Saturday, 1 December 2007

Blogroll Paranoia

Hi guys! Traffic is always low at the weekend and today is no exception. I can only assume that I’m the only person sitting here, surfing the web in my large Channel 4 dressing gown and slippers. Like any well adjusted celebrity, I’ve spent most of my time looking up my name on Google. It’s the easiest way to see what’s happening in my life. It was edifying to see Hello Magazine describe me, quite accurately I thought, as one of ‘TV's best-loved personalities’.

It’s how I had the misfortune of tuning into a blog that has recently dumped me from their blogroll. I don’t know why I’m no longer there but curses on this rejection! Have the people no idea what they’re doing? Why did this blogger have such a change of heart about me? Perhaps some kind of miswired circuitry in their brain? A blockage of some sort? Does my name perhaps remind them of an uncle Richard who has recently gone to prison for misdemeanors involving animals? Do you think I should email them to ask?

The sad truth is that this isn’t the first time I’ve been ‘unlisted’ from a blogroll. It happens to me on a weekly basis. After I launched my Appreciation Society, I was getting listed in dozens of blogs. I was welcomed with open arms by many. Then, after about a week, most had dropped me. Had I done something wrong? I think not. The same is true of many of the first visitors to this blog. Looking back to my earliest posts, many of the original commentators no longer drop by. Surely somebody must have got to them.

Since I’m at a loss to know what I’ve done, I suspect devilry on behalf of Channel 4. Knowing that my contract isn’t going to be renewed, they are secretly spreading misinformation about me. They are emailing all these bloggers to tell them that I’m a dangerous man prone to mood swings. Those of you who have been reading me for long enough know that this is all rubbish. But what could Channel 4 be gaining by this cruel deception?

I’ve also noticed another thing. I often leave comments on blogs and I get no reply. Often, I’ll leave a comment and then another person will leave a comment, and the blog owner replies to the second comment but not to mine. It’s as though I don’t exist. I’ve had to use logic to reason myself around this insult. I think I leave comments of such stunning wit that people haven’t the capacity to match it. My comments are like Shakespearean sonnets and are perfect as they sit.

Oh, why am I telling you any of this? It’s Saturday and there’s nobody there. I’m off to watch last night’s episode of QI.


Glamourpuss said...

Poor Dickie. I guess the blogosphere is unlike the gilded cage of celebrity - people don't gush over one another with effusive but insincere praise. Bloggers come and got, as do their comments. The trick, I feel, is to focus on the writing. Write well and people will read you. Works for me.



Richard Madeley said...

Ah, so that's the key! I thought it might have been people adding me to their blogroll when they thought it was me, and then deleting the link when they began to hear these lies.

I'll definitely try to change my tack and see if I can start writing well.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Richard: I think Glamourpuss has a very valid point, if you concentrate on your writing and try not to get so hung up on your figures, you may well find that your readership and commenting figures pick up, if that's what you want.

Ages ago you asked me why I get so many comments on my blog, and I replied to you but I don't think you came back to read it (hope I didn't offend you, I was only trying to be helpful), or if you did you made no comment, but essentially I said that blogging is unlike live TV in that no floor manager is walking around holding up a board with "applaud" written on it. Out here in the blogosphere it's all down to you to whip up your own support, and eventually interesting writing will win through and readers will come back to you.

My honest advice would be to stop obsessing over your fan base, ignore your stat counter and concentrate on what you can bring to your blog, not the other way round.

You're a good writer, so write something good. And then see what happens.

Richard Madeley said...

Swearing Mother. I thought I had replied but so sorry if I didn't. I'll be honest: I'm not obsessing. Or if I am, only a bit. I'm usually being very tongue in cheek when I talk about statistics. I know exactly how many repeat readers I have and that’s enough for me.

The point of this brief post wasn’t to obsess. I just didn’t want to write anything long on a Saturday but still wanted to comment on how fickle many people are. Ignore the thousands who just don’t enjoy this blog, the main reason the rest drop me from their blogrolls is obvious: they don’t think I’m Richard. And the only reason they added me in the first place was because they thought I was Richard. And that’s why I think Glamourpuss is wrong. People fawn over each other here in the blogosphere. I see people fawning over bigger bloggers all the time, as indeed, I’m occasionally mistakenly fawned over myself.

