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Anatomy of a Spark Blog - What, Why, and Whether


Thursday, January 03, 2013

I have been a bad Spark Friend. I admit it. I blog much more often than I read and comment on the blogs of others. Of course, you already knew this. Maybe it's heartening to see me admit it openly?

So tonight, overcome with pangs of guilt, I fired up Ye Olde Sparky Friend Feed to see what the doings are in the lively little Land of Spark. Here is what I found in the Sparky blogosphere:

1. Blogs filled with inside jokes.
2. Blogs filled with short-hand abbreviations that only the well-indoctrinated could decipher without a herculean degree of effort. I get that "SP" is Spark-People, but I really needed a lexicon I did not have to decipher much of it.
3. Blogs filled with typos, poor grammar, or both.
4. Blogs quite diarist by nature, necessitating the reading of earlier ones for context.

Maybe I'm quite daft, but a broader question is begged: what is the purpose of authoring a Spark blog? What is the benefit to the author? The audience? Is there an intended audience?

As for me, I usually try to be semi-informative to others traveling on the Sparky Caravan, perhaps who have been here less long than I. Sometimes I'm just having fun, and hope to share the humor or goodwill. But given the smattering of those I have read in recent days, the broader questions are begged:

Why do you blog? Why do you NOT blog? What do you seek in blogs of others? What makes you roll your eyes and skip a blog? You answers will help me waste less time in authoring ones not beneficial. Many thanks.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LE7_1234 1/24/2013 2:10PM

    These responses have been as interesting as the initial question! Thanks! :-)

I blog when I have some idea or issue I have to get out.

I read other blogs for a variety of reasons--we're on the same team, I know I'll get something valuable out of it, I suspect I might be able to provide support and/or information, catchy title....

I almost never use the "I Liked This" option. Not quite sure why I object to it so much....

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 1/24/2013 1:22PM

    I blog for myself. But it is nice to get feedback.

The common denominator for popular blogs is usually success at the weight loss game and before and after pictures.




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WATERMELLEN 1/23/2013 7:44PM

    So: summary please!

Have all these comments helped you figure out how to blog so as not to waste time authoring blogs that aren't beneficial???

Of course I'm hoping you'll just keep right on being informative/entertaining!

(In addition to the points already made, gotta say I enjoy eavesdropping on the personal pep talk type of blogs: ONEKIDSMOM is a great example. She's blogging for herself to sustain motivation . . . and let's me free ride.)

I was intimidated enough to hit spell check -- don't usually. And left that "gotta" in quite deliberately anyhow.

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LIBBYG7 1/7/2013 10:55AM

    I blog for myself ---- to get the 'bugs' out when I'm really stressed = and if I get positive responses, so much the better. I'm always interested in the blogs of special friends - no matter how bad the spelling (although 'loosing' weight does bug me on a regular basis), I know I need support and I freely offer support. Isn't it what this site is all about?

As for the rest.....franky, my dear, I don't give a damn!!!

Blogging in the Sparks context isn't so much for 'literature' as for reaching out. I admire truly gifted writers.....but it isn't a prerequisite for posting a Sparks Blog.

Don't be a snob.....
(meant in the nicest way.........)

emoticon

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SPARKFRAN514 1/6/2013 5:40PM

    I thought about how to answer your question Why I blog and read blogs for a while. Today when I check my face book page. I found the answer in post from some one at Rocky Mountain Park Do you have a memory of Rocky Mountain Park.
One person shared a story of how a ranger she husband if they could help him out and drive a person and her car to lower ground in the park. They were panicking about driving down the mountain. They were able to assist the family down the husband took the family down she was able to drive their family down the mountain.
To me reading others blogs is like that man driving the family down the mountain. Many times they help me stay on the Spark trail and have provide hints how to be a better sparker. Most are from my friend list so its like a visit over a cup of coffee. I have read some that I think are done just to get the 3 spark points

Others share political views complain about how hard it is to lose weight and wine a lot those are the ones I skip. I know its hard to lose weight. And like my grandma always told me never talk about Politics or religion its the best way to lose a friend. So in short I blog to visit with friends and journal my journey here at Spark. The best ones to read I feel are from your friend list they support you and you support then along the this journey
And just maybe some are bloggers and others readers so it all works out
now your are always on the must read list .

