked to a KBA which referenced a blog. Absolute crap!

Re:I've been complaining about this for a while (2, Insightful)

JackHoffman (1033824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807045)

That's an important point. Blogs are nice for getting the news out and keeping up-to-date without having to sift through all documentation over and over again, but "official" blogs in particular also need to be condensed into a more structured form of documentation for when you can't or don't want to keep up-to-date and still need to find some information about a product/event/whatever. Search engines don't magically turn blog archives into usable documentation.

Re:I've been complaining about this for a while (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807229)

I've always thought of reading material in two simple categories: one-off and long-term. One-offs are things like tutorials or thought-provoking opinion pieces. Long-term tends to be reference material, but might also be something entertaining or profound enough to be worth revisiting once in a while.

Both can be valuable in their own way. Both can also be a waste of time and space. You need a different approach to write each well. And the scary thing is that most people — even those who write as part of their job — really suck at working out what kind of material is actually useful, and writing accordingly.

By its nature, ideal reference material is easy to find. That typically means that there are only a few places to look, and it's easy to search for what you need in those places. Once you get there, the material needs to be comprehensive and authoritative. No-one likes looking around for the same bit of information all day, and winding up with three half-baked, semi-contradictory versions of it in the end.

Blogs are the very antithesis of this ideal. There are a zillion of them. In any given field, there are typically a few really good ones, but the average quality is usually quite poor. The most organised search facilities you'll find are tagging (fine for locating related content within the same blog, but generally not much use for searching across blogs) and web search engines (which I use less and less as certain types of page get ever better at gaming the system and getting their stuff up-top when I don't really want to see it). This makes the recent push by many companies, Microsoft prominently among them, to disseminate technical reference information via blogs a pretty bad idea.

What blogs are really good at is conveying interesting nuggets of information. A blog post can be long enough to introduce a useful idea, or to draw attention to something newsworthy. Blogs lend themselves to being scanned by those looking for something interesting but unsure of what.

Bottom line: if these businesses really want to help people find the useful information, they should go back to maintaining a small number (ideally one!) of comprehensive, authoritative reference sites, and use blogs and newsfeeds as introductory material: highlight a useful new development or draw attention to a handy technique, direct the reader to the appropriate reference material if they want to know the details, and make sure the user never has to come back to that particular blog post again.

Reduced to a previously solved problem. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807097)

Hey! That's just good mathematical practice. Once you're reduced a problem to a previously solved equation, you quit. :)

No, I'm just kidding.

There's an old quote about being sorry for writing such a long letter, but not having the time to shorten it. And it works the other way, too. Having too little content because it's easier to link to something else than write it up yourself.

So we end up with what should be authoritative site referencing other comments. When (and this is particularly true of a commercial product) the person maintaining the authoritative site should be writing up the material (and correcting the errors) that are referred to in the other sites.

You KB example. It's the "Knowledge Base" for that. If you aren't going to spend the time and keep it updated, at least release all the material under a license that allows someone else to maintain it. After all, isn't it about getting the correct information out?

Which is why usenet is such a good idea (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807323)

Ooh. All rss feeds in the one place.

Hmm. I must patent that.

 

Depth and Reputation (4, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806477)

This reminds me of a comment someone made on the introduction of the iPod Shuffle (bear with me, it's relevant). The idea was that, at the time, the iPod brand was perceived as signifying the high-end digital music player. By expanding into the low-end, Apple was trading a loss in the value of their brand (since it no longer meant "high-end" by default) in order to gain another segment of the market.

Similarly, Nielsen's article suggests that by tossing off random blog articles, even if you also post highly insightful material, you lower the average value of what you post. You effectively cede some of your reputation.

That's even more of an issue with topic-based blogs. If your focus is, say, US politics, or astronomy, etc. you have to stick close to your topic, or people will start complaining, "Why are you spending all this time talking about your cats!"

Re:Depth and Reputation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806501)

But Muffins was the first cat on the moon!

Re:Depth and Reputation (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806915)

But Muffins was the first cat on the moon!

AND went on to become SeCATary of State, then fucked it up so badly they hung his tail from a plaque as a warning to others. It was a real cat-ass-trophy.

I... I can't believe I actually signed my name to that.

Re:Depth and Reputation (2, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806961)

That's even more of an issue with topic-based blogs. If your focus is, say, US politics, or astronomy, etc. you have to stick close to your topic, or people will start complaining, "Why are you spending all this time talking about your cats!"
Indeed. I proved this last weekend when I poured a glass of Jack. Then I slowly added soda to that glass. The more soda I poured into the glass, the less I tasted the Jack. I think I'll call my theory "dilution".

