Advice for new grad school bloggers...

Mar 20 2012 Published by under Blogging, Grad School, Lab

So today I got an email for a cool cat named Darwin Foo, who is about to go to graduate school, on advice for starting up a blog.  Turns out Darwin has created a blog Darwin + Fu = My Equation For Life.  So Darwin, here is my advice to you and any other grad student bloggers.  Dear readers if you have any pearls of wisdom, feel free to contribute as well.

1. There are no rules to blogging, do whatever the hell you want.
2. Write for you! Mostly, its the most comfortable and its where you best stuff will flow from and you are creating an honest point of view.
3. Since you are not pseudonymous, be careful about how critical of things and people you are. Folks now know who you are, best not to slag off too hard on anyone you work with or where you work.
4. Go comment on other folks blogs and make sure to leave the link to your blog as a trackback, that way they can navigate to your blog and read you.
5. Feed the trolls, but not too much. I give the Tideliar some filet mignon from time to time, but he'll keep eating if you don't cut him off.
6. Have an RSS feed, that way I and others can add you into their Google Reader subscriptions
7. If you are going to research a topic, really research. For example, in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina famed rapper Kanye West publicly declared that then President George Bush didn't care about black people. Kanye was a bit hurried in his research and missed the mark by a bit. If he would have done his due diligence, he would have found out that George Bush didn't care about black people OR poor people. Lesson learned Kanye, do your homework.
8. Have fun, if its not fun, you aren't going to be able to do it.
9. Oh and when you get a following, make sure to throw some linklove in other people's directions. The ever lovable DrugMonkey was the first to throw me some linklove and make mention of my blog (which I surmise he found me from his comments section) and gifted me much of the meager following that I have today. So I will always be thankful to him, even though he holds me upside down and shakes out my lunch money every day.
10. The internet will turn on you one day. It happens to everyone but don't be surprised if they go all 4chan on your ass. Just deal with it. It will subside, unless you piss off the homeopathic people. Or doulas!

24 responses so far

  • Pascale says:

    Just keep writing. Your skills will increase every time you post, and writing well on a blog will rub off on your scientific writing.
    Try to remember the stuff they said in Comp 101: active voice, dangling participles, etc. Your teachers knew something, and paying attention to "the rules" gets easier with practice.

  • scicurious says:

    In the spirit of #10, I recommend strong blogging armor or headgear. Useful for when you start forcibly banging your head against the wall.

  • Erin Podolak says:

    I would add that while your posts should be well researched, it is okay to learn more about a topic after you've put up a post. Commenters can add good perspective and if they or something else change your mind or you realize made a mistake just own it. Make the changes to the post and include a note saying that you did so and why. It is all about transparency. People won't follow your blog because they expect you to be infallible (unless they are a troll) they will follow you because they expect you to be intelligent and honest.

  • Odyssey says:

    3a. Even if you are using a pseud, be careful about how critical of things and people you are. It's far too easy for people to figure out who you are.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    What Odyssey said. Bottom line is that if people who know you reasonably well happen across your blog they will immediately know it is you. Very hard to hide one's voice.

    Also, sprinkled breadcrumbs across many posts (years?) allow the wonderfully synthetic brain of most humans to narrow down.

    Never assume a pseud is full anonymity in blogging...

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I cannot believe you forgot rule 11 Grasshopper.

  • --bill says:

    If you blog under your own name, assume that search committees will find and read your blog.

  • tim says:

    "If he would have done his due diligence, he would have found out that George Bush didn't care about black people OR poor people."

    wasn't expecting that one and just pulled a spittake; well done

  • Drugmonkey says:

    10a. Or pot smokers

  • Darwin Fu says:

    Thanks for the advice and the Link love 🙂

    I personally chose to avoid using pseudonyms just because I didn't want to have a false sense of security. I already felt the difficulty of being critical in my first post because I really wanted to talk about the pro/cons of my graduate schools.

  • B Yond says:

    I have been stalking your blog and am also attempting to start my own as I start grad school. Thanks for the advice!

  • DJ Busby says:

    Doulas, oh my god. Researching that one was rough. It looks on the surface like BS but it has been evaluated as beneficial in a psychologically based way. The recorded effect reminds me very strongly of my research on meditation and its benefits. Recently I took the first online course at NIH's NCCAM (CAM=Complementary and Alternative Medicine) I got 100% and the certificate. Starting, immediately I was on high alert for bias and BS. The group is very scientifically sound, and they're explicit and transparent on the aspects of their studies. NCCAM has the highest failure rate of all of NIH. Most often they'll research an herbal remedy or whatever CAM, and after so much effort it's a "yep, no significant signal" type of thing. The point is, even though you may have a lot of knowledge on a pseudoscience, getting 1st generation information from .gov/.edu/journals etc., reputable credible sources not only give you a deeper understanding, but gives you the tool you need to drive the point home when sharing information with others. (assuming they are skeptical enough to inquire/research further)

  • I am a newbie blogger and also clueless about social media so I've got a ton of learning to do. Thanks for the advice!

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