Archive for Blogorrhea

We few, we easily mocked

Lee Ann defends her avocation, and mine:

Some people, most of them “serious” writers, declared blogging to be a stillbirth, strangled on its own self-referential umbilical. Recent critics have decided blogging is the retarded cousin that doesn’t get to come to the family reunions because it always tries to bathe in the potato salad. They recommend Farcebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, all the better to take hold of social media’s throat and force that content down.

That way, they proclaim from their mountaintop, you can better monetize your content.

The last person who deserved to use the word “monetize” was Dorothy Parker: “The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘check enclosed’.” Those half a million feebs hoping to make a living off recycled jokes on YouTube? Not so much.

But what if you aren’t writing for money? (I have just peed myself laughing at the very idea of getting PAID to do this. Excuse me, wardrobe change.)

What if you’re writing for sanity retention? (And now the idea of “sanity” has once again soiled my delicates.)

Is blogging for the sake of just getting things out of the dirty old psyche and into the cleansing light of day a valid reason to keep on? Well, it’s certainly cheaper than professional therapy and less couch-dependent. On the other hand, for the most part, you’re talking to yourself. That is the kind of thing that usually gets you sent to the shrink, not deters the trip. Still, it’s more fun, because psychiatric professionals don’t come with templates and ways to change the color of the font.

Well, actually, they do have templates, only they call them “case histories.”

And the font color first has to want to change.

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Archive-diving

Apparently I’m not the only person who combs through the backstory on this site:

…searching my own comments in blogosphere, as a reminder to myself [“oh, where did I said something like this before?!”], I found this amusing exchange.

Things got a hair heated, but hey: three dozen comments. Rare in the context of this place.

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When help is no help

Roger Green, blocked from his own site:

[T]his will be my blog home until I get http://www.rogerogreen.com fixed, if I can. My provider says THEY can see my blog and people they know can, but I cannot, my friends cannot, in New Zealand to England to Canada.

The problem is, I am told, on my end. I’ve cleaned out cookies, cleaned out my cache, run a computer cleaning product, rebooted my computer (multiple times), rebooted my router (twice), and none of this has helped.

And I’m not enough of a techie to understand why it would anyway.

This is what was happening, as formatted for a phone:

rogerogreen.com after bad host configuration

How desperate was this man? He wrote me for help.

Then again, this was tech support’s response to him:

Its fixable its on your end, the site your being redirected too is a DNS switcher it uses your cookies to redirect you…

Download CCleaner check all the options but wipe free space and run it!

Once you run it once re-do it again one more time. Shut down and reboot your laptop or pc.

Then access your website./ blog

As you see by the screen caps rose and I can both see your blog.

If you look at the dns url its ww2.dns then your url something, once you hit that page it changes your cookies permission like hijacking your browser, so when you try and re-access your blog url it will always redirect you back to them

That’s why, once you clear your cookies you will be good. CCleaner will clear your cookies and history files…

Which doesn’t explain how it got to this condition in the first place. Best guess from this end: they screwed up the configuration at their end and failed to fix it in a timely manner.

Anyway, I flushed the local DNS cache, switched to Internet Explorer (!), dialed up the site, and waited for the new cookie to overwrite the old one. Success!

I duly passed this solution onward, and things have now returned to normal. But poor, unsuspecting bloggers should not be subjected to this sort of technical abuse.

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No longer participating

John Ray can only fill in for so long at Interested-Participant:

I am now totally out of touch with Mike Pechar, owner of this blog. So I have no idea about when he might resume posting, if ever he does. My best guess from what I know is that he has gone blind.

I have tried to keep the blog going for him but it has got too much for me. I put up six blogs of my own six days a week so my energies are already pretty stretched.

At the very least.

We’re following John to A Western Heart; he’s also running Tongue Tied 3.

