January 23, 2005

KOTB Results Week 4

Songstress of News from the Great Beyond

Ahh, another week, another King of the Blogs tournament... This week, King Jon continued his obsequious courting of the Royal Court this week with four more "Homage" posts... the pretenders, however, not so much as a comment. Sigh. Off with their heads! I mean... On with the rulings!!

Overall Blog/Design

Personal Trainer: I see Jon spent some time incorporating last week's judging comments - there's a new Google search box, and he's also taken Harvey's complaint about overuse of extended posts into account. I, however, am not depending on Harvey's goodwill in order to rule the blogosphere, so I'll continue to use extended posts in such a way as to annoy the ever-loving snot out of him. Heh. Anyhow, with these improvements taken into account, I'm bumping Personal Trainer's overall score to 4.5 - this is a very nice site with a good design and lots of personality.

DM's Loose Ends: While more interesting than a lot of Blogger templates I've run across (the little squares are kind of cool), I've got to admit that I'm more drawn to sites with more personality and punch in their color scheme and graphics. This is pleasant in a rather neutral way, and I've seen worse. I'm also very fond of the way the quoted text displays - that gives more interest to the scheme he's chosen. Haloscan comments and trackback is a big plus, and there is some good "about me" information that gives us context for who this DM person is. Nice to meet you, David. I'd suggest you add a search feature for your archives... they're not huge right now but once you've kept this blog going for a bit longer it will be handy to have. I'm intrigued by your concept of blogging as a way to expound on what would normally be comments on other blogs' posts. It seems to work for you, I gather you've had other experiments in blogging that didn't turn out so well. I'd say this is a fine start, and my rating for DM's Loose Ends is a solid 3.5.

New Trommetter Times: This is what I get for waiting so long to do my review: Jason has already taken Harvey's comments and made some changes - he also appears to have taken Harvey's comments as the final ratings (not quite!). I gather from his most recent post that he just recently added the "about me" link, and that would have been my first complaint I'm sure. For a minute there I didn't think he had trackback enabled, but then I went to check out a comment and found the trackback URI for that post available only through the comments page. Well, it's a little convoluted, but at least it's there. I see a search feature, which is a good thing, because our friend Jason has been at this a good long time, and his archives are impressively long. I also see he's archived by category, and I really like to see that, because if I start reading a new blog I appreciate the ability to poke around by category to see the type of posts that interest me. I'm intrigued by the newspaper format, including the links to other "sections" at the top with news, sports, op/ed, etc. Jason's personality shines through on his site, and it strikes me as a nice place to hang out. My one negative comment... I'm wishy-washy on the "current mood" appended to each post. It adds personality, yes, but it also strikes me as very LiveJournalish. It might be just me, I haven't read the other judges' comments yet. New Trommetter Times gets a strong 4.

Submitted Post

Personal Trainer: Wow, this post was educational. I had no idea of the long and ignoble history of gambling in this country. Jon has shared a sermon here that makes me feel just a tad guilty about the 3 or 4 bucks I spent on lottery tickets last year... *ahem* Seriously, it was well-written, thoughtful and well-organized. I'm giving it a 4.

DM's Loose Ends: David chose as his submitted post a critique of an article entitled "Americanism -- and Its Enemies"... Because I really didn't want to take the time to read the original article (yes, I am a procrastinator, thank you very much, and I needed to get this review done quickly), I was a bit lost at some points, but overall he did a good enough job between quoting the original article and providing summary statements that I followed along all right. Quite a few typos are sprinkled here and there throughout this post... and I think it would have been good to delineate the difference between the italicized text (which appears to be quoting the original article) and the blockquoted text (which appears to be quoting other sources)... otherwise, a nicely written, coherent post. A bit long for me to read late at night, though, I found myself losing interest after a while. It's not you, it's me. The Queen's rating: 3.

