Saturday, August 14, 2021

Weekenders On Our Own (It's Such Fun)

at Time To Loot posted not once but twice earlier this week, warning anyone who cares about people listening to what they have to say not to post during the weekends. It's very good advice. It's been a long time since I paid close attention to readership figures at that level of detail but when I did I certainly saw some evidence to support the theory and more recently I have noticed that weekend posts are less likely to generate comments, even when they're quite juicy.

Then again, it's hard to anticipate just which posts will gain traction no matter when they appear. Sometimes I hit publish on a lengthy piece that positively bristles with comment hooks only to sit back to... silence. Other times, a short post knocked up on the spur of the moment gets a flurry of attention. 

I'm very glad I don't have to concern myself unduly with any of this stuff. I'd hate to have to make any part of my living trying to second-guess the capricious interests of the crowd. Luckily, since I mostly post for the pleasure of writing and the satisfaction of seeing my work on screen I can pretty much post what I like, when I like.

If I was going to worry about responses, though, I have a dread feeling one of the worst times I could choose to post anything I really cared about might be now, in the middle of Blaugust. And on a weekend, to boot. 

It's one of the ironies of this wonderful festival of the written word. Someone mentions it every year, usually towards the end, maybe in "Lessons Learned" week, and several people always chime in to agree. There's just too much to keep up with. It's not just the writers who suffer burnout during Blaugust - it's the readers, too.

I thought I'd mention it now rather than waiting until the end because even though this year's class isn't quite as big as some years, it's pretty big all the same and I'm already falling behind. In normal times I generally manage to read every post flagged up in my Feedly and most of the ones that strobe to the top of my blog roll. During Blaugust I find myself being more selective.

Okay, a few of the blogs I've added in previous Blaugusts and New Blogger Initiatives, the ones that center on real-world crafting or listing every known Pokémon, perhaps, don't always get the diligent attention I'm sure they deserve even in the quiet times. Still, mostly I hit most of them, most days.

At the moment? Not so much. I'm lagging. I can't keep up. I've been skipping some posts I'd normally read and declining to comment on some I did, even when I have something to say. I imagine it will get worse before it gets better, too. 

That's actually the aspect of Blaugust I find the most challenging. The reading. Writing thirty-one posts in thirty-one days is relatively straightforward, not least because this is the one time of the year we all have license to blog incessantly and obsessively about blogging itself, one of the easiest of open goals. Look, here I am, doing it!

To avoid too much of that, I'm very glad I came up with my Blaugust Backup Plan before Blaugust started. There are other reasons, too. I am absolutely loving writing the posts for each of the Pitchfork 25. Not only is it hugely enjoyable for me, riffing on some of my favorite music of the last quarter century, it's also got me listening to some albums and songs I haven't heard for far too long and, most importantly, asking myself why I like them all so much. 

Back when I had an active social life, I used to have long conversations about why I liked things, rubbing the rough surfaces of my assumptions against the sharp edges of the objections of others. These days I tend just to like stuff and not think about it all that much... until I blog about it.

That's one of the less-frequently mentioned benefits of blogging - the way it makes you think about why you like what you like rather than just liking it. Not that there's anything wrong with just liking stuff but a little self-analysis is healthy, so long as it doesn't get out of hand.

Enjoyable, satisfying and revealing though it may be for me, however, it would be self-deceiving of me to expect many people, reading my thoughts on how and why I came to enjoy this album or that, to be quite as royally entertained by those thoughts as I am. And as for eliciting comments... well, what is there for anyone to say, really?

Which does make Blaugust feel like an appropriate time for a project like this. If anyone's feeling overwhelmed, hey, here's the perfect opportunity to skip a post or twenty-five! I won't even know because no-one would have said much about any of them anyway.

Less obviously, it's also not a bad time for a series of enthusiastic posts about a game no-one else is all that interested in reading about. Okay, that does pretty much sum up what you'll find here all year round, but as has been widely reported, the summer of 2021 has turned out something of a bumper crop for mmorpg fans. I'm guessing we've all got our favorites and I'm also betting no-one else's favorite is Bless Unleashed. No-one needs to be scraping the detail on games they're never going to play.

