I, like others who have worked on the page, would like the page to have more reach, be more fun, and be more helpful, all of those things.
What could we be doing? This summer has seen the worst hit numbers since the page's inception, oftentimes under 20,000 a week. We're honestly looking for any and all ideas.
How are we ever going to kill the page if you post stuff like this?ReplyDelete
I feel as though this page has the same conversation repeatedly. At times, it's just what the doctor ordered. At other times, I feel as though my frustration with students, colleagues, and administrators is only exacerbated by reading about similar (or worse) experiences from others.ReplyDelete
This sense of having the same conversation repeatedly drives me away from the site for long spells at a time. I think we need to expand. Here are some examples:
1) Regular features. Hiram's baffled Tuesdays were great, and I would love if we could have features seven days a week. (or take 14 people to pledge a thematic post once a fortnight). Then the complaining posts that populate most of CM's content could be thinned out by a series. (Can we bring back Samantha Folkchurch, the one who did those amazing sketches?)
2) ADVICE COLUMN!! Let's put a link up in the corner and ask for people's advice. Not just thirsties (although keep the thirsties coming!!) but regular "Dear College Misery" advice. We could make a rotating advice columnist like they do for "Ask a Lady" or "Ask a Married Dude" on the Hairpin. Rather than put the pressure on a single advice columnist, there are 10-20 "ladies" and "dudes" who grapple with questions. It spreads the burden, but makes each one interesting.
I don't know about you, but I love advice columns, and I imagine a lot of lurkers might submit a question about grad school, publishing, balancing emotionally deranged colleagues, etc. It could be a mix of eager and sarcastic, depending on the writer.
Plus then we might be less about complaints and more about providing productive answers to common questions.
Every attempt at regular participation has failed. We've corresponded with at least a dozen quite active members and nobody has been willing to commit to any sort of regular involvement. Hiram did it on his own for 6-7 weeks.Delete
I love the idea of a rotating advice columnist. I'm positive that we would not generate enough questions, and that I would be unable to find anyone willing to reply.
I would love it if Samantha would come back, or nearly every person who has left the page for their own reasons.Delete
What's great about an advice column is that we could always get questions from other blogs -- general questions about academia. People don't have to ask us directly for us to give advice. Then as more advice columns are posted, more people will be encouraged to ask, and maybe that will draw more people to the site.Delete
I love advice columns too! Granted I am not brave enough to answer questions at this point. Wish I were more confident in my abilities to help out more.Delete
Ah, but what if you were "A Random Prof" and you could just answer one not even as Frenna but as a Random? That could be fun because you could even shoot down starry-eyed young people, be extra sarcastic, or even throw a monkey wrench in the works and start over-praising some entitled question-asker.Delete
This sounds like so much fun. We need to create an "Ask a Random Prof" and start typing up some rotating advice...
I especially miss Darla and would like to smack the respondent who trashed her.Delete
Adding my vote for an advice column, and I would not object if called upon to produce responses (with the caveat that I am still fairly wet behind the ears when it comes to the whole academia thing. And my only real job has been outside of the Anglo-North American hegemony, so...)Delete
The now-defunct "What's Your Problem?" feature in the Atlantic magazine might be a good model to follow: its best responses had a good blend of sarcasm and genuine insight. Much like CM!
Also: let's get someone to start being evil. Because seriously, for a long time Strel was the one I wanted to hate and love all at once. I wanted to punch him in the face and then get drunk with him and tell him how much I love him.ReplyDelete
We could use an anti-hero on this site to defend snowflakes and be a general shit-stirring pain in everyone's asses. It's the only thing keeping Big Brother on the air. Drama brings people back.
Wouldn't that be Monica? By the way, has anyone else noticed that "Monica" is a great name for a no-name troll told to choose a "moniker"?Delete
Is the sky falling yet because it's summer? Is there a certain number of hits needed to be considered a viable site? I appreciate reading that others share the same woes I do, and do it in an anonymous way.ReplyDelete
I wouldn't worry about it until you have more than one summer of really bad numbers. This summer could be an outlier.ReplyDelete
more Alpacas. And get the compound out of Utah for Heaven's sake.ReplyDelete
Oh, and bring Strel back, seriously. And I like Am's suggestion of regular features.
Indeed, anyone who'd like to do anything regular for the page, should certainly start it up at anytime. We can help with graphics if you need it, or naming, but of course everyone who has rights to post (more than 80 different people, which nobody believes), already can do that.Delete
We'd welcome it.
