You Didn’t Write A Blog, You Wrote A Blog Post

Forrest Wickman wishes people would use proper English:

Let’s get this straight up front: I am now writing a blog post, not blogging a blog.

For many, using the word blog when you mean blog post is an understandable mistake. Most who make it are new to blogging, or aren’t fluent in the language of the Web. But over the last several months it’s become clear to me that the tendency to make this error has infected even some of the most Internet-savvy denizens of the Web. And it needs to stop.

(…)

The reasons for avoiding this linguistic boner are pretty simple. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that it can be confusing. No matter what dictionary you check—online, Urban, or otherwise—you will find no definition of blog that means blog post. Saying one to mean the other is like saying magazine when you mean article. The listener or reader may get your drift eventually, but only after they’ve been thrown for a loop.

Second, it can undercut anything serious you have to say. The word blog is, even after all these years, a little funny-sounding, and this is magnified many fold when you use it incorrectly. You don’t want to undermine your own writing by calling your brilliant post a “blog.”

And it’s not as if there aren’t an abundance of other, better options. In addition to blog post, there’s blog entry, or the increasingly interchangeablearticle (only advisable if you think the post is substantial enough to warrant such a description). A really substantive post could also be called a piece—or, if it has a narrative dimension, a story. If you’re into the whole brevity thing, you can avoid “blog” entirely by using the equally concise and more correct post.

Personally, I’ve always cringed whenever I see or hear someone refer to an individual blog post as a “blog,” or refer to the act of writing a blog post as “writing a blog.” It just doesn’t sound right, and it never really did. Moreover, as Glenn Reynolds notes, it kind of makes you sound dumb when you use the word that way. So, don’t do it.

FILED UNDER: General
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    What about “blog” as a verb? When people say they’re “blogging,” what they usually mean is that they’re writing a post for a blog.

  2. @CSK:

    Using it as a verb is different, I think.

  3. wr says:

    For me it’s people who refer to the sketches on Saturday Night Live et al as “skits.” I spent some time working with former SNL writers, and that made them crazy… and I picked it up from them.

    And don’t get me started on “five-year anniversary.”

  4. john personna says:

    This amuses me because, as I’ve mentioned, I have been reading “The Story of English in 100 words.”

    Words enter the language and then evolve over hundreds of years. Yes, sometimes scholars were able to shape usage, but that was easier when only a few monks at a few abbeys were writing.

    Can someone demand that a word coined ~15 years ago now have fixed usage in the future of the language?

    I don’t think so. The word will be what it will be.

  5. john personna says:

    (The verbal pronunciation of WYSIWYG annoyed the heck out of me when it began. Whizzy-Wig sounded too frilly for something so serious. But words will be what they will be.)

  6. john personna says:

    As a note, I imagine that the person who “misused” blog used it in the manner of blurb.

    Perhaps they should have written a blurb for their blog … though formally I suppose a blurb is still promotional material.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    The many varieties of blog post call for a specialized nomenclature.

    “Slog” – A post discussing survey results
    “Flog” – A blog post that looks like it was copied from an earlier blog post
    “Barf” – See “Flog”
    “Blug”- A poorly reasoned blog post
    “Twist” – A mildly spinny post about politics
    “Tort” – A heavily spun Blug
    “Flem” – A health related entry, w/apologies to zombie Faulkner

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rudderpedals: And the ever-popular “bleg,” a blog posting that is also a beg.

  9. john personna says:

    One of the nice things about English, especially international English, is that is is so free of purity drives. It is adaptable and can both pick up and discard words easily.

    I learned this week that cardigan is a name-word, “The cardigan was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army Major General who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. ” With balaclava that’s a language twofer.

    Anyway, will blog live as long as cardigan(~1860)? Or twofer? (~1890) Who cares, have fun with your flexible (and no longer strictly) English language.

  10. John Burgess says:

    I blame Tumblr. Users of that platform have misappropriated the word ‘blog’ and use it regularly to mean a ‘post’. That, and the extension ‘reblog’ have pushed the word into an incoherent direction, but then, since it’s Tumblr they’re using, that may be a tautology.

  11. CSK says:

    @rudderpedals:

    I think “Flog” is a blog where fanciers of bondage and discipline congregate.

    Smog: For weather addicts (Cf. “Fog”)

    Bog: For those who reside in swamps.

    Grog: For drinkers.

    Slog: Long-distance hikers.

    Log: For lumberjacks.

    Frog: Honk if you like amphibians.

  12. rodney dill says:

    Blog blog blogging blog bloggety blogging bloggable blog, blog blog blogginch.

    (perfectly understandable)

  13. John Burgess says:

    For the Language Log blog post on this…

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4655#more-4655

  14. CSK says:

    @rodney dill:

    “Blog bloggety blogging…” Ella Fitzgerald could do wonders with this.

  15. john personna says:

    @John Burgess:

    The interesting thing about his dislike of “comments as posts” is that (I think I sometimes use it because) every upward transmission from your computer to the web uses HTTP POST.

    That’s kind of technical and arcane, but certainly I am about to POST this comment.

  16. John Burgess says:

    @john personna: But doesn’t just about any transaction between two computers (or networks) use POST? “Comment” tends to have a sense of carrying information directly meaningful to humans, doesn’t it?

    BTW, don’t forget BLAWG — Law Blogs..

  17. john personna says:

    @John Burgess:

    I don’t know. It’s not something I had to program directly, but I thought most traffic was GETs in the HTTP sense and then responses. The POST page says:

    In computing, POST is one of many request methods supported by the HTTP protocol used by the World Wide Web. The POST request method is designed to request that a web server accept the data enclosed in the request message’s body for storage.[1] It is often used when uploading a file or submitting a completed web form.

  18. Boyd says:

    To directly comment on the subject of this post, this matches my usage (as in, “I had a blog where I used to post…umm…entries.”), but I’m struggling to be a language descriptivist these days. So I’ll take this opportunity to look down my holier-than-thou nose at you stick-in-the-mud prescriptivists.

    Now to digress to the point I really wanted to make: I lament the abandonment of the word “invitation,” nowadays supplanted with overly sterile “invite.” I could deal with it when used in electronic contexts, but I threw up my hands and sobbed uncontrollably when I recently received an “invite” in the mail (or should that be “the post?”) to the wedding of a friend’s daughter.

  19. steve s says:

    When I am in a nursing home I will be regularly cringing because ‘conversate’ will have completely replaced ‘converse’ by then.

  20. M. Bouffant says:

    @Boyd:

    The use of “disconnect” for disconnection is starting to irk me. Hearing about invite/invitation I’m wondering if the “-tion” suffix will disappear entirely.

    Anyway, on my web log I generally run “items,” rather than posts.

  21. JKB says:

    Well, someone has to say it. This Forrest Wickman fellow is just being a blog nazi.

    And who is he to tell people what is what regarding blogs? He doesn’t even do a blog….post about it. No, he writes in the new old media. Is what he wrote, which by the way is wrong as he typed, an article, a story? It certainly isn’t a column.

  22. This has driven me nuts for years. Even Roger Ebert did this a few times.

  23. Franklin says:

    I’m writing the comment section right now!