The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

Experimental Fun with Blogging

English: American students pledging to the fla...
English: American students pledging to the flag in a former form of the salute, specifically the Bellamy salute . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         In the interest of blog science I am sometimes willing to put up a sacrificial post just to see what happens.  Some may consider me wacky at times--to which I will concede to accepting that assignation.  At times I am like a mad scientist of blogging.  I'm still trying to get to the bottom of blogging mysteries to see if there is any rhyme or reason to it all.

        That's basically what I did with my post from last Monday What Is the Iron Man Connection?.   My experiment was poor in that it lacked any clear hypothesis and my unscientific approach probably does not reveal any clear conclusions about what happened.  However, I can make some observations and maybe some you can suggest what conclusions might be drawn from this bit of randomness that appeared on Tossing It Out.

         If you'd prefer not to get into my research or hear anything about my "Iron Man Connection" post, please scroll down to the last section titled  "Now Some Final Words".  I hope you help with the request that is made in those paragraphs.  But if you're ready to hear more about the blogging experiment then continue on to the next section.

The Set Up

         The list of names that I presented came about as a result of free association as I was doing a Google search.  Initially my list started as a result of a discussion that I had engaged in at a group Bible study on the evening of Monday October 28th.   During the course of our discussion I had brought up the subject of  The Pledge of Allegiance.  As we talked about The Pledge I became curious about its origins.

        When I got home that evening I checked on Google to find the history of The Pledge of Allegiance and was surprised at my findings.  I thought that what I discovered might make for an interesting controversy blog post.  I opened up a post composition page and begin entering names as I came to them in my research and other names that I free associated with the others along the way.

          A proposed post about The Pledge of Allegiance began to turn into a bigger conspiracy in the line of thinking I was heading down and at that point I realized the subject matter was far too big to cover in a single blog post nor did I want to directly tackle the subject on my blog.  But I now had a list of names.  In my mischievous way of thinking, I decided to add an intro and a closing around those names and see if any readers would make any connections as I had.

           I realized that most visitors would stop, look, and then exit without a comment.  In fact the numbers who did comment surprised me.  Furthermore, the depth of some of the comments and the direction they took surprised me to an even greater extent.

The Outcome

        I posted a list with little to set it up and no real explanation for the most part of what the names on the list represented.  The list of names was presented in a relatively objective manner.

         The comments started coming in very slowly in a fairly unopinionated way with no one taking a shot of what anything meant.  Then Pat Tillet came along with his recognition of the names and a challenge concerning what the post represented.   My post for that day actually begins to take form with Pat's comment.

         After that point the comments begin to fill up with lengthy comments from others with Larry from  Back in the USSR turning the direction of the conversation to ObamaCare.  He had some excellent points to make as did Wendy Tyler Ryan.  Their exchange became the crux of the post-within-the-comment-section with some fine additions by several others.

        My post originally had nothing mentioned about ObamaCare other then a few names of some people connected with it.   In my mind I was thinking of something bigger of which President Obama was only a small part.   Left to those who visited and left comments, the blog post became focused on a side topic rather than the bigger topic which would have required deeper research or a clear knowledge of the topic and a willingness to even delve into that topic in my comment section.  Who's got the time for that?

My Conclusion

         That particular post was my most viewed over the past week even though there were two blog events in which Tossing It Out was entered.  Still, views were lower on the Monday post than for blog posts prior to my excursion into wondering about viral blogging, respect, and other mind-wandering sorts of things.  Maybe I've derailed some of my readership as a result of my recent content or perhaps the decline goes back to my social media cutbacks.   There's no real "scientific" conclusion that I've come to from my off-the-wall blogging experiment, but I can offer my observations:


  • Though my title was a question, there apparently was not enough interest in the answer to draw more viewers.
  • The Iron Man reference didn't have much impact, perhaps because of the Battle of the Bands hints and diminished interest in the Battle of the Bands event (no plan for me to stop yet--be here this coming Friday for the next one)
  • When inadequate information is provided or the post is poorly written readers will sometimes read into a post to come to conclusions that may be much different that the blogger intended.
  • Comments can be much more interesting than the post when the previous point comes into play.
  • Tweeting and promoting links on Facebook can make a difference--not all that much for me in this case--but this type of promotion can work.
  • Blog visitors rarely have time or interest in doing research or reading a blog post that is too detailed or deep in subject matter (I guess I already knew that). 
  • The ones who do have time to read are more likely to not only leave a substantial comment, but also follow the comment thread and engage in discussion with others.
  • An enigmatic post such as the "Iron Man Connection" post can more readily draw comments from new visitors or those who usually don't leave comments and not as many comments from regular visitors.
Now Some Final Words

         An unscientific research experiment renders little in conclusiveness, but allows for speculation.  I've offered my observations, perhaps some of you have some of your own.

          One thing is probably a good bet in today's post: I wouldn't expect too much engagement from readers.   Some of you may be scratching your heads if you've gotten this far down the page.  If you have then I thank you for sticking with this and congratulate you on your reading persistence.   I can't promise that I won't do a post like this or last Monday's again, but I'll try to avoid it for a couple months.  I'll try.

        Let's face it--a post of this nature is self-indulgent even if it is intended for gathering information that could be potentially useful to me as well as other bloggers.  I am exploring the possibilities that blogging has to offer.

        My blog experimentation and questioning may also be a step toward something I have brewing on the back burners of my brain.  This something may be of interest to many of you, but I'm going to let it simmer a bit before I present the idea publicly.   My idea starts with the most recent post on my dream blog A Faraway View in which my guest Yolanda Renée discusses precognitive dreams or dreams or visions that predict the future.  I encourage you to go over to pay Yolanda a visit at this post.
     
        After Yolanda's post appeared, she and I had an ongoing email exchange about her post.  Our discussion gave me an idea that I hope to share soon.  In the meantime visit Yolanda's precog dream post.  If you visit the precognitive dream post be sure to leave a comment.   And then if you would be so kind, share the link wherever you think others might see it best.  Be a part of our experiment!

        And now I'll close my self-indulgent mind circus and fly away until my next post appears on Wednesday.  Then on Friday there will be another Battle of the Bands post in which I'll pit two versions of the same song for you to decide which is your favorite.   What song have I chosen for this round?  Clues are in this post.
 
         Are you annoyed by self-indulgent blog posts?   Aren't most blog posts self-indulgent to some degree or another?   Does the average blog post have much impact for marketing purposes?     One choice only:   Do you prefer blog posts that disseminate information or are strictly entertaining?   Any idea what song I've chosen for my Battle of the Bands post on Friday?


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28 comments:

  1. I like blog posts that are thoughtful and share a window into the mind of the writer. In that case, yours always interest me. As for the mystery of blogging-- that's a good one. I've learned enough from my own posting to know what will get comments and what won't, but sometimes I just want to do what I do regardless.

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  2. Hi Arlee,

    I missed your blog post but I reckon you can blog about anything in an experimental way and see what your readers think. Unless you have a very focused blog that does exactly what it says on the tin, that is. But your readers might still surprise you with their response.

    Thanks to AtoZ I have a daily schedule so my readers know to come to me Tuesday for a haiku, Saturday for a book review, Friday for flash fiction. But Monday is for news, views and anything that turns up. It's often my most popular post of the week, unless I've done a really good flash or reviewed a popular book!

    Keep trucking - you inspire us!

    Jemima at Jemima's blog

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  3. Well, I went back and read the comments from last week. I did read it last Monday and commented but wasn't sure if it posted (it didn't) because I was trying to do it from my phone. I had some vague idea that the purpose of the blog was to clean out your reader list - if we didn't comment you might dump me :)

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  4. By the way, as to what kind of post I like to read - I like both entertaining and informative. Not too long though since I am generally trying to read blogs in little snippets of time, and if I want to comment then that's time too.

    As to your Battle of the Bands song? No idea.

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  5. You always discuss interesting things, so I'd stop no matter what. But I do go for entertaining first. Sometimes posts that are about an in-depth topic will veer into controversial or an area where someone has to take a strong stand, and I just won't go there.
    Did not make the connection, but before six in the morning, my brain isn't functioning next. Controversy with the Pledge? Worst thing is kids aren't allowed to say it anymore.
    On vacation this week so off to have fun soon!

