Where's the sign-up List?

For the 2017 Challenge we're trying something new--no Linky List! So if you're looking for a list--stop now. It's really not so bad. Now you'll have many options for discovering participant blogs--blogs that are actually participating in the Challenge. For more info click on the link at the top of the sidebar on the right hand side of your page.

Monday, February 20, 2017

List Free A to Z - Why and How to Make it Work #atozchallenge

Making a List Free Challenge Work:

There have been a lot of concerns regarding the absence of the Linky List this year. How will the new system work? How will I know who is participating? Why isn’t the list being used this year?

That last question has several answers. It wasn’t an easy decision to go list-free, but it was the right one. Here’s why:

The Linky List is massive – and overwhelming. Many have stated they stare at the thousand-plus blogs on the list and don’t know where to begin. Now there won’t be an intimidating giant list.

A lot of people sign up who don’t participate. Some sign up and then life just gets in the way. Some post a few letters and then quit. Some sign up just to get more traffic to their site. Some are just out-and-out spammers. Under the new system, you won’t encounter those people.

This list is time consuming to maintain – and a bit soul-sucking. To understand the man hours required, this was the process:
  • The co-hosts’ minions/helpers visited a certain section of the list and reported back non-participants.
  • The co-host had to confirm each blog reported by visiting it.
  • The co-host then had to list all blogs that required either removal or adjustment on another list.
  • The List Master (which for the past seven years has been me) had to go through the lists from a dozen co-hosts every day and remove/fix links, a process that never took less than an hour.
  • This process wasn’t limited to April – culling the list of ad sites and spammers started in February.
You can see where that might suck the joy out of visiting other blogs.

Finally, there are just not enough co-hosts this year to maintain a list of that magnitude.

So, how will it work?

Before the Challenge begins, we will have a post or two where people can comment and announce their intent to participate. At that time, you can visit some and add to your Feedly reader, Bloglovin’, sidebar, or other location.

Every day during the Challenge, there will be a post at the A to Z Blog with the letter of the day. There will also be one at the A to Z Facebook Group. Once you have posted for the day, copy that link and leave a comment here or at the Facebook group. Then, start visiting others who have also left a comment, either that day or the day or two before.

You can Tweet your link with the hashtag #atozchallenge and look for others doing the same – and visit those people. (A to Z Twitter)

Once you start finding blogs you enjoy, make a list in your blog reader, sidebar, or even just copy the link into Word.

So, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. You can even include your theme when you post your link, which will be even better than the old codes from the Linky Lists of the past.

While this sounds like a huge and earth shattering change, it actually goes back to our roots. Because that very first A to Z Challenge in 2010 had no Linky List. Founder Arlee Bird just added everyone who commented they were participating into his sidebar and we all visited each other from that. And you know, that small scale made a huge difference, as many of us formed friendships that have lasted over the years.

So don’t fear the lack of a list – embrace it!

Any questions? Hot Tamales candy welcome.


Co-host Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is the author of Amazon Best-sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars, founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and his blog can be found HERE

48 comments:

  1. I'm fine with all of it! And thank you all for your hard work over the past seven years. This will be my sixth year participating - I have my theme, and I've written my posts up to the letter "I." Bring it! Can't wait! xxx

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    1. Hi Martha! 1 question.. i thought that the theme will be revealed only in the month of March. How do you already have a theme? I am going to be participating for the 1st time this year.. hence this question.. forgive me if its an obvious.. but i would really like to know..

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    2. You choose your own theme. The theme reveal is an opportunity for people to announce what theme they have chosen.

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    3. Way to go Martha, ready with the posts till I!! I am yet to start with the A LOL!

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  2. I love the idea too. I want to try to work ahead this time also now that more is going on. I'll do it on weekends! :)

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  3. The list had problems that were discouraging. It will be a different and hopefully better to drop the list.

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  4. We'll adjust, one way or another. ☺ I can appreciate how much time and effort goes into this. Thanks to all of the hosts, co-hosts and minions who make this blogging adventure possible! This will be year # 4 for me and I hope to get all of the posts completed ahead of time, for once.

