We have a lot of clients ask us if the writing they publish on their sites should take the form of articles or blogs. This may seem like a merely semantic question, but it’s not just a distinction without a difference.
A key part of the decision around how to publish content has to be the expectations of users. For content published on your main site there should be a reasonable assumption on the part of the reader that the information it contains has been properly checked and verified, is from reliable sources and that it represents the views of the organisation that publishes the site, which in effect vouches for it and takes responsibility for its publication. It should therefore (regardless of the tone or style of that site), be seen as an ‘official’ pronouncement.
When content is published on a blog, the expectations of users are more informal and accepting. The interaction is more like a personal or social one. Blog content is often every bit as good as that you find on professional news sites (well, that’s kind of you to say, but I wasn’t referring to this blog), but it should be allowed and expected to express individual opinions, to use rhetoric, hyperbole and all the other forms of expression for which allowances are made in everyday conversation.
Whereas articles should be expected to be verified, edited, formal, public, and professional, blogs should be treated as theoretical, provisional, conversational, social and amateur (in the least perjorative sense – like a chef cooking for their family in their own kitchen).
I think there is a need for both types of content – and both are popular – but they should not be conflated.
When readers and, especially, publishers – deliberately or otherwise – confuse these two types of content it chips away at both our ability to trust informational web content and our ability to find space for nuanced, unguarded conversations online.
I’d finish by saying that while you might graciously permit that the above might makes an acceptable blog post, we’d both agree it would need a bit more work to become an article…