Too Long, Didn’t Read

One of those Rules of Blogging that I never bother to follow is about post length. Supposedly, blog posts are supposed to be 400-600 words in length (that’s a total guess. I hate research. There’s this dude in my brain who looks like me and works like me, and when I wonder shit like “hey, what’s the ‘rule’ about post length again? How long?” the little Me looks up from the game he was playing or book he was reading or whatever he does when I don’t ask him shit and shrugs, takes a random guess at something someone in Memory once heard about, and goes back to what he’s doing. I should give him a raise. He’s my kinda guy.). The reason? People don’t have time to read anything longer than that. Anything after word 601 is just a blur of text that makes people feel all swoony. So unless they can see the end of the post from there, it’s too much. They have to stop reading RIGHT THEN. Some of those people are kind enough to warn the poor, misguided blogger that they’ve become a health menace, and so they take the time from their incredibly fast-paced, meaningful lives to comment on the post. Some will say Too Long, Didn’t Read – but that takes too much time to write. So instead, it’s become TL/DR.

And no, this isn’t a joke.

I mean, it is a joke, but I’m not making this up. It’s a real thing. There are really and truly asshats out there that bitch about the fact that content they can choose to read or not, that costs them nothing to access, is too long. I don’t have any statistics handy for measuring how long it takes the average person to read something and I sure as fuck ain’t lookin’ it up but it can’t take that long. What, 5 minutes, tops? 5 fucking minutes. And there are people who feel like it’s necessary to COMMENT on a fucking post to let the person know they didn’t read it. I find this unbelievable. Like, I honestly didn’t believe it at first. But it’s apparently A Thing. A real thing.

What the fuck are these people? Mayflys that suddenly developed the ability to type? Is their fucking lifespan so short that it’s EAT MATE DIE, only they’re trying to slip in an blog post about macrame before they die? And if they aren’t cursed with a 24-hour lifespan, what the fuck is the matter with them? Seriously. Think about it. They’re on the internet reading a blog. By fucking definition they’re wasting their time. They are intentionally diverting themselves from doing something more productive, then bitching about the fact that someone gave them too much to read. It boggles my fucking mind. I just finished Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen last night. 10 books with serious heft (and yet written in a reasonable span of time. No Jordanning or RR’ing it). Over 1.5 million words. I paid for that privilege, happily. And yet there are douchey little fucktards out there that think they can be the goddamn Internet Police and inform people that what they’ve written is too much for their precious little cerebellums to process.

So, right now, I’m supposed to be done. The end of this sentence is word #551. Fuckin’-a, it takes me this long to get warmed up.

I’ve heard people say that they have a lot of blogs they try to keep up with, and when they see long posts they don’t bother. I find that really fucking stupid, but whatever. Because I don’t think the problem is with the word length. It’s the fact that the blog isn’t interesting enough to hold their attention span for longer than two minutes. It’s not the length. It’s the content or the writer. But they’re afraid to say that. So instead, it’s Too Long, Didn’t Read. Although why you’d go out of your way to still demean the writer’s effort by smugly dismissing what they have to say BEFORE YOU EVEN HEAR IT instead of indicating that you weren’t interested is beyond me. I know the internet makes plenty of people 92.8% More Asshole, but that’s still a fucking bullshit thing to say.

Initially, I was going to make this post about 500 words long, just for the ironic juxtaposition of having one of the few blog posts I’ve written to fall within the Acceptable Guidelines entitled Too Long, Didn’t Read. Nice idea, but I segue too much for that. And that’s OK. In fact, I believe it’s fucking mandatory. Do you know how many blogs I read that are concise, clipped declarative statements that focus on one narrow subject or idea and then stop?

Fucking none. Not one of them. If I want to read something devoid of personality or relevance, I’ll pick up a USA Today. The blogs I read are well-written and not afraid to take the time to make their point. I get sad when I come to the end of a good post, because it’s over and I’m forced back into shuffling through the standard run of websites I look at in hopes of a moment’s distraction. I don’t care what the fucking Rules say.

