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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Barren Advice: Fifteen

This is the fifteenth installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.

Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.

Hi Mel,

Currently, I have 540 unread posts in my google reader. I feel guilty every time I open it. I feel guilty when I go to one of the blogs I follow and I am behind by a dozen or more posts. Sometimes important things have happened and I have missed them. Sometimes they have come to my blog to support me and I follow the comment back to find I have been gone too long. I have come up with a few thoughts on where to go from here, but I want your advice.

1) Tell everyone I read to stop posting so much. Not more than one post / week.
2) Go through my list and get rid of everyone I don't keep up with and who doesn't keep up with me. I have tried this one and found I am still interested even if I am behind, but maybe I can be more brutal.
3) Become more of a lurker and less of a commenter. But then, what is the point?
4) Stop adding new blogs to my reader - doesn't really help the current situation.
5) Mark all the posts as read and start over - a temporary solution at best.
6) Randomly select one blog / week to completely get caught up on. I feel that if I am going to follow a blog, I should follow it - and comment. Of course this will never solve the problem. It would take more than a year to visit each blog only once. Ug.

You know what is sad? I tend to cover the blogs at the top of my reader better than the ones at the bottom. So if a blog is a DE blog (in a DE folder so at the top) it is more likely to get read than one in "favorites" and if the name of the blog falls farther down in the alphabet, less likely still.

What do I do? What do other people do?

--Kami from The Other Side

We declare blog bankruptcy and start again, tabula rasa. Or we beat ourselves up about it, never actually returning to read through the list until it grows to such epic proportions that Google itself writes us to ask us what is up. Or we start making huge plans on how we're going to get an organized system and set aside a half hour for blog reading each evening and then never actually implement it.

That's what other people do.

Including myself.

The reality is that life moves quickly--whether it is online or offline. Friends that I didn't chat with last week entirely missed out on the twins' health scare. And unless they happen to read my blog, they will probably never know about it. It rocked our world and was this huge focus for many days. Some people were sucked into it and some people missed it entirely. It is not a statement as to the closeness of the relationship--though certainly, our close friends knew because we speak with them frequently--but more about the speed of life. There is just too much information--shifting and changing information--to keep up with and still live your own life.

I think the answer is to form two groups: a core group that has your focus and a peripheral group that gets infrequent comments and read at irregular intervals--just as you probably have a core group of friends that are always up-to-date on your life (within reason) and some that miss out on things; even the big things. It isn't a statement about their blog or their writing but simply who you connect with the most--where you draw support and where you want to place your support. The ones on the edge, they're still inside your life. You'll keep up with them as best you can.

This probably wasn't the answer you were expecting since community means more to me than anything. And part of being in this community is reading and commenting. Still, as a community grows, what worked in the beginning may no longer work down the road. In order to keep up with more people, something has to give and that may be commenting for some, putting a cap on the number of blogs for others, or simply choosing a new method for reading.

It's funny because my Reader also filled over the weekend and I took a break in the middle of writing this to prune. To read and comment, but also to erase a few posts (I am so sorry, Baker's Banter...the granola bars did look good) off of feeds I want to keep. Because, like you, with the speed of which people post, the desire to keep up with many, and the reality of time constraints--the damn thing is always full.

I think the thing I would most like to know is how people view receiving specific comments from specific people vs. comments in general. I think everyone enjoys knowing their words have been heard or getting feedback on their thoughts. But do they note who is specifically commenting, do they miss the words of specific people who they know are still following their blog (because they comment infrequently or because they've mentioned that they're reading the blog on Google Reader)? And how do they feel about those people when an event passes and they don't get a comment?

No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely.

Leave a comment in the reaction box below--only keep in mind that conflicting advice is embraced and rudeness is not. Want to ask your own question? Click here to see what you need to send in order to be included in a future Tuesday's installment of Barren Advice


Io said...

