I realize I don’t have much right to demand stuff from you. I’ve been a lackluster blogger lately, and as someone who sold his soul to a big
evil Don’t Be Evil corporation, I can’t claim to understand the grinding challenges of running a profitable and popular tech blog. But that’s not going to stop me from asking, nay, begging you to do a better job in 2011.
Focus on thoughtful coverage rather than fast coverage.
Yes, yes, I know you covered the leaked whatsit 42 seconds faster than OtherTechBlog. I know you think the world is just pee-in-their-pants excited to read live-blogging revelations like, “Oh wait! He’s now walking up to the stage…” And even if this admittedly (and sadly) gets you a big traffic boost for the moment, no one is going to give a flying patootie about this shallow commentary two days later. Substantive, thoughtful reporting will garner you far more long-time traffic and loyalty.
This ain’t the Killing Fields. Cut out the “killing” crap, won’t you?
With few exceptions, the “winner-take-all” mentality is both stupid and false.
Every time you blather that “[x] is the new [y],” a dog kills a kitten.
Quit it with the “Ex-Googler” and “Former Facebooker” headlines, please
Former employment at these firms pretty much means diddly-squat as a predictor of future entrepreneurial success. I’ve seen innumerable admirable successes and embarrassing flops from former Googlers/Facebookers, and probably around the same ratio of wins/failures as from other geeks. Yeah, I guess, “Well-respected engineer experienced in [x & y]” makes for a longer and less-compelling lede, but still…
Monitor your comments and/or use a comments system that allows trusted users to flag spam/spammers!
HINT: When you have the same asshole successfully comment-spamming exactly the same URL for months, you’re pissing off your readers and you have a problem. Get a better commenting system, hire an intern to moderate spam and ban spammers, or both.
Avoid the pile-on (or, just because it’s all the rage on Twitter doesn’t make it news)
Sure, it feels good to kick the big guys when they’re down, but it’s uninformative and lame and a waste of your time and your readers’ time. Ask yourself: was there really substantial harm, and in particular, harm that hasn’t already been identified 42,000 times by others online? Are you offering insight, or are you merely channeling the journalistic “skills” of Geraldo Rivera?
Engage thoughtfully with your readers, and give love to those who contribute value to your blog
I have to call out LifeHacker specifically as a blog that does a great job with this. I regularly see the authors thoughtfully and substantively engage with their readers in the comments, clarifying points, apologizing for mistakes, and so on. This starkly contrasts with authors’ absence or hubris and snarkiness I see displayed on at least one other prominent tech blog.
Be respectful of other people and other companies by refusing trade traffic for integrity
I don’t hold out much hope on this one, but it has to be said: When you publish an internal, confidential document, you’re a amoral jerk (unless by doing so you’re exposing a ring of child traffickers or a dastardly plot to poison the water supply of New York, etc. etc.). You and your readers typically gain nothing but schaudenfreudic glee or lookie-loo gratification, while threatening the safety, security, and/or morale of those associated with that document. What are you hoping to accomplish, aside from boosting your blog’s popularity? In the end, you — yes, you! — cause companies to be less open with their employees (communicating with less internal breadth, frequency and transparency), and so little by little you are harming corporate culture and negatively affecting the happiness and productivity of tens of thousands of workers… the same workers who produce the cool stuff you make a living writing about. Ain’t that counterproductive in the long run?
Similarly, when you publish photos of an unreleased product, you’re hurting the morale of people working their ass off on that product, potentially damaging the competitiveness of that product and company, and generally being a douchebag for desperately prioritizing page views over Doing the Right Thing. Not only that, but 8 times out of 10, you’ve got it wrong. Sheesh.