Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What makes me fall in love with your WoW blog

Recently I’ve been thinking about why I like some WoW blogs more than others. There are blogs where I eagerly lick every single word that comes out. They’re so excellent that I always feel I’d wanted a little bit more. And then there are other blogs, some of them actually very well established, with hundreds or thousands of daily visitors, who leave me absolutely indifferent.

You could say it’s just a matter of taste, a gut feeling or something like that, but I’d like to explore it a little bit more. What exactly is it that makes me fall in love with a blog? What do some blogs have that other lacks?

The ongoing competition at World of Matticus has highlighted the issue even more. How would I make my choice among all those extremely talented wanna-be-bloggers? Would I make the same choice as Matt and Wyn or do I have other criteria?

It’s pretty hard to tell what kind of blogs appeals to Larísa if you just look at my blogroll. The blogs represent very different styles and cover different parts of the game. It’s hard to see any pattern.

After some pondering I realized that I should go further back in history to find the answers. - all the way back to the old Greece. I think the well known authors and philosophers from that era would have become excellent bloggers. They really knew how to catch an audience.

According to the classic rhetoric you should use your Ethos, Pathos and Logos, which is exactly what many of the best bloggers do, whether they think about it or not.

Blog with Ethos

Ethos is about your person, how you make the audience sympathise with you and trust what you’re about to say. Interesting enough you don’t have to do this by telling the world how good and cleaver you are. Often the readers will like you more if you’re not afraid to share your shortcomings. To confess your failures, to show some humbleness and self irony are classical tools to catch the audience.

I like blogs where you get at least a glimpse of the person behind the blog. In my world it’s one of the things that make a blog different to a website. The art is to keep the balance, to be personal without writing about entirely private things that won’t interest anyone else. And I’m afraid there aren’t any easy guidelines to stick to. It’s more about intuition.

Writing with ethos also takes courage. If you write about hard facts it’s much easier to cope with a cold reception from the readers, negative or non-existing comments. But if you write with a strong ethos you make yourself more vulnerable. The stakes are higher. On the other hand – if you succeed, the rewards are the bigger.

Several of the Big Names among bloggers are very strong when it comes to Ethos. Like Big Bear Butt. He has already deserved the love from the audience, his personal brand is so strong by now that we’re ready to love whatever he writes. We WANT to like it because we like his person.

Here are a couple of examples of recent blog posts with a high amount of ethos, which I loved:
Turning the Corner: Overcoming Pressure Situations in WoW and Real Life, posted by Krizzlybear at Frost is the New Black
Casual by Circumstance by Lassirra at The Hunter’s Mark
Letting go by Pike at Aspect of the Hare

Blog with Pathos
Pathos has, as most of you probably know, to do with feelings. This is how you really touch the audience, how you make them feel and react to your post. If they get angry, sad, thrilled or uneasy at your writings, you’re much more likely to be noticed and remembered. One effective way to do so is to share your own feelings.

It doesn’t have to be a long rant. You can just as effectively stir up the feelings with a very short note. If it comes from your heart it will cut right through the daily buzz of the Blogosphere.

Just look at the very short post by Softi at A little WoW for Me: Every time I log off I cry a little inside. She had over 20 comments at this little post. No wonder – she really struck in a chord that many could identify with.

Another example: Sir, I respectfully disagree by Auzara at Chick GM. This one is very cleaver indeed. She says that she vehemently disagrees, but the tone is rather mocking and self assured; you don’t think her feelings have made her loose control for a second. In fact this post, as well as the other posts I’ve mentioned above, uses both ethos and pathos to get through to the reader. It’s typical for good bloggers – the ability to use all of the tools, which I’ll come back to.

Pathos doesn’t necessary have to do with sad feelings or emotions – it can as well be to make the audience laugh. Humour is a very good tool to gain an audience. One who does this very well is Gnomeageddon at Armageddon’s coming. Just check out those posts: Why aren’t there any undead taurens and How to AFK in raids.

Or have a look at Krizzlybears talent tree for Podcasts. (He’s very talented himself, in my opinion.)

Blog with Logos
Logos is about knowledge and rationality. To prove to the audience that you’re right by logic and common sense.

Many bloggers have a mission to educate their readers a bit. To share their little piece of the big puzzle that WoW makes in the hope that other players will find it useful. Some bloggers do this at a greater extent than others. If I was looking for some good theorycrafting about resto druids, I’m pretty sure I’d end up with Resto4life as many others. Her “logos” when it comes to those things is pretty convincing.

Critical QQ, who also writes with ethos and pathos, is an awesome mage theorycrafter. I wouldn’t think of questioning his calculations.

Don't forget that it takes more than pure knowledge to make a high profiled Logos oriented blog. You must also have a pedagogical talent, be able to explain things to a less knowing audience. To grab their attention it’s often a good idea to add a pinch if ethos or pathos to the post.

Just like Zupa does in this wonderful post about how to aoe-grind effectively as a frost mage or Krizzlybear in this post about mana efficient mage specs, disguised as a rant about a hang over. Check it out!

Mix it up
Every blogger has a special temperament. A personal fingerprint if you say so. There are blogs that are pretty cool and intellectual in their style, not trying to win the audience with any big gestures, but still convincing having such a clear logos (and discrete pathos and ethos). Such as Blessing of Kings.

Then there are others who emphasise pathos so much that they even put it in their name. Like My mage sucks.

And there are blogs with such a strong personal identity that you sort of get to think that you know them, they become like friends. Like Cynra at Airee.

If you want to find a permanent spot in my must-read-every-day blogroll you should combine the different aspects.