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This will be the day that I die

Well, not me, probably not today. (That said, you should probably consider me at least marginally suicidal for the duration.) But I’m wondering if there’s an accepted protocol for one’s Last Post Ever — or if it’s better just to let things grind to a halt. I’ve been on both sides of the issue at various times; now I’m just confused.

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A Colossus lost

I got the word this afternoon from Brickmuppet:

Steven Den Beste has passed away.

I just received word from Steven’s brother, graciously thanking me for making the welfare call to the police and confirming that what many of us feared had indeed come to pass. I did not inquire as to specifics, but Steven had been in very poor health of late, having had a stroke just under four years ago.

SdB was one of the pillars of the blogosphere, almost from Day One:

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the blogosphere. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven’s server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.

Worse, he was about my age, which reminds me — as though I needed reminding — of my own fragility.

Something to remember him by? How about this, from 11 September 2012?

I always thought that attacking an embassy was considered an act of war. But 1980 seems to have established a new precedent: if a Democrat is President, then Muslim mobs may despoil American embassies as much as they wish. Once a Republican gets elected, then they lay off.

Our hostages in Tehran were released a few hours before Reagan was sworn in. If Romney manages to defeat Obama in November, will we see something of the same happen next January?

Well, even if it does, it won’t bring that man back to life. Not even The One, for all his assumed divinity, can do that. (Stopping the rise of the oceans is easy by comparison.)

If only we could bring that man back to life.

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A narrow-ish niche

The general reaction to “toe cleavage” in these parts has suggested a link, which I’ve had sitting around the browser for a while but haven’t used much.

Behold (or don’t): The Toe Cleavage Blog, which is a “blog dedicated to the overlooked and unappreciated partial exposure of the female foot known as toe cleavage.”

Since some of you will consider this too horrible to behold, I’m claiming credit for anti-clickbait. (And if curiosity is killing you, well, you can click on this.)

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A sort of milestone

A snapshot of the WordPress dashboard:

20,000 Posts

Actually, that was taken yesterday, so now it’s slightly more than twenty thousand posts.

This particular database begins in September 2006, so it includes the last ten years — though obviously not the first ten years.

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It seems all too reasonable

Cristina asks herself: “Why, 6 years later, am I still blogging about shoes?”

[T]he simple answer is: even though I’ve deviated from the daily stiletto-wearing lifestyle and have zero time (or energy) for schmoozing at media events, I do love blogging and am still very much in love with shoes.

There are, I understand, women who wear stilettos every day, though I don’t know any.

Although, working at my desk all day, I usually remain shoe-less. No, the irony isn’t lost on me.

I admit to wondering on occasion if brand-name fashion bloggers like Chiara Ferragni or Wendy Nguyen ever sit around in a T-shirt and jeans.

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Other theaters of engagement

Everybody hates spam. For all I know, even spammers hate spam; telemarketers (spammers with dial equipment) are probably not happy when I call them out on Twitter. However, I seem to get less of it than most. From the WordPress dashboard here:

Akismet has protected your site from 40,195 spam comments already. There’s nothing in your spam queue at the moment.

Now this is a low-volume sort of site, with 250-350 visitors a day. I’d expect someone with twice the traffic to get at least twice the spam, maybe more. But this kind of floors me:

[T]he cleanup of spam … initially involves deleting the contents of the spam filter. You’ll understand how important that filter is when I tell you that I delete about 10,000 spam comments a day. Spam must be profitable in gaming the Google algorithm, or whatever the goals are, because it has proliferated in recent years to a point that would be completely overwhelming without the spam filter.

Then again, I have one more tool at my disposal: a plugin that bans spamming IPs, a whole bank at a time if need be. It’s not 100-percent reliable — there are always ways to sneak past a barrier — but I’ve denied entry to approximately 1.2 million would-be spammers.

Still, 1.2 million, for someone getting ten thousand a day, is barely four months’ worth.

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In which a hat is tipped

And for good reason, too:

The previous post was #3,000 for this here blog, which makes me a “millitriathlete” of running my mouth.

