Archives for April 2013

Why Your Post Sucks and Everyone Hates Your Blog

/doh

Doh!

That headline is what we social media experts and uberbloggers call link bait. It is slightly more sophisticated than saying something like Kim Kardashian Sex Tape, Naked pictures of Brad Pitt or Better Than Viagra. It has one purpose and that is to get you the reader to click on it. It is kind of a weak way to go and I try not to use it too often. I prefer to be far more blatant and write something like “5 reasons you won’t read this.”

I suppose that I should be pleased that Akismet isn’t a person because those samples of link bait are guaranteed to generate quite a bit of spam. If Akky were a person he would be less than pleased to see me make extra work for him.

During the past week I have read a half dozen posts that have made me shake my head for a variety of reasons. Join me for a moment on a brief tour of the inside of my head. Mind the dust, when I turned 40 they replaced brain with a colander and it has gotten kind of messy inside there.

I am not a fan of these YouTube videos starring Hitler. I generally don’t see much value in using a genocidal maniac as the comic foil for videos and or posts. It is even worse when they are poorly written. Granted I probably have less tolerance for laughing at the man who is responsible for wiping out part of my family. I suspect that more than a few people share this in common. One person tried to explain his use of Hitler as being similar to the exploits in Jackass. There is a huge difference between showing videos of your friends farting on another and using a genocidal murderer who is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions.

And we move on.

More than a few posts discussed the proper way to comment on blogs. It took restraint on my part not to point out that telling people to innovate and be creative 25 times is not innovative, creative or particularly interesting. Sometimes less is more. That might sound funny coming from a man who has a problem with brevity but it is true.

But what bothers me more than that poorly written, ill constructed and definitely not innovative post is the general cynicism and selfish streak that seems to be taking hold in the blogosphere. I keep reading posts where people write about how much they dislike one line comments. They keep talking about how they hate reading “great post” and how they often delete those because they don’t want to be used by other bloggers as a tool for building page rank, SEO and link juice.

I take a different approach. While I prefer longer comments that demonstrate that someone read my post I don’t get upset with things like “Great post” provided that they aren’t used for free advertising. In fact if someone writes a thoughtful comment that links to some sort of commercial service I will usually leave it up.

My goal is to build a community and to create conversation. My blog is like a backyard barbecue. I want to facilitate conversation not stifle it. I don’t wander around my backyard shushing people for talking.

One last thought to share. RSS, Twitter and Facebook have really had a negative impact on blogging in two areas.

1) Fewer people come to the actual blog to read the posts. They lose some of the flavor of the blog and it is far less likely that they will click through the archives.

2) We really do share fewer links than we used to. It has been said here and many other places but it bears repeating. There is a lot of value in sharing links in blog posts. Social media is about engagement and interaction. Interact with others. Share information that you think is worthwhile and valuable and do it without trying to figure out if you will be compensated for it.

And most importantly, be nice. Good things will come from it.

Editor’s Note: This post first ran here but this is a situation where the more things change, the more they stay the same and since I was jammed for time I decided to run it again. Sadly it is still applicable.

How To Raise The Perfect Daughter

As Light as Air

The answer to the question in the headline is written in invisible ink, right next to how to be a perfect father, the answer to how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop and the answer to the classic blunder ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia.’

My daughter sent me a top secret note that says, “Dad, I love you, but I think we need to know everything about each other. So u write questions for me and I’ll write questions for u.

What Questions Did She Ask?

Don’t bother asking because I am not going to tell you. It might be surprising to some of you, but I play my cards close to the vest and some things aren’t ever shared.

Truthfully it is not important what she asked to anyone but her family, but it caught my eye for a variety of reasons.

This dark haired beauty of mine is almost nine years old and far too sharp for her own good. I love that about her. I love her inquisitive nature and a million other things about her which is why I often ask myself what I can do to raise the perfect daughter because she deserves it.

She deserves a great dad and I am doing my best to be that for her, but sometimes it is frustrating because I feel like I fall short.