Until I got to the part that said this was from Kami I was trying to figure out how I had forgotten that I had written this in to Barren Advice.
I like your advice and will take it as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm relatively new to all these and am just starting to learn how to use the Google Reader. But I like your suggestion of having the 2 groups.

Anyhow, it felt good to have some people drop by again even after ICLW, specially when I got a BFN after my 1st IUI. Because then, at least I know that the tree fell in the forest and at least 1 person heard it.

luna said...

I think it's natural to evolve away from certain blogs as interests, paths and support needs change.

plus, kami, you have a brand new baby at home, so I can't imagine who would expect that you'd have lots of spare time to read and comment on every blog you might have once read...

I know if I go a day or two without reading, my reader gets so full it can be intimidating. I do start deleting blogs that I just can't keep up with. but I find myself adding new ones too... organizing them helps.

BigP's Heather said...

I eventually hit that "mark all as read" button and start fresh. I usually put a note in a post on my blog that says that I did this and for whatever reason and that I would love to hear their great news but I'm starting fresh so forgive me. So far, everyone has been very forgiving. As much as we appear to live in our computers, I think we all realize we have real lives outside of them too.

Mrs. Higrens said...

Coincidently a friend (outside of the IF world, so she wouldn't have seen this question) shared the relevant post below today (in my reader, natch).

The author of the post decided that deleting all the subscriptions in her reader made the most sense for her, and goes into some detail on the benefits and drawbacks to doing so. Every one is different, of course, but I thought this was worth sharing as a data point.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I try to keep my list of subscriptions under 100, and that includes EVERY category. I'm not strict about it, but if I add a few new ones I try to delete ones that I'm not as interested in (sorry!). I just CAN'T to the "MARK ALL AS READ" thing, so I refuse to let my list get out of hand. I DO skim posts (very quickly) when I get behind, but I can't mark is as read if I didn't even look at it - but that's just me, and I'm a bit crazy like that. :)

SAHW said...

I've been struggling with the for the last several days too. I have a nasty eye infection that won't go away, so I just can't read/write as much...I just marked most of the posts as read so I wouldn't be so overwhelmed when I'm ready to start back up again.
On the flip side, I do miss specific commentors, esp for certain posts. Of course I think we all appreciate general comments too, but there are some people who you miss when they're not there.

annacyclopedia said...

I don't know whether I should be admitting this here or not, but I have taken a rather loose approach to the whole Reader overload thing. There are blogs I comment on regularly, if not quite every time there's a new post, and there are blogs on which I mostly lurk (usually the really famous ones, but a few others, too) and rarely comment except if I really feel I have something to say. Then there are blogs that I comment on just occasionally. Sometimes my frequency of commenting doesn't match with the number of comments others leave me - heck, some of my regular commenters have yet to be added to my Reader cause I'm such a slacker.

But I'm trying to take the long view and I figure it all balances out in the end. I just went through nearly 2 weeks without posting, but I commented fairly regularly throughout that time. I know I'm not the most organized commenter who follows every comment back and leaves a response, but I'm trying not to worry about it too much. I'm not super organized or methodical in my life, so trying to be that way here is just not going to work for me. I do feel guilty about it sometimes, but I'm trying to let go of that, too - I know I'm doing my best. The "mark all as read" button has been a good friend to me a number of times, or I'll just read to catch up, but only comment on the most recent post or on a post that really calls out for comments in some way.

I guess I just figure that as much as I love our community and everything we all do to sustain it, I don't really want to turn it into another obligation. I have enough of those in my life.

chicklet said...

While I love the comments, and I've come to expect certain people who keep up with me and I keep up with them to comment, everyone else I'm okay with them not commenting. I see my stats, I know people are reading, and sometimes, commenting, it's just plain work. It's not supposed to be, and isn't always, but sometimes it's hard to know how to respond so that becomes hard. I think it's okay not to respond sometimes. Our blogs are healthy for us, they're not supposed to become a stress.

Midlife Mommy said...

