Category Archives: blog thing

Return to the Mail Bag for some Headlines

Back in the middle bronze age of the blog I started in on a recurring feature centered on items that landed in my email inbox.  I was apparently committed enough to the bit that I even made a “Mail Bag” category, which means you can see on the side bar category list drop down that I managed to farm that for a good 16 posts between mid 2011 and late 2013. (The count is 17 now with this post.)

That time frame happens to correspond to the peak of the popularity of the blog, though I suspect my dropping the mail bag bit was not a key element in its subsequent decline.

Anyway, the idea was founded in the fact that, back when I started the blog, I created an email address just for the blog and blog related items.  It was a Yahoo address, which was the style at the time, and it appeared on my About page for many years.

Yahoo, back in the day… like a decade before I started the blog, but I had the picture handy

And I used to get a lot of email.  Not from readers, though that was not unheard of.  I still get the occasional email on that front.  The main senders were PR and marketing people with press releases to push and post ideas to suggest.

Somewhere around 2015 or so I changed the blog email address on the About page to a Gmail address (same user name though, wilhelm2451) because… reasons.  I think there was some worry about Yahoo at the time and how they might no longer allow free email or some such.

It has been a tough couple of decades for Yahoo.

Anyway, the swap was made and now anybody more recent than that time probably sends me email there… which is a very small number, because by 2015 this blog, and blogging in general, were in serious decline.

But I didn’t throw away the Yahoo account, and Yahoo didn’t end up breaking email or demanding payment or anything, so I still have the account.  I still even email some people from that account if our relationship started in that era.  Hey Bhagpuss.

The thing is, I still get a lot of email on that account.  A lot of press releases, PR items, and blog post suggestions from various agencies.  More on a typical day than I get on my blog Gmail account in a week.

Lately I’ve become a bit fascinated by the pile of stuff I get there.  I certainly didn’t sign up for all of those mailing lists.  Somebody must have just collected a random set of web site email addressed and sold them to unwitting PR people.

I often just let it all collect and then delete it in great bunches, but sometimes I let it sit and gather and then wander through it to see what is there.  I don’t think I have received a single item that has prompted a blog post in years.  But still it keeps coming in.

So, in furtherance of very little other than my own amusement, I gathered the last sixty or so subject lines and pasted them below, just to give you a simulation of what it is like to open my inbox at the end of any given week.

