Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reflections on The A to Z



I made it through April with the wonderful A to Z Blogging Challenge. My reasons for doing the challenge are twofold. First, I love having people come to visit my blog, leave their comments, have me pay a return visit to their blog, and build friendships. And second, I like to write! Simple as that!!

I really like to find new friends on the A to Z Blogging Challenge list. This year I did my best, visiting as many blogs as I could. I kept track during the first part of the challenge. I would estimate that I visited somewhere around 300 blogs. And this doesn't count the blogs I follow all year long, who also participated in the challenge.There are quite a few of those!!

As I have found in previous years, the most irritating part of the challenge, to me, is to visit so many blogs and have those very people not visit back.  It is  the respectful thing to do. I bookmarked a number of blogs as I wanted to go back and read more of their challenge. And even though I left comments, for several days in a row, many of them did not reciprocate! Isn't that just plain rude? To me it is. 

Also, I found several (or many) blogs where it was still hard (or impossible) to leave comments. I am not sure why! Sometimes I couldn't even find where the comment was supposed to go. I got to where I looked for that first. And if I couldn't find it, then I didn't stay to read. I like leaving comments. That, to me, is what this challenge is really all about!

I know the A to Z team did their best with finding blogs who had either never started the challenge or those who had quit. This blog started out number 1316 on the list and ended number 930. The list of bloggers started with 1,976 blogs and ended with 1,344. So they did their best to keep the list clean. I still found many who never started or quit early on. It would be a hard job to keep up with all of them. 

My blog traffic really increased during the month of April. I don't put much stock into blogger stats. But they are fun to look at. I highly doubt I had as many real-live people as this statistic showed. I do not get much spam, but I do get some. So those would have been counted in the page views as well.  My most popular post was my very first day! And the day I wrote about hula-hoops! What fun. Although I do not do the challenge just for the increase in traffic or followers, I did get 9 new followers. And that, my friends, makes it all worth while.

Will I do the challenge again? Probably! But next year I will write my posts ahead of time. I am terrible at 'winging it'. And I can spend more time traveling around to other blogs. 

Hats off to you Arlee Bird! And thanks to all your helpers!! Well Done!!

46 comments:

  1. Great thoughts about the challenge, Paula. I totally appreciate your frustration with leaving comments on some blogs. My biggest gripe was WordPress. I would type the comment and hit "send" and then I would never see it showing up. Some days I would have to do the "captcha" on blogs; some days not on Blogger so not sure what was up with that.

    I know being a minion, like I mentioned before, we did report blogs that hadn't started or were stick on a letter after 5 days of not posting. The person I was minion to was reluctant to remove the blogs in case they were just stuck and would eventually catch up (which I'm not sure that was the case). I think whatever the policy for removing a blog should be carried through since people know that when they start the challenge.

    Its hectic and overwhelming, but I have found wonderful blogs through it, like yours, and several others. I would not have if it wasn't for the challenge.

    So yep, call me a glutton for punishment, but I'll probably it next year :)

    betty

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    1. I noticed that also with captcha! I wonder if people even know they have it on. Sometimes I wouldn't "check the box" and my comment still went through! That is interesting that your person wouldn't want to remove the blogs you were reporting. What's the point? If someone hasn't posted for 4 days I'm pretty sure they are done. It is pointed out in the rules they will be removed. I think it speaks to that whole "we can't hurt anyone's feelings" mentality we now live by! But, bottom line is that we enjoy it!

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  2. Please don't be too hard on some bloggers who, like me, were floundering with using Word Press. I had written two unconnected travel blogs before and didn't realise I was directing people to a blog on China instead of A to Z! Hopefully that is rectified but it is a bit late. Maybe a bit of experience helps with following and commenting on posts. It is a lot to get one's head around all at once. I was fortunate to have plenty of time on my hands but some are not so lucky. I enjoyed your blog very much and am glad to have met you and so many other people during the A to Z.

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    1. I'm not trying to be hard on anyone Linda! I am just writing my views on the challenge and what I like and what I didn't like. I could not come to your blog and comment because when I click on your name here it takes me to the A to Z Challenge blog. Is that what you want it to do?? Yes, I am sure experience helps. Good luck next year!

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    2. I was having problems doing comments on blogs with Wordpress also. Part of that was Wordpress itself! And other times, it was just the way it was set up - and I could not figure it out. I still have not found a way to do replies on my blog (I just put a new post each time I want to reply to someone there). Or if I can - I send them an email - but most times, I can't even do that!

      Linda in VA

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    3. I do think many of the blogs I couldn't find places to comment was on Wordpress. Maybe it is just not that friendly to us Blogger people. I can't remember how I figured out how to reply! I wish that I could send all the replies by email because I am not sure people come back to read my reply to them!

