Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A-to-Z Challenge Questions Answered #atozchallenge #FAQ

If you’ve ever received a driver’s permit, written a grant proposal, traveled by plane, applied for college, filled out a job application, made an insurance claim or voted in an election, you have a clear understanding of how important it is to follow directions.

Whether simple or complex – directions guide us on the road to achieving (or at least getting closer to) whatever end result we are seeking. We all make mistakes – it’s true. Oftentimes, however, a lot of these mistakes can be significantly reduced – even eliminated – by simply reading and following directions as carefully as we are able.

As we head toward the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge in April, please take heed on the directions and guidelines that are set forth for participants. Doing so will help Co-Hosts and fellow participants to prevent unnecessary potholes and bumps in the road from developing at our alphabet blogging party.

Making Category Changes
This includes: Adding a Category , Removing a Category or Modifying a Category

"Apologies for circumventing the system to add a second entry WITH the category this time. You can delete # 164"

"I neglected to put (WR) by my name, sorry!"

"Oops. Signed up before my morning coffee, and forgot to put the HU category." 

"I see I am one of those who forgot to add a category."

"I signed up but forgot to put the MI category in...sorry!"

The scenarios above have one Question in common: Can I Change My Category Code?

The Short Answer: No

The Long Answer: The “requirement” factor is one of the most common misconceptions about using blog categories when signing up for the A-to-Z Challenge. Since 2013, the Co-Hosts have offered a list of categories and their corresponding codes that bloggers can included at end of their blog’s name, when signing up for the challenge. As a participant, using a category code or not is entirely your choice. Therefore, if you forget to add a category code the first time around, it is not a big deal. There is no need to request that one be added later on down the line. Blogs that contain adult content are the only exception to this rule. All categories are optional, except for the Adult Content (AC) category. 

Your Spot/Number on the Signup List

"I can't believe I was late on the list again this year. My goal was to make the top one hundred." 

"number 14 on the list, beats my number from last year, one thousand and something!"

The scenarios above have one Concern in common: 
How can I be in the best position on the signup list to get more visits, comments, fans, friends, followers, etc. during the A-to-Z Challenge?

Our Short Response: It's not about where you are on the signup list. It's about how you participate with (and make yourself known to) other bloggers on the signup list.

Our Long Response: The number where your blog is currently located on the signup list may be subject to change as we clean up the list. In the early years of the A-to-Z Challenge, being higher on the list could help bring you more readers –especially during the first week or two in April. That is because everybody started at #1 and worked their way down the list; even with a “randomizer” widget that Arlee had available at times, this method of participation make it difficult for blogs that were further down on the list to see any real bump in traffic, comments, followers and general interactions with fellow A-to-Z Challenge participants.

These days, we’ve attempted to balance things out by asking ALL participants to start visiting the blogs that are listed after their blog. So, if you are blog #144 on the signup list, then you would start visiting blog #145 and then #146 and so on until you’ve either visited all the blogs on the signup list after yours or the end of the 2014 A-to-Z Challenge arrives – whichever comes first. If everyone pitches in to help with this by starting on the next blog down on the list, after their own, we can nearly ensure that all participating blogs get a sizable amount of new visitors during the challenge.


  • Never underestimate the power of networking -- one of the fastest ways to get help with something related to the #atozchallenge is to reach out to a fellow blogger who you know is participating in the challenge. 
  • When in doubt, you can connect with one of the Co-Hosts or send your question/concern to @AprilA2Z.

Each year, Co-Hosts as well as select participants of the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge have taken great care in providing information that addresses common questions and concerns involving our April blog hop. 

Due to the massive volume of bloggers who signup to participate in the A-to-Z Challenge, it is crucial that each participant practices his or her due diligence in paying attention to the Guidelines set forth on the A-to-Z Challenge Sign-up List as well as the knowledge provided in content published on this blog -- while also taking into account the additional information available on our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) page and our CONTACT page.


JoJo said...

And sorry if I sound like a broken record but I'm gonna say it again: TURN OFF THE CAPTCHA! I have gotten to the point where I won't comment on blogs that have it. If I make a comment on a new blog and the CAPTCHA box comes up, I leave the page w/o entering it. If you want to set it so you have to approve comments before posting that's fine, but don't make people try and read those ridiculous sets of hard to read numbers and letters. I have asked some of the bloggers I've met during the year to turn it off. Some do, others don't. Those that don't lose me as a follower. As the kids today say, 'Ain't nobody got time for that!'

Tami Von Zalez said...

