Friday, April 3, 2020

Ah! Recognition!

The other day, Naithin at Time To Loot tagged me for something called the Blogger Recognition Award. It's one of those community-building excercises that drift across the blogosphere every so often. I was going to save my response for Blapril Week 3 – Getting to Know You but it occurred to me, if I did, there might be no bloggers left to nominate, so here we go.

As I commented when I thanked Naithin for tagging me, I don't usually get picked for these things. I'm not sure why although I've always been a little ambivalent about them. Maybe I give off a vibe to that effect. Not that I don't want to get asked, of course. It's the classic thing that happens in non-virtual life all the time, where you want people to invite you to events to which you don't actually want to go, just so you know you haven't been forgotten. Or maybe that's just me. (It's not just me...).

Before I go on, let's see exactly what this particular award involves. Here are the rules, as laid out by Naithin:
  1. Thank the wonderful person who nominated you and leave a link back to their blogs.
  2. Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  3. Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.

I think I covered #1 in the introduction. And the link, too. I was starting to drift into #2 as well, which is why I thought I'd better get the rules up before it was too late.

Thanks, Naithin!


Inventory Full doesn't really have an origin story. There wasn't much in the way of planning. Like most things I do it was more of a whim and a fancy. I'd been commenting on blogs and posting on forums for years. Some of my comments were longer than the blog posts I was replying to. One or two bloggers who had to put up with me were beginning to look a little frayed about it.

Tobold had a similar problem with a commenter called Nils. I remember Tobold once addressing him as "Nils, who posts more on my blog than I do". It began to occur to me that if I was going to write five hundred or a thousand words in a comment, I might as well start a blog of my own.

So I did. Or at least, I made a Blogger account, picked a name and sorted out the layout. Then I got cold feet about it for the same reason I used not to think all that fondly of events like the Blogger Recognition Award: exposure.

Bonus blogging advice. Posts like this are a great opportunity to use a bunch of non-specific screenshots!

I like to mouth off, as must be all too painfully obvious. I have a tendency, though, to prefer to be heard but not seen, rather like a child ghost in a 1970s horror movie. I was up for having a platform of my own, where I could rant and rave and ride around on my extensive stable of hobbyhorses but I was less keen on people like me coming in and giving me "feedback" in the comments.

So I let the blog lie fallow for a few months but it niggled away at the back of mind. Eventually I pulled the trigger in July 2011 and never looked back. My fears over unpleasant comments proved utterly groundless. I think I've had maybe half a dozen sharp ones in getting on for a decade and none at all that I'd call genuinely offensive.

As the years passed, blogging became more and more of a social activity for me. It began early, with the first Newbie Blogger Initiative, as it was called back in 2012. I'd only been blogging for a year so I was genuinely surprised and unsurprisingly flattered to be asked, by Syp, to come on board as a mentor or a veteran or whatever the phrase of the time was.

I accepted, for some inexplicable reason in the style of Damon Runyon, and after that I felt I'd passed some kind of probationary period, if not an initiation ceremony. I carried on writing primarily for myself, as I'd always intended, but over the years I felt an ever-increasing sense of belonging to this nebulous and disparate community.

These days, far from feeling suspicious of this kind of outreach, I welcome it as part of the essential glue that holds us all together. It does mean exposing a little more of myself than I originally intended all those years ago but as I said the other day: "Authenticity is a currency. Be careful how you spend it".


As for two pieces of advice, I could be cute and just link my posts from earlier in the week. I can do a bit better than that. though, I think.

The inevitable advice I always give is this: write for yourself. Yes, as I just said, community is important. Readers are important. Feedback is important. In the end, though, unless you are planning on making a living out of this (in which case my other piece of advice is to blog about something other than video games) blogging is going to be a hobby and hobbies are supposed to feed the interests of the hobbyist above anything else.

It's so easy at the start to get obsessed with numbers. How many people read my last post? Was it more than the one before? How many comments did I get? Is it just the usual suspects or have I picked up anyone new?

I did that for years but nowadays I don't even look at my my monthly analytics when Google email them to me. Not every month, anyway. Maybe once a quarter. I'm well aware that certain posts don't find much traction but often they're the ones I enjoy writing the most so why should I care?

Specifically, all those long shots of scenery you keep taking for no reason.

Write for yourself and come across like you're having a good time doing and that's enough.

My other perrennial piece of advice is the corollary: if you aren't feeling it, don't force it. As I said, this is a hobby. It's not a test, an examination or a duty. You can put it down whenever you like and pick it back up whenever the fancy takes you.

By all means have a structure if that helps but feel free to clamber all over it and hang off the side. So you said you were going to post every Tuesday, Thursday and alternate Saturdays but you have something to say on Sunday instead. Go ahead. Not feeling it right now? Take a week off. Or a month. However long you need.

Here's an open secret: readers don't go away. I say that as one. Nothing makes me happier in blogworld than to see a dormant name light up on my Feedly or my blog roll. I could give you a list off the top of my head of twenty inactive bloggers I'd love to see make a comeback.

Mostly, they won't. Once people stop they tend to stay stopped. And that's okay, too. Not so much for us but for them. These things have a natural lifetime. Me, I've been writing all my life. If it wasn't a blog it would be something else. Not everyone feels that way, or should.

To sum up, 'tis better to have blogged and stopped than never to have blogged at all.


And now we come to the nominations. This is going to be fun! I'll attempt not to duplicate the choices that have already been made, which is why I wanted to get in early. I've also tried to stick to bloggers who are currently active and who might possibly read this to see they've been tagged.

As always, don't even spend a second thinking about it if it's not your sort of thing or this isn't a good time. Just join in if you think it would be fun.

Mailvaltar - Mailvaltar
Everwake - Everwake's Internet Adventures
Aywren - Aywren Sojourner - Just A Geek Blog
Stingite - The Friendly Necromancer
SDWeasel - Unidentified Signal Source

Wow! It was hard to keep it to five but that's the baton passed. On we go!


  1. Ahh yes! I remember from your comment thinking it would be nice to hear your origin story again, because at the time I couldn't recall it. But the moment I started reading the first few words of your recounting it all came back to me. :)

    I still love it that you started off as a commentor, I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem to be a very frequent path. It seems to me, at least, that most new bloggers come in fairly out of the blue.

    In any case, good advice as always. I can't agree enough with the idea of putting the numbers, the social metrics, the side-stuff as it were to... well, the side, and just focus on it for yourself.

    It's not wrong or bad to be interested in those things; but especially while starting out, focusing your energy on them can be more damaging than helpful.

    1. I still post ridiculously long comments even now, although at least if they fail a certain sanity check I tend to park them for a blog post of my own. I think an infatuation with readerhip numbers is inevitable at the start but it can be like starting an MMO - at first all your numbers go up and everything is an upgrade but then progress slows and it starts to feel like a grind. Worse, it can end up like early EQ, where you could actually go backwards and lose a level. No-one wants to compare month-on-month or year-on-year and see they have fewer readers than before.

      We probably need to keep a rough eye on the stats just in case anything weird shows up but I do think it's best kept well in the background.

  2. Thanks for tagging me, Bhag!

    I don't know when exactly, but I'll get to it during Getting To Know Each Other Week at the latest...


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