Blogs in Singapore

Would just like to discuss a little about this since one of my friends commented (on his own blog) that he wasn’t impressed by the youth bloggers who were gunning for the Singapore Blog Awards (a list of the top 3 blogs based on the votes so far for each category can be seen here).

I’d like to mention some factors which (I think) make most blogs readable –

1) Design
No, I don’t mean a bombastic design with picture-flooding and pink text. The Internet has more than enough of this. First and foremost, text. I never keep a sustained interest in a blog which requires me to highlight words to read them, or which necessitates a text size increase before I can actually bother to read anything. Secondly, ease of access/ navigation. On my old computer (which had screwed up download speeds even on the same Internet connection) I had to wait very long before I could load blog templates which involved high-resolution pictures as the main background. What was worse was that these pictures contained within them the links to other sections of the blog like “posts” and etcetera. Extremely irritating for someone with a slow connection; but even for someone with a fast connection this is unnecessary. Thirdly, advertisements and advertisements and advertisements. Keep these to a minimum. People want to read about what you’re posting, not learn about your money-making ventures. A sidebar of flashy advertisements (and for some bloggers allegiances, etcetera) is in most cases unnecessary.

2) Sensibility in posting
This component feeds into the other two components of what I consider “readable” blogging. “Sensible” blogging involves knowing your readers and understanding what exactly they want out of the 2-3 minutes of reading time that they have. Maybe in some cases they want a lot of pictures (in that case I have no problems with picture floods), or a daily account of what happened. For me, I like gleaning some form of knowledge or humour from blogs. Either way, a readable blog should give its readers what they want. I don’t think I’d go on to say what I think readers ultimately want in a blog – that would be extremely subjective.

3) Language
I think it’s well and good that Singaporeans have a localised version of English (lah), and have an extremely Mandarin-accented way of speaking English (think about it!) – however this is no excuse for the perversion of standard grammar and spelling rules in blog entries. It’s alright to use Singlish but don’t write in broken English if you can help it. Distractors (like sian, worx) should really be avoided – most of them can and should be replaced by proper words. People might say that these people are really limited by a flawed knowledge of English – however I really don’t think some of this improper language (I used to derive joy from googling “worx”, “worxx” etc and seeing which blog has the highest number of exes) has a place in blogging (and it can be avoided, so why not!).

(And my goodness, I just noticed that the “Best Design Blog” award actually means “Best Designed Blog”! How embarrassing!)

If these three walls of text really don’t tell you anything about what readable blogging is, consider some examples of what I consider “good blogging”. Take a look at Freakonomics (it’s NYT so I’m cheating), Philosophy, et cetera, even (for Scrabble players) The Windage Report. Singaporeans may look at Singapore Patriot and BEYOND SG (yep, ministerial blog).

A decent qualification to make here is the distinguishing between “public” and “private” blogs. I guess blogs should be readable to the extent to which they intend to be public. Which might also be extremely ironic because some of the most public blogs are the most unreadable ones!

Of course I’m not saying through this post that my blog is extremely readable, it fails the “readability test” on several counts. But this is interesting stuff to talk (and type) about, so there.

Uhh anyway best of luck to the people who are playing in the Nationals! May the luckiest best player win!

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