I promised that the whole delurking thing would become clear but I feel like it will be a huge disappointment now to discover that the dog feces and ice cream questions were inadvertently placed next to each other and are unrelated. While I’m glad that almost everyone is willing to slap on some latex gloves and root around in a dog’s excrement, the ice cream question was just a throw away–I was trying to make it simple for people to delurk who didn’t want to think too hard about a dog’s anus. The Weekly What If is always there and then, on top of that, I was asking for people to delurk too. But all of this needs a larger explanation. We’ll start here:
It’s my blogoversary this week.
It comes around every year, doesn’t it? And while, yes, it isn’t until Thursday of this week (I started this blog on June 25, 2006), having Show and Tell go up on Wednesday night leaves me with a conundrum–either post early and not have the blogoversary day be special or post late and miss my blogoversary. So I hope you’ll indulge me on my third anniversary in celebrating it now, within this post, and with my Show and Tell this week.
I like to make my blogoversary a big deal. If it were realistic to set off fireworks, I would, environment be damned. I would ride elephants through the streets, tossing sapphire necklaces to everyone in the crowd. I would commission Cirque du Soliel to create a performance art piece called Le Blog with acrobats hanging from ropes constructed out of old posts.
But barring all that, I’ll just reflect on the past year and set a goal for the future one.
First and foremost, my blog visually got a revamp this year, making it more user-friendly. Actually, a lot of things got a revamp including the Lost and Found and the blogroll. The forums were started, giving people an extra space to post and reach out of the community when they didn’t want to use their blog. We started Bridges, which never quite took off and started doing collective Kirtsying instead to get our stories out to the general public on the front page of the social media site.
It wasn’t really a year of starting new things because, as I stated last year, my focus was on listening. Instead, projects continued. IComLeavWe happened every month, Show and Tell happened every week, Barren Advice continued whenever there were questions to answer. The Blogging Name Registry to mark the two year milestone kept adding names, the collective Shop Mom or Pop went through another holiday season, and the Creme de la Creme rolled around again. We kept meeting at the Virtual Lushary each month. The Barren Bitches read a lot of books. Entries were added to Operation Heads Up. Every week, I continued to pull together the Roundup.
It was a busy year of hearing words and then figuring out how to get them out to the general public. Because it is one thing to preach to the choir–it certainly makes a person feel less alone to hear that someone else is going through similar emotions–but it is also important to get those words out to other people. I am sad that I couldn’t keep Bridges afloat, but I think the community Kirtsying (and everyone should participate with that and submit great posts) fills the same goal. I hope to keep that growing and expanding, doing everything I can to get our words out there to people who need to hear them (either because they need to find this community or because they need their eyes opened).
Last year, I started giving each year a single word to use as a goal. The overall word defining my blog is “community.” But then each year received a word that defined the overarching theme for the year:
- Year One: Connections
- Year Two: Action
- Year Three: Listening
I think I did a decent job listening this year. I wrote about this idea of setting forth a guide word:
My defining term from now until next June is “listen.” It’s a hard thing to do–to truly listen to another person. To set aside the time to concentrate on someone else’s thoughts without simultaneously considering your own. To practice a form of verbal relativism, listening while trying to place yourself in the other person’s point of view rather than your own. Talking is easy. I have about 850 posts on this blog. Being silent. Reading. Actually hearing; internalizing someone else’s words, tossing them around inside your head, allowing them to change your world. That is hard.
So I did a lot of reading this year. A lot of commenting via IComLeavWe. A lot of hearing and sending forth the words I was hearing. So I do think it was helpful to set a guiding word. We’ll see how successful I am at following this year’s word.
Oh…you want to know what it is?
- Year Four: Tune
Tune is obviously a word with multiple meanings. Tune can be a “pleasing succession of musical tones” which I think is a term that speaks largely of community. I want the people I interact with in tune with one another. Which does not mean that every song needs to be a syrupy waltz–even DC hardcore punk songs sometimes have a tune–but that X leads to Y leads to Z. In blogging terms, keeping a tune would mean setting a blogging standard of courtesy so the song continues. There have been too many times that people have stepped away from community because they don’t feel welcome or are harassed. And finding a tune means agreeing to both our role as a contributor and a taker from community. I think this code of standards can be set over time with multiple contributors–a huge group project–but I do think that having a list of standards, a list of what we’ll accept or rail against–is important.
