Today we’re going to talk about something gross. If you’re not up for it, I suggest you leave now, but if you think you can make it through the muck and mire and make it out on the other side okay, we’ll go together.
I read a lot of blogs. My Google Reader currently has 52 RSS feeds that populate it almost daily and that doesn’t even count the ones I hear about via Twitter or that are emailed and recommended to me every day. I read a lot because I write a lot, but I’ve started noticing a trend that I’d like the For Bloggers, By Bloggers community to start the rebellion against.
Are you up for it? I hope so.
The trend I’m talking about is what I call Blog Puking. The definition of Blog Puking as defined by me and yet to be picked up by either Webster or Merriam is as follows:
Blog Puking is the practice of taking in information from one or multiple blogs and then regurgitating the undigested material back onto the Internet as if it came from yourself.
Disgusting, right? I know.
According to the Technorati State of the Blogoshpere report, about 2 blogs are created every second of every day. Think about that, that’s a LOT of blogs and a lot of people writing about a LOT of stuff.
In actuality, most of those blogs will be abandoned almost immediately, but even if a fraction stay up and running, that’s a huge number. We all fall into that group because we all write and maintain blogs, so how do you avoid simply reading blogs and puking it back onto the Internet?
First, let’s look at the different types of Blog Puke
When Did I Eat Spaghetti?
The easiest way to avoid Blog Puke is know what to watch out for. Here’s the different types of puke to keep an eye out for:
- Straight Puke – Straight Puke is the easiest to notice and identify. You Straight Puke when you read a post about the “5 Ways to Write Better Headlines” and it inspires you to immediately write a post about the “4 Best Ways to Write Grabbing Headlines.” You’ll notice Straight Puke because it will look almost exactly like what you just ate. A few details have been altered, but you can still see the original form.
- Delayed Puke – The Delayed Puke is a lot harder to spot because more than likely it’s a combination of a bunch of different stuff jumbled around and then puked out on the page together. The Delayed Puke usually occurs when too much is taken in at one time. You get overloaded and want to exercise your writing, but just end up spitting out the plethora you were simply storing. A few details will be moved around and joined with bits from other bites, but at this point, nothing has been digested or broken down.
- Shadow Puke – The Shadow Puke is hard to guard against. Just like when you witness someone else hurl it brings up he urge in you, the online Shadow Puke happens when you read a great post and you just want to comment but you don’t have anything else to add so you simply restate what the blog said as if they were your own ideas. It takes a lot of willpower to guard against the Shadow Puke, but it helps if you know it’s on its way.
Okay, so now you can recognize the different types of Blog Puke and you’ve probably been de-sensitized to the word “puke” so we can continue talking about ways to avoid puking all over the Internet.
- Digest – The single best way to avoid Blog Puke is to simply let whatever you take in have time to digest. It may seem like there’s only a small window to blog about some new shiny object that everyone is talking about, but you need to digest what you read. Let it percolate in your mind and use that time to think of how that issue is unique for your audience or yourself and write from that angle. You may have to do additional research to help fill out some of your claims, but that’s okay. Build something new using a lot of different, digested pieces of information. Remember, people spread “Awesome”, not something they’ve already read 14 times.
- Question – Ask questions about the things you read. Look at and think about every angle of what you take in to see if there are any flaws you might be able to bring to light. Even if you’re reading a post by someone you respect, see if something has been left out or misrepresented and expand on that idea. What small issues can you bring to light? Is there a major concern that’s not being addressed? Is it a perfect post that you just need to share and congratulate the author on? Sometimes that’s okay too.
- Eat Slower – Don’t try to cram in so much at once. This is the one that I have a problem with because I always want to be reading and ingesting, but just like with food if you’re not trained to take that much in, you’ll end up puking it all back out. I couldn’t go out tomorrow and beat Takeru Kobayashi in a hot dog eating contest because I haven’t trained. Take in your information slowly and work up to a place where you can ingest whole loads at one time.
At this point you probably want to go take a long shower and that’s very understandable. Just remember there’s a lot of Blog Puke out there so it might be tough to stay clean for long.
If we at For Bloggers, By Bloggers can ever help, Contact Us right away and we can work out a way to teach you to avoid that Blog Puke in your own writing.
Just remember, you need to constantly take in information just like you do food, but if you’re not careful you’ll end up puking it back up everywhere and no one else wants to eat that either.
[P.S. I'm aware that the analogy isn't perfect because if I were to keep going with it and you kept all the info down, you'd eventually just produce crap and no one wants to do that either. I'm choosing to just focus on the first part of the analogy for now.]