Almost an year ago, there was a post about two types of bloggers, which generated lots of interest in the blogosphere:
The theory: There are two kinds of bloggers, referential and experiential.
The post went on to define these two types of bloggers as follows:
The referential blogger uses the link as his fundamental unit of currency, building posts around ideas and experiences spawned elsewhere: Look at this. Referential bloggers are reporters, delivering pointers to and snippets of information, insight or entertainment happening out there, on the Intraweb. They can, and do, add their own information, insight and entertainment to the links they unearth — extrapolations, juxtapositions, even lengthy and personal anecdotes — but the outward direction of their focus remains their distinguishing feature.
The experiential blogger is inwardly directed, drawing entries from personal experience and opinion: How about this. They are storytellers (and/or bores), drawing whatever they have to offer from their own perspective. They can, and do, add links to supporting or explanatory information, even unique and undercited external sources. But their motivation, their impetus, comes from a desire to supply narrative, not reference it.
Of course, this concept of the type of bloggers can be taken to its extreme: for example, blogs like PTDR and A&L Daily are extremely referential — they are but a listing of links with one liners; on the other hand, blogs like that of Paul Graham and Joel Spolsky are extremely experiential — they hardly ever give links, but generate original content with every post.
The problem with extremely referential blogs is that either they become too overwhelming at times, and/or the coverage is very limited. On the other hand, to generate original content of high quality is not easy either; probably you have to be prolific like Gandhi (whose collected works runs into 100 volumes) to be a prolific experiential blogger; and this is reflected in the blogging style of Paul Graham and Spolsky whose update frequency at their blogs are indeed very low.
So, it is no wonder that some of the finest bloggers that I know of mix both these styles of blogging rather freely: pharyngula and aetiology in biology, marginal revolution and Brad De Long in economics, asymptotia and cosmic variance in physics and John Hawks in anthorpology; what is more, even within a post, the style is mixed — sometimes it is just a link, sometimes a link with a few lines, sometimes a link that expands to a full post.
The next big question is whether you can develop a distinct voice of your own if your posts are referential? Yes, you can. The voice comes through from the aspects that you decide to emphasize while giving the link. This is seen from several blogs which quote from the same post/article, but decide to quote different parts of the post/article.
So, of course, if the mixed type is better, what is the ratio of the two types of posts that is to be chosen? The answer depends on the blogger(s), her/his audience and the emphasis of the blog.
While we are on the topic, also take a look at old (published in year 2000) this history of weblogs post (via) which discusses some of the subtler aspects of this question, namely, how the weblogs evolved from list of links to opinionated commentaries, how the mixture of links and commentary in each blog gives it its distinct voice, and the advantages that blogging provides not just to its readers, but also to its writers.
Finally, which type of posts bring traffic? I have not been able to find any quantitative information on the net. However, I would tend to believe that both would bring in traffic, which are albeit different in character. So, go ahead, experiment and find your voice on the blogosphere; and, don’t be afraid to change your styles too!
PS:- I would like to thank my fellow mutineers for raising some relevant questions which helped me clarify some of my notions!