I would like to take a brief pause to take the temperature of the blog and to get some feedback from you about how you think it’s going. There are some general issues and one specific concern. If you’re not interested in responding to the general questions, please do skip to the end, to the specific concern, and weigh in with your opinion.
FIRST, THE GENERAL ISSUES. The blog continues to grow and to raise significant money for charity – which, as you know, is its raison d’être. Of course I enjoy communicating information, knowledge, views, theories, opinions, and perspectives on early Christianity – from the historical Jesus to the writings of Paul to the early Gospels to the formation of the New Testament canon to the surviving manuscripts to the early Christian apocrypha to, well, to on and on and on. And for users of the blog, *this* is the ultimate point. I blog, you pay, we donate, and everyone’s happy.
But that happiness is rooted in how well the communication is going. And so I’d like some general feedback. We are near the end of our third year of existence. How’s it working for you? Are there things that we should change? Add? Omit? Are there ways to make the blog more user-friendly for you?
I continue to post five or six times a week. I can’t imagine that anyone actually reads all that, but maybe you do! Do you think that is too much? Just right? I would be more than happy to post less, but I can handle this much still at this point and don’t want to lose readers for lack of content.
I cover a range of topics – almost always things that I actually know something about. I sometimes get requests to cover something that I know very little about. If I know enough to say something, I do that. But there are lots and lots of things I know nothing about, and if I don’t know anything, I simply don’t say anything. I really prefer keeping within my comfort zone, which is Christianity in the first three centuries and a bit of Hebrew Bible and a bit of early Judaism. With that in mind – are there areas that you think are lacking that you would like me to cover? I *do* keep note of topics people request me to comment on, and if I have something to say about it, I do try to say it.
As the blog has increasingly become a routine for me, I have found that it is easiest to have threads of posts running through it, rather than a different post on a different topic every day. This allows me to pursue my thoughts at greater length on a topic and the relevant subtopics. I assume that works for most people?
I continue to get about 20-30 comments a day on each post, and I respond to the ones that require a response or ask a question. I know some people get a little frustrated because I don’t interact at great length with their comments or questions, but simply make a quick reply. Frankly, that’s all I can do with the time constraints I’m under. But at least it’s something. If something requires a lengthy response, I simply set it aside for a future full-length post. I assume all that’s OK, if not optimal.
The discussion forum seems to be going much better now that I don’t moderate each and every post on to it. I was reluctant to make it an open forum, unmoderated, but so far it is working well. My main concern is that people will get snarky, sarcastic, rude, and unpleasant – as almost always happens on such fora; but so far that hasn’t happened, so far as I have been able to discern. If someone does misbehave, I need others to report it to me so I can deal with the situation, with a warning and then by blocking the person from participating. As long as we are all cordial and respectful, I have no problem with the *content* of the discussion posts.
OK, NOW ONTO MY SPECIFIC ISSUE. Yesterday I decided to follow up a comment I had made about how Paul’s letters are occasional, so that he may well not mention something if there was no occasion for him to do so, by referring to the fact that Paul says hardly *anything* about the historical Jesus. I actually edited two posts in which I discussed everything Paul says about Jesus’ life, and then laid out the options for why he doesn’t tell us MORE. And when I was finishing editing the posts I thought “Wait a second! I wonder if I’ve already posted on that.”
I checked, and lo and behold, I dealt with precisely that issue just over a year ago. And did it the same way I was planning on doing it this time, by excerpting a section from my textbook discussion of the issue. So I deleted the posts I had just produced, since I Had already covered that.
But then it occurred to me. I’ve been doing this post for three years. Surely if I covered something on a particular day, say, two years ago, no one is really going to remember it specifically or check (by doing a search) to see if this is a repeat. Or will they?
Most people on the blog now were not on the blog two years ago, and I doubt if most people are reading all the backlog of posts (I don’t have an exact count, but I suppose I’ve written over 900 posts by now).
So on one level it seems like it would be a *disservice* to cover a topic again. But maybe it would be a disservice precisely *not* to cover it again.
And so my specific issue: what do you think? I think I’m asking the question more from the practical than the idealistic perspective. By that I mean that it might be *ideal* (this is just an example) for me simply to say: “See my post of May 16, 2013.” But maybe *practically* it would be better simply to provide a new post on the topic. Or not.
So let me know your views.