April 28, 2008

What is the Instapundit formula?

If it's so easy, why don't more people do it? Acephalous has an excuse — I mean other than his absence of a head — he doesn't "think disjointedly" and he can't "stop thinking about something seconds after I've started." And, I add, can't stop complimenting himself for his extensive thinking. (Are we calling that being your own Chris Matthews now?)

There's a reason that Glenn Reynolds gets 250 times as much traffic as Acephalous, and it can't be that what he is doing is so easy to do. Don't be so proud of your arduous lengthiness. The trick is to make it look effortless and to get yourself into a place where you don't seem to be about showcasing your intelligence.

Thanks to Simon for the link.

29 comments:

rhhardin said...

Also Zipf's Law. The top traffic sites take most of the traffic.

George said...

1) Have nose for news;
2) Omit needless words;
3) Offer strong opinions, but respect other views;
4) Give variety;
5) Refresh content;
6) Admit error;
7) Keep it clean;
8) Have a sense of humor about yourself;

and, of course, it helps to have

a) A pre-existing platform; and
b) Foresight to enter emerging markets early.

AJ Lynch said...

George:

You could make money teaching courses on how to blog successfully. You just listed a very excellent course outline!

There is a lib blogger who calls herself a concierge of news. I think that is a pretty good description of Reynolds. He points to something and gives a comment or two (generally accurate and insightful). He must be a voracious and speedy reader too.

Freeman Hunt said...

Be incisive. Be terse.

OldGrouchy said...

It must be the "Law Professor Syndrome!" Heh. Indeed!

Fen said...

Instapundit is always my first read on the net.

Gives me a good sense of what's buzzing around the blogoshpere, easy access to a variety of writers on his blog roll, as well as the occasional gem I would have missed.

Bob said...

Brevity, and Frequency.

Heh.

J said...

Don't be so hard on the guy. It's not often you'll find an English major willing to fess up to "epic irrelevance". Sounds like a sharp guy to me, though I don't see him putting a dent in The Blogfather's traffic.

Freder Frederson said...

6) Admit error;

When has Reynolds ever done this? Even when he is accused of advocating and excusing genocide he refuses to explain or rescind his boneheaded statement, instead just insisting that it was "taken out of context".

Or when he links to sites that post viscious racist rants, he just claims "oh, that's a different poster on that site (and of course Ann rushes to his defense)".

Henry said...

Freder said, "Even when he is accused of advocating and excusing genocide he refuses to explain..."

It may be that some accusations really aren't worth responding to.

* * *

Personally, I think it's because Glenn Reynolds is only 5% Stupid.

froggyprager said...

Glenn reads everything online so the rest of us don't have to. It has a catchy name and people has heard of it. It is not that hard to do a blog like that but it was one of the first to use that approach. It is a top blog for much the same reason that Coke and Starbucks and Nike are top brands.

ballyfager said...

If he doesn't stop knocking Obama (to the exclusion of knocking Clinton) he's going to lose me.

He, and present company, aren't going to be happy people if that incompetent woman winds up in the White House, especially if they can be accused of being complicit in that outcome.

Will said...

2) Omit needless words;
My only problem with Glenn's style is that he sometimes omits needful words. A link to some site I've never heard of that simply says "HEH." or "INDEED." irritates me. Tell me why I should spend time reading the article, or at least give it some context. If it's political, I might be interested. If it's Glenn's obsession with so-called singularity and life extension, I'll pass.
That's one of the reasons I like Althouse: The links always have context.

George said...

Sub-section D:

a) Avoid cutesiness;
b) Shun favoritism;
c) Print reader mail.

I notice from the NYT today that Madison, Wisconsin's, afternoon newspaper has ceased print publication and now exists only on the Web. If they have not offered you a gig, Professor, they should.

Steven said...

Like Will, I got tired of the single word comments (particularly the "Heh" variety), and actually stopped checking the site several years ago. He never seemed to have much to actually say, and when he did, it always seemed to be about nanotechnology.

SEK said...

