Most days I sift through mountains of blog posts (and increasingly, tweets) with sometimes cryptic titles and link references. While it can be fun to discover what a post or page is really about, when time is short I must admit I do sometimes pass over ambiguous links in favour of something with a more definite payoff.
Andy Wibbels just brought up this issue on the Everything Typepad blog. His advice: “Always Be Obvious” and “Stop Being Clever.” Where’s the fun in that?! He’s got a point, though. Regular readers might be willing to give a favourite blog the benefit of the doubt—we’re just talking about a click and a few seconds of attention, after all—but someone scanning through a pile of Google results might not be so willing to investigate a mystery link.
I’ve seen high-volume blogs that use parenthetical comments after post titles or links to narrow down the subject matter. As clunky as it is, it does make sifting through posts easier. It’s essentially a form of tagging, or like subheadlines in a newspaper (remember newspapers?). You can keep the clever title, but just add a little comment that indicates the general topic.
What do you think? Have you ever glossed over a blog post, here or anywhere, because it wasn’t clear what it was about? Do you like to know what you’re getting in to or do you like to be surprised? The litblogosphere is a distinct community and the usual rules of cyberspace don’t necessarily apply here. We like stories. We don’t like spoilers. We’re curious. We don’t mind spending time reading interesting things. We’re about quality over quantity. We aren’t out to get maximum hits and rake in the advertising revenue. So maybe this just isn’t an issue here, but I thought I’d open the floor to see if anyone has an opinion. What do you like: clever or obvious?