Ugly Blogs

I’m still relatively new to this whole blogging thing, so I will mostly likely say things here in this post which reveal my ignorance and naivete on the subject. But instead of cowering away with my feeble lack of experience, I see an opportunity to say a few things about blogging from an objective perspective. Y’see, I still don’t think of myself as a blogger…but rather, as someone who just reads them. So now that my website is complete and people are visiting it, I don’t want to lose sight of the perspective I had before I began this endeavor.

Your blog or website is an extension of you, the person who created it. Because you live in some other part of the world, I can’t hang out and chat with you, but I nonetheless get to know all about you by reading what you write. And in an unhealthy way, this arrangement is probably for the best. I only say that because I’ll probably make time to read your latest post…but I probably won’t make time to meet you somewhere and hang out.

But if we did hang out, impressions and opinions of me would form in your mind…whether you intend for that to happen or not. Those impressions will be good, bad or somewhere in-between. You might even be indifferent to me. Someone asks you; “Hey, how was your meeting with that Joseph guy?” And you reply; “Oh he’s alright, but I have no need or desire to meet with him again.”

Just so you know…if that’s the way you feel about me, I’m totally ok with it. I don’t pretend to be some super-interesting person with a life so fascinating that everyone should know about it. Besides, you and I are probably just interested in different things. However, it would be a real shame if we are like-minded on some topic and you want to know my thoughts, but something in my speech or behavior just rubs you the wrong way…and therefore you can’t even listen to what I have to say.

This is how I feel about ugly blogs and websites. If you visit my site, there is obviously some level of mutual interest between us. If there was not, you wouldn’t have come to my site in the first place. When I write a post, I have someone like you in mind, someone who’s interested in the same stuff that interests me. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your visit to my site was ruined by something that rubbed you the wrong way? Something that was difficult, frustrating or ugly?

The absolute worst is when I go to a website and I can’t even find the text. It’s hidden under an ad that hovers around the page. Wherever I go, the ad goes. And if it has some annoying, long video or audio that disrupts the silence I was enjoying, fuggetaboutit…I’m outta there. Maybe you confused me with someone who has 15 seconds of patience.

If there are ads between the paragraphs that have lots of text, that’s annoying. I don’t even understand why a writer would allow such a thing to occur. It’s a total distraction in the flow of your writing. One moment, I’m totally on the topic and understanding your point…and next thing I know, I’m reading something about timeshares in Mongolia or some other random offer.

You took the time to perfectly craft your message, powering through rewrites and self-doubt to get everything right. You labored over the words and the sentence structure of each paragraph…and yet you placed ads between them? I don’t understand that. You don’t even know what the ad is going to be. It’s randomly decided somewhere in the basement of Google headquarters. One moment, I’m reading about the genuineness of your spiritual beliefs…and next thing I know, I’m reading that “hot Asian girls” are waiting to talk to me. Do you see how that might conflict with what your overall message?

Also, there is something called Taboola. I don’t know what it is, but if you have any desire to place disgusting ads on your website to slow it down and gross out your readers, then Taboola is the program for you. Like I said, I don’t know what it is, but every time I hear that word, it’s associated with ads that usually go like this:

“You Won’t Believe Who’s Related to Abraham Lincoln.”
“Electric Companies Hate This Device.”
“Eat This Disgusting Food to Avoid Cancer.”
“Do These 7 Things to Get Alzheimers.”
“Remove Your Eyebags in 1 Minute.”
“The #1 Cause of Belly Fat.”

Ironically, I had to put ugly Taboola ads on my post to make the case that you shouldn’t put them on your posts.

Not only does this randomness have nothing do with what you wrote, it’s the last thing I see on your website. In other words, this is the message you’re leaving me with. You were hoping I’d leave your post with a deep impression from all the insights you shared. But no…belly fat and eyebags…that’s all I can think about now. Thank you for that. And God forbid I accidentally click on one of them. I may as well throw my computer away and buy a new one. Those ads bog down my whole system. I can almost hear the malware installing itself on my PC…no thanks. I’ll just be over with my belly fat, my eyebags and a computer that still runs fast.

I’m aware that there’s a whole internet out there with weird, random stuff. I generally try to avoid it and I think you should too. This is why I went to your website…to find good stuff instead of weird stuff. Instead, I get a confusing combination of both. I get a full dose of your ideas, which stimulate my mind and make me think. But I also get this ugly clickbait which insults my intelligence. Why would you allow those two things to come near each other?

Imagine for a moment if you and I had dinner together, a wonderful time of good food and good conversation. Before we go our separate ways, you say; “I’m so glad we did this…let’s do it again sometime.” And then I respond; “Yes definitely…hey let me show you 20 unflattering pictures of celebrities on the beach.”

You: “Wait, what? No…please don’t show me that.
Me: “How about some pics of weird things that are growing on people’s bodies?”
You: “Yeah I’m gonna pass on that too.”
Me: “You wanna talk about some cures for diabetes? The 7th one is shocking!”
You: “You’re scaring me. I want to leave now.”

I don’t blame you for leaving. Y’know…the worst thing about this is not the weirdness at the end. I’m sure you encounter weird things all the time and you easily dismiss them. The worst thing is that you now associate me with all that weirdness and you will probably think twice before meeting with me again. As great as our conversation was during dinner, it’s a little tainted by everything that followed. Similarly, if my website is full of distracting content, you may be less inclined to visit it, even if you like the content.

Notice that I haven’t said anything about bad designs or imperfect page layouts. If you’re still struggling with these, I can totally understand that. Building websites is confusing nowadays. If you manage to get a few coherent paragraphs on your page and everything else is bland and simple, I can totally respect that. I just want to read your post…and the next post…and the next one. It’s YOU that interests me…not your website skills.

Lastly, there’s the issue of money. If your blog is your livelihood and you have no choice but to blast it with ads in order to pay the bills, do what you gotta do and please ignore my shortsighted opinions. I totally understand what you’re doing.

If, on the other hand, ads are something you can afford to avoid, that is what I recommend. It just makes for a better blog experience, in my opinion. That’s the choice I made as I developed this site and I intend to keep it this way. But who knows…I’m new to all this and I have a lot to learn. If you visit this site in the future and find ads about belly fat, you’ll know I changed my mind.

This article was originally posted April 9, 2016 (link)