Becoming informed by blogs

Blogging can be an incredibly valuable way of receiving information – and it can also involve of wading through things you aren’t interested in, that aren’t particularly informative, or are just annoyingly opinionated. So how do you filter out the good from the bad? What differentiates an exceptional blog from a rant-filled, overly complicated, uninformative mess? Here’s my guide to recognizing a blog at its best:

They’re credible. They cite sources other than themselves. They do their research and SHOW that they’ve done their research. The use of opinion from like-minded individuals does not diminish the writer’s voice, but enhances it. Andrew Sullivan’s blog on The Daily Beast is stock full of quotes, quotes, and more quotes. While this might not be your style of choice, the approach never disappoints a want for supporting opinions.

They introduce you to the subject of a long piece before they show you the whole post. Howard Fineman’s HuffPost blog provides a title, and a few sentences of text to get you interested. This allows you to browse topics before you decide on your story of choice. Consider this lead-in from September 18th: “Remember when Mitt Romney said that Palestinians don’t want peace and aren’t as culturally prepared for modernity as Israelis are? If you were surprised, you shouldn’t have been. His well-traveled and savvy chief campaign adviser, Stuart Stevens, did media on Ariel Sharon’s campaigns for prime minister…” Or even this statement from a post on September 19: “Mitt Romney has become the PSY of presidential politics. And that’s bad news for the Republican candidate on the 48th day before Election day. PSY (Park Jae-sang) is, of course, the South Korean rapper whose “Gangnam Style” dance video has generated an astounding 220 million YouTube views…”

They get to the point. (And stay there.) If it’s off topic, distracted from the subject at hand, or wordy for no particular purpose, why are you reading it? In the time it took to read the wordy, unorganized, messy blog, you could have read maybe 2 or 3 that were direct, informational, and generally more enjoyable. David Roberts, environmental blogger for, does this well. He starts off one post: “Pollution is not the only thing wrong with the U.S. power system. It is also governed by inconsistent rules and opaque, unaccountable organizations. The average citizen has little understanding of how it works, who is in charge, or how it might change for the better.” Looks clear and succinct? It is.

They inspire in their readers a desire for conversation. It’s what causes readers to utilize comment sections, share an article by email, Facebook, Twitter, or even share in a more traditional way – through conversation. Gizmodo, a blog devoted to all things tech-y, has mastered their easy to use comment section. Not only are the comments readable and the format aesthetically pleasing, but also the opinionated content of the posts often sparks passionate responses from visitors. It’s inspiring even for a technology novice like myself.

There’s no reason to suffer through an uninteresting, uninformed, and unworthy blog when there are so many out there! The blessing of blogging is the ability to make your own guide to a good blog, and to search the masses for the one that fits your interests and preferences. And maybe to dabble a little bit yourself!

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