Blog Posts

Part of the reason for this semester-long assignment is that writing on a regular schedule will make you a better writer. Thus 22 blog posts are required over the course of 12 weeks, starting in Week 3 of the semester.

NOTE: Your blog post will NOT be graded if it was posted within 24 hours of your previous blog post.

Grading Details

The two lowest grades for your 22 blog posts will be dropped.

Each blog post is worth 10 points. This will be calculated as follows:

Thus your grade for each blog post will have three components. The maximum possible for all blog posts is 200 points (after the two lowest grades have been dropped). This will be divided by 10 (see Grading).

All SIX items below affect your grade.

1. Timely and Current Posts

Something about each post must be timely -- that is, tied to something relatively new. If your linked material is new (with a date on it, and less than two weeks old), that is timely. If your linked material is old or undated, then your post content needs to be about something new, such as a movie released within the past two weeks, or a current news story.

In other words, a blog is not a research paper. You are not simply trolling for links.

2. Interestingness

My grad assistant and I will read these posts as if we were in your intended audience. If it's boring, you lose points. If you use passive verbs and tired generalities, your grade goes down.

Rambling, redundant writing is not going to appeal to any audience.

The Web is a fast medium, and Web users are impatient. Get to the point. Edit your writing down to the fewest words possible that still convey what you want to say.

And for heaven's sake -- have something to say!

3. Stay on Your Topic

You must stick to the subject area or beat you commited to blogging about. Off-topic posts lose all 4 content points.

4. Quality and Relevance of Links

Each post must have a functioning link to an outside Web page that is not authored by you. This requirement is aimed at getting you to search the Web regularly for new and interesting content.

You are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to link to a wide variety of sources, including blogs by other people. If you link to the same two or three sites all the time, your points will plummet!

Your blog post must COMMENT ON the linked content. The link must be relevant to what you have written in your post.

  1. Links are more valuable (higher quality) when they are more specific. A link to the home page of The New York Times is not very valuable because: (a) anyone can find that page without your help; and (b) the contents of that page will change in less than 24 hours.
  2. Links are more valuable when the linked content is provided by someone with expertise or a unique perspective. The content of some personal Web pages has very little value -- what qualifications does the author have?
  3. Links are more valuable when your link text tells the user what to expect. The words "click here" or "this link" do not tell the user anything about the linked content.

5. Mechanics

You will lose points for errors in:

  1. Grammar
  2. Spelling
  3. Punctuation
  4. AP style

Journalists today work without a safety net. They often post to the Web without any oversight beforehand. Your blog can show, in a job interview, that you are up to this challenge.

Note that AP style includes certain standards related to content, and you are expected to follow those standards as well. While other blog writers may use curse words, pornographic language and graphic descriptions of violence, you will lose points if you do the same. The reason: Your written language in this course must be of professional journalistic quality. Bloggers who are not journalists can follow different standards -- but you cannot.

6. More About Your Content

Always keep your audience in mind. Your primary audience is, of course, your instructor, who is grading you. But your audience is also (potentially) worldwide and can include anyone who is interested in your blog's focus.

Your instructor will be considering your wider audience and evaluating whether you have written something of interest to that audience.

NOTE: A future employer might read your blog. Make sure that's not a bad thing.