Category Archives: blog thing

The Dozens

We have now arrived at the twelve year mark of the blog.  In looking for a title, The Dozens sprang to mind one evening and I thought it was a theme I could run with.  I would just replace the usual array of category titles with self-deprecating insults about the deficiencies of the blog.  Things like, “Your blogging is so weak, you only get accidental traffic from Google” or “You ramble so much that when you post around the house you post all the way around the house.”

Only, you know, actually funny.

That was back in February or so.  I created the placeholder post, scheduled it so I wouldn’t accidentally publish it, then went on to do almost nothing with it until about a week ago.

So here I am an all I have to show for that title is a stock photo of eggs.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

WordPress.com has access to a library of free stock photos and that is literally the best I could come up with for the word “dozen.”  And I am not even sure what that green braided cord is.  Some sort of vegan whip maybe?

Seriously, this sort of post looms over me at times, in part because I’ve done a credible job on occasion with this anniversary thing.  I mean, go back and look at years five or six. (Cue linking to past efforts!)

Year six was pretty cute.  But where I am I lately?  Elf?  Is that all I’ve got?  And now a stock photo of a dozen eggs?  And WP.com didn’t even pop my anniversary achievement in time for this post, so I had to mock up my own.

Pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing

Anyway, I am as half-assed in this as I am in so many things, so maybe I should just move on to some numbers.  Numbers are good.  I can hide in numbers.

Base Statistics

Days since launch: 4,383 (+365)
Posts total: 4,794 (+378)
Total Words: 3,537,779 (not including this post)
Average words per post: 738.11
Post Likes: 6,765
Average posts per day: 1.093 (-0.04)
Comments: 30,781 (+1,366)
Average comments per post: 6.42 (-0.24)
Average comments per day: 7.01 (-0.31)
Spam comments: 1,449,941 (+73,796)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 434 (+10)
Average spam comments per day: 330.8 (-11.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 47.2 (+2)
Comments written by me: 4,198 or 13.7% (+0.6%)
Images uploaded: 13,143 (+1,379)
Space used by images: 603.7MB of my 3 GB allocation (20%, up 11%)
Blog Followers: 1,492 (+152)
Twitter Followers: 729 (+7)
Tumblr Followers: 26 (+4)
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 7 (+1)

I have at least kept up with my goal of posting every weekday… and then some.  I am actually up 24 posts over last year which puts me over the one a day mark again.

Comments were down quite sharply in the first half of the year.  The inertia of past years and a rather active August kept the average up, but the comments per post from January to June dropped in half over the previous years.  I suspect that I didn’t write much controversial or stunning during that period, but it was still a pretty sharp fall off.

Anyway, those are the basic stats.  After the cut there are a lot more bits of data about the blog, some you may have seen in past years along with a few new items this year.

Continue reading

The Labors of Blaugust

You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Blaugust has come and gone and many blog posts were written.  We can rest from writing all of those posts now on Labor Day… at least here in the US.

Blaugust Reborn

Blaugust was indeed reborn as bloggers old and new flocked to the banner and cranked out in excess of verbiage and videos and screen shots.  According to Belghast the numbers looked like this:

  • 90 blogs signed up in Blaugust Reborn 2018
  • 83 bloggers made at least one post during the month
  • We added 1404 more than new blog posts to the community as a result of Blaugust Reborn
  • This equated to an average of 45 new blog posts per day
  • 26 Bloggers had 31 or more posts

Despite the entry for me on that post I actually posted 40 times during August, which exceeded even my usual excess of posting.

Days I Posted

The days in light blue are one post, the days in darker blue are two posts.  I generally try to avoid three posts on a day unless the situation demands it.  I have only done so once this year.  Those days appear as black.

So I didn’t miss a day in August and, when it came down to it, I only missed one day in July and two days in June… and I was on a cruise for a week in June.  I was on a 55 day straight posting streak until yesterday I guess.

Anyway, getting in a post a day for the event earns you the Rainbow Award.

Rainbow Achievement Award 2018

Now to keep an eye on all those people who joined in on the event.  I know a few quit part way into the month.  Blogging is work.  It takes time from other things.  Unless you’ve been bitten by the writing bug and caught the inclination, fever, obsession, or or whatever you want to call it, it can be tough to carry on.  But that is fine.  Not everybody has to go crazy and we need people to read, like, and occasionally comment as well!  I think the article about finding the time over at Contains Moderate Peril is a good post about that sort of thing.  People generally find the time to do the things they really want to do.

As for posts about Blaugust and blogging itself, I managed to get in a few.  I generally don’t have a problem coming up with something to post about, but making myself post about a specific topic when I don’t feel it is another story, so I strayed from the suggested topics more and more as time went on.