And you know what? Who made up these fucking rules to begin with? Who the fuck is dictating to anyone how long their blogs should be? Why? Who the fuck elected those douchebags to tell us what to do in the first place? Do writers not have enough anxiety about their work that they need to acquiesce to a bunch of bullshit rules as to how long their own fucking writing can be just so they can stress out over the fucking LENGTH? It’s not like blogging has been around for centuries, and that these rules are necessary for human fucking civilization to flourish. Probably, some self-important cock-in-the-mouth decided that This Shall Be So, and had enough little sycophantic ass-lickers to follow him (or her) around and tell him (or her) how right he (or she) was. Every time I see an article or post by someone talking about How to Blog or How to Use Twitter I read them carefully. I want to make sure that I don’t do a single fucking thing they do. Why? Because rules are for suckers. I can’t write like they do, and why try to? Plus, if every single blogger on the face of the earth all decides to write One Certain Way, then I stand out from the crowd. Sure, it might be for being a foul-mouthed dick with anger management issues and serious diarrhea of the keyboard, but fuck, you gotta stand out somehow, right?

Oh, and anyone who says that the “Rule” is in place to teach writers the importance of concision, my answer is this: suck my balls. Concision is the most overrated fucking thing in writing ever. I blame Hemingway. That fucker couldn’t write an interesting story to save his ass, and for some reason everyone jumped onto his jock about cutting unnecessary words. He became the fucking Gold Standard for writing. “Cut it to the bone,” they say. Fuck you, I answer. I like meat. I like the little edge of fat that runs along the steak. The skin is the best fucking part of fried chicken. Why in the fuck would I settle for the bone? So the next person I see that references that bullshit in front of me is going to get a foot planted squarely into his happy sacs.

For the record, no one has ever TL/DR’ed me. Probably because, until recently, no one read the damn thing. I only hear about it, the Great Big Fucking Boogeyman of blog writers. My blog is a prime candidate for it. If I write something less than 800 words, I feel like I’m cheating my readers. Tossing them a fucking gnawed-on bone with nothing to really chew over. I don’t like that feeling. I was asked to write a guest post for Steven Montano’s site (goes up tomorrow!). It was just shy of 2,000 words. He asked me for something, and I wanted to give him something good. I can’t do good in 400-600 words. It’s impossible.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write Herman Melville’s estate that Moby Dick was too long, and that I didn’t read it. That’ll show ‘im.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on June 21, 2011, in Rantin' and Bitchin' and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. The temptation to type “TL/DR” is almost overpowering.

    My 2 cents on this subject: I’m pretty sure I have ADD. Or some other mental disorder that keeps me from concentrating on something I’m not obsessing over. That’s probably some other disease. I tend to zone out when reading long blog posts. It has nothing to do with content, marketing, writing style, etc. (though if it’s well written I’ll stick with a long post). My issue is, quite literally, my issue.

    But I think the internet has given 98% of the population ADD. We get used to having info handed to us in bite-sized chunks, and people, despite what they like to claim, are highly resistant to change. They can’t handle lengthy blog posts that interrupt their daily RSS feed reading time.

    So, Alan, in a way you’re a rebel. Rockin’ the ADD internet reader world through the use of lengthy blogposts. Good show, sir — GOOD SHOW!

    • I honestly expected a deluge of “TL/DR” comments on this one. I think it would be funny.

      I think you’re right about ADD. I know it infects me a lot of the time when I’m surfing. It’s like I’m wandering around the web, not really sure what I want, like I do when I’m bored and looking in the fridge for the 8 billionth time. So I end up skimming and half-reading something. But I can’t imagine the audacity of clicking into the little comment box to let someone know I have the attention span of a meth’d up hamster.

      I am a blog rebel – the nerdiest kind of rebel there is! Hoo-ah!

  2. I was also tempted to say TL/DR, but I’m holding back!

    For the record, as far as I know, the golden rule of blogs is having GOOD CONTENT. Period. This is one of very few blogs that I read every single post in its entirety. Why? Because it’s good. I would tell you the long list of blogs I often mark as read, but I’m a big chicken.

    Great post. I read the whole damn thing!

    • I totally agree with you there. Good content is the only important thing to a blog. Of course, I have no idea how that relates to my blog, which appears to be random nouns and verbs surrounded by swear words. Heh.