Tuning can also refer to an adjustment. I think projects will continue to be fine-tuned and streamlined to be more user-friendly. I can get pretty stuck in rut and not want to change things out of fear of change. But I do think that it is a good thing to keep tinkering with existing projects, making them better, rather than solely starting new ones. I am considering (gasp!) self-hosting in order to take advantage of more software out there. But adjustments in baby steps…
Lastly, the thing I want the most for this upcoming year in terms of “tune” is to give sound to the silent. I think we often times focus on the musical piece (the blog post) or even the music critics (the commenters) that write about the performance, but my thought is on how
to bring those in the audience–those who are listening and thinking and internally reacting–into the conversation.
I asked people to delurk last Friday. 2161 people “read” the post (it’s impossible to know how many people actually scanned their eyes over the content, but 2161 clicked on the blog that day). Even if we said only 1000 people read it, it still is interesting to look at the fact that 86 people left a comment. The majority of those were people who have commented in the past. A small handful were people who delurked for the first time. So about 1 in 25 people left a note.
I have been thinking about those 24 out of 25 ever since Lori from Weebles Wobblog pointed out the silent majority of blog readers during an email exchange. And by silent, I am taking into account a multitude of ways to get your voice heard from leaving a comment to writing your own post to sending an email…speaking your mind at all. Look at your own stats–I’m sure that you’ll see that you have many more readers/subscribers than people you know reading your blog.
Which is not a problem on one hand–I mean, there has been a fine tradition of blog lurking and I am just as guilty as the next person of reading and running (there are people who probably have no clue that I’ve read every word they’ve written…creepy)–but is on the group project end of things. When we’re talking about community and we’re presenting voices from community, it’s hard to know that such a large portion of people are silent.
Plus, delurking is more for the writer to know who is reading her blog than it is for the silent person to speak their mind. So my point is not to get people delurking. My point is to get more points-of-view heard.
So many people start their email when adding themselves to the blogroll: “I’ve been a lurker for years and I’ve finally been inspired to start my own.” Which, of course, is fantastic, but what about all of the people who don’t have the time or inclination to start their own blog. I think there have been projects in the past–100 Words and the Blilts–that helped bring in new voices. And I am playing with more ideas that will unfold during the year to bring in more of the silent voices.
What would be most helpful? I would love to hear your ideas/reaction to the concept of ensuring more people have a voice without having to do a lot of work on their own end as well as hearing from those who are blogless on what they would like to see happen to ensure that they are a recorded member of the community–noted, known, and while still blogless, with an important voice.
The first step I’ve taken is to include a new feature on the blog. If you look up at the navigation bar at the top of the blog, you will see a little crown towards the right side with the words “Your Thoughts.” It is a place to leave private comments. The only person who can see them is me. My wish, if you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment even anonymously on the blog, is that you’ll use this feature to speak your mind. Politely, respectfully, not use it as a space for hate, but it is a private space. I may ask you if I could share your words anonymously within a blog post, but I will never use what is respectfully written in that space without permission.
Technically, it could even be used to submit a short blog post that I could upload on the Annex and Kirtsy in order to get out a point-of-view. But I think it is a valuable place to speak your mind when you don’t want to leave it as a public comment.
So, tune. And all the incarnations of the word “tune.” It will be interesting to see how many people we can bring into the harmony and make sure the silent ones are noted and as important as those who of us who like to talk and talk and talk and fill up the blogosphere with hundreds of posts per year.
Happy anniversary, little blog. You continue to be this huge source of comfort for me and I often jump to you mentally. I am so glad I started you, so glad I continued you, so glad that I’ve met so many amazing people through this space, been affected by their story as they have been affected by mine. I am so proud of the work we all do to take the stigma out of infertility, adoption, and loss. I am grateful to be a member of the ALI community. Thank you for joining in this enormous, three-year-long version of Kumbaya.