There is probably some useful information to be gleaned from those posts.  Maybe.  Some mentor I am.  But my primary advice to bloggers and aspiring bloggers remains:

Be the blog you want to read

Focus on the topics that interest you.  Write about the things you want to remember.  Be angry or happy or enthusiastic or crazy about the things that bring out emotions in you.  Your blog should bring you happiness.  You should crave to write and enjoy going back over what you have written.  If you write long enough your blog can become a self-sustaining nostalgia machine.  That might even be a good thing. (More on that in another post.)

The month itself even saw a boost in page views, comments, and likes here at TAGN.  As I said before, it is gratifying when some extra work has some noticeable difference.  I even participated a bit in the Blaugust Discord channel.  That is a bit unusual for me.  Despite being a blogger, an undeniably extroverted endeavor, I tend to be very quiet in groups, and the more people in the group the less I am likely to say.  I think Discord worked out better than Anook did in previous years.

Anyway, a hearty cheer to those who participated in some way.  I will list them all out below one last time this year.  While 90 blogs were signed up, only 88 ended up with something to which I could link.  RSS feeds for all of the sites can be found at a post over at Armagon Live.

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. A Hobbits Journey
  3. Aeternus Gaming
  4. Ald Shot First
  5. Arc’s Oddities
  6. Armagon Live
  7. Ash’s Adventures
  8. Athernes Adventures
  9. Aywren Sojourner
  10. barely readable diary
  11. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  12. Bio Break
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Brain Dump
  15. Built on a Daydream
  16. Calamity Jess
  17. Can I Play Too
  18. Casual Aggro
  19. Cinemaxia
  20. Contains Moderate Peril
  21. Daily Creative Thinking
  22. Deez Wurds
  23. Diary of a Guild Leader
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism
  26. Galumphing
  27. Gamer Girl Confessions
  28. Gaming Conversations
  29. GamingSF
  30. Geeky Dad Fitness
  31. Glyffe
  32. Going Commando
  33. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  34. Heattanu’s Game
  35. I’m Not Squishy
  36. Inventory Full
  37. JVT Workshop
  38. Knifesedge Blogs
  39. leaflocker
  40. Learn Japanese Online
  41. Leeterati
  42. Magen Tales
  43. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  44. Me vs. Myself and I
  45. MMO Syndicate
  46. Mmosey
  47. Moonshine Mansion
  48. Municipal City
  49. Murf Versus
  50. Nerdy Bookahs
  51. Neverwinter Thoughts
  52. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  53. Ocarina Farms
  54. Party Business
  55. Pizza Maid
  56. Plan B Better
  57. Princess in a Castle
  58. Professorbeej is Awesome
  59. Psychochild’s Blog
  60. RandomX
  61. RunningShoes.tv
  62. Ryuh Note
  63. Scarybooster
  64. Self-Distract Sequence
  65. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  66. Shards of Imagination
  67. Simply Janine
  68. Soul of the Forest
  69. Stabbed Up
  70. StarShadow
  71. Stropp’s World
  72. Symphony On A Chip
  73. Tales from the Backlog
  74. Tales of the Aggronaut
  75. TechJoy2Day
  76. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  77. The MMOist
  78. The Parent Trope
  79. The Path They Walk
  80. Thinking Play
  81. ThisThingIsNeat
  82. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  83. TroytlePower
  84. Unidentified Signal Source
  85. Welshtroll
  86. What’s Occuring
  87. Why I Game
  88. WoW Alt Addiction

We shall see who comes back for another round next Blaugust.

Blaugust and Editorial Policy

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

James Nicoll

Another Blaugust feature, but now I have completely parted ways with the suggested topics and am wandering aimlessly through strange locations.

Blaugust Reborn

For some reason I want to write about editorial policy.  But not in any particularly helpful way I am sure, which probably keeps this post in line with the editorial policy here at TAGN.

At one point the LEGO Group had issued a set of guidelines for anybody setting up a fan site on the web.  This was ages ago, in the late 90s if I recall right, when companies were still suspicious of the web and worried what letting a bunch of randos talk about their product might do to their ability to protect their trademarks and such.

The guidelines looked to be a variation on what was likely their internal brand guide, a sort of document that I have seen at many companies, that makes sure that the company name, logo, and products are all used in a consistent and appropriate manner.

So it was full of things like the fact that the name LEGO should always be in all caps and should have the registered trademark symbol after it in all cases and that the company logo should always use a certain set of colors and always be at the correct aspect ratio, never cropped or stretched, and that you should never refer to LEGO brand construction blocks as “LEGOs” and so forth.  It had a bit of a thuggish air about it, the implication that if you setup a LEGO fan site and did not comply with all of this that they might come shut you down.  And hell, Nintendo has done worse from time to time in the name of protecting their trademarks and such.

