Friday, June 4, 2010

blogus blogorum (pron: bloogus bloogorum)

My Thoughts on the "Great Blog"

Sorry I haven't written much so far this summer. I'm not sure why. I'm really busy, I guess - believe it or not: a prof who is busy in the summer. What am I doing? Judging from previous recent posts, a lot of gardening and other property maintenance. It's our first full-summer in our new house, so there's still lots to be done. It's been a mad week: dentist, doctors, broken fridges, 'Family Fun Night' at the kids' school, and then there's my actual paid job...

I hate blog entries that begin with apologies for "not having written in a while..."

Blog excellence is my theme for today. This may take more than a single day to compose.

This is a responsio to "The Divine Life" blog, maintained by Eric Simmons, whose most recent post  list the most popular Catholic blogs. I was familiar with a great number of the more popular ones, mainly because the number 5 one - the New Advent blog - is my go-to place for entry into the Catholic blogosphere. I have some thoughts on the practice of Catholics vis a vis blogs. Why don't I list, say. the top-ten and offer my comments in light of them. The numbers that follow the name refers to the number of 'followers' or 'subscribers'.


(1) What Does the Prayer Really Say?: 4841
(2) Whispers in the Loggia: 4685
(3) Charlotte Was Both: 3053
(4) Conversion Diary: 1817
(5) New Advent Blog: 1429
(6) Creative Minority Report: 1248
(7) Patrick Madrid: 1173
(8) Standing on my Head: 1156
(9) The Hermeneutic of Continuity: 1053
(10) Damian Thompson: 954



(1) What Does the Prayer Really Say?: 4841


I was really surprised that this is the number one blog. I'm not a big fan. Too heavy on the liturgy (hence the name) and latiney liturgy at that. Liturgy is great, don't get me wrong. I don't read this blog all that much, but just going by the picture of the host and the few times I've read it, it's not all that inviting. It's kinda got a - je ne sais pas - Lefrevite, judgemental, negative feel to it. Again, I am basing this on very little evidence. The priest - Fr. Z. - (I don't like that nickname either!) seems like a really holy person, but I don't find that comes across in the blog as much as it could. Feel free to hate me henceforth and forthwith.


(2) Whispers in the Loggia: 4685

This one is better than the above in my opinion, but this guy needs to work on a few things. Most importantly, telling me who he is! He has a picture of some prelate - that is not him! - and then a very weird account of himself - terminating with the fact that he has an undergraduate degree (!?) What an anti-climax! So he used to be a correspondent with various papers, was a church analyst - what is he now? a blogger?
I like that he has the inside scoop on things churchey. That's why I read him. I need to see his face, though. Does everyone else but me know who this Rocco Palmo is? If so, ignore my above words.

(3) Charlotte Was Both: 3053

God bless Amy Welborn, but this woman makes a few fundamental mistakes. The worst one: a neologism, wastelanding. She leaves her pages a sea of emptiness. Visit her most recent post to see what I mean. You need a good picture-to-word ratio, but hers is just pictures. You look around for a instructions for what to do next - does she have anything important to tell me? - and you are left hanging.

(4) Conversion Diary: 1817

This seems like a good one - this is my first time here. Excellent premise clearly stated. She was an atheist, now a believer. She has a nice picture of herself where it should be, putting a human face on it, literally. No problems here - other than the Seven Quick Takes Friday thing. Who was the first to start that? All women everywhere seem to do this one (you know who I am talking about, EA!) This one gets the highest overall rating so far - not to say it's my favourite, though.

(5) New Advent Blog: 1429

Again, one of my most visited websites. But I would not call it a blog, it's a blog listing place. It provides connections to great blogs, many of them on Divine Life's list.

(6) Creative Minority Report: 1248

I don't think I have ever read much of this one before today. The articles look really good. One key feature of a good blog: original material. I don't care whether you are catering to a demographic that doesn't concern me all that much - Catholic Mothers, Catholic Old People, Children, fans of Tolkein - I don't care, just give me original material, not recycled stories from elsewhere, or hyperlinks to elsewhere, or pictures from elsewhere or video clips from elsewhere - I want your material, from your brain or your life!!! Now, I said, not just, you can have a bit of all those things, but not too much, please. Personally, I'm not a fan of video clips; I want good text, mostly; some pictures.

Overall, this site is as good or even better than Conversion Diary.