New Trommetter Times: Jason's submitted post is short and to the point. This issue (Social Security) appears to be something of a hot button for him - I say that only because I've had similar thoughts, but never got exercised enough to blog about them. While David's submission was long and much like a college-level research paper, Jason's is the other extreme. He expresses his ideas clearly, but the post is so short that I don't really get a feel for his writing. I don't think this particular post needs to be longer - but I can't help but wonder if there's something else he's written in the recent past that would have been better to submit. That said, I'm rating this post a 3.5 for clarity, conciseness, and good spelling. ;)

Challenge Post

Personal Trainer: Ahhh, creativity! I see Jon has been up to his usual tricks, researching this week's pretenders to the throne in order to craft an engaging little story to answer the challenge post. I love the title, I love the fact that he took the time to set up the situation, and I really love the coconut emoticons! Personal Trainer gets a 4.5.

DM's Loose Ends: David, David, David... *sigh*... Off the top, points off for the non-creative "Here's the question, here's the answer" format - I do so hope that next week's pretenders are reading these reviews before they attempt to answer the challenge question, but I'm not counting on it. After that, though, we see the creativity emerge (as well as a surprisingly sadistic streak - drugging the other contestants with diluted psychedelic mushrooms and forcing them to perform Shakespeare and hunt imaginary elephants). While Jon (grounding his scenario in a bit more reality with wives and real-life jobs taken into account) sees the trio being rescued after a couple of weeks on their deserted island, David has completely gone another direction. The picture of this trio making themselves at home (using a human-sized hamster wheel to generate power for a pirate radio station - another great touch) and creating a thriving micronation is terrific. World domination indeed! If we were making a film from one of these three challenge responses, I'd pick this one for sure. My rating: 4.

New Trommetter Times: Oooh! More creativity! A two-part episode, without the awkward "this is the question/this is the answer" lead-in. Unfortunately, Jason's left us hanging at the end of Episode II, and this promising show of creativity is abruptly cut off, leaving our stranded cast of characters staring at a waterfall of raw sewage tumbling over a cliff face. Will our heroes, desperate for water, succumb to dehydration? Will they drink the raw sewage? Are the purple plants and orange and pink spotted crabs a precursor to the discovery of a civilization of mutants? TELL ME!!!! I am disappointed that this didn't go farther, and I'm very sorry to have to give this challenge response a 2. It could have - and should have - been so much more.

The Queen's Rulings:

Personal Trainer: 13

DM's Loose Ends: 10.5

New Trommetter Times: 9.5

Harvey of Bad Example (Sounds like a hair band rocker huh?)


Another King of the Blogs Tournament comes to a close.

For now, Jon of Personal Trainer rules with an iron fist, but is that RUST I see on that glove? And do I see challengers with buckets of CLR coming to dissolve his power?

Let's find out what happens...


You are shipwrecked on a deserted island with your two opponents from this week's King of the Blog. What happens next?

Jon of Personal Trainer
GOOD POINTS: I was rooting around on Jon's page, looking for his assignment, thought this one was it, but after a few paragraphs, decided it wasn't. There was no giveaway line until deep into the story. Very expertly crafted. Bonus for the "leaving trackbacks" line.
BAD POINTS: I hate to ding for this, but I have to: Jon did not give examples of the emoticons he mentioned. Considering that non-internet savvy newbies stumble onto your blog every day, it would've been a nice touch for their sakes.
SCORE: 4.5

David of DM's Loose Ends
GOOD POINTS: Presents some chuckle-worthy mental images.
BAD POINTS: First, commits the cardinal sin of intro'ing his piece with the standard creativity-impaired "I'm in the King of the Blogs and this is my assignment" dealie. Word to future contenders - do NOT use this intro. It's BORING. It will cost you points. You may LOSE because of this. At the very least, do something like "I had this weird dream last night that I was shipwrecked with the other KOTB guys..." and link the work "shipwrecked" to the assignment post at the KOTB home page.

