Opinion: The top 10 best-written blogs

Among all the garbage in the blogosphere are gems like these

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Ken Denmead, the GeekDad editor, explained why good blog writing is important.

"Well written is always important, articulate depends upon your audience," he said in an e-mail. "Blogs, by their nature, are meant to be conversations between the writers and the readers. The writer has to both draw an audience in with their voice, and adapt their voice to the audience. That's a function of being a good writer, and figuring how to write what you write well. Being articulate is less important because you don't always need big words to be understood. But an attention to grammar and punctuation will always lend you more credibility. If the average reader can't make fun of your typos and misspellings, they're going to be far less likely to dismiss what you're saying as well."

5. Level Up

Another game blog, yes, but Level Up is well written and insightful, sans the hysteria.
Another game blog, yes, but Level Up is well written and insightful, sans the hysteria.

Another Newsweek writer in our round-up (the first was Dan Lyons), Level Up is the creation of N'Gai Croal.

Lately, he has been on a kick posting simple interviews with gaming experts, but the blog really hits a high plateau when it debates issues such as whether The Sims should be made into a movie. Croal goes deeper than the typical fanboy hysteria, raising thought-provoking questions about game characterization (such as, is it better to only hear a character's words or should you also hear his thoughts).

6. Kottke.org

No one gets better links than Kottke.org, but the site owner also writes with flair and wit.
No one gets better links than Kottke.org, but the site owner also writes with flair and wit.

Jason Kottke doesn't give himself enough credit for his own writing.

Kottke.org is mostly a collection of sanguine links to compelling stories, such as this one about the best sports journalism stories ever.

Yet, its Kottke's quick but insightful comments about those links that makes his blog worth bookmarking.

7. Sore Thumbs

Former editors now post about their lives in game journalism at Sore Thumbs.
Former editors now post about their lives in game journalism at Sore Thumbs.

As the newest site in our round-up, it might be too early to list Sore Thumbs as a best-written blog, and many of the posts so far seem hurriedly written and maybe a little cheeky. Yet, the dynamic duo of Dan "Shoe" Hsu and Crispin Boyer, both former editors at Electronic Gaming Monthly who have legitimate writing experience, seems like a winner so far. (Full disclosure: Boyer was one of my editors at EGM.) Sore Thumbs has become an outlet for the editors to share behind-the-scenes details about their careers, and the writing is engaging enough to keep you reading.

8. Bits

A blog written by a bunch of <I>New York Times</I> writers? It must be good, and Bits tends to nab some of the best stories early, before the basement bloggers.
A blog written by a bunch of New York Times writers? It must be good, and Bits tends to nab some of the best stories early, before the basement bloggers.

Gee, you mean The New York Times has a well-written blog? Yes, and most importantly it's not just a re-hash of the main feature articles online.

Even when the site is just reviewing a new HDTV, it calls out the most important feature and avoids a simple list of specs or techie comparisons. Posts about tech companies like this one on Sun -- always seem to engage you with the facts.

9. Download Squad

Most software download sites don't have much of a vocabulary, but Download Squad actually takes the time to explain what you are about to add to your hard disk.
Most software download sites don't have much of a vocabulary, but Download Squad actually takes the time to explain what you are about to add to your hard disk.

Here's an interesting site that you might not think of as a portal for good writing, Download Squad covers new software and Web 2.0 sites. It's compelling because the summaries get right to the point and whet your appetite for the program they are discussing. Lead blogger Grant Robertson explained why the site chooses to focus on these summaries instead of simple links and screens.

"If you have super-secret undiscovered Apple patents or information no one else has access to, you can pretty much write 'ZOMG! PAtents!!!!11!' and people will still come running," said Robertson in an e-mail. "If you're looking for an audience that comes back day after day, being well written and articulate is crucially important. Download Squad has an editorial style guide we wrote for use internally and, we're really proud of the work we put into quality. Being first doesn't matter as much as being salient, interesting and readable."

10. Publishing 2

Publishing 2 posts about how the publishing industry is transforming into an online entity, right before our eyes.
Publishing 2 posts about how the publishing industry is transforming into an online entity, right before our eyes.

Posts have been less frequent lately, but Publishing 2 is usually a thoughtful exercise in comparing print media to the Web and journalism in general, such as this Oct. 13. blog about "link journalism."

Most posts -- like one about how magazines don't understand the Web, and its predecessor about what newspapers don't get about the Web -- are as well researched and written as what you would read, well, in a magazine or newspaper.

Did I miss some that you think should be included? Send your recommendations for the best-written blogs to David Ramel or sound off in the comments section of this article below. They may be used in a future compilation of reader favorites.

John Brandon is a freelance writer, book author and Computerworld blogger who worked as an IT manager for 10 years.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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