Ann, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, I sincerely believe you know how to read. It's a healthy habit, esp. when what you respond to is made of words. For instance, you write:

Don't be so proud of your arduous lengthiness.

Statements like this would lead people to believe you don't know what words mean. Then again, I only get 1/250th of Reynold's traffic, so what would I know?

JSU said...

Many people could do what Reynolds does for a while, but to do it for years on end? You really have to be like his blog: broadly interested, levelheaded, confident and a bit lighthearted.

At this point he gets piles of tips and the traffic of having been first, but that's not why people keep reading him. Personally I think his levelheadedness is the underrated element -- people like having an antidote to all the daily freak-out blogs.

Freder Frederson said...

He never seemed to have much to actually say, and when he did, it always seemed to be about nanotechnology.

I usually only check out Instapundit when Atrios points out he has said something really dumb or linked to something really offensive (like the nice little Easter post that had the racist screed just below it).

He really goes off the reservation when he starts fantasizing about sex with robots. It makes you wonder about Dr. Helen.

dbp said...

If you only go there when pointed to by folks you are in general agreement with--who only point to him when he says something they dislike: Hard to imagine why you wouldn't have a negative view of his blog.

Revenant said...

There are two reasons I like Instapundit as much as I do. The first is that we have similar tastes on a lot of things, and not just on politics. The "heh" links don't bother me because I'm usually amused by whatever they link to.

The second, and perhaps the more important, reason is that he never gets angry -- which is amazing, considering how many Freders there are out there libelling him on a daily basis. He has a surprisingly low capacity for hate and anger, or at least is good at suppressing those traits.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rev nailed it. Same reasons I always check Instapundit. I think there is a very large segment of Internet users that have tastes similar to Glenn's.

Fen said...

Freder: linked to something really offensive (like the nice little Easter post that had the racist screed just below it).

Hey Freder, how did he link to it if it was below what he linked to?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

MARRY A babe.

blake said...

Insty drives the far left nuts, it seems. I actually use him as a basis for what left-leaning blogs I should give a read. (TalkLeft, e.g.)

But the point that I find most fascinating is "be evasively judgmental". How does that work?

"This guy's an idiot. Sort of."

Fen said...

Get in line Blake. I'm still waiting for Freder to explain:

how did Reynold's link to it if it was below what he linked to?

Jim C. said...

Freder Frederson said
I usually only check out Instapundit when Atrios points out he has said something really dumb or linked to something really offensive (like the nice little Easter post that had the racist screed just below it).


Don't you think that's a rather biased sample? Maybe that's a case of confirmation bias, on your part as well as that of Atrios?

Actually, I have seen him admit error a handful of times. But I'm not about to comb his thousands of posts to find those. Much more frequent are the times people criticize him for their own version of something he said, rather than what he actually did say.

He really goes off the reservation when he starts fantasizing about sex with robots. It makes you wonder about Dr. Helen.

I think we need you to link to a number of posts showing such fantasies, because I can't remember even one, and I read him every day.

I think you should be wondering about yourself and the fantasies you're projecting on him.

And "off the reservation"? That's a rather odd turn of phrase. Do I detect a racist subtext?

:D

blake said...

I don't read Freder here. Sometimes, in a non-political thread, he seems like a sane--even nice--guy.

If I stumble across one of his messages in a political thread, or he puts politics in a non-political thread, it's just--well, it ruins the illusion.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

1) Be thoughtful and trustful and childlike,
2) Be witty and happy and wise,
3) Be honest and love all your neighbours,
4) Be obsequious, purple, and clairvoyant.

Sorry, I couldn't read the list of tips without thinking of Steve Martin's advice.

Peg C. said...

I check Glenn obsessively and much more often than Drudge or any others I frequent. Actually I also enjoy his guestbloggers. I don't always agree with Glenn but he is very levelheaded, very smart, extremely well-read and an excellent writer. I think those who don't like him tend to be suffering from blog envy, or intelligence envy, or just self-loathing.

I just worry he'll burn out, but he seems to have a handle on that, too.

I actually do love the "heh"'s where you have to link to find out what it is. On occasion, I have no idea what the joke is...