Of Governments and Blogs
The government having a blog is a bit like your parents trying to use slang: sure it might be the right words, but the feel is wrong; it takes some immersion in the culture before it’s comfortable, and ultimately you all just end up feeling a little bit embarrassed. There’s always that little cringe when dad opens his mouth; you’re just waiting for the incorrect usage of the word to bring the whole thing crashing down.
My biggest criticism, however, would have to be the government’s poor initial implementation. Given that WordPress, Typepad and Blogger can all be run from within a website, one has to wonder what the fuck the government was thinking with their system. There’s no preview on the comments (and nothing anywhere to determine which HTML tags etc. are permitted). The box for adding comments would fit inside a standard wallet, making it even more difficult to review one’s work before posting.
I think my biggest gripe, however, is the articles themselves. They read (as I noted in a comment there) like essay questions. Posting comments feels like doing somebody else’s assignment for him. It doesn’t feel like a conversation, which, given its traditionally informal style, a blog should do; it feels like you’re in class. Unfortunately, it also feels like a class where you know more than the lecturer in many cases. I realise that the government is in a tricky position with this: it cannot be too informal or opinion-based, since it is representative of the Australian Government. A little leeway would be nice, though.
It comes back to what I said before: there needs to be some immersion in the culture before it feels comfortable, and the Australian Government seems to have missed this point. A little exploration of the blogosphere would have provided a wealth of information about site design and how to write a decent article.