The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An A to Z Challenge Evaluation

Blogging from A to Z Winner\

I've Been Thinking!

           A month has passed since the end of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011 and I've had some time to ruminate on the Challenge.   Many of you have offered fine suggestions and opinions about the Challenge and I have read through all of them.  In today's post I want to bring my ideas and your ideas together in order to provide my assessment on how the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge can be better.

         In any event with many participants it's difficult to please everyone.   Looking at my comments on the previous evaluation posts and elsewhere, one can see how divergent opinions can be on various aspects of the Challenge.  My goal would be to make the most people happy by accommodating as many as possible.  My suggestions will begin by addressing the most common issues with possible solutions and then will make some other suggestions that might enhance next year's Challenge.

The Primary Concerns:

1)  The Big List--  I am against putting a limit on the number who can sign up.  The Challenge should be open to anyone who wants to join.  In the first year I discovered that 100 blogs were too many for me to cover adequately on a regular daily basis.  Twelve hundred is an impossibility for anyone.  The realistic goal is not to visit every single blog on the list, but to establish contacts with blogs of your own choosing.  Some bloggers may prefer to stay with their regular blog friends, while others may prefer to be more adventurous and discover new bloggers and establish new contacts.   It doesn't matter whether the list has a hundred, twelve hundred, or twelve thousand sign ups.   Participants should be able to set limitations for themselves and not expect the list to be limited.

2)   The Overly Eclectic List -- Many of us enjoy the thrill of discovery.  To pigeonhole participants into categories might infringe upon the surprise in store for us in finding blogs that we might normally pass over based on what they are about.  However, I can appreciate the desire of some who due to time limitations or for other reasons might want to zero in on specific blog types.  Why not offer options?   We could allow for customized lists that could be separated into topic categories or into other divisions such as age groups, geographical locations, or other groupings.   Perhaps listing alternatives could be offered such as an alphabetized list or some other way of listing that might be more attractive to certain participants.  I think that a flexible list would accommodate the varied needs of many--whatever it takes to make the list more user friendly.

3)   A Screening Process -- Perhaps there should be a more thorough screening process for sign ups to filter out advertisers, blogfest whores, and people who don't understand the concept of the A to Z event.  Eliminating the blogs that waste our time would probably satisfy many of the complaints about the long eclectic list.   If the big diverse list of blogs consisted of links to participants who were sincerely and actively contributing we would all feel less frustration with our time spent going to those sites.
       My thought is that entrants would have to submit a form which would included email address, information about their blog, and up to five topic categories that their blog covers.   Also, using a similar format as the Blogger Profile uses, they might submit information such as occupation, location, and interests.   With adequate information blogs could be more precisely categorized for those who preferred to stay within their own range of interests.
        Having this information on hand should allow customized lists to be drawn from the master list of all those who have signed up for the Challenge and give anyone who wants it the option of separating a list specifically attuned to their own range of interests.

4)   Offer Guidelines and Blog Etiquette --  Many of you and I are in agreement that the first rule of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is to have fun.   As I frequently stated, the A to Z Challenge is not confined by any hard set of rules and is more of a personal challenge than anything else.  I don't think we want to make the Challenge overly rigid by setting any strict rules to follow.  However some guidelines will help make things easier for all of us.  It would be antithetical to the true spirit of blogging freedom to say that posts must be a certain length, bloggers can't use CAPTCHA or other screening devices, or everyone must approach the list in a certain way.  
        The Challenge hosts and others put up special posts and made pleas to recommend that everyone do things in certain ways.  Some participants listened while others either didn't hear it or just didn't get it.  Let's face it, some folks are gonna do what they wanna do so let them deal with that.  We can offer guidelines on how to best participate, but I don't think we should be overly restrictive.
         Likewise, blogging etiquette should be something that we all should practice.  It seems appropriate to use this as a post topic to help instruct those who don't practice good etiquette.  The courteous approach to blogging should be part of the guidelines and in some cases blatant offenders (e.g. spammers and those who abuse their interaction with others) might be eliminated from participation.   Hopefully, the screening process would eliminate the need for this.

