The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Few Thoughts from Readers About Blogging from A to Z



Feedback Is Helpful

       We've now heard some of the bad and some of the good in regard to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Along with the observations about the Challenge some of you offered your own suggestions about how to improve Blogging from A to Z.   Also, during the course of the Challenge I heard various suggestions based on problems some of you encountered during April.  

        In today's post we will look at a few of these suggestions and ideas that were offered by participants and others as well.   Next Monday I will bring together all three summation posts and offer some of my thoughts and conclusions in order to garner some of your reactions.  Please check out the following suggestions and ideas and let us know what you think about them.

Some Thoughts Expressed

1)  Subdivide the A to Z participant list into topic or genre categories.  In order to keep the list more manageable turn it into several lists.
Here's what alberta ross commented on the post "Taking pride in ourselves (Rachael Harrie's reflection post).": 
"one of the things I found with this challenge is how many blogs I found totaly outside writing which I thought were great and am going to follow - how much I found i enjoyed other subjects - having blogs under topics may help but I would hate to think we lost that casual grazing which spreads our minds sideways" 
Another one of you said, "However on reflection and as I've posted some ideas .. I'd say definitely don't break us into groups .. categories is difficult - because I like to follow different people .. so the A - Z gives me a chance to find like-minded people, who are prepared to accept a challenge .."

2)  Find a way to eliminate commercial blogs, faulty links, non-participants, and other listings that waste time.

Suzanne made this suggestion:
I enjoyed it and would do it again. And yes, I made it to Z. I think we need to figure out how to delete spammers and blog links that don't work off the list. Also, ones who never did start. If you had more members to your team, you could maybe split up the list, and say the Monday of each week each of you would visit a section from the list, and delete any bum ones. Also, I think the signups should end on March 31.




47 comments:

  1. I side with some of the ideas here suggested. It would have been very nice to list blogs by topic so that I could pick and choose which blogs I'd most likely be interested in.

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  2. Those are some great tips. I think starting with the blog after one's own is a great idea! Love it.

    As for word verification, I use Chrome too, and wasting time trying to work out what the captcha is saying ticked me off more than anything else. I'd suggest kicking people insisting on captha after comments be kicked off the list after two or three warnings.

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  3. I like the idea of starting from your own blog and progressing down the list but I also liked the random idea of the 'surprise me' button - maybe next tome I'll do both!

    I'm not sure about categories - I think it would be too easy for me to avoid some blogs just because the subject matter wasn't my style; we need variety to grow and often there are exciting and enriching experiences to be had when we veer off our own chosen path!

    Given the number of participants it's impossible to visit all of them - but having the links to go back to over the coming months is a good idea.

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  4. I found that the blogs I had visited took on a different colour in my list and that made it easier to visit 'unseen' ones.
    I think keywords for a blog might mean missing out on some really good entries. Diversification is everything!!
    Charging an entry fee might reduce the number of participants but would almost certainly cut much of the quality.
    I suppose one way of coping with the numbers would be to have an A-Z challenge every other month with a limit on the number of participants - after all, you organisers haven't anything else to do, have you?? ;-)

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  5. These are some great points. I kind of feel like even tho there were so many blogs, bloggers just had to take initiative and visit some from the end of the list as well as the beginning. Paying a small fee would be one way to regulate... maybe use the money to donate to a charity so peeps feel good about their fees.

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  6. Love the genre idea. I think the challenge was over all a big success. Hope your trip was grand, been unplugged for awhile. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  7. I don't think forcing people to visit oddball blogs by keeping their content a surprise is the answer.

    Just having an option for blogs to be able to identify their subject matter (if they wish to)would be enough, you wouldn't have to corral them into separate groups. And if you had the gadget with the 'surprise me' button you could still have a random element to it.


    mood
    @mooderino

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  8. I'll just comment on a couple items.
    1 - I liked the variety. Found some cool blogs that way.
    2 - If the list host has time to do that, yes!!! I managed to eliminate those who didn't participate in the reflections post and would be willing to do that for the main list next year.
    9 - Still think Hart's suggestion rocks!

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  9. My computer sizzled out on the last day of the challenge...hard drive failure...so I've been unable to participate in all these discussions.