I'm listening! All good points. I start my visiting from the bottom of the list so I don't miss out on those hidden gems.

Tina said...

Absolutely excellent way to clarify a LOT of what we've been answering at the info@ email. I especially love your pictures ;-) Gives a little humor to the piece.

I'd second, third, fourth, whatever it takes, JoJo. I'm really sorry, but as a co-host, I have ALL the participants to visit. I don't leave generic comments. Nothing frustrates me more than having written a heartfelt comment only to not be able to post because my brain just can't do those puzzles. Really, you're driving away the real bloggers who really want to post a comment. No anonymous comments, or like JoJo said, comment moderation work much more effectively. I mean, are you really trying to put up a "keep out" sign? Because that's what it feels like to me.
One co-hosts opinion...
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

Anonymous said...

Outstanding advice and explanations, Nicole. Great suggestion about reading the blogs listed below our own.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your list master thanks you for that first one!
Glad we initiated the 'start with the blog after yours.' (Credit goes to Hart Johnson for that idea.) Everyone gets a visit.

Rob Z Tobor said...

Interestingly as some of you will know I still have not signed up yet and am waiting until the list gets longer, this for me has certain advantages. As someone who has done this before and rather likes the A to Z, from my point of view there are positive disadvantages from joining early as most of the early blogs on the list tend to be the same each year. So most of them know of my blog and will say . . . . . . YICKS O GOD ITS HIM AGAIN . . . . and avoid me. Where as new unsuspecting folk will think OOOOoooooo HE LOOKS FUN and come and visit before they go . . . . . . . . YICKS O GOD RUN AWAY . . . . . . I'm British we are used to this reaction from folk, (I am one of the nice ones though). So I really dont think it matters where you join the list in the end; as to visitor numbers and comments, there are many other factors that will influence that far more. I for one randomly work my way through the list by going for interesting blog names and then maybe looking at the blogs either side of that, it really it totally random. However this does bring me to a rather annoying point, you see I know who I have visited because the link on the list shows as a different colour (Damn these non British spell checkers); however if someone is removed because they have dropped out everyone moves up the list and it resets all the link colours to default and I think . . . . . . . . AH HANG ON WHERE HAVE I BEEN.

As for the category thing, at first I thought it a good idea but to tell the truth I pay no attention to it and reckon it is not worth doing in future (Personal opinion. . I may be entirely wrong) and maybe the adult content would need to stay. . . Anyway I will not be adding one, although I could create a new one to confuse folk . . .

I notice the CAPTCHA thing mentioned in the comments, I can cope with this in general although I will advice turning it off during the A to Z, but I do not respond to the blogs with leave email, name company and the like. I have seen two blogs on the list linked to companies with this and to my mind it is just a way of fishing for active email accounts and getting some personal data, even if they are playing the game. So even though I am a helper this year no one who requires this before I can comment will be getting comments from me, sad because i saw one that I would have happily commented on the other day . . . .although I can remember who they were now.

If there are any spies reading this they may be pleased to know my blog is also GCHQ and NSA friendly, it is also robot friendly, but only if they have legs and can walk about a bit scaring small cute things. . . . . . . .And aliens we all like a green man in a space suit.

AH this got a bit long DAMN. . . . sorry about that.

Gossip_Grl said...

Very good post and especially about the networking and the link list. I have gathered more blogs to follow this year which raises the total not to over 500. I am also subscribing to many more which now brings that total to well over 700 and I am not even finished going through the link list yet. I have noticed on my stats that I have 7 hits from the A-Z link list and it has been up for what a month. Now I'm not all butt hurt over that, its not my intention with this comment. This year isn't my first A-Z rodeo either. And once April 1st gets here and this rodeo party gets started the first day of April a blogger may have some time to go through the link list and find blogs to comment on, but let me just say that won't be the case each and every day because when it gets going bloggers will spend the majority of their day commenting to those who give a comment and visiting those blogs who leave comments! There is really no free time, trust me. Bloggers who wait for others to come swarming their blogs after this gets going, it probably won't happen just saying at least not everyday.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I might mean cant remember . . . silly keyboard.

AJ Lauer said...

Thanks, Nicole! Like Tina said, the more people visit the FAQ page, the better for us Info@A-Z email folks :)

Arlee Bird said...

Good stuff! Hope this eases some of the problems.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Tina said...

Hi All,
Tina here for Nicole. She's having computer issues, and will be back to respond to your comments when she is able. So in other words, it's an honor to accept this award in her absence. She thanks you all for comments. (She's a film-maker, so I thought the analogy appropriate. And kinda funny. But I'm weird. But you knew that...)

