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Blog Topics - Where do you draw the Line?

I started blogging a few months ago and since I started writing my own blog, I've been a much bigger follower of other technical blogs.  I now follow over 25 SQL blogs and add more on a regular basis. Some of the blogs I follow are updated every day and usually feature shorter articles.  Some of them are updated much less frequently and feature much longer and more in depth articles.  Most are somewhere in between.  Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what warrants a blog post.   For me, figuring out what is worth writing about is almost as time consuming as actually writing it.

For example, I was working with data compression the other day and noticed several things that changed my decisions on some changes I was going to make in my environment.  One of these hinged around a clustered index key compressing extremely well with page level compression so that it was only slightly bigger than a clustered key that was much narrower.  The problem with this is, I can't really explain why.  I can guess... and I might even be right, but is it worth putting it out there for people to read when I'm not really explaining why something happened?  You could argue that they're at least aware of the concept after having read it and can be aware that it is one more factor to look at, but it'd obviously be much better if I could explain why it was happening and specifically watch what to look for.  Sometimes I'm able to do this research and figure it out... sometimes I either don't have time or don't ever get around to it and thus it's a blog post that never gets written.  I'm the type of person that is never *really* happy with an explanation until *everything* is accounted for, so if I only wrote about things that I had no questions about, I'd only write about... well... ok, I wouldn't have a blog at all. 

I've done a lot of thinking about this particular topic over the past couple weeks and I've come to a decision.  That decision is that so long as I'm reasonably comfortable that I'm not presenting *incorrect* information, people will make up their own minds as to whether or not there is any value in it or whether or not they feel like reading it.  I personally enjoy reading many blogs that are technology related even when they don't necessarily delve into specifics.  For example, posts about user group meetings, technology events, apps, office environments, daily life in technology, etc.  Attempting to figure out what people want to read before writing it every time is resulting in wearing one too many hats. 

That's not to say that I'm going to start writing what I eat for breakfast every day and post it online, but I am going to make more of an effort to not care if every single blog post completely exhausts a topic and answers every question.  A blog post doesn't necessarily need to be a polished article that has gone through review a dozen times over.  I'll leave it to the people reading to provide feedback as to whether or not I'm straying too far off the mark or whether they feel like an entry was too fluffy and stop trying to pre-screen.  If one of my posts stops one forum question, saves one person an hour of time or makes one person more active in the community, then it was worth it.  It doesn't have to measure up in a side by side comparison to the best feeds in my reader.

This post itself is a good example.  Maybe it will help someone get over my same hang-ups about blogging, or help someone in a similar situation look at things in a different perspective.  Maybe it's just touchy/feely drivel.  I leave that decision to you =).

Comments

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 1 April 2010

Nice article Seth.  I have pondered the same sorts of things while trying to put out some articles.  I, too, recently started blogging.  I find it difficult sometimes to write a blog post because I want to put quality out.

Posted by Steve Jones on 2 April 2010

I think you want to remember that a blog is really for you. It's about your career and what you learn or share. I try to show things that I think are interesting, have caught my eye, or somehow might relate to fleshing out who "Steve Jones" is as an employee. The stuff about my dogs or kids tends to go on my personal blog.

It's sharing, but it's not necessarily a publishing / teaching mechanism. It can be, but I think that I tend to advise people that blog to view it as a part of your CV. It's showing your skills and how you are developing in your career.

If you want to exhaustively follow something, perhaps you ought to consider writing more articles and getting paid :)

Posted by Seth Phelabaum on 2 April 2010

Good advice Steve.  I'll consider turning my longer/more in depth blog posts into articles and submit them that way.  I can always just post it later if it's rejected =).

Also, Thanks for the feedback Jason.  I think we started our blogs around the same time, although I think you're considerably past me in the numbers department =).  I blame video games.

Posted by Anonymous on 3 April 2010

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