  • Newsweek’s Atari VCS Review: Retro Tech Meets Geek Chic!
  • OUT DAY: BEDROOM POP AUTEUR ZEPH RELEASES DEBUT SCARED OF EVERYTHING EP ON NEON GOLD
  • TV Priest (Sub Pop) start first UK headlining tour | Guestlist available on request
  • Swedish BrainTech Company Mentalytics Signs Agreement with Kia
  • Survios Sells Over One Million Copies of CREED: Rise to Glory, Inspired by Hit MGM Franchise, Across All Platforms
  • STEM Toy of the Year Nominee Roto Brain – Sample?
  • Jooki Kids’ Streaming WiFi Speaker Available for Review – Screen-Free Music & Audio Book Entertainment 
  • ‘Len’s Island’ gets new gameplay trailer – moves launch date to 26th November
  • Virtual tickets are now available for AWE USA 2021!
  • Starlight Alliance debuts on Steam and Nintendo Switch [review copies available]
    Gaming and the Sustainability Problem: Console Power Consumption Increases by Up to 2,520% [Infographic]
  • One of the World’s Top-Selling Video Game 3D Artists
  • CNBC Transcript: Chipotle Chief Diversity, Inclusion & People Officer Marissa Andrada and Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung Speak with CNBC’s Kate Rogers Live During CNBC’s @Work Summit Today
  • China’s Impact On The Gaming Industry Is Going To Be Massive
  • North of Nowhere Launches a Kickstarter!
  • New Gameplay Trailer Out Now for ‘They Always Run,’ Set to Launch on October 20th, 2021
  • Pinball Expo 2021 October 27th-30th
  • DoubleDice develops decentralized gaming platform allowing multiple games in a no-house/no-casino setup – democratizing the gaming industry
  • OKLOU SHARES GALORE ANNIVERSARY EP + DEBUT AMERICAN TOUR WITH CAROLINE POLACHEK
  • New York’s Bambara announce new mini-LP “Love Is On My Mind” | Out February 25th on Wharf Cat Records | UK + EU headline dates announced for 2022
  • The Journey thru Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life
  • Minecraft most malware-infected game on the market with 228k users affected
  • Stocking Stuffer: Gaming deodorant for your forehead – actually a sweat liner for your VR headset
  • Google Play Quarterly Revenue Jumped to $21.5B, Almost Double than App Store
  • Enter the Multiverse & Discover Every Spider-Man Variant [Infographic]
  • Pinball Expo 2021 located at Schaumburg Convention Center
  • Silverbacks announce new album “Archive Material”
  • Self Esteem reveals “Moody” video ahead of release of highly anticipated album Prioritise Pleasure (out 10.22 on Avenue A / Fiction Records)
  • iRacing Petit Le Mans glory for RLR eSports Porsche GT3 duo
  • Is a Metaverse Possible?
  • DreamHack Anaheim To Take Place in Feb 2022
  • AP Style Reminders, Scary PR Pitches & More
  • New research reveals how you can take up to $339 off your new PS5 and Xbox Series X
  • WATCH: “I’m On A High” by Rick Eberle (music video premiere)
  • The Number of Twitch Streamers Plunged by 1.8 Million YTD, Average Viewership Down by 20% Since May
  • New GamePlay Trailer Out, Cradle of Sins, Brings VR & PC Players Together in an Adventurous Multiplayer Game
  • [CORRECTED]: Users globally spent over 140,000 years watching Twitch in H1 2021
  • Press Release: 2 IN 5 PEOPLE ARE CONTENT CREATORS: SHURE UNVEILS FINDINGS FROM FUTURESOURCE’S NEW STUDY
  • Review/video Consideration – Striking visuals spooky Fairy tale – Puzzle platformer – Tandem a tale of shadow
  • Email Vulnerability Pandemic. Are All Emails Worth Opening?
  • Quick Pitch: The Gen Z EV That’s GAS –Alexis
  • NEW RELEASE: ‘FAR CRY 6’ The Music of Yara – Music by Various Artists
  • Data: San Jose is the most expensive major metro for household bills
  • Xbox Players Most Toxic on Voice Chat, Swearing 6 Times per Minute
  • Greatest Music of All Time Podcast
  • Introducing Lowel EGO LED™ Light
  • Kills Birds share the anthemic and incendiary “Cough Up Cherries” | New album “Married” out 12th November
  • NEWS RELEASE – REDBOX Expands Distribution Footprint of its Streaming App to the PlayStation5 Console
  • Little Bug, a lovely adventurous platformer is coming to Switch and Xbox consoles later this year
  • Aloof release date revealed. Super cute puzzle-fighter is coming to Nintendo Switch
  • STEVE JONES PROMOTED TO PRESIDENT OF GEARBOX SOFTWARE
  • It’s not the same old internet
  • GKIDS To Release Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE In Theaters January 14, 2022
  • Nintendo Switch Outsold PS3 and Xbox 360 with 90.5 Million Units in Lifetime Shipments
  • Environmentally conscious underwater adventure SAMUDRA heading to Steam
  • Revealed: The highest earning games per player – Clash of Clans a billion dollar earner
  • Fintropolis uses Minecraft to teach students about money – Over 1M Downloads in First 25 Days
  • EXPERT INTERVIEW OPP: Overdose CRISIS: Highest Number EVER; Rehab Owner and former addict weighs in

To be fair, that one at the top of the list about the new Atari VCS, which arrived just last night, also showed up on every other email account I check regularly.  They are more serious about finding me than most.

There is quite a bit of music related press releases landing in my inbox, which is odd because any long time reader would probably be able to suggest a half a dozen more suitable blogs than my own for that.  Once again, hi Bhagpuss!

And there are a number on the list that really look like they might be on topic for the site, but which end up being either a bit skimpy… that one about swears on Twitch streams was the result of somebody watching the first 15 minutes of 100 videos on YouTube, which doesn’t exactly feel like a sufficient sample size… or are sponsored and hosted by online gambling sites.

The Is a Metaverse Possible? pitch seemed interesting, given Raph Koster’s current project.  It is pushing a book from Frank Rose, The Sea We Swim In, which seems to be more focused on manipulating your fan base with your stories than the technical feasibility, or practical implementation, of the whole metaverse idea.  Looking him up, the same author wrote a book on immersion a decade back.  Maybe I’ll look into that.  But no meat in there for a post despite he promise of the subject line.

Such is life online.

And I didn’t even think to look in the spam folder on the account, though peeking in there it seems that not much gets flagged as spam.

