23 votes, average: 4.91 out of 523 votes, average: 4.91 out of 523 votes, average: 4.91 out of 523 votes, average: 4.91 out of 523 votes, average: 4.91 out of 5 (23 votes, average: 4.91 out of 5)
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Your Thoughts on the Blog?

It is difficult for me to know what really “works” on the blog.   On the whole, most things seem to work well: as I’ve reported recently, the blog continues to grow.   We are working toward 7000 members (but I very much want that in six figures!) and this past year we raised on average over $420 a day for charity.  That’s a lot of dosh.  All to the good.

But I’m concerned about the quality of the blog and whether it is doing what you yourself want it to.   I have only two ways of knowing: the rather crude rating system we use for blog posts and the feedback I get.

The rating system could probably be improved, but I’m not completely sure how.   Of course each post isn’t read by 6700+ members every day, but even so, I typically will get somewhere between 5 and 10 people rating a post.  That much is helpful (especially if there is a consistent trend), but it’s not a lot to go by, nothing anywhere statistically significant.

The feedback comes in two ways: the comments I receive either in the comment section or in personal emails.   Most of the comments are focused on the substance of the post or related – or even unrelated – issues, and that’s what we want: it’s the point of the comment system.  It does seem to be working well.  When I do receive evaluative feedback, it is almost always positive, for which I’m deeply grateful indeed – every time I get an uplifting comment!   But if there are things that can be improved, I would like to know.  Tell me, either in a comment or a private email.

What has raised the issue for me is a particular issue.  I was thinking last week, while doing a post, that some are a bit longer than others.  I always shoot for 1000 words a day, but the reality is that they are almost always a bit longer, more like 1200 words.  And sometimes they shoot up over 1400 words.  And I wondered: does this make any bit of difference at all to people reading?

Would people prefer *shorter* posts, so as not to take so much of their time, making them more likely to read and use the blog with greater regularity, say 500-800 words?   Or would people think that isn’t enough bang for their buck – they want more.   On the other hand, do longer posts turn people off, so they are unlikely to read them, because it’s too much time and effort?  Is 1000 words about right?  There’s no particular logic to that number: I just arbitrarily hit on it, mainly because I thought it seemed like a decent length to say something reasonably substantive without getting crazy.

I have no way of knowing!  No one has ever said.   So feel free to tell me.  Even if responses are not statistically significant, it will be of some use.  (I’m not about to create a detail questionnaire for people to fill out!)

Feel free to give me other feedback as well.  Do you like the topics I cover?  The depth at which I cover them (too technical sometimes? Not enough depth?  Too much depth?  More than you really wanted to know?)?  The style and attitude of the posts?

One of the things I really appreciate about the blog myself is that in the comments – even in responses to others — we don’t have any serious snarkiness here.  How often does that happen on the Internet???  Other comment forums I occasionally tune into are just awful.  (I try to delete snarky comments, and that seems to have created a nice ethos on the blog; if some fall through the cracks, mea culpa!)

In terms of the substance of the comments, some come from people who don’t know the field at all and are just curious.  I’d like to encourage those, and you who make them.  Please DON”T feel that you have to have to have an intelligent view of something or a reasoned judgment of it or even any knowledge at all about it before asking a question.  Everyone on the blog is respectful of our levels of knowledge.

Other comments come from people who know a heckuva lot.   Most come from the lots of folk who are between the two extremes.  All comments are welcome.  I’m happy to engage both the basic and the highly technical ones, at the level that the commenter seems to want/need.

If you have any responses, in general, to the level of my own responses, let me know that too.  I know some people wish I could engage them more and have more sustained and lengthy responses and backs-and-forths.  I wish so too.

In any event, and in sum:  if you feel like giving me some feedback to make the blog better, let me know.  If not, keep reading!  I’ll take it as a good sign.


Don’t Trust What You Read!
My Pod Cast Interview with Sam Harris

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    slpuckett  January 18, 2019

    I’ve been very happy with it. I keep wanting to push the blog on people that I think would find it interesting, but then I remember they are all to some extent still mired in fundamentalism and might not take the recommendation well, lol.

    It had not even occurred to me to rate the posts. Oops. I would probably give them all fours and fives though, honestly. I lose hours to this site sometimes!

