Talkback Tuesday: ‘Big trouble in little China’

Tuesday 1 October 2013, 6.00am HKT

T A L K B A C K   T U E S D A Y

RECENTLY, I did some whistleblowing at a world-famous site. Not quite in the stature of Eddie the Nationally Insecure Snowman (geddit?), but I did reveal my part in the rise and fall of ethics in a certain ‘wordprocessing’ practice.

academic fraud

(via via outoppie)

Read the rest of this entry »

Interlude: Fiction

Monday 17 December 2012, 3.00am HKT



THE FARAWAY MOUNTAINS decided to give Alexander the destiny he so yearned for.

Hair ruffling in the dusty morning breeze, he took just one sip from the waterbag, and matter-of-factly passed it on to the next person, a nobody among a phalanx of nobodies whose only motivation to push on was to share in Alexander’s dream.

Alexander’s eyes squinted ever so slightly at the mountains. The path beneath his boots parched under the sun and the breeze, with dust rising behind each step the men made as if to contradict them.

The waterbag came round to Alexander again. And he poured the remaining mouthfuls to the ground. He was making a choice for all to see — to be with, and for, his men.

caucasus mountain ufo 14296307 123rfdotcom

People around UFO landing in the Caucasus Mountains.

(Image by Youry Ermoshkin via


Oh, bloody hell!

I CAN’T do it.

This fiction stuff is just too bleedin’ hard to do!

How do others manage to write this crap esteemed genre anyway?

No sooner have I got that imagery in my head, it fizzles and fritters away. Whatever few abject ideas I could generate, it just goes away completely at the sight of my lovely black-pig Iberico ham (from Andalucia, Spain), semi-hard cheese, and chilled Terra Roja white wine (also from Spain).

food serrano ham 2012 1213

This IS a real distraction to my productivity



My very first job in the incestuous world of publishing was that of a ghostwriter for a London publishing house best remembered for their (trashy) romance novels. It also publishes scientific titles, but roman was the genre that made it the most money.

‘Write something readable for the sales to sell’

I got the job by accident.

The regular ghostwriter/editor went on maternity leave. I was cheap (in price, that is) and literate enough (being able to read and type addresses on envelopes). I was hired on the strength of having written some crap for my school magazine and good in layouts (a useless skill for novels, by the way).

The ‘novelist’ in question left a ‘manuscript’ (or a broad interpretation of one) with the publisher. It was just a bulletpoint plan of each chapter, actually. The editor in question was told to go crawl into a corner and “write something readable for the sales to sell.”

After two or three months of writing or typing furiously on bits of paper, index cards and probably toilet paper, my first and only romance ghostwriting effort came to a thankful end when my publisher told me I was crap at this game.

Still, the publisher thought I was good enough to keep around (especially for the envelope-writing part of the work), and transferred me to the Science Department to work on chemistry titles.

Cigarette ash and scum

The Chemistry Editor told me,

“You certainly have shown a flair for chemistry, just that it’s not the kind of chemistry they’re looking for in Romance [Department].”

The Romance and Fiction Editor was a right bitch of a Fag-Ash ’Lil sourpuss. Every day she came into the office wearing that soured-up poe-face of hers. The tea was always too hot, too cold, too bitter, too sweet, too something or other with her. She’s always making a mess of the place with her Mount Vesuvius-like cigarette ash and scum from pencil rubbers. She was around 40-ish, an ex-Beatle groupie type turned ex-punk, and was the most unnaturally unromantic — most romantically offputting? — woman ever.

I’ll give Fag Ash Lil this:— She was farkin’ brilliant churning out romantic scenes with heavy doses of sexual innuendos of the pseudo-lesbian-threesome-jackhammer-it-right-in-there genre. This woman knows how to ghostwrite shitty romance novels that SELL, baby! With her dyed jet-black hair and fairly decent cleavage, short Ra-Ra skirts, practically no underwear, fag on lips constantly, you could see why many of the publisher’s male authors were ‘in tune’ with her.

I’m sorry, peep’l, I just don’t have what it takes inside me to write fiction.

And much fun was had by all, and so to bed.


[You’re fired for not putting in more sexual innuendos.—Editor]



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Image by Youry Ermoshkin via (B12450)

You don’t blog? (5/5: the finale!)

Friday 17 February 2012, 7.29pm HKT

Updated 30 May 2013 (reformatting only)


In this series’ finale, we’ll look at branding and long-term operation of your blog.

You’re gunna lurve some of the graphics in this part and give you ideas.

Unfortunately, this part is absoeffinglutely brain-damagingly long.

But it IS the finale, after all.