~Tina, co-host and honorary Nicole, for the moment

Unknown said...

Interesting point!

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Nicole. Now if we could get every AZ blogger to read this!!

Rajlakshmi said...

Thanks for the post :) I have started going through the list... and I have a long ... super duper long way to go :)

G. B. Miller said...

Okay, I think I'm in the clear. I've read the comments and it looks like I can still moderate comments (I work during the day and do not have access to normal internet) during the challenge. I don't use the CAPTCHA because I found it be incredible annoying when I come across it during my blog wanderings. However, if someone can confirm that important point about moderating comments it will be greatly appreciated.

Susan Scott said...

Thank you Nicole, hope you get yr computer issues sorted. And thanks to all the co hosts and minions who are so so helpful!

Nicole said...

Your point about the CAPTCHA sums it up nicely: Ain't nobody got time for that!

Starting your blog visits in reverse, from the bottom up, is a nice strategy for finding cool blogs in the challenge. I am glad that this method works for you and I love your idea of showing attention to blogs that are further down on the list. At the same time, I want to make it clear to any other participants reading this that I do not at all endorse this method for everyone. As an A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host, I urge participants to visit starting with the blogs below where their own blogs are on the signup list, so that ALL participating blogs can receive their fair share of visitors.

Here's hoping this will reduce the amount of repetitive questions coming into the A-to-Z inbox :) Thanks for giving some attention to today's post on A-to-Z faqs and I'm glad you like the pictures. What's life without a little humor, ey? Between you and JoJo, I think I have material for the images that I'll include in the follow-up to this post. We share the same rule of thought that the "Keep Out" signage impression that CAPTCHA/WORD VERIFICATION brings is definitely a turn off.

I'll only still comment if I have something to say or if I really like the blog post. These days, however, I've lost much of my patience for such stuff. Comment moderation annoys me too but I do tolerate it. The same cannot be said for CAPTCHA. If it's there, then I'm not interested....especially when I feel like the blog has now wasted my time; I could've been reading and commenting on someone else's blog...who makes his or her commenting options more user-friendly.

Thanks for your comment on today's A-to-Z Blog post; I am glad that you found it to be useful and I hope it helps to bring you a sizeable dose of new visitors during the A-to-Z Challenge!

Ninja Captain Alex,
Helping to ease my list master's workload is what I would call a "win" in my book. Also, you just taught me an A-to-Z Challenge history lesson -- I don't recall who Hart Johnson is, so it's nice to learn about the person who helped balance out the visitors and followers for everyone involved. Go Hart!

Rob Z Tobor,
You make a good point about the categories! I too don't pay attention to them and honestly, the only time I did was when I wanted to skip blogs. So, if there was a topic I wasn't interested in due to the sheer volume of it already being covered (and I'm not going to say what it is) last year, I would then skip blogs that had that category in their title. So in that case, adding a category worked against those blogs that I would have probably visited otherwise. Your concerns about companies signing up are understandable. I don't think anyone is fishing for emails and if they are, that might be illegal, since commenting on a blog does not constitute an opt-in to receiving any other correspondence from said company, especially such things that do not pertain to the blog or the blog post where said comment was made. That's just my two cents.

Gossip Girl,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this blog post; I'm glad that you enjoyed it and find it to be helpful. The point you made about the increase, decrease and changes in people's commenting activities and visiting pace is something that I hope more participants keep in mind because what you said is oh so true....bloggers waiting for visitors to swarm their blogs will be in for a rude awakening, since the volume of readers will vary day by day when April gets rolling. It sounds like you know how to work this A-to-Z thing and that's great! Here's hoping those 500-700 blogs you follow will show you some visiting and commenting luv in April :)


A-to-Z Challenge Co-Host

Guilie Castillo said...

Great post! I'm sure the co-hosts would have a much easier time of it without having to repeat themselves over (and over and over). I'm hoping the #AZchat will provide a forum for some of those questions, and help spread the answers far and wide. The plan is to direct people to the FAQ and other info-rich pages here (which I'm cramming on tonight :D ) and to help newbies connect with more experienced A-to-Z-ers willing to share the knowledge. I know you all are super-busy, but if you have a free minute or two to check in between 6 and 7 pm (EST) tomorrow Friday 28th, we'd sure appreciate it.

Have a lovely evening / morning / midday, everyone!
Guilie @ Making History: join the #AZchat!