Thursday, July 08, 2010

To A Blogger Quitting Young

Someone once wrote "Blogging is mostly like pissin' off the back porch. Unless you're a 'celebrity blogger' of some species or another the enthralled blog-o-masses generally speakin' haint much gonna be interested in watchin' you piss off your back porch." Despite the poor vernacular and grammar, there’s a lot to the general concept there. Blogging has become the embodiment of that age-old philosophical question about an infinite number of monkeys, an infinite number of typewriters, and an infinite amount of time. Click that Next Blog button in Blogger and 99 out of 100 times, you will be presented with a steaming pile of feces. Or a warm bowl of piss.

That probably sounds cynical, but then again, there’s a metric assload of dreck populating Wordpress and Blogger, interrupted only very occasionally by a small niblet of something that is not shit.  Sometimes you find that nugget of goodness because everyone and their brother has a link to it from their blogs (which happen to consist of no original content at all, by the way) or you just get lucky and find the rare undiscovered gem.

It must be like how it felt to be a gold miner and find a new untapped vein.

Why have I waxed rhapsodic about blogging like this? I hope the answer is somewhat obvious, but I think I may have discovered a rare untapped vein of a gold-like substance in the proverbial pile of shit-encrusted hay. It isn’t pure gold, but there is enough golden goodness in it to keep a jaded old pisspot like me entertained for a few hours.

Dana is a young woman from America who has chucked her conventional life in favor of backpacking around Australia for six months. And at first, I was prepared to beat her to death with the nearest blunt object I could find, as I was met immediately by advertisements, no "Who I Am", no overt "What is this blog about", not even a link to a Blogger profile. Just a dull been-used-a-thousand-times-already template and an archive. I decided to tackle Dana completely chronologically and was immediately put to sleep with the tedium of reading about trip packing and preparations, or the lack thereof.

I almost quit there, sure I was in for a bout of tedium tremens. If this was going to be a blog consisting of lists, I wasn’t going to make it. I don’t care how many snarky comments are made after each packed item, this was not writing. But I take my charge here seriously, so I persevered.

And I am sort of glad I did. Once Dana reached Australia and ultimately left the city of Sydney, something shifted in her tone. Suddenly I was a participant on this trip. I was in the small towns and backwaters with her, living in hostels, couchsurfing, working odd jobs for food money, scratching alien insect bites, worrying about creepy old men (an odd sensation that, since, by troth, I am a creepy old man myself).

In all fairness, she did not make me want to leave the comforts of my lovely witness-protection-program home in the suburbs and run off to Oz and live the life of the bohemian, and there were enough instances of trivialities that mattered not to me or most others that Mark Twain and Bill Bryson need not fear losing their dominance of the travel writing genre to her.

But in the pile of shit that is the blogosphere, she was a breath of not-smelling-like-shit air. She was funny and appropriately self-deprecating. Yet she used enough description and background info that I never felt lost or confused. She wasn’t the world’s greatest writer, but she was a hell of a lot better than most bloggerers I have read.

...

Did you see what I just did there? I used the past tense, and not the present tense. She WAS funny, not She IS funny. Although Dana’s trip was meant to last till right about now (mid-summer 2010), her last posting was in March. A bit of a cliffhanger too, as she was just relating how she took a job in a town that was cut off from everywhere else by a bunch of floods. Which has me wondering what happened? What happened next? Why did she abruptly stop writing about it? Did something happen to her? Or did she just get tired of pissing off her back porch without anyone watchin’?

No one commented on any of her posts, except for herself. One gets the impression that her only reader was her mother, as she kept apologizing to her mother about her foul language.

So, I am reviewing a dead blog, but a blog that once showed great promise. And I don’t know where that leaves me. Smart lass, to slip betimes away from fields where glory does not stay...

Two stars. Minus one for being a quitter.



Note: This review was not due till tomorrow, but I needed to get it off my plate. So you get it a day early. All complaints can be written on a piece of jagged glass and rammed up your ass.

40 comments:

  1. Dana has been notified. But she moderates comments. So there you go.

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  2. I think may aaysr should cut some slack on finding dead blogs or "finished" blogs. The queue is so effing long and things change. But I too hope Dana is alright!

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  3. I know Dana personally and followed her blog. She is back stateside after some drama in her former stateside life. She needs to learn to get past such petty things and make real friends

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  4. Actually, Geo, when I first took over AAYSR in April, the list of submitters was backed up about seven months. We've cut it down now to four, and I think that's pretty good. Hopefully we can get it down more, we'll see.

    And I think that before you start giving us advice, you should ball up and submit your blog.

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  5. I've always wanted to try couchsurfing. But first? I must have free time for traveling.

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  6. Geo -- a close a careful reading of the FAQ will show that regular updates and a passion for writing (well) are a lot of what we're looking for here.