And pure gold, even if I do say so myself.

(There’s more?! Shome mishtake shurely.—Editor)

Get some beer and pizza. Take it one bit at a time, like two nervous virgins having sex for the first time on a freezing beach in wintertime.

* * *


Just to remind readers just what the hell this series is all about, it’s a response to a question from a newbie noobhead who wants to get into the profitless game of blogging.

In Part 1, we have explained why blogging is still relevant in the age of social media.

Blogging is a ready way to get a web presence. It is your interactive platform to examine an issue or market niche in an fast-moving but in-depth setting, and a transparent forum to engage your audience as well.

Blogging today is very much part of the public communications front of many individuals and organisations. As a proactive and transparent medium, blogging can help build or repair your overall reputation.

In Part 2, we covered the lead-up issues in starting a blog.

Deciding the nature of your blog or your target audience will determine your blog’s topicality and your choice of blog provider. Topical blogs are well-received by readers generally. Your ability to provide visitors with timely and accurate information helps to position yourself as an expert and promote your other websites.

An attractive, memorable blog name attracts visitors. Originality and keywords are important in the blog name. A blog with a good name running on a free blog service is desirable in the beginning, and could even be better than running one on a custom domain.

A basic webpage design is easier to administer than a more ambitious design, and that is preferable in the beginning. Set your newly registered blog to ‘private access only’ until the time is right to ‘go public.’

In Part 3, we looked at the actual mechanics of setting up a blog.

Finalise your essential static pages before your blog goes public. Most important is the About page. Some blogs may require a mission statement. A copyright notice may be applicable.

Readers appreciate both email and RSS as subscription choices. All blogs ought to display an email address for contacting the blog owner.

A blogroll of your favourite websites helps raise your blog’s search-engine ranking and therefore generate more visits.

A Testimonials page is optional, yet it will help reinforce your online credibility.

In Part 4, we looked at the essential copydesk skills needed to keep your blog as a going concern.

A weekly update of around 500 words is a good starting point in developing a more frequent posting schedule and higher or lower word counts as needed. Big features should be published in multipart format.

A flexible and adaptable month-by-month posting plan set up in advance for the whole year will provide regularity and consistency of coverage in stories, thereby advancing the continued life of the blog. Running a yearly biographical sketch of yourself will remind readers of the ‘person’ behind the blog and stoke up reader interest. We showed you some simple steps to develop leads for writing interesting stories.

The quality of writing for posts should be personable and engaging, whilst paying good attention to details of the topic at hand and consideration of your readers’ perspectives. Readers always favour high editorial quality, yet a high literary tone may sometimes work against the essential attractiveness of blogs: entertainingtopical informativeness and decorous informality.

Knowing basic drafting technique helps shorten the turnaround time needed to compose posts. Allow draft posts to ‘marinate’ so as to give yourself time to mull over details, phraseology and other elements and work your stories into first-class publication quality.

Resize your artwork to fit your column width before uploading to the blog servers. Oversized illustrations prolong the loading time of your webpages, thereby losing you visitors and reader goodwill.

Ensure files for downloading by visitors from your site are in correct and safe file formats that do not cause search engines or browsers to detect your blog as a spam site.

Lack of Internet connection is no bar to blogging. Indeed, that could be rethought of as an opportunity to produce more considered, higher-quality posts.

(That’s enough recaps. Get on with it.—Editor)

* * *


Most of us tend to look back at our school life with some degree of fondness, in spite of the antedeluvian attitudes or even outright detestability of those strangers with shifty eyes and funny noses who either lord over or study with us.

In many ways, blogging is a bit like school life.

Just as in doing homework and telling fibs at school, you spend an obscene amount of time and effort banging out lukewarm stories night after night, recounting the minutiae of barely imaginative exploits with over-imaginative but under-promiscuous beach bunnies on your way to and from work.

And just like your schoolmates did about your fibs, you get sussed out by other bloggers, who then proceed to practically ‘flame’ you with the grumpiest, the meanest, the most demeaning and sardonically insolent comments on your own blog.

They steal the thunder from right under your feet — and yet you’re still enduringly grateful to these ingrates for their doing so out of desperation and forlorn hope that your blog actually gets ‘read’ by somebody ever since your blog started 21 years 7 months 15 days 9 hours 22 minutes ago.

You can advance your sorry little bucketslopof a blogging life with the following new and improved protips from The Naked Listener.


You are par-ti-ci-pating!

  • DO:— Invite other bloggers to guestblog (or ‘guest-bog’) on your little online kingdom — and offer to do the same on theirs. Keep it simple — file your stories by email instead of opening up new user accounts in your blog.