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  3. Hi Paula - it's the way life works .. and as Linda points out above - she was struggling ... but having the two major platforms not really liking each other's systems makes it difficult ...

    Good for you - though and you did the sensible thing - not worry ... I'm glad you met some new friends and had a good month .. I'll be back - just irritated I didn't do it this year .. but had to withdraw ... cheers Hilary

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    1. There are many things that make it difficult for people. I understand that! I am not putting anyone down for anything they do. Just giving my take on the experience. I can't wait to see you back next year!

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  4. I participated several years ago - 2 successive years and it was great fun. I was blogging more then. I am not sure it would work well for me now the way I blog. I doubt I could write a post every day for a month. And that is really only half of it, because like you I felt the need to visit as many as I could and comment. It is a boat-load of time. But I did match up with a few bloggers who I still follow and who follow me. I may do it again some year - when the time is right and my life is in less upheaval.

    I will say that it is very well run by the organizers.

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    1. I like the challenge. I realize it is not for everyone. It does take up a lot of time. But I feel like for one month out of the year, and the benefits I get from it (like new friends) makes the time worth the challenge! It sure is very well run, that is true!

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  5. I admire you A to Z'ers. It's a hard task to accomplish.

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  6. Good thoughts on the challenge. I never had time to go through the list but tried to read every blogger who read and commented on my blog. I now have another set of bloggers to follow. My post announcing my theme generated the most views but then many of those folks never came to my blog and commented during the challenge. At least this year I did not get anyone asking me to follow them so I could buy something.

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    1. I noticed that as well Denise. I don't think I had a single comment that said, "I'm your newest follower. Will you follow me?"

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  7. Your post and the comments are an interesting discussion of link-up blogging. I like that you have thought things through and then shared. I wouldn't have the time for the A-Z Challenge and the understandable commitment and courteous reciprocity. I kept up with a few folks who did the challenge and enjoyed them very much. But, one thing struck me when I read your post and that was about the spam you mentioned. I just wanted to ask you if you have ever checked back to the specific posts to which the spam was related? I did that early on and found that the largest share of spam was attached to posts where this proud gram had innocently included cute/fun photos of GN. Not all of the spam was porn, but some of it was. I either deleted the photos, deleted the posts, or made the posts private. I didn't want anyone into child porn capturing pix of my grandgirl and using them inappropriately. I also learned some creepy things while participating in the one link-up I really enjoyed...weekly...on Mondays. BTW did you notice that every single weekly, then monthly link-up page to participants' blogs back to June(or July) of 2015 has been deleted? Yep! Every single one got the boot.

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    1. When I have clicked, in the past, to see where the spam is coming from it is usually from India or another country. I've never found any porn sites! Yikes!! I know a lot of bloggers are worried about posting photos of their kids. I am not bothered by it at all. The sickos out there will do what they do no matter what! I would be interested in what creepy things you learned about the weekly link-up! I think if I remember rightly she has done this before (stopping all link-up) I have noticed that she has deleted all the pages. Might just be a little touched or just plain full of herself. I don't know!! I'll just do my own thing. I didn't get that many responses from the link-up list anyway.

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    2. I hope I can explain this clearly. I've tried twice today and when reading it back it sounds as bizarre as I think it actually is. One thing I discovered from the link-up was that one person was linking to SWD under several pseudonymns, each pseudonym connected to it's own separate blog. My issue is not with a pseudonym. I use one because I am a state employee. And I know coproprate bloggers who use pseudonyms just to remain separate from business. But using several accounts to access the same link-up blog and post VERY diverse entries is too far off center for me. That same person would visit my blog under the various pseudonymns and when I replied, I would use her given name. She stopped linking up on SWD shortly thereafter. I just used her name to let her know I was aware of what she was doing without making accusations. In the second instance, I visited a linked blog and discovered that the blog owner was actually writing comments to her own posts as though she was a visitor because she had not other visitors. If it's loneliness, or mental illness, I am not in a position to help, especially when I am visiting a blog to read a recipe, a pattern, or whatever for entertainment and discover too many other layers. And I would not consider loneliness or mental illness 'creepy', but the virtual effect is creepiness. My biggest fear is that technology is hurting some folks more than helping them because anonymity prevents them from acting responsibly. I hope I've explained this clearly enough. I didn't get too many responses from the linkup and I was okay with that. I don't have tons of free time to sit at a computer. If I get tons of free time, I still won't spend it all at the computer. I backed off on visiting many SWD bloggers because of those two discoveries.