Comment edited on: 1/6/2013 5:41:46 PM

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BE-THE-CHANGE 1/5/2013 6:18PM

    Interesting questions. The reasons I blog have nothing to do with the reasons I read them in a lot of cases. Although I love to read, I am not a very creative writer. I love to read witty intelligent blogs but I really can't write one. In my case, my blogs are mostly for me and people that I really consider friends. There are a group of people that I like to share my life with, just like I would with friends in real life (if I had any that I consider true friends, and not just acquaintances). When I was doing well, I hoped to show others that it could be done. When I was backsliding, I didn't write much. Now that I am trying again, in addition to sharing with friends, I hope that they will help keep me accountable. I think the best thing on SP is the support from others and you really can't get real support if people don't know you need it.

I will admit to being a bit of a spelling and grammar snob. It has always been a pet peeve of mine. I can overlook the occasional mistake (even I make those), but it is painful for me to read blogs full of misspelling. As someone else said, use the spell check. I will also avoid ones that tend to be preachy all the time or overly religious.

I think I found you through WOUBBIE as well and I like yours for the same reasons she does.

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JUSTDOINGIT101 1/5/2013 1:08PM

    I've been thinking about this post for a few days, and I have to say it really bothered me. Its the judgment that posts should be perfect. I wonder about the person who will read this, that person that it took all they have within them to come to the page and write whats going on in their blogs, not worrying about spelling or what others think ... and read this post of yours and think they have to be perfect -- and they stop posting or blogging, next thing they stop even coming to spark thinking other are judging them.

Blogs are here for a variety of reasons, and if we aren't here for ourselves first, but only to entertain, then we are hurting ourselves, inflating our egos, and when the people start turning away and you wonder why you aren't popular anymore, how is that supporting your program. Not speaking you specifically, just generalizing. And when we judge how others SHOULD be writing or posting ... it really leaves a sad feeling in me.

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 1/4/2013 4:19PM

    I primarily blog for myself. I make notes of things that I think I might want to remember in the future. I don't expect anyone to read my blogs or to be interested. I post poems that have struck me. My blog is my on-line receptacle for myself. I could try to make it more engaging and out-going but I have little to no confidence in my ability to engage people. Then I would try to do it by being witty or sardonic or dry.

But Spark People is my place to be real and to admit to my failings and my true weight so I try to shroud myself in anonymity.

There are some bloggers---and you are among the very best--who write really great stuff. I could say that you are throwing pearls before swine but I don't want you to stop. Your blogs are clearly for yourself and your mastery of wit and writing and enthusiasm. You are a motivator and an inspirer. I am a dreary pedant.

I read your blogs in the same spirit that I seek out and read other things as frequently as I can: the best op-ed columnists; the best witty plus erudite essays that can be found (I like David Sederis, the late great David Rakoff, the late great Gore Vidal, the late great Nora Ephron, Sarah Vowell, James Wood, Sloane Crosley, Francine Prose, Barbara Ehrenreich, Alain de Botton, for example). I pay to read these writers and I would gladly pay to read your blogs.

I think that Spark People should consider compiling a collection of its very best bloggers but the rah-rah type of blog tends to be promoted ahead of the blogs that display some wit or ironic insight. It is this wit and insight that draws me to you and to the essayists I mentioned above. That I do not attempt to emulate you is a matter of assessing my own limitations frankly.

I could strive to be a better blogger but this weight loss, exercise, and health journey is demanding enough. Also I have to be "on" and witty and intellectual at work, and that takes a lot out of me because it does not come easy.

I spent a fair amount of time answering your questions, even though to the best of my knowledge you've never read my blog (which is ok) but I am a bit surprised that you have not responded to the many thoughtful responses you received.

I feel as though you are a bit like the professor who collects a bunch of papers and does not bother to read them or grade them! So maybe people do want a bit more reciprocity in blog-reading or some sort of acknowledgement that they are being "heard".



Comment edited on: 1/5/2013 5:28:13 PM

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ECOAGE 1/4/2013 1:21PM

    It's simple --- I blog when I feel like it because I feel like it, and I'm always aware that it is a public voice.

