A tip to aspiring bloggers (I could seriously write a book about how to write a blog): people much prefer more, shorter posts then fewer, longer ones. The operative principle is tl;dr—texting shorthand for "too long, didn't read." Ctein knows it in Latin, but I couldn't find that.
Five short, entertaining, newsy, pointed posts are much better for drawing traffic than one meaty one that is five or more times as long.
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Rob L: "True—but I really like when I hit TOP to find a big long entry. Not only will the article make me think, the comments are often as useful."
Ctein: "This, courtesy of Liza Furr: 'Too long, didn't read: longior, non legi or if it was really long: longissimus, non legi. And longus, the base form of longior and longissimus, also means tedious.' Welcome back!"
Steve Pritchard: "Ah, The Dark Lord rises once more and I, faithful minion, emerge blinking from the lurking shadows. Welcome back, mighty NosferaTOP. What? Too much?"
Mike replies: A little. :-)
David Miller: "The Internet is full of froth; I prefer the deep, dark brew that underlies it."
kirk: "That's what I've been doing wrong...(smacks forehead!!!). Glad you are back in the saddle. We missed you."
Manuel: "Well, my motto could be—Longior, sequor (if it's long, I follow). Or: tl;li (too long; love it)! Welcome back, Mike. Hope you're in pristine condition now. And please—we faithful TOP readers like your posts long and thoughtful. (Come to think of it, 'long' is not a concern of mine when I blog; my readers don't seem to mind. Misinterpretation, however, can be a problem.)"
Thom Hogan: "In magazines, when this concept became the fad in the 1990s, the idea was called 'chunking.' Lots of small chunks of information that could be digested fast and where readers could be interrupted to go do something else and come back.
I resisted that trend at Backpacker. Sure, we chunked some things—basically things that weren't articles but were mostly just information regurgitation. But we actually sought to keep the long form active in the middle of the book.
"As a society we lose something when everything becomes tiny morsels that can be digested immediately. Media becomes more a consumption game and less a thought-provoking one. We've watched the average TV news story length go down, the average magazine article length go down, and everywhere you look there's more and more chunking going on.
"But think about it for a minute. Where do you really get the best information from? It tends to be 'deep' content. Books haven't gone away for a reason (though too many of them are chunking now, too).
"Stories—as opposed to information—have lengths that are dictated by the story, not by how much space you have available to present it or how small a chunk you want to present before you put in another ad."
Mike replies: I wrote a piece once comparing Network television content (back when that's all there was) to Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 short story "Harrison Bergeron," in which the Handicapper General makes smart people wear an earpiece that emits piercing shrieks so as to interrupt their thoughts. Sowing TV programming with ads has the same effect, I argued—not just on the attention of the audience but on the programming itself, because only some kinds of programming is suited to being regularly interrupted.
However, here on TOP, a week plus of long "vintage" articles causes a wholly predictable dip in traffic. A week of three or more short posts a day will cause a concomitant rise in traffic. Just the way it is in the noisy world...and when "eyeballs equals income"...and I will have medical bills to pay...well....
Always appreciate your comments, Thom.
Thom responds to Mike: "Re 'when eyeballs equals income': Okay, another pet peeve uncovered: traffic does not equal sales. I can't believe how many Internet startups get messed up with this notion. Yes, traffic can be good, but traffic by itself is not necessarily good. This gets back to 'quality of content' and therefore 'quality of eyeballs.' Quick question: would you rather have 100 people reading that regularly bought from affiliate links, or 1,000 that just dropped in to see if there was anything interesting and never bought from affiliate links?
"Amazingly, the affiliate programs get this wrong, too. They often chase Unique Visitors or Page Visits or some measurement stat other than the things they should track. B&H, for example, allows you to build links that track where the sales come from. Guess what? One of the big sources are my very long reviews, not the short chunky content."
Trecento: "Mike, Welcome back! And, it may amuse you to know that in some parts of fandom, tl;dr is pronounced 'teal deer', and, as an indirect result, there are any number of image search results.... P.S. I do hope you are feeling better."