25 July 2005

Blog titles vs wiki titles

Many people have tried to fuse together the ideas of blogs and wikis. After all, don't both consist of content produced by people on the Internet? Wouldn't a personal wiki1 be a neat idea?

Adina Levin has succinctly described one of the problems with this fusion: the titles of blogs and wikis serve different purposes.

Blog titles are headlines. They're supposed to be catchy and attention-getting. You're not supposed to need to remember them.

Wiki titles are subjects. They are best as unadorned nouns and noun phrases that are easy to remember and stimulate collisions.

The most prominent bliki I know is written by Martin Fowler. Looking at some of his recent headlines, you can see the influence Adina is talking about. Martin is forced to sacrifice some of his marketability to create titles he is likely to reuse.

Take the article entitled Inversion Of Control. This title describes only a general software design principle. Does Martin approve or disapprove of this idea? Or does he have some revelation to surprise all of us? Luckily for Martin, his fame in software circles means he can write articles without a gripping title, and people will still read it. Just because it's written by Martin Fowler.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, most authors have to start selling themselves right away. And a catchy title is one of the most important aspects of any article.

1If you're looking for a lightweight personal wiki, check out NoteWiki.