The response to part one of this two part series was fantastic. The comments overwhelmingly display support and positive attitudes toward the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I thank everyone who commented on part one and if you missed that post I encourage you to go back and while there be sure to peruse the comment section to get a sense of the A to Z love that is out there.
In that post I didn't mean to mislead anyone that we had been deluged with negative feedback about A to Z. That is definitely not the case as the comments on that post will attest. What I was doing in that post was creating a set up for the discussion about The Compassion of A to Z. The complaints actually only amounted to murmurs and unfounded rumors about how some had reacted to the A to Z Challenge. I think we sometimes have a tendency to hear negatives more loudly than the positives and that's probably why the negatives caught my attention
The Compassion of A to Z
When I started the A to Z Challenge in 2010 I was already blogging everyday so it was nothing for me to continue to do so using the gimmick of the alphabet. If one is not used to blogging daily and finds it a chore then there’s nothing wrong with that–the Challenge may not be for them if they find daily blogging too difficult. I do commend anyone for at least putting forth an honest effort even if they do feel the need to drop out of the Challenge. We especially appreciate when bloggers who drop out communicate that to the A to Z Team so we can take them off the list.
But before I get into the issues of removing blog links from the list. let me first point out the fact that the Team of A to Z Co-hosts and all of their volunteer helpers put a lot of effort into keeping the list cleaned up as best we can for the enjoyment of the participants. Despite the fact that we make it very clear on the sign up page the criteria that allows bloggers to participate in the A to Z Challenge, there are always opportunists and as well as others who skip reading our requests and suggestions and just add a link without any thought other than to be on the list. This is the first inconsiderate act that makes the job more difficult for the Challenge administrators. Unfortunately most of the problems related to these entries don't become evident until after the Challenge has started and we are all at our busiest.
Our mission is to make sure that participants will find links that are valid and lead to blogs that are actually posting for A to Z. Some of you are understandably perturbed when you find a non-participating blog that is still on the list. Others might feel that we are being too tough when we remove the blogs of those who fall behind. A suggestion was even made that we were lacking compassion in removing the bloggers who weren't able to keep up with the letters and the daily posting. The very basic rules of the Challenge are to post daily from A to Z--that's what makes it a Challenge!
I found the term "compassion" to be interesting as this was the very term that I had discussed with the A to Z Team. We didn't want to come across as hard-nosed about removing blogs because we know that things can happen to interfere with blogging--computer problems, illness, family emergencies, increased workloads or you name any one of a myriad of life complications that can interfere with our April Challenge. We try our best to open up a line of communication between us and the blogger who is experiencing problems before removing them. We leave encouraging comments and send emails. We don't want to take links off the list because we'd rather the list stay filled with all the starting numbers. But if we are getting no response then in fairness to you who are playing by the rules we must remove the bloggers who aren't. We extend compassion but compassion does not mean playing the fool.
The Compassionate A to Z Team
Those who might have thought the A to Z Team was mean or lacking compassion are unfortunately not likely to be reading this post and that's too bad. There are probably a few who might be harboring resentment about being kicked out of the Challenge because they couldn't keep up. Again we have to point out that it is a Challenge--you don't meet it, you don't win it. That doesn't mean that you are a loser, it just means we hope you try again and better luck next time
The articles at the A to Z Blog as well as the team members' own blogs and even comments of help and encouragement that we leave are part of our desire to teach about better blogging and to uplift spirits of those bloggers who might be a bit discouraged. The entire A to Z Community is about friendship and mutual support. I see a lot of compassion all around. A lot given and a lot received when needed most.
I don’t know about people quitting blogging because of the A to Z Challenge. I doubt that’s true, but if it is I think it is a statement on the bloggers who quit and says nothing about A to Z. Sometimes bloggers just leave their blogs and there's no reason to blame the A to Z Challenge. Since we rarely know the people behind the blogs, it’s hard to say why blog owners do what they do or even why they respond to the A to Z Challenge as they might. But if bloggers do reach out there's usually someone in the community who is willing to take time to listen and to lend whatever assistance they can.
Is there a more compassionate way to run this Challenge? I’d like to hear some answers to that question. There are undoubtedly some better things we can do and hopefully we will keep figuring those out. The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge will never be perfect but it will keep getting better. One of the reasons that A to Z will keep getting better is because of all of the amazing members of the A to Z community. And they are not just April friends, but we have become a year round community of helpful bloggers.
"...not only I survived the challenge and built my blogging muscle, but I now keep up the good work and exercising that muscle daily. Thank you for this amazing experience. It changed my blogging practice. What's more, it changed me. I feel more present and reflective in my daily life."
I think that sums it up for a lot of us.
Is there a more compassionate way to run the A to Z Challenge? How has A to Z affected your approach to blogging and life in general? When you came to a non-participating blog from the Linky list did you read their posts or leave a comment?