10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum…. or Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 20th of February 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips

I love learning things from people in other arenas and applying them to blogging so today when I saw SEOrefugee has a post titled 10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum I immediately wondered whether the 10 mistakes might also apply to blogging. Lets see:

1. Excessive Ads

I’d completely agree. While different blogs can get away with different levels of advertising (and I’d argue affiliate programs) there comes a point where the number of ads on a site can turn readers away. I would also argue that ads that are aggressively positioned on a blog can turn readers away also. If when a reader arrives on your blog and no content at all is visible you might want to consider the possibility that readers will leave frustrated.

2. Cliques

I think that a cliquey blog can be just an uninviting a place as a cliquey forum and that it can happen on two levels. Firstly the blogger themselves can be very cliquey in only linking out to a certain few other privileged bloggers (something A-list bloggers – whatever they are – are often accused of). Secondly the comments sections of blogs can be a cliquey place also with those commenting using in jokes, jargon and/or being snarky to new readers. While some successful blogs get away with cliquey behavior (and a few actually seem to thrive on it) the average blog trying to find it’s feet can suffer a lot as a result of it.

3. Trolls

This one applies with blogs and it’s something that I’ve seen frustrate a number of bloggers to the point where they’ve actually thrown in the towel and have given up blogging. Likewise trolls can frustrate readers and cause a lot of flaming between a blog’s community to the point where they almost take over.

4. Fights

Once again this can apply on a blog on two levels (both fights between bloggers and fights in comments). While an occasional fight (or vigorous discussion) can actually add life to a blog (if it’s done in a constructive and non personal way) – taken too far they can completely destroy a blogger’s (and blog’s) reputation. I’ve seen a number of bloggers go too far and/or pick the wrong fight – only to find that they become known as the blogger who said or did something stupid.

5. Heavy Handed Moderating

This one does vary a little from blog to blog. Some bloggers obviously moderate comments more heavily than others (for example blogs like Seth Godin’s doesn’t have comments, others like Lifehacker have comments for registered members only, others queue all comments for moderation and some are quite selective on what comments they allow to appear). Each approach can work but bloggers get into trouble mainly when they change the rules along the way. If you want to moderate comments heavily I personally believe it’s your right to do so although my own belief and style is that blogs tend to work best when the reading community are able to participate in the conversation unhindered.

6. Lack of Moderation

I’ve seen a few bloggers become almost laughing stocks because of the level of comment spam that they allowed to go up on their blogs. If you’re not going to put the time into moderating comments switch them off.

7. Don’t over post

Once again there is some room to move on this one. Some blogs do tend to get away with a lot of posts each day (some of the tech blogs for example post 20+ times a day) however every blog seems to have a posting frequency that seems to be optimal for it’s topic and readership. I’ve written more on post frequency previously (also at the cost of high quantities of posts, how often should a blogger post? and more on posting schedules).

8. Violating Privacy

This isn’t one that I’ve really seen any bloggers do – but if they did (perhaps with comment leavers email addresses?) I can see it would have a negative impact upon that blogger’s reputation.

9. Slow Site

The same thing is true to some extent (perhaps slightly less critical than with forums where users view multiple pages per session). A slow loading blog will often frustrate readers to the point that they’ll surf off to some other site before it fully loads).

10. Actually… there is no #10 – Oh wait! Over promising and under delivering

I totally agree. While I’ve had my fair share of falling short of goals online (it’s the way we learn) I see some bloggers who are repeat offenders in hype/spin and making undelivered promises and all this really achieves in my view is dilute their message and make me more and more wary of anything they claim or promise in future. While you might have grand goals for your blog – setting (and communicating) realistic achievable goals is important. No one will complain if you over achieve – but in the blogosphere people can be ruthless is you under perform.

I’ve written on this topic a few times in different ways. For example my post 10 steps to guarantee you’ll never make more than 0.14 cents per month with AdSense contains a few blog killers – but what mistakes would you add that you see bloggers making (or mistakes you’ve made) that could kill a blog?

PS: don’t forget that while mistakes might kill your blog – they can actually be learning experiences that help you improve it!

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