Big blogs attract many comments because smaller bloggers want to expose their own blogs/word to a larger audience/more famous writer. My favourite discovery in recent weeks has been Graham Lineham’s blog (Why That's Delightful). Unfortunately, after I found it, I realised that he’s the guy who wrote ‘Father Ted’. For me, that actually spoils the blog. I can't treat it as a normal blog. It means there can’t be the normal relationship between writer and reader. I’m not going to play the acolyte game. It makes it hard to be sincere. Ditto with Stephen Fry’s blog. It gets thousands of comments for precisely this reason. His content is good but there’s not enough of it to warrant the kind of feedback he gets.

One of the things you discover when you’re famous is that people don’t want you for yourself but for your fame. It may sound like a cliché but it is worryingly accurate. You’d believe me if you read some of the emails I get! It’s enough to make you pity celebrities. All this I find interesting and it’s partly why this blog exists. I don’t really care about how many hits I get each day. I write this blog for my own amusement. I am interested in celebrity and how we, as a society, are governed by fame.

The notion that quality blogs prevail is like saying that all good books get published. They don’t. The best blogs out there, I know, don't have huge readerships. Very many bad blogs do.

As for comments, I’ll never get many. It doesn’t bother me and I’m quite used to it by now. It’s hard for a more wordy humour blog to succeed. It doesn’t help me that I also write something totally unique every day. It’s quite rare among blogs, the most successful of which will simply post one picture, a YouTube video, or a brief paragraph of text, reusing material from other blogs. It also takes more effort to respond in the spirit of a humous post than it does to respond to something about, say, a recipe for chicken pie.

The truth is that people don’t engage with this kind of blog. Many people do get it and a few will respond in the same spirit. Some people just don’t understand a thing, as my Tunisian story proved. I accept that as part of the fun.

Swearing Mother said...

As long as you're still finding it fun, Richard, that's the whole reason to keep going. I don't care if you're really TV's Richard Madeley or not because what you write has amused me, which is why I continue to read, although if I'm honest it was your celebrity which made me click on your name in the first place, which is probably why you didn't use an alias. But I continued to visit even after that novelty wore off. I don't always comment any more because sometimes I've just got nothing to say (unlike me, I know), but I still visit all the time.

Just one more thing - how do you work out what a "bad" blog is - you say that many "bad" blogs have a big readership and some "good" blogs don't. How are you defining/measuring good and bad, in this case? I also know of several very enjoyable and well written blogs that don't get much readership as yet, but all they lack is exposure. I don't really view any blog as "bad", just not my particular thing; like magazines - we either like them or we don't. It's just a matter of personal taste and there's no accounting for that.

And anyway, why the hell are you, the famous Richard Madeley, charismatic TV presenter and star, blogging at this time on a Saturday night?? For goodness sake, bugger off to an awards ceremony or nightclub or whatever it is you celebs do in your time off. And don't forget to tell us all about it in the morning.

Ethel said...

At a big onliney conference I was sent to last year to be talked at, they said the average blog has a readership of seven. So, considering there's some out there, like Fry's blog and Fark and the other biggies, that get hundreds, I guess it follows there must be others that get next to none. Which may be a good thing in my case, considering I used to have a heap of unwise personal type stuff in my blog before I came to my senses and deleted most it it and started again, in the guise of an aardvark...

Celebirty is not nice. I'm not one and never will be, but I have one of these silly jobs where you tend to get recognised in the street occasionally, and I don't particularly like it. What I like even less is when I make one of my rare and ill-fated attempts at being sociable, and as soon as they find out who I am they're all "oh, you can get us free publicity for our club/cause/event" when actually, all I want is to be a normal person taking part in the club/cause/event. And then they wonder why I run away and never come back. And thus is my reputation as a Grumpy Sod maintained...

Richard Madeley said...

Ah, Swearing Mother, I never said I’m not me. I’m just saying that other people think I’m not me. I couldn’t possibly say except that I’m quite sure that I am me.

I knew you’d asked about how to judge a bad blog but I deleted my comments on that because I didn’t want to get drawn into the bigger argument. Since you ask, I’d simply say that I don’t hold with the position that we can’t discriminate between the good and the bad. Too many of us are into this fetishism of ‘balance’ that prevents us from talking in terms of good and bad. We are human beings and making value judgements is what we’ve always done. It’s right to be critical but it doesn’t mean that we’re correct in our judgements. It is important, however, that we feel that we’re right. We must also be open to criticism, tolerant of other views, and willing to argue out points. That’s the only way we can advance. It’s only quite recently that the intellectual bigots have told us that it’s bad to make judgements. It’s why our schools and universities are suffering. There are good and bad blogs and there’s nothing wrong in admitting as much.