The difference (3, Informative)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806489)

Blog posts are pretty much editorials or opinions.

In depth articles contain more research than a few links to wikipedia or other similar minded blogs.

That's the difference.

Blog posts. (2, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806909)

Blog posts are pretty much editorials or opinions.

In depth articles contain more research than a few links to wikipedia or other similar minded blogs.

That's the difference.
I don't think their briefness makes blog posts less valuable since while they are limited in scope they tend to be very focused on one or two issues. I have found the answers/fixes to some really vexing programming questions/problems/bugs in blog posts that would never have been addressed in an in-depth article. Both blogs and in-depth articles have their uses and comparing the two is IMHO rather futile.

Re:The difference (0, Flamebait)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807661)

You display your ignorance. There are blogs by noted authorities which are anything but what you say. Check out The Volokh Conspiracy [volokh.com] . Same for Dinocrat and others.

Re:The difference (2, Interesting)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807901)

I think it is you who is displaying ignorance. You can't just point to one or two blogs as evidence that all blogs are legit. The simple fact is that the vast majority of blogs are heavily biased, poorly researched opinionated editorials.

Yes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806493)

Yes

probably... (1, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806503)

but I didn't read the article.

Yes! In-depth is better (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806519)

After having weathered years of blogs, newsgroups, and comments sections, all I can say is in-depth is better. I'd much rather read a well researched and cohesive article than slog through 10,000 comments by scattershot idiots who believe their shrill opinions are the only opinions. So there. And yes, I know I just made an off-the-cuff comment shrieking my opinions.....

Re:Yes! In-depth is better (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806933)

Just to make a counterpoint, in-depth does not mean "long." A concise, well researched, and well referenced blog posting is better than a typical full length fluff piece by many a so-called science journalist.

Sound-bite Society (3, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806531)

I always try to give my blogs a little substance. I don't have much of an audience, but I like to have discussions rather than link every news story on a given topic or talk about what pretty much everyone else is already talking about.

But I don't run a commercial blog. My entire site is about updating family and friends, sharing some of my work, and hosting my resume.

For commercial blogs, if you don't update daily (or more!), how will you get those oh-so-precious ad impressions? Not only that, but lengthy articles are boring! Worse, lengthy, well-researched blog posts take a lot of time and energy to produce even once a week, let alone every half-hour! Sound-bites, that's what we want to read, and that's what we want to write, and that's how you get ad impressions...

I agree with the general sentiment that blogging is largely empty. I would like to see the internet restore a level of discourse once dominated by newspapers and largely destroyed by television. But there's probably a saying somewhere about genies getting back into bottles that applies (also acceptable: worms and cans). Go read Neil Postmans "Amusing Ourselves to Death" and try again...

Sound-bitch Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806671)

"For commercial blogs, if you don't update daily (or more!), how will you get those oh-so-precious ad impressions?"

How many commercial blogs do you know of that serve ads?*

*and if you says "theirs". They're not getting any money for those.

"Not only that, but lengthy articles are boring! "

So far you haven't made an argument against them.

"Worse, lengthy, well-researched blog posts take a lot of time and energy to produce even once a week, let alone every half-hour!"

What? Time plus effort equals value. It works for tangiables and intangiables.

"Sound-bites, that's what we want to read, and that's what we want to write, and that's how you get ad impressions..."

No. What we want is people who get to the point, and don't beat around the bush.

Re:Sound-bite Society (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806805)

I didn't read your post, but "sound-bite society" is a catchy sound-bite.

Re:Sound-bite Society (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807359)

Not only that, but lengthy articles are boring!

A lot of lengthy articles are boring, but that's just because constructing a detailed, compelling argument or giving a clear, informative explanation of a complex subject is hard.

Anyone can write a couple of sound-bites without losing a reader. Crafting a decent article, however, requires both an excellent understanding the subject matter, and the style, creativity and command of the written word to convey your meaning effectively to others. Most people have neither, and that is why most long articles suck. A talented writer will hold your attention for the length of an article without your even noticing where the time went as you read it.

Re:Sound-bite Society (2, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807479)

I guess I should have included sarcasm tags or something because I really like longer articles (as I hoped to make clear by pointing out that I write long articles).