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    1. I've always hated most change when it's initially presented, but always seem to adapt when it's something I really want to do. We never know what's going to work best until we try it.

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out

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  5. Question: It seems that the comments here are going in order of first posted to last. Won't people who post links late in the day be at the bottom of a list of hundreds of comments and therefore less likely to get seen?

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    1. I don't see that as any different from the list. There were hundreds of blogs listed on the sign up list and we had to work through that to pick out who to visit. At least those who comment will have done a post.

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    2. I agree, Wendy. And if you're coming here to comment, the comment box appears at the bottom of the list so it might mean you see those latest comments first.

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out

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  6. Hi Alex - we'll cope ... and deal with the Challenges - I'm looking forward to meeting new friends etc ... I'm only blogging - and won't do FB or Twittering Tweet ... but am happy ... and very happy that you and Lee and other hosts have over the years done your best for us ... cheers Hilary

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  7. It does sound a lot easier Alex. However, I don't think I will be participating this year.

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    1. Jo, you can always change your mind!!

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out

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  8. Sounds good, Alex. That will certainly make it easier on the admins.

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  9. I am still a wee bit in the dark about it but seeing I was the very first ever to sign up in 2010 then I shall have to get used to the change.
    I appreciate all the hard work it involves manning the Linky List and I thank each and everyone who has helped over the years.
    Yvonne.

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  10. I found checking out the list and then finding the blogger wasn't participating to be too time-consuming for my schedule. I'll link here and on my Twitter account. I'm up to the letter Q so looking forward to April 1.

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  11. Wondering how we will find participating blogs in using themes of interest. Not sure plowing through a couple hundred comments a day is going to help. Any thoughts on how this will work?

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    1. I have the same concern. I hope this gets addressed.

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    2. When people comment, they can list their theme then.

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    3. This is an example of what a comment might look like.
      ___________________________________
      #atozchallenge Stormy's Epic Adventurous Quest Journey - A

      http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/2016/04/atozchallenge-stormys-epic-adventurous.html

      Stormy the Weather Gnome, and friends, star in this action-filled docudrama detailing Stormy's quest to find the cure to his ... predicament.
      _______________________________

      I didn't create an actual link for the URL in this example, just pasted the URL. Anyone could copy and paste the URL in the bar above to go to the blog.

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    4. I understand, but that still means scrolling through hundreds of comments each day. I fear many readers won't bother.

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  12. I think I get it ...I think:) well, well all just get throug it and I'm certain it will work out.

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  13. I always found the giant list intimidating and never knew where to start.

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  14. Good luck to all A to Z'ers! I won't be participating this year and don't do FB or Twitter. C'est la vie.

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    1. You can always take a look at this blog during April to see the others participating and see if you like it, then join us again next year.
      FB/Twitter were just options.
      TY
      HMG

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  15. Makes sense to me! As one of the minions last year I was seriously contemplating bailing this year. It was fun reading blogs I wouldn't otherwise visit, but - yeah - time consuming.

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  16. This will be my third year doing the challenge and I don't mind doing it this way. It sounds like it will eliminate all the dead links and blogs that end up not participating. Looking forward to it!

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  17. Sounds good, Alex.
    Now I need to find a theme that is SHORT!
    A reminder to the A to Z hosts: please remind participants to list their theme when they comment daily!
    Looking forward to my seventh challenge this year!
    Writer In Transit

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  18. During the NaBloPoMo 2016 challenge, BlogHer opened a blogroll where participants could place their blog name and link it to their site. Once the list was closed, that was it. No fuss or list monitoring, and the list could be accessed from the post throughout the challenge. http://www.sheknows.com/community/living/whos-2016-nablopomo-blogroll Perhaps A to Z Challenge should consider doing this.

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  19. This makes total sense, Alex. I hope this way you and the co-hosts can enjoy reading other participants' blogs more instead of dealing with the administrative headache!

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  20. Didn't know that the first A-Z was list free! Thanks for sharing that bit of history.

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  21. It's worth a try. The long list never bothered me. You just do what you can.

