Monday, April 17, 2006

Blogging Addiction & the Quest for Fame

One of the great appeals of blogging is the fact that it allows you to enjoy a certain level of fame. That fame may only be among a handful of other bloggers, but it exists nonetheless.

According to my statistics (courtesy of Sitemeter – see the bottom right of my sidebar) I get on average about 50 visits to this site a day. Some of these are me, checking to see if anyone has commented, and some are random follow-throughs from that “Next Blog” button up on the top right corner of the page. I don’t know how many readers I have that never comment – the majority, I suspect – but I do have something around 15 to 20 (ish) visitors who aren’t afraid to leave a comment every now and then. With replies and occasional debates, it’s not unusual for me to get in to double-figure comments to any particular posting; sometimes less, sometimes more, but pretty respectable. I’ve twice broken the 30 barrier – the last post about the 6 thing meme and weird things about me, and the only other being back in October when I did a piece called “What is an Agnostic?”

When seeking blogging fame, the numbers can become all important. I remember back when I was getting on average only one or two comments (mostly spam, before I switched on the word-verification option), that I would marvel at people who got 20, 30, 50, or even 100 comments per post.

The first one I really noticed with big numbers was Chase Me Ladies where it’s not uncommon for Harry to reach in excess of 40 comments per post. Then I noticed Natasha at I Moved Your Cheese, Moron who could get 60 or 70 posts and on a few occasions broke into 3 figures. Ok, exactly half of them were her replies as she'd post a comment back to each one individually, but still - pretty awesome.

For a wee while I contemplated getting involved with HNT – Half Nekkid Thursday as members comment figures would shoot up into 60 to 80 posts on a Thursday as everyone did the rounds on each other’s sites. Obasso himself will get in excess of 200 comments on a Thursday these days, although on any other post he will get anything from 2 to about 30. Which got me thinking about quality vs quantity. Yes, I could bump up my weekly stats, but to be honest I noticed that most people posting on HNT did little other than leave a “Happy HNT” comment and disappear – no thought, no reply to someone’s ideas. I light-heartedly accused Atilla the Mom of a shameless attempt to bump up her viewing figures the other day, by getting involved in Thursday Thirteen, but there’s a little part of me that’s concerned that while it might introduce new people to her blog, chances are most won’t bother reading it but will just leave their comment in the hope that they can attract new visitors to theirs. Atilla produces good quality stuff and she deserves more than that.

I do feel a certain level of smugness that the quality of my visitors and the comments left tends to be very high, but in order to maintain this it can be incredibly time consuming. The fame you get round here is reciprocal. You can only expect other people to visit your blog and get qualitatively involved if you’re prepared to visit theirs and develop the relationship.

I can waste entire days moving from one blog to the next, before starting the cycle again to see if anyone has replied to my comments. There are the blogs I visit daily, ones I visit at least weekly and others that I visit when they comment here and I realise I’ve not been there for a while (where I then feel the need to read several back-posts to catch up).

There are various blog groups that I visit – there are the Down’s Syndrome related blogs, the Blunt Cogs crew, ones I discovered via Used Kitty Litter, Knights of the Round Bottoms (see my Losing a Hundredweight blog for more about them) and an assortment of individual sites that are unrelated. An hour can be easily lost just reading the latest entries – and if I comment then of course it’s even longer – and that’s all before I compose my own blog posts or reply to comments here.

It’s turning into a full time job to run these Ramblings, Blunt Cogs and Losing a Hundredweight, but it doesn’t bring in an income or the prospect of future wealth.

Most of us yearn for a certain level of respect from others, and few of us receive as much as we’d like. So getting people who regularly return to the blog, leave comments and even encouragement is quite a thrill, and contributes to the instant-high quality familiar to so many of our addictions.

But with this mix of the time constraints and the addictive buzz of getting positive attention, it does worry me about the degree to which blogging could be interfering with me trying to pursue my longer-term goal of becoming a professional author. Why write 100,000 words and spend months, if not years trying to get a book published in order to get the glory, when I can write 1,000 words once or twice a week and have people I’ve grown to like tell me how wonderful I am?

Without this being a sly attempt to bump up my comments figures (honest), I really would be interested to know how other bloggers are dealing with these issues, whether they are even issues at all, or if it’s just me struggling with an addictive personality disorder.

35 comments:

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Kim - I agrre that we all yearn the respect/admiration/subservience of our peers. I share your sense of excitement when I look at my blog and see that someone has commented (bar things like "Hi I am from the future. You blog is best ever. Buy a bigger penis at mysite'). Why? Simply because I know then that I have written something that someone thinks is worth a response. I get the same thrill when I see someone citing one of my papers.

