Blogging Insights — Fewer

For this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya simply wants to know about blogging in the year of the pandemic. She asks…

How do you think this pandemic year has been for blogging in general and your blog in particular?

I’m not going to answer the part of the question that asks about blogging in general because I’m not qualified to answer that. But I can give you a one-word answer as to the effect of the pandemic on my blog in particular. That word is “fewer.”

In 2020, as compared to 2019, I wrote fewer posts, received fewer views, got fewer total likes and average likes per post, and fewer total comments and average comments per post. I also wrote fewer total words in 2020 than in 2019 and had fewer words per post.

That said, I honestly don’t know if I can blame the pandemic for all those “fewers.” It could just be that my blog peaked in 2019 and now, irrespective of the pandemic, it’s trending downward. And, so far in 2021, my average likes and comments per post are about the same as they were in 2020.

So I don’t really have a good answer to Tanya’s question about the relationship between my blog stats and the pandemic. But I can tell you that, despite the mandated launch of the block editor last year and the still unfixed bug in the WordPress app for iOS, I enjoyed blogging and interacting with my fellow bloggers since the pandemic began as much as I did before it started and as I still do today.

Blogging Insights — Blog Awards

In her latest edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya ask wants to know how long we’ve been blogging and what we think of blog awards. She asks…

How long have you been blogging? Can you remember the first blogging award you received?

I’ve been blogging on and off since 2005. I did take a two year break from blogging in April 2015. In May 2017, I returned to blogging when I started This, That, and The Other. I had never received a blog award nomination until I moved my old blog from TypePad to WordPress in mid-2013. And I believe it was in December of that year, on my previous blog before this one, when I received my first blogging award nomination.

Do you still accept blogging award nominations or is yours an award free blog? If your blog is award free, what are your reasons for this?

I still do get blogging award nominations even though I have unofficially declared my blog to be award-free. I do appreciate it when someone recognizes my blog by nominating it. And I will usually write a post in response to the award nomination, in which post I will answer the questions the nominating blogger has asked. But I do not pay the nomination forward by nominating other bloggers for it. Instead, I invite any bloggers who wish to do so to write their own posts with the answers to the same question the nominating blogger posed to me and the others that he or she nominated.

My reason for declaring my blog to be award-free is that each blog award nomination comes with a detailed set of rules one must follow to “pay it forward.” These rules are similar to those of a chain letter. Someone nominates your blog for an award. To accept the nomination, you must designate a specified number — seven, ten, fifteen, whatever — of other bloggers you wish to nominate for that award. They, in turn, must do the same.

Now let’s do some math related to blog awards. I know you hate math as much as I do, but bear with me a minute while I illustrate my chain letter point.

Someone nominates you for an award and, as part of the rules to “accept” that award, you must nominate, say, 10 others. Each of those 10 bloggers that you nominated must, themselves, nominate 10 more. So just twice removed from your blog being nominated, 100 other blogs (10 x 10) will have been nominated.

If each of those 100 bloggers follows the rules (i.e., doesn’t break the chain) and nominates another 10 blogs, just three degrees of separation from you having received a nomination, another 1,000 will have received one (100 x 10).

And then 10,000. And then 100,000. By the time you reach Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, one million blogs will have been nominated. Those million nominations will beget 10 million. And those 10 million will beget 100 million. ONE HUNDRED MILLION BLOG AWARD NOMINATIONS!

These 100 million nominations can potentially be generated just eight iterations down an unbroken chain from the blog award nomination you received if everyone pays it forward as instructed.

And that’s just for one blog award. Think about how many different kinds of blog awards there are!

I read on the internet, so it must be true, that WordPress hosts around 60 million blogs, which is 40 million fewer unique blogs than the 100 million awards that just a single blog award nomination has the potential to generate!

I am truly honored when another blogger thinks highly enough about my blog to nominate it for an award, so please don’t think I’m trying to diminish the significance of being nominated for blogging awards. To be recognized by one’s peers is the best achievement possible. I truly believe that such recognition is highly valued and greatly appreciated by those who are nominated.

That said, mine is still an award-free blog. I’m just happy and grateful when people like my posts, comment on my posts, and interact with me on WordPress. No awards necessary.

Blogging Insights — Change

For this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya want to know about change. She asks…

How comfortable are you with change?

That depends upon the context. Are we talking about life, or specifically about blogging? I’m going to assume that, since the title of this series is “Blogging Insights,” I should focus on the latter.

Generally I’m okay with change, except when it’s change for the sake of change and especially when it’s not change for the better. And WordPress met both of those negative criteria when it introduced its block editor and then essentially forced us to “shit or get off the pot” by “decommissioning” its classic editor.

But even though I’ve spent the last year vocally resisting the change to the block editor, I am writing this post using the block editor. I’m still not happy about having to succumb to that change, but in the immortal words of J.E. Lawrence, who, in The Nebraska State Journal, when describing the difficulty faced during frontier-era life in Nebraska, wrote, “It is what it is.”

How often do you like to change your blogging style or the topics or format of your blog?

Since I started this blog almost four years ago, not much has changed. My style of writing is essentially the same and I’m using the same template (theme) for my blog. The only meaningful change to my blog over the past four years is that I now host a small number of prompts that are intended to tickle the imaginations and stimulate the creativity of other bloggers.

