I thought this would be a good time to take stock of the blog briefly, and get a sense of how you, the user and raison d’etre of the project, are feeling about it.  To do this I have several issues, concerns, and/or questions I’d like to raise.  The BIG issue comes at the end, so skip there if you must [points (6) and (7)]

  • Do you like the directions the blog is going? I’m wondering if the topics I cover and the way I cover them are generally satisfactory and pleasing.  Or not.  The pattern I’ve fallen into is to make a post on one thing or another – often in response to a question – and watching that lead into a short thread, as the post generates interesting responses by readers which lead to posts on related issues which lead to other posts on yet other related issues, and so on.  Is that OK, good?
  • The posts tend to be 1000 words or just over. Is that OK still?
  • Sometimes (often?) the posts involve taking an excerpt from something I’ve published in the past that is directly relevant to the topic.   That seems to me to be the most economical way to handle the blog to me.  If someone raises a question, and I’ve already expressed myself as clearly as I know how, in print, it makes sense not to re-invent the wheel and write out something from scratch, when I’ve already said what I want to say somewhere else.  Even if a number of blog members read those paragraphs when they were published years ago, they probably don’t remember them particularly clearly.  I know I don’t – and I *wrote* them!   Is this procedure OK?
  • About once a week I’ll repost a blog post from some years ago, on the assumption that most people on the blog weren’t reading it back then, and this allows me to keep talking about interesting things without simply ignoring things people found interesting years ago. The blog, as you know, is over six years old now, and I have posted 5-6 times a week every week, 52 weeks of the year, over this entire the time.  You can do the math: that’s a lot of posts.  Seems to me it’s OK to repost older posts.  I myself, again, don’t remember them, so I’m sure most people who read them quickly three or five years ago don’t either!   What do you think?
  • For years now I’ve said (as I just did!) that I post 5-6 times a week; but over the past year I’ve settled into a rhythm of posting almost exactly five times a week, giving myself a day off twice a week, usually once midweek and once on the weekend. How’s that working?  Is it enough posts?  Too many?
  • And now my big set of issues, the one I’m particularly concerned about. The comments.  Here are the issues:
    1. I continue to receive, review, and post comments on every blog post. I have to read all the ones that come in because I am concerned that the comments are germane to the interests of the blog, are not needlessly political or otherwise irrelevant, and do not involve personal attacks on other members of the blog.  I assume this is still a good policy.  Yes?
    2. I answer all the ones that ask a direct question of me. As you know, my answers are short and to the point.  I simply don’t have time for long disquisitions – I wish I did!  But, alas.  Still, I hope my answers are helpful.  Are they?  Or should I change something?
    3. The problem is that now I’m getting so *many* comments that I’m not sure how to handle it. This week, on two days, there were over a hundred (count them, over 100!) comments on a post.  Some blog members submit many comments, and many of the comments are long.  There is only one of me, and I have a day job.  So I’m not sure how to handle this.  I’m getting by now, but, well, what do you all make of the situation?
    4. I’m not willing not to approve all the comments personally (I don’t feel I can relegate the job to anyone else). And so far it is barely manageable.  But I wonder if we will need to make any adjustments as we move forward.
  • For now, let me make these strong recommendations/suggestions.
    1. I would suggest that those of you who make comments continue to do so – especially if you have one or two things that you would really like to say, that you would like me to read, that you would like others to read and interact with. I am always eager to see your thoughtful interactions.
    2. BUT, I would prefer it if you would pick your spots, rather than rattle off a large number of comments every day. There are nearly 6000 readers of the blog.  If everyone made 10 comments of the day, then, well, I would clearly need a pay rise….  (OK, the pay for the blog is zero, but still…)
    3. As I have said on a number of occasions, I am not able to respond at length, especially to lengthy comments. Short comments of a paragraph are by far to be preferred.
    4. Moreover, you need to realize that *other* readers of the blog, whom you want to read your comments, in most instances simply will *NOT* read your comment if they see it is long or if they see you have made dozens of them. They won’t.  They’ll just bypass them.  So if you want to make an impact, you need to make them short and sweet.
    5. I look at the matter of comments as I do the posts themselves. If I posted twelve posts a day of 2000 words each – who would read them?  No one.  And they wouldn’t pick ones they were interested in, they would simply say FORGET IT!   So too with comments.
    6. If you yourself have suggestions/comments/solutions about comments, please do let me know!!
    7. AND REMEMBER: there is also a “Forum” connected with the blog, where members can interact with one another directly, at their hearts content. I don’t moderate the forum, so you can go back and forth as much as you like.  I’ll only intervene if I hear complaints and requests that I go in to rule the unruly nations with a rod of iron.

OK, that’s it for my queries and comments.  If there are other ways that you think the blog can be improved, anything I can do to make it better, please let me know!