This is the web log of Tim Bennett, web designer. He also runs Texelate, offering the best web design Leeds, Yorkshire has to offer

Blogs or articles?

Monday, August 21st, 2006 at 3:50 pm

To blog or to article write? That is the question.

My site (used to) contains a blog and an articles section. What’s the difference? Should you write blogs or articles? Are they the same thing?

To a certain extent it’s a matter of opinion and there is certainly some crossover between the term blog and the term article. Both generic terms themselves, blogs can be articles and articles can be blogs.

In my opinion, for the ethos of my website and for the scope of this blog entry I class blogs as personal and opinionated whereas articles are closer towards neutral and are very much formally written. Put simply, I try to get my viewpoints made clear in blogs and the facts made clear in articles. Even this doesn’t serve as a hard-and-fast rule – I often spend time wondering whether a blog should be written as an article and vice versa.

Here are four questions I ask myself before deciding whether or not I’m writing a blog or an article:

What’s the longevity?

How well does the entry age? A lot of us blog about the ever-changing world of technology. Let’s face it – some things start going out of date the moment we publish them. Since blog entries have a date and time attached to them such transient subject matter lends itself to blogging more so than articles.

First person or third person?

My days at university told me that first person (I said this, I said that) is not appropriate for credible articles. Rather, the third person (It is this, it is that) should be used. I always write blogs in the first person viewpoint and articles in the third.

Personal or professional?

What kind of image do I want to project? I find a blog is more about me and my personal experiences; an article is much more neutral and unbiased. If you want sympathy and feeling from the reader you’re far more likely to achieve that with a blog than an article. Conversely, if you’re going for academic credibility a researcher will never cite a blog entry whereas they may do a well-written article.

How much of it is your viewpoint?

If there’s anything more than a slight tinge of my personal opinion then I make it a blog rather than an article. Any points made in a blog should be on your own outlook – an article should be based on cited facts.

You may think, so what? As long as I write something on the subject it doesn’t really matter. In some cases that may be so but is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Can you use blogging and article writing to your benefit?

Yes, you can. Read on.

Generally, I favour the use of “Blarticles” – this is a word (that I made up for this blog entry and) I use for writing an article and then blogging about it on its release. When I say Blarticles, I mean a blog AND an article, not a blog and an article mixed together.

My approach to Blarticles is this: research and write quality articles in the third person view point; base it on factual information and cite facts. Then, blog about it. Blog about your own article! You write a blog about your neutral, unbiased article and give your own opinion on it. There are several benefits:

The ability to perform resurrections

Sometimes your blogs may be dismissed by readers who stumble across them at a later date as being too old. That’s a problem with blogs – they’re time-centric – they appear to date even though the ideas in them may be as fresh as the day they were written. Articles aren’t like this. You can use your blog to resurrect articles; let’s say you write a timeless article one month and blog about it. A week, a month, a year or ten years later (as often as you see fit) you can blog about it again from a fresh angle. You can re-drive people to your content in a way that is harder to do through standard blogging.

Good for search engines

If you choose your keywords carefully writing a Blarticle means twice as much content for the search engines to index. For each new idea you have a blog entry and an article for the search engines to pick up on. It doesn’t matter that they’re on the same subject. Remember, one is factual and the other is opinionated so as far as the search engines are concerned it’s twice as much new content.

Make the right impression to the right people

Academics can read your article and bloggers and friends can read your blog. It’s so simple – you can be a friend and a professional at the same time.

Of course, some bloggers may not have much of a choice. Whatever they write will look like a blog entry due to the nature of their website (i.e. it uses commercial blogging software on a site that is primarily or exclusively blogging). I’m lucky, this blog is just a facet of my own hand-coded site so I can integrate non-blog elements as little or as much as I like.

If you can start “Blarticling” then to blog or to article write will never be the question!

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