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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Evaluation of A to Z based on Reflections

     Did you get your Reflections Post done and on the list?  We ended up with 382 links on this year's list.  Not a bad showing I'd say.   Like in the Challenge itself, there were some outstanding posts presenting thoughts on the 2013 Challenge.

        I'm still wending my way through the list and leaving comments at each one I visit.  I hope that more of you will do the same in order to show appreciation to the A to Z participants who took the time to add their thoughts and experiences.

        For the most part the Challenge reviews have been glowing or at least positive.  The usual negatives are there--word verification, commenting difficulties, lack of visits or comments, and not as many new followers as in previous years.   We had less of a problem with non-participant blogs thanks to our teams of helpers.  A big thank you to all of you who were part of that effort.

Here are a few specifics that some mentioned:

Adult Content Labeling:   Nagzilla and a few others expressed concern about the labeling on the list.  Some thought we were practicing censorship, but I emphatically disagree with this charge.   The AC labeling is a warning in the same way the film industry labels films with content adviseries.  And even FCC blocking of such content from public airwaves is probably not considered censorship.  Offhand I'm not sure what you call that, but A to Z is not unique in calling for some sort of screening for content that some find offensive.  We will continue to study this issue and hopefully come to a satisfactory solution.  We welcome your thoughts about this and ask that you try to understand our position on this.   I don't see that we are unreasonable in any way.

Topic Labeling:   Many of you liked having the opportunity to have blog categorizations to make it easier to find blogs that interested you most.   This is still in the experimental stage.  I agree that all of the different labels were difficult to remember.   Many suggestions have been offered on how to improve this.  I will stand by my suggestion from previous years of having a flexible programmable list that requires a few more registration steps.   The Linky List is fine for smaller blog networking events, but somewhat impractical and labor intensive for an event that has become as large as A to Z.   Any expert programmers out there who would like to contact me about this?   Since A to Z is an all volunteer project, we can't afford to pay for a programmed list, but I'm willing to listen to your ideas.

  Creating subgroups and communities:  I was interested in what Corinne Rodrigues organized from her site From 7Eight.   You might want to check out her post.   This may be part of the future of A to Z and the idea of creating communities is something we've encouraged since the event began growing as it did in the second year.  Corinne Rodrigues will be visiting the A to Z Blog on May 20th with more information.

 Comment complications:   My Rite of Passage provided a good overview of the problems some blogs have in their commenting systems or even tracking back to the blog of whoever commented in the first place.   You might want to read this for your year round blogging activities.  Not getting as many comments as you'd like?  This post explains some possible reasons for that.

Highlighting other bloggers:     Rosie Amber is among several bloggers who added lists of other blogs to her posts.   It's a nice touch to feature others and make friends in the process.

Watching stats and recording blog performance:  Katie at Adventuringathome was into stats.  You can check out how she did during April and read about her thoughts on the Challenge.  How was your month?  Did you keep an eye on blog stats?

        Please continue to visit the links on the Reflections Post list.  That list will be accessible all year.  And join us on the A to Z Ultimate Road Trip.  That list will be open all year so you can join us any time, but now is the best time so you can stay caught up.

         Do you have any observations about the A to Z Challenge that you would like to add here?   What do think about some of the points made in this post?

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Billy Blue Eyes said...

All done and dusted and I have my guest one done ready to send off.

Diana Wilder said...

The post-mortem is as useful and thought-provoking as the Hop itself. I think my take-away is to understand that it truly is a commitment and requires thought and planning. (And a disposition to enjoy what you encounter!)

Diana at About myself, by myself…

Anonymous said...

I think you covered everything Lee.
Another great A to Z.


T. Powell Coltrin said...

It was a great challenge again.

I still am not in favor of categories. I like meeting everyone.

Believe it or not, I'm not in favor or labeling a blog with adult content in the A-Z. Someone pointed out that their blog has the Adult content feature turned on anyway. I went to a couple of blogs that were not labeled adult content and I didn't like the content. Guess what? I clicked out of it.

Stil, it's a great challenge. I'm just hoping the rules don't get so busy that it pushes bloggers away.

Jo said...

Someone suggested topic labelling and implied it should be a must, that wouldn't work for me as I don't have a theme or topic I just write what I feel like, of course there is always a recipe, but that's not really my theme.

As a minion, I found lots of blogs where I couldn't find a place to leave a comment or in some cases couldn't even find the blog.


Arlee Bird said...

