Took eighteen years to get this far.
Archive for Blogorrhea
At least, I think it is. From the WordPress admin, just now:
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.
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:
— Charles G Hill (@dustbury) March 24, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
“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)
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.
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.
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.
Certified Good Guy Marc Ensign has come up with “3 Reasons You Should Not Start a Blog,” and amazingly, “ridiculously hard work for not a whole lot of return on investment” doesn’t quite make the list.
Well, maybe it does. See #2 (Blog to Make Money):
I have good news and bad news! The good news is that you won’t have to work too hard! The bad news is that it’s because your blog isn’t going to last. Sorry!
As most of you know, this place runs red ink, though not a lot of it, and rather less than it used to back in the days when domains came from monopolies and server-space rental was pricey. Not to worry, however: I make it up in volume.
I recommend the piece mostly on the strength of #1, which cocks a snook at those folks who live and die by SEO:
These types of blogs were not written for us humans. Their only purpose is to appease Google.
Which, right there, is a pretty good recommendation for Bing.
(Via this Nathasha Alvarez tweet.)
If you don’t like the current wisdom on how to do your own blog, all you have to do is wait a few minutes, and something marginally fresher will come along. This one dropped into my lap yesterday: “10 Shortcuts for Writing a Blog Post in Record Time.”
Usually this is the point where I say I don’t do any of these and I’m doing fine, Jack. But I have to admit to using one of these, and using it quite often; that would be Number Three, “Practice Content Recycling.” I wouldn’t say I’m the absolute master of repurposing, but of all the blog vu, I’ve got to have some of the déjà-est.
Lynn was happy to spear a Facebook status in which I expressed some confusion as to why I’d get an Instalanche off a pretty mundane post. And that’s fine; it’s not like I’m such a Superior Being or anything, or even on the verge of becoming one.
Honestly, I don’t really care that much anymore. I started blogging with hopes of being Somebody in the blogging world — feeble hopes even then but, nevertheless, real hopes. But now I’m satisfied being in my own little universe. I can’t do politics because I don’t fit neatly into the Left-Right dichotomy so most people try to fit me into “the other side”, whichever side that happens to be for them. Some current events I would comment on but I never have anything particularly insightful to say. How many ways are there to say that a horrible disaster was a horrible disaster? And pop culture? Please. For the most part, I just really don’t want to know.
Then again, a manifestation of pop culture that actually turns into a horrible disaster — I’m looking at you, Miley — has, I believe, substantial potential as blogfodder in the right hands. Or maybe the left hands.
So, I’m not envious of Glenn Reynolds or the other A-list bloggers and I don’t crave their attention. (Okay, maybe I do, just a little bit) The bloggers I envy are those who get 15 to 25 comments on almost every post — little people like me but not as boring as me. But I do appreciate the few comments I do get and try to remind myself to be thankful for those and that quality is better than quantity.
On the off-chance that she intends to group me with the A-list, a place I’ve never actually been — back when N. Z. Bear was doing the Ecosystem, I managed to climb above “Large Mammal” status for about a week — I will now disclose my Number of Comments Per Post: two point eight. (Yes, really. Since the second week of September 2006, which is the first week in the WordPress database.) So there’s certainly no reason for me to be the object of anyone’s envy.
And besides, Lynn gets better trolls than I do.
I have to believe that Instapundit has some fairly resourceful readers. At 6:36 yesterday, the Professor linked this piece, which got several dozen hits despite the link being broken, one of his commenters having popped the source window open and posted the correct link. (Which was actually correct all along; the anchor tag itself was broken.) I tweeted at him; he fixed it soon as he read the tweet, and of course then the floodgates opened. As of this writing, about 2100 have wandered by to read the piece, which is pretty darn good for a weekend.
Once I know the general construct of the post I start thinking about a title that reflects what I’m actually writing about. I probably type up 3 or 4 variations of the title before I decide on a “final” option. I play with the word orientation, the adjectives, the type of post (list, tips, how-to, etc.). Then I have to figure out if I want to be funny, bold, informative or succinct. This “tone” of the title plays a big factor in how I’m going to write the post.