I certainly know how that feels. I was up to 800 or so posts in Bloglines, and it was always bothering me. I would get up early and try to catch up. I would go to bed late and try to catch up. I would spend my lunch hour trying to catch up. It was ridiculous, as I was obviously never going to catch up.

Finally, I just zeroed everything out and started all over again. It was a freeing feeling, and I've kept up on my reading fairly well since then. There are about 170 blogs in my reader, and thank goodness not everyone posts every day (I dread nanoponemo or whatever it is called). I do feel bad about the things I missed, but if the writer references something, I can usually go back and figure out what the issue was.

G$ said...

Sometimes we have to just mark all as read and move forward. Or be as pathetic as me and carry your around everywhere and the instant someone wants to talk to you IRL, look down and read another post...

(but when I do that I lack in commenting dept. Oh well)

Kami said...

OMG! I needed to read this today. After being gone for a few days I came back to MEGA GUILT! I am going to take your advice and create a core group. I might also "mark all as read" just to get started.

I will be back to see what others have to say too. It is nice to hear I am not the only one in this boat.

kate said...

I think the solution is to perhaps come up with some sort of acceptable one-liner to let people know that you have read a post. Just a "Read it, I'm listening", that allows people to let you know that they've stopped through, that they are thinking about you, but without feeling like they must come up with something pithy and poignant. I'd rather know that people heard me, even if they don't have time to leave a real comment.
That said, real comments are always appreciated, but when things get busy, I totally understand someone not having the energy to respond as usual.

Or you can hit the "mark all as read" button and start over. I agree that on occasion that is an acceptable list-maintenance move.

tj said...

You can only do so much <33

Darla said...

I like both of those sides. Good and very educational. Thanks for the advice as always.

MrsSpock said...

If I'm really, really behind, I will push the "mark all as read" button. That said, there are certain "bloggy friends" who I would make an effort to comment on no matter how busy. I think the first 3 weeks after my son was born I was more of a lurker than anything, but I generally will make an effort to comment on certain blogs even during a busy time, especially if the blogger is going through a hard time. I really appreciate getting those comments and advice myself, so I figure I can at least make the effort.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

I have several email accounts, all of which used to be out of control. Then I learned the principles of Inbox Zero, and let me tell you it feels fantastic when you have an empty inbox. I've never managed to get them all empty at once, but it never gets out of control anymore.

For Google Reader, I can usually manage to keep up, except when I can't. In that case, I do the following:
--use list view instead of expanded view (more helpful for sites like news in which not all posts interest me than for blogs) to scan the posts and only read ones that interest me, then mark the rest as read
--pick the most important blogs off one at a time, in multiple sittings, then mark the rest as read
--prune blogs off my reader when I realize that they're no longer adding anything unique to my life or when I don't enjoy them

If there were big news on one of the ALI blogs like a BFN, you'd probably hear about it through Lost and Found or another blog, You should feel no guilt about declaring bankruptcy when necessary -- your regular life has to take precedence over blog reading.

As a reader/commenter, I only leave a comment when I have something substantive to say. But as a blog writer, I always want every post to get at least one comment, and sometimes will hold off on the next post to leave the comment-less post at the top for a while longer. But with a community, everyone can share the commenting load, so it's not always your responsibility. Like a flock of birds flying in a V formation, who take turns in the lead then switch when they get tired...

Bea said...

That's how it works. Damn. Thanks, Mel!

I usually have to set aside a blogging day these days (no I don't stick to it...) We have an agreement that weekends I'm allowed to blog, and I get to ask Mr Bea to take up a lot of the other slack. But I still can't get through it all (I like suggestion number one).

I do look forwards to comments from particular people, and I do generally notice who comments a lot, who comments a little and who comments not at all. I don't seriously expect anyone to comment on every post (though some do very well at trying!) and I realise that different people have different limits (particularly on a post-infertility blog) but I guess I do often feel "closer" to those who enter the conversation, as it were.