Anyway, there wasn’t much of a message behind this post other than to give yet another peek into what goes on here at TAGN.

WordAds Unleashed

As mentioned/promised/threatened previously, I turned on ads for the blog on October 1st.

For those just catching up, WP.com announced that they were going to start injecting “sponsored” posts into blogs that were on the free plan, and while I was technically on a grandfathered “No Ads” plan, my plan was still listed as “free,” so I opted to upgrade to the Premium plan.

Premium features

Among the features of the Premium plan is to be able to earn ad revenue.  So, in a swap of no small irony, I went from paying to have no ads on the blog to paying more to allow ads on the blog.  The hope is to offset the price of the premium plan.

The WordAds feature in WP.com… not to be confused with Google’s AdWords I guess, though I think Google changed that name a while ago… is easy enough to turn on when you have Premium.  You flick a switch, fill out a form, get processed for eligibility, and then you’re in.   Or I was in, anyway, the bar being low enough to allow that.

Having turned it on I went to my work laptop where I have browsers setup without Ad Block to see what happened.

For a while, there was nothing.  It takes some time to get going.  And then, suddenly, there were ads.  Ads in the side bar, ads anchored to the scroll bar, ads around posts, ads in posts every three paragraphs… the place was quickly swimming in ads.  Too many ads.

So I went back to the settings and dialed that back some.  The meanings of the settings are a bit… vague.  I mean, I know what “Display ads below posts…” means in my head, but what toggling that setting on and off did was not lining up with my expectations.

The ads, as most places, are served up based on what you, the reader, have been snooped on doing on the internet.  I thought it was pretty funny that one of the first ads I was served was about blocking ads.

Know your audience I guess – this is not an ad but an image of an ad

I also found it amusing that it injected an ad for hearing aids below the group picture in yesterday’s post about the group playing Diablo II where I identified us as an aging rock act.

Now it is showing me ads for Macy’s because my wife was looking at their online ad, which just shows they’re lumping us together in the same IP address.

Apparently I even earned some money my first day out, netting 8 cents towards my eventual payout, which comes at the $100 mark.  I also get a new stats tab on my admin page that tells me about revenue and number of ads served.  Something new for the annual blog review post I guess.  Another horrible metric to report on.

Anyway, if you see ads, this is why.  But if you have an ad blocker setup, which I do recommend, you won’t see any.   You also, so far as I can tell, won’t see any ads if you view my posts in a reader like Feedly.

As always, your feedback on this change is welcome.

Sponsored Posts and Some Premium Blog Changes

Just before I went on vacation WordPress.com popped up a little notification that said that they were going to soon begin injecting native sponsored posts into blogs that were gliding along on the free plan.

A megaphone to spread the alarm

That was certainly something I did not want.  But would it affect this blog?

Technically I was on a plan, so not a freeloader.  I had been grandfathered in for a few years on the old “no ads and allow me to edit CSS” plan, which ran for $30 a year.  However, so far as the WP.com UI and many features were concerned, I was on the “free” plan.  It said so  right in my main admin page.  And while they had continued to honor the no ads part of that plan… or I think they have been honoring, you don’t see ads if you’re logged into your own blog so I might not be the best judge… this seemed like something possibly outside the terms of that agreement.

I thought about chasing down somebody from WP.com to find out, but their “Happiness Engineers” and general happiest not answering direct questions and have occasionally been of the opinion that I am on the “free” plan as well, and thus not entitled to direct support.

That sounded tiring and I was getting ready to go on vacation for ten days, so I decided to just upgrade to one of their standard plans to be sure that the blog wouldn’t become an immediate cesspool while I was away.  My cynicism knows no bounds and I tend to be of the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” persuasion on a good day.  Looking at the menu of options, I went for the Premium plan.

Premium features

I’m not actually a “freelancer,” as that would imply somebody would actually pay for my writing, but it did offer Google analytics integration, something the “personal” plan at half the price did not offer.

This, of course, bumps up the amount I play for the blog annually quite a bit, but fifteen years in this is clearly my primary hobby (as opposed to the games I play) so spending a bit more on it isn’t a big deal.  I had been thinking about that plan for a while, and almost pulled the trigger on it a couple of years back, but at the time they were really adamant that you had to sign up for a domain name to get that plan… it was part of the sign up process… and I have no interest in changing the URL of the site at this time.  I might have been okay with “tagn.blog” I suppose, but after fifteen years I felt like tinkering with the address would not end well.