Wired wrote an article about the whole thing and, on reading it I asked an acquaintance who worked there why they wrote out the company name as “Lego” when the company had, if not politely, at least made itself clear that they preferred “LEGO,” which was, if not an acronym, the conjunction of two words mashed together.  He told me, in not so many words, “Lego doesn’t write out editorial guidelines, so we’ll call them whatever we feel like.”

I don’t know why this little tales has stuck with me over the years.  That print media has editorial guidelines about usage is hardly news to me.  I had professors in college rant about correct usage.  I’ve witnessed holy wars between adherents of The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook.

And “holy war” is the apt term, because either of those books, or any other pretender, is primarily a matter of belief as opposed to any objective fact.  The English language is chaotic and cannot be tamed.  But that chaos makes it a hell of a lot of fun at times.

So while this blog has a staff of exactly one person, that person fills all the roles.  I am writer, editor, publisher, and the person who empties the waste bin at night.  And as such I have, over the years, developed what I think of as my own set of editorial guidelines to which I attempt to adhere.

In the early days I wrote just to write and embraced the chaos.  But the accountant in me will ever show up and I began to organize a bit, working with categories and tags, because what is the use of writing something if you cannot find it again.

I also started in on what became recurring features, regular milestones on this journey through and around my video gaming life, the first of which was the month in review post.  That started as a whim but quickly evolved into a pillar of the site, at least for me.

My writing, the way I approach posts, evolved as well.  In the early days I wrote a lot of shorter posts.  In 2007 I wrote 490 posts that averaged 482 words each.  Last year I wrote 350 posts which had 932 words each on average.

I also started adopting some standards for how I refer to games.  At one point I decided that I needed to put game titles in italics.  Somewhere one of my English teachers probably sleeps a little more soundly.

I also decided to make sure that I wrote out the name of the game which I was writing about in full near the start of each post.  I have read many a post where the game in question is mentioned either as an unclear acronym or not mentioned at all, leaving me to wonder what the writer is going on about.  Sometimes I can guess from context, but not always, so I wanted to ensure that anybody who showed up here would not find themselves likewise vexed.

So I write out the full name, in italics, then use a short form after that, so World of Warcraft becomes WoW and EVE Online becomes EVE.

There are also bits of usage that are just because I like it that way.  I always capitalize EVE in EVE Online, mostly because that is the way CCP styles it.  On the other had Trion Worlds can spell out Rift in all caps from now until the end of time and I’ll never follow suit.  It just ain’t gonna happen.

And I always write out acronyms in all caps.  It irks me when the BBC writes out Nasa rather than NASA, like it was a word.

And none of it has to make any logical sense, as though much in the English language ever does.  It just has to please me.  And, likewise, what you do on your blog just has to please you, even if you don’t write out Nasa in all caps.

Blaugust and Making Comments on Comments

In which I try to write another post that is somewhat relevant to the spirit of Blaugust.

Blaugust Reborn

I have admittedly fallen completely off the writing prompts for the event.  I think we’re supposed to write something nice about developers or something this week, but I don’t have anything for that, so I am writing this instead.  This is why I write a blog solo and not as a collaborative effort or, heaven forbid, for a site run by somebody else.  I will write about what I damn well please when it damn well pleases me.

So I am going to write about comments.  Blog comments.

As noted elsewhere, getting a comment on a blog post… at least a comment that isn’t trying to sell you Cialis or a school public address system… why are there even spam comments for school public address system… does a lot to keep a blogger motivated.

Page views are nice, but they are sterile.  A large percentage of the traffic that comes to this blog arrives via Google and is likely made up of people who, if not here by a complete mistake, are unlikely to stick around and become fans of the site.  By my own estimate there are maybe 80 to 100 regular readers of the site, not all of whom visit every day.  So if I have a day with a thousand page views I am pretty sure at least 90% of that are people who are just passing through, never to be seen again, an estimate sustained by how often “gay elf porn” shows up in the search terms that bring people here.

And 90% is probably optimistic.  As like as not that number could close in on 99% some days, and it might as well be 100% if the only feedback I ever see is page views.

But a comment… a comment if affirmation that somebody showed up and read what you wrote and was invested enough to write a response.  A good comment can be a motivator, inspiration to carry on blogging, a source of ongoing topics, and a reason to check your notifications.  Comments help sustain blogging.

So as a blogger, and one who has some level of feelings for blogging and the local neighborhood of blogs, I ought to be out there leaving comments.  I am pretty sure I’ve brought this up before, but most recently Syp mentioned it in a Blaugust post of his own.  He is, by his own admission, a hypocrite on that front, but at least he admits it.  A Syp comment is a rare item indeed.

