Friday, May 20, 2011

About Daddy Blogs and Lists

A few months ago, this blog was linked on another blog's "Top 25 dad-blogs" list. At the time, I mentioned it in passing on my Facebook page because it's always nice to be mentioned and acknowledged, even if, in the end, it didn't mean much. It didn't mean I was a better father or a better blogger, just that a particular blogger came across this blog and liked it. He also missed many great bloggers, and when some people commented, he was forced to go on the defensive and explain that, yes, the "Best Of" list didn't mean an included blog was better than the many blogs he excluded.

These "Best Of" lists keep appearing, and we keep falling into the trap. There was recently a list of the best blogging dads. To be in the list, you had to convince people you knew in real life or on the Internet to vote for you every day. Basically, the best "daddy blog" would be the one who brought the most traffic. Now, this is not some evil scam, don't get me wrong. The winning blog would get a badge and everything, after all. But in the end, it was meaningless. It was just another blog praying on our needs for approval. I'm not saying the winning blog wasn't the best blog out there, just that winning didn't make it so.

And now there's been another list published. This time, "The Top 50 Daddy Bloggers" were listed. For this one, bloggers didn't need to send traffic to win, but they did have to be already included in the site's list of PR-Ready-Blogs, and they had to have a high Klout Number, which basically counts the times a blogger has gotten retweeted. This means nothing to a non-Twitter user, and it says nothing about the quality of a blog in general, but the list was still titled, "The Top 50 Daddy Bloggers."

And everyone goes back to the site and complains. Me included (calling myself The Washington DC of Daddy Blogs. Pretty proud of myself for that one). About the metrics, and the research, and the arbitrary nature of such lists, and--

We forget what we're doing here. We look at blogs written by mothers and think we want to do THAT, but OUR way. And we get confused about the THAT part. Mom-Blogs or Mommy-Blogs aren't good because they're better connected with PR people, but because they're better connected with each other. These sites are not good because they have an honest disclosure policy, but because they're honest when they talk about their lives.

There are many, many, many great blogs written by dads. Some of them also try to sell us stuff, which is fine by me, as long as it's not the only thing in the blog. But what makes a good blog is honest writing. I don't need to know everything about your life, but when you write something, I need to know that you mean it.

There will be other lists. Some of us will be included, and some of us won't. Those who get in will mention it. Those who don't will complain or laugh it off. But in the end, it's all meaningless. If you write one paragraph that makes me think I'm not alone and that I'm not the first and only father who dares to say he loves his children or dares to say his best Father's Day present would be a day by himself without the kids, then you're a great blogger. Top 50, even.

But with all this Said and done, I'm still devastated about not being a part of Backpacking Dad's list of "Top 25 Sexiest Dad Bloggers." There is no justice in the world.


  1. Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I was seduced - for a time - by the rankings and the listings. I tweaked my blog and optimised its search engine visibility. And then I decided to change templates. But doing so meant I'd lose all those precious bits of html I'd carefully pasted into the old site in order to increase its visibility. I thought about it for a minute or two... and then change templates. All that other stuff vanished in a mouse-click - and have I missed it? Have I heck!

    It's the words that matter. That's what I read blogs for. And that's what I hope other people read mine for.

  3. Thanks. We can only define ourselves by what we write and what we do as bloggers, not by our SEO or by our placement on a list, you know? It's always nice to be mentioned on a list, like I said, and it's cool to have Google direct people here, but the reason for the blog is the writing, and that's the only thing that really matters.

  4. The problem is internet-wide. This is the basis of all of the money exchange and ad revenue on the net - do we count the "best" as the people creating the most compelling content, the highest consistent monthly ranking, or the most hits within a snapshot period?

    In the end, the "top x" lists generally provide advertising to those sites that are already getting visitors - and the less-traveled sites continue to live in obscurity.

    Maybe it's time we start making "Bottom 25 Sites" lists. Or "25 Mediocre Sites We Can Improve With Traffic".

  5. While I don't generally make many of these lists, I did make the recent one and pretty high up precisely because I use Twitter. All in all though, I just shrug my shoulders about all of it. I have no idea what kind of Klout I have but I strongly suspect it's not the kind of Klout I'd really like to have!!

    In the end, what I notice more than anything since that announcement is the dramatic increase in crap p.r. e-mails and book review requests I've gotten which only causes my inbox to pile up. Again, not the kind of Klout I'm looking for.

    I'm still a little sore about the 25 sexiest dad blogs too. No justice indeed!! ;)

  6. Well said! The other thing that isn't included or talked about is the fact that every Dad out there is at a different stage of being a Dad - The soon-to-be Dad with fears of everyone being healthy to the Dad with college bound kids with fears of becoming a Grand-Dad WAY too soon. So..... how can there truly BE a top of the top-it-ty Dad list? There can't be, nor should. If there is(a list), then it should be a revolving door of great information that is the point of view of 'that' Dad. If it's liked.... it's liked. If their words help.... then they helped.

