December 8, 2003

"little read book" - Too Much Tien, Not Enough, Just About Right?

POST #    624

Man, I wish I found this hat earlier.

Late Sunday night, Gothamist, one of my daily reads, posted a guide on blogging - "Gothamist Notes 1: What Not to Do When You Blog." What followed was an enthusiastic discussion on what Gothamist writers think a blog should be.

I'll try to summarize, but if you want the full details, you should really read their post about it.
1. Don't call it a blog, call it a website. Don't call yourself a blogger.
2. Don't write about yourself. No one cares about what you do.
3. Don't blog unless you take it seriously. Don't forget the commitment to your readers.
4. Do not write to other bloggers for links.
5. Do not steal.
6. Do not consider your blog as a free ride to slander, etc.
7. Do not overreact when you get dissed by your readers.
8. Do not forget to be polite.

Okay, I think I've got a few of these down - namely 3, 4, 5 (for the most part), 6 (for the most part - see exception here), 7 and 8. I may not do 8 that well, so let me say this: "Thank you to all my readers (what there are like 15 now?) for your readership and for pointing any mistakes that I might make. I enjoy when you comment and make a post more lively with discussion. I'll try not to feel disrespected if you don't leave a comment on a post, but you damn well better! If you have any thoughts, feel free to drop me an e-mail or IM from the links on the right hand side of the page."

I guess the one thing that I want to ask is about #2 - don't write about yourself because nobody cares what you do. I suppose that this is an over simplification of what Gothamist said, so here is the full text of that point:
"Therefore, for the love of God, do not write about yourself. Do not write about your friends. Do not write about your family. Do not write about your pets. Or airport travels. Do not write about that girl at the bodega on 4th avenue and how she's giving you the eye. Do not write about your dates. Pick a real subject or series of subjects and stick to it if you have to use the word "I" more than once a week, you are doing something very, very wrong. No one cares about you or the things you do (unless you are Paris Hilton, Bazima, or Bennifer don't believe the weary, B.Lo, keep it comin' strong!), keep it to yourself. And if that's not enough to stop you from writing about yourself, just remember these words of advice from Meg: "A cardinal rule of blogging is this: Post as if everyone you know will read your weblog because chances are very good that they will. If you don't want your boss, religious leader, or your parents to read what you're writing, you might want to think twice about posting it." And if you're on that first date where he/she knows everything about you, it's your own fault."

The question I put to you, the "little read book" reader is, do you think I write too much about myself? Do you not want to read about me? I must admit that I'm not exactly the most interesting person in the world. I don't go out every night and get bombed (although, that might make for more of an interesting site, no?), but every now and then, I do some things that I like to share. I don't tend to tell you what I have for lunch everyday (today Blimpie and Pizza Hut - a very bad idea), but to some extent, this is my site and things I do sometimes make the pages. Granted, Gothamist's guide isn't the be all, end all, but just a guide to making a blog good.

So again, I ask, does this site contain too much content about me? Personally, I think it's a healthy mix of my life, sports, politics, news, and random shit. Any thoughts would be appreciated, but I reserve the right to ignore your comments, if there are any. Constructive criticism is preferred.


Posted by tien mao in Blog-ing at 8:23 PM



Jake and I had our own healthy, enthusiastic debate over this post. I think that our post is written with some caveats (which we didn't bother to list, of course) in mind, one being that most people who have websites/blogs/whatever want large audiences, and for most people, immediately learning about something personal can be offputting (though for some, the intrigue of knowing too much is what they are looking). I know it's something we struggle with, and we've been guilty of transgressing most these things. So we wanted to start a debate about it and provoke some thought, which is definitely what it did do.

Posted by: Jen at December 8, 2003 9:14 PM

Hmm. Interesting. I read the debate but was too tired to post earlier. I think it definitely has do do with what your original blog motivation was/is. I created a blog because a) I wanted a dynamic web page and b) I wanted to learn CSS, etc. I didn't really think anyone would really read it-- honestly, I kind of like the idea of writing what's on my mind to the internet void. Unless I decide to get mega anal and inspect all of the IPs that have visited my site, I'll never really know exactly how many people pass through...and I like it that way. Plus, no matter what I write, whether it's personal or about history, current events, etc., it's always in some way about me, as it's my opinion and my words.

Posted by: corie at December 8, 2003 10:13 PM

It would be impossible for us to have "too much Tien!" In fact, I think the public demands MORE Tien news! Seriously though, I think putting in stuff about yourself is what makes your (and anyone's) site unique. You do a nice job of mixing it up with other stuff too - there is a good balance of Tien and non-Tien posts. Personally, I enjoy the blog the way it is.