    And I just don't understand the concept of a "finished" blog. Blogs aren't finished. They are abandoned.

    So you can ask for slack, but you won't get it from me. Maybe one of the "nice" reviewers will cut some.

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  7. Abandoning your blog after only 4-7 months is just plain quitting.

    Shiner is super organized in scheduling the reviews out. The queue will be dramatically shortened, just you wait and see.

    Scorpio - who are these "nice" reviewers you speak of? I think all of us get irritated when we have to take the time to review a dead blog.

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  8. I agree with Geo, I don't see the point in a review of a blog which hasn't posted in over three months. If it's a good blog it's not worth following and if it's a bad blog then, really, who cares?

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  9. I stopped reading her blog at "Friday, March 26, 2010."

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  10. A good question has been raised here. Who is the review for? Is it for new and potential readers? Or is it for the writer to see where he/she can improve or has done well? Or is it a little of both.

    I have always assumed that the primary audience for a review is the writer, with the world being second. If that's a faulty assumption, then I agree that maybe dead blogs have not earned a review.

    If I am right, though, than I do see the point of reviewing a dead blog. Perhaps the writer has moved on but is making the same errors and can still benefit from an outside perspective. Perhaps the writer was feeling that it was a pointless endeavor when maybe it wasn't, and might be inspired to pick it back up again.

    I don't know.

    What I do know is that I review what I am handed.

    Hey, anonymous -- tell Dana to man up and get her ass back on the horse...

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  11. I think if somebody hasn't blogged since March you do have to wonder whether it's worth going to the trouble given that you have a backlog of active bloggers who almost certainly want and deserve the feedback more. The big backlog probably also puts people off submitting.

    To review dead blogs kind of gives the impression that the most important thing in the process is showing off your reviewing talents - and considerable though they undoubtedly are I would have thought they could be put to better use.

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  12. London: She asked to be reviewed. She gets it. End of story.

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  13. Boy, I can only guess how you'd review a blogger as receptive to comments as you are.

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  14. Dude, seriously? You're not waiting to be reviewed, and you have no idea how many blogs are in the queue. Maybe if we got paid to do this, or were doing this to be well-known - then we'd think about revamping the reviewing system.

    Don't think it never occurred to me to just slice out the less updated blogs. Sometimes I email an author to make sure they still want a review. Sometimes they say no. If they don't respond, I don't review them.

    Sometimes a review gets people writing again. Sometimes a review gets people connected. Most people have blogs to bounce ideas, and it's more fun with a person than a wall.

    And this, for me, is about connecting with writers and practicing writing. Now you know.

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  15. The worst, though, is when bloggers go private and say they don't want to be reviewed. Makes me feel like shit.

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  16. Wait. I'm not getting paid to do this?!

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  17. Jesus fucking christ this is a whiny little bitchfest.

    My blog is pretty much a dead blog. Well, let's just say it's in a coma on life support, but I don't want people to pull the plug on me. I'm gonna come out of my coma any day now. For reals.

    What am I in this for as a reviewer? To find good writers. Period. The feedback is secondary. Obviously, fuckers. What did you think I was in this for? You?

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  18. Seriously. I should just let them complain when they don't have the information, and be content with knowing I'm doing a okay job.

    But...must...fight...

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  19. Shinerpunch - I have read the FAQ and I HAVE submitted my blog. That's how I know how long the wait is. Also not to mention I've been following this blog for maybe a year and a half now and read pretty much every review.

    As for 'finished' blogs - why can't they be finished? Sometimes a blog serves a purpose for someone and then at some point it stops being useful, or entertaining, or interesting for them to maintain. Or for someone's travelogue, they might finish their travels. Not everyone has to blog little interesting or heartwrenching tidbits about their life for their entire life. Hell, this blog changed hands - which it could due to the nature of it. But if it were someone's personal blog - why not? If it's so frustrating to review a dead blog, then why review it? Which I am sure you have asked yourself, especially when culling that waitlist down to a manageable size.

    As far as the audience of the reviews are, I think that's a good question. I read the reviews because they are funny, but also because I hope to find interesting bloggers to follow and writing tips. For a while, reviews were a lot harsher than they are now. They seemed like they were written more for the readers than the writers. The community on aaysr has changed a LOT though. And you, and all the repeat reviewers get to direct it now - so it's pretty much up to you. You don't have to keep it the way it was when love bites, or gwen, or key, or booms or any of them were the main contributors. So far I've been enjoying the new flavor as much as the old.

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  20. A blog can be finished, but a living, breathing blog WILL get rated higher than a finished, abandoned, or dead blog. At least by me.

    If a blog is to have a limited lifespan, why submit for a review? At a site that tells you upfront that there's a four month wait. That's the part I don't get. I happen to have four dead blogs that you can still find if you know what to look for. But I'm not sending anyone that way or asking for a review. I'm fucking done there.

