Friday, September 27, 2013

On the Timing of Posts... (Blog Nerds Only.)

I have to ditch my
old Tom Seaver-inspired
avatar. I mean, who am
I kidding?
Leslie K forwarded me two emails and a link to a comment on the blog today about the timing of posts.

One letter reads:
I don't understand why it's so hard for you to even out the appearance of posts. Some days there's nothing at all, and how other days there are 5-6. Good posts, sometimes mine, get buried under a bunch of VidWhatzits, useless linked articles I've already read, and things that should be someone's diary entry instead.
The other reads:
For the love of all that is holy, can you please space the posts out so it's not feast or famine?
And Three Sigma commented today:
I read the site several times a day - and frequently nothing happens for hours, then suddenly there's stuff I've missed that's off the front page. I suspect you're simply the victim of bad timing.
In the goon old days, at RYS, of course this was controlled because the page was fully moderated. During my three years, I'd read through the mail, pick 3-5 posts a day, and put them up. There was a lot more uniformity. Now, I think the best thing about CM is the non-moderation of posting. So I'm not suggesting a change there.

But perhaps correspondents - and there's not so terribly many of them - could sort of eyeball the page when they're putting stuff up. When you're logged in, you can easily see on the POSTS page how many entries are up or that day. (Or, of course, you can just look at the blog.) If there's a lot there, use the "SCHEDULE" link on the right side of the posting page to delay your post until the next day, or, hell, next week! You can even select the time. (Hint, biggest readership is at 6 am Pacific and 5 pm Pacific.)

I'm not a moderator! I help out some, but my suggestion to think about this is just as a fellow member of the community. Do it at least for yourself. If you've got a post and you want it read, don't post it on a day that is already flush with stuff. Current hit counts are about 6000 for weekdays, and between 2500-4000 on weekend days. I know at least a couple of correspondents who try to post Saturday morning. It's easy to get a read, and sometimes stuff is still on the first page of the blog come Monday morning.

Posting at 8 am on Tuesday (always the biggest day) means you're probably going to find your post buried by later that day. (Oh, and a little known secret, based on the stats we keep, nobody reads to the second page anymore. Once a post leaves the first page - usually 7-9 posts - it's gone forever. As Walt once said, once it's off page 1, it might as well be page 32,000.)

At the very least, if you're one of the correspondents who feel their work gets bypassed by a busy time, just pay a bit more attention to when you schedule your posts. When you log in, you can see all posts, posted, scheduled, and in draft form. With a bit of thought, we might be able to avoid the comments and complaints above.


  1. I think complainers are leaning towards being flakes.
    Everyone should remember that CM isn't someone's job, and if the moderator needs to put more time into this page to deal with things like spacing out posts then they are going to burn out sooner.
    Having said that, while I get a major kick out of reading Real Goddamned Mail (one of my favourite features of CM), based on what I read in them, this blog appears to have its fair share of self-centred prof flakes posting (and complaining to the mod), so I feel like I'm just speaking to the choir here, and those flakes will just continue with what they're doing as they've always done before. Whine, whine, whinnnnnnnnne.

  2. Thanks for the info on reading patterns, Cal. Very useful (well, potentially useful, if I remember that it's available at the crucial moment).

    I generally follow these practices. Of course, the weak spot is that everyone has to follow them; otherwise, the post someone has carefully timed to allow another post its moment in the sun may, when it automatically posts, prematurely bump another post someone else has created in the interim (and since our notions of an appropriate interval between posts may vary, even checking before posting isn't a guarantee that everyone will be happy). If a post is especially topical/trending, there's also the danger of ending up with two on the same subject if both potential posters don't check for pending posts (not that that's necessarily a bad thing, since the two posters may have different perspectives).

    The only exception I can think of is if the top post is generating a comment thread that is turning, or threatens to turn, nasty, or if it seems especially likely to do so. While I've never deliberately gone looking for something with which to bump such a post, I have once or twice posted something immediately in such circumstances rather than scheduling it for later. I tend to think that CMers, like toddlers, sometimes benefit from distraction (others may, of course, differ on this subject).

    Also, I'm not sure how effective this technique is, but it's worth keeping in mind that one can always link to an earlier, related post that has gotten buried in a new post (this technique should, of course, be used sparingly on one's own posts, but it makes a lot of sense for updates to situations described in earlier posts, as well as for continuing themes that link posts by several authors).

    P.S. to Cal: I like the new avatar. Is that an ermine-trimmed academic robe? I've seen a few of those, usually on graduates of institutions located in the more far-flung portions of the former British empire -- the hotter ones, which is counterintuitive given the fur, but Brits did that sort of thing. Also, such robes are usually accompanied by hats that look more like lampshades purloined from a bordello than standard mortarboards, so maybe it's just standard CM blurring. In any case, it echoes your mustache nicely.

    1. Excellent notes, Cassandra. When I ran the page full time I tried to watch the double stories, and occasionally someone takes something down if it's redundant. And I know Fab has moved posts to the top if they've been buried needlessly with less timely or general stuff.

    2. Hi Cassandra. Yes, all of my clothes are lined with ermine!

      My real world pals say I look like Wilford Brimley, though I don't have the diabetes or am QUITE that old! I do have celiac, though, so that's something. I WISH my mustache were that thick, and powerful.

      I used Brimley on another avatar when the compound moved to Oregon. I was snuggling next to Leslie K's avatar. I can't find it, but there was a duck in it, too!

    3. There, updated the avatar. Much better. Why hasn't anyone liked my avatar? Where is the fucking button for that??!?!?!?!?!

    4. I remember that one. You looked quite dashing (and Leslie quite lovely). Here it is.

    5. If anyone sees that their post has been buried under a day with 10 posts, why not post a recap with links the next day?

      "In case you missed it..." with links to the last few posts.