Posted by: Justin at December 8, 2003 10:24 PM

thanks for the feedback jen. rachelle and i were trying to figure out who actually wrote the post since it says "posted by gothamist" as opposed to "jen chung". obviously, if you're doing a personal site for your friends/family, then there are going to be posts with "i" in them. like you said, there are caveats to all "rules" and even more so with something as fluid as a weblog. despite that little banner i have on my site, i feel, like you, discussion is key to any society (or in this case, website). you guys certainly did a good job of that with your post.

corie, i didn't exactly start mine to learn anything technical (frankly, i'm still not sure i have - only half kidding), but it was more like a random place for me to say stuff. i was hoping that my friends would read (some of them still don't) and i love that strangers have started to read my site, coming from various places (like you) long as they aren't stalking me. but i would agree with you about how your posts incorporate things about you - that's definitely a good thing in my book.

justin, good to know that you appreciate the site the way it is. i'll try to keep it up for you. i also like to see how different sites approach the whole blog idea.

man, i started to respond to jen and then comments from corie and justin. craziness.

Posted by: tien at December 8, 2003 10:49 PM

i like your site the way it is. too many posts about sports, though.

i think ppl go to a site like gothamist to read about... ok, i'm not sure what ppl go there to do, but I got to read about what's going on in the weird world and NY. i certainly enjoy reading about the mysterious jen and jake, but gothamist has set up expectations about what it is, and it doesn't include info re: jen's family arguments or whatever.

i go to your site and rachelle's exactly to read about what YOU guys are up to. i like the articles, experiences, opinions and links you post, so it's a "world of tien" kinda site. if i wanted to read about goings on in the world, i'd go to the times instead.

nice hat, btw! if you keep posting pics of you in that hat you may very well find yourself being stalked!

Posted by: jeannette at December 9, 2003 1:31 AM

jeannette, it seems like a lot of my life is about sports, which is either a good or bad thing depending about who you ask, but i try to mix it i'm not offended if you skip those posts or anything. it's impossible to have a connection to every article, but i guess it's just my take on the situation at hand. (i think i'm rambling a bit, i just woke up). but what i like about sites like gothamist (and more and more rachelle's) is that people go there, leave comments and it starts a discussion. i guess that leads back to the "rules" and how they don't write about how today they found a split end or stuff like that. i suppose though, that it may be a function of the number of readers they have. it seems that comments lead to other comments.

and the hat...i thought i wouldn't be able to find it, but i was looking for something and found it. i actually ordered two more yesterday thinking that i had the hat packed away. it should be noted that there is a tassel on the hat.

Posted by: tien at December 9, 2003 7:35 AM

I think a lot of the "personal blog" hostility is coming from my good friend Jake.

For evidence, check his comments recently on my post about Thanksgiving at my girlfriend's place. Hostile! In a sensitive, loving way of course.

Then the immediate next comment is someone asking to know more details about the event.

I submit; blogs are online diaries! The more personal info the better! It only becomes painful when people who know you IRL have to read it.

Posted by: Sam T at December 9, 2003 9:34 AM

Crud, the link for Jake's comment is,
Peace, outtie...

Posted by: Sam T at December 9, 2003 9:35 AM

and it should be pointed out too that jake is a bit of a hypocrite since he detailed his proposal to his fiance on his blog in the spring, and has been known to detail his meals on occasion.

Posted by: dahl at December 9, 2003 9:44 AM

right on, dahl re: jake. hello!? kittens? and more kittens!?

i think the gothamist tips are good if you are trying to get more hits and reach a broad audience.. my site is mostly for myself, my family and my friends.. if someone wants to tell me what i should or shouldnt put on it i wont listen. i would just remind them that no one is forcing them to read it.

Posted by: rachelleb at December 9, 2003 10:04 AM

it does seem that in the gothamist comments jake is trying to get people riled up, and he's certainly succeeded. but i guess it all depends on what you want from your specific website, which i assume is one of the caveats that jen mentioned in her comment. and it seems like jake may be overlooking his own site and sticking to his guns (ack, i don't like that pun) for now.

at least thanksgiving seemed to work out for the two of you. well, i assume it did since you two were together at corie's.

oh, sam, you missed an "a" in that code which is why it didn't show up.

Posted by: tien at December 9, 2003 10:05 AM

what's up with the lack of porn?

Posted by: dan at December 9, 2003 2:14 PM

you know i'm just ribbing you about the sports thing, right? :)

and dan is totally right. there is a distinct lack of porn on

Posted by: jeannette at December 9, 2003 10:48 PM

Jake admits to being a hypocrite (we both do) - that's why we linked to posts where we have broken "the rules." I think there's much more flexibility with blogging, but, again, the post was to provoke passionate and angry debate.

Posted by: Jen at December 9, 2003 11:12 PM

yes, jeannette, i know you were kidding. you love me for who i am...or something like that.

i will do my best to find some porn for you and dan.

jen, you and jake have done a great job with starting the debate, i await your next set of "rules".