I am not as bad as him on that front, but I do feel I could comment more often.  Whether or not I comment often depends on my mood, the time, and which device I am using to read a post.  I am extremely unlikely to leave a comment from my phone.  On the other hand, if I am sitting at my desk at home in the evening and trying to write a blog post for the next day I am very likely to wander off to other blogs and leave comments in an a not too subtle method of avoiding the work at hand.

But, as a blogger, there is a whole different aspect of comments to consider, which is the reply to comments on your own blog.

I am, again, not as good at this as I probably should be.  Going back once again to last year’s Syp-scaring statistical nightmare of an anniversary blog post, I write about 13% of the comments on this blog.

Viewed from the “motivating me as a blogger” point of view, that seems like a lot.  It is me typing away more than one in ten times, like I don’t spew enough words in my posts to begin with.

On the flip side, as somebody who leaves comments, that seems like it might not be very much at all.  I likely do not respond to comments often enough, and I measure that from my own experience and reaction to the affairs on other blogs.

To pick on Syp again, because he is a famous actually-gets-paid-to-write person in our blogging neighborhood, as well as a convenient scapegoat, I often pass up leaving a comment over at Bio Break because I know he almost never replies.  What the hell is up with that?  He rarely even leaves a comment on his own blog.

And I have to admit if I go to a blog and leave comments on any sort of regular basis and never see any response, then my motivation to keep it up diminishes over time.  I mostly comment on Syp’s blog because I recognize most of the people who also comment and it is more to have a conversation with them than to respond to Syp who, so far as I know, rarely even reads the comments.

I compare this to leaving a comment over at Inventory Full where I know that Bhagpuss will respond to nearly every comment left.  By his own admission this is directly related to his pre-blogging time when he used to just comment on blogs and explained how much getting a response motivated him to continue leaving comments.

So, while not the worst at responding to comments, I could stand to improve.

Part of my issue there is a general problem with acknowledging praise.  If somebody goes negative or disagrees I will dive right in, but if somebody says something nice I am silent.

And that sort of applies to leaving comments as well.  It isn’t all that common for me to just say something nice unless I have something to add to what was written.  I feel as embarrassed leaving just a compliment as I do when getting one.  Generally I will try to find a way to link directly to a post I like as a sideways way of acknowledgement rather than a comment.

Anyway, I have meandered around for a thousand words now to say that we should all leave more comments, myself included.  And replies.  More replies.

Also, if you’re going to leave a response to a comment and you’re on a blog that doesn’t have threaded comments that sticks replies directly to the comment in question, at least give some hint as to the person to whom you are replying.  If you don’t like using “@heyyou” in your comments, at least mention the person in passing.  The tidy aspect of me hates the ambiguous reply where you aren’t sure who the reply is aimed.

Finally, to get to this week’s real prompts; game devs, thanks for doing your thing.  Sorry some of the community goes nuts every so often or thinks that you have to tailor every single game ever to their needs.  But that is ever the flip side of passion.  Everybody loves when people are hyped up about their product, but hates it when that goes wrong.  If you ride the lightning you’re bound to get shocked now and then.  Also, sorry about the crappy pay and that I likely didn’t buy your game.  But if you wanted money you could have sold your soul to enterprise software like I did.

Blaugust and Consolidating Your Blog Reading

Sure, one of the main aspects of Blaugust is getting people to start up or keep going with their blogs, writing, if not every day, at least more than usual.

Blaugust Reborn

But the reverse of that coin is reading blogs.  If we’re all busy writing more than usual we should all make some time to go read some of this extra output.

However, we as a group, and blogs in general, are a scattered bunch, with addresses all over the internet.  And, while you could easily favorite/bookmark all your regular sites in your browser, that still means you have to go and check up on each and every one regularly to see what is up.  If you check daily, then the less regular sites will start to seem a wasted effort, while if you check less frequently then those daily posting sites will be a chore to keep up with.

What you need is something you can check that will show you the new stuff.  Well, the internet has you covered, though not as well covered as it once did.  Here are some options for reading blog posts.

RSS Feed Readers

This is likely the default approach for most people, and there has traditionally been a lot of options in this area, both online and offline.  Back in the day I used to use an offline reader for both RSS and UseNet because always-on internet wasn’t a thing, and even when it was I felt the need to archive some sites.

Google Reader changed that.  It was light, readable, and had a lot of additional, useful functionality and dominated the RSS reader market for a stretch.  At one point damn near everything, from Outlook to Firefox, had RSS reader functionality, but why complete with free from Google.  Then Google killed Google Reader, hoping that we would all swap over to GooglePlus.  I’m still annoyed about that five years later.