Second, what's this "I imagine" and "I'm assuming" stuff? This is YOUR post and YOU make the rules. You don't have to imagine or assume ANYTHING. Be CONFINDENT, man! You're seeking to decimate the competition and become KING, not licking boots to gain the favor of being appointed an ambassadorship to Elbonia. Cowboy up, mister!
SCORE: 3.5

Jason of New Trometter Times
GOOD POINTS: Launches straight into the story.
BAD POINTS: If you're going to launch straight into the story, there needs to be a link to the KOTB assignment page so that passers-by can get in on the joke. Also, a good story needs to have a beginning, middle, and end.

1 out of 3 ain't bad.

Dividing it into 2 parts, however, IS, because it's just a distracting interruption in the narrative flow. You'd have been better off taking the time to finish the story in the first place.


Person Trainer: "It's Only A Buck"
GOOD POINTS: Excellent use of callback in the final line gave the essay a feeling of solid completion. Bible verses are either cited or quoted in full.
BAD POINTS: Cited about 100 statistics and gave NOT ONE SINGLE LINK to his sources. If it were just his little urban legend opener that he sheisted from some uncredited Christian site and maybe one or two off-handed references to "studies", I'd let it slide. But studies and statistics make up the bulk of SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS worth of secular argumentation, and he doesn't link ANY of them. CBS's memos cited more sources than this sorry, slapdash effort.

Google. Hyperlinks. Use them.

DM's Loose Ends "Americanism—and Its Enemies: Critique, Analysis, and Commentary"
GOOD POINTS: Logically, reasonably, & rationally argues his points.
BAD POINTS: First - seriously, WHY did you think this would make a good submitted post? I'm an atheist. Pietro isn't a god-blogger. Yet you submitted an academically-toned, religiously-oriented treatise that registers a 7.9 on the Bill Whittle scale of verbal bloatery.

What. Were. You. Thinking?

Know your audience, man. And even if Songstress HAD the interest, I'm sure she doesn't have the time. She's got two cats to feed and a baby to conceive.

Even worse, I don't think that even YOU read this literary monstrosity. Why do I say that? Because I counted over 30 different typological and grammatical errors.

If you're going to make us ride this sinking verbal Titanic, the LEAST you could do is buzz it through a spellchecker.

Then there's writing style. This essay is Sahara/Gobi/Mojave dry. Consider buying a copy of The Lively Art of Writing. Meanwhile here's two tips: 1) use active verbs instead of forms of the word "be", 2) use fewer prepositional phrases - there are plenty of sprightly adjectives & adverbs you can use instead.

New Trometter Times: "Counting on Social Security?"
GOOD POINTS: This is a model "get in, get it done, get out" post. Jason starts with a question (always a good way to get the reader's attention), makes his point, exits with a pithy comment summing up his position and then - this is important - STOPS WRITING. A post doesn't have to be long to be good.
BAD POINTS: None visible.


Here are some technical things I like to see on a blog:

King of the Blogs javascript thingy in the sidebar
Comments enabled
Permalinks working
E-mail contact info available
Blogger's name/pseudonym prominently displayed
Site search feature enabled
Link to an "About Me" post on the sidebar
Blogger's gender is easily discernable
Readable font style & size
Readable color scheme (for example, NOT bright red type on bright green
Divisions between posts clearly marked
Paragraphing in entries (NOT just writing one fat block of text)

Aside from the tech stuff, I also like to see a blogger's personality shining through, to
remind us of the person behind the words.

With that in mind...

Personal Trainer:
GOOD POINTS: All the positives are still here from last week, plus he put his name in the posted-by line and eased up on the extended-entry use. Now you can just go there and read & never have to take your finger off your mouse's scroll-wheel (or "page down" button, depending on your navigational preference). MUCH better. Also, HUGE bonus for the excessive use of gratuitous linkage to the KOTB staff.
BAD POINTS: There was still a LITTLE use of extended entries to hide text. If having the words hidden somehow improves the entry, I'm all for it. Otherwise the message you're sending to your readers is "I don't think anyone would really want to read this whole thing. Why don't you skip over this sorry post and move on to the good stuff." If what you're posting isn't good enough to be read in its entirety, why are you posting it?

