Muschamp Rd

Blogging & Stuff

August 3rd, 2006
RPG Dice

Although not the most electrifyingly original posting title, I’m running with it. I’ve written before how people actually read the crap I write, no matter how trivial or dubious, especially the dubious… Now people have expectations, they are actually encouraging me to blog about events that they were present to observe. I’m not sure of the wisdom behind personal blogs especially for someone as pathetically honest as myself.

The last couple of days Dave has been visiting me in Deep Bay. I hadn’t seen him since before I went to China, then I haven’t seen most everyone since before I went to China. He stayed a couple of nights and we hung out in Deep Bay. There isn’t so much to do besides watch movies, play video games, board games, and mini golf.

Dave and I at New Years a few years back

There isn’t actually mini golf in Deep Bay but within a reasonable driving distance is an abundance of courses. Several of which are quite elaborate and have 36 holes. Another one appears to have opened in Parksville, but we went to the original where I soundly defeated Dave on both the old and new courses.

We also played four games of Stratego all of which I won. The last time Dave visited me in Deep Bay, might have been last summer and we played Fortress America which I won and Axis and Allies at which I lost. Both those games are really better with more players so I was thinking of a two player strategy game for us to play and I remembered Stratego. I haven’t played Stratego since I was in elementary school and most likely played against my Dad. I’m a bit surprised it isn’t played more often as it has no dice and you can do a lot with bluffing and gall.

Lord of the Rings edition Risk

We also played a game of Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition of Risk. I hate Risk. I haven’t played since high school probably. It is the ultimate stubbornly refuse to concede game. I also don’t think it is very realistic at all no matter how much Rimmer waxes upon it. This licensed version of Risk actually plays a lot different than classic Risk. It was given to me by my sister for Christmas a few years back and had yet to be played. It takes a long time to set up but at least it doesn’t go on forever. The designers obviously were heavily influenced by History of the World as they added several features from that game to Risk. Even the quasi random ending likely came from some place else such as Junta another of my favourite board games.

Also much time was spent discussing Civilization particularly the expansions to version three. I showed Dave what had changed and finished off my most recent game earning my highest score yet. I’m not sure why some games go the way you intend and others you try the same tactics and fail miserably. I guess that is why the game has such a high replay value. I won with Byzantium if you care.

Beer from Salt Spring Island brewery

Also partaken in were several beers. I also BarBQ’ed the first night. Cooking is one of my hidden skills. I honestly have never understood why people are so incompetent at it. Surely you just follow the instructions… Now creating new recipes from scratch takes some flare and certain things that are overly finicky are tough to make. We BarBQ quite often during the summer in Deep Bay as my Chinese MBA classmates can attest to.

Now if you’ve read this far you may be wondering what does this have to do with blogging? Well this post is an example of the wide ranging meandering writings I sometime indulge in. This stream of conscience style of writing combined with my honesty and willingness to help other people is probably responsible for many of the problems I’m currently going through. It is also August which means Muskblog has been online for almost a year now.

It doesn’t seem to matter so much what I write about, as long as I consistently add more postings and maintain a reasonable level of quality control this blog becomes more widely read. I’m not sure how many people read it regularly or subscribe to the RSS feed (I don’t currently use FeedBurner or any service like it) but more and more people are visiting it through search engines through an ever increasing group of keywords and phrases.

Some food I BarBQ'ed

I’ve actually had a homepage online for over ten years but I only had my own domain since 2002 or so. In that time I’ve seen a lot of things come and go. And I’d like to think I’ve learned a little bit about how the internet works, such as how to attract readers. There are no shortage of other people offering advice on blogging, Guy Kawasaki is quite proud of his meteoric rise in the Technorati Top 100, so his advice is some I would recommend. I was actually looking for another posting on another blog by a less famous blogger but I couldn’t turn it up in Google.

Webalizer graph of first 11 months of Muskblog

If you want to have a popular blog/website/posting there are two qualities you should strive for in your writing, one is timelessness the other is timeliness.

Timeliness: One advantage that blogs and most modern forms of communication have is the speed at which information can be spread. If you are the first person to write a substantial blog posting on something especially if you scoop something it will generate traffic. Anyone, including other bloggers and professional journalists will likely encounter your posting as it was the first and for a time the only one in Google. It will get read, quoted, linked to, the whole nine yards. An example of a timely posting at Muskblog is the one I tossed out on “The man whose arms exploded” a documentry I happened upon one day on TV.

