I follow a number of food blogs in my rss reader, mostly for recipes; today, these two blog entries showed up overnight (or maybe early this morning):
TheKitchn’s open thread formula is as follows:
1. Introduce topic briefly
2. Ask readers for opinions
It takes absolutely no skill as a journalist to ask a question. Even worse, half the time they don’t even write up the question itself! How lazy do you have to be to run a Q&A feature that reprints a question and simply asks “Readers, do you have any ideas or recipes to share?” What, exactly, is the blogger being paid to do here? Sort the mailbag? When nobody answers, the feature is 100% worthless to readers.
By contrast, Serious Eats does their “open threads” as more of an op-ed piece; at the end of a decent-length article about the blogger’s personal opinion on the question, they ask for reader feedback in order to generate a community feeling. They almost never raise a question without offering at least one possible answer to it. Reading Serious Eats pretty much guarantees that I will come away with more information than I had before, and often far more entertained than I would have been otherwise. TheKitchn is only useful to me when they post recipes (which are often links to better sites).
When blogging, always ask yourself: what does the reader gain from this?