Anyway, they changed the signup since then and you don’t have to get a domain name RIGHT FREAKING NOW so I went with it.  (They do keep pestering me about the domain name thing, but I can ignore that.)

So does everything feel “premium” now dear reader?

The first thing I did was setup the Google Analytics integration, so I will possibly be able to answer the question “how many regular readers do I really have?” finally.  There is a whole report section on user retention.  Expect more graphs for the 16th anniversary post, though I might skip the pie chart that shows 100% of my users access the site on the web.

Not a free thinker in the lot

I can now also accept payments.  I can put something up on the sidebar that lets you donate to the blog.  I am unlikely to do that, but I could if I wanted to.

I am also, somewhat ironically given much of the above, able to have ads on my blog… ads that will earn me money rather than it all going to WP.com.

I am half tempted to try this for a stretch, just to see how it goes.  Aywren did a Blaugust post about ads on your blog and you need to earn $100 before they’ll send you anything, but I am curious as to how well (or badly) that would play out.  With the premium plan there is simply an opt-in switch to turn them on.  I’d ask for some feedback before I did it, and promise I would never become somebody who gets angry about people visiting with an ad blocker turned on.

So that is what has changed here.  I suspect none of this is at all noticeable from reader side of the window.  And now I have the option of bugging WP.com Happiness Engineers directly via live chat.  We’ll see if that improves their historically poor responses.

My Blogging Quinceanera

Here we are again at another blog anniversary.  It has been 15 years since I set out on this writing journey.

Think of it as a space quinceanera

As always, I spent a good few minutes fishing around for a theme for this post and quinceanera popped up as something related to the number 15.  Here in California quinceanera refers to the party given for a young woman on her 15th birthday, though the usage of the word varies.  But my wife has a friend who is a party planner for these events, which can be huge, and she uses the word to refer to the event, so I will do the same.

Were this the blog of a decade back I would have gone to some effort to dress up the post to go along with the theme.  Look at what I did for the fifth and sixth anniversaries.  These days I am a less invested in the whole thing, so I am going to declare the theme and the almost immediately walk away from it.  If you want to imagine me in a satin party dress with a tiara, that’s all on you.  My wife isn’t sharing those pictures.

If I were feeling motivated I might have tried to work in some key elements of a quinceanera, things like the pinatas, a cake, the dance partner, the first bouquet as a woman, and the last doll of childhood.  But I think I’ll just let you imagine me in the dress.  that is less work and I am starting late this year.

Past Anniversaries

In case you want to revisit the evolution of these annual posts.  As noted above, years five and six are probably peak effort on my part, then like life, it is all down hill from there.

Base Statistics

I was trying to figure out if statistics were the cake or the pinatas.  Pinatas I think, since there are a bunch of them.

Beyond that, we have the same opening set of numbers every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.  The current count is listed below with the change since last year noted in parenthesis.

Days since launch: 5,480 (+366)
Posts total: 6,028 (+419)
Total Words: 4,839,356  (+460,599 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 803 (+22)
Post Likes: 15,164 (+2,578)
Average posts per day: 1.1 (+0.03)
Comments: 35,108 (+1,328)
Average comments per post: 5.82 (-0.21)
Average comments per day: 6.41 (-0.20)
Spam comments: 1,718,916 (+236,368)
Average spam comments per day: 313.67 (+43.1)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 48.9 (+5.9)
Comments written by me: 7,079 or 20.2%
Images uploaded: 18,054 (+1,844)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 13 GB allocation
Blog Followers: 2,073 (+185)
Twitter Followers: 785 (+10)
Tumblr Followers: 36 (+2)
US Presidents since launch: 4
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 8

For some of you that will be enough stats. Others will want to dive deeper, which you can do after the cut.

Continue reading

The Labors of Blaugust 2021

Blaugust is over, another festival of blogging has come and gone.

Technically, according to the calendar, we’re in the “Lessons Learned” week of the event through Saturday, but I haven’t much else to add, so I will just round out the final week with some summing up.

I accomplished my goal.  I published a post every single day in August, 31 in total.  I am pretty sure I have earned the Rainbow Diamond Award for that.  Go me.

For making 31 post during the month of August

Unlike past years, I didn’t run over.  I have, at times, over planned and ended up with 40+ posts.  This year I made quote exactly, 31 posts in 31 days.  I suspect I made up for the fewer posts by writing more words per post, but I’ll leave that analysis for another day.

