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LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

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My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blogoversary Redux

I promised that the whole delurking thing would become clear but I feel like it will be a huge disappointment now to discover that the dog feces and ice cream questions were inadvertently placed next to each other and are unrelated. While I'm glad that almost everyone is willing to slap on some latex gloves and root around in a dog's excrement, the ice cream question was just a throw away--I was trying to make it simple for people to delurk who didn't want to think too hard about a dog's anus. The Weekly What If is always there and then, on top of that, I was asking for people to delurk too. But all of this needs a larger explanation. We'll start here:

It's my blogoversary this week.

It comes around every year, doesn't it? And while, yes, it isn't until Thursday of this week (I started this blog on June 25, 2006), having Show and Tell go up on Wednesday night leaves me with a conundrum--either post early and not have the blogoversary day be special or post late and miss my blogoversary. So I hope you'll indulge me on my third anniversary in celebrating it now, within this post, and with my Show and Tell this week.

I like to make my blogoversary a big deal. If it were realistic to set off fireworks, I would, environment be damned. I would ride elephants through the streets, tossing sapphire necklaces to everyone in the crowd. I would commission Cirque du Soliel to create a performance art piece called Le Blog with acrobats hanging from ropes constructed out of old posts.

But barring all that, I'll just reflect on the past year and set a goal for the future one.

First and foremost, my blog visually got a revamp this year, making it more user-friendly. Actually, a lot of things got a revamp including the Lost and Found and the blogroll. The forums were started, giving people an extra space to post and reach out of the community when they didn't want to use their blog. We started Bridges, which never quite took off and started doing collective Kirtsying instead to get our stories out to the general public on the front page of the social media site.

It wasn't really a year of starting new things because, as I stated last year, my focus was on listening. Instead, projects continued. IComLeavWe happened every month, Show and Tell happened every week, Barren Advice continued whenever there were questions to answer. The Blogging Name Registry to mark the two year milestone kept adding names, the collective Shop Mom or Pop went through another holiday season, and the Creme de la Creme rolled around again. We kept meeting at the Virtual Lushary each month. The Barren Bitches read a lot of books. Entries were added to Operation Heads Up. Every week, I continued to pull together the Roundup.

It was a busy year of hearing words and then figuring out how to get them out to the general public. Because it is one thing to preach to the choir--it certainly makes a person feel less alone to hear that someone else is going through similar emotions--but it is also important to get those words out to other people. I am sad that I couldn't keep Bridges afloat, but I think the community Kirtsying (and everyone should participate with that and submit great posts) fills the same goal. I hope to keep that growing and expanding, doing everything I can to get our words out there to people who need to hear them (either because they need to find this community or because they need their eyes opened).

Last year, I started giving each year a single word to use as a goal. The overall word defining my blog is "community." But then each year received a word that defined the overarching theme for the year:
  • Year One: Connections
  • Year Two: Action
  • Year Three: Listening
I think I did a decent job listening this year. I wrote about this idea of setting forth a guide word:
My defining term from now until next June is "listen." It's a hard thing to do--to truly listen to another person. To set aside the time to concentrate on someone else's thoughts without simultaneously considering your own. To practice a form of verbal relativism, listening while trying to place yourself in the other person's point of view rather than your own. Talking is easy. I have about 850 posts on this blog. Being silent. Reading. Actually hearing; internalizing someone else's words, tossing them around inside your head, allowing them to change your world. That is hard.
So I did a lot of reading this year. A lot of commenting via IComLeavWe. A lot of hearing and sending forth the words I was hearing. So I do think it was helpful to set a guiding word. We'll see how successful I am at following this year's word.

Oh...you want to know what it is?
  • Year Four: Tune
Tune is obviously a word with multiple meanings. Tune can be a "pleasing succession of musical tones" which I think is a term that speaks largely of community. I want the people I interact with in tune with one another. Which does not mean that every song needs to be a syrupy waltz--even DC hardcore punk songs sometimes have a tune--but that X leads to Y leads to Z. In blogging terms, keeping a tune would mean setting a blogging standard of courtesy so the song continues. There have been too many times that people have stepped away from community because they don't feel welcome or are harassed. And finding a tune means agreeing to both our role as a contributor and a taker from community. I think this code of standards can be set over time with multiple contributors--a huge group project--but I do think that having a list of standards, a list of what we'll accept or rail against--is important.

