Archive for Blogorrhea

Standing exhibit

The first thing you need to know about the Proust Questionnaire is that the questions were not actually written by Proust: it was, rather, the set of answers posted by Proust in a friend’s confession album, circa 1890. The book turned up in 1924, and sold at auction in 2003 for €102,000. Vanity Fair puts out a version, answered by a celebrity, on the back page of each issue. (For the August 2014 issue, it’s Maureen O’Hara, who turns 94 that month.)

Lynn took a stab at the current question list, and while she characterized it as “the makings of a really lame blog post,” well, if you’re good at it, you can make a really lame blog post out of almost anything, as I have done here. Fillyjonk is okay with that idea as well.

Moi? I did a slightly different set of questions, derived from this article, in Vent #303, back in 2002. I read it over last night, and decided I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Quicker loads

Not to be confused with “Quicken Loans.”

In an effort to speed up the load time on the front page, I cut the number of entries displayed from 20 to 12; after noticing that it made me look like I’d been screwing off, I brought it back up to 16.

If you have a preference, now’s the time. (Archive pages and such remain unchanged, mostly because I have a plugin that lets me do that, or not do that, as the case may be.)

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A minor blast from the past

On this date in 2000:

There comes a point in the life of every Webmaster when s/he wonders out loud, “Why am I doing this?” In my case, it was about the third day this site was up. And while it has been relatively well-received during the four years of its existence, by which is meant that no one has sent me any live explosives just yet, the possibility of stagnation constantly lurks and occasionally even looms.

What to do? I thought it over for less time than I probably should have, and decided that what dustbury.com was lacking (apart from personality, tastefulness, and utility, but that’s another story) was a sense of immediacy. Pages got updated when I got around to them; some things got lost in the shuffle. And while I have no problem blaming some of this on the vagaries of the workplace — at best, long hours make for short tempers — at least one of the tailbones needing a suitable kick was my own.

Thus, Version 7 (you’re soaking in it) introduces my Sort Of Blog, a way for me to get some stuff on the table without regard to the semi-regular Vent schedule or the ongoing necessity to update the other sections.

There’s been something new every day since. Literally. In the literal sense of the word. (Current version is 15.6.)

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It continues to be written

When I converted this place from Movable Type to WordPress in the fall of 2008, I stumbled around a bit trying to find an appropriate replacement gizmo to display random quotes in the sidebar, and found an extremely simple one: feed it an ASCII text file, and it will pluck a line therefrom. (Not only is it old and outdated, the guy who wrote it has given up his domain to a placeholder.)

While dropping in a new quote this past week, I got to wondering how many actual quotes were in the file, now a whopping 170,269 bytes. Figuring maybe 100 characters per line, I guessed 1,700, and then imported the whole thing into a spreadsheet to see how many lines it took. The answer: 1,609.

For your amusement, the five most recent additions:

“Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” — Lorraine Hansberry

“Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” — Dr. A. R. Dykes

“I don’t know how to travel to a future that I can’t see.” — Twilight Sparkle

“I’m so sick of these little white girls acting as if they’re so high and mighty and know everything about culture. Starbucks is not culture.” — Rebecca Black

“It’s not so much how busy you are but why you are busy. The honey bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” — Molly F. O’Connor

As always, make of that what you will.

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Writerly speaking

All four of these came in within 45 minutes of one another, all bearing the same email address, all linking to a Wikipedia page in Finnish, and each with a different IP address. Still, they make a sort of coherent query, so let’s have a look:

What are some good wordpress themes/plugins that allow you to manipulate design?

If you know what you’re doing, you can manipulate the design just by editing your existing theme. Of course, you can do that if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the results are likely to be suboptimal.

I’m an aspiring writer — of all literary trades (journalism, screen writing, satire, etc) — but I want to start a blog for some adult oriented, romantic fantasy literature. Anyone know how I can start a blog that will allow me to do this? I believe I’ll need a warning page before entrance, and I want it to come up on search engines…

Any old blog platform can do this; setting a splash page — if you’re on Blogger, Google will probably inflict one upon you — is fairly easy.

