a brief word about the blog

Hey guys,

I’ve made a few minor changes to the blog, only one of which is likely noticeable.  And that’s my main purpose in writing today.  

I’ve adjusted the blog so that the homepage only shows excerpts, rather than entire posts.  My reasons for doing so are three:

  1. I’m saving money.  I pay for internet usage by bandwidth.  So it ends up costing me some serious coin to load my own homepage when any of my six most recent posts has lots of photos (and these seem to be some of your favorite posts).  Occasionally my own site won’t even load as a result of the kilobytes involved (yes, I said kilobytes…).
  2. I think it looks better.  The titles of my six most recent posts are visible with enough information to let the reader know if he wants to read more.  For most entries a photo is shown, and all this is done without heaps of extra text on the page.
  3. As a result, my homepage now gives a more complete picture of my blog’s focus.  It used to be that a visitor might first see 12 paragraphs of some long, boring post about baptism and have to scroll way down the page in order to know if I ever write anything interested.  Now, though, in one quick glance my objective is clear for all to see.  [Which, let’s be honest, is simply to write whatever I feel like writing that day, no matter how serious or how silly.  Blog experts say a good blog should have a narrow focus.  But blog experts don’t care if I enjoy writing my own blog, do they?

So, this is the biggest change I’ve made to the blog in quite some time.  And it comes with unintended consequences.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when authors don’t allow their full posts to load in a reader.  I subscribe to blogs (in Google Reader) in order to read them without having to go the actual site (like reading the paper*).  But some bloggers are so concerned with traffic and numbers on their sites that they only allow an excerpt of each post to load into a reader, forcing us to click onto their actual site to finish reading.**

I have for some time wanted to make the change that I have on my blog, but I’d not been willing to do so if it would prevent feed readers access to the whole post.  I was able, though, to make this change while still sending the complete post to feed.

However, I believe email subscribers are now only getting an excerpt.  I feel really bad about this, and am considering returning the blog to how it previously was.

So here’s what I want to know:

  • What do you think of the changes?  Aesthetics?  Ease of reading?  Functionality?
  • If you subscribe by way of feed reader, are you indeed getting full posts?
  • If you subscribe by email, are you indeed getting only partial posts?  And if so, do you care?  Or is it not a big deal to click over if there’s something you want to read.  [I feel like email subscribers only read a small fraction of what goes to inbox anyway, but I have no support for this theory at all.]
  • Any other changes you think ought to be made?
  • If you could have any superpower that had to involve water, what would it be?

Also, if you’re not subscribed to aliens and strangers but read often, do consider subscribing.  You can subscribe by email to the right of the screen (just under the search bar). [If you use a feed reader, I assume you already know how to use it.]  Currently the blog is at 195 subscriptions (between WordPress and Google Reader), and the 200th subscriber gets… well, nothing more than my appreciation.


* You really should consider it if you haven’t.
** Admittedly, probably of more concern to me — because I pay by usage — than to most others.



Filed under blogging

19 responses to “a brief word about the blog

  1. Ted

    ■Looks fine.
    ■I’ve only been getting partial posts on e-mail. Looks like I’ll have to do more clicking.
    ■The blog ought to somehow provide doughnuts.
    ■Super-power: Generating potable water. I’d be the richest person alive.

    • – thanks.
      – unless i change it back, i suppose so
      – this is a good idea. i’m currently checking into it.
      – yeah. OR you could give it away for free and eliminate over half the world’s problems out of the kindness of your heart….

  2. There are times when I’m more likely to read a post if I get the whole thing by email. Primary reason for that is that I’m reading it on my phone, and it’s easier in the email app than in the browser. So, in THOSE cases, I’m more likely to read if I get the whole thing. Otherwise, I might just delete the email because I don’t have time to deal with the hard way.

    But you do whatever works for you, man. I still read a good bit of your stuff and enjoy it, either way.