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    3. Well, that is just plain creepy, isn't it?? I wonder why someone would do that. I wonder if that person was the host of SWD blog! Do you think she was trying to pad the numbers?? How did you come to know her given name?? And yes, I can imagine serious lonliness would be a mental illness of sorts. But I think getting out and meeting real people would make more sense than answering your own blog replies. This world is full of crazies as you well know. I did discover that Miss Peggy has her SWB listed under a different URL so that is where they are all linking. And I think she might have discussed me a bit as someone she got a 'snarky comment from'. But you know what? I have moved on! Deleted her blog from my reader. Will do it my way; even if she doesn't like it! Those are some big discoveries my friend. I don't blame you for backing off!! A bit crazy!

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    4. I know with certainty that the SWD hostess was neither the multiple blogger nor the multplie commentor on her own blog. The person making multiple comments may have been trying to pad numbers, but it was a feeble attempt. I never went back to that blog. She was not participating on SWD at all, but I found her by via a blog hop from SWD. The other one, who was linking multiple blogs to SWD under various pseudonyms was doing it for pity or attention, I think. I found out the given name because there was slip-up in the pseudonym/avatar use and a real photo showed up.

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    5. WOW! You were up writing on my blog at 2:18 a.m.?? Very interesting finds you have listed her. Want to be a detective?? I always wanted to be one. Too old now. But it is a bit crazy too!

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  8. I'm so glad I found your blog through the A to Z challenge. Like you, I tried to comment on every blog I visited, but if I like that blog, I am following them even if they don't return the favor and visit me. By following, I mean I add to my blogroll. I have added you to my blogroll, so to me, I am following you, although you may not have me counted in your stats.

    You have a very engaging blog, and I look forward to having time to hang out here and comment on comments sometime!

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    1. Thank you very much Red. I have added you to my Feedly reader. I want to keep up with you through the year, too!

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  9. I loved your A to Z challenge! I'm doing one too, as you know - and it is hard!! You are a natural born writer - me, not so much! I'm only getting ready to start 'D' - yikes - LOL!

    Linda in VA

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    1. I have been reading your Linda! And I love it! I think you do a great job with writing too! And, anyway, it's now about how we write...not to me anyway...it is about the relationships we form!!

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    2. Ahhh thanks Paula! And I agree - I feel like we are friends! and that is always a good thing...

      Linda

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  10. Maybe it's just me, but the sheer number of participants is daunting! Retired or not, I'm impressed that you managed to visit 300!!!

    Yes, I think it's (capital-letter) Rude that folks don't have the courtesy to respond, if only to say, "Have a nice day." I've had that happen to me on several occasions; and while my feelings were initially bruised, I've concluded, "Consider the source."

    For 'winging it', as you say ... I think you did great!

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    1. Thank you Myra! One of the things I am starting to work on is, MOVING ON! And that means moving on and trying not to let it bother me when people breeze through without a comment!

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  11. Oh, the captcha thing! Wasn't that annoying? Some days every blog I visited insisted on it before posting my comment. Some just needed a check box, but others needed a verification... I think it was Blogger, and not the blogs, because some days your blog required it and some days not. And I know you don't have it on.

    One thing about comments... If you can't find a comment box, did you try clicking on the title of the post so the post came up on it's own page? That usually uncovers comment boxes for me.

    For a couple years I'd comment for days in a row on some blogs and get no response. Now, I comment once. If they reply, I'll continue to visit. If they can't be bothered to visit me once, I don't return. I don't have time during A to Z to keep up with those who don't reciprocate. Maybe in non-April months.

    If you liked them, try them now. Perhaps they were overwhelmed with A to Z. I know life got in the way of some bloggers.

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    1. That is crazy! I guess then, that would make it Blogger! You are right, I do NOT have the captcha thing turned on! Haven't for years. But I did learn that I need to go check ever so often just to make sure. Sometimes it is turned back on and it wasn't me who did it! I did try your way of finding the comment section. Most of the time it worked for me! Sometimes, not! I totally agree that life can sometimes get in the way of bloggers. I have kept the ones I liked and will see how it goes when we are not in the throes of the challenge!! Thank you Liz for all of your comments!

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  12. You echo exactly what I was thinking. I went to so many blogs, and several times to said blogs, with no reciprocation. I'm with you, I think it's totally rude. It even happened with someone who I regularly visit outside of the A-Z. I must have made a dozen comments to that blog and then one comment I even said "I haven't seen you over at my place but I'm doing my theme on..." and still no visit! That actually kind of pissed me off.