This is, as regular readers know, almost the exact inverse of what I do here. Then again, I’m not trying to monetize the Eschaton; and besides, after 20,000 posts, I could probably just start numbering them and be done with it and never have to read another article on how to come up with titles.
Now if someone could just explain to me how my feed subscribers have quadrupled in a month with two posts about how to create post titles, we’d have something worth passing off as research.
Yesterday morning Norm Geras died, and I struggled to say something appropriate about the man, a fixture in the blogosphere for a decade, and one of the last of a dying breed: the Thoughtful Partisan.
An example of that thoughtfulness: his legendary normblog profile, which he sent to select members of blogdom at all points on the political continuum. The instructions contained the following:
Please NB that you should not answer all 50 questions, but (as requested on the document itself) just 30 of them — enabling you to select those questions most congenial to you and leave out any that aren’t.
The wisdom of this practice really didn’t dawn on me until I’d submitted my answers, when I realized that this was how Norm knew what you really valued above all else.
I mention this here (1) to correct my previous article, which claimed that there were 48 items in the questionnaire, and (2) to point you to normfest, a celebration of normblogging and a tribute to the man who made it a word of its own.
We’ve all seen these before: a list of 100 books. But this one is different:
Now, in all my experience of such book lists, this one has a unique feature. Which is that I’ve read all the books on it. Yup, every single one — 100%. That’s because I compiled the list from … the books I’ve read (choosing titles, as well, that I liked enough that I’m happy to recommend them). Why should I let other people make lists to browbeat me with? If I make the list myself, I get to have read everything on it. Enough bullying is what I say. You, too, can make your own list and rebel against the tyranny of the book-dictators. I suggest you do it.
That paragraph speaks volumes about blogospheric mainstay Norm Geras, who passed away this morning at 70. A recognized expert on Marx, he’d written a dozen books on political theory and practice, and was a signatory to the 2006 Euston Manifesto.
In the online community, however, he may be best remembered for the normblog profile, in which he sent four dozen or so questions to leading bloggers and asked them to answer any thirty of their choice. (The definition of “leading” is occasionally flexible.)
The vagaries of life have lately decreased both my blogging and my reading of blogs, and so I missed Norm’s announcement this past May that the prostate cancer that he’d first been diagnosed with in 2003 was spreading and taking a toll. He was characteristically stoic about the matter, which he posted about only by way of apology for an anticipated decline in posting.
The book list quoted above, incidentally, was his last post, which came out on the 9th of October.
I saw a link to this last Friday and promptly forgot about it — Firefox’s snotty “Problem displaying page” has that effect on me — but Sundays have a way of reinstating dismissed memories, and besides I can always use the material, so here’s some of what Prof KRG has to say about post titles:
Readers decide immediately whether they are going to use their valuable time to read your blog post. They decide by scanning your blog title and determining whether it appears to be worth their minutes.
A good blog title:
- Attracts attention,
- summarizes the post,
- organizes content, and
- depicts the post’s tone.
Just a few words should be simple to write, but titles often are difficult. It’s challenging to capture tone, voice and content in a unique and short manner.
Unless, of course, you have the temerity to exhibit the same tone, the same voice, and pretty much the same content, twenty-one thousand times in a row.
Of KRG’s 23 (!) title tips, the one I find most pertinent is #14, “Consider meanings”:
Look for other, unintended meanings in your post’s title.
Not a problem. If there’s any meaning whatsoever in one of my titles, you may rest assured that it was intended.
My blog has multiple personalities. There’s the mommy blog where I write about birthday parties. The blog where I feature posts about Oklahoma. And, then there’s all the stuff I write about Generations X, Y and Z. All these topics vie for first position and I get frustrated and end up not writing anything at all. This has been happening a lot lately! There is no way to pull the competing topics together under one umbrella, which is why I’m considering adding sub-domains to jenx67.com.
