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An Overview on Quality in Blogging

Updated on May 7, 2014
Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin tries to maintain an active position in the Hubpages writing community.

The blogger's paradise
The blogger's paradise | Source

I have been blogging for a few months now but have been reading blogs for years. As a new blogger, there are a number of aspects concerning the practice that I struggle with. Most of the problems I have are technology and terminology related. From understanding Google Adsense, computer grading systems, and how to optimize my materials so they are found on search engines, to incorporating the social media of Facebook and Twitter for promoting blogs, I am awash in a world that I don’t fully grasp yet. Only time and effort will someday rid me of this ignorance.

But as someone who studies and has studied the English language for well over two decades, I do understand writing and some simple and effective methods to make our writing better. I’m not perfect and here’s a news flash: Nobody is! The English language is far too complex for anyone to ever entirely master. As a result, my first tip to you is to avoid anyone that claims infallibility. Yes, some of us are very, very good, but the bull that is the English language bucks us all from time to time. Anyone who tells you differently is either delusional or a boldfaced liar.

Everyone knows that writers write.  Not quite everybody knows that writers read as well.
Everyone knows that writers write. Not quite everybody knows that writers read as well. | Source

The Two Golden Rules of Writing

My intention with the following series of articles is to give an overview of the current quality of writing among bloggers and a number of tips to improve our writing community, but before I do that, I would like to mention the two most important rules in becoming a good writer. Though I will echo these golden rules throughout the series, I will not be going into great detail on them because they are written about so extensively. Golden rule number one: Read a lot. Not just things that you already know interest you, but quality writing across all the genres. Golden rule number two: Write a lot. You are a machine. Don’t ever stop. Don’t ever let criticism or lack of success slow you down. Keep at it and keep getting better!

2014 Writer's Market
2014 Writer's Market

A helpful tool to any writer

 

Definition of a True Blogger

Now for the focal point of part one of this series, the overall condition of the blogging community. Let me start by defining the “blogging community” we’ll be discussing. I’m not talking about the simple posting of information on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Millions of people do this, and though Facebook and Twitter are employed by most successful bloggers, the vast majority of people open these accounts for personal reasons: to keep up with olds chums, family, and to even make a few extra friends. In addition, the blogging community I’m speaking of in this article does not encompass all the scammers, cheaters stealing articles, and other annoying garbage that is out there.

In this particular instance when I speak of the blogging community, I’m speaking of all the people who are trying to provide reliable information to the masses via informative articles. Those of us trying to break through all the noise on the internet and help people understand the world around them, whether it be through art, technology, sports, entertainment, etc. For example, you want to make beer. You type in “How to make beer.” We’re the ones whose article you click on, and it actually provides you a blog on how to make beer. What a novel concept! We’re the ones who give you what you want, not just a giant toilet bowl to suck in views.

Blogging: The Good News First

Through years of analysis, my overall feelings about the above defined blogging community is very positive. The majority of information produced by these bloggers is accurate and well structured. It is painstakingly researched through real world experience and the reading of literature. Yes, there are a few bloggers who have problems with the basics of structuring materials and conveying ideas, but the overwhelming majority do not.

In addition, for a world supposedly so plagued with grammatical deficiencies, when it comes to the placement of commas, periods, and such, in the blogging community there really isn’t that major of a problem either. Most articles will contain a few commas splices and run-ons, as well as a few commas that are just wayward and some confusion on how to denote possessives, but for the most part, in this regard the articles aren’t in any worse shape than that of articles written by writers working for a corporation and receiving a good yearly salary. Yes, stylistically sometimes bloggers go with punctuation that isn’t as crisp as it could be, but primarily the articles read well and are still grammatically correct.

Formality level is also not much of an issue. Most bloggers pick a formality level and stick with it consistently throughout the article. Since the majority of these blogs are “How to” in nature, the primary formality level employed is conversational. The best “How to” writing should provide an inviting gentleness to the learner, so a conversational tone is entirely appropriate. Though the conversational tone might allow us to use a number of structures that are not conventionally grammatical, as long as we exercise caution in our usages, it is still entirely appropriate for the venue.

One of the main reasons bloggers make mistakes is simply time constraints.
One of the main reasons bloggers make mistakes is simply time constraints. | Source

Blogging: The Bad News Last

So the overall state of the blogging community is tiptop? Actually, no. There are a number of common mistakes you see in these blogs that make our writing look unprofessional. What is funny to me about the mistakes I see is that they are so readily fixable. For example, I might read a high quality, well-researched blog of around 2,000 words. There may be 50 mistakes in it. That sounds like a lot, but of the 50 mistakes, there may only be 2 or 3 mistake types.