Timelessness: is more difficult to achieve but in the long run will result in more traffic and more importantly Google juice. If you can write not necessarily the first posting, but the best posting on a given subject, with best being determined by people linking to it and more importantly the various search engine algorithms, it will consistantly generate traffic by dominating all the keywords related to that topic. Timelessness is very similar to authoratative which is another very important quality to strive for in your blogging. Everyone knows of a site that used to be the best site on a given topic but then it stopped being updated, maybe it disappeared from the internet entirely, so as important as it is to be seen as knowledgeable, even an expert, if your writing becomes obsolete or dated it isn’t timeless.

Recently I’ve been fooling around with PHP and MySQL and I’ve had a lot of trouble following some of the examples as the speed at which things change in software development has made some of the advice in the book I’m following not work out quite as expected. Even blog postings by the author become dated once Apple or whoever releases a new version of something. I’m not sure I’ve written anything timeless on Muskblog but my Calf Crazy posting has been attracting readers ever since I hatched upon the idea of writing such a lengthy posting about such an odd and specific topic. It may take a long time to live that down as I doubt anyone will put the effort in I did. A better example of timelessness and authority in my writings comes from my original subdomain nurgle.muschamp.ca. I actually set out with that subdomain to create the best site on that narrow subject on the Internet and even though I haven’t added much to it in the last three years and some of the writings have become dated as new versions of the rules have been released it is still considered number one for the keyword Nurgle in Google and many, many people still browse it every month, some even write me.

A better example of something that once written and published online instantly became timeless might be the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

An astute reader might be thinking this posting is neither timeless nor timely and I’m not going to argue that it is. I never said I wanted my blog to be popular. What I said is I’ve learned a thing or two on how to attract readers. If you’ve read this far and really want your blog to become more popular you should look at the topic you are blogging about. From my experience using certain keywords in passing and my few meager postings which deal with popular culture I can tell you subject matter is very important in relative popularity. Writing a timeless or timely posting on a subject almost no one cares about won’t cause your readership to spike. Now if you write about celebrities or porn or better still celebrity porn the mind boggles at how much traffic a timeless or timely posting on that might generate.

If you are looking for more specific advice, I’d say the most important thing is choosing the title of the posting. That is why I mentioned in the very first sentence of this posting how my title could be a lot better. A well chosen title will greatly increase the number of people who click on your posting in search engines and will help your search engine rankings. The next most important thing is the tags you apply to a posting. These are essentially super keywords and are used by Technorati and others in organizing and ranking blog postings. Choosing the correct keywords to target is a subject of much discussion in SEO circles.

I’m a big proponent of linking, I may in fact link too much. However seeking out and linking to other relavent information helps your posting appear more authoritative. One of the things I keep on top of for my Nurgle site is the links section. Now we have social media to share links and content with each other.

Also important to being authoratative and just plain being taken seriously is quality control. Proofread your postings, edit them for readability, even scanability, and for heaven sakes spell check. Another thing that is imporant is being selective and showing restraint in what you write about. Even in my university papers I try to sleep on things and read them in the morning when I’m fresher. This isn’t always possible especially when you are trying to scoop something and be timely. However I wish I’d shown a bit more restraint in some of the things I’ve written over the last year or two even if I wouldn’t change the sentiment or subject matter I’d adjust the tone and length. I tend to ramble.

Update December 2015

Another year is coming to a close and I am revisiting my taxonomy in an effort to improve my blog and get slightly more relevant traffic. Long rambling posts are not optimal. However they can lead to strange keyword referrals. This is not a bad blog post but it could have been better, I later rewrote the key points, now almost ten years later I take post Quality much more seriously after all the damage my MBA and blogging about my personal problems did to my career and health. Sometimes you really are better off saying nothing at all.


  • Dave

    All that and you didn’t mention the most baffling caesar salad of either of our lives. Thanks for mentioning the long past Axis & Allies win so I didn’t sound like a complete loser. I’m due for some wins at something…

  • Dave

    All that and you didn’t mention the most baffling caesar salad of either of our lives. Thanks for mentioning the long past Axis & Allies win so I didn’t sound like a complete loser. I’m due for some wins at something…

  • That posting just got too long. I need to make a series of smaller postings rather than trying to cram everything I want to say into one long piece. I may yet write about that caesar salad.

  • That posting just got too long. I need to make a series of smaller postings rather than trying to cram everything I want to say into one long piece. I may yet write about that caesar salad.

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