    In a similar vein, I’ve really found myself preferring the longer posts and posts in series, FWIW.

  2. Avatar
    doug  January 18, 2019

    Shorter is OK, too. No point in using more words to say what can be said well in fewer words.

  3. Avatar
    Brand3000  January 18, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman:

    I’m very grateful for the blog. The best part is being able to directly have Q. and A. style interactions with you.

  4. Avatar
    Jacqueline3  January 18, 2019

    I first heard of you through the your Teaching Company Courses, then moved on to your books. So early Christianity is now a topic of interest to me and keeping up with your site is a good way to do that. BTW, my early education was Catholic, but I am a complete agnostic.

    Suggestions? In one of your essays, you mentioned James Kugel’s “How to Read the Bible” and I found it fascinating.

    Is there any way that you could record somewhere on your site lists of books not written by you that introduce topics that “feed into” your thinking (religion in general, ancient societies, psychology, Judaism, sociology, etc. etc). It’s not a question of you agreeing with everything they say. Rather, you add a sentence or two as to what you liked and leave it at that. No need for debates on these books or long reviews, Just a glimpse of all the tangential issues that swirl around anyone studying religion.

    Oh yes, ideally these books should, if possible, be designed for intelligent, educated readers who are not specialists. Scholars of early Christianity can easily refer to the bibliographies at the end of your books. The lists that interest me are more like invitations to think more broadly on all the issues that affect the historical imagination of someone like yourself looking at early Christianity.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 20, 2019

      It’s an interesting idea. The main problem is that I almost never read books like that; almost everything I read is hard-hitting scholarship. The reason I read Kugel was that I was writing a book review of it. But when I do read non-scholarly books in the future, I’ll think about blogging on them!

  5. Avatar
    Jayredinger  January 18, 2019

    I read all the blog posts and prefer the longer posts, but realise your time constraints..

  6. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  January 19, 2019

    Sometimes the posts show up on FB as something else entirely. This post for example! On FB it says, “And Then There Was Q” and then links us to the Q post. One time the link showed up with Talmoore’s baby face pic which was pretty funny actually.

    I already mentioned how Hurtado’s blog has short posts, sometimes extremely short. It works for him. I think you should do what feels comfortable to you.

    Can we receive email notifications for the new posts? Every blog I’m subscribed to has that feature. It either emails me the content of the post or notifies me when a post is ready to view with a link. That would be soooo helpful.

    And last but not least, I do miss the comments being on 1 page. As someone else said, when going through the pages, it zooms to the bottom rather than the top so that we’re looking at everything in the opposite direction.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 20, 2019

      How weird. No one has ever mentioned this.

      We’ve thought about email notifications, but a number of members have said they don’t want the email clutter. On the p. 1 business, I’ll look into it.

  7. Avatar
    godspell  January 19, 2019

    Some articles appeal to me more than others (I most enjoy talking about Jesus, as opposed to his various peripherals), but that would be the case for any blog. You don’t hit every one out of the park, but it’s important you cover your entire field.

    I have a blog myself, and I don’t even bother to look at upvotes for my articles. How do I distinguish between genuine enthusiasm and polite applause, when it’s just ‘up’ or ‘down’. Or ‘like’. I’d get rid of the voting function entirely.

    The only real criteria is comments. If a lot of people are commenting, positively or negatively, you did a good job. You got people engaged. My comments section is my pride and joy, and yours is much more active. And, of course, people pay to be able to read your posts, and comment on them. If your subscriber level is rising, that likewise means much more than upvotes.

    There are books out there commenting on the whole ‘upvote downvote’ thing, and its negative impact on public discourse. I do it myself, mainly on disqus forums, but I kind of despise myself for doing it. I never, ever, downvote. It’s a contemptible passive aggressive way of getting even. Some forums I go to have eliminated it entirely. I will again advise you to do the same.

  8. Avatar
    Nexus  January 19, 2019

    The blog is great!

    I think we should start a petition so that Bart gets more than 24 hours in a day so he can respond in detail to comments. Maybe we can get Jesus to keep the sun still in the sky? 😉

    I love the guest posts and posts that relate to recent discoveries. To understand early Christianity, I think we need even more background on the lives, beliefs, and customs of Jewish people and the Roman influences in the first century. I think a thread on life of Joshephus might be useful.