I try to follow my own rules (generally commonly held concepts) about what I say and do in public. Others are more likely to flaunt their stuff in the supermarket or at the playground sidelines BUT not me. I wouldn't stand up in front of ANY group and bemoan my "failures" (including detailed lists of what I choose to eat/not eat, drink/not drink, etc.), or share the REAL personal events (deaths in my family, family struggles, etc.). I omit the religion conversations unless it directly has a relationship to food or exercise (or hits a sore spot --- I have been known to break my rules in occasional public lapses at the playground too!). I write here to keep a record for myself and I'm pleased if any of those thoughts spark insights helping another human. I give myself permission to be human here and I ask questions about how to live THIS life because I am looking for answers (and admitting to myself that I don't know it all is a skill to practice). And speaking of being human, my unfortunate tendency towards perfectionism makes me fix typos but I try to ignore the typos and errors of others. However, I am the kind of person who will tell a friend if "something green from lunch found its way to a facial area"). Of course, I don't win popularity contests in the real world or on Sparky Planet.

NOTE: I avoid all blogs with an emphasis on emoticon or emoticon .
And I don't see the need to celebrate a weight loss of less than 10 pounds, kept off for less than 2 weeks --- please don't tell me you weigh 1.4 pounds less than last week.
emoticon emoticon emoticon



Comment edited on: 1/4/2013 9:53:51 PM

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ADARKARA 1/4/2013 8:33AM

    The spelling and grammatical errors drive me CRAZY!!!!! I can sort of understand the grammar, but spelling? NO EXCUSES! There is a SPELL CHECK BUTTON. And it UNDERLINES all the words you've spelled wrong! There should be no reason you spell friend 'freind'.

There should also be no 'loosing' of weight. ARGH. =)

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PHEBESS 1/4/2013 12:23AM

    I'm blogging our travels around the world, and so my Spark blogs are often a link to that blog, especially if it's fitness related (like climbing a volcano) or something about food in the country we're visiting.

I tend to not read blogs where anyone is very religious (sorry, but there it is), or overwhelmed by life's vicissitudes (I might offer sympathy once or twice, but if they seem stuck in a cycle of poor me I tend to give up) - and I tend to not read blogs that go on and on and on. Unless they are well-written and/or funny.

I do like funny blogs!

I also like blogs by people living outside the US, because then I learn something about another country or culture.

And, well, I tend to like short blogs that I can kind of skim and speed read. Not two or three pages of fitness plans for the next month. I like a summary of a race, not a mile-by-mile account.

Well, if a blog is funny and long, I'm good with that. You, Mark, and the Biggest Loser guy (Bruce) - you two can do long funny blogs. Others, meh, not so much.

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AHTRAP 1/4/2013 12:00AM

    I blog for myself. My postings probably violate all of your points of contention at some point or another, but as I'm not blogging for any larger audience, I don't really care. The weight/diet related details are to leave a trail for myself, should I ever need or want to retrace my steps. The reflections on matters unrelated are here because I'm too lazy to blog in multiple spaces, and if I were to use my sadly neglected livejournal (so 2005!) page, I wouldn't be entering much in the way of blogs here. If those details happen to entertain anyone, great. If not, I am, after all, writing for myself. Lately, I'm writing more, sometimes with an eye towards seeing if I can still write, so there are "better" pieces among my blogs, which I actually spend a bit of time on, rather than streaming out whatever is impinging upon my consciousness when I click the 'new blog' button.

As for what other blogs I read, many are among the recent blogs from members of the teams I'm on. I often click on the "new blogs from members" button shortly after I post one of my own. If one of the random blogs I read are amusing, I may check in on that person's page again. I have sparkfriended a handful of people because they are good and/or amusing writers. I also occasionally read blogs that my own sparkfriends have commented on. And (picture Forrest and Bubba scrubbing tile) that's about it.


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GREENGENES 1/3/2013 11:40PM

    Good question.

I read blogs for many reasons. I've found some bloggers who are just compelling, honest, decent people who I want to get to know better and to offer support. Others I read because they are fascinating due of their sense of humor or interesting perspective.

I mainly started blogging to help me be more accountable. I haven't been blogging all that long so I'm still trying to find my own voice. In the process, I hope to be informative, helpful and occasionally entertaining.

I hope I don't offend anyone but the blogs that I quickly skip over are those that are overtly religious or just a collection of numbers.

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1CRAZYDOG 1/3/2013 10:43PM

    Frankly, for me, I have found time tight and so haven't blogged. That answers the "why I'm not blogging" question.

I DO blog when I feel something I have to blog about is important enough to share for information or inspiration. . . or both. Of course my opinion of what is importative, inspiration or both is exactly that . . . subjectively my opinion. So to say for certain it will strike a cord with others . . . I don't know. I always HOPE so.