Bill, Diana, & Yvonne - Thank you

Teresa --If I can ever get the list set up like I envision it, alternate options will be available to accommodate multiple preferences. We'll have the blind list that can be filtered by those who want a customized list. I do think the AC warning is important for some bloggers. Some of us can deal with the adult content while others would prefer not to waste time going to a blog they will not appreciate or be offended by. It can take time going to a site and scrutinizing it to see what it's about. Time is of essence in April. I know there were some blogs that I felt that I wasted my time going to because of content that even I found offensive. Not so much this year, but last year there were a few that I did not like at all. Someday we'll get all of this figured out.

Jo -- True on all accounts. Once again the right kind of registration process and list would address some of these issues. I will say that there are some blogging platforms that are just plain odd and not particularly conducive to social interaction. Don't know what to do about those.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

I think finding a new way to do the list would be very helpful. It's overwhemling to look at. I did love the codes that helped me find more writing blogs and I wished more people would have used them. It was a great challenge though and I'm sure next year will be just as fun and there will be improvements.

Rob Z Tobor said...

Just at present I can not get the list up I basically get a big blank space where the list should be. . . .

A bit odd.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Linky List does provide a way to group blogs into smaller, theme-based lists, but it requires approval from the list owner and the manual insertion of the blog onto the appropriate list.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Great points and like you said this is a volunteer project. I think you and the team did excellent work.

Sandy said...

I think AC should have a totally separate linky personally. Because many didn't bother to say they were and clicking on them was not pleasant. You most certainly did not censor. If people want to read that, they can; but none of us should pop in for blog rounds and see nudity or vulgarity that offends us.

I have mixed emotions about the catagories, I actually didn't feel any of them represented any of 3 blogs I participated with and liked therefore, not having to select one. And sense not everyone blogs about 1 theme day after would you select a catagory? Personal doesn't fit, that's more like diary to my way of thinking.

I've continued to visit from org. linky, and the roadtrip, and hit a large percentage of the reflections. It's nice to have options when you go blog walking.
Oozing Out My Ears

Arlee Bird said...

Patricia -- We'll keep looking at options.

Rob --Must be a temporary problem. It's fine for me.

Alex --We'll talk. It still sounds labor intensive. And would these lists be interactive to one another?

Sheena-- Thank you!

Sandy -- I know a good option is out there, but it's a matter of finding someone who knows how to do it.


Chuck said...

Well done Lee. As usual I was late to the Reflections party...the linky was closed by the time I posted.

A couple thoughts:

Anyone who thinks that the AC label was censorship should objectively rethink their position. Only someone with an AC site or a compulsive non-labeler of anything would have that opinion. Your answer was dead on right. I read one AC site. I do not mind AC sites. The whole labeling idea was good but I agree it needs tweaked. Sorry no concrete ideas here.

I am intrigued by the subgroups or communities idea and will check out the link. Thanks.

My opinion on the difficulty in commenting is if you are having some issue with spam comments I would still turn off the verification during the A-Z. No one really has time to prove they are not a robot. And if you are just plain worried, for some reason, that you will attract all these unwanted commenters...relax and get over yourself, it is not going to happen. After three years I have had only 3 or 4 anonymous comments and they were caught in the spam filter. Just use Approval and you'll be fine.

Did not worry about stats at all this year. I was curious on which posts attracted the most visits and comments just for my own edification.

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Arlee Bird said...

Thank you, Chuck. Great comment and truly outstanding Reflections post.

I appreciate your feedback.

A Faraway View

Unknown said...

I was a first timer and late to the party and I found it great. I will be in next year for sure in fact if anyone knows of any similar challenges pls.let me know:)
Thanks for the efforts in organising this event and if you need more helpers next year, please count me in.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

For me personally, I have one observation about my own A-Z challenge. I scheduled all my posts for 3 different blogs before April, so when the challenge began, I didn't have to do any posting. However, after the first week I must admit the linky list did feel more like a chore and it felt daunting getting through so many blogs to visit. I completely stopped visiting blogs after the first week.

Plus I think that it's good to follow some new blogs which have great A-Z challenges, but those challenges may not be reflective of the blog for the other 11 months of the year. Therefore, over the last 3 years I have found that blogs I began following during April, were quickly "unfollowed" after the challenge was done.

Just a couple of general thoughts.

Duncan in Kuantan
Kuantan nature photos

J Lenni Dorner said...

My question about those on the debate of an adult content label:
People who were not interested in Adult Content were not going to stay on those blogs long enough to leave a comment. They are not the target audience. There are, however, enough people who actively seek out Adult Content of certain varieties that an entire industry has been built around it and makes billions of dollars. The people who seek it out probably are the target audience. Purely from an advertising point of view, wouldn't the label be of use?