    There is a little ambiguity with the rating system. Should I rate how much I am interested in the topic or how good of a post it is on whatever topic it is about? Your posts are generally great; I would almost always give five stars. If I’m rating the topic well that’ll vary.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 20, 2019

      Petition. Yes please. Rating: I suppose it should be based on both factors. Somehow.

  9. Avatar
    Marble13  January 19, 2019

    My husband and I both enjoy your blog and this site! We have read many of your books over the years and continue to appreciate your insights and knowledge. Thanks.

  10. Avatar
    michael_kelemen  January 19, 2019

    I’ve been a member for a few years already. Maybe four.

    I think that you are doing a good job.

    I like the length of the posts.

    I never rate the posts because I come to them after the first day they are published and I think that you won’t see it but if it’s important for you I can.

    I’ve watched many of your videos but, even so, I still enjoyed your conversation with Sam Harris.

  11. Avatar
    bmay  January 19, 2019

    I love the blog. It complements your books very well. I wouldn’t change anything. Now, sorry for asking about this here but it seems like as good as anyplace to ask this: Paul mentions the “scriptures”, probably more than once but certainly in Romans 16:25 (“by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations”). What scriptures was he referring to? Do we know? Obviously not the Gospels, they hadn’t been written yet.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 20, 2019

      He’s referring to the Hebrew Bible (Jewish Scriptures)

  12. Avatar
    brwheeler  January 19, 2019

    I always told my students that the development of their idea or thesis is more important that the number of words they used – you seem to have that down pat, so I would say don’t worry about the difference between 800 and 1200 words! Say what you need to in order to get you idea across, but continue breaking really big ideas into smaller parts as you have been doing.
    And I like the idea of including book reviews, of their own works, by other authors as you think books are deserving of that.

  13. Avatar
    Gary  January 19, 2019

    I like the blog just as it is.

  14. Avatar
    pmwslc  January 20, 2019

    I enjoy the blog in its present form and think that you balance all of its facets very nicely. You rigorous scholarly approach to study of the Bible and related ancient works is what I come to the blog for. It’s helpful when you state how you stand in relation to the opinions of other scholars on some point or conclusion, and why you have taken that particular stance. Your books are also very valuable resources to those of us who are novices but interested in the topics of your field of expertise. Please keep up the good work!

  15. Avatar
    silvertime  January 20, 2019

    Superb blog. ii appreciate it!

  16. Avatar
    brubel  January 20, 2019

    I like the fact that you post older material from the blog, and do not mind at all that you continue to do so.

  17. Avatar
    Matt2239  January 20, 2019

    Tracking your word count too closely risks your flow. What you want is that zone where your thoughts, points, and words all combine on the page in a way that keeps you and the reader engaged in the content. Counting words can throw that off track. You might pace your postings, but don’t stifle your production unnecessarily.

  18. Avatar
    brandon284  January 21, 2019

    I love the blog as is Dr. Ehrman but I do like the idea of guest scholars posting occasionally. If anything, feel free to make longer posts!

  19. galah
    galah  January 22, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman, After reading your blogs and becoming enthralled in the subject matter, oft times I go from there looking into other sources or other blogs that you’ve written and never think about the rating stars that I only briefly glanced at before scrolling down. If there were a link at the bottom saying, “How would you rate this blog?” which redirected the reader back to those stars… Or, if the star rating was either moved to the bottom or duplicated at the bottom, more readers like myself, who tend to chase butterflies, may remember to give a rating.
    After all, we have to read to the bottom before we can give an honest rating.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 22, 2019

      Great idea. I’ll look into it to see if it’s possible.

  20. Avatar
    Chrishuntley  January 22, 2019

    Hello Dr Ehrman,
    As a long-time subscriber and fan, I hope you wouldn’t mind a different type of feedback than you requested. My biggest problem with the blog is that your current subscription model severely impacts your google traffic. If you want the blog to earn a lot more for charity, I’d consider testing a subscriber model similar to that of mindtools.com. They allow visitors to see 100% of their articles and get the first 3 free. After that, you have to sign up. The key factor here is google can index all the content. Google only has your first third of each article in their index, so they probably see your content as pretty thin and low quality (since they can’t see your full articles). It’s something you might test. I think your google traffic would 5x. Hope this helps.

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