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10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum…. or Blog

I love learning things from people in other arenas and applying them to blogging so today when I saw SEOrefugee has a post titled 10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum I immediately wondered whether the 10 mistakes might also apply to blogging. Lets see:

1. Excessive Ads

I’d completely agree. While different blogs can get away with different levels of advertising (and I’d argue affiliate programs) there comes a point where the number of ads on a site can turn readers away. I would also argue that ads that are aggressively positioned on a blog can turn readers away also. If when a reader arrives on your blog and no content at all is visible you might want to consider the possibility that readers will leave frustrated.

2. Cliques

I think that a cliquey blog can be just an uninviting a place as a cliquey forum and that it can happen on two levels. Firstly the blogger themselves can be very cliquey in only linking out to a certain few other privileged bloggers (something A-list bloggers – whatever they are – are often accused of). Secondly the comments sections of blogs can be a cliquey place also with those commenting using in jokes, jargon and/or being snarky to new readers. While some successful blogs get away with cliquey behavior (and a few actually seem to thrive on it) the average blog trying to find it’s feet can suffer a lot as a result of it.

3. Trolls

This one applies with blogs and it’s something that I’ve seen frustrate a number of bloggers to the point where they’ve actually thrown in the towel and have given up blogging. Likewise trolls can frustrate readers and cause a lot of flaming between a blog’s community to the point where they almost take over.

4. Fights

Once again this can apply on a blog on two levels (both fights between bloggers and fights in comments). While an occasional fight (or vigorous discussion) can actually add life to a blog (if it’s done in a constructive and non personal way) – taken too far they can completely destroy a blogger’s (and blog’s) reputation. I’ve seen a number of bloggers go too far and/or pick the wrong fight – only to find that they become known as the blogger who said or did something stupid.

5. Heavy Handed Moderating

This one does vary a little from blog to blog. Some bloggers obviously moderate comments more heavily than others (for example blogs like Seth Godin’s doesn’t have comments, others like Lifehacker have comments for registered members only, others queue all comments for moderation and some are quite selective on what comments they allow to appear). Each approach can work but bloggers get into trouble mainly when they change the rules along the way. If you want to moderate comments heavily I personally believe it’s your right to do so although my own belief and style is that blogs tend to work best when the reading community are able to participate in the conversation unhindered.

6. Lack of Moderation

I’ve seen a few bloggers become almost laughing stocks because of the level of comment spam that they allowed to go up on their blogs. If you’re not going to put the time into moderating comments switch them off.

7. Don’t over post

Once again there is some room to move on this one. Some blogs do tend to get away with a lot of posts each day (some of the tech blogs for example post 20+ times a day) however every blog seems to have a posting frequency that seems to be optimal for it’s topic and readership. I’ve written more on post frequency previously (also at the cost of high quantities of posts, how often should a blogger post? and more on posting schedules).

8. Violating Privacy

This isn’t one that I’ve really seen any bloggers do – but if they did (perhaps with comment leavers email addresses?) I can see it would have a negative impact upon that blogger’s reputation.

9. Slow Site

The same thing is true to some extent (perhaps slightly less critical than with forums where users view multiple pages per session). A slow loading blog will often frustrate readers to the point that they’ll surf off to some other site before it fully loads).

10. Actually… there is no #10 – Oh wait! Over promising and under delivering

I totally agree. While I’ve had my fair share of falling short of goals online (it’s the way we learn) I see some bloggers who are repeat offenders in hype/spin and making undelivered promises and all this really achieves in my view is dilute their message and make me more and more wary of anything they claim or promise in future. While you might have grand goals for your blog – setting (and communicating) realistic achievable goals is important. No one will complain if you over achieve – but in the blogosphere people can be ruthless is you under perform.

I’ve written on this topic a few times in different ways. For example my post 10 steps to guarantee you’ll never make more than 0.14 cents per month with AdSense contains a few blog killers – but what mistakes would you add that you see bloggers making (or mistakes you’ve made) that could kill a blog?

PS: don’t forget that while mistakes might kill your blog - they can actually be learning experiences that help you improve it!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Nick says:

    Thats just it, marketing online and failing is just a learning experience; without falling down, you’ll never be able to get up and most people just miss that fact.

    -Nick
    Blogger Time Capsule – 100,000 User Goal!

  2. Dane says:

    I agree with everything except #7. Can you show us an example of a blog that has failed from over posting? So long as your content is original with some thought put into it I can’t see how you could have too many posts.

    If you get to the point where you are hiding new posts too quickly then I would suggest developing a 2-tier navigation for users to more easily find what they are looking for.

  3. Good post. I´ve been thinking about optimizing the load-time on my blog, it seems to be a bit slow (especially since MyBlogLog seems to add a few mb).

    Something of a blog-killer for me is a negative mood (often by colors chosen or a lot of clutter) in the design. I have some blogs I rather not visit, but instead enjoy via my feedreader because of that.

  4. Trent says:

    On the quantities of posts: I think the optimal number for any blog is the largest number of QUALITY posts that you can produce. If you can produce five great posts a day, by all means, go for it. However, if you can either produce one quality post a day or four questionable posts a day, go for the one good post a day.

