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Monday, 27 January 2014


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Isn't that a shame?

Is Ctein re-interpreting "ars longa vita brevis" ?


Unfortunately the average attention span of someone on the net ..... hey there's a squirrel!

The net is awash in ts-ni (too short-no info) blog posts. Please keep TOP literate and rational, as you always have in the past. If the majority (those "people") can't handle tl-dr, let them look elsewhere. The mass market is for the masses, and most of 'em don't read TOP.

At first I thought it meant something like "Twin Lens; Double Reflex."

Pooh on that; while it might broadly be true, my favorite time-waster is www.longform.org, probably the best aggregator of long (sometimes epically so) articles on the internet.

I particularly enjoy your longer digressions too, Mike (and Ctein’s as well). :)

But the long meaty posts that delight make people regular visitors.

But Mike, you are the king of meat. Your big, beefy posts are the best.

BTW, I'm enjoying the vintage T.O.P. Now I remember where all my ideas came from.

Add a cartoon and a coupon and the world will be at your doorstep!

"Five short, entertaining, newsy, pointed posts are much better for drawing traffic than one meaty one that is five or more times as long."

True, assuming the goal is to draw traffic. For some people the primary goal is to say what they need to say, and if it draws traffic so much the better. (This is mostly true for those who don't blog for a living, which is to say, most people who blog...)

There is surely a place in the blogosphere for the equivalent of the Sunday papers - long discursive pieces, read at leisure? Loved the Leica post.

Long posts please!

You should comment more often about the practice of blogging itself. The tag line for those posts could be "Meta Moments".

I'm sure the researchers know far more than I do about what makes for a successful blog, but for myself, I prefer the longer, more thought-provoking posts.

That's the glory of the internet...you can go on.. on..and on...as your own editor. not one not throwing it back in your face to cut it to a brief....I think that is what Ezra Klein is doing with his new site (not up as yet ) on Vox Media.

We look for content. Long posts, short posts...whatever...but frequent, preferably daily posts...is a must if it's a blog.


I personally come to your site looking for the long meaty articles. I thoroughly enjoy them. The day you start writing short frequent snippets your blog becomes no different than the rest. I can also tell you enjoy writing the long ones and your passion shows, so keep them coming.

ts:mil - too short, make it longer. Ideally in broadsheet newspaper style.

Dear Mike,

The longer the better! But ONLY from TOP headquarters. The knowledge and entertainment are always worth the read.

That also applies to CT.

I've come to believe that the appropriate interpretation of "tl;dr" is something like "I have the attention span of boiled cabbage, and am so damnably stupid that I can't conjure any thought of sufficient depth or complexity as to warrant more than three paragraphs."

You write for an intelligent, engaged readership, Mike-- one that clearly values your work. I can't why you would be the least bit upset that someone who would post a snarky "tl;dr" chooses not to partake.

[We may have a short-circuited misunderstanding here. The "tl;dr" post wasn't inspired by people leaving that comment on the Leica post; it was the other way around. The "tl;dr" post came first, and several people left that comment on the Leica post as a joke. A joke which I appreciated...in fact I almost "featured" one of them.

Just so's we're clear here. --Mike]

So you don't expect anyone to read the six screens worth of Leica post that precedes this one? Yeah, right, Mike. : ]

Looks like you are back in the saddle. Welcome back Mike. Be careful not to overdo it for a while!

A very interesting take on this (with which I agree) comes from Marco Arment: http://www.marco.org/2014/01/26/long-form

The links in that article are worth reading, too.

I think it is a good idea to run oldies and goodies more than once.
Keep one day for reruns. Of course, I don't know what is harder.
1. Write something completely new
2. Look in the old files for something good enough to run again.

For myself, I rarely look among your old texts. But they are definitively good enough to read once more.

If you must post long, break it up with pictures.

The other usage of TL;DR is to introduce a summary, so in that spirit perhaps paucis verbis (in a few words)?

Incidentally, to show the power of TOP, at the time of writing a Google search for "latin too long didn't read" presents this page at about #5.

Hope it will always be your post, your way. Would love to get a book (yes a physical book) of words and wisdom on photography from the TOP man.