5)   Navigation Buttons --Marcus's Navigation Buttons were a great idea.  Perhaps something of this nature could be reinstated with a capability of accessing the list in various ways.  Some participants may prefer the crossing of categories and be interested in discovering different blogs.  It becomes more like a game.  In limiting oneself, one might be missing some great blogs they might not have seen if they weren't looking in other categories.   The randomness would give some a greater sense of adventure.  Ideally, the "Next Blog" button could start at any point and have a capability of being reset.  Again a big thanks to Marcus for contributing these buttons to the Challenge of 2011.

Some Other Possible Ideas:

6)   Awards --How about some recognition for best blogs?  Best posts?   We could have readers submit nominations for favorites in various categories.  Special badges for winners could be created and perhaps even actual prizes.  The incentive of the awards might stimulate greater creativity and ambition to complete the Challenge.   There are many possibilities that present themselves in this.

7)  Word Prompts --  Offer alternative word prompts for those who need them.  I don't think too many of us had a problem with coming up with topics to write about, but some people do like prompts.   We could offer special prompts for each day for any who would prefer to operate in this manner.  This is something that was suggested by more than one person.

8)   E-Mail Updates -- If participants fill out a entry form that includes an email address, then they would be able to receive email updates of matters concerning the Challenge.

9)   Special Challenge Website or Blog  --  I certainly don't mind the increased traffic to my Tossing It Out site, but maybe it would make more sense to have a site devoted specifically to the A to Z Challenge.  The entire site could be devoted to daily news about the ongoing Challenge and could include pages with special tips, how-to's, and other relevant information.  And then, of course, there would be that massive participant list or lists.

10)   Provide Tutorials --  On the above mentioned site we could also provide tutorials on how to access the various providers (Blogger, Word Press, etc)  and filters (Intense Debate, Disqus, etc.) (FaceBook and Networked Blogs, Yahoo, other networking services).  Many of us, myself included, were deterred or slowed down by unfamiliar sites.  A forum could also be offered to get help from those who are using those sites or from those who have a better understanding of how to better access sites unfamiliar to others.

Thinking Large!

        Okay, granted that I am doing some big thinking here, but after our experience of this year I think we need to think in a grand way.    I am not well versed with computer knowledge, but I think the ideas I have presented are practical and possible.  Before the next Challenge I will either have to amass some extensive programming know-how or get aid from a source who has that know-how.   

         This may sound like it will require a lot of complex preparation, but I think this is necessary to make the Challenge itself an easier and more fun event for those who participate.  Any operation that runs smoothly does so because of the planning and preparation that goes into it.

        Without getting overly bogged down by what it would take to get there, what are some of your thoughts on these ideas?  What problems can you foresee in my ideas?  What are your favorite suggestions?  Is there anything else that you would like to add?



  1. I think you've hit on all the main points here. Allowing some flexibility so peopel can choose for themselves what option they want is a good move, although one that will require some work in setting up. In general I would say Yes to everything here.

    I would also say this is the most advanced blogfest around, and probably the most popular , and I think it may get even bigger next time round.

    Moody Writing

  2. I really like most of your suggestions here, with only a few comments. I would love for you to offer guidelines on blog etiquette. I was quite a new blogger, and this was my first challenge or group type activity. Etiquette guidelines would have been helpful. Also, I don't really like the idea of Awards when there are so many bloggers in the challenge. Also, I think Tossing it out should remain the AtoZ central. You deserve the traffic boost for all the work you do. Thanks again.

  3. I LOVE the dedicated website idea. I can see that working well. The Nav buttons were great so it would be good to see them again. I'm not sure a complicated form would screen out only the advertisers... It might put off participants.

  4. I think you've covered everything here. The screening process sounds a good idea and email updates also would be useful - but more work for the organisers. That way I would have found out about navigation buttons before the challenge finished:-)

  5. Requiring an email address for Challenge updates sounds like a great idea! And if we keep on top of it next year, we can still eliminate non-participating and advertising blogs.
    Still like Hart's idea of starting with the blog after one's own on the list.

  6. I like the idea of the screening, the email updates, and the blogging etiquette - guidelines. You've done a fantastic job!

