One of my highest-ranked pet peeves about blogging regards bloggers who don't take the time to do a bit of researching before posting an article. This is aimed at "A-list" bloggers more than anything. They are usually in such a hurry to beat the crowd and get something published that the accuracy and factuality of their information is left in the back seat.
For example, a few months ago I recall reading a review on TechCrunch where Michael Arrington glorified some service for its amazing Ajax interface - however there was no Ajax in sight. The service in question was nothing more than a Java applet. Someone called him out on that in the comments and then next time I glanced at that article, he had updated the post and deleted the snarky comment.
It can't take too much longer to double-check what you're blogging about right? Whenever Apple releases some new product I always make sure to give the specifications page a good reading to make sure I'm not blogging about anything incorrectly. The examples don't stop with Arrington though. Today, Podtech employee (formerly of Microsoft) Robert Scoble wrote a lengthy rant about a person whom he claimed was an Apple employee. If Scoble had spent even one minute on the "Apple employee's" blog, he would have quickly known that Chuqui was no longer with Apple. Heck, the blog post title that Scoble linked to even hinted at Chuqui's job change.
As long as we are on the subject of Robert Scoble, why not mention the time he erroneously accused Elliott Back of spamming and got Google to temporarily cancel his AdSense account the same day. Only after looking like a fool did Scoble find out that he was blaming the wrong person and that Elliott had merely written a WordPress plugin that a spammer used for malevolent purposes.
Hold on, I've got one more juicy example for you. A ZDNet blogger Donna Bogatin wrote a strongly worded rant against Yahoo! employee Jeremy Zawodny. Donna got everything wrong. She claimed Jeremy used Google AdWords when it was clear that he used AdSense, a tool for publishers, instead of AdWords, a tool for advertisers. Donna's post continued to spew nonsense by getting Yahoo! Search Marketing confused with Yahoo! Publisher Network. You might be interested in Jeremy's reply.
5 Ways to Retain Your Blog's Integrity and Reputation
- Get it right the first time. If you are going to blog about someone or their article, take a few minutes to read other relevant posts on their site and at least the about page.
Yes, people do make mistakes which brings me to mention how you might want to correct those mistakes. There is the polite, respectful way to correct mistakes by updating the post and letting people know that you changed something. Then there is the silently change it/piss people off/delete comments way.
- Not sure about something? Ask your readers if you can't find the answer elsewhere. Don't claim something without knowing for sure. Besides, asking your readers promotes user interaction and that's always a plus.
- Better safe than sorry. The blogosphere is always on top of things. The second a press release comes out people have already blogged about it and are starting to appear on Techmeme, digg, etcetera. If you are one of these people, I ask you to hold off a bit and get all of the facts right. Too many errors are made with people trying to blog something as fast as possible. I can't count how many times I've caught typographic errors, completely ill-formed sentences and various notable inconsistencies on prominent blogs.
- Stop using buzzwords you are totally clueless about. In this whole Web 2.0 bubble, bloggers are quick to talk about buzzwords when reviewing new "Web 2.0" services. I absolutely hate when people start talking about Ajax, Ruby on Rails and other things like that when it is crystal clear that they have never been coders in their life and have no clue what they are saying. I can come up with a truckload of TechCrunch posts that violate this rule. Even worse is when they say the Ajax interface or what have you sucks and that "it shouldn't be too hard to fix"... and you know this from your previous experience as a dynamic web application software engineer?
I was reading a post on Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion about the new .Mac webmail where he said the following:
It's nice to see Apple start to use some of the same Web 2.0 technologies that others like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been using for some time.Grrr. The term as "Web 2.0 technology" does not exist. Ajax did not start out in life as a hybrid of JS and XML purely for Web 2.0 applications. There are several programming languages commonly referred to for their prevalence in many Web 2.0-classified web applications, not the other way around. Update: Steve updated his post to reflect my comments and did so in a respectful manner. Steve Rubel ++.
- I think you get my drift by now. Just say no to A-list bloggers that have no idea what they are talking about.