If I publish my articles to my school paper are they copyrighted or do I have any ownership over them?

I don’t think school-paper stuff counts as “work for hire,” though I hasten to add that I am not any kind of lawyer, copyright or otherwise.

What are good blog posts for a writer who wants to start a blog that even non-readers might want to visit?

If they’re truly “non-readers,” you might consider a photoblog.

There were further items in the series, but by that point it was starting to get repetitive.

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Quote of the week

“If only” seems to bedevil all of us at one time or another. (If you’ve managed to avoid it thus far, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.) Sometimes it goes like this:

I wish I were one of those “successful” bloggers. You know. The kind who can paint a pretty picture of their lives — they have lovely kids, they are super-good at their work, their hobby projects always turn out lovely and just as they planned them, they never seem to struggle or agonize. All their pictures are nice and none of them turn out to have a bit of the laundry basket peeking out in the corner of the picture of something else. When they bake bread, it looks like a picture in a cooking magazine. But I don’t have enough perfection in my life to be able to do that — it seems like my whole life is a big hot mess, and so all I can do is show the slightly-more-successful parts of the hot mess here. Maybe if I had a spouse or family close by or lots of close in-person friends I could talk about the stuff that bothers me instead of posting it here, I could be one of those serene bloggers who seems to have a perfect life. I don’t know.

Truth be told, I think the warts-and-all approach is much more appropriate, at least at this level, where you’re not counting on the daily bloggage to pay for your daily bread. I often wonder how much I’d have to scour this place if I were trying to make a living from it, instead of writing off some insignificant sum each year. (By “insignificant,” I mean “somewhere in the high two or low three figures.”) Besides, we have the example of Adobe Photoshop to guide us. In the smallest possible doses, it can shed light on important details. Overused, it creates a monster.

On the term “hot mess” itself, I like this below-the-top paragraph from Urban Dictionary:

No one set of guidelines can perpetually determine what distinguishes a “hot mess” from an above-average train wreck. Regardless of the circumstances, you know it when you see it; because they are typically conspicuous, and obviously they are always awesome.

And you know, if you’re going for a train wreck, you might as well go for above average.

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The one-way thumb

Disqus, the commenting system favored by some of the bigger sites, has gone on one of those “If you can’t say something nice…” kicks and has deprecated the downvote — though the upvote remains. Will Truman is okay with that:

I used to like the idea of upvotes and downvotes, but the more I saw them in action the more skeptical of them I have become. It was my hope, when I was introduced to the concept, that generally polite and well thought out comments would get upvotes and pointless snark would get downvotes. At least on the sites that I read and participate on which tend to have commenters that are more polite and thoughtful.

However, even “good” commenting sections have their bad apples, of course, who seem to be there to disrupt the discourse. They also tend to have lurkers who don’t comment but do vote who may veer hard on one side or the other. In either case, voting seems to attract people looking for “Boo-yah” comments instead of carefully considered ones, because the upvotes and downvote tallies I see tend to lean towards which side of the argument they’re taking instead of the actual content of their message.

Yep. Stephen Stills anticipated this in 1967: “A thousand people in the street / Singing songs and carrying signs / Mostly saying, ‘Hooray for our side’.” It’s hard to expect much more from them under the circumstances.

And I can’t argue with this:

If wanting a more positive commenting atmosphere makes me a namby-pamby feminized dude or whatever, I am pretty okay with that. Heaven knows there are more than enough sites that are battle arenas. So eliminating downvoting makes a lot of sense from their point of view. Obviously, Hit Coffee doesn’t generate the sort of comment traffic to make such an endeavor worthwhile, though if it did I would try to go in the upvote direction.

It would be better if Disqus gave siterunners the option of upvotes only, downvotes only, or both. But absent that, I would prefer upvoting only over a requirement for both.

