What Makes a Post “Legitimately Good”?

First off, let me state emphatically that I am not trying to generate any sort of negativity with this post, and that it is in no way a poke at our host, Stuart, who knows I love him to bits. :)  I do hope that it creates some thoughtful discussion, or that you will at least weigh in with your opinions.  There is no need for defensiveness–or offensiveness–as you read this.  It is just a collection of meandering thoughts.

With that little disclaimer out of the way, I wanted to ask those of you who care to answer what you personally believe constitutes a “legitimately good” post.

This question was borne of a comment that Stuart left in the most recent News discussion, “Picks Tumbler”, where he suggested (as part of an explanation) that:  “…If a post is gaining a lot of popularity yet doesn’t deserve it a few 1 hearts from members will certainly knock it off it’s perch (this will be monitored for who’s flagging 1’s instead of 5’s if the post is legitimately good). …”

This begs a two-part question:  (a)  what makes a post “legitimately good” and (b) who determines it to be so…or not?

I’ve been forthcoming in the past with my opinion about the competitive nature of Blotanical’s Picks system.  I’ve never written a post in the hope that it will garner a huge number of Picks; rather, the personal barometer that I use to gauge the popularity of a post is by the number of comments it generates, or more specifically, that it has been READ.

I’d prefer we didn’t rate posts at all.  Sharing our knowledge, ideas, and the beauty of our gardens is enough for me.  Having said that, at the same time, I have always been happy to go along with what the majority wants, or what Stuart deems is necessary.  It’s never been a big deal, and won’t be in the future.

If we have to have a Picks system, I’d much prefer a two-button setup:  perhaps a single flower button that could be used as a “calling card” to say, ‘I stopped by’, and maybe a bouquet button that would indicate, ‘I really liked this post!’  In my opinion, using a 5-star, or 5-heart rating system could create hard feelings as Blotanists, doubtlessly incorrectly, interpret 1 heart as, ‘I read it but it sucked’.  And if the Picker didn’t receive any points at all, perhaps that would deter those who simply pick to up their status.  Shouldn’t all points be assigned to the creator of the post?  Again, let me stress that this is just my opinion.

Of all my Blotanical posts, the one that generated the most Picks from my archives was a long, emotional post titled My Garden: As It Was, Is, And May Be.  It received 45 Picks.  However, close behind in Picks popularity was a post titled Pewter and Silver which consisted of a single photo with a one-line quote beneath it.  It received 31 Picks.  So, obviously, the type of post that is deemed to be “legitimately good” is a very subjective thing.

In my part of the world, for half of the year, there is little in the garden that provokes an informative type post, especially for those of us who garden on a balcony or deck.  While we cherish our crocuses, tulips, and daffodils and even anticipate the first appearance of the lowly dandelion, we garden vicariously through the posts of those Blotanists who are already harvesting the first greens from their gardens, or have fruit trees in bloom, already heavy with the buzz of bees.  Here in Eastern Canada, it takes us a while to build up steam.

So I relish your rain chains, your rhodies, and your rustic sheds.  I hang off your hellebores and heucheras.  I love your liatris, your lilacs, and your layouts for new beds.  Posts long or short, with or without photos, opinionated or informative…I find them all to be “legitimately good”.

I imagine I’ve opened myself up for a public flogging with this post, but that’s okay, too.  I don’t seek popularity; I seek readership.  I’d love to hear your opinions.

Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

64 thoughts on “What Makes a Post “Legitimately Good”?”

  1. I like the two-choice idea, as there have been many occasions where I was completely wowed by a post and wanted to give it an extra click. I’ve never had the desire to rate one based on a 5-point scale. I agree with you…the judging of a post is completely subjective. My own most “popular” posts have been on the subjects of blogging and weeds, though those were not at all my own favorites. My favorites are posts that have brought up memories or emotions in me as I wrote them, or ones that contain collections of my favorite photographs based on a fun theme. As for picking other bloggers’ posts, I personally appreciate posts with excellent photography and words that evoke plant passion or the wonders of nature. Or posts that show me your part of the world. Like you, informative posts rarely help me, as I live in a little pocket of the world that is neither temperate nor tropical, neither rainforest nor desert. Regardless, I love to read the informative posts also because sometimes, knowledge seeps in when I least expect it. For instance, a blogger recently posted a mystery photo of a flower. I instantly recognized it, only because I had a few months earlier, read someone’s blogpost on the saffron crocus. You never know what you’ll learn. This is why hyperlexics like myself lurk on Blotanical.
    Thanks for your very thoughtful comment, FG. :)

  2. Thoughtful as ever, friend. I agree with nearly everything you’ve said and implied. Alas, it is one of the reasons I think I have strayed somewhat from following along so much at blotanical. I’ve never acclimated to the competitive underpinnings, and would rather put the wee bits of spare time I can manage into learning from others and actually making things. Bravo for opening up this dialogue.
    Thanks for taking the time to weigh in, David.

  3. We’re not going to flog you Nancy. Actually, I thank you for posting this. I’d missed that Stuart had posted the ‘Picks Tumbler’. Sometimes I forget to check that part of my plot. I posted a response to him (although it doesn’t seem to show yet). I agree that 5 hearts, when 1 and 2 are picked, can generate resentment or animosity toward ‘pickers’, and I think is unnecessary. The virtue I do see in a ranked pick system though, is as feedback, so I can improve the quality of my posts for readers. But I agree, we should just read the posts we enjoy, and appreciate seeing others gardens and the natural world through someone else’s eyes. Happy Earth Day!
    And Happy Earth Day to you, too! With thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  4. I am not a particular fan of the “Picks” routine, myself. In fact, in spite of the fact that I surely appreciate what Stuart accomplishes in Blotanical, especially considering he has been there from the start. I admire that place endlessly – but I have always felt it was more for the diversity than for purposes of popularity that made it attractive to me. I think that “sharing intelligence and beauty” by visiting sites offring fascinating reading and pictures is the first priority of experiencing Blotanical, personally. Exchanging society ranks second, but is also extremely worthwhile owing to how cool all the people are. I actually wish the forum were a bit more active, myself. I have drawn away a bit from Blotanical for my fear of becoming “cliquish” – a fear which probably has no real basis in fact except that I am persnickety about that sort of clubbiness.
    You have so much to share, Steve…and I thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. I have to agree with you. My most popular post so far was just a filler post for a day I didn’t have my regularly scheduled program and I actually felt it wasn’t all that “legitimately good.” I like your two click idea. I’m much more interested in readership and if people find it interesting, most will comment.
    Thanks so much for sharing your opinion. :)

  6. Hi Nancy
    If I take time to read the Botanical ‘news’, or delve into the controversy or comments about the ‘picks, I begin to feel adrift and down. It’s difficult to describe, but overall I just wish we could get away from points and accruing points with picks. It’s probably obvious that this is not a well-thought-out comment, but there are probably as many opinions as to how Blotanical should be configured as there are Blotanists. To complicate the picks system further with one to five ratings.. it just makes my head spin.
    One thing that has emerged that I do find interesting is wondering how Stuart developed the new algorithm that presents popular posts in a different context. It seems to have freshened up that ‘popular’ aspect. So there, I do have the desire to express a definite opinion about something!
    I appreciate that you’ve opened this topic for discussion. Thanks, Nancy!
    You’re so welcome, and I thank you for your thoughtful input. :)

  7. Nancy, I do appreciate this post – and that you have opened the question up for dialogue. I am also a big fan of Blotanical and I think that in the past you and I have had the same views on some aspects of “picks” I was a tad unhappy when I read “Picks Tumbler” but have not yet formulated a response – however, what you have expressed here echos my own views. And, you have said it very well.
    I love Blotanical too, Karen — I’ve met some of the most wonderful people there and have learned so much about gardening and Nature. There are just a few features I wish we could do without; but, come what may, I’ll still be reading and posting. :) Thanks for your comments.

  8. I pick because I use popular posts to skim thru over 2,000 garden blogs. I cannot read them all and I do keep finding new blogs (like Dog Island) or new to me blogs. And NOBODY garden-blogs in the Renosterveld with me, so I am overjoyed to have readers. Then there’s this weird feeling that when I DON’T post I get even more visitors from a 24/7 world only just reading yesterday’s post.
    I use the Picks button, too, but I give a Pick to every post I read because every post is worthy, in my opinion. And yes, I can see where it would be a bit weird as we all catch up with you in your part of the planet. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your views.

  9. BTW Went to read My Garden As It Was, and the embedded link to your other, new blog needs updating.

  10. Hi Nancy, I read the ‘news’ last night at Blotanical and my stomach literally sank & I felt a rush of negativity overtake me….almost like Alice described. I have never liked the picks and have verbalized that before. I’m not for the ‘popular’ terminology, either. I have found that, unless I spend time ‘picking’, I don’t get many picks. When I go and ‘pick’ then suddenly I get them as well. To me, picks mean that someone wanted to say hello to me. In my mind it has rarely had anything to do with how ‘good’ the quality of a post is. I had 50+ picks on something that was really silly and some of the ones I have put some effort into get very few. Often I think it has to do with who happens to have time to play the ‘Blotanical game’ on any given day. To me, Blotanical has been the place where almost ALL of us garden bloggers have ‘met’ and become aware of each other. I said it before & I’m saying it now, I used to feel awkward when I would stand out there. I personally don’t want to be at the top. I just like meeting new people and finding new blogs & if something friendly or social develops, that’s a plus. I have never written a post with the thought of a pick…unless it was in the very beginning when I was first ‘infatuated’ with the system. Last night I told myself that if there is a 5-tiered system I will never be involved w/Blotanical again, at least not as far as picking posts is concerned. I was going to write the same thing you did and say I could accept ‘2’…but that would be as far as it would go. I really don’t want to sound rude, but I don’t have time for playing the ‘game’, especially if it gets even more involved. I have mixed feelings about expressing my personal thoughts about this publicly, but since you opened the door, I apparently DID have something I wanted to say. Thanks;-)
    And I’m very glad you said it, Jan. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  11. I agree with you Nancy. That is why I decided not to continue with that particular garden group. It is great for getting gardeners together, but I am not comfortable with the competing. Good for you for speaking up.
    I simply don’t feel our posts *need* to be rated; as I’ve already stated, every post has its own merit. But I realize that there will be those who feel very differently. :) I thank you for taking the time to comment.

  12. I agree. And to be completely honest, blotanical is annoying and is mainly there to generate income from advertising. Which is totally fine.. but being in it for the rank is annoying and besides the point of writing about nature.
    I have no problem with Stuart generating an income from Blotanical; what he pays for bandwidth alone must be astronomical. I reached “Guru Status” ages ago, but I’ve been here for 2 1/2 years. And really, except for being able to have the greatest number of Faves, which is a very useful feature, the Guru status really means nothing. It doesn’t mean the quality of my posts are any better than anyone else’s, I’ve simply just accumulated a lot of points. That’s it.

    I agree…let’s just get on with the process of sharing our gardens! Thanks for adding your views.

  13. I think programmers like these sort of popularity ranking systems. They must be satisfying to institute. I’ve seen this drama – almost exactly the same format, in fact – unfold on another hobby site. It caused a huge amount of hard feelings because most of the users resented the imposed competition.
    That’s what I fear most–that a rating system will cause hard feelings. Thanks for your honest comment.