As is usual, I didn’t spend a lot of time focused on the event.  I tend to potter along on my own without much input.  I generally have more topics in mind, more things in my drafts folder, than I can find time to finish.  That is just me.

Still, even with that, I did managed to find time to do at least two Blaugust focused posts.  They were:

There isn’t a lot new for me to add to my past blogging advice, but I try to come up with something for the event now and then.

Naturally Belghast, who set up the whole event, has a post summing up how things went and who achieved which goals.  I won’t steal all his thunder, but I do like the overall stats.

  • 981 posts were made by Blaugust 2021 Participants
  • 45 Individuals Participated in the event and made at least one post
  • 2 Newbie Bloggers Participated and both made 31 posts
  • 40 out of the 45 participating made at least 5 posts qualifying for Bronze
  • 31 out of the 45 participating made at least 15 posts qualifying for Silver
  • 22 out of the 45 participating made at least 25 posts qualifying for Gold
  • 20 blogers made at least 31 posts qualifying for Rainbow Diamond

So congrats to everybody who participated.  You should take a moment to visit some of the blogs that were involved in the event.

On Blogging, Motivation, and Passion

It is “staying motivated” week in the Blaugust event and I figured it was about time for me to post something Blaugust related.  I have not been very attentive to the event, wandering off in whatever direction takes me, as is my usual pattern.

On the topic of motivation I have a little story.

When my daughter got to middle-school (which for some reason is 5th through 7th grade in our local district, it used to be junior high school when I was that age, and was mostly just 7th and 8th grades), she was able to pick an elective class and she wanted to take band.

It wasn’t an easy choice.  She also wanted to take art, something she enjoyed and was already into.  But band won out because it was new and different.  She went with flute as an instrument, and we went down to the music store and rented her a flute.

She did well enough in band I suppose.  She practiced at home.  She went to all of the events.  She seemed to enjoy it well enough.  She took band for a second year, sticking with the flute.

For the third year of band she switched to the baritone saxophone.  The flute, which was a rent-to-own deal, was paid off just about the time she made the switch.  A baritone sax is a much more expensive instrument, but the school had one for her to use.  She went with the sax both because it was kind of cool… we were watching Bojack Horseman around then, and the opening theme is heavy on the sax… and because the band needed somebody to play it as the person who had been playing moved on to high school.

So we had the bari sax around the house.

Our cat Rigby making himself at home with the sax

She did that for a year, though I think she enjoyed posing with the sax more than she liked playing it.  She borrowed my sunglasses for performances.

Then came eight grade and when she was signing up for classes she asked me, rather hesitantly, if she could not take band.  She wanted to take art.

Her tone said to me that she was afraid we would be disappointed in her choice, but I told her right away that it was fine, she should take art if that was what she wanted.

I explained to her that I could see she wasn’t really into band.  While she practiced as often as was recommended and took things seriously, I had never once seen her play her instrument… flute or sax… just because she wanted to.  She did her time, then moved on to what she really wanted to do, which was often art.

She had no passion for music.  People I know who do will play just to play, will figure out how to play something they heard just from listening to it.  My step-brother used to sit in his room with his headphones on just figuring out a song for hours on end.

Meanwhile, she clearly had a passion for art.  She had a drawing tablet hooked up to her computer, a copy of PhotoShop Elements along with a few other art and design titles, and would sit for hours just trying to get something right… not because she had to but because she wanted to.

I never had to tell her to put down the flute or the sax and go to bed, but I got up a number of times in the middle of the night to tell her to put down her sketch pad and go to sleep.

If you have a passion for something then motivation will come.  And if motivation does not come… well, maybe blogging or band or whatever isn’t really your thing.

Which I guess isn’t a very motivational message.  But maybe it can be a guide to help find motivation.  We all seem to be able to find the time to do the things we really want to do, so if blogging is feeling like a chore, perhaps it isn’t for you.  Or maybe you just haven’t found an aspect of blogging that works for you.

I like writing long winded narratives about what I did in this game or that.  I enjoy telling a story.  I almost always feel I have to establish my relationship with a topic to write about it.

But that is just my style.  There are lots of options.  Some people like to do reviews or game guides or write in the voice of their in-game character or track statistics or complain loudly and make up irrational conspiracies.  There is room for all of that and more.

When you find your niche, motivation will follow.  And if blogging isn’t it at all, then maybe videos or streaming or screen shots or something else is.

