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I want to start by acknowledging all the unbelievably kind and caring people I have met here on WordPress.  You are the best people I could have ever hoped to know.  You represent every race, religion and lifestyle imaginable.  You live in countries around the world.  You come from every conceivable background and walk of life.   Through you, I have come to know that we are so much more the same than different.  We are bloggers! 

I’m not talking about the big-timey, commercial blogs or the experts plugging their products and services.  We are the heart and soul of the Blogosphere.  We put our words out there for many different reasons, but mostly I think we do it to make contact.  We are the global village so talked about in years past.  There is no profit, but there is gratification.  There is no expectation, but there is hope.  We take the risk and we make ourselves vulnerable, but it is worth it when someone visits our site, “likes” a post, makes a comment, or does us the enormous honor of following our blog.  

You have brought me great joy these past few months.  I could never fully express my gratitude for the support you have shown me and this blog.  You have been a gift I could not have anticipated or even imagined.  “Thank you” is so inadequate, but they are the only words I have to offer you in exchange for the comfort and joy each of you has given me by being part of my blog community.

My life is such right now that maintaining this blog properly is simply impossible.   I had thought to say good bye in this post, but when I went to my e-mail and saw all the comments, likes and new followers, I just couldn’t do it.  Instead, I’m going to do what I can to keep it going.  I’m not sure how often I will be able to post.  I know I will not have time to answer all the comments and visit everyone’s blog with any regularity.  I’m going to break all my own rules until things settle in my real world.  I’m also going to turn off my comment moderation, so comments will post when they are made.

I hope . . . no, I know you will understand because that’s just how you guys are.  I’ll post when I can and I’ll be reading as many of your blogs as time permits.  So, here’s wishing all of you a happy new year and I’ll being seeing you when I can.

A little history to get ya’ll up to speed.  My baby here . . . Miss Demure Restraint . . . will be four years old on December 1st.  She’s been a bit schizophrenic in the past, but she’s responding well to medication.  I guess in a lot of ways she’s a reflection of my personal head space.  So what does that say about me? Yeah, I’m a little on the crazy side, but then what sane person gets on the internet and blindly writes to an audience that may or may not be there? Only a whack job exposes himself to the potential rejection trauma such activities may and sometimes do result in.  I think being a little nuts is an inherent trait in the artistic temperament.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, MDR was rolling on down the road, enjoying the ride and ran head on into a block wall a little over two years ago.  An incident, I can only describe as a “cat fight” broke out between a couple of commenters on one of my posts.  I have to take responsibility as I had the power to not approve a comment, but was intimidated by the “acumen” of the commenter throwing the first punch.  Then I felt obligated to approve the offended party’s response.  Long story short . . . things got ugly . . . fast.  I posted an apology and removed the comments, but something was broken I couldn’t fix.   I struggled for a short time to continue, but it just wasn’t the same after that.  I pretty much quit blogging until the beginning of last month.

I have made every mistake known to man in this blog, maybe even a couple nobody ever thought of.  Some of the comments on yesterday’s post got me to thinking and that can be dangerous even painful.  Yes, the smell of burning brain cells fills the air as I sit pounding away on the laptop.  I figure I have from agonizing experience learned a few things which I feel compelled to share.   I have to start with a disclaimer . . . there is NO wrong way to blog.  What I offer here is just a little common sense (I know the ultimate oxymoron) and suggestions on applying the bloggy golden rule . . . treat your fellow bloggers the way you wish to be treated. 