But people's interest in longer articles is somewhat limited and, perhaps more importantly, if you're just looking for ad impressions then lots of short articles means more visitors. My site gets updated between once a week and once a month, depending on how busy school is, but I try to write articles that have more substance than "Here is a link to a story. It is an interesting story."

Which is fine for my readers, but they know they don't need to check my front page every 30 minutes...

The Neil Postman reference is quite topical. When newspapers were the biggest media going, news and discourse naturally included lots of details, lots of reasoning, lots more thought. Television has done away with this almost completely. The internet could potentially return us to lengthier, more reasoned discourse as it is (at least partially) a "print" medium, but the blogosphere has (for the most part) taken up the sound-bite model instead of the reasoned-discourse model of media. Again, I suspect this is more due to the present internet advertisement model than to anything else.

Re:Sound-bite Society (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807915)

The internet could potentially return us to lengthier, more reasoned discourse as it is (at least partially) a "print" medium, but the blogosphere has (for the most part) taken up the sound-bite model instead of the reasoned-discourse model of media. Again, I suspect this is more due to the present internet advertisement model than to anything else.

This is sad, but true, I agree. Right now, the best way to get funding for relatively minor sites is by hosting advertising, and generating the page hits by writing little more than sound-bite cover articles that link to someone else's material. I don't think this will last, for two reasons.

The first is that I don't think purely ad-supported sites have a great future. You can't force people to see your ads on the web, and a significant number of people will actively avoid it by installing ad-blocking software. Right now, the number of people doing that isn't a huge proportion, but imagine if IE9 came with ad blocking enabled by default.

The other thing is that I think the web will involve a scheme for simple micropayments before too long, providing an alternative means of funding but only to those sites good enough to get people to read their material. Things like PayPal have started us down that road. In due course, I expect browsers to support a routine "Do you wish to pay 0.1 cents to view the linked page?" sort of concept. If and when that happens, I would expect people who write worthwhile content to start structuring their sites with introductions on the public site, and charging micropayments to read the rest. No-one is going to pay micropayments very often to sites that mostly just link to someone else's work, so there will cease to be much market for such sites. Meanwhile, those who produce genuinely interesting or entertaining material will carry on, funded by the large numbers of small payments they receive from their large readership.

None of this means that the good writers will only write long articles, of course. It's just that the short ones will still have to be worth reading and not vapour built on someone else's material, or they won't earn any money.

Short Answer (4, Insightful)

SoulRider (148285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806533)

both.

If you are trying to glean some new information from the info you have then brainstorming, trains of thought, gut reactions, etc (the kinds of info you find on blogs) work great. If you are trying to learn something that is well established, then nothing beats well thought out in-depth research.

Relevancy (4, Insightful)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806545)

Just because something is old does not make it irrelevant.

And certainly, the case can be made that recent writings
are irrelevant from the moment they are written. See Fox.

Re:Relevancy (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807867)

You're reading "old and therefore irrelevant" out of context. Yes, Gilgamesh remain relevant 4,000 years after it was written. But technical trivia is not great literature. It's just a collection of factoids and hacks that ceases to be relevant as soon as people stop using the technology.

Hey, maybe I'll post my collection of Wordstar hacks...

As for Fox, people will still be studying its pronouncements centuries from now. Pathology is always relevant.

Blog posts! (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806549)

A lifetime of TV has made it impossible for me to concentrate on any one thing for too long, so blog posts are definitel

CNN (4, Insightful)

nairnr (314138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806557)

Honestly, this is like asking what is more useful - the Breaking News headline that you get from CNN, versus their CNN Presents or a similar feature length report. They each have their use, but obviously the more useful source is the one that is researched, well written and has some production value. What is going to appear next, Which is more useful to you - A Stub in Wikipedia or something that has some content on it?!? And what the hell is this doing on Slashdot!

Re:CNN (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807579)

Honestly, this is like asking what is more useful - the Breaking News headline that you get from CNN, versus their CNN Presents

I figure it's like asking which is better, talking or reading. I'm glad we have the internet and people who read Jakob Nielsen to explain the fine points of these pressing issues to us.