Tuning can also refer to an adjustment. I think projects will continue to be fine-tuned and streamlined to be more user-friendly. I can get pretty stuck in rut and not want to change things out of fear of change. But I do think that it is a good thing to keep tinkering with existing projects, making them better, rather than solely starting new ones. I am considering (gasp!) self-hosting in order to take advantage of more software out there. But adjustments in baby steps...

Lastly, the thing I want the most for this upcoming year in terms of "tune" is to give sound to the silent. I think we often times focus on the musical piece (the blog post) or even the music critics (the commenters) that write about the performance, but my thought is on how to bring those in the audience--those who are listening and thinking and internally reacting--into the conversation.

I asked people to delurk last Friday. 2161 people "read" the post (it's impossible to know how many people actually scanned their eyes over the content, but 2161 clicked on the blog that day). Even if we said only 1000 people read it, it still is interesting to look at the fact that 86 people left a comment. The majority of those were people who have commented in the past. A small handful were people who delurked for the first time. So about 1 in 25 people left a note.

I have been thinking about those 24 out of 25 ever since Lori from Weebles Wobblog pointed out the silent majority of blog readers during an email exchange. And by silent, I am taking into account a multitude of ways to get your voice heard from leaving a comment to writing your own post to sending an email...speaking your mind at all. Look at your own stats--I'm sure that you'll see that you have many more readers/subscribers than people you know reading your blog.

Which is not a problem on one hand--I mean, there has been a fine tradition of blog lurking and I am just as guilty as the next person of reading and running (there are people who probably have no clue that I've read every word they've written...creepy)--but is on the group project end of things. When we're talking about community and we're presenting voices from community, it's hard to know that such a large portion of people are silent.

Plus, delurking is more for the writer to know who is reading her blog than it is for the silent person to speak their mind. So my point is not to get people delurking. My point is to get more points-of-view heard.

So many people start their email when adding themselves to the blogroll: "I've been a lurker for years and I've finally been inspired to start my own." Which, of course, is fantastic, but what about all of the people who don't have the time or inclination to start their own blog. I think there have been projects in the past--100 Words and the Blilts--that helped bring in new voices. And I am playing with more ideas that will unfold during the year to bring in more of the silent voices.

What would be most helpful? I would love to hear your ideas/reaction to the concept of ensuring more people have a voice without having to do a lot of work on their own end as well as hearing from those who are blogless on what they would like to see happen to ensure that they are a recorded member of the community--noted, known, and while still blogless, with an important voice.

The first step I've taken is to include a new feature on the blog. If you look up at the navigation bar at the top of the blog, you will see a little crown towards the right side with the words "Your Thoughts." It is a place to leave private comments. The only person who can see them is me. My wish, if you don't feel comfortable leaving a comment even anonymously on the blog, is that you'll use this feature to speak your mind. Politely, respectfully, not use it as a space for hate, but it is a private space. I may ask you if I could share your words anonymously within a blog post, but I will never use what is respectfully written in that space without permission.

Technically, it could even be used to submit a short blog post that I could upload on the Annex and Kirtsy in order to get out a point-of-view. But I think it is a valuable place to speak your mind when you don't want to leave it as a public comment.

So, tune. And all the incarnations of the word "tune." It will be interesting to see how many people we can bring into the harmony and make sure the silent ones are noted and as important as those who of us who like to talk and talk and talk and fill up the blogosphere with hundreds of posts per year.

Happy anniversary, little blog. You continue to be this huge source of comfort for me and I often jump to you mentally. I am so glad I started you, so glad I continued you, so glad that I've met so many amazing people through this space, been affected by their story as they have been affected by mine. I am so proud of the work we all do to take the stigma out of infertility, adoption, and loss. I am grateful to be a member of the ALI community. Thank you for joining in this enormous, three-year-long version of Kumbaya.

64 comments:

Liddy said...

Happy Blogoversary!

nutsinmay said...

Congratulations on a wonderful achievement.

Tammy said...

Happy Blogoversary! Great milestone... and I hope your next year is just as good.

birdsandsquirrels said...

Happy Blogoversary! Thank you so much for all that you do to bring this community together!

'Murgdan' said...

Nice. I found myself continually nodding my head all the way through.

I realized last week that I missed my blogoversary...and I'm going to celebrate a 'Blogoversary-(ish)' this week on Wednesday.

Thank you for being there. I am so glad I de-lurked. :-)

And it is an odd percentage of actual commenters, I agree.

