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我的博客经 - 南桥的日志 - 网易博客

今年我写博客整整十周年了,博客在多方面改变了我的生活,也迫使我学习了很多新东西。不久前,我们一个教授试图在课程上使用“博客”功能(现在很多课程管理系统里都有博客功能),让我介绍如何使用博客,我给提了些意见,然后又修改了一下,成为下文。

Advice for New Bloggers

I started to blog in 2004, while I was a graduate student at Syracuse University.   In the decade that followed, my blog has fetched over 20 million page views.    The exposure also brought invitations to write columns and articles for various newspapers and magazines, including China Daily, Southern Metro Daily, as well as the Chinese sites of New York Times, Financial Times and Holland Online.   I also published three collections of essays based largely on blog posts.   Vanity aside, I am saying these to take the stigma off blogging, which used to be perceived as verbal doodles produced in mama’s basements by guys who do not have a job or life.  Blogging opens doors for me.   It gets me to engage with people whom I wouldn't be able to reach.  I also enjoy the educational aspects of such experience.   Without a terminal degree under my belt, I have not been able to teach in a college.   Blogging is my way to teach my favorite things to a broad audience in an informal way.

When you start to blog, do not sweat the small stuff, the “techniques” such as the proper length, the frequency of publishing, or the timing  for publishing drafts.   With the multitude of blogging vendors out there, there is no point detailing the mechanics of a particular one.   However, having some good writing habits makes a difference.  There I would make a few recommendations:

  • "Pet" your topics.   The Internet does not always reward the desire to succeed, but it rewards passion and effort you invest in a topic.  My son, who watches many Minecraft videos on Youtube, once commented that those who want to be famous in Youtube remain anonymous.   Those devoted to their craft become famous because they get increasingly better at what they do.   Similarly, in blogging, narrow focus on readership leads to myopia, with which you may write to please the crowd, a bad place to start for new bloggers.  Instead, keep cultivating your passion and expertise related to your topics.   Make sure you do not write about things you feel only lukewarm about.   Be ambitions.  You may be able to use blogging to make some positive changes.
  • Do your research homework.  When starting, you do not have to be an expert at every aspect of the topic you are writing about.  That’s where research comes in.  You may sometimes hear advice for you to write what you are familiar with.  Truth of the matter is, all good writers are researchers who turn the unfamiliar familiar.  Bloggers have to be avid learners.   In the past decade, I have written about such topics as textbook adoption policies, K12 reading programs, or what cognitive science has to say about reading fiction.   I am not exactly familiar with all of these topics at the beginning. I choose to write about them because I see something missing in the debate on these topics in the Chinese blogsphere.  I want to research international practices for benchmarking.  For your blogging to be useful, do your homework.  You may not start as an expert, but make sure you end as one after you finish writing about a topic.
  • Don't rant.  Help find a solution.  Quite a number of bloggers take to blogging to vent on a topic or life in general.   This may have some therapeutic effect when you are frustrated with the state of things, but you will not get a lot of mileage out of rants.  John Cheever wrote a short story about a middle-class couple whose new radio picks up sounds from neighbors.    Hearing their neighbors’ miscellaneous miseries eventually destroyed the fine equilibrium in this couple’s own marriage.   Sooner or later, people leave bloggers who define themselves by useless negativity.   Constructive suggestions or solutions will go farther.  People seek you out not to hear what you are against, but what you can help them solve.  
  • Provoke views, not the viewers.  I enjoy a good debate in the comments section if commenters can contribute to a civil, mutually beneficial dialogue.  Readers can help me to revise my otherwise erroneous ideas,  see blind spots in the reasoning process, resolve my conflicting views or fix my typos, grammar and other such embarrassments.   I like to get people to think, using my blog post as a start, not as an end in itself.  I draw energy and wisdom from the feedback loop.    I engage with people who disagree with me in an agreeable way.   Censoring opposite views hurts credibility for bloggers.   However, watch out for personal attack or belittling sarcasm or other obnoxious cyber behaviors.   Unless I want to create a “teachable moment” for other readers, I do not spend much time fighting with vicious bullies.  I do not allow them to hurt my feelings.   I reserve the right to remove such comments.  Life is too short for unpleasant, futile and time-wasting fights on the Internet, or anywhere else.
  • Keep writing.  The greatest trick for success in blogging is to keep doing it.   I do this almost everyday.   I sometimes get praises for my perseverance and hard work, which is only partially true, as I enjoy writing in the first place.  Blogging give me the same pleasure others derive from quilting, gardening, woodcutting or watching football.   However, I do have my writer’s blocks once in a while.  On such days, I write shorter pieces to keep myself in the habit of writing.  It is my experience that the more you write, the more you can write. 

