Reader Feedback Wanted

A friend recently emailed me to suggest that this blog may feature longer-than-optimal posts: that when people see an 800-word post they tend to get intimidated and skip on to the next blog. This seems like a reasonable criticism, and I’m curious what other people think. Would you be more likely to read my posts if they were shorter? Or do you prefer the longer-than-average posting style I’ve used thus far? I’d be happy to shift my median post length downward if that’s what readers prefer, so please don’t be shy if you prefer that option.

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21 Responses to Reader Feedback Wanted

  1. Kevin says:

    Longer posts don’t bother me. It’s not like you pad your writing with fluff. Everything you post seems to add value, so I’d keep it the way it is.

  2. Timothy says:

    I like your posts. I haven’t read every word, but the vast majority of them since I discovered the link to your blog a month or so ago. Smart and well-thought generally trump length for me. I don’t agree with every word you write, but you give me good food for thought.

  3. Rich says:

    I’m enjoying the long form. I categorize your work in a different folder than ‘quick hit’ type stuff (e.g., The Corner or Balko’s Agitator bits). I may not hit your feed in line at the store; I’ll wait until I’m at a desk and *looking* for longer pieces.

    My $0.02. I’m sure I’ll still enjoy it if you change your format. Thanks,

  4. Eitan says:

    Just started reading your blog but I think the lengths of your posts are good.

  5. ron m. says:

    I enjoy the longer pieces as well, particularly when you’re reasoning your way through an argument. And because you aren’t posting high-frequency streaming commentary, seeing a Bottom-Up feed update (much like a Will Wilkinson update) is a refreshing change of pace.

  6. I’m glad that not every blog feels a need to have short posts. Sometimes a longer post allows an idea to be more fully fleshed out and give a better understanding of the topic at hand. Maybe I’m different than some, but I like the longer posts.

  7. Rhayader says:

    Personally I think the post length has been just fine. I suppose your reader does have a point — a wall of text can turn me off from checking out a blog entry. I just haven’t found myself running into that issue on this blog.

  8. Parker says:

    I think the longer posts are great – too many sites these days have shorter posts.

    What if you set up a category for shorter posts, so that people could subscribe to both?

    Or perhaps include a weekly summary of all the long posts so that those who skipped over some of the posts might be inspired to come back to them?

    Otherwise, keep up the great work.

  9. Erich says:

    I say write what you need to write, please don’t worry about some arbitrary length. Anyone interested in what you’re writing about isn’t going to be put off by the length, anyway. The only thing that would bother me is length without formatting (e.g., one long paragraph).

  10. I think the longer posts are great.

  11. Rick H. says:

    I like the length of your posts just fine, but to me it’s better if the entire article isn’t necessarily on the main page.

    A few paragraphs, followed by a link to read the whole piece on its own page, means I can scan a greater variety of articles and then decide which ones to follow in depth.

    It’s not a big problem, just a preference.

  12. Jonathan says:

    I love the posts as they are.

  13. Akusu says:

    Your posts mostly read like short essays. Well-thought out and supported with a central theme.

    You also don’t over-quote, it’s rare to see a post that has more of someone else in it.

    You’re also trying to make a cumulative point with your blog, which wouldn’t be as well served by another format.

    The frequency of the posts is a bit low, but I’d rather that if it’s what keeps you doing quality posts.

  14. joe says:

    There’s a trade-off between length, frequency and complexity… it’s hard to find the sweet spot but, ultimately, it strikes me that you should see this more as a place for you to write, rather that for us to consume. You’ve got a lot to say, that’s great! Just knowing that some find it hard to follow you will improve things.

  15. AS says:

    Mix it up. Sometimes an op-ed length is okay. Otherwise, it’s okay to post the link and offer a few passing comments, which you can elaborate later. When you diversify, the reader can rest his eyes.

  16. VBacon says:

    I like the longer posts; however, I don’t always have the time to finish them. Keep doing them though! I come here to get that in-depth conversation as opposed to other blogs that might just give me a quick run through. There are a lot of tech policy blogs out there and i think the longer pieces provide something unique to your particular site.

  17. Sean L. says:

    I agree with the other comments, but I would add this: You will write your best stuff when you are comfortable. If you’re looking over your own shoulder thinking, “Is this too long? What should I cut?” then your quality will suffer.

    You have already set the expectations for long-form posting, so your current readers will certainly enjoy a continuation of that. If, however, your goal is to increase traffic, I believe adjusting your style simply to catch additional eyeballs is at best a short-term gain. By keeping to your strengths, you will naturally grow a following of people who want to read what you want to write. What could be better than that?

    Quite honestly, your posts are not THAT long. I read Sandy Szwarc’s posts, and they’re longer and less frequent than yours.

  18. I obviously also did not read comment No. 14 .

  19. That’s ok Kevin. I’ll send you info on how you can submit a royalty payment to me.


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