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How We’re Doing on the Blog

Time to pause and take the pulse of the blog.  I’d like your feedback, if you’d be willing to give it (see below).  We’ve been at this for four years and five months now, without a stop in the action.  Every week for the entire period I’ve posted 5-6 times, normally about a thousand words a pop.  In addition, I have posted numerous videos and audio recording.  Every week I now devote one post to answer members’ questions, on the Weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  On top of that I approve all the comments that come in – normally 20-30 a day – and respond to questions that come in there.

So the content continues to come and that’s all to the good.  My ultimate goal, as you know, is to raise money for charity, and that too is good: this past (fiscal) year we raised $117,000.  Fantastic.  That was a sizeable advance over the previous year, which saw a sizeable advance over the previous year, which saw a sizeable advance over the first year.

My HOPE was that the blog would keep growing, and that once again we would have a sizeable advance this year.  I’m sorry to report that so far that’s not happening.  Maybe last year was our banner year.  But I’m hoping we can do better.  At this point we’re a bit behind our pace from last year instead of well ahead of it.

Which is why I want to pause and take the blog’s pulse.  I want to do whatever I can to make it as good as can be, and for that I’d like your imput.  Here is what I’d like from you.  Please indicate, by way of a comment in response:

  • The two things (if there are two things) that you like best about the blog
  • The two things (if there are two things) that you think are most problematic about the blog
  • And ONE thing (if you can think of a thing) that we can do to make it better and raise more money.

I won’t be able to respond to every comment.  In fact, probably to none of them.  If all of you responded that would be, well, thousands.  I know not all of you will.  But I really do want to know your views.  So give me a response if you feel so moved!

 

 


Different Ways of Describing the Theology of the New Testament
My Work as a Historian and Paul in Conflict with the Jerusalem Church: Readers’ Mailbag August 20, 2016

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    stonecold51  August 21, 2016

    Bart
    I like EVERYTHING about the blog and have no crticisims.
    maybe a plea for all subscribors to inform their family and friends
    and everyone likes a discount ….
    maybe offer a 3 year subscription at 10 % off … if you don’t already

  2. Avatar
    Studies  August 21, 2016

    I love it, just as I love your books. There’s nothing I’d like to see changed. I like the specific topics, but I also enjoy the questions and answers.

  3. Avatar
    VistanTN  August 21, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman:
    I’m pretty satisfied with the quantity, quality, and varied subject matter of your posts. Periodically I get behind, but listing the last 15-20 on the right side with the ones I have read helps catch up. I have shared your website with friends I thought would be interested — some may have signed up, some may not. The most problematic things is, well, this is not something of universal interest. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be, just not where some of even my more thoughtful acquaintances would spend time.
    In omnibus pax,
    George Carlson

  4. Avatar
    rburos  August 21, 2016

    I like that you work your posts into a thread or even better a “quilt” that carries us along not only a thought but an actual thought process.

    I like your Blast from the Past, which gets us into older stuff that is just as valuable. I might not have gone back and read that bit. It gives me ideas of things to search for.

    On that, searching isn’t exactly intuitive. I don’t know how that can be fixed, as I surely don’t want a redesign because that just forces me to relearn buttonology–which is not what I joined the blog for.

    I can tell you what I would pay a little extra for, but I don’t have a clue as to how that should manifest onto your blog. I have taken your reading suggestions from this blog and from your new testament textbook–and set myself up for the next couple of years. I would be more than willing to double my subscription fee if you would add a section about what you think about particular authors/books/work, and whether or not you agree/disagree. Obviously this can’t turn into a seminar for you, as you would never get anything else done. But if I’m currently reading E. P. Sanders’ The Historical Figure of Jesus (which I am), would you be willing to write a thread of things to look for? Would this call for multi-level memberships and if so can you set that up?

  5. Avatar
    johnlandry35  August 21, 2016

    Your “check in” reminded me to make a donation. I’m a former Catholic seminarian with a MA in Theology (summa cum laude) turned nonprofit hospital fundraiser and occasional adjunct professor of theology. My suggestions: add a more convenient placement of a “donate” option next to the login and register etc list; add a sentence or two update about a recipient charity at the end of your blog every now and then and just ask more often. You have my dream job but at 54 getting the needed PHD not an option so what I love about the blog it keeps me current on your important scholarship. I’m a YouTube follower too!