For example, let’s say you have 50 mistakes in your article, and one-third of them involve using the word “no” when you mean “know,” the other third involve using the word “hear” when you mean “here,” and the other third involve using “your” when you mean “you’re.” Effectively you’ve only made one mistake type in the essay. You have problems with homonyms, (words that sound the same or similar but are spelled differently) and now that you know where you have a problem, you know a mistake type that you in particular are prone to. By just becoming aware of one type of problem you have and knowing to look for it, you’ve increased your writing ability exponentially.

I use the example of the basic problem of homonyms because it is a problem that plagues me. Through years of actively looking for my homonym problems, I have become much better, but I still make mistakes. You may not have a homonym problem, but most likely you have some problem type that is particular to you, and most likely it will never go away, but through diligence and understanding, the effect of the problem type can be largely negated.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition

A must have for any writer in a field requiring MLA style Academic Research.

 

Why Does All This Matter?

What does it matter if everyone is making certain types of mistakes? How is anyone the wiser? Actually, people do notice your mistakes. It is an interesting phenomenon. When you write something, you know how you meant for it to read. As a result, you are more likely to read it in your head how you meant for it to sound than notice your mistakes. If you don’t believe me, write an article and get it publish ready to your eyes. Have a colleague of comparable skill do the same. More likely than not, if you proof-read one another’s articles, you will both find mistakes that you wouldn’t have found on your own. This is why proof-reading by a peer is so important.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, the types of mistakes that you are prone to are likely different than those of many of your readers. For example, you have a problem with choosing the correct tense use. Most all your readers will have a problem type as well, but it won’t necessarily be in tense use. While they have deficiencies just like you, since your deficiency is different than theirs, they will notice, and it may even hurt the palatability of your article for them.

When people notice problems with your writing, it seems less professional. When your writing seems less professional, it hurts the credibility of your information. Do grammatical and wording problems make your information any less true? Of course not! There are tomes of awful information on the internet that is predominantly without grammatical fault, but perception is important. If you want people to take notice of your good information, it doesn’t have to be in an academic tone, but it needs to read cleanly.

There are two schools of thought on how clear writing impacts blogging. One is from the team mentality: the more good blogs within your blogging community, the more people look to your blog sites for information, which equals more prosperity for everybody. The other is from the “I gotta get mine” mentality: the more people out there with poor writing habits, the more success for you if you don’t have these problems. Either way you look at it, it is beneficial to have adequate writing skills.

What Sorts of Mistakes are Bloggers Making?

The quick answer: as a whole, every mistake that can be made. Any type of writing mistake you can think of is made somewhere at some point by a blogger. The same can be said about any writing community. But is that a very helpful answer? No, entirely too vague. The better answer is to look for trends. Trend-wise, there are relatively few mistake types being made by bloggers on a consistent basis, and the common mistake types for any given article would readily be fixed in a matter of minutes by a good editor, but we’re bloggers, and we don’t get editors, so we need to be able to spot these problems ourselves.

As mentioned earlier, this is the first article in a series. Below is a list of the mistake types I most commonly see in blogs in order of prevalence. Beside them is a brief description of the mistake type. I will be going into more detail about each later in the series.

Travel is an excellent way to improve your writing skills.  Having the time and money to do so is another matter.
Travel is an excellent way to improve your writing skills. Having the time and money to do so is another matter. | Source

1. Typos:

Typos are by far the most common mistake type I see in blogs, but the good news, they are the most readily fixable. A typo is a word or phrase that is out of place, most commonly small connector words like “a” or “the.” It can also be a misspelled word or a simple miss-wording. What I mean by simple miss-wording is a word or two out of place, something you could fix easily if it was brought to your attention. The only thing you need to do to fix typos is read over your writing more carefully before you publish.

A Pocket Style Manual, APA Version
A Pocket Style Manual, APA Version

If your in the social sciences, a necessary tool.

 

Writing Problems

Which of the following do you view as your biggest writing obstacle?

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2. Homonyms:

These pesky creatures are words that sound the same or similar with different definitions. We all know the usual suspects: “Your” and “You’re,” “There” “They’re” and “Their,” “Whether” and “Weather,” etc., but what people don’t realize is that there are thousands of less common homonyms. Here are just a few: “Kept” and “Kempt,” “Peak” and “Pique,” “Wet” and “Whet.” There are also homonyms that are just downright difficult to get an understanding of, like “Affect” and “Effect,” and “Who” and “Whom.”

There are two major reasons why homonym mistakes happen. The first reason is the easiest to fix. Writers go through spell-check on their computers and don’t pay attention to the correctly spelled word they are choosing, and it turns out it wasn’t the word they wanted to use at all. The second reason is easy to fix but can take a lifetime. The writer isn’t aware that there are two or more similar sounding words with different meanings and spellings. How do you fix this? Always keep a dictionary handy when you write. Read a lot and pay attention to the spelling of words. Take a note of it when you run into a homonym you haven’t seen before. Let other people proof-read your writings, and they can share with you the homonyms they know and vice versa.

