Reviewing My Review

24 07 2010

Back in June, I was treated to a blog review over at Anomalous Material, the spoils of placing in their commenting contest.  I’ve allowed comments to flow without too much intervention, planning on addressing them all here in one post.  This is that post.

Design – Divisive

… [I like the site because of] its simplicity. Not weighed down with a lot of gadgets, and such. You got what you need, and nothing more. But I also think that’s most effective because your site is set perfectly for that. Any more and it would just look cluttered.
… nice clean site that’s easy to navigate.
It’s clean and crisp.
I don’t think Marshall’s site design boring, though – clean and simple, as others have stated.

  • Well, that’s definitely the point.  I haven’t messed around too much with design, largely because I’ve decided to focus more on content.  I’ve definitely been more committed to providing writing because I assume most people come to read instead of look.

Clean albeit generic looking blog. Loads quickly.
The only problem with your site is the aesthetic but that is solely the fault of wordpress’s boring templates.

  • Again, I’ve been looking for ways to add some flair, and I might invest more heavily in researching that coming soon.  It’s just that giant pile of reviews that I can’t ever seem to finish…

… Reorganize your side bar a bit. Categories down, latest posts/comments up.

  • I’ve always been kind of clueless as to how to organize it.  I’ve taken my best stab at it, so maybe it’s time to experiment a little bit.

I kind of love … the header …

  • I try to do the best I can with what I’ve got.  I wonder if it isn’t stubborn refusal to change my design/theme that’s keeping me grounded.  I try to change it out thematically now, and it’s due for a change in the coming weeks.

Your site is a lot better since you removed The Blind Side from your banner.

  • Couldn’t agree more!

Your blog has a banner which is good. I do think however that so many bloggers use the “collection of movie posters” banner that you might consider brainstorming and making a new one that is more original.

  • I have been thinking about it, and I think I’m going to see about designing a logo of some sort with a friend of mine who dabbles in graphic design.  Win-win for all, right?

I wouldn’t mind it nearly as much were the images at least high res enough to be able to see them clearly. The double whammy of the “collection of posters” and out-of-focus pics (even weirder given their size) is probably my least favorite thing about your site.

  • I have a very strange way of making the banner and resolution was never really a priority for me.  But clearly I can see that it is for many people, so it will definitely be a consideration from now on.

I see you use pages and categories, have a review index, a search box etc…

  • I try to make the site user-friendly and am hoping to soon figure out a better way to catalogue all my reviews and such.  It may constitute a massive reworking and redesign of my system, but whatever is best must be done.

… not a fan of the justified text.

  • Justified frustrates me at times, but I’ve looked at posts with other alignment options, and nothing else looks any better.  So the text stays as it is for now.

Content – Good

I also love the content. Great writing, to the point, but amusing all the same.

  • I definitely don’t want to waste your time by bogging you down with verbose wordiness, so I’m glad that’s working.  And I always aim to amuse, and it makes me especially glad to hear that!

Excellent reviews, polls…

  • Glad to hear from someone who votes in the polls!  I’ve been trying to incorporate them more, although I can’t seem to get them into the sidebar where they belong.  Sigh.

… sharp, concise content, with a nice combination of honest reviews and random comment on obscure facts which always seems to work on nearly any medium.

  • I love to dabble in the obscure on occasion, and I’m glad you all are willing to go there with me.  Also like to hear people think I’m honest – because I’m definitely not in the blogging world to conform.

… you don’t f**k around or make posts for posting sake.

  • I try not to make the so-called “filler” posts, but some have accused the factoids of being just that.  Glad to know I have a fan there.

There is some good content to read as of late. In the past, one of the main complaint I had was the large amount of “filler” content such as “Random Factoids”, trailers and other short posts that most people don’t really actively seek.

  • I’ve definitely tried to step up my effort to provide substantive content every day, particularly recently.  Sometimes in the school year, though, it would be so much easier to post a trailer or a quickie factoid and be done.  I’ll try to keep that up this year, but there will be significantly less time available to work on the blog.

Great content too, I absolutely love … the reviews, movie previews, etc.

  • Hooray!  Happy to hear someone likes the previews.

Random Factoids – Divisive

Though at times I am left scratching my head after a few Random Factoids.

  • If only I knew which kinds you were referring to.  The factoid has definitely undergone a metamorphosis over the past year, going from me spewing details of my movie obsession to me postulating about all things cinematical.  They have definitely become more about moviegoing in general, and I often leave them very open to discussion.  I’ve tried to cut down on the obsession factoids, and I might understand if you scratch your head after a few of those.

Excellent … factoids.
I absolutely love the Random Factoids … always interesting to read.
I too love the way that they are offered as “Random Factoids”. There’s something wonderfully personal to that sort of style and structure.

  • I try to make them fun to read!  I’ve really started using them more as an open forum, and I think it makes it more fun for everyone.  Plus, I feel like everyone deep down inside has to love something random.

Personality – Good

You have a nice distinct voice and sense of humor.

  • I try to be witty, so glad that’s working!  Also happy to hear that I’m “distinct,” not just one in the crowd.

I’m liking it more the more I read and get to know you, so that’s a good thing.

  • I like to hear that there’s more to me than meets the eye!

Watch for excessive amount of the first person “I”, “my” etc… What can you do for me? Most visitors (who don’t know you) are not interested in personal diaries and accounts unless it can be immediately helpful in their own lives.

  • I do get conscious about first person (in fact, I almost considered using third person in the sentence), and it’s something I’m trying to work on.  But I do call the site “Marshall AND the Movies,” so readers should expect a great deal of me along with the movies.  I separate myself from the equation when it’s necessary, but since movies are such a very personal thing for me, it’s impossible to take myself out entirely.

Community – Room for Improvement

I haven’t seen you being very active in terms of commenting in the movie blog community as a whole so I guess you could do a better job at that (we all could) as it drives good traffic to your own site.

  • For a long time, I foolishly assumed that good writing would bring visitors.  But it doesn’t – you have to sell yourself.  Your writing, your design, your personality, everything.  You have to put yourself out there.  And I hope I have improved.  To everyone out there who comments on my blog and I don’t do my part to reciprocate, know that I am sorry and intend to go crazy commenting on your site.  I’m trying to widen my scope, but that’s taken longer than I expected.

I know you have been working hard to get a little community started with mixed success. Keep plugging at it and try different things: Discussion worthy content, less emphasis on personal accounts, engaging the reader. Contests are good ideas but they only have a temporary effect especially if the community and reader-base is small to begin with.

  • I think it’s the double-whammy of “Inception” and my series “The Origins Project” that has made July such a viewing and commenting bonanza.  But before that, things were often very slow.  I’ve been trying to build a community because it’s no fun for me just sitting here and writing to my computer.  I get so much pleasure out of knowing someone reads or knowing that someone sees a movie because of my review, and when I don’t hear that, I begin to feel that blogging is a very self-serving thing.  So thanks to everyone who has participated in July, and I sure hope I have earned your readership in the months (and years, I guess) that follow!



One response

28 07 2010

You nail the content and really that’s the only important thing. Although I’ve been guilty of fiddling with templates too much, but I’ve finally found one I’m happy with.

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