Blogging Insights #46 (14 September 2020)

This prompt is the brainchild of Dr Tanya over at Salted Caramel. I’ve recently started following Tanya and her questions are really good. This week, she asks:

Do you think that comments add value to a blog post? If so, how?

Before I delve into this question, can I share how I “read” a post?

I usually see a post in my Notifications panel. Most posts have a title. If so, I can open the post in it’s proper site. My browser then has a little button which loads the post into a “reader” (different to WordPress’s Reader). From there, I can usually listen to the post. Given the state of my eyes, it is far easier for me to listen to a post than to read it. Now, I can read the post if I have to, but it is easier to listen to it.

If a post doesn’t have a title, by the way, I can’t do any of this. I skip the post. I know that somebody probably just spent an hour writing it, but what can I do?

The point is that my browser will detect the post, but not any associated comments. So, if I want to digest these, I have no option but to use my eyes.

Now, I will do this, because like Tanya, I think interaction lies at the heart of this site. But certainly, the shorter the comments are, the easier on my eyes.

Okay, so having said that, let’s answer the question. Which was:

Do you think that comments add value to a blog post? If so, how?

Yes, they are immensely important. Because they provide that interaction. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are the only thing of importance. To reduce the number of notifications, wp-admin allows us to turn off notifications when somebody follows us, or likes a post.

Don’t get me wrong. I want people to like my posts, but that is a one-way communication – there is nothing I can do in response. So, there is not much point in my knowing about them. Same with followers. I tend to follow the blogs I find interesting rather than engaging in a mutual admiration exercise, although as it happens, there is a lot of overlap. But the point is, likes and follows are one-way.

But if somebody wishes to leave a comment, that is starting a two-way interaction. I can, and will try to, respond.

So, that’s why commenting is important. In fact I often feel guilty if I read a post, then can’t think of a sharp, witty comment to tag onto it, but often I can’t.

I have just one more thing to say, about long comments. I mean, I will live with those, but certainly for those of us who write blogs, if a comment is going to turn into an essay, wouldn’t it be better just to write it as a post in its own right? It’s just that we can add graphics, fornmatting etc. if we do that. And people like me can listen to it instead of having to read it.

For that same reason – brevity – I will try to limit a comment to saying just one thing. If I have two things to say, I will pick the most important. Sometimes, here, I even succeed!

Blogging Insights #44 (31 August 2020)

This prompt is the brainchild of Dr Tanya over at Salted Caramel. I took part in it a couple weeks ago, and it is a Bank Holiday here today, so I have a little time to spare. Tanya asks:

How many drafts do you have in your ” Drafts Folder” right now?

Funny you should mention that, I had a clear out only a couple of weeks ago. Right now, there are about a dozen posts.

It is usually at least that many, but only ever a few tens. It might be nice to create different subfolders under “Draft” to keep everything organised.

Do you always complete a post that you draft?

No, my posts are in various stages of readiness. I’ll often get partway into writing a post, decide I can’t be bothered finishing it right now, and leave it for later.

Sometimes (music posts, generally) I’ll complete a post so that it is ready to go live, then hold it back until a “slow day”.

I don’t want to post too often – I have in my mind a maximum of three posts per day, but I’m not rigid about that – so there’s another reason for holding things back.

Some posts, it’s just the wrong time to publish. For example, I wrote a post about suicide in early December, and there was no way I wanted to publish that anytime near christmas. I think it finally went live around March.

Another one around that time was regarding the allied decision in WW2 not to bomb the concentration camps. I was prompted to write that post by a documentary I happened to watch, but ultimately canned it as part of my clearout, because that kind of post is probably interesting to only a very few people and I don’t want to bore my readers to death (more than usual!).

Is it a good idea to leave your unfinished drafts hanging around or should you delete them after some time, if so, how long?

It’s not a time thing.

If I’ve got a post in “draft”, if I decide I no longer fancy finishing it, or if I decide I no longer want to publish on that topic, I’ll delete the post.

Otherwise, if I’m still undecided, the posts will stay. It might be six months since I first started working on it.

Even if I do can a post, it goes into a Trash folder. I’ll clear that folder out just a couple times a year, so the odds are that I can get a post back if I really want to.

There’s no imperative to do it any other way – in terms of the space we’re allowed by WordPress, every single post of mine, combined, all thousand of them, is about the size of a single image. So if I have to make space, the Media Library is where I’d start. And, I’ve only used 3% of my WordPress allocation so far. At this rate, my allocation will be full in around 2050, when I will be 83 – I figure they’ll have upped our allocations by then but even if not, I’ll get worried about it nearer the time.

