What’s the “Right” Number of Posts?

By Deane Barker on October 12, 2005

There are a few comments in the post about our new deal with FM Publishing about some blogs having too many posts.

A while back, I tried to get at least 10 per day. One day I did 25. Joe has always maintained that 10 is the upper limit for people to pay attention to what you write.

So, I ask you — what is the “right” number of posts per day? How many is too many? When do you jump the shark and start generating nothing but drivel? Have I done that already?

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Comments

  1. That’s easy — there is no upper limit on QUALITY posts and no lower limit on CRAP posts.

    Here’s what I would like to see (this is general blog “would like to see” not specifically this site): look at your users’ other (guestimated) reads and don’t repost stuff that’s already there.

    For instance: I hate when people “report” stuff that’s on Engadget. Look — if you run a tech blog, I can pretty much guarantee that your readers read Engadget. Unless you’ve got an interesting take or analysis of the situation, there is no need to be part of that wildfire that is a post-swirl.

    I’m much more likely to read a site that generates original thoughtful content. Do that and you can post with impunity.

  2. look at your users’ other (guestimated) reads and don’t repost stuff that’s already there.

    That’s a tough thing, though. For instance, I don’t read Engadget. Never have.

    I try not to post from Slashdot or Boing Boing, since those are two most popular blogs out there and probably 70% of people with an RSS aggregator read both of them.

    But other than that, it’s tough to predict what people are reading.

  3. Really? Now that’s odd! This should be an interesting test. I wonder if your others are like you? Well… I’m sure that they’ll chime in.

  4. Here, I’ll “chime in” for you…

    I read engadget and even slashdot only every once in a while (read: bored at work). Yup, I think I’m the only geek that doesn’t read slashdot with regularity. However I am a big BoingBoing reader.

  5. Actually, I’d tend to fall in the 10..20 demographic. Much more, and I fall behind, put off catching up, and eventually realize that I’ve an rss feed in Thunderbird that I’m ignoring. (BTW, TB and RSS just flat rock together.)

    My general routine for blogs is to scan the few new entries for bubble gum whenever I drop into TB to check email, and generally, as a late night snack just before sleep. I’ve developed a real taste for high quality/high resonance (with my interests) posts, and generally am happier when I find myself sated with a few tasty bits, rather than many marginals.

    If it helps, the one blog that most consistently fits my profile, on all fronts, is this one. Fairly sparse (but not too much so), always (well, mostly) interesting, and presented in a style that creates a sense of community. Like, well, breaktime bull sessions with your buddies.

    Oh, and the relative sparseness maintains a sense of anticipation. As opposed to, say, breaktime with the guy who, yes, always has something interesting to say, but won’t shut up.

  6. I’ve been trying to figure out why my personal preference is to always turn to Gadgetopia first for my blogs. I think Chris nailed it:

    If it helps, the one blog that most consistently fits my profile, on all fronts, is this one. Fairly sparse (but not too much so), always (well, mostly) interesting, and presented in a style that creates a sense of community. Like, well, breaktime bull sessions with your buddies. Oh, and the relative sparseness maintains a sense of anticipation. As opposed to, say, breaktime with the guy who, yes, always has something interesting to say, but won’t shut up.

    I start here, then read Boing Boing, then some other specialized blogs. I very rarely make it to /. and even less frequently make it to Engadget.

    My two cents: Keep it right about where it is. Too many and it’ll feel like reading USA Today. As it is, there is time to comment about posts and carry on conversations.

    Most importantly in regard to number of posts: rather than increase the number of posts during the week, how about spreading some out through the weekends more (post-date)? I go through withdrawals on most weekends because the content has dried up until Sunday night.

  7. As opposed to, say, breaktime with the guy who, yes, always has something interesting to say, but won’t shut up.

    You obviously haven’t hung out with me in person. (I had to say something before someone beat me to it…)

  8. Most importantly in regard to number of posts: rather than increase the number of posts during the week, how about spreading some out through the weekends more (post-date)? I go through withdrawals on most weekends because the content has dried up until Sunday night.

