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Blogging Pros

I must say that I agree with Judi on this one. Blogging is attractive because it's not canned, it's not "professional," and it's, for lack of a better word, more "personal."

The distinction between "Pro" and "Amateur" can not be made based on how well someone writes. It can't be made based on how well someone does something, in almost any arena (sports included). I've worked both professionally (see: some old copies of MacAddict or a Cocoa book jacket or two, or old issues of Apple Wizards) and "amateurly" (see: this site). In either case, the only rule for success is not "write well." Instead, it's "connect with your audience."

The author of the article, Dennis Mahoney, provides an example of "amateur" writing:

I know this is a cliché nowadays, especially after 9/11, but I live in New York, which is much cleaner and safer now because of Giuliani, who really ought to be president after handling the crisis so well, and I know I've had some issues in the past with the mayor's handling of the NYPD in regard to African Americans and his war against art involving sacred religious icons and feces (hello!? freedom of expression!?), but when all is said and done, New York, as maybe the best example of the 'melting pot' etc. etc., is a great city, especially when it starts getting warmer and people go outside more, like around March or April.

Nobody I know writes like that. That's horrible. I choose which sites to read, and believe me, neither Judi nor any of the other 109 (currently) blogs in my aggregator have any writing remotely resembling the drivel above. I appreciate intelligence, and intelligent people tend to write well - but that doesn't make them "professionals."

Besides, if the drivel above connects with an audience (say, others who can't write well), then who would Dennis Mahoney be to put them down? I'm sure we could find some examples of some bad grammar on Mahoney's site, but that's beside the point: if he has an audience, and he can relate to him, he's achieved the goal most "amateur" bloggers wish for: increasing our realm of discourse, thought, experience, etc.

"Professional" journalists these days may write better than most, but they're also fairly famous these days for their lax fact-checking. Newspaper men write a column per day - bloggers often publish five or more. Newspaper folks are paid to write (hence "professional") - bloggers are not. Bloggers may spend an hour doing what they do: newspaper men have eight hours.

Mahoney makes the mistake of associating "Pro = Writes Well" and "Amateur = Writes Like Shit." Unfortunately, Mahoney failed to consult a dictionary. Had he done so he'd have found that "professional" simply means "paid to do something" (I could argue that it's an attitude or a mindset too, but that's not wholly relevant here). I'm an amateur writer on this site, yet I'd hardly consider myself incapable of writing well.

Another interesting point is that the article is filed under "/writebetter/" and it's main focus is, indeed, to help others write better. Unfortunately, that point is lost or at least sullied by the immediate ridiculing of anyone who is "not a professional." After all, amateurs write crappy run-ons, and given that 99.9% of the blogging community is not professional, well…

The best way to get people to read your article is obviously not to insult them at the outset.

3 Responses to "Blogging Pros"

  1. Why blog if you're gonna be a "professional" about it? Here's to those people who share all those little run-on sentences running around in their heads. Thanks for teaching me how to blog, Erik.

  2. Oh, I don't know, I think the style of writing on NSLog(); is "Semi-Pro" rather than "amateur" - the test I'm applying is I could easily imagine most of your stories appearing in some 'Tidbits' column on some printed magazine, and it wouldn't look out of place or "odd" as amateur stuff is prone to do. I haven't really come across any amateur blogs yet (although I am new!) but maybe that's because the more pro ones are more likely to get linked?

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. How to Better BLOG

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