They are valuable for different reasons (3, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806641)

I think the best comparison would be informative versus insightful posts as a generality to the best of the article and blog world respectfully. While this of course isn't completely true in the Slashdot world, the informative posts are generally from someone who has done the research and knows some good links to read through while the insightful posts hint at a general truth that was said in fewer words but still gets a powerful point across. I know I don't have time to read through all of the informative posts as some can go on forever, however they tend to make very good and solid points. The insightful posts on the other hand make a powerful point to people who already know the standpoint you are taking but hold very little water to those who disagree.
To demonstrate, think about debating evolution to a creationist. The only way you would ever even have a chance is with very carefully constructed and researched arguments such as the article example. If I were to make a comment about evolution to the majority of the /. community though I could make a very quick quip about some detail and make a powerful point. Both have their place and are generally mutually exclusive.

Advantages (4, Funny)

fonik (776566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806661)

There are huge advantages to popular blogs and social news sites. For instance Slashdot can:
- Provide commentary by famous people like Wil Wheaton and... well, just Wheaton, really.
- Melt unsuspecting servers into slag
- Ruin the ending to the next Harry Potter book (bastards.)
- Display your news in borders of your favorite color or pink
- Make you laugh at cooking/AIDS jokes
- Determine whether something could, in fact, run Linux

Re:Advantages (1)

theeddie55 (982783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807167)

you missed:

- find our next overlord
- (work towards) profit???
- figure out how things are different in soviet russia
- ...

Depends (3, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806669)

Because, as we are all painfully aware of, if the online in-depth article is split into 60 pages, each page containing a riot of banners surrounding a lonely paragraph in the middle... well we just skip to "conclusions".

Re:Depends (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807319)

You averaged 2.2 posts over the past 11 articles: You are your own .sig!

Re:Depends (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807467)

You averaged 2.2 posts over the past 11 articles: You are your own .sig!

How do you think I came up with it in the first place? :(

Re:Depends (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807399)

Stop jumping to conclusions!

Info first, dig for details later (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806693)

Both have their place. I admit to hitting up the blogs when I just want to find out what is going on, but if something hold my interest I will normally dig and find real articles about the story. I can see why Journalists are concerned though, many times I will find a story with the amount of detail I need and then see it on the more "reputable" sites days later. There has to be a happy medium, unfortunately many of the more traditional outlets havent figured out a good way to do that.

What about the longevity of Slashdot posts then? (1)

remove office (871398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806697)

Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they're definitely easy to write. But they don't build sustainable value.

I guess by that standard, Slashdot is just about useless. ;-)

No, but seriously. I write both blog-style pieces and article-style pieces for my website, and and traffic-wise, and there are some blog entries I wrote a while back that do great (and still bring in a bunch of visitors every day and several new links in every week despite having been written months ago), and there are some article-style items that do the same. Of course from a user's perspective, I suppose things are substantially different, and I know exactly how the author of the article linked to feels when they suggest "Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant."

It depends. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806699)

I usually like software/IT blogs, sometimes from corporate employees... Blogs like the one from the Opera desktop team about the latest news on the Opera browser and the tech previews. One think I *really* believe blogs suffer from is the generalizations that they're random AOL'er BS done MySpace-style. Blogs can be so much more and different. Another software blog I enjoy reading is about the inner workings and software API's of Windows, that I'd be *very* hard pressed to even find a book for.

-blog (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806709)

Google Search: What I am looking for -blog

Ahh, much better.

Obvious (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806723)

"Blog postings will always be commodity content: there's a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else's comments.
Obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. Sounds like a troll.

Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they're definitely easy to write. But they don't build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant."
Obviously this SUCKS! Writing this took me two whole minutes.

But they don't build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant."
I'd like to direct you to bloviating I did years ago about Compuserve...but I forgot the link.

Obvious... (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806733)

There is something hilarious about the fact that this was posted to Slashdot.

Of course not. (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806739)

Reading blogs over in depth articles is just like you reading the posts here and not reading TFA. You have all the information you need right here. Why would you RTFA and wade through some twits attempt at being informative and "in depth" or some such. I think not.

Poor Jacob (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806745)

Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant

If you want recent materials and not articles created years ago, you hit the "News" link in Google.

Talking about outdated content, this page was linked straight from Jacob's index page [useit.com] . I'll quote:

"Why This Site Has Almost No Graphics:
Download times rule the Web, and since most users have access speeds on the order of 28.8 kbps, Web pages can be no more than 3 KB ..."

You decide. (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806753)

Posted by DoofusOfDeath, 6:24 a.m:

Today I woke up and had some coffee. It was gross - they used that artificial creamer that they get cheap from SysCo.
Took a shower. Nothing eventful. I'm getting back hair in new places. Yuck.
Decided that in depth articles SUCK!
OK, time for breakfast - I think I'll have a bagel.