  7. A quick survey when signing up for the Challenge would easily categorize the blogs for the organizers. While I prefer the random surprise of visiting new blogs, for those that want a more organized list of blogs, a 'Sort By' button could be created based on the categories from the survey. I'm sure this involves some computering skills I don't have! I can make buttons and badges all day long, but anything more complex is over my head.

    I see your point on a dedicated website; however, Lee, I like that you are the official host from your blog. It made the challenge seem much more personal and not a commercial venue. Just my humble opinion. :o)

    Since I don't come from a 'Writer' blog, if you need someone to help promote from the Craft/Sewing blog world, I'm happy to help you in next year's Challenge.

    Happy Thursday! :o)

  8. Great summary of all the comments. I for one loved the challenge. One extra thing: can blogs be deleted from the big list throughout the month? It would change the numbering constantly, so I don't know if that's a problem. But I think if someone comes across a blog that doesn't actually exist (I saw a few of those) or isn't doing the challenge, we should be able to send a note to the administrator of the challenge and get that deleted from the list. I don't think a pre-form will avoid all of this because like you said, people will do what they want to do.

  9. Hey! Isn`t this fun QUESTION MARK (lost my qm weirdly) Really though - I think it is fun to work with all these ideas and figure out refinements. Otherwise we`d all be in pool halls.
    I like all of these ideas and I like Suzanne`s one before me - I`d like to zap those cluttery non-playing types but hey, I`m aggresive.
    I think my favourite is your idea 3 - making a bit of a gate to the party isn`t a bad idea. Just like a real party, one must make some effort to get there. I like it.
    keep having fun and refining and wondering and asking `what if QM

  10. I like all the suggestions mentioned, especially the "big list". Providing information so people might choose where they take their blogging adventures is simply grand. I also like the idea of tutorials and writing prompts for those of us who are a wee bit intimidated. All around, I would say - great ideas!

  11. All the ideas sound great! I love the idea of the screening process - I think this could be done, if you had a signup deadline a couple weeks before the event and had a large team review the entrants/blogs. I also like the idea of a word prompt. And the awards are a fun idea. Also loved the navigation button too! :)

  12. Arlee, I'm worried about you. This whole A-Z challenge was supposed to be fun. I'm worried that you are making it so much work for yourself.

  13. Its interesting to watch something develop from a simple idea and become a complex and powerful movement.
    What's most interesting is that its being expanded and grown based on the participants. Its fascinating to see what this will look like next year. Great stuff!

  14. The first five sound great - I like how the list of blogs would be presented. I know this is a pretty fancy idea, but would it be possible for each person to organize the blogs by their own choosing? When we browse/shop online, we all organize our searches by price, popularity, etc. What if we could organize the blog list by subject, geographical location, age group, etc? This could be sorted through the entrance form each blogger would fill out at the beginning of the challenge.

  15. Your ideas are terrific Lee. I can see you put a lot of thought and effort into these.

    WELL DONE. The next challenge will be even better with these implemented into the format.

  16. Yay, #2 and #7!

    I have no ideas for you, but I do support you.

    Although we all lamented at the end of May because our blogging muscles were sore, we all look a bit better in our blog-kinis this summer, thanks to your challenge!

    Looking forward to next year!!

  17. I think your suggestions are good. I'll slide in easily to whatever you decide. It was a great blogfest and I'm back in for next year!

  18. I am so sorry about your brother-in-law, Lee. My condolences....
    As for the challenge, these are excellent ideas. I particularly like the screening idea. I trust you to do whatever you feel is best for bloggydom and this challenge in particular.

  19. First I would like to say I am so sorry about your loss. I tried commenting on that post the other day but blogger was having a hissy fit and wouldn't let me comment. You and your family were in my thoughts though.

    I think you have pretty much nailed it. One thing I loved the most about this challenge was its freedom, but having said that I do think there needs to be some sort of boundaries. Simply because not everyone knows how to be a good sport and has manners. Unfortunate but it's the truth. I think all of the ideas are great and I look forward to next year's challenge.

  20. Hi Lee .. you are a star. So much of this is great and I agree - go where you will.

    The only word of caution is the tutorials on how blogs work etc .. we have to learn ..

    Etiquette - yes I can see general points.