    I guess I took the challenge at face value: Write a post using the corresponding letter, and then visit as many participating blogs as I could each day. What's so hard about that? Why complicate with a bunch of rules? If you follow those two things, you'll meet many new bloggers. If you happen upon a blog you don't like, don't leave a comment.

    I loved the challenge and everyone I met. I had no idea there were so many writing blogs out there. To be introduced to non-like-minded bloggers was interesting and eye-opening. Thanks for a great challenge! I plan to participate next year. Happy Monday! :o)

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  10. Great suggestions. I liked the variety. I met a lot of very interesting people and learned so much. However I do agree with having a cut off date for signing up and somehow eliminating those who aren't participating.

    As far as those being at the end of the list not getting hits goes, well I was towards the end of the list and I gained more than 70+ followers and got 20-30 comments a day plus my stats were between 150-200 visits a day so I don't feel that my being at the end effected me all that very much. Maybe it did and I just didn't notice because of the huge boost in visits, but I was more than happy with the visits I got and don't feel as if I was effected/shortchanged because I was towards the end.

    I think it's great to ask people to visit X number of blogs a day or visit the 100 after them, but in the end people are going to do what they want to do and what they have time to do. I think we should be able to visit the ones we can and want to in the way we want to.

    As far as the entry fee goes, I wouldn't agree with that. I don't think saying someone who doesn't pay it isn't a serious blogger. I consider myself a serious blogger but I would be unable to participate if there was a fee. It has nothing to do with me being not "serious".

    Sorry for being so longwinded lol

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  11. One more thing...Each day, I'd start at a different part of the list. One day, I'd begin at the top of the list and work my way down. The next day, I'd start at the bottom of the list and work my way up. Then I'd start in the middle. I was able to see several hundred different blogs using this method. :o)

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  12. I totally loved the long list. I copied it and put those links right on my blog so I could check out other blogs at my leisure for months afterward. Please don't limit the list.

    Also, at first I thought that categories would be hard or not useful. Now after thinking about it, I think a few categories would be helpful: Writers, Entertainment, Personal/Journal. I am sure a few others could easily be identified. And there could be an "other" category if a person's blog didn't fit. I would limit the categories to basiclly 5 or 6.

    The reason I would like the categories is that I am not a writer and I have no real interest in reading posts about that process. However, writers really would find that valuable and could focus on it.

    Just because categories exist, it doesn't mean you can't visit them all. It just helps some focus for efficiently.

    Of course, I don't know how much more work that would be. If it added a significant layer of effort for the organizers, I wouldn't support it. It shouldn't become an overwhelming task to manage. Then it isn't fun for them, and they may stop hosting it.

    Those are my thoughts. All in all, it was just great.
    Thank you

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  13. One last note about participation.

    I started the challenge but around 4/21, I had a family emergency that lasted about 3 weeks. I stopped posting for a week. I think that if someone fails to start, they should be dropped from the list. Obviously the timing wasn't right for them. But if someone started and stops - even if they post that they have stopped permanently because they couldn't keep up, their blog should stay on the list. Life happens. Bigger more important events happen.

    I did catch up a few days after the last day of April. And I did catch up on the 900+ postings I had missed. But if I had been dropped for being gone a week in the middle of the challenge I would have been pretty sad about that.

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  14. You know, sometimes you can take a really good thing and think it to death.
    One month, one letter a day excluding sunday, visit as many blogs on the list as you comfortably can. Those were the rules. It wasn't rocket science. You didn't have to do it if you didn't want to. There is always some tweaking possible I suppose but it is also possible to ruin a perfectly good thing.
    You and your team did a terrific job for us. Take care and have a good summer.

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  15. lots of useful and practical ideas :) hope they will help you in the next challenge since I reckon you will have a few thousands participants next time :)

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  16. Thanks for the great comments so far. Rather than address comments individually here I will address them next Monday, compiling similar ideas together and addressing them more categorically.

    Be assured that I am reading and contemplating upon each of your wonderful comments. I appreciate the time that all of you have taken in commenting upon this matter.

    Lee

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  17. Word Verification can be disabled for those of us using BLOGGER. I'm almost certain that it is not the browser that some of us use.
    Here is how to turn off word verification:
    *Go to dashboard
    *click setting
    *then while in settings click the comments button located at top of page under settings
    *go down to almost the bottom of the page to see section that says "SHOW WORD VERIFICATION FOR COMMENTS"
    *click "NO"
    *Last click "SAVE SETTING" orange button
    This turns OFF word verification thus making it easier to leave a commnt without all the crazy letters.
    Hope this helps some of you

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  18. I think Alex's idea on #9 is great!