I Wonder About Parents Who Never Question Their Parenting Skills/Choices

I am a good father. I know that and I am willing to say I am better than most, but that doesn’t mean I never wonder if I am making mistakes. It would be foolish to not wonder about the choices and decisions I have made. It would be foolish not to ask if I could have done things better.

And it is foolish to spend too much time worrying about what has happened because it is done. I have made mistakes and I’ll make some more, but I’ll make good decisions too and that is just how life goes.

But life goes in a million different directions and some of the things my girl is going to have to deal with will happen no matter what I do.

Women and girls make me crazy sometimes because y’all (I am in Texas) do a mighty good job of beating each other up. I know a million different stories about mean girls, mean moms and mean women from all of the women in my life.

So I wonder about what I can do to help my daughter navigate this kind of crap safely.

Be A Kid

I work hard to help her be a kid. I don’t go crazy about princesses and I don’t care if she likes to play princess or watch those Disney movies. Maybe if that was her sole aspiration I would feel differently.

I talk with her about life. I listen and I remind her that her value is tied up in things that have nothing to do with looks, but society is sending other messages. Girls are and their big sisters are sending other messages.

Women in the mall tell her how pretty her hair is and how cute her shoes/dress is.

Is that wrong/bad?

Nah, I doubt it, but I wonder and worry a bit about things.

She loves to play soccer and I am grateful. Sports will help build her confidence and activity will help her in a million other ways.

But it is hard sometimes.

Daughters Are Different

Daughters are different from sons, not better or worse, just different.

I know what it means to be a boy because I was one. Some might even say I still am. 😉

But girls, well you guys just look at the world a bit differently and though I might say it is screwy and twisted I love you all anyway.

And my daughter, well, that is a different sort of love. A father’s love where I just try to figure out what I can do to help her live the kind of life she wants to live while making sure she learns to be responsible and accountable.

I Don’t Have The Answer

I don’t have the answer, but I am working on it. Call me goofy, but I keep hearing Superchicken saying “you know the job was dangerous when you took it.”

Well, that is true but it is a lot of fun too.

What do you think?

What Happens When There Are No More Words?

Generations

Five Song Snapshot:

Something- The Beatles
Head Over Heels- Tears For Fears
Come Together- Aerosmith
The Time Warp- Rocky Horror Picture Show
Gimme Some Lovin- Spencer Davis Group

There are very few real nightmares in the world I inhabit.

Take a walk through the melon on top of my shoulders and you’ll see your garden variety fear of being eaten alive and maybe you’ll understand why I have a plan for how to fight any thing that can eat me.

Shark, lion, ‘croc, hippo, tiger or snake- doesn’t matter because old Jack has an ace up his sleeve for dealing with any or all of them. Of course there is a simple rule that sharks have to fight me on land or give me a cage and a waterproof RPG, but we’ll leave the details out of this for now.

But those dreams don’t bother me nearly as much as something happening to one of my kids–that really does horrify me and would probably break me. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t find a way to put myself back together because that is just what I do, but it would never be the same.

The More Likely Alternative

The bigger and more likely alternative to those aforementioned scenarios is the fear that one day I might wake up and discover there are no more words.

Those of you who have had the pleasure of reading these posts for the last thousand years know that I don’t believe in writer’s block. Nothing has changed, I still don’t believe in it, but I still wonder what would happen if I ran out of words.

And by that I mean what would happen if I reached a place where I simply had nothing more to say, no more stories to tell, no more thoughts to share, mull over or consider?

Five More Songs:

Going Up The Country- Canned Heat
Just Another Day- Oingo Boingo
Slip Away- Clarence Carter
Viva Las Vegas- Elvis Presley
Sara- Fleetwood Mac

Facing Our Fear

I don’t know about you, but overall I think I have done a pretty good job of facing my fear, at least the simple ones. I won’t intentionally endanger the kids or go jump in a lion’s cage just to prove I can.

There is no reason for that.

But I have done some things, headed off on mental spelunking expeditions to face the demons in the dark because I needed to do it. I did it because ultimately it gave me peace of mind and you can never have too much of that.

How about you?