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  22. I prefered the list. Last year I made a point to break the list up into chunks and visited a minimum of 10 blogs out of each chunk a day. It was time consuming, but because I made a point to blog ahead (was finished in March), it worked out well for me. I'm a little worried about the new blog commenting system. Maybe you could use a link-up each day on every blog post for people to associate their post with each particular letter? Then we would see a picture or at the very least title of the post in a list-like format, and people would have to make a point of adding their post if they were participating that day. Make sense? Please don't make us scroll through comments… That sounds tedious and stressful. :(

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  23. This method puts a "tiny" bit more work on each participant, but should take a ton of work off the co-hosts and that makes it worth it. I remember the first year I participated in the Challenge and it seemed the co-hosts were all over, commenting, sharing, encouraging. Hope this makes more of that possible for each of you. I have some doubts about how this is going to stop a spammer, but it should definitely cut out the visits to blogs that just haven't gotten a post up for some reason.

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  24. I like the idea, but agree maybe a daily linky would be better than just using the comments. But I'm in either way....it was a challenge last year and will be again, I'm sure =)

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  25. I was looking for the linky list. Okay. I'm in. This is good. I feel an added responsibility for my own blog/comment management. Thanks for all you do!

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  26. I participated year before last but haven't since. Just too much going on. However, I did enjoy the link lists because although I wasn't participating I would check out some of the blogs on the list and found some great ones so I'm sad not to see the linky list but do understand. Still makes me sad though..ENjoy everyone. Maybe I'll participate next year.

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  27. I'm excited as this provides me an opportunity to make a blog come-back and meet new bloggers.


    BelindaNicoll

    BookCoach

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  28. Great initiative, thanks to you and your team on minions Alex. I am participating in the challenge for the first time and can't wait to get started. I have also encourage a couple of my friends to join in. Let's rock the challenge

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  29. This will be my first A to Z Challenge and I think I am going to go with a 'Nature' theme as nature is a favourite hobby and interest of mine.

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  30. I stopped by today looking for the sign up list and I discovered there isn't one and I missed the theme reveal post by one day. I'm not off to a good start. I haven't been blogging at all this year ( it's been a sad time for my kids and me) their dad is terminally ill. I won't go into details, but I'm diverting from my regular crime fiction theme this year and will be writing something more like flash fiction memoirs that hopefully share a piece of history, wisdom, advice or a life lesson for our children. I intend to package them up for the kids in a couple of years so they will always have something concrete to read over and over again in mermory of their dad. It will be a combination of funny stories, sad stories and a bunch of crazy, stupid things we did when we were young and wild. I want them to know their dad was once a fun person, but to also learn the moral lesson associated with the story.
    I understand why you need to make make major changes to the challenge. I'm sure that the helpers and co-hosts were so overwhelmed and overworked that the blogging challenge had lost its appeal and fun. When it ceases to be fun or when it's three or four times more work than fun, then you have to make adjustments. We"ll adjust as well. I don't know how the comment idea will work, but just like anything else, if we want to visit other blogs, we just have to make the effort to find them.
    A few people mentioned adding a link up to each day's letter post. I don't know what that entails, but they seem to know what they"re talking about. Have y'all considered that option? I'm sure you'll put on an amazing challenge . You always do. It's high time you, Arlee and the co-hosts get to enjoy the challenge and not have to chase down spammers and people who drop out on a daily basis. I'm Looking forward to catching up with many of you next month and hopefully meeting lots of new friends. No complaints here. Only gratitude and praise.

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    1. Wonderful idea, Sugar! Pete has been disabled for ten years, many problems and no answers. It has changed him. I wish Hannah had better memories of her fun, cool dad. What a precious gift for your children! You are all in my prayers.
      Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead #AtoZChallenge

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    2. Melissa, thanks for understanding so well. We're going to try something different to see what happens. If it doesn't work well this year, then we'll have to go back to square one. So far it seems to be going well.

      I like the theme idea that you've proposed.

      Arlee Bird
      Tossing It Out Theme Reveal: It's About Time

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