I sense the blog phenomenon is to do with the need for justification, support and feedback in whatever we undertake, combined with the modern obsession for instant gratification. If nobody replied, we could never justify to ourselves the time taken to write when there are myriad competing causes for our time.

Kim Ayres said...

Dr J McC well by replying to this you've clearly justified the couple of hours I put into composing this entry :)

SafeTinspector said...

I started blogging partially because a real-world acquaintance was doing so, and he told me it would be good for the writing chops. Davecat is his name, and he's an...interesting fellow.

I have a longstanding interest in humor, and am something of a comedy geek. My posts were originally experimental comedy writings. As time went by the flavor of my posts changed, but the 'addiction' grew.

I agree that blogging has some resemblance to an addiction. I write a post, edit it, post it and then feverishly wait to see if anyone says anything good about it. Am I being myself? Am I strange enough? Is this funny? Did I make that post too long? If I get positive comments I feel quite nice, indeed.

I understand this phenomenon, and so I always make certain to comment on every good post I read at any blog I visit because I want them to know that their product is worthy as well. I do become a little put out when such attention is not reciprocated.

After a while blogging just makes for strange bedfellows. I now have blogging acqaintances from all over the globe, which was something I hadn't really anticipated. I know more bloggers from foreign countries than domestic US bloggers.

I think this might be because the flavor of blogging and its purpose is different in different cultures. In America it tends to be youthful and diary-based by and large. It has that reputation, anyway, and it may keep those who would be very good out of the game. I digress....

Kim, if it is endangering your income, do you think its become unhealthy for you? My blogging has been fit into the margins of my life and is only possible because of my constant restlessness. (I'm ADHD and can't sit still without doing something.)

El-Branden Brazil said...

Kim, a close friend of mine runs a blog called Tokyo Times- www.tokyotimes.org

He gets thousands of hits everyday. He has also had BBC and other media attention, as well as twice being nominated for The Bloggies.

In comparison, my blogs getting but a mere splattering of passers-by. To get real fame in the blogsphere, it seems that it is much better to have your own URL address and privately set-up site, rather than a freebie, such as Blogger, which is lovely, but leaves us drowned in a swamp of thousands of other Blogger users.

Sven said...

Kim:

I wonder about that as well. I started my blog in order to share a few stories about the kids with the distant relatives and occasionally offer a snide remark on something I read in the paper or saw online.

Then I too fell into The Litter Box and I was introduced to a whole community of creative folks. Like most people I would love lots of traffic on my blog but not at expense of developing relationships. Even though I would love to comment on everything I read I have had to be more judious as well so as not to become ovewhelmed.

Oh well, there are worse things I could do with my time.

Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim Ayres said...

SafeTinspector - I certainly read a lot more than I comment on, quite often because I can't think of anything worth saying that someone else hasn't already done. I like to think that if I'm going to say something, it's worth saying, but sometimes I feellike I'm in a rush to try and get through as many blogs as I can in the 30 minute space I might have free. Too many good blogs out there.

El Branden - I regularly visit your site, but you so rarely update it. I took a quick look at Tokyo Times. For someone who gets thousands of hits a day, I'd have expected more comments - he seems to average only 3 to 8 for any post.

Sven - that is the problem - the more people I meet and get involved with through the blog, the easier it is to get overwhelmed by trying to keep up with them all.

Admiral - I think McCrumble is a Scot. Obviously I can't hear his accent in his writing, but according to his profile, he's based in Cumbernauld which is basically a large housing estate in the middle of the Central Belt of Scotland.

Gyrobo said...

As for little ol' me, I was drawn into blogging quite by accident. My old pal Roboshrub (the guy who founded my blog) and I wanted a website to showcase the poorly drawn comic we just created.

Then I started messing around with the template and writing and drawing crazy things. Now we get about 20-30 hits a day.

I'm making millions on the blog market.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Kim - I am not based in Cumbernauld. The Institute is named for my predecessor Prof Ebeneezer McCumbernauld (pictured here, one of Queen Victorias' favourite scientists. I am of Scottish descent, but most of my life was spent in Cumbria with granny McCrumble. I have visited Cumberbnauld on occasion, much to my regret, though I understand the people are friendly. The town came in at position number 2 in a recent book called Crap Towns, sandwiched between Hull ('it smells of death') and Morecambe (a town I know well).

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I have to consciously limit the number of blogs I read, in order to have time to post, myself. That's difficult 'cos there's loads of good stuff out there. Once a fortnight or so, I'll play follow-the-link and venture outside past the blogs I read regularly. Any more than that I start to lose the balance of blogging with the rest of my life.

I started blogging 2 months or so to see if I could improve my writing and as a way of adding an adult dimension to my days of being a stay at home mother. I needed a hobby where I could produce something. Also I'm a nutter and my psychatrist suggested creative writing.I like the discipline of blogging and have found that I like writing too.