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  19. some great ideas there! word verifications suck, and lonnnnng posts suck up time.

    Sometimes stuff happens, but if you sign up and can't participate, you should ask to be removed from the list

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  20. You have really put this together and provided such great information... I am learning so much... Thank you for taking the time...
    How's the vacation going?

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  21. I really loved it the way it was. I probably wouldn't have visited some of the blogs if I had known their genre, but I was pleasantly surprised to read them. When I got to blogs that hadn't kept up, I just kept going. I don't think it was an inconvenience. I am still visiting all the rest of the blogs on the list.

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  22. People really went from Z to A? That would be confusing! I agree w/ no word verification & shorter posts.

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  23. I was surprised to see the May Z to A Blogfest. I needed a week off myself. And I wouldn't change a thing. I think things were fine they way theey were. And I do like Hart's suggestion too.

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  24. I think I agree with mybabyjohn. I thoroughly enjoyed the A to Z. We all knew what we were signing up for and no one was forcing us to visit blogs. Apart from maybe flagging up areas of interest I say leave well alone.

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  25. LOL! If you didn't gain followers, were you following and commenting on other blogs?
    Not crazy about the entry fee idea.

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  26. I don't think there are any perfect solutions out there for making the challenge work for everyone. Even starting with our own blog and going down the list, those in front of our blog will lose out. And what if our blog is at the beginning or end of the list. Then we still have the whole list to go thru. Maybe limiting the challenge to a certain number of participants is the answer and cutting it off at a certain date. I just don't know.
    Karen

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  27. The Captcha things were really hard to deal with. I decided to only turn mine on if spam comments were a problem. They haven't been one yet.

    Non-participants should be removed from the list. I know it sounds cruel, but there are some serious bloggers on here that don't have time for people who did A, B...and never another entry.

    I like the idea of breaking the blogs into categories, although I definitely enjoyed stumbling upon cooking and writing ones by chance.

    Overall, I loved the challenge. I still talk about it.

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  28. I tried to start with the first few hundred blogs and then I went to the end of the list and worked my way back. I in no way visited all but It made me feel better to know that I hit both ends of the spectrum of blogs. Blessings, Joanne

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  29. BOIDMAN ~
    This is off-topic but... I'm thinking you did not receive the Email I sent you yesterday morning.

    It was a personal invitation for you to participate in this mini-blogfest if you would like to:

    http://discconnected.blogspot.com/2011/05/bloggin-in-wind.html

    It may be a bit late now for you to come up with something (assuming you would even WANT to join in), but certainly the invitation remains open to you (and anyone else who might want to play).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  30. "I’m generally not a talker(some wouldn’t agree with me) and I guess I’m that way here too, I find myself reading beautiful posts and leaving without dropping comments. I forget that unlike in the real world where I am seen when i sit quite in gatherings just observing, no one sees me when I visit a page and seat reading and trying to understand the writer in the virtual world, and so no one knows I've been there." iNyamu

    I know exactly how they feel. I sometimes just don't know what to put as a comment to say that I visited.

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  31. Wow - lots of thoughtful suggestions! I like Alex's suggestions for reading blogs starting with the people after your name. I think that way you'd still get a mix and meet new folks!

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  32. The A-Z Challenge is such a wonderful and was simple idea. I wonder if over promotion, over analyzing, and under thinking will ruin a good thing.

    Many of your observations are fantastic. They are good food for thought; how to make one's blog better; and how to be more blog friendly; and how to be a better blogger citizen in the blogosphere.

    However, there were very few hard or fast rules - blog a topic corresponding to a letter, be a good blogger, and be courteous, etc. Other than that no one had to get through any set number of blogs, loose control of their blog, or even be slighted.

    Common sense says blog on what you are familiar, comfortable, conversant, or happy to blog about. Visit as many as you wish, don't stop where you don't want to stop and don't stay where you don't want to stay.

    Now and then I found somethings to irritate me - bloggers who signed up yet didn't blog, posts that were to long to read, to confusing to read, to rude to read - so I moved on and told myself it isn't worth being irritated, just go have fun.