  14. Very well said, Nancy. We both know that Stuart is trying to please the most people with his ideas, following up on the comments that were left on his last news flash. I do hope he reads this post and the comments for other points of view. I like the way the current top picked posts are rotated so frequently, allowing more diversity. Getting more blogs involved in the most read lists is a noble goal, however he goes about doing so. As for the points, once a guru, there is little reason to even think about them. Having the 100 faves to choose is a nice way to follow the recent posts of the blogs one enjoys with the my faves list, picking is optional of course.
    I agree, Frances, that Stuart is working hard, as usual, to find a way to keep the site running, both logistically and financially. I also like the way the new Popular Posts list is populated; I’ve discovered some fine blogs that way. Thanks so much for sharing your feelings on the matter. :)

  15. Dear Nancy, I was dismayed to read the new picks plan and like Karen haven’t formulated a response. I like blotanical and know it needs to be financially solvent. I had hoped that picking wasn’t going to be the solution. For all of us, it’s a great place to find new blogs and visit with friends…but, for Stuart, it’s how he would like to make a living doing something he likes. Either we agree to pay a membership fee or there will be increasing ways to get eyes on more pages….to see the advertising. I don’t see picks going away, but this newer competitive system is not what i want to see happen to Blotanical. gail Totally off subject, I love your grandson’s new photo! He is cool.
    My feelings exactly, Gail. And thanks for taking the time to comment. And yes, Nolan is super cool. :-)

  16. I am fairly new to the site and have only recently worked out what the picking system is…anyway…now that I am slightly more familiar with the way this site operates, I only have one question: What is the list of top pickers for? Does that mean that they were picked 400 times or they picked other posts 400 times? I don’t get that… and does anyone care?
    ::clapping enthusiastically:: My point, exactly!! :-) Thanks for your input.

  17. The beauty of a post is in the eye of the beholder, and who is to say? It is all subjective! I think the idea of rating the posts would generate ill feelings and turn some people away from blotanical. When I first joined blotanical, I thought a pick was reserved to what I thought was the best post I read that day. I soon realized it simply said that I read your post and liked it. A comment on a post has greater merit to me. I still am delighted with every comment I get. The best part of Blotanical is the connection it gives you with other gardeners from all over. I like the message feature and feel this could be used more. Really, the picks section isn’t necessary, except it does encourage visiting other blogs and acquiring enough points to get more faves. I love my faves list and am working to get to guru status so I can add more.
    I agree Deb — I’d much rather have a comment than a Pick. And, like you, I also fear a rating system will cause hard feelings. Yes, I’d miss my Faves list, too. Thanks very much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  18. I much prefer your suggestion of the two-button pick system … It’s obvious to me that some people spend a long time writing their posts and have the benefit of a terrific camera and a fabulous show-piece of a garden and a creative talent for writing, whilst others have a rather modest backyard garden (which they absolutely love!), not much time to create a brilliant piece of writing and maybe not such a brilliant camera either! … and some of us are not that gifted with a talent for marvellous writing either.

    I really don’t take notice of the picks I receive, other than to thank the people who do pick my posts for their generousity. I think those of us who are not all that bothered by picks anyway, will certainly not bothered to get offended if we don’t get 5 stars! We blog because we wish to share and learn.
    Hi Bernie — thanks for taking the time to comment. To learn and share should be what a community of gardeners is all about, you’re 100% correct. :)

  19. Nancy, I enjoyed your posts! Well written and thought out. I think you are right rating a post low or high has potential for hurt feelings. That said I will give your post the top picks, what is it 5 flowers –
    LOL, thanks Gloria. It will be interesting to see how the new system works out. :)

  20. Nancy,
    Thanks for an interesting and heartfelt post.

    I’ve ‘signed up’ with Blotanical, but have never been very interested in the system of having to enter through Blotanical, post comments through Blotanical, etc. etc. as a forum or to increase my “rankings”, etc. I’m totally supportive of Stuart’s commitment to gardening blogs (even if I don’t participate very much), but certainly would be a lot happier with a more open format for ‘ranking’ blogs. (I do follow my Nature Blog Network rankings, in contrast, but truly, it’s not that important. I write my reflections from a personal viewpoint, maybe to share a insight and some encouragement, and I’m glad for readers, as you say.

    I love reading posts that are interesting, topical, and real (and well-written), and if they’re illustrated nicely, all the better.
    Thanks, Lisa, for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)

  21. Hi Nancy – I joined Blotanical about a year ago and found some really interesting sites right away, including yours which I think was on someone’s blog list. But I really didn’t take the time to learn the ins and outs of Blotanical. About a month ago, I discovered “picking” and realized that this was a great opportunity to find interesting blogs from everywhere. I didn’t realize that it was so competitive and have just been picking everything I read. It’s my way of saying “hi”.
    Thanks for your comments about the “picks tumbler”. I read Stuart’s post with consternation and must admit that I really don’t like the idea of rating how good someone’s post is or isn’t. What you like, I may not like and vice versa. Don’t think I’ll continue to participate in the picking process if I have to choose what’s good and what isn’t good. Because so far I haven’t found anything I would choose as “not terrific”.
    We’re certainly on the same page, Heather. I’ve never read a post that was without merit, either. Even though it might not be of particular interest to me on any given day, it’s bound to be just what someone else was looking for. :) Thanks for sharing your view.

  22. Since I’ve already been flogged in public, in the comment box at Jean’s Garden, for saying some of the same things that you posted here, I just want to tell you how brave you are for putting your thoughts out there.
    Yes, we need Blotanical. No, we are not children and we should not need rewards for using that site. Stuart had a great idea when he decided to create a community of garden bloggers. The reward system, that saddles the site, detracts from that which makes Blotanical so amazing.
    Oh dear, Allan — I hope they were gentle. :-) It’s not so much the rewards that bother me as a system by which posts would be “rated” or graded. And I do agree that Blotanical is a wonderful community, and I hope it stays that way. Thank you so much for your input.

