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What Makes a Great Blog?

Beth Kanter says her memory is failing, (was it that "big birthday" that did it?)so she started a list of nonprofit blogs for herself on her wiki. Yesterday she emailed David Wilcox and I to ask if we wanted to include the list as part of our Social Media Wiki Carnival, to which we naturally replied "Of course." So David added Beth's Mega-list to his Wiki. When we can all breathe again in the next few weeks, we're going to try to get some things organized and flesh out the list to help Beth live out her "wild fantasy":

a wiki with:

a-critieria of what makes a good blog

b-list of blogs, with descriptions, organized by categories

c-some sort of social rating system against whatever critical identified in point a - to do it right would take some programming skills.

The criteria for a good blog definitely caught my eye, as it's something I've been thinking about off and on for awhile. I went looking to see if someone had come up with some criteria already and sure enough, someone had. (I was surprised that this was the ONLY list I could find, though.  I would think that with all the blog awards around there would be other lists. Although now that I said that, someone's going to nail me on my poor search skills)

Anyway, Bill MacKenty shares a good list that was apparently used to award him a prize for his blog, although he admits he's not sure who developed it. Here's the list (go to his post to get the full details):

  • Personality
  • Usefulness
  • Quality of the Writing
  • Usability and Design
  • Frequency of Posts
  • Relevance
  • Interactivity (audio, video)
  • Fulfillment of Purpose
  • Appropriateness
  • Would you revisit?

Personality was an interesting one to me, especially in light of Nancy White's recent post on slipping out of our public niches. She wonders how "targeted" our blogging should be and when is it appropriate to let a little of our humanity and personal life shine through by going "off-topic. She says that she  "wanders all over the place intellectually," but draws the line at sharing information about her family who have not chosen to live in the public eye of her blog. I can relate.

I also liked "Fulfillment of Purpose." Some blogs exist to entertain, others to educate, others to advocate. If we're going to evaluate a blog, it seems like we need to have a basic understanding of its reason for existing and be sure to measure it against whether or not it achieves that purpose.

A couple of things I personally would add to the list:

  • Timeliness of information
  • A fresh perspective--maybe this is related to personality, but I know that I hate to read "Me Too" blogs. I love bloggers who always seem to find stuff I've never seen or who have provocative ways of thinking.
  • Attention to community--To me, allowing comments is "Blogging 101," although I know others don't agree. I definitely like bloggers who try to encourage community by allowing comments and who also take the time to respond.
  • Humility--I like personality, but if it starts to veer into "know-it-all" territory, that turns me off.  I'll admit, though, that sometimes I'm afraid that I can be a little pedantic myself, so I should probably be careful saying that. . .
  • Do I consistently learn something? --This is probably my number one criterion at least for professional blogs that I read.  The only reason I revisit is because I know I'll learn something new, so for me, learning has to be there.

So that's the start of a list. What do you think? When you go down your list of favorite blogs, what makes them your favorites? Do some of these criteria have priority over others for you? Are there things you MUST have in a blog and other criteria you're willing to let slide?

What do you think makes a great blog?


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I came by to drop a comment to this post, but forgot what I was going to say ... :-)

Produces posts like this I can use in the resources page of the wiki

Beth--when that memory returns, I definitely want to hear from you. :-)

And David, I agree that this should go on the wiki. Just didn't get a chance to do that, yet. I'm also hoping to get some additional feedback that we can use.

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