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Taking the Temperature of the Blog October 2017

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!

 

 


The Apostolic Fathers: Serendipity Strikes
Translating the Apostolic Fathers: A Blast from the Past

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Comments

  1. Todd  October 29, 2017

    I have two thoughts on this.

    1. I realize that the purpose of this blog is to understand the biblical documents from a textual and historical perspective only, but I would like to find a way to connect all that you are sharing with us to our lives in our present time…how the Jesus event affects our lives in the here and now.

    2. I make a contribution once a year, but I think it would be good if I made a monthly contribution as well. I am not wealthy, but even $10 A month would help your charitable work. I need to check into your site to see if I can do that as an auto-pay every month.

    I have learned more here than I did in seminary. I so appreciate your blog. Good work.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2017

      Yes you can! Many thanks!

      • llamensdor  November 1, 2017

        A dumb question (sorry) Do you read comments on your blog that come in daily, even if they relate to your posting, say, 2 weeks ago? I might comment today (11-1-17) on a posting of yours from 10-2-17. Will you read that and if appropriate respond? I think I’ve found current comments by you on my “old” posts, but I’m not sure.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 1, 2017

          Yes, all the comments come to me as a group — not connected to the posts that are being commented on. So I read and answer all of them, every day.

  2. rivercrowman  October 29, 2017

    Bart, my new policy is to only read your replies to comments, especially the long comments. People sure love to talk.

    • SidDhartha1953  November 1, 2017

      I do the same. I scan for comments you have answered, read the comment and your reply, then continue. I also save my questions until I have read all your replies so I don’t make you read the same question twice. Finally, I try to remember you do email and use that for more detailed questions.
      If I could have one wish granted concerning the blog, it would be to have a notice that pops up when you or anyone has replied to one of my comments. I think there is a box to check for email notifications, but it doesn’t seem to work. Thanks for all you do for the less fortunate! Even though there is probably no eternal reward, many people hold you in high esteem. I hope that counts for something.

  3. rburos  October 29, 2017

    I love this blog–especially how you have catalogued each of the sections. I sometimes eschew the daily post in favor of going through a section (it’s because I’m reading about something that matches up).
    You’re right. I never ever read someone’s post after two small paragraphs, and would recommend you never ever answer one as a way of norming our behavior.

  4. caseyjunior  October 29, 2017

    I have been with you almost two years now and continue to find your blog to be very interesting. I try to read all the comments and my personal opinion is that many of the longer comments are being made by people who have a particular interpretive position they want to hammer home. I feel that these positions were stated clearly the first time and continued long elaborations just aren’t necessary. Therefore, I tend to check out on them early. Thanks again for helping to keep us informed on so many important topics.

  5. Jana  October 29, 2017

    My first concern is always your health and there was an impasse some time ago. Next I think your blogs are terrific and I feel more competent discussing with others. In short I keep learning and improving my views. My only criticism would be about me. I have trouble keeping up ! 🙂 It takes me a while to absorb new unfamiliar points and adjust accordingly. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with a new idea and I am doing the best I can. Thank you Dr. Ehrman.

  6. ardeare  October 29, 2017

    Okay, here’s an idea! I suggest writing a book called, “Ehrman answers his bloggers” or something like that. Much of the material has already been written by us and you. I predict it would be a great success and draw thousands to the blog.

  7. Judith  October 29, 2017

    Love the blog, Dr. Ehrman. Just sent donation to say thank you.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2017

      Bless you!

      • gwayersdds  October 30, 2017

        Who is doing the blessing. “Bless you” implies (God) bless you. But as an agnostic/atheist, are you “legally” allowed to bless someone? Just thought I’d ask.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 31, 2017

          Yup, I checked into the powers that be, and I am fully authorized to bless at will.

  8. John Uzoigwe  October 29, 2017

    I will suggest you create a system where people could get one free subscription if they could get 2-5 people to join the blog within a month or so
    create Ads and create more awareness about the blog.(emphasise more on charity) am sure there are people out there who will love to be part but don’t know your blog exist

  9. doug  October 29, 2017

    I think your blog is great. My biggest concern is that I don’t want you to wear yourself out.

  10. Robert
    Robert  October 29, 2017

    Great work with the charitable giving!

  11. davitako  October 29, 2017

    Hi Bart,

    I have two (possible) suggestions for the blog:

    1. How about setting up Google Hangout calls once a month (or something) with those blog members who asked most interesting questions, or donated most for a given period of time? Details would need to be worked out. Maybe people would be more attracted to the blog when they know they have a chance to discuss things with you in a call!

    2. I personally only care about the content, but I showed the blog to several of my friends (some of whom are also web developers and others, web designers) and every one of them pointed out that the blog needs a more appealing design to attract even more people.

    Bart, if it’s not a secret, I just want to know how we are doing in this respect too; how many members are there on the blog?