Of course, being as open to change as the next guy, if anyone would like to suggest changes to my blogging style or my blog’s appearance, let me hear from you.

Blogging Insights — Experience

Blogging insightsIn this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know…

What has your blogging experience taught you?

My first blog started back in 2005 and this blog is my fifth iteration. I’ve learned a lot about blogging over the past sixteen years. So here’s my two-cents worth. Take it or leave it.

  1. The blogging platform you choose is critical. I started out on Blogger (aka Blogspot), and was never able to establish much of a blogging community. Then, at the recommendation of a co-worker, I went to TypePad. Same experience. Not much of a community. Finally, I migrated my blog to WordPress and, bingo, I discovered an active and supportive blogging community. So, for better or for worse, WordPress seems to be the best blog hosting platform if you wish to be part of a broad blogging community.
  2. Size matters. Now bear in mind that this “insight” might be due to the blog hosting sites I’ve been on before WordPress, but when I first started blogging, my posts were long. Well, long by my standards. They often exceeded 1,000 words and one post would cover multiple topics. Very few people read or commented on these long, meandering posts. But since coming to WordPress, my average post length is less than 250 words and my readership has soared. Of course, this may be due to the fact that I had few readers on Blogger and TypePad, where my longer posts used to be housed. But I find that a lot of people (myself included), don’t have time to read a lot of really long posts, so if I can be concise and say what I want to and need to say in relatively few words, people seem to be more inclined to read (and not just skim) my posts.
  3. Images help attract attention. Blogging is all about words, but I always add an image (mostly one, but sometimes more than one) to each post. In some cases the image is used to illustrate my words. In other cases, it’s the image that prompts my words. Either way, having one or more images imbedded in a post adds interest and improves its appearance. In my opinion, anyway.
  4. Participating in prompts is fun. Sometimes you need a little inspiration to come up with something to write. And that is where writing prompts can be lifesavers…well, blog-savers. There are daily prompts, weekly prompts, word prompts, photo prompts, music prompts, question prompts, silly prompts, and provocative prompts. For those of us who enjoy posting at least daily, these prompts offer us a way to express ourselves in so many different ways and to ensure that we’re never at a lost for words.
  5. Hosting prompts is fun. I never intended to host a prompt when I started blogging, but when WordPress abruptly ended its daily post prompt in 2017, I was pissed, so I decided to start FOWC with Fandango, a daily one-word prompt. A number of other bloggers did the same thing. Now I host one daily prompt, and four weekly prompts and I am thankful that many of you have embraced them.
  6. Interaction is what makes blogging special. I used to say, back when nobody read my posts, that I blogged for myself and it didn’t matter to me that no one read or commented on my posts. That’s bullshit. I was thrilled when someone actually read a post I had written and left me a comment. So to all of you who say that you blog for yourself and that you don’t care about your stats, about your views, about your likes, or about your comments, I say get your heads out of your asses. If you want to write for yourself alone, keep a diary or a journal. But if you are a blogger, it’s all about interaction with other other bloggers and readers.
  7. Do you. What I’ve learned through my experience as a blogger is that I am who I am and my blog reflects that. I can’t be…and don’t try to be…someone other than who I am. Write about whatever makes you happy, whether it’s about your activities of daily living, flash fiction, poetry, current events, your photography, your hobbies, the world around you. But be genuine. If you try to be someone you’re not, it will eventually catch up with you.
  8. Have fun. If blogging ever becomes a chore, take a break. Blogging should be a fun and rewarding experience, not a burden.

Okay, there you have it. As I said at the outset, these are my opinions and I’m not an expert at blogging. So feel free to ignore everything I’ve written in this now 777 word post.

Blogging Insights — WordPress in the Time of the Pandemic

Blogging insightsFor this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know…

How satisfied (or not) are you with WordPress during the pandemic?

Up until August 2020, when WordPress decided to decommission the classic editor and force the block editor down our throats, I was very satisfied with WordPress. But I’m not a fan of the block editor and so my level of satisfaction diminished considerably.

The good news, though, is that, while the block editor is not a viable option for me to use on my iPhone if blogging on wordpress.com using a browser, I can still use the WordPress iOS version of the classic editor on my iPhone. However, WordPress has recently announced that the classic editor option will soon be removed from its iOS app, as well. And that, as far as I’m concerned, will suck.

The other consideration that has lessened my satisfaction with WordPress is that when WordPress rolled out version 16.0 of its iOS app this past November, there was a major bug in it, which I wrote about in this post on November 3rd.

Since that time, I’ve had countless exchanges with various happiness engineers, explaining the bug, providing screenshots, and even a video clip illustrating the issue. Over the months I have been told that the developers had been able to replicate the issue and were working on a fix. And yet here we are, five and a half months later and that bug has yet to be fixed.

So, overall, I have not been very satisfied with WordPress. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and pissed off.

But none of that has anything to do with the pandemic. It’s more about how the powers that be at WordPress don’t seem to give a shit about how we feel about the removal of the classic editor and their insistence that we embrace the block editor. Basically, they’re telling us that it’s their way or the highway.

And it’s also about how the happiness engineers and developers at WordPress are terrible when it comes to fixing bugs.

Unfortunately, as far as other blog hosting sites, none of them have the blogging community that WordPress does. It was that blogging community that landed me at WordPress to start with and it’s that blogging community (i.e., all of you) that is keeping me on WordPress.