Thoughts on Blogging

From WordPress (September 2013 Hot List), during the month of September on WordPress alone there were 1,369,067 new blogs created, or an average of 45,636 each day. That’s blogs, not posts. And that’s just WordPress. There are other blogging platform out there.

On WordPress, there were 35,282,026 posts for September, and October saw the publishing of “36,311,289 posts, with a collective word count of 9,036,553,158 (yes, that’s over nine billion). If each post took two minutes to read, it would still take you 138 years to plough through them.

Soaking those numbers in, here’s what I get  . . .

“That’s a lot of content, Bob.”

“No excrement, Sherlock; did you work that out all on your own?”

“No; I read it.”

There is a lot of competition out there for people’s time and interest, even discounting YouTube, Facebook, and other popular social sites. Just looking at blogging on its own, your individual entry is going to be buried in a literal sea of entries by people all hoping to get a piece of that same time and attention.

Over the last year the number of subscribers to my blog have more than doubled (373 as I write this), and yet the traffic to the blog has dropped off quite a lot. It could be an increasing number of blogs are competing for a limited number of readers, or it could be I suck more than I used to.

I’m lucky to get 20 readers a day, and that’s only on the days I post something. I have not worked out the numbers, but my average is between 10 and 15 people a day stopping by. These are probably subscribers clicking on an e-mail link.  I get an additional 10 to 20 reads which are either a person reading more than one post (a good thing), or people using the reader and looking at a post without coming to the site (not as good a thing since they can’t see the whole post on the reader). 

Why the discrepancy between the increase in subscribers and actual visits to the blog?

I’m guessing here, but looking at their profiles, some subscribers are new bloggers who chance on my stuff right after they have created their blog (and right after I publish a post), and are not yet discerning about subscribing (they subscribe to the first things they see, and then realize there is better stuff out there). New subscribers have no idea just how much content is out there, but quickly learn to be more selective with their “follows”. After all, few people have 138 years to spare each month.

A number of new subscribers are people who have things to sell, and are using the “follow” option as a way to advertise. They follow blogs all over the place, but they rarely participate (a ‘like’ on a nothing post, while ignoring stuff with real effort behind it), and only occasionally drop by to remind me they are still selling stuff.

I always check out my new subscribers to see if I’m interested in reciprocating, and a good portion fall in those two categories . . . they are either trying to build their own circulation in connection with a product, or they are brand-spanking-new bloggers. In either case, once they subscribe, they go on to bigger and better things.

There are a few established bloggers who subscribe, and then I never hear from again. Don’t have an answer for those.

Of course it could also be people subscribe to my blog before realizing what they are getting into. Some may be religious/spiritual folks who don’t take the time to find out my views before subscribing. Others may object to other views I hold, but still, that does not explain why they don’t unsubscribe once they get to know the “real” me.

A hint about evaluating people who subscribe to your blog, and if you want to follow them back; if they are following more than 100 other people, it’s pretty much guaranteed you are not going to have any interaction with them.  Some have thousands of followers, and they themselves follow multiple hundreds of blogs.

Large numbers of followers might mean there is something of value to what they post, but more often than not I cannot account for their popularity. Regardless, if you chose to follow them, don’t expect to be noticed.

This is also valid for Twitter and Facebook followers and friends. 

“So, where are you going with all this?” 

Heck if I know . . . I’m battling a fierce sore throat, and thought writing a post might take my mind off of the severe pain whenever I swallow.

Tell you what, how about I comment about the blogs I do follow (61, as of this writing)? 

I mentioned before I do not follow expecting to be followed in return, and that still holds (an acquired taste, I am). The blogs I follow fall into the following categories:

Photography:
Some are the ever-popular picture-a-day blogs. I follow very few of these; if I just wanted to see photos, I would do a search on Google Images. If I want to see outstanding photos, I browse SmugMug (I often say I’m not a great, or even good, photographer – this is not false modesty; go check out some of the sites in SmugMug to get some perspective). The ones I do follow I do so not because of technical excellence, although that’s often present, or because they give me ideas for my own photography, although that is also often the case, but because there is a rapport  with the bloggers . . . we kid, laugh, make comments, interact on a level beyond the photo itself. If it was to only look at the photos . . . as I said, lots of places to do so.

Some are semi-instructional sites. This is of general interest to me even as I am a reluctant student. I much prefer to discover stuff on my own as opposed to be shown what others are doing. The posts dealing with equipment, techniques, software, etc. are what draw my interest. Also posts of places I might visit, or similar to places I might visit. Travel photography, if you will. A very small number are of people who consistently provide amazing photos.

My favorite photography posts are those with a narrative. Perhaps because I tend to add a story to my photos, I appreciate when others do so. My post on taking photos mentions the Grandfather Effect, whereas how much one likes a photo is tied to personal experiences. Similar to the Grandfather Effect, some people can tie a narrative to a photo in such a way as to transcend the photo itself. They attach your emotion to their photo, and it becomes memorable. Two recent examples worth reading: from Scott’s Place and Alien Heartbeat. I still think about the little girl in the Khmu village, especially after seeing so many kids at Disney’s World Resort this past week. 

