Technically speaking, all blogs are a form of social networking. I type stuff, you read the stuff I type, sometimes you type me back and I read that too, which prompts me to type more stuff, and so forth.
It is a delayed conversation, akin to a forum. There are regulars, friends, a whole community of people that all share something in here. Some of you are here for magery, some of you are simply looking for a way to delay working. Not that I’m criticizing or anything, I used to spend entire shifts playing bubble bobble and tetris.
Point is, I sort of take the role of head administrator. If this was a church, I’d be the head priest, giving sermons, preaching to my flock of eager destruction enthusiasts, and I’d have office hours open for one on one time.
Note: next time a prospective employer asks what your hobbies are, tell them you’re a “destruction enthusiast”. Guaranteed success!
You, the reader, would come in for the daily sermon, nod to those you recognize in the congregation, listen to my speech, then retire to the main atrium for strudel and discuss the day’s lessons, perhaps pointing out flaws, adding your own ideas, and so forth.
But what happens when that group of people gets too big? Going from an audience of hundreds to thousands doesn’t have too much of an impact, but what happens when that number starts reaching into the area of tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
Enter facebook. Say you have a dozen, maybe two dozen contacts. You know these people. They are your friends, you’ve partied with them, traveled with them, gone to school with them. But say that number grows. And grows and grows. Soon, you could very well have a couple hundred so called “friends” cluttering up your facebook. You don’t know many of these people, maybe you took chemistry together once in grade eleven.
Now, all of a sudden, you include them in your social network? The greatest intimate moments you share with facebook is now shared amongst potentially dozens and dozens of people who wouldn’t remember anything about you had you not decided to pretend to be friends.
Blogging isn’t exactly the same thing, but it is similar. My example extrapolates well!
To get right to the heart of the matter, socializing does not scale.
When it’s a small community, it feels intimate. Personal. You see names you recognize, call out to people you know, and you know almost everyone. It’s like a small, rural village. Everyone knows everyone. Your fellow readers, and even I, are like proximal friends. You can swing me a friendly e-mail, I’ll throw one back, perhaps build a post out of it.
Of course, I don’t do nearly as good a job of fostering this sense of community as, say, Larisa does.
But all of that is irrelevant as the size of the social group grows.
Try and picture the difference between 10man and 25man raiding. In 10man, you often know your fellow raiders quite well. Dare I say it, you are friends with them. Expand that to 25man, and that level of intimacy breaks down. Maybe you know a dozen people really well, but the others not so much. About half the raid group simply becomes a stereotype to you. Expand it to 40man, and now the majority of the raid is made up of strangers.
Once a group, whatever their focus may be, reaches a certain relative size, the sense of intimacy drops off. Members start feeling anonymous, rather than friends, and any conversation that used to exist outright breaks down. Where this level is, of course, depends on the person in question. Some can quite comfortably get along with thirty or so people. Some can’t stand more than about three. Nobody can stand fifty thousand.
The group becomes too large, so it stops being a near equal footing discussion. It stops being a forum, the banter dies, and it is replaced by… well, broadcasting.
To go back to the church example, no longer do you show up every sunday and hear me preach my ass off. Now I broadcast to almost a million viewers every week, and you can just stay home, anonymous, and watch me on the TV. Instead of showing up to see a group of people you know, you show up to a sea of unfamiliar faces.
I stop being a friend, a mentor, and simply become a remote, untouchable, unapproachable figure. You feel small, insignificant, and you censor yourself. In a small group you’d speak your mind, but in a larger one you simply say nothing.
Of course, the preacher who suddenly finds themselves speaking to a huge audience begins to censor themselves as well. They start being more careful with what they do, trying not to offend. They become a politician, estranging their audience that once knew them, keeping everything at arms length. Insert whatever reasons you want here, whether it be fear of alienating people, fear of confrontation with offended sheeple, anything you like, they’re all valid.