  1. Turn on your comment moderation function.  You are responsible for the content of your blog and that includes the comments.  Comments can be rather like an untended child.  You take your eyes off them for a minute and they will run into the street directly in front of a bus.  There are trolls out there people!  They can overrun your blog in no time at all.  Some of you are fully capable of dealing with them, but make it a conscious decision to leave your front door unlocked.  Don’t imagine for a moment they wouldn’t do it to you.  Well, maybe not you Androgoth.  Any troll taking on a vampire king will quickly regret it.  You don’t have to approve a comment that is offensive to you, your readers or your other commenters.  Don’t fall into the trap I did of being intimidated into approving something you aren’t comfortable having as a permanent part of your blog.
  2. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Come on, it’s not hard.  Somebody has taken the time to read your blog and leave you a comment.  That’s a big deal . . . for me it is.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  The easiest way I know is to reply to the comment on your own blog.  You can do it as part of the approval process.  If you have time to approve the comment, you can at least say “Thanks.”  I have known some people that send an e-mail response.  I just got one yesterday, as a matter of fact.  Still others will go to the commenter’s blog to respond.  I freely admit I have failed in the past to take this simple step.  I have no excuse, but stupidity and failure to engage my brain.  I’ve learned it is important to let people know their effort was appreciated by acknowledging them.  Duh!
  3. Comment on your commentors’ blogs.  I figure if they spent their precious time on me, it’s the least I can do.  I was never so impressed as when a couple of the “pressed to death” bloggers not only responded to my comments on their blogs, but actually managed to take the time to visit me and leave a comment.  Sure I hadn’t gotten to their blogs through “Freshly Pressed” and didn’t even see their “pressed” posts until much later.  Still, these guys found a way when they were dealing with an overwhelming response burden.  I think I can safely say we all love comments.  It feels good.  Payback people . . . payback.  Take the time.  Read a couple of posts.  Find something you can comment on.  The upside is you may find some interesting people and places you will visit regularly.
  4. Make relevant comments and don’t spam.  Read the posts you comment on.  Personally, I don’t want to sound like a lame, inappropriate blog monkey.  Get a feel for the tone of the overall blog.  I would never comment on Always Curtsy When You Sneeze or The Waiting the same way I comment on Angry Rant or Barking in the Dark.  It’s fine to say, “Love the post,” but try to say something pertinent about the post you are commenting on.   Never make a comment simply to promote your blog.  Its spamming, rude and jackassary in the extreme.  You have a link back to your blog when using your WordPress account or by providing your URL.   Set your Gravatar up to include your blog.  Don’t just show up and say, “You should see my blog . . . assclownspammer.com.” 

Okay, this post is now officially way too long, but I have to say one more thing.  The people you see commenting here are the best.  They have taught me to be a better member of the blog community and as different as each of them is, I believe, they represent what blogging should really be about.  They are also some of the best damn writers I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Play nice and people will play with you.  Be an ass clown and they will take their ball and go home.  Oh yeah, it never hurts to link to your buddies occasionally in your posts.  So, now for the fun part . . . its your turn.  What do you consider proper blog etiquette?  What are your pet peeves?

I must confess a horrible obsession.  I can’t leave the stats on WordPress alone.  This is not limited to my personal blog stats anymore, but has now expanded to include the general WordPress stats (i.e., bloggers, new posts, comments, words posted).  These numbers change daily.  I have been following them compulsively since the great “pressed to death” event. You may have notice that in October the “Freshly Pressed” featured blogs went unchanged for an extended period of time.  The trend I’ve noticed has disturbed me to the point of paranoia.  I have sought solace from my blog friends, but succeed only in having instilled some of them with trepidation matching my own.  

I have scoured the forum looking for any explanation, but haven’t had the gumption to actually pose the question to the WordPress gods.  You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; you don’t spit in the wind; you don’t pull the mask off that ole Lone Ranger; and you don’t mess around with . . . well, you get where I’m going with this.  I don’t know what would happen if I pissed them off, but I don’t imagine it would be good.  No “Freshly Pressed” for you! Ever again!  I might simply vanish from the face of the Blogosphere like one of the bloggers in the stats.  I may well wake up to find disembodied horse head wallpaper on my laptop.  All my posts could mysteriously be turned to drivel.  Oh wait, most of them are drivel already.

Where have all the bloggers gone?  When I started blogging again, the beginning of last month, there were something like 409,000+ bloggers.  Over the course of about three weeks the number dropped to 403,000ish.  That’s around 2,000 per week vanishing without a trace.  So that rate of decline could be accounted for reasonably, right?  Even if this downward spiral continued at a steady pace, it would take almost four years for everyone to be gone . . . plenty of time to reverse the trend. 

Alarmingly, that number escalated to roughly 2,000 a day gone, lost, absent, MIA!  At this startling new rate of loss, there will be no one left in just over six months.  Perhaps my concern is unfounded.  I don’t know exactly where the money comes from to keep the power on at WordPress.  Perhaps some wealthy philanthropist foots the bill to keep the juice flowing for all of us fat, dumb and happy bloggers.  I’ve always believed in the concept of “no free lunch.”  So far as my experience with WordPress, it’s been an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord with no end in sight.  At what point will WordPress be “hard pressed” to keep the steam trays full? 

Last Week:  The best of 396,236 bloggers, 439,873 new posts, 475,710 comments, & 104,765,675 words posted today on WordPress.com.

Today:  The best of 357,326 bloggers, 426,717 new posts, 449,361 comments, & 103,793,313 words posted today on WordPress.com

Do the math . . . the ranks of the missing is running over five thousand a day now.  We are shrinking!  Is everybody leaving for other destinations?  Facebook?  Goggle+?  Blogspot?  Is WordPress becoming obsolete? I don’t know what’s up.  Does anyone else know?  Anybody, anybody?

Late Breaking Update:  WordPress is making a remarkable comeback.  The new stats for today:  The best of 408,784 bloggers, 418,064 new posts, 448,969 comments, & 100,717,797 words posted today on WordPress.com.  That’s . . . like . . . over 50,000 bloggers back.  It is obvious that I have no clue what these numbers are all about.  Or maybe the WordPress Gods are trying to reassure me.  You never know.

I’ve been cruisin’ WordPress Boulevard on my beater HP . . . the one with a cigarette burn between the 6 and 9 on the numeric pad; enough crumbs in the keyboard to feed a family of four for a week; peeling “Designed for Life” and “Time to Play” stickers; ever expanding dark spot on the display; and DVD tray that flops open at will.  Yes . . .

This is my laptop.
There are many others like it, but this one is mine.
My laptop is my best friend.
It is my life.

You cannot imagine how long I’ve been trying to work that into a post.  With that done, I can get back to what I was saying.  I saw a lot of amazing stuff as I meandered up and down Blog Street.  Some of it blew my socks off.  Some of it perplexed me.  Some of it frightened me.  Some of it turned me green with envy.  I was enlightened, entertained, educated, enthused and encouraged by what I found.  But one site stood out from the crowd and I just can’t stop thinking about it.  I can’t find it again either, so I will simple have to recount the story of my amazing discovery.

Now, I understand there are blogs out there raising money for some very noble and deserving causes.  I always figured that was why WordPress provided a means to accept donations through PayPal.  It never occurred to me that anyone would actual use the tool in quite the way this blogger did.  Believe me, I scoured the site for any hint of a charitable connection.  This whiz kid must have thought they had been “Freshly Pressed” based on the hit count I generated in their stats.  I left no post unread, no page unscanned, no link unclicked.  I was meticulous in my examination. 

There was but one conclusion I could make.  This yahoo wanted my money for no reason other than the magnificence of their blog.  I know we all think our little piece of blogostate has value beyond measure.  Many of us would love nothing more than to win the blog lottery and get published, even – dare I say it – paid for our brilliance.  We rejoice when someone appreciates our work enough to leave a comment.  We celebrate when the number of visitors increases.  We do little happy dances in our PJs when we triumphantly reach each new milestone.  Well, I do anyway. 

I have not before seen or heard of anybody with the audacity to solicit funds based strictly on the breathtaking splendor of their electronic wonderfulness.  I don’t know if this WordPress wunderkind is a genius or a moron.  Has anyone, prior to myself that is, ever clinked on that Donate/Paypal icon?  I did have to chuckle as little blogger buddy had been thoughtful enough to fill in the “purpose” portion of the screen with their blog’s moniker.  I wonder if you can take a tax deduction for such a donation?

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Still . . . simpleton or brainiac?  Perhaps there’s money to be made.  Would my legion(sic) of followers pay for the awesomeness of my blog?  You did read the part about the decrepitude of my laptop, right?

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