  • DO:— Submit stories to other blogs, websites, newsletters and print publications. If you do get published, this will generate credibility (even fame) for you, your ‘expertise’ and your blog. If not those, then at least ‘excerptise’ (ek-serp-tees: excerpt expertise) for you.


For that, you might get a ‘southern death threat’ (which, coincidentally, is also the name of a really nice American rock band). At least you’ll know somebody somewhere considers you’re not totally ‘not worth the beating.’

Guestblogging is a two-way street. It gives variety to your blogging routine and theirs. It gives you and them a practical change of perspective. You can create a compelling online portfolio by guestblogging.

It’s also an opportunity for others to ‘blog and flog’: blog lurkers or non-bloggers to blog on your turf without the hassle or long-term commitment of setting up their own miserable blogs.



  • DO:— Attend blogcons (blog conventions). Blogcons are just like any other regular trade event. They are networking events for fun and profit, and sometimes you end up landing a real-life job from the networking. Bring your employer along.


Blogcons aren’t some hippie groupie sessions organised by arty-farty illiterates for the ‘counterliterates’ wearing cosplay outfits. Blogcons are big business and big money.

A blogcon is just like any other trade fair. Indeed, they are usually organised by the same event-planning companies that organise industrial trade fairs, military armament expositions, car roadshows, music festivals and cosplay conventions.

Visitors pay good money for tickets — and their spends at the event bring good revenue for the hotels, convention centre and the shops that supply the food, the drinks, the shopping and other sellables to these ‘pretend writers’ that you denigrate them as. Bloggers are just normal consumers and blogcons are consumer-driven fairs. The networking done at blogcons (and especially at cosplay- and comic-cons) rakes in the cash on the spot.

You need to make your employer understand this.

For instance, the memorably named Clockenflap 2011 music and arts festival I went to was profitable just on sales of food and drink alone, never mind the ticketing revenue.

Just because the attendees there were young(ish) and have shifty eyes and funny noses and wear outlandish garb don’t mean they have no money to blow in pursuit of their own brand of happiness.

Another example: Social Media Week is a major international event held simultaneously across several different continents. Venues are hotels, convention centres, nightclubs, restaurants and other high-class joints. I’ve been to some SMW events. The booze, the grub, the souvenirs and whatnot might come free for guests, but imagine the revenue for the suppliers.

You need to edjumacate your employers about blogcons.

[You’re fired for attending parties during work hours.—Editor]


  • DO:— Learn things (and about people!) at blogcons. Some things you get to see or hear about blogging, you’d never even thought of before. It’s good experience for newbies and oldtimers alike.


  • DON’T:— Don’t brag about your blog or show off your pseudo-intellectual literary skills or journalistic capabilities at blogcons or similar gatherings.


FACT:— You’d be surprised how many bloggers at blogcons used to be (or still are) senior staff journalists, prizewinning book writers and editors, and famous celebrities in the media business. These are people who make money from their blogs, so you shouldn’t embarrass yourself (or them!).


I once met a nondescript blogger who 20 years before won the Pulitzer prize for some kind of journalism. I didn’t believe him at first, but after I checked him out, he really was what he claimed. Thank god I didn’t insult him or anything.

Another ordinary-looking blogger I met at a mini-blogcon turned out to work for a merchant bank (‘investment bank’ to our American cousins). That blogger eventually gave me a printing order. The price of the order wasn’t thrilling but it was good for six months of office rent — not something to thumb at.


Corporatistical branding made simple

Once you’ve been blogging for some length of time, eventually you’ll have to go on ‘field assignments’ and follow up leads like a ‘pretend foreign correspondent.’

But without some kind of visible identification or credential, a blogger will have a tough time getting access to events and people — indeed often summarily denied it.

But how do you get blogging credentials? It’s not like there’s a Press Pass system for us that journalists have.

You have to make do with some home-brewed workarounds.


  • ESSENTIAL:— Print your blog’s very own business card. Blog name, your name, phone number, email and blog URL. Include Facebook and Twitter as desired. Use a proper printing firm for this.


The absolute minimum and likely to be the only corporate branding technique most of you will ever need. It obviates the necessity of you explaining yourself when you could flash a BIZNAZ CAAAERD that shows you run a blog.

Why else would you get cards printed like that if you’re not a blogger? Right?

tnl card


Aside: A word about printing

The whole purpose of getting cards printed is to give them away like mad. If they’re expensive to print, you’re going to look VISIBLE DISTRESSED giving them away.



Print standard-sized cards only

Use only uncoated paperstock of 120–150 gsm (grammes per square metre) weight

Uncoated cards can double as memo cards in front of your ‘interviewees’



Print single colour (“1C spot colour” in printing parlance).

