Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brandi, Brandi, Brandi...

Sweet Jebus, but that Brandi Hawbaker thread is some amusing stuff. On the one hand, there's no reason to believe any of that is true given the sources and participants involved, but so many of the strange details (Huggles and back penises and what-not) are weird and bizarre enough that I end up believing much of it.

Storytelling is an odd thing that way. We're prone to equate specificity and attention to detail with honesty, but that's a pretty easy puzzle to decode and reverse. And it's odd, too, as far as why we'd equate those things in the first place. Why does providing lots of details make something more trustworthy and legitimate? It's just more detailed, nothing more, nothing less.

ScurvyWife and I listen to a silly radio morning show while commuting and they had a bit the other day about how guys will always corroborate and cover for their guy friends if either needs a good cover story and did a mock conversation where two dudes are working out what they did after work, to explain to the wife of one why he was a few hours late getting home. The cover story was fairly convoluted and involved moving furniture, helping some lady in a blue Taurus who had a flat, then getting stuck at a light when a parade for disabled vets, etc (which they had actually seen while driving back form the bar, which was where they really were). Very specific, and it sounded good to me. And then a female caller phoned in and told them she always knew when her husband was lying when he busted out such things, because he NEVER normally talks to her that much about anything, so when he unreels all of the insanely specific details it's a sure sign he's lying, instead of grunting that he had a good day and disappearing.

Poker, poker, poker. Just when I think you're done with you and I'm finished then I go on a nice heater. It is interesting, though, as I've been playing NL again of late, and I have to agree with the general perception that seems to be floating around out there that the games have changed a good bit for the worse. Maybe it's because the last serious batch of NL I played was on the blessed iPoker network that I no longer have access to, but I think it may be a little more widspread than that. While the UIGEA didn't quite have the killer asteroid effect that some imagined, I wonder if much of its impact was imply delayed a few months, as far as the deadest of money not being replaced as quickly as it had been in the past. Yes, indeed, US citizens can still play at any number of sites, but the Party juggernaut isn't spending loads of cash on advertising to keep replenishing the supply of dead money that was propping the whole thing up, as far as attracting new clueless fish with cash.

Been thinking a lot about blogs and content and what-not lately, mostly in the very abstract. It's mostly prompted by programs like Pay-Per-Post and ReviewMe cropping up of late, and the response to both. What interests me is the notion that there's an implied compact of sort between bloggers and readers, which is typically boiled down to the following:

Blogs should be unbiased and ad-free, with nothing interfering with the enjoyment of the content by the reader. Anyything else violates the spirit of the blog. If ads are unobtrusive or otherwise do not interfere with the enjoyment of said content, then and only then is it acceptable for bloggers to profit from such ads.

There's also usually an addendum to the above, something like this:

If for whatever reason a blog has ads, then the acceptability and quanity of such ads is directly proportional to the enjoyment or intrinsic value the blog provides. Ads are tolerable on very popular blogs because they are very popular blogs.

I pretty much agree with the above, as far as my own personal take. But I'm curious as to how that line of thought developed, especially in relation to blogs, which the author is most often doing for free and not otherwise being reimbursed for. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg thing, but it seems one of the few arenas in which someone consumes something and benefits for absolutely free (the reader) yet manages somehow to dictate the terms of the engagement, as far as what is or is not acceptable. If you're a female at Mardi Gras with large breasteses and are desirous of beads, you don't get said beads by only saying "Hey, dumbass, give me those beads."

And sure, I know, bloggers can do any damn thing they want, readers be damned, but if you reduce your audience to 0 it's a pretty moot point.

I truly have no larger point that I'm working up to with all this, I just find it fascinating.


Pokerwolf said...

The dichtomy of a blog reader can be summed up thusly:

You want people to read your blog, so you respect them enough to keep your advertising discreet.

Since you need readers in order to get advertisers on your blog, you can see how the circle connects itself once you add in decent content.

ScurvyDog said...


Doesn't that line of reasoning take for granted that bloggers are only blogging for an audience, though?

That's the part that trips me up. Blogs didn't start out with the intent of providing balanced, discreet content that readers would enjoy and advertisers would seek out. Some have evolved into that over time, but in the beginning you have someone blogging. If it's interesting content, it attracts readers. If the content is just your shopping list each week, it attracts no readers. If its interesting and attracts readers but then ceases to be interesting (i.e. it becomes a series of ads or pictures of emus or whatever), the readers go away.

What I guess I'm getting at, as far as what really interests me, is how the phrase "I owe it to my readers" has come into prominence in bloglandia. How can bloggers (providing entertainment for free) owe anything to anyone? Sure, readers take time out of their lives to read blogs, but that's a miniscule amount compared to the time that many bloggers put into their blogs.

Lurking at the bottom of it, I think, is the fact that we're all insecure monkeys at heart, and we're mystified that anyone would take time out of their day to read our scribblings. That's a huge allure of blogging in general, as far as getting validation from complete strangers that owe you nothing yet give you their eyeballs and time, so it's only natural to feel as if you owe them a debt you can never repay. I definitely get it and see where it comes from, I just think it's a very unusual phenomenon in which the normal roles are reversed, as far as giving something away for free yet feeling beholden to the person getting the absolutely free gift.

Anonymous said...

"is the fact that we're all insecure monkeys at heart, and we're mystified that anyone would take time out of their day to read our scribblings"

I still am.

Jordan said...

I really like how well you put it, Scurv (including in your comments) and what Wolf had to say. If I can add a bit, I can explain why we "owe" it to our readers to make advertising an unintrusive.

Most people start blogging because they WANT an audience, even if they don't expect to have one. But the most prominent reason is likely that bloggers want to have a space to aire their viewpoints, whether it be hand histories, daily life, or political views.

Then, readers come, but they come BECAUSE of the content. At this point, even if you didn't expect or want readers, once the interactions start (via comments) and readership grows, each blogger does build a relationship with the audience. That relationship is built on providing content.

The thing is, with any relationship, it only works if both parties treat each other well. Readers, ideally, will continue reading and even comment here and there, reassuring the blogger that they are still putting out good material. The Blogger, meanwhile, should continue to put out the content that readers come to expect.

At any point, a reader can turn his back on a blog, and a blogger can turn his back on his blog as well. There is nothing wrong with either.

Here is where ads come in. Once you get the readership, the ads come. If you make them as little sidebars, the reader can choose to ignore them. You win with ad revenue, readers win with a choice to follow links for your ads or not.

The Review Me posts are different though. Even with a disclaimer, they appear as CONTENT. You are either duping people into reading the ad and then after they read the disclaimer, OR they are smart enough to ignore it, but you are still providing fake content.

As a READER, this annoys me. It's not so bad when it is here and there. I can accept that and skip it. But if your ads become the centerpiece of your blog, you've lost me as a reader, NOT because I villify the blogger, but because I'm not going to patronize a place that is all ads. Would you go to a free park if every 30 seconds someone came up to you and read an ad to you? Hell, would you even go to a restaurant if people dressed as waiters came up to you and solicited you to buy products while you wait for your meal? Some might. I won't.

So, that's it. Bloggers don't have to uphold their end of the mutual blogger/reader relationship. But if you treat someone bad enough often enough, the relationship will end.

And when its all said and done, wasn't it the readers who got the advertisers interested? If so, then you are exploiting the goodwill you earned from those readers, and you just might lose them.