Blog fail! 3 blogs that just don't cut it.
- By Michael Hardy
- Mar 08, 2011
Editor's note: This story was updated on March 10 with new information.
Some government blogs suffer from weaknesses that make them less useful than they could be. Here are a few dishonorable mentions, offered in the spirit of constructive criticism.
Author: Walt Warnick
Key fault: Bad navigation
The blog by the Energy Department's Office of Scientific and Technical Information is awkward to navigate. Rather than allowing the reader to scroll down from the top to see all the most recent entries, the page shows only the top part of the latest post. To read a full entry, the reader must click a link labeled “read more.” To see older entries, readers must click to go to Page 2, then Page 3, 4 and so on.
That means the reader can't see the range of topics the blog covers or even read one full entry without a lot of work. It discourages readers from spending time on the site.
Key fault: Lack of mission focus
"GovGab" is hard to figure out. It’s a chatty, fun blog created by the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, and if it were the authors’ personal project, it would be a good read. On a typical day, we found entries on heart disease awareness, information on how to opt out of preapproved credit card offers, and two oatmeal cookie recipes with a report on the results of an in-office comparison of the finished products. A little further down was an entry on the State Department’s warning about traveling to Egypt in light of that country's civil unrest.
The problem is that the blog is not a personal project. "GovGab" bills itself as “Your U.S. government blog,” and it’s produced on government time by government employees. We’re not quite sure what its purpose is, but educating and informing people about GSA’s work doesn't seem to be part of it. Is this really a good use of public funds?
[Editor's note: GSA ended GovGab in late February. Replacing it is the USA.gov blog.]
Author: Douglas Elmendorf
Key fault: Wonkish
If the "GovGab" blog suffers from being too personal and fluffy, the Congressional Budget Office "Director’s Blog" goes to the opposite extreme. Doug Elmendorf’s posts are certainly informative, but they read like dry news releases, with facts and figures and not much personality. For just-the-facts readers, that might be fine, but it doesn’t make for an engaging experience.
Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.