I edit a blog, Boing Boing, that's pretty darn popular (Technorati says we're one of the five most popular blogs), so there are a lot of people who try to get me to write about their stuff. That's cool -- I love getting good suggestions for things to write about. I couldn't find everything on my own.
But often I can't write about the tips people send me, because the people who posted the material did something crazy to make life tough for bloggers. I suppose that if you're aiming for obscurity, that could be a feature, but if you've put up a Web site because you want people to find out about your stuff, then being blogger-unfriendly is most certainly a bug.
What makes a site blogger-unfriendly? I've been keeping a list for the past couple of months. These are simple design and deployment mistakes that kept me from picking up a link and reposting it where millions might find it. Here's the list, a kind of anti-checklist for anyone who's spending money and time trying to get a message out:
Have a link. Seriously: if you want bloggers to link to you, you need to have something linkable. Your upcoming TV show, protest march, product or soccer tournament is literally unbloggable unless you put it on the Web somewhere first.
Have a permanent link. Don't just change the front page of your site every time a new speaker for your speaker-series in announced. A blogger who links to the front page of your site today in a post about the upcoming address by Philo T Farnsworth, wants that link to stay good for in the future, and not point to the upcoming address by Paris Hilton when you change it next week. Put up a separate, permanently linkable page for everything you want to get blogged.
Have a link for everything. Don't have a single page with ten items on it. Blogging a link to the top of your fifty-screen-long page with a blurb about something halfway down generates 200 e-mails from readers who can't find the referenced item.
Use real links. Don't have links with expiring session-keys that are no good if someone revisits the URL later. If a blogger can't send the URL to a friend or put it on the Web, then that blogger can't send people to go look at your stuff. Likewise, avoid the giant, 800-character gobbledegook URLs filled with junky alphabet-soup GUIDs -- if it can't be pasted into IRC without linebreaking, there's some group of compulsive communicators who'll be unable to get to it.
Flash sites stink. Designers, architects and artists, this means you: putting your whole site into a giant Flash blob with no internal links, no way to copy a representative bit of text into a post or e-mail, and no way to point to a specific page means that a large number of bloggers and other word-of-mouthers will just pass on it. Also, sites like this are invisible to search engines. Your whole graduating class may be making Flash portfolios, but if you break with them, you'll get work from your site while they languish in search- and blogger-invisibility.