One joy – and challenge – of developing fourteen (14!) blogs from scratch is the need to break down the act of blogging to its basic elements. Among other things, that has meant going back to the basics about what makes good blogs (you know what they are) so damn good.

Merlin Mann to the rescue. In yet another awesome post, the man who made it cool to think about things like todo lists breaks down nine things that “help make for a good blog.” The post is itself a good example of what makes a good blog post – it’s funny, it presents information as a must-read list, it’s unorthodox – and includes essential nuggets like this:

Good blogs reflect focused obsessions. People start real blogs because they think about something a lot. Maybe even five things. But, their brain so overflows with curiosity about a family of topics that they can’t stop reading and writing about it. They make and consume smart forebrain porn. So: where do this person’s obsessions take them?

And this:

Good blog posts are made of paragraphs. Blog posts are written, not defecated. They show some level of craft, thinking, and continuity beyond the word count mandated by the Owner of Your Plantation. If a blog has fixed limits on post minimums and maximums? It’s not a blog: it’s a website that hires writers. Which is fine. But, it’s not really a blog.

Note the (added) emphasis. Mann highlight two important aspects of good blog writing – focusing on obsessions and carefully crafting your posts – but it sure to interject some teenage-level dirty humor. The result? I get what he means, I laugh, and it sinks in. Again, the actual form of his post illustrates his points. Although why only nine, and not ten, items on the list? As we at develop blogs about nice and light topics like genocide, human rights, criminal justice, and global warming, it’s key to remember that your best points often are made with humor. I’m not sure how funny we can make Darfur, but we can try. If I could, I would have every blogger read this post for breakfast for a month. I really would.