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  6. Hi Arlee,

    I agree -- I think at some level, ALL blog posts are self-indulgent. At it's most fundamental, blogging is a means to project one's personal self out into the interwebs. It's a shout into the wilderness, and every blogger hopes to hear at least some level of response. If not, we'd simply be writing posts to ourselves in our journals, and stashing them in our desks.

    The need to connect with other people, to have some validation of our thoughts and feelings, to know that at least one other person "gets us" is the root force beyond the desire to blog. The amount of extra ego-driven "hey look at me!" may vary, as does the altruistic "let me try to help whoever stops by" at the other end of the ego-scale.

    But that root impulse to have a blog is "self-indulgent," at least in the sense that we want to indulge our need to connect with others.

    And my BOTB song guess is maybe something to do with the pledge of allegiance? Either that or "Lemon Tree," since it used to be the jingle used by lemon Pledge furniture spray cleaner...

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  7. I'm not sure about the marketing thing unless you have a business and tons of followers, like some of the craft blogs I follow. Unfortunately I can't seem to get more followers on mine despite all the crafts I do. I had 152 but then I noticed it was 151 and that's where it's stayed for months.

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  8. Karen -- Sounds like we have a pretty common mindset on blogging.

    Jemima -- Thank you for the encouragement. I need to go back to revise the schedule in my header tab. I think I've let it lapse.

    Sheila-- No I don't dump anyone. At least not so far. Informative helps if it's somewhat entertaining to read.

    Alex -- Interesting or in depth does not have to be all that controversial. Have fun on vacation.

    Chris -- Excellent observations. That along the lines I was thinking. We blog for some level of recognition and in degrees of self-indulging. I like the way you put it. Your song choice thoughts are interesting.

    JoJo -- My follower number have been hovering at about 1560 since April I think. It nudges up or down but doesn't ever go more than a few points past 1560. As for marketing as I discussed in my A to Z marketing series in 2012, you don't have to selling a product by my definition. Marketing can be just promoting oneself or ideas on a blog. We want visitors to "buy" us and become regular "customers". If we want to limit our reach then why be on a public blog? My "research" is trying to find what it takes to boost that readership in other ways besides the tried and true and highly labor-intensive attempts for reciprocity. We should not give up the socializing, but we should be careful that it doesn't take over our schedules.

    Lee


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  9. you cover things that make you want to share, i find i learn something or take away something that i tend to share throughout my day.

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  10. I think some bloggers have the audience and the knack for actually doing some real promotion but I don't think I have that knack.
    I like to be entertained but I also like to learn something.

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  11. I'm a little late in this experiment of yours, but I see no harm in testing the waters now and then. Interesting thoughts and conclusions, however! :)

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  12. I'm definitely looking for information, with a little reflection of some sort thrown in, but, I love links!

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  13. I don't mind doing research, in fact (as you should know), I like doing research. I spend a lot of time on some of my posts (even a post like today's which is just a movie review) doing research.
    However, I'm not so much into riddles in which some of the pieces are withheld (which is why I didn't like The Illusionist) which is really what your post felt like to me. Like Bilbo saying, "What have I got in my pocket?"
    I understand your reasoning, but it still doesn't give me the time to try to figure out what you have in your pocket with only a bunch of out-of-context clues to work with.

    As for the pledge, we have a lot of misconceptions about it and how it came to be as it is ingrained in our society. That's not likely to change any time soon.

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  14. This is quite interesting, really. I've been thinking of things along similar lines. I don't know if I believe blogging is going away totally, like I've heard some say, but its definitely changing and I think experimenting with new things and new forms and new ideas within our blogs will hopefully help us adapt to that change. Good stuff!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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  15. Thanks for the extra boost for my post. It will be interesting to see the stats. I read the post about Iron man and thought I was to ill informed to make a comment. In other words it took to much brain power to figure out and I walked away without a comment. I do that on posts I find confusing. Glad to know that one was unusual because I like your blogs, and always enjoy learning! Enjoying your efforts to provide stats and information on blogging success.
    Thanks again!

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  16. Wow Lee, this is great, you've clearly put so much effort into this which I respect and love a whole lot, I have no idea what song is coming up though!