Not even going to try to come up with a comparable term for this place.

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Dying off the vine

The era of the Lone Blogger, says once and possibly future Lone Blogger Arthur Chrenkoff, is over and done with:

In line with the trend towards “magazination” of blogging, one recent survey by Orbit Media Studios has found that “the typical length for a post is about 900 words, up 100 words from last year’s survey.” When you are competing with “normal” media outlets, you need to try matching both quality and quantity. Blogging used to be called citizen journalism, but citizen or not, it had to become a lot more professional.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who notes: “InstaPundit turns 15 in two months.”) Then again, Reynolds has help these days; still, I’d bet he turns out more than 900 words a day, even if it’s spread over several posts.

Come to think of it, I generally turn out more than 900 words a day, albeit spread over several posts. And this place turns 15 on, um, 9 April 2011.

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I shouldn’t worry about this

Then again, what’s the point of collecting statistics if you’re not going to look at them?

Six weeks or so ago, I had 1,450 subscribers to some feed or other, according to the little gizmo that counts them. This was the peak; the number began shrinking the next day, and bottomed out at 502 before rebounding. (It’s currently floating around 920; 750 of them are basically taking the entire blog feed, while the rest are subscribed to individual threads.)

I’d break this down further, but I’d probably wind up finding that I have only nine actual readers, and two of them are out of town.

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Material expectations

On the 11th anniversary of the day he joined the Halls of Blogdom, Roger observed:

As you know, I often write ahead in my blog, but, because of annoying things, such as LIFE, the number of posts in the queue is down significantly, 36% from the peak. This means that one of these days, I’m going to wake up, realize I have no post prepared, and will scurry around looking for a picture of one of my cats.

I daresay, this is not terrible. Note the decline here in actual publication numbers:

  • 2006: 2,126
  • 2007: 2,021
  • 2008: 2,063
  • 2009: 2,123
  • 2010: 2,056
  • 2011: 1,978
  • 2012: 1,920
  • 2013: 1,874
  • 2014: 1,909
  • 2015: 1,920

This is not a precipitate decline, exactly, but the 2,000 mark constitutes a psychological barrier, one I haven’t been able to surpass in some time. (You might want to keep in mind that Roger writes long-form stuff: two thousand from me might equal maybe four hundred from him.)

And at least he has cats, which are always welcomed on the Web.

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The book of (smaller) numbers

I’ve heard this particular plaint before, but seldom as eloquently:

When I started blogging, The Truth Laid Bear blogging ecosystem was kind of fading; Technorati was a going enterprise and Sitemeter was hot. Over the years, Technorati turned its attention elsewhere, or maybe just off, and Sitemeter eventually decided that loading obtrusive adware was the way to monetize. Tam moved to StatCounter and I followed soon after.

At one time, I looked at the numbers daily. Any more, every few weeks is often enough.

There’s a definite downward trend. I don’t pay the five bucks a month to save stats forever, so I only have about a year, but it’s got a slope. Eventually, it’ll be like it was back in the beginning, just me and some web-crawlers from search engines, maybe a friend stopping by every so often.

I will never understand what happened to Technorati, but I figure any operation that can say something like this with a straight face is doomed:

Within our network, we help website publishers maximize their advertising revenue without having to worry about the complications of the ever-shifting advertising marketplace so they can get back to making the awesome content that we all consume every day.

This, even more than an executive search, proves that Dave Sifry is gone. And I object in principle to the idea that what I do here is produce “content” for “consumption,” like I’m some extruded-food distributor in Secaucus, New Jersey.

I admit that my numbers, like everyone else’s numbers, are down: 800 a day a decade ago, 300 a day today. Then again, I had about 50 people taking some form of feed, usually RSS, back then. Today it’s over a thousand, and has been as high as 1400. Yeah, it fluctuates. What in nature doesn’t? And if I’m no longer a TTLB Large Mammal, I’m happy with my state of cellular development.