Always listen to what people have to say.  Some of the best turns-of-phrase occur when you least expect it.
Always listen to what people have to say. Some of the best turns-of-phrase occur when you least expect it. | Source

3.Tense/Regional Dialect:

As a serious writer, there are many reasons why you would use regional dialect and colloquialisms on purpose for creative effect, but in the context that I am seeing these slang usages, it seems apparent it is not being done on purpose. Tense slang and regional dialect is a good thing and most all of us come from an area with its own special brand. It has made many an author wealthy, from Charles Dickens to Sean Combs, but to be a successful and diverse writer, it helps to be able to tell the difference between the two and know which one you are using.

Some common examples of unintended tense misusage are using the word “Suppose” when you mean “Supposed” and “Seen” when you mean “Saw.” An example of regional dialect is writing “Would of” when you mean “Would have.” The best way to fix a tense problem is to read formal articles, paying special attention to usage and to watch formal programs like the national news and documentaries. A good way to keep up with popular slang is to travel and spend time in various regions and do your best to keep up with the ever changing world of popular culture.

And there you have it. Those are the three writing problems I see most abundantly amongst bloggers. Does that mean you have any of these problems? Maybe so, maybe no, but more likely than not you have issue with at least one of the three. Of course, it could be another issue. Dollars to donuts there is something that gives you fits in the writing process, even if by the time you publish you rarely have a mistake.

Stay calm and always improve.  You'll never be perfect, but that just means that there is always a goal to shoot for.
Stay calm and always improve. You'll never be perfect, but that just means that there is always a goal to shoot for. | Source

Conclusion:

I just want to reiterate that I don’t know it all. Every writer makes mistakes. This series on writing will probably run 4 or 5 articles. As always, I welcome comments, but for an additional level of interaction, I would like you, the reader, to have the opportunity to nitpick my articles throughout the series. It’s a long series and I don’t have an editor. I’ve read many a grammar book and they have editors. I’ve never seen one without an unintended mistake. I’m bound to make a few. If you feel I’ve made a writing error in this article, comment on it and I’ll be glad to give a response regarding if it was something I intended to do or not. If it’s an unintended error, I’ll fix it.

There is more to come, so if you found this article useful, check back for more on writing.

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    • Nikkah Lubanga profile image

      Nikkah Lubanga 3 years ago from Cebu City Philippines

      I can relate to you when it comes to writing content that is search engine friendly. No matter now I strive to write as simple as it could be for the search engine to understand, it seems that i'm still lost in a crowd of bloggers. This is a very useful hub, this gives me a whole lot of perspective in blogging that I should try out, starting from writing a good lengthy blog post. But it would be hard as research is key which I am so lazy to do. :)

    • Larry Rankin profile image
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      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nikkah: Thanks for the comment. Yeah, search engines are a bit of a mystery to me. I'm always surprised on what does and doesn't seem to work in a given situation.

    • profile image

      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      My tone can be off putting at times so I'm always editing to make sure it sounds "kind", but informative and motivational. Thanks!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I like your tone. You have a no-nonsense way of putting things, and it works very well for you. Even your photo selection seems to fit this motif. Thanks for the comment.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I will put a follow on this and try to keep up with your new ones too. I really know nothing about blogging but I can write so maybe that is a start! ^

    • Larry Rankin profile image
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      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      So nice to hear from you. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      AL 3 years ago

      Larry, the caption of your second photo has two errors: "writer's write;" and "writer's read." Why the apostrophes? Was this proofread by a peer?

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Good eye! No, I didn't have a proof reader on this one besides myself. It is my Idea to have viewers find my errors on this writing series to help them understand how the peer proof-reading process works and to understand that it doesn't have to be an intimidating process. That being said, I didn't make the mistake on purpose. It is an honest mess-up and one I know better than to make. Thanks for the feedback and the problem will be edited. I have a second installment, "Why You Should Not Worry too Much about Editing as You Compose an Initial Draft" if you want to look for errors in it, or maybe you can find more in this article.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Seeing the homonyms and regional dialect misused repeatedly often causes me to quit reading. I love language and its mostly appropriate use.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I agree. We all make an occasional mistake, but if there are too many, it does hurt the experience regardless of the quality of content. As for tone, I often employ less formal usages, but I usually do it on purpose for an effect. From the context where it is found in some folks writing, I don't think they're doing it on purpose or that it is eliciting a desired effect.

      All that said, Hubpages is a good place to grow, and I enjoy seeing people's writing improve. I want our community to be a supportive one where we help one another and nobody is afraid to try.

