Blogging advice from the 17th century

I recently put together a simple WordPress plugin whose main purpose was to entertain me while I was staring at my dashboard with writer’s block. The plugin (based on the familiar Hello Dolly) incorporates over 800 Scottish proverbs from a collection dating from 1663, and displays a random proverb on admin screens. While I’m still scratching my head over the meanings of some of the proverbs, I’ve found that others provide valuable words of wisdom for bloggers:

Fidlers, dogs and flies, come to the feast uncalled
This clearly refers to spammers, who will find your blog even though you think you’re writing on esoteric topics with limited readership.

It goes in at one ear, and out at the other
What ever you say, some readers will only see what they want to see.

He that speaks the things he should not, hears the things he would not
Inflammatory posts attract inflammatory comments.

Fair words brake never bane, foul words many ane
When posting or commenting, be positive about others and choose your words carefully: try to present criticism in a supportive and collegial manner.

Patience perforce
New bloggers, you won’t change the world (or get Technorati authority) overnight.

Oft counting makes good friends
Check your logs and stats daily – you’ll soon find out who your friends are.

Ye ride a bootlesse errand
Depressing? Yes – but it reflects how we may feel when we’ve finished reading the logs (see above)

All things helps quoth the Wran, when she pisht in the Sea
Take your pick, this could mean either:

  • Have hope – if what you write reaches only a handful of readers, it’s still a contribution to the world of ideas and higher thought
  • If you think you’re making a difference, you’re deluded.

Of course, the proverbs are not channeling some 17th century blogger: they’re just a great example of how such truisms can mean anything we want them to. And, perhaps, how many seemingly new ideas are just old ideas rephrased.

Image: Heures de Maréchal de Boucicaut (detail) C. 1410

One thought on “Blogging advice from the 17th century

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *