Long-Tailed or Short-Tailed?
Long-Tailed or Short-Tailed Hubs?
‘So you think you can write online?'
You may have seen the above contest title on Hubpages, the online meeting place for writers.
If you did see it, you would have shrugged the question away; after all, why should online writing be different from offline writing? Surely it wouldn’t matter where the writing was going to be published as long as the piece was grammatically correct and had the proper punctuation.
You don’t finish sentences with prepositions, even if it isn’t a hanging offence these days, like. Unlike numerous commentators or columnists lately, you don’t write teeth-grating descriptions that tend to insert the word ‘more,’ where the plural should be, such as more steep, more fierce or more true. But, not being too sure if there was a difference, and your interest being piqued, you clicked the page open to see what was what.
The site wanted long-tail topics: what on earth was a long-tail topic? Did they want articles about crocodiles, kangaroos? They have long tailes, don't they? No, the rules definitely said you could write on any topic you wished. Confused, you looked through your Chambers English Dictionary - ‘long-tail, an animal, esp. a dog, with uncut tail: a greyhound.’ That was a fat lot of good; perhaps as the subject was about writing online, you should be researching online?
Googling 'long-tail' got you some more confusing results, most of which were to do with graphs and online selling. One graph showed a dinosaur in a graph; it’s body was hard up against the left wall of the graph, with its head near the top, and its tail stretched along the bottom of the graph – humorous, but not informative.
Wikipaedia's brief description under the heading of ‘Long –Tail’ didn't help. What on earth did [‘The Long Tail or long tail refers to the property that a larger share of population rests within the probability distribution than observed under a ‘normal’ or Gaussian Distribution.’] mean?
What was Gaussian Distribution, and what did it have to do with writing an article? According to Wikipaedia, Mr. Chris Anderson popularized the expression before explaining it in greater depth in his book ‘The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.’ It was an Amazon employee's explanation that had you reaching for a pain killer - "We sold more books today that didn’t sell yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”
Suddenly you understood! Or was that just the beginning of the migraine?
There was no difference between writing offline or online – fine writing was fine writing no matter where it was published.
It was so obvious - A Tweet and a Blog were both short-tailed. Sure, it could be entertaining to glimpse the trials and tribulations of a tweeter you followed. And, your favourite blog author could make you laugh at her daily exploits - but - they were both instantly forgettable. You couldn't visualise ever Goggling those particular day's tweets or blogs 2 years later - they were ephemeral.
However, an article that imparted knowledge; an online piece that informed - would still have readers years later, and would be long-tailed.
The internet gives you the Keys of the Kingdom; if your piece is well written and informative - preferably from your own experience, it will be welcomed on the 'net. You may think your knowledge is too arcane to be of interest, but you must always keep in mind that Google has a display window that circles the globe, reaching into the planet’s approximately 194 countries.
Somewhere and sometime, your writing will help another.