Of course, she’s organized and motivated. Being neither of those things, I accumulate tags and categories. There are fifty-six categories and over ten thousand tags; to give you an idea of how perplexing this can be, neither My Little Pony (166 posts) nor Zooey Deschanel (88 posts) rates a category. Yet.
And there’s this:
I don’t want to worry about whether or not every post is useful or entertaining.
Obviously I’m not worried about such things at all.
A fellow I follow on Twitter has set up a blog called 1845 Park Place, which is the address of the house he just bought — “Right between Chance and Luxury Tax,” he says, which grabbed my attention right there. (Technically, it’s between Kentucky and Indiana, but you don’t have to know that.)
And actually, that’s a promising location, between NW 10th — a corridor that’s been improving of late, at least in this area — and the Plaza District, which is rapidly becoming the place to be.
This subdivision — Classen’s Cream Ridge — dates back to 1916; the house in question is your basic one-story bungalow.
It’s the guy’s first house, so I imagine he’ll have lots to say as he turns it into his Dream Home.
Does this sound like you? Because it definitely sounds like me:
[T]here are a couple of blogs I’ve been checking in on periodically over the last couple of years. It doesn’t matter how long the span of time is between my visits because their latest post says exactly what they wrote three months ago. It’s a deafening and nauseating regurgitation of glowy self-effacement. Personal disclosures and shock-jock phrases are the de rigueur for bloggers.
They think if they abandon discretion they will prove how genuine they are. And, even if we’re not convinced, we might hang around long enough to observe the train wreck. For a blogger, that means traffic and we’ll do anything for hits, right? We’re constantly trying to figure out how to be awesome, how to go viral.
Let’s see. What was I talking about three months ago?
- Women getting short shrift in a particular tech market;
- An idiot on Yahoo! Answers;
- NBA jokes;
- Ancient computer hardware;
- A merger in an automotive-related business.
Dead to rights, folks; I haven’t changed a thing. The train wreck goes ever on.
I am told that some of the suits at DreamHost actually wear suits now, which makes me a little uneasy about continuing to refer to them as “surfer dudes,” but hey, they’re turning Sweet Sixteen this week, and since I’ve been one of their customers for roughly two-thirds of that time, I figure the least I can do is show them a little birthday love. Besides, they answer their tech requests pretty promptly, and while — like everyone else who’s ever had a hosting account — I’ve had occasional downtime, they’ve busted a nut (or other body part as appropriate) to take care of such matters pronto.
The title of this new blog minces no words: “Paraplegia Sucks.”
Just the one post for now, but it’s scary enough.
Update: A second post has arrived.
Assuming you don’t want to take advice from assless AIs, here’s an actual blogging course being taught by an actual name-brand blogger:
Whether you’re a hobby blogger, corporate blogger, seasoned mommy blogger or someone just starting out, Blogging Bootcamp will teach you how to launch & maintain a successful blog. This course will highlight blogging platforms, branding your blog, current trends, how to integrate social networks, and useful writing tips & tricks.
The instructor’s credentials, incidentally, are as good as they come:
Jennifer James McCollum, APR, is an American mother and Oklahoma writer. She began blogging in 1999. Her blog, jenx67.com, has been featured in the Washington Post, MSNBC Entertainment, National Associated Press, The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, San Francisco Chronicle, and many more traditional media outlets. Jennifer serves as Executive Director of Oklahomans for the Arts, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization. An accredited public relations practitioner, Jennifer also provides part-time executive coaching and consulting in digital and public relations strategies.
This is a five-week Mini-Session at Oklahoma Contemporary, State Fair Park, easily worth your seventy simoleons. And besides:
Participants will receive original notes and presentations on all the topics presented, none of which are available online.
Shrewd, she is.
I am somewhat distressed to see Shoebunny, once the definitive resource for celebrity footwear, now reduced to a single “Hello world!” type post.
The last two posts she made, in case you’re curious, concerned this pair of Jimmy Choos on Kate Beckinsale and these nicely insubstantial Manolos worn by Connie Britton.