  6. Avatar
    Eric  August 21, 2016

    My knowledge of the bible is limited to what I learned in Sunday school as a kid,a long time ago,reading your books and your blog.
    I would like to see a suggested reading list,especially other scholars.
    I ‘d also like to see more Old Testament content
    Thank you so much, I have learned a lot from your books and this blog

  7. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  August 21, 2016

    What I like most about the blog is your personal interaction, and I can’t think of anything problematic. I like it the way it is!

    Raising Money: You could raise the price of the membership. That could be for everyone upon renewal or for newly acquired members.

    And/Or you could even send out a mass goal-setting email to members asking for extra donations. Maybe a certain goal for the holidays (since it is running short this year) and then set an annual goal for next year. Whatever you decide, I think people would respond more often if they were given updates–as in a quarterly email for the annual goal–along with one of those thermometer-type visuals that show where we’re at and how far we have to go.

    It would also be nice if the emails included some information about where the money is going either by providing links to the websites (ex. Durham Ministries) or videos that show exactly how the donations are helping others.

    Hopefully, you reach the goal you have in mind, but if not, you’re still doing a very good thing. Whatever is raised, I’m sure the charities are grateful.

  8. Avatar
    Judith  August 21, 2016

    *The posts are interesting and often fun to read. There is much to be learned on a daily basis.

    Everyone interested should know what can be learned about the New Testament from the blog. How can we make the blog generally known?

    *Find ways to increase the membership.

  9. Avatar
    leo.b@cox.net  August 21, 2016

    Just keep doing what you are doing. The money will come..

  10. Avatar
    JoeRoark  August 21, 2016

    I like:
    1. Your detailed information. Skimming is for milk.
    2. The variety of subjects in your posts

    What to improve:
    1. Offer (on a regular basis, perhaps weekly) a few verses as you would translate the New Testament.
    2. Offer archaeological history about digs that are relevant to the NT, whether completed or in progress or planned.

    Thank you.
    Joe

  11. Avatar
    UCCLMrh  August 22, 2016

    Two things I like best: (1) the incredible Ehrman explanatory technique, which is amazing to watch, and (2) the really interesting subject-matter presented in digestible chunks every day. As a teacher, I love to watch someone explain something masterfully, and Ehrman does that over and over.
    Problem: the login process is really annoying. For a week or more, the site will retain my login, then for a while it will lose my login after a day or two over and over, then it will keep me logged in for another week or more. I wish you’d either force a new login every day or retain my login much more permanently.
    If you’re not getting more people, then the other way to raise more money is to charge more.
    Incidentally, thanks for God’s Problem, in my opinion your best trade book. Watching you build that book-length explanation was delightful, even if you did come to the wrong conclusion in the end.

  12. Avatar
    Michael Sommers  August 22, 2016

    Perhaps it would be more informative to ask those who cancelled their subscriptions, so to speak, why they left. After all, those who can answer your question here are satisfied enough that they are here.

  13. Avatar
    John  August 22, 2016

    “The two things (if there are two things) that you like best about the blog”

    You cover a wide variety of topic areas.

    You go in (great) depth on certain topics

    The two things (if there are two things) that you think are most problematic about the blog

    I rarely read others comments. If stopping this gives you more time, all to the good.

    That’s it.

    And ONE thing (if you can think of a thing) that we can do to make it better and raise more money.

    Can’t think of anything.