    I think bad posts is the #1 way to drive away readers. If you’re posting crap like “See what I posted last week” followed by a link to it, no one is going to want to read your blog.

  5. Ben Evert says:

    Great list !!!. I most confess that I’m a violator of point number 1. I tend at times to add too many different ads to my blog, only to end up stripping them out. Thanks for reminding me that is probably about time to strip some more ads.

  6. Calvin says:

    Hi Darren, I like your point #1 1. Excessive Ads, would kill our readers. I believe, from my own experience – I tend to run away from blog that feature too many ads (excessive to certain extend). But how do we measure what is excessive and not excessive? Have anyone really did some research on this. Like to hear from them too.

  7. verbalAffair says:

    One thing that is worse than over-posting, is over-posting with nothing to say.

  8. Kanwal says:

    You are absolutely right with this. Because of my site running low, I have changed it up again and reduced the number of ads and improved the layout and design. Check it out.

  9. Bes Zain says:

    Good points Darren.

    Going off-topic repeatedly where people, who originally came to a blog/forum for specific posts, will start to look elsewhere unless they are loyal readers and are willing to wait until the author or forum posters come up with more interesting and specific things to discuss and talk about.

    Also, portraying an authoritative character instead of a social character can make people run away because they will assume that blogger or forum is unwilling to consider different viewpoints. Even if a specific point is stressed without a fight or an argument, people will feel disrespected because of the blogger of the forum telling others that they are wrong all the time.

    Off-topic : I think you have a typo-type thing in point # 5 above; “can” was somehow given a bigger font and given its own line, unless you intended to in order to show its importance. Thanks for sharing the points. :)

  10. Rory says:

    Thank you for an interesting list, Darren.

    Points 5 and 6 are especially significant. I’m not sure where to stand on this. Obviously it is relatively easy for a new blogger like me to moderate a handful of comments – even when they are posted, they can be deleted if they are unseemly. But when a blog grows it must get tricky. And, yet, at the same time, there is something attractive about unhindered commenting.

    I’ll have to give this more thought.

  11. nakedpastor says:

    How about plagiarizing? Dishonesty, in other words. If you build a reputation of using other peoples’ material without giving them credit, you lose the respect of the readers and original writers. Good and helpful post. Thanks!

  12. Ashish Mohta says:

    1.on ads, vertical banner and sq ad do the best.I don’t want to put any more add other than those.Major point is don’t clutter your posts with ads.Use it on sidebar thats more than enough.

    2.Promises that you make is the most important.Recently when i asked for feedback for my blog on topics readers want, some readers who never commented came out to say i need this.I fulfilled their requirement and emailed back to them. and they commented back to say its was good.

    3.Over posting sometimes kill the blogs.Readers don’t have time for reading if you have 5 posts a day…they will rather skip topics and read one which is more interesting.Better give them 2 posts max so they read it.

    4.Fights on blog.Man i saw one blog few months back.One of the controversial ppl commented like they will kill each other….If somebody comes to that post first time he will run away seeing the killing instincts of the commentator.No peace no readers.

    Liked the points a lot.Gave me warning that i don’t put any more ads on my blog.rather i will add more links to readers so they get more advantage.

    Thanks Darren

  13. Florchakh says:

    I remember that Steve Pavlina wrote in some of his posts that when he closed comments on his famous blog and nothing really wrong happened with his stats…

    Well, ok. Anyway, he is not “average” blogger ;-)

  14. infonote says:

    7. Don’t over post

    I agree with all your points except point 7.

    This point only applies for established sites or sites which have a lot of RSS subscribers.

  15. Maki says:

    I definitely think over-monetization is a huge no-no when you’ve just started a new blog and plan to build a strong reader base and niche authority. Excessive ads can even make a good linkbait look cheap.

    Great post, Darren. Definitely some points to remember for any blogger out there.

  16. Philip Liu says:

    I remember when you had a “discussion” with Aaron Wall when he once called out your network of blogs as a “bad neighborhood”. A lively discussion ensued with some back and forth but in the end it all ended amicably because it never got personal. That was a good example of your No. 4 that was well handled and I think it benefited your blog a long way and reflected well on you. I wish I could find that post again though.

  17. Lisa says:

    I am fairly new to blogging and find this list very helpful.

  18. For some time now, I’ve been thinking that *this* blog violates #7. I have numerous times *almost* unsubscribed and probably eventually will if the post level stays at 2-3 per day. 2-3 per week would be much better, cut out of posts that are just fluff and focus on the really good stuff. Then I can give more attention to each post.

  19. As for #9 Slow Site…Is it possible to have too many widgets/plugins in WordPress, i.e. will this negatively affect performance? Anyone have tips for optimizing speed? My blog seems to lag slightly at times.

  20. Puredoxyk says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but a HUGE blog-killer for me is poor editing. A mistake or two is no big deal, but when the posts look like they were written by a fourth grader, or originally intended to be a text-message, I’m outie.

