In praise of the compellingly-written About Page, plus some lists

Do you ever come across an "About" page that makes you pause, or chuckle, or think "Dude, I really need to update my own soon, or - perhaps most useful to the writer - one that makes you actually want to keep clicking through the site and read more?

1978 - While coloring in Mrs. Evans's 2nd grade class, left too dark a single mark on my beautiful picture. Momentarily traumatized by the glaring inconsistency, decided to go back and bear down really hard with the Crayon, thereby making the whole piece dark and waxy-looking. Already cringing inside, upon immediately recognizing my poor choice, was further mortified and publicly shamed when room mom came over and scolded me for coloring badly. Because I've been giving some thought to what it takes to write compelling content on such a page, as I work on developing my new site, I've been paying closer attention to the "About" pages of sites I sometimes read. These questions have led me to several great examples, and aside from the aforementioned project, it's becoming more and more clear I'm due for a rewrite here, too.

What makes a good "About" page?

For me, the answers vary, depending on the kind of site being described. Here are a few themes that tend to catch my attention:

  • They clearly answer important questions concerning the site's purpose, while perhaps also introducting the blogger(s) to readers.
  • Often my own favorite "About" pages are laced with a bit of humor, explicit or implicit,
  • Reading the page often leaves me with the sense that I've actually gotten at least a glimpse into the writers' true personalities, for better or worse,
  • 1987 - When penpal of 8 months flew up from Baton Rouge for my high school graduation, learned serious lessons about how you have to be far more resourceful than I had yet learned to be, when trying to truly get to know someone from afar.Many of them leave me feeling that the writer actually appreciates my arrival at their site,
  • Sometimes they reveal vulnerability...without being overly self-deprecating,
  • On ocassion they offer a dated timeline that features highlights (and lowlights) from the author's life, by year. This approach is frankly entertaining to me, and I enjoy being entertained. This approach appeals to me so much I actually started one a year or so ago. Started...
  • Generally-speaking, the writers of these pages tend to be just plain smart. I do so enjoy reading that which is well-written. I recognize that my evlauation on this point is subjective.

Snippets from just a few "About" pages I've enjoyed, in no particular order...

Excerpt from kottke.org:

...I prefer red wine to white, movies to films, jeans to khakis, vanilla to chocolate, Pixar to Dreamworks, the subway to taxis, nonfiction to fiction, and Safari to Firefox. I use a daily face wash in my "T-zone" area. I look like the guy in these photos. I find going to the dentist relaxing. I've lived in WI, IA, MO, MN, CA, NY, NH, and, briefly, France. I don't have a plan.

Excerpts from site of Liz Kinder, magnificent potter whose work I've admired from afar for ages and keep selfishly hoping will one day make time to give us a blog because I'm convinced it would be really fun to read:

1994 Go on one of those ridiculous trips: cycling for 5 months with Irish boyfriend from Guadalajara, Mexico to San Jose, Costa Rica; have cliché travelling epiphany about making ceramics my life.

1997 Apply to graduate school and am accepted, have a huge going away party during which I break my arm falling off the bar dancing to Gary Glitter.

2003 Made pots and tried not to drop friends' new babies

Excerpt from abdpbt.com:

Los Angeles is a force against which I have constructed my identity and as such is figures heavily into my writing. Predictably, I am blonde, always either cheating on my diet or trying to get back on track with it, and I spend roughly $84 every five weeks getting my eyebrows done in Beverly Hills. On the other hand, I also claim to have read and once understood Žižek’s Sublime Object of Ideology, but please don’t test me on this as it has been many years. At present, I have no career direction, but I once had very grandiose plans for myself. It is likely that this blog is born from an effort to reconcile these two facts into something I can work with.

Excerpt from Paul Davidson's Words For My Enjoyment:

When Paul isn’t working on the blog, planning his funeral, talking to Mr. T, revealing the true identity of Mr. Six or obsessing over the fact that his head is probably, most-likely, very legitimately way too big for his body, he’s living in Los Angeles. Where he lives. There’s a lot of living going on down here, if you must know.

Excerpt from Que Sera Sera:

I am directly descended from German circus people on one side and Geoffrey Chaucer on the other, which is probably all I should have said in the first place.

Okay, Fine. All this list proves is that sometimes all I want is to just be entertained. Like today, maybe. And there are some pretty entertaining things going on in some of the "About" pages.

Is it buggin' you just a little, too, that (I'm pretty sure) I used quotations on every instance of this piece? AND on top of that, I didn't use them in the title? Yea, me too...