    I’d second that.

    You obviously haven’t hung out with me in person. (I had to say something before someone beat me to it…)

    Weelll, there IS that little matter of your rabid Mac devangelism…

    But then, I s’pose everyone’s entitled to their little eccentricities. ::grin::

    Seriously, though. Offering the perception that we have is the primary strength of Gadgetopia. Boing Boing is more like eavesdropping (Anyone know the origins of that phrase? Dropping eaves? Sounds more, um, architectural.) on drunken AP stringers. Entertaining and all that, but lacking in the camaraderie department. Engadget is, well, a nice commented wishlist. Most of the other blogs I spend time on, I read for information. Again, Gadgetopia is where I like to hang out on my breaks.

  9. I think 5 – 7 daily posts maximum and at least one everyday. BTW, I hardly ever read Engadget or slashdot.

  10. how about spreading some out through the weekends more (post-date)? I go through withdrawals on most weekends because the content has dried up until Sunday night.

    I’d second that too.

  11. I can’t really think of a specific number, but I would ideally like to have one or two at a time rather than seeing all or most of a single person’s daily posts within ten minutes. As long as they are spread throughout the day in a fairly even and manageable fashion, 20 is not an unreasonable number (and by throughout the day, I mean that term rather loosely, not that if you make 24 posts to have them one an hour or something like that).

    But, barring that, a good 10-20 is just fine.

    (For the record, I don’t read Engadget anymore and I have never read BoingBoing over time).

  12. Never read engadget or /., but check this one every day. I think 6 daily would be optional…I like to see something new. Also, interesting idea on the weekend posting…hold them for a schedule. I too miss no/few Saturday posts.

    Oh yeah Deane, are you sure everything you have to say at breaktime is interesting?

    6 posts…all interesting…

  13. Oh yeah Deane, are you sure everything you have to say at breaktime is interesting?

    I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

    To Deane’s credit, though, a lot of it is, and all of that stuff winds up here.

  14. 5-10 sounds good (as an upper limit – 0 is better than 5 marginals, but maybe 1 maginal is better than 0 – I would miss you)

    I don’t read any of the high volume blogs, so if one of them happens to post something of some value, it is handy if it is posted here.

    Not fussed about weekend posting, too many other things to do, plus probably don’t want to come in on monday with a stack of unread stuff from the weekend.

  15. However much you post, please make sure there’s at least the last 4-5 days in the feed. It’s real easy to be gone for a weekend and wonder if you missed stuff when you hit the bottom of a feed. Then your reader sits there and decides if your site is important enough that it’s worth visiting your site and figuring out your archives… then they look at the other stuff they have to catch up on.

  16. Speaking of community, I’ve often felt the need to have a forum here. There are times/topics that I would like to see discussed by this group, but there really isn’t a good way to do that. Something for Deane to think about!

  17. I’ve often felt the need to have a forum here

    I’ve seriously debated an “Ask Gadgetopia” section where you could post questions and people could provide answers as comments. The questions would need to be approved, or it would degenerate into dreck pretty quickly, I think.

    Primarily, I’d like this section for *me,” since I have questions all the time that people could help answer.

  18. “I’ve seriously debated an “Ask Gadgetopia” section”

    If, instead of filtering out the obviously bad questions, you only selected the interesting questions, you could keep the volume down and provide a service distinct from joel on software forums/ask metafilter, which are both compelling but incontinent.

    Or maybe gadgetopia has the right size community for volume to not be a problem.

    Either way, sounds like a worthwhile experiment.

  19. If, instead of filtering out the obviously bad questions, you only selected the interesting questions…

    Yeah, that would be the theory. What I don’t want is a lot of really specific debugging-type questions. I’d like broader, theory type questions. Not, “why doesn’t this work,” but rather “what’s the best way to do this.”

  20. Just for clarification, do you see “Ask Gadgetopia” a forum where the community can at will discuss topics that they are interested in? Or do you see it as a place where you field questions and then decide which ones to answer?