Thinking y'all might read what I write, pushes and stretches me in the same way a cow and a vet push and stretch to birth the calf. Sometimes the product of my labour looks like it might be a promising breeder itself, but sometimes it looks like an horrific Chernobyl monstrosity. Breaking it down, so far, I can produce a fine heap of mince but not much in the way of filet mignon. But there's room for error in blogland; it's challenging but not unforgiving and for a hobbyist writer and stay at home mother like me, it's been amazing and liberating and revealing and endlessly fascinating.

I feel lucky to have stumbled across this wee corner of blogland. Without exception, your writing is funny, interesting and inspiring. You teach me stuff and keep it real. There are a lot of dark wee alleys and broad, well-travelled thoroughfares in blogland, but, I think it's best here. It's the freest, funniest, most comfortable and most challenging blog-street I've come across. I'd gobble up a book from any of you but hope none of you stop blogging in the meantime.

The only downside of blogging is that it takes time away from reading books. I'm not much of a regular telly watcher but I need to start clawing back some reading-time. Really, though, if I have any time for this how-to-spend-my-free-time-most-enjoyably? stuff, I'm bloody lucky, and I know it.

Foot Eater said...

I imposed a new 'fewer than 15 comments is a flop' rule on my blog posts. I have only just redeemed myself.

Jagd Kunst said...

I got something like 1500 hits in the space of 4 hours last night on my blog IS IT ART because one of the people who art I reveiwed got mad and got all of her buddies to form a lynch mob, replete with pitchforks to flame the shit outta me. It was pretty exciting. There was a thread that I linked to which has now been removed (dammit, I was gonna print it out and say it was art!) that was all about what a big cunty-cunt-cunt I am. four whole pages!

Are there awards for that sort of thing?

Binty McShae said...

Kim, if you want to boost the number of comments on your post why don't you impose the 3-word-rule as I did a few posts back. Got more comments on that than anything else....

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I'm a comment floosie and comment all over the shop. I also like nothing better than to receive comments. There's no feeling quite like the feeling of a brimming over comment-box.

Rare is the post though where I can crack 15 comments a day. My siteemeter tells me I average 39 visitors a day, but some are me and some are perverts who've Googled "child bride". I had this one real sicko who found me by Googling "wellie-boots". I notified some authorities of some sort about him right away, of course. There are revolting mad-men out there, mad-men I tell you!.

Jagd Kunst said...

I do believe there is a box you can tick somewhere in sitemeter that says not to count visits from your specific browser.

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo - The Blog Market is new to me. I'm curious, but given I'm already moaning about time constraints, I feellike I daren't find out more

Dr J McC - My apologies to you and to the townsfolk of Cumbernauld - I'm surprised that it only reached number 2 - they were robbed...

Sam - I love your comments as it's like having a full blog entry come to me.

I agree that we seem to have become resident in one of the most creative and enjoyable places in blogdom. Time for another *Smug* Award?

Foot Eater - setting yourself high standards

Jagd - I would ask that you moderate your language a bit on this site - at Blunt Cogs feel free to let rip with your worst, but my personal site is a little more family friendly.

Admonition over, that is quite an impressive feat and I think you that if you can't find an award out there on the net you should give serious consideration to setting up your own!

Binty - It's not just about boosting the number of comments. Sure I love getting them all, but the point I was making is that there's a cost involved in terms of my time.

I did enjoy your 3 word rule though

Sam - It's unusual to get 15 in a day. One of the things that Foot Eater has discovered is that if you leave the same post up for 2 or 3 days then you tend to get more comments. The trick is to not leave sitting it there for too long - it's a bit like microwave popcorn - you have to listen carefully until you're only getting one pop every 2 or 3 seconds, then remove it, otherwise it burns and doesn't taste too good.

If you follow my meaning...

Jagd - you could be right, but then that would lower my stats :)

However, at least I have it set to visitors rather than "hits", which I think is a more accurate reflection

Foot Eater said...

One of the things that Foot Eater has discovered is that if you leave the same post up for 2 or 3 days then you tend to get more comments.

You've got me figured out, Kim. Then again, we might be the same person.

That popcorn metaphor is a good one - must bear it in mind.

El-Branden Brazil said...

Kim, I've seen his stats. Trust me, he gets thousands. He certainly earns from his ads as well.

El-Branden Brazil said...

Here's a link to his statmeter:

http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s16wordpress

I rest my case.

St Jude said...

I read quite a lot of blogs regularly, but I don't always comment. That is either because I have nothing to say that is relevant, or it has already been said in another comment, and I don't really see the point of repeating it.

Jagd Kunst said...

I will restrain myself in the future, and the popcorn analogy is a good one.

Foot Eater said...