    Yes, it’s partly because I’m a grammarphile, but also in large part because I feel that I can’t trust the information I get from someone who can’t be bothered to edit and format. If you can’t put the effort into *that*, then what quality is your content?

    (Some of the blogs I read are even artistic / fiction / non-informational, and this still applies. I need to feel like the person I’m reading is *trying*, at least. Am I just stupid picky?)

    Thanks for a(nother) helpful post!

  21. Karen says:

    I must admit, I never know when I’m over-posting or under-posting (not that it really matters with my blog…I think….I guess). It depends on what you classify as over-posting.

    A great list . Thanks :)

  22. I agree with this. Funny I commented on Cliques just last week and I had several bloggers state that they didn’t see Cliques forming in the blogosphere. I’m glad to read something on your blog regarding it.

  23. Darren I think I am spending more time reading your blog than thinking about my site and blog. Then that is a smart thing on my part because every day I learn something. Being new to both websites and blogging, this is a very good thing.

    I appreciate all the information you are willing to share. And this article “10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum…. or Blog” has given me much to think about.

  24. Gillian says:

    Hi Darren, it’s me again!

    I can’t find a hugely relevant place to bring this up because this post is about things NOT to do.

    HOWever, I wonder if you could rustle up a post about one of the powerful things people CAN do — viral marketing — using this activist blog as a case study:

    http://spiritsdancing.typepad.com/vigil/ (Author is Hilary Talbot, a Canberra-based puppet maker.)

    The blog comments on the David Hicks controversy using the power of creative visual expression. It’s worth giving it a kick along — yes?

    The blog is not about making dollars, but it IS about influencing readers – and isn’t that what making money is about too? This is discussed on ‘Passionate Users’ — http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/

    I know that you’ve probably already touched on viral marketing a hundred times, but here’s an opportunity for a fresh slant.

    (Oh, BTW I blog about the Vigil site at: http://www.schoolstjude.blogspot.com, of course!)

    Gillian

  25. Gina says:

    I have to laugh at the first one because it’s a pet peeve of mine, and I think it goes back to the days when I was a stay-at-home mom in the ‘burbs and got invited to a few too many of those home-sales parties. After a while, you begin to feel as if you’re not really wanted for yourself but only for your purchasing potential.

    Also, the loading time it takes for some of those ads can be off-putting, and the flashy/blinking/scrolling ads can be visually unpleasant, even uncomfortable, especially for those of us with older eyes.

  26. One way of reducing the problems caused by “trolls” is to innoculate your community before they show up, or immidiately after they show up. Give your readers a set of guidelines that gives them healthy options for dealing with “difficult people”. I have some guidelines for one of my sites that remind people that taking the troll’s bait is up to them – they can choose to challenge themselves by engaging in a debate if they want, they can find something else to do with their time and energy, or they can see if they can learn something from the troll (since trolls are people too!). It’s up to the reader to do whatever he or she wants to do with the troll’s offerings, regardless of whether or not a moderator steps in to “manage the situation”.

    Admittedly, this sort of tactic doesn’t work well for all audiences, but at least having the guidelines encourages people to consider their options before they get all annoyed and storm out of the community.

  27. Thank you Darren for the excellent post. I am relatively new to blogging, and particularily agree with you on #1 and #10. These are both ways of having me run, not walk, away from a blog pretty quickly. Nothing is worse than visiting a blog or site and wondering where the content is, amongst all the Google Ads, etc. This leaves me hitting the “back” button pretty quickly. My blog is less than a month old, but earlier this week I actually deleted the Google Ads on the top of my blog, just leaving the ones on the right sidebar. I thought the top ads were way too intrusive, taking away from the content of my blog.

    I have commented on and added a link to this post on my blog. Thanks Darren for the great post!

  28. Eskimosik says:

    Hi all!

    What do you think about this? When it happens?

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  2. [...] Want to know what else will kill your blog–head over to Problogger for Darren’s list of 10 mistakes that will kill your blog. [...]

  3. [...] 10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Forum…. or Blog [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse has a post on 10 Mistakes that Will KILL a Blog. Leanne founder and Creator of Thursday Thirteen has commented that this will be the final thirteen that she’ll be hosting. Thank you Leanne, Nancy and Lindsey for hosting Thursday Thirteen. I’m sad to see it end. I have enjoyed taking part the short time that I’ve been doing it.  I’ll still drop by past particpants blogs each week, and please feel free to drop by mine. Thank you for visiting. Have a great week. [...]

  5. [...] * Blog stuff: Problogger has 10 ways to kill your blog and running a blog competition. Dean again on WordPress adding built-in Digg voting. Search Marketing Standard with keeping old posts alive. [...]

  6. [...] ProBlogger (who I haven’t linked to in a while. I feel bad) has an article on the 10 mistakes that will kill a blog. Whilst I know I’ve been suffering from 6 (slow blog) lately and trust me, it’s annoyed me far more than it’s annoyed you! And I try not to let 2 (cliques) form, I like to think that I’m not doing to badly against that list. Um… You will let me know if I’m starting to go to the dark side, won’t you? [...]