Monday, April 19, 2010

The long and the short of it

I've seen the quote
I'm sorry this letter is so long, I didn't have time to make it shorter.
attributed variously to GB Shaw, Pascal and others. Whoever first said it, it makes good sense to me and I know that my blog posts mostly get shorter as I edit them to make them clearer.

Apparently I've been wasting my time. According to an article in New Scientist, research into 75 Livejournal bloggers found that
the more words a blogger posted, the more friends they had and the higher their attractiveness rating.
I tend to write short posts because I avoid reading long ones unless they're unusually well written. It looks like this isn't very common. What about you?


Lexi said...

I'm with you. A long post is off-putting, and few bloggers can get away with it.

I'd like to know more about the research - I feel sure it must have been skewed in some way.

Amie McCracken said...

I like medium posts. Too short is not worth loading the page for. Too long is not worth reading through, unless like you said it's really well written. But how do you term it short, medium, or long?

Old Kitty said...


The article in New Scientist reminds me of an online one I read at erm.. *whisper* AOL Lemondrop site! Ahem.

This one relates to twitter as its apparently the QUANTITY rather than the quaility of tweets posted that gains most followers. So twittering on about every single detail of your life wins you followers.


The thing for me about blogging is that it's first and foremost visual. The words come later. Words are what I read in print (yes call me an old fuddy duddy!!).

But I only every read long blog posts if they interest me and are well written as I would an online newspaper article.

Otherwise - give me pics and clips and short sharp sentences anytime!! LOL!

Also I like blogs with lots of white spaces between paras and sentences. Hence I do mine like so.

Also I just realised this is a long comment so I'll go away now!


Take care

Wings in the Night said...

While I tend to be a rambler, not making good use of words, I don't often read very long posts.

I suppose it works on Twitter (I'm not on there), where I think you have a maximum length for posts.

I've always suspected one reason I don't have many followers is that my posts are TOO long. Too long generally means "not edited" in the writing world.

By the way, I think your posts are great. I with they were longer just because I like reading your voice. But you say everything you need to say.

Charmaine Clancy said...

I find the shorter my posts the more responses I get.

Adam Heine said...

I'm with Lexi; I'd like to know more about the study. I'm a bit skeptical. Is LiveJournal a good sample set?

JaneyV said...

For me it's content and I have found that there are few loooong posts that I have read that wouldn't have benefitted greatly from the editor's scissors. I like funny posts best and sometimes they require a build-up to the punchline. As long as there's a payoff, that's OK. I'm more likely to move on with out finishing if the post is more about navel gazing without regard for the reader.

Simon Kewin said...

I do like short posts. I try to write them but frequently fail ...

fairyhedgehog said...

Lexi, it was a very small sample of Livejournal bloggers. I'm not at all sure it was representative.

Amie, I wonder how short is too short? I do try to put something of myself into even the shortest posts and not just post a link.

Kitty, I can't understand that about Twitter. If someone tweets too often I tend to stop following them as I can't keep up!

Wings, short posts do take a lot of effort. Every time I edit I seem to cut more out! Oh, and Twitter only allows you 140 characters. Very, very short!

Charmaine, that seems to show that the "research" is not entirely reliable!

Adam, I think your scepticism is well-founded!

Jane, I like funny posts too. Whirl immediately comes to mind!

Simon, your latest post about static blogger pages couldn't easily have been short and given all the information needed!

writtenwyrdd said...

As you likely have noticed, I tend to write fairly long posts, as in about 500 words. Sometimes, I go a lot longer. And sometimes I just write a couple of sentences. But, on average, I think the longer posts are the winners.

I've been around long enough that google hits are pretty common. But I don't think that longer posts have helped with friends/ popularity. I have a group of internet blog friends, and we generally interact via each others' blogs.

Sylvia said...

My layout doesn't give me a lot of choice, although you might have noticed that the second notebook is somewhat larger than the first one was. Dom and Cliff made me promise to write bigger instead of more. :(

It definitely makes me think more about the key elements of my post. Today's post is one that I think should have been two but I didn't realise that until I was out of space. And it seemed really ironic to rewrite a post talking about not drafting!

Could you do me a favour and comment showing your home-made font? I didn't have the space to get into that aspect and it'd be better with an example. :)

fairyhedgehog said...

ww, I think it's a matter of making the post length fit the content, to some extent. I like the variety on your blog.

sylvia, your blog is a special case. I love the handwritten look! Oh, and I commented to show off my font. Although I'm disappointed I didn't manage to make it look more like my handwriting. I think I was trying too hard to be neat!

iasa said...


fairyhedgehog said...

iasa, nice one!

Bernita said...

I suspect readers prefer medium to short. Written varies her lengths so she avoids the long post bullet.
BTW, "fairyhedgehog" is one of the nicest ids in blogland.

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, Bernita! (I have to admit I stole the name from a Terry Pratchett book.)

Wendy Ramer, Author said...

As a writer of longer posts, I'm gonna go with the masculine adage: "Size matters." Then again, Bauhaus architects Mies van der Rohe, Gropius, and LeCorbusier said, "Less is more." But they were all men (probably with small members). So what am I supposed to believe????

fairyhedgehog said...

Wendy, did you spot my get-out clause? Unusually well written blogs get a read whatever their length. And I did read yours today and try to comment but I got hung up on the word verification, lost my comment, and gave up. I'd better try again.

jjdebenedictis said...

[T]he more words a blogger posted, the more friends they had and the higher their attractiveness rating.

I wonder if it's the frequency the person posts at, rather than the volume of wordage per post, that determines this. Someone who posts often is helping feed the habit of all us internet addicts. Without them, we have to find many friends who post less frequently to fill up our empty, empty lives.

Ann said...

If the post captures me, it doesn't matter how long it is. But if it rambles I lose interest. I like your posts. Short and to the point.

fairyhedgehog said...

jj, so it's the bloggers that give us regular fixes that are the most popular. Could be!

Thank you, Ann!

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