According to 

Pew Research

, non-internet users are now in the minority (15% of American adults).   Among the 85% of those who do use, many of whom read or write some kind of blogs or micro-blogs.     Blogging has simply become a mainstream method for the consumption and production of views and information.   It is an effective way for us to make sense of the world around us, and an avenue for us to express ourselves, and possibly make a difference along the way.   Happy blogging in 2014!

写完之后,发现过去我曾经写过一篇相关文章。今天在网易的旧日博文提示上看到,都不记得自己写过,可见十年下来我制造的文字多到我自己都统计不出来,但是不知道其他读者有无看到过,不如再分享一下:


今天看到一个美国博客写的博客经营要领,发觉是隔靴搔痒,比如不要用Click here、引用他人博客之类,这些都是锦上添花,改变不了一个博客的本质。套用维基百科的说法,“不满意是吧?你自己来整。”所以我也以一个自从2004年开始的老一辈博客的身份,讲述一下经营好一个博客的心得。

我以前的博客在“中华部落阁”,人气极高,后来由于服务器不大稳定,忍痛割爱,到了网易,经常有文章的点击率在一两万以上。换作韩寒之类名人,这算不了什么,但我本寂寂无闻,没有色相可卖,也没有一个有影响力的圈子互相吹捧,一个人闷闷在这里写,也能得到读者的认可,意外之余,我还是颇为自豪的。经营博客多年的心得,可以总结如下(鉴于我喜欢长篇大论,有些读者来了只看标题和最后一段,所以我按照不重要到重要的顺序排列)。

第八、注意版面设计。版面没有必要弄得花里胡哨,但也不能乱七八糟。这涉及到字体的使用,标题和正文的对比,链接的设置,图片的使用,字体的统一等等。总而言之,不要进去了头都大。汪教授的博客就是这个问题,其版面之乱和我C盘的文件有得一拼。他从来不收拾,我修理过他多少次,他还得索得很,说就是不改,要气死我。想气死我没这么容易,我会一直将其当反面教材,直到他改掉,或者他自己气死 —— 哪个先到算哪个。(汪某至今不改,且把恶习传到了微博上。)

第七、善用多重渠道。现在人们阅读博客的渠道很多,比如用手机读,用机器人抓的RSS读,未必就是将你的博客放入收藏夹读。把自己的博客放在豆瓣等具备rss功能的网站,是一个吸引读者的好办法。我有很多读者是从豆瓣过来的。不过遗憾的是,豆瓣的RSS重抓功能极其落后,我博客由于是零碎时间在写,直接在网上写,所以经常修改,豆瓣也更新不过来。希望豆瓣加以改进。

第六、语言大众化。很多博客从专业角度来看是很有价值的,不过往往限制在自己一个小圈子里。如果这是写博客的人自己的初衷当然无可厚非。如果是希望大众更多了解自己所在领域的一些观念和方法,那就尽量多用平民化语言。不要让人仰视你,这种姿态毫无意义,只会让人俯视。

第五、注意影响。我们普通人的言行,也是可以影响人的。当然这未必是名流的那种影响,但我们如果在观念上,冲击了一些读者,让其从思维的惯性中惊醒过来,换个角度来思考某个问题,也是成就。我博客近来最大的“影响”,是一个读者说,他看了“婚姻就是义无反顾”后,决定把藏起来的私房钱掏出来给老婆,可见我对于女性,是多么友好啊!

说到影响,我也想到博客中有青少年读者,所以不喜欢博客中盛行的痞子和流氓腔。我不觉得老说脏话有什么光彩的。当你想写脏话的时候,我告诉你一个好办法,放下键盘,用左手抓住右边的耳朵,按照顺时针方向闭着眼睛转二百四十九圈,一般能把脏话的毛病给克服掉。

第四、乐于分享。整个二代互联网的根本精神,就是一种生活中不大多见的分享精神,不管这分享是一个私房小菜、养生秘方,还是你所在行业的一些理念、方法和工具。世界这么大,一些你以为太熟悉太平常的东西,他人未必知道。我原来搞了个“生态养猪”网站,是英文的,本来是开玩笑,应付“教育媒体课”作业,但是从此之后,我收到了来自津巴布韦、菲律宾、南非、澳大利亚等各个国家以及美国各地的来信,咨询生态养猪的“食谱”、选猪方法等等,我一晃而成养猪专家。由此我想,我作为一个冒牌货,火力显然不够。为什么养猪专家不开博客解答这种问题呢?

