Tuesday, 24 February 2009

5 Questions For Alan Page

Alan Page is the next supplier of answers to my 5 Questions.

Not content with writing his notes and rants blog he's also found the time to be one of the authors of How We Test Software at Microsoft and start a blog that goes along with the book.

He didn't really have the time to answer the questions as he was about to head off on vacation but thought he owed me because I was such a keen reader of the book

1. Why did you start blogging and what were you hoping to get out of it ?
( and have you got what you hoped for ? )

My very first blog post was titled “I’m not a blogger” . I was working on the Windows CE team and wanted a way to share some of my presentations and tools with our customers and get feeback. This worked for a while, and after building up a bit of a pace, I remember struggling a bit with blogging when I moved to the Engineering Excellence team at Microsoft. Eventually, I began to enjoy it …but I still don’t really know why I do it :}

2. What have you learned from doing your blog ?

I’ve learned that it’s hard to blog consistently. I used to go a month or two sometimes between posts, but I’ve finally worked up to where I can post 2-3 times (or more) a week consistently.

I’ve also learned to avoid flippant remarks. Earlier in my blogging I would occasionally post random comments (usually negative) not expecting anyone to ever read them. Eventually, as I got more readers I found out that people would go back and read my old posts (and often have a few words for me). I certainly don’t mind being controversial these days, but I make sure I back up any bold statements.

3. Do you track your visitors - if so, any unusual searches to find your blog ?

I have an adcenter script on my site, but I hardly ever look at it (just a sec..)

OK – oh look – I have more visitors on days when I post a blog entry…and nothing interesting in the searches that found me.

4. Do you have a favourite post that you have written ?

I like The Test Test

5. Any advice to new bloggers ?

Stay within a genre (i.e. don’t try to blog about everything), and make sure something you do – either your job or your hobbies) relate to the topic. The only way I’m able to blog even as often as twice a week is that I am constantly surrounded by blog fodder. When I go to write a post, I mostly just write about whatever I’m thinking about, and that makes the process a lot easier. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me to check out their “new blog”. Then they post once, again a month later, then nothing. If you’re going to do it, you really need to have a plan and motivation to go for it.

It’s also good to have a few posts completed and not posted. I try to always have a few at least started so if I’m really slammed with work I can just pull one up, make a few edits (if necessary) and post it.

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