Vee said...

Happy Blogoversary! Congraulations and thanks for doing everything you do.

I like your " You thoughts" idea.

Lavender Luz said...

This is wonderful in so many ways.

1. HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY! I thrown sapphires and elephant dung at you! Wait. That's not quite right.

2. Wow -- you did an amazing amount of amazing stuff in the past year.

3. I love how you wove together all the meanings of the word "tune." It's so perfect.

4. I love that you're giving voice to others. I am now thinking of other ways to do so.

I think you are a very good listener.

And, once again, HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY!!

itsazooaroundhere said...

Happy Blogoversary!! I was a complete lurker for about a year before I wrote a comment on ANY blog, and it's really just because I'm shy. I didn't feel comfortable with the lingo, or knowing the right thing to say, or barging in on a tight-knit group of bloggers. It was nothing against the writer, I just needed to take some time to "get it" before jumping in. Hopefully some of the other readers are still getting comfortable but will jump in eventually.
"Your Thoughts" is a cool idea since only you will see it, maybe that can be a first step for someone!

Emmy said...

Happy blogoversary!!

Beautiful Mess said...

Happy blogoversary!!!! I wonder if lurkers don't delurk because they feel unwelcome? Not that the blogger has made them feel unwelcome, per se, but their words are just SO personal. I have found a blog and thought the author so eloquent, but don't comment because I feel I have nothing to add. Their post is so personal, that I wonder if I should even be reading it.

Maybe someone hasn't started a blog because they feel their words won't be as "perfect" as another's? These, of course, are just my thoughts. Hopefully by adding the new crown, these fears will be cured. I hope any "lurker" knows that their words are just as important.
*HUGS*

Sunny said...

Happy blogoversary! The positive impact of this blog, both directly and indirectly through a ripple effect of connections, is mind-blowing. Thanks for your words and your heart. :)

Queenie. . . said...

A very happy blogoversary to you!!! It's so nice to have you around.

I have no idea how to submit something for Kirtsy, even if I liked anything that I've written enough to do it. If you could elaborate on this, that would be awesome.

Finally, it strikes me that some people lurk because they don't need to speak. They need to read, they need support, but perhaps they don't need their own voice. But that certainly can't be true of EVERYONE who read all of us, so I applaud your efforts to give more people a voice.

LJ said...

If I could write as well as you, I'd write you a poem. If I could bake as well as you, I'd make you a cake. If I could speak as eloquently as you, I'd read you a tribute. I can only say - happy blogobersary my dear friend.

LJ said...

Or. Er. Blogoversary. SEE!

Erika said...

Happy Blogoversary! I greatly appreciate all of the efforts you put into Show and Tell, the blogroll, IComLeavWe, and everything else! You've inspired me to delurk (if that's even a word) on all the blogs I read about something often. Thanks!

Mrs. Higrens said...

Happy Blogoversary!

(I ordered the book today, does that count as a present for me, or a present for you?)

Stacie said...

Happy Blogoversary week, Mel. Congratulations on a wonderful achievement!

Tune is a beautiful new goal. Once again, your thoughtfulness shines through. :-)

VA Blondie said...

Happy Blogoversary! I like the idea of tune. I grew up with a musician for a sister, so I sort of get it.

Your blog has been a wonderful source of support for both me and my family as I went through IF treatment. I told my mother about your blog, and she got a lot of info about what I was going through. It was a great comfort to her to understand what was happening during my IVF cycle, which can be confusing and worrying looking in from the outside. I also return over and over to your blog, though rarely comment, for some reason. I promise to do better...

Cassandra said...

Happy Blogoversary!

I think that because of your efforts such as ICLW and the general pro-comment atmosphere, there is a lot less lurking on ALI blogs than in basically anywhere else in the blogosphere. A non-ALI blogger I know has had posts with over 1000 views and 0 comments. Our ratio of commenters to lurkers is strange, but could be much much worse.

Can you clarify the difference between emailing you and Your Thoughts? Not for me, since I both comment and email you, but for the 24 out of 25 lurkers.

Amy said...

Happy anniversary. Thanks for putting this site together. It's been a lifesaver! Who knew - I'm not alone out there.

jenn said...

Happy Blogversary Mel!!!

Tash said...

Happy Blogoversary! Have you really only been blogging that long?! (Did you have another blog before this? I swear I feel like I've been reading you/hearing about you much, much longer.)

