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Aezon

[web] what's wrong with my blog?

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I am a beginner programmer, who until recently had a procrastination problem. I thought I could solve this by writing a blog tracking my progress. During the first week or so, I had a bit of activity, but now no one seems to be posting. The blog is here: http://aezon.blogspot.com/ I was wondering if anyone could point out problems/give me tips on how I could make this blog more popular? This seemed to be the most appropriate thread to post this in.

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Well when it comes down to it, very few people want to read about other people learning something. There's just nothing in it for them.

a few things come to mind though!

#1 - when you are learning things, instead of posting your progress and such, what if you took what you learned and made a tutorial out of it so that other people who are in your shoes can read it and learn what you learned?

That way your blog is actually providing something that other people may want.

#2 - if the purpose is motivation, have you tried laying out a schedule for yourself? I find that helps me a little.

such as take what i want to learn, break it into smaller subtasks and then figure out how long it will take me to do each one (adding some extra buffer time cause sometimes you get tired and need to relax etc).

Just having the schedule and making sure you meet each goal can help a bunch (it helps me a lot anyhow)

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Hmm, I see your point.


Tutorials are probably a good idea.

I have tried making schedules, I usually follow them for the first few days but get distracted afterward.(I think I have ADHD, but there is no official diagnosis.)

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Please, don't.

The reason nobody visits your blog is because its boring. You want to make it less boring. Tutorials are not going to help much, especially the kind of tutorials you are likely to write in like this (to put it bluntly, bad ones).

You have a simple problem. You need to decide if you want to write this blog for your own edification, to help you with your procrastination problem, or if you want to write it to attract users and feed your ego. If the former, you shouldn't care about the traffic because the traffic is not the point -- the writing is. If the latter, you need to find something interesting and compelling to write about. Yet Another (Probably Wrong) Tutorial About Programming 101 isn't compelling and will only attract the kind of readers you don't want -- transient viewers of questionable value.

Look at some of the blogs you like to read (if you don't read blogs, that suggests you're maybe not into the blogging "thing" and should only be doing this to help your procrastination problem) and see how they craft their content.

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Your right, before starting this blog, I rarely looked at blogs. I only googled tutorials, sometimes the site happened to be a blog.


Heh.. after reading a little bit of my blog, I have realized that it IS pretty boring, very technical...not fun. XD


Would you think that being a beginner myself would subtract from the blog?("This guy is just starting out, he won't have anything interesting.")

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So I assume from your last response that you're not actually going for the self-edifying, "I don't really care if anybody reads this, it's for me anyway" kind of blog, and you're actually trying to attract visitors?

I would say that as long as you're interesting, it shouldn't matter whether you're a beginner or not. Having said that, the majority (all?) of the (development/programming) blogs that I read on a regular basis are typically written by experienced people who actually have some insight into the field.

I would suggest that if you're trying to attract visitors, you don't write about something you're not familiar with yourself. Find a topic that you're passionate about, that you can talk at length about, and write about that instead. But I definitely think that if you don't actually have anything to add to a discussion, that you're going to get many followers.

I hate to sound harsh, but that's just the reality. Now, if attracting visitors is not your primary goal, then you can write about whatever you like.

On a stylistic note, I would highly discourage the white-text-on-black-background style. My eyesight isn't 100% and trying to read white text on a black background makes my head spin after a few lines...

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Quote:
Original post by jpetrie
Please, don't.

Drivel. (I'm not about to retract the claws having found out who the author is, either)

You're severely underestimating the ability of beginners to think and interpret information critically, and take a proactive role in their own education. Essentially, you've split people into a dichotomy of incompetent beginners and infallible masters, and denied the vital role that a beginner's own deductive/problem-solving agency plays in their own development.

Further, you've also implicitly overestimated the availability of comprehensive education materials on everything. Are you saying that you've never taken anything away from some working or algorithm someone scrawled together in a forum or a blog? Or that you've been able to find a peer-reviewed academic thesis or textbook to guide you through every technical dilemma you've ever struck?
Knowledge isn't the sole dominion of the esteemed establishment, nor has it, or ever will it canvass everything anyone is ever going to want to know. Both back when I was learning to program, and now as I scale game physics, I've taken perspective from some seriously broken code scribbled together on forums - my own initiative, talents and dedication can then go into refining it into something useful. A tutorial may be little more than a published version of that sketchy guidance, and can prove immensely useful to a proactive beginner.
It's absolutely vital that programmers have this ability, as, unlike practically any other academic field, the programmer is developing logical processes, formulae and structures from the outset.