Single-sided is “1C” and double-sided is “1C + 1C”.

Warm black is usually cheapest, but I recommend Pantone U-288 (PHOTO) for ‘authenticity’ effect. U-288 is usually dark enough to look goodly conservative, but bright enough to stand out.

Frankly, no one needs anything more than single-colour, single-sided printing.


DON’T:— Don’t use costly fancy techniques like:—

  • coated paperstock
  • single-sided full colour inks (“4C”)
  • worse, double-sided full colour inks (4C + 4C)
  • lamination (glossy or plasticised surfacing)
  • diecuts
  • rounded corners or bevelled edges
  • gilt edges
  • and so on

The job printer invariably recommends those exact things (“they make your cards look distinctive”) because they bump up your printing bill, okay?

[You’re fired for giving away your tradecraft for free.—Editor]



I once know a person who ran a bitty setup selling something and had cards done in—

  • 4C + 4C (double-sided full colour)
  • ivory white 150 gsm cardstock
  • matte laminate both sides
  • rounded corners
  • a diecut of a star in the left-centre field

Each card costs a cool HK$7 (or 90¢ US or 57p British money)!


Many retail shops also go overboard with card printing. Here in Hong Kong, matte laminated cards are the favourite, which I tell you is the depth of brain-damagedness — because you cannot write price quotes on them for customers.


Granted that I’m a printer by trade and can get away scotfree on costs, my own cards still cost me a bloody expensive 17¢ Hong Kong a shot (or 2¢ US or 1p UK). Mine are 4C + 1C (full colour one side, single colour the other) on uncoated woodfree 120 gsm.

Your cards (for whatever earthly purpose) should cost no more than half-cent apiece.

And, no, I don’t print my own cards. I farm this out to a job printer for cost efficiency’s sake.



  • DON’T:— Don’t make fake ID badges or cards even if it’s for your blog. If you flash one in public, you are arrestable for impersonation (yeah, impersonating yourself!) and/or prima facie evidence of your intent to defraud.


  • DON’T:— If you put the word “Press” on your fake ID badge, that alone will SECURE your conviction on both counts (impersonation, intent to defraud).


  • DON’T:— If you did your ID badge online, you’ll additionally be charged and convicted for wire fraud. If you did it offline, that’ll be counterfeiting or forgery.



Impersonation and intent to defraud EACH carry a fine and 1 to 3 years in the slammer in most jurisdictions around the world.

Wire fraud is at least one more year in the slammer.

Forgery carries 5 to 10 years. Forgery or counterfeiting usually supersede copyright infringement even if you’ve actually used (say) Coca-Cola’s logo on a physical item.

You can’t plead ignorance or insanity as defence because the act of designing your own ID is evidence of your sound capacity of mind and premeditation.

Flashing an official-looking but unlawful ID is also arguably a form of criminal intimidation — another year of ‘porridge.’

But, alas, some of you faggots out there still prefer to have an ID card. One possible workaround is to print your blog’s business card in the form of an ID card, which at least arguably is less illegal.

Make your own ID cards with Big Huge Labs’ Badge Maker, and live dangerously then.


Branding, continued

  • DO:— Prepare standing ‘shirttails.’ A shirttail is newspaperspeak (and an americanism) for the brief clause that’s added at the end of a story. Necessary, if your blog is a collaborative effort or if it uses a fair number of guestposts.


A shirttail is not a footnote, as many people seem to mistaken it for.

For example, a screenshot of a compilation shirttail used in my bio:—

The shirttail is usually set in italics
But the italics for this blog isn’t so hot, so it’s in roman instead


 A shirttail may be biographical, a kind of ‘about the author’ for the post writer:—

This article is reproduced by kind permission of the estate of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi master who played a significant role in the fate of the galaxy during the waning days of the Galactic Republic. Later known as Ben Kenobi during his exile, Gen. Kenobi was born in 57 BBY on the planet Stewjon, the first son of a moderately wealthy family. In French Internet subculture, Gen. Kenobi’s name has given birth to the expression ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ meaning ‘your question does not make sense.’ Gen. Kenobi was killed in action aged 60 and is survived by Mildred, his watercolourist wife, on the planet Coruscant.

Usually it’s a straightforward factual ‘after-byline’ for the post:—

This exclusive article to The Naked Listener’s Weblog was written by Sith Lord Darth Vader in Bangkok, with contributions from his Zabrack Sith apprentice Darth Maul in London and The Naked Listener in Hong Kong.

