Friday, 17 February 2012
How This Blog Operates
Because there have lately been a lot of new subscribers, I thought it might be useful (maybe for long-time readers, too) to know the “rules” I use to produce Time Goes By and, where applicable, its sister blog, The Elder Storytelling Place.
“Rules” in quotation marks because sometimes I break them and they are subject to change for reasons ranging from fairness to personal whim.
So maybe these should be called guidelines or guiding principles - the conventions and standards I use to help keep Time Goes By on track.
COPYRIGHT, FAIR USE AND CITATIONS
Every possible effort is made to follow copyright and fair use regulations. You will not see entire articles or stories copied here. When a newspaper, magazine, website, blog, etc., is quoted, it is the shortest portion possible to make the point with a link to the source.
That's not to say I don't screw up, but I correct as quickly as possible when errors are pointed out and unlike some “rules” below, this one is not changeable.
There are publications and writers who are trustworthy and there are those who are not but generally, I trust no one and seek out at least two sources for any fact I publish.
One of my most useful talents is having excellent radar for questionable facts; they jump off pages at me as though they are printed in 48-point, red type. Sure, I make mistakes. If you find one, let me know and it will fixed.
The most successful blogs in terms of traffic are almost entirely about politics, celebrities or technology so given such an un-sexy topic as aging, Time Goes By does well and has never stopped growing.
Nevertheless, it gets nowhere near the half million and more page views a day needed to make the hassle of carrying advertising worth the effort. I tried for a while in the early years of TGB; the return was too small for the attention required and it junked up the pages.
So Time Goes By is delivered to you ad-free. Relatedly, for those who subscribe via email and rss, you get the entire story instead of the first paragraph or two with a link to the online webpage as many feeds supply. If I did the latter, I could probably double the blog's page views. Many sites do this and it is irritating as hell.
Please, please note however – all who subscribe via rss and email - that you cannot see comments or leave a comment without going to the website which you do by clicking the title of the story in the feed. When, instead, you click “reply” in your feed reader or email program, your comment goes only to me via email.
I explain this to half a dozen readers via email every day. It would free up some of my time if you would take a moment to understand how this works.
PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND GUEST POSTS
These days, Time Goes By receives about 50 or 60 requests per week to write about commercial (and non-profit) products and services. I reject each of them.
That does not mean they are all of the late-night, infomercial variety. Some appear to be valuable to elders, but I would never recommend anything to you that I have not tried myself and I do not have time to test-drive all this stuff.
One exception is books. Ever since the media realized the gigantic baby boom generation is getting old, the number of new books on aging, anti-aging and everything related has exploded – thousands per year.
About 98 percent are awful, looking to make a quick buck with a clever title and no useful content. But a few are worth the the time and money. I do write about some of those.
With increasing frequency, publicists for commercial products and services offer to have their “experts” write columns for Time Goes By – for free, they tell me, if I will link to their website. They get a polite rejection letter too, as do authors who want to promote their books by adapting them into a TGB post.
For many years, I refused to hold contests. I have forgotten the reason. Lately, I have loosened up on that and there will be the occasional contest but with this caveat:
The contest must be exclusive to Time Goes By which gives a reasonable chance of a regular TGB reader winning.
I consider comments the lifeblood of a blog. They are where the important conversation goes on and my post is meant to be the day's jumping off point.
I ride the comment flow as carefully as I have time for each day. Spam is removed as quickly as possible and I am particularly adamant about deleting those who think they are oh so clever by leaving a complimentary note then linking to a retail website. For some reason, Vuitton (undoubtedly knock-offs) shows up frequently.
On a few occasions, legitimate commenters taking part in the discussion leave links to their sites that sell products or services. Those comments remain, but I remove the link. That's just the way it is here; you don't get to use the comments at TGB for free advertising.
I also monitor for personal attacks on me or commenters but it has rarely been a problem. Everyone here is quite good at making their points, disagreeing, arguing and more without crossing the line. I'm pretty sure I don't really need to say that when it does happen, the entire comment is deleted.
Oh, and comments too far off topic are deleted too. Outside links in comments are allowed as long as they are related to the day's topics but I sure would appreciate it if you would learn to make a proper html link and not just copy in an endless (or even bit.ly) string of letters.
Finally, language. Lots of four-letter words not only muck up blogs and sometimes offend, they detract from reasonable conversation. But we are all grownups here and god knows sometimes it take an f-bomb or a “horseshit” to make a point forcefully. Just be judicious.
One of the things that sets off a blog from many other types of publication is personal information about the blogger in the about page and in posts. Bloggers and blog readers can become mightily offended when they discover someone is not who they say they are.
(Do not paint all pseudonyms with this brush. There are some very good reasons not to use one's real name.)
Here, I use my real name and any stories I tell about myself and my life are true to the best of my knowledge and – ahem – memory (we all know how that goes at our ages).
When I use readers' or friends' names, it is only with their permission; otherwise you get “a friend” and “a reader.” And since ownership of the content in email (like physical letters) remains with the writer, I never use quotations from email without permission.
Whew! This is wordier than I intended but I think covers some recent email questions I've received and some other information that is related. You can leave any questions in the comments.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Book