And sure, gamedev.net and every other technical forum is flooded by a steady stream of naive beginners seemingly incapable of any real agency - but you could hand them the best calculus or Java textbook out there and they'd likely do little better than they manage with the tutorials. Tertiary education focuses heavily on arming students with the ability to analyse learning materials critically, solve problems and take proactive roles in their own intellectual development, because it's the only effective way to ensure a student is successful in understanding and mastering their discipline.


Regarding the OP, and tutorials: it probably can't hurt. At worst, it's a reference you can use to remind yourself of and analyse your own logic; with any luck it could help someone see an answer to a problem in one of their own projects. Anyone susceptible to being misled by your tutorials is already adrift in a sea of ineptitude until they develop the ability to think for themselves.

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As a word of encouragement, I wrote (gaming) blog for 2 years posting about once a week without getting a single hit or comment except from my friends. However, I now have an advert, I get sent games to review and I know there are some readers who actually read it. It isn't a big reader base, but it means the world to me that some people care enough to take the time to read what I have written.

The fact that no one read my blog never bothered me, but if it matters to you, what I found increased my initial hits was reading and commenting on other well read blogs. Make your comments interesting and relevant, not just "great post, check out my blog". If people think you have an interesting opinion they will click on your name and read your blog. The second step therefore is to make sure there is an interesting post when they arrive there.

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Quote:
Original post by Fenrisulvur
You're severely underestimating the ability of beginners to think and interpret information critically, and take a proactive role in their own education. Essentially, you've split people into a dichotomy of incompetent beginners and infallible masters, and denied the vital role that a beginner's own deductive/problem-solving agency plays in their own development.
You would be surprised. I have two examples where an incorrect tutorial had a lasting effect on the knowledge of people I worked with.

The first example is javascript's setTimeout. Nearly every tutorial out there gives an example along the lines of setTimeout("alert('hello')",1000), explaining that setTimeout will execute the code provided as its first argument after a number of milliseconds provided as its second argument.

This is perfectly true. Yet, some information is missing, and that information would have been quite useful in the following example: write a function that changes the HTML of an element to a piece of text after a second.

function change(element, html){
setTimeout(element+".innerHTML = '"+html+"'", 1000);
}


Oops. The string format of the first argument prevents me from passing the element correctly (and there's the risk of badly escaping the HTML, too. This is quite close to a problem someone on my team encountered, and the solution they found was:

var g_element, g_html;
function change(element, html){
g_element = element;
g_html = html;
setTimeout("g_element.innerHTML = g_html", 1000);
}


Quite painful, and non-reentrant. I taught the guy that the first argument to setTimeout could also be a closure:

function change(element, html){
setTimeout(function(){element.innerHtml = html}, 1000);
}


When that developer first learned about setTimeout, he was looking for an answer to the question how do I delay the execution of this code? and did not have the time to look into what are all the things this function can do? beyond what he needed. While it would seem natural for people to look into additional information about the functions discusses in a tutorial, most tutorial readers are looking for a quick fix to a common problem and don't want to spend additional time understanding the solution, because they don't care.

But even assuming that most people do read the documentation when they can... consider PHP's __autoload. It's a magic function that auto-loads a class if it wasn't defined. It's called whenever a class is used without being defined, which means you can write:

function __autoload($classname){
require_once implode('/',explode('_',$classname)).'.php';
}

// Looks inside This/Is/My/Object.php automatically
This_Is_My_Object::frobnicate();


This makes it feel like it's okay to have an __autoload function in your project, even if you do read the documentation on the PHP website. Except that if you're experienced, you already know that you should probably use spl_autoload_register instead, because it allows you to interact with libraries and third party code correctly. This is a situation where reading both the tutorial and the documentation ends up being damaging.

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I have to agree that writing tutorials are a generally bad idea if you're still somewhat a beginner. I've been writing PHP and javascript code for about 3 years now, and I still don't think I'm at the level where I could start writing tutorials.

What I usually do instead is write experiments that test/compare the performance of various functions. One blog I wrote recently compared the speed of PHP shmop vs. file I/O. Another one I did when I was first starting javascript was comparing storing a reference to a div, or getting a new reference every time. Another thing that is very useful (but sadly not much attention is paid to it) is researching what things cause memory leaks in javascript, and getting awareness out there that memory leaks are quite common.

If javascript and PHP aren't your language of choice, there are experiments you can do in other languages... If c++ on linux is your thing, you might try seeing if there is a difference between for and while loops on different compiler optimization settings (someone told me that all the settings convert for and while loops to the same thing, but who knows?...)

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