For a guestpost shirttail, it’s usually semi-biographical and semi-plug:—

The Naked Listener is the pseudonym of Robert Lee and runs The Naked Listener’s Weblog ( since around 1995/97. During office hours, he moonlights as a printer in Hong Kong and is legally trained but is not a practising lawyer, thankfully.


  • PROTIP:— Use the word ‘written’ (not ‘authored’) in a shirttail. Stop being pretentious.

A ‘biobox’


  • PROTIP: Italicise your shirttails. (I tend to do it in roman because the italic fount appearance on this blog design isn’t so hot.)


Srsly, if you are a professional and blog on professional matters, shirttails add to the overall credibility of your blog.

A very short shirttail in every post is highly beneficial in marketing your services, such as:—

Marianne Dubois is author of this post and an attorney-at-law. She may be contacted at Sue, Runn & Grabbit LLP at the address given in the Contact page of this website.”

Just don’t be long and full of platitudes. Remember, playing softball wins more than hardball.


  • DO:— Prepare a ‘biobox’ jpg file for use as in-text illustration.


A blogger inviting you to guestblog usually asks for your bio and a mugshot. A biobox combines the two in one. Look at the Jane Bloggs spoof biobox (RIGHT) and mine (below).

Shameless prostitution: I’ll be more than happy to produce a biobox jpeg for your blog if you supply me with your copy and a picture. It only takes me minutes to make one.

[You’re fired for prostituting for free.—Editor]


Branding: the optional stuff

 A ‘corporate’ image may be relevant for advanced bloggers. The below are optional.

INDENT CARDS are postcards bearing your blog name or logo just like those held on air by TV show hosts. They can double for notetaking use in front of interviewees, or have them held up by people in photo ops. Also useful for communicating with people still on snailmail mode. They give off a professional image and help in the pretense that you’re not a fly-by-night cowboy operator who might do a D.B. Cooper.

My own indent cards (PHOTO) are 4C + 1C, that is, full colour on one side and one black ink the other.

Each costs me around 3¢ US (or 2p British), which is comparable to the cost of a packet of 100 index cards.

But then again, I’m a printer and I’m pretentious and need the ‘corporate image.’

POCKET NOTEBOOKS with your blog name or logo on the cover. Clearly costly to custom-make but they evince a professional if somewhat journalistic image.

LETTERHEADS specially designed for your blog probably takes it right into the corporate realm, especially if you’re hoping (or imagining) your blogging could lead to paid work.

STICKERS or BANNERS with your blog name or logo are perhaps the cheapest way to corporatise your blog. Stick them on your notebooks, photobag, property, etc. The major newspapers and news agencies have their gear emblazoned with corporate ID stickers. Make your stickers in square shape (rather than a strip) so they’ll fit any item.

T-SHIRTS with your blog logo or name is something you wear ‘on assignment’ as if you’re some kind of freelance journo. I have two tees like that which I wear on those occasions where I wish to be clearly identified as a ‘staff member’ of my blog.

[That’s enough expensive recommendations.—Editor]


* * *


Your blog can get hacked or wiped just like any other website. Your blog provider can suspend or delete it for BOTOS (breach of terms of service) because of something defamatory or outright unlawful you wrote.

Alternatively, some unknown mean arsehole out there can report your blog as pornographic or spammy to your blog provider just for laughs because:—

  • didn’t like your vocabulary or phraseology (foul words or not)
  • didn’t like you for not writing in Chinese (and I get this complaint a lot)
  • didn’t like you can write better than they could
  • didn’t like your coverage is better than theirs
  • didn’t like your insistence that the expression ‘being that’ is grammatical (which it actually is)
  • didn’t like your atheistic or religious views on furry little animals
  • didn’t like your refusal to post your private sex pictures

There are lots of people out in the blogosphere who would report you just out of spite, to troll you, just for the lulz.


Operational security

  • DO:— Back up your entire blog every month. Choose 10th of every month or some other date so you have a fixed date for making backups.


  • DO:— Create a secondary user account for your blog for ‘backdoor access’ in case your primary login is in trouble or locked out.


I have a secondary user account for my blog, and I display my secondary login openly at work so that anybody could access the blog in case of emergency. I have never needed to use my secondary user account.

Of course, that also means any rogue user-luser could also access my blog, but only on that secondary user account. If ever that rogue pretends to be me and posts something on the blog, the rogue will be easily identifiable by the secondary username, therefore indicating the post hadn’t been posted by me.


  • OPTIONAL:— A Dead Man’s Switch (DMS) post that you continually reschedule forward to act as a public alert in case something untoward or abrupt happened to you.

Read my dedicated post here about the DMS.