    Filtering out the no-goers would help .. and the sort filters would be helpful - be they A - Z or type etc ..

    I too am worried about the workload .. for you!!

    Cheers for now - loved the Challenge way more than I thought I would!! and have met some wonderful people, and have the list to keep hitting - when I have a little time .. where does it go ..

    With thoughts .. Hilary

  21. I think all these suggestions are great. I especially like the idea of a dedicated A-Z blog for etiquette, etc, but I don't think it should be used as a participating blog in the challenge.

  22. I think awards would be an excellent addition to the Challenge. It would be a nice way to expose everyone participating to some of the outstanding writing we might otherwise miss.

  23. Hey Lee...I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I'm sending hugs and condolences to you and your family..

    As for the Challenge ideas, I think you covered everything. This was my first challenge and as I'm a new blogger I am not aware of a lot of the etiquette, so I love the idea of the guidelines and etiquette page.

    Also, I really love the idea of a central A-Z Challenge page, it must get frustrating for you to have all of this on your own page!

    A screening process is a good idea too I think...and putting the participating blogs into categories is a good idea too..every festival or show that I can think of has categories...
    I used to be involved in the dog show world, and they're all divided into different groups, they don't start off with an arena full of every kind of dog all together..
    and lastly, I also love the idea of letting the participants decide how many blogs, and what blogs, they'll visit..some they will want to have regular contact with, and some they will not.

    I'm looking forward to the next challenge so I can do it right! Thanks Lee!

  24. Lee,

    I like #2 and #7 on your list with #9 being a nice idea that I would support but I would still be happy with the challenge either way whether there is a central blog for is or not.

    Organizing participants into categories is a nice idea. I surely do not mind the way the list was setup this year because new discoveries are the spice of life and have been the spice of the challenge, so I enjoy the varied blogs and topics that were in the challenge.

    If you implement the categories, one way it could be done without giving you and Alex, etc. more work would be to have bloggers add a brief description of their blog when they register for the A to Z challenge.

    Word prompts could also be a fun addition to the challenge. For those of us who can take 'em or leave 'em, maybe they could be beneficial just to have more options for topics to blog about.

    I met a blogger, Damyanti during the A to Z Challenge who wrote on topics that other bloggers suggested, so she kind of took matters in to her own hands and kind of created interaction with her blog readers and fellow A to Z participants for days when she needed a prompt. She also linked to the blogs of those who gave her the prompts that she chose to use, which was a nice thing to do.

    If you make a central blog for the challenge, I'll visit it and if you keep doing the challenge on your blog, I'll visit it!

    No matter what you choose to do, I have no doubts in my mind about the A to Z Challenge continuing to be a great event for bloggers everywhere and I will support it and recommend for as long as it is around and for as long as I am blogging.

    Thank you again for all that you do with the A to Z Challenge, for your support of fellow bloggers and also for cultivating a true community and somewhat family-like experience where bloggers support, inspired and encourage each other.

    Oooh, I just had an idea for next year's challenge while typing that last sentence....Maybe we can have blogging teams geographically, with a team host or organizer or something like that (P.S. If so, I want first dibs as host for my City since my party thing has been pretty bland for today, as you know, lol).

    In this setup, team or group members would meet daily online or meet in person once every week to share tips or work on word prompts for letters in the upcoming week or blog together right on the spot.

    We could even start preparing for this now. I'll get back to you on this when I can iron out all the details! Let me know what you think.

    The Madlab Post

  25. Mood-- I'm also thinking A to Z will get bigger. That's why I want to make it more flexible and easier for everyone in the end. It will take some work to make it so.

    Rhonda -- Of the few really negative complaints I received, they mainly had to do with elements of improper blog etiquette. I would like to eliminate as much of that as I can to make things more comfortable for all. Plus, there are more minor blogging etiquette issues that we can all benefit from practicing. The awards would be a voluntary secondary activity that could come in the month after the Challenge. I think it would be nice to give some special recognition to bloggers that deserve it. I like the concept of a separate A to Z Site mainly because there is so much information that can be disseminated on such a site and eventually the list may be too big for any one individual's site.

    Lynda -- I certainly wouldn't want to see a complicated screening form, but something that helps to categorize entrants could be very helpful. And let's face it, unfortunately when a list is offered some people will just add their link without knowing what's really going on and just to get a link to their blog listed somewhere. "A to Z" is more than just a one day blogfest; it's an event that asks for some commitment. Screening should provide more clarification for all of us on all accounts.

    Jabblog-- I'm sure there's plenty more that we'll think of. I've already thought of some more things. The emails would be great I think, used sparingly, on a weekly basis perhaps or for important event news flashes.

    Alex-- Hart's idea is a good one, but definitely a suggestion that could be made. A lot of people will want to do things the way they want to do them. Providing more options to create "customized" lists should also make a big difference.

    Sheila -- Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Seams -- A "Sort By" button would prove very useful in my opinion and I really like this idea. If the list got bigger next year it would almost be a necessity to have in order to make things more manageable for all participants. I like the personal touch I was able to give, but as I discovered this year it's difficult to be very personal with over a thousand blogs. Also, without a dedicated A to Z site the event would probably totally take over my own personal blog. I will keep you in mind as a cohost in your specialty next year.


  26. I think the lessons learned from this A-Z will make the next A-Z that much better for everyone involved!

  27. Suzanne -- Blogs can be deleted and a few were during the 2011 Challenge, however the number changing did present some problem I suppose, but not too much. Actually, a more careful screening and entry process would probably improve this since when one just adds a link it is easier to enter an incorrect one and it becomes more of a hassle to change it as the list grows.

    Jan -- Maybe I get a little obsessive sometimes, but I do love ideas and thinking things through to make them better.

    Kimberly -- Thanks!

    Amy -- The computer entry form should provide an adequate screening process and cohosts or administrators should probably not have to do much in that respect other that dealing with falsely entered links, which probably could be avoided with proper screening techniques. I think keeping the deadline somewhere around the end of the first week of April is best, because from my experience there are many who don't discover what's happening until after it's started.

    MyBabyJohn -- Don't worry! I am having fun analyzing things and trying to come up with better ideas. It's what I like to do. Now when the actual work comes it might be a different story!

    Maurice -- Ooo-- I like the way you put that! It will be interesting to see what happens next year.

    Maggie -- You have expressed my ultimate goal of each participant to create a customized list based on their own needs and what they want to achieve. I'm pretty sure it's possible and will require some specialized programming.

    Michael -- Let's hope it is better. I really believe these ideas will be pretty great.

    Sidney -- I appreciate your support!

    Laura -- Thanks for your backing as well.

    Karen -- Thank you on all accounts.

  28. Personally this year was bad for me but it had nothing to do with the challenge. I think all of your suggestions or goals will make the challenge more manageable for those of us who tend to FREAK OUT! :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  29. Dafeenah -- Thanks for your encouragement and offer of support.

    Hilary -- I'm not overly concerned by any initial workload if the improvements make things easier and less work in the long run. Time is always worth conserving so it can be used for other things.

    Juliet -- A dedicated A to Z site would be for sign up, informational, and administrative purposes only. That's why I like the idea of the separation between my personal blog and an A to Z site that has no daily participation in the Challenge.

    Tim -- I think the award concept has some great potential.

    Eve -- So far having the A to Z event centralized on my site has not been overly problematic, but I could envision that as the event grew larger it would completely assimilate my blog.


  30. Nicole -- Thank you for your in depth comment. I look forward to some future correspondence with you on these topics. I also think some opportunities to organize blogger meetings or even form clubs or in-person groups might be something that many bloggers would be interested in not only from the standpoint of the A to Z Challenge, but year round. Your attempt to organize something in Philadelphia was a noble effort, but I think you needed more time to put it together.

    Jeffrey -- If we don't learn something to improve things in the future, then we are not paying close enough attention and not caring enough. Thanks for you ongoing interest in the A to Z event.

    Jules --We certainly don't want anyone to "freak out"! Here's to better days ahead for you and me both.


  31. Hi stranger, you have made some good suggestions here Lee.

    Thanks for the visit, can only get a limited time on line as there is alot of travelling involved.
    See you next week if not before.


