Blogging Pointers

    The blog world is varied, if you haven’t noticed – and it’s only a subset on the online universe. Our goal however is to approach China from the perspective of economics. So here are loose guidelines.

  1. Regurgitating a news story does not a good blog post make.

    A news story is a sensible starting point for a blog post. You need to add value – which requires at perhaps twice as many words as the news itself. Why is the story important? – it could highlight an issue in economics, or it can highlight an issue in China, or a combination thereof. What does the story leave out? – of course you should draw in the missing elements, or at least sketch them. If it limns a policy area, outline a couple policy responses, or shade in or highlight strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Think visual. At first glance, people see the page. Graphs are apropos. Pictures can help.

    Given data, you should know enough of excel to generate a graph. Under “media” in WordPress you will find examples of photos used in existing posts. I have a little HTML Guide to allow you to format your output for better visual impact. Not every post lends itself to specific visuals; put in a generic photo, surely you can find one that ties in loosely. [You will be writing papers, where the visual impact is not central.]

    I will not police copyrights on images, but if you use one that you’ve culled from another site, at least use the link to the photo or graph rather than downloading/uploading. Even better, provide attribution at the end of your post, in a small font.

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  4. Think “above the fold.”

    It’s hard to read lengthy material on screen. When I scan the onliine news, I in fact print out anything that might be more than one standard 250-word-or-so page. You need to set up and convey your main point succinctly. A few lines suggests you’ve not much to say; a full screen’s worth is a basic target. Material that might require scrolling is fine, but if you find you’ve written 1,000 words, then a single blog post is not a good medium to convey your thinking. Try to break it into 3 pieces…

  5. Take comments seriously.

    This blog is part of the work and learning for this term. You should read all comments on your posts, and respond! Similarly, you should comment on a subset of the posts of others on a regular basis, and if you’re not the first one to comment, then make sure you add value and don’t repeat what others say.

  6. Do your own thing.

    Some news stories garner attention. That does not make them worthy of five posts on this blog – though with a small class five is hyperbole. Read what is already there before posting. If I see one that duplicates earlier posts, I will delete it (and it won’t count towards your grade). Sometimes that will not be your fault, and merely mean you didn’t high “publish” first. Tough – better luck next time.

  7. Make sense.

    Not everything you read in the news does; advertisements often don’t, as in this photo. Your posts need to.

Photo by MSmitka

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