What Do You Think? (Help Us Out)

So I’m looking down a stretch of what might be some light blogging over the next few weeks; I can’t be one hundred percent sure.  For reasons that I can’t divulge, I expect to be pretty busy at my office until about mid-April when, if all the prognosticators are correct, a huge heartache in my life goes away and I should return to some semblance of sanity in my schedule.

Of course, you know what they say about mice, men, and their best laid plans.

But I wanted to just take a moment to comment and talk to you folks at Comments from Left Field.

As our long term readers will know, I took a year long hiatus that ended about a year ago.  Before that, my role as a blogger was splotchy at best.  I had a pretty terrible solo blog that at its best provided some okay posts, and at its worst was like watching my three year old trying to scratch something out on the monitor in crayon.  Then there was the UPC where I worked with Mike who runs this place, and a several of the bloggers over at the Newshoggers.  It was an interesting experiment, but one that didn’t work because it doesn’t do to have a group blog with people who don’t respect each other at a most basic level (I’m not talking about the Newshoggers, all of whom I consider good friends.  I’m talking about a couple of other contributors and I’m just going to leaveit at that).

Then I came to write for Mike full time.

Things happen, you lose interest, blogging gets the best of you, whatever.  Make no mistake, for those of you who read blogs, but don’t actually blog yourself, it’s a lot of work, and the potential for burnout is pretty high.  So I took about a year for a cooling off period where I pretty much ignored politics completely.

It was the 2006 midterms that gave me the old itch, and I knew I would come back.  But when I came back, I did so with a certain sense of purpose and dedication.  And I promised myself to take CFLF as far as it could possibly go.  Working together with Mac, Matt, and Mike, we’ve helped triple our daily traffic since early last year, we’ve doubled, maybe tripled our technorati rating, we’ve started to build a small but interesting and friendly commentor community, we’ve helped raise close to six thousand dollars that went to Fisher House, a military based charity, in honor of two brave and passed on soldiers, and we are still growing.

I think we’re doing some pretty good work here on a daily basis.

But I want to turn it over to you guys, the ones who keep coming back and leaving comments.  I want to know what you think about us.  What keeps you coming back?  What could we maybe try to work on in the future?  And do you have any ideas on how to make CFLF a better place to visit?

In a way, we have all these rapid fire discussions on whatever the topic of the moment is, and now I just want to kind of have a little chat on what seems to be the beginnings of a nice little community that I would like to see grow stronger.  So think of this as an open thread for your general thoughts, or a house warming party that is long overdue.  It’s an open house for us to talk about the house we’re in and any other bees that may be buzzing in your bonnet.

No topic is taboo here, I just really want to know what do you think?

7 Responses to “What Do You Think? (Help Us Out)”

  1. DrGail says:

    Let me weigh in from the perspective of a recent (but frequent) reader:

    I can’t even remember how I ended up here the first time. It was probably a link during a Blogroll event or something. All the machinations of the past (referenced in your post) are a mystery to me and, frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about, and what keeps me coming back, is the depth of analysis, the interesting points I don’t necessary see on any of the other blogs I read regularly, and the breadth of knowledge you have. That’s why I’m a reader.

    I post comments periodically as well; more often here than on other blogs. In part this is because, when I finish reading a post, I often find I have something I want to offer either in response or to expand on the points made. I LOVE the fact that the comments section doesn’t get filled up with screed to wade through, and I especially love the dialogs that often emerge in the comments section. Most bloggers don’t appear to even read their comments sections; you provide thoughtful and thought-provoking responses.

    Given these strengths, from my perspective, I can offer a few suggestions:

    – I have no doubt that the frequent blogging can be exhausting. Perhaps you could have less frequent posts, with more extensive dialog in the comments section. Is there a way to put the comments thread on the front page, to encourage discussion among readers?
    – Posing questions for discussion would also be a good way to get more involvement. I’m thinking here, by way of an example, about the “Sunday discussion group” that TheCarpetbaggerReport used to have. I could see this prompting some activism, which wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

    I guess where I’m headed with this is the notion of turning the blog into more of a community effort — the foundation is there and (at least on my part) the interest is there as well.

    Finally, and I don’t know any delicate way to put this. . .You need a editor/proofreader! I know I’m especially finicky about spelling and word use, and maybe you can just chalk it up to this flaw in my character, but there are times that the quality of your analysis and the larger point you are trying to make gets swamped out by unnecessary (and undoubtedly inadvertent) errors.

  2. Cernig says:

    Hi Kyle,

    You know why I read. I think you, Mike, Matt and McSwain are great bloggers. Keep doing exactly what you do.

    But I think you need to do some outreach. Not every day, maybe once a week, send an email with a post you think is a cut above the rest to a bunch of people. Take the time to write each individually, not just a mass mailer. Cultivate some contacts. Phone people. And always remember to write emails thanking folk who link.

    Regards, C

  3. Dynamic says:

    Matt’s the one that first got me into reading blogs, and that’s what drew me here originally. Since then I’ve become pretty attached to the place. I enjoy the commentary, I enjoy that you guys are all pretty regular folks rather than pundits that also blog. I also thoroughly enjoy the liveblogging here, and find it to be generally quite superior to the rest of the blogs I’ve found so far. I think that’s an especially good strength to build on, although debates are pretty rare outside of election season (and that is something I think ought to be changed).

    I don’t have a political blog, but in my online rave journal I’ve built up quite a readership, and I did so by engaging people individually and collectively – by reading their journals and leaving comments and questions that would encourage them to explore, and by posting questions in my own journal for the group to answer collectively. I don’t know how much of either you do already, but over the last few years I’ve found this to be quite effective.

    One other thing that I think a lot of people overlook is bringing in new readers from outside the blogosphere – otherwise we’re simply poaching other people’s readers. It is this recruitment of new people that really helps add to the strength of the community at large. This means getting involved in other internet communities (I link through here for my ravers from time to time), it means getting involved in the “real world” with people who get their news from CNN or Fox or USA Today and showing them this new world, and it means giving people good examples of all this “blogging” their hearing about in their regular news.

    One last thing – have you heard anything from Mark lately? Publius hasn’t been updated in over a month.

  4. DrGail: Ah… criticism… must… cope. No, seriously, thank you. You’re the second person that has said my grammar needs a little clean up. It’s kind of funny because, you also graciously point out it’s inadvertant, and while I know I’m not perfect, I usually pride myself on my writing capabilities. But let me tell you what’s going on.

    I used to be really lazy about grammar, thinking, hey, it’s a blog, no one cares about grammar on a blog, but then Dustin pointed it out, and I started paying a little more attention, and now that you have as well, I will redouble my efforts.

    Rushed or not, I always use the spellcheck at a bare minimum now. When I am rushed, however, I forgo the rest of the grammatical checks because I’m not going to not put up a post because the grammar’s not up to stuff. Right now I’m actually busier than my posting frequency would lead one to believe, but trust me this is happening a lot lately.

    All though, it may be worth seeing if Mike’s up for bringing someone on board solely to come behind and check everyone for grammar. It’s worth a look, isn’t it?

    As for your kind words, thank you very much. One of my mission statements comes from the first few days of blogging where I made the decision that I was not going to be like some of the a-listers out there that manage to get hundreds of comments and thousands of hits a day for linking to a story and writing maybe half a sentence on it. If that was all I was going to do, then there really isn’t much of a point in me being a part of the echo chamber. So that mentality kind of has guided me throughout this strange journey.

    And I like the idea of maybe doing sunday roundtable posts or something, and I’m going to keep working on that. that is kind of the point behind my “What do you think?” posts anyways, try and stir up some discussion.

    C: Thank you as always, and I’m also still working on my woefully lacking networking skills. I even do a weekly blogrolling thing. Again, I’m hoping when the rest of my life calms down some I can put more energy in this.

    Thanks guys.

  5. D-saw your post after mine… I have to be kinda stealth right now, but no, I shot Mark an email and he hasn’t replied, I’m getting kinda worried.

  6. Dynamic says:

    Let me know if you hear anything from him, I’m getting worried as well.

    As for grammar checks – I know Matt has excellent grammar and may be able to assist, and I do writeups, artist bios and press releases for my own company and others around the world – I don’t have an abundance of spare time but might be able to assist once I get settled (I’m in the middle of moving at the moment).

  7. hmmm… this will take some discussion with Mike and may not be all that practical, given that bringing someone on as basically a grammar checker would mean having to keep up with my 5-10 posts a day, but if you offer and keep up, I’m definitely keeping you in mind.

    Now, for everyone who has commented here, I really, invite you to read the scariest thing I’ve ever written. “I am a racist”. I really wanted this to be a big conversation starter.

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