My mission statement post (written in response to this post on Problogger) was an interesting exercise for me, as I realized the dichotomous nature of the goals of this blog:
- To promote good games, talk about games, become a community for intellectual discussion on games, and to provide entertaining game related content. And occasionally, to throw in personal stories and thoughts about technology, Judaism, and Israel.
- To become a successful blogger, to attract an audience, to maintain a loyal readership, to enjoy blogging, and to eventually attract a revenue stream.
That's because it the same dual set of goals that a game player faces. The object of a game is to win the game: earn the most money, earn the most victory points, whatever. The object of playing a game is to be a successful gamer, enjoy the game experience, challenge yourself, and, if you are a professional, earn money from playing well.
I remember this distinction being spelled out in one of my favorite movies, The Color of Money. Paul Newman's character, mentoring Tom Cruise's character, a skilled but naive billiards player, explains that the best pool player is not the one with the most wins but the one with the most money. That is metagaming to the extreme, perhaps, but it illustrates my point.
Some people undoubtedly become successful bloggers by manipulating blog ranks, paying for hits, joining cross-linking sites, and writing what they think will be popular articles. That is one definition of success. Others are successful because they provide great content and their audience loves it. That's another definition. Maybe you think that I'm going to come out in favor of one side or the other of these definitions of success, but I'm not. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve.
For me, success is a combination of these things. I don't feel comfortable doing some of those manipulation tricks, at least not yet. This surely makes the path to the first type of success harder, but hopefully not unobtainable. In the meantime, I feel that my blogging is successful in providing good and interesting content. Hopefully you agree.
Still, if my audience is intelligent, and I think that you are, my more popular posts are likely to also be the better posts. Popularity can be a very course indication of quality. It may not be a perfect correlation, but a useful one. I need to learn from that. This type of automatic feedback is an interesting new phenomenon in the world of writing. Even if I hold the posting pen, the writing is a process and a dialogue between us. It's like the guitar player in a sing-along asking "What do you want me to play for you next?"