I really love blogs that are inclusive in a way that don't necessitate others having a blog -- like this one. I like people feeling they can drop in and listen and share if they need but not feel they need to reciprocate. Blogging's not for everyone, and I really get that. I like the corners of the 'net where people can occasionally chime in and then disappear.

Here's to Tune.

areyoukiddingme said...

Happy Blogoversary!

Kristin said...

Happy Blogoversary! I am so thrilled that I found this community.

loribeth said...

Happy blogoversary, dear Mel! : )

I know I probably wouldn't be blogging were it not for your encouragement & example.

Fertilized said...

I am very behind on blog reading but wanted to wish you a very Happy Blogoversary!

Eve said...

Happy blogoversary to you!!!! You are such a gift to us all.

Bean said...

Happy Blogoversary. Congratulations and thank you for all that you have done for this community! I am so grateful that I stumbled upon this site a little more than 2 years ago; don't know how I would have gotten through the past 2 years without it and the connections and friendships I made because of it.

ryanandjoesmom said...

Happy Blogoversary Week! Are your birthday celebrations a week long as well? I prefer birthday month long celebratiosn myself! :)

Thank you for starting this community. It is so helpful!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Mel, I can't express how much this community means to me... I didn't even know it existed until early this year, but it has come to be my safe place. Thank you for the work you do to make this a place where we can come together, share our journeys, support each other and find our way.

Happy blogoversary... here's to another fabulous year!

Bluebird said...

Oh YAY! Happy anniversary indeed. I'm so glad I found you :)

Paz said...

Happy, happy blogversary. What an accomplishment!! ...and thanks for all of it, from all of us, lurkers included.

tireegal68 said...

Happy blogersary!
I read you all the time because I read lost and found and have done ICOMLEAVEWE - but I don't think I have commented much on your blog. So glad that you are here and we are here and I am here.
I wonder about lurkers too - I wish more people who lurked would comment. I think of comments as little treats and I am always wanting more:)

Hillary said...

Happy blogoversary!!!! Your blog is fabulous and I truly do feel a sense of community through it. I love the word goals you have each year and look forward to seeing how "tune" unfolds.

One thought on the lurkers: I lurked on a couple IF blogs before we were even TTC. (is that weird?) I haven't thought too much about it, but I wonder...was it just out of pure curiosity? I did learn so much about other people and their struggles. Was it because I had a feeling I could be infertile? Probably that too. But all this to say that many lurkers might not even "belong" to the ALI community. There may be fertiles lurking who are curious, women who are not TTC now but will be down the road, sisters of an IFer...etc. They might not need a voice but like to listen. Just a thought, maybe that accounts for 2 of the 25? :)

Me said...

First of all, HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY.

Now, second, as far as how to get people to participate. I think that is a doomed enterprise. I think that people participate if they want to. I think the lurkers lurk mostly because that's what they want to do rather than because they are afraid to do something different. This is, of course, JMO. But you did ask. So there it is.

battynurse said...

Happy Blogoversary! Wishing you many more years in blogland.

WiseGuy said...

Wish you a very happy anniversary....! And wishing lot more to come!

And I am so glad that I found your website!

Michelle said...

oh happy blogoversary!! I love how you focus each year, and think that year four's word is a good one.

Heidi said...

Happy Blogoversary!!!!!!!! I for one don't know where I would be without you!!

Delenn said...

Happy Blogoversary! Thank you so much for all you do, Mel! Looking forward to "tuning in".

Ellen K. said...

Happy Blogoversary!

In Due Time said...

Happy Bologoversary!

:-)

Kim said...

Happy Blogoversary!!! Thanks for all you do!

Faereyluna said...

Happy Blogoversary! I know what you mean about Delurking... It is tough to do. Well at least for me it was tough to Delurk regarding my infertility. But when I got involved in the now defeated Georgia SB169 that targeted Infertility patients and clinics, it just kind of broke down a wall that I had up. Shortly after I was going to Resolve Meeting and starting my own blog.

Delurking has been so freeing to me and helped me to cope with my infertility. It is kind of like taking your Bra off at the end of the day. All you can say to describe it is "Ahhhhhhh".

Pie said...

Congrats on 3 years! It's hard to believe it has only been 3 years, given the huge impact you've made on this community. Thanks for all your hard work!

Coming2Terms said...