It isn’t by hazard that Sydera’s post got the best reviews in the first round of the SYTYCB event. Her open letter to the badge of justice, managed to combine the three aspects, even though the emphases was on pathos.

Matticus himself is an example of a balanced blogger who does it all. Part Time Druid is another one. I don’t know if this Ethos-Pathos-Logos balance is something those two bloggers think about consciously. “Hey’ now I’m going to use a bit more of my ethos”. Probably not. Maybe they “just do it”, talented as they are.

But for us not-quite-so-gifted bloggers I think the trinity of the classic rhetoric works fine as a recipe for succesful blogging:
Ingredients:

Ethos - Let the readers get to know you.
Pathos - Make them feel something.
Logos - Everybody isn’t a theorycrafter. But everybody knows something about the game. Find a way to share your knowledge.

Preparation: Make a tasty mixture of it.

Result: Enjoy the love from your readers. At least from Larísa.

18 comments:

krizzlybear said...

Larísa (ALT+161! BY GOLLY I FOUND IT!), I am so crazily flattered by your blogger love! I must send my deepest thanks!

I never even heard about the whole Mythos/Ethos/Logos concept, but don't count out the one person who you've seemed to have forgotten to mention! You! Yours is a blog that others (including myself) have been left craving for each new post.

Mythos: Your metaphors always seem to relate back to your personal life, pertaining to your interests and passions. Ends up making the audience want to know more about you, but at the same time learn about their game in the process.

Pathos: Look no further than your numerous posts regarding the battle of the Mages. Despite my (necessary) bias against your arguments, you always have the witty retorts to your rival mages that has evoked numerous laughs and chuckles. Nobody stirs the pot of war as much as you.

Logos: Again, your metaphors are so rich, so relevant, that they flow with wisdom that is beyond anyone's years.

You might not know it, but it's there for sure!

gnomeaggedon.net said...

/clap

I second Kriz's comment.. I wish I could think of something witty to add to this comment, but to do so would take away from your excellent post, in your excellent blog.

2ndNin said...

Can't add much, good post Larisa.

On the other hand, wtb Pathos, Logos and the other one!

Matticus said...

What can I possibly say about this? This is a class act post! I'm almost disappointed I never thought of it (actually no I'm not, because there's no way I could've matched yours, hahah).

As for blogger selection, it is toouuuugh. I don't know how I'll be able to do it.

Kestrel said...

Although I'd have gotten here eventually, I'm glad Saresa pointed me here earlier.

Excellent, excellent article! And Krizzly pretty much said it all. :)

Larísa said...

Thank you all!

@Krizzlybear... only you can write so beautiful comments.

@2ndnin: you've already got it! all the three. Just look at your blog again. Look at it. You're getting the hang of it. The ethos and pathos is coming. Keep it up!

@Matticus: praise from you! The logos-pathos-ethos master himself. I feel so honoured. /bow
I must say I admire your courage to run this competition. Could never have done it myself but I guess I'm a bit too weakhearted... couldn't bare the thought of kicking people out every week...

@Kestrel: thank you! I must add that you're just as good example as Matticus and PTD as one who combines all the three aspects. I just had to limit my examples a bit, but your blog came to my mind.

mamadruid said...

An excellent post perfectly describing why I read the blogs I do!

Mama Druid

Zupa said...

Thanks Larísa for another great post that really gives us something to think about!

I'm sure im not alone in having learned some things from this post which I will remember for the rest of my days.

That's pretty unusual and special. Plenty of blog posts I enjoy, plenty I remember, but rarely do I read one and consider myself to have been educated.

Especially considering the education was about life, rather than about WoW.

Thanks again! <3

Larísa said...

@Zupa, I never thought about it, that the ethos-pathos-logos thing could be appliable in a bigger perspective. To me it was a rhetoric tool. You know - handy for speaches, articles etc. But when you mentioned it the thought struck me: maybe theis balance is something to think about even when it comes to self development, how you cope with life iteself? You put a thought into my head. I've got the feeling it will grow. Thank you again.

Pike said...

This was a very informative article. Thanks a lot for writing it up, I've learned a lot! And such an honor that you linked to me! /blush

Breana said...

This is one awesome post, Larísa (thanks Krizzly for listing the right alt+combo :P ). Thanks so much for writing it, it really gave me something to think about and a different way of looking at my favorites!

Larísa said...

Thank you Pike and Breana!

I thought the how-to-blog-topic was pretty well covered before so I didn't expect people to learn much from it. But blogging is full of surprises, isn't it?

krizzlybear said...

Lar►sa (whoa what happened there? I think I mistyped 161, but it looks so cool that I'm just going to leave it like that)

You got mentioned on the TNB again this week for this post. Keep it up! One day, it's going to be you who they'll be interviewing. Just don't make it a livecast, k? It's hard enough to stay up to 3am to listen to a recording done in PST/EST, let alone in GMT or something close to it.

Basil said...

Try pronouncing it this way:

Lar TRIANGLE!! sa. It's fun to say.

Excellent post. I just need to show all my friends that people think I'm logical.
THEY'LL NEVER BELIEVE YOU!

Ghostboci said...

Like many blog-reader, the fate has reached me and started my own blog. http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/

I just want to ask one question from the experienced bloggers here: how can I let other people know that it exists.

Larísa said...

@ghostboci: wow! that's awesome! I've just been waiting for you to do it... This sounds like an "Ask Larísa"-thing. I'll be back!

Avonar said...

Wow, this post is pure win. I love how you've split these things out and put them into some sort of order - they're things that I'd never have thought of, but make so much sense. Thank you!

krizzlybear said...

3 years later, I still love this post. You may be long gone, but I still feel your influence. God bless, Larísa.