Or maybe just cute cat pictures.

Anyway, if you haven’t found motivation here… and I’ll admit that I didn’t have much to offer in that regard… maybe one of the other Blaugust participants can help you along.  There are 46 others from which to choose:

 

Blog Advisory – Feedburner and Akismet

Time for a bit of blog administrative business, which I suppose I could spin as a Blaugust post, it being related to the issues that come with a blog.  Or not.  Either way though, it is a post in Blaugust.  We’re about half way through the month.

Feedburner Email

I have been advised by Marina at Follow.it that Feedburner is discontinuing its email syndication program.  Her company apparently has a substitute service they would like to offer me.

And apparently at some point in the distant past I did post a link for people to get my posts via email.  I don’t remember encouraging it at any point after that, but there it is.  I have long since swapped over to recommending the WordPress.com integrated email delivery.

So, if you are subscribed through Feedburner and wish to continue getting my blog posts in you inbox, you will need to switch over to the WordPress.com service.  It is available in the side bar near the top.  Just enter your email address and it will send you a confirmation email that will let you select your preferred deliver method from “immediately on post” (not recommended unless you want to see all my typos), to “daily summary” (I’ve usually fixed a lot of typos by then), to “weekly summary” (which might be a bit too much of me in a single dose).

Feedburner RSS

There was a time when I used to do blog posts about RSS feed.  I think RSS is dying interface from a more civilized age now.

While we’re on the topic of Feedburner, I pretty sure I mentioned at some point that the Google had removed email account recovery as an option from the service (and from Blogger).  I missed the window for recovering my account and have no clue what the password might be, so I couldn’t migrate their email option over to another service even if I had the inclination to do so.

While Google said that they won’t be shutting down feeds of purging accounts Google, as my wife puts it, “Says a lot of things.”  Whether they mean it in the moment is debatable, but we have all learned that promises from companies have an unlisted expiration date.

So I think I am going to recommend that if you’re using a read to read TAGN, that you go with the default WordPress URL, which i:

https://tagn.wordpress.com/feed

I realize that about seven years back I asked everybody to go the other direction, so all I can do is reinforce my change of heart in meme form.

Use your best judgement

Everything will probably be fine for now if you don’t, but if I suddenly disappear from your feed, that might be the immediate cause.

Akismet

Some of you will recognize the name Akismet as the spam comment protection package that comes with… or at least used to come with… WP.com hosted blogs.  I reference it in my blog anniversary posts most years to indicate how many spam comments end up here.  I even have the counter widget down at the bottom of the side bar.

Well, Akismet was broken on WP.com for a stretch, at least for some sites.  That meant rather than about 200 spam comments landing in my spam folder every day I was getting at least 2,000 spam comments to go through, and usually more.

Which means that if you left a comment and it landed in the spam folder this month, I probably didn’t see it.  I am pretty good about going through and fishing out such comments, but when the number gets into the thousands, I just don’t have the will.

WP.com took their time getting to things.  I sent them a note a couple weeks ago, got a response back about ten days later that referred me to a bug they had opened on the issue, and then they closed the support ticket.  The bug got fixed about a week later, which isn’t bad I guess.

But if you leave a comment and it disappears you can always use the contact form on the About page to ask about it.  If I know the name on the comment I can almost always find it.

6,000

Also, after writing this I was looking at the stats and realized that yesterday was post 5,999, which means that this is my 6,000th post.  Another meaningless milestone achieved.

One Blog or Multiple?

Aywren Sojourner brought the idea of multiple blogs back into my brain with their new blog Spot of Mummery; is it better to have multiple, topic focused blogs or one sprawling somewhat generalist blog?  This seems like a Blaugust aligned post, so let’s at least pretend it is part of that theme.

I must admit, as somebody who gets turned on in the organizer section of office supply stores, the idea of having nice, neat little silos of content segregated out by topic does have some appeal to me.

I have, over the years, experimented with multiple blogs.  This was actually blog number two for me, after I did a test blog elsewhere.  And since the founding of this blog I have spun up a number of others, including:

There were a couple others I have since deleted, including an RP tell all of what really happened with Vanguard and SOE.  That whole “Stuff” topic was a meme about a decade back.  I think “Stuff MMO Gamers Like” could still be a decent group blogging project, or a weekly column at Massively or some such.

Of those, only EVE Online Pictures is still active, and that is largely due to it being just a screen shot blog.