    I love the challenge and have been in both, but wouldn't pay an entry fee to be in a third.

    I do like the idea, if it is possible to 1) those who willing volunteer to be hosts, burn or remove the blogs that aren't participating and 2) shut down the entry date on March 31 @ midnight.

    I have participated in Alex's music, albums, songs blogfests and this one. I don't do the alphabet ones (NMNNRROWOWOWOLL or whatever) I don't do the A-Z.

    I don't have a suggestion but since it is so very easy I wonder how to make it a little more challenging?

    You do a good job dude. You promote well, encourage, visit, comment, and then spend posts and hours evaluating this thing - cudo's to you. However, let's keep it fun.

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  33. I thoroughly enjoyed the A to Z Challenge. The simplicity of the rules allowed for great freedom--participants could blog, comment, or follow to whatever degree they were comfortable and had time for. The idea of the cut-off date and the elimination of ads and others who were not really participating sounds good. Otherwise it seems great to me. I would definitely do it again. And I really appreciate all of you who got this challenge started. Pam Williams

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  34. I think categorizing will put blogs in boxes and I like to come out here to read outside of the box:-) If it's categorized then I'm going to stick to those I think I may be interested in & I will miss out on some other great ones that I 'thought' I wouldn't be. I definitely like the random picking. I also tried to jump around & pick people from all over in the list. I just figure everything can't be done for us or made easy, you do a little work for the best things in life:-) Yeah, we can't always find the time but I rather do it that way then be confined to the boxes:-)

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  35. Two thing I heartily disagree with in your post.

    Charging an entry fee. It's blogging after all.

    Forcing people to join the first 50. Well, for one it couldn't be enforced and two why should someone join a blog they are not interested in?

    I'm torn about the categories idea. I found some great not-like-me-blogs but there were several that I wish I knew what they were about before I visited.

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  36. I really enjoyed visiting random posts. For example, a few months ago I never thought I'd attempt to write a poem, but this experience taught me to challenge myself. If I picked safe categories, then I probably wouldn't leave my comfort zone. Julie

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  37. I don't think an entry fee is a good idea. I participated, posted every day, and had fun. I resent the idea of having to pay to play. And, really, what's to stop someone from participating even if they don't pay the fee? Sure, they'd be shut out of the list, but you can't keep someone from writing a post to go with the challenge.

    On a completely different note, I just wanted to let you know that I was inspired by the challenge. I have decided to do something similar on my book blog in June. I posted about it over the weekend:
    http://ham1299.blogspot.com/2011/05/to-z-challenge-inspiration.html

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  38. Wow, lots of people took the challenge a lot more seriously than I did! I'm wondering if there's a different mindset between 'professional' and 'amateur' bloggers with some opinions on the challenge.

    I regard myself very much as an amateur, and I'm pretty firmly in the camp of keeping the simplicity of the challenge - I signed up on a whim, enjoyed the challenge, and am glad it's over now! Paying an entry fee, agreeing to follow/visit a set number of other blogs, or agreeing to limit the length of my posts (if I want to post long on my own blog, I will goddamit) just seem completely anathema to me.

    But, as lots of other comments suggest YMMV on this - which is fine (I'm not having a pop at anyone). So, I guess what I'm saying is the hosts need to choose what they want to host the challenge for - if it's an opportunity for really serious bloggers to really seriously network with each other then I'd make some of these changes as suggested. If it's less serious then that then I'd keep things more or less as they are.

    (Indeed, to deal with some of the 'letter block' some people (myself included!) suffered from on given days I'd probably relax them more - want to blog Z-A, or A,Z,B,Y,C or whatever, sure just make sure you cover all letters in the 26 days, and have fun on the way!)

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  39. Oh, and I forgot to say, thank you and all the other hosts for your hard work on this!