So some of us were left looking for alternatives, none of which quite lived up to Google Reader of old.  Meanwhile, the continued growth of social media caused some of the options to, if not give up on RSS, reduce the importance of RSS compared to other areas.  NetVibes went that way as an example.  Other sites, like Digg, that would have been well positioned to pick up the slack, had long since wandered away from RSS.  Digg actually killed off their reader.  Still, there are some decent choices out there:

The Old Reader – An attempt to recreate the Google Reader experience, a light and useful online reader, and a good one at that.  It is still doesn’t have features that Google Reader had back in 2008, but it has gone in other directions to connect with social media.  A solid choice, and it is free last I checked.

Feedly – Where I ended up after Google Reader.  Solid, has a UI that works for me, and free for basic functionality.  I pay for premium which, among other things, lets me hook it up to IFTTT in order to run the blog feed in my side bar.  Still lacks features that Google Reader had in 2008 and is building out new features in directions that do not interest me personally.  Also is starting to get a bit too smart for itself.  If, for example, a site you follows changes its RSS feed URL, Feedly won’t let you just add it without jumping through some hoops.  It keeps trying to force you back to the original address.

NewBlur – Another site that benefited from the demise of Google Reader, so much so that the new traffic brought it down.  Another solid choice.  I am not in love with the UI, but I am picky about things like that.  Worth looking into.

There are others out there, but none that I have any experience with, though I would be interested to know about others.  Do you use Comma Feed, RSS Owl, or some other reader?  Consider that a Blaugust writing prompt if you want.

WordPress.com Reader

I wanted to break out the WP.com reader for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it isn’t strictly an RSS reader.  Also, I have been critical and dismissive of it over the years, but it has finally grown into usefulness.  Among its benefits:

  • Easy to follow other WP.com blogs with that follow button
  • Can still follow non-WP.com blogs
  • Can use categories and tags to find blogs

That last item is the biggest feature to my mind.  WP.com has long had a strong yet almost unknown tag and category feature.  You can, for example, create an RSS feed from a WP.com tag or category and see all the posts that use it.  For example, this one does it for the tag “eve online”:

http://en.wordpress.com/tag/eve-online/feed/

This is why I get annoyed when people are lazy about tagging, especially when they uses “wow” instead of “world of warcraft” or “eve” instead of “eve online” for their posts.  The latter choices are specific, the former generic and used for many other things.

Anyway, you can search by tag or category to find new blogs.  I have found a few new MMORPG blogs that way.  I have a regular set of tags I look at for just that sort of thing.

The downside of the reader is that the interface isn’t ideal for me as I tend to prefer a compact view with more titles on the screen, and there is no reading the whole post.  Still, if you have a blog on WP.com, you should check this out, if only to find new blogs.

Bhagpuss’ Side Bar

Once again I pitch how great the Blogger blog roll widget can be, at least if you configure it correctly. (I have seen it configured badly.)  Go look at Inventory Full and check out how it is done.

There are long dormant blogs on the Blogger platform that still send me a regular trickle of traffic because of that blog roll widget.

If you want a reader of your own it is a legit option to create a blog on Blogger and use the blogroll widget to display the latest posts.  You don’t even have to put it on the side bar.  You can configure the feed to use the main space of the layout.

Use This List

Anyway, now that you are thinking about readers you can use the list below, which features all of the participating blogs this Blaugust, as a place to start populating your reader.  If you just want the RSS feed links you can find a list over at Armagon Live.  It should be at least as up to date as my own list.

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. A Hobbits Journey
  3. Aeternus Gaming
  4. Ald Shot First
  5. Arc’s Oddities
  6. Armagon Live
  7. Ash’s Adventures
  8. Athernes Adventures
  9. Aywren Sojourner
  10. barely readable diary
  11. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  12. Bio Break
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Brain Dump
  15. Built on a Daydream
  16. Calamity Jess
  17. Can I Play Too
  18. Casual Aggro
  19. Cinemaxia
  20. Contains Moderate Peril
  21. Daily Creative Thinking
  22. Deez Wurds
  23. Diary of a Guild Leader
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Fresh Eyes in Gaming
  26. Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism
  27. Galumphing
  28. Gamer Girl Confessions
  29. Gaming Conversations
  30. GamingSF
  31. Geeky Dad Fitness
  32. Glyffe
  33. Going Commando
  34. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  35. Heattanu’s Game
  36. I’m Not Squishy
  37. Inventory Full
  38. JVT Workshop
  39. Knifesedge Blogs
  40. leaflocker
  41. Learn Japanese Online
  42. Leeterati
  43. Magen Tales
  44. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  45. Me vs. Myself and I
  46. MMO Syndicate
  47. Mmosey
  48. Moonshine Mansion
  49. Municipal City
  50. Murf Versus
  51. Nerdy Bookahs
  52. Neverwinter Thoughts
  53. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  54. Ocarina Farms
  55. Party Business
  56. Pizza Maid
  57. Plan B Better
  58. Princess in a Castle
  59. Professorbeej is Awesome
  60. Psychochild’s Blog
  61. RandomX
  62. RunningShoes.tv
  63. Ryuh Note
  64. Scarybooster
  65. Self-Distract Sequence
  66. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  67. Shards of Imagination
  68. Simply Janine
  69. Soul of the Forest
  70. Stabbed Up
  71. StarShadow
  72. Stropp’s World
  73. Symphony On A Chip
  74. Tales from the Backlog
  75. Tales of the Aggronaut
  76. TechJoy2Day
  77. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  78. The MMOist
  79. The Parent Trope
  80. The Path They Walk
  81. Thinking Play
  82. ThisThingIsNeat
  83. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  84. TroytlePower
  85. Unidentified Signal Source
  86. Welshtroll
  87. What’s Occuring
  88. Why I Game
  89. WoW Alt Addiction

