Brow Beat

This Is a Blog Post. It Is Not a “Blog.”

Let’s get this straight up front: I am now writing a blog post, not blogging a blog.

For many, using the word blog when you mean blog post is an understandable mistake. Most who make it are new to blogging, or aren’t fluent in the language of the Web. But over the last several months it’s become clear to me that the tendency to make this error has infected even some of the most Internet-savvy denizens of the Web. And it needs to stop.

I hit my breaking point a few weeks back with—who else?—Amanda Palmer. Of all the irritating things in her blog post about “A Poem for Dzhokhar,” the most irritating was the title: “A Blog About ‘A Poem for Dzhokhar.’ ” Palmer, of course, had not created a whole blog about her poem “A Poem for Dzhokhar.” (Even she’s not self-involved enough to do that.) Instead, she’d written a 2,000-word blog post about the poem.

But it’s not just the frequently annoying who blunder in this way. Even the late great Roger Ebert, a terrific writer and one of the most popular bloggers on the Web, used to commit this faux pas all the time.

Sometimes I started to wonder whether he was joking.

The problem goes all the way to the top. Arianna Huffington, founder of the megablog the Huffington Post, is known to introduce new blog posts as “my latest blog.”

The reasons for avoiding this linguistic boner are pretty simple. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that it can be confusing. No matter what dictionary you check—online, Urban, or otherwise—you will find no definition of blog that means blog post. Saying one to mean the other is like saying magazine when you mean article. The listener or reader may get your drift eventually, but only after they’ve been thrown for a loop.

Second, it can undercut anything serious you have to say. The word blog is, even after all these years, a little funny-sounding, and this is magnified many fold when you use it incorrectly. You don’t want to undermine your own writing by calling your brilliant post a “blog.”

And it’s not as if there aren’t an abundance of other, better options. In addition to blog post, there’s blog entry, or the increasingly interchangeable article (only advisable if you think the post is substantial enough to warrant such a description). A really substantive post could also be called a piece—or, if it has a narrative dimension, a story. If you’re into the whole brevity thing, you can avoid “blog” entirely by using the equally concise and more correct post.

The No. 1 reason to make this change—and I’m not going to sugarcoat this—is that calling a post a blog makes you sound stupid. That may seem harsh, but I’m doing you a favor. Every time you make this mistake, it sounds like you don’t understand this newfangled thing, the World Wide Web. Even if you think all those who might judge you are just being superficial, that’s not going to stop them from judging you.

To sum up: This is a blog post or a post or a blog entry. It is also a piece and an article. But it is not a blog.

Trust me. I’m a blogger. I blog blogs all the time.