Why do sailing websites suck so much?
That was the question posed by Adam Turinas at Messing About in Sailboats. Or to be more precise: Why do sailing websites suck so much (blogs excepted)? Adam has been checking out some so-called "professional" sailing websites, mainly the websites of dead-tree US sailing magazines, and has come to the conclusion (as a self-described Internet professional) that most of them are "equally crap".
Adam has also been checking out sailing blogs and has discovered that the stuff on sailing that he finds most interesting is in blogs, not on the sites of sailing magazines. He then comes to the conclusion that "sailing bloggers have the responsibility to make the web a better place for sailors".
I must admit that that last statement put me back on my heels for a while. "Responsibility." "Make the web a better place." Yikes. That's heavy stuff. I don't know about you but I blog for fun, not with any thought of making the web a better place. And as for responsibility, that's the last thing I want when it comes to blogging.
But then I started thinking that maybe Adam has a point. These days most of my reading about sailing is on blogs. If I want to follow what's going on at major Laser championships I can check out US national team member Andrew Campbell's blog CampbellSailing.com, or if I want to see some tips from race winners in local Laser club racing I can find them at Greenwich Laser Racing. I can stay in touch with the training and racing of a fellow Laser master sailor at Split Tacks, or if I feel nostalgic for news of club racing in the old country I can check out Soulsailor or All Day I Dream About Sailing.
If I feel the need to see some superb sailing photography I can feast my eyes at Sailscape, or if my taste today is for some more off-beat pics with a watery theme I can go to The Horse's Mouth. If I feel like a good argument about some sailing controversy I head over to read one of Peter Huston's rants at Sailing As I Sea It, but then if I need something more soothing I settle down to enjoy the latest writings by Judy and Mark Handley at HandleySail.com about their cruise around the world.
The list goes on. I can ogle over marine electronics at Panbo, hear all about the latest news on marine accidents, safety and law at Lawboat, or for something completely different drop in at Grandma's Gone Surfing.
I could go on and on. I think Adam has a point. Some of the most entertaining, informative and provocative writing about sailing on the web these days is to be found in blogs. And the beauty of this medium is that I can tailor what news, stories and opinions I see by continually tuning my feed reader to include those blogs that interest me and to drop those that don't. (I use Bloglines.)
Adam is critical about the website design and quality of grammar and spelling at some of the "professional" sailing websites. To be honest, some bloggers fall a little short in these areas too. But I don't really care. Almost all bloggers are writing from the heart. They are telling us about personal experiences or expressing opinions about which they have a passion. They are not hacks regurgitating some press release written by some other hack in a PR agency for a company promoting some marine product. It's this vivid, personal, direct, honest communication that makes sailing blogs such compelling reading. And by using Bloglines I can compile my own personal sailing magazine full of articles that interest me written by a variety of folk who are passionate about their subjects.
But what do you think about all this? What do you see as the key differences between professional sailing websites and sailing blogs? Which do you prefer to read? And why?