  32. great summary of the challenge and i had a blast doing it thanks for letting me join

    Everyday Life

  33. Hi Lee: thank you for commenting on my blog. I forgot to come back here.

    I LOVED this challenge. I did two of these in one month, and boy..were my arms tired. Wait. Wrong ending.
    I learned a lot about myself, and found I had that in me: writing.

    Here are my few suggestions:
    1) Set up a Twitter hash tag for us to follow when posts go up; we can create an A to Z list to just check up on things.
    2) with that, I DO think "groupings" would help: Fiction writing is what I was MOST interested in; then Poetry. If there were large enough types/topics to group, I would hone it down to the top whatever, then have a Misc grouping. We could go in or not, but we'd also find things that were of interest. (that can also work with the hash tag: #AZFic #AZPoet #AZFood, etc
    3) I like the idea of blog awards, but with 1200 it's hard: is it a popularity contest like Idol? If so, then no. Merit and quality.

    Hope this helps. It was a blast, and I'd want to do it again.

  34. Wow! I love all these suggestions, Arlee! I think this blogfest is just going to get bigger and better. I better start writing those posts soon!

  35. Lee, I support all the ideas you have put forth, and if there is any way I can help for the next year, I'm available!. My software skills are very limited, but I can do any other clerical work that needs to get done.

    Gatekeeping is a wonderful idea...and I think despite the lists and forms, spammers would find their way in. Maybe we should have a way to report the bloggers who are there only for ads and spams. That way, we could all be your eyes.

    I would say we need a bigger presence on twitter, because I found a lot of bloggers who posted regularly on twitter. I also created a twitter newspaper based on your hashtag #atozchallenge, which helped keep tab on the new posts each day. More people tweeting on the same # would help give more exposure!

    I'm doing the final edits on the A-Z e-book, and am now asking for all kinds of suggestions to make the book better. Any insights you care to share would be most welcome.

    Thanks again for all that you did for A-Z, and can't wait for next April!

    P.S: I'd rather your blog remained the it that personal touch :)

  36. Wow, Lee...addressing your post is going to be like attempting to eat a 72oz steak! Lots of good info and thoughts.

    I'll start by saying again, I enjoyed the Challenge just as it was. So those who were overly analytical, I say get over yourself.

    I know many participants were writers, wannabe writers, photographers, wannabe photographers, dancers, etc. I personaly loved reading about all different kinds of subjects. This of course my not suit everyone, but it was one of the main reasons I discover.

    The category thing might be nice as it will allow those of us with time limitations to laser-focus on topics of interest. On the other hand, I am really sorry my dumbass didn't figure out the value of the buttons created by Marcus. Can you believe I added it the last day of the challenege??

    I came to hate a few things, Disqus was a nightmare at times, Wordpress with their requirements of name, email, website...AND sometimes word verification sent me into orbit. Captcha in general irritates me.

    I am intrigued by the idea of awards, maybe based on themes, unique ways of posting (I especially loved Rayna's drabbles) or some such. I also think the word prompts would be okay. It might even be cool to randomly draw letters to have every post on the same word...just to see the difference takes.

    Not to drag this comment on any longer...I enjoyed the Challenge and I will be back next year how ever you set it up!

    Great Job!

  37. I really enjoyed being part of the A to Z Challenge and think that some of your suggestions for next year are worth a try. I especially liked the idea of the screening process - I realize that it will take more time on your part but it is better that getting advertisements, etc. thrown into the mix.

  38. Screening would be good. The navigation buttons were a great help but it also made it noticeable how many had dropped out or were commercial. For me, this Challenge was a marvelous experience.


  39. There is obviously a lot of planning that goes behind this & you're doing a great job of thinking out so many variables.

    Weeding out the "blogfest whores" as you so delicately put it is necessary as it would be to weed out those advertisers & those who probably can't stick w/ all 26 letters of the alphabet in order.

    What caught my attention was the random next blog button. That's a great idea for changing up what blog you'll visit next.

    Maybe have a marathon award for the person that can get through a certain number of blogs [200? 300?] every day! :)

  40. I like the ideas you've come up with - particularly the possibility of having some kind of categorisation as well as the 'surprise me' button that allows you to visit blogs indiscriminately.

    In the meantime - putting all this together takes time and know-how, so a big THANKYOU, Lee, for all the effort you and your merry band of helpers put into organising and maintaining this event!

