Sunday, March 2, 2014

Part 1: February Was Weird, What the Heck? (an IWSG post)

February was a weird month. Not that February isn't always weird, but this one was especially weird. Don't get me wrong, I like February. It's my birth month; I'm obliged to like it. And I like that it's weird. I like that it doesn't know how many days it ought to have and all of that. But none of this February's weirdness has to do with the number of days it contains.

To be fair, the weirdness sort of started in January. That was when I finally broke down and joined that whole twitter thing (that's a link to me on twitter, by the way, not just a link to twitter (like you'd need that)). Twitter, just by itself, is weird. Seriously, I fail to see the appeal of speaking with this arbitrary 140 character cutoff, especially when people then just tweetspam (Is that a thing? That should be a thing.) a dozen times so that they can say the 1500 characters they wanted to say to begin with. That's like making mini-cupcakes so that you will eat less but, then, eating all of them.
Because they're so tiny.
You know.

So I'm on twitter, but I don't really know if I'm doing it correctly, because no one tends to respond to anything I tweet unless it's, in and of itself, a response to a tweet. Am I the only one actually reading what other people say? I don't know. Plus, twitter adds this unexpected pressure on me of coming up with tweets that at least approach the 140 character cutoff. Because why use just 50 characters? And it feels like they, the tweets, should be profound in some way. But once I throw it out there, no one responds, so it feels like I'm one of those guys walking down a crowded street talking to himself that everyone stares at and moves away from.

Of course, most of those people these days are just on the phone, but that weirds me out, because I'm never quite sure if the person is on the phone or just talking to him/herself.
But I digress... really, way off target here.

The weirdness started when John Scalzi replied to a tweet. I mean, I was replying to one of his tweets, but he replied back, which was kind of a jaw dropping moment. I had to tell Rusty about it just so someone else would know and, well, make it real. If that makes sense. Still, it's not quite the same as Offutt having Neil Gaiman tweet at him (which has happened more than once, if I'm remembering correctly), but it is something.

That was at the end of January, and, for a while, the most exciting thing happening on twitter, unless you count Nathan Fillion announcing that he was learning to play Magic, was the push up competition going on between Briane Pagel, Rusty, and myself. Yeah, I know. I'm sure all of you were waiting with held breaths to see our tweets on that subject. But, then, one day, I sat down at the computer to find that Jim Butcher was following me. Wait, what? I know! What the heck?! Again, I tweeted Rusty about it. But what the heck?

As it turned out, the heck was that Butcher's account had been hacked and, for whatever reason, used to follow back about 1000 of his followers. When I got home later that night, he was no longer following me. For a few minutes, though, I thought I was one of the cool kids.

However, a real thing did happen: Howard Mackie, a longtime writer for Marvel Comics and the writer of one of the best runs on any comic ever, dropped by my blog and commented. That, in many ways, is an even bigger "what the heck?" moment than the thing with Butcher. I mean, I've mentioned Butcher here on the blog on numerous occasions, but I've never mentioned Mackie. At least, not by name. I only talked about Ghost Rider and, that, only in passing. So I'm still wondering how he ended up on that post. I'm sure there's a lesson here, somewhere...
Oh, but we'll get to that.

On top of everything else, February was my lowest blog traffic in a year. Way below my current average. Way below. Way more than can be accounted for by the loss of a couple of days from the month. It's one of those things that makes you stop and go, "Whoa... what the heck?" And without wanting to you're suddenly wondering if blogging is actually worth the time it takes. Or if you did something wrong and offended a bunch of people. Or... something. It doesn't matter that your head is telling you all sorts of rational things:

  • It's just a fluctuation.
  • Blog traffic in general is slowing.
  • It's not about you.
Because your head is also telling you all sorts of irrational things, and you can't help hearing those things.
So... why blog?

And that's what we'll talk about next time. See you on Wednesday for "Part 2: Why Bother To Blog (That's Not a Question)"

This post has been brought to you in part by the Insecure Writers Support Group.


  1. I'm still not on twitter, and will do my best to stay off it for as long as I possibly can.

    I found February was an off month for me, blog wise as well. I had my lowest visits in 8 months for whatever reason, but since the calendar turned, there's been a bit of a spike that looks more normal. We'll see what comes of it.