Blogging Insights (17 August 2020)

I’ve seen responses to Dr Tanya’s (Salted Caramel) Blogging Insights questions many times, but have never been motivated to join in, until today. I hope you don’t mind my jumping in, Tanya.

She asks this week about tips for noobs. Well, I was once one myself, so have some views. Here goes:


  • Understand the purpose of your blog. Understand the purpose of each post.
  • When writing, write as though you had no audience. If people enjoy your posts, they’ll interact.
  • Understand how you define success. If it is by having lots of followers, I suspect you should write for a magazine instead. The blogging medium is unique.
  • Before you start, think carefully about anonymity. If your identity is known, some subjects are off the table. Plus, in real life, it could be riskier if someone can look you up in the phone book. And, if you ever “come out”, that’s it. No going back.
  • Perversely, blogging is 90% reading. To gain followers, make friends. To make friends, take the time to read/comment, on their posts. Sensible comments. I have turned off notifications about follows and likes, so I will never know. If you comment on my post, I will notice and will try to respond (including looking at your blog).
  • If you respond to a prompt, take the trouble to read other people’s responses. You just published the most interesting post ever, so why do you think they didn’t do likewise?
  • If you do respond, keep your response short. Prompters will say “any length”, but if you have twenty responses to read, are you going to focus on the 1-minute response or the 60-minute response (yes, they exist. That’s two full episodes of Friends)? It’s less important when you’re not answering prompts but it is still good to be aware of length.

For that last one, next time you write a post, look at the word count. In the Block Editor, that’s in the “i” box on the top of the screen. Now, before you publish, go through your post and halve that count. You might not succeed, but do your best -it’ll take 3 or 4 passes even so. As a rule of thumb, 100 words = 1 minute. Before I edited this post, it was just over 500 words. Just before I publish, it was 350ish. I could still do better.

Share Your World (week beginning 20 July 2020)

I’ve been trying to keep myself busy (man’s work) and I didn’t think I was going to have time to answer Melanie’s Share Your World questions this week.

But you guys have really upset me. I’ve seen some really disappointing answers this week, so I thought I’d have to make the effort to redress the balance, even if I just answered one of the questions.

Your penalty for upsetting me? I want you to go outside, take all your clothes off, and then you need to stand there until a squirrel comes along and nibbles on your acorns.

Why am I upset? Well, I saw this question and you all got the answer so, so wrong:

Would You Rather Be Trapped In An Elevator Full Of Men With BO Or Three Soaked Dogs? 

Look, Ladies[1], it is high time you realised – BO is the Essence de la vie (literally – if you set fire to it, it will explode). That mix of stale sweat and testosterone[2] – what could be better than being in an elevator with ten, nay, fifty[3] , other men? You might think that we smell, but we do it all for you. You might think that our jobs keep us out unreasonable hours – but it is all for you. Our breath might smell of booze when we finally get home, but it is all for you, to make ourselves more interesting for you.

We go hunting, trap bears in nets, we shoot fish, all for you. We boldly go, where no man has gone before, all for you.

Give me some men, any day of the week. The sweatier, the drippier, the better.

Let’s throw those mutts down the shaft!

[1] I assume you’re ladies, even though your name might be Harold

[2] most definitely not bottled and sold here as Links Deodorant

[3] subject to elevator safe loading limits

Share Your World (13 July 2020)

Monday. Just knocked off. Getting back into work mode is going quite successfully, am looking at the job boards but seen nothing yet..

Anyway, what should be there to greet me as I knocked off but Melanie’s latest batch of Share Your World questions. A quick scan through has revealed that I’m probably going to be quite dull this week, but I’ll have a bash nevertheless.


What song always gets you out on the dance floor?

Nothing, these days, I’d be afraid of losing my balance.

What’s your favorite sleeping position?

On my side. I can manage either side these days. I could theoretically sleep on my back, but that’s not comfortable. I can hardly even get onto my front, let alone sleep in that position.

If you could snap your fingers and instantly make the world better, what would you do?

Easy. A flat earth. By that, I mean that everybody has an equal opportunity in life. I’m careful to say opportunity, because some people will make more of their opportunities than others. But nobody should be penalised for what they are.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?

It’s got to be either marriage or children. Because when we make those decisions, who knows what the future will hold?

If it was marriage, I did it because I was happy that I was with my life partner. Sounds corny but it has turned out to be true.

If it was children, fuck knows.

Gratitude

One of my Age UK clients fell down the stairs and ended up in hospital. I still wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a hospital, if I could help it. I’m grateful that she was discharged, seemingly did not pick anything up while she was in there, and that I was able to speak on the phone to her last week.