  41. Lee,

    I'm stopping by here again to inform you that Tossing It Out just won the Overlord Award.

    You can pick it up on my "Overjoyed with the Overlord Award" post:

    The Madlab Post

  42. Some of those things will never be in our control, like you say - like blog etiquette and word verification, but that's part of blogging.

    The weeding out of advertisers and non-participants is the one I'd like to see. By shortening the window for people to signup would help with that.

  43. Hi Arlee - great round up and set of suggestions. Although I loved having the opportunity last year of landing on sites that I may not ever have seen otherwise, I do agree that as the list grows there is a real need for grouping. I also agree a sign-up form would be useful - though I'm a little non-plussed at the idea that geographical location and occupation may make the list and be something on which people can sort. Surely the whole idea of the blogosphere is to join like-minded individuals no matter where they are or what their day-job is?

    Love the idea of the "next" button starting at the blog after your own - this should go a long way to sharing the traffic right across the list.

    What on earth is a blogfest whore?

  44. PS - just noticed the follow, thank you x

  45. I think screening the list is the #1 thing that would make the challenge better for everyone. I wasted so much time visiting fake blogs or non-participants that I know I missed out on some great finds.

  46. Great ideas, however, I'd participate again, even if you didn't change a thing. Thank you for all the work you've done to host this. It's more than met my expectations. Be sure to give yourself gratitude for the work you've done!

  47. Thank you all for the additional comments. Great thoughts and encouragement for me. I've still got a lot to ponder and to learn before the next Challenge.


  48. I've enjoyed all your posts on the good and bad about the challenge. I agree that limiting the number of participants would be a mistake.

    Screening is a great idea if it can be implemented without a lot of extra work.

    I also agree that blogging etiquette should be practiced every day of the year and that plenty of bloggers provided guidelines for the challenge. Some people chose to follow the guidelines, while others didn't.

  49. These sound great, Arlee! I'm in favor of grouping blogs by type, but the screening process seems like it's a good alternative. I'm looking forward to next April!

    By the way, I'll be participating again whether or not you change a thing and I'm sure many of us feel that way. It's very kind and thoughtful of you to want to make things extra better!

  50. Great! Haven't read all comments - sorry!
    A couple points on Lee's post:
    1. Sign-up must remain simple. I know a more complicated process would screen-out fakes and whores- as you call them - but it would also screen out genuine writers who hate filling forms (like me. I DO NOT WANT TO CREATE ANOTHER F**K*NG PASSWORD!)
    2. An independent A-Z Blogging Challenge website is an EXCELLENT idea, and you can count me among those willing to put in a few admin hours. I appreciate as long as it's tied to your blog/site you will be overwhelmed. As an external site you can probably better enjoy and grow your family of A-Z bloggers. Besides, I've got A-Z Theme ideas it would be nice to run at other times of the year from a dedicated A-Z Blogging Challenge website. Very cool plan Lee. I'm with you.
    3. Like the button, wish I could have used it. We need to collaborate with WordPress to get them to permit our button. Having that independent Blogging Challenge website might help.
    4. It would be very nice to weed out the freeloaders. I landed on blogs that clearly weren't writing.
    5. Basic Blog Etiquette for anyone who is wondering requires commenting ABOUT THE POST YOU'VE JUST READ. This means saying more than: "Great that you finished the challenge." It requires making intelligent, interactive commentary. I was disappointed that some comments I got in response to my A-Z Summary read like empty socializing (apologies to anyone who wasn't). I did the challenge to be inspired and I was, and for that I am grateful. That being said, I haven't really time for empty socializing around my blog, I come to the web seeking deeper, more thoughtful connection.
    6. Will be back with more but am out of time right now and have to dash off!

  51. Lee, I've been away, and just found time to catch up on your analysis. I've read the comments, and everything has been covered from my perspective. I like the idea of emails and info about etiquette. Whatever you do will be great - you're thorough!

    I love that the many of the contacts I made during the challenge have continued, and some friendships have grown. I wouldn't have anticipated that, and it has been so rewarding to connect with people I never would have had the opportunity of meeting. Thankyou. Sue


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