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An example to follow

I would never, ever tell you that you really ought to blog the way I do. (Okay, I did reveal the trade secret just once.) But I am happy to endorse this particular advice:

You should blog like future employers have no idea how Google works. And by that I don’t mean that you should post nude pictures of yourself online. Never do that. Unless your last name is Kardashian, and then I think it will actually work out in your favor. But you should write what you feel and what you believe. Don’t worry about whether or not it jives with the view of a potential employer. I spent a lot of time blogging that way, and I can tell you that that way lies madness.

If you find yourself doing something that you don’t like, go ahead and delete it all. Some time last year I hit a wall, and deleted almost all of my blog posts. I did this because those posts didn’t feel like me. I realized I was writing a completely different blog. And since having deleted those posts and starting over, I’m averaging more page views, my social media interaction is up, and I’m proud of what I’ve put out there. When all the web gurus tell you to be authentic, they aren’t kidding. Just do it. Be real, and blog about what you want to write about.

And if your last name is Kardashian, what the heck are you doing here?

Seriously, this is what I think of as good advice. My boss reads this stuff on occasion, but I have no reason to think anything I say here has precipitated any corner-office discussion. (It helps that I’m somewhere below nowhere on the corporate org chart.) I haven’t deleted much stuff here over the years, but there’s not a whole lot here that doesn’t sound like me either.

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It was twenty years ago today

The Bird, circa 1997I’m just as amazed as you are: this Web site was actually founded on 9 April 1996, and at the time, all of it would fit on a 3.5-inch floppy. (Okay, not a 720k 3.5-inch floppy, but let’s not get technical here.) I’m declaring an open thread for the day; however, I am not actually going to take the day off, because, well, I just don’t do that sort of thing. I never figured this place would last this long. Then again, I never really figured I would last this long, and we know how well that worked out.

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Imagine the directory structure

At any given moment, I have several side projects going, though “going” implies a destination, and many of those destinations may never be reached.

This is because I am not as organized as those people who can describe the whole process far in advance:

Caffeine –> Idea –> Caffeine –> Boredom –> Caffeine –> Another Idea –> More Caffeine –> Idea For Something I Think Is Hysterically Funny –> Execution of Something NOT Funny Because I Quickly Decided That My Hysterically Funny Idea Was Really Not Very Funny –> Caffeine –> Think About Disappointing My Five Readers –> Make That Four –> More Caffeine –> Feel Bad About Not Achieving Anything Or Writing A Book –> Side Project Executed But May Never Be Shown To Anyone –> Caffeine –> Repeat.

Dissolute soul that I am, I get bogged down somewhere in the vicinity of “Execution of Something NOT Funny.”

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Among the OGs

Francis W. Porretto remembers Steven Den Beste:

One of the early pioneers of blogging, Steven Den Beste, became well known for a number of reasons. One of them was his dislike of any reader feedback, however delivered. His site didn’t permit comments, and he became famous for repeatedly pleading with his readers not to write to him. Those pleas weren’t always heeded.

Den Beste was/is — I have no idea whether he’s still on the sunny side of the sod — an intelligent and accomplished man. For some time he indulged in the expression of his opinions about a wide variety of things here on the Web, even though his ROI appeared to be decidedly negative. Moreover, he would occasionally take up cudgels with those who disagreed with him: a strenuous undertaking that’s seldom brought anyone any meaningful gain.

He quit this madness after a few years. There were several reasons, but one was undoubtedly that he was unable to express himself without getting feedback he didn’t want to cope with. Those of us who valued his thinking and writing mourned the loss.

I am pleased to report that SDB is still on this side of the grass, running something called chizumatic.mee.nu. It is decidedly less Calculated to Outrage than USS Clueless ever was — and comments are open!