 

It Is Blaugust and What Should I Even Write About?

Blaugust is upon us.  We are off and running.  If you want to see everybody involved, I am trying to keep the list I made up to date on my first post about this year’s Blaugust.

Blaugust Reborn

And according to the organizing post this week is:

  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.

After a dozen years you might think I have a plan here, a guide as to how to crank out a post almost every single weekday for year after year, with enough ideas left over that I have to double up some days or move into the weekends.  According to my eleventh anniversary statistical nightmare post, I had written, on average, 1.097 posts per day over the life of the blog up to that point.

And I seem to be keeping on that track.  I wrote 34 posts just last month, 32 in June, 31 in May, and 32 in April.  You have to go back to March to find me slipping under one a day, and then I wrote 27, which is still more than my target of one every weekday.

So how do I manage this?

I’ve covered bits and pieces of this before, especially during the old Newbie Blogger Initiative, where I tried to dispense what little practical advice I could muster.  In a lot of ways blogging is a very personal thing and the topics I pick and the way I go about writing work for me but likely wouldn’t work for you.  Different experiences, different lives, different values, all sorts of things drive what we do.

But I will straight up say that one piece of advice I gave out during the 2015 NBI stands pretty true:

And Low standards. I cannot emphasize how much just wanting to write something, versus wanting to write something good, helps out.

A lot of days it is that simple.  I don’t want to write something epic or filled with deeper meaning or pithy quotable passages or that is headline news and gets thousands of page views or retweets.  I just want to jot down something about video games I am playing.  Some observation or change or marking or a current or past event.

There is a strong nostalgia thread in what I write, or a history thread if you prefer.  I am still cranking out posts about TorilMUD, an online game I started playing back in late 1993, which was almost 25 years ago on my calendar. (I actually have three more posts about TorilMUD in draft form, so we’re not done there yet.)

But in writing about that I often come across things I wish I could remember or had written down some place.  I wish I could remember, as an example, the start and end dates of the various iterations of the MUD.  So, to some extent, knowing that I am missing so much information on games I have played in the past drives me, and that is basically everything before late 2006.

There is the difficulty of finding some of that information.  Yes, WoW is pretty well documented.  I can find a screen shot of Captain Placeholder when I need it.   But there is this line in the late 90s, before digital cameras were everywhere and when disk space was at a premium compared to now, where information dries up pretty quickly.  And even more recent but smaller games can pass by without much coverage.  And none of that marks what I was doing at the time.  I need to do that, and to do that I must write!

So you might reasonably expect this blog to have a lot of very short posts.  I think one every weekday is too few for my state goal.  So how am I doing so far this year?

2018 Site Stats Through July 31

So I am writing about a post a day.  July 31 was the 212th day of the year.  But I am writing what many might consider longer posts.  An average of a thousand words each feels like a lot to me.  I will run on.

Sometimes I run on to capture details that I know I will want.  Often in my EVE Online posts about fleet operations I will mention things that happened in the fleet, like an argument breaking out over BBQ sauce, because that flavor… heh… my memories when I go back and read the post a year later.  Other times I run on in order to pile up a few things into a single post, so rather than three posts about World of Warcraft I might end up getting everything into one longer post.

Sometimes I wish I would just opt for shorter, single topic posts.  It makes going back to look for details easier at times.  But pushing things together also has value in at least establishing context and relationships between topics.

And, of course, I cheat a bit as well.  I have a structure to some of my posts.  There are posts that recur monthly, or even weekly in the case of Fantasy Movie League, which give me something to write about on a regular basis.  Knowing that on Wednesday I have a post already can be a help.  Knowing that the last day of every month will be the Month in Review posts is nice.  And that is one I can start working on in advance.  I already have the bulk of August in Review written, since those posts are mostly the looks back to what was going on a year, five years, and ten years ago.  And knowing that I am going to do a post about the New Eden Monthly Economic Report and SuperData’s digital sales charts fills in some of the gaps.  Some times it is nice to have a regular topic.  It is almost a day off.  And then things get busy and I have a dozen topics I want to write about and I end up doubling up on those days all the same.