  14. Avatar
    Alfred  August 22, 2016

    The two things I like best about the blog are: your ability to deal with complex subjects in plain English and the stimulating (I was going to say ideas) facts and analysis you bring us. I don’t really have any problems with the blog – it is one of my favourite places – but if pressed I would say I would like to see more about ‘discoveries” (I’m obsessed with news) and more about what drives people to believe things which are plainly not true. Your work on memory is the sort of thing I mean in the second point). On raising money: first of all, take a moment to congratulate yourself. You have monetised biblical textual criticism. People struggle to do this with sex and gambling. They fail with traditional journalism. You are a legend. I can think of no individual who has succeeded like you do. Can you do better? Who knows. If pressed I would suggest looking for tiers of membership – so those who get the most value can choose more. I’d think about getting some advice about building the membership base. I do not see ads for your site on there sites where interested people hang out. And I would think about employing people to take your existing scholarship and turning it into further marketable products – an annotated publication of the books Paul actually did write. Maybe an annotated Bible? A half-way good editor or journalist could easily make these into online and paper products. And on donations – give them a human face. Tell people what projects benefit. And maybe try to set up tax-free charities internationally to encourage those outside the US to give more. I can’t believe that there is a blog where a scholar of your standing will actually answer my questions. It is fantastic. Is a buy Bart a beer app out of the question?

  15. Avatar
    MrMistoffelees  August 22, 2016

    Like best:
    – direct interaction with you
    – the level of detail that you provide when you tackle a subject. No question is left unanswered.

    Problematic:
    – basic user interface. I suggest you look at other blogs and ‘borrow’ best practices.

    To make it better (2 things):
    – MOOCs (don’t hate me for bringing this subject up again). With MOOCs, you will be talking directly to people (tens of thousands) who will be interested in joining the blog and pay to your charity. You will also do a better job than most current Christianity MOOCs facilitators.

    – make an app (paid for).

    Both suggestions (combined) will make the $117k look so little.

  16. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  August 22, 2016

    Well, I have been an avid reader of similar blogs and your blog is by far and away the best and the most productive of all of them. In all honesty, I would not change a thing. I still worry that you are going to wear out. I often think that my particular religious quest has gotten about as far as it is going to get so I don’t read about this topic as much as I used to read, but that says nothing about the quality of your blog. What I like best now is when you share things about your own religious quest, but all of your blogs are interesting which is no easy trick. To save yourself some time, you might occasionally copy a summary of one of your books and call it “Books at a Glance,” Probably the only thing missing from my quest is how and why some scholars end the quest by becoming liberal Christians. Deism and theism I understand, because of the cosmological (first cause) and teleological (design) arguments, but how people become liberal Christians, when so much of it seems to be based on legendary, rather than historical events, is a mystery to me. I would like to know more about how liberal Christians work this out. Finally, your Bible and New Testament textbooks are just loaded with good stuff written in a terrific format and you need to let readers know more about these textbooks.

  17. Avatar
    tcasto  August 22, 2016

    I think the blog is terrific and I would hate to see it go away. I try to stay relatively current with the posts but if I get behind, it’s easy to binge and catch up.

    What I like. The main thing is that it keeps me fresh on the wealth of information I’ve gleaned from you over the years. I have some of your books, copies of the great courses and have watched numerous YouTube videos. It’s safe to say you are the most influential person in shaping my beliefs (or not beliefs).

    What I don’t like – not much. I don’t get much from the comments section and generally ignore them. Too many are poorly written, ramble on and never seem to go,any where. I also have trouble when I try to search for a previous post, but that may just be a cockpit problem on my end.

    Keep up the good work!

  18. Avatar
    Chuck205  August 22, 2016

    The Blog breaks down bigger and more complicated subjects into bite size pieces which are much easier to understand and digest. The Blog becomes a habit which allows me to continue to learn.

    I have not identified anything problematic about the blog.

    You might put a link where people are reminded about the fund raising and a place where additional contributions may be made. Even $10 contributions can add up to be substantial.

  19. Avatar
    Dhdsas  August 22, 2016

    What I like best is the ability to read targeted discussions of issues without the need to read a whole book, although I have bought all your books.

  20. Avatar
    Boltonian  August 22, 2016

    Hi Bart

    What I like most:

    1) The fascinating subject matter ably elucidated by your expert scholarship.
    2) Your intimate involvement on a daily basis.

    What I find problematic. Nothing.

    Suggestion for signing up more people and, therefore, raising more money:

    Ask members to approach three people to join and anybody who succeeds in getting, say, three additional members gets a free trade book of yours free of charge (subject to a total upper limit). Obviously those new members will need to let you know who it was who encouraged them to join.

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