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One of those minor milestones

I have no reason to assume he was actually looking at it, but McGehee would have been the first person to be able to see this little callout over in the sidebar last night:

Fifty thousand comments

And actually, that’s 50,000 just since September 2006, after the first Movable Type database was closed down and all the posts converted to static pages. (The second one was successfully imported into WordPress two years later.) So this figure includes the last two years of MT and all the years of WP; there are about five years of comments — 17,000 or so — which are not included in this count.

Before you ask: of those fifty thousand, about 9200 were written by me. And I have no idea if this little gadget, not formally a widget, is capable of six digits. Maybe we’ll know in ten years.

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Down at the heels

It’s probably a safe bet that we are never, ever going out together. If we did, I would of course take a look at your shoes, but otherwise they play no role other than transportation appliance and/or cultural artifact.

There are, inevitably, people with more prurient interests in that realm, and Cristina, who writes a shoe blog, is weary of them:

I have some amazingly engaged & supportive followers on Twitter that possibly sway towards a quasi-unwholesome shoe loving direction. But they know where to draw the line when it comes to my PG-13 rated shoe blog talking about shoes within the context of fashion, not fetish. The others get blocked.

I did leave her this comment:

On the subject of pervs, I sympathize: in at least some of the circles in which I operate, the mere fact that I can distinguish between styles invites suspicion. (“Why would you even know that?”)

Then again, I’ve been hit with that question so many times that I’ve had to resort to “Why would I not?” as a response.

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Changing with the times

I really don’t have much of a counterargument for this:

I have a similar annual spend. Then again, I probably have more posts than most.

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The relocated malcontent

In fact, the Local Malcontent may already be moving:

[We] have sold our home in Yanush to a lovely, young, immigrant Muslim couple from Qatar and Pakistan, and we two+ are going to move into a newer, larger home in LeFlore County, Ok.

Effective late January.

So I will be away for awhile, until AT&T U=verse connects us to the InterWebSuperHighway — they claim it will be on February 2 … but they wouldn’t say which year.

(Emphasis added.)

The community of Yanush isn’t big enough to be mentioned in Wikipedia, though it does have a Facebook page.

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Live by the link, die by the link

I should have left this tissue of organic fertilizer in the spam bin. It was titled “A few recommendations that can help both of us,” which inevitably means it will help the sender and may or may not do the recipient any good. Decide for yourself:

Webmaster,

We are writing to alert you to the presence of harmful backlinks on your website. These links, that direct to [domain name redacted], were placed on your site by our former SEO management company. That company willfully violated Google’s Terms of Service, which resulted in a penalty being levied against our company. In order to remove this penalty, we must ask your assistance. Please delete the known backlinks to [domain name redacted], hosted on your site at:

http://dustbury.com/archives/cat_blogorrhea.html

Your compliance with this request is greatly appreciate. Have a nice day.

Generally, anyone who uses the word “backlink” unironically can be assumed to be a scoundrel or a fool.

What’s hilarious about this is the origin of said, um, links: this domain, once upon a time, belonged to a blog which once — well, twice, actually — hosted the Carnival of the Vanities, and I always linked to the Carnival host as a matter of historical reference, since I contributed the first piece to the very first Carnival, way back when. There’s now a storefront sitting there, and their current SEO management company apparently got its BVDs horribly knotted at the thought of an incoming link that would not sell any product.

How much do these links harm me? I have a better chance of winning the freaking Powerball. Just the same, I took them out, on the basis that I don’t want to hear from these whimpering sons of bitches ever again.

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And lo, there was debugging

A cry from my techie side (which is actually barely more than a corner) from last month:

After installing WordPress 4.4, I encountered a minor anomaly. Short version: In posts included in two or more categories, the categories are now listed in the post heading, not in strict alphabetical order as they used to be, but in the order of their assigned ID numbers, whatever they may be. I left a note at the support forum, indicating what I thought might be the issue, and expressing some nominal amount of dismay.

Unusually, no one at the forum deigned to respond to my dismay, but the problem was quietly fixed in 4.4.1, possibly as a by-product from this bug.

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Worst titles of 2015

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The entrepreneurds

After installing WordPress 4.4, I encountered a minor anomaly. Short version: In posts included in two or more categories, the categories are now listed in the post heading, not in strict alphabetical order as they used to be, but in the order of their assigned ID numbers, whatever they may be. I left a note at the support forum, indicating what I thought might be the issue, and expressing some nominal amount of dismay.

On its heels came this email:

My name is Jane and I’m with fixrunner.com WordPress support experts.

I saw your website on one of the forums online and that you are having an issue with your websites, We provide a professional WordPress support and maintenance service.

If you are currently experiencing any bug or need any immediate fix on your website we can help you fix it for a Flat rate of $49.

Please note that payment is not due until after we fix the issue. If we don’t fix it you don’t pay us.

There are, I imagine, circumstances under which I might find this service useful. But this isn’t one of them.

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November in a nutshell

This sequence of events is a perfect metaphor for the way this month has gone.

The house in which I live was built in 1948, and some of its fixtures are either original or so old they might as well be. There are two towel bars in the bathroom, each suspended by a pair of ceramic holders; the smaller one has a spring-loaded ceramic bar, the larger one a similar-looking bar, but plastic. I found this out when I went scooting across the floor on a not-yet-wet bath mat, grabbed the bar with my left hand, and watched as it broke almost exactly in half.

I rigged up a temporary fix, involving good old strapping tape, and on an impulse, I checked to see if Amazon had a replacement bar. They had three of them, as it happens; but two of them were restricted to Prime members only. Disinclined to put up $99 for the privilege of spending ten bucks on a plastic rod, I passed them by, and several pages down found the third, from a merchant in Arizona. Five bucks for the bar itself, seven for shipping. Well, thought I, it’s not gonna fit in an envelope, y’know?

It somehow arrived about two days ahead of schedule, despite the punishing weather. (The postman actually clambered through the space I’d cleared in the Fallen Branch Zone and left it on the porch.) Grateful for anything that worked at this point, I hurriedly opened the box, verified that the sizes were correct, and took it into the bathroom.

The old one wouldn’t come out. It was solid, inflexible, and incompressible. Almost like it was, um, ceramic.

If all my temporary fixes worked this well … but never mind, it’s not going to happen.

And with the house in utter darkness for another night, and me stuck on a 15-year-old laptop that can no longer keep up, this may be the last update for a while: the strange-query feature and the Thunder game recap tomorrow will likely be delayed.

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Sort of a moat

Since I installed WordPress in the fall of 2008, the Akismet plugin has thwarted just under 40,000 spams. To me, this seems like a lot; but to WordPress oldtimers, this is a rounding error. Then again, I have a second line of defense: a handy little device called WP-Ban, which does a pretty fair job of keeping out known offending IP ranges. Even after a recent update, though, it was taking a couple of minutes to add a single IP to the ban list, and after watching things unfold in realtime, I decided to reset its counter.

As of yesterday, WP-Ban had turned away 923,242 intrusions, some IPs with only one or two tries, some with several thousand. So maybe, instead of forty thousand spams, I’d have had close to a million by now. It’s a discouraging thought, to say the least; then again, picking them out by hand is no fun for anyone, unless they’re inadvertently amusing.

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But you must monetize

I expect to be staring down this particular situation before too awfully long:

The theme I’d worked so hard to look just right got all effered up when I applied an update the developers told me was necessary. Too many issues, not enough patience, and too tired to care, I just went with another theme. Unfortunately, these days, finding a WordPress theme geared for actual blogging rather than rabid capitalism is nearly impossible.

True that. Sunday night’s #blogchat on Twitter is just overrun with people who are desperate to get Maximum Personal Branding, or some such hooey, out of their $75 Premium Themes, if only to earn back that $75.

I have not yet begun my full-fledged search for the new 20th Anniversary Theme. I am, however, deeply suspicious of any theme which mentions SEO in the first two lines of its description.

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