Adventures in Coding

Blogging Goals

discuss watercooler blog writing

Direction for blogging success


Blogging Guidelines

I was reading How To Make Dev Better In 2020 and thought that it would be really valuable to consider some guidelines for our blogging.

Excerpt:

In some ways we have a reverse stack overflow here. No one's asking, everyone's offering.

While this article talks against blog promotion and writer's block as topics, I believe that discussion of post content is a fundamental of our community here.

Who?

One of the greatest things about blogging is that there isn't a threshold of entry so everyone can write a blog.

One of the worst things about blogging is that there isn't a threshold of entry so everyone can write a blog.

When everyone has the power to blog then you wind up with a lot of noise. This means that we should consider value additions for a functional community both as blog writers and commentary in the threads, but everyone can contribute something in the community, and more importantly you will understand things more deeply when you are forced to put it into words for someone else's understandin.

What?

For the most part none of us is an authority on anything except our personal experiences and opinions. As such we should be careful about presenting things that assert themselves as law such as "don't ever do X" or "Y reasons why Q is a terrible thing." Value in any community from discussion and openness to grow and learn together.

When?

I'd say that motivation is a major factor in this. If your motivation is increase of readership then you had better keep a regular cadence. If your intention is sharing your experience with a particular issue then you write as things come up. I keep reading (and trying to enact in myself) recommendations of daily writing. The practice improves your writing as you edit previous writing before posting, and over time the editing required will reduce greatly.

Where?

There are many posts around dev.to focused on running your own blog, places for cross-posting (always remember to use canonical links), and the benefits of different communities. I personally appreciate the value in having your own hosting of all posts and I utilize 11ty's base blog forked on GitHub and served with GitHub Pages and my own custom domain (a fancy *.dev domain). Dev.to will pick up the RSS and create posts for you automatically, and I really enjoy that both 11ty and dev.to posts can be written in markdown (my new favorite language).

Why?

This is, I think, the most important question in writing anything. What is its purpose? Who is it for? This will be different for each post, but if you don't consider it then you risk boring your audience. If the audience is beginners then you should make sure that you explain yourself thoroughly as to not confuse, but if the audience is more advanced then that level of detail will keep someone from reaching the end.

Start Discussion

I see Ben and lots of people lately posting very short questions or statements and there is usually a good amount of engagement to answer the question or thoughts on the topic.

Share Experience

These have the opportunity to be some of the very best posts. Be sure to include the finer details of the problem that you are solving, the tools that you are using and how you utilized the tools to resolve your issue. Eventually someone else will have a similar issue and your post could be paramount in helping them. Even if others don't have the same issue, it could make them aware of an issue in order prevent their encountering such.

Learn or Mold Thoughts

One of the better premises that I've read for a post recently was Correct a Beginner About Buzzword Technologies which led off with this:

Learning in Public
As I keep learning, DEV knows things. Ask them stuff.

The writer then went on to state the bits that they understood about several things and invited others correction. I find that this is actually the way that I learn about many of my misunderstandings in this field. I either make a statement or ask a question like "isn't X the way that Y works?" and I get corrected. It's the most straight forward way that I know to get information out of others as people naturally love correcting you whether it is constructive or not. Over time I know more things and my statements get corrected about fewer things.

Personally I find that the mere act of writing something helps me to put my thoughts into focus and better understand my own situations and what the root of some issue may be.

Teach (something specific)

From "How to Make Dev Better in 2020":

no, we really don't need a 'python for beginners' made by every single person ever. Stop. It's not just python. But it's always the big languages, and it's never anything new. but it's also always different (and not in a good way). In some ways we have a reverse stack overflow here. No one's asking, everyone's offering.

@chillhumanoid goes on to say:

So what do I propose we post more of instead? Experiences. What was YOUR experience in implementing a feature in your application? Even if it's something that's common, maybe it was your first time implementing it. Talk about it. Chances are there ARE people looking for it. But chances are that people on dev.to aren't looking for a python tutorial. Or how to get 60000 looking at their blog in 2020.

Overall, I think that the best way that we can figure out whether or not something will contribute positively in the community is participation. Read posts, comment where you can, and try writing things that aren't already done a million times.

How?

Honestly I only included this question for completeness of the most basic questions. I've written about personal blog setup already. Beyond that, basic writing development focuses on practice. Practice writing, and reading lots of things. Make yourself answer what makes you like or dislike a post. I currently have six drafts open right now that I go back and forth between as things come to mind that might help develop one post or another. I'm also finding that as I write one post that I get ideas for more. Open a new file and get the basis for the idea put in there immediately. As you work on other posts you might get more ideas about that stub that you opened.


Related topics: discuss watercooler blog writing

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