Fandango’s Provocative Question #174

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Today’s provocative question was prompted by blogger Melanie over at Sparks From a Combustible Mind. In this post, Melanie wrote on the subject of brevity. She brought up “the old debate about length versus brevity” in blog posts.

Melanie wrote that she is a “long” post writer, noting that her word count often nudges 1,000 words. But she pointed out that a blogger she follows is of the opinion that anything over 350-500 words is just “too long.” (I don’t think that was me, but it could have been me.) And then Melanie wrote, “Length should never factor into a creative process,” and “saying something is too long or too short is to try to put a limit on creativity in someone else.”

I don’t usually express my own opinion on my provocative question prompts because I don’t want to influence how others might respond to these prompts. But today I’m making an exception.

Are you familiar with “TL;DR”? That’s an abbreviation for “too long; didn’t read.” I’ll be honest. Once a post approaches the 500+ word range, unless it’s extremely compelling, I consider it to be TL;DR, and I’ll end up either skimming or skipping the rest of the post.

When I first started blogging back in 2005, my posts were long and meandering. In 2006, my average post was 1,072 words. By 2009, it was down to 772 words on average. In 2014, 556 average words per post. I noticed that as the lengths of my posts decreased, my blog’s traffic increased. Cause and effect or coincidence?

I remember taking note, before I started this blog in 2017, that none other than than The Bard, himself, William Shakespeare, said that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and I do endeavor to be witty in my posts. The late Al Neuharth, founder of, and columnist for, USA Today, wrote that “long-winded stuff loses the attention of listeners and readers.” His “magic number” for his editorials was around 300 words.

I decided to embrace brevity in my posts when I started This, That, and the Other five years ago. These days, as can be seen in the table below, my average post is just under 240 words.

Anyway, my provocative questions to you this week are about whether or not size matters to you. The long and the short of it is…

Do you have a preference with respect to the length of blog posts you read? Does the number of words in a post affect how you read it or even if you will read it? What is your average post length?

By the way, in case you’re wondering, this post contains 585 words.

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

32 thoughts on “Fandango’s Provocative Question #174

  1. Maria Michaela July 20, 2022 / 3:39 am

    It depends on what I’m reading. I can be a TLDR too. But most of the time, I really take time in my reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nope, Not Pam July 20, 2022 / 4:08 am

    Length certainly is a factor when I’m time poor. I’ll often open a post and skip it until the evening when I have more time. I always read the post, but when is the question

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bushboy July 20, 2022 / 4:32 am

    Interesting, I’ll read no matter the length up to a point. If a post becomes too long, I’ll speed read. If I lose interest, click and see ya.
    Much prefer short posts. Maybe that’s why I just bung a few photos on a post with minimal words. I let the photo say whatever the viewer wants to see.
    If people want to know more, they will ask in a comment mostly.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Taswegian1957 July 20, 2022 / 5:17 am

    I sometimes skim a really long post or article if it’s a bit dry but if I’m enjoying it I don’t mind if it is long. I will sometimes save the long ones for when I have more time. I guess I’m more of a TB; DL kind of person (Too Boring; Didn’t Read) Long is not necessarily boring to me but then I tend to write longish posts myself. Even if I’m just posting photos for a challenge more often than not I have to write about them too.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Irene July 20, 2022 / 6:00 am

    For me, it depends on content and context. Short stories and anecdotes are nice if self contained, but sometimes the background is important, so I appreciate attention to detail. For gardening, “to the point” text and a couple of photos are my preference, but for cooking, the more photos and the more directions are included, the higher the chances I will try the recipe. So, I follow a lot of bloggers with all sorts of “different-length” styles, and I try to apply those principles to my own posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. annieasksyou July 20, 2022 / 12:32 pm

    Glad you asked! I tend to write long when I think it’s necessary—and I appreciate others who do the same. I realize some folks won’t take the time to read my work, and that’s ok. My poetry, however, is brief.

    You asked a while back whether the frequency of your posts is annoying. It isn’t, but I simply can’t read them all. That’s the trade off.

    I think diversity is good in all things, and that’s certainly true in blogging styles, lengths, and frequency.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango July 20, 2022 / 5:34 pm

      Yes, your posts are long, but we are in accord on most matters and you often express how I’m feeling about the madness that is going on all around us in a compelling and articulate manner.

      Like

  7. Marilyn Armstrong July 20, 2022 / 1:17 pm

    For me, it really depends on what I’m writing about, what I’m reading, what else I’m planning, and my mood at that moment. I can read very long posts if they interest me. Uninteresting posts of ANY length get skipped — and honestly, I get such an excess of email, a lot of things get skipped because I didn’t get to them when I planned and it’s a few days later and there are five hundred more posts waiting for me — and I’ll be lucky if I get to a 10th of them.

    The ultimate joy of NOT working is not having to live by rules. Today I’m not up for reading anything long, but tomorrow, I might be eager from something meaty. My life is not filled with “never” or “always” choices. I do what seems comfortable and right at that time and I won’t beat myself up if I am of a completely different mind the next day.

    Post will be up (as usual) tomorrow after I’ve had the time to give it one final look through.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Carol anne July 20, 2022 / 7:55 pm

    I like shorter posts. About 300 to 500 words in length. I can handle that. xox

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kajmeister26 July 21, 2022 / 4:29 am

    This is about style. Your (Fandango) style is close to what’s known as Flash Fiction or the brief style. You tend to encapsulate your points with punch and brevity, and if you developed your individual posts more, I can see how they would ramble. But you’re also writing several posts a day, so you’re getting around the word limit by writing multiple short posts.

    Even though that is what many like to read, I prefer developing a theme the way I was taught to write essays. So they run longer 1200-1500 words, like the old newspaper “columnists” — Jon Carroll or Bill Bryson. I don’t have as many readers, but the ones I do tell me that they enjoyed the story. However, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it every day.

    Variety is the spice of life to readers. As other writers have told me, if someone says they don’t like your stuff, the reply is “I didn’t write it for you, then.”

    Like

    • Fandango July 21, 2022 / 2:45 pm

      Yes, variety is the spice of life, but time is of the essence. I do read and enjoy your well-written and interesting posts, but I do admit that I sometimes skim them looking for the key points or the gist of what you’re writing about.

      Like

  10. leigha66 July 23, 2022 / 12:28 am

    As a lot of my posts are poems, I have a smaller word count at only 127 average words per post. As far as reading longer post, I will but most of the people I follow do not have that long of posts. Occasionally one will get wordy and I do still read it. Where I tend to cut time is with commenting less or shorter comments.

    Liked by 1 person

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