Comments:
1) By HoosierFan2006, 6:40 a.m.:
I just wish my hair would come back! LOL!

2) By Canonball25532, 6:51 a.m.:
No, in depth articles rock. You're an idiot.

3) By CatLover, 6:53 a.m.:
Anyone know where I can get a discount air conditioner? It's *hot* this week!

Re:You decide. (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807593)

Took a shower. Nothing eventful. I'm getting back hair in new places.
Either you're getting back hair on your back, where you didn't have it, or it's moved to somewhere else. That'd be interesting. Or, perhaps, you're growing new back (with hair) where you didn't have it. How varied are the possibilities!

blog? more like blah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806759)

amirite?

Does anybody actually read the subject? (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806803)

In the real world, things cost money. You need to pay a printer to print your magazine/newspaper/newsletter, and you need to pay postage to have it delivered. Online, you pay a VERY small monthly fee for hosting (if that), and a once every couple years fee for DNS registration (if that).

Online, there is no natural selection to weed out the crappy worthless blogs that don't really contain any information or generate any traffic/revenue.

Yes, and it's irritating when... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806823)

Somebody links to a blog article, which just links to another blog article, which in turn links to the actual story that everyone is talking about. Quit trying to drive visitors to your Blogspot account and just show me what you really wanted me to see.

Re:Yes, and it's irritating when... (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806903)

Somebody links to a blog article, which just links to another blog article, which in turn links to the actual story that everyone is talking about. Quit trying to drive visitors to your Blogspot account and just show me what you really wanted me to see.

Yeah. I remember finding some post on The Cure for Information Overload [hyperborea.org] , and it took forever to get to the actual story!

Time, Interactivity and Abstraction (2, Interesting)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806875)

News has differing time constants and levels of abstraction. A blog entry can communicate things with less detail far more quickly than an in depth article. Secondly, the comments within a blog can provide useful insight on the topic. But even this varies considerably from blog to blog. While Atrios provides quick snippets, Digby and the late Steve Gilliard provided extended essays that often exceeded in-depth articles in both size and sophistication.

In depth articles, on the other hand, have the luxury of time and editing but are often obsoleted by blogging. Secondly articles often lack an effective feedback mechanism such as the comments within blogs.

Wiki's can straddle the two mediums, with a body of written and reviewed content allowing for in depth content while providing up to the minute content as well.

Reviewed scholarly articles are on the far end of this spectrum. Slow to come out, but often authoritative.

As a result, my position is that blogs and RSS feeds of blogs allow for one to get a handle on large amounts of breaking news. Wikis provide background. In-depth articles provide analysis. I.E. Blogs alert me to things, i then check Wikis for background and context, and if I deem the issue important enough, or the author credible enough I'll read the article.

Read "Cult of the Amateur" for in-depth coverage. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806967)

For in-depth coverage of this issue, read "The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture" [amazon.com] , by Andrew Keen. That covers the subject much better than the usual blogodreck.

One of Keen's points is that blogs and Craigslist are killing newspaper reporting. There are fewer people whose day job it is to go out and find out what's going on. Most blogs rehash information collected by others; true reportage is rare. Pick up a newspaper and see how few stories were initiated by reporters, as opposed to starting from some form of publicity. This is a long-term trend; it's taken decades to reach this point. Compare newspapers from 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, and 2000.

"Cult of the Amateur" is hype and scare tactics (2, Insightful)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807283)

As far as I can tell, Keen's more interested in sell books by stirring up controversy than actually covering the situation in an evenhanded way.

Take, for example, the claim that Craigslist is killing newspaper reporting. Craiglist is in no way shape or form a substitute for news. It has nothing to do with "amateurs." It's a freaking classified ads site. It's been the land of amateur advertising for decades. It is killing the classified ads section of the newspaper, and that may make running a newspaper harder, but it has nothing to do with "amateurs" and everything to do with a changing market. Expecting one particular revenue source to last forever, or complaining that you've lost a revenue source because technology has moved on it selfish and short sighted. Should we instead prefer a more expensive and less efficient advertising route just to support journalism? At that point it's charity work, and I'd rather have them be honest about.

As you note, the decline of newspapers has taken decades. The internet is shaking things up, but newspapers have already suffered hits from radio and television. To drive up profits newspapers were consolidating and cutting down on the number of reporters long before the web existed. In an effort to increase readership, all too many newspapers are pandering to masses, dumbing themselves down. With newspapers generally sucking more, is it any surprise that people look elsewhere for content. And it doesn't mean that nothing will replace the newspaper. There are several self-sufficient online news sources that do original reporting (Salon.com and Slate.com immediately leap to mind).