I'd be glad to start up with the Sunday Comics again, but not till the school year as I'm trying to spend more time in "meat space", as Frod puts it.Delete
I love College Misery. Reading about everyone else's misery makes me realize that I am not alone. As far as regular features, I loved Ask a Spineless and Clueless Associate Dean of StudentsReplyDelete
http://collegemisery.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-advice-column-ask.html but I fear that the column might become repetitive. No matter what the question was, the SaCADoS would probably always have the same answer
Glad you liked it. I did one more earlier this year (March 1). Those videos take a long time to make. It could be a regular feature, like maybe once a year.Delete
I partially stopped doing things because I felt like I was the only one writing material on the page. I guess I believe there are 80 people who can post but there must only be about a dozen who are active.ReplyDelete
It's a shame. I really had fun at first on the blog, but it's fairly quiet during the school year and it's completely dead in the summer.
I wish more people liked it and wrote here, but if they don't, then maybe the page doesn't need to continue. If more people wanted to read and share the misery, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd miss it, but I'd understand.
I'm of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school. Twenty thousand hits sounds like an awful lot to me. Summer is here. People teach less. There is less misery. That's just the way of things.ReplyDelete
Anything I can ever do, Les...ReplyDelete
It's hard. I know that Fab has always wanted the page to reach more readers, but the truth is these things find their audience or they don't. If readers don't promote the site, and if first timers visit and are bored, then that's it.
I love CM. I think Fab and Terry and Leslie have all done a great job on things. I think the core group of writers are great - though woefully small.
Keep it up for yourselves! I'd guess the chance it was ever going to be a big site is long past.
Agreeing with Stella here (as I often do). I like CM the way it is, and if it's slow in the summer, that's normal. I should stop being so lazy and send a post once in a while; there's certainly enough misery.ReplyDelete
I found out about this page because my partner had seen a reference to it in IHE a while back. Maybe one way to expand the viewership would be to advertise its existence with our professional societies. For instance, I wonder if the American Math. Soc. (or the Crampicle, or IHE) would take such an ad, and what it would cost. What do you think?
Also, to stay long-term, people need something like a goal. It is useful to me to hear people in other campuses are having similar problems (maybe even useful as in `use as weapon, er, argument').
There is also a social component; there are certainly people here I feel I'd like to meet, especially if they're on the same campus (who are they?) I wonder if there are ways to break the anonymity privately, if two people agree. Then it might be possible to join forces against adminiflakes, for instance.
I understand the attraction of the map porn with viewing counts, but it always makes me cringe.
I love this blog, and I tell everyone I know about it, and as one who occasionally contributes, I can attest to how hard it is to come up with original material every week. Some weeks, I have time to write regularly. Other weeks, I can barely find time to shower. Sometimes I just don't have any new misery. The old misery continues and yet I feel an obligation to readers to post something new, rather than rehashing the same ol' same ol'.ReplyDelete
I love how things are, even if it means fewer hits, but would like to do my part, if it means contributing more regularly (perhaps weekly is not realistic for many of the contributors, but I can commit to more if it makes the difference between the blog existing or not).
Could you please upload your PowerPoints? I am taking two other classes and have two jobs, plus I'm taking care of my three six grandmas. Thanks.ReplyDelete
I meant three sick grandmas, but I was too busy taking care of them to proofread. Can I have an extension?Delete
No extension needed, Lex. You are entitled to pass just by being so very special and so very busy.Delete
-- Spineless and Clueless Associate Dean of Students
Have you considered adding a laugh track? ... (* shudder *)ReplyDelete
Whatever we do, let's not 'jump the shark' You know - the way some TV shows will introduce some gratuitous wedding or baby to the plot, trying to keep ratings up. I'm OK with it if people only want to post occasionally. A lot of great blogs post only very rarely (The Oatmeal, Hyperbole and a Half). I'd rather post and read a few well crafted posts than something produced to a weekly schedule.
And if CM is just a small community of interesting and snarky profs, I'm OK if we just stay true to that.
I'm in a similar situation as The Cynic.ReplyDelete
I post about once a quarter (but comment more frequently) generally because I feel compelled to write only when I have something appropriately miserable. At the same time, I grapple with the reality that having something to contribute means things are pretty miserable and that doesn't lend itself to creativity.
The same applies to writing something regular.
Also, to be blunt, as much as I'd like to be, I know I'm no Yaro or Strel.
I'm in this same boat. Something goes up on the main page and you get the sense that it should be notable, not just "argle blargle faculty meetings" or "blerga blorga smarmy dean," which constitute the majority of my misery on a weekly basis.Delete
Oh, but I want to hear about YOUR smarmy dean and YOUR argle blargle faculty meetings because it's uncanny how the types are similar across state and even national borders.Delete
Also, most of the fun on CM happens in the comments. A post doesn't have to be witty or brilliant or significant to yield a snarkfest in the comments.
The RYS idea was great, but even they ran out of steam. There are occasional flashes here that remind of the "goon old days," but just wanting the blog to BE something BIGGER is a terrible terrible sign that the people in charge don't have any idea of the value of the place at all.ReplyDelete
I remain confused by most academics, even ones I like.
More ads? Change fonts more often? Blurrier graphics?ReplyDelete
Nah, I think you have it covered!
