Loquacious over at World of Wonder put up a recent article, [Blogging] Speaking Authoritatively. Dethtron commented asking where does authority in blogging come from and that someone should do an article on it. Well, here’s my attempt, and my opinion, on just that.
We’ve all used the term and know what someone means when it’s said that someone is an authority on something. What is it though that makes that person is authority, their blog an authoritative resource? What separates Blogger A from Blogger B when it comes to determining which is the bigger authority, if an authority at all? Let’s start with a definition of authority, well at least the aspects of the definition that apply:
the power to influence others, esp. because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something : he has the natural authority of one who is used to being obeyed | he spoke with authority on the subject.
• the confidence resulting from personal expertise : he hit the ball with authority.
• a person with extensive or specialized knowledge about a subject; an expert : she was an authority on the stockmarket.
There are two key elements here. The first element being the manner in which a person conducts him/herself. The second being the knowledge a person possesses.
Blogs are abound by people who speak with seeming authority. More often than not, in my experience, most of these authors command attention, demand you listen to them and accept their views. However, that does not make them an authority. Having firmly held beliefs and opinions that you preach does not make you an expert. Being able to produce articles with certitude may make you a convincing speaker but not necessarily an authority.
Part of being able to even speak authoritatively is the way you present yourself and your views. You need to be able to present yourself intelligently and with poise. Simply stating something works well only goes so far. Being able to back up your arguments is crucial, and again doing so intelligently. Being a walking dictionary or thesaurus is not required to appear intelligent. Being able to give information concisely is often the best approach. I don’t care how good of a player you are, if your articles simply consist of spouting how you win games without meaningful explanations and rationale then you miss the mark.
Knowledge of a subject I think is easy to qualify. Generally speaking, you can tell when someone knows what they’re writing about and when they’re just bullshitting you. There’s a confidence you can pick up on in an article written by someone who is well versed in the subject. The person may not share your view and write contrary to your opinion but that doesn’t mean they are not an authority on the topic. However, at the same time the person needs to fully understand every angle of a subject. Without full knowledge you can’t truly express authority. If there are two ways to go about something and you believe that one way is correct without understanding the other method then that’s not authority, that’s pure ignorance no matter how convincingly you speak on the matter.
In my opinion you need to speak authoritatively as well as be an authority on the subject matter. I read some blogs out there that have a lot of good information that I wouldn’t consider an authority. Usually that’s because their opinions are jaded and one-sided, too often favoring a single view over another out of ignorance and sheer lack of knowledge. They put their opinion out there in a well-constructed manner but it’s obvious they’re stuck in a mindset and fail to understand the entire subject. On the other hand, there are other blogs where the author seems like he/she knows what they’re talking about but their lack of confidence and conviction in their words leave me wondering otherwise. Both of these things need to coalesce in order to become an authority.
All of this holds true for other types of blogs. Above I’m discussing blogs that focus on army list building or competitive gaming but the same is true of a hobby blog or any blog.
So, what blogs/authors do I consider to be authorities?
Fluger – He’s got a series on Blood of Kittens, Ork Defense Force, that’s great. There’s a lot of articles there and each one explains his thoughts on various units, strategies and deployment. It’s easy to see he knows what he’s talking about and he explains his opinions thoroughly.
3++ is the new black – Probably no surprise here. Some of the authors can be a bit brusque but all in all the site delivers quality articles that are well thought out and well written. Views aren’t forced down your throat and time is taken to explain and justify their opinions.
From the Wrap – A great hobby blog. Ron and the other authors take the time to discuss the topics, give feedback and to show exactly what they’re talking about. This is crucial in a hobby blog, explanation and showcasing results.
I may not agree with everything these blogs have to say but I respect their views and opinions. That, to me, is the final component in being seen as an authority, respect. Being able to garner the respect of your peers is second to none in becoming an authoritative blog.