Writing Bearwalls

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy being the idiot that refuses to conform to “accepted best practises for bloggers”?

Blogging is a fairly new form of personal expression. I know TJ has been doing it for decades, but it’s new enough that a lot of folks that are still blogging now had nothing to go by in the way of rules or guidelines when they started. You figured out what it was while you were doing it.

As with everything else, if one person does something, three other people will devise rules that simply MUST be followed. If you look, you can easily find dozens of blogs that primarily create and discuss “rules” for blogging. And there’s nothing wrong with that, since everyone is free to succeed or fail on their own, follow rules or guidelines or not, and can even decide for themselves what would constitute success or failure. 🙂

What rules and guidelines succeed in doing, is influence those newly come to blogging. Most folks want to have some idea of what they should be doing, tips and tricks and techniques for success, and it’s only natural to visit the “experts” and see what they recommend.

Among the tips I’ve read, you’re supposed to do short posts so as not to bore your readers with long walls of text, you are supposed to have lots of pictures mixed in to break up the wall of text and relax the eye, distract it and entrance it, you should have sections and break things up nicely and use headers and such, and you’re supposed to eliminate wishy-washyness wherever possible and use declarative statements rather than qualifiers to help draw attention.

Edit: You’re also supposed to use spellcheck, FYI. I don’t. Why? Because I’m an idiot. So I reread my own post 50 times and update something different each time. None of which helps the fact the first draft went out on feedreaders.

In my opinion, that is all excellent advice on writing attractive posts that are welcoming to the reader. It has nothing to do with the content of the post, it’s just helping to provide tips on making that content more visually appealing.

I have nothing personal against having pretty posts… but for me, it takes a backseat to the writing.

Since we are communicating over a digital medium, this may shock you, but I still buy books. Yes, the ones made out of murdered trees.

Call me a neo-luddite if you must, but I like them.

The books I love the most? They mostly have these things in them called “words”. Not pictures, not hyperlinks, no nice formatting. Just words. Words all strung together in sentences, and those sentences into paragraphs, and holy cats there are so many paragraphs they even have multiple chapters!

It’s craziness, I tell you!

Yes, sometimes I do write a long post, and occasionally I write what Jess tells me have come to be known as “bearwalls” on Blog Azeroth chat. Massive walls of text that I have been assured constitute a dizzying assault on the retinas of my poor, unfortunate readers.

And yet, I keep doing it.

This begs the question… why? This question mostly gets asked by some of my fellow bloggers, who wonder why I continue along the path of fail.

I’d like to answer that.

First, there is no incentive for me to do it any other way.

I’m not an elitist about it, I do know that my site would surely be much more popular if I paid more attention to being graphically pleasing, just as the blogging rules websites recommend.

And yes, I do want the folks who read this blog to enjoy visiting.

The thing is, I’m not interested in increasing pagehits. I’m not looking for being the most widely read umptyfrats. I don’t get more money based on having more bodies plunking their butts in front of the computer and navigating to thebigbearbutt.com. Heck, I don’t get any money. And I’m fine with that. I love capitalism… and part of capitalism is the freedom to choose to be nonprofit, purely from a love of what you do. Of course, a true nonprofit would ask for donations to maintain overhead like website hosting costs, but hey… I just figure I’m a nonprofit with only one corporate sponsor… me. 🙂

At least I don’t have to hold fundraisers and beg for money during kids shows like PBS does. “Now kids, if you like Arthur and want to keep watching it, and not have the show canceled, go get mommy or daddy… and tell them to bring their wallet.”

I feel that the folks that keep returning to the blog are mostly coming back because they like to read in general, are wierd in particular, and like to chat with the community here. That’s about it.

If folks that come visit the blog as it is decide not to hang around because there aren’t any pretty pictures… well, that’s okay.

We can choose to call you who remain the dedicated. Or the crazy, take your pick.

Second, this blog started BECAUSE I write bearwalls.

I started writing these long posts in a Yahoo Group for the founding guildies of Sidhe Devils, and they’re the ones who suggested long ago that if I’m going to write these massive walls of text, I ought to put them in a blog format. I’m sure they’ve long regretted that move. 🙂

I’m interested in writing, and in sharing my enthusiasm with friends… mostly for the game, but occasionally I share other enthusiasms as well. If this blog is really about anything, it’s about being enthusiastic and passionate, and sharing that with friends. Part of being friends is listening to what you think, learning from you, and trying things that you think I might enjoy, so I keep my eyes and ears open to what you are enthusiastic and passionate about in the comments and email, too.

