The Mad Biologist's Guide to Blogging

So, does the Mad Biologist follow the advice given by big-time bloggers? Like Farhad Manjoo, I've actually read (ok, skimmed) The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, but Manjoo gives an electronic version of the guide, upgraded to include advice from other bloggers. Onto the advice:

  1. Set a schedule. Blog often. Yep. Daily.
  2. Don't worry if your posts suck a little. I've got this one covered: most of my posts suck a lot.
  3. Write casually but clearly. Mixed bag. My lede isn't always good, although hopefully, the post titles and the excerpt blurb make up for that. On the other hand, keeping posts below 800 words usually isn't a problem--I lack the patience and the time to write more than that.
  4. Add something new. I'm not entirelhy convinced by this piece of advice--nobody links to (or reads) my posts about antibiotic resistance, even though it kills tens of thousands of people annually (that doesn't mean I won't write them of course). When I do add something new, it's often because I challenge (sometimes even correctly) the assumptions underlying an ongoing debate.
  5. Join the bloggy conversation. And link! I do link, for the little or no good that it does me. On a tangential note, I'll probably bring back lists of links (I stopped because I hated putting it together, but I think I've figured out how to do it with less pain on my part).
  6. Don't expect instant fame. Not a problem. If I wanted fame, I would use my real name...
  7. Wait at least 15 minutes before publishing something you've written. Yup (and I'm still an idiot).
  8. Write everything as if your mom is reading your work, a good way to maintain civility and keep your work comprehensible. Civility? Who do you think taught me some of my best curse words? Definitely bad advice here....

On a slightly less snarky note, Ezra Klein writes:

Find something specific to follow and follow it deeply. That "something" could be health policy, as it has been for me, or urban policy, or telecom, or congressional procedure, or media structure, or a thousand things I can't name. That's not to say you have to create a niche blog. The specialized posts mix with the generalized posts -- in my case, health wonkery rubs elbows with garden variety political punditry -- and the two cross-subsidize each other. The rigor of the more technical work gives you credibility in the reader's mind and adds weight to the generalist posts. The generalist posts broaden the blog's potential audience and create access points that new readers wouldn't have if you let the blog become a repository of technical commentary.

Just out of curiosity, what do readers think I specialize in?

More like this

Slate has this good article with the same title (yes, read it if you are interested in becoming or becoming a better blogger). I agree with everything in it, except for one piece of advice that I often see bandied about but think is totally wrong: Don't be too wordy. HuffPo says that 800 words is…
At ScienceOnline 2010, I'm going to be leading a workshop entitled Blogging 102. It's supposed to be a session to help established bloggers to improve their craft. The next question is, what do bloggers need most in order to become better bloggers? One possibility is "more technical skills." There…
At the recent Republican debate, three out of ten Republican candidates stated that they did not believe in evolution. This reflects a larger ignorance of science. I have a very simple idea to combat the Stoopid for bloggers who don't think of themselves as 'science' bloggers: Once per week, link…
I'm a big fan of Brad DeLong's blog even when I don't agree with him. But one of the things that's bothered me is when he reprints posts in full. For bloggers, professional or amateur, links are currency. Reprinting the post in full means people won't be inclined to click through to your site.…

I think you specialize in crankiness.

First off, I always read the antibiotic resistance posts, even if no one else does. I've been interested and concerned with the subject since back in the days I worked for Roche and then Beecham (before they were assimilated).

Since I tend to agree with a great deal of what Dan calls your "crankiness," I think we should expand the field of adjectives that cover your blogging specialty. May I suggest that liberal, cantankerous, objective, curmudgeonly, realistic, and a pronounced bias in favor of humanity are good descriptors.

Keep it up, Mike. I'm still reading.

Dude I read all your posts about antibiotic resistance and the human microbiome ... even if it's only me and chezjake up there reading them, please please please keep on writing them!

I suspect there are a lot of us lurkers who read pretty much all your posts -- including the antibiotic resistance ones. Anybody who ignores antibiotic resistance is an idiot, but then that's just my (absolutely correct, and roundly ignored) opinion.

I do read the antibiotic resistance posts - just like I read the science-related posts of other ScienceBlogs bloggers. But since it's speciality posts that the poster presumably knows a great deal about, and I do not, I find it very hard to comment on such posts. More general subjects are much easier to comment on without making it too obvious I'm a total nincompoop.

I've also read all your posts on antibiotic resistance.

I must go read the antibiotic resistance blogs! I haven't been exploring Science Blogs for long- sorry!! Also, I've already linked to your blog in mine, and yours has been broadcast to all and sundry in Adelaide, South Australia through a local webby radio program! I am taking your advice (and that of my webby partner, Spotrick of in my new health blog- trying to start something topical and not get too technical!
Thanks for the advice!