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  40. This was my first challenge and I had such a good time! I don't think I was officially in it, I started it a little late and I don't believe I was on any list..the thing about comments is that I very rarely get any and I'm not sure why..I have about four people who comment to me regularly, but other than that, nothing really...also I did not gain many followers...I very rarely visit a blog without commenting, and I am following bunches of people, so I'm not sure where the problem is...maybe my blog just sucks? As for paying to be in a challenge...I would not do that...I started this blog to try to connect with people and release my urge to write..so far the release is going well, and the connections I have made are all great...I don't know...I just kind of wish I'd get more comments...when I scroll down on my home page it says I have had almost 4,000 views...are these all spam? I don't know how to tell if these views are from actual people, or from some kind of fake thing...if I really did have that many people viewing my posts, you'd think some of them would say something! So I don't think they're real people...anyways, all in all I had a fantastic time with this challenge and I would totally do it again, and next time I'd like to be on the list, but I won't pay! Sorry this is so long! Peace every one!

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  41. Just read Tim's comment above mine, and I agree! If I want to post a long-assed post on my own blog, I will do that! And if I want to post one sentence I will do that too..I think it's a good idea to decide if these challenges are to be for fun, or for more serious writers...there's something to be said for both...I've always wanted to be a writer, but the reality is that it'll probably always be something that's just for fun. And that's okay. I'm fine with it...maybe have two different challenges? Everyone who put this together did work very hard on it and thank you all for that!

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  42. Hi Lee ..

    Chrome doesn't always work .. I have to go into IE to comment & that doesn't always work either. My other machine is ok - but it's not my 'working one' ..

    Captcha is a real pain ..

    I don't think you can charge, and I don't think you can set rules .. because the blogosphere et al can be a pain!

    The surprise button was good ..

    Sue's three make sense .. as does #9 ..

    Cutting out the rubbish at the beginning is a possibility if possible ..

    I suppose you can add 'A-Z suggestions in .. eg no captchas, and short posts less than 500 .. otherwise you may find people won't visit ...


    as per Jessaca .. Blogger does catch spam now usually .. so that's not a problem and Word Verification can be turned off .. I've done mine since the Challenge ..

    Personally I don't want to follow the next 50 - because that's just getting followers for the sake of it - I'll follow if a blog is interesting .. and I did up my followers by 70+ now another month on ..

    I agree diversification is everything!

    Keep it simple!

    Cheers Lee and all the organisers, promoters .. you all did a fantastic job - upping it 10 fold this year ..

    Great Challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it .. Hilary

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  43. Oh I share many of those thoughts. I guess it is hard to police such a thing entirely.

    Maybe entrants could fill out a form instead of a linky that would tell you something about their blogs so that the links can be sorted/ categorized?

    I guess you can't make people comment, you have to accept that you will get some people who will drop by and browse and then never comment.
    Making posts Short, sweet and appealing. I find if a blog is dark with white writing (gives me migraine) or reams and reams of writing with no images then it's hard to concentrate on
    Thanks again for hosting Lee. :O)

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  44. I had a great time with A-Z, and am still editing the A-Z book I've decided to compile!

    I did hate word verifications and found them a pain, but other than that, A-Z was what I made of it. I read mostly from the #atozchallenge on twitter, and also by clicking the random button.

    I quickly lost use for the list cos I kept coming up with spam or blogs that were not doing the challenge.

    Between folks who visited me (who I tried to visit back, whenever the link was good), folks I caught on twitter, and others I clicked cos of their interesting comments on others' posts, I thought I had enough to read...more, in fact, than I could manage.

    Shorter posts of course get most comments, but it all depends on the content. I've seen some super-long posts get scores of comments!

    I would personally love a separate category for writer's blogs, cos they are the ones that interest me the most, but randomness is also good. I just skipped stuff that did not interest me.

    I'm waiting for the next A-Z, and can't believe it is a month since it got over!

    Damyanti@Amlokiblogs

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  45. Hey, me again! Just wanted to say that I agree with Madeleine, if a blog has a dark background and white writing I find it harder to read and it gives me a headache too, maybe because I'm older, I don't know...and also the really long stretch of writing with no breaks or images...it does make it hard to concentrate...unless the writing is absolutley stellar!
    And it is true, you can't force people to comment, but it would be nice if more did!

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  47. Definitely agree with #1. I'd really like to see the different types of blogs grouped by topic.

    I wouldn't participate if there was a fee. One of the greatest things about blogging is it's FREE! I'm a starving artist here! Plus I know some bloggers who were serious about the challenge but life took priority (as it should) and they had to stop in the middle of the challenge. This is supposed to be fun thing afterall!

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Lee