Thursday 31 December 2009

Uponnothing answers questions about blogging.

Curious about the people behind the blogs and hungry for advice, I asked some of my favourite bloggers about blogging.

Second up, Uponnothing - Angry Mob - Twitter profile.

Pre-interview statement.

Before I start I’ll just point out that Angry Mob is currently dead [Update: back online] because I am transferring it to my own hosting company. The old hosts have been painfully slow in transferring the domain names across so everything is offline for the time being. I hope to have Angry Mob back up some time in January.

Who are you?

I’m nearly 28, work for an FE college as a Learning Advisor and am a qualified English Lecturer. I created Angry Mob back in February I think.

Briefly explain your blog.

My blog is an attempt to analyse some of the stories that the Tabloid media publish that are clearly lies or distortions. I attempt to point out the hatred, racism, homophobia and misogyny of the Tabloid Press and try to identify the consequences of this. I try to keep an eye on the people posting on Tabloid websites, because their ignorance and hatred is a direct reflection of the media diet that they consume (or at least they reinforce their views through their choice of media consumption).

Why did you start?

I used to run a political blog a couple of years ago, but i wasn’t really passionate enough about it to make it any kind of success. The readership didn’t really grow and as a result I turned my back on it and stopped blogging completely. After completing a PGCE in FE I changed jobs and suddenly I had access to the Daily Mail each day. After a few months reading it and being shocked at just what a hate-rag it was I began to notice that some of my colleagues were very influenced by it. They would get angry every morning and start ranting about immigrants, benefits and other issues which they really knew nothing about. I began to realise just how influential the Daily Mail was in forming opinions that had no bearing in reality and I began to look into the stories and Angry Mob began. It was largely for my own sanity.

What keeps you motivated?

Motivation is difficult, when you work full time, drive a 2 hour commute each day (imagine violins playing now) you can start to neglect logging onto the Mail website or digging through the print edition for stories to write about. However, sometimes reading the Mail website or paper really motivates you and makes it easy to write a post because sometimes the lies are so blatant that you don’t have to work hard to point them out.
Motivation is sometimes maintained by monitoring your reader stats, when you fail to update as frequently your readership suffers and you feel like you have to write more. Likewise, arbitrary measurements like Wikio ranking can sometimes motivate you as well. My aim was to get into top 300 on Wikio for the general category and this month I got up to 200. My overall rank with Total Politics was 203, which for such a new blog was pleasing. Such things shouldn’t really motivate me, but I have to admit they do a little bit because they find a competitive edge I didn’t really think I had.

If any, which other bloggers do you admire and why?

I admire many bloggers for what they write, and for how they help other bloggers get a wider readership. Tim Ireland in particular offered a lot of link support and traffic in the beginning and I really admire his work over at Bloggerheads because he is so persistent and thorough, you always get the feeling that he is writing with truth as his only goal – he is never concerned with being a crowd-pleasing writer, merely a recorder of truth in an age when the Mainstream Media and other high-ranking bloggers produce spin and guff. The Enemies of reason is another blog that gave me a lot of traffic and still does. It is always well-written in a humorous style, but thought-provoking at the same time.  He has patiently waded through the tabloids for a long time and deserves every credit for still keeping the blog feeling fresh. TabloidWatch is a blog that started at a similar time to Angry Mob and has also gone from strength to strength because it’s always well researched and goes after a wider selection of Tabloids than Angry Mob. Quite how he manages to update the blog so frequently is beyond me, but he deserves his growing readership and he sends me a lot of traffic.
I also admire Five Chinese Crackers and Mailwatch – although Mailwatch is a collaboration of bloggers and not updated that often.

What are you views on blogger tools (e.g. google analytics, zemanta, etc.) and are there any that you recommend?

I don’t really use Blogger tools as I don’t use Blogger software. My site is run through Joomla 1.5 as when I started the site I wanted it to be a website, as opposed to a blog. To this end content was added not simply added to a frontpage (like a blog) but into different sections throughout the blog which had to be dug through by readers. However, because this was time consuming and I could not add enough content to justify a website, I have changed Angry Mob to become more like a blog, although I still maintain static content sections like The Daily Mail Dictionary and the Richard Littlejohn audit.

Excluding the home page, which have been the 5 most viewed pages on your blog? Do they represent a good place for a newcomer to your blog to start?

My most popular page ranked by views is the Daily Mail Dictionary which is approaching 30,000 visitors. I cannot be more precise because Angry Mob is currently dead. I would definitely recommend the top ranked posts as a good place to start with Angry Mob, but some of my favourite posts – the ones I consider to be written well etc – are often amongst the least read. Likewise, the post I knock up in five minutes and barely proofread sometimes seem to get way more readers. It is hard to predict which posts will get linked to, and which will not.

Who do you write for? Do you have a target reader? 

My basic target audience are people who are fed up with the mainstream press. People who like to find out more about stories and how the mainstream media often completely distort them. Google sends a lot of visitors to the site who may not be this kind of reader, but might walk away with a slightly different view – although I doubt people really change their opinions based on something they’ve read online, but we can all dream.

Do you set yourself any format guidelines (e.g. length, tone, style)?

I have no format guidelines. Sometimes I avoid swearing, sometimes I swear a lot. It depends on my mood, some posts are serious, others are more vitriolic.

Is there any advice that you would like to offer to other bloggers?

My main advice to bloggers is to blog about what they know and what interests them, makes everything easier to do. Use Twitter to gain readers and you’ll be surprised how much traffic you get from having a presence on it. If you do not feel that you can update regularly enough then try and join a blog or set up a shared blogging site. You’ll get much bigger and readers will return more for a regularly updated blog.
To this extent I am aiming to build a new blog on media matters that maintains a good deal of static content to counter some of the Media's favourite myths. I hope to have a team of contributers and welcome anyone else who would like to join in. I intend for the site to be serious in tone, no swearing etc so that it could be used as an educational resource.

Anything else to add?

Contact me if anyone wants to get involved in the new project. I also run a hosting company specialising in cheap blog hosting ( so consider us an alternative to free but limited blogging accounts.

Hopefully Angry Mob will return in the new year.

See here for interview Phil BC - A Very Public Sociologist.


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