On the Topic of Being Off-Topic

There was a comment recently that suggested two off-topic posts in a few weeks is too much. First, let me make it clear that I know which things I post are "normal" and which are not. The overwhleming majority of material here is inline with the topics listed on the about page.

My attitude with topics is that I throw a bunch of stuff out there that matters to me and see what connects. If it doesn't, people can just move on to the next post. It would be safer to just stick to all Mac stuff all the time, but rolling the dice can be fun. It turns on that many Mac users are also Nintendo fans, for example.

There are some more out there posts that are more risky, but I'm okay with those too. If nothing else, I think it helps keep things grounded. Maybe it's less likely that we'll get into a overly-heated discussion about the appearance of an on-screen widget or a runtime bug.

In any case, there's an RSS feed and a list of stories on the home page. You can click on the ones that interest you, if any. Most blogs I subscribe to have plenty of posts that don't interest me directly, but it has nothing to do with how weird they are.

I doubt I'm going to look back on my life and think "boy, I wish I was more serious on my blog."
Design Element
On the Topic of Being Off-Topic
Posted Oct 9, 2006 — 13 comments below


Jesper — Oct 09, 06 1998

Good on you. This is your place, not anyone else's. Write about whatever you want. The kind of readers you have to censor yourself for are the kind you don't want to keep.

Andy Finnell — Oct 09, 06 1999

I actually tried having separate blogs for each my interests at one point, in an effort to keep things "focused." I found that I ended up not keeping any of them up-to-date. None of them alone generated enough interest for me to keep writing for them. A few months ago I combined both blogs (one was personal and one was professional) into one. The new blog is much easier to write for because it's "whatever I feel like."

A lot of professional advice on blogs is to "keep them focused" and only write about one topic. The more I read, the less I agree with that. If I'm reading a technical blog, I still want to know where the author is coming from and what experiences they have. It helps me connect with the author and encourages me to continue reading the blog. Posts like "So I need Your Help" and "I Got Pay It Forward-ed" do that.

I also agree with Jesper. This is your blog, and if there's anywhere where you should be able to write whatever you want, this is it.

Manuzhai — Oct 09, 06 2000

I agree with the other guys: just post whatever the hell you feel like.

A nice solution for the problem Andy Finnell mentions is to just add some tagging goodness and separate feeds for the tags.

Johan Kool — Oct 09, 06 2001

Never knew one could be off-topic on one's own blog! As far as I know is "theocacao" quite an undefined topic. :-)

Trevor Fancher — Oct 09, 06 2002

I agree with Johan.

Also, I hope you keep posting about all your Nintendo experiences. :)

Erik — Oct 09, 06 2003

What I always found weird was the picture of the tent (and the knight, which has been replaced by the Leopard). But not weird enough to comment on it -- I guess I never assumed your blog stuck to one specific set of topics.

Also, another pip for Mac users who are also DS owners.

Steve-o — Oct 10, 06 2014

Considering that the first post I read here was your New Super Mario Bros. review, I am left scratching my head that people would complain about "off-topic" blog entries. Despite the programming leanings, I never considered this blog to be a blog with a sole, specific topic.

I probably would check it less often if it was.

Gerard — Oct 10, 06 2015

I'm a windows developer (C#, .net and all that loveliness) but a mac user, if your blog was just about mac development I probably wouldn't be checking it on such a regular basis because there would be little of interest for me (though I would love to try mac development at some time just for fun). So personally I'm glad you post 'off topic' stuff.

Chris — Oct 10, 06 2016

Just to add one more to the chorus: It's your blog. Although I'm here for the Cocoa, the offtopic stuff doesn't bug me at all.

Uli Kusterer — Oct 11, 06 2034

Scott, I personally don't care much for all those Nintendo DS posts, but I would never have the ... I think the technical term is "chutzpah" ... to e-mail you saying you were doing too many off-topic posts. As the others said, this is your blog. If the masthead said "programming only" in big letters it would be different (irony notwithstanding, of course).

And considering you're linking to your Cocoa articles on CDC now, people can just march over there and be blissfully ignorant of all the facets of your personality. I like blogs where people share personal war stories and rationales. I also like being introduced and kept current about stuff I wouldn't usually get informed about. Just makes you a bit more of a rounded person.

Would I unsubscribe from your feed if your blog suddenly turned into DS-only? Sure. But you had like, what, two "off topic" posts this month? I could just not read them if I'm not interested, or wait for another blog to link to the postings I like best on your site if they bothered me. No problem there for me.

random joe — Oct 13, 06 2054

Wow. It was me who originated the whole discussion. I never thought my comments would be honored by a full-blown post here.

To clarify things a bit: to me, everything about this blog suggests that its post are of a professional nature. Their frequency, length, style and the overall site design imply that a post here has some weight, that it's a professional mini-article intended for a specific, focused audience.

The design is classy, book-like. Each post has a TOC-style teaser. Clicking on one feels like opening a hardcover book or an elegant, glossy magazine.

I don't know about everyone else, but to me, all this combines to suggest that all posts have equal, considerable weight, and all belong to one category. And this is why personal comments stand out like a sore thumb.

Make no mistake about it: I don't mind their presence.

Now let's go past the "it's your blog, you post whatever you want" argument: that's so obvious that it need not be stated. However, as a reader, I can and will exercise my right to comment on the contents of the blog, and it's up to the author to deal with my comments in the fashion he chooses to. This is obvious too, but apparently needs to be stated. So please don't call me a troll or suggest that it takes "audacity" for me to express my opinion on this blog, thank you very much in advance.

So again, I don't mind the offtopic posts themselves. Heck, even if I didn't like them, so what? I can choose what to read, and I can choose not to read what seems offtopic.

But I think that the offtopic posts on this very blog ARE, or CAN BE PERCEIVED AS, or APPEAR TO ME, out of place.

Please understand one more thing. I'm not complaining. It's not that the blog is bad for me, or it doesn't make me happy enough, or I wish it to be changed or anything like that.

This is CRITICISM. I'm saying that I think the blog has a problem. It doesn't appear to be well-suited for offtopic posts, and now that they appear, they seem strangely out of place in it. The blog's consistency, cohesion, integrity are compromised.

The more I think about it, the more I find that it has to be a design issue.

Knowing that Scott is a perfectionist, I'm only posting this so that he may be come up with some improvements.

Samo — Oct 13, 06 2058

Scott, dude, that was, like, totally off topic. :o)

I read the blog for what it is. Sometimes it's Mac, sometimes Cocoa and sometimes stuff like "paying forward". I'm reading it for entertainment and not because my income depends on it. And me reading it does not pay Scott, from what I see. Which, to me, means no demands, take it or leave it.

I'll never understand people who critice what others write in their journals. If you think you know what others want to read, write your own blog and get rich with google ads.

Scott Stevenson — Oct 13, 06 2064 Scotty the Leopard

However, as a reader, I can and will exercise my right to comment on the contents of the blog

Please do. I'd rather you say something than not. You won't hurt my feelings. The rest of my response is capture in this comment on the other thread.


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