      And thanks for reading it all!

  3. I, too, was sorely tempted to TL/DR, but I didn’t because Alan is really THAT scary.

  4. Moby Dick was TL/DR but i guess “I hate that whale imma try to killit after a long hunt and a lot of descriptive words” is too short for a novel.
    I have a hard time not replying with too many words much less actually trying to do the blog thing. For a while I did, but I got tired of reading my own crap so no one had to tell me I was shorting out their attention spans. 😉
    I know it’s a “cool thing” at the moment for what they are calling “Trolling” these days. My son got a 2 day ban from a gaming forum for trolling his own mother with “U mad?” in the spirit of “I think this is hilarious and mom will laugh”. I did laugh actually, because he got temp-banned and I could say I told you to stop being an asshat.
    Personally, if I don’t have time to read I don’t read. Very simple. There’s no need for rudeness unless it’s used merely in joking and especially if it gets a 16 year old banned from World of Warcraft. 😀

    • I love that. You just wrote Moby Dick as a Twitter post. Condense a classic to 140 characters. That’s awesome.

      But NOT NEARLY as awesome as inadvertantly getting your son temp-banned from WoW. That’s just killer. I hope you also actually called him an asshat, because that would make my day.

      • Of course I did. 😀 I believe in the power of character building with cuss words. Every child should know that “Fuckin’ A” is a perfectly acceptable synonym for “awesome” as well.

        I’m a horrible mom. I used to cuss while driving in crappy traffic with the kids in the car but I made it child friendly, i used my very best Elmo from Sesame Street voice.

  5. I’ve often wondered who came up with that ‘rule’ on blog length too. Unless you’re posting a really brief update on something already discussed, it seems WAY too short. To me, it’s all about the voice and content. If I’m already feeling antsy after reading the first few sentences, I’ll skim down to see if anything else in the post jumps out at me and move on, regardless of length. If a post is well-written and interesting, I will read it all the way through.

    I think some people get wrapped up in trying to read every post of every blog they are following instead of focusing on the best quality posts. Either way, to go out of your way to comment on how you didn’t read a post is asinine.

    • That’s what gets me the most, the commenting thing. It’d be like going to a cocktail party, listening to someone talk for a few seconds, then saying BOOOORRRRIINNNGGGG and walking away. Ah, the shield of anonymity.

      And I read blogs exactly like you do.

  6. While I respect your opinion, I don’t agree with you. I’m the poster child for why posts should be kept under 500 words. I read *incredibly* slowly. I actively follow 22 blogs in my RSS feed and often check out other ones when friends on Twitter recommend them. It took me a really long time to get through this blog, and truthfully, I skipped some bits. Sorry!

    I read blogs because I want to support my fellow writers and friends by bringing traffic to their sites and increasing their visibility. It takes a tremendous amount of time for me to get through them all every day. I spend *at least* 2 hours reading blogs a day. Add that up over a month. A year. Look at all those hours I *could* have been selfishly writing.

    What benefits do I, as a reader, get from blogs? Sometimes I get new info, maybe a book recommendation (which I won’t actually read because I spend all day reading blogs), or entertainment value. That’s all fine and dandy, and I’m happy to do it, but it does contribute to my lack of productivity. Do I *have* to read all this stuff? Absolutely not. It’s my choice. BUT, I’m starting to wonder how much, if anything I get in return. For all the time I spend reading other people’s stuff, I’m getting very little done on my own work, and *my* blog traffic is not showing signs of increased activity. I desperately need traffic and exposure before my trilogy comes out next year, and I’m simply not getting it.

    I’ve reached the point of blog saturation. It’s time for me to stop being Ms. Nice Bitch and start being Ms. Selfish Bitch. I’m gonna write one *good* blog a week and limit the number of readings/comments on friends’ blogs. I really wish I could spend all day reading blogs, but I simply don’t have the time. For me, this choice is a matter of survival because right now I’m drowning.

    You know I adore you, right? Well, if not, I’m telling you I do.

    PS – I logged my time. I spent 20 minutes crafting this reply. 🙂

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