First Response to First Responses

First Response to First Responses

F2014 Bloggers,

Congratulations on completing your first posts! The first week is arguably the toughest because there is so much uncertainty, but now that you have one post under your belts I hope you begin to become more comfortable with the blogging process! Although it may seem daunting and frighteningly unstructured at the outset, I think you all will find that there is a method to this madness.

I volunteered to undertake the “tagging” duty this week and I felt that reading all of your posts would help me to mindfully do so. On that note, I have noticed a few trends that I would like to discuss here.

The good…

What a fabulous selection of topics this week! There were many on agriculture and serfdom (and rightfully so, it’s Russia in the late 1800s we’re talkin’ about), but I was delighted to see people pick up on pertinent topics like ethnicity (Cossacks, Nomadic peoples of the ‘stans, etc.), religion (Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism), reform (economic, political, and societal), & even tea and prison (no combination could ever be as fun). I encourage you all to pursue your various interests while touching upon important course themes, and I think that a good majority of you were successful with that this week.

The bad…

Six words: beware of teleological interpretations of history. Because we know how 20th century Russian history plays out, it is tempting to attribute cause-effect relationships to events and arrange facts in a “this followed because of that” timeline. However, I question how fruitful this type of analysis is and recommend that you exercise caution in your posts.

The ugly…

Formatting! If you’re the type to add widgets, customize fonts, and the like: good for you. Really. I loved playing around with WordPress too and I understand the joy you get from having a blog that you think looks killer. If that’s not the type of person you are, good for you too! No one said that your blog had to be the shiniest, most tricked out WordPress site to ever hit the World Wide Web.


Everyone should prioritize readability in their posts and on their sites. Proofread. Cite and hyperlink! One of the best parts of this class is that it utilizes online sources, so be sure to credit these sources in a way that makes it easy for your reader to get to them. Practice formatting your images and, moreover, HAVE images. Especially during a week where your whole post was supposed to be inspired by a photo from a collection. I know that getting pictures to be the right size with the right caption in the right location is easier said than done, but putting the effort in really makes a difference in making your posts more readable. Finally, get creative with your titles! It makes for much more interesting individual blogs, and gives the Motherblog some pizzazz too (as well as making your posts stand out more!)

All in all, I think that your first week efforts are both solid and promising. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say in the weeks to come.


P.S. Those of you who still have a “Hello World!” post: delete it. I beg of you.