|A to Z Badge by Ada Z from Collagepodge.com|
We've been listening to your thoughts about the Challenge and mulling over some of our own. I'm sure the debate will continue. Over the past few weeks on this A to Z Blog I've been taking a look at the good and the bad of the A to Z Challenge. I also asked for your thoughts on the misunderstood and somewhat neglected A to Z Video Contest. If anyone reading this post today missed any of those three evaluation posts, I hope you will go back and check them out. I also hope that everyone checked out the excellent comments on those posts to get a better perspective of what others thought.
The Biggest Problem That We Can Control
The general response to the A to Z Challenge is positive. But as with anything involving so many people with so many different ways of approaching things, problems do arise. For the nuisances such as CAPTCHA, blog platform incompatibility (such as WordPress versus Blogger), bloggers who don't reciprocate with visits and comments, and other negatives that rest on individual bloggers or internet specific sources, there is probably not much we can do.
However, there is one problem that seemed to be cited more than any other--THE MONSTER LIST! Repeatedly participants have cited that the list was intimidating and too massive to tackle. Our suggestion of visiting at least five blogs a day starting on the list with the blog following yours was heeded by some and worked well for many of those who tried this method. But this was not favored by everyone.
Here are some of the problems that were cited about the big list as it was:
- Too much time wasted on blogs that were not participating or had quit.
- Didn't like finding advertising blogs and blogs too heavy on self-promo.
- The overwhelming numbers mean it is just not possible to visit everyone for those of us with limited time.
- Encountering blogs with offensive subject matter.
- Don't have time to keep visiting blogs in which I have no interest.
- Would prefer to just visit blogs in my interest range.
On the other hand, many of you love the big random list. It provides an element of surprise and allows you to discover excellent blogs that you might normally not visit. The large blind list provides an adventure that is part of what makes the A to Z Challenge to exciting and rewarding.
I will admit that I like the big list as well, but as a co-host I realize how much work is involved in maintaining a list such as the one we have been using. There are two sides to this story so how do we find a solution that can please everyone? I believe that I have one that will come close if not completely appease all camps.
My Suggested Solution
The plan that I have would require special programming and possibly a separate web site--I don't know that it can be done on Blogger or any other blog hosting site. I don't have specific details on how to achieve this but I'm going to lay out the general concept to get some feedback from you readers.
The sign up process would be a bit more complex than merely adding a link to a Linky List. There would be a screening process that would verify email addresses and blog links which would start us off with a clean list with no broken links that might have to be fixed later and would possibly eliminate more of the spam blogs.
As a part of the screening process entrants would be required to choose a category or categories in which their blog would be placed with a designated limit decided beforehand. Blogs (such as my own eclectic site Tossing It Out ) could be listed in multiple category lists Possibly some of the categories such as writing could even be broken down into subcategories. We could also possibly add a rating system such as the kind done for movies and television.
A screening registration process might even allow for information (probably optional) such as location (as was suggested by one of the British bloggers), blogging platform, blogging experience, interests, or what have you. Information of this nature might help bloggers with common goals and interests to meet up and connect. The NaNoWriMo site offers this sort of thing and participants in that event even have regional meet-ups. As A to Z grows, we might be able to do similar things. It might be fun for those who are interested to meet up in a local coffee shop or the like to share blogging help and camaraderie.
After the initial screening registration process the blog links would go first into a master list where all the blog links are listed blindly as they are in the Linky List. This list would appear on a main page. Separate pages would contain the lists of the different categories. This could be as vast and intricate as we cared to make it, but the final outcome would be that we would have a number of lists that would pertain to more specific things that would help those with limited time or patience to deal with the larger list.
In essence we'd have a random list for those who like the big list and simpler lists for those who like that idea better. And for those who really like the element of randomness we could always include the popular "Surprise Me" button that Marcus Clearspring developed for us.
What we would probably lose in doing this central list would be the mobility that we have with a Blog Hop list. The list would probably be confined to only one site, although it's probable that we could have the capacity to register on any co-host site if that were desirable. My feeling is that a link list in one location is probably better anyway since as it gets bigger most of you probably would not be using it on your own blog.
I can see many other advantages of doing the list as I have suggested, but for now I'll leave you with this initial presentation. Let me emphasize that the registration would require only basic information needed to place you on the list. In other words, we wouldn't be asking for extreme personal data and we wouldn't be collecting data. The sole purpose would be to find you placement on the list and make sure as best we can that you are a legitimate blogger who is serious about participation in the Challenge.
Now I open this up to you. Do you think this sounds like a reasonable solution? Would you have a problem with a simple registration process if it meant achieving what I've described here? Do you see any possible flaws with what I've described? What are some of your suggestions?