Jeff Atwood discusses Thirteen Blog Clichés, common blog practices that tighten Jeff’s jaws. I’ve been guilty of many of these, and I don’t completely agree with all of Jeff’s assessments.
Calendar widget. I just removed mine here on Chip’s Quips. I’ve been meaning to do that for months. It was useful to me, but not to my readers. For me, it acted as a visual indicator of how regularly I was posting. But measurements like that just for my benefit don’t need to be taking up space on the page. I agree with Jeff on this one.
Excess flair. The key here is defining “excess”. I heartily agree that plugins like Snap Shots and Sociable tend to be more bothersome than useful. But widgets like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog really do add more functionality to your site than just displaying “pictures of the last 10 visitors to your blog.” They link you and your readers to other readers of your blog, many of whom are often too shy to comment. I’ve found many interesting new blogs from these two widgets.
The Giant Blogroll. Having authored not one, but two such widgets for WordPress, I naturally disagree. I think your blogroll tells readers a lot about where your attention is going, and provides good suggestions for building their own reading lists. And I don’t think it’s “spammy” to give some ongoing link-love to the blogs you admire. That said, it does take up a lot of real estate. I’m thinking of switching mine to the OPML browser widget with categories initially collapsed.
The Neblous Tag Cloud. I’m the culprit again! I’ve authored one of these widgets and I use it on two different blogs. I don’t know if my readers find it useful, but I often use my tag cloud to quickly locate something I’ve written in the past on a particular topic. In the image Jeff provides (duplicated here on the right), the tag cloud is pretty much unusable, because the tags of different font sizes overlap each other. You can prevent that effect with appropriate styling and by limiting the maximum font size used. When visiting other blogs for the first time, I often look at their tag cloud to get an idea about what topics they write on most often.
This Ain’t Your Diary. As a few of Jeff’s commenters noted, that depends on the purpose of the blog in question. Some of them are. But I’ll agree that if your blog has a defined topic other than being a personal diary, then you need to focus on that subject and avoid including too much personal information.
Top (n) Lists. Sorry, Jeff. Readers eat those posts up, because they know what to expect right from the top. Of course you can overdo it, like anything else.
All of Jeff’s other points provoked my heartfelt “Amen”, especially No Comments Allowed. I even hate comment hurdles like CAPTCHA or requiring registration, although a blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do to control spam.
What do you think? Does my mile-long tag cloud just bug the hell out of you? Would you add anything else to Jeff’s list?