Finally, how is this related to Nielson's article? Indeed, his entire point is: specialize, be knowledgeable, earn a reputation as being an expert in your area, and write solid in depth articles. He believes this will directly or indirectly turn into money for the author (in the form of selling related products or services, or advertising, or whatever. His core assumption is that you have a web site that you want visitors to. What you do with them is your problem.). This suggests that the situation will self correct, directly conflicting with Keen's fundamental premise.

Re:Read "Cult of the Amateur" for in-depth coverag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19807687)

This is a great snippet "Andrew Keen is a brilliant, witty, classically-educated technoscold--and thank goodness. The world needs an intellectual Goliath to slay Web 2.0's army of Davids."

Spoiler, David wins!

That book sucked, btw.

peripheral articals (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19806983)

blogs are essentually peripheral articles that give insight to individual takes on different topics. In that respect many do have historical value.

moD up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19806995)

There it is! (0, Flamebait)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807041)

That's the difference between Digg and /. I've always considered digg to have a somewhat adhd interface, and it is the incredibly self serving diggs of various "geektechblog-o-matic" fourteen sentence blogs that turns me off. On slashdot the slashvertisements and blog submissions usually will get an editor flamed, and I think that it cuts down on the noise a lot. I love this poll... I pick "Cowboy Neals Blog of Artilces Blogged by Article Writers"

Not clear the argument is correct.in practice (2, Interesting)

rmcd (53236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807109)

One assumption in this analysis is that if you write an in-depth article the standard error of its quality will be very low, whereas if you write a blog, the postings will have a high standard deviation. This will in turn lead to a reduction in your perceived value as a source of information if you blog. This argument isn't at all obvious and it depends on assumptions about the quality of your different writings as well as what attracts readers and customers. It also depends on your business model: are you selling writing or services?

Let's say that the long piece you write has a standard deviation that's 1/3 that of the blog posting. (In other words, there's a chance you could write a single piece that damages your brand equity -- Nielsen assumes away this possibility.) If you then write 10 blog pieces, you'll have the same standard deviation for the average as a single long piece. Moreover, the maximum quality of your blog postings will on average be greater than that of your single pieces (because you're drawing from a distribution with a higher standard error). The basic point is that lots of observations may permit folks to infer your quality more accurately. It's not necessary that customers plow through all postings to figure this out --- there are content aggregators (like Slashdot :-) that help separate wheat from chaff.

So what do people evaluate? Your best work? Your average work? The mean quality divided by the standard deviation?

I think Nielsen is correct that you need to think about the impact you're having with what you write, and he may have been correct regarding the advice he gave his world expert, but if you're writing only a few big pieces, you better get them right, or else!

It depends (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807145)

Is in in depth article by an 8th grader better than a short posting by a Nobel prize winner in his or her area of expertise ?

Maybe, but that's not the way to bet.

Digitally signing authoritive sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19807165)

How about a registry operated by the search engines that allows authoritive sources to be digitally signed? Such signed content could be indicated to the user, improving both the quality of search results and user experience. Perhaps it should be restricted to trademark holders or it may be possible to reuse DKIM and allow signing against domain?

For example the developers on a trademarked project/product could have their relevant blog posts marked authoritive by a web service or feed aggregator.

Any thoughts?

Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19807185)

That's almost the exact difference between slashdot and digg... Anyone here already know's which is better.

Fuck Blogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19807231)

Is a blow job from a hot chick better than getting diarrhea and crapping yourself?

Yeah, blogs are fucking terrible.

Blogs are egodrama (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807259)

Blogs are about the author, not the content. Just like kids with emo bands, you can compare how witty or clever you were, and socialize (something you couldn't do otherwise) in awkward ways disgused by your agenda. You can wage drama upon all others, screaming out that you need attention, because your lives lack direction or real satisfaction. You are the parasite of the human soul, bloggers.

This doesn't apply to all of you. A few write real articles or interesting news coverage. But the rest of you are jerking off in front of us, drama queens and sycophants, and you've made the word "blog" conflatable with "airborne AIDS" in the modern lexicon.

Which is better, a symphony or a pop tune? (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807285)

Which is more valuable, a Brahms symphony which took twenty years to write and lasts an hour... ...a carefully crafted pop tune (Cole Porter... Paul McCartney... Lieber and Stoller), which nevertheless takes at most months to write, lasts a few minutes... ...or a jazz improvisation created in the heat of the moment?