Happy Blogoversary! Your work offers an invaluable lifeline for so many ... finding your blog was a very satisfying day for me. cheers!

Erin said...

Happy Blogoversary! I didn't delurk the other day, but I'm not a new commenter either :-) You really keep the ALI community cohesive, and I'm so glad that you've kept your blog so thoughtful and also entertaining. Thanks Mel!

Brenna said...

I was so surprised to read that you've only been blogging here for three years! Three years and you're already an institution--not too shabby. :) I'm continually awed and humbled by the amount of care you pour into this place/space/environment/community. I love the "tune" theme for the coming year and look forward to playing a small part of the music.

Wendy said...

Happy Blogoversary! Thanks for everything you do through your blog!

callmemama said...

That's a great thought about those who can't start their own blog for whatever reason. It always surprises me to find I have more readers than those who comment regularly. Just yesterday I had a horrible experience with a coworker/friend and several people popped out of lurking to make me feel better!

theclam said...

Happy Blogoversary! I for one am SO glad that you're around and that you've stuck it out for all these years.

You're one special chick!

xxx

Deathstar said...

This work here that you do, surely it is woman's work, going into these ALI corners that most don't take the time to see, is invaluable. It is turning poison into medicine, pity into compassion, thoughts into action. Many blessings on your blogoversary! Nam myo ho renge kyo!

Lucy said...

Happy Blogaversary! I admit it, I lurk on your blog a lot, reading but not always commenting!

I have to say, I am impressed you've only been around 3 years, considering how in depth your site is...I never looked into it before, but I always assumed you'd been around for much longer, just because of how much you've accomplished...so congrats on that!!!

sassy said...

Happy blogiversary, and, sincerely, I can't tell you how grateful I am that you are there. If we the IFers have a community, being here is like hanging out at the pooll where we make new acquaitences that let us peek in through their windows.

I'm not sure how that sounded, but I think yuo'll know what I mean. (;

Jen said...

Happy blogoversary to you!

When do you have time to sleep, with all you do?

Christy said...

Happy Blogoversary! For yet another year you have thoughtfully and relentlessly brought together those of us in this very lonely land of infertility and loss through the showing of your mega heart. We are so blessed!

Lorza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorza said...

Happy Blogversary!!! I am shooting off fireworks in my head, monkey on leashes dancing, and the Blue Angels are flying overhead!! :) You are awesome. It never ceases to amaze me how much you help. I was thinking this next year your secondary word could be "reach". You are reaching so many people via Internet, book, conferences. :)

I thank God for you, and for all the people you have connected me with. I know other people are just as thankful. You give us a launching pad to take off. I remember when I typed in the words "infertility support" into my Google, and the first 4 or 5 things that popped up were different sections of your blog like ICLW, Roundup, etc.

I was scared to comment. What if someone found out that I knew (mainly my ILs)...what if I didn't really fit in...how could I really help someone else with a little teeny four line comment.

I was scared to start my own blog- who would listen, or care?!? I mean these people don't know me, why should they? What if I was 'outed' with IRLs?

I will celebrate my blogoversary with pride, b/c I am supported by the best women this world has to offer!

THANK YOU!!!!

(uh, somehow my last one had about 300 xxxxxxx in it. HA HA. think my arm was asleep.)

jill said...

Happy Blogoversary (a little late)! :)

Kathy said...

Happy Blogoversary!!! I look forward to (hopefully) meeting you when you are in Chi-town next month for Blogher! Yay! Congrats and thanks again for all you are and do for our ALI blogging community! You rock! :)

P.S. I finally ordered your book the other day (via Amazon) and look forward to receiving/reading it soon! :)

Billy said...

Happy Blogoversary!!!
You are truly an amazing woman!

IF Optimist, then... said...

Happy blogoversary. Thank you so much for your work to make a space where we don't feel so alone. It really means a lot.

A Mom in Jacksonville, FL said...

Happy blogoversary to you! SO pleased I found your amazing blogroll and connections to others in this community. SO pleased I'm able to read your honest, heartfelt posts. SO thrilled you've had success with your book and will be speaking at the Resolve seminar this week. WAY TO GO, MEL! :)

Coffeegrl said...

Happy blogoversary! Can't wait for the next year! BTW, my bloglines reader for this post shows me a link to Ask.com so that I can do related searches about 1. ice cream, 2. dog feces 3. latex gloves. Hysterical!!