The feedback you give me, the enthusiasms you have that YOU share… these are the most wonderful part of blogging, to me.

I’d never have heard of half the stuff I enjoy without you folks. That’s the truth. Nightwish, Flight of the Conchorde, Cruxshadows, Great Big Sea, and many, many, many more… my musical interests these days largely derive from bands that my readers have mentioned I might enjoy. Well, I have sought them out, and I’ve enjoyed them very much.

Likewise, readers recommend books, and I go read them. Libraries are wonderful things, and let me request and read the things you suggest that I never would have been able to afford otherwise.

Finally, I honestly feel that the whole point of blogging is communicating ideas and having fun while doing it.

Sure, sometimes I share pictures, or screenshots, or YouTube video links, or songs that I’m enthusiastic about. But it’s the writing I love. I have an intense love for and respect for the art of using the written word to communicate ideas.

In my heart, I feel that good writing should be able to stand alone. Pictures can be fun, and CAN add to the idea that you’re trying to express, but words should be quite capable, on their own, of expressing the ideas you hold in your mind.

If I don’t think that I have succeeded in bringing my mental image to life, of expressing exactly what I wanted to say with words, than the failure is in my ability to write, not in my lack of using the correct pictures to add context.

Every single one of you reads this blog for different reasons, I know. I’m sure some folks are only curious about information concerning Feral Druids (folks that I have been sadly disappointing of late) , or about the game of WoW itself. But others seem to hang out just for fun.

I personally like to think that the quixotic nature of my blogging attracts readers like Jess, folks that enjoy novels, involved stories, and being part of a continuing dialogue.

I think, and maybe I’m wrong, that by breaking “the rules”, I’ve been fortunate to become part of a much different community than I might otherwise have been.

If you want to feel special because of it, I won’t object.

After all, anyone that can work their way through an immense bearwall deserves the right to maintain their illusions for as long as they can.

Or is that delusions? I always get those two confused.


33 thoughts on “Writing Bearwalls

  1. SCNR* … TLDR xD

    I just started a blog (I suck, don’t ask ^^) so reading yours among the others is always an inspiration. Function before feature, so I’m ok with text as long as it has some space in it.

    * SCNR = Sorry, Could Not Resist (its an old acronym)


  2. Being able to write big long posts is why I post so much… I try to break things into sections as much as I can when writing my own wall ‘o texts.

    Also, I’ve written WOW forum posts in Microsoft Word many times before since the forums used to actually time out on me and delete the whole post I spent hours working on. Being able to post it on the blog first is so much better…


  3. I like bearwalls.
    Words and the way you string them together is what keeps me returning here. I don’t comment too often, but read every one of your posts going back ages and ages. 🙂 Write for you, and enjoy it. The rest of us get to simply come along for the read/ride.


  4. I think the Bearwalls show that you’re actually passionate about whatever it is you happen to be writing about. I will admit I don’t always make it to the end of some of your more ‘wallish’ posts… but if the subject matter really interests me I do. And I don’t even notice there’s no pictures ^.^

    I’ve said it before. Keep doing what you’re doing BBB. If people don’t like it they don’t need to read it. The rest of us will enjoy it all the more without their ‘advice’!


  5. It’s the writing I come back for. To be truthful I came to find out how to be a Bear tank. I did the practice, read this site, and other sites, then decided nope I am not a tank. My druid is Balance, My DK Blood DPS (mostly does the mining now, I have heard he complains when I am not there but he is dealing with the benching ok) and my mage is coming along nicely. In the process I began to enjoy the writing on BBB. At first I was bummed when the topic was other than WOW related. I am sure I have foreshadowed enough for all to tell that I have changed my mind. I have read about half of Converging Forces. I only read it at work Shhhh! So it is taking some time. I totally agree with IED’s (Idiot Elimination Device) equipped cars. I believe the folks causing trouble on the road take that same attitude with them to work and then back home. How much better a world with the asshats vaporized. So I’m hooked Bear, call me a weirdo if you want. I like Words too.


  6. Gotta say BBB, I prefer the bearwall. I find the ‘bite-size’ portions that seems to permeate the blogs around the web (and possibly society as a whole, but that’s a whole new can of worms) rather annoying. Headers, pictures and links sure can make the page pretty but just aren’t a replacement or substitute for entertaining writing. While a blog with alternating pictures of bacon and attractive women in interesting outfits would certainly draw the eye, it’s probably not a site I would return to out of interest to the content of the blog (whether I’d return anyway is my business).