  23. Lots of things to think about here. I don’t much care for the pick system, and often forget that it exists. Yet, I love the way that Blotanical has brought in readers to my humble garden blog. My blog is my garden diary, telling me what bloomed at what time, and if others enjoy it, so be it. I’m most thrilled when personal friends tell me how much they enjoy my flowers through my Facebook links. They are not neccessarily gardeners, so I feel as if I am bringing gardening into their lives. Real garden bloggers are harder to impress! I’d be thrilled if I ever had a high pick post, but 13 is the highest I’ve managed. I stopped trying, and continue to write for my own pleasure. The comments of other gardeners mean more to me than picks.
    You hit the nail on the head as far as zeroing in on my feelings, Robin — I’d rather have the comments, too. :) Thanks so much for your input.

  24. I didn’t know about the Picks change. I don’t think I want to know how other people rate my blog posts. It would take away some of the joy of blogging to know that my posts are being rated or graded.

    I’ve kind of distanced myself from the Blotanical competition. Life is pretty stressful right now and I’ve been in the simplifying mode. I would like to think that I am above getting caught up in where my blog is in the ratings or if my posts get picked or how many visits my blog gets, but I’m not. I have found that I enjoy blogging more when I distance myself from that.

    I may follow in your footsteps, Robin, and remove myself from any form of competition on Blotanical, including giving and receiving Picks, but I’ll wait to see what we end up with and how it works first. Like you, it’s the idea of a rating or grading system that I dislike. The only thing I can see that creating is hard feelings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  25. I use the picks page to help choose what to read – a virtual ‘I’ll have what she’s having’. I subscribe to 6-7 gardening/design magazines but often find more interesting articles here! I saw it as a way of saying to other readers ‘look at this, it’s great’ and also to congratulate the writer. So the flower as a wave hello and the bouquet as applause could work,, but don’t most of us post because we just can’t help it?! All that joy, sweat and tears needs to spill somewhere and where better than a pool of fellow garden addicts. I posted before I’d heard of blotanical and regardless of whether anyone read me. But since joining blotanical I love all the comments and the day I got Stuart’s first fave email I thought I’d won the lottery! Similarly I potter about happily in my garden regardless of whether I have visitors – but like it when I do. (As long as they’re happy to chat in the veggie patch..)
    I don’t care how people “grade” my posts or whether anyone thinks they’re “worthy” or not, but after spending time composing a post, preparing photos that are easy to load, etc., it’s nice to think that other gardeners want to READ what you’ve written. I garden and commune with Nature for the joy of it; I write about it to share that joy. :) Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this issue.

  26. I’m so glad I hopped over here tonight Nancy to read this post. I joined Blotanical almost exactly two years ago with the intention of using it to help me find other gardeners and their blogs. As far as that purpose, it has been immensely successful. Most of the garden blogging friends I follow today, I “met” thru Blotanical. However, it didn’t take long for me to decide I wasn’t going to be very active. I’m not sure why everything in life has to be competitive? Picking the best posts, picking favorite blogs from each state, etc., etc. undermines the purpose of gardening in my estimation. Anyone who sows a seed and plants a plant is a winner in my book. I’m not sure why one post or garden should be elevated over another. They all give the creator the same amount of joy, angst, etc. For many of us, myself included, it’s our hobby and our stress reliever therefore I have no interest in making it competitive.
    Having said all that, I definitely want to say I appreciate Stuart for creating the gathering place, whether I continue to use it or not.
    I echo your sentiments, Kathleen and I thank you for taking the time to leave them in comments. :)

  27. I read a few blogs, about a dozen, every day, but have never noticed any kind of voting system. I don’t have a blog of my own and don’t know the differences between the various sites like Blogger or WordPress. Your idea of have just 2 buttons would work with me if I ever ran across them. Questionaires and ratings are some of my least favorite things… For me, gardening blogs without photos or with unlabeled photos are disappointing. Stories, quotes and poems – the longer the better – are always welcomed.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kim. The Picks, as they exist now, are a form of voting, I suppose, but the proposed “5-heart Picks system” will actually allow the reader to “rate/grade” each post. We’ll see how it all turns out. :) Thanks for taking the time to share your view.

  28. Hello Nancy, I don’t really mind ‘picks’ as they are, but I’d be just as happy if the were called a ‘wave’ or ‘hello’. Like Deborah E I collect up points so I can be a magpie and collect more favourite blogs :) I’m not into being competitive but I do like to interact, so if someone picks my post I like to say hello and go and have a peek at their blog (time of course, being a factor). I’ve found some great ‘new to me’ blogs this way which is wonderful, because I keep running out of time to find new ones more proactively!

    I must go and have a look at the ‘picks tumbler’ info, but from what you’ve explained, I don’t think I’ll be keen on a rating system. I pick a post for a whole range of reasons, but it’s not to be ‘judge and jury’!
    What a ramble – sorry!
    Not a ramble at all, and no apologies required. :) I share your sentiments, exactly. Thanks for your input.

  29. I’m very new to blotanical, but I don’t pay attention to the picks. I don’t blog to see how popular my blog gets, I do it because I enjoy it. I don’t see how the pick system can truly define a legitimate blog – we all have different tastes in what we like to view. I may look at a popular blog and not like it while obviously , others do like it. It’s all about individual tastes, just as our gardening styles are different, so are our reading styles. I joined blotanical to connect with other gardeners, not to join a popularity contest. Thank you for posting your thoughts on picks.
    That’s a very good point: what we grow in our gardens is just as varied as what appeals to us in a blog post. I may not be completely interested in a post on growing cacti, for example, but I certainly wouldn’t give it a “failing grade” simply because I can’t grow them or because the information is not particularly pertinent for me. Such a post would be of great interest to someone who lives in a much warmer, dry clime. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. :)