    • Aneegma profile image

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      If there is one thing I detest when I read blogs is bad grammar and horrible spelling and wrong usage of words. As a writer I struggle too with these things so it's great that you've pointed them out. Nicely written hub. Congratulations on HOTD! Well deserved.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on HOTD. A friend and I read each other's hub, and it was amazing the number of errors that we both found. Sometimes it might be a matter of - "I'm tired, I'll publish and come back and edit later." and forgetting, and other times we may have thought we did our best but somehow things still slipped by.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for HOTD!

      A nice, useful hub for all. I do read my content several times before publishing. I am more careful because English is not my first language.

      Thanks for this insightful hub!

    • Johnny Parker profile image

      Johnny Parker 3 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

      Good article Larry. I find a lot of people confuse lose and loose, very often using the latter when they have 'lost' something!

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good helpful tips and Congratulations on HOTD. I have yet to achieve one of those. Well done. I have not attempted blogging but I hear it helps your views out. I am happy to tag along to learn your tips.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Aneegma: Thank you so much for the comment. On grammar and usage, we all have different starting points and aptitudes, but all of us can improve if we take the time to learn from our own mistakes and listen to others.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      It is amazing how much we can help one another if we just put our pride to the side and let others help us proofread. It is much easier to find the mistakes of others than you're own for reasons I explained in the article. It isn't about who is the better writer when it comes to having a friend proofread. It is simply that someone else can often see your mistakes better than you can. Awesome Comments!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
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      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Chitrangada Sharan: I really admire people who take on a second language. The bar is obviously much higher for you than native speakers. You should always read your articles over at least a few times before publishing. It is also beneficial to have someone else review your work as well. Wonderful comments.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Yadav SK: Thanks for the feedback. I especially found your comments on paragraph length interesting. The short paragraph idea is more of a concept than a rule, and the appropriate paragraph length is highly contingent on the type of writing you're doing. For example, in blogging and journalism very short paragraphs are usually recommended, while in other writings, like academic style in college, your paragraphs can still be too long, but on average they are much longer than the above examples.

      In regards to your critique, you are correct that some of my paragraphs are pushing the limits in length for a blog, but I personally feel they are within the realm of acceptability for blog length paragraphs.

      Thanks so much for the comments.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Homonyms are my own Achilles' hill, lol. Lose and loose is one of the more common mistakes. Thank you for the comment.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Suzzycue: Thanks for the response. My tip: if you want to blog then just blog. We all start from somewhere, and if we work hard, we all improve.

    • BeyondGS profile image

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      Excellent hub! I really enjoy the read and tips. I notice a lot of time how some may post hubs but have many mistakes in an otherwise solid post. I think this is a must read for ones who are thinking of blogging regularly. Voted up!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      BeyondGS: You make an excellent point. A large part of what I am trying to say is very positive. The majority of information that is blogged has wonderful and helpful content, but people need to spend a little more time improving the level of their writing. So many of the mistakes I see are easily fixed, but they are mistakes that hurt fluidity for the reader.

      Thanks so much for dropping by

    • Magen Morris profile image

      Magen Morris 3 years ago from Chicago

      I have to say, these kind of mistakes annoy the crap out of me! You laid out these mistakes very professionally and I want to shove it in the faces of quite a few blogs I read. They have amazingly great content and voice, but I can't get over grammatical errors or sentence structure to essentially enjoy the message of the post. It drives me nuts. There is one in particular that boasts that they're now a "million dollar business" but can't seem to hire a simple editor to fix the misspellings and tense mistakes. Whew, I got real passionate about that, sorry.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Lol. Your response was very entertaining. It irks me when I read a blog from a professional news source and there are a lot of errors, but that being said, when we're talking about forums like Hubpages, where many of us are just starting out, I feel like the community needs to be treated with more latitude.

      In comparison to writers for Yahoo, CNN, ESPN, and the like, people are trying to learn the basics here, and one of the best ways to learn is to do. As long as folks put in the effort and are trying to improve, mistakes can be made and it is just part of the process, but those lucky enough to actually make a living wage doing this sort of work are definitely worthy of criticism for their mistakes.

      Enjoyed the comments

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Definitely some great tips to follow here and pet peeves to avoid. Thank you for sharing!

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      epbooks: Thanks for commenting.

    • MercCipher profile image

      MercCipher 3 years ago

      This is a very good hub and you have done a great job on pointing out the flaws some people make when it comes to blogging. I like to write and out of all the errors, homonyms are my biggest pet peeve. Don't get me wrong, when I write I proofread before submitting. In high school, I was the best in my class when it came to writing papers. However, when I read something with homonyms in it such as "there" which is meant to be "their" it usually stops me from reading any further. So, great job on this hub and congratulations for getting HOTD.

    • Larry Rankin profile image
      Author

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      MercCipher: Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Jan 2 years ago

      Alpha:Thanks so much for writing a conemmt for my book. May I take this opportunity to express my immensed gratitude to you! And your website is so wonderful, I will download the programme you designed to support you. Add oil! My friend~Larry

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