There is so much to distract us this December - well, me anyway. The holidays (even though I don't do much beyond Hannukah candles), too many rescheduled appointments due to weather recently and most of all the frightful events in Washington, D.C.
I mean Kanye West? Carly Fiorina? Rick Perry? Even Bill Gates has been seduced by *. God help us.
As behind in daily life as I am or feel (I don't know which), there is one issue that you, dear readers, can help with. In recent weeks, there has been a sizeable uptick in the number of TGB readers with dozens of new email subscribers, Facebook followers, LinkedIn connections, etc.
Certainly this is a good problem to have but it means that newcomers don't necessarily know some of the guidelines that old-timers are familiar with. So as I do once every year or so, here is a reminder of the rules of the road at Time Goes By.
Mostly, these involve the Comments section. I've worked hard over the 12-plus years of this blog to make it not just interesting but a safe place for old people and others interested in ageing to hang out.
With the help of people who take part in the conversation, the comment section is often a more compelling read than my posts and has become - without much help from me - a comfortable community where, metaphorically, we can sit around over a cup of tea and have good chat. Here are the customs and practices that help keep it that way:
• No ALL CAPS. On the internet and in email, writing in all caps is considered shouting. It is also difficult to read. So watch your capslock key except when you need to emphasize a word or short phrase.
• No long blocks of text. Leave a line space between short paragraphs. All that takes is hitting the "enter" key twice at the end of the last sentence in a paragraph. No one bothers to read long blocks of uninterrupted text. You put an effort into what you write so make it readable.
Remember – hit the "enter" key twice to make an empty space between paragraphs.
• No links. I spend a great deal of time removing links to retailers, advertisers, even web pornographers and general trolls who write comments they think sound real (they don't) and then link to their store or x-rated material.
I do not have time to check each and every link in the comments and, frankly, legitimate links are often broken anyway, leading nowhere or to 404 error pages.
So, no links. I no longer bother to check them, I just delete them along with the reference to them in the comment.
• No off-topic comments. When comments unrelated to the post's topic appear, it interrupts the conversation. One of the things that makes TGB comments so exceptional is that people respond to one another and it is not uncommon for some to return during the day and follow up again on other people's comments.
In doing this, you all help make the comments at this blog a richer, more compelling conversation than at many other blogs. I know that I learn from you who give me a lot of interesting ideas to think about.
• No personal attacks. If you disagree with what I have written or what a previous commenter has written, by all means let us know.
Explain why you disagree but keep your comment within the bounds of the ideas and thoughts and not a personal attack. You get no second chance at this. If it happens, you are permanently banned from commenting.
• No religious, ethnic, racist, gender, LGBTQ, etc. slurs. Ever. No second chances and no recourse.
• Your comment signature. A name and email address are required information on the comment form. You may use any name you want; it does not need to be your real name. But the email address must be real. It is used for confirmation purposes only and is never published.
The third information box on the comment form is labeled “Web Site URL.” You may insert the URL of your blog if you have one or your Facebook page or Pinterest, etc. Your name (whatever you use) will then become a link to that URL.
However, only personal blogs and pages are allowed. If you have a retail or commercial or product/service promotional website, you may not use that URL. There is already too much online advertising and TGB does not accept any form of advertising.
• How to comment. A lot of the email I get is from people who don't know how to comment. Invariably they read this blog via email and maybe Facebook. You cannot comment directly from those platforms. You must go to the blog post in your browser. To do that, just click the title of the story and it will open in your browser.
Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word "Comments." The story will reopen with a form at the bottom of the comments that have already been posted. Write your comment, fill in the form as described above and click "Post." It will be published at the bottom of the comments.
• Contacting me. Above the banner at the top of every page here is a “Contact” link. It opens a form to send me a private email that is not published. Mostly, readers use it to send me suggestions for Saturday's Interesting Stuff post or other blog-related information.
For a long time I have tried to respond to every message and have mostly done that. But now, there are so many that I can no longer make that a goal and still have a life.
What will not change is that I read every email from you, dear readers, and when I use the information – in Interesting Stuff or a blog post – I do my best to give proper credit. Undoubtedly, I've screwed that up now and then but I don't think it's happened often.
So, there you are. These are the practices I follow at TGB. They - and you following the guidelines - have kept this blog vital and viable for more than a dozen years. I look forward not just to producing it – and I do enjoy that – but to finding out what you have to say about it every day.
I am so lucky to have discovered this project for my old age. Even better I had no idea when I began that it would give me the opportunity to meet and come to know so many interesting people. You make my day. Every day.