  2. IWSG Part II, Electric Boogaloo!
    I didn't notice a dip in blog traffic. I did notice that some people don't respond to blog visits and comments as I've been visiting people on the A to Z Challenge list.
    A lot of people on Twitter have prescheduled their Tweets, so they aren't actually on there at the time. The producer of the new Dune documentary found me there, so that was cool.

  3. Most of the time no one responds to my tweets either, often not even when I tweet at them.

  4. February was a slower month on my blog, too. I think some are gearing up for A-Z already - busy writing rather than visiting others.

    Twitter is wild but I prefer it to Facebook. I've had one celebrity tweet me: Roberto Alomar, Hall of Fame baseball player. He was my A post one year. He saw it and thanked me.

  5. My NEW insecurity is seeing this on your blog and thinking "Is it Wednesday?" So thanks for making me disoriented to start the day.

    I actually REALLY like Twitter. I use it as a news service, mostly, to see what's going on. I used to only follow about 100 people, a not-quite-arbitrary limit, but about three months ago I decided I wanted more followers, and to do that you have to follow people and have them follow back, so now I'm following nearly 1,000, which is both neat, in that I get a lot of links and info, and dismaying in that it's hard to keep up with it.

    What I usually do is go to Twitter, read a screen or two or three, retweet and respond to those things I find interesting, and then go do something else. So lots of tweets get lost in the ether for me, which I've learned to live with.

    When I tweet stuff, it's either amusing things I thought or links to articles I'm reading, which I put on because that's what I want from other people.

    One thing that bugs me no end? People who ONLY tweet ads. Another? People who "favorite" something rather than retweet it. Favoriting does NOTHING. I'd much rather be retweeted. I don't know why "favorite" exists.

    But Twitter, and blogging, and writing in general, is what you make of it. So if you're not getting what you want out of it, change it up and see if that helps. That's what I've been doing for a few months now. as you might have noticed. I've been doing shorter (mostly) blog entries and focusing on doing some other stuff, to see if I like that better. I also changed the way I posted my writing and I've found that the new things I'm doing -- IWM and Inky and some other side projects - -are interesting to me and have gotten me re-energized in a lot of ways.

    This comment may be a bit rambling. I'm not feeling that well today. I hope some of it made sense. Stupid cold medicines.

  6. Interestingly, February was one of our biggest months for blog traffic in ages. Our last 4 posts have all gotten double or more individual page views than in previous months.

    As for Twitter (as I'm sure I've mentioned before) this is why we gave up. Sure, Joe Hill tweeted with us a couple times. So did Christopher Moore. But when we tweeted in general, no one listened. We only got replies to other replies, as you mentioned. How long can one stand on the corner of an empty street screaming into a loudspeaker before you realize your time is better utilized elsewhere?*

    *our experience only. For the record we're not anti-Twitter. Others' results may vary.

  7. Hey Andrew! My blog traffic has been way low ever since I got a new job and haven't been blogging as much. Mind you, I never was one of those bloggers with thousands of readers or anything like that. I don't know how those people do it! Sometimes their blogs are not even, in my humble opinion, funny or well written...other times they're all that and totally deserve all of the readers they have...for me, my usual nine readers has fallen to about four!....anyways, I digress.......hmmmmm........forgot where I was!
    Oh Yeah! Twitter! I actually like twitter and I never thought I would. I love that the tweets are brief and to the point (I know it doesn't seem like I'd like a thing like that). Social media is becoming more and more mainstream...last night at the Oscars the selfie tweeted by Ellen and assorted movie stars 'broke' twitter for 20 minutes or something like that. It's huge. As I see it the choices are, become a part of it, or be like the guy in 1930 who refused to believe, in the face of mounting evidence, that the automobile was going to one day keep his horse and buggy off the road for good.
    By the way, at the risk of appearing foolish...who's Jim Butcher?
    And finally, the reason I blog is cause it entertains me.

  8. JeffO: It looks like March is back to normal, but it might just be because blog visits usually run higher at the beginning of the month.

    Alex: I tend to quit going to blogs where the blogger doesn't even respond to comments.

    Pat: Theoretically, you should get an email if someone tweets at you, so, at that point, it's kind of just rude not to respond. I mean, if it's someone you know.

    TAS: Theoretically, I'm preparing for A-to-Z. heh

    Briane: LOL
    Hey, no problem. You know how I am for following rules. Now, I'm wondering if this is the first two-part IWSG post?