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KATYDID412 1/3/2013 9:16PM

    I don't blog as often as I think I should. When I do it's because I have:
* something to get off my chest
* something to confess
* something to brag about
* something funny to say

I read others' blogs for inspiration and motivation. I have a few Spark Friends that I consider close (though virtual) friends, so I read their blogs when they pop up in my Friend Feed. I read others because their writers include great photos with their great writing.

I'm an editor by trade, so I am afraid I bring that snobbishness to SP to some extent. If I see typos or awful grammar, chances are I'm not going to read.

Thankfully, I find that SP is a large enough community that I can always find something entertaining or motivating or just plain moving to get me to think about my own journey.

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ALLISON145 1/3/2013 8:57PM

    I usually blog when I'm trying to sort something out in my head. Occasionally I'll blog to confess a 'sin' or to brag about an accomplishment. I usually try to give context so people that just happen by will know what I'm talking about. In terms of what I read... I generally come to blogs through my spark friends... I think I came to you from Woubbie. :-) I look for well written, funny, and/or informative blogs, because much like Woubbie I'm not a fan of pushers, whiners, or folks that are just plain self destructive. Surprising how much of that is running around this joint. No judgement here, but man I worry over some of the things I read.

Allison

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WOUBBIE 1/3/2013 8:17PM

    My blogs alternate between "Aha! Look at what I just figured out!" and *I'd better write this down so that next year when I'm even healthier I'll look back and remember how I got here.* And sometimes they're just flat-out goofy.

I generally only read the blogs on the Living Low Carb and All About Gout team feeds. So much of what I read on other peoples' non-low-carb blogs just makes me cringe. Or occasionally roll my eyes. Sometimes both. So much misinformation out there, it's just heart-breaking sometimes!

There are also a few that I know enough not to bother reading anymore because they're:

- selling something (ELIZRN and BUFFMOTHER, for example - they're both good blogs, but they both have "product" to push)
- whining (I won't name names, that would just be mean!)
- proselytizing and praying

I read YOUR blogs cause you're an interesting and extremely funny man, who has the right politics, and, because of that, can be forgiven if he doesn't like the Steelers. Now, if I can only get you to try Paleo..... Hmm. No. Vegetable latkes will probably not be the way to your heart...

http://www.marksdai
lyapple.com/vegetable-latkes/#a
xzz1igqL166l

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RDGISME 1/3/2013 7:51PM

    I enjoy reading blogs that sometimes have a catchy name, as yours just did. I sometimes am looking for inspiration, motivation, support or just a good read knowing that my Sparked Friends will ,indeed, comply. Why do I blog? Most often I just need to put my goals for the day in "writing" so that I will hold myself accountable, but most times I find it to be almost a therapeutic thing to do. I can't tell you why I think that you should blog-that's a personal thing. I just hope that what a few of us have stopped by to add in our own words, will help you to decide whether you should blog or not!
HAPPY SPARKING!
~Becci

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CHOCOHIPPO 1/3/2013 7:43PM

    I blog because I like to share some of my questions, concerns, successes and failures in the hopes that is resonates with others and maybe offers them some insight into their own journey.

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DRB13_1 1/3/2013 7:20PM

    We do it to
-get things off our chest or share an A-HA moment
-EARN SPARKPOINTS!!!
-make promises of our future intentions (we can then go back and look to see how far we've come)
-share pictures
-be part of the community

But the ones we LOVE to READ are the great writers and close friends...and the ones that make us laugh emoticon
(You & Teeny Bikini, among others, fall into that category)

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DIET_FRIEND 1/3/2013 7:13PM

    I have tried to friend people with whom I feel a connection. I lead a team and blog for them too. I usually focus on diet/exercise issues since it is SparkPeople. I like to read people's blogs, especially my SparkFriends'. I have been known to read random blogs on the blog page, which is how I met most of my friends. I read the blogs of my friends pretty regularly, skipping over those blogs that are just jokes (a few of my friends post mainly jokes, and I don't care about reading jokes here or on Facebook). I feel closely bonded to a handful of people, and I WANT to read their blogs. A few of my SparkFriends are gifted writers and it's always interesting to see what is on their minds (like yours).

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MARYANN2323 1/3/2013 6:51PM

    I look for inspiration. I look to see how my friends are doing. I look to see if I can add a smidgen of wisdom or an ounce of help. I look to have a chuckle. But mostly I look to see if I can encourage.
emoticon

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