(7) Patrick Madrid: 1173

I'm familiar with this one from New Advent. It's pretty good. General catechetical stuff. Not my cup of tea, it's kinda got a EWTN-feel to it. Not my cup of tea. Good balance of pictures and text. A little bland, but occasionally some good, hard-hitting, insightful stuff. I can see why he has so many followers, very general, Catholic stuff for the masses. Sorry, I'm starting to sound arrogant here, like I'm so elite!!!

(8) Standing on my Head: 1156

This is Fr. Longenecker's blog, which I've actually quoted before. This one looks pretty good. Good mix of spiritual counsel and theological-topical. Good picture-text ratio. I could see myself reading one in every four posts. That's not a bad count, by the way. I have a short attention span.

(9) The Hermeneutic of Continuity: 1053

It's okay. Very English. lol.

(10) Damian Thompson: 954

This one is excellent. He's works for the British paper, The Telegraph. He's smart, an excellent writer, and from what I've been able to determine over the last few months, is on the right side of doctrinal and news matters. I hate British people (I mean all Brits - English, Scottish, Irish - not sure about the Welsh - but I probably hate them too), so the fact that I can read and enjoy this blog means that I have to make an exception in my British-hating for Thompson. :)

Conclusions.

1) What makes a bad blog:

- not personal enough. Give me a picture of you, tell me where you are from and why you're keeping a blog. (You are not justifying the existence of your blog just by being a priest.)
- too many pictures, hyperlinks, chaos and confusion
- not enough original content
- advertisements (sure, we all would like to make money from our blogs, but come on!)
- too general in orientation (write for a particular group: mothers, Thomists, recovering alcoholics - whoops, I already said Thomists - haha.) Don't be the EWTN of blogs.

2) What makes a good blog:

- a picture and good bio of author
- good writing: insightful, original, punchy, but positive. Spiritual and intellectual.
- humour. tasteful.

10 comments:

  1. I truly am surprised that Conversion Diary even made the top ten and also that American Papist didn't make it on. And, I feel exactly the same way about Fr. Z. you should find conversion diary's link to Betty Duffy's blog posting on NFP and her experience with regnum Christi (it's called something like "My Husband Ovulates too"; it is hilarious - you and AM need to read this- and perhaps I will send you the link if you can't find it .. that is, if you bother to even try). and, one more things, I hate 7 quick takes and haven't done it in almost a year, i think.

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  2. Elena - I was surprised too. :)

    Colin - This is a good analysis. My background is web marketing/development, so this kind of thing is always interesting to read. And I completely agree about blogs that don't tell you who they are or what they look like. There's something disconcerting about not knowing who you're hearing from.

    And I start 7 Quick Takes. I do it because it's a way for me to touch base with my readers with my crazy schedule (I have four kids under six) without writing "formal" blog posts.

    Anyway, interesting thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Another sign of a bad blog: sticking your foot in your mouth. Sorry, Jennifer!!!! It was more in jest than anything, of course...

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  4. And upon further extraction of that foot - I meant it (Conversion Diary) is not my favourite because it's by a woman. Did my foot just go back in? I mean women like women things and men like men things... I think I'll quite while I'm this deep into it.

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  5. Uh oh. I like Conversion Diary immensely I just don't like doing 7 quick takes. I was surprised that CD made it on the Top Ten because I expected much more pedantic Catholic blogs to make the top 10 i.e. American Papist. Congratulations to Jennifer though and I apologise for so quickly writing the word hate and thus sounding like I hate Conversion Diary. My foot is still stuck in my mouth.

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  6. She's not coming back. She's done with us. Thanks, Elena.

    ;)

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  7. She's not coming back. She's done with us.

    LOL! Not at all -- I just had a spotty internet connection this weekend. Thanks so much for your follow-up comments. I really appreciate your kind words!! (And I have personally trademarked the motion of opening your mouth and inserting a foot, so I expect royalties or something if you're going to move in on my turf.)

    I'm glad to have discovered both your blogs (I'd seen yours, Elena, but had lost the link so am now rediscovering it). I'll definitely be back! :)

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  8. Jen, your kindness is beyond words and Colin and I have been shamed as we lamented together this morning at mass. Our respective, and equally diplomatic spouses, smiled on knowingly. Our parish priest will think it strange when two people mention Conversion Diary in confession...

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  9. Elena - I had to laugh because I recently thought that I wish I had a dollar for every time I began my confession with, "Father, do you know what a 'weblog' is?..."

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