    Favoriting is twitters version of the "like" button, and, you know, everyone wants to be "liked." But, yeah, it's useless except for stroking egos.

    I'll have to go look and see whom you're following.

    Feel better!

    ABftS: What I have found about twitter is that it is incredibly distracting, so I have to keep it closed unless I have something I want to use it for right then. Which is also how I use FB.

    Eve: Butcher's an author I read. There's a link to him up there in the post.
    You can tell more about a blogger from the comments than you can from his/her follower count. Just by the way.

  9. Huh.
    Maybe because February is shorter? And I know I also blogged less this February...
    Twitter is awesome! But sometimes I won't go on there all day, and then I've missed all kinds of stuff. And yeah, distracting...if I look at it at work, I'll still be looking at it 15 minutes later! :)

  10. My February traffic looked to be about the same as last year, but I have heard the same thing from others.

    I'm on Twitter, but its grossly underutilized. Been on there for a long time, but I'm just now getting the hang of it. There's so much SPAM on there, so I like to post original and genuine stuff.

  11. RG: It's way more than two days worth of missing visits.

    Jay: Last year, my February traffic was up from January.

    I have yet to figure out a good twitter strategy.

  12. It's not you! For some inexplicable reason, I didn't touch my blog or blog comment all of February. Maybe something was in the air.

  13. Trust me, that's not tweetspam. Tweetspam is the people who post a thousand times an hour, RTing a million things in hopes of gaining more followers. Those other people are just ignoring the basic tenant of Twitter, which is be clear and concise.

    The low blog traffic must be a fluke. Don't worry. It's not you.

  14. MP: Maybe it was the snow?

    Jeanne: Maybe it's just different levels of spam? Or different types? Like name brand spam and generic spam.

  15. Don't tell Alex but I'm skipping A-Z this year. Too many other things keeping me busy. I'm looking forward to it as a reader, though.

  16. TAS: You're not doing it! Man! Then I am SO out! Gosh!

  17. Ugh on Twitter. For some reason Twitter would never sync with my phone right so I had to go keep going online for Twitter. I had a Twitter account until it was hacked. Twitter has a real problem with that. My gmail was hacked through the Twitter hack. Actually it was Google who alerted me to the hack. They not only hit Twitter and my gmail but also got a blog that I used to post to the ISWG. I deleted Twitter after that. Google fixed the gmail hack but was unable to offer a lot of help for the hacked blog so I had to delete it. Oh and thought I'd tell you, I didn't understand it either.

  18. G_G: Having no phone, I don't have that to worry about. And, as a point of interest, twitter just got recognized as one of the most secure sites on the Internet. It doesn't matter how secure a site is, though, if the hacker is using some kind of password hack.

  19. Well here's my explanation for February. I spent the first week in the hospital (asthma) then my first week home just like I was in the hospital, as in on bed rest, only the service wasn't as great, but it did stop at night, which was nice.
    The third week I was allowed out of bed a little, and by the fourth week, I was allowed to do one errand outside my house in a day.
    You'd think with all that downtime I'd have had more time to visit blogs. Nope. Enter this little project called the A-Z Challenge. It's like a part-time job, as in hours and hours a day, and so something had to go, and unfortunately, it was blog visiting.
    I didn't mean to ruin your favorite month and all your stats by now being here ;-) but that's my story. Maybe everyone else got sick too and took on an impossibly huge project...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014
    Co-hosting the IWSG

  20. Twitter is weird. I've grown kind of fond of it because it's easy to just share links and retweet things. I see several of my links shared and retweeted and that's encouraging. It's even better when I get a blog comment that says they followed over from a tweet. So someone does read sometimes.

    Mostly though I feel like I'm just talking to myself with words disappearing into cyberspace. But it can be fun. Sometimes I'll get something weird in my head and I'll just go to Twitter and say it. I feel like I done some good work there that mostly just gets lost.

    Then, there are those times when one my profound or clever little tweets gets favorited or retweeted. Then I feel kind of good for a few seconds.

    Twitter elation is mostly short-lived.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  21. Tina: Okay, well, your February was way worse than mine. Which wasn't bad. Just weird.
    Stay out of the hospital! That's my advice for the day.

    Lee: See, I don't actually enjoy that talking to myself feeling. I couldn't even do that as a kid when I was playing.