It's a silly question. They're all valuable.

Blog postings should not be compared to "in-depth articles." They're not the same thing. They are more comparable to transcripts of bull sessions. A good online exchange is something like sitting in on a lunchtime conversations between a prof and his grad students.

Quite likely if you could listen on a tape recording of Socrates gabbing with his students in the groves of Academe, before Plato selected and polished and smoothed and delete expletives, it would read like blog postings.

   

web search often yields good blog tech material (2, Insightful)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807289)

I enjoy ACM Portal and AI journal articles - I am not knocking peer reviewed articles.

That said, I find useful "how to" information on web blogs very frequently.

I write what I call "web books" (a lot of care taken, some peer review and corrections), and I also blog a lot. I just looked at my own web logs to see which are accessed more often: it looks like the web books are accessed more than individual blog entries, but the 'home page' for the 2 blogs are hit much more.

I access web blog content in a way that I can't for papers: I have about 5 blogs that I read everyday because I know the other bloggers both have similar interests and I trust their opinions. It is rare that I run across someone's web site and enjoy it so much I download all their papers, etc.

Even more off topic, but: the important thing is that blogs and papers on the web "stick around" forever, hopefully with non-changing URIs. It seems like most search engines apply some reasonable bias towards new material (from trusted sites) so old material does not "get in the way". Web blogs have inherent time stamps - for regular web pages, papers, etc. RDF meta data would suffice for maintaining the time line of digital assets on the web.

I have been using the web since 1991 (and the Internet since the early 1980s), and my take is: we have "not seen nothing yet". I believe that we will see more progress of moving towards a shared knowledge commons on the web in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 15 years of the web. I have some skepticism about the Semantic Web, but I am optimistic that grass roots semantic web (notice the lower case :-) standards will evolve from things that are simple and that work.

Glenn Greenwald refutes this... (1)

LukeCage (1007133) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807321)

Glenn Greenwald is a former constitutional lawyer who writes a well-researched "column" for Slate.com. He was a former blogger who wrote excellent and substantial posts every day and who has been picked up by an official publication and given a larger audience. He is proof that if a blogger continually writes insightful and in-depth articles that people will notice them and elevate them.

Frankly I think that mainstream media is just jealous that some 'amateur' reports do a better job then they do. Mainstream journalism has become a joke in recent years - it is nothing but "shocking scandals" without much real substance. When 41 percent of the country still believes a flat-out falsehood (Iraq was partially or fully responsible for 9/11) that helped propel this country into an unpopular and expensive pre-emptive war, the media has absolutely failed us.

false dichotomy (2, Funny)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807353)

There exist in-depth well researched blogs.
There exist crappy, shallow articles.

What are we linking to here, again?

as the tag says "duh" (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807667)

NEWSFLASH! Most blogs are crap. I'm not just talking about crap posted to livejournal, or myspace, or heaven forbid twitter. I'm talking about prominent blogs. Most posts are just a few lines. Sure, aggrigation blogs like slashdot have their place. They're a filter, but they don't generate content. At their best, they drive traffic to sites with higher quality content, thus ensuring their own place as a popular filter. At their worst, they think they actually contribute something on their own and drive the discussion in a very self-absorbed manner (*cough* DailyKos *cough*).

The thing I've found about my favorite sites are the fact that they don't have a user comment section. Heresy! Perhaps, but less face it. Most people, myself included, don't have anything interesting to say. Look at any popular blog and you'll see the discussion dominated by one sentence posts, and depending on the the community, barely coherent rants moderated up because they reinforce the group's biases rather than actually providing anything useful. That doesn't mean that comments are welcome, but they have to be pretty damn good to get posted. See BoingBoing for an example.

The best blogs not only build on other sites, but also generate their own content. One of the strongest sites in this regard is talkingpointsmemo. Josh Marhsal, not only links to other stories, but actually does his own reporting on certain issues. Most notably The Abramoff corruption scandal, especially with resepect to Duke Cunningham's bribe taking, and the Valerie Plame Affair. Other sites meanwhile tended to just say, "Those fucking bastards", and that's pretty much it.

The thing that many in the blogosphere don't like is that the newspapers are right when they say that thhe blogs aren't generating content, but rather just reposting content from others. Dan Gilmore had his dream of "citizen journalism," but most people don't want to take the time to do that. They just want to sit in the peanut gallery and comment.