I am playing it, though. And enjoying it, too. I'm going to write about that. I won't be able to stop myself. I don't even want try. I was going to post about it today until this happened.  

With a bit of luck I'll be mostly over BU by the time Blaugust ends. Maybe I'll go back to Blade and Soul, another game no-one's interested in reading about. I was having a great time there, too. Then we get to the end of September and it'll be time for New World.

You just know everyone's going to be blogging about New World, when it comes. It'll be like Valheim all over again. Maybe that would be the time for posts about Bless Unleashed and obscure albums. It's called counter-programming, I believe. Anyone wants to run with that when New World finally goes live, be my guest. I'm sure we'll all be reading.

Especially on the weekends.


  1. In years gone by I was a pretty dedicated blog reader and honestly I was anti-Blaugust because of the flood of posts, and (being brutally honest) the decrease in the quality of posts. Not everywhere, of course, but for sure there were posts that were spewed out just to meet the "I posted something" criteria.

    This is the first year I'm actually participating in Blaugust and honestly most of my posts, to me, read like something I slapped together for a homework assignment. (I THINK I still remember what having a homework assignment felt like.)

    But at least I've "let go" when it comes to reading posts, and if something doesn't look interesting to me I just skip it. I read everything for the first week and was already feeling fatigued and a little frazzled, like I was spending all my time reading blog posts, writing blog posts, editing blog posts, etc, etc. So I just had to give myself permission to stop doing that, which made Blaugust fun again.

    1. Some days it's not even that I don't have the time or the inclination to read all the Blaugust posts, it's more that they arrive so thick and fast they push other posts down the list to the point I don't even see them at all. I have to remember to scroll quite a long way down to make sure Ihaven't missed something by someone whose posts I always enjoy.

      I'm not complaining about any of this - it's one of the inevitable side-effects of a successful event, like when you're at a festival and there are several bands you want to see all playing on different stages at the same time. Blaugust is very good at getting people involved and too much content is a small price to pay for that. As you say, it's up to us as readers to pace ourselves and not try to stuff down everything just because it's there.

  2. Of course, now I feel the urge to comment. :) For me, commenting is more about what's going on around me than any silent commentary about a post. If I'm at work I'll read stuff on my iPad, but I hate trying to use the on-screen keyboard for anything long. Then the issue of getting distracted at home can torpedo any comments or the fact that what I often feel like I can't capture the magic of my original mental comment when I sit down to post. Add to that real-life health issues for both my wife and myself and the (imaginary) time-to-comment can slip away faster than I realize. Which is silly, but that's a habit I need to work on overcoming.

    As far as Bless Unlimited goes, I'm enjoying the posts. I like seeing what others have fun with. It may be a game I'd never play or known about, but I can still enjoy learning about it. It would be a boring life if I only read about those things I participated in.

    1. One reason I comment so much and write such lengthy comments when I do is that I'm always commenting from my desktop PC with a full-travel mechanical keyboard. It makes banging out a few dozen or a few hundred words feel very comfortable. There was a time when I tried reading blogs on my tablet in my lunch hour at work but then I always wanted to comment and it was so annoying, typing on the touch screen, in the end I decided I wouldn't even read blogs that way at all. I do find not being able to comment when I want to is the most off-putting thing of all when it comes to blogging. I won't even read blogs that don't allow comments any more because it's so frustrating not to be able to participate.

      As for Bless, I'll have to see how it lasts in the medium term but so far I'm finding it very enjoyable so there will be more posts. Luckily it makes for very attractive screenshots so even if people don't want to know all the details they can enjoy the pictures!

  3. For what it's worth, I keep popping by to read your commentary on Bless Unleashed because apart from you, I might be the only other person on the continent who's enjoying it (I must count my partner as well). But I really, truly am enjoying it. I joked to my better half that if it weren't for New World launching in September (or whenever), I would be very eager to make BU one of our main games. I haven't *quite* sussed out what exactly gives New World the edge over it right now except that we've been hyped for it longer, that the PVP is opt-in, and that it's a bit more sandboxy.