Back in the early days of the blog, maybe through the first three years, I used to feel I had to play a lot of new MMOs in order to keep things interesting for both myself and the reader.  I played games simply to blog about them.  I am pretty sure that explains Warhammer Online.  Writing about a new game gives you lots of topics to delve into and also gets you more page view.  New is much more likely to attract people than old.  But with the old comes history and evolution over time.

Then there is the time factor.  Where does one find the time?  Again, I’ve already written on that.  People find the time to do the things they really want to do.  If you see somebody’s blog and say wistfully to yourself that you wish you had the time, you’re only kidding yourself.  I tell myself I wish I had the time for all sorts of things.  And I do have the time.  I just choose to spend the time elsewhere.  In the end that is how you know what is really important to you.  I spend time writing about video games, often more time that I spend playing them on a given day.

And here we are more than a thousand words into a post… again… and I haven’t even thrown out any actual concrete ideas about which one might write.  Typical me.  All theoretical, no practical.

Then again, by my own philosophy, I shouldn’t worry too much on what I should write about and focus more on writing something.  It is better to write something than nothing at all.  When in doubt, make a list or do some bullet points.

Or you could just do what Syp wrote, which is far more to the point.

A Blaugust to Revive Blogging

August is nearly upon us, and with it comes the annual event of Blaugust. Initially something of a challenge to get bloggers to post every single day for a month, it was a meant to rally our little corner of the internet and get us involved and cross linking and all that.

A bit hard core in its first round… post every single day in August, 100 word minimum… it lost a bit of its edge over the years.  Last year it was very free form, post or don’t post, whatever.

This year however Belghast is back with a new, revived vision for the event.  While there is still room for the occasional poster, it is also an attempt to roll in aspects of the lapsed Newbie Blogger Initiative of old in order to get new people into blogging.  And so Blaugust Reborn was… born… yeah.

Blaugust Reborn

Belghast has an explanatory post about his vision for the event which also includes links to officially sign up, which puts you on “the list” and such, as well as a link to the official Discord channel for the event.  It still being July there is yet time to get on board the Blaugust train, but don’t loiter, go now!

Here is a list of the participants so far, or at least those that have a blog on the list:

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. A Hobbits Journey
  3. Aeternus Gaming
  4. Ald Shot First
  5. Arc’s Oddities
  6. Armagon Live
  7. Ash’s Adventures
  8. Athernes Adventures
  9. Aywren Sojourner
  10. barely readable diary
  11. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  12. Bio Break
  13. Book of Jen
  14. Brain Dump
  15. Built on a Daydream
  16. Calamity Jess
  17. Can I Play Too
  18. Casual Aggro
  19. Cinemaxia
  20. Contains Moderate Peril
  21. Daily Creative Thinking
  22. Deez Wurds
  23. Diary of a Guild Leader
  24. Endgame Viable
  25. Fresh Eyes in Gaming
  26. Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism
  27. Galumphing
  28. Gamer Girl Confessions
  29. Gaming Conversations
  30. GamingSF
  31. Geeky Dad Fitness
  32. Glyffe
  33. Going Commando
  34. Gray’s Cozy Nook
  35. Heattanu’s Game
  36. I’m Not Squishy
  37. Inventory Full
  38. JVT Workshop
  39. leaflocker
  40. Learn Japanese Online
  41. Leeterati
  42. Magen Tales
  43. Mailvaltar – MMOs and other stuff
  44. Me vs. Myself and I
  45. MMO Syndicate
  46. Mmosey
  47. Moonshine Mansion
  48. Municipal City
  49. Murf Versus
  50. Nerdy Bookahs
  51. Neverwinter Thoughts
  52. Nomadic Gamers, Eh!
  53. Ocarina Farms
  54. Party Business
  55. Pizza Maid
  56. Plan B Better
  57. Princess in a Castle
  58. Professorbeej is Awesome
  59. Psychochild’s Blog
  60. RandomX
  61. RunningShoes.tv
  62. Ryuh Note
  63. Scarybooster
  64. Self-Distract Sequence
  65. Shadowz Abstract Gaming Blog
  66. Shards of Imagination
  67. Simply Janine
  68. Soul of the Forest
  69. Stabbed Up
  70. StarShadow
  71. Stropp’s World
  72. Symphony On A Chip
  73. Tales from the Backlog
  74. Tales of the Aggronaut
  75. TechJoy2Day
  76. The Ancient Gaming Noob
  77. The MMOist
  78. The Parent Trope
  79. The Path They Walk
  80. Thinking Play
  81. ThisThingIsNeat
  82. Through Wolfy’s Eyes
  83. TroytlePower
  84. Unidentified Signal Source
  85. Welshtroll
  86. What’s Occuring
  87. Why I Game
  88. WoW Alt Addiction

Some of those names are likely familiar, others are new.  I put myself on the list, so you are free to copy it elsewhere without fear of leaving me out.  I know you were concerned about that.  Also, I am going to bet that Shintar will click on every link and tell me if I miss-linked somebody.