Anyway, I'm not taking off for it because of the gratuitous linkage bonus.

DM'S Loose Ends
GOOD POINTS: All the technicals in order. Layout is clean, plain & functional.
BAD POINTS: A little TOO clean. Like an empty cubicle. I understand David is new & all, so I imagine the margin-decorating thingies & doo-dads will come in time, but still... a little dull. Also, I didn't see any pictures posted. On the off chance David has no image hosting service available, I recommend ImageShack (www.imageshack.us). It's free & user-friendly.

New Trommetter Times:
GOOD POINTS: Lots of little pictures & doodads & icons & a cool background texture give this site a comfortable yet distinctive character. Lots of eye-candy, but it's off to the sides, so Jason avoids a cluttered appearance.
BAD POINTS: Missing an "About Me" post. Don't be shy, Jason - share with us.

Now, about those extended entries... it's bad enough you use them to hide text that doesn't need to be hidden, but you should at LEAST choose a stopping point where a uninterested person might logically decide that they could be reading something else. NOBODY quits in the middle of a "Top Ten" list. That extended entry was plainly pointless. What's 5 more lines?


Personal Trainer: 11.5

DM's Loose Ends: 9.5

New Trommetter Times: 11

Smarter Cop

DM's Loose Ends


There are nights, when it's dark outside, the rain is pouring and wind is howling fiercely, when all I want to do is cuddle up to a good book. This is not one of those times. In what appears to be a doctoral
dissertation, David lets loose with a 100-page thesis on Americanism and its enemies. Does America actually have that many enemies? Furthermore, he indicates - gasp - that the article is not presented in its

Make no mistake, the argument is well-formulated and written adeptly. However, it doesn't quite fit the
blog paradigm, in that most visitors want brief synopses, not novel-length treatises that could hardly
be read in an hour, let alone five minutes of one's cramped time. 3 points.


I see David's using a blogger template, and that (unlike perhaps, a year ago) is perfectly fine - if he knows what to do with it. He has a pretty good summary of himself in the About Me section, and that's pretty fortunate, since I've grown rather annoyed at blogger's standard mill-issue profile page. Love the blockquotes, and the color/graphic scheme. The KOTB banner ads are present, as they should be; the blogroll links to primarily evangelical blogs. Comments and trackbacks, necessary to a fully functional and interactive blog, are included; and hey, there are the archives - either this is a brand spankin' new blog, or David only just remembered to turn archives on and only has the month of January recorded for posterity. Great that you have, without asking, visible separation between posts. I'm not sure I like the italics in the sidebar.. it gives sort of a fuzzy character to the items in that section; for those of us who are visually impaired, it means another inch closer to the screen, head tilted 45 degrees to the right. Like I mentioned earlier, it's great that you're an intellectual, and that you delve into all these fascinating fields of study... but if you're writing a blog that's suitable for mass consumption, you're going to want to condense your posts a little bit from what they are. Remember that not everyone is quite as intellectual as you, and may lose interest upon seeing how much more of a post they have yet to read, no matter what you might have to say. 3 points.


Your answer was well-written, and kept in your intellectual comfort zone, though I think you managed to turn the challenge into a series of lucky coincidences with the technology that just happened to be on the ship. It sounds like you've got this desert island thing all planned out, though I'm not sure your blog competition will be quite as fortunate (although undeniably happy).

Seriously, how powerful do you think your little transmitter's going to be? And how soon will that happen, given your omission of any concern for shelter, food gathering (are you sure your island will have fruit), and fresh water? Sounds like you have a few more pages of planning there, sir, but of course my main concern is not to debate you scientifically... it's to rate your post on its own merit, and I thought it was a gas. 5 points.

New Trommetter Times


I like people to tell me something I don't already know, but I'm not so sure about people telling me bad news I don't already know. It's nice that I was warned; but when I found out that I'll be losing thousands of dollars a month to the Social Security Ponzi scheme, I was flabbergasted! I mean, I already knew I would be losing money, but nowhere near the thousands I could be putting into a private investment account. Thanks, Jason! Thanks a lot. 3.5 points.