There are certainly benefits to the idea of having a blog with a single focus.  Being a one topic blog helps you cater to your audience because they know what they’re going to get, at least in some general way, with each blog post.  If you have a WoW blog, they can safely assume that your next post and the post after that and so on is going to be in some way tied up with WoW.

And, in some ways, I think having a single focus blog is a bit of an enabler to really go deep on various aspects of your game of choice, from lore to fashion to mechanics to all the various peripheral topics that add up around a title.  You can do that because your audience has self-selected itself to be attuned to all of that.

Meanwhile, not having a single focus has caused me a bit of bother over the years.  I have missed out on being “in the club” on a few fronts. I have been refused links from WoW blogs and was kicked out of the EVE Blog Pack due to my lack of purity.  WoW players come here and tell me this really and EVE Online blog and EVE Online players tell me it is actually a WoW blog. (And occasionally an EVE player will say this is an EVE blog, but then will complain it is a null sec blog and they only like wormhole blogs or whatever.)

They’re not right… but they’re not totally wrong either.

TAGN isn’t WoW or EVE or EQ or LOTRO or whatever MMO title you care to mention blog.  It isn’t even a genre blog anymore, as I have strayed off the MMORPG path more than a few times.  Look at all the posts about Valheim and Minecraft. Think of all the Pokemon posts!

Given the amount of stuff I have written about movies, TV, and other topics I suspect that you could make the case that this isn’t really even a video game blog.  Should I change TAGN to mean “Tales About General News” already?

If you come here you think you might know what I am going to write about, and you’ll probably be right a few days out of the week, but at times if will be a surprise.

And, because I can go off on various games and other topics, I do have to be a little opaque in my writing.  I cannot assume that everybody knows the jargon of whatever game I am writing about.  I often spend a bit of time explaining what I mean rather than just diving into things.  That isn’t a bad thing, and I am sure some of my EVE Online posts could use more explanation at times, it being a title rife with jargon, but I do have to write for a more general audience.

On the flip side, the minor problems that arise from my lack of focus aside, my generalist approach to blogging has a few advantages.

Being a bit more explanatory also makes for easier comprehension on my part when I go back and read old posts.  This I knew or which were current in that moment do not always last.

I am also less constrained on topics.  I write about video games in general and MMORPGs specifically most of the time, but if I get the urge to write about old computer hardware or a typewriter I still have or a road trip to LA, I can take a detour and go down that path.  I used to feel a little self-conscious about that back in the early days.

That and there are times when I don’t have a lot to say about a given game.  If this were and EVE Online or a WoW focused blog I am not sure I could manage more than three or four posts a week.  Maybe.  Or I would have to drop into more detail, get more into the nuts and bolts.  My posts now tend to be general sweeps and tales of my own misadventures.

And, of course, given the number of times I have changed games, having a game focused blog would inevitably lead to long dead periods when I was off playing something else.  Over the last ten years I have only remained subscribed to EVE Online the whole time.  Other titles tend to come and go.

Then there is the number of blogs I would need to keep going.  Look at the category list on the side bar.  If I had the foresight to roll up a fresh blog just for the titles about which I have posted 200 or more times, I would need an easy half dozen blogs.

Being honest, I would have no doubt lacked that level of foresight, so would have ended up with at least a couple dozen blogs, most languishing without updates, focused on titles from Warhammer Online to Neverwinter to Vanguard to EverQuest Next.  Pretty much assume that any game that is a category that has a dozen or more posts would have ended up being a blog.

Not a viable path for me, though that says more about me than about blogging I am sure.

That doesn’t even begin to explore what happens if the company that develops your game of choice turns out to be run by horrible people.  That was the case for Riot previously and Blizzard currently.

Finally, it has been my experience that readers of this blog at least tend to be as much creatures of habit as I am, so jumping around between multiple sites or starting up new ones would break their routine as much as my own.  Better to just let everything land here.

I do admire the focus of single game blogs.  Sometimes I think it would have been nice to have gone deeper on one game or another, to have been able to maintain that level of focus.  What if I had gone all in on EQII at launch or something like that?  But it just isn’t in me.

So I carry on with a single blog for words, where all my posts are collected.  It is a bit chaotic and finding what you’re looking for depends on me correctly and consistently categorizing and tagging my posts.  (I do the former fairly well, but the latter can be a bit of a crap shoot.)

But this is Blaugust, so I wonder what others think about having multiple blogs or blogs that manage to focus on a single game.