    Great post, Man!


  7. I am grateful for your blog, no matter how it rates overall. I am an accidental mommy blogger thanks to JDM and therefor trying to keep my family and friends up to date. When I write, I write how I feel and not how to make my blog more attractive. I want a blog to feel like a conversation that is open for discussion and opinions. So keep up the great work :)

  8. I started to be lured in by the numbers game early on. I got over it quickly. I blog for my own reasons. And I don't worry about getting on lists. Don't know, don't care what Klout is or what my numbers are. Klout doesn't count all the people who read my blogs but for one reason or the other don't follow or don't comment. People like the women who work in my husband's office. People like my family who think it would embarrass me (it wouldn't) for them to follow me. But they read. People I know that mention to me something they read on my of my blogs and I am like, you read my blogs? Yep sure do. Those are the lists that are important to me.

  9. I must admit to being a little miffed at being left off some 50 best mummy bloggers list. But only because you get to drive an awesome car for a year if you win.

    But technically I am not a mummy blogger anyway.

    I used to get all excited by these things, but in reality if you have to get people to vote for you to win then it is not a reflection of the quality of the blog but the amount of pull your have with your readers.

    There are many many amazingly well written, heartfelt blogs out there that deserve every accolade but alas will never make it.

    It is just the way it is.

    And I will totally make a list of sexiest Daddy Bloggers if you give me a car to drive for a year.

  10. Rankings? Listings?

    Man - I'm screwed! I have good stuff just like every other father, it's all about reading/liking/commenting right???

    I think I might be part of the top 2,500 blogs.....maybe!


    Whatever it is - it is a great journal that my wife and girls can look at whenever they want!

  11. Very nice post. Doing THAT OUR way. I can't agree with you more. Blogging is about community, and the dads have to stick together without pushing themselves into a mold.
    Ironically, I just put up my first contest post, which does in effect showcase some T-Shirts I put together on Cafe Press. But it is all about the writing. That's what's important. That, and being honest. A lot of blogs I read seem to try to mimic a certain kind of voice, without being a genuine voice. When I blog, it's all me. I think I get kind of offensive sometimes, but I'm trying to write the things I haven't read about fathering and living, the things that I never expected. We'll see if it works out.

  12. One more thing: something that keeps me going when I'm worrying about whether people like me and where I fit in, there are 2 things I have:
    1) No one has to pigeonhole themselves into a blog niche definition.
    2) From "Don't worry about failing. Worry about not having enough time to do everything you want to do."

  13. Zach, I think there was something like that last year. A proud badge for b-listers. I don't think I got into that one too...

    Chris, when I publish my life's work, a "365 Hot Dads" desk calendar, Backpacking Dad will not be included!

    DadHairDude, thanks. And of course I agree.

    RACASmithFamily, thanks. I'm also an accidental blogger, but now it's one the things that keep me sane. By the way, I assume you know him and his blog from your joint advocacy for JM, but just in case, Kevin's Always Home and Uncool is a great blog.

    Barbara, right. I mean, like I said, it's always nice to be mentioned, and when bloggers lose steam, being listed helps keep them going. But in the end, even the non-scams are nothing but individuals' opinions.

    Kelley, I don't have a spare car, but my kid is getting a bit too old for his tricycle! Come on! Let's help each other!

    Isaiah, of course there are lists! And if you fail to make the lists, you are a terrible terrible father!

    Shane, hey, putting stuff you make for sale/giveaway on your blog is a whole lot cooler than what I do. And the "Europe Sucks" shirt is great. I'll pass on the thongs for now, if that's cool.

  14. well said!and hats off to your observation,now i can say that you are a nice blogger to.

  15. It's so easy to get caught up in the numbers game, in the popularity contests. I've been blogging for almost 10 years, and have all of 30-40 people show up to read my latest posts.

    I understand that I'm not the best writer in the world, but I do it because I enjoy it, and it keeps my friends and family updated with what's going on in my life. Sometimes I get sad because I'm never included in any of the lists, and being on Twitter doesn't make that any easier with everyone constantly pimping their blogs.

    I appreciated your post. It's nice to know that some of the bigger guys (upper-middle?) understand that it shouldn't be about popularity all the time either. :)

  16. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It somehow reminds me of the even shallower argument about somebody being cool because 'he/she has 1,035 friends on Facebook'.

    I love this blog, and I love the fact that it has allowed me to get to know other bloggers. I hope I never end on a 'Best of...' list, because it might mean that I actually made an effort to make it there.

    I'm happy enough with my four kids thinking that I'm the best Dad they could have. OK, with at least one or two of them thinking that...

  17. Wow. You can tell it's late. I can translate whatever I wrote before into some form of understandable English, in case you need it.

  18. This post is so touching and at the same time inspiring to those bloggers out there. I agree, being the best isn't mean you got the most traffic and a high-ranked page. We write for expression, to inform people, and whether we admit it or not we feel good if we will be able to inspire lives. It's true that a good blogger is one who is honest, but I would like to add sincerity and positivism as good virtues a writer should uphold. I love this blog! As I a writer myself, being not read is not the biggest of all the problems; it is not be able to express something that is meaningful and true.
    Jency M.

  19. I think you really nailed it. I'd leave a longer comment but I'd be rehashing the response to your comment over on the South Park metrics post. One thing I will add though is how I've seen guys change their sites hoping to make lists and get more recognition when being true to yourself and your writing is the only thing that should matter. Really like your take on this and how you presented it.

  20. I was number 4 on Backpacking Dad's list. All I care about now is moving up the ranks and I don't care who I have to step on.

    One day I shall be declared Lord Warden and High Blogger of The Western Hemisphere.

  21. Cheap, thanks! I think!

    Christopher, thanks! (Although I probably wouldn't call myself Upper Middle. When my wife reads this blog before she reads Perez Hilton I might reconsider.)

    Gabriel, hey, if the kids don't grow up to put the blame for every single setback on you, then you did pretty good, I suppose. And I actually have a high school friend who, every time I open Facebook, becomes friends with 20 new people. I'm pretty sure she is cooler than me...

    Jency, thanks for the comment. I like to pretend I don't care about compliments, but it was nice to read that.

    CK, thanks. Although after reading your post, mine seems a bit whiny... What if after all these years I've finally found my voice, only to realize it was self-indulgent and whiny?

    Jack, number 4 is very respectable. Top 12 guarantees a place in the calendar, after all. With my face, I'll be happy to make it to the 365 Days Desk Calendar.

  22. I don't like these lists either even though I've been towards the top of a couple. I agree, that there are too many factors that go into it. The first one I rated high in was clearly the doing of some schematic being run somewhere but who the hell knows and the second (most recent list) was based on my Klout score. Keep in mind while I may be successful in the eyes of Klout at building influence on Twitter and Facebook it says nothing about my blog. In fact, I don't even need to have a blog to have a high Klout score so you can take blogging out of that one all together.

    I think people should focus less on who's better and focus more on what we have to say. Crap, many "Daddy Blogs" don't even write about being a dad. They talk about sports or the fact that I have a small penis <--wait, what did he say? At the end of the day, we should all be able to have the blogs that we have and enjoy the freedom to express ourselves. Different people have different goals out here. I may make a list or not but when I come home from work I know I'm on the only list that matters and that's the one I see in the eyes of my children. I'm their #1 Daddy. Okay fine, I'm their only Dad but this is my comment Dammit, so don't ruin it!

  23. I like to visit dady blogs. For me each visit provides helpful information and advices for parents. Also, each visit of a good dad blog is helpful parenting experience.

  24. DadStreet, see, I can understand why a company whose job is to connect PR people to bloggers would want to look at Klout score. But like you said, you don't need a blog to have a Klout score, Klout score doesn't mean your blog is good or even active, and many blogs weren't in that blog's directory, so they were excluded even though they had active blogs and a high Klout score.

    And really, I'm getting into a long explanation here, but all this is completely meaningless. We're fathers, we're bloggers, our kids are awesome.

    SharkFuel, that's how I feel. A blog's popularity means nothing when it comes to what you can get out of a visit.

  25. I laughed when I read the last paragraph of your post about wanting to spend a few minutes alone and telling the truth about how we felt sometimes.

    Still, a few times I "told the truth" about how I felt about never having enough time to get stuff done at work, around the house, etc. and even thought to mention the baby in the same sentence, the wife came down on it so hard, it was like world war 3.

    God forbid, you relay those sentiments to someone outside the family. They look at you like you're crazy. Most people, especially those without kids, think those who do have kids did it on purpose and are resigned to their own fates. At least, that's the way I thought before I had kids.

    It's one of the reasons I started my dad blog.

  26. Craig, I agree, but I'm also torn about it myself. In the end, the moments I'll remember and the moments my kids will remember--the meaningful moments, in other words--will not be the ones I used to catch up on my email inbox or on my laundry pile, but the ones I used to play with my kids and to take a walk around the neighborhood as a family. Still, when my head is exploding and I need a break, this logic will not convince me to spend family time. When I need a break I need a break, for everyone's sanity.

  27. There just needs to be a list of awesome. And that list needs my pictures as its backdrop.

  28. As long as I get to be December for the "Shirtless Hot Dads" wall calendar.



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