    • gotcha, bernard. tell me this, because i’ve never had a phone that could access the internet — are lots of people now doing email on their phones? and looking at websites and stuff? like of middle class america, what percentage would you guess do that? i’m just curious.

      and you didn’t name a superpower…

  3. Feed reader is fine, but if you’re like me, you subscribe to your own blog and you’d already know that.

    • becky, i am like you. subscribed to my own blog, i mean. but i didn’t know if all the feed readers pull from the same place the same way or what? i don’t really understand how that stuff works. i thought it might be possible that google reader pulls full posts while bloglines or some other reader wouldn’t. but i have no clue.

  4. I use Google Reader and the whole post has come up and came up with this one. I don’t think you ought to change back if you are benefiting financially from this (Unless someone wants to pay for your usage). You gotta do what you gotta do. I will read either way.

  5. Looks good. I say keep it. Also, I am in favor of the doughnuts as well.

    • thanks, shepherdess. i think i will keep it — unless i hear a bunch of complaints in the next day or two.

      did you hear that, everyone? speak now or forever click the links.

      seriously… working on the doughnuts.

  6. Tisha

    Blog looks great – although I read it in google reader and won’t usually click on the site itself. I too prefer to read blogs that way and have to REALLY want to read the post to actually click to their blog if they allow only a partial feed. Although, I do know for sure that some people have other motives for not allowing their entire posts show on readers that have nothing to do with the reasons ones you mentioned…..

    • thanks, tisha. i appreciate your opinion a great deal. and i’m like you, i read everything in google reader and only click over if i want to make a comment.

      and i guess if i were making money off my blog, i might be more inclined to want to do as others do — and require all readers to come to my site. i still don’t think i’d do that, but i’d want to more i suppose. but i’m not making any money.

  7. I admit that I’m a bit technically challenged, but I would love to know how you managed to get your homepage to only show excerpts. I have a WordPress blog also and I can’t figure out how to do it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    • hey, jenn. i’d be glad to help if i can. on your editor page where you write blogs, there should be a little button that looks like two pages stacked on top of one another with a line in between them. this button should be in between the “break a link” button and the spell-check button.

      once you find that button, put your cursor at the end of the sentence that you want to be the last one in your excerpt. then press the button. it will show a line with the word “more” where the break will be in the future.

      but if you’ve already formatted a page — i think it’s called formatting, what i mean is if you’ve changed font colors or used the block-quote button or bolds and italics, etc — then pressing the more button can mess up your page pretty bad. like it will make everything bolded or something. you can fix that in the HTML setting of editor, but it’s way easier if you just insert the break as you’re typing to begin with — or before you go back and bold and color texts and whatnot. so trying it on an already published post could annoy you. you might want to try and your next post. or just give it a try and see.

      thanks for coming by, and i hope that helps.

  8. I haven’t subscribed in any way, because I like visiting and finding a new post. It is like going on an Easter Egg Hunt. If I click on Brett’s blog, will there be something new to read??? And usually there IS! I wish I had 10 more interesting blogs like this to read. Christie’s blog is the same for me, although my blogger feed tells me when she’s got something new there.

    As for the other changes – if it saves you money, I say do it. If I can get to the whole post, works for me.

    I’d want to breathe under water AND be invisible at the same time. So I could look at sharks and whales and strange glowing sea creatures without them knowing I was there…of course many of them are blind and sense by motion…so that super power may not work. I’d also want to be able to go as deep as I wanted without getting squooshed by pressure.

    • wow. thanks, janie. quite the compliment (wishing you had 10 more blogs like mine to read).

      but more than anything else, i have to thank you for participating in my superpower question. breathing under water is a great one.

      if i could have any superpower involving water, it would be england.

  9. I subscribe by email, and I’m only getting partial posts, and I do care- before, I could read your posts with my computer offline, just so long as I’d downloaded my email. Now I can’t; I have to go back online- and same internet issues apply to me as they do to you. It’s not a huge burden, though.

    I would like to be able to purify water by just touching it.

    • and if your lips count, you could just drink nasty water straight from the puddles.

      aha, james you are probably the one other person in my position who subscribes by email. i don’t like that i’m probably going to disappoint you, but i’m probably going to disappoint you. question: have you ever thought about using a feed reader? all the blogs i read get pulled into google reader, and i can read them while not online (only without the pictures).

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