And since this is a Blaugust related post, here is the list of those participating in the event.

 

Welcome to Blaugust 2021

The time has come again, the annual neighborhood blogging event has arrived.

As I mentioned previous, back in the day this was a bit of a hardcore event, an attempt to get people to blog every day for a month.  But the blogging neighborhood was a bit different in 2014.  That can be a bit daunting for some.  We all write at our own pace and along the way the event became more one of cross-pollination, bloggers coming together to meet up, share a few ideas and opinions, and to link out to each other.

So I will get right to that first bit.  Here are the bloggers signed up for the 2021 event.

That is 47 bloggers as I write this.  We’ll see if I remember to update that number if the list grows.  And it could grow, because it it NOT TOO LATE to join in.  You can do it.  Just go read the informational post about the event, fill out the sign up sheet, and join the Discord server to say hello.

Believe me, it is easy to get started because you can just write a Welcome to Blaugust post like this and you’re already on your way.  It is practically a freebie, something a lazy person like myself appreciates.

There is, of course, some loose structure to the whole thing.  It isn’t required, but it there to give you something to chew on if you’re looking for a post idea.

The 2021 Calendar

The ambitious will be out the gate on day one with the theme of the week.  And then there is me, who will get to it on the Saturday, hitting the publish button at the last minute.  But you don’t have to get on board for that.  I just feel mildly obligated because I signed up as a mentor, so ought to lead by example or something.

Actually, I guess I am ahead this week.  As I said, “Welcome to Blaugust” is a bit of a gimme.  Others have already done theirs, but I am not as late as usual to the party.  If I were feeling ambitious I would list them all out, but I just put in a list of links to all the participating blogs, so you can just click on that if you want to see who is already on board.

There are still achievements to be earned, if you so desire.

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it! You created a new blog and we are extremely happy to welcome you into this raucous community. As a result we are going to recognize your efforts just for signing up.
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2021.
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted 31 or more posts during the month of August 2021.

I personally aspire to the Rainbow Diamond Award.  I will try to post every day this month, proving both that it can be done and that you can make a bunch of blog posts and still not have anything profound to say.

Every blogger has their own style and standards.  Some sit on their posts and polish them.  Some won’t post unless they have something new and different to say. (“Should I repeat myself?” is often a topic of discussion on the Discord server.  I say you should, and certainly if you have had any change of heart of feel there is more that could be added.)

And then there is this blog, where everything is a first draft, a bit of a gut reaction, a memory jotted down in the moment that can be reconsidered at a later date.  For me it is better to have written and posted and the only posts I really regret are the ones I did not make.

Anyway, I’m already a post into the month, so I am on my way.

For those interested in the event… and I must stress that it is NOT TOO LATE to join in… you can find all the relevant information here.

The Return of Blaugust 2021

That time of year is upon us, the month of August, traditionally a slow time for many thing, video games included, when we get together to celebrate, focus on, and write about blogging.

It is time for Blaugust!

Once a bit of a hardcore event… the 2014 goal of the first Blaugust was to publish a blog post of some minimum length every day for a month… oh, and gaming blogs only… the whole thing has relaxed over the years (and sort of absorbed the Newbie Blogger event we used to have) to be more of a reflection and discussion of blogging, even for blogs that are not about video games.  It is a reminder that we have a community of bloggers.

The calendar for the event has been posted, which covers the suggested topic for each week of the event.  The topics are purely optional, but it is often interesting to see how multiple people approach each of them.

The 2021 Calendar

These days you don’t even have to have a blog to join in.  You can use the sign up form and designate yourself as a “supporter” and just come hang out on the Discord server if you like.

Which isn’t to say the event lacks any push to post.  It is still focused on blogging and promoting interaction between blogs and bloggers, and there are still badges to be earned for different levels of participation.  For 2021 they are:

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it! You created a new blog and we are extremely happy to welcome you into this raucous community. As a result we are going to recognize your efforts just for signing up
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2021
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted 31 or more posts during the month of August 2021

So if you are an old school blogger, a new blogger, want to start a blog, or just want to talk about blogging, this is an event for you.  The range of participants generally runs from brand new bloggers to grizzled blogging veterans, all of whom seem to have opinions on blogging platforms, style, topics, and the trivia of the blogging process.

Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, who runs the who thing, has all the current details up in a blog post on his site, so go check it out and get ready for the coming of Blaugust 2021.