To answer (sort of) the question you posed in the original post, Kim: I do sometimes wonder if the amount of time I spend on blogs is time I'm going to regret later. Then again, I'm employed by the NHS, so every time I post or comment while at work, those of you who make National Insurance contributions are paying me to do so.

fatmammycat said...

You are right of course, it is a concern, but I try limit my blog reading to about 20 blogs and try not to over do it with reading. I check blogs in the morning, post mine, get on with my work and then dip in thither and yon throughout the day as I see fit. That said, if I have a deadline or am pushed for time I blog a whole lot less and almost disappear until I have more time on my hands. Balance, I suppose, is the key.

Kim Ayres said...

Foot Eater - Maybe if I wasn't busy being you, El Barbudo, Dr Maroon, FMC, Monstee, Binty etc then I'd have more time for regular blogging

Branden - impressive!

St Jude - didn't someone else already say that... ;)

Jagd - thank you. I claim intellectual property copyright on the popcorn-blogger analogy. you can only quote it now if it is accompanied by a link back to this site (maybe that will drive up the stats)!

Foot Eater - don't worry about it - your taxes pay for my Working Family's Tax Credit

Miss Litzi - welcome to my ramblings! Maybe I need to set up another blog - I like this idea of Blogger's Anonymous. But then I guess it could be a bit time consuming...

FMC - balance - of course you are right, but it's not easy for we obsessive types.

Charlie said...

What attracts me to "journaling" is the quality rather than the quantity. I have a hit meter, but it's more for curiosity than a desire for additional readers. I am happy when only one or two read my stuff.

In a very short time I have "assembled" a read list which includes several of the commenters here. It is now my morning newspaper: I flip through each journal like turning pages.

Unfortunately, I have the time to read and roam and comment. I admit that I have become unbalanced (no headline, that), but in quite a satisfying way. Most of all, I like the international flavor.

It sounds like, Kim, that compiling a list of Twelve Steps for Bloggers Anon. could be a worthwhile exercise (a hint to your pals).

Gyrobo said...

I have no idea how the blog market works. All I know is, I bought a bunch of blogs last year, and did nothing for a few months.

Now, without any action on my part, I'm almost the 1,000th richest player out of millions.

My leading theory is that my subconcious is a genius.

Cherrypie said...

I only came because of the beard.

If ( ok, when, I'm too nosey not to return at least once) I come back, it will be despite the epic comments. Jeez! you know some wind bags xx

SafeTinspector said...

Sam:...pushes and stretches me in the same way a cow and a vet push and stretch to birth the calf. What an image. I'm going to go eat some McDonalds.
I once posted the fact that someone found my blog by searching for "sexy scenes when child is born in girls stomach"

foot:Few people dare to aspire to such a demanding requirement
I find 10 to be a success.

jagd:My friend Davecat had a similar experience, as he is a charismatic synthetic companion (sortof a really expensive lovedoll) enthusiast. Every now and then he is interviewed, and the traffic to his blog is almost always negative. He doesn't seem to enjoy it.

Kim:I love the microwave popcorn analogy.

Cherrypie:I think the term is 'meat balloons'

SafeTinspector said...

Hrm...second time in one thread that I mentioned Davecat. Wierd.

SheBah said...

Kim - I have learned a lot from other bloggers - sharing new ideas and life experiences - so I think of it as a sort of brainstorming session, very educational! The international flavour is interesting and fun, and there are some splendid writers in this little corner of blogland.

Kim Ayres said...

Admiral - having not been through a 12 steps programme, I'm not sure where I'd begin.

Gyrobo - I don't think I ever doubted your subconscious, it was only ever your conscious that worried me :)

Cherry Pie - welcome to my ramblings - and I thought it was only my wife who liked beards. And yes, they may be wind bags, but they're my kind of wind bags :)

SafeTinspector - wow, multiple answers to a thread that's not on your blog. I'm sure Foot Eater should have a name for that on his blogosaurus!

SexyBeauty - I agree copmpletely!

Attila The Mom said...

Kim--very thought provoking and thanks for the kind words.

I think I Thursday Thirteened because I have a lot of lists and opinions, and couldn't justify posting lists of them for no good reason. LOL

I haven't joined any TT blogrolls though, because even I run out of lists and it's getting old. So I won't be continuing in the long run. ;-)

Kim Ayres said...

I admit to being to harsh with my judgement on you with the Thursday 13s, Atilla. I hope you accept the apology I e-mailed you.

Natalia said...

You know I have actually been called out for answering in individual posts to each of my commenters. But the thing is if someone takes the time to stop by and read and leave a message, I want to give back to them. And I have lost readers over the last months...but I'd rather have less and better than loads and meaningless :)

-N

Kim Ayres said...

I alwys respected you answering them all individually. It's sheer lasziness that makes me answer them in a single comment!