Thursday, April 07, 2005

bloatosphere: bloated with anti-blogs

bloat and grope Posted by Hello

The blogsophere is becoming bloated with anti-blogs.

This bloated, burdensome, obese blogosphere I refer to as the "bloatosphere".

Let's consider the various components that make up the "bloatosphere".

"bloatosphere" = the realm of blogs that is becoming bloated or fattened by the rapid accumulation of anti-blogs: broadcast blogs, pseudo-blogs, simulated blogs, drivel blogs, sleazy link blogs, fictional persona blogs, and link farm blogs.

"broadcast blogs" = blogs that, by not being interactive, that is, by not enabling users to post comments or contact the blogger, violate the primary purpose of blogging, which is starting a candid, intimate conversation with a target audience.

Some bloggers will not enable comments due to comment spam problems.

Today, I had to change my setttings on one of my blogs, because I got hit with eight comment spams, and had to manually search the comments of 67 posts to find and delete them. Now, users must register if they want to post a comment on my Vaspers the Grate site.

Unilateral blogs are not all bad, and may be appropriate for certain situations. But they really are not blogs, they're quasi-blog bulletin boards.

"pseudo-blogs" (also known as "proxy-blogs") = blogs created by ad agencies or marketing professionals, who charge a sucker, I mean, client to design, ghost-write, maintain, and promote it.

It is "pseudo" because the voice posting is not the authentic, candid, personal voice of the alleged blog author, but rather a hired hand. Thus it is definitely *not* a real blog and never can be, unless the client fires the ghost blogger and starts posting his own thoughts in his own words.

It's acceptable practice to help a client to compose posts, to edit them, or to write some sample posts just to show the client how to do it. But to ghost a blog, this is not authentic or credible, IMHO. Others may disagree, but I see no good reasons for ghost-blogging. If a CEO can't blog, he should find someone in the firm who can, who knows the industry, products, and customers well.

A hired blogger who blogs about topics related to the company and its products is acceptable and not in the same class as a genuine "pseudo blog". In this case, the professional blogger is not pretending to be the client, is not putting words into the client's mouth. For example, I could see an amateur astronomer-blogger hired to write a blog for a telescope manufacturer, as long as he writes in his own persona, and doesn't pretend to be the CEO.

However, if the ghost-blogger, from outside the company and industry, who has no real passion for the product, is being paid to say nice things about the company and its products, it fills my head with question marks. It seem disingenuous, phony.

If ghost-blogs become popular and pervasive, we will grow to be skeptical about all the blogs we encounter. "Is this really Bill Gates, or someone he paid to speak for him?"

And if a ghost-blogger writes on behalf of a CEO, users are being tricked into interacting with a proxy. Isn't this what consumers dislike about much advertising, direct mail, celebrity endorsements?

Aren't we moving close to consumer fraud and false advertising when we accept proxy blogging?

Consumer: "He doesn't really use and love the product. He's getting paid big bucks to pretend he does, but actually it's a lie."

"ghost-blogging" = writing blog posts for a client, because the client...

(1.) can't write
(2.) is stupid or inept
(3.) has a fear of blogging
(4.) hates having to learn new skills, so delegates, or outsources the blogging to others
(5.) just sells product, but doesn't know anything about the industry or customers, thus literally cannot blog about it
(6.) refuses to spend the time required to learn how to blog, but thinks they "should have a blog" since it's the trendy thing to do
(7.) has been persuaded by the ad guys or marketing hacks that they can do a better job writing the blog posts, since they allegedly "specialize in communication, branding, and customer relations".

"simulated blogs" = fake blogs that a company sponsors just because it is considered the trendy thing to do, and their ad agency or marketing team is desperate to come up with some device to make the client think they still have some value.

May have no regular posting, no author, no interactivity, no blogroll, no links, no conventional blog features.

"drivel blogs" = personal blogs that are poorly written and designed, have no value except catharsis and narcissistic self-expression for the blog author, usually abandoned after author realizes no one cares or comments.

I'm not refering to digital journals, where a person is striving to keep track of items, to improve their writing skills, or to provide entertainment for friends and family.

When I say "drivel", I mean egotistic personal blogs that are created just to blabber pointlessly, sloppily recording trivial mundane events and feelings, with no value to self or others. These are like phone calls or visits from a person who chatters endlessly and annoyingly about his or her self, and expresses no interest in you.

Sometimes "drivel blogging" can infect a business blog, when business topics are buried in excessive amounts of irrelevant personal details. Be careful with adding personal details to a business blog. Don't let private revelations distract users from the more important material on your blog.

"sleazy link blogs"
= blogs created to incorporate links for, and drive traffic to, sleazy sites devoted to dubious, fraudulent, or malicious online gambling, online pharmacies, low rate loan sharks, sexual enhancement products, bogus computer products and software, con artist pseudo-charities, charlatan diet aids, etc.

"fictional persona blogs"
= phony blogs of non-existent characters who are deceptively writing about imaginary events, involving other make believe characters, fantasy adventures, and pretended musings about a customer base or product.

If a company has a branded fictional persona (e.g., Ronald McDonald, Barney, Chicken of the Sea tuna mermaid, Pillsbury doughboy), this may not be entirely bad practice, but consider the ramifications carefully. Why would you want to deliver your marketing message via a false entity? Is the CEO really that unknown or uninteresting?

"link farm blogs" = unreal, artificial blogs created simply to link to a target site, to boost its search engine and link popularity rank.

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