Happily, CQQ has never been BRK large. I’ve been in production here for a very long time, but I have kept my blog niche in order to appeal to said niche and little else. I like not being mainstream, I like being obscure.
In short, I like talking with people who will talk back, not talking at people who will simply stare and nod at appropriate intervals. I like people who disagree with me (whether they’re ignorant, brilliant, wrong, or French), as it tells me that my flock isn’t a flock.
What I’m about to say may stun many of you.
I have taken steps to try and ensure I retain my obscurity in the past. I have never (and will never) advertise this blog. I do not pimp this blog, I do not spread myself out over the blogosphere in the hopes of increasing readership. If someone links to me or invites me to their podcast, they do so entirely of their own volition.
You can find multiple posts out there on how to increase your readership. I have never done any of those. I picked a format that didn’t look dumb, tried to reduce the barrier to commenting as low as I could get it, and left it at that. I am more than happy with the results, I am more than happy not to be the next BRK.
In fact, I often take steps to actively reduce my readership, or keep it at a level I can keep up with. I post things that are intentionally controversial in order to drive away readers. Sometimes this backfires, I get linked to all over the place, and suddenly I have another thousand people following me. Sometimes I post something light and silly, like that time I played WoW for 24 hours straight with no break longer than 15 minutes, and it cost me readers and subscribers. (A win/win situation, that.)
Long time readers will know that I have infrequent updates. I have what I can best describe as sabbaticals, periods where my update frequency will dip significantly, sometimes going for weeks without a single new post. Most of the time this is due to time constraints. (There have been a few times in the history of CQQ where I will outright stop posting for a bit to try and bring the audience down to a smaller level. Times like the disastrous “How to get to Dalaran” post that very well could have launched me into the big leagues. My ultimate rant a month or so back was not one of those, that one was PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES OMG STUFF.)
I almost always have time to put a blog post together. I could have a new post up every single day without ever missing a day. I could do that rather easily, to be perfectly honest.
What I do not have time for is responding to such an update schedule. If I put up a new post every day, I simply wouldn’t have time to respond to comments or emails. I wouldn’t be able to keep it up without a significant time investment, time that I simply cannot spare. I have a hard enough keeping up with everything as it is, which is quite frankly embarrassing.
Consider that at his height, BRK spent over an hour a day simply reading his emails, let alone responding to them, let alone comments on the blog. I absolutely do not have that amount of time, and I know no one who does.
So, I post infrequently, I leave week long gaps here and there. Thus my audience remains smaller, at a level where I can keep up with it and still be able to do things like sleep, laundry, or go shopping for toilet paper.
At any given time, I have anywhere from three to eight blog posts already finished, either saved as a draft here online or as a document on my computer. Sometimes I write a new post and publish that, sometimes I use a post I had written days or weeks ago.
To put it succinctly, I post at a rate according to how much time I have to set aside in order to deal with the fallout of those posts. Some weeks I won’t have anything important going, so I have a lot of updates. Some weeks I panic over midterms or essays or something, so updates vanish outright. Some weeks I misjudge and put three posts out in as many days the same week a coworker falls ill and I need to cover some shifts.
Last week, I updated Monday/Tuesday, then went silent. That was due to finals.
This post is going up because I still have three finals to do, and frankly I can only read about the roman empire waging war for so many hours before my head begins to implode. And that’s the last time I’ll pester you with my boring life, I promise.
Besides, some of you have been inexplicably loyal readers here for so long I have shoes that are newer than the posts you’ve read, and I’m one of those guys who thinks it is acceptable to repair my underwear with duct tape when they hit half a decade old.
I’ve had this particular post hiding in my archives since JANUARY. It is time I published it. Even if I basically threw you all the finger and told y’all to shove an albino monkey up your arse with this post… well. We’ve been through good times (ARCANE IS OP YAY) and bad times (ARCANE ISN’T OP WAA), so we’re like a married couple now or something.
Just… if you divorce me… leave the ice cream. I have heartburn and I’m out of tums.