  12. Jon1  October 29, 2017

    Bart,

    Sorry, but unless you want your blog readers to fall asleep as they nod their heads in agreement with you, you need to take some of the blame for the long posts. A good example of something that can lead to long queries about your work is your demonstrably false statement: “The passage [Digesta 48.24.1] is absolutely explicit: the release of bodies to be buried DOES NOT APPLY to those who have been convicted of high treason” (https://ehrmanblog.org/decent-burials-for-crucified-victims-a-blast-from-the-past/). I had to push you hard to get you say, “I agree it can be read in two ways”. But even then you conclude, “I think one of those two ways makes best sense of what it is saying.” Nowhere in your works that I can find do you explain why your way of reading Digesta 48.24.1 “makes best sense of what it is saying”…and I still don’t know. I suggested, and I suggest again, that you dedicate a post to explaining this. To be honest, it looks a whole lot like you are interpreting Digesta 48.24.1 in the way you do for the simple reason that it is favorable to your position, and then you seem to exaggerate how much it supports your position as some kind of persuasion tactic. I wish I could conclude differently, but that is how it looks to me. On the upside, I am grateful for the exchange we had and I wish more scholars would do what you are doing.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2017

      I believe my responses to those comments have all been very brief!

      • Jon1  October 30, 2017

        The length of your posts was not what I was talking about. I was explaining to you why some people make long queries in response to your work.

  13. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  October 29, 2017

    I get carried away with the length of my comments sometimes. It’s probably something that may need to be addressed intermittently anyway if only for the reason of newcomers on the blog.

  14. Durkan23  October 29, 2017

    You provide a premium service that consumes a lot of your time and intellectual capital and I think everyone on here would be willing to pay more for this sort of high quality content as we are loyal and passionate about the topics!

    • DestinationReign
      DestinationReign  October 30, 2017

      It is quite unique for someone of such repute to offer interaction on a forum in this way.

  15. The Agnostic Christian
    The Agnostic Christian  October 29, 2017

    How about starting a kind of store where you sell t-shirts and mugs etc., with cool nerdy early Church graphics and whatnot on them. Those kinds of things are really popular. One example might be a picture of Jesus with “Jesus was misquoted” underneath it. The profits going to charity of course. More work I know, but just an idea.

  16. dschmidt01
    dschmidt01  October 29, 2017

    Hi Dr Ehrman
    My suggestions:
    1. You are too nice. Limit the comments text area to 75 or 100 words so folks can’t write such lengthy comments. Personally I skip reading the comments that are not asking you specific questions. I joined your blog to learn from you, not someone of whom I have no knowledge.
    2. Assign members you know and trust to approve comments. Then you can read and answer questions without devoting valuable time to vet them. Out of curiosity what content causes you to not approve a comment?
    3. Don’t answer questions if you don’t know the answer off the top of your head. Save questions that require research and maybe someday they will be inspiration for a new book. Continue to point readers to your published works as an answer to their question.
    4. Find a corporate sponsor or trust willing to match donations and membership fees to increase funding for charities. There are many that support public broadcasting so pehaps one of them might be interested in sponsoring a blog on new testament historical studies.
    5. I like the blasts from the past. I’m a newbie so I appreciate being served up content from the past you find relevant and interesting.
    6. Do you ask your students to consider supporting your charities by joining your blog? Perhaps the university has guidelines for that.

    Thanx for the blog!!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2017

      I have no experience with finding a corporate sponsor — but if anyone on the blog does, let me know!

  17. Boltonian  October 30, 2017

    Points:
    1) Not sure how typical I am but only ever read lengthy posts (longer than two shortish paragraphs) when you have responded, which is to say, seldom ; and
    2) I have a particular friend in mind to give a Christmas present (rather ironic) of a subscription to the blog.

  18. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  October 30, 2017

    It is not known if posts from this particular source are implied in the summation about lengthy posts, however, posts in this form are merely seeds being scattered. Whether ignored or addressed, retorts about the “craziness” of Gospel/Timeline templates and other unfamiliar propositions will continue in a good-natured manner. This, in the hopes that transformative Truth will be victorious so that we may rest, and reign.

    Having said all of that, the interactivity of the blog is much appreciated. And most certainly, the proposal to donate 1,000 dollars to the blog still stands, in return for contemplating and addressing what is presented in STS.

  19. nbraith1975  October 30, 2017

    Several ideas:

    1. Limit the number of characters on comments. Keep it under 3-4 average sentences.

    2. Host a monthly or quarterly LIVE YouTube Q&A chat session to answer pre-submitted questions by Blog members. Blog members can interact with each other during the live chat feed during the session. You can personally ask non-member viewers during the session to sign up and donate to the charity you sponsor. Advertise the sessions on your facebook and other social media outlets.

    3. Enlist someone with experience to curate and maintain your blog. They can connect with members to get feedback and ideas and run all your social media outlets. (They would have written this post today.)

    4. Host an annual meet and greet in Chapel Hill for Blog members. This will help you personally connect with members and provide some picture and video content to the blog.

    Hope this helps.

  20. godspell  October 30, 2017

    My only critique would be that it’s hard to know if somebody responded to a post you made on an earlier thread, without taking a lot of time to search through them. And you start a lot of threads. Maybe there’s some toggle I’ve failed to notice that will help in this regard?

    I certainly get that you need to approve responses here, which leads to delays in people responding to each other. My own blog (not about religion) only has a few people responding in the comments section, most of them old friends by now, so conversations can be a lot more open and free-wheeling. The price of success, I suppose. 😉

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