    I think you did a great job "winging it"!! I enjoyed your posts. I always enjoy your posts though. I will say that having your posts prepared AND scheduled ahead of time makes the Challenge so much more fun. You have more time to visit more blogs and answer comments left at your own blog. For the last two years, I've had my posts scheduled 4-6 months in advance. Makes for much less stress! I'm already thinking about next year, though I haven't come up with a theme yet.

    I was a Challenge minion this year and can tell you that we really did our best to keep the list clean. Thank you for recognizing our efforts. I'll definitely be a minion again next year. I enjoyed it.

    Nice reflections post. Be sure to post your blog address to the A-Z Reflections sign-up sheet on the 9th...

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I guess we just have to move on, don't we. I can't lose sleep over those kinds of things. I have too many cool and wonderful friends here! I bet it was fun being a minion! But work! A lot of it. I will post it on the 9th on the A to Z Thanks for reminding me!!

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  13. 300 blogs! Good for you. As you probably know, this year I wrote the A to Z for me. I will now take time and go back and visit all new bloggers who left comments on my posts. I know I visited some and followed the two bloggers who decided to follow me. I started today and have no idea how long it will take. I think given the circumstances that I may be forgiven for using the A to Z to move on with my life. You are a great writer, by the way. I enjoy your blog so very much.

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    1. You did an amazing job Inger! I know that it was cathartic too. I doubt there is a soul who needs to forgive you for 'using the A to Z to move on.' I very much enjoyed reading all of your challenge. Was happy the writing and the pictures helped you.

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  14. I enjoy getting comments and leaving comments too. Had we not done that we would not have found each other

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    1. That is so true Wendy! And it helped that we had 'like' backgrounds!! I am so glad that I found you!

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  15. I think next year we should consider taking anyone off the list who doesn't make commenting easy. I know it's frustrating to leave comment after comment and not get any in return, or not get a return visit, but for a lot of people (e.g. me) there's the feeling of getting swamped by all the comments and feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. About halfway thru the month I decided forget it, I'll just catch everyone on the road trip. (I also follow a lot of people I've met over the years of doing this.) I'm sure you'll get a few more viewers during the year, because the list stays up all the time. Looking forward to seeing you in next year's challenge!

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    1. That is a great idea! Remove those who don't make it easy to comment. I wasted so much time in the beginning just trying to find HOW to comment on some blogs. Then, I started looking for that first! I understand about people getting swamped but it doesn't make it any less frustrating to feel you are not even being recognized by those who you are spending so much time with. I hope to see you next year too John!

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  16. Congratulations on completing A-Z, Paula! And for visiting 300+ blogs, that's impressive! I agree with you, returning visits is the least a blogger can do. I don't get why they don't. "Busy" is not a reason, we all are busy.
    But hey, bottom line: those who do come back a couple of times may become loyal followers beyond the month of April, and that is wonderful!

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    1. Yes, busy is something we all are! It takes commitment!

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  17. 300 blogs? And in the blink of an eye, I feel like poop LOL Kudos to you! You know, when I first started blogging, I didn't realize that if someone commented on your blog, it was the respectful thing to comment back...it took me a few months to catch on to that. So, MAYBE, some of those bloggers just don't know better??? I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Either way, I find that with each A to Z I meet some really great new people...and that is my favorite part of the challenge :)
    ~Katie
    TheCyborgMom

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    1. I sure didn't mean to make you feel like poop! I am retired and have little else to do. I am sure you are really, really busy! I would say that people not commenting back might be due to their inexperience but over and over it was addressed in the lead up posts on the A to Z blog. At least comment back to the person who took the time to leave a comment on your blog. That really is not asking too much, is it? And like you I keep on finding great people through the challenge. Like you Katie!!

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  18. I always reply to my blog comments, I think if people take the time to leave a comment, it's just common courtesy, even if it's just to thanks for visiting. I don't necessarily go and comment on their blog straight away though unless they are visiting regularly- I figure I'll find them on the list at some point :)
    Debbie

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    1. I try to go directly to their blog and leave a comment there. Sometimes they don't make it easy! Happy to have you hear today!

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  19. Congrats on muscling through! I'm still plugging along visiting new blogs, but def at a slower pace and with less sense of urgency than during the challenge. I guess that's because the admins have promised to leave up the list of participants and the recaps so I feel like I can take my time :)

    I feel like I am now an expert on ferreting out how to find the comment button on other blogs! I wonder if some of the themes people use have the comments arranged in such a way to look pretty, but maybe are not that practical? IDK. It's definitely been a challenge, although maybe not in the way the admins intended LOL

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    1. It could be that they prefer their blog to be beautiful rather than receive comments. I used to feel that way!

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I love to hear what you might think. Leave me a comment. I guarantee though that I will delete your comment if you are just here to cause trouble. So tread lightly!