Posted by: tien at December 9, 2003 11:47 PM

I'm assuming this site is seen by mostly people you know- which is...cute,I geuss. More of your photography would be entertaining-good eye and maybe some bizarre personal thoughts, do you have them? You could push it a little more, you know, dig deep, brutha.

Posted by: Tien Paris at December 10, 2003 3:03 AM

i guess i know most of the people that comment, but there are obviously readers that don't comment, which is fine too.

as far as bizarre personal thoughts go, i do have those. i'll see what i can do.

Posted by: tien at December 10, 2003 7:29 AM

I simply thought the post was funny. The fact that through out the post Jen Hyperlinked to her own bad blogging transgressions made it a hoot.

Of course we all break these "rules", as does gothamist, but it is still a very good guideline for increasing traffic, if that is what one is looking for.

personally, I think people should blog about whatever the hell they want to, and if the material has an audience, then so be it.

Posted by: eebmore at December 10, 2003 2:29 PM

i've been a-lurking but i must say that if there are any personal sites that i would exempt from my fascistic philosophy about blogging, it would be tien and rachelleb's. in fact, i think i need more tien tidbits each day.

samology and dahlhouse, however, would be advised to stick to the rules... my mom called me last night and was like "yo, so i heard sam smacked that booty again last night!" and i was like "oh snap, word?" and she was like "i ain't lying, sucka!", which was way too weird for me- i'd prefer if she didn't get that level of detail about our lives.

Posted by: jake at December 10, 2003 11:18 PM

i just think i'll do a greenpoint retrospective as a tribute to bluejake when i move there. hmm, did you already do one of those? i'll probably just get lazy and take pictures of myself lounging around watching tv. all in the name of bringing you more tien.

Posted by: tien at December 11, 2003 7:30 AM

yeah! do a greenpoint series- but it has to be at night. the rules of bluejake photography:
1. all shots must be taken straight on at the building- with the line of the curb lined up with the bottom of the shot- just a smidge of sidewalk showing
2. all shots should be on f8 at 15seconds exposure
3. no cars should be present in any picture
4. lighting should be indirect- which means you need to look for dark streets, but not too dark
5. you should not appear in any of the photographs in the series- unless you appear nude.

Posted by: jake at December 11, 2003 12:59 PM

too bad you've already thoroughly covered my neighborhood, jake, or i'd do one!

Posted by: rachelleb at December 11, 2003 1:11 PM

jake - your rules seem so complex. oh well, i guess i'll have to comply, since you are so adept at writing rules. looks like i'll have to go find that slr camera that i've got somewhere and buy film and find a place to develop it. no cars? hmm. i'll have to do some serious digging. perhaps the "tribute to bluejake - greenpoint" series will appear in february or march.

rachelle - i think you should do your neighborhood, but break all of the bluejake rules for photography.

Posted by: tien at December 11, 2003 1:48 PM

Posted by: rachelleb at December 11, 2003 2:31 PM

i guess she was working with a theme, but there are more interesting things in greenpoint. whether or not i can convey those in photographs is another issue.

Posted by: tien at December 11, 2003 2:39 PM

no theme. that's just my neighborhood walk to the grocery store. i'm sure you can find more interesting things, tien.

Posted by: rion at December 11, 2003 5:56 PM

ahh. nothing like a walk to the associated. or is it key food? i'm looking forward to exploring and taking some photos when ever i move into the 'hood. ahh, the gentrification of another neighborhood begins.

and wouldn't you say that the mcdonalds in your mcicicles post is more in williamsburg than greenpoint?

Posted by: tien at December 11, 2003 6:06 PM

nope, the mcdonalds is in greenpoint.

and take comfort, my boyfriend was born and raised on the block, so our apartment is only partially gentrified!

Posted by: rion at December 11, 2003 7:35 PM

rion, is that the mcdonalds next to the wonder bread factory? if it is, that's considered greenpoint?

and when i said gentrification, i meant me. not that i'm looking to kill the history of the neighborhood, but i guess it's just a fact of life. and it's not like i'm a yuppi or anything. i think we're saying the same thing on this point...but just miscommunicating.

Posted by: tien at December 11, 2003 9:14 PM

no no, i got it... and yes, that's the mcdonalds next to the wonder bread factory, and that's still greenpoint.

it's easy to group with the 'burg because it's on that side of the BQE, but technically, it's still on the north side of the border. we live a block from the edge of williamsburg, and mike owns, so i'm strangely compelled to be aware of these things!

Posted by: rion at December 12, 2003 12:17 AM

hmm, i didn't know that it was greenpoint (obviously). what is the dividing line? i work right around there, which is considered "east williamsburg," so i assumed and made an ass

rion and mike of's all making sense now...

Posted by: tien at December 12, 2003 12:33 AM

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