现在我所在的部门也有一个英文的博客,内容多半是教育技术,范围很窄。其中最受欢迎的一个帖子,居然是如何将PDF文件粘合起来。因为有人上网搜索,搜着搜着就搜过来了。分享虽然是一种利他主义的行为,但未必就不利己,因为你在所在行业的分享,会提高你在所在行业的认知度。我在这种英文博客上下的功夫很少,所以上述博客看的人也很少,主要是针对我校老师,但是有一次去参加俄克拉荷马远程教育协会的会议,会议当年的轮值主席KEN就说他经常去看,我说我还以为就我一个人在看呢。这说明同行业之内,大家有时候也出于好奇,看看其他单位,其他个人都有什么想法和做法,值得他们去借鉴。毕竟人都是好奇的动物,这也不是你在看此文的一个原因吗?

第三、找准切入点呆伯特漫画作者斯各特·亚当斯说他搞漫画选材的时候,有一个分寸,那就是所有人都觉得好笑的死笑话他不会去考虑。他找的是那种四五成熟的题材,觉得有幽默的潜力,但是又需要有人画龙点睛一下,才会觉得特别幽默的题材。大家看呆伯特的漫画,好多话题都是我们办公室小隔间发生的,为什么我们自己就不觉得好笑,甚至觉得苦恼?亚当斯那么点拨一下,立马就大变样。我觉得写博客中话题的选择也是一样,不要找那种十成熟甚至十二成熟的话题,除非你能提供一个全新的视角,将这个问题的思考方法改变掉。如果没有这个把握或能力,或许可以找一个公众还不熟悉的话题,让更多的人去了解它。这个世界要比凤姐、周立波、姜文大多了,你不觉得你的家乡更值得一写吗?写博客在话题的选择上和角度的切入上,应该像定性研究者做研究那样,把熟悉的话题变陌生(比如我写男方结婚买房问题,我就用印度嫁妆的例子,推翻潜在假设,重新让人去思考这个话题),或者是把陌生的话题变熟悉(比如我写的美国的饭局,对于美国生活的人这些司空见惯,但是国内读者我发觉很多并不知晓)。

第二、心术要正。写博客不同的人是带着不同的目标来的,有的是老师,借用这个手段和学生分享内容。有的本来就是写手,写主编、导师等的命题作文写烦了,到这里透透气。这都是可以的,就怕是为了出名来写,遇到热门话题就往上凑。除非我觉得我有足够的力量,将一场争议止息,否则纯粹凑热闹没有意义。就是遇到热门话题,我实在是觉得有感而发了,才会去发言。另外,我想说的话,一定首先能说服我自己,我如果自己都不相信,那么我不会去说。我记得以前我们教会一个牧师说过一句很有意思的话:有的人有言可发,有的人就是要发言(Some people have something to say, others just want to say something)。希望我们尽量去做前者。

第一、尊重这个媒体。和很多朋友一样,我曾经觉得写博客是一件闹着玩的事,是一种休闲而已。由于考虑到博客是“不务正业”,我曾经多次准备将其停掉,但是很可惜,每次都失败,比戒烟还难。2005年,我在西弗吉尼亚工作,遇到了我们学校一个大众传媒教授Stephen Cooper, 和他做了一次访谈,他就专门研究博客如何成为一支平衡传统媒体的力量,和他的谈话改变了我对博客的认识,我开始意识到它可以是一个新兴媒体。就好比木匠爱好斧头,瓦匠爱好泥刀一样,我们也得热爱这个工具,把握它的禀性,得带着一种玩家的精神,来把它的力量发挥到极致。对于我来说,它就是一个媒体,是一个我擅长的媒体,换了别的媒体,我就不一定玩得转,比如微博,饭否、微博、Twitter什么的账号我全有,但是我就是玩不好,因为我更擅长长篇大论,140个字的限制对我的杀伤力极大。总而言之,既然是写博客,那么就好好写,不要马马虎虎,浪费托管方的空间和自己的时间。不写也挺好的,如果觉得写得很苦,为赋新词强说愁,那就要考虑是不是别写了。要写就好好写,因为世上大多值得做的事情,值得我们去做好。不值得做的事情,往往也不值得不冷不热地去做。