    On the other hand, we are also invested in Book of Travels' launch at the end of August, which many people have made affirmative noises about but about which we don't expect to see much written or video commentary. It will be interesting to see which of these games will ultimately hold our attention the most when all three are live. New World currently seems like it will be the best for each of us to play in leisurely while one or the other of us is at work without separating us too much by land distance, rare experiences, or levels, and that ultimately might give it the edge.


    1. I do think New World has the momentum right now. The situation reminds me of when The Secret World launched a couple of months before Guild Wars 2. Lots of people happily owned up to playing TSW while they waited for GW2 to launch and when it did they were gone. Based on some of the things I've seen - a GW2 guild called "Waiting for NW", a character in Bless Unleashed named "W8NewWorld", people asking in chat "How many people are just here waiting for New World to launch?" - I think a lot of people are just passing the time until Amazon opens the gates.

      How long people will stay in New World is another matter altogether. GW2 lost a lot of people after about three months because the game wasn't quite what they expected. It held on to more than enough to remain very successful, though, and I would guess New World will do the same.

      I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing. I've pre-ordered NW and I've been impressed with it since the first beta but I'm not at all sure it's the game I'd want to stick with as a main game long-term. Neither is Bless Unleashed although I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I imagine both will end up in my lengthy catalog of games I play quite often between the handful of games I play all the time. Which is a good result from my point of view if not from the game companies'.

  4. "Then again, it's hard to anticipate just which posts will gain traction no matter when they appear."

    This is beyond true and an oft repeated refrain within the community. :) I suppose all I really wanted to say was if it was a piece you had put some heart into and wanted to give it the best chance at being commented on -- hold off on posting over the weekend if you can.

    The flow of posts, particularly with work being what it has been over the past week or so, is certainly a huge challenge. Although I'd be lying if I said making the posts themselves wasn't *also* a challenge.

    Seems to follow the same sort of pattern for me, first week or two, easy-peasy. Then all of a sudden- a wall. I've been staring at the blank page a lot of this morning hoping for inspiration to strike.

    ... Yup.

    Anyway, not sure about Bless Unleashed yet. Trying to remain somewhat focused on what I have still. Thought I'd play more this weekend but cold has decided otherwise.

    1. I was kind of playing with the controls with this post, which came out completely unplanned wehn I sat down to write about Bless Unleashed. Partly I felt I hadn't addressed the fact of Blaugust all that plainly so far, which seemed a bit lax of me, and partly I was wondering if writing on a weekend about not writing on a weekend would in itself generate an unweekendly response. I kind of thought it might and it did :P

      Today I plan on posting about BU for real but yesterday I played it for so long that I didn't get around to writing one of the #25 posts I was looking forward to doing in the evening, so who knows? I am not saying Bless Unleashed is anything more than a solid, well-crafted, feature-complete mmorpg but it does seem to be that, which is not nothing by any means.

  5. I was just thinking about this the other day. I've been feeling unusually inspired the last couple of weeks (hard to say whether the relation to Blaugust is causal or merely coincidental) and feeling proud of the many things I've had to post about... but at the same time, views and engagement are down. Like you, I write mostly for myself but getting comments is still nice. Normal Blaugust stuff I guess!

    1. I think Wilhelm commented on it last year, either in Blapril or the August one, noting his page views had dropped during the event. I don't keep close track of mine any more but I know for sure I'm reading less than i normaly would, or, I should say, a smaller percentage of what's available to read.

  6. I struggle so much to keep up with blogs. I want to do my best, to give each post the care it deserves by being read, and leaving a comment to show the blogger that I have something to say and show my love and support, but heck it's tough, especially with the longer posts. And this is with at least two communities to hop around as well, a blessing and a curse, I suppose!

    I love the flurry, however, even if I can't keep up, and I hope the people posting are getting something out of it and enjoying themselves.

    1. I absolutely beleive Blaugust is worth it for the buzz and the excitement it always generates. It's just ironic that the very same increased levels of output make it less likely individual posts will get as much attention as they might in quieter times. I wonder if two shorter events, Spring and Autumn or Winter and Summer, say two weeks each, might be more sustainable for readers? A month is quite a long time...


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