Your blog and the law

You can blog your insane opinions however much you want, and 99% of the time nobody cares to sue you because 99% of the time nobody reads it. True fact.


  • DO:— Take screenshots of your more sensitive posts. If your blog gets wiped or hacked, or your arse hauled into court, you’ll have those screenshots as evidence.


Trouble is, there’s the 1% of individuals out there as insane as you are who will take umbrage at your nearly illiterate scribblings and have the wherewithal to haul your goddamn arse in court for a goddamn thorough drubbing.

I have seen this happen to other people and the sight is not very lovely.


  • DO:— Read up about what constitutes defamation, political and criminal incitement, criminal intimidation and sedition because they have particular importance to blogging. If possible, show your draft post to a lawyer.


Many bloggers don’t realise just how much of their writings could be construed as defamatory, inciting, intimidatory, threatening or seditious (or even all of them together).

Likewise, many commenters don’t realise their comments could be legally considered as inflammatory (termed ‘incendiary’ in some jurisdictions).


  • DO:— Get to know one or two lawyers who specialise in defamation, copyright and online contractual disputes. Write a letter to introduce yourself to them and ask to have their business cards “should I ever have need of your services.”


  • DON’T:— Never ask for lawyers’ fee schedules because it’s impossible in absence of a case before them.


  • DO:— Retain a lawyer and negotiate for a nominal (low) fee from him for ‘lawyering’ your posts. This is especially useful for blogs that cover news, politics or industry developments.


Retaining a lawyer for a blog sounds like overkill, but not when your blog covers potentially suable stuff like politics or industry ‘insider’ gossip.

Legal services don’t come cheap, so retaining a lawyer is a major long-term financial undertaking.

You might be luckier if you’re still in college or university a good idea is to ‘retain’ your law-school pals. You get some kind of protection, and they get some kind of experience.

  • Write to the law school explaining you wish to have someone with knowledge of the law to lawyer your blog articles before publication.
  • Schedule an appointment with a law professor to help draw up a lawyering checklist.

Having posts for a personal blog ‘lawyered’ sounds like an helluva bigger overkill. But you can sell the idea to the law professor on this sales pitch:—

  1. it’s an opportunity for his law students to get some supervised hands-on practice in media and defamation law
  2. it’s an opportunity for legal and non-legal types to learn to work with each other (in short, to appreciate each other’s perspectives and constraints) as it will imminently be like THAT in the real world after graduation
  3. express that if the law professor is agreeable to the arrangement, you will be more than happy to be used in PR materials of the law school because the undertaking underscores the law school’s or the professor’s innovative and pragmatic approach to the training of future lawyers
  4. persuade the professor to assign students on a rotating basis for the lawyering
  5. the professor will be the tiebreaker and final arbiter in event of disagreements between you and the ‘lawyer’ assigned
  6. that your blog will credit the lawyering to the law school itself in the early stages and,
  7. if things go smoothly and really well, the law professor’s own name would then be added ‘prominently’ in recognition of his esteem and farsightedness
[You’re fired for not having this post lawyered.—Editor]

* * *


Some people (usually perfectionists) can’t stand being told this advice. To them, this piece of eminently sensible advice is like blowing smoke up their arse and ruin their autopsy.



  • DO:— Write pre-prepared floaters suitable for running at any old time to meet your posting deadline in case you have nothing topical to write about.

Good floater topics would be small lifehacks like what kind of corkscrews are suitable for opening six bottles of wine in under 10 seconds (PHOTO RIGHT), or ‘notes’ on your ephemeral remembrances (such as mine on an ex-colleague).



  • DO:— Make a style manual for your blog. This is your own usage guide to provide uniformity in the writing and design formatting of posts and downloadable documents. Use an alphabetically indexed pocketbook for this purpose.

Write in your favourite HTML codes, shirttails, decklines, boilerplate phrases, preferred nomenclature, second references, in-line jokes, etc, so you won’t have to hunt around the Internet or rack your brains for them.

No need to make a big hash of it like the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (a.k.a. the “AP Stylebook”). Your own stylebooks is just a MEMORY AID for your blog. You already know your own spelling and usage preferences or should.

My blog has its own stylebook, but I almost never use it mainly because I’ve completely internalised my stuff by dint of long working in printing and publishing.

Excerpts from my stylebook:—

Aliases (by alias). DW is _____. Mr Wankmatic is _____.

Aliases (by real name). _____ is Skinny-D. _____ is Råtta.

Biobox. Slugged ‘biobox tnl grey dark 233×528’ in Media.

Blog icon. Slugged ‘tnl blog icon’ in Media. 195 × 195 pixels.