Also, there is the option to sign up as a mentor.  I opted for that, mostly because after nearly a dozen years I am set in my ways and have some fairly firm opinions on the whole blogging thing.  4,733 blog posts will do that to you.

Also, a bunch of those sites already have posts up about Blauguast.  As usual, I am running late on the whole thing.  There have already been a raft of posts on the event and the first round of topics. But that leads to my first bit of advice on blogging, thus helping to fulfill my mentor obligations.

Don’t worry that somebody else has already posted about a topic if you want to write about it.

Your views on a topic may differ, you may bring fresh insight, you may have your own story to tell, and as a rule, somebody will hear about this topic for the first time from your site.  If you want to be really neighborly, link out to other people posting about the topic.  But don’t stifle yourself just because somebody else wrote about it first.

In fact, we’re supposed to be in the prep week where we post some advice around the technical aspects of blogging.

I have opinions on that which I can cover quickly enough.  My main message is:

Avoid a situation where you must pay money for your blog to ensure its continue existence.

Don’t self host.  Don’t set up shop at a site without a free plan.  Your blog exerting even a minor financial burden makes it all the easier to quit and delete you blog completely, something you may come to regret later.

This goes double for anybody just jumping into blogging.

Also, if you delete your blog you’ll be contributing to link rot, the bane of the web.  So don’t do that either.  And paying to blog makes it more likely that you will do that.

Anyway, going the free route likely means using WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr, each of which has their own ups and downs.

Blogger – The oldest blogging platform around.  Owned by Google, which mostly neglects it.  Has the best blogroll side bar widget, so is very blogging community friendly.  Also has pretty bare bones, laughably inaccurate stats.  It will count your own activity towards stats, even when you’re logged in.  It is very, very free and open to customization if you are handy with HTML and CSS.  If you’re not, the default templates can be a bit bland.  Is mildly awkward until you get used to its quirks, but benefits a bit in traffic from Google searches… but only if you link your blog into Google+.

WordPress.com – The place to go if you want some interesting layouts and new features springing up.  A lot more detailed stats that are not inflated by your own actions nor the actions of comment spammers.  I know the latter to be true as there have been days when I have received more comment spam than page views.  Also, very serious about tags and categories.  You can create RSS feeds from either, for just your blog or across all of WP.com.  Restrictive about what you can customize.  Static blog roll options, unless you hack together a Rube Goldberg venture like I have.  New features tend to show up unannounced and as often as not don’t work as expected for the first month or two.  The free option means ads on your site, which have grown a lot more aggressively prominent over the last year.  But if you pay to get rid of them, your blog won’t disappear if you stop.

Tumblr – All the layout options of WordPress.com with even worse stats than Blogger.  Lives in a self-contained community of likes, follows, and re-posts, which can be gratifying.  You can find people like yourself.  Has the Facebook/Twitter problem of people following you in the hopes you’ll follow them back.  Comments are odd.  No ads that I have seen.  More porn than you might care to imagine.

I have actually used all three and, even after settling on WordPress.com, I have setup versions of the blog that syndicate onto both sites.  Behold TAGN as a Blogger and a Tumblr site, though the Tumblr site really sucks because I want it to send people here.  That never happens though.  Mostly everybody just comes here directly or gets sent here by mistake via Google, with “by mistake” being the dominant route.

While I am here, I might as well dispense one more piece of free advice, worth exactly what you paid for it, double your money back if not satisfied.

Choose your blog name carefully.

If I could go back in time I would tell myself that the name of this blog is one of those things that is funny the first time you hear it, but which gets less funny each subsequent time, and after a dozen years I’ve heard it a lot of times.  And yet it is my brand, and to ditch that is to start over.  So I carry on under that burden.

Your blog name should be short and distinctive… and, if possible, start with the letter “A” because people like me will alphabetize things and most people will only click on the first few links in a list before getting bored and moving on.

Anyway, that is it, my announcement about Blaugust to join all of the others.  Again, go visit Belghast’s post for links to sign up and join the Discord channel.  Also, there is a Twitter group and a spreadsheet around here somewhere.

Onward!