In vague terms, I’d say that:

Good blogs are well presented (visual or written content); unique voice; unique content; regular updates; interesting subject.
Bad blogs are full of content copied from other blogs; badly written; morally offensive; asinine.

Naturally, there are many good blogs which just ‘aren’t for me’. I don’t enjoy many of the political blogs but I wouldn’t begrudge them their success. I would rate Fry’s blog highly. It will be a great blog if he can continue to feed it. However, as yet, it’s still new and succeeding on the back of his celebrity.

Bad blogs out there are successful because they usually pander to the worst in us all. I won’t name them. I would say that many of the blogs that feed off the invasion of people’s privacy are wrong. For me, it’s not enough to say that they’re merely ‘not for me’. The same would be true for any blog that posts pictures of crime scenes or serious accidents. And yes, they do exist.

Ethel, oh now I want to know who you are? Can’t you tell me? I think you’re a weatherwoman with a Goodies fixation.

You’re right about the average readership of blogs, though I heard the average was 50. I think that’s probably closer to the truth, but that might not be regular readers. They might well be around five. Based on what I know of blogs, I’d guess that Stephen Fry’s blog will probably be getting a few thousand a day… Fark, which isn’t a blog, will be huge. Probably a million a day. Maybe even more. This blog is only in the hundreds and hits a thousand only on very special occasions. I don’t really think that getting readership or ‘exposure’ is really what blogging is about. Certainly not unless you’re inside the US, which has a bigger appetite for blogs. For me, it’s an opportunity to write a couple of thousand words a day before I get down to some serious work. The fact I find it very easy to write is a huge advantage. If I had to fill it with my first rate material, I could only post once every few days.

leeakamichaelpalin'snextwifeetc said...

I couldn't care less if you are who you say you are or if you're in fact a hamster with a penchant for wearing a polka dot dress. And, as you are already aware,both ethel and I had no idea who "Richard Madeley" was anyway. If this wasn't amusing I wouldn't be bothered to return. I checked out a celebrity blog recently and it would bore the boobs off a person.

Swearing Mother said...

Morning Richard: I do agree that we all must be able to say what we think is good or bad, but the further question we must ask ourselves is, are we only speaking from our own perspective or can we see things for another point of view? There are blogs which for me are brilliant, yet you would probably not think so, and vice versa. That was my point, it's all a matter of personal taste. Just because you think something is good (using your own criteria) doesn't mean to say that it is good for everyone. It's just your opinion. My version of "good" is something that gives the reader whatever it is they are looking for, something that either informs, amuses, stimulates or gives a sense of community. For instance, there are people out there for whom blogging is a life-line and they get a lot of comfort from the support their readers/commenters give them. The content of such blogs may not be your cup of tea, but is that to say they are "bad" if they don't conform to a certain laid-down criteria? No, of course not.

We all get different things from blogging and whatever those things may be, as long as they don't cause people outrageous offence or scare the horses (luckily we can operate our own sensorship on that one), I don't think we can judge for everyone. The readership will do that for themselves.

The only judgement I can make is if I personally like something or not, whether it's good for me or not. The fact that I don't like something doesn't mean it's bad, it's just not my thing. So that's my point really, everything is subjective, and making a judgement on something like blogging is really a matter of personal preference.

In my view, of course.

Lovely talking to you - we should do lunch!

PS - If you feel blogging under your real name is putting you at a disadvantage, why don't you use a pseudonym like the rest of us nonentities do? Then you'd definitely get to know who your real friends are! Hope you still count me as one of them.


Richard Madeley said...

Oh, Swearing Mother, this could just become a huge argument dealing with just about everything. ;o)

I know exactly what you’re saying. However, once we agree that there is no objective truth, then everything descends to a question of the subjective. To argue that ‘readership’ decides the value of a blog is to reduce things to the law of the masses. This was the point I was making. One person says that X Factor is a ‘good’ TV. Another says it’s bad TV, cheap, exploitative, fake, musically inept, etc. Who is right? Well, you would say that we each have a valid position and what one person likes, another might hate. That’s probably true but I don't want to live in that kind of world. It's horribly anti-social. I would also argue that, in a greater scheme of things, the passion of disagreement is what moves us on. I know it helps me.

Swearing Mother said...

Me too, Richard. What would life be without a bloody good argument now and then? Boring, that's what.

We agree to differ? But I do respect your point of view, just don't necessarily agree with it.

Good talking to you.


rilly super said...

richard old chap, I can reassure you that I've been neglecting all blogs and bloggers equally of late. I am an equal opportunities neglecter.

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