Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Apologies again for my semi-hiatus from blogging. I've reached level 40 (I now have a robo-chicken mount) on World of Warcraft and have completed (ahem) 80% of my research. One of the things I've been thinking about while not blogging is... blogging. A number of people have asked me to help new bloggers by giving them advice. In retrospect, I was giving people very specific advice based on my personal style. I thought I'd share some of the tips.

1 - You're probably stupid - Well, maybe not stupid, but at least ignorant. Often you are the last one to figure out that you're not as smart as you think. Assume that someone will think you're stupid and will kindly point this out in the comments. Preempt that by assuming you're stupid and uninformed. In other words, be humble and don't try to write something conclusively smart-sounding. Start a discussion where someone smarter than you can step in easily.

2 - You need help thinking - Focus on the parts that you can't figure out. Ask people to help you think. Most of the people who comment on my blog are helping me think. In other words, don't say, "Blah blah blah. I'm an authority. Now talk amongst yourselves while I go pat myself on the back." Say, "Gee, I'm not that smart, but here's something interesting I'm noodling on. I've gotten this far on these pieces. Help me out here... someone?"

3 - Take a position - Wikipedia is about neutral point of view. Blogs about points of view. You can always admit you're wrong later, but posts that don't have a point of view are boring and people are less likely to comment. "Here is what people are saying about Web 2.0" is less interesting than "I think the word Web 2.0 is stupid." However, remember rules 1 and 2.

4 - Link - Read other blogs a bit before posting. Link as much as possible. Try to participate in the conversation instead of soap-boxing.

5 - Write early write often - Don't wait for your ideas to be completed. When you have some inspiration, get it out of the door quickly. Update the post or write new ones as the thought or story unfolds.

Having said all that, I don't follow my own rules. Like this post and the last post... But this is the advice that I would give myself.


Really useful advice. I wish I had them when I started out. Now I have been blogging for about 3 yearsnow and learnt them the hard way - from my mistakes.
Great post.

#1 and 2 are most difficult for me to keep in mind when talking about things that piss me off. "punditry" is a pretty easy trap to fall into when i write about politics and economics, and the tone of political discourse in the united states pretty much reinforces that. i believe in this written form as a path towards better communication, transparency, and understanding, but man, sometimes, especially when trying to get the ideas out there before they are completed, they come spilling out as more divisive and vitriolic than they would otherwise, given some time for better reflection and humility. that's the trickiest balance for me.

Excellent guidelines, Joi. I'm totally behind no 2, but I rarely do 4 and I violate 5 quite often as have you lately ;)

When I think of "humble", I really see Joi Ito's face in the clouds, kinda like Mufasa from the Lion King. I'm certainly not kidding, and this post only confirms it further. I agree about reaching out and connecting, and inviting other people to help you fill in pieces of the puzzle. I've been striving to improve on this and ask for help more, since I need it a lot. Some people are understandably afraid to do this, but in the end, everyone benefits and hopefully learns something. It's very... human. :)

Read a lot, write a lot, and be free. Nearly the same advice one would give to a young writer.

The list of advice is cool... I like the part where you said that, even you don't follow the list...

I guess we all do once in while if not all of the time...(I'm one of them).


j wan

Interesting. I guess those really are good tips for people starting out. Got me thinking though that the web pages I enjoy the most out of this category are those where the author does indeed take a stand based on thier experience. I'd rather use my time to read one "expert opinion" than that of five people who are as clueless as I am. The only link farm I view regularly (besides news sites) is boing boing and I make an effort NOT to read the opinions of the posters there. Nonetheless, good words from Joi!


I think it is interesting to see how the styles evolve and can vary radically.

In learning more about blogs, I am realizing that there are many blogging styles. Suppose this should not be surprising, but it is interesting to see.

we try to "change the world" by a hudge artistic perform'...
please give us a windows to explain it

a friend

This advices you gave me on this topico
has changed the way we admin our blog

thank you very much for sharing
with others the knowledge you have
about blogging

Keep the good work dude

These are all great points. It's very difficult to balance taking a position without taking an "I'm the authority" stance, but when I think about it, that is exactly what all of those who I consider to be the best bloggers do.

Thanks for the tips. I'd appreciate them very much.

Sounds like, then, the good blogging to not so good ones what leadership is to management. More of asking than of answering. Right?

Hi Joi,
Found your page from my cousin's blog. Great points, I wish I'd read it from the first time I start blogging... but I didn't :( But... yeah, every lesson has its price. However these tips remind me to be a better blogger... Thank you! :D

Now I can see what mistake I have been doing all these days.
Really nice list.



I'm fairly new to blogging, it is a different environment to say the least.

I have to work on that humble thing, I am ignorant in so many areas, but I write like the authority I'm not.

Kinda makes it hard to approach my stuff.


Great tips! I think these apply to the art of conversation, in all its forms, whether composing a blog post (or comment), or initiating / participating in a F2F discussion.

One thing I would add (for all conversations) is the value of framing criticism in a non-personal way, i.e., when someone has done, said or written something I find objectionable, when I engage that person in conversation, I try to refer to what has been done, said or written, rather than criticizing the person him or herself. Many in the blogosphere, and media in general, tend to take strong positions but to make them very personal ... and I do not find personal attacks to be very conversational ... personally.

Very good advices. I was so pissed off at those ten rules written by J. Nielsen, I think half of them are stupid. Good to see a better list.

Very good advise,I will translate it in Bahasa Indonesia.
hope indonesian can learn this:-)


Very nice post for beginners, I liked a lot point number one, I think that is what has stopped me writing more often , although I think that people who are searching in the web about some specific topic prefer to read the opinion of a professional or at least someone with a lot of experience in the subject, but How to get experience?
I guess by loosing the fear of looked stupid, and with a lot of feedback of yours visitors… Again Nice tips, thank you for share them.
I’d like to translate the post into Spanish and upload at my page, (I know Enrique Dans already did it, but I can’t get to his web site or whatever) So I’ll start to translate it right away, but I won’t post it until got your authorization.


Alright Now I found some others blogs Which Already got your article translated….. Well I guess I failed to follow point number 3, “do read enough before posting or comment”, I’ll do it anyway, at least to improve my skills as a traducer ( which are very low by the way)
Still waiting for your answer, This is my page, I’m from Ecuador.

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