Tuesday, May 17, 2005

How to read blogs

As I have friends who are new to the blogosphere I thought I would post my thoughts on reading blogs. My blog is fairly new but I have been reading them and using them for information for a couple of years.

1. Never believe anything you read without second-sourcing to something you consider reliable. This applies to everything, not just the blogs. As we see from NewsWeek this week, even large scalehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.spell.gif, highly resourced "journalists" will on occasion tell you things that turn out to not be true.

2. Good blogs always point to their source material. Before you go off and assume that the opinion/slant/rant/statement you read on a blog is a fair assessment of the topic at least read the reference. Many bloggers, myself included, assume that if you find the topic interesting enough to read through and make note of you will take the time to read the sourced material. It often has useful information not quoted on the blog. This goes double when a blogger is arguing with the original author sourced.

3. Don't bother with blogs that don't religiously quote their sources.

4. Always take into account the slant of the blogger you are reading. Unlike "journalists" who pretend to be non-partisan on what they are writing about most bloggers don't bother. Figuring out what my, or most other bloggers', slant is requires very little effort and gives you a clearer picture of what you are getting. Again, the same thing applies to you local paper, "straight news" as well as the editorials.

5. Finding new blogs is easy.... finding new blogs that you like reading regularly is a little harder. Look for the blogroll on sites that you like. Do google searches on the topics of interest to you and explore. Send me email when you find good ones you think I might like! :-)

6. When you first start reading a blog (or a paper, columnist, etc) take things with a grain of salt. Reputations for accuracy and usefulness take time to build up and very little time to tear down. Don't consider a new source to be reliable until you have seen it be reliable for some time.

7. Don't get lost getting all of your news and forming your opinions based on one side of the argument. One of the great things about the blogosphere is the wide range of people authoring material. You should at least weekly (I do it daily most of the time) read some credible material from the "other guys". I am a right of center guy so I read more right of center authors than left but I make sure to read left of center stuff as well. People who fail to do this risk falling into the same trap as folks who get their news from the nightly news on NBCBSABC. Those folks begin to see the considerably left of center opinions offered there as the center. The same thing can happen on the right.

8. Don't assume that blogs without a comment section don't want your comments. Don't get me wrong, some of them don't. Most, like myself, simply don't want the legal and moral hassle of idiots posting irresponsible things on their blog. My email address is easy to find on the blog and you will find the same with most blogs without a comment feature. We make our email address easy to find so we can get comments.

9. If you send email to a blogger and you DON'T want it posted say so. We assume that if you don't say so you are either hoping to see us post your comments or you are indifferent about it.

10. Make your experience your own. This is your opportunity to make your own newspaper/editorial section. We all have limited time in our day so don't worry if you choose to spend your blog time reading a different set of blogs than everyone else. That is part of the fun.


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