Can I just say how great your page is. I am an occasional reader, but I have an academic blog of my own linked to a major higher ed newspaper. I do not get the traffic that you folks do, I mean, if you really mean you're getting 25,000 a week IN THE SUMMER! That's astounding.ReplyDelete
I don't know what kind of numbers your moderators would be happy with, but I'm telling you that those are rock star numbers for a blog about college that doesn't include any porn.
I often think there's a bravery on this site that is necessary if we're ever going to reclaim higher ed.
PS: Can I say how brilliant Cassandra and Cynic are? They are my favorites. Oh, and Greta!
OMF! A fan! A real fan! :o) This makes me want to climb up some stairs to do a victory dance... Thank you for the affirmation! Seriously! And I love Cassandra and Greta and hope to one day grow up to be one of them.Delete
If only I weren't on summer sabbatical (yes, my SLAC now offers summer sabbaticals; none during the regular school year, but I have a summer sabbatical, which now means that instead of not teaching during the summer, I now not teach during the summer. It makes no sense to me either...).
So that means I have no misery to share other than the utter misery of jet lag, from returning from my summer sabbatical trip to one of my home countries (I have three: one for each parent and now the US) where the only misery I encountered was humidity.
P.S. And by "not teach in the summer," I means ALL summer. :)Delete
P.P.S. I wonder if linking blogs would increase readership. Is that a no-no?
Awww, I'm jealous! The only fan I had wanted to use CM to sell stuff.Delete
Enjoy your mysterious sabbatical.
"I don't know what kind of numbers your moderators would be happy with, but I'm telling you that those are rock star numbers for a blog about college that doesn't include any porn."Delete
There's our answer to which new feature to add.
CC, I think the only forbidden blog link is to Krazie Katie.Delete
We really should poke that hornets' nest. It's been a while.
Or we all need to do our part to send in some bat-shit cray cray email to the mods. That always gets a burst of responses when Real Goddamned Mail is posted.Delete
Proffie, I'm jealous that no one has wanted me to sell their stuff.Delete
So far, I've spent most of the time since my summer class ended trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing with the mystery sabbatical... I have written two chapters of a book while traveling and now am not sure if jet lag is enough of an excuse to stop.
Thank you, for the compliment, and also for the perspective. I do think we have to take into account our potential audience, i.e. people in higher ed. who neither (1)avoid thinking about their jobs one minute more than they have to (a perfectly sane approach, imho), nor (2)believe that everything's just fine/the emperor's new clothes are just lovely (a larger contingent than I'd expect in current conditions, but so it goes), nor (3)are depressed to the point of catatonia/blackout drunkenness/insert other escape/denial strategy that precludes effective use of CM here. It's also good to hear from, and remember, "the others," mentioned a post or two up.Delete
I'm on vacation this week. I can't make with the clicky-clicky all the time. Gimme a break...ReplyDelete
Really, though, I wonder if anyone would find anything I have to say interesting. And summers (besides vacation) are my busiest time of the year.
I find the very concept of Student Services alluring because we have no such thing where I teach. My school is run as it would be in a libertarian's wet dream.Delete
*snooooooore*. Sorry, I've been hooked on Pinterest. So many pretty images to use in the Fall! Plus I have been busy sucking terribly in a jewelry class.ReplyDelete
I like this site the way it is, and I agree with Proffie Galore about Cassandra and Cynic, and I really like Hiram and Strelly.
Can I just say that anything and everything that is done by the mods is for the benefit of our current readers. We never want to drive people away. We're trying to make it work for as many people as possible. We have no motive beyond having a great site.ReplyDelete
Thanks to Leslie K for a lot of behind the scenes work this summer.
Definitely dancers in scanty outfits. Don't worry, we practice equal opportunity exploitation here.ReplyDelete
(That's a joke, Leslie.)
Alpacas in scanty outfits.ReplyDelete
Apologies for chiming in late; I've been holding student conferences, and dealing with minor household disasters, and answering students emails pretty much nonstop for the last 10 days or so. I think I might have slept and ate occasionally, but I'm not entirely sure; it's sort of a blur.ReplyDelete
I'm mostly of the "I'm not sure it's broke; therefore, I'm not sure it needs to be fixed" school, and I don't think I'm entertaining enough as an original post writer to create a regular feature (I think I might be better at replying; also, I'm seriously considering starting a dead-serious professional blog under my own name, which doesn't mean I'll stop participating at CM, but does suggest I shouldn't commit to creating a regular feature here).
But/and I do like the idea of an advice column, and suspect we could, indeed, not only take questions from readers, but also offer our own take on questions submitted to other advice columns, and/or on situations in the news. We already do some of that anyway in the thirsties, but perhaps we could formalize it a bit, and assemble a team of "regulars" with areas of expertise? I (among others) could cover the middle-aged contingent comp proffie beat.