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  17. I read this post all the way through and am still not entirely sure what the experiment was... Was it seeing how many people would do independent research with only clues? Was it what kind of blog posts generate what sort of comments? Page views vs comments? I am still unclear.

    I didn't make the Pledge of Allegiance as the thing that tied them all together, although I do remember reading many of the links and one of them was the person who wrote The Pledge.

    If you are desiring to generate comments, and I think you are, I prefer a post that delivers quality content that leaves room for opinions. I don't want to have to guess at what the topic actually is.

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  18. I like a variety, some information, some entertaining, some goofy.

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  19. Jeremy -- If I have inspired a few people to think on my posts geared toward that, then I feel I have done my job.

    Susan GK -- I've seen the blogs that seem to be promoting well, but I often wonder how effective they actually are at doing so.

    David -- It's fun to test ideas to see how readers respond. I suppose it would be risky to do too much experimentation, but I appreciate those readers who are willing to go along with me.

    Jarm - If I gain useful knowledge from a post then I feel like I've been rewarded in reading it.

    Andrew -- I don't feel I was presenting a riddle, but rather a list in which I saw connections. I was wondering if anyone saw those same connections. But it would have taken time if someone didn't immediately recognize what at least a few of the names represented and were connected with. We're already seeing the pledge removed from many schools. Eventually it could become a relic of the past.

    Lee

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  20. Sarah -- As long as there is an internet as we know it, I'm sure blogging will be with us and in many incarnations. I think as we get into blogging more a lot of us get somewhat dissatisfied with where we are and want to make the experience mean more.

    Yolanda --Thanks your interest in the stats and making me think a bit more.

    Yeamie - Now if I can get more focused on the whole topic..

    Robin -- As I said in this post this was a very unscientific approach that did not yield clear results, but merely things to speculate on. After I looked at my list in the "Iron Man Connection" post and knew where I got the names, rather than just deleting it I thought I would just put it out there with very limited information to accompany it and see how people would react. My expectation was that there might be a few polite comments of beffudlement, but little else. I was rather surprised to see the whole ObamaCare discussion come into being and interested in some of the information that was provided. The post was kind of like those inkblot tests or word associations to see what my list would elicit in the thinking of the readers. I could have probably gotten similar results if I put up some esoteric piece of poetry that contained a few charged words or expressions.

    Southpaw--I certainly wouldn't want to read the same stuff in every blog. Variety is nice.

    Lee

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  21. I am with Susan Gourley/Kelly--I read for entertainment and enlightenment.

    Blogs that exist strictly to promote books or to express struggles of editing--I have stopped checking in on them.

    My own blog? Writing for my own pleasure and entertainment--very selfish, I know.

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  22. You raised some interesting points. I'm not surprised by the point about readers not having time or interest in anything too detailed.

    Yep, I'm thinking most blog posts self-indulgent to some degree. The whole concept of blogging is self-indulgent really.

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  23. Hi Arlee,
    I am bookmarking this to read at a later stage, Keep inform, It seems you and Alex are very very busy in your activities,
    Keep Going my dear friends
    Keep Inform
    Best Regards
    Phil

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  24. Sorry, only skimmed this post. Got some problems at the moment so insufficient time.

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  25. Susan K-- A goodly part of writing is for entertainment purposes. Even non-fiction books. If writing is not somewhat entertaining it can become tedious to read.

    Lynda -- I suppose an argument can be made that just about everything we do in life is self-indulgent to some degree. If not, we would have no ego or desire to survive and would cease to exist.

    Phil -- I feel like I've always got things to do and yet I feel like little gets done. Busy? I should probably be busier than I really am.

    Jo-- Hope you get your problems resolved okay.

    Lee

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  26. I like that you're always willing to try new and inventive ideas Lee! When I have time, I'll have to go back and look at the clues again.

    Julie

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  27. What a trip, haha. Are you more blog scientist or blog circus ring master? Interesting blog findings as usual Lee! As far as your question about information, I believe the most successful posts provide info and entertainment at the same time.

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  28. Julie -- I've always been one who liked to experiment. I take after my father I guess.

    Buck -- I like the info, but I don't want to be bored with dry stats and facts.

    Lee

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee