It is useful on occasion to step back and take the temperature of the blog, to see how things are going and to consider how they might improve.  Do you have suggestions for how to make the blog better and more attractive?   What I’m especially interested in are ways to attract more people to join.   If you have bright ideas, let me know.

I’d say the blog is going extremely well on the whole.  What do you think?   There seems to be a lot of interaction – I’m getting tons of comments on posts – and membership is staying at a steady state.

In terms of numbers, since starting in April 2012, I have made 1616 posts.  Now *that* seems like a lot!  Because of these large reserves, I am able, about once a week, to post a “blast from the past.”  That seems useful to me.  Most members now were not reading posts back in 2012 or 2013, and even those who were probably don’t remember these particular posts.  Or at least I would assume so, since in most cases I myself don’t remember them!!

Also since that time I have approved 58,120 comments.  Wow.

So let me say a word about the recent trends on comments.  I’m noticing that comments are starting to get longer and longer.   That’s absolutely fine – if you want to state at length your views on something, feel free to do so.  BUT, you need to recognize that most people are less inclined to read long comments than short ones, so if you want more readers, I’d suggest keeping comments short and to the point.

I myself have trouble getting through all the comments.  I try to do all my blog work on any given day to an hour.   That’s getting harder to do.   Well, impossible on some days.   I have to write a post, proof it, post it, put it over on Facebook, then answer comments.  And, as I said, comments are getting longer and longer.   One problem is that a number of comments involve questions that I need to address.  That obviously takes time.  (On Friday I had 71 comments to get through – many of them very long, and many of them requiring a response.  I move as quickly as I can but … it takes time!)

I would suggest that if you want me to respond to a question, you ask it succinctly in a short comment.   I would prefer that you not make a very long comment of many paragraphs and then ask me what I think.   Direct questions are the best!

Several members have wanted to have extensive backs and forths with me on a particular topic.  It would be great if I could devote more time to these.   Most of the time it involves a different way of reading the evidence, and after two or three back-and-forths, it’s pretty clear that we simply aren’t going to see eye-to-eye.  That’s fine: different people evaluate evidence differently.  But at a point the discussion no longer is producing any light, just a lot of heat, and then it’s probably best to bring it to an end.

As everyone on the blog probably knows, the main reason I have done the blog for these years is to raise money for charity.   I certainly like other aspects of the blog.  I like presenting the results of scholarship to a broader reading public, especially to those deeply interested in the same things I’m interested in; I enjoy taking something complicated and making it accessible to a non-scholar; I enjoy the interactions via comments; and so on.   But the main reason I do this is for the charities.   If this takes me 7-8 hours a week, each and every week, that means I’m devoting 350-400 hours a year to it.  That’s nearly ten 40-hour work weeks I could be using otherwise, e.g., doing my own research!  (Let alone watching more football and reading more novels and taking more walks in the woods!)   As much as I love all of you – and I do – without the charities I simply wouldn’t be doing all this.

So how are we doing on the charity front?  Very well indeed.  I had hoped we would keep doing better and better, year after year, but we’ve hit a plateau it seems.  That’s too bad on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s a very high plateau!   We started out rather slow but we’ve climbed to about $115,000 to $120,000 a year.  That’s some serious change.  And more impressive, we are just $31,000 short, as of this week, of $500,000 since the blog began.  That’s half a million dollars going to help people in need.  I’d say that’s pretty fantastic.

If you have bright ideas about how to increase our revenues, please do let me know.  If you are interested in helping out, please consider seriously the following:

  • Why not give “Gift Subscriptions” to people you think would enjoy the blog? Surely you have family members, friends, colleagues at work, and others who would be interested.  A Gift membership is very easy to give, not very expensive, a great gift, and it would help us all out.  So why not?
  • Please tell others about the blog – people in your church or synagogue, people at work, friends you run around with, family, etc, and encourage them to join.
  • And please consider making either a one-time or a regularly-monthly donation to the blog. All donations are completely tax deductible, and are extremely welcome.

Thanks to all of you for joining the blog and participating.  May we continue to do interesting and good things!