Writing:
I don’t follow as many writing blogs as one might think given that I like both reading and writing. I follow a couple of blogs that deal with the realities of publishing (just to remind me how unlikely it is that I will ever publish anything), and a couple of blogs on the mechanics and tools of writing. I also follow a couple of writers, but there is no interaction with them as I am one of literally thousands of followers.

I follow very few blogs where the blog owner posts stories. I check out many such blogs, but the vast majority write stuff I consider either pretentious, or too depressing.  I have relatively narrow interests when it comes to reading (think Jim Butcher and John Scalzi), and I expect anything I read to be easily understood, fast-paced, and entertaining. Too many people want to write about the human tragedy . . . I got enough of that in real life, and don’t need it in my entertainment. Even the ones I do follow often wander into stories I have little interest in, but since I follow the blog, I force myself to read them (with the exceptions mentioned below).

Ultimately, I have my own ideas about writing, and evidence points to few people sharing my preferences (my writing pieces remain some of my least-read posts), so the writing blogs I follow are also few and far between.

Skepticism, Religion, Atheism, Rational Thinking:
I only follow a few of these. Some time ago I realized I don’t fall within the confines of general labels. Consequently, I end up being at odds with people who do identify fully with those labels. I used to enjoy the ensuing debates, but now they are just depressing. Blogs I do follow tend to have a narrow interest which aligns with what interest me. I have dropped a few if they crossed into areas that I no longer consider meriting discussion.

There are a few blogs I follow that do not fall in the above categories. They either have to do with interesting persons, or interesting subjects. 

“Wait a second, Bob; you have 373 followers, but you only follow 61? What’s up with that?!”

Hey! Wanna read about what keeps me from following blogs?

Here is my list of things that will keep me from following a blog, or dropping one I follow. 
– mentions of spirituality, karma, destiny, and the like  
– mentions of any deity as having an influence in one’s life
– mentions of science in a derogatory way
– questioning evidence for climate change
– condemning GMO (it’s the current fad, you see)
– denying evolution (just plain ignorant)
– saying “guns be bad” and should be banned (uninformed elitists and celebrities)
– blanket condemnation of Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians (you can slam the Greens all you want, for they be crazy).
– belief in UFO being Aliens, Bigfoot, the Moon Hoax, and most conspiracy theories
– documenting family matters (I always feel like I’m intruding)

That’s by no means a complete list, but you get the gist. If you fit into one of those, you might not want to follow my blog, and you definitely don’t want me following your blog.

There is one more thing with regards to following blogs . . . I may not seem it, but I am a very emphatic person (emphatic as in being able to experience empathy, although I can also be forceful and direct). Reading about bad things happening in someone’s life affects me in very negative ways, and the effect can last for days. I don’t mean stories like the Alien Heartbeats linked above. I mean personal stories of people going through tough times. I don’t understand why people share such things in a public forum, and I will quickly stop following such blogs.

Know that it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because it will sit in my mind for days, and be a burden on me, and I either need to walk away from it, or get involved.  Trust me on this; I can’t be in your support circle, and you don’t want me in your support circle.

Finally, here’s a few things I ask of people I follow, and for anyone wanting me to follow them (in addition to not doing the things mentioned above) . . . 

First, have the option for an e-mail subscription. I know I can follow via the reader, but I don’t like reading blog posts from the reader. I prefer to get a notice when you posted something, have a direct link to it, and come to your blog to read it.

This also goes for comments. If you have comments enabled, also enable the option to subscribe to replies. I don’t have the time to check back every day, or every other day, to see if you answered my comment. If you want a conversation with me, make it easy for it to occur.

Second, don’t change the theme every few weeks. If the content is not catching my interest, a different theme is not going to do the job. Besides, I like consistency.

Third, don’t ask to be followed. I consider it in poor taste. If you have good content, I will follow you whether you ask or not, and if you don’t have good content, no amount of asking will make me follow you.

Fourth, don’t expect me to acknowledge something you reblogged from someone else. I’m on your blog to get your opinion. If I wanted someone else’s opinion, I would go to their blog. Mind you, I recognize the desire to share something that moved you, affected you, and the like. If you do so, write about it; explain why it’s important to you. If all you are doing is reblogging, I will ignore that post since it’s not coming from you. Most often, but not always, I will ignore it regardless.

Fifth . . . please, please, please . . . do not follow me just because I follow you. If you are not going to give my posts the attention they deserve, if you don’t plan to interact, if you are just following to be polite . . . PLEASE. DO. NOT. FOLLOW. ME. BACK. PERIOD.

I mention that last thing because I am sure a number of followers are just that; followers out of a sense of obligation. Don’t be that person; I won’t like you for it.

Well, that’s it . . . did you make it all the way here? If so, know I am impressed.

. . . and my throat is still very sore.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hanging On
Hanging On

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me some recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline nominations whereby one blogger bestows an award onto another blogger, or group of bloggers.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I would much prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would actually mean something to me.

Should you still nominate me, I will strongly suspect you pulled my name at random, and that you are not, in fact, a reader of my blog.  If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards          About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not personally hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.