    I was envisioning a pretty open forum. It almost sounds like bob sees it as the latter scenario (which is less appealing, IMO).

    In regards to an open forum, I would say implement it without filtering/approval/moderation and see what happens. To me, it seems like your current audience is pretty level-headed and wouldn’t stray into too many flame-wars, juvenile responses, etc. Of course, as you grow and get a bigger audience, the chance of getting those types increases. For now, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    If you build it, we will come!

  21. Oh, and I don’t know that there would be too many “Why doesn’t this work?” type of questions simply because your site appeals to a pretty broad user base. It isn’t strictly Windows or Apple or Anything But Microsoft. Nor is it specifically PHP or Ruby or ASP.Net or Java. Nor is it [Insert your own comparisons here]. In other words, while I respect a number of opinions here, this is not where I would go for specialized help in any specific technology.

  22. Just for clarification, do you see “Ask Gadgetopia” a forum where the community can at will discuss topics that they are interested in?

    Yes, but new threads would be approved.

    I plan to run it in Movable Type. There will be an interface where you can submit a question, and it will use the XMLRPC library to create a new entry in a separate blog from the main one. The entry will be created in “draft” status.

    We see the entry, we approve it, and it then gets published to the “Ask” section and the RSS feed. Comments will be open. Have at it.

    I’m sure the Gadgetopia editors will want to answer, but anyone can, really. No registration, no login — just standard comments on a blog entry.

    Does that make sense?

  23. I won’t say that it doesn’t make sense or won’t work, because I’m sure it will. However, I might ask if it will provide enough functionality and flexibility long term?

    Specifically, I would like to see something where questions (aka threads) float to the top based on most recently commented on (like a typcial forum does). As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve missed some good discussions on this site because I read the initial post within an hour or two of publishing and then find out days later that a really good discussion occurred. I just want to make sure that there is a pretty easy way to identify active questions/threads.

    In addition, while I do fully support the no registration/no login functionality to make it easier for anonymous folks to contribute without any barriers, I would think that you have a pretty unique opportunity to build a real community here. One benefit of supporting a true forum (or something with registration) is that you can start to easily see the regulars and their (for lack of a better word) status or rank. With a no registration system, I can’t tell if bob’s post above was his first (casual visitor) or if he’s regular. I like going to a forum and seeing that the guy who just asked a stupid question is new and should get some slack, and alternatively, knowing that the guy with 1500 posts should probably be respected.

    If I were in your shoes, I would be pretty excited: New advertising contract with FM and a community that is ready for more ‘stickiness’. You’ll be retiring in no time!

  24. My thing is that I don’t want to fork content — have some content in one system, and some content in another.

    And I don’t want to maintain a user database at all — if you want to provide your name, great, but I don’t want to require it or even allow it. I like the “carefree-ness” of the way we have it.

    We’re still thinking about it. We’re a ways out on that, I think.

  25. Wrt limits on the number of blogs posted…

    I’d hope you’d only post on topics that inspire you. Trust me, and the rest of your readers, to sift/discard/highlight/whatever. I visit your site to see what’s tickled your fancy or got your goat. That’s it.

    The moment you feel the drudgery of it all…stop. Grab a cold one. Take a day, heck, a month off. Whatever you need to keep your eye sharp and your writing crisp. We’ll check back.

    Obtw, I just visited engadget (don’t flog me) the first time. No offense if there are those who contribute there but, I don’t see the value.

  26. regards open forum vs selected questions:

    I’m all for open forum, and I do actually react against the idea of question approval etc at a base philosophical level.

    However, I would like an editorial filter for convenience.

    Combining the two, you would have completely open forum plus an editor selected feed of good threads and good questions.

    At what point this becomes a simplified slashdot, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing, who knows. Desiging good interfaces for communities is actually a very subtle art, and not to be underestimated. Joel spolsky has written on the basics of this, but I’m sure that only touches the surface.

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BuildingCommunitieswithSo.html http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/NotJustUsability.html http://shirky.com/writings/group_user.html

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