Nicely done! Jason has done an incredibly good job of site design, and whether the template was borrowed or not, it more than suitably fits his title and overall theme. The only inconsistency I saw with the design is
that somehow, the font's size and type are slightly inconsistent with the rest of the style. Anyhow, a lot of things about this blog are snazzily done - from the cartoonish graphics accompanying many posts to the crisp design of the sidebar, arranged into clearly readable categories. I'm astonished that there are no trackbacks to speak of, what with most everything else firmly in place. KOTB banner's right where we can see it. I'm not seeing an explicit about me, though there are links to family photos and a wiki (to which the
link is apparently broken). Icons are *gag* reminiscent of LiveJournal. Great job on the site, but I'm going to take off a little for some of the missing items. 4.5 points.


I see Jason the greatest threat to Personal Trainer's crown with the advent of his... get this.... serial drama based on this week's Challenge Question! Not satisfied to provide us with instant gratification and a disappointing ending, Jason's decided to keep us hanging on the edge and wondering if the loose ends will ever be tied up at all. There's plenty of suspense, a touch or two of humor, and an environmentalist theme embedded as well. Do our heroes have what it takes to make a water purifier from the leaves of palm trees, a horseshoe crab shell, a clump of seaweed, some coins and keychain from their pockets, and a 5" length of thread? Well, I guess we'd better tune in and find out. 4 points.

Personal Trainer


This is certainly the week for long posts! However, I settled right into this lengthy essay on gambling, drawn in by the illustration of a particularly deadly piece of modern art. I understand that many people
think that gambling's ok, that it feeds money into the economy and so forth; but Jon makes a very convincing argument that instead of feeding the economy, it drains many of its resources from the budget due to additional police man hours, health care, welfare, etc. But more importantly, Jon breaks it down into a
more spiritual application, giving examples from God's Word as to why it stands starkly in opposition to how God desires we should live our lives. There were a lot of numbers I hadn't seen before, and a lot of angles from which I had never seen the gambling issue approached before. Overall, this is a very well-written, persuasive essay, and it certainly would have my attention on Sunday morning. 4 points.


My memory's gone bad - did Jon change the font in his sidebar, or are my eyes not as bad as they were last
week? Anyhow, as before, the blog looks crisp and neat, and well-structured. Not much need for improvement here. 5 points.


I believe Jon's mastered the art of the adventure narrative... though somewhat lengthy, the post manages
to intertwine perfectly the response to this week's Challenge question, a Biblical lesson, and mild jabs at his opposition. I spit my drink a few times, admittedly, when Jon introduced Jason's use of emoticons.. it fit so well with my critique of Jason's blog. Additional kudos for implying that any generosity bestowed on behalf of Glenn Reynolds is nothing more than a mirage, a fog the color of blended puppies. BTW - way to give props to yourself at the very end.. your arrogance is quite becoming, and is suitable for a king. Great work. 5 points.

DM's Loose Ends: 11

Trommetter Times: 12

personal trainer: 14

Judges Totals:

DM's Loose Ends: 31
Personal Trainer: 38.5
Trommetter Times: 32.5

Poll Totals:

personal trainer 88

Trommetter Times 7

DM's Loose Ends 1

Trackback Totals:

personal trainer: 4

DM's Loose Ends: 1

Trommetter Times: 1

Making a final Bonus total of:

Personal Trainer: 6
Trommeter Times: 4
DM's Loose Ends: 3

and a grand total of:

Personal Trainer: 44.5
Trommetter Times: 36.5
DM's Loose Ends: 34

Which means King Jon has triumphantly defended the crown! Congrats to the winner!

Posted by Nick Queen at January 23, 2005 11:51 AM

The link to my wiki is fixed now. Seems there was a file permission problem with the view.cgi file.

I haven't purposely kept people hanging with the end of my Shipwrecked! serial. I got overwhelmed with work at the end of the week. Look for more next week...

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