    That's why you get docked a star if you haven't posted recently (i.e., in the last two months, say). It isn't pettiness or feeling like you've wasted my time or any of that shit. It's simply a reflection of your attitude toward your own blog.

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  21. Geo, I apologize. I don't remember your review at all.

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  22. "whiny little bitch fest"? Lordy, you are a thin skinned clique. I was just saying that if you're in this to discover good writers, or introduce other people to them, picking a blog that is dead in the water makes little sense. On the other hand if you're mainly interested in patting each other on the back about how damned clever you all are I can't see how you could possibly improve.

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  23. "Pot, meet kettle."

    "Ahoy, there kettle. Fancy following your own advice?"

    "Never."

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  24. As long as that comeback means something to you, that's the main thing.

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  25. Umm . . .hilarious that we were just called a clique.

    All of us don't actually know each other. I'm pretty sure I know the real blog of one of the reviewers, but the rest of them . . .I have no fucking clue.

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  26. Hmmm, I agree with all of you I guess. (Can someone get the tweezers to remove the splinters from my ass?)

    Reviewing a dead blog is a bit meh from my pov as a reader cos I too want to discover new blogs (I have been reading for about a year and I found 2....Chamuca,and Mr LS - via comments - which isn't a huge amount considering the volume of reviews) which means I do come here for the actual reviews. But I do feel a bit ripped off when the blog reviewed is barely breathing.

    However, I think the Shiny code is honourable...you ask, you receive. Mayhaps every potential upcoming reviewee who hasn't posted in an agreed upon timespan could be asked if they would still like a review. No reponse = no.

    My 5 month wait was awfully long in my little 'I want it NOW' world.

    Either way, keep up the good work, I will keep coming back regardless.

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  27. I have a great idea. Why don't we all vote on how to run this blog?

    On second thought, why don't you all fuck off and let Shiny run things how she damn well pleases?

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  28. Shiner - That's because I haven't been reviewed yet. I'm probably somewhere in the queue. I actually went back to check my email to make sure that I got the confirmation email, but its there. My blog was on private at the time because of some nasty comments, but not anymore. If that screwed up anything, I could submit it again?

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  29. Shiner's doing a bang up job. Running this site is a hell of a lot more work than you'd think.

    It's a good thing people have to wait to be reviewed. You can't get a sense of who the writer is or how well they actually write, unless they've been posting for awhile.

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  30. Missmissives7/11/2010 10:06 PM

    Some old or partially dead blogs could be good or might be suckfests, but we find that out in the process of review.

    Part of why we post nearly all blogs is that Shiny hands them out, she isn't pre-reviewing every single blog. The reviewers are typically the ones that delve. So by the time I may realize a blog is not going to interest many readers, chances are I have already logged a good chunk of time on it and guess what, my review will be posted and the readers can decide if it's worth it.

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  31. definatelynotmissmissives7/11/2010 10:08 PM

    Oh, and the good thing about the review process taking awhile is you don't know when we're coming so you can "prep" for the review.

    Although I have heard that if you send Miss Missives something shiny, she'll move you blog to the front of the line.

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  32. Geo, could you forward me that email? You aren't on my list at all, and as far as I know you never were. Unless you have a secret blog that remains disconnected from your name. Sorry about that. I hope that hasn't happened to other people, although I don't really see how it could unless they were lost in the shuffle of when LB retired.

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  33. I hate reviewing dead blogs too, but I'd like to believe we are here

    1) to review. That's all this website is about period
    2) for the reviews to help other bloggers. Why can't someone improve their blogs based on advice for someone else?

    Considering this crew is less than a month old and is already tearing the queue down, I find accusations of "clique this" "long review time that" rather amusing.

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  34. I find the clique accusation amusing too, since I'm still trying to figure out where Johnny Raptor, Shagnasty and Forcemeat actually blog.

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  35. yes! I can, only I think because you try to keep the reviewers anonymous, there are no emails anywhere on this site - and the one I have is from a no reply account. I think my email is on my profile though.

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  36. London's got a point, even though it's always funny to read someone being defensively thin-skinned accuse others of the same.

    Chill out, Shiner. If you're getting worked up about this, imagine actual haters.

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  37. I had an awesome experience with Jesus. Then I asked Him what He thinks about Ask And Ya Shall ... well Jesus is eternally cool. To know Him is to know His love. He loves Ask. I was confused how God, God Almighty could actually like Ask, what with all the questionable, worldy content. His reply was "I just adore them. What I wouldn't give if they'd review my own book. It's in blog form now, so I might submit"

    So if Jesus submits here, I asked Him to tell you I sent Him.

    He's a big fan ...

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  38. I would like to exchange links with your site www.blogger.com
    Is this possible?

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  39. If Jesus submits, I will review his blog. I've read his book a couple times already.

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Grow a pair.