  30. I like what Gippy said, about renaming Picks as a Wave or Hello :)
    I can’t really say much more than has already been said by everyone else. I don’t understand why some of my posts get tons of picks, and some don’t. My biggest pick getter was a post about calling Myrtles “Crape vs Crepe”. I think the ones where I ask other people’s opnion on something seem to get the most picks. Or the ones where I’m particularly funny that day. I think posts are like art. Posts ARE art. There’s nothing that can be written that’s right or wrong, it just IS. Some of us don’t even completely stick to gardening, and that’s ok, in fact, sometimes that’s refreshing. When I do that myself, I’m always afraid I’ll get a warning from Blotanical or something, that I’ll be kicked off LOL.
    The only thing I really like about picks, is that the more you have, the more you get your post read by others. Sometimes I feel a little discouraged though, because it always seems to be the same people who are in the ‘Featured’ sidebar. Not slamming that though, they put in the effort to get to that point. I just don’t have the time to play the game. And that makes me feel bad. Should it? lol
    It shouldn’t make you feel bad, Kyna, because, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be a game, or competition. As you said, there’s nothing that can be written that’s right or wrong, it just IS, as we present it in our posts. You either read it and enjoy it, or you move along to the next post. What appeals to you in a post might not be my cup of tea, and vice versa. But it doesn’t make the post less worthy. Thanks for your input!

  31. Nancy, I’m so glad that you raised this question. I, too, was struck by Stuart’s “legitimately good” comment. I once tried to write a post about what I thought made a really good blog, and as soon as I’d posted it, I was already disagreeing with myself! I agree with Kyna; blog posts are works of art, and there are many, many different kinds of good art and many, many different tastes in those who view/consume art. I can’t imagine any way to distinguish between “legitimately good” posts and others. There are many wonderful and very popular garden blogs out there that I recognize the value of but which are not on my “faves” list just because their content or their style is just not my cup of tea. But that does not mean that they’re not “legitimately good”!

    Having said that, I’ll admit that I like the “pick” system for two reasons: First, it provides a way for me to quickly acknowledge blogs that are not among my “faves” and blog posts that I haven’t commented on. Second, as others have said, I often find new blogs that I have missed or posts I’m genuinely interested in by browsing the “popular” post lists. (I probably would have missed this post if it hadn’t landed on the “popular” list.) I love the flower/bouquet idea.

  32. A five point scale is too complicated. I like the two point scale. Maybe the two point button could be a point for the picker and a point for the poster. Plus it would give it extra pick points for sorting.

  33. I’m so glad to have read this. I actually just left a comment (although it hasn’t shown up yet) on the picks tumbler news post. I completely agree with you on this. I was actually beginning to wonder if I was the only one that felt this way since I hadn’t really seen a comment that disagreed with the ratings. Really who am I to judge what someone else blogs about? I love reading about different types of gardens/topics in different places by different people. Most of us earn nothing from our blogs, we do it for our enjoyment.
    There is enough competition and judging in the “real world”, I’d rather not have to deal with it with on my garden blog.

  34. I am not very eloquent when it comes to writing what is on my mind and in my heart, so Nancy, a big thank you for expressing exactly all my thoughts and ideas I could not put into words on the subject of posts, picks etc.
    My blog is all about keeping a record of my gardening adventures for my own information, and if readers like what I say and pick a post, then I consider that is a compliment. although it is obvious there are folks who just pick, as you said, for status.
    Once again THANK YOU and OMGoodness look how many pick you have (chuckle) it deserves every one of them.
    Happy gardening.

  35. Thanks for that post as it has been something that I have yet to understand about blogging even though I have been at it since last August. I have been looking through the more popular ones and I see that they post more often than I do. I have to have something to write about to post. I live in southern Ontario and although our garden is way ahead of itself this year I can only post about what I have blooming. I have read other bloggers not garden related and they post a string of the same picture ad naseum and they get 35 comments with rave reviews. I want to write something that excites me and that I can share. I see no reason to take a picture of one plant in every darn detail. Here I am whining…I’ll quit but your post made sense to me for sure. Valerie

  36. Hi Nancy. I see that your article has touched everyone.
    I am new on this site, and it is true that the pick, are a kind of stress, knowing that gardeners are people, who do not like to stress.
    What we want is to share our passions with the garden and the flowers and know different cultures.

  37. Hi Nancy – I am just shocked by the new picking system – I really do not like the first category heart. I would be devasated especially if I was a new blogger seeing a reaction like that. I would love to comment more but I’ve a youngester getting annoyed at me here. Thankyou so much for raising this and I look forward to reading the rest of the comments tommorrow. Rosie

  38. Agreed. A ranking system will be Blotanical’s undoing. One thing I’ve noticed since I joined is that the most picked posts are often formulaic: several macro shots of flowers interspersed with a lot of descriptive comments. I like posts with more variety, but that’s my opinion. Your two pick options are a better alternative. But I agree, that more weight should be given to forum participation; maybe following in suit with GardenRant on their garden writing forum, but have an area for people to discuss how to improve their blog and gain more readers. I don’t think the reason people start garden blogs is so that they can become more popular on Blotanical, you know?

  39. I agree with a lot you have to say, Nancy. My post with the most points was about a bird that got in our house….go figure! I can never predict if my post will receive a lot of picks or one with very few. It is very subjective! I believe the main goal is for people to read your blog and to continue doing so. Comments are icing on the cake. Great post and here is some icing. :)

  40. I am fairly new to Blotanical and joined as much to find blogs to read as to find others to read my own blog. I do want to know when others have read my blog and especially want to know if it moved them in some way. But I agree that we don’t need rankings. Something kin to the facebook “like” button would be nice for those who enjoyed a post but don’t have anything specific to say about it. The whole points and ranking system is a little confusing to newcomers like myself anyway. It’s obvious that once a post receives a number of “picks” it’s popularity is going to grow exponentially – and the popularity of the blogger is going to be affected, too. And other bloggers may overlook the newer blogs just because the attention is on those that are already favorites.