    While some other blogs are entertaining to read (and I do read them) it feels like a movie teaser sometimes. I read the post and start looking for somewhere to click to read the rest only to find disappointment.

    I say you go ahead and bearwall away. The content is interesting, the writing entertaining and the .. uh .. sandwiches baconful? Regardless, you keep writing and I’ll keep reading and maybe (delusion again?) the ‘rules’ will be affected.


  7. When you write according to someone else’s rules, you are not expressing yourself. You are expressing someone else. We’re not here to read someone else, we want the Big Bear Butt.

    Keep being John and we’ll keep reading about it. We might even comment about it to let you know we like it. : )


  8. One quality of the e-communication age that drives me absolutely bonkers is the TL-DR mindset. Concluding . . . wait, no, concluding implies you’ve actually read the content before coming to an opinion about it. So not concluding, but judging that if something written is longer than a single paragraph – and dangit, it had better be a short paragraph! – then it is too long. Because I guess spending 1 full minute reading is about 50 seconds more than should be expected.

    I’ve talked to people who won’t balk at reading 1000 page novels yet will complain about reading a two paragraph e-mail or blog post.

    It just makes no sense to me.

    So yeah, I find the Bearwalls both informative and enjoyable to read.


  9. BBB, I have to be honest: when I first checked out your site, all I could think was, “Holy crap, it’s a wall of text!” But I plunged in anyway, and I’m so glad I did. You’ve helped me immeasurably when it comes to bear-tanking and WoW playing, and you’ve more often than not written about subjects (non-WoW ones) that I enjoy reading about. Once I got past the size of your posts and actually paid attention to the content, I was hooked. It’s a rare day that I don’t come to this site just to see what you’re on about this time.

    Keep up the good work, keep writing bearwalls, and feel secure in the knowledge that there are many of us out here who enjoy your insights, your humor, and your honesty; whether they are related to WoW or not. 🙂


  10. Thank you for the bearwalls!
    They are the reason I continue reading your blog, Mr. Bear.
    I originally found your blog looking for information on feral druids and found something much more.
    It was your passionate stories and experiences that keep me coming back to see what’s new.
    Thank you.

    Oh, and books are my favorite medium of entertainment. They require a little more imagination I find. Everyone can read a book and visualize it a different way. That is what makes them great.


  11. Mmm… bearwalls. I’ve always loved reading, and huge blocks of text are old friends. I completely agree that writing should be able to stand on its own. I rarely use pictures at my place, even though I’m an artist by trade. I figure, if my writing isn’t enough, I’m not doing it right. (Diagrams and joke pictures aside, of course.)

    Of course, I’ve been known to whip out a wall of text at my place, too. Now you’ve got me curious… I wonder if those writers who read more lean in the direction of wallishness.


  12. To me, those people whose first reaction to a lengthy article is to say, “OMG, I ain’t gonna read all that!” do a disservice to both themselves and the author. I realize that the speed in which people read is completely different. What takes me 5 min to read may take someone else 15 but if they never try, then they lose not only the information but any context that information is dependent on. In one of your “bearwalls”, I learned that Frenzied Regen (Glyphed) is similar to Vampiric Blood for DK’s. I dont play a druid, but that information is certainly good for my resto shaman. If the information is there but they are too lazy to read it, I have no sympathy for them.


  13. You’ve noted before that this is a personal blog, and along with posting content for personal reasons goes posting in a fashion that you find satisfying personally. “Rules” are guidelines to help you communicate with your readers, usually by making your content easier to read. They shouldn’t get in the way of your personal expression though. So by all means, write Bearwalls if you like. =)

    That said, what makes a “wall of text” or a Bearwall (as distinct from any other post of comparable length) is not the text itself, but the quantity and organization of “whitespace.” A typical TL;DR wall of text has no whitespace at all. The eye gets lost trying to read the text. Bearwalls seem to have an abundance of whitespace, occasionally with paragraph breaks every line or two. Being less structured can also make it harder to read, though certainly not as bad as littering the page with pictures and graphics that have nothing to do with the text. Ignore the multimedia obsession of the internet. People visit most sites for the text anyway, and most of the guidelines and paradigms used on web pages is derived from older forms of textual communication, from newspapers, scrolls, and yes, books. There’s no harm in borrowing their presentation ideas for your own blog without splattering the page with multimedia content, but as noted above, the needs of personal expression come first.