Column width. 500 pixels.

DMS/Dead Man’s Switch post. Slugged ‘dms’ in Draft. Reset every 21 days. Include last update date.


Gravatar. Slugged ‘tnl gravatar’ in Media. 250 × 250

Header image. 500 × 225 pixels.

HTML for big fount. <big> … </big>

Japan. “The Land That Gave Us ‘Weird’ Since 1957” (when it should’ve been 1952).

Login (secondary). Username ‘______’. Password ‘__________’. Email ‘______’.

Placeholder photo. Slugged ‘placeholder thumbnail’ under Media.

Solid linespace. Shift + Enter.

Table, 2-column. See draft slugged ‘B09032 2col table’ for HTML code.

Theme. Ambiru by Phu Ly, Showcase at

That’s the kind of oh-so-entertaining, readable stuff you should put into your blog stylebook so you won’t have to memorise them and fill up your brain drive capacity.


Search-engine optimisation (SEO)

Blogging increases your communications. Sooner or later, you’ll end up getting involved in this maddening craze called SEO.

Most of us don’t really care about this thing. In fact, I don’t give a flying f@#k (or any other kind of f@#k) about SEO and haven’t reached the stage yet to even pay lip service to SEO.

Search engines (like Google, Bing, etc) love websites with relevant, frequently updated content. Search ranking goes up for your blog if your content is always fresh and relevant.

High ranking (especially on Google) largely rests on the number of incoming links — links from another website that points to your website.

For example, if your website has 10 static pages but no blog, the search engine will index only those 10 static pages and be limited to the amount of keywords found there. However, if your website also has a blog, the search engine will index each blogpost (plus their keywords) and that increases your SEO ranking.

The idea behind SEO is simple enough: If you post stories of high relevance to your subject area, other websites in your subject area will link to your related articles. The more relevant (i.e. on-topic) your articles are, the higher chance that search-engine webcrawlers will find keywords and search terms on your website. That builds up your link structure and bumps up your search ranking, resulting in a higher profile for your blog. There’s no mystery to this SEO business you just need to use keywords throughout your posts.

Well, that’s effing dynamite on paper IF your blog is heavily focused on one subject or is business-related. But what if yours is a personal blog, for which you write the first thing thta comes into your head? There’s not a whole lot of keywords to index on. Savvy?

The oddest thing is that many SEO websites themselves don’t rank high in search-engine positions. Or maybe I’m missing something, no?

The Naked Listener’s Weblog is a personal lark. I write about a whole lot of things in the most brain-damaged was conceivable. There aren’t many ‘relevant’ keywords to feed the webcrawlers the reason why the blog has low muscle ranking. But I’m pretty sure you’ll agree this blog is nicely done all round and ‘relevant’ to many people just that it’s not necessarily by the numbers.

SEO. It’s dynamite. It blows you away. Permanently.


* * *


Some more protips that got left behind in the earlier parts.

Coverage redux

Some further coverage ideas:—

Prepare advance posts on neighbourhood or school events but run them at a date to coincide with their opening. Pretty soon you’ll be famous for “having ears on the ground.”

Music festivals with whacky pictures of whacky people doing whacky things.

Maxims to live by. Or not.

Obituaries prepared in advance of famous people or just your teachers, school bullies, etc, who’s quite likely to kick the bucket any moment now that you’re all grown up.

Interview friends (or their friends) who do something well or interesting. For example, I have a coincidentally female friend who is a self-taught electric guitarist with virtually a crush on American guitarist Joe Satriani. I’m planning on interviewing her about how she got turned on to the electric guitar, making her one in a million in Hong Kong where the preferred hobby of 90% of Hongkongers is property or forex speculation.


Web operation

Statistics page

This is a static page to show blog stats so visitors may have an idea of how your blog is faring. Add to month-by-month figures as they come round. Different blog providers provide different stats. See the bottom of my January recap for an idea.


widget (or software widget) is a small application that is installable and runnable within a webpage. See my widgets at the bottom of every page on my blog. A couple of them point to third-party sites and use their external services:—

  1. Date at my location
  2. Unique visitors
  3. Locations of visitors to this page
  4. Follow on Facebook

Too many external widgets will slow down your page-loading speed, especially if those widgets use Flash or some kind of Javascript.


Copydesk revisited

Learn some of these extra copydesk skills:—

Offline blogging

Like I said, lack of Internet connection is no bar to blogging. When you draft in longhand hardcopy, leave a wide margin for edits and additions. Helpful for those who still draft in paragraphs a way not particularly amenable to amendments later (which is exactly why drafting by paragraphs is demoralisingly still taught in academic writing.