A good read that lasts as long as a cup of coffee is always welcome.

Glad you're back, and hope you are feeling better.

My comment comes without reading the comments preceding mine (no time), which may make mine redundant. So it goes.

Please don't truncate to placate the short-attention span among your readers. I'd rather you offer in-depth pieces and allow readers to budget their time (or attention span) on each piece.

Don't fix what ain't broke.

So glad you're better.


Hi Mike,

That’s true if you only want to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator chittering classes, but in that case you’d probably be better off closing the blog and getting a twitter account!
Lennon and McCartney’s “The short and winding road” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Blogs I know which are long and detailed also seem to attract more interesting and thoughtful comments as well. (and by the time I've contemplated a long post I've missed the comment posting window, which is an advantage for all of you..)

best wishes phil

First welcome back.
second as you can see your Faithfull readers prefer long and full of content posts/discussions. They may not be the majority of traffic (do you have proofs?) but are the ones that stay and don't go away when someone gets temporary sick.
If you were Google you would keep the IP addresses and fingerprinting of last posts to get a sample of Faithfull readers to compare with a sample of the Olympic EM review - the difference will be the tl;dr readers, and do analytics on that. ;)

At least you have stats to prove that those who comment prefer longer posts.


I think people simply prefer aphorisms to...what? Bloviation? It is nonetheless true.

tl;dr…this reflects both on the writer and the reader. (Some readers are better served by Twitter, not Proust.)

Glad to see your return to the writhing octopus that is TOP!!

Welcome back, Mike!

Then I am part of the marginal readers of blogs. I didn´t care if is a long or a short post, I like some themes and others not. Maybe with short publications and more frecuency you get more clicks but my opinion is that quality readers are those that prefer contain, not frequency. I tend to think the others as passers by

Mark Twain might have said in today's world:

---"I didn't have time to write a short Blog, so I wrote a long one instead."

---"It is not the size of the Blog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the Blog."


I, too had a few candidates for a "tl;dr. Thankfully they are on the cutting room floor.

Welcome back.

Happy to see you back.
It all depends on what you have to say. Many people have nothing to say, so it is better to be brief. But I like to read your articles, even on subjects that I am not so interested in, like audio and cars. Don't get me wrong, I have a car and a pair of Genelec's at home. I also have a hammer drill and a toothbrush, but I don't really like to read and talk about them. But I did read your article on vacuum cleaners.
Honestly, your articles are well written and full of substance. And a joy to read. That's why we keep coming back.
Keep up the good work!

I tend to prefer longer articles with some meat to them. However, I will say that all videos are too long. If I don't think a long article is worth my time, I stop reading. There is no way to speed up a video. I will very seldom even click one.

But look at the success of the New Yorker magazine iPad app. There is certainly a market for the well-written word - long or short.

I was going to write a long, well-argued comment, but, you know, tl:dw.

It would be interesting to see a comparison between money earned by page-view adverts served when a short post is at the top of TOP, and money earned by clickthroughs to affiliates when a long post is at the top of TOP.

For me, TOP's unique selling point is its longer articles, its sense of history – and perspective – and its regularly-reappearing, informed commenters. None of those are served if the only thing you provide is a sort of photoworld buzzfeed, but if you need the cash, most of us can cope with a little coffee-break idle amusement.

Here, gratis, are few ideas I have rejected for my own blog because I'm an egghead purist who lives in a country where CAT scans are paid for with everybody else's money:

The real reasons your spouse looks bad in photographs!!

Awesome new chip has camera world shaking with terror!!!!!!

Seven secret tricks every strobists knows!!!

Five serene landscapes which will utterly blow your mind!!!!!!!!!!!!

Three lenses which will empty your wallet!!

Seven pictures of kittens so cute they will make you throw up and giggle at the same time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sure the regulars have stuck with you during this week, Mike. I have enjoyed the walk down memory lane, both for the quality articles and for the reassurance that, the more things change, the more they stay the same in photography.

This morning I even found myself hoping you might fall ill again in a few weeks so I could read more reprints. What a wretched thought on my behalf! Maybe we can come to a compromise and you could dedicate a day each week or fortnight to posting an article from thine olde dayes? Beats getting ill again!

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