    Bearwalls or not, keep writing. The content is always worth reading and I love coming here. =)


  14. I’m much rather read a bear wall than feel that the topic wasn’t covered sufficiently to do it justice. I never leave a Bear post feeling like it wasn’t explored fully on the part of the author, and the comments are the proverbial icing on the cake. I’m not a bear tank — I’ll probably never manage to get my druid past 20 at the rate I’m going — I come for the writing, so keep it coming ^.^
    .-= Windsoar´s last blog ..Replacement for Kungfu (Fubar) =-.


  15. I read your blog because your writing and stories are entertaining. I am much more likely to read an entertaining post that is long (I hesitate to call your posts walls of text because you do understand (and use!) the concept of breaking your writing into paragraphs) than to read a boring shorter post chock full of pictures or bolded bits. 🙂


  16. I like reading, I’m a nerd. I haven’t been around long, but I saw in this post that you enjoy Nightwish. If that’s the case you must, Must, MUST check out Within Temptation. Amazing artists, really good music – I’ve been addicted for awhile now.

    Keep up the bear walls and I’ll keep reading.


  17. When looking for a new blog to start following I tend to reject the ones that just have very short posts and lot’s of pictures. They bore me.
    I always look forward to the longer bear posts.


  18. and if you like music, and Nightwish, then you’ll probably love Dream Theater. Think Pink Floyd meets Metallica, awesome progressive rock, some of the best modern musicians of the age.


  19. I know it will sound elitist, but those good old paper books are not supposed to have pictures when their supposed readers should be older than, say, 10 years 🙂 thx for this blog, it’s very interesting to read, really.


  20. Hey
    Yes I am one of those few who come here for the feral info. I don’t mind you don’t post all the time. Your blog is a personal blog. It is your do with as you like. I really enjoy reading your oppion on things. It is a very interesting take on things. It may take me a day to get to the bearwall because of limited time…but I will read it. Thank you for posting. I don’t know if it is sad or not but the only adult reading I ever have time for are the few blogs I read. I mean school books don’t count and neither do Dr. Suess for work. So please keep it up 🙂


  21. Love the bearwalls 🙂
    I stumbled over your site searching for bear tank advice. And came back, reading your stories. More bearwalls, please!


  22. meh, as an old mud/text based rpg player reading a lot never bothered me. IMO you can’t even get into the meat of a topic in a pargraph or two. It helps that I read quickly, can down the half blood prince in a couple days of moderate reading, one if i did nothing else. oddly enough still haven’t picked up arthas’s book.

    substance over symbolism is the way it should be. i needs to get back to posting on my blog, hard to do since i’m hardly ever at my home computer anymore to play and generate material for my posts.


  23. It’s your blog, write it how you want, i think the little posts idea with pictures is kinda lame, as if twitter wasn’t bad enough!

    Like some of the other people, i came here for Bear tanking tricks, and now i just check daily for a new post to read, wow based, druid based, or not.

    I think i like reading this blog because alot of the time it sounds like exactly how i would write things out, and often the stuff that bothers you bothers me, I’m just to lazy to type out a blog 🙂

    Keep typing, and we will keep reading!


  24. I fully support and encourage your Bearwalls 110%!

    Dang, now I want a bumper sticker that says “I support Bearwalls”.


  25. I come here because you write well, and though I quit WoW with WotLK release, I, and a good friend, were bear tanks once, amongst other things. =)

    Obviously now that we don’t play anymore, I don’t come here so frequently. XD And he doesn’t look at all. But I do like your writing, I just filter out all the WoW specific stuff. As opposed to, say, failPUG, which seems to be one of the lenses through which we can observe human nature in MMOs! XD

    FailPUGs are pretty universal after all, ^_^ it’s just the details of the fights, skills and strategies (or lack thereof) that change.

    Bearwall forebber! Squee!


  26. The how-to-be-bear content brought me here in the first place, and it’s great, but now my main reason for coming is that love the writing, and love the storytelling.
    Little blogs are good for reading while afk between flight points, but your blog is for setting aside quality time to read. I learned from experience that I don’t come here for a quick browse while on the gryphon, because it results in my poor bear sitting afk for extended periods of time on the flight master, completely forgotten. It’s just as well I’m not on a PvP server.


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