Slug-naming conventions

‘Slug’ is the short filename you give to your posts.

Name your slugs properly. Eight characters or under is perfect, though not always possible.

Slug-naming conventions:—

Prefix ‘adv’ (e.g. advsmith) means an advertorial paid for by your client Smith & Co.

Prefix ‘am’ (amfestival) means a post that must run in the morning. Remove the ‘am’ on actual posting. Same deal with ‘pm.’

Prefix ‘cx’ (cxjohnsmith) means a correction to an already published post slugged ‘johnsmith.’

dated slug (feb21bongo) must run on a specified date (e.g. 21st February). A story slugged ‘feb21paxleocenturion’ while in draft status is a guestpost from ‘leo’ on the movie ‘Centurion’ that must run on that date. Remove the ‘feb21’ at posting time.

Prefix ‘flot’ (flotwinecork) means floater while still in draft status. Remove the ‘flot’ on actual posting.

Prefix ‘pax’ or ‘gp’ means incoming guestpost. A story slugged ‘paxtnlcenturion’ is a guestpost from blogger ‘tnl’ on the movie ‘Centurion.’

Prefix rando’ (rando22) means ‘R and O’ (review and outlook), which is a review of the stories you read during Week 22 plus your predictions — if you’re in the habit of writing reviews + predictions, then forget about ’roundup’ (below).

My biobox

Prefix ‘recap’ (recap22, recapaug) is a recap or roundup of your own posts for Week 22 or the month of August. Learn English: you ‘recap’ your own stories but ‘review’ those written by others.

Prefix ’roundup’ (roundup32) is a roundup or review of events or stories you read for Week 32.

Prefix‘site’ (siteblogroll) is a site update post on your Blogroll page. If your site update is about About, Blogroll and Testimonial pages, use the first named (e.g. siteabout) or something descriptive (e.g. site3pages).

Suffix ‘side’ or ‘sidebar’ (greenside or green-sidebar) is a sidebar to the main story slugged ‘green.’ A sidebar is textual information placed next to an article, graphically separate but with contextual connection. Not generally relevant in a blogging situation (since blogposts are individually posted) but some designs may allow text-in-text insertions.

Prefix ‘xp’ (xpleoscomma) is a crosspost from your other blog named ‘leos’ on the comma.

Copydesk lingo

Learn some of the copyeditor’s language. Know terms like a/w, biobox, blurb, byline, bybox, chart, correx, datelinedeckhed, deckline, flot, folo (not to be confused with ‘folio’), a two-deck hedlede, obit, quotebox, recaprando, roundup, shirttail, sidebar, slug, slugline, subbingsubhed, tagline, wirecopy, and when copy is in ‘slot.’

Know the difference between draft vs. manuscript too — for suffer in Draft Hell.

Whatever you do, don’t embarrass your friends, guestbloggers or yourself by saying naff things like ‘polishing up’ the text.

Know your shit, or know you’re shit.


[Thank god it’s done! You’re fired for wasting webspace.—Editor]


Update 25 FEB 2012

Part 6 is here



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 13 May 2013 (reformatting).

Images: “MasterLedZ’s Avatar” by itemforty via tvreeh via Wikipedia ♦ Guest pass via Freelance Folder ♦ Convention goers via Jewellery Net Asia ♦ Pulitzer Prize gold medals by Daniel Erath of The Times-Picayune via ♦ Pantone U-288 by Markus GmbH ♦ Gavel via Wooden Toys UK ♦ SEO image via clipclic ♦ Lawyered via Survivor Sucks ♦ Red pen and words via Heriot-Watt University Library (link lost) ♦ Linotype slug via Circuitous Root ♦ All other images by the author.

English Legal History

Making English Legal History easy and enjoyable to digest.

Diary of a Psychokiller

take a trip with me to the darkside

Lipsync Lawyer

Stop bitching and know your law differently

Daring Fireball

Hearing ordinary lives talk

An English Man In SF

a diary of life as an immigrant

MB Forde

Ghosts, Legends, Folklore and Writing

Motorcycling in Hong Kong

On two wheels in Asia's World City


Making her way back to Neverland one day at a time...

The Naked Listener's Weblog

Hearing ordinary lives talk

Basti in China


Making Maps: DIY Cartography

Resources and Ideas for Making Maps

Pointless Diagrams

A new, meaningless diagram drawn daily, just 'cause.

The London Column

Reports from the life of a city, from 1951 to now, compiled by David Secombe

Vintagerock's Weblog.

Just another weblog

Shirley Chuk

Chuk Yin-yuk 祝燕玉 of Hong Kong

%d bloggers like this: