Life's a bastard...but sometimes it lets up

The life and times of an ordinary Dublin girl. Follow her journey as she finds out working from home really ISN'T about watching Oprah all day and that perhaps men aren't really all bastards.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Rules

DURING my mindless web-surfing one of the days last week I came across this article here about the 'rules' of blogging and it pissed me off royally.

It was by this guy JimEstill who is CEO of Synnex Canada and a blogger himself.

At this juncture I'd like to point out that no, I'm not a CEO of some billion dollar corporation, nor am I a computer expert, nor do I really know the first thing about blogging other than how to (inexpertly) write a post and yes, this guy is highly successful in his field, probably hugely well known (I've never heard of him) while I'm just some shmuck journalist from Dublin. So with that established, let me continue.

There are rules for blogging now?! Fucking RULES?!

One of the rules is something like 'stick to a theme' but I have to ask: why? Who made you King of the World? This blog is a mish-mash of information about my life, things I'm interested in, things in the news, articles on WeightWatchers, a little bit of everything. And if I want to write a serious article about something, I will, and I'm not going to worry about going outside my 'theme'. Since when did blogs have rules? Since when did blogs turn from something to have fun with and enjoy doing, to something that has rules and boundaries and limitations?

As regular readers will know, I work with a young woman with Dystonia, Jenny McCann at who due to various reasons doesn't post as regularly as others and doesn't have a particular theme but when she does manage to blog (about whatever takes her fancy), has an absolute blast. But now, according to this guy, I've to turn around to her and say 'nah, sorry, you're not doing it properly, you're not following the RULES man, you've to stop blogging'. Is he serious?

Another of his pearls of wisdom is 'only start blogging if you like to write' and again, I have to ask..says who? Says fucking who? What about photoblogs, or technical blogs which don't contain many articles per se, but which link to new developments in technology or IT? What about blogs such as The Community at Large which provides links to new games, funny videos, news clips etc and isn't text heavy but which is still a favourite of many as can be seen by the Irish Blog Award it picked up? The word 'only' confines us all there, making out that only certain blogs are worthy. Nonsense.

When I tell people about blogs and blogging, I tell them that their offering can be about anything they like, literallly anything, and in any format because they're doing it for themselves, not anyone else. When you start imposing rules on something as fundamentally free as blogging, then in my opinion we may as well all give up and start writing blurbs for corporate websites and be done with it.

You may perhaps think I'm going a bit overboard here and getting het up for nothing, but I really do feel strongly about this and it's been a bug bear of mine for a long time that the only people who are seen to have a credible opinion or 'right' to say anything about blogs are techie-like people or business people, when in fact we all, no matter our background or experience, have that right. Pandering to the the notion that 'we're not worthy' only serves to allow people like this guy to impose HIS 'rules' on us and suck the life out of blogging. I may not know what an RSS feed is, or what trackback is, or how to import files, or write HTML code and I might not know how to increase my readership by 10,000 a week but you know what - I don't really care. I blog for me, I blog to make myself happy, I blog to entertain, to infuriate, to express myself, to get things off my chest. What I don't do, is blog by numbers.

I want to point to a sentence from the website which explains what their site is all about and why they started it up which states: " focusing on helping people have their own voice on the web and organizing the world's information from the personal perspective" which I think says it all. "Helping people have their own voice on the web" there it is, plain and simple. Their own voice, not some 'expert' voice or a constricted voice or Jim Estill's voice, but their own.

Of course I understand that blogging can't be a total free-for-all in that for example, a blog featuring child pornography should never be condoned, but once bloggers don't break the law and extend the same common courtesies and manners to their readers that they do in all other walks of life, then there should be no limitations, no boundaries, no rules.

As a journalist, I feel very strongly about freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself and I believe, wholeheartedly, that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to be creative and that imposing rules on blogging is a dangerous road to go down, one that I want no hand, act or part in.

So, I urge you all to reject rules for your blog, change your theme at will, write randomly, post pictures, post once a day, once a month, once a year, whatever, don't worry about stats or readership or what others think of you. Blog for you, because you get a kick out of it, because it does something for you.

Don't blog for The Man.

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