Thus ends my hypocritical post. ;)

what a load of crap (2, Funny)

jgarry (126205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19807677)

The article was a good demonstration on how much crap can be in an article. He makes up statistics, links to himself as an authority, and generally ignores a decent academic style of thought and reference. Did I mention he generally just makes up shit? Jeez, it's worse than TV commercials, at least there you expect fluff. In an article, you expect better.

There have been discussions in the Oracle space about why there aren't any good Oracle blogs. Well, there are a few. They generally have useful examples of how to actually do stuff, rather than blowhard opinions. (google Jonathan Lewis blog for an example of how to do a technical blog right).

Personally, I think there are uses for usenet, BBS style fora, blogs, wikis, in-depth articles, and the traditional modes of communication. Stupidity ensues when people try to inappropriately enforce the rules for one communication medium in another. (And sometimes the converse, http://forums.oracle.com/forums/thread.jspa?messag eID=1842567&#1842567 [oracle.com] being a classic example).

Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19807837)

Digg readers aren't gonna like this one bit. They live off shallow blog entries.

I can see another riot up ahead!

Different tools for different tasks (1)

Nereus (733242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808053)

Both in-depth articles and short blog posts have their place in the world, as they exist for different purposes. A long-standing example of this can be found in scientific publications. Journals such as Nature often comprise of cursory papers that are essentially nothing more than extended abstracts, sometimes called Letters, Rapid Communications, Notes, or such, depending on the field and the journal. Typically, a second paper detailing the nuts-and-bolts of the very same work is published elsewhere in another journal with a narrower, more focused readership. This is because some of the people that want to read about the latest ground-breaking cancer drug, for example, wouldn't be able to make head nor tail of the technical paper that appears in a pharmacology journal, or whatever. In short, it's a case of tayloring your material to your audience. As there are a variety of viable audiences, there needs to be a variety of media to suit them.

What do you expect when most Net users are dumb? (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808081)

Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they're definitely easy to write. But they don't build sustainable value.

At least 99% of people out in the World Wild West seek nothing more than clicks on their ads. Being easy to write is a big plus for them. They are not interested in sustainable value, and certainly they don't seek to build value for the users; they only want to make themselves richer, and only in the short-term.

The Internet began as a community of a few worthy people of heroic standards. Being an Internet/ARPANET/USENET/BBS user in the good old days was quite a personal achievement. The barrier of entry was so high that only people above a certain intelligence level could get it. Then, as more users came in, the companies discovered it and people from anywhere in the intelligence curve surged in. The barrier of entry was lowered, but there was no facility to help newbies elevate themselves. Soon, stupid questions and flamebaits appeared in mailing lists and the newsgroups. Lunatics took over the Web, a service of the Internet originally designed by scientists for scientists. Then the Web surpassed all other services, and the Internet officially died; it was dumped down just like education. Another network replaced it, and I call this The StupidNet.

You have to search a lot in order to find the fragments of the original Internet scattered around in the present StupidNet. It's like SETI scanning for the ET signal. We know it must be somewhere out there, but the noise is so much we can't find it in reasonable time. That's what searching for intelligent people on StupidNet is like today.

99.6% of blogs are crap (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808339)

Almost all personal blog posts are a combination of pointless drivel and endless linkfests.
The zenith of this vapid idiocy is "live blogging", where someone unfamous and unconnected goes somewhere significant (that's usually open to the general public) and does a chatlog play-by-play of everything that happens (not just the significant events).

This I think is only a logical extension of the cell-phone generation, where nobody has to suffer plumbing the depths of their uselessness alone.



As the song goes--lots of people wanna be heard, but they don't got nuthin to say.
~

Mutually exclusive? (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808627)

Somehow, I don't see them as being mutually exclusive. Why is there an assumption that a blog will be a short and disorganized post? What I like about blogs is the system it provides:

  • Ease of use in writing the article.
  • Easy way to get feedback in comments.
  • Easy way to see who is referring to your "article" (via trackbacks).
  • Loads of plugins to keep stats, etc.


Social Intelligence/Google knows better (1)

plehmuffin (846742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19808629)

Think of how disappointing it feels when you're searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant

This never happens to me, and to think it would seems to betray a misunderstanding of how google's page-rank algorithm works. If something is irrelevant, nobody will link to it, and if nobody links to it, it's not gonna show up in the top search results.

Or maybe me and this guy just aren't googling for the same things.

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