Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blogging vs Listing

In the past I posted my ventriloquism-related comments on the WorldVents discussion group. Now I post them mostly here, on my blog.

To encourage readers to visit my blog, I often post notices about blog articles on the Worldvents list. Since I do that almost daily and since members might consider such posts to be gratuitous plugs, I asked whether anyone thought they were annoying or inappropriate.

One member responded that he does not read blogs and said further, "If everybody put there [sic] comments on their blog and used the list to say they put their comment on their blog then the WorldVENT[s] list would be worthless."

This is a valid observation, and it begs the question, "Why post articles to a blog instead of to a list?" It also suggests that one should not use a list to promote a blog. I'll address both issues here.

Since this article is way off-topic and has nothing to do with ventriloquism, I'll delete it after everyone who cares has an opportunity to read it.

Here are some of the reasons I chose to blog rather than list:
  1. A discussion group/list is a public forum. If I wish to respond briefly to a list member's question or comment, the list is the place to do it. A blog is a publishing medium. If I have an article of general interest to ventriloquists, the blog is the place for that. Often, however, an article results from a list discussion, so a fine line of distinction exists. But...

  2. My articles tend to be lengthy because I prefer to give comprehensive coverage of a subject. Worldvents is a Yahoo group, which is an email list. In such lists, members receive and respond to comments by using email. One can choose to use the website archives to read and respond, but most members do it with email for various reasons.

    If I post my lengthy articles on an email list, individual copies are sent to all such participants, and I contribute to the clogging of mail servers and Internet traffic. Those not interested in the subject would still have to deal with my stuff in their inbox. With a blog, a reader logs on only if said reader is interested—or not as the list member quoted above chooses to do.

  3. A blog collects and publishes the author's articles in one durable place. Anyone wishing to browse its archives can find them easily. A blog's archives represent the continuity of its author's contributions. A list's archives, however, is simply one huge container of messages from all members organized by date and time. There is a search facility, but finding some obscure discussion from the distant past can be a cumbersome and time-consuming procedure.

  4. Groups such as Worldvents allow only members to read their contents. A blog is open to everyone who has Internet access. Some of what I write is of interest to all entertainers, not just ventriloquists, and some interested readers might not be members of a list about ventriloquism.

  5. Lists are attended by people some of whom are pure of heart and deed and all that. Adult content can be unwelcome on some such public lists. Some of what I have to say involves adult content. With a blog, I don't have to stop and think about whether a moderator will admonish me if I say something suggestive or explicit.

  6. A blog stays on topic if its owner wants it to. (This article is an example of when an owner willingly goes off topic. I'm using my blog to explain why I use my blog. Go figure.) Lists, however, go all over the place with inspirational posts, religious and political messages, personal health problems and family situations, jokes we've heard a hundred times, messages that just say, "yeah," "tee-hee," "I agree," and so on. These are good things for a list, because they reflect the community spirit and fellowship of the group, even though some members would rather not read such messages. A blog, however, concentrates on its subject matter. Visitors to the blog know what to expect.

  7. When opinions differ on a list, debates begin, and tempers flare. More often than not, such flareups deteriorate into discussions about negative posters and bad manners. I've been accused of both. I've been called an asshole and a know-it-all. I admit to both. As one prominent member of the ventriloquist community observed, it all resembles a "food fight." One such food fight on the VENTmail list in October, 1999, resulted in the formation of Worldvents and a mass exodus to the new list. This can't happen on a blog. There are no members. There are only visitors. Visitors can comment if the owner permits it, but comments are not a part of the body of articles. And the owner moderates all comments.
Now for the second issue. Should one use a list to promote a blog? Here's why I think it's okay: A blog is a website in journal format. Posting links to a blog on a list is like responding to questions or comments with links to pages on one's personal website. Many of us have websites with pages of hints, procedures, and so on, related to ventriloquism. In time-honored tradition we often respond to comments on lists with links to those pages. I'm not sure how this is any different.

If I allowed advertising on my blog, which is an option and which earns money for the author, then using someone else's forum to plug the blog would, indeed, be shameless promotion. I don't allow advertising, so that's not an issue.

However, if the objections outnumber the supporters, or if the moderator objects, I'll cease and desist.


Blogger David Robison said...

Howdy Al,

I am enjoying your blog AND I enjoy the WorldVents list as well at the VentMAIL list too.

I belong to several lists and Forums of different topics and issues; and I'm also a blogger.

I have made entries at these lists to "promote" an article I have written for my blog; IF the article was somehow related to the current list topic. I see nothing wrong with that.

I consider shameless promotion to be when I just wander onto an unfamiliar list or message board, just so I can say, "Hey come read my blog!"

I did do this on April Winchell's Linkapalooza list...but that is a venue where it is expected and you can only do it every 90 days.

Anyway, I think your "promotion" of your blog at the ventriloquist lists was fine.

BTW, your blog readers can(if you allow them) turn your blog into a "list" of sorts, in the "Comments" section.

In the blogosphere, it is a coveted position to have an ongoing discussion in the comments based on the blog article.

I know several bloggers that have regular readers that daily rack up 90, 100, 200, comments.

Keep up the good work, here and at Worldvents.


11:08 PM  
Blogger Lawrence E. Harris said...


Congrats on your Blog. I look forward to being a regular reader on your blog. I enjoyed speaking with you after I received your DVD. We need to catch up again. You have so much to offer the art of Ventriloquism.

Lawrence E. Harris - ComicVent
Germantown, MD

4:07 PM  

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