Some nonblogs have comment systems based on thumbs. Yahoo! Answers allows for up- and downvotes on any answer given to any question. I don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to them, except when someone has reported me for excessive snark. (There have been two such incidents; I won one on appeal and blew off the other.)

And then there’s Fimfiction, where I post my pony tales. I am extremely sensitive to downvotes there, and I have noticed that they come a lot more quickly than do upvotes. The most reasonable explanation for this, I think, is that some people simply object to some subjects being covered and won’t actually read the story before thumbing it down. Certainly The Sparkle Chronicles, which ventures into some territory a substantial percentage of the fandom finds disquieting and perhaps distasteful, followed this pattern: after a month or so, the thumb ratio was 15 up, 5 down. Today it’s 82 up, 6 down. (For all the stuff I’ve posted there, it’s 278 up, 22 down.) Still, I’m bound to take these particular votes personally, since they represent, or pretend to represent, a referendum on whether I have any talent or not. (Most days, I lean toward “not.”)

IntenseDebate, which I see mostly at Equestria Daily, is upvotes only; weirdly, if you’re registered with them at the outset, you get +1 on a comment the moment it’s posted.

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They make it up in volume

Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman finds a piece of comment spam worth quoting:

Ginger ultimately struck North Carolina on September 30 as a chinese culture massive disappointment.

The resulting embryo is afterward transported to tissue may occur, either acutely or chronically, over hundreds of times, sometimes with a little more.

This is right up there with the best ones I’ve received, though this remark of Liberman’s disturbs me:

Among the approximately 15,000 spam comments directed at LL over the past 24 hours, this is one of the few that made it past the filters to be dealt with by human moderation.

Fifteen thousand? In one day? And this estimate may be conservative:

That might be a low estimate — there have been 4,574 comments caught by the spam filter in the past 105 minutes, which would translate to 62,729 per 24 hours.

I don’t know how many of those might have been wrongly trapped, because there are far too many for me to check them manually, as I used to do when there were only a few hundred a day.

Since the fall of 2008, I have had 34,817 comments caught by the spam filter. Total. Admittedly, I draw a lot less traffic than Language Log — whose ancient WordPress theme, incidentally, is also my ancient WordPress theme — but still: 4500 in less than two hours? That’s scary.

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Invasive species

Dennis the Tech Guy leaves a note at The Other McCain:

If you experienced any intermittent issues with the site over the last 30 or so minutes, I apologize. I was busy drop-kicking 56,000 spam user accounts so stacy and team can stop moderating garbage and get back to writing about stuff we’re all way more interested in.

This reminds me of the time when Stacy was getting thousands upon thousands of bogus Twitter followers, an obvious effort to incapacitate his account and deflect his attention. I would not be surprised to discover that the same malingerers are behind this scheme.

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Third greatest blog idea ever

It’s called, with disarming simplicity, “My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection,” a phrase with which I am entirely too familiar, and this is what it’s about:

This project was my idea, inspired by maybe one too many glasses of wine last weekend, when I was in charge of changing the music. “I can’t believe there are so many records here that I have never listened to. I should try to listen to all of them. And then write about it.” So here we are.

Since hubby has a volume of vinyl not unlike my own — somewhere on the far side of 1500 records — this could easily take a while. So far, she’s made it up to Black Sabbath.

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Extortion at a distance

TechCrunch reported on Monday:

You can now add Typepad, the blogging service owned by SAY Media, to the growing list of technology companies that have undergone DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, which crash websites and other online services for what are now days a time. In Typepad’s case, the company is entering its fifth day under attack, after a series of on and off again hits began on Thursday night, just ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend.

The attack appears to be similar in nature to those which have hit several other high-profile tech companies in recent weeks, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo, Bit.ly and others. Though Typepad has not yet publicly shared much information about its attackers, the typical scenario involves an attacker knocking the victim’s site offline using a flood of traffic, then refusing to stop the barrage until the victim company pays a small amount of “ransom.” The initial amount is usually fairly insignificant, but once the victim agrees, it tends to go up, as they’ve now confirmed themselves as an easy mark.

TypePad’s response is here. Last night, I was able to reach the current post on Nancy Friedman’s TypePad blog, but TypePad HQ would not let me sign in to post a comment. I was, however, allowed to comment using the manual-input fields. This suggests that parts of their network, if not all of them, were under control at that time.

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Now this is a tag

I have about ten thousand tags applied to various posts here, from A&E to ZZ Top. I admit, though, to having nothing like this:

The media is mostly made up of semi-pretty faces attached to the rear ends of people that don’t want you to know they exist.

Even though it’s true.

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WordPress ahead

During the Pistons game last night, WordPress 3.9 arrived. (You may remember that 3.8.3 appeared a mere two days before that.) This version is named for the incredible Jimmy Smith, who was taking a walk on the wild side a decade before Lou Reed. I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen all the trickery from 3.8, or even 3.7, yet, but this is promised by Smith:

The updated visual editor has improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support. You can paste into the visual editor from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)

I just felt a pang of whatever it is I feel a pang of whenever I have to contemplate anything in Microsoft Word.

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Fast fixing

“Didn’t we just get 3.8.2?” I mused as the email notifiers came in last night to tell me that 3.8.3 had just arrived. There was, of course, a reason for that:

The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.

We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.

Now what kind of nimrod writes novellas in the WordPress editor?

Oh, right. Never mind.

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While you’re at it

WordPress announced the release of version 3.8.2 yesterday; I was planning to do the update later that evening, but an email around dinnertime announced that the dirty deed had already been done. Three others followed in short order, for some other sites I maintain, and one of them deviated slightly from the formula by telling me that “You also have some plugins or themes with updates available.”

Heck, you’d think that if they could update the whole WordPress core remotely, they could also update those plugins — especially since those plugins are their plugins (Akismet and Jetpack). But this is just grousing; anyone who updated WordPress in the old days, by which I mean before about 2010 or so, isn’t likely to complain about the automatic (or is it Automattic?) core-update system.

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Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart

Took eighteen years to get this far.

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Depressing milestone

At least, I think it is. From the WordPress admin, just now:

Akismet reports 30,000 spam

That’s a lot of damn spam.

On the upside, at the moment there are 42,242 comments here which are not spam. Surely that’s worth something.

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Purely as an experiment

I am something of a regular on Sunday night’s #blogchat on Twitter (8 Central; your timezone may vary), and so is Patrick Phillips, who about a month ago put up a post about closing comments after X number of days (in my case, X = 90). He’s against that sort of thing:

Since I know I have readers who’ll go back to get “caught up” with posts I’ve written over the past month or two, and since I intentionally direct them to older posts when the old posts contain relevant content to the new post, I’m against closing comments on old posts.

Here’s the culmination of the discussion we had:

I expected an immediate flood of spam, though it didn’t really start rolling in until Monday morning and the actual volume was only twice as much as usual. Still, if I’d gotten one comment on an old post, I’d have figured it was worth it.

I didn’t. So last night I reinstated the 90-day cutoff.

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Simulated existence

Yours truly in Vent #318, 25 November 2002:

Some day, more likely some night, that “finite number of breaths” will be reached, everything will come to an end, and no one will know until two or three days later because some mundane task wasn’t performed on time, some phone call wasn’t returned, or, most absurdly, because this goddamn Web site wasn’t updated.

Glenn Reynolds, last night:

YEAH, SCHEDULED BLOG POSTS WOULD DO THE SAME FOR ME: Woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years. But not for six years.

If there should prove to be a way to blog from beyond the grave, I’m in. Or I will be in, anyway.

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Not even invited

Both “Cheryl” and “Amy,” each identifying herself as the Editorial Manager of specialistauthors.com, requested a guest-post slot here in almost identical words:

I hope you do not mind me mailing you but I would like to introduce myself.

My name is [name] and I am currently working hard to establish myself as a freelance writer. I have now written for several websites on varying topics and my articles have been well received.

The one real difference between the two is that Amy has an idea for a topic:

I am particularly interested in writing an article focusing on wild foul, and would love to discuss specifies with you. I am a keen hobbyist and can also suggest other topics if the first one doesn’t suit.

Not, however, a keen speller.

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Add new post, preferably elsewhere

Now here’s something I hadn’t seen before: “4 Solid Reasons Not To Write and Edit Your Blog Posts Directly in WordPress.” Of course, I had to check that out.

The first sounds reasonable enough:

[W]riting your blog posts in a Word doc gives you an instant back up copy of your original content! Wouldn’t you want that, just in case (God forbid!) something happens to your website and your site back up wasn’t as good as you thought it was?

Downside: Having to use Word. Although there are reasons why you may want to:

If you write for other publications, you often are asked to submit the content in a Word doc so the editor can format, upload and add images.

And what’s more:

Having a copy in a Word doc gives you instant access to repurpose the content you have already created … having it saved as a Word doc saves you from logging in and copying and pasting each time you need it!

If I were writing full-time, those few seconds might mean something to me.

This, however, is the one that’s fun:

[Unfinished drafts] do clog up your database, which could make it run slower and is a performance hit. That all depends on how big your database is; it has to be pretty big, like approaching 1000 posts and pages, to really notice the difference. But, if speed is money, then you’ll notice!

I approached 1000 posts and pages, oh, let’s say 14,000 posts and pages ago. The limiting factor has been, not the size of the database (about 72 MB), but the speed with which the Web server on Machine A talks to the database server on Machine B.

And if that’s not heretical enough, try this: the pony stories (see sidebar) are written in the WordPress editor. There are two reasons for this: I like it better than Fimfiction’s editor, and it enables me to maintain a Work In Progress blog without any effort. There are, incidentally, eleven versions of the most recent chapter.

(With thanks to CASUDI.)

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Type-a-phobia

Once, not on a bet or anything, I turned out 300 words on a requested subject in 11 minutes flat. (I had promised no more than 15.)

This is not to say that I can do this sort of thing on a regular basis:

For someone who writes almost compulsively, the way some people scratch their ass, having to sit down and generate organized words on a specific topic is unbelievably hard for me. Therefore, like any task I find even slightly daunting or off-putting, I am splendid at finding reasons to avoid it.

I think maybe ten of the last fifty Vents were planned more than ten or twenty minutes in advance; a lot of times, I just have to faceplant into the keyboard and hope it makes an impression on me.

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Present at the creation

This year, proclaims the Guardian, “the Blog turns 20,” and they interviewed three of the old-timers. One section resounded with me:

What was blogging like 20 years ago? What kind of tools did you use? What did the web mean to you?

Dave Winer: My first blog post was on October 7, 1994. I was playing around with some scripts to do stuff on the web, which was new and I found fascinating. I started out timidly at first, to see what would happen, and quickly saw how powerful this was. I could publish all on my own, and get lots of interesting people talking, and push that back out to them. It felt risky, but I loved the feeling.

Meg Hourihan: My first post on megnut.com was May 9, 1999, and I considered that my blog. I was using a database back-end to manage entries, and I was consciously putting new posts at the top of the page, but keeping the older ones too. Before Megnut, I hand-coded entries and just over-wrote whatever was on the page. With a new domain, pictures and a database of entries, I felt like I was starting my own publication. It was incredibly empowering.

Justin Hall: My first web page went live in January 1994. My first daily entry on the front page went live in January 1996. When I started writing regularly on the web, the pages were crude — basic pictures and text. Meg describes the feeling of owning a publication and it’s true — blogging felt like you’d launched your own magazine. I started writing on the web because I could. Because it seemed easy.

I know from crude pages: mine certainly were. (Some might argue that they still are.) But “incredibly empowering,” I suggest, actually understates the case; if you ever harbored notions that you just weren’t good enough, there are literally (in the literal sense) millions of blogs out there, and some of them are written by people who actually get paid to come up with that crap.

Everything here was hand-coded from the finest-quality bits from spring 1996 to summer 2002, when I first decided to install something resembling a content-management system. The static pages still are written and maintained by hand; it’s too much trouble to merge them into WordPress. (And there are more than 8,000 of them.)

Says Dave Winer:

There will always be a small number who are what I call “natural born bloggers.” They were blogging before there were blogs, they just didn’t know what it was called. Julia Child was a blogger as was Benjamin Franklin and Patti Smith. I inherited my blogging gene from my mom, who is 81 and has a blog.

I don’t think I have any genetic component in my urge to write — or if I do, it’s because of a beneficial (maybe) mutation that occurred after I started.

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Almost nothing to it

Shoebunny is back, albeit with a different focus: all shoes, no celebrities. This might be just as well, given the sad state of some of the celebrity feet previously exhibited: high heels can exact a price far beyond the sticker on the box.

I’ve spoken before of my fondness for insubstantial-looking shoes, and this one borders on wispy:

B Brian Atwood Kelston block-heel ankle-wrap sandal

You’re looking at “Kelston” from B Brian Atwood. The extra B stands for — well, no, actually it doesn’t. This is a diffusion line, made by a high-priced brand to be sold at high-priced stores at prices not quite so high. (This particular example: Neiman-Marcus/$275.) The heel, at 2½ inches, is perhaps bearable. Of course, if you’ve been wearing heels since you were 12, you won’t think anything about this one; you probably won’t even consider how, um, revealing this shoe might prove to be, but perhaps you should. (Warning: slideshow; also some possibly upsetting pictures, though these are a lot less horrible than what I’ve seen in some other galleries on the same subject.)

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It’s a mature market

I am on record as saying that the Big Blog Boom began on 12 September 2001, for reasons which should be evident. Instapundit was about a month old at the time, though there were some hardy souls out there long before. Much has changed since then, and Julie R. Neidlinger, one of those hardy souls, has taken notice:

The biggest explosion of blogs, however, wasn’t moms or food. It was the blogs that talked about blogging and how you should blog to make money with your blog. These bloggers built their “platforms” by telling people how to build platforms. They built their blog by telling people how to blog. They sold ebooks and training on blogging on their blogs and it became a kind of self-feeding ponzi scheme. An entire industry of bloggers making money off of other bloggers telling them how to make money blogging.

Now I’m the last person in the world to object to turning a buck from this enterprise, especially since I never have. And I don’t think it’s gotten down to Ponzi level just yet: there’s always room for a new voice if it’s saying something people want to hear. But I admit it’s amusing to sit in #blogchat Sunday evenings (9/8 Central) just to watch the questions flow. And Mack Collier, who moderates the chat, is definitely on the side of the angels — it would never, ever occur to him to crowd out us nonprofit types — but hey, he’s got to make a living too.

Still, Julie says:

Blogging, to me, is still (and always will be) what it used to be. I have begrudgingly added the things I’m told I need to add in order to get an audience, but each day I wonder if I really want to start down this spiral or if I was happier blogging as I used to, typos and all, as if it were a public draft of my thoughts.

I haven’t added much over the years. I used to get almost 800 people a day through these digital doors; now I get 300, but 700 take my RSS feed. And it still tickles me a bit to know that a thousand people a day are wanting to know what I have to say about something.

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Your turn

For the New Year, I proclaim an Open Thread, mostly because I can, and because a few of you will actually use it. I mean, I’m not exactly providing Ace-level material, but hey, it works for me.

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Worst titles of 2013

Listed chronologically:

“The deferens is vas” (20 January)
“Give ‘em enough trope” (22 January)
“Trefoiled again” (28 January)
“The sum of all fierce” (31 January)
“Dung and groove” (3 February)
“Peacock blocked” (21 February)
“Tibial pursuit” (26 February)
“Double yellow swine” (13 March)
“Phlegm-phlagm men” (20 March)
“Unlicensed Pilate” (29 March)
“Baby got beak” (4 April)
“And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll tax the rain?” (6 April)
“Unanswered sprayers” (28 April)
“Meteorillogical” (4 May)
“Augusta wind” (11 May)
“Ctrl-Alt-Filth” (18 May)
“The unbearable being of lightness” (22 May)
“To everything, churn, churn, churn” (23 May)
“Rock out with your cochlea out” (22 June)
“Gotta get down on fried eggs” (30 June)
“No Schmitt, Sherlock” (13 July)
“You may already be a Weiner” (31 July)
“Vault tolerant” (9 August)
“This ought to be Badenov” (20 August)
“Thank you very mulct” (17 September)
“Squintessential” (30 September)
“Billed for Ted’s excrement adventure” (6 October)
“Inalienable writes” (13 October)
“Press Hwæt to continue” (21 October)
“Like a verging” (20 November)
“Old MacDonald had a stack overflow” (29 November)
“Barren manscape” (7 December)
“Get your Manassas in gear” (8 December)
“The velveteen robot” (13 December)
“Miso sorry” (22 December)
“50 ways to leave your lava” (24 December)
“Snip-a-dee doo-dah” (27 December)

(Total number of 2013 posts: 1,874. Also: Worst Titles of 2012; Worst Titles of 2011; Worst Titles of 2010; Worst Titles of 2009; Worst Titles of 2008; Worst Titles of 2007; Worst Titles of 2006.)

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From the Department of Large, Unwieldy Numbers

About five-thirty this morning, visitor number 2,500,000 came calling: chap on an iPad looking for information on record producer Noel Walker, who presided over a lot of British Invasion stuff for Decca Records (London Records over here). Perhaps Walker’s least-likely hit was “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” by the pseudonymous Whistling Jack Smith, about which I said too much here.

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A report from Mister Tallyman

No, we have no bananas. Minnesotastan of TYWKIWDBI contemplates his traffic after six years:

By the end of the year, this blog will have accumulated about 14 million pageviews of about 12,000 posts, but as I look at the metrics, it’s obvious that the traffic is decreasing — in part I believe because more viewers are accessing the material via RSS feeds, but also because my own productivity (in terms of number of posts) has decreased each year since the peak in 2009.

I know the feeling. Actual visitors to this place peaked in 2005 at about 800 a day; it’s now down to 300 or so. Then again, in 2005, I probably had ten feed subscribers; as of yesterday, I had 740, though the number fluctuates wildly — since Labor Day, it’s been as low as 195 and as high as 1,030. Current pageview count is a hair under four million.

The drop in productivity is not so noticeable: the yearly volume of posts has slid from 2,126 in 2006 to an estimated 1,872 this year. This is attributable almost entirely to increasing attention to, um, side interests.

Minnesotastan isn’t too perturbed about the numbers, though:

The drop in traffic actually doesn’t distress me, because I derive no income from the blog, so I reflexly (and repeatedly) dismiss offers to “trade traffic.” Visitors and viewers are important and relevant to me only insofar as they contribute to the content of the blog, via informed comments and interesting personal observations, and I am recurrently amazed by the variety of expertise and insight that readers here bring to the table. I’m always delighted when a previously silent “lurker” pops up to offer a piece of information or a viewpoint that had never occurred to me. That feedback reinforces my motto that “you learn something every day.”

Besides, he says, he has about a thousand items tucked away for future use, which exceeds my usual reserve stash by a factor of twenty.

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Your holiday open thread

Pass along a greeting, utter a pleasantry, or suggest a way to scrape the reindeer dung off one’s shoes. This will remain top of the page for most of the day.

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