  41. Ah, well, many other online tools have five-point ratings (with 5 stars being excellent). It’s just that usually, no one pays too much attention. I love Blotanical, but our blog never rates very high, maybe it’s because we have more of a niche blog (native plants) or maybe we aren’t good enough writers and photographers, or maybe we don’t leave enough comments… who knows.

    I’m just happy when people visit, and I’d say let Stuart give his scheme a try. He seems willing to change things, and might change it again if it’s not working. I’d welcome a little more variety in the top 5, though I’m not sure this scheme will bring it about.But we won’t know unless we try.

  42. Hello, Nancy. You poor thing–all these responses to read.

    My use of Blotanical is simple: I visit sites and I pick them. I pick a site just to let them know I was there, and because having picks may mean something to the blogger. If something on their blog really grabs me, I visit their site and leave a comment. I don’t care if they are professional writers or photographers, or if they have terrible grammar and take pictures with their cellphones.

    I like being picked, as it shows me that people are finding me through Blotanical. I like it even better when they leave comments on my site. It’s no goal of mine to become the most read or most popular. I’m happy just knowing I’m not wasting my time keeping a blog.

    I keep a garden blog because I love to garden and I love sharing the joy. I read garden blogs because I love seeing what other gardeners do, both in my climate area and in far-flung places (like Canada) I get inspiration from other gardeners, and I’m saving bundles from not buying magazines.

    So, I’m okay with whatever they come up with, as long as it’s not too much like work.

  43. Nancy, I so agree with everything you have written. And sorry Stuart, but I hate the thought of having to make a “heartfelt” decision. Funny how one post that you pour you “heart, and soul” into doesn’t generate much interest, and another goes past the meter. It is rather a personal and arbitrary decision that each person shall have to make.

    I don’t buy into the whole who’s more popular then me, or less popular. I have always felt that Blotanical was a wonderful way to meet new bloggers, get information, and maybe learn something. That’s what I continue to use it for. If someone wishes to use it popularity, or personal justification, go for it. I probably won’t be the one you want to read those posts anyways.

    Go girl, and thanks for being brave enough to say what I am assuming many of us feel. We write and post for the joy of it, not for popularity, and hearts, and that should be the way it continues. If I lose readers by saying that, then [shrugs] so be it.

    Muddy Boot Dreams

  44. aloha nancy,

    i think this whole picking thing is also a waste of time and i gage something of more importance with commments so i’m with you on that in fact i didn’t event pick this, if you don’t mind, but i support you in making a nice comment to your thoughtful post


  45. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Somehow, after the Blotanical format changed over, I became completely lost at sea. Not being in the top 200, I could only be found under A, and seemed to get zero visitors. Sigh.
    I do have a strong opinion about what makes a good post: ACTIVITY. Living your life fully and then writing selectively about the most interesting aspects is far greater than posting on a regular schedule when you haven’t made time to live life on that same regular schedule. I posted today about the concept of Slow Blogging, and have created a button for other bloggers to post on their sites in support of the idea. You can find it here: http://artfulgreens.blogspot.com/2010/04/get-your-slow-blog-button-here.html
    I think it’s a worthwhile post, and a high quality illustrative button – which may never be found under A.

  46. I have not participated in Blotanical much but find it extremely useful to find new blogs to follow that interest me. I do not get into its rating system. It is too much like high school to me: a contest with all the systems set up to keep the popular people in the top clique popular, and to keep the non-popular people out of the game. It’s not just picks, but the ‘faves’, the discussion forum reserved for popular people, the Blotanical awards based on votes, the ‘I pick you and you pick me’ mentality.

    Last year I looked at a several-pick post to see what was so good. It consisted of only two photos of a dog and about a dozen comments. I go more for serious gardening.

    To answer the question of your post, for me it’s:
    — something I can learn from
    — something I find new or interesting
    — something that is beautiful to look at
    — something that is entertaining
    So these are what I strive for in my blog posts, too.


  48. I have been thinking about this subject a lot. I REALLY don’t like the idea of ‘rating’ blogs. I do like the idea of picks as an easy way of saying, hey, I read this without leaving a comment, such as when you don’t have anything good to say!

    I also think that popularity should really be based on total visits period. To have hits from posts not count in the total is just silly to me. Or picks count instead of visits. Sure, the most popular blogs might still be the most popular, but HEY, thats they way it is. However, when someone really posts something good that appeals to many, is posted on the right day when everyone is bored at work etc etc, and a few of the top bloggers are sleepy that week then indeed it will show up on the top of the blog list, without having people have to pick it.

    And finally, what I really really want, more than anything, is a page that just has ‘JUST PUBLISHED’ blogs. If they roll off after a day, so be it, but wouldn’t that be nice to just see in one spot what has just been posted?

    Same as you though, its just my opinion. I really am hoping in the end that Stuart agrees with many of us who hope that blotanical is simpler, not more complicated when this is all done. I really just want to be able to read blogs, find new posts easily, say hi, and have a chance to see ‘new to me’ blogs every so often. I will NEVER rate someone a 4 vs a 5 vs a 3. If I click on your blog then it means I wanted to read it. Period. Was it a picture, a catchy title, a knowledge of the bloggers writing style? I’m still there whichever it is, and I want to be able to participate in this community without having to tell someone my satisfaction level. It will come out in the wash because if I don’t like the blog or the writing I eventually will no longer visit.

  49. At risk of being banned, I have to say I don’t like the competitive nature of Blotanical, and I’ve never quite got the hang of how to use it effectively. I feel it misses the point of gardening, and places emphasis on a “game” created by Blotanical instead. I find blogs I like by reading them, and using links to others, then get updates on google reader.
    Hello James…I don’t think you have to worry about being banned. :) We are 100% in agreement. And thanks so much for sharing your view.

  50. It’s a bit ironic, and appropriate, that on my first visit to Blotanical in months, this is the first post I read. I haven’t even seen Stuart’s “Picks Tumbler” post yet, but the idea is clear, and I agree with most of those who have already commented here that rating posts seems somehow juvenile and needlessly anxiety-inducing, at least for some. My long absence grew largely from my weariness with the competitive set-up at Blotanical, though this place was incredibly important to me in my early blogging days. Well, it remains to be seen how this will all play out. Thanks for the post, Nancy.
    Blotanical is still important to me and a host of others, I’m sure, as a great “meeting place” to interact with others who share similar interests. My fear is that “being graded” on one’s posts will intimidate bloggers — it’s all rather silly, really, IMHO. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the matter, Kate.

  51. Applause!! I agree with you 100%. I think a ‘regular’ pick and a ‘that was exceptional’ pick is more than enough. For instance (and I say this with no sour grapes whatsoever), I have a plain little blog (zone 3/4), with less than stellar pictures. I feel lucky to have a few regular readers who I enjoy & value immensely. There are some spectacular blogs around, who have tons of picks and would be in the 4&5 heart categories. My posts generate a few picks, I don’t need the 1-3 heart ranking on top of it.

    I do find that Blotanical is somewhat of a popularity contest, I found it very useful when I started blogging, to find blogs in other parts of the country etc..but in no way am I looking to increase readership, or ‘beat’ anyone in terms of quality or quantity. I blog for myself primarily, if a few others want to visit, it’s enough for me.

    How would someone feel if their posts usually generated an average of ‘4’ and then a post that was special to them was a 2.5??? We aren’t in school, and in my humble opinion, don’t need grades of any sort.

    The term ‘legitimately good’ is SO SUBJECTIVE. I have opened a blog to find that the topic was of no interest to me, so I chose not to comment and/or pick. It doesn’t make it ‘legitimately bad’, just not MY cup of tea at that moment.
    Precisely how I feel, Rebecca. In fact, the more often I read the explanation of the proposed rating system, the more asinine it seems. “…If a post is gaining a lot of popularity yet doesn’t deserve it…” Huh? Thanks so much for adding your thoughts.

  52. I do like the controversial posts, the ones that cause thinking, differences of opinion such as the the garden rant post about messy gardens a month ago or Jean’s post about her study of Blotanical bloggers statistically, or this post today and I wouldn’t have found out about them without picks Because lots of people picked them,saying, hey, this is interesting, I’ll pick this to share it. So it got a lot of picks and got on the list. And that’s usually why I pick a post, because I found it had something special and I wanted to share it. Maybe picks shouldn’t get points at all, and just be a way to bring things up to the surface for consideration and enjoyment by everyone.

  53. Nancy I couldn’t agree with you MORE girl ! I’m here because I wanted to see what other gardeners are up to .. because I have “MY” blog which is a personal log of what and how I am gardening .. I am a member of a photo meme on top of it all so not every post is about gardening. My first and top “priority is just that plain and simple .. “my blog” not being a member of anything .. that is just a little icing on the cake.
    I do however have opinions about what is going on here with the competitiveness .. I dislike it INTENSELY and I try to distance myself yet be able to pick posts that I have enjoyed.
    What to do ? well , I’ll stay in my little corner and keep my head down and away from all of this as much as possible .. and still have a connection here to visit bloggers who I have gotten to know and enjoy their posts .. I thought all of this competition was for the birds right from the beginning and I STILL DO !
    In other words Nancy girl .. I’m with you ;-)

  54. At the beginning I was a great picker at Blotanical. It built up the points, but when it really started getting competitive I slowed down. I guess I got caught up in the moment, but soon realized I did not like the competivive side of things. I rarely pick at Blotanical anymore, and now I will NOT be picking at all. I do not like the rating system that is coming to Blotanical. What is a good post to me may not be a good post to someone else. I will continue to comment on my favourite blogs, as I’ve always done. I don’t write a post to be picked and get rated, I write a post because it interests me. That is what blogging is all about, doing for yourself not to please the requirements at various sites. Over the past year or so I’ve changed my blog to show all sides of me, not just gardening. I have many visitors from various sites and most of them do not come from Blotanical.

    I do agree with you Nancy, and it will be interesting to see how this whole picks system works out.

  55. Wahoo!!! Nancy! Way to get the garden community networking! (..a very good thing!!)

    As I read the comments, I love the feedback and the comraderie. It reminds me of Jean’s post on “Blontanists and Super-Blotanists”. The Blotanical community doesn’t want to do a “WWE” (prof. wrestling) ‘pick the best’ – we just want to recognize our fellow gardeners efforts. No question — getting “fav’d” feels pretty darn good! But as with other ‘Blotanists’ and garden bloggers — I love the comments I get on my blog and on my plot ‘messages’.

    I continue to use ‘picks’ as a quick barometer of who’s been by for a “visit” on my blog, and use “My Faved Blogs” and “Most Faved Blogs” as a shortcut to read what bloggers have been up to (and the ‘pick’ let’s them know I’ve been by and say “cool”!). It’s a networking tool – it can be as much or little as you want it to be… :) –Shyrlene

  56. I will definitely not be participating in any picking/rating activities as things stand. A lot of our blog postings are personal, from the heart. They sometimes reflect on bad things that are going on in our lives at the time or, at other times, are just flights of fancy or whimsy — things that make us smile. Were I to choose to share something so personal with the blogging community I would certainly not want what I shared rated. For example, if I post that my dog is very ill and that it’s really affecting my family badly and I get one star/heart/whatever as my rating, do I assume that 1) it’s one star because it’s a bad thing and the rater agrees/sympathizes with me that it’s bad, 2) that I shouldn’t be writing depressing articles, or 3) that the article was poorly written? Getting a low rating under these circumstances would be pretty demoralizing.

  57. Wow, Nancy, I didn’t see this post on my sidebar till this morning, and look at all the comments you have! I’d say that means this is a “legitimately good post.” First off, I rarely go to Blotanical anymore. I found the whole “picks” system rather difficult and time-consuming to follow, not to mention creating more of a popularity contest than anything. I do enjoy voting each year when Stuart hosts the awards, but on a daily basis it’s much easier to just look at the blogroll on my sidebar to see who has a new post. I’m probably missing out on some excellent posts, but I have enough trouble keeping up with all my favorite bloggers. I do remember your post about your garden in the past and now; it was certainly one of the best posts I’ve ever read.

    I don’t like the idea of making blogging a popularity contest, and I have no idea how to find out how many “hits” each of my posts gets. I’ve learned so much about gardening and made so many good friends here, and that is what is most important to me.

  58. I always forget to visit Blotanical. I’m not writing for popularity. If someone visits and leaves me a comment, that’s enough of a compliment. I look at my blogging as an enjoyable way to spend some time, visit and learn from others occasionally, and keep my family and friends in touch with what’s happening at my house. :-)

  59. Nancy, Wow! I pick all my faves because I want to show them support. I don’t care if my faves pick me back or not. it takes a lot of time, but doesn’t everything we enjoy take time? What I want froma post is a story. I will probably never meet most of the bloggers I follow. I get to know them and thus their gardens from their story. I started this blog as a way to stay in touch with our children. I stunbled upon Blotanical while looking for garden blogs. I felt welcomed and at home right away. Everyone was and nis so helpful and friendly. I love it here. I’m talking about the ethernet as a real place, that’s kind of weird. Back to your question. Visiting a blog is like chatting with the blogger. I get to know them and they get to know me. jim

  60. I see you’ve touched a nerve with all the comments here Nancy!

    Not being a very competitive person, the competitive aspects of Blotanical hold little appeal to me.

    I love the social aspect of Blotanical, and the ability to discover new blogs. Life has gotten too busy and too complicated for me in recent months though, and I haven’t been there in some time.

    What makes a good post is such a subjective question. I do know though, I always enjoy visiting your blog. I enjoy your writing, and you take such wonderful photos!

  61. no flogging here.

    I just echo a lot of the same thoughts already stated. When I read the first few lines of your post, I started to feel my blood boil. I LOVE Blotanical for it’s system of helping to connect us bloggers, but also don’t really care for some of the features. I do realize some of the features are what makes blotanical fun (like being a guru blotanist, picks, year end awards, etc.), but at least for me, it just contributes to bad feelings.

  62. You should have all your trepidation eased by now, Nancy. Terrific, thought generating post. And if anyone does give you grief, just send ’em to me. I’ll straighten them right out. :-)

    Okay. Lots of good discussion here If I were Stuart, probably I would pull the plug on Blotanical completely, because nothing he tries to do is going to please everyone. I hope he won’t reach that point in exasperation, of course. If I were running Blotanical, I would make away with picks completely. I no longer pick, and am considering having my profile deleted completely because I am very uncomfortable sitting in two of the top spots for weeks on end. It’s nice to be there occasionally for a day or two. But I worry that it discourages others, and that’s not how I roll.

    Because I’ve been so busy I didn’t see this post til this morning, and it’s funny because I wrote something sort of similar last night. I’m not a competitive person, I refuse to participate in any of the so-called awards, etc, because they all essentially boil down to popularity contests, not true acknowledgements of good writing or excellent photography. They’re like the People’s choice awards, where a bunch of tweens freak out over the cute boy band of the week regardless of how autotuned they are.

    One thing I have noticed in the past several months is that there are some so called professional individuals in the blogosphere–throughout the world, not pointing at any specific region–who seem very, very threatened by the proliferation of garden bloggers. I have two theories about this. One is that they (those who seem threatened and are constantly sniping about bloggers) aren’t getting much response on their own websites. Sometimes they are people who have a business as a designer, or landscaper, or nursery operator, and while they may be excellent plants-people, they aren’t necessarily good writers. I don’t tend to read sites where the writing isn’t entertaining and informative, personally. Nor do I like posts where the writer (often a designer type) slags other gardeners or garden styles, and when confronted say they were just being funny, have been misunderstood, are upset that people are annoyed with them, etc. There are a couple of sites in the UK I could point to as examples, but I won’t dignify them by giving them any further attention.

    My second thought about these cranky, sniping people, is that they get upset because a few bloggers have parlayed their blogging hobby into some real, paid gigs in publications. Personally, I think that’s excellent and I applaud those who make that leap. I’m not threatened in the slightest by them, or by any other writer out there. Despite the amount of junk writing on the internet (and I don’t mean bloggers but actual sites claiming to be repositories of good gardening information), there are still plenty of good markets for professionals to sell our work to.

    What constitutes a good post? It’s so subjective. It may be a simple photograph that pierces your heart. It might be an anecdote that made you laugh because you’ve been there–we gardeners can chuckle over our inclination to rescue plants, to go crazy with new plants at this time of year, to laugh over battles. My column readers can now recite “Just say NO to goutweed” when I give a talk!

    Gardening is a pleasure, not a drudgery, and while some are competitive and go to flower shows to have the biggest dahlia or the best sweet peas, I garden for nature and for me. And I write to encourage others to garden too, and to encourage others to write about gardening.

    Whew. Long comment, but I thought this was a good place to say these things, because you and I agree on many things. I’m glad you wrote this post, and that so many have shared their thoughts too.

  63. Nancy, I think it would be helpful if you link this post to a comment on Stuart’s ‘News’ page with his announcement about the ‘picks tumbler’. It has a lot of interesting comments and opinions that are worth sharing on Blotanical.

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