|Photo by foxtongue|
Certain websites are obviously blogs, whereas with others it’s sometimes far more difficult to tell. So what is it that really defines a website as being a blog and when is a blog no longer a blog?
Blogging is now extremely popular, some may even say it’s become a phenomenon. With millions of blogs worldwide, you will have undoubtedly stumbled across one in your travels through cyberspace, either knowingly or unknowingly.
However, with so many blogs around nowadays, they invariably come in a bewildering array of different shapes and sizes. Some are immediately obvious as blogs, others less so. So what is a blog and what are the key elements that define one as such?
What is a Blog?
Before getting into the whys and wherefores of when a website is considered to be a blog and when it isn’t, perhaps it’s first wise to explore the origins of the word blog and what is conventionally considered as being a blog:
The word blog is an amalgamation of two words; web log, which has become contracted simply to blog.
All blogs are websites and therefore exist in the online world by their very nature, but blogs are a specific type of website.
From the derivation of the word blog, we can see that blogs are loosely defined as online logs, or diaries.
The Wikipedia definition of a blog is:
A website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.
Elements of a Blog
By their nature, blogs have regular postings, but who actually writes these posts and how often?
Most blogs are usually written by a single author, or owner of the blog. However, blogs can also have guest posts from other individuals and some larger, typically commercial blogs can have teams of writers.
By the same token, other non-blog websites may only have a single author, or a team of authors. So clearly the number of authors that a website has can’t be used as the definition of a blog.
On this blog, I try to post a new article every week or so. Some people may post on their blog at completely random intervals, or whenever the urge takes them. Some will post every day (probably more typical of commercial blogs) and the bigger commercial blogs may even have multiple posts every day.
Likewise, other non-blog websites can be updated daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever. So again, the posting frequency of a website can’t be used to define it as a blog either.
Blogs, being websites, are hosted on web servers, usually running some form special blogging software tailored specifically for the purpose.
To run a blog you could use a free blogging service, such as Google’s Blogger to host your blog, or you could host the website yourself and use free blogging software, such as this site uses, like WordPress.
So, does the use of such blogging software automatically define the resultant website as a blog? No.
Take WordPress as an example, by their own admission it’s claimed to be:
“…a personal publishing system…”
“…a state-of-the-art publishing platform…”
While WordPress was undoubtedly designed as a blogging platform, at it’s core is a content management system (CMS) for building a website, and being customisable, this can be pushed into use as the basis for many different types of websites, not just blogs.
The same can be said of other “blogging software platforms“. So, while such software was designed primarily for blogs, the software does not define the website as being a blog, as the same software could equally well be used for other purposes.
Types of Blog
Blogs come in all shapes and sizes…
Commercial or Non-Commercial
Some blogs are run purely and simply as a business, to make money, invariably by advertising, or the promotion of other people’s products for a sales commission. Other blogs are run for a variety of reasons, depending on the individual or individuals involved.
Some blogs focus on a particular subject or subject area, whereas others may act purely as personal diaries, or cover much broader areas of subject matter.
Most blogs have individual text articles, or posts, but they may also embed pictures or videos within them. Some blogs however, will specialise on videos (video blogs or vlogs), while others may focus on photographs (photoblogs).
While blogs originated as on-line diaries, predominantly textual, they have since evolved and now cover any topic under the sun, making use of numerous web-based media in the process to get their message across.
Clearly therefore, a website cannot be defined as a blog by its subject matter, nor by the media used to convey its message (other than it has to be web based), or by whether its purpose is to make money or not.
As Clear as Mud
So, are we any further forward to defining the essential elements of a blog? I suspect not, as on the fringes they can be very hard to pin down.
For me I think the key element, other than that a blog has regular postings, is that these postings are displayed in reverse chronological order. Remember though…
- Blogs may have one author, or many authors
- Blogs may cover one subject area, or numerous subject areas
- Blogs may be commercial, or non-commercial
- Blogs may have hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or random postings
- Blogs may be textual, video, audio or pictorial
…but they’re still blogs!
Have a look at this example: Digital Photography School
It is a blog, but does it leap out as such when you first see it? Maybe not.
It’s a commercial website, designed to make money, it has a team of authors, its has daily updates, it focuses (no pun intended) on digital photography and combines text and pictures to get it’s message across.
However, none of this is specific to a blog, another type of website could offer all of the same, but the articles are regular and are in reverse chronological order!