Hollywood plays this game all the time. Directors want a certain audience, so they are sure to include or cut from films scenes which will grant them a rating that targets the age group they are aiming for. It seems that they believe that adults will not be inclined to see a PG movie on "date night," so they make sure they get that R.

Restaurants behave in much the same way. Think about places that have menus aimed at children (McDonalds is a great example because they even throw in a toy and sometimes a playground). Now think about Fine Dining places- no children's menu. This does not mean that children are not permitted there, but they certainly do not want to encourage mom and pop to bring them along. Higher prices also means there will be less teenagers. (Did you really think they did something special to make your chicken cost $52? Don't kid yourself.) Of course all of these places still get the occasional client who is not the target audience, but that does not mean that they waste the ad budget hoping for it.

Toy commercials come on during cartoon show shows. Acne cream ads air during teen dramas. Luxury cars put their spots on during the news. And the superbowl will hock beer for as long as American men drink it. Do adults watch cartoons? The people at Adult Swim say yes! Do only teenagers have zits? Will watching the news give you the paycheck needed for a Lexus? Were there not women watching the superbowl as well? TARGET AUDIENCE.

Again, none of this comes from a censorship point of view. This is merely what I wonder as someone who worked at a famous Boston based ad agency. Based solely on a desire to reach only an adult age group with a blog full of adult content, and then only those adults who do not hold beliefs which would preclude them from enjoying such content, it seems to me that the label could actually be beneficial.

Unknown said...

Some great responses. I love the idea of a community for A to Z. I did get involved with a lot of people on twitter, but a forum style format would be great. There are lots of places around that do free forums.

Unknown said...

I wanted to say that I support the AC label a hundred percent. I don't want the kiddies stumbling on something that is inappropriate for them in particular. Besides the fact that I often forgot what ALL the labels were, I thought for someone who's looking for a specific topic it was fantastic. Is it a perfect system ? No. Will it do for now? Yes!

LJ said...

I never got a message or anything saying when to post reflections. When I looked it up, the list to link it on was closed. I did A to Z on three blogs this year, but wrote a reflection on one. I don't know if this is a true reflection, either. An email or something on facebook would have been good, about this. There was nothing.

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks to all for the remaining thoughts. Good comments all. Special kudos to J.Lenni for the epic comment.

LJ-- There was plenty of advance notice at the A to Z Blog about the Reflections post which is why we encouraged everyone from the start to keep checking this Blog. Notices were also on the A to Z Facebook page and on Twitter. We don't have an easy automated system to email notices at the present time and that would have been very labor intensive at a busy time. Notices were also on most if not all A to Z Team member blogs.

Maybe next year we can get something happening with an email. Sorry you didn't hear about the Reflections post on time.

A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

Jagoda said...

I chose to write my reflections post aimed at my core audience rather than the A-Z audience in large part because I learned that the A-Z participants are not really a primary audience for my non-fiction, self-development blog (with a few exceptions). In other words, it's not what they expect or are looking for. So although I didn't add a lot of new followers,this was a valuable lesson for me. One of the values I gained was in writing lots of content in a short time for my relatively new blog and building a substantive base of posts. I am also inspired to try to start a similar blogging fest for blogs more like mine because this is a great idea. I did enjoy 'meeting' many interesting bloggers and that was the fun part for me.
I agree about labeling adult content. I agree that clustering similar blogs would make hopping easier. I agree that allowing participants to let someone know about blogs that dropped out would expedite ensuring a solid list and save us hoppers valuable time.

Arlee Bird said...

Jagoda -- The right kind of quality blog fest is great for adding content to ones blog. Your posts probably had too much depth and length for the fly by A to Z visitor, but you had some great content. Something like A to Z is a great way to build a foundation for a book. You might want to consider that.

A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

Unknown said...

I agree with Shelina Valmond, the AC labels are a good way to tell readers and blog hoppers that the blog features some Adult content and it may be a good idea to make sure that there are no impressionable minds around when they view it or browse through it.

Sand Mama said...

Enjoyed the challenge immensely.
I think maybe sorting everyone into 20 major categories + - would go a long way toward making finding blogs to read a bit easier.
I really like the idea of featuring the blogs that begin with the letter of the day at the end of each post. Will definitely do that next year!
Thanks for the opportunity! I doubled my number of followers and definitely increased traffic.