Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Too big to fail: the power of big webpages

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

It’s not common, but occasionally I get a complaints like this:

Way, way more information than I needed. Just get to the point need tell me what I need to do to fix my back! Sheesh!

Ironically, this overwhelmed readers probably wouldn’t trust me to tell them what they need to do if they weren’t bewildered by my verbosity. And yet I actually agree: my books and feature articles are indeed way too long. Concision is a virtue! If writing quality was the only consideration, I would never drone on the way that I do. Shorter would be better by purely “literary” standards.

But there are other standards. My unrestrained delving is a powerful selling feature: it distinguishes my content in the marketplace, establishing authority and trust in a way that shorter documents cannot hope to match. No matter how crafty and brilliant, even a 5,000-word article — quite long for a blog post — just cannot compete with the gravitas implied by 50,000 words. Especially if the deep dive is also well-written.

It’s impossible to measure, but I believe that my business depends on this equation. So I let myself be long-winded (while also mitigating the tedium as much as I can).