Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, lashed out at me today.
Ali Hale wrote a guest post called Are Vampire Words Sucking the Life Out of Your Writing? on the popular blog, where she says you should always use concrete terms like “always” and “never.” You should competely remove “vampire words” like “quite,” “fairly,” “sometimes,” and “often” from your writing.
Of course this is bogus in many situations, especially writing advertising and press releases which is Copyblogger’s bread and butter. I commented that this doesn’t apply on scholarly essays: anything to do with academia, school essays, formal stuff. Brian said Copyblogger doesn’t care about scholarly essays. I said it applies to advertising also. Brian completely ignored this, latching on to the scholarly essays seed. He told me I could take my “esteemed input” elsewhere, which is meant to be sarcastic and patronizing.
I replied. He toned down his comment and didn’t approve mine. I’m sure he feels he is the “winner” now. Copyblogger is a great blog which I read often. It’s in the top 100 on Technorati and it is 100 times more famous than mine. I never expected such cowardice from its founder.
Here are the ORIGINAL comments.
This is fine for informal blogging but it won’t work for scholarly research. You can’t make unverified claims there without qualifying them. Unless you’re 100% sure you must use “may,” “almost,” “generally,” etc.
The same holds true for high school and college essays.
Most of us aren’t writing those, but you have to use a separate mode for blogging than you do for formal writing.
Richard, no such qualification for scholarly writing is necessary, because that’s not what this blog is about.
@Brian Clark: No, it says “Writing” not “Blogging” in the title. Many of us have to write essays for college still, or for our jobs, where making claims that are false will not fly. A large portion of copywriting is for sales or advertising. There are laws about truth in advertising—you can’t make statements that are clearly false. This post is bad advice for a lot of writers.
“7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work” and “Why You Can’t Make Money Blogging” are completely falsifiable. I could easily find a list post that has received no traffic or a blog that makes thousands of dollars per month. It would be completely unacceptable to market a cell phone with the headline “The Cell Phone that Always Works.” If you want to talk about writing copy, you have to talk about advertising and press releases.
This post requires a codicil stating that it only applies to blogging and informal writing.
Richard, with all due respect, what part of “Copyblogger” or “Copywriting tips for online marketing success” indicates we tackle so-called “scholarly writing?” Do you honestly mean to tell me you don’t look at the context of the publication you’re reading for semantic cues?
And please don’t show up here and tell me “what I have to do.” I’ve been doing just fine without your esteemed input.
@Brian Clark: If you would have read my comment instead of just making assumptions, you would’ve seen that most of it was about press releases and advertising (”writing copy”). Obviously, a major part of this blog is about writing advertising, and advertising cannot make false claims. You read the my first sentence and my last sentence. Please read the whole comment before responding.
You don’t want me to tell you what to do? Did you want me to prefix it with “please” or “I think”? You encourage boldness in most of your articles. Why do you expect your commentators to be timid sycophants?
AFTER I released the last one, he removed the last sentence from his last comment and he did not approve mine. He’s in damage control mode. He realizes what he said, though not egregious, will hurt his reputation, so he wants to cover it up.
Unfortunately for him, I save everything.
If my comments didn’t have merit he wouldn’t have replied to them. And if they didn’t have merit he CERTAINLY wouldn’t have gone all emotional on me. You can tell with his last comment, he read about five words of my comment before letting off some steam. Most of my comment was about press releases and advertising, but he skipped right over that.
I’ve made comments that were a lot worse than his, and I regret them, but nobody knows Richard X. Thripp. Brian Clark is world famous. The more fame you have, the more gracious you should be.
A piece of advice to Brian: get one of your staffers to read your comments before you post them!