Monday, July 2, 2007

Blog Review: Tangocherie

The Blog: Tango Cherie
The Reviewer: Omega Mum from
3 Kids No Job

Let me be honest. As a non-dancing and infrequently-traveled
UK citizen, reviewing Tangocherie, a blog written by a dance-mad expat US citizen living in Argentina, was always going to be a challenge. Shared interests aren't a given with blogs, of course. I suspect everyone has chanced upon something light years away from his or her own life only to find amazing and wholly unexpected insights. So I was ready to be gripped.

First impressions: Where are the posts? It's not immediately clear and takes time to find out. You get the description, which is concise. You want to see more. You see the post titles, click on one, wait, scroll down, down, down and down a bit more and finally you get paydirt - but you certainly have to be willing to dig through the assorted logos first. Somebody in a hurry would probably give up. So at the moment, it's a blog that takes a while to get into.

Design: As somebody who's still working on importing pictures correctly, I'm in no position to pass comment on the design. But, obviously, that's not going to stop me. The upfront section is very overcrowded. You need either a really strong design to lead you into the blog or the first post up there and waiting - which, on the whole, makes life easier for the reader who doesn't want to be hanging around.

I like the use of photographs. They make this blog. And where some of the technical language could make it a little inaccessible, they really were worth a thousand words, possibly more.

I had a bit of a margin issue. It's not a problem if you read the blog in Firefox, where I'm told there's a reasonable 2 cm margin. But view in Internet Explorer and you jitterbug right to the end of the page and screech to a halt just by the background - which isn't that easy on the eye. A little space would work wonders. It might also be sensible to put in some sidebars to incorporate some of the page clutter, or add bits and bobs to the footer of the page, not the top, so those all important blog entries are quicker to find.

Posting frequency: Tangocherie posts fairly regulary. There were 12 in June (to 29th) - so certainly a reasonable level of new content.

Content: What I want from somebody who's an expat is a blog that conveys something of the excitement, bewilderment, annoyance or sheer difference of being somewhere that's not home. It's amazing how many ex-pat blogs set in fabulously exotic locations seem to take their whinges from home, pack them up, ship them them out with the luggage and then put them proudly out on display for blog readers. Yes, we want to know that you're a real person - but we want to know what your new life has to offer. Otherwise, the location becomes irrelevant. That's not the case here. Tangocherie certainly gives you a sense of being away from home - but I think it's something that could be made even stronger.

Topics include waiting - it's always fascinating, especially when you're English and therefore born to queue - to know how good other nationalities are at waiting - so I enjoyed '
Line of Dance' (June 8th) which was about a whole day spent in different queues.As you might expect, there was also a lot, lot, lot on dance - but the lady is a dance teacher, so it's to be expected. I also enjoyed 'Night of the Milongueros' (June 22nd) which was a nice description about how the dance tradition lives on.

One plea. Can we have more labels and more definitions. A definitions text box to a sidebar would help here, or a link on the main page to a page of definitions. That's especially true for words the non-specialist might struggle with. If you're a tango enthusiast, you won't need them, but if I'm following Milongueras back through the blog I need the promise that somewhere there'll be something that tells me who they are. It just makes things easier. At the moment, I think this is a slightly specialist blog - I may be wrong, but my hunch is that it's a must for tango lovers but a bit marginal for the rest of us. And if that's what Tangocherie wants to do, I'm sure she'll be really successful. But more posts about what the place is like - on the lines of 'Line of Dance' - would broaden its appeal for the rest of us and bring readers flocking in.

Best and worst:
Best - The use of pictures really made the blog for the non dance expert like me. I also enjoyed the glimpses into every day life in Argentina that pulled you up short - like the ATMs routinely running out of cash.
Worst - The design. But it wouldn't take much (remove clutter, make access to the blog quicker and easier) to sharpen this up.

Blogroll worthy? Would I come back: Yes, I think I would. I may not be a dance expert, but I'm fascinated by daily life in Argentina. And if Tangocherie cares to deliver some bite sized morsels now and again on this area I'd be happy to make the trip over.

Rating out of 10:At the moment, probably only a must-read for the fanatical tango enthusiast, but pepping up the design and including more general content will do a lot to broaden its appeal to the non-specialist reader and turn it into an all-round fascinating read.


Surviving Motherhood said...

What a great review! Very fair and helpful, it certainly sounds like an interesting blog...if you can get over the terrible design that is.

nutmeg said...

You did a great job with this. I'm so glad you went first!

JohnH985 said...

Very good job. It can be hard trying to review someone else and not be too hard or too easy, I think you did a great job with the review. Enough so to make me want to go check it out.

Cherie said...

Hello 3Kidsnojob,

I really can't thank you enough for the thoughtful and thorough review of my blog, tangocherie.

I have many of the same complaints about the format (I see you use the same Blogger template as I), but as much as I've tried to get things going in a sidebar, I just can't seem to figure it out. I've searched and searched through the Blogger Help to no avail. Do you perhaps have a simple suggestion for me as to how you yourself did it? Perhaps one of my problems is I have a MAC, but then, I don't know. It's been driving me nuts--I don't like it to be messy either.

One of the comments talks about the terrible design, but I just went with what there was and didn't know how to change it much. I like the fonts on Firefox, and the colors and simplicity. But then all the darned websites insist you put their buttons/bars/thingies up and zing! the simplicity is gone.

If I had a discreet glossary somewhere it might help, as you suggest, although i feel most people reading my blog and the posts about tango know, for example, what a milonga is. But I'll do it if I can figure out how and where!!

In any event, my hat's off to you with much appreciation as I was looking for a keen eye to help me make my blog more readable.

Muchisimas gracias desde Buenos Aires!

Omega Mum said...

Really enjoyed doing it and well done to Tangocherie for going first. Looking forward to reading next week